Spend enough time on the casino floor, and you’re bound to encounter your fair share of folks flying solo.
For whatever reason, gambling has traditionally been cast as a solitary pursuit. A single player taking on the house, relying on nobody but themselves to beat the odds and walk away a winner.
From the punto banco exploits of one James Bond, to Steve McQueen’s poker playing rogue in “Cincinnati Kid” (1965), and even Clark Griswold in “Vegas Vacation” (1997) – gamblers have always been viewed as loners taking on the world all on their own.
But take a closer look on your next trip to the casino. Upon further inspection, you’ll notice couples joined at the hip as they play the slots, craps, blackjack, and more.
College sweethearts on their first trip to Sin City, senior citizens enjoying their sunset years spinning the slots, and every age group in between will be represented.
That’s because the entertainment value offered by casino gambling can be instantly improved with your significant other by your side. The silver screen notwithstanding, gambling by your lonesome just isn’t very fun, at least not compared to having an audience of one.
In my younger days, I spent plenty of time cruising the casino floor by myself, and I always made the most of things. But that all changed when I met my wife about 20 years ago.
I always thought that falling in love and settling down would take the edge off, so to speak. I figured I wouldn’t have nearly as much time for gambling, and even if I did, my significant other wouldn’t really view the games like I did. Fortunately for the both of us, I picked a winner.
She actually appreciates what I do on a daily basis; she understands the intricacies of casino gambling and she likes to come along for the ride. We’ve spent countless hours wandering hand in hand through our favorite casinos, one pair taking on the world.
And I’ll tell you, I never would’ve imagined how much more fun I have gambling as a couple. The wins that much sweeter with somebody close by to celebrate with, while losses don’t sting quite as badly with her around.
I also take great pride in watching my wife play, taking note when my fellow sharps raise an eyebrow at the pretty lady playing with perfect strategy.
All in all, gambling with your girlfriend or wife, or even on a date, can be a great way to build the relationship. But because my own experience isn’t enough, I’ve put this page together in order to prove an age-old theory about pursuing hobbies as a pair.
You’ll learn about the science and psychology behind playing as a couple, a few examples of gambling paramours in action, and then I’ll steer you toward a few of my favorite gambling getaways designed expressly for couples.
The Couple That Plays Together Stays Together
You’ve no doubt heard this saying bantered about by grandparents and others from that generation, but does it really hold up to scrutiny?
Couples don’t necessarily have to like the same things, and sure enough, some out there thrive on taking personal time apart. But as it turns out, a wealth of scientific evidence has been compiled to prove that playing together and staying together go hand in hand.
Dr. Arthur Aron, psychology professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, specializes on the study of interpersonal relationships.
In a 2000 paper titled “Couples’ Shared Participation in Novel and Arousing Activities and Experienced Relationship Quality”. Aron and his team conducted a multifaceted study of the “play together, stay together” theory.
By subjecting one group of couples to “novel and arousing tasks,” another group to “mundane tasks,” and a third to no tasks at all as a control, Aron and his colleagues sought to study the tangible benefits of playing together.
According to their paper, couples reported greater levels of “relationship quality” when they experienced engaging and entertaining tasks together.
Casino gambling certainly qualifies as novel and arousing, what with hundreds of games out there to try, a constantly expanding selection, and the inherent thrill of risk versus reward.
These qualities attract individuals to the casino, so it stands to reason that seeking out the novelty and arousal of gambling as a couple would create the same sort of bonding that Aron described.
In a 2012 post published on her Psych Your Mind blog, psychologist Amie Gordon Ph.D. provided further context to Aron’s findings:
“To be completely correct, psychological research suggests that couples who play together feel closer, experience more positive emotions, and as a result are happier together, but that doesn’t have the same ring does it?
If boredom, is the silent relationship killer, novel and arousing activities seem to be the powerful antidote. Art Aron and colleagues have found that couples who engage in more novel and arousing activities together are happier in their relationships.”
In the end, Gordon had one simple message for couples interested in Aron’s theories:
“Seek out opportunities that are novel, cooperative, arousing, and pleasurable.
