Thursday, January 12, 2006

CES Aftermath

Yes, I've heard from my lone reader who noted that after a great deal of buildup about going to Las Vegas and blogging about my adventures nothing appeared on my blog. That is until now.

The trip ended up being much more work intensive then I expected and I just ran out of time each day to post anything. Since I've returned I've come up with a few posts to sort of fill everyone in on what happened.

I have to say it is not the titillating as I originally expected, but hopefully it will be at least a little fun. I have a few more I will post shortly.

So without further ado, here is another entry:

This is my 26 visit to Las Vegas. And yes I’m still alive with a more or less fully functioning brain.

I did visit while on vacation once with a friend, but the remaining 25 times have been for business, mainly covering CES or the old Comdex show. You might say that coming to Vegas for work really is a vacation, and to some extent you would be right. Anyplace where a person can be seen drinking beer in public at 7am and not be considered a drunken bum is pretty cool. My apologies to the guys I see sitting on the bench along Madison Square Park in NY City each morning who are busy sipping their 40s of Old English. I, of course, think very highly of their chosen path in life.

I highly recommend visiting this neon lit lunatic asylum, at least once. It’s an experience to see the giant hotels built on gambling losses, drinking and other activities that should not be mentioned in a family-oriented blog, although they might be if my editor doesn’t pay attention.

The most unexpected part about an extended business trip to Vegas is how much it costs. I’m not talking hotel rooms, food and drinks. For the most part that is covered by my company and whatever company is willing to ply me with free drinks and small hot dogs in a bun appetizers while I’m here.

I’m talking gambling. I like to gamble, been doing it for years and I have a good track record of not losing more then I can afford. You’ll notice I did not say I had a good track record of winning. It’s a good trip when I don’t go over my limit, a great trip when I break even and a stupendous trip when I win a few dollars.

I set an amount to lose each trip (granted not the most optimistic sounding method) and then parcel it out so I have a little to lose each day. Smartly, I set no limit on how much I can win.

I implemented this system, the former, not the latter, after the great CES blackjack meltdown of 1994. A little background. A few weeks before the show I went to Atlantic City with about six friends and made a killing. I won about $800 at blackjack. That night I just couldn’t lose. I could have hit on 17, 18, 19 or 20 and still won. So with this winning feeling coursing through my blood I hopped my flight to Vegas and was sitting at a table even before I checked into the hotel. I brought the money I had won in AC plus a little extra - just in case fundage - I called my reserve.

I bet my usual modest amount, $5, per hand and despite this meager wager managed to give every nickel to the hotel plus my “just in case money”, all during that first evening in town.

I was not happy, yet not despondent. According to my aforementioned definition, I was still having a good trip in Vegas.

My problem started the next day. There is precious little to do in Vegas except gamble and drink. Oh, and of course work, wink, wink, nod, nod.

One leads to the other in no particular order. With no more gambling money I had vowed to simply drink for free at industry parties and leave the tables alone. This worked well enough until I got back to my hotel and my inebriated mind saw all those wonderful, green, felt blackjack tables.

In the same manner that alcohol helps convince yourself that the 350-pound, weightlifting psychopath at the end of the bar needs a good butt-kicking because he, or sometimes she, is looking at you funny, booze tells your mind that your massive loss the nigh before was an aberration. You can beat the casino. Unfortunately the only part of my mind that was working properly was the segment capable of taking out my credit card and remembering my cash advance PIN.

Thus armed I hit the tables again determined to win it all back.

The results were as predictable as my fight with the bar gorilla. Knocked out, both financially and physically. There is nothing quite like waking up the next morning for work on three hours of sleep, with a terrible hangover realizing you blew the rent money for the month.

This is how I learned financial responsibility.

It was a brutal, if useful lesson and I have never forgotten that feeling. I have also discovered that when the bulk of the gambling money is gone you can find a slot machine type device that will allow you to bet 25 cents per game and while away the hours.


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