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Musings on why people lose so much at casino games

Discussion in 'Casino Gaming' started by parlayboy, Jan 8, 2013.

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  1. parlayboy

    parlayboy Tourist

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    I read a book I got for XMAS "Thirteen against the Bank" and this subject struck me again.

    The author talks about how the VIG of the game ( in his case he was consumed by trying to beat roulette and the single 0 game with 0 not being an immediate loser was something like 1.4% vig ) doesn't account for the usual house take on it. I've read that BJ and craps are sometimes measured as 10% games by the house despite the fact that the vig is far less ( seat of the pants BJ is usually said to be 4%-6% tops and craps can be less than 1% ).

    So the author was talking about what drives the actual casino profits so much higher than the VIG would suggest. He said that it is a mental approach/issue that people who gamble desire losing far more than winning. I've read that in other gambling books as well. That gamblers want to lose. Thus they can never quit when ahead and any winnings they accumulate they just play higher stakes until it is gone. They cannot get up a winner and must either lose their stake, for the session, or keep playing until they do.

    I do think there is something to that idea. Many "chase losses" by increasing bets when losing in an attempt to recoupe all their losses. Playing MORE at a negative EV game will result in more losses. So betting more when losing is a spiraling thing and betting more when winning will ultimately result in more "action" at the -EV and the losses to come.

    I've dubbed this "phenomenon" as "negative money management". Instead of prescribed win goals and loss limits which trigger the end of a session. Only losing triggers "getting up" for many gamblers.

    Also, VIG figures like 1.44% for craps or whatever only really hold form if one bets the same amount roll after roll. IMO, few play that way. It is considered BORING and monotonous by most gamblers. So they increase and decrease their bets based on whim or some scheme or HUNCH. Like I said, often they increase when losing and increase when winning BOTH such that they keep upping bets until said VIG kicks in at the higher betting levels and wipes out their stake.

    Like basic strat in BJ is less than 1% for many games. Yet people rarely LAST the play their bankroll would suggest ( at the 1% or less VIG ) because they chase etc. IMO, positive money management will not overcome the VIG of a -EV game, but it does at least counteract the ruin of -MM that inflates losses so badly.:ssst::beer::wave:
     
  2. sandman748

    sandman748 Low-Roller

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    I agree with the author based on my own play. I hate to admit it, but I think that I play to lose.

    I don't completely understand the science behind it but here's my take.

    The feeling of winning your money back when you've brought yourself down to the breaking point is unbelievable. Whatever chemical reactions happen in your brain when you've gone from "I can't believe I'm about to lose all that money" to "Thank god I just won that money back...and then some" brings on a state of bliss that is almost drug like.

    When your winning I think it's similar to drug users who become tolerant. That first $100 win seems great, and the second one is still good, but the third time is kinda like "been there, done that". So you kick it up a notch and $200 win is even better than $100 but the cycle starts again and eventually you start losing.

    I actually did this exact thing the other night, I went in betting 1.00 a pull, and left playing 6.00 a spin. Thank god I came to my senses and left with some of my winnings(but not until I lost half of it)

    The Wizard of odds site links to an interesting study done on Lobstermania and the effects of it's design on compulsive gambling. Can't find the link, but its there somewhere.
     
  3. 7out

    7out Tourist

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    I actually prefer to win...crazy I know. However, for those that enjoy losing, please feel free to just send your money my way. It will save you airfare and your time at the casinos, it will be a "win-win" for all of us.
     
  4. Ezzy711

    Ezzy711 Low-Roller

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    Like many subjects discussed in this forum, I beleive it has to do with the individual's motivation. I have left a winner quite a few times. I don't play to lose. With that being said, I play mainly for the fun. I grew up playing cards and games at every family gathering. It is part social (craps and bj tables) and part fun to me. Slot machines are like video games that pay off. I go with the idea that I may lose my entire stake but hope not to. When I do walk away ahead from any session I put 1/2 of that away and don't touch it UNLESS I still have time left and run out of other money.

    With anything else, you cannot generalize on why people gamble.
     
  5. Nevyn

    Nevyn VIP Whale

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    I get your general point, but I think in places you are getting a bit confused.

    Is there some loser psychology that goes into gambling? Sure. But that doesn't necessarily account for the rate discrepancies you are talking about.

