Be better than Mets, don’t blow it!

October 01, 2007 11:03 PM
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This could be the most painful column I’ve ever written. Not because of the topic, but because of the example I’m going to use. As I write this column, my beloved New York Mets are on the verge of an historic collapse. They had a 7 game lead with 17 games to go, and now that lead is nearly gone. If only the season were just 150 games long, instead of 162.

The Mets don’t have a choice. They have to play all 162 games. That’s just the way it works. In hindsight, I’m sure every member of the team wishes the season ended 2 weeks ago. Of course, 2 weeks ago, most of the team probably said they were glad they had 2 more weeks so that they could thump the competition a bit more.

Does this sound at all familiar to you? How many times have you played in the casino and were up a decent amount of money and rather than stopping, visions of breaking the bank danced in your head? Worse yet, how many times have you decided to keep playing and not only NOT break the bank, but instead walk away losing money instead of winning?

First of all, if you’ve done this a few (or even more than a few times), it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a gambling problem. The casinos are pretty much counting on this type of behavior. They know that if they offer games with less than 100% payback (even if it is very high like 99.6%), that the Player will run out of money first. In fact, this will likely be the case even for games slightly over 100%. You start with $1,000 and the casino starts with millions, and as the pendulum swings back and forth, you’re going to lose your $1,000 before they lose their millions. This is just a mathematical certainty.

Yes, there will be some nights where somebody has an incredible streak of good luck. So, one Player will walk away a big winner. But, if you’ve had a good hot streak and you’ve gotten some entertainment value, there is no reason to believe that your hot streak will continue. The math doesn’t support this notion. Experience doesn’t really support this notion. Psychologically, you’re going to beat yourself to a pulp. I think most people would rather just lose from the beginning than know in hindsight that if they had left 15 minutes earlier they could’ve walked away a winner. This is all the more true if a little voice inside of you was telling you to walk away fifteen minutes ago.

The longer you play a game with a payback below 100%, the less likely you are to win during that session. Thus, while most of us play for entertainment value, that doesn’t mean that we don’t want to win once in a while — or the fun seems to disappear. To do this, you have to know when to walk away when you’re ahead once in a while. If you lose session after session, you’re going to stop believing that using the right strategy is in fact the right strategy. This will cause you to alter your playing strategy and leave you even more susceptible to losing.

The Mets will be have the entire offseason to kick themselves for blowing a cushion made over nearly 162 games.

They don’t have a choice. Will you be kicking yourself for having the same outcome when you DO have a choice?