“A man’s gotta make at least one bet a day, or else he could be walking around lucky and
not know it.” – Jim Jones
Only people and rats gamble. I watched a documentary once where rats were given a choice of food chutes to feed from. Both had a button release mechanism to obtain a food pellet and were identical in every way but one. One chute gave up a pellet every five button presses and the other chute was randomized. The rat might get a food pellet with one press of the button or it might take ten attempts. The rats opted for the randomized food chute time after time. It seems, like ourselves, they could not resist the chance of a quick score.
Fear not though. There’s no chance that a rat will gamble away his cheese money and start fellating badgers in the street to feed his habit. As I discovered after watching a subsequent documentary, rats are quite good at gambling.
The rats were given a task based on an existing human experiment called ‘the Iowa Gambling Test’ where patients with frontal lobe brain damage are tested for decision making skills. The human test uses four decks of cards to choose from and uses a high/ low-reward/penalty type format. One of the decks is weighted with a small gain/small loss expectation but will turn a profit over time while another deck is weighted with a big gain/ big loss expectation and will show a loss over time. The people with frontal lobe brain damage did not lack intellect but they did show a tendency to be extremely compulsive and make disastrous decisions. They consistently flirted with the big loss option and performed badly in the test. They did not learn from their experiences and this spilled over into their personal lives.
The rats were given a similar task. They had four food chutes to choose from. One chute was heavily weighted to give out lots of pellets but could also give a lengthy time-out and deny access to all food chutes for a time. Another chute would give a modest amount of pellets but the penalties would also be less severe. The rats learned to stay away from the high risk food chutes and quickly adopted the optimum strategy to gain maximum food pellets from the task.
On top of this, the scientists could make the rats better or worse gamblers by affecting the levels of serotonin and dopamine in their brains. They had just discovered what crooked pit bosses in Vegas had known for decades.
“The house doesn’t beat the player. It gives him the opportunity to beat himself.” – Nick Dandalos
I visited Vegas once as a baby-faced twenty-one year old and was overwhelmed by the constant encouragement to gamble. The casino tricks are quite well documented now but I’ll throw out a few for example’s sake.
There are no clocks in a casino and I’m fairly sure a card dealer would lie to you anyway of you asked him the time. As long as you are gambling, you will be given as much free drinks as you want. The oxygen rich air in the room will keep you alert so go ahead and sink those whiskeys. If you want to go to the restaurant, you will have to walk past the slot machines. If you want to go to your room, you will have to walk past the slot machines.
I kid you not, you can stand at the urinal and play slots while having a slash. They call it the two-armed-bandit. (not true, I made it up) The endless temptation to gamble and the casinos’ relentless attempts to lower your inhibitions are truly overwhelming.
“There’s a very easy way to return from a casino with a small fortune, go there with a large one.” – Jack Yelton
As I said before, I was a baby-faced twenty-one year old at the time and a bit nervous playing the machines. I thought I would be asked for identification to prove my age as soon as I crossed the casino threshold but it didn’t happen. Security guards and pit personnel walked past me without a second glance so I eventually relaxed and started to enjoy myself. Then, I struck lucky on a video poker machine for a massive two dollars and no sooner had the first coin hit the ‘alumin-um’ winnings tray when a security guard was tapping my shoulder.
“Can I see some I-dentification sir?”
The crafty casino cock-smiths waited until I won before attempting to disqualify me and weasel me out of my winnings. The dirty rats!
I left Vegas a two-dollar winner but in reality, I was just importing currency for PaddyPower.
“Luck never gives, it only lends.” – Swedish proverb
Sports betting is a big part of a lot of football fans’ weekends, myself included. There’s nothing better than browsing through pages of betting odds and finding an overpriced ‘banker’ that PaddyPower has somehow overlooked. I still lose, obviously, but that moment when you think you’ve out-researched and out-smarted a bookie by reading their odds pages is intoxicating.
Then you hover over ‘Man Utd to win’. Click. It’s 2/1 on so is it really worth the bet? Well, if I add ‘Chelsea to win’, ‘Man City to win’ and ‘Arsenal to win’ then I’m getting decent odds on a near certainty. Congratulations, you have just entered the painful world of the accumulator.
Hold on though, Swansea are playing QPR at home and are flying this season. Michu is worth a one-goal start at least. If I add Swansea to this accumulator, then I’m essentially getting 20/1 on a Swansea home win. Now that’s a bet!
What’s this, Liverpool are at home to Aston Villa? Liverpool won 6-0 last week and Aston Villa are real relegation candidates this season. You hover over the ‘Liverpool win’ button. A moment of clarity slaps you in the face as if by hands divine. You almost forgot the first
rule of the accumulator. Never put Liverpool to win.
Accumulators are pure evil. Alex Ferguson must have played a part in their creation. They seduce you like a scantily-clad siren. The goals come through the vidi-printer and the Sky-Sports info-bar to taunt and tickle you. Michu after 7 minutes. The results are in. It’s all going your way. Now just sit back and wait for Man Utd to beat Norwich. The Devil and Ferguson both know that the ‘banker’ you started with will be the one to let you down.Of course, 1-0 Norwich.
The ‘banker’ screwing you is hard to take but the betting-slip has a way of consoling you. It says: “so close, you really had the bookie beat there but for that shocking result. Don’t get cut up about it, you’re good at this, you just got unlucky is all. Next week is your week.”
“Gambling is the future on the internet, you can only look at so many dirty pictures.” -Simon Noble
I would put accumulators in the same category as scratch-cards and strippers. They both take you so far and then leave you hanging. A scratch-card gives you two of every denomination and makes you think you nearly won €50,000 or so. A stripper will titillate you just enough to make you come back for one more dance. The kinky vixens.
At least there’s a strategy involved with a stripper. There’s things you can do to put the odds in your favour. If you wear the right pants, dangle out the un-buttoned slit in your boxers and prime yourself to within a pop-song’s length of the finish line then you can really get some bang for your buck!
It takes some trial and error to have it down pat but it can be done. I made the mistake of indulging in a lap-dance with a coloured stripper in a dimly lit room once. I like to think I was side-swiped by a nipple or two at some point but I couldn’t be sure. Admittedly I didn’t think that one through.
Then there was the Eastern European girl who sat on my lap and blew in my ear. It wasn’t erotic like she intended, more like she was playing the pan-pipes. I whistled ‘Waltzing Matilda’ just to make her feel better. The poor girl.
I digress, back to my point.
“The safest way to double your money is to fold it over once and put it in your pocket.” – Kin Hubbard
Gambling, like a lot of vices, is a form of entertainment. Like all entertainment you should expect it to cost money. If you gamble to make money the you will surely come out a loser. If you gamble to enhance your experience and enjoy a game then even if you lose your bet you have succeeded and you are undoubtedly a winner.
And you never know, you might get lucky.
Failing that, follow the tip-kings at back-post.com!
by Billy Keane (written 20/06/13)