Friday, August 31, 2018

Beating the Odds

When you’re in a casino and playing 21, you say “hit me,” when you want to be dealt another card. There are some other phrases  like “les jeux sont faits” which you might hear if you watch a movie like The Croupier (1998) starring Clive Owen. Gambling has something in common with cosmology to the extent that it’s predicated on the notion that while there's no divine order in the universe (why would one gamble if everything is following a plan whose odds you can’t defeat), there’s some free will and some possibility that the chance meeting of atoms, the numbers on the slot machine, the turn of the dice, the black or red numbers of the roulette wheel will result in a Royal Flush or a straight. If you like horses the mountain you’re climbing is the Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes and Preakness Stakes. Bettors also salivate over the Super Bowl and college basketball’s March Madness. The gambling mentality extends into everyday life. When you’re going for a long shot in an impossible situation, you throw a Hail Mary which is a pass that the quarterback of the team that’s losing might heave into the end zone when it’s fourth down with ten seconds left on the clock. What is there to lose? A good majority of gamblers end up in the doghouse, but there are always the exceptions who hit the jackpot and the only way they’ll hold on to their winnings is if they cash in their chips while the metaphorical night is young.

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