The odds are against the player. So why do we gamble?
By Frank Scoblete
When I tell people that I enjoy casino gambling there are two general reactions, one good, one not so good.
First let’s start with the negative; those people who look at you as some type of dimwitted sucker for enjoying playing games in the temples of Lady Luck. They will say something such as: “How can you play casino games when you know the casino has the edge on every bet? I mean you are going to lose.”
With the exception of a handful of advantage players, all casino gamblers face grim prospects over time concerning their ability to beat the house.
Luck is the worst thing to put one’s faith on in the casinos because luck is a short-range thing and there are, to be honest, good and bad types of luck. What does that mean? It means sometimes you win and sometimes you lose but over time you will lose because the casinos’ math beats luck every time over time.
Foolish players might actually think they will have such a strong dose of luck that they can overcome the house edge on the games. Short of those lucky few – the very, very few – who win giant jackpots, luck will play you wrong.
Only rare players can beat the table games and even fewer can beat the machines. Horses? No. Sports? Not really. It probably isn’t even worth mentioning such long-term winners as they do not make up even a percentage of the approximately 60 million players in the United States and Canada combined.
I doubt many casino gamblers actually think their good luck will hold out over time and those that do are wrong in thinking so. Good sessions come and go; and slowly over time, or fast over time, the money heads towards the casinos’ coffers. If that were not so there wouldn’t be any casinos at all.
So why play these games at all?
Joe Blanchard, a Vegas veteran said, “I like the thrill of playing. It is that simple. The contest itself is what amuses me. I don’t really think I can overcome the casino for any really long period of time but the fun is in trying.”
Mary Carol had this to say about her love of the slot machines:
“To me slot machines contain dreams of a different future. If I can hit a big one, a really big one, then I can see a completely different course for my life. Don’t get me wrong; I have a great life, but dreaming the dreams of riches untold is a fun thought process. Those are the dreams I dreams I dream when I put my money in the machines.”
In a totally unscientific survey of several dozen people I asked them if they really thought they could beat the house. Each and every one said “no.” All were happy with their occasional wins and most agreed with Joe about the idea of a contest between man/woman and the house. In truth, slot players tended to think it was possible to be lucky enough to hit a giant jackpot; but it was rare for table-game players to think this way.
Now what about the positive responses? These came from casino players as opposed to critics.
Most casino players would prefer talking about their wins and the great sessions they had or the horrible sessions they had. They had, in fact, no desire to wax unpoetic about their actual chances to win. Playing was enough for them. They also enjoyed the good and bad stories of other players’ fortunes or lack thereof.
One guy, Jason, said: “Look, I played stickball all the time in New York City, but I had no illusions that I would be a major league baseball player. But I enjoyed the playing.” His response was somewhat similar to Joe Blanchard’s.
I didn’t find any casino players who were moaning and groaning, as many do during actual play, as they reflected on their casino experiences. Most liked going occasionally and some enjoyed going a lot. What was “a lot?” Perhaps weekly.
I did not run into any problem gamblers in the crowd I talked to, but these individuals are not really your average players. They are outliers and should consider taking up some other form of entertainment that is not so costly to them.
Is it so bad to enjoy casino gambling? I doubt many people reading this magazine would rail against tackling Lady Luck’s dominion – or why read this magazine?
What can be said definitively about casino gamblers then? Some play good strategies and have sound money management techniques; while others just blow through their money playing in ways that really give them little or no chance to come out ahead today much less over time.
There are better and worse ways to play; the better ways give you a better chance to win (or at least lose less) while the poor strategies give – you guessed it – poor results.
All the best in and out of the casinos!
Visit Frank’s web site at www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, kindle, e-books and at bookstores.