An Introduction to Gambling

Gambling is as old as the human race, and as all encompassing as passion, anger and joy. But in many places around the world, casino gambling brings with it a different feel and experience to other forms of gambling. In the UK, it currently involves small, private, “members only” casinos, free-standing machines in pubs, restaurants, clubs and on ferries, a wide selection of betting shops and extensive Internet gambling when players can bet on anything and everything. There is currently a proposal before Parliament that would expand the scope of casino gambling to make it much more like the Las Vegas experience in the US and other parts of the world.

So what is it that makes gambing so pervasive in human nature? Every choice you make in life is a gamble. When you are finally old enough to make your own choices, you gamble with your future with every decision you make. The choices you make each day in real life are easily translated into the choices you make at the casino.

Luck is, of course, the essential element in casino gambling. Sure, you can mitigate that factor by understanding the odds and the most favourable ways to play the games, but you can’t eliminate it.

Similarly, luck plays an enormous role in your life. You can get a good education and be totally prepared for your career but, if you don’t meet that one key person in your professional life, or you don’t get an unexpected break, you may only be moderately successful.

Unlike gambling, where the decisions on the various games will break even over the long run, you can’t depend upon real life to “even up”. Bad luck can dog an individual his entire life, for reasons unknown to anyone except for a higher being. Don’t expect things to turn around because you are due for a break. You have to make your own breaks.

When you’re gambling and losing, the natural inclination is to try to do something to win. That can often be the worst strategy. By continuing to gamble, you’re risking more of your money, and you have a greater than average chance of losing. Why? Because now you’re playing with “scared money” – that is, money that you never planned to risk, but now believe you must. Because it’s more than you planned to risk, your decisions will often be suspect, you will play more emotionally than rationally and expose yourself to some very harsh results.

The same is true in life. If things aren’t going well for you on a particular project, for instance, you can get angry. Anger never makes it better, it can only make things worse. And when you get angry, emotional, exasperated or you feel that you simply don’t care, you are going to lose … and that also applies to gambling.

It doesn’t matter how much time or money you’ve invested, either. If you’re playing blackjack, and you have to make a difficult decision, don’t think about how much money you’ve lost already. It doesn’t matter, and it certainly won’t affect whether you win or lose that particular hand. If it affects how you play, you’re in bad shape.

Let’s take the stock market as an analogy. Suppose you purchased stock in a particular company for £5,500. Now suppose that company suffered some downturns that no one anticipated, bringing your stock down to £2,750. But another investor is willing to pay you £4,500 for that stock. You don’t want to take that offer because you believe you’ll be losing £1,000. But if you accept his offer, you’d actually be picking up £1,750. It doesn’t matter what you paid for the stock initially; it only matters what it’s worth at the moment you get the offer. Make the decision on that basis, not on past events.