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Can Anyone Play This Game?10 February 2005
I have an acquaintance; let's call him Jim, shall we? Jim is a businessman who owns several diners in New York and makes a hefty income that puts him in the rarified atmosphere called "filthy rich." And he earns every cent of what he makes. He often works seven days a week in one or the other of his diners, especially if someone calls in sick, be it a waiter, waitress, cashier or cook.
Jim told me that before he opened his first diner with loans from family, friends, and a friendly bank, that he worked for two years getting to "know the business." He worked as a busboy, a waiter, a counterman, and a cook. He stated: "I asked the owner questions and I learned about how to run a good business. Then when I knew I was ready, I opened my own place and in 20 years of business I now have a string of diners and every one is a success. I am very good managing my money and keeping my properties well kept."
Jim lives on an estate in Long Island, his children go to exclusive private schools, he owns a yacht, several horses, a small fleet of cars. You could say that he is as rich as Gatsby, without the attendant legal issues or romantic obsessions and illusions, and he throws those big, lavish parties, too.
In short, Jim is some smart businessman. He has all the ingredients in one great package. He knows how to manage money and he isn't afraid of hard work. He has made a great life for himself and his family. Jim is a smart man, a very smart man.
But in the casino, Jim is an idiot, a complete and utter fool.
You see, Jim just throws his money away; great heaping wads of it - zip, bang, gone - when he plays casino games! He throws his money away as if it weren't, well, money. He plays blackjack based on intuition, not computer-derived basic strategy, standing on hands he should hit, hitting hands he should stand on, doubling at the wrong times, splitting tens even. At craps he makes every Crazy Crapper high house edge bet in the books - and he makes them on each and every roll and for large amounts. He presses his bets before he's won a dime.
Oh, yes, when luck favors him on those rare occasions, Jim wins big. But when he loses, as he almost always does, his losses are staggering - more than he pays his employees at his diners.
He has never once taken the time to learn about the house edge, the proper strategies and money management. He eschews these things as a waste of his time and energy. He is, in official scientific gambling terms, ah, well, he's nuts!
"I know, I know," he says, "I am a crazy player but I only go to casinos to let off steam. I just want to have fun. I am not interested in working at casino gambling because I work at work."
If it's fun to lose mid-six figures every year like clockwork, then Jim is having a ball!
Yet, he could have his cake and eat it too - if he wanted it. You see, learning the proper strategies is not that hard, it doesn't take a Herculean effort. At blackjack, you can even bring a basic strategy card to the table and refer to it. At craps, it's just a matter of forgetting that certain bad bets exist and ignoring the few times they hit and some guy screams, "Yeah!"
I have told Jim that it is more exciting to make a good bet than a bad bet. It is more fun when you have a decent chance to win.
But Jim doesn't listen and doesn't care. The casino experience for him is simply to play in the games, not necessarily to have a good shot of winning at the games.
It's a strange psychology, indeed, but I believe that it is a psychology that is rampant among many casino players, but most especially among a significant percentage of the high-rolling elite. I have seen this scenario time and again, a high roller playing like an idiot but impressed with himself because others, who see the size of his bets, are staggered by the staggering amounts he wagers. In the end, the high roller appears to not care that he loses large sums - and doesn't care that he plays like an idiot.
Now, we all know that in the end the casino has an edge over just about every player who plays the games. But this edge can be large or small - and which one is which is strictly up to the player to decide. How much a player bets is also up to him. Yet, it seems to me that the same savvy that went into creating a successful business and a successful life, if used at casino gambling, would make the casino gambling experience much more satisfying because you'd come home much more frequently with more money than you started out with. From what I have seen, the low and intermediate rollers, percentage wise, have taken this lesson to heart - a good bet is more fun to make than a bad bet - and they have done the homework necessary to make the good bets at the games of their choices or to chose games where the house edge is small.
I can tell you from my own experience of playing casino games on a regular basis for nearly two decades now - it's indeed a heck of a lot more fun to win than to lose. Simply, playing the game is fun, yes, but playing and winning is more fun; playing and losing is less fun.
I think if I could convince Jim it would take just a few minutes a day of study over a couple of weeks to give him a decent shot of winning on his next trip, he might give it a go. Why someone who is so successful and astute in business would be so foolish in gambling is beyond me.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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