Poker in Las Vegas: A Quitter’s Manifesto

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They say poker is a game that takes minutes to learn and years to master. When you’re in the city where poker is like a second language, the thing to learn is when to quit. I find the game of Texas Hold’em to be a sort of war like card game. Here you have 9 people sitting around a table, strategizing and manipulating and fighting for the pot in the middle. It’s bloody without the blood. Every day, an endless butcher’s bill is made of players who bust and go broke. Poker is a brave man’s game. Or woman.

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I spent this morning (by this morning, I mean 1 am) sitting in the poker room at Sante Fe Station Casino. The casino itself is one of my favorites because of the atmosphere. Don’t get me wrong, I love the strip and there is nothing that compares to the golden veneer of their architecture, but if you’re looking for a nice place to lay low or see a movie or get away from the chaotic sea of vacationers, Sante Fe Station works well. The poker room there is easy going. Nothing that will blow your mind like The Rio’s WSOP room (which is my favorite place in Vegas), but it is quaint and accommodating.

Playing this morning, I realized how much luck plays a factor in the game of poker. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a battle field where you can mentally destroy someone if you play your cards right, but it’s also a game built around chance. Knowing how to extort luck or when to back off when you’re unlucky is something that requires a great deal of patience, practice, and character. If someone raises you $30 when you’re on a draw, it’s knowing when you’re running lucky that will make the call or fold the cards.

I love poker. It’s thrilling for me. This comes primarily from my childish antics and my love of aggravating other people. I’ve pulled many tricks at the table just to see my opponent loss their cool. Lately, however, it’s been me on the losing end. My luck has been fleeting. Any success I’ve had, it hasn’t been in poker. So, once more, I reiterate. When you live in Vegas, a city where poker flows like a waterfall, knowing when to quit is everything. I could, if I didn’t know better, go broke in a week. A day even. Then I’d be crawling back to Rochester, NY like a hurt puppy. It’s good that I understand this, however. It keeps my head on straight and helps me resist the temptation that is the bright lights of Las Vegas. Maybe I’ll go back tomorrow.

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