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The Wisdom of Gaming

Gaming is supposed to be fun. This fact is especially important where the gaming involves money and chance, ie Gambling. So, my advice is, if you are considering entering into a game of some sort, you should consider first whether it is fun, and whether it is fair, and how much you might possibly lose (as well as how much you might win). In effect I am saying that you should eye-up the game and decide whether it's a good idea or not, before getting involved. Make a wise choice.

Different games have different risk/reward scenarios, different levels of "fairness", and different levels of entertainment. Choose a good game and you can enjoy being entertained for some time without it costing you much, and if there's a chance you might win something then that's an added bonus.

It's important that YOU make the choice and have that wisdom to judge what's a good game and what isn't, and this is especially true if you live in a nanny-state country such as The UK where personal responsibility has been eroded away because of historic overbearing government interventionism in people's lives. (Or, indeed, the USA, where liberty is now lacking, so much so that the US government tried to bring back prohibition by banning online gambling). The more sheeplike the people become, the more puffed-up will be the chests of the self-appointed sheep-farmer mandarins set up to govern in their quest to protect the sheep from all perils, thus making the sheep even more docile, and so on. In contrast, cats, lizards, and porcupines, all have their own inbuilt defence systems.

Here are a few principles which you can adopt to give yourself your own defences against getting roped into the wrong kind of games:

* Never gamble more than you can afford to lose. If you gamble, you might win, but that's not the point. The fact is that your winning is not certain, and that's why it's "gambling", a game of chance. So, you have to have a defensive philosophy that even if you lose, you'll only lose what you can afford to lose. To think about this another way, it's worth deciding before starting the game, how much you will gamble. Then stick to that.

* Consider whether the game is "fair". This is something that's open to examination before you play the game. It's no good deciding retrospectively that It's Not Fair on the basis that you've lost. Clues to the fairness or otherwise of a particular game can be seen by stepping back and looking at the situation from a wider perspective, examining any equipment involved, and/or seeing how other people perform at the game in question. If the game isn't fair, you walk away.

* Never get involved with trying to win back money you've already lost. It is an entirely unrealistic mode of operation which goes against the reality of probability (Your chance of winning each shot is unaffected by previous shots).

Now let's examine a few examples of games and their profiles, to illustrate some of these things:

* The UK National Lottery. This is a game which is fair, as the probability of any set of six numbers coming up is stated up-front, and is 13,983,816 to 1 against. The numbers are rolled up by truly random generators, and it's up to you if you want to have a go. If you lose, you only lose what you staked (1 per ticket), and in the unlikely event that you win, you could win a large amount of money. Another plus point for The National Lottery is that there is a delay from the time you buy a ticket to the time the result is announced, and a further time delay until your next opportunity to buy another ticket. This reduces the chance of gambling addiction effects taking place.

* The Three Card Trick. In this game, a practitioner at cards appears to rearrange three cards randomly and it is your task to bet on the right one. Although at first sight this may seem fair and may seem deceptively easy, history tells that in fact the Three Card Trick is a notorious scam. For one thing, the practitioner is usually an accomplished sleight-of-hand conjurer, and so the cards are not where you expect, but also the game tends to be unfair for the additional reason that the conjurer/practitioner has stooges pretending to be punters who are seen to win, thus giving a false impression that you could easily win. In the UK, the Three Card Trick is specifically forbidden, outlawed, and made illegal. However, in countries where the Three Card Trick is legal, you should beware and have the commonsense to know it's a scam. Watch, if you dare, but don't carry any valuables, as pickpockets infest the crowd at such a game.

* Coin Pusher Machines. These are a form of gambling in which actual coins of real money are dropped down a chute onto a machine in which piles of coins are pushed along and occasionally some of them fall off, either at the end of the "falls", in which case they appear in the payout for the punter to collect, or into the sides, in which case they go to the moneybox inside the machine to help keep the machine operator's business in profit. Coin Pusher machines have long been fashionable in seaside resorts, and in a variety of installations where they can reside for plenty of time to build up good piles of coins, and where the amount of room they take up is justifiable. There is a small element of skill, but everyone with commonsense knows that it is mostly a gamble. There's nothing wrong with that, and a wise gambler knows that it is possible to be entertained for half an hour or more for the price of a handful of low denomination coins. This makes Coin Pusher machines very good value. If society were to be more enlightened, Coin Pusher machines could be installed in schools so children could learn about the risk/reward basis of gambling at an early age!

* The Million Pound Drop. This was a TV show on British TV in 2010. At first sight it seemed a positive idea, as contestants could theoretically win a million pounds! However, here's how the game worked: The contestants were given the million pounds up front and were then forced to gamble it on the answers to questions they were given. They were allowed to hedge their bets, so that seemed to make it a game for the wise not the reckless. However, unfortunate design features of the game made it such that the hapless contestants typically ended up losing ALL of the money. It was a tediously boring show, too, as there were annoying delays (presumably on the excuse of "suspense"), and the whole format of the game show in question was said to be "cruel". The show organisers were accused by critics of setting-up the show such that contestants were chosen as deliberately not the cleverest of the initial applicants, for the purposes of entertainment.

Now, the question here is not "do you want to play The Million Pound Drop?", because it's pretty obvious up front that if you do then you're not going to win a million pounds and that you'll end up being used as embarrassing gladiatorial-entertainment fodder. The question is: Do you want to gamble your time watching the show?! To help you answer that question yourself, here are a couple of ideas: 1. Do you like watching poor folk being given a million pounds and then having their hopes dashed, in public, during a recession?, and 2. Consider the relative merits of entertaining yourself by placing a waste-paper-basket the other side of the room and seeing how many screwed-up pieces of paper you can shy into it? If the latter option is more entertaining, then you can avoid seeing so many annoying adverts during unpredictably long/short commercial breaks.

* Hoopla in Blackpool: During the month of May 2010, a hoopla stallholder in Blackpool was found guilty of operating a hoopla game which was unfair. On close examination of the equipment involved, it was said that the hoops were of inappropriate size for the pegs, and that the pegs had been made to make the game "almost impossible" to win. Now admittedly it does seem unfair that the game was rigged, but should people be protected against such things by law? Maybe, or maybe not. However, surely there is a much more important feature of this story: People should have the commonsense to realise that fairground attraction games aren't necessarily as easy as they appear, and it is foolish for any person to spend much money on playing such games! A wise person might care to watch a coconut-shy and observe how strong and how accurate a player has to be to win a coconut. Even if the coconuts aren't actually glued in, they are typically in very deep cups.

To sum up:

When considering the option of playing a game, think first and make a wise choice based on good sense. The more good sense we all have, the less legislation there needs to be. Plus, the more commonsense we all have, the more likely the games available will be made more entertaining and more punter-friendly. This is the emergent form of gaming in a market where folk have good sense!

Other gaming / gambling related resources: gambling, casinos, more chance of being struck by lightning than winning the lottery, gambling machines, online slots, plus Lottery directors get paid money. Also, life as a strategic game: Direct Drive