Responsibility for Losses: The House Edge, or You?
by Frank Scoblete
My wife, the beautiful A.P., and I walk three to six miles just about every morning. We love this time, just as the sun rises, to talk, to think, to reflect together. Today A.P. asked, “What percentage of responsibility do you take for where you are now, for your lot in life, for how everything turned out?”
I thought for a second and then said, “I take one hundred percent responsibility for my life. Even in situations that were accidents, or when confronted by something not of my own making, or having to deal with the decisions of others, it was up to me to see my way around these things to handle these things. So who and what I am, I am responsible for. What about you?”
“One hundred percent,” she said.
Then we discussed people we knew and whether they were the type who took responsibility for their own lives, or the type to blame others for their misfortunes. We both knew two men, now in their 50s, who had made messes of their lives and were now convinced it was the “capitalist” system that put them where they were. Interestingly enough, these individuals grew up in privilege, parents both college-educated, suburban schooling, never a day when they had to work in their childhoods—a real contrast to my childhood, which was anything but privileged.
These men, as boys, had made choices to use drugs, cut school, drop out, and become fringe dwellers, always looking for the easy way to get through whatever hand life dealt them. They worked hardest at not working hard. Now, graying and gaunt, they both are looking for a “communist revolution” to destroy the ruling class, which they identify as A.P. and me, and give them the money and goods that others had worked for. They want free medical, free dental, free rent (they call it “affordable” rent), and welfare, which they euphemistically call “redistribution of wealth.” In short, the decisions they made that landed them where they are well, these decisions are irrelevant to them. They blame the “system” and want other people, who have made something of their lives, to support them. In short, they are losers who take no responsibility for their losses.
As I always do, I tried to find analogies in casino gambling. In this case they weren’t hard to come by. I thought of all the players I have seen at hundreds, no, thousands of blackjack tables where I’ve played, players who blamed the dealers when they lost, who fumed and barked like chained dogs, when no one had chained them to the table to play. Once at the Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas, I saw an impeccably dressed man—a surgeon, no less—deliberately knock over his drink, then take the towel out of the hands of the dealer who was attempting to clean up the mess, and throw it in her face. Then, completely unhinged, this surgeon pushed over the table and just started babbling like a maniac.
I’ve seen craps players curse shooters who have sevened-out early, or muttered over and over about how poorly a session was going and how unfair it was to them. I’ve even seen craps players curse out players who have sevened-out after half-hour rolls! Why? Because these craps players had bet in such a way that they needed even longer rolls to make money.
I’ve seen a dozen men, and two women, actually hit slot machines with their fists, hard, because they lost all their money. (One guy even broke a knuckle.) I saw another guy at Showboat in Atlantic City kick a machine time and again until an ancient security guard hobbled over and said, “Sonny, the machine didn’t steal your money, you gave it to it.” Indeed.
So, as a serious casino player who is reading a magazine for serious casino players, I ask you this: Is it the house edge that is responsible for your losses at casino gambling or are you strictly and solely responsible for every penny you have lost at the tables or machines?
My answer is that you are unquestionably 100 percent responsible for everything. Yes, the casino structures its games to give itself an edge on just about every bet there is. Sometimes this edge is small; sometimes it’s large. Yes, every slot machine is programmed to return less money than is put into it. A mathematician might say it is the house edge that is responsible for our losses. Emotionally overwrought and/or superstitious players might blame the “lucky dealer” or “bad dice” for their fate. But I say nonsense to these excuses, because excuses are all they are.
We are solely responsible for what we do and for the consequences of our choices.
We know when we enter a casino that the games are created in such a way as to make our chances of winning in the long run remote. We know there is a house edge, even if we might not know exactly what that expression means in mathematical terms. We know that it means in general terms—we lose, casino wins! We know that when and how much we bet, how long we stay at the games, how often we go to casinos are all our choice. We know that no one is forcing us to gamble, neither is any force nor outside compulsory agency, be it a deity or demon, mucking around with our free will to say, “Yes, I will make this bet, play that game for this long or until that outcome,” or “No, I will not make this bet, play that game, because—I’m done for the day.”
And we know another thing: We have chosen casino gambling as our thrill ride. We want the ups and downs; we choose to go on the roller coaster. No one chooses this for us. You might hear some critics of casino gambling rail that the casinos make it easy for people to lose their cool and go overboard. But that’s like blaming the buffet for a person who overeats. The buffet didn’t make me fat. I made me fat. The casino is a buffet of bets. You choose which ones to taste, and you are responsible for their slimming effects on your bankroll.
As Shakespeare had Caesar so aptly put it: “The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars but in ourselves.”
Frank Scoblete is the #1 best-selling gaming-author in America and an instructor in the Golden Touch Blackjack course. His websites are www.goldentouchcraps.com and www.scoblete.com in association with CasinoCity.com. His newest books are The Craps Underground: The Inside Story of How Dice Controllers Are Winning Millions from the Casinos! and Casino Gambling: Play Like a Pro in 10 Minutes or Less! For a free brochure, call 1-(800) 944-0406 or write to: Paone Press, Box 610, Lynbrook, NY 11563.