Ain't No Free Lunch"by
week I got into a discussion with a couple of my sons over a dispute they were
having as a result of moving into a new apartment. It seems one of the bedrooms
was larger than the other one and they had to come up with some method of choosing
who got which one. One of my sons suggested they draw cards and the highest card
drawn won the larger room. |
A common sense approach.
was, he drew the card over the phone and claimed he had a king, leaving the other
son the option of drawing only an ace to win.
Now, I have no problem with
his honesty in this matter, but I advised them that I thought the drawing should
be held in plain view, not over the phone. As you might imagine, the son who lost
agreed and the one who won didn't. When I was asked to explain my reasoning, I
suggested that he pick a number between one and ten and if he guessed it correctly,
then I'd give him $1,000. He guessed 5 and I told him the number was 7, so he
He wanted to know how he could be certain that the number had really
been 7 and not 5, and I told him he couldn't…he'd just have to believe me, the
same way his brother did when he drew the card over the phone.
the end of this story is that they drew again and it all worked out.
But, then one of my other sons came up for the weekend and was enthralled over
the new world series of poker craze that seems to be on television twenty four
hours each day. I sat down with him for a couple of hours, but soon got bored
with it and left to fix me a sandwich. He came into the kitchen and we started
talking about the poker games. He thought they were neat and interesting and I
felt just the opposite.
I was looking at the contestants in these things
and most of them looked like they didn't have two nickels to rub together, much
less a couple of million dollars to bet against other players. My son admitted
that the casino puts up the money and they only win a portion of it, but it still
could be a sizeable payoff. I countered that it looked fake to me, much like professional
(?) wrestling with a lot of posturing and game playing. He says that's what makes
it fun and interesting and I said it's easy to be dramatic when you're playing
with someone else's money and not your own.
"What… the pot stands at $2,500,000?
I'll raise to $5,000,000."
I find this laughable coming from a guy who
has been working in a truck stop in Missouri.
But, as they say, a sucker
is born every minute.
whole thing got me to thinking about the current craze of on line betting and
gambling that seems to be everywhere you look these days. I've heard of folks
getting hung up on these internet gambling sites and losing some big bucks, most
of which they can ill afford.
I don't know about you, but I don't trust
computers hidden away somewhere telling me that I've lost X amount of dollars
on some game of chance. I like to be able to look into the eyes of anyone who
stands a chance of taking my money, and sometimes even that doesn't always work.
I mean look at it this way. Suppose you do get on line and bet some bucks and
win some…what happens? You want to go back and do it again, right?
and let's just suppose you are ahead by say 10 or 15 thousand dollars and you
want to be a big winner so you decide to blow the whole thing on one bet…do you,
in your right mind, think that a computer web site is going to let you win enough
money to put them out of business? I don't think so.
Look at Las Vegas.
Do you think they build those places because they lose money? Of course not, they
build them because they win. But as long as people keep coming to a spot in the
middle of the desert and throwing hard earned bucks into those machines and those
crap tables…then the hotels will keep on getting bigger and bigger. It's all a
matter of numbers. They know, and we don't, the odds of anyone winning over long
periods of time. You look at the games with the highest chance of you losing and
see which ones are the easiest for you to get to. Take a look at Keno and the
slots…in the bathrooms and the airports…probably at the hospitals…more of them
than anything else…why? Because the odds are you'll lose more than you'll win.
Then look at games like baccarat and what happens? They limit the number of players
and make the tables look intimidating. They also have to adjust the odds so they
stand a better chance of winning…. this is the best game in the house for the
player, but they don't want too many people playing since the odds are too great
against the house.
So there you have it…. my version of why I don't bet
in casinos or on line. I believe the old saying is still true…'there ain't no
free lunch.' In case you didn't know, this saying originated in the late 1800's.
The saloons and bars used to advertise "Free Lunch", but you had to buy beer or
whiskey to be able to eat for free. So, as it was back then, it still is today…'there
ain't no free lunch.'
© Peary Perry
From North America
- March 16, 2006 column
Syndicated weekly in 80 newspapers