Monday, November 15, 2004

Keep on Truckin'

Part of me feels bad about posting good results here. Granted, it's a very small part, but it's an interesting aspect of blogging, especially blogging about gambling related themes. Spend enough time playing poker, blackjack, sports betting, whatever, and you quickly realize that while skill, discipline, and serious study can make you a long-term winner, short-term results are always influenced by the rather fickle nature of pure unadulterated luck and variance.

What's interesting, though, is the human nature of self-interest, when reading about someone else's gambling experience. When I read about someone going on an absolute tear in 15/30, taking down $27,000 in a single night (I'm completely making this example up), I don't immediately think, "Huzzah, good for Jimbob." If I break down my thoughts, it's likely something more like "Goddamn, what I would give for a run like that" followed by "That's great, JimBob, but it's going to be a real bitch when your luck runs out and you come crashing back down to earth."

Why is that, exactly? I mean, one obvious answer is that I'm a greedy, cold-hearted bastard. That's not completely true, though, so it's a bit more complicated. And, to be fair, it's about a 50/50 mixture, of unadulterated good wishes and adulterated, selfish wishes. JoeBob's success doesn't harm me in any way (assuming I'm not at the same table with him), though, so why shouldn't I wholeheartedly wish him well, and react only positively to his posting about his success? I like when people succeed, when people are happy. Really. So what is it about the situation that makes me respond with less than happy, enthusiastic applause and good wishes?

From a grunting monkey perspective, part of it could be a basic instinctual desire to hoard something valuable. In this case, the currency is luck. When faced with others being blessed with good luck, an instinctual response is to respond negatively ("Argh, I want that") and immediately create a scenario in which that valuable good luck is returned, if not to the grunting monkey directly then to the universe as a whole.

Which is interesting in and of itself, as far as the currency of luck. I do believe in luck. Yes, I know, blah blah math, but I don't think most of us ever approach the big numbers where cold hard math wins out over short term variance. Working with a smallish sample, I do believe that some people are lucky, while others are unlucky. Yes, I know, from a grander view the underlying math destroys any argument for "luck" but we're not sitting in that grand high chair in the sky, and are instead down here in the much, working with what we have.

But I also believe that luck comes and goes. That possession is not a constant, due to the whole short term variance beast. So it's not too far a leap to get to the point where I react, when encountering good fortune in others, with at least a small amount of injurious desire for their good luck to depart, so that it becomes available again to greedy monkeys such as myself. And so on and so forth.

Which is a long-winded way of saying what goes around comes around. That I hesitate to post continued good results because part of me fears the inevitable bite in the ass. Plus a healthy dose of projecting my own reaction to reading about good fortune onto others, as far as hesitating to post inexplicably good results because I know it puts others in the position of being a hater.

But it's not like I'm going to give back all the bling-bling I took down this weekend. And I'm going to post about it later, when I'm caught up with work stuff. So put that in your pipe and smoke it.

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