Saturday, February 01, 2014

On Gambling

They did not build this by losing money to your Uncle Hector
and his "Foolproof betting method"
Once upon a time, when Dr. Mrs. The Sportsthodoxy and I were on our honeymoon, I took her to a casino. More accurately, we were on a cruise ship that had a casino on board, and our first day out of port they had a "get to learn how to play casino games" briefing for all us benighted souls on board. We bounced from table to table, with Dr. Mrs. The Sportsthodoxy, who is a PhD. statistician, making a few cutting comments about how efficiently the various games were designed to separate you from your cash, and how foolish various maneuvers seemed to anyone who understood basic probability theory.

Eventually, the event wound down and the games started being played for money again. I turned to my wife and said "I realize there's no way we win, but what the hell, it's our honeymoon. Do you want to take a few hundred bucks and just play for a while?" In response,  my delicate bellicose flower said, "These games are designed by companies who have lots and lots of people like me on staff, all with the goal of taking your money." She then started pointing to tables. "If you started with $100 bucks, at that table it would take you 9 hands to lose all your cash. At that one, six. At that one, ten, five if you use the bonus card. At that one, three." And so on she went around the room, nailing how efficiently each game would separate a sucker (meaning: me) from their cash.

And when she finished, there was dead silence for a moment. I said to her, "So, you want to go to the bar instead?" She nodded. We left. And the games started back up behind us.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that if you were thinking of gambling on the Super Bowl in any way, shape or form, you should read Aaron Gordon's piece over at Sports on Earth. The key takeaway: 

Gambling is stupid. I cannot stress this point enough. Small armies with supercomputers are paid vast amounts of money to ensure that everything stacks against Joe Gambler. You and your gut and/or system are nothing compared to their resources. If there was any way to consistently make money, it wouldn't be called gambling, and moreover, the rules of the game would be changed so you stop making money. Don't gamble.

I do not post this because I hate gambling. I post this because I have been made to understand math.

You're welcome. 
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