Three rules of gambling

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 October, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 October, 2004, 12:00am

My first time in Asia was about eight or nine years ago, in the Philippines. One of the first people I met when I came to Asia was Imelda Marcos, when I was due to make a presentation to the then president Fidel Ramos at a golf course.

As I headed off to get a helicopter, I was greeted by Mrs Marcos. As an American, I was shocked to see her. And, also as an American, the first thing I looked at were her shoes. Unfortunately, I do not remember what they were like.

I went to Macau for the first time for a day about seven years ago. Of course, when I walked into the casino at the Lisboa Hotel, I was shocked. I could not see the tables through the haze of smoke.

I was fascinated by the many design elements within the casino. First, it was round, which is a good shape. Some of the most famous casinos in the world are round, such as Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas.

I was also fascinated by the kind of gambling that went on. It is not entertainment, it is just gambling in Macau. In Europe, the United States, South America or even Australia, the kind of casinos we design feature entertainment in a big way. But in Macau it was just gambling, with hardcore gamblers. It was an amazing sight.

I was inspired to become an architect by my father. When I was young, he would always ask me if I would like to earn US$20. I was eight or nine, and I would go into his office and help with blueprints or specifications for him, or I would shade in areas with cross hatching. He had one or two employees during much of my upbringing, and so he would ask me to design little projects. I designed my first building when I was 10 or 11. It was a little garage addition; that is how I got introduced to architecture.

At that time, I did not think I was going to be an architect. I was fascinated with aeronautical engineering, and I thought that I would be a fantastic aeronautical engineer.

But fortunately for me, the space race came to an end at about the same time I was leaving high school, and I said that I was not going to study for up to nine years and not have a job at the end of it.

So, I changed my career plans in my senior year of high school. I admired my father and his profession, and I thought that it was a good profession, because you did something different every day.

Other than architecture, my children are my great passion. I have a son who is 21, studying drama at the University of San Francisco. He spent this summer in Oxford and he wants to be the next Brad Pitt. He is handsome, a very talented actor, and a straight-A student. He has just got his first part in a movie; that will be his first pay cheque.

My 18-year-old daughter is studying to be an architect at the University of Oklahoma.

I have lots of other passions. I am building a house at Mammoth Lakes, in California. I love to ski; I try to go at least 30 or 40 days a year. I love to sail; I was on the sailing team at college.

I also play golf: I played at St Andrews, in Scotland, this year. I took my 77-year-old father-in-law, because it has been a lifelong dream of his.

I will end with my three rules of gambling. First, do not play for more than an hour. Second, split your money into three, and if you lose more than one-third, move to another table. The last rule is quit when you have doubled your money. If you can follow these three rules, you will win.

Paul Steelman is president and chief operating officer of the Paul Steelman Digital Design Group. He designed the Sands Casino in Macau