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When play becomes work, it’s time for a change

By Frank Scoblete


I’ve heard them and I am sure you have heard them; in fact, just about everyone I know has heard them. Their famous quote is this: “I need a vacation from my vacation!”

Even a singular one-day trip to the casino can elicit some such statement as “Oh, brother, I am beat” or “What an exhausting day I had!”

I don’t really need to say such sentences since my trips to the casinos are not characterized by endless hours at the tables or machines. I am a leisurely player now. In the old days (of the 1990s) I was a ferocious player and put in many sessions and many hours a day at the games. Today I play and walk and swim and nap and go to shows and have fine meals. I don’t stagger home or to my room emotionally spent but in fact I come back refreshed.

Certainly, I do experience that lovely feeling of anticipation before I am about to play. I love that feeling. I think anticipatory feelings are a large part of what makes casino gaming fun. Before each decision is recorded on the machines there is that tingly sensation of “what’s going to happen next?”

However, as a slot player plays on and on and on, as hours pass and pass and pass in a blur after a while, the player’s emotions can become stilted; their use of energy far more than they used when they started their quest to strip the casino of some of its money and now the exhaustion begins to seep in, then flood in, then totally take over.

For these slot players, the game is no longer play. The game is more like work, decision after decision after decision. The anticipatory feelings are dampened and only the more, more, more of countless decisions in a short amount of time can stimulate them. Like all work, the fun part tends to slide by as the game progresses, and unless some nice jackpot is hit that zombie effect from labor takes over.

You can see that effect in a slot player’s eyes. The fun is somewhat done; the fatigue has become their norm.

If you play for delight, I think such delight can only come from a sensible approach to play. Every spin of the reels, every “bing” of light(s) from a decision, should be a big deal. A player should soak him or herself in the emotional elements of the game. Anticipation should be a major tingle throughout a player’s body, not just some vague sense far away in a fog. Becoming anesthetized is no way to play; that’s for a heart operation, not for the heart-pounding thrill of wondering what the next decision holds.

Those of you who work for a living, or used to work for a living, or own your own business or used to own your own business, surely know the meaning of work. It is certainly not always a joyous experience. To paraphrase so many business people, work is not fun and that’s why they call it work. Fun should be fun, which means it is not work.

With the above being said, here is some sound advice for enjoying your next sessions at the machines. First, I want you to walk about the slot aisles and watch people play. Pick out the ones who are in that fog of unappreciation and unknowing; then watch those players who are in the ecstasies of anticipatory joy. Note the difference. Now ask yourself, “Which state of being do I want?”

Select your machine, then sit down and say to yourself, “I am going to take my time. I am not at work. I do not get paid for how much I do in an hour or how much comes into my business in the course of a day. I am here for fun. I am here for my emotions to be elevated and not depressed. I want joy.”

Play as slow as you must to experience that anticipation to its fullest. You don’t want to be in a stupor. You want to be in a supercharged state.

As soon as you feel yourself beginning to slip into the world of numbness then you pick yourself up and take a break. Do something else with your time. You can just walk through the casino and watch players. Nothing can train a casino player better than watching other casino players playing in a way that is the opposite of delightful.

When you have recovered from the encroaching fog, you can go back to the machines again with the same litany. The joy must be strong. Once it starts to fade, you take another break.

Some critics of casino gambling think that emotions have nothing to do with the outcome of the process. On the casino’s side that might be true, but it is not “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” on the player’s side. A player’s emotions mean something in the games he or she plays. The better the positive feelings, the better the game.

Anyway, try my “play should not be work” on your next trip(s) to the casino and see what you think.

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