“Over a long weekend last year, my friends and I booked a room at Marina Bay Sands Hotel. At midnight, we decided to visit the casino. I squeezed through the crowds of foreign workers, China girls and local aunties, and got myself a place at a sic bo table. It was my first time playing at a casino table – not counting the jackpot machines I tried while holidaying in Macau – and I was excited about deciding which numbers to bet on. Taking a cue from my friends at the next table, I placed a $200 bet and in a classic case of beginner’s luck, doubled my money.

I stood and continued gambling at that table for the next four hours – an unbelievable feat for a person who loathes excessive walking. At 4am, we went back to the hotel for breakfast and a quick nap. Later that afternoon, we returned to the casino, determined to make full use of our $100 per person entry pass, valid for 24 hours. Being the biggest winner in the group (I had won over $3,000), I treated my friends to a sumptuous dinner at the hotel’s Chinese restaurant.

BACK FOR MORE
Three days later, I returned to the casino with my boyfriend of one year. We won $9,000 and decided to buy the annual entrance levy ($4,000 for the both of us) that would allow us unlimited entry to the casino for a year. Before we met, my boyfriend used to frequent the casinos on cruise ships and Genting Highlands; he stopped playing to spend more time with me. He warned me that gambling can be addictive, but accompanied me to the casino when I picked up my new hobby. I often watch him play as I’m still very new to most of the games including baccarat, roulette, poker, pontoon, blackjack and three knights.

TIME FLIES
Initially, we spent most weekends at the casino (sometimes up to 20 hours at a stretch) – taking short breaks to go home to sleep. Now, we go every evening after work, but leave after two or three hours, regardless of the outcome.

Recently, I broke my record for not stepping into the casino for a whole week when I had the flu. And while I don’t think I’m addicted, I sure did miss the thrill of playing.

BIG SPENDERS
We’ve become platinum members of the casino after changing $30,000 into chips. Now we’re able to accumulate points faster, which we can then redeem for free meals at the restaurants or hotel stays on the nights when we are too tired to drive home. The membership also gives us access to the Ruby Room, one of the premier rooms, where the smallest denomination chips available are $25 or $50, compared to the $5 or $10 minimum on the main gaming floors. We sometimes bet 40 to 50 $25 chips in one hand. The people here are less rowdy and you don’t see people running between tables to place bets, like you do at the main floors.

FLYING HIGH
Once, we went to the high limit tables where the minimum bet was $500 per hand, and doubled our $30,000. The next afternoon, we went on a shopping spree. I bought two Chanel bags, one Hermes scarf and three pairs of Jimmy Choos – I also bought a Hublot watch for my boyfriend. I’ve never spent so much before going to the casino, and certainly not with such complete abandon like I did that day.

The people around me know I’m an avid gambler. Friends who hear about my winnings are tempted to join me, but I don’t encourage them to start, as I don’t want to be blamed for their losses. My colleagues make fun of me when I come to work looking tired. My family and boss know about the amount of money I’ve been betting and warn me to know my limits as they don’t want me to get burnt. I’ve promised my boss that it will not affect my work. My mom’s not really complaining – I buy her jewellery and other expensive gifts with my winnings.

SETTING BOUNDARIES
I know my limits and that’s why I’m still a winner. I usually withdraw only enough cash for the night. If I lose $1,000, I’ll stop and either watch my boyfriend play or leave the casino. I usually aim to leave when I have won $2,000 and not stay on and try to win more, as I believe greed kills. My boyfriend however, tends to play only when he is on a winning streak. We’ve paid for the one-year entrance levy, so there is no unnecessary pressure to win back what I’ve lost during the session. But one night when we were so determined to win back our losses, we didn’t realise that we had lost $8,000 – our biggest loss in one session to date.

GAME PLAN
I am currently up $20,000 in winnings. The day I lose all my winnings may be the day I’ll stop going to the casino. I think going to the casino is better than clubbing. I meet lots of interesting characters and my friends too. It also builds trust between my boyfriend and I – he often lets me bet with his money and vice versa. Even when we lose, we don’t blame each other. He encourages me to do other things with him, like playing golf, and we’ve reduced our casino visits to four times a week.

This article was originally published in Simply Her January 2011.