Jigsnwigs: Lately, I’ve been feeling burned out and sick of playing blackjack or other advantage play. As I get older, I tire of the travel. I’m rapidly approaching the age of 55 -- I’m starting to think staying home is better than being on the road. Twenty-plus years of advantage play has burned me out. Perhaps it's time to give it up? Anymore, I would rather be in my own home every night relaxing. I'm not hurting for money and am just taking it easy in my local area -- fishing and doing outdoor things sounds better than casino road trips. What motivates the older guys to keep playing? For me, it’s become tough to get motivated to take road trips that last more than a day or two. What gives?
LV Bear: My number of trips has decreased considerably. I’m no longer a Southwest Airlines "A-List" member, which I was for over a decade. And I now have a (probably irrational) fear of physical violence by casino guards that I did not have in my younger days. I used to be completely fearless; no longer can I honestly say that.
I think the desire to spend more time at home and less time on the road is a natural part of the aging process. I am motivated to keep playing mostly by a desire to have a more comfortable retirement. I have been in an aggressive play mode for the last few years, so my EV per hour is way up, but the number of hours actually played is way down.
Unlike a young player looking to make AP a full-time career for years to come, I think most older guys are motivated strictly by the money, and perhaps by having looked ahead at retirement from active play and realizing that an additional couple hundred thousand dollars will sufficiently improve their quality of retirement that it's worth putting up with casinos for a bit longer, while health still permits.
Part-timer: If you do not need the money, have you considered retiring and becoming a recreational/part time player? I would think many others are not quite there yet. How is what you are saying any different than, perhaps an airline pilot? Options are to find other employment or, like any other worker, hang in there until you can retire. Unlike others, you can always return to work. Maybe take a break?
Tmeltz: This blackjack “golden ager” admits that since I didn't get into the blackjack travel gig until later in life, my perspective is not clouded by years of hitting the road. I find it really stimulating to search out good games in unfamiliar cities, hit them hard, and then balance the blackjack hours by finding a cultural event or point of interest to enjoy before driving to the next venue. I like the challenge of earning EV in new stores, especially ones in the south in the winter, when my home state is covered with snow
I enjoy the pursuit more as I age because it becomes more about the journey than the bottom line. The journey is enhanced by some valuable AP contacts -- I have become older and better! I play short sessions, take my naps when needed, and avoid smokers at the tables! I love the smoke-free casinos in Illinois.
Orster52: I've told myself for years that when I get to the point that I'm not willing to play another 100,000 hands, I should probably quit counting cards at blackjack. If I'm not willing to put in the hands, it becomes merely gambling.
This year I've put in fewer than 100 hours of AP. That is the least by far in nearly 50 years. It includes only one hour of play in Wendover when I just couldn't stand to play another hand -- a wasted trip to a great blackjack venue.
I returned recently from playing a promotion on an Indian reservation. My red brethren locked my account and thus stole $700 in free play from me. This Indian cheating happens again and again. It gets old. As I age, I find I want nothing to do with backrooms or handcuffs, so I am less aggressive when I've been cheated. I think LV Bear is being normal to consider casino physical retribution, though the younger guys often consider it part of their EV to enforce their rights with lawsuits and settlements.
Playing blackjack in recent years has just been a default response when I need something to do. The problem is that I've played so much in my life that blackjack gets to be a bore also rather too quickly. I basically hate being in a casino and I've felt that way for years.
The highlight of one trip was stopping my car for a herd of deer to cross the road in front of me. I remember the deer but have forgotten the casino. On another trip, the highlights were the wildlife in Yellowstone and meeting the federal judge in Yellowstone. I noticed the courthouse and stopped in to see the proceedings. The judge was taking a Plea Agreement from a female defendant from Arizona. That cracked me up, as I had served as a judge in Arizona for many years. Anyway, court security must have told the prosecutor that I was a judge, since he came over and introduced himself. The prosecutor then announced to the judge I was there. The judge took a recess and we had a lovely chat.
The point of the anecdotes is that normal life presents more fun than blackjack these days. I'll head out for a good promotion, but for regular play it is hard for me to get off my butt. For those that have reached financial maturity, I think my reaction is completely normal. In my retirement years, I want more than money, money, money -- I want to enjoy myself, too.
Jigsnwigs: Thanks for all the great responses Right now, I'm taking some time off. And I agree with Tmeltz about the Illinois casinos. I wish all casinos were smoke free.
For the record, I’ve never played full time. But I always managed to log in several hundred hours per year at the tables, up to about 800 hours in my peak years. I’ve always kept a “normal” day job, and played as a dead-serious part-time player as a second job. But herein lies the problem: All of my off-time from my day job and most of my vacation time has been committed to playing cards. I'm tired of the travel, sleeping in motel rooms, and eating meals alone. My wife has always been very supportive; in fact she is the one who introduced me to card counting. For now I'm going to stick with a couple of nearby casinos and cut my travel time away from home by a huge amount. And enjoy some fishing.
Originally published on bj21.com Green Chip, edited for this format.