A Weekend in Las Vegas

You can’t help but like Las Vegas. In terms of size, sumptuousness, and spectacle, there is no other place in the world like it. The vast, opulent malls America pioneered in the early ’90s prepare you for the size of it – and Disney World/Land can give you an idea of how friendly replica environments can be. But they are like sketches to a masterpiece. Las Vegas – the new Las Vegas – is a one-and-only.

Your mind tells you it’s too much, but your heart can’t resist it. At least not for a long weekend.

In the hotels of Las Vegas, there is no good television and no minibars. Nor are there places to sit, except in front of slot machines and blackjack tables. You can’t buy a toothbrush without wandering past several hundred gambling opportunities. The interesting thing about such manipulations is that they are noticed and accepted with good humor. Everyone comments on them, but with a kind of bemused admiration.

There is also a secret in the way Las Vegas gives away room and board for next to nothing so long as you empty your bank account at the gaming tables. This gives the average Joe a chance to stay in hotel rooms he normally couldn’t afford and languish in architectural spaces he would otherwise be prohibited from. You travel to Las Vegas feeling like you are enjoying a bargain. You leave your big money on the tables, but you leave feeling not that you’ve been tricked into overspending but that you had a great time and a run of bad luck at the same time.

I don’t gamble. And that’s a strange thing, really. Because other than gambling, I’ve never met a bad habit I didn’t like. I don’t gamble because I get no pleasure from it – and because it’s so clear to me that I’d lose money.

If you believe you can beat the system, I’m not going to try to talk to you about it. Just ask yourself this: How are these billion-dollar properties being paid for? How is it that the Bellagio can have a garden so extravagant that it takes 70 full-time employees just to maintain it? It ain’t charitable contributions.

Walk into any casino and look around. What you’ll see will be people stooped over and locked in concentration. Their eyes are tired, their mouths drawn in concentration. Wander into the sports-betting area and you’ll see men in refrigerator-sized cubicles, glancing at a wall of video screens, scratching calculations on betting forms, and executing orders. It’s eerily reminiscent of a brokerage or stock-exchange trading floor. Concentration. Focus. Calculations. Long hours. It all seems like work to me. The only difference is that in Las Vegas the odds are stacked against you.

In any other field of endeavor, you could take the same people and put them to work doing virtually these same things – concentrating, figuring, calculating, and executing -and you’d almost certainly have a viable business.

Not in Las Vegas.

Over the long haul, gambling makes you poorer. Spend the same time and effort in almost any other endeavor, and you’re likely to get richer.

So why is it that so many people like to gamble and don’t like to work? Is it the allure of big money? As a friend of mine said, “How else does the average schmo get a chance to make a zillion dollars?”

That may be the problem. To the average schmo, working hard (and smart) is not a good way to make a fortune. Gambling is somehow better. It is 100% possible for the average schmo to become wealthy. Half of the wealthy guys I know are schmos. I myself am a schmo. Some friends and colleagues would characterize me as a Major Schmo. In fact, back in high school I was voted most likely to end up in Schmotown and schmo on. So, when it comes to schmo, I know.

But I know a few things about wealth building too. I know, for example, that money that seems easy is usually not. And even when it does come easily, it goes – as the saying tells us – quickly.

Boca, one of my Jiu Jitsu instructors, and I were talking about this subject this very morning. He asked me how many years I’d worked to acquire the wealth I had. “Thirty years” was my reply.

“If you did what some people I know in Miami do,” he said, “you could make that much money in five years.”

“That’s true,” I told him. “But if they ever get caught, they’ll spend 25 years in jail. Which means they’ll have devoted the same 30 years to wealth building that I did, but they’ll end up with neither the wealth nor the fun I’ve had in acquiring it.

Making money is hard work, but hard work can be a lot of fun. That’s something most books on money don’t tell you. Financial books fall into one of two categories:

1. Get Rich Quick.

2. Get Rich Slowly.

The first category is often comprised of fish stories from people who made their money not from fishing but from telling fish stories.

The second is based on the biggest myth in the moneymaking industry: “the miracle of compound interest.”

Yes, compounding the interest on your savings can eventually make your rich, but it will take a long, long time. As I’ve pointed out before, most of these books are based on 40-year saving cycles. And who wants to wait 40 years to get rich?

If you want to find out how to get rich the right way – neither too quickly nor too slowly – read my book “Automatic Wealth”. It’s not the best book ever written on making money (well, maybe it is), but it does tell you what I know to be true: that you can become wealthy in 7 to 15 years.

You can get rich in 7 to 15 years by following the path that has been cut by thousands of millionaires who have attained their wealth in that amount of time. “Automatic Wealth” includes at least a dozen examples of people I’ve mentored who have done just that. Some, in fact, managed to do it in as few as 3 years.

Forget gambling. Don’t waste your dollars on the lottery. Avoid get-rich-quick schemes and eschew get-rich-slowly programs.

Do something. Start now.

If you stick with ETR, you’ll learn dozens of ways to get a piece of the action and – just as importantly – you’ll be encouraged and chastised into doing so. Then you’ll be on your way. You’ll be getting richer every day. But to become wealthy, you’ll have to learn to keep the wealth you earn. And that means saying “no” to gambling.

Gambling is a sucker’s game. The odds are stacked against you.

The comps – well, the comps are about as useful as a bouquet of flowers from your wife’s boyfriend.

[Ed. Note.  Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]