Sunday, May 17, 2009


While listening to the TV news recently, I learned that some "experts" have decided that certain people are compulsive gamblers because of their genetic makeup. That they just can’t resist the impulse to take a chance. And that there is good reason to believe that soon the medical profession will have a medication that will dull that burning urge to wager.

An older friend once told me that those of us whose parents and grandparents came from Europe "have that gambling thing bred right into us." He went on, "Our ancestors were the kind who were ready and willing to take a big gamble. They came to this strange country where they did not have the slightest idea what the future held in store for them. These brave men, women, and even small children weren’t even certain that they would survive the trip across the ocean. They had no idea what they would do, once they had arrived here, or how they would earn a living and support their families. But they were real gamblers. Willing to risk it all. And we have inherited their gambling spirit."

I wasn’t in the mood to really discuss the matter. I could have mentioned that gambling, as such, is usually an attempt to just trust to our luck and to "get something for nothing." I’m sure our ancestors were ready to "pay their way." And anything they hoped to receive from this new land they were ready to earn with much hard work and sweat.

No doubt a medical cure for problem gamblers would be great. But what would come next? A "booster shot" or "Viagra-type gambling pill" for those of us who lack the craving or bravery needed to go after the big stakes?


The old man entered the barroom
And sat down on a tall stool,
Searched his pockets, even
Turned them inside-out.

He said, “Fellers, I’m an expert.
For the price of a few drinks
You can learn what gambling’s
Really all about.”

“I’m a rambling gambler and we
Rolling stones gather no moss.
I’m a sucker for all
Kinds of games of chance.

“I’m ready to take my chances,
Quick to lay my money down,
About all I own are
These old denim pants.

“I’ve made and spent lots of money,
Made choices that were unwise,
Bad investments in card
Games and rolling dice.

“None of them have paid much interest
Or big dividends, or such.
Mostly they have been a
Poor deal for the price.

“Shooting for ‘something for nothing’
Is what gambling’s all about.
We may win big, but won’t
Know, if we don’t try.

“Anywhere there is a question,
Betting seems the normal thing.
When we lose we rarely
Stop to wonder ‘Why?’

“I have bet on almost every
Kind of contest known to man,
Even on the date of
The first killing frost.

“I’ve bet on ball games and horses,
Even the Chicago Cubs,
Also on some dead-sure
Things, but still I lost.

“Yet, regardless of the odds, I’m
There, ready to ‘ante up.’
There’s always a chance, if
You know what I mean.

“Every game, contest, or conflict
Is almost sure to produce
Some big winners, though they’re
Few and far between.

“I’ve rubbed elbows with high rollers,
Guys who play for the high stakes.
I pretended to heed
Every word they’d say.

“All we gamblers are alike. We’ll
Never stop dreaming the dream,
And I wouldn’t have it
Any other way.

“I’ve purchased a few casinos,
They’ve all been bought and paid for.
I’m well known in Vegas,
I will have you know.

“But the sad thing is I have no
Deeds or bills of sale. There is
Nothing on paper, not
One damn’ thing to show.”