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Responsibility for Losses - the House Edge or YOU?24 November 2005
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 percent of responsibility do you take for where you are now, for your lot in life, for how everything turned out?"
I thought a second, and then said, "I take 100 percent responsibility for my life. I couldn't choose my birth, of course, but I always made choices, even as a child, some turned out good, some bad. 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, handle these things. So who and what I am, I am responsible for. What about you?"
"One hundred percent," she said. "One hundred percent."
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 and look to the outside for help with this or that situation. 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 certainly to my childhood which was anything but privileged. (Interesting aside: 90 percent of the people in the top 1 percent income bracket were born into families in the bottom 10 percent!)
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 wanted free medical, free dental, free rent (they called it "affordable" rent) and welfare, which they called euphemistically "redistribution of wealth." In short, the decisions they made that landed them where they were, well, these decisions were irrelevant to them - they blamed the "system" and literally wanted other people, who had made something of their lives, to support them. In short, fined-edged, they were and are losers who took no responsibility for their losses.
And, as I always do, I tried to find analogies in casino gambling. Such analogies 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, players 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, throw it in her face and 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. I've seen craps players muttering over and over about how poorly a session was going and how unfair that 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 in 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 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, nor is any force, 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."
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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