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Gary Trask

Gary  Trask
Gary serves as Casino City's Editor in Chief and has worked as a writer and editor more than 25 years. The Boston native was a member of the Poker Hall of Fame's inaugural Media Committee.

Contact Gary at and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

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Top 10 things for a gambler to do while ‘social distancing’

16 Mar 2020

By Gary Trask
Your local casino has “temporarily suspended operations” and there’s a good chance the doors will remain shut for some time.

The NBA, NHL, PGA and NASCAR seasons have also been suspended with no real time table for resumption in sight. The Major League Baseball season is delayed indefinitely and (I can’t believe I am typing these next four words) March Madness was CANCELLED, bringing sports betting and daily fantasy sports to an abrupt halt for the foreseeable future.

Oh, and that trip you had scheduled to Las Vegas next month for the NFL Draft? Sorry. Ain’t happening.

Meanwhile, your office is telling you to work from home, bars and restaurants are being forced to close, and your kids are home from school and being told to not see their friends.

So, what is a gambler supposed to do to scratch that “action” itch as the coronavirus outbreak gets seemingly worse with every day and we’re being warned to practice “social distancing”?

Of course, there are more serious and important issues at stake during these uncertain times, but below are 10 ideas to help satisfy the gambler in all of us as we hope and pray it won’t be too long before the slot machines are chirping, cards are in the air and the sportsbooks are open for business and posting daily pointspreads.

10. Online casinos/online poker
If you’re lucky enough to live in a jurisdiction that allows online gambling, congrats to you and kudos to your government because this may be one industry that will continue to thrive, despite the horrific news we keep reading and hearing each day about local businesses getting crushed and the economy sinking.

If you’ve always been curious about playing poker online or giving online slots or live dealer games a whirl, now is the perfect time to give it a shot and take advantage of the numerous welcome bonuses out there.

If you are indeed a novice online player, make sure you do some research and prepare yourself and your bankroll.

9. Horse racing

While many tracks have suspended operations and (gulp) the Kentucky Derby, which is run annually on the first Saturday of May, is most certainly in jeopardy, as of this writing, select horse racing tracks were still running, minus spectators or live betting.
So, again, if you’ve ever thought about betting the horses from your couch, go ahead and grab a Daily Racing Form, pick your favorite numbers or select the horse that shares the name of your dog and place a few exactas.

The FanDuel Sportsbook app features live stream racing and also offers tutorials to learn about horse racing.

8. Alternative sports

The mainstream sports in the U.S. may have shut down, but there are still other games out there to bet on, even if you’ve never seen the sport played or have any idea what the rules entail.

At bet365 Sportsbook & Racebook today, odds are available on darts, snooker, rugby and soccer (futbol), as well as a full menu of “Virtual Sports” such as horse racing, stock cars and cricket.

Heck, we even have politics to gamble on. Kudos to DraftKings Sportsbook for getting creative last night and running a pool for the Democratic debate.

7. Read a gambling book
OK, if you’re going to be housebound for an extended period of time, there’s no better way to kill time and improve your skills as a gambler than by reading a book. There are thousands of good ones out there. Here are two quick suggestions, one classic and one fairly new book:

Doyle Brunson’s Super System by Doyle Brunson: If you’re a poker player and haven’t read this bible written by one of the true legends in the game, now is the time. And we refer to it as a bible because it is indeed that thick and the strategies remain essential, even though it was published in 1979.

The Logic of Sports Betting by Ed Miller, Matthew Davidow: As an avid sports bettor, I thoroughly enjoyed this book because it forces you to think about betting on sports in a totally different way, while also touching on the true basics and explaining how the markets work. Whether you’re a novice or a true pro, you will glean valuable information from this book.

6. Watch a gambling movie

Like gambling books, there are hundreds of really, really good ones from this genre. In fact, our own Dan Ippolito once ranked the top 10 gambling movie scenes of all time , and that list could have easily been a top 100.

For my money, the top three gambling movies of all time are Rounders, Casino and The Sting and all three are perfect to watch again and again in the coming weeks, even if you’ve already seen them numerous times and can recite most scenes by heart.

5. Plan your next gambling vacation

Yes, the coronavirus has and will continue to disrupt our lives for an extended period of time. But we will at some point in time get back to normal and there’s going to be ton of pent up energy to get back out there and gamble.

Take advantage of this “down time” by poking around and looking into what will be your next gambling jaunt. Try a new or under-the-radar destination, such as the Gulf Coast of Mississippi , or one of the newer casinos that have opened in recent years, like MGM National Harbor, one of the nicest casino properties I’ve ever stepped foot it. Never been to Las Vegas? Make it happen, and if you do, follow these tips.

While we wouldn’t suggest running out and booking your next trip (if you do, you may want to consider the trip insurance) because of all the uncertainty, it’s always fun to research and read up on new venues or areas of the world you’ve never been.

4. Do some research
As mentioned above, we do hope and expect that life as we knew it will return. There will be games to bet on and poker rooms to sit down in. Since neither are an option right now, do some research and be better prepared when the green light goes on for everything to resume.

Study up on the NBA so you’ll be ready to roll when (if?) the playoffs begin. Bone up on Major League Baseball and/or the NFL and fire on some future bets for the upcoming season. Practice your poker game, read those instructional/strategy articles and promise to come out of this pandemic as a much more prepared and skilled gambler.
3. Learn a new game
Always wanted to learn how to play craps, but never had the time? What about Pai Gow Poker or baccarat?

If you’re like most gamblers, you tend to stick to what you know when you get to the casino. But there are plenty of other fun and potentially profitable games out there other than blackjack and the slots.

There are also tons of YouTube videos and instructional articles and books available for you to learn the basics of a new game and give it a whirl before doing to with real money at the casino.

2. Teach a new game
I, for one, feel as though I’ve shirked my parenting duties by not fully explaining to my kids the basics and intricacies of poker and blackjack. That will change over the next few weeks as we are forced to spend more time together than we ever thought we would.

The same could probably be said for your kids, wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend and/or roommates. If that’s the case, break out the playing cards and chips, and put your teacher’s hat on today.

(Just make sure, you wash your hands before, during or after the teaching sessions, use the “elbow bump” instead of the high five or hand shake and seat yourselves six feet apart).

1. Take a break!
Yep, that’s right. The best piece of advice we can give is to take a break from all gambling activity. It’s something, as gamblers, we all need from time to time, whether it’s forced upon us or not.

Put your focus and energy on something else, items that are much more precious and important such as your family and your health. Start that workout regime you promised on New Year’s Eve. Dust off the Monopoly game or cribbage board and play it with your family, with no real money at stake. Bragging rights only!

Refresh and recharge the battery and, most of all, stay safe.

And here’s hoping we never have to write a column like this ever again.
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