Zen and Casino Gambling

 I can't recommend this book more highly. Not only is it well-written, but it is truly a pleasure to read, and it's one of my favorite how-to books

I can’t recommend this book more highly. Not only is it well-written, but it is truly a pleasure to read, and it’s one of my favorite how-to books

One of my favorite books I read cover to cover was”Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” Years later, “Zen and the Art of Casino Gambling” by Miron Stabinsky & Jeremy Silman was one of the first gambling books I read cover to cover.  It was different than the usual “how to” gambling book, it was informative and amusing.  It was meant to “provide valuable insight into the vital but little understood aspect of maintaining the proper psychological and emotional balance needed ” to be more successful, or at least happier in the process. Check out the coonection of Zen and Casino Gambling.

Important Topics

Topics included in the book are:

  • Basic Rules & Strategies for Craps, Blackjack, Roulette, Baccarat, Slots, & Video Poker
  • Psychology of the Successful Player
  • Realizing what you Control
  • Money Management
  • Determining you credit/budget line

But the best parts are interesting and entertaining quotes and anecdotes. Today’s post gives you a few – some of my favorite quotes.  I hope your enjoy.


Concerning Money Management, “He who remains in his center endures.”  In others words, stop when your session is done and either you’ve won enough, or you have lost your daily bankroll.

Concerning Player Psychology, Oscar Wilde once said “I can resist everything except temptation.”

Can resist the temptation?

Can you resist the temptation?

Concerning Player Psychology, “Disgrace is a fantasy that should be embraced. Misfortune is part of the human condition.” In others words, “Don’t let your ego make you play beyond your means.  When you resume play another visit you will realize how unimportant your previous anger in losing really was.

I like this one – “An optimist is a man who has never had much experience.”  In other words, If you have advice to give, do so only if asked. Besides,  you most likely need more practice and more experience anyway.  Then and only then will you realize offering without being asked is just a bad idea.

Final Thought

“I do not emulate the sages; I do not take pride in my own spirit.” – Ancient Zen Koan.  Gambler’s translation – Anyone can learn the basics of gaming strategy. Being egotistical about something you have no control over is the height of foolishness.

Don’t be foolish.  Make this book a staple in your gambling library.

Related Post – Gambling Books – Must Read Recommendations


New England Casinos on a $250 Bankroll

New England States

New England Casinos on a $250 Bankroll  “If you had a limited budget/bankroll of $250, which New England casino would you choose and what games would you play and why?”
Someone asked me this question a few months ago and I keep revisiting it in my mind. But I couldn’t take that question for face value….. oh, noooooh……I needed more info, some criteria to base my opinion on.

Criteria – 2 Players, $250 Bankroll

So, I came up with two different players, both variations of myself: 
  1. Player 1 (we’ll call him Rob) is inexperienced, has no particular affiliation to any New England Casino, but has a players card from all of them.
  2. Player 2 (we’ll call him Bin) favors a few, has been playing for years and also has played at the all with a players card from them all, but favors two.
  3. Both players, amazingly, know how to play table games, video poker and like playing slots in the same way.  Favorite table games include Pai Gow Poker, Craps & Blackjack in that order.
  4. Both players are looking to play in New England Casinos on a $250 Bankroll
Here are a few personal notes about Rob & Bin:
  • They like to play for long periods of time.
  • They also enjoy short daily bursts (which is not good for their Average  Daily Theoretical ).
  • Both enjoy relaxing individual play, but at times  prefer the camaraderie Craps & Pai Gow Poker.
  • The goal is to play as long as possible on a bankroll of $250
  • Finally, the most important criteria is kinda right out of the Sci-Fi channel. Each one owns a worm hole to transport themselves to any of the eight casinos instantly. (Pretty cool, huh?)
So let’s begin.

Rob (Player 1)

Rob doesn’t favor one New England Casino over another. Rob believes each has its advantages and disadvantages. But where to play…….hmmmmmm…..

With no loyalty to any casino Rewards Clubs playing long and a chance of winning big is the priority. Food options or playing for comps is secondary. Rob prefers to play at:

#1 (preferred) – Foxwoods.

