Confession - I like to gamble. The friends that I grew up with, well, we started playing poker probably when we were around 11 or 12. Penny three, as we called it back then. Penny ante, three cent raises. Games would take place in my parent's basement (my dad had built a really nice bar down there, a thing to do in the 60s, I guess), or at any number of other friends' homes. This was a group of 10-11 guys, not all of whom would play in all the games, and who still remain friends today. Poker games aren't as frequent, as the diaspora has some us still living in California (I moved back, some didn't), Florida (kill me), North Carolina, etc. etc.
As we "matured," we even would fool around with roulette and blackjack, and as we got a little older and all of us were working during the last 2-3 years of high school, the games got a little more expensive, but it was still all good fun.
We actually had a nice reunion a number of years ago - in Vegas, perfect for a bunch of ne'er do wells. And then Significant Eater and I returned to Vegas a few times (I mean, we got married in Vegas, so why not?), usually with one other couple who really liked to gamble.
But a strange thing happened; as Vegas became more and more popular, more and more ummmm, fancy, the tables got more and more expensive. And while I like to gamble, I don't really like to lose, or make that to lose my bankroll very quickly. And since I play craps, once the tables went from $5 minimums to $15 or even more at peak times, losing a gambling session's bankroll could happen very quickly. In the first few trips to Vegas, we used to head downtown, because Binion's always had cheap tables. Or we'd hop into our rental car and head over to the Boulder Highway, where Significant Eater and I found a place that had $1 craps - $100 and you feel like a high roller there!
Nowadays, we seem to have moved away from casino gambling, it just doesn't hold the same excitement that it once did. And one of my good friends, with whom I'd drive up to the Mohegan Sun or down to AC for a day of craps, passed away. Or maybe, just maybe, I've "matured."