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16 Oct 2010

Raise The Stakes

It is easy to see why gambling is addictive. It is a win-win situation for the house, may not be so for gambler but he returns nevertheless. 

If one is running through a streak of bad luck, there are two things that will bring him back. A hope that the luck will turn someday and one will at least make the money back that one has lost, makes one want to return. The reasoning that if it were the case for everyone, the casino would not be raking so much moolah is lost. If it is not the, forgive me, foolish and what also appears to be desperate at times, hope that makes one come back, it could be the frustration. The anger and despair at having lost all that money and the ego fight to keep going until one wins at least once. The "I will not give up" protests of the pride help keep the casino lights burning. 

Another kind of addiction exists, with the appearance of a wee lesser madness in the eye. That is when one returns to gamble ever so often but argues that one is only losing (playing) small values of money. The argument persists - what if one would win someday, one might make a fortune but if one does not, the losses are of slight consequence. This could, by far, be crazier than the rush kind of addictions for this could grow and be hard to shrug off. Like smoking. One is not a habitual smoker nor a chain smoker, yet one needs to smoke when stressed or when drinking or when doing something else. One can give it up but won't. How long before the will not turns into a can not? And one might not even notice the addiction creeping in. The losses at the tables will soon be budgeted into the monthly math.

Watching some of the tables last night, it was obvious that the tables are played so as to ensure that house always makes more money than the player. The simplest was the game of the wheel. The 1-1 payouts cost the casino nothing and the wheel had a 1 alternating every other number. The highest 47-1 was only present on the wheel once. What are the odds of that turning up? A gambler who wants to chance his luck on something so high might do so on small amounts, for he wins he makes a fortune but if he does not (which is more often the case), the casino keeps the money. 

The odd payout means nothing to the casino. Again, what are the chances of the winner putting all of that back on the table? Pretty high, no doubt. If one is willing to gamble one's hard-earned money at the table, one would be doubly willing to gamble a win that one freely obtained. If one lost that money, it does not matter for one did not lose one's own money. Neither did the casino. In short, when one loses, the casino makes money. When one wins, the casino gets it back more often than not.

A fellow that was with me at the Blackjack tables last night insisted that the Blackjack is definitely a lesser of a gamble than the others. "Because there is some decision-making involved", he argued. Admittedly there is a certain amount of decision to make. How long does one keep tapping for the next card? Who does one chance one's luck upon, for a perfect pair or a coloured pair? However, what does one base the decision upon? It is purely accident that one might win. It is a gamble. While it might give one a false sense of control over one's decisions or a feeling of more probabilities of a win, that is not necessarily so.

This is another age-old and classic examples of a mere tweaking of human psychology bringing the executor of the deed enormous profits. Another perfect sample of expensive addictions. Preying on one's weakness and feeding it just enough to reap benefits while giving one a sense of elation that cannot possibly exist. Such is life. As the saying goes, life is a gamble. Everyone loves it that way. Is that not why book-readers tend to love mystery thrillers and action stories which have all the rush that lead up to a supposedly unknown end. Everyone knows that the hero will win but it is the stakes that he plays along the way that keeps one reading. 

I went in merely to watch people gamble last night. If it were not for serious crunch of cash, I might have done so myself. The attraction is monstrous! The only language at the table is numbers. The deals are number, the coins are number, even the crisp notes one lays at the table are mere numbers. The $$ sign just blurs away from those little pieces of paper. One puts down a hundred, one gets coins that add up to a hundred and one lay the coins at numbers. Then one exchanges coins with the dealer, one loses some and wins some. It is all a stack of nothing but numbers. It is only when one steps out does one realize the weight of the abandoned $$. The dealers or the casino owners themselves have to do nothing, save for creating the right atmosphere. Each gambler incites the next one to keep going. It is a strangely perfected method of allowing people to feed off of each others' defects with no intervention from the original one that set the ball rolling. Fantastic, that is what it is.

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