I’ll leave it up to you to decide how far from home you have to go to find an activity that fits the bill.”
In 2008, Howard Markman a psychologist and co-director of University of Denver’s Center for Marital and Family Studies spoke to ABC News for a story on his follow-up to Aron’s research. According to Markman, seeking out interesting experiences together serves as a natural vehicle for bonding:
“The more you invest in fun and friendship and being there for your partner, the happier the relationship will get over time.
The correlation between fun and marital happiness is high, and significant.”
Certainly then, the science demonstrates just how powerful the act of gambling together can be. Adrenaline rushes, endorphin kicks, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat – these natural byproducts of gambling have been proven to bring couples closer together.
Poker Power Couples Improve Their Game Together
Just ask poker pros Maria Lampropulos and Ivan Luca of Argentina.
Both players acquitted themselves quite well as singles, but after getting together a few years back, Lampropulos and Luca have taken the live tournament circuit by storm.
It all started in 2016, when Luca, the more accomplished player at that point, found himself playing heads up for the Eureka Poker Tour Rozvadov Main Event title. A grand prize of €106,186 was at stake, but with Lampropulos sitting across the table, Luca had relationship bragging rights on the line as well.
Luca managed to defeat his girlfriend on that day, but Lampropulos kept grinding under Luca’s tutelage.
One year later, the proverbial torch was passed, as the student became the master. Lampropulos took first place at the 2017 PartyPoker Millions Main Event, parlaying her £5,300 buy-in into a £1,000,000 payday.
She was at it again in January of 2018, bagging the $10,000 buy-in PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) Main Event championship for another $1,081,100 score.
In the winner’s circle shortly afterward, Lampropulos credited her relationship with Luca for providing the support system any successful poker pro relies upon:
“I am extremely grateful for the people who believed in me, especially my boyfriend.
Ivan always trusted me and helped me to improve and grow.
Whenever I had doubts about how I’d played a hand, he helped me regain my confidence by telling me that I can get it.”
As of today, the duo is on the cusp of becoming Argentina’s most accomplished tournament players. Per the Hendon Mob database, Luca sits in 1st place on his homeland’s all-time money list, Lampropulos is lurking in 3rd place, and only a few hundred thousand dollars separate them from going 1, 2.
Lampropulos and Luca aren’t the only poker power couple out there.
As members of PokerStars Team Pro, Liv Boeree and Ivan Kurganov have plenty of time to pick one another’s brain about tournament theory as they travel the global circuit. That time together proved to be invaluable last summer, when the World Series of Poker (WSOP) revived its $10,000 buy in Tag Team No Limit Hold’em event.
Playing as a tandem against 101 other groups, Boeree and Kurganov cruised to victory to earn their first WSOP gold bracelets.
As they told the tale in their winner’s interview with WSOP.com, Boeree and Kurganov have observed their poker play improves immensely as a result of their relationship:
“We just saw each other in Australia or the Bahamas and fell in love,” said Boeree. “We’ve been inseparable ever since.”
“Really inseparable,” added Kurganov. “We moved in together because we became a couple while we were on a trip. First a poker trip and then a vacation, so we stayed together anyway. That’s the great thing about us being a couple in poker. We actually get to spend like 345 days out of 365 together.”
“He’s just my best friend,” said Boeree.
Anybody paying attention to the world of high-stakes poker can rattle off several other examples of couples playing, and winning, as a pair.
Phil Laak and Jennifer Tilly have been going strong for a decade and counting, and in 2016 top pro Jason Mercier proposed to Natasha Barbour right on the WSOP’s main final table stage.
Hit the Open Seas on a Casino Cruise
Enough about other couples though, as it’s time to focus on your own relationships and how they relate to gambling.
In my case, convincing the wife to take a trip to Sin City didn’t take much arm twisting at all. She already considered herself an avid casino gambler, and in fact, we used her Players Club points to book a comped room.
But we all can’t run that well, and you may find yourself with a significant other who isn’t all that interested in the casino scene. In that case, I recommend taking things slow and dipping their toes in first, so to speak, by embarking on a casino themed cruise.
