The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘gambling’ Category

A ZERO SUM MINDSET

If there is one common thread that underlies all politically liberal philosophies it is that there are only a limited amount of resources available and equitably distributing those among all people should be our primary goal.  That was the thinking that underpinned “The Communist Manifesto” and that is the attitude that emanates from the current administration in Washington.  It is the mindset which motivates those in political power to seek wealth re-distribution because it has turned its back on the possibility of wealth creation.

When Obama was sworn in as the Chief Executive the country was recovering from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.  Instead of seizing the opportunity to focus on the economy, the administration spent its first two years crafting together Obamacare which satisfied its ideology if not the country’s immediate needs.  As a result the country languished and the uncertainty that was created through this signature law have contributed to an anemic semi-recovery.

The Obama administration responded to the faltering economy by securing funding for “shovel-ready” jobs.  While the money was spent, the jobs never materialized.  It used the taxpayer’s remittances on green energy projects like Solyndra which went bankrupt leaving us $400 Million further in the hole as the government increased the official national debt to an historic $17 Billion.  It refused, because of its ideology, to approve the Keystone Pipeline Project which would have provided thousands of jobs and even more importantly would have moved the economy forward by lowering energy costs through additional supplies.

The fundamental philosophy of liberal thinking is the same as that to which a committed gambler clings. “ Let me take what someone else has.”  That is the driving force behind every “game of chance,” every sports bet, every state run lottery and of every system of government which looks to “re-distribute” wealth.

There is only one fatal flaw with this viewpoint and that is that time and again it has been proven to be a failure.  We have no further to turn than to compare the implementation of this philosophy in the former Soviet Union, Cuba and North Korea to realize that.

This paternalistic philosophy, however well-intended, unfortunately is grounded in a world view based on pessimism.  Its premise is that ordinary people – the ones whom they are presumably championing – are simply not smart enough to make rational, self-benefitting decisions on their own and must be “taken care of” by those who are wiser and more prescient – they and those they elect to govern the masses.

Further to their mindset is the belief that all that there is now available to society in the way of resources or the way of doing things is all that there ever will be the, “Everything that can be invented already has been invented,” sort of mentality.  In some respects this becomes a self-fulfilling philosophy.  If we do not believe that there is a possibility for a better future, we must then content ourselves with a dismal past.  Looking for something that we have defined as being non-existent is certainly a waste of time.

This philosophy is not unique or even original to the Obama administration.  The president and his staff are merely its latest exponents.  But we should have realized that when, as one of his first acts in office, Obama made a world tour, apologizing for all the “mistakes” that America had made over the years, there he did not accept the concept of either “American exceptionalism” or, for that matter of “human exceptionalism.”  The concept of “equality” cannot tolerate the notion that some of us are a little brighter, a little more gifted or a little more motivated than others.   Admitting to that is to destroy the goal – which is that we should all be equally mediocre.

Fortunately, there is  a basis for optimism.  Despite its attempts to obviate the provisions of the Constitution, this administration is not as thoroughly entrenched as it believes and the level of disapproval is increasing weekly as more of its flawed policies are making themselves evident, notwithstanding their hyperbole and their rhetoric.  If current polls are an indication, Americans are beginning to realize that Obama and his crew have sold the country a bill of goods which lacks substance and that we’ve had more than enough talk but very little productive action.

When we reach the critical mass of wide-spread awareness, then we can again turn our eyes to the stars and realize, “There are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in Obama’s philosophy.”  Rather than wasting our time trying to re-distribute the wealth which America has created through the individual effort of its exceptional citizens, we can look for ways that we can increase the bounty that all of us were promised in our founding documents and will realize that Obama and his cronies were the necessary distraction which re-awakened us to our real birthright.

GAMBLING WITH YOUR LIFE (PART TWO)

Because it is one of my favorites, I am going to begin this post with the classic wit of James Thurber by sharing one of his stories from, “Fables For Our Time.”

