October 6, 2017

"Video poker... attracts a lot of very intelligent people."

Said Anthony Curtis, who has a website about the casino business, quoted in "Stephen Paddock and the World of Video Poker" (New Yorker).
“Video poker is well known for attracting people who have compulsive gambling problems,” he told me. “It’s almost the perfect gambling game. But it also has the property of being able to be beaten. So it attracts a lot of very intelligent people.” Curtis told me that he’d been in touch with a number of such players in Las Vegas who “can derive advantages over the casino of half of one per cent, sometimes higher.... They call themselves A.P.s... and just about everyone I talked to said, ‘No, he wasn’t A.P. level.’... People who are semi-sharp, as we say in Vegas, they know they’re better off playing video poker than slots. This guy was smart enough to know that....”
ADDED: One concert-goer described the walled-in space full of people as a "kill box." Perhaps Stephen Paddock saw that box as something like a video poker machine over which he'd finally figured out how to get the advantage.

23 comments:

rehajm said...

Video poker is beatable but the positive expectation requires a payoff from progressive jackpot machines. There are syndicates of players who watch the jackpots and step in once the jackpots are large enough to achieve a positive payback. Then it becomes a fast play slog...By far the most important component of overall risk is the payoff for a royal flush. So dominant is it that you can ignore everything else except the number of plays. That is, the overall standard deviation depends on the size of the royal-flush jackpot only and not on the payoffs for other hands and not on the denominations of coins used. - Stanford Wong, Professional Video Poker

It sounds as though our killer was more interested in playing at a slight disadvantage but making up for that disadvantage in comps- RFB (room, food and beverage). Drunks like this arrangement.

Lance said...

"But it also has the property of being able to be beaten. So it attracts a lot of very intelligent people."

I wonder how much the Nevada Tourism Bureau paid for that bit of advertising?

320Busdriver said...

According to the casinos, Paddock was known as a "premium mass" player. Which requires large sums of money due to the large bets and to get through the dry spells in order to get back to a break even point

rehajm said...

Like blackjack there's an attraction to the stats of video poker for a numerically analytical mind. I found actual video poker play to be mind numbing, however.

rehajm said...

It's the standard deviation that gets most players. You have to wait out long losing streaks without altering your play strategy. Most people don't have the stones for it...

Fernandinande said...

I knew a guy with a PhD in statistics who spent about $200/year in online ("sports"?) gambling, but AFAIK he never shot a bunch of people.

tcrosse said...

The trouble with video poker is that you can't bluff.

Nonapod said...

Paddock played the game for hours at a time and was known, when he wasn’t playing, for “staring” at others while they played.

That's not creepy at all.

There have been several studies that suggests links between traumatic brain injury and addictive behaviors like gambling as well as violent behavior. My theory is that this guy may have had some kind of brain damage.

ndspinelli said...

Bill Bennett was addicted to video poker. Maybe still is?

ndspinelli said...

nonapod, Don't forget his old man was a diagnosed psychopath. Genetic?

Bob Boyd said...

I've had two close friends who became severely addicted to video gambling. One's promising start in life was thrown completely off track and he never fully recovered. The other died young as an indirect, but clear consequence of his addiction.

Nonapod said...

nonapod, Don't forget his old man was a diagnosed psychopath. Genetic?

Yeah, there's that of course too. He may have inherited the so called "warrior gene" from his father. I wonder if psychopaths brains operate in a similar way to the brains of people with traumatic brain injury with regards to things like impulse control, violence, and addictive behaviors.

William said...

Aren't the odds better on Wall St?

tcrosse said...

The odds can be pretty good at craps, if you ignore the sucker bets the table is cluttered with. Plus the action of the Random Number Generator is transparent to the user, and money can change hands very quickly.

Jupiter said...

The term "kill box" is used in the military when planning (or walking into) an ambush. The meaning is pretty clear.

Original Mike said...

Wasting your life in a casino doesn't seem very intelligent to me.

Achilles said...

Original Mike said...
Wasting your life in a casino doesn't seem very intelligent to me.

Addiction takes on many forms. Intelligence wont help with that.

Achilles said...

One concert-goer described the walled-in space full of people as a "kill box."

That would be a Kill Zone.

The not allowing people out part is just a function of not letting people who haven't paid in. They didn't think of a need for a way to quickly drop barriers. That will start now.

Paddock made an Allah video. There is a "cell." They have reconnoitered many other potential targets. They are not releasing the video because it would "trigger" other parts of the cell.

Short any stocks that are heavily dependent on the concert industry.

Ann Althouse said...

"The not allowing people out part is just a function of not letting people who haven't paid in. They didn't think of a need for a way to quickly drop barriers. That will start now."

The need for emergency exits has been well known for a very long time. You can't say I was only trying to keep unauthorized people from getting in, so I only accidentally made it very hard to get out. That's not going to cut it in the lawsuit I presume is in the offing.

Jupiter said...

You might say, "I had guys standing by at every exit to open the gate in the event of an emergency. But four of them were killed and the other two seriously injured in the first ten seconds of shooting". I think there might be some sympathy for that position. BTW I *don''t* know if that is true, but if a guy with an automatic weapon was hosing the exits, it might well be.

320Busdriver said...

The fairly new US Bank stadium in Minneapolis cost over 1 Billion dollars to construct. From the outside it is an impressive structure. I attended the U2/Beck concert there a few weeks ago. We were on the floor Gen Admin and found that we had to both descend 3/4 of the way to enter the floor area and climb up the same distance to reach the concourse where the exits are in order to leave. The concourses were fairly narrow and crowded. They should have taken a page from Lambeau's design. After the show, once we reached the exit level we were herded into a small vestibule with a basic double door, no bigger than your convenience store entry. Any sort of panic would have resulted in carnage at this exit. We were not impressed. The show kicked ass though.

holdfast said...

Obviously not the same as a deliberate shooting attack, but I seem to recall a concert with far more fatalities due to pyrotechnics and barred exits.

dada said...

Something I read many years ago really strikes a note with me on this guy. Read the first chapter of Mario Puzo's 'Fools Die' and it tells the story of a high stakes gambler that popped, and no one that knew him could explain why.
Living in a casino is a hard, unhealthy life and this guy may have just lost the buzz it gave him and could think of nothing else to do with his mundane life, but end it in a way that left the only mark he ever could/would. His life was a cipher, and I fear that he'll leave it a cipher for his reason to do the horrific thing he did.