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Common Sense Isn't That Common!

Upon entering a casino, some people leave their common sense safely locked in the trunk of their car, or tucked securely inside clean laundry up in their hotel-room luggage. 

Are ordinary rules of reasoning and perception switched off in a casino?   It's true that the casino experience is out of the ordinary for most people, and to some it seems like a fantasy world.  It's a little like Alice stepping through the looking-glass into a casino Wonderland.

The sensory overload from the lights, sounds and activity overwhelm and sometimes confuse the senses, because it's nothing like their usual home, work or even play environment.  That is when they abandon their normal senses, and immerse themselves fully into the casino experience.   For most, it's not unusual to feel a sense of euphoria and anticipation before their first bet.  If they surrender to those feelings, they put more than just money at risk.   Everything in a casino, from the wildly patterned carpeting, to the flashing lights to the clank, clank, clank "sounds of winning"; everything has been designed and engineered to provide maximum positive-expectation stimulation and emotions.  The casino wants you to feel this way; it's easier to get the money from out of your pocket and securely into their coffers.

In a casino, Common Sense ain't that common.

For it is in the casino that you can be guided by the mathematics, but you're on your own to show common sense, and you need both.

In general, the numbers tell us:

Our chances of winning each bet.

The house edge on various wagers.

The best decisions where you can influence outcomes.

How to optimize amount to be wagered.

When to quit.

However, in craps, these math factors mostly fall in the realm of common sense, in that we have to use common sense to determine when and how to apply the math.

The last time we were in Vegas, I met up with a friend named Matt.  This guy is an aircraft design-engineer for Bombardier.  He has led the engineering teams that brought us the Dash 7 and Dash 8 regional airliners that feed most of the major carriers hubs.  He's the ultimate common sense guy.  His logic is flawless, he's conservative and sober-minded, except in the casino, where he loves the thrill and risk of gaming. 

Matt sniffs the air to pick up the female love-scent of Lady Luck. Once spotted, he'll salivate like a male dog who has picked up the scent of a bitch in heat.  The only problem is, that most of the time, the dog-of-hope is kept apart from the bitch-in-heat-of-luck by a chain link fence-of-abandoned-common sense.  Putting lame metaphors aside, once he thinks that good luck is nearby, he totally abandons common sense to pursue it.

We were playing at the Mirage.  Matt had been playing craps at a $25 table for four hours, making a Pass Line and two Come bets with 3x, 4x and 5x odds on every shooter.   I was the only Precision-Shooter at the table.  I'd have a good 15 to 40 roll hand each time, and everyone would make some profit.  The dice would circle the table, and there were no other players who could get past 2 to 8 rolls.    At one point Matt was down $3700, until I once again had a decent roll that brought him within $100 of break-even. Does common sense say quit and be grateful for an $3600 recovery, or keep going because another half decent roll now will put him over the top?

I locked-up a respectable profit, and chose to take a break.  My girlfriend and I both wanted to change our clothes for dinner, because we had an upcoming commitment at Kokomo's restaurant in the jungle under Mirage's dome.  Matt chose to stay.   After a terrific meal with some really great people, we passed by the craps pit under its palm-frond canopy and noticed that he was still there.  His original $5000 buy-in was now a near-skeletal remain of it's former glory.  With about $150 left in his rack, he looked at me forlornly and said, "I thought that I could catch Lady Luck, but the more that I chased her, the faster she ran."

Sure, occasionally people ignore common sense and sometimes clean up, but that is rare.  They also ignore the math, too, but that's another topic.  When we talk about surrendering to that adrenal rush and euphoria that some people experience with gambling, we are talking about being seduced by the feminine wiles and spells of Lady Luck.  Unfortunately, she can act like a real whore once you fall under her powerful spell.  She's whorish because she is only interested in separating you from your money.  She'll use the free booze, the house edge, the tease of occasional wins, her womanly charms, your personal greed and misguided motivations, plus the casinos distracting sights, sounds, and action to disarm your normal decision-making mechanism.  In short, she will keep your common sense at bay until she has grabbed as big a portion of your bankroll as possible.  The worst part of all of that is that people like Matt voluntarily surrender their common sense to her.

 Good Luck & Good Skill at the Tables…and in Life.

 By: The Mad Professor

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