Casino Barrière de Nice: Adrenaline & The Gambling Scene
This post was written as one of my most memorable incidents while abroad.
Poker. The first time I went to a casino, I wanted to prove myself. I had been getting into playing poker recently, but I’m not 21 yet so I had never been to a casino in the states. In Europe, on the other hand, the age for gambling was 18. So when I went to visit Nice, France, I went to gambling for the first time at the Casino Barrière de Nice. Here, I was the outsider. It was my first time at a casino and I didn’t speak French. I had to adapt to the new environment and think on the spot if I wanted to prove myself.
Casino Barrière de Nice. The second night at Nice with my friends Devon and Jeffrey, Devon wasn’t feeling too well and we weren’t doing much that night so Jeffrey and I went to check out Casino Barrière de Nice, which a short ten-minute walk from our Airbnb. We found out there was a 80 euro buy-in tournament that night, and boy I wanted to play. I asked around how to sign up, and after being redirected in confused French a couple of times, I found the counter got a ticket to get my chips. Jeffrey said he wasn’t too confident about playing in the tournament, so we said goodbye and he went back to the Airbnb. I was on my own now.
Confusion. Once Jeffrey left, I found my assigned table and seat, was given chips, and I was in the game. My plan was to play cautiously; I would only play face cards and pocket pairs. But I wasn’t familiar with the casino rules. The first time I wanted to raise pre-flop, I just threw in a bigger chip but everyone told me it didn’t count as a raise, since I didn’t say raise. The dealer didn’t speak much english, but one of the old French guys next to me look at me and said “raise” really loudly before putting his chips in, and I got the message. I felt more like an outsider than ever! Not only did I not speak French, but I didn’t even know how to play the game.
Play math. Overall, my play was sub-par. I was dealt ace-king one hand and the flop came A-K-10, giving me two pair. I went all in after being raised, and got called by A-J, winning a big pot; however, this was just because I got lucky AND my opponent made a mistake. Later, I was dealt pocket kings, but got caught up in the fact that I had such a good hand and went all-in on a A-J-J flop. However, this was a big mistake. Had I taken the time to think about my opponents ranges instead of being excited that I had a pocket pair, I would have known that I was probably beat. Unsurprisingly, I only got called by a better hand, and I lost all my chips. I was out of the tournament, but I got a couple of adrenaline rushes, and learned some experience well worth the 80 euro buy-in.
Takeaways. One of the reasons I remember this experience so fondly is that I experienced so many different things.
- The gambling scene. When you’re in the casino, there’s no windows, no clocks, no notion of the outside. You’re in a different world where all the matters is the game. You can forget about all the problems from your job, your family, your health, anything. No distractions, no reminders of anything except the game. I had only heard of how people became addicted to gambling, but now I could understand it.
- My Chinese sucks. I didn’t know any French but I still wanted to talk to someone. So I took a wild guess at started talking to the Asian guy next to me in Chinese. Luckily he was! I had made a friend. We talked for a little, and what I realized is that my Chinese is actually terrible. Usually at home its okay because everyone understands English so I could fill in unknown words in English, but I couldn’t do that here. One example is that he kept trying to talk to me about something that I couldn’t understand, and only after a while when he clarified that he was talking about “Poker” did I understand his questions.
- Poker. Don’t play your feelings, play the math. When the pressure is on, don’t panic. Slow down, think, and be confident.
Live, learn, and remember. And lose 80 euros in the process.