Gambling across borders

A blog about the productive life of risk

Posts Tagged ‘winning

Losing is a winning game

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Not all gamblers are the same. I am told that very few know how to lose. Best poker players rarely tell stories about their winning hands. Why? Because winning is expected from them; knowing how to lose with dignity is what earns them respect.

Playing styles reveal much more than just individual preferences. The difference between embracing chance on the one hand and counting odds and probabilities on the other marked the end of an era: out went the aristocratic gambler and in came the rational player with carefully honed skill. The age of Enlightenment gave us a player who didn’t only play for fun: their ambition was to earn money. 18th century French aristocracy was shocked to see this new breed: educated bourgeoisie that played safe and showed neither heart nor interest in proving how much they can afford to lose.

Perla Casino in Nova Gorica (Slovenia) dubbed the European Las Vegas

Perla Casino in Nova Gorica (Slovenia) dubbed the European Las Vegas

Yet, the aristocratic gambler lives on. Stories about people losing half a million pounds on a roulette table impress us. Is it the amount being lost? Or their ability to survive this loss? Top gamblers say that only pure chance games count. They never know when they might lose and there is nothing they can to do influence that. For them, losing big money is where they build character. I was told by my casino informants in Nova Gorica (Slovenia) that a Russian high roller, after having lost more money than they had ever seen, requested the following: to thrash the private room to the ground and, of course, pay for the incurred damage. He still had money for such an extravagance. The equation is simple: the more you can afford to lose, the richer and more powerful you are.

Like a fledgling business, calculated gambling can earn you some cash here and there. Pure chance playing, on the other hand, is the game of big and old money. The more you don’t care to lose, the more you actually have: so I am told.


Written by Andrea Pisac

June 19, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Will the house win again?

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In a casino, the house always wins and players are bound to lose in the long run, unless they’re cheating or counting cards at blackjacks. I was repeatedly told this by gamblers since I did fieldwork research in London’s casinos in 2007 and 2008. Spending hours in their company and watching them play I could see by myself that winnings indeed never lasted long and were most of the time spent frivolously or recycled as stakes . So evidently any gambler who strikes unusually lucky, like winning £7.3 million in one night at Punto Banco, becomes the object of suspicion. Luck in a casino is not meant to make the punter walk away with the house revenue and make the casino bankrupt. When Phil Ivey a famous poker player hit such a jackpot at the high-end London casino Crockfords in August 2012, they would not, of course, let him disappear with the money. So far the casino is still winning. But Phil Ivey is determined to challenge this status quo and has filed a lawsuit against Crockfords, which is owned by the Malaysian Genting group. Phil Ivey is motivated by an unfair reciprocity: why did the casino not honour its commitments to him when he always did, losing many times huge amounts of cash to the casinos? The question is: will the house still win even in court?

Written by Claire Loussouarn

May 15, 2013 at 11:42 am