August 1, 2015

"Funhouse Psychotherapy With Poker Chips."

"In a thousand ways, [gambling] has taught me two main lessons: that the odds are the odds, and they will always ultimately prevail; and that the mind (and particularly the ego) is full of trickery. These tricks take myriad forms, but they share a common theme: The odds apply chiefly to others. You are special."

An essay by Walter Kirn at Good, which you should click to if only for the illustration, which I don't think was intended to evoke a burqa but does.


Eric the Fruit Bat said...

(1) Years ago I had a girlfriend who said that what she really wanted out of life, deep down inside, was to have someone make a TV documentary about her so she could watch it on PBS. She was 19 or 20.

(2) I found out from some media source, yesterday, that someone is making a movie based on an interview someone had with David Foster Wallace. I wasn't quite sure what to make of that news. On the one hand, stupid. On the other hand, David Foster Wallace.

(3) There was a bit on Cheers where Lilith complains that she'll puke if she has to listen to one more yuppy whine incessantly to her about how they're miserable because they are incapable of love. Some people like the occasional sharp edge to their light entertainment. My guess is that most people perceive a joke like that as making fun of somebody else.

(4) For those of a scientific bent, it should be a simple matter to see if a disproportionate number of compulsive gamblers had mothers who bought them candy while in the checkout line at the supermarket.

Phil 314 said...

Two movies that have scenes where big wins at the casino deliver the cash to continue the journey:

Lesson: To win big in LV you either have to be an alien or an idiot savant.

(And the funnier, more realistic LV movie is "Lost in America")

Big Mike said...

People are great at fooling themselves. Hence people who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 or 2012 thinking they'd get good government.

Rusty said...

I wish I had met this guy before he found out that the odds apply to everybody all the time. He could have helped pay for my daughters college.

YoungHegelian said...

There used to be a huge IT convention (called "COMDEX") held in Las Vegas every year where the major IT vendors displayed their new & fancy wares. COMDEX fell apart in 2003 after some of the major vendors (e.g. Microsoft) felt it wasn't worth their time to attend anymore.

Las Vegas businesses had very much a love/hate relationship with COMDEX. The high-end clothing stores hated it & simply shut down for that week, because geeks don't generally buy really expensive clothes. The casinos also despised it, because, by personality & training, geeks are generally not people who feel that the odds don't apply to them, and so they had no desire to get scammed at the tables. The prostitutes, on the other hand, loved it, because COMDEX was 90% male, business was a-boomin' when COMDEX was in town.

cold pizza said...

My grandfather was a professional gambler. I learned, growing up in his household, that if you're going to play blackjack, be the house. Today, if I go to Vegas, I can sit at a blackjack table for 8 hours or more and walk away a winner--but it's real hard to set those cards down when you feel like you're on a streak. This has helped me in other aspects of life--it's important to know when to just cut your losses and walk away: job, "friends," waterskiing.

I've been a risk taker all my life, figuring the odds would catch up one day. This week a pulmonary embolism (right lung) sent me to the ER and I walked out 12 hours later after an amazingly violent series of spasms cleared the blockage (for now). Everyday is a gift, every moment could literally be my last. Once you accept the odds of fatality are 100%, everything else is manageable. Be kind and good to people, laugh, find some bit of joy each day, create something new (even if it's just a comment on Althouse). -CP

Wince said...

Every gambler knows
That the secret to survivin'
Is knowin' what to throw away
And knowin' what to keep
'Cause every hand's a winner
And every hand's a loser
And the best that you can hope for
Is to die in your sleep"

And when [that old gambler] finished speakin'
He turned back toward the window
Crushed out his cigarette
And faded off to sleep
And somewhere in the darkness
The gambler he broke even
And in his final words
I found an ace that I could keep

You've got to know when to hold 'em
Know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you're sittin' at the table
There'll be time enough for countin'
When the dealin's done

Levi Starks said...

Never tell me the odds

robother said...

You don't need to have a poker face if you're wearing a burkha.

rehajm said...

The odds are the odds, but when you count cards it turns the odds in your favor.