    If a BJ game is returning 10% on 1% rules, that cannot mean that people are staying longer or pushing their bets, because that % is a % of the amount bet. If that is the return a casino gets off a game, it means that that person was playing sub-optimally. So its not the guy who stays until he loses, but plays perfect basic strategy, its the guy who sees the dealer get there 3 times in a row with a bust card, and starts hitting against the bust card.

    If everyone played basic strategy and stayed until they lost it all, casino profits would be huge, but the game would still be clearing 1 %

    And remember, money management does nothing to control your expected outcome in a game. All it does in net effect is make you bet less.
     
  6. Nevyn

    Nevyn VIP Whale

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    As for the psychological part, it is too simplistic to say that people "want to lose". Probably a very small part are that self destructive, I would think.

    But that doesn't mean psychology doesn't play its role. People actually want to win, to come out ahead, or at least to give as good as they got, so they chase when losing. And the more someone plays, the more walking even or with a small win isn't that exciting.

    So it isn't really wanting to lose, its just playing against unrealistic expectations in an attempt to win and/or win big.
     
  7. Chuck2009x

    Chuck2009x VIP Whale

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    The house hold is way higher than the HA because negative variance causes people bust out having lost 10% or 20% or 100% of their bankroll for a session and stop gambling.

    But most people won't stop when positive variance causes them to win 10% or 20% of 100%, they'll keep going until their win is greatly reduced or eliminated. For an insignificant fraction, it's a "need to lose". For the rest, it's a "chance to make a big score", because they're gambling with money they're willing to lose; they're willing to lose their entire bankroll to begin with.

    So you take the few people who walk away with a decent sized win, and then subtract the other 99% of people, and you get 10% - 30% house holds. I'm surprised it's not higher.
     
  8. boxcars

    boxcars High-Roller

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    I could write a book on this subject too.

    Couple takeaways in my "book"

    1. Short-term winnings will translate into long-term losings.

    2. If you win, you think it's easy to win more. If you lose, you'd be happy to just win your money back and break even.

    3. Must play for entertainment value. Playing with the notion that you have to win will cost you dearly.

    4. Professional gamblers don't exist in my book. Poker, yes. Games with a house edge, NO.

    5. People may think "I can afford to lose 1.41% of my $500 buy-in on the craps tables! on my trip" No, that 1.44% is spread over every single bet, from hundreds or thousands of dollars risked per hour.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2013
  9. Malibugolfer

    Malibugolfer High-Roller

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    Everyone's psychology is different. What is much more consistent is the lack of bankroll and increased risk of ruin most players play with. The red chip bettor who buys in for $100 on a higher house edge game or the purple chip player with a good CL will need some good positive variance to keep playing for even a few hours. Almost all players do not have the proper bankroll to make it through any extended period of play, session after session. Even positive expectation players need the ability to ride out the sure to come swings.
    That's why the Kerry Packers of the world are a bit of a problem as their monster bets are backed with casino size bankrolls.
    I play for the rush, not to lose. Done lots of crazy things in my life and having re-re-re-split hands out there with a maximum bets and winning them all is just another way of pressing the envelope.
     
  10. Kickin

    Kickin Flea

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    House Holds for blackjack average around 13% historically, the same for craps and baccarat is around 15%. Roulette holds average around 20%. You're right that variance plays a big role in that. Simply put - the casino's bankroll will last much much longer than your own bankroll. If you buy in for 20x your average bet in blackjack you have a roughly 50% chance of losing it all in a normal day's session.

    But two other things play into it - churning both of chips and of cash. Everyone knows of churning chips i.e. the HA applies to every single wager. If you assume a 1% HA in blackjack your theo is 1% per hour on a medium speed 100 hands/hr table.

    But there's also churning of cash. House Hold is simply the money won divided by the total buy-in (cash and markers) dropped in the tables' cash box. Unless you only go to the cashier once during your trip you are churning cash. A lot of people will go to the cashier and cash in chips after every session, or at the end of each day, or buy back their markers, etc. But then buy in again later. That artificially decreases the house hold. So for example if you were the only gambler in the casino and you bought in for $1000, played for a bit and broke even, then cashed the chips and bought in again later for $1000 and lost it all. The house hold would be only 50% since you dropped the same $1000 twice but of course could only lose it once. The denominator in house hold isn't netted out by cash that comes out of the cage. So in reality, if you think about house hold as the total amount the casino won divided by the total amount players actually gambled with its going to be a lot higher than the 13%-20% ranges that the casinos publish in gaming revenue reports for their tables.
     
