6 Reasons Why I Love Writing About Gambling More Than Playing

Casino Cards Chips and Dice on Left With Person Typing on a Laptop on Right

When I was coming of age, as a college student way back when, I loved gambling at the casino. But I also loved writing. My passion for creative writing had been my backbone since grade school, but realizing I cared just as deeply about blackjack strategy and poker history occurred shortly after I turned 21.

Today, I’m lucky enough to have a job which combines both of those passions perfectly. After reflecting on my journey here, I thought I’d share six reasons why I just might love writing about casino games more than I do playing them.

1 – You Get to “Write What You Know” and I Know All About Casinos

Growing up, my mother worked in various casinos, with Bourbon Street having been her longest and most stable place of employment.

And while she was at work pitching cards as a blackjack dealer, I was at my grandpa’s house playing a genuine Game King video poker machine in his den.

Eventually, I followed in my Mom’s footsteps by taking a job at the Golden Nugget, where I variously ran chips, worked the cashier’s cage, and occasionally dealt cards in the poker room.

Add all of that experience up and you get a lifelong devotee to all things gambling. So when my English professor at UNLV offered up the age-old advice about writers “writing what they know,” the proverbial lightbulb went off over my head.

Suddenly, I was scoring assignments to report on major events like the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in my own backyard. Then, I found myself travelling to far flung locales like Atlantic City, Connecticut, and even the Bahamas to write about the poker tournament circuit.

That position led to a slew of freelance writing gigs where I was tasked with exploring all avenues of the casino gambling industry. And eventually, I found my way to these pages where I’m happy to call a team of like-minded souls my colleagues.

All things considered, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to blend the two passions of my life.

2 – I Get to Live Vicariously Through Jackpot Winners and Champions

One of my favorite angles to cover as a gambling writer involves players who beat the odds to land life-changing money.

Seemingly every week, somebody touches down in Sin City and strikes gold on the slot machines, on the tables, or in the poker room. Of course, I know better than most that these stories are rarities, with thousands of bets placed and lost before any jackpot payouts are delivered.

Women Winning at the Slots

With that said, learning about the actual individuals who get lucky enough to overcome often astronomical odds is nothing short of inspiring. Whether they simply clicked the “Spin” button and watched their dreams come true, or they applied elite skills to crush all comers in a poker game, imagining yourself winning big at the casino is what it’s all about for gamblers.

And in my role here, I’m lucky enough to interview all sorts of Davids who managed to slay the Goliath known as the house.

3 – Writing About Gambling Games Immerses My Mind in the Same Ways as Playing

I’ve always had a fascination with how gambling games are designed and produced. In fact, I’ve even gone so far as taking my own shot at game development (don’t ask, it was a clunker of a roulette and craps fusion).

Trying to piece together the intricate puzzle of betting options, payout odds, win probabilities, and other gameplay rules just gets my mind working like little else does. Once I’ve been exposed to a new game for the first time, I can’t rest until I know everything there is to know about what’s “under the hood.”

Before my writing career evolved to where it is today, that process often involved deconstructing the game by playing in person. We didn’t have internet simulators back then, so when I really wanted to learn about how a game works, I bet my own dough while learning the ropes.

Today, however, I’m free to conduct extensive research into any game that catches my eye, and I can do it all from the comfort of home. Don’t get me wrong now, I still love visiting the casino and mixing it up in person, but writing detailed tutorials is the next best thing to playing.

4 – I’ve Never Lost a Penny Writing About the Casino Industry

As you might suspect, all of that in-person research I conducted in the early days came at a cost.

These are casino games, after all, so negative expectation and random variance tend to siphon the player’s money into the casino’s coffers. I’m a big boy and I can take it, so losses never really bothered me, as I simply saw them as the price of admission for an entertaining time.

Gambling-Loss-Casino

Even so, nobody really likes to lose money gambling, and this gig lets me indulge my itch for casino games without spending a penny. I’ve spent countless hours on free to play online casino games, researching how those games work while working on my own game.

And all the while, my bankroll has remained steady without all of the swings which come with playing regularly.

5 – I’ve Probably Won Some Decent Scratch Thanks to My Writing Research

Speaking of my bankroll, it’s actually received an occasional boost directly attributable to this writing position.

Obviously, after devoting myself to penning a lengthy primer on why you should use basic blackjack strategy, I become a better player in my own right. The same goes for video poker, traditional poker, and table games like Three-Card Poker and Let It Ride.

Whereas I might have dropped a few stacks while learning a new game in the old days, now I sit down for the first time fully prepared to play correctly. As a result, I lose a little less and win a little more over the long run… which is really every gambler’s goal anyway right?

6 – Learning About the Legendary Gamblers of Old Is Always a Treat

Titanic Thompson. Nick the Greek. Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson. Archie Karas. William Bergstrom, better known as “The Suitcase Man.” And the “Golden Arm” himself, Stanley Fujitake.

Each and every one of these legendary gamblers has an incredible story just waiting to be told and retold again. And just my luck, I get to tell those stories whenever I feel like reliving gambling history’s greatest moments.

For instance, did you know about Fujitake’s epic world-record craps run in 1989?

Vintage Las Vegas Craps Photo

Well, while playing for small stakes at the California casino in Downtown Vegas, the mild-mannered Fujitake somehow defied the odds to roll the dice—consecutively and without sevening out—for a whopping three hours and six minutes. His astounding feat earned Fujitake the moniker “Golden Arm,” and to this day, fellow hour-or-longer craps rollers convene at the California to celebrate his memory.

What about The Suitcase Man and his own tale of craps insanity? Born as William Bergstorm, the Suitcase Man was given his nickname when he showed up mysteriously off the street and strolled into Binion’s Horseshoe casino in Downtown Las Vegas. With two suitcases in hand, one stuffed and the other empty, Bergstrom dumped $777,777 in cold, hard cash on the table.

Quietly betting it all on the Don’t Pass Line, Bergstrom didn’t so much as smile when the shooter sevened out a few rolls after setting a point of 6. Just like that, he was gone back into the night, before returning three years later for an even larger $1 million roll.

This time, however, the shooter hit a seven straightaway on the come out roll, and Bergstrom was found dead from suicide a short time later.

That’s not the happiest gambling story, to be sure, but it’s damned sure interesting. Discovering previously unknown (to me anyway) gamblers like Fujitake and Bergstrom is one of the perks of this job I wouldn’t trade for the world.

My Final Thoughts

Writing and gambling. Gambling and writing. These are the two things I know best, so I’m extremely proud to have caught on with a platform like this that’s the best around on both topics.

Having the opportunity to expand my own base of knowledge, while passing that knowledge on to readers like you, truly is a privilege and a pleasure. I hope you enjoyed learning about my dual interests in these age-old pursuits, and if you’re getting the urge to pen a few pages yourself, we’re always accepting submissions.