The wonder of it all

The wonder of it all

“The Wonder of It All” –  Rob enjoys starting in the Asian Gaming area in the Rainmaker Casino for $15 Pai Gow Poker. Another great option is $5 craps in the Cedars Casino (beware, odds bets now have a 5X limit instead of 10X).  If that didn’t work out, two possible plans with what was left – play bar top machines with Double Super Times Pay with decent pay tables at $.05 for Triple-Play & Five-play at Play Bar in the Cedars Casino or the Racebook with a good bar with great service.  Cedars Casino also has stadium gaming.
When a break was needed, the dining options at Foxwoods run the gamut from casual to classy.

#2 (Runner-up) MGM Springfield

MGM Springfield from I-91

MGM Springfield from I-91

This property can be  a lot of fun. The slots are new and plentiful. Rob prefers to visit the craps table first.  Midweek, you can find $10 craps tables, not the best for a $250 bankroll, but playable. Also, MGM Springfield offers the “The Morning Deal”. Every Monday-Friday from 6am – 9am $5 minimums are available on Black Jack, Three Card Poker, Four Card Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold’Em, Let it Ride Poker.
Plan B would be slots, slots, and more slots. Rob would not bother with video poker, unless it was at the bar for socializing and free drinks. The video poker pay tables are terrible. The fact that all Massachusetts casinos are non-smoking is a plus. In addition, the fact that the rewards club, MLife, is connected to many other properties across the country is a perk Rob enjoys as one of his casino players cards.

Bin (Player 2)

Only one choice for Bin –

Mohegan Sun. 

Mohegan Sun Resort Casino

Mohegan Sun, CT

A. Best gambling odds.
Full-Pay JOB Video Poker, with 9/6 Double Double Bonus available also.
$15 Pai Gow Poker tables
$5 Craps tables
One of the largest assortment of slots in the East Coast.
Best New England Player lounges.
Great Spas
Point Promotions – 2X (Momentum & Status), 3X (Status), Status Mayhem of 2X-5X
Special parking for upper tier status levels, starting at Leap, 3rd level out of 5)
Entertainment options and offers are beyond special and plentiful, with new entertainment venues opening all the time.  Comix Roadhouse, Nouvelle, and Game On! are examples of special entertainment options.  The Mohegan Sun Arena has been voted best concert venue 5 out of the last 8 years.
C. Dining options – especially best at the low to mid dining cost.
D. Mohegan Sun Players Rewards – while the Rewards Club  is not easy to work with for low and mid rollers, Mohegan Sun is connected to other casinos such as Mohegan Sun Poconos,  Resorts in Atlantic City and soon the new Virgin Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. (Formerly the Hard Rock.)
E. The Property – Mohegan Sun’s two casinos’ design incorporates tribal decor with an enjoyable spaciousness.  It’s comfy, besides beautiful, unique, and awesome.
So, those are the New England Casinos that Bin & Rob would visit with a bankroll of  a $250.  It might be different if the bankrolls were $100 or $1000.  But, that’s for another post.
Remember, when gambling,” Embrace the Math, Not the Myth.”
Binbin, Bin, & Rob

Mindful Gambling While Playing Slots and Video Poker

The notion of mindful gambling while playing slots and video poker seems to be an odd topic. The notion of mindful living has become an important way of living in the moment. Being attentive and aware of things such as kindness, etiquette, eating, and even gambling has come to the forefront of recent research.

Mindful Gambling and single player machines

Solitary gambling is a style that many people prefer. With the recent spike in legal online sports betting, the need to interact and gamble is not needed any longer. Slot players, video poker players and video keno players prefer different expectations from their gambling. The need for social interaction isn’t necessarily criteria for a good time. When gambling alone, it is easy to lose one’s self in the activity. Subsequently, being mindful, or in the moment, is an important part of solitary gambling.

Stadium gaming has given some players who prefer solo gaming a chance to play games such as roulette, blackjack and baccarat, getting a social element without the intermingling involved and the ability to play different table games without moving tables. Electronic gaming has even made boisterous team-like games such as craps accessible to the single player.

Group electronic Stadium Gambling

Zindel Segal and Mindful Gambling

Zindel Segal, is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology in Mood Disorders at the University of Toronto Scarborough. He has researched mindfulness in a way that transcends to the solitary gambler. His research suggests that automatic routines, habitual patterns, and favorite games play into the solitary gambler’s play. Patterns of negative thinking take away from the fun factor. Thoughts such as “tight machines,” “low casino payoffs,” and casino superstitions can slip into the players awareness, taking the player out of the moment’s enjoyment. Mr. Segal gives seven to help the player be mindful and enjoy the session.

