Winners &Losers

Winner & Losers
The Black Jack
American Statistical
Returned Casino
jam-packed gambles
Blackjack Heaven
Spooking & blackjack

Oh Not The Ritz

One Dark Night>
A spinall played
traced back< India
Poker Backgammon
1984 Aspinal
Gamester Extraordinary

View From The Downside

Gordon Moody
Powerful Stuff
Royal Commission

Gamblers Hospital

Gamblers Hospital
Individual Therapy

In The Casino

Take Risks
So Why Gamble
The Reason
Gambling Event

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Percentages and Chances

Percentages and Chances

      Action Man

Action Man
Las Vegas
Bucking The Odds
Kusyszyn concludes

 Mauvaise Epoque

Dynamic Management
Blanc Dies
The S.B.M
Eudaemons to Draw

Nevada & New Jersey

Mafia boss
Connection & Crime
Jersey Casino
Technical Issues


The Game of Life
Real Until


Lesson 4

The uncertainty of the gambling guide event, Kusyszyn concludes, and the risk that is an integral part of it provide for the cognitive, emotional and physical arousal of the individual.  ‘It can be spoken of as a mood state, a peak, a trance, a high, or even a mystic state.  It is not, however, uniform.  It is a general state that is altered many times – or more precisely, different mini-states pass through the generally pervasive state – during a session of gambling by the individual’s actions … This self-regulated playing within the pleasantly safe, fantasy mood state is probably the most important feature of gambling.’

           The trouble comes, one may add, when the peak experience costs more than the outlay in achieving it like the pigeon in B.F.  than is contained in the pellet, and thus literally works itself to death.  Or, if you like, slot machine players who go on pulling the one-armed bandits until they are in a state of collapse.
            A number of laboratory experiments have been carried out to determine how people feel when they are gambling but the trouble with a laboratory test is that it is nothing like a casino.  A basic flaw is that in an artificial test, the players are not risking anything; they may be rewarded for poker winning, but in terms of excitement, playing without the possibility of loss is like drinking a dry martini without gin.
            In a novel attempt to get around this problem, an experiment was devised by two researchers in Glasgow which compared reactions of gamblers in a laboratory test with their reactions in casino.  this last was achieved by wiring up a number of players to monitor their heartbeats, while playing blackjack, via a recorder switch attached to the tail of the player’s jacket, operated by an experimenter standing behind him.  ‘This does not look out of place in a casino setting where it is common for people to crowd round a table.
  Recording of subjects’ stakes, cards and outcome was done by speaking a running commentary into an audio mini cassette recorder in the experimenter’s breast pocket.’  (Real and laboratory gambling, sensation-seeking and arousal, G. Anderson and R.I.F. Brown, British Journal of Psychology, 1984).  The laboratory test, which also compared the reactions of a group of students who were not gamblers, sought to replicate casino conditions with dim lighting, a croupier with a real blackjack shoe and chips (maximum prize £ 10) and soft music in the background; the students were not tested in a casino ‘for ethical reasons’, but had two sessions in the mock casino.  twelve gamblers and twelve students were tested.

            Since excitement in real gambling was being measured for the first time, the study also sought to discover what aspects of blackjack were most stimulating.  The test was divided into three periods, corresponding to the sequence of events at blackjack, described  as a two-decision game divided by a ‘hopeful’ period in between:  1. placing the stake; 2.  being dealt two cards; 3.  resolution of the hand.  Heart-rate signals were later passed from tape to a polygraph where they were recorded for visual analysis by counting the beats between the events marking the beginning and end of the periods of the game, and expressing the rate in beats per minute.
            And what did they show?  That there was no significant difference between the students and gamblers in the artificial casino, but a highly significant difference in heart rate increase between gamblers in the artificial and real casinos.  Surprise, surprise! You may say; but the figures are revealing.  ‘A round of the game in a simulated casino only produced a tiny increase in heart rates but lecturer at Glasgow University.   ‘One subject began with a pulse rate of 72 but when he started gambling it raced up to 130 – a rise of 58 beats a minute.  The average rise was 25.’  These increases seem to be on a par with strong physical exercise.
            ‘The constant repetition of major changes in autonomic or other kinds of arousal associated in time and place with various forms of gambling activity is likely to have a powerful classical or Pavlov Ian conditioning effect on gambling behavior, ’ the study concludes, ‘and may contribute significantly to the development of gambling addition… If, as appears likely, arousal and excitement are major mediators of reinforcement and internal cues for gambling behaviour, especially for regular gamblers, pathological gamblers may become addicted to their own arousal and its physical and psychological effects.’  In some individuals such high and increasing arousal in the course of a gambling session could produce a narrowing of attention and hence a secondary reward in an escape from disturbing factors in their normal life, the authors suggest; and, with further increases, changes in short-term memory and accuracy, and even a state of confusion and disordered thinking.

Increases in heart-rate (beats per minute ) at different stages of play

                            Students               Gamblers
                                                        Artificial         Real
                               X         SD        X          SD          X          SD
Increase period 1      2.4       1.9       6.1        1.8        23.2       3.5
                       2     6.3        3.3       8.1        2.5        25.2       4.9
                       3     4.0        2.6       9.0        3.1        22.5       4.0
Increase overall        4.1        3.7       6.8        3.4        23.1       6.8

All this seems to me very persuasive.  One gets a strong sense in gambling, as in an addictive time-consuming game like chess, that the activity is not pursued to win as such.  It is far more an activity which ‘takes you out of yourself’ , actually turns you in on yourself, so that the increased focus on doing it making the right moves is both highly gratifying in itself, and at the same time bocks out any thoughts about the real world beyond the table.  (Like President Truman, on being interrupted in the course of a poker game by his daughter to give him the results of mid-term elections:  ‘Thank you my dear thank you Okay.  Deal!’ An experience which any card games player can instantly identify with.)
            On a sensation seeking scale, which combined a variety of personality tests, no significant difference was found between the students and the gamblers.  But the results did show a positive correