I was at the supermarket buying spaghetti sauce. As I looked around the aisle for a good sauce, a nice lady recommended that I try Rao’s spaghetti sauce. Holy moly that’s $6.00! Six dollars for a jar of spaghetti sauce!
But then it hit me.
I was balking at paying $6 for a jar of spaghetti sauce, but when I was at the casino, betting $5 a hand on a casino game was a good deal. It’s a contradiction that made me think.
Then I remembered that it wasn’t just about gambling. While I was staying at Paris Casino, I had also paid $4 for a bottle of Lipton tea at the snack stand located near the guest room elevators. This same bottle of tea is usually $2 at the 7-11 and $1.49 at the grocery store. I didn’t think twice of paying the inflated price for this bottle of tea.
I had been under the influence of an effect that can be known as ‘attenuation’.
You should be mindful of the effects of attenuation when gambling.
WHAT IS ATTENUATION?
Simply stated, attenuation is an effect where something loses its’ intensity. Attenuation can be applied to a wide range of things, such as loud noises, sunlight, and sex.
Attenuation also applies to human behavior. Attenuation is an effect that’s been well documented with excessive pornography consumption: https://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/ps/access/NNBCKH.pdf
If someone consumes too much pornography, it can cause libido and performance problems. Pornography can attenuate the desire or ability to have sex and maintain a healthy sexual relationship.
ATTENUATION IN THE CASINO
Attenuation to money is a real phenomenon that happens in the casino.
If you’ve ever balked at grocery store prices like I did, but then found yourself willing to risk comparable sums of money in a casino, then you’ve probably been attenuated to the effects of money.
Attenuation is different from minimization, which is the reduction of the stimulus. It’s often stated that casinos try to hide or minimize the fact that you are dealing with money. They use chips instead of cash, $25 increments are referred to as ‘quarters’, $5 is referred to as ‘nickels’, etc. Attenuation usually involves some sort of overexposure or prolonged of the stimulus to reduce the effect of the stimulus, whereas minimization involves a reduction of the stimulus.
However, the presence of minimization doesn’t preclude the existence of attenuation induced overexposure.
It’s possible that both effects – attenuation induced overexposure and minimization – are happening at the same time. The effects of attenuation causes you to spend in ways that you would normally not spend, and then the effect of minimization causes you to justify or forget the expenditure. In other words, attenuation has an upfront effect on spending, whereas minimization has an effect after your spend has already happened.
MY PERSONAL SOLUTION
The casino is all about making you spend money by attenuating you to the value of money. You are constantly tossing out bets and constantly handling money at the casino. Every conversation is about winning or losing money, and every focus is on the dice, cards, or machines and the pending result. It’s also impossible to walk around a casino and not see the signs for a large jackpot.
The money is everywhere, we are overexposed to money at the casino, and we become attenuated to its’ value.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t gamble. I’d be a hypocrite. I love gambling, and I enjoy responsible gambling. Responsible gambling, if done intelligently, is a rather cheap form of entertainment. After all, I’ve never gone to an NFL game and gone home with more money than I arrived with. NFL games are not cheap. That’s a fact.
My articles aren’t always about proposing a solution. My goal is just to educate my readers.
Sometimes, my solution may be personal to me, but not suitable for you. The first step towards solving any problem is to understand the problem. That happens through introspection and thinking about things that we normally take for granted. I do it every day at my businesses as we deal with customers, employees, associates, and contractors. Sometimes, we can’t get to the solution because we aren’t even aware of the problem. There are moments and days when we don’t even know that there is a problem; rather, we only see the symptoms of the problems that manifest themselves through poor customer reviews, employee turnover, or poor fiscal results.
At the casino, you might see the symptoms of the problem manifest itself through an empty wallet or continuous losing sessions. Don’t blame bad luck, rather, think deep and look hard.
When I am at the casino, I always ask myself, is there a way to get ‘this’ for cheaper? If the answer is ‘yes’, then I ask if it is worth my time and effort to seek out the lower price?