“The Fairly Intelligent Fly”

“A LARGE spider in an old house built a beautiful web in which to catch flies. Every time a fly landed on the web and was entangled in it the spider devoured him, so that when another fly came along he would think the web was a safe and quiet place in which to rest. One day a fairly intelligent fly buzzed around above the web so long without lighting that the spider appeared and said, “Come on down.” But the fly was too clever for him and said, “I never light where I don’t see other flies and I don’t see any other flies in your house.” So he flew away until he came to a place where there were a great many other flies. He was about to settle down among them when a bee buzzed up and said, “Hold it, stupid, that’s flypaper. All those flies are trapped.” “Don’t be silly,” said the fly, “they’re dancing.” So he settled down and became stuck to the flypaper with all the other flies.


Moral: There is no safety in numbers, or in anything else.”

Life is a gamble.  We never know what the day ahead will bring.  If it were otherwise, there would be no such thing as an insurance industry.  We cannot control every external force which may beat at our door.  But we can and should prepare our houses to be as weather-resistant as possible.

Following up on yesterday’s post, I wanted to share some insights into the glamorous (and sometimes seedy) world of gambling because the rules here are applicable to our lives in general.

ATTITUDE

If you have come to Las Vegas or any other venue that offers gambling, you may have done so with the idea of enjoying a vacation or a little getaway.  You have not come with the intention of “breaking the bank” but want to engage in the milieu without spending a lot of money.  That’s fine.

The slot machines have greatly evolved from the old days when a player had to feed in coins, pull a handle that turned his hand black and hope to hit three oranges.

Today’s games feature towering interactive display panels on which we might see Superman rescue Lois Lane if a player hits the bonus feature.  This all happens while sitting in a seat equipped with Dolby surround stereo sound – just the sort of thing the player might encounter if he were playing a video game or attending a movie.

Let me tell you that the casinos don’t take gambling casually and if you engage in it, neither should you.  It is their livelihood and they have armed themselves with every advantage to maximize their profits.  If you don’t understand that, you have no business walking through the front door of one.

Every casino game has a house advantage built into it.  Every one – bar none, which means that no matter what game a player selects he is the underdog.  Well, sometimes underdogs win – but they had better be mentally aware that they have to play their best game in order to have any hope of surviving the experience.

Whenever I walk into a casino I think of myself as walking onto a battlefield.  I respect my opponent’s superior weapons and numbers.  I might have a thousand dollars in my pocket – but there isn’t one table in any casino where the dealer’s rack doesn’t contain ten to twenty times as much in chips.  Multiply that by the number of tables and the vaults in the casino cage which contain thousands of times as much and it should be obvious that my little wad doesn’t represent much more than a spit in the ocean.  My foe is Goliath and in my role as David I am not armed with some rocks and a slingshot but have brought a pea shooter to the fight.

There is one and only one advantage that the player has in this battle.  As long as the player chooses, the house must continue to let him play.  But it is totally within the player’s power to end the battle if he should be ahead, pick up his chips, cash them in and go home with his session’s profits.

Casinos offer “gambler’s junkets” which include air fare, rooms, meals and other amenities because they make money from the players who accept them.   Most people who enjoy them stay for only a few days.  Should they get behind when they begin gambling, there is a tendency to want “to get even”.    This usually results in taking greater risks – which more often than not result in yet bigger losses.

If you are serious about trying to earn some additional income through gambling, you need to record the results of every session.  This is a “business” and you should treat it as such.  Buy a little ledger and record the date, the time of day you played, the game you played and the win/loss result.  While figures don’t lie, gamblers who are dishonest with themselves refuse to record the actual results of their gambling experience.

Finally, if you expect that when you walk into a casino that the sound system will be playing Handel’s, “See, The Conqu’ring Hero Comes” from Judas Maccabeus, you need to turn around, go home, take an attitude adjustment pill and get a good night’s sleep.  That aria isn’t on any casino’s playlist.

KNOWLEDGE

It should seem obvious, but apparently isn’t, that if you do not have the knowledge to understand a game of chance, you have severely limited your possibilities of winning at it.  I can guarantee that on any given weekend I could go down to the Strip, walk into any casino and go up to a craps table.  It’ an exciting, fast paced and confusing game – especially for the uninitiated.

There at the table will be standing some young lovely from out of town, dressed to the nines (which today means wearing an un-torn T-shirt), hanging over the side of the table.  She has made a five dollar bet on “The Field”.  The dice are rolled and her bet disappears.

