Archive for November 20th, 2010

You’ve Got to Know When to Hold ‘Em

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

chimp_playing_poker_smoking When I gamble, I either have to win ‘it all’, or lose ‘it all’.  The problem is, winning it all is not easily recognized; whereas losing it all is extremely easy to recognize. 

Two times I remember winning money at a casino: Once, my wife dragged me out by the collar, up $500.  Another time, I had a mountain of green chips($25) in front of me, and was betting $300 on a pair of deuces.  I pushed, (didn’t lose or win), and decided that was enough.  I cashed out, clearing $2K after the room, food, trip etc.  That casino took care of me after that, until Katrina moved it across the street and turned it upside down. 

Here’s another prime example.  The other day, I decided to invest $10 in the Redneck Retirement Fund, (I bought a scratch-off lottery ticket).  I won $15, ($5 net gain).  That’s a 50% return on investment!  But, it’s only $5 on a ticket with a possible jackpot of $750,000!  So I spent $10 on something I needed and used the $5 winnings to buy another lottery ticket.  Boom!  I won $15 again!  Time to walk away, hmm?  Yes for some, not so much for me.  I bought another $10 ticket and 2, $1 tickets, ’cause I had a feeling, and then wisely kept $3 for that week’s coffee money.  I won $2 on one of the dollar tickets, breaking even, then moved on to the $10 ticket.  Whammo!!!  Big Winner for $50!  Now I’m up $55 on house money.  Time to walk away, right?   Well, there is this $20 ticket with 5 million and 1 million dollar jackpots, so why not take a chance and still walk away up $35?  So I cash my tickets in, get my $20 ticket, and the cashier gives me $42 change.  I hand him a $10 back, explaining that he gave me too much change and that being dishonest would probably kill my lucky streak. (In hindsight, the rational side of me knows that you should walk away when you are on a ‘lucky streak’, because the odds are now astronomically against you’re continued winning, but the gambling side of me…)

   Winner!  I matched one number out of a possible 25, so in my mind this prize is one of two things:  A ticket($20) or a jackpot. Of course it was only a ticket, but that’s okay.  I’m still up $55. I’ll cash the $20 in and get 2 more of the $10 tickets, but not at this store.

 New store=New odds!

I won’t go into details, but let’s just say things didn’t go quite as well at the new store.  I lost some, won less, lost some more, then lost ‘it all’.  See?  I never actually recognized the point when I won ‘it all’, but I damn sure knew the exact moment when I lost ‘it all’.  That $50 meant nothing to me, until it was gone.

(Side note: The only positive I can take from this is that I did get many, many chances at some huge jackpots for only $5 dollars; and that was house money anyway. The overall financial results were exactly the same as if I had never bought that first ticket.)