  11. LV_Bound

    LV_Bound VIP Whale

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    With regards to the numbers we never play long enough for it to get to low percentage.
    Even at a $5 Craps table, you bet Pass with odds, make a few place bets and maybe the hard way and on the 2nd roll the shooter 7s out. See how quickly one can get in a hole even for a 1% game. :eek: People's bank rolls tend to give out long before the percentages really come into play.
     
  12. DMSCR

    DMSCR High-Roller

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    Why most lose. And sometimes lose big.

    1. Over betting relative to your bankroll in play/action.
    2. Not knowing when to leave, win or lose.
    3. Bringing their egos and emotions to the tables when they should be left at the door.
    4. Doesn't study the game enough before actually wagering money. From the practice sessions you will know if things will hold up or just not playing altogether saving you lots of grief.
    5. Not knowing the odds. Does not think in probability. Some games you are going to lose no matter what. Like roulette for instance.
    6. Playing for fun. When at the tables it is not about being fun.
    7. Playing while drunk. Big No No.
     
  13. topcard

    topcard Older than the Stardust!

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    Winning/Losing Observation

    I have fun periodically - in explaining to non-gamblers that I have had more winning trips to Vegas than losing ones - yet I'm down overall.
    They usually don't understand how that can be, until I explain it to them - a winning trip can be as little as a $50 win. A losing trip (for me, anyway) is never less than $300, and is occasionally my entire budgeted bankroll.

    I can also say that my 3 best winning trips represented more money than my 3 worst losing trips.
    Again, so what? If we expand that number to 10 best versus 10 worst, I have lost far more in my 10 worst trips.

    BTW - I have no trouble at all leaving a table when I'm up. In fact, I often sit down with a pre-set winning objective. My pre-set loss-limit per table is my buy-in.
    When I hit my win objective, I will color up those chips and tuck 'em. I will then continue to play with the left-over red chips until they are gone or they become $100.
    Then I move on.

    One pattern that I find interesting is that I almost always win on my first day there.
    Mrs. Topcard has frequently observed that I should start booking 1-day trips instead of 3 - and that I'd be a lot better off if I did.
    ~shrug~
    I have no explanation for this pattern, except perhaps that I tend to be a little more attentive to the count and more rested on the first day than on subsequent days.

    In any event, I never sit down at a blackjack table with an expectation or subliminal desire to lose. Quite the opposite - I always expect to win, while knowing that I will be disappointed from time to time.
     
    Seems like forever from now, but the flights are booked, so it counts!
  14. bubbakitty

    bubbakitty native Texan; born and bred.

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    We used to fall into the sphere of not knowing when to quit; not "needing" to walk away; being ahead and pressing onward for the big score. Instances of having good days followed by poor days / break-even days / good days / repeat.....are why we bring the dreaded "daily" envelope. When in Vegas you shouldn't have to "budget" to have fun but past history with us and our level of gaming shows we have a much more positive (not necessarily monetarily) trip experience if we remind ourselves of who we are and how much a hundred dollars is viewed within our meager world.

    Early in our travels to Vegas we would find ourselves up and upon reflecting as we traveled back on the plane, we would often laugh at ourselves for not retaining those "profits" at the end of the day. We now reload each morning leaving yesterday's remnants (if any) in that envelope for the return home and the initial buy in on the next trip's stake. Previously, we would look at the profit for a day (if any) as "fun" money (unbudgeted loot) which found us upping our bets or playing higher HA games than normal. This was usually in the altered state of alcohol which was "free" for the taking. It was fun at the time. It was not a good feeling for us on the way home if we had "blown" a significant figure (which is defined by each of us differently),

    When at home and going to the grocery store or golf course, a 100 $ bill is a 100 $. In Vegas it can be a black chip; its just a chip!......So we budget and have just as much fun as before but don't blow the previous day(s) winnings on the "high" we had from beating the system (for that one nano-second of time). It is just the way we do it and have to do it not to blow through our entire bankroll and turn our vacation into a negative trip.

    That doesn't mean we don't spring for a good meal or go to a show on "their dime"; we do. We just don't blow it gambling for an even BIGGER return. We only got the bigger return once......but it didn't make up for the other times.
     