“What happened,?” she asks.  Simply that a number was rolled which was not included in her bet.  “Oh, cocktails – I’ll have another Bloody Mary.”

By the way, I would like to pass on a little knowledge which I have acquired over the years.  “In vino veritas” may be an old and true aphorism.  But having a couple of belts is the fastest way to impair your judgment and it is for that reason that casinos offer free alcoholic beverage service.  If you are drinking you should not be driving and you should not be gambling.  If you take nothing else away from this post, consider that if you observe this rule you will be doing yourself and your bank account a big favor.

Let’s return to blackjack as it is one of the simpler table games and one with which I suspect many readers are familiar.  There was a time when in Northern Nevada, the Reno/Tahoe district, the casinos required that their dealers took a hit if their hand was a “soft” seventeen” – as in A-6.  It was called soft because no matter what their next card was, the hand couldn’t go over 21, as A-6 is either 7 or 17.  Las Vegas casinos required that their dealers stay on that hand.

Hitting a soft 17 improved the house’s win percentage by a small amount.  But if you add a small amount to the hundreds of thousands of times that hand was held by the house in the course of a month’s play, it added a lot of money to the bottom line.  So, using their knowledge of how this improved their profitability, all the casinos began hitting this hand.

The standard and correct payout on a player’s getting a blackjack is 3-2.  A $10 bet should receive a $15 payoff.  But some casinos, not content with their already significant advantage changed that to 6-5 so that same bet received a payoff of $12.  If you’re sitting at a blackjack table where that is the house’s payoff on a blackjack, you are not only being “fleeced” but you’re being butchered as well.

Knowledge in gambling consists not only of an understanding of the game, using the best strategy in executing your play but it requires that you seek out and only play at casinos which are giving you a fair shake.  A 6-5 blackjack payoff is nothing short of criminal rape and if you play at that table you have invited the consequences upon yourself.

MONEY MANAGEMENT

This is a subject which is uncomfortable for many of us.  If you question that statement you have only to look at how government “deals” with this issue.  However, this critical aspect of successful gambling is essential if you are to have any hope of making any money at it.

I cannot count the number of times that I have seen someone walk up to a blackjack table with a $10 minimum bet requirement and hand the dealer a $20 bill.  Usually the person is on his way to dinner or a movie and will say to his date, “Let me just lose this and we’ll get going.”  Normally, that is exactly what happens.

There are many sage pieces that have been written about money management.  As it pertains to gambling perhaps the first and foremost is, “Never bet more than you can afford to lose.”  That is a piece of advice that unfortunately many ignore and it is the reason that “Gamblers Anonymous” exists and has a large membership.

I have a simple rule for money management.  I need to have one hundred times the minimum bet with me before I have the right to sit at a table.  That means that if I choose to play at a blackjack table with a $5 minimum, I have to have at least $500 in my pocket.  You need to have sufficient wherewithal to survive runs where the house seems impervious to the odds, because those sorts of runs happen every day.  It’s not pleasant but that’s just the way it is.

If you don’t have sufficient capital to withstand one of these assaults, you are out of the game long before things change and the cards or the dice or whatever turn in the player’s favor.  So do yourself a favor and make sure that you are sufficiently capitalized to play any game in which you choose to participate.

I have a second rule which comes in two parts.  The first part is limiting losses.  The second part is taking profits.

If I begin the day with a $500 bankroll, I will not let it fall below $250.  If it hits that number, I am done for the day.  It just wasn’t my day.  There are days when even applying all my knowledge and equipped with a positive and realistic attitude nothing is going right.  I accept that, take my loss and leave.  The casino will be open tomorrow.

But just as important, perhaps even more so, is knowing when to book a profit.  If I am willing to lose $250 I should be willing to accept the same amount in profit.  I have had days when I just seemed impervious to the laws of probability and would win hand after hand – much to my own surprise.  I never want to cut off a winning streak prematurely – but I also realize that “this too shall pass”.  So I have a simple way of letting the casino tell me when it’s time for me to go home.