Playing on “automatic pilot” & Bankroll Control

Continuous play on a slot or other gambling machine without a stop limit is not a good practice. Sure, playing solitary sessions can take us away from stressful situations and bring relaxed recreation. Ordinarily taking a walk for a break can be helpful to not over-bet your bankroll and gamble beyond one’s means.

NETG SUGGESTION – be aware of time and money played.  Keep a log, and bring only the money for that session. While playing , set a loss limit.

A Simple Casino Log for winnings & Losses

Relate to Your play with thought

Gamblers definitely remember re-occurring close bonuses in slots, re-occurring cards or patterns in video poker and repeated keno numbers.  The reality is we are aware of certain parts of experience, not the whole.  Mindful Gambling While Playing instead of obsessing over the pair of 6’s without a third on the draw can cause thoughts of casino cheating or fixed outcomes.

NETG SUGGESTION – be aware of the science, Gaming Commission rules, and how RNG’s work with casino house edge.

Dwelling on and in the past and future

“I never win at XYZ casino.”  That’s the past talking.  We constantly want to see a cause and effect to base our next action by. As an example, going back to a particular machine that you won on previously. But, remember, the machine has no memory of the previous action to base the next gamble on. Each single play is an entity of its own. Repetition and patterns are human perceptions of past actions that simply do not have an influence on the next bet.

NETG SUGGESTION – remember your success is not dependent upon the previous play. Every bet placed is an “in the moment” event, with no connection to your previous bet.

Gambling angry, or to avoid & escape

Going to the casino to gamble when you are angry, upset, or in an altered state is not a good thing to do. Be in the right mind for recreational gambling. Be in the moment employ mindful gambling while playing

NETG SUGGESTION – Gamble when it is your primary interest to do so, and you have calculated your sufficient bankroll. When gambling is your secondary thought or reason to go to the casino, maybe that’s not the time to go in the first place.

Needing things to change after negative results

Chasing wins can be catastrophic to your finances.  When losing, accept it – losses happen. Play only to your session’s bankroll.  For instance, maybe just call it a day and leave. Yes, your “luck” can turn in an instant – but the house edge will always play a big part in your continued play. Accept the science & math. Acceptance is the key! The gambler’s fallacy is the belief that the chances of something happening with a fixed probability become higher or lower as the process is repeated. The idea that a machine is “due to hit,” or is “hot or cold” is a human perception in an in an extremely small amount of time.  Correct assumptions of that particular machine can only be expected over long-term play, something none of us have the time to do with one machine.

NETG SUGGESTION – accept the results as part of gambling.  The casino is there to make money while entertaining you.  Fight the good fight, but don’t let session losses  wreak havoc with your emotions. As a rule, don’t buy into the “it’s due to hit” mentality either.

Don’t Treat yourself harshly and unkindly

“Shoulda, coulda, woulda” are the things we tend to get upset over during a session.  “I coulda moved to another machine,” “I shoulda taken a break,” “I woulda had a better day if I had studied my Video Poker strategy.”  Of course, my favorite is “I shoulda checked NETimeGambling.com before I left for some advice.!”

NETG SUGGESTION – The best plans for your casino visit still might go awry. In addition to  the house edge, a busy casino and the lack of availability for your “favorite machines,” could change your plans.  As a result, if it concerns spending more money than expected, and that becomes a pattern, re-assess your need to gamble.


I hope this has been helpful.  It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of the casino.  Just walking in can give you a boost of adrenaline, sending those endorphins screaming for excitement.  But try to be in control, in the moment.  Being mindful in life can can also mean mindful gambling while playing slots and video poker.


Special Thanks to Professor for permission to use his research for this post.

Zindel Segal is Distinguished Professor of Psychology in Mood Disorders at the University of Toronto Scarborough. His guiding professional intention is in using empirical data to advocate for the relevance of mindfulness-based clinical care in psychiatry and mental health. He has carried on a longstanding and valued collaboration with John Teasdale and Mark Williams devoted to the proposition that offering training in mindfulness meditation to formerly depressed people can address relapse triggers and support long-term recovery. Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy—the program developed through this work—has now been evaluated in over 10 studies worldwide. He also serves on the Advisory Board for MindfulNoggin.com which offers a digital platform for MBCT.