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Why We Gamble

31 March 2024

By Frank Scoblete

The basic question I am asked in my talks boils down to this: “Why do people gamble?”

Are casino players playing just to win money? After all, every game has a built-in house edge and almost no players are ahead for their lifetimes of play – so why do we do it? We play knowing our expectation, almost always a loss which is ultimately realized, means we head down the drain?

Players might say winning money is the reason. But is it? I doubt that very much. I do not think money per se is the reason we challenge the casinos who have the edges over us. I think it is something else, entirely something else, and indeed something far deeper.

I am going to do this around the way and not answer the question until I have laid out my case. Here goes:

In 7th grade my Our Lady of Angels basketball team from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn stunk. We lost slightly more than half our games and we weren’t in contention for anything. It was, to put it mildly, a losing season and none of us felt like winners.

In 8th grade our basketball team went 55 and 0; that’s correct, we won 55 straight games, some of them against Catholic high school freshmen teams that gave scholarships to good players that we competed against. We won several tournaments and defeated another undefeated team that had Lew Alcindor as their center (St. Jude’s) in the LaSalle tournament. Lew Alcindor became Kareem Abdul Jabbar one of the greatest players of all time.

My freshman year at St. Johns Prep high school in Brooklyn, saw our team lose only one game, the New York City championship, and that loss was just one point more for them than for us. Our team felt as if we were losers although our winning record was outstanding. I told all my fellow players that we should be proud of ourselves but the point of the fact was – even I felt like a loser. We should have beaten that team but late fouls did us in.

My junior varsity team? Not so good either.

I had a few undefeated seasons in baseball because we had some amazingly good pitchers who actually made it to the upper levels of the minor leagues. I even got a tryout with a major league team (no, not the Yankees) and that is when I realized that I was not in the players’ league who would go on to be professional baseball players. I am glad I actually found that out early in my sports career.

Yes, I have been on teams, both basketball and baseball, that were tremendous. I have also been on teams that made me feel down-in-the-dumps for the season that just passed. I was on two teams that won it all and on many more teams that just couldn’t make it to the top rung in New York City.

In college I turned my athletic attention to boxing. I was pretty good, that is, in my first 18 bouts, but in my 19th I was totally destroyed by a boxer who was decent, not good in the real scheme of things, but decent enough to knock my brains out. I have no memory of the third round but my manager said, “You did pretty good.” I was in the hospital for six days after that beating. I retired immediately. I would not be the white Muhammad Ali.

And that was my athletic career. I finally turned to casino playing as my new sport.

Casino players are not really interested in the money, no matter what they say. They are interested in the competition. Human beings are competitive creatures and we love being in a contest. Us versus them. You versus me.

Sure, these players will have many losing trips and some winning trips and some terrifically winning trips and some “oh, my lord!” epic losing trips.

They are interested in the competition. This applies as much to women as to men. In the field of casino play we are all equal and all of us can develop the skills to “beat the house” on occasion.

But in the end? Most of us will never win the City Championship of the casino world.

All the best in and out of the casinos!

Frank Scoblete’s books are available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books, libraries, and bookstores.

This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at fscobe@optonline.net.

Why We Gamble is republished from CasinoCityTimes.com
Frank Scoblete
Frank Scoblete is the #1 best-selling gaming author in AmericaFrank Scoblete is the #1 best selling gaming author in America. His newest books include Slots Conquest: How to Beat the Slot Machines; Everything Casino Poker: Get the Edge at Video Poker, Texas Hold'em, Omaha Hi-Lo and Pai Gow Poker!; Beat Blackjack Now: The Easiest Way to Get the Edge; Casino Craps: Shoot to Win! and Cutting Edge Craps: Advanced Strategies for Serious Players.

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