Is it only for printing? What kind of monitor is it? CRT, LCD?
For me, I crank the Brightness on the monitor all the way up and then use the gamma setting to set it. Then if it's too bright, slowly pull the Brightness setting back. My LCD is crappy, so it's always sitting at maximum brightness. I usually don't mess with the colors since I'm using DVI. Try using sRGB or User Defined settings. The latter will allow you to change the individual RGB settings as you see fit.
I guess it would all depend on the monitor as well. The different Color Adjustments
for the monitor play an important role here. Also, if you're not using the DVI connector, you'll want to use that instead — it's a definite must. Although my LCD is uber crappy (hey, it was free so I'm not complaining), I've still managed to pull off great calibration with it without making everything else washed out.
Usually, there's sRGB, 9300K, 6500K, 5400K, and User Adjusted settings for the monitor. Most of the time, sRGB is used. While the other settings listed above depend on the ambient lighting in the room, most printing presses use 9300 and 6500K. You can see the difference between 9300 (as it makes your monitor more blue) and 6500 (as it makes it a little more brown). They key is to find the balance where picking one of the settings and calibrating the other colors to balance them out.
If the monitor can't output the exact colors for printing, a test print is usually done and then used as a reference alongside the screen to adjust the different brightness settings without touching the gamma. The gamma is always set — it's the other color adjustments you need to make such as Brightness, Contrast, and Color. Never change the gamma after you set it. Always change it via monitor when tweaking the rest.
Another thing that bugs me is that a ton of game companies never use proper gamma, and it's a royal pain in the ass to have to keep adjusting it while in the game. The only recent game I've played that used proper gamma was World of Warcraft. They have a "Use Dektop Gamma" setting in their gamma control. Just check it, and it makes the game look so much better when using it. All other games have seperate gamma and brightness controls and it's a pain in the ass. Actually, now that I think about it, Left 4 Dead has a similar gamma setting too. It's not like WoW's but it actually had a proper gamma slider.