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    tresfish
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    Having relocated to Nevada as a freelance writer, the lure of a gambling town has as with so many others dug its spurs into me. I say "has" because as we all may know, this is a never ending war. What began as a twenty dollar Friday night means of entertainment in a short time grew to fifty, a hundred and ultimately losses into the thousands. 
          One early morning after heavy losses at the dice table, blackjack, then slots, I staggered like a wounded moose across the street to a local pub. They had no gaming fixtures and all I wished was to be as far away as possible from what I just suffered. Being three am The pub was devoid of patrons, my being the sole customer. I slid onto a stool, the bartender asking in the standard perfunctory manner how I was doing. I replied ‘not so well I’m afraid’ and ordered a drink. Although I was aware that being a bartender in a gambling town he had heard every sad tale there was to be told, I needed to purge what I had just endured to somebody, in this case his being the only other face in the pub, this would be his passage to a decent tip. I told my tale. 
           Everything had gone wrong that night. My short bets won, my large bets, seemingly by some evil magic, did not. This went on for twelve hours, my visiting the ATM machine more times than I care to mention in the thoughts that it had to change. A story I thought might get the bartender’s favor was of one fellow seated next to me having gone equally through what I had. He found himself with his last crumbled up twenty dollar bill in his pocket, flattened it and laid it on the table. Then on an immediate impulse, picked up the twenty and proceeded to tear it into tiny pieces. He left the shredded bill the table, then got up and walked out. I wish I had thought of this. 
           As I went on with my tales of frustration, I was stopped in mid-sentence. "Listen, not to be a jerk and I full well understand, but I can see that you’re one who, as you seem to incorporate a lighter humor to this, may never learn, but since I’m not all that busy, about all I can do here is to relay my own synopsis on this topic." I was rather taken back by this reaction, particularly from a bartender who one would think might lend a more sympathetic ear. He then went on to tell me his tale. 
         He had come to Nevada from New York, where he was in high finance on Wall Street. His junkets to Atlantic City were, as were mine, innocent enough in the beginning. This soon however became a ritual, at times traveling to the gaming city directly after work, at times not showing to work at all with varying excuses, as well with his wife. Being in high finance, he did quite well for himself, owned a four bedroom home in the suburbs, happily married and had planned on children. Needless to say, this all was lost. Lost forever. Not only did he lose his home, his wife and the plans of children, but was using money he shouldn’t had from his firm to cover gambling debts. He was found out, shamefully disbarred from his career, spent time in prison, considered suicide and as mentioned now a bartender living in a 400 dollar a month trailer park on the edge of town. 
           By the time he was finished, I felt far worse for him than I did for myself. Did this end my foolishness? No, not for a long while and it is still at times what seems a never ending battle. But his words echo still each time I walk past or in a weaker moment stop in a casino, "Personaly have no compassion nor vested interest either way you decide. You’ll either quit or you won’t, It’s that simple." 
           Tough love? Well, I wouldn’t imagine this coming from a barkeeper I barely knew, but I’m glad I ran into him.  "You'll either quit or you won't." (Suggested to me by a rather direct and unsympathetic bartender post my suffering a huge beating and I spilling my tales of woe.)

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