The topic of this post is…Gambling in retirement

Ok…this is the confession of a degenerate gambler. For decades I have gambled large sums of money in casinos and card games all around the world. When I say “large sums” I remember (painfully) losing $10,000 in about a minute. Happily, I also had days where I won nearly $100,000 in one setting…and hit a slot machine for a $75,000 win. I kept careful records of my wins and loses (the IRS makes sure you get a 1099 for all wins over $1200), reported my results and also declared myself a professional gambler on my income tax returns. In 30 or more years of doing so, I never had a losing year.

Now, before you join the parade to the casino, let me add a couple of other items. I am the most disciplined gambler you ever met. I go in with a set amount of money, take no credit cards with me, do not borrow money from the casino or anyone and when I lose…I go home. If I lose $10,000, I quit and do not gamble in any way for the next six months.

Oh…and I do not drink nor smoke pot nor go into a casino when I am tired.

I only play certain games and do not play the games where I am not an expert. I do not play for fun…I play to win. If I do win, I leave the casino and don’t come back for days or weeks. I NEVER take the casino freebie trips or gifts. I want no one controlling my play.

I moved full time to Hawaii in 2010. We have no gambling here…none. No scratch offs, no lottery, no horse races, no poker clubs…nada. I have not gambled since 2010. And it is not just being in Hawaii than caused me to quit. I am a numbers guy and I understand odds extremely well. I also understand that the longer you buck those odds the more likely you are to have the odds turn against you. I submit that if you gamble over a long period of time you will almost always get wiped out in the end. I decided to quit because I did not have all the extra income from a real job and because I was quite certain that the longer I played, the more likely a wipeout. So, I quit.

I think retirement is THE WORST time to gamble. Gamble, if you must, when you still have time to make up for the losses. Or gamble small. I have spent way too many hours in a casino and I am an observer of people. I’ve never observed a senior citizen killing it in a casino day after day. What I have observed is hundreds of senior citizens just plain throwing away their retirement money. Makes me sick. Makes me hate casinos.

You can find another way to scare yourself to death in retirement…you really do not need to face that sick feeling, usually late at night, that your money is gone and there will be hell to pay down the road. Gambling is for losers.


Don Hurzeler