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The odds are against the players. Why do we gamble then?

10 Sep 2022

The odds are against the players. Why do we gamble then?

There are often two responses when I mention that I like playing in casinos—one positive and one negative.

Let's start with the bad; those people who think you're some sort of stupid sucker for loving playing games in Lady Luck shrines. They will remark something along the lines of: "How can you play casino games when you know the house always has an advantage? You're going to lose, I mean.

Except for a small group of advantage gamers, all casino gamblers eventually have slim chances of outsmarting the house.

In casinos, luck is the worst thing to rely on because it is a transient phenomenon with, to be honest, good and terrible forms of luck. Why does that matter? It implies that while you may occasionally win and occasionally lose, you will eventually lose since the arithmetic used by casinos consistently outperforms randomness over time.

In fact, gullible players may believe that their luck would be so strong that they may defeat the house advantage in the games. Except for the really, extremely lucky few who are the winners of large jackpots, luck will not be on your side.

Rare players are capable of winning at the tables, and even fewer can triumph at the machines. Horses? No. Sports? Actually, no. Such long-term winners certainly aren't even worth noting given that they represent hardly any of the 60 million players in the United States and Canada put together.

I don't think many casino gamblers truly believe their luck will last over time, and those who do are mistaken in their beliefs. Good sessions come and go, and the money eventually finds its way into the casinos' coffers either slowly or quickly. There wouldn't be any casinos at all if that weren't the case.

Why then do people play these games?

Veteran gambler Joe Blanchard stated, "I enjoy the rush of playing. That's how easy it is. What makes me laugh is the contest itself. The joy is in the attempting, even though I don't really think I can survive the casino for very long.

Regarding her love of the slots, Mary Carol stated the following:

"To me, gambling machines represent hopes for an alternative future. I can imagine a whole different trajectory for my life if I can hit a huge one, a very big one. Don't get me wrong; I have a wonderful life, but daydreaming about riches unknown is enjoyable. When I put my money in the machines, they are the dreams I have.

I asked several dozen people in a wholly unscientific study if they actually believed they could defeat the house. They were all content with their sporadic victories and the majority agreed with Joe that the idea of a competition between the man/woman and the house was absurd. In actuality, slot gamers frequently believed that they might be exceptionally lucky and hit a huge jackpot, but this rarely occurred to players of table games.

What about the affirmative reactions now? Rather than critics, these were casino patrons.

The majority of casino goers would rather chat about their winnings, fantastic sessions, or terrible sessions. In actuality, they had no urge to wax lyrical about their chances of winning. For them, playing was sufficient. They also appreciated hearing about the successes and failures of other players.

Jason, one of the men, said: "Look, I played stickball constantly in New York City, but I never imagined that I would play in the top leagues of baseball. But I appreciated the playing," he said, echoing Joe Blanchard's comment.

I didn't observe any casino patrons grumbling and whining as they thought back on their experiences, as many do when playing. Most people liked going occasionally, while other people preferred going frequently. "A lot" meant what? "Perhaps each week.

The group I spoke to did not include any problem gamblers, but these people are not your typical gamblers. They are anomalies and ought to think about switching to a less expensive type of amusement.

Is it really so horrible to like playing at casinos? I doubt many readers of this journal would object to taking on Lady Luck's hegemony; otherwise, why read this magazine?

Then, what can be said with certainty about casino gamblers? Others just blow through their money playing in ways that truly give them little to no opportunity to come out ahead today, much less over the long term. Some people play smart strategies and have great money management techniques.

There are better and worse ways to play; the better methods increase your chances of winning (or at the very least, of losing less), while the terrible tactics produce, you guessed it, negative outcomes.

Best wishes both inside and outside the casinos!


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