In the end, I paid $4 for the bottle of sweet tea because the nearest 7-11 required me to fight the traffic on Las Vegas Blvd. The extra $2 saved would not have been worth it. It’s okay to spend money and more than usual, but just don’t do it mindlessly
So to make sure that I make a conscious effort to be aware of the effects of attenuation. I will not make bad gambles, and I will not spend unnecessarily at the casino.
I’ve decided that when I’m gambling, I would rather play $5 pass line with 20x or 10x odds rather than $15 pass line with 3,4,5x odds. For those games go downtown or to some of the local’s casinos, such as Sam’s Town. $5 craps with 20x odds is an awesome deal that’s better than pasta sauce because the expected loss is only 10 pennies on the entire bet. I’m going to avoid high house edge bets because I will not give into the houses mind games.
I’ve also decided that when I play blackjack, I am going to seek out the best rules and not settle with the blackjack game at the casino that my host has comped me at. If the host tells me that I didn’t give enough action for the comps, then that’s too bad.
I’ve decided that I’m going to find roulette games that have lower limits or single zeros.
I’ve also decided to hammer my host for as many comps as possible, and not be shy about appearing cheap because money is the important medium through which I can enjoy my gambling hobby.
Remember that 10 cents expect loss from the craps game at Sam’s Town? After two hours, I hammered the pit for a steak dinner at their finest restaurant. I like eating at fine steakhouses and do it when I’m not at a casino, so it’s in-line with my normal consumption patterns.
Just because I have a big winning session, doesn’t mean that I’m going to waste money. Why pay for the steak myself, when I can get the house to pay for it?
Also, if I feel like having a snack and I don’t have the points, I charge it to my room and then tell my host to comp the charges at the end of the trip.
That $4 bottle of tea I mentioned at the beginning? I charged it to the room and the host took care of all the charges.
I have a vicious sweet tooth. A while back, I had a nice session at the table and won this playing craps. I then told the host, I want some snacks, lots. So he said help yourself to whatever snacks you want at the gift shop, so I did, and he was shocked by the $150 gift shop charge for snacks…
Those are my solutions. They work for me because asking and demanding comps and good gambling rules is second nature to me. It’s not ‘work’ to me, and it causes me to expend zero extra effort. I’m naturally a demanding person, anyways. I’m pleasant and friendly but demanding.
These steps help me reduce the effects of the mind games that the casino tries to play.
When you’re at the casino, don’t waste your bankroll just because you happen to be up. Also, don’t start making stupid bets just because you’ve lost a big portion of your bankroll.
More importantly, don’t start buying things when you can get them for free from the casino. Make the casino pay for as much as possible. Ask them until they say ‘no’, and then ask them again until they say no again, and then threaten to take your business to another casino, if they continue to say no.
Don’t let the excessive exposure of money cause you to lose perspective of the value of your money.
Am I being demanding? Sure, but it allows me to indulge in my gambling hobby for practically free.
Before I go, I have to add one thing. One area in which I do not cut back on is tipping. Always take care of your blackjack, craps, carnival games, and roulette dealers. They work hard and deserve to be taken care of. If we don’t have friendly and competent dealers, then tables games will devolve into a miserable experience. All our favorite games will die off without competent dealers. Tipping your dealers is a wise investment, no matter the game.
Speaking of casinos charging more because people become attenuated to the effects of money, I am working on a review of the Cosmopolitan Wicked Spoon Buffet, which is a $50 buffet. Afterward, I’m going to write a non-casino buffet at the Golden Corral Restaurant, which charges $12 for their buffet spread.
When you see the similarities between the two buffets, you might be surprised. Somehow, the Cosmopolitan has convinced people to pay $50 for a buffet because some of the offerings are served in a little bowl.
You’re going to see an example of attenuation in action. I’m convinced that outside of a casino, no reasonable person would ever pay $50 for the Wicked Spoon Buffet. Feel free to disagree. I’ll make my case.