Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Point of No Return

One interesting theme in The Odds that keeps cropping up is the inevitable desensitization that most gamblers go through. It takes larger and larger stakes to replicate that happy fuzzy feeling of goodness that wins used to produce, and scores that used to seem to be ginormous are no longer cause for celebration, and simply more funds to pump back into the system, chasing ever bigger wins.

Stepping back a bit, there's also a pretty hard dividing line between casual sportsbettors and people blessed/cursed with the gamble gene. Casual gamblers are there to have fun and any win, no matter how small, is something to grin and giggle out, because they know they got lucky and beat the house, know that they're ahead, and absolutely have no trouble walking away with profits. Walking away with profits is the easiest thing in the world for the casual gambler, because they believe to their core that they don't deserve the profits, that they just got lucky.

On the flip side of that coin, we have your degenerates cursed with the gamble gene. Which looks pretty straightforward, on the surface. They like to bet. They're only truly happy when they have all of their money out there, riding on the outcome of an event they can't control, putting it all on the line. The winning payout is never enough to simply walk away, smiling. There's always another bet to make, somewhere, on something.

The really interesting part, though, is that many people cursed with the gamble gene are actually pretty damn intelligent, especially in the world of betting on sports or horses. What really drives them is the idea that the system is exploitable, if they can just find the key to unlock it. And they keep trying to unlock, despite the fact that the entire landscape is littered with the wrecks of people who tried the very same thing and failed miserably. Unlike the casual gambler, they can't just walk away happy with a pocket full of money from a great day, simply because they don't believe they got lucky. If it's their skill responsible for the win, then they absolutely have to keep exerting their skill and wagering more, beating the game for ever larger amounts.

The point? I'm not sure I have one. It's just interesting, especially the perceived notion of luck/skill that we all carry around in our heads, and how it affects us. If I buy a $1 scratch game ticket on a complete impulsive whim while getting gas and win $50, I can't cash that in quickly enough, and might not buy another ticket for five years. But inject the tiniest notion of skill, such as winning a fantasy baseball pool, and I'm always ready to roll more money into the endeavor, even if I know that the outcome was much more determined by random luck than skill.

Not much happening poker-wise the last few days, as I've been pretty busy with house stuff, and end-of-the-quarter tax and payroll stuff for my wee business and all the other normal life junk that devours free time like some sort of free time devouring monster.


Klopzi said...

I hear ya.

There's nothing better than finding an edge that no one knows about, no one believes or no one thought to look for.

And there's nothing better than finding a beatable game.

I'm not much of a trailblazer, mind you, so I'll just have to follow in your footsteps.

cmitch said...

That is so true about being numb to winnings that are smaller. A week or 2 after I had my biggest win ($29k), I finished 8th out of 1,000+ in a Paradise $30 rebuy for $2k. I wasn't as excited about the $2k win from $90 as I was disappointed in not finishing in the top 3 (23k, 13k, 7.8k). Don't get me wrong $2,000 is very nice but I felt so close to the bigger prizes I just came away feeling let down.

Nuck said...

Yes. This is me.