A quick search online will return casino cruises operated by all of the major brands. To get you started, however, take a look below for a few of my favorites:
These casino cruises combine the best of both worlds by blending the action of a Las Vegas resort with luxurious amenities and a sense of adventure. A traditional cruise is a great way for couples to come together and learn more about one another, so why not add a few blackjack tables and some slots to spice things up?
More often than not, folks who don’t fancy themselves as casino gamblers feel more comfortable easing into things. On a trip to Las Vegas, they’d be overwhelmed by a constant wave of gambling, but on a cruise ship the casino is limited to one ballroom. This element of balance is perfect for situations when one half of a couple likes to gamble a little more than the other.
And even those who consider themselves serious gamblers find casino cruises offer a viable alternative to Vegas. Take a look at what Stephanie J. of Palm Beach, Florida had to say about her time spent aboard Victory’s casino cruise gambling it up with her hubby:
“My husband and I like to gamble. We love playing craps and playing 3 Card Poker and since we had a weekend free (ie: no kids) we decided to try the Victory Casino ship.
Now, I will admit, our expectations were low. We are used to Las Vegas Strip Casinos or the casinos on our vacation cruise ships, so I was prepared for something like the low-rent casinos from “Vegas Vacation” where Cousin Eddie takes Clark to try and make a quick buck.
I was very wrong, and I will admit it publicly. My husband and I had a GREAT time and were so pleasantly surprised. We’re going again this Friday night and looking forward to it. Even if we don’t win, we’ll still have a fun time. Give it a chance, you’ll be surprised! :)”
Cruises aren’t for everybody, of course, and land lovers do have a tendency to suffer from seasickness and all the rest. But if your loved one has their sea legs under them, taking a casino cruise can be one of the best ways to introduce them to your own passion for gambling.
Embrace the Romantic Side of Sin City
I won’t fluff this topic up too much, as any regular visitor to the Las Vegas Strip knows “romance” isn’t really the name of the game.
Vendors stand at the ready to peddle their wares, handbills advertising hookers are thrust at you every few steps, and drunken revelry pervades the entire scene. Alas, a sojourn to The Strip is more like a bachelor’s pad than a honeymoon.
That’s why I like to take the missus to an “Off Strip” casino whenever we hit the town. Our personal favorite happens to be Red Rock Resort in the Summerlin area, which is about 30 minutes to the west of The Strip. This place is luxury defined, while never feeling ostentatious, and couples are pampered every step of the way.
You’ll find Red Rock Resort listed in 6th place on the USA Today list of Las Vegas 10 Most Romantic Hotels. Check out the newspaper’s description of how Red Rock Resort appeals to those with romance on the mind:
“This resort offers couples all the ingredients for a romantic stay. Nearby Red Rock Canyon is full of sight-seeing, hiking and picnicking opportunities, and the hotel has a casino, several restaurants, a spa, movie theaters and a bowling alley.
Suites feature a contemporary design and view of either the Strip or the beautiful Red Rock Canyon. In addition to a separate bedroom area, suites have a sitting area with a half-bath, dining table, wet bar, and a large bathroom, complete with a deep soaking tub.”
Vegas is also renowned for its ability to turn young love into the lasting bonds of matrimony, thanks to the city’s collection of casino adjacent wedding chapels. Head north along The Strip and away from the glittering megaresorts to find wedding chapels of every stripe.
And if you’re in the Downtown district along Fremont Street, take a peek at the Plaza Hotel & Casino, which operates a dedicated wedding chapel right on the premises.
The life of a gambler certainly isn’t for everybody, but when two people share the same passion for table games, poker, slots, and other action, casinos can provide the perfect setting for date night.
If you’re just starting out, a crowded casino offers a neutral playing field while you get to know each other. Couples with a few years under their collective belt, and maybe even a kid or two, usually visit the casino to blow off steam and let loose. And longtime unions are strengthened when weekly gambling trips are shared.
However you and yours choose to enjoy gambling, I hope this page helped you discover a new way to enjoy your favorite games alongside your favorite person.