    1st Super Bowl DT...Panthers / Browns no doubt
    Spur of momento trip
  15. WrongWayWade

    WrongWayWade VIP Whale

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    Sorry, even though this sounds plausible, it just isn't true.

    First, don't be deceived by reports that table games 'hold' 10% or 20% or 30%. The hold is the house win vs. the amount of BUY-IN, NOT the amount wagered. I buy in for $500, play for 1 hour at $50/hand, wager $4400 and lose $22 (10% doubles/splits). The house HOLD is 22/500 4.4%, even though the house advantage (and in this case I lost EXACTLY the HA) is still 0.5%. 4.4% <> 0.5%. Two completely different metrics. The house hold is larger ONLY because people wager far more than they buy-in for, not because people bust out.

    As far as the 'bust out' theory, the cards have no idea who is betting or if they're about to bust out. It is just a vast number of blackjack hands played by an unknown number of players with unknown bankrolls. The next hand out of the shoe has no idea about players busting out. It's just another hand with a 0.5% HA. (All of the above discussion implies all players playing perfect basic strategy).

    A simple way to prove this is to look at Baccarat reports. They'll show stuff like 15% or 20% holds, but because there is no skill, the HA MUST be almost exactly 1% (barring a lot of tie and side bets). Again, it's only because the players are re-betting their initial buy-ins over and over. The loss/total wagered is going to stay 1%, though they don't report it this way because it would be such a pain to measure the total wagered. Slots are different because knowing the total wagered is trivial.
     
  16. NickyDim

    NickyDim VIP Whale

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    This is true. All games have ups and downs or runs either good or bad. If we use a $100 buy in as an example. We all survive a good run and many times we'll give it back and return to even. So lets say on a good run we've doubled our money, up $100, we are more inclined to stay at the table and over time usually give it back, so now we went up and down and back to even, close to the game's variance. But lets say that run is bad and we lose $90, many are inclined to walk away a loser and not take out more money and wait for the variance to swing the other way and win the money back.

    It's why Harrahs AC showed an 19.7% take on BJ last month alone. Not HA, but actual take.
    http://www.nj.gov/oag/ge/docs/Financials/MGR2012/201211revenue.pdf
     
  17. parlayboy

    parlayboy Tourist

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    Yes, the 10-20% quoted is TAKE, not cash-out to buy-in. The 1% over 10-20X rollover action would account for it if it was just HOLD. But the dirty little secret is that these games produce TAKE that high because of the negative money management phenomenon.

    Having unrealistic expectations and too low of a session bankroll for the amount being played are two very important aspects of it.

     
  18. parlayboy

    parlayboy Tourist

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    Some interesting points that I mostly agree with.
    1. Don't you feel bad for "newbies" that win their first session or night? I think it is the worst possible thing as then they think it EASY or that it will happen every time and they CRASH BIG.
    3. That is the proper attitude IMO. That losses MUST BE thought of as entertainment expense and kept to such a budget(only expendable $ gambled EVER).
    4. Here is where we disagree somewhat. I have met, socialized with and played with a LOT of professional gamblers. Most are now playing poker professionally, granted, online and in casinos. But they have at times made a living off of BJ and sports betting(where I met most of them). I have played BJ with some of them who used to play it for a living(mostly in teams). I agree that -EV games like craps and roulette are not beatable long-term and they almost ALL stay away from them completely - one will play craps at near even but that is a different story.

    My one friend says he'd rather just throw money off the roof than play -EV games that give the casino his money. Many of them have played BJ for profit in the past though. Same with VideoPoker as a few played it professionally but it wasn't worth the trouble over time. Opps for "legit" pros dry up over time. Which is why most are playing poker now. A few still make a living off of sportsbetting though.


     
  19. parlayboy

    parlayboy Tourist

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    It isn't a 1% game playing that way. Place betting and hardways bump the HA up considerably!!! All of those bets are well above 1%. Even line bets are the 1.44%. It is combined with odds bets(0%) that bring the combined vig under 1% only.

    Those of us who stick to line bets with odds are the ones at <1% vig.

    As for the "want to lose" topic, one book stated it more as a "much greater willingness to lose than desire to win". Maybe that is more accurate in that most gamblers in casinos are willing to lose X but don't really have a realistic win goal that they will quit with. It is like their bankroll is the loss figure but infinity is their WIN number.

     
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