On Gambling

During my time in Vegas, I sort of figured I’d drop some money in a casino. Besides being one of the things to do in Vegas (if not the entire point), I don’t even have any personal moral objection to gambling. Yet I never felt any urge to gamble. I’ve since spent a bit of time trying to determine what happened.

First off, I’ve never really liked video games and arcades. The idea of slot machines, video poker, etc. makes my eyes glaze over just thinking about it. Those parts of the casinos really had no appeal to me.

Moving to the table games, I can see the appeal of blackjack or craps.* But I think I’d need to be doing them with a group of friends. Doing either of those by myself has no appeal. It’s just a game of chance at that point.

*Is there something about craps which appeals only to men? I’ve had to explain it to multiple women. And I don’t even play it.

Roulette meanwhile just seems incredibly stupid. $10 minimum on the cheap tables for a one-in-38 chance of winning? The hell?

And poker… I have problems with poker as Texas Hold’em has become majorly popular. I’ve never liked the whole knockout thing and I prefer poker games which encourage people to spend a long time together at the table. I also find that I consider poker a game where the gameplay is actually the betting. Unlike blackjack, craps, or roulette where you can basically play with a cheatsheet of when to bet, poker, when done correctly, is about the gameplay.

So yeah, for me, poker in a casino is like playing Monopoly or Scrabble in a casino. I’d rather play it on game night with pride at stake.

That pretty much leaves the sports book. I can see myself gambling on sports. It’s the kind of thing where I think I should be smart enough to make educated guesses on what may happen. I also enjoy watching sports and, as a purist, am looking for ways to make the experience a bit more visceral. I’ve managed to detach myself a bit from the usual fan irrationality so what better way to add some back in than by having both money and pride riding on the outcome.

At the same time, I know that I would be unable to bet on anything where I have an actual rooting interest in the outcome.* Makes no sense to me to put money on the line when I know I may be borderline-irrational anyway. If my team wins, I’ll be happy regardless of whether I make money on it.  And if it loses, why add a financial loss to the pain?

*This is also why I refuse to partake in my company’s employee stock purchasing plan. I only care about (and can influence) how the company does in terms of profitability and product quality. I do not care about, nor can I control what the market expectations are.

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