Let’s say, for example, that I have reached my $250 profit goal.  For purposes of conversation, we’ll assume I’m betting $25 a hand.  I take my original stake and put it to the side.  That is going home with me no matter what happens.  I take my winnings and put them in a separate pile.  I now have ten bets left at $25 apiece.

I make my first bet and win.  I take that $50 dollars and place it in a third stack.  I lose the next bet, the bet after and win the fourth bet.  That $50 also goes in the third stack.  When all ten bets have been made, I take half of the winnings in the third stack and put them with my original stake.  They are also going home with me.  I will then “run through” the remaining chips in the same way until there are no more chips left to bet – and then I leave.

There have been times when I walked into a cold streak and lost all of those ten bets.  There have also been times when my hot streak continued and my original $250 profit turned into $1000.  Having a mechanical method of determining when to stop playing removes all emotion from the equation – and emotion is equally unwelcome in matters of divorce and gambling.

DISCIPLINE

We live in a permissive society where anything goes, no one is to blame and there are always external reasons which explain our failures.  If you are of that mindset, go nowhere near a casino – unless it’s to eat dinner.  Otherwise, you may be the main course on the menu.

Discipline is hard to acquire.  It doesn’t happen overnight but is something that has to be worked toward as an attainable goal.  Gambling is a grind it out business – both from your perspective as the customer and from the casino’s perspective as your host.  I can assure you that the casino staff are very disciplined and seldom make mistakes.  If they do, they lose their jobs.

I know of no successful business that achieved that status despite having sloppy procedures and internal controls.  There is a reason that companies write manuals on what is and what is not permissible, give them to their employees and expect them to abide by the rules that are outlined in them.  It is essential that people know what is expected of them and what they may expect from their employer.  This is something known as accountability – and if you want to gamble for a living, full time or supplemental, you must accept this as part of your pattern for success.

The way I sum up discipline is with this statement.  “Discipline is doing something that hurts because you know it is the right thing; and it is not doing something that feels good because you know that it is the wrong thing.”  Some people call that morality – but I find it hard to use that word when we are speaking of gambling.

While I realize that most of my readers have never contemplated making a livelihood by becoming professional gamblers, I would suggest that these rules apply equally to all life endeavors in whatever field.  And abandoning them usually results in personal failure.  Let’s look at a few examples from the world most of us know only too well.

Attitude – (Low Self-Image).  I was born into poverty; I’m not all that attractive; I’m a minority and people discriminate against me; my parents didn’t love me; nobody loves me; my life is meaningless.  Analysis:  This person will spend his life moaning about how unfairly he has been treated, how unfair life is and will try to suck you into the conversation so he can moan on your shoulder.   If you have the rest of your life to waste in a hopeless effort to “redeem” this poor soul, adopt him as your new BFF.

Attitude – (Inflated Self-Esteem).  Examples include, rock stars, politicians, sports legends, .com Executives (for a short while).  I am above the law; the rules that low-lives have to live by don’t apply to me; I can do anything I want because, well – I’m me; the universe revolves around me.  Analysis:  Most meteors, when entering the earth’s atmosphere mostly burn up, and those which aren’t fully consumed in the process, generally land with a thud.

Attitude – (Healthy Self-Esteem).  I am who I am; some parts of that are terrific and others need improvement; I’m a caring and thoughtful person – even if that is not always reciprocated by those I meet; I have standards and I’m going to hold on to them; I’m pretty good today – but I plan on being better tomorrow and better yet the day after.  Analysis:  We need more of you on planet earth.

Knowledge – The antonym of knowledge is ignorance.  If you believe you know all there is to know, you have died.  It’s just that your brain hasn’t gotten around to informing your body of that fact.  Life is a process of becoming more knowledgeable and, more importantly, using that information to improve you life and the lives of those you encounter along the way.

The knowledge each of us acquires not only has an impact on the quality of our own lives but has a profound impact on all society.  And our ignorance has an even more dramatic impact.  To verify this statement, look no further than those who are either un-educated or under-educated and who must rely on the general populace for their support and income.  Sadly, they have no job opportunities and even in a robust economy would have no more.  And, perhaps the saddest commentary on this scenario is that most are ignorant of their own helplessness.

