Today we’ll have a personal anecdote about what happened to me recently. I’m not sure how widespread my situation is, but perhaps some of my readers will relate to it.
I’ve been gambling at video poker since 1994. For the right promotion, I’ll go any time of the day or night. To make this work, I also need to be able to sleep any time of the day or night so I can be at my best when I play. Sometimes I’ll play daytime for one promotion, sleep four to six hours, and then go play graveyard at some other promotion. At age 74, it’s more difficult to do this than it was when I was younger.
The transition between sleep and wakefulness doesn’t happen to me in a split second. It takes some time. My eyes are a bit blurry for the first half hour I’m awake. Probably comes from liking to sleep on my stomach. Usually, video poker cards are big enough that I can see them just fine immediately after awakening, but I normally need to drive to where I’m playing since I don’t spend many nights sleeping in casinos Although I can usually see the video poker cards right away, I probably couldn’t pass a DMV eye test right when I wake up.
So, to compensate for this, I do some physical exercises; I review strategy if it’s not a game I know cold; I get some water into me; and pretty soon I’m off to the races. If it’s a game like Jacks or Better that I know perfectly, I don’t review the strategy, but I’ll read the news on my computer for 20 minutes or so. I’m just letting my body wake up completely as time passes. I don’t want to make financial decisions when I’m not at my best.
Recently, Bonnie and I were spending a comped night at a casino. I wanted to play after midnight (for COVID-evasion reasons), and we like the steakhouse there. Since we drive one car these days, I planned on going to sleep relatively soon after eating, getting up a few hours later, and playing as long as I needed. Bonnie brought along some books on tape or something similar to keep her occupied.
I set the alarm for 1 a.m., and was at the machines by 1:30 — going through my typical routine before playing. I finished up about 5 a.m. and came upstairs. I recorded my results on my computer log, and got ready for bed. My cell phone was almost out of juice, so I plugged it in to recharge and set the alarm on my phone for 7:30. We planned to eat breakfast, after which I was going to drop Bonnie off for a hair salon appointment at 10 a.m. While she was getting her hair fixed, I’d do some errands. And when we arrived home after picking Bonnie up at 11, I’d sleep for as long as I needed.
However, the alarm didn’t go off. I woke up because of a nature call at 9:20 and told Bonnie we had to leave in 15 minutes to make it to her hairdresser on time. We both jumped up, no time for showers, got our stuff together, and were out the door. I was operating at half speed, checking everything twice because I knew I wasn’t 100% alert, and she wasn’t much better. I left something in the room, but remembered it before we got in the elevator, so I only wasted one minute retrieving it. We took the wrong way to get to the parking garage and when we got to the car, I realized that I had left my parking validation ticket in the room. I had to backtrack while Bonnie called her hairdresser to give warning that we were running late.
My eyes were still a little fuzzy when I started driving, but it was daylight and I knew the route well, so there were no problems. There could have been, but sometimes you get lucky. We finally got to the salon 15 minutes late, but the rest of the day went pretty much as planned.
What happened to the phone alarm? I had plugged it in to an outlet that went dead when I turned off a certain light switch. While I had set it accurately, it ran out of juice before the appointed time. Had I been at home, I would have realized the limits to that particular outlet. But in the hotel room, I didn’t.
What lesson did this reinforce? I’m not at my best immediately after rising — especially with not enough sleep. My brain and eyes don’t work optimally. No matter how good a promotion is, I need to give myself time to get going before I can tackle it effectively.
They say old age and treachery can overcome youth and skill. I’m not sure “treachery” is a good description of the things I need to go through to compete with others. But so long as I identify my weaknesses and work to compensate for them, I do all right.