Yesterday, my manager and his manager provided me with more information than I ever thought was possible to know about gambling. Now, I remember once having a similar conversation about poker, but this was just general gambling information. It all started because we're having some sort of NCAA fantasy something or other in our group. That'd be great, except I know shit about basketball. And I'm so inept I couldn't even figure out how to sign up to the Yahoo fantasy group thingy. Nevertheless, I wiggled my way through bad directions to sign up for the yahoo thingy, and I picked some teams based on absolutely no understanding of anything useful whatsoever.
Meanwhile, my managers were explaining point spreads to me (this thing doesn't have point spreads, but apparently football pools have point spreads which STILL make no sense, though they did a valiant job of explaining it to me). Somehow point spreads led us to a discussion of bookies, which led us to a discussion of Vegas gambling. Now, silly naive me... I think Vegas, I think Casino...roulette, craps, blackjack, poker, slots... never occurred to me that there was this whole huge thriving legal industry in sports betting there. How this ever escaped me, I'll never know. So they started explaining how "juice" works (apparently differently than I thought), and how the bookies use point spreads to create a statistical advantage for themselves (which made slightly more sense) and how sometimes the point spreads have to be changed after betting has started and why the bookies don't like that. It's bad for business, you see.
You see, now I know a whole LOT about gambling! See, the bookies like to put the point spreads where 50% of the betters (I'm sure there's a more appropriate word for that) bet on Team A and 50% bet on Team B. Then, apparently, Team A betters are paying Team B betters and vice versa, but the bookies take the "juice" (10% off the top). I always thought "juice" was like interest when you owe your bookie money. But apparently I was not aware of the bigger picture. So the bookies take 10% and everybody's winnings are covered. Or something. Apparently this is a multi-billion dollar business. Who knew? (I mean, aside from gamblers)
Okay, so somehow, and frankly, I can't really remember how, this led to a general discussion of Vegas, casinos, and gambling. Apparently in Roulette, as I'm sure 99.8 percent of you already knew but little naive me didn't know), you can bet "red" or "black" instead of betting a number. Fair enough. But that seems a little odd, right? wouldn't the odds be pretty much even on that? Sure, except that there are 39 numbers on the wheel (maybe I'm wrong about the numbers) and 2 of the squares are GREEN! That puts the odds slightly more in the favor of the house. Who knew?!?
Black Jack has the best odds for the house of any other game in a casino. Apparently the odds are 52/48 in the house's favor. Seems like it'd be a lousy bet to take then, right? But apparently there's this thing called "doubling down" which makes things better for you, but by then my head was already spinning with my newfound knowledge and I never found out what doubling down meant or why it was a good thing.
And Craps! Don't forget Craps! I never really knew how craps worked, but now I see that it's FAR more complicated than I thought. And the guys who work the table must have some ridiculous talent. Seriously. I don't think I'd ever be cut out for it. I think I want to work at a Casino. Except that would mean moving. And becoming more coordinated. And breathing in really smoky rooms. And probably wearing a little bowtie, but I suppose that's not so offensive. So instead of working in a casino, I think I should like to go somewhere and play craps. Or is that "shoot craps"? Because, really, what else am I going to do with all this useful knowledge I've obtained??
By the way, casinos give free rooms to big spenders. But there's a trick. When the boss is around, you bet big, big, big. But when the boss walks away, you go back to puny bets. When he comes back, more big, big, big bets. This evens out the amount you're spending in the long run, but gives the appearance of spending a lot of money. Also, you should be staying put. A casino owner would much rather have you lose $1000 over four hours at one table than lose $1000 in one hand and walk away for a while. Apparently the longevity moves things in their favor. But don't worry, you and I aren't in danger of ever appearing to be big spenders. Big spenders, apparently, lose $100,000 a night regularly.
And sheesh! These casinos spare no expense! One casino has a roller coaster at the top of it
. Thirty stories UP
. The Bellagio
cost a billion dollars to build. Stores BEG for retail space there. Cartier, um, and others, but Cartier is the only one I can remember off hand. They have a gallery of fine art. They have restaurants. They have fountains. They have zillions of dollars. There's a three month waiting list to get into the bar or some such thing. It's ridiculous.
But I could win at Vegas. Because all those Casino owners build skyscrapers and Eiffel towers and domed-fresco ceilinged casinos, and roller coasters, and they drive rolls royces and other expensive cars and they practically sweat money because people win in Vegas, right? Oh, sorry, I forgot rule number one of gambling: The House Always Wins. They make billions of dollars off that 1% advantage they've got. Go figure.
This isn't even a tiny fraction of what I learned about gambling yesterday. And the anectdotes I heard were funny yet educational.
But the most disturbing thing? That they KNEW all of this and it was clear I was only learning the very tippiest tip of the iceberg that is their knowledge base on this subject. And there I was, completely naive, seriously innocent, disbelieving, yet fascinated. All in all, I think I'll stick with the safe bets for now, thanks.