Money Management – U. S. “official deficit” reaches $16.2 Trillion.

Discipline – There is a reason that the military, professional athletes and professional musicians practice and train on a regular, daily basis.  Repetition of successful behavioral patterns results in successful performance.

The word discipline comes to us from the Latin word “discipilus” – student.  Most of us would do well if we were to think about enrolling in some adult continuing education classes.

Summary:  The song, “Life Is Just A Bowl Of Cherries” is a charming little ditty, a “feel good song.”  Unfortunately, it doesn’t reflect life’s realities.  For most of us a more accurate song depicting our view of the world is one from Peter Pan, “I Won’t Grow Up.”

Life is a gamble.  I’ve met talented people with all the advantages, money, looks, intelligence who squandered what they had and died of drug overdoses.  I’ve met people who were not particularly attractive who came from impoverished backgrounds and struggled to become great successes.

Ultimately, it all comes down to how we play the cards we are dealt.

GAMBLING WITH YOUR LIFE (PART ONE)

A  couple flew to Las Vegas to get married in one of the city’s many Wedding Chapels.  They were young, starry-eyed and deeply in love.  They were also prudent and had set a budget for the amount that they would spend on gambling while they were in town.

They enjoyed a marvelous wedding dinner at a five star restaurant and, afterward, before retiring for their wedding night, they decided to take the five hundred dollars that they had allocated for gambling and play some blackjack at their hotel’s casino.

Things didn’t go well.  The dealer refused to break and before long the wife had lost her entire stake and the husband was down to ten dollars.  Dismayed, they went up to their room and took solace and joy in each other’s company.

A few hours later, the husband found himself unable to sleep.  He kept replaying all the bad hands he had received at the blackjack table and felt sure that his luck was bound to change for the better.  So he got out of bed, told his bride that he would be back soon and took the ten dollars that remained, once again armed to do battle at the tables.

When he sat down in an open seat, he exchanged his ten dollars for two brown five dollar chips and put them both in the betting square in front of him.  His first hand, a winner – so he pressed his twenty dollars.  His second hand a blackjack, so he pressed his fifty dollars and let it all ride.  Another winner and another.  His little streak caused one of the floor men to come over to the table to make sure there were no shenanigans going on.

Certain that God was smiling on him, he risked his two hundred dollars on the next hand.  Another winner.  Soon the four hundred dollars became eight and then sixteen hundred.  Our newlywed was beside himself.

“If I just make one more hand I will have recovered the five hundred we lost, paid for our trip here and have something to put in the bank,” he thought to himself.  So he pushed out his entire stack.  At that point the dealer pointed out that the table carried a single bet limit of one thousand dollars.

The floor man in the pit had been watching the gambler’s run.  The player asked if he would raise the limit on the table.  After thinking for a moment, he agreed to increasing it to a five thousand dollar limit per bet.

The gambler put his sixteen hundred in the betting square and waited for his cards.  A pair of faces and the dealer showed a nine.  He tucked his cards under his bet and waited for the dealer to reveal his down card.  It was a ten and the dealer swiftly placed sixteen hundred in chips next to the original bet.

Our gambling friend was giddy with delight.  He knew that he couldn’t lose.  If he only won one more hand he and his bride could really start their new life together in style.  So he stacked up the thirty-two hundred he had for yet another last bet.

The cards were dealt.  Again he had a twenty.  The dealer showed a ten and had another one down.  Push.  The decks were spent and the dealer picked up the cards to shuffle as the gambler eagerly awaited his chance to cut them.  By this time a small cheering section had gathered around the table to watch his incredible and seemingly unbeatable streak.

The dealer presented him with the red cut card and he deftly sliced it into the two decks.  It felt like a good cut to him.  And the hand was dealt.

Once again, two picture cards for a twenty – and the dealer showed a six – the worst card for either a player or the house.  He was nearly counting the money as the dealer turned over his down card.  It was a three.

“Okay, get a ten,” he said to himself.  But the dealer drew a four for thirteen and had to hit again.  The next card was an ace for fourteen and then a deuce for sixteen.  “Hit a big one,” the gambler said out loud.  And the dealer took the next card.  It was a five to make a hand of twenty-one.

Stunned, the young man waited for the dealer to flip up his cards revealing the almost perfect twenty – and to put his thirty-two hundred dollars worth of chips in the dealer’s rack.

The crowd behind the player quickly dispersed and both the dealer and the floor man offered their condolences to the deflated gambler.  He was so light-headed, he barely heard them as he tried to gain the strength to rise from his seat and make his way to the bank of elevators that would take him to his room.

His wife was awake and as soon as he came in asked if he had any luck.

The young man said, “No, I couldn’t get any cards and I lost the last ten bucks.”

As you have probably heard, Las Vegas’ nickname is “Sin City”.  That moniker seems to me to be highly unfair and not truly descriptive of this little oasis in the desert, despite the fact that later this week we are hosting the annual “Adult Entertainment Expo” (a/k/a Porn Convention)..  So I am planning  on suggesting that we officially re-name ourselves, “The City With The Right Vision For The Future”.

As you probably know, Las Vegas has a number of establishments where you can gamble with your hard-earned savings, or for that matter with your EBT cards.  And making gambling available to one and all, irrespective of race, religion, creed or ability to pay your rent or mortgage or feed your children certainly makes us an inclusive dot on the map.

After many years of looking at people who gamble I notice several underlying threads that run through almost all of them.  Most are lazy and they want to get something for nothing – and if that isn’t an accurate reflection of the mindset sweeping the nation, I don’t know what is.  Given this mindset, you will not be surprised to learn that the residents of Las Vegas who cater to those “about to be fleeced” in a large majority belong to the Party of the People – the Democrats.

If you happen to be in Las Vegas at a convention or for a vacation and want to have a little entertainment with twenty dollars, you might enjoy your time playing some slots or some blackjack or by going to a movie.  You will probably get more bang for your buck at the BJ table than the movie – because at least you will have to use a little strategy and exercise your dormant brain cells to add up to “21”.  (Fortunately, Las Vegas casinos do allow the mathematically impaired the use of a calculator if necessary for the player to accomplish this feat).

Recently I have been playing in a twice-weekly blackjack tournament run by one of the casinos which is about a ten minute drive from my home.  Nothing big – $20 entry fee and a field of 96 players maximum.  I took a first and a fourth place in two of the tournaments out of the seven times I played – so I have enough in winnings to pay my entry fees for the balance of the year.

After playing in one tournament in which I was knocked out early I decided that I had a little time to play before going home to take Gracie to the dog park on our second excursion of the day, so I wandered over to one of the Blackjack tables that was open and sat down.  There was one other player at the table, an out of town visitor from San Diego who was sitting there with his wife watching him.

The dealer was in the process of shuffling the two decks as I took my seat, produced my player’s card (so that I can accrue “comps” at the casino based on my wagering) and exchanged my cash for chips.  It was not until the first hand was dealt that I realized the other player was a newcomer to the game.  He had one of those little “cheat sheet” cards that gave him the basic correct strategy to use in playing blackjack.  (The casinos allow  players to consult these cards).

I gave up playing blackjack as an income supplement a few years after I moved to town.  Part of the reason is that in blackjack, the actions of one player (good or bad) have repercussions on the entire table.  Taking a “bad hit” or failing to take a good one, affects the distribution of cards and it affects the results of everyone sitting at a table.

I compensated for that by playing late at night, generally head to head against the dealer.  But after awhile, coming home at four in the morning got stale and I decided I would be better off getting a good night’s rest and spending quality time with the dogs rather than sitting in a smoke-filled casino.  (The dogs agreed with my decision).

Now the reason I reference this new blackjack player is that he epitomizes the reasons that we have so many casinos in this town – all of which seem to be doing pretty well, despite the downtrodden economy and a bit of Obama-bashing a few years back.

Walking into a casino is not the place to get on-the-job training for learning how to gamble.  In all honesty, I was gratified that this young man had taken the time to purchase a card which provides the perfect basic strategy in playing the game.  He clung to this card as though it were his family Bible.

And then he received his hand.  A sixteen versus the dealer’s ten.  That card told him that he had to take a hit.  He looked it up on the card – but was hesitant to follow its advice.  Sixteen is a hand that frequently breaks.

So despite the fact that his card told him he should take a hit, he hesitated and asked the dealer what he thought.  The dealer (knowing the correct play and knowing what the card would advise) said, “What does your card say?”

“It says, hit it.”

At that point I chimed in.  I asked the young man, “Did you purchase that card?” – to which he answered that he had.  I then said to him, “I suspect you purchased that card because you are unsure how to play in certain situations – as in this one.  But if you bought it and don’t follow it’s proven advice, you have wasted whatever money you spent to buy it.”

The dealer, realizing that I was a player who knew the game, looked at me with a knowing glance for stating the obvious which was that the card was the result of looking at the outcomes of millions of hands dealt and reviewing the mathematically best choices for playing each of them.

The young man acquiesced to taking a card and received a ten.  Of course it busted his hand.  But the dealer turned up another ten – so he was doomed to lose this hand no matter what he did.  But the thought of that ten-busting hit lingered with him.

About fifteen minutes later he was dealt another sixteen.  Remembering what had happened the last time he had hit this hand, after looking several times at the card and hoping that the print on it had changed, he tucked his cards under his bet and refused to execute the proper strategy.  The dealer revealed his down card, a five and took a hit, getting a five to make a hand of twenty.

The young man would have had twenty-one and won the hand had he followed the proper procedure.  I had to stay on a nineteen so I also lost.  Looking at the next card which I was dealt, which would have been the dealer’s had the young man followed the rules, the dealer would have busted the previous hand and both of us would have been winners instead of losers.

Now the reason for my detailing this experience has nothing to do with this young man’s inexperience or failure to act correctly but it provides a setting and some background for the next post – which will be about how following rules that are well established and based on sound reason – can improve our efforts should we choose to gamble with our money – and, more importantly, should we choose to gamble with our lives.

BETTING ON AMERICA

A recent ad run by President Obama says that he is “betting on America.”  Although I find little in the President’s messages with which I concur, I have to agree with this statement.  This is the underpinning of his entire approach to governing.

To bet is to wager, to gamble.  Living in Las Vegas, I’m mildly familiar with the concept as you can even engage in this activity in the supermarkets if you choose.  Video poker machines are to be found everywhere.  And if you do decide to play, you should have an understanding of the enterprise on which you have embarked.

The casinos have upgraded and attempted to make this pass time sound more legitimate by renaming it from the original, “gambling” to what is now referred to as “gaming.”  Whatever you call it, it’s the same thing.  And what is that?   It’s a system for re-distributing wealth.

Although I’ve used this example before to explain the principle, I hope that my long-term readers will indulge my repetition for those who are newcomers.

Texas Hold ‘em has gained a lot of popularity as a spectator sport as the World Series of Poker has the richest prize in the history of the game and is broadcast to millions of viewers.  So we’ll use that as an example – although the principle applies equally to all games of chance whether those are card games, dice games, slot machines or lotteries.

Ten players meet for a game of No Limit Texas Hold ‘em at one of the player’s houses.  Each player brings $1000 to the game as his buy in.  No additional chips may be purchased during the course of play and the game is to be played for three hours and then will end.

At the end of play, some players may have been eliminated and lost their entire investment.  Other players will have more than their original thousand dollars and others less.  But if you add up all the chips on the table you will still come up with the amount with which these ten people started – ten thousand dollars.  Not a dollar has been made or lost – it has merely been re-distributed.

Isn’t that the heart and soul of President Obama’s vision for America?  To re-distribute it from certain of us and give that to others of us?  But where did this wealth that is up for re-distribution come from?

President Obama, the Congress and the bureaucracies in Washington “didn’t build it.”   Small and large businesses were the ones who created the wealth in the first place.  And if it weren’t for their success, the sycophants who rely on us to support them would actually have to go out and find gainful employment.

As a former small business owner I doubt I would hire them, because I always tried to choose employees with drive, motivation, vision and a strong work ethic.  While there are some in government who possess those attributes, their numbers are few and far between.

So, yes I agree with President Obama that he is “betting on America.”  And if you believe that, you’ll probably enjoy coming out to Las Vegas and participating in the game.

It’s a real crap shoot.

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