Monday, August 10, 2015

Mojo, Voodoo, or Just Plain Luck!

Walk through any casino in the world and the air is pungent with superstition. Gamblers are, by far, the most superstitious group of human beings you will ever meet. They believe, contrary to every mathematical formula built into every game of chance on the casino floor, that they can influence the outcome of their play. And, don’t try to convince them otherwise! The only logic to all of these gambling antics is no logic at all.

Start at the slot machines. How many times have you seen a player, man or woman but in this case mostly women, talking to the machine they are playing?

“Come on now! Pay off! You know you want to!”

 All the while they pet and pat various parts of the machine to create good vibes. If the machine hits only once during, or soon after, this elaborate ritual, the player’s system is reinforced and will continue unabated. If nothing happens, excuses are easily manufactured and the practice continues anyway. For some slot players the charm is to play an entire bank of slot machines instead of just one. Back and forth, pulling handles or pushing buttons, this slot machine dance is well known and rather common place. Every time one machines scores, the need for the ceremony is fortified.

Craps tables are a haven for superstitious types. Read just one book about dice and the math is very clear – over time more sevens will come up than any other number followed by sixes and eights and then fives and nines right down the line. Snake eyes and box cars pay 30-1 because the odds of them hitting are a mere 1/36 or about 3%. Patterns in the short term can be very different but unadulterated dice land randomly and observant dealers and pit employees are always on the look out for scammers who attempt to physically influence the way the dice land.

 Nevertheless, the number of gamblers who throw dice in every conceivable odd manner, hoping to influence the outcome, defies logic - high in an arc, straight down and banging off the rear wall, setting the dice on the table before picking them up, pre-shakes and mini rolls. None of it makes any difference but don’t try telling a gambler that. For the shooter, his or her technique is what works and no one will ever convince them otherwise.

I once observed, and won a little money with, an old fella at a craps table in the Golden Nugget downtown in Las Vegas. He was hot, having two impressive rolls one right after the other, so much so that after he sevened-out on the second string of rolls the players around the table willingly passed the dice back to him. After another spectacular series of passes and after winning a bundle he turned to walk away and I naively asked him as he passed by if he always rolled like that. He looked at me, seriously, and said, “Only when I have my underwear on backwards!”

I tried. Didn’t work for me! Did make me kind of uncomfortable, though!!

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