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Win or lose, luck’s got nothing to do with it

By Frank Scoblete


I am sure many of our readers have heard the following or at the very least some versions of the following:

“I know a woman who is the luckiest person at the casino. Every time she plays the slots, she wins! She never loses. Amazing!”

“I know a woman who is the unluckiest person at the casino. Every time she plays slots she loses. She has never been ahead at any time in her playing. Amazing!”

Now most of us tend to be skeptical of such claims, as we should be; but there are certainly players who seem to have had remarkable good luck at the slots. So why are they so lucky?

What about all those poor souls who have had miserable luck at the machines? Why are they so unlucky?

They aren’t. Our winner has not had good luck. Our loser has not had bad luck. You know why? There is no such thing as luck, good or bad, when it comes to slot machines. At least there is no such thing if we think of “luck” as being some force outside of ourselves that chooses us for good or bad gambling tidings. Which means there is no “Lady Luck,” no “Dame Fortune,” no“ Nemesis.” Sadly no rabbit’s foot, no amulet, no herbs, spices, symbols or mystical mandalas can turn the head of the entity that distributes luck.

There is no entity, consciousness, deity waiting to bestow a great win or a great loss (or anything in between) on us mere mortals playing the slot machines.

So why do some people win and some people lose when they play the slots? Isn’t that luck? How is it that some people have done much better at the machines over time than other people? If it isn’t luck what the heck is it?

It is merely chance—blind chance.

Take this as an example: What if we had a million slot machines all geared to being played simultaneously. We put manikins at each machine and those manikins can only do one thing; press the play button.

So a million machines are played this instant. Yes, some of those manikins will win on those spins and many more will lose. Are the manikins who won lucky? Are the ones who lost unlucky? Did some force exert itself because it favored manikin number 3,771 over manikin number 56? No.

Let’s have each manikin switch to another machine and again we go through a million spins and what happens? Some manikins win; some lose and some have just won a couple of times and some have lost a couple of times. We can keep switching manikins from machine to machine to machine until the manikins face thousands of decisions at thousands of machines. What will we see?

There will be some manikins who are ahead. There will be many manikins behind. They did not have anything to do with whether then won or lost; they just happened, by chance, to be at machines that won them money. The losing manikins just happened to be at machines that took their money.

Yes, when someone has—by chance—been “lucky” as were some of the above manikins, there is a distinct tendency to think that luck was bestowed on them by some secret or spiritual force. That did not happen.

So why are players so convinced that luck actually exists? First, if we take a look at the long history of mankind we see that good and bad fortunes were meted out by the gods or spirits. Life was often thought to hinge on the benevolence or malevolence of such gods or spirits. The fact that these ideas still exist is not hard to believe. I don’t think there is a casino player in the world who hasn’t heard of Lady Luck. Many have heard of Dame Fortune. Luck goes by many names but all these names ascribe to luck anthropomorphic characteristics when no such characteristics exist.

Luck is pure chance.

Now, most slot players don’t walk through the slot aisles carefully observing players. That’s the job of gambling writers. What I’ve noticed is that many players have trinkets that can give them good fortune. Some make religious signs before they play. These players are believers in luck being something that makes decisions, pro and con, for them.

Such beliefs then make them feel blessed when they win and take such wins as affirmations of their worth. The losers, well, their self-worth just isn’t as high as the winners. Of course such thinking is silly. Manikins can win at slot play and their worth is basically the wood and/or plastic they are constructed from – it has nothing to do with whether the manikin won or lost during its slot play.

So please keep this in mind; you are playing a game of chance that has no attendant meanings. So good luck!

Frank Scoblete’s latest books are I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack! and Confessions of a Wayward Catholic. Available from, Kindle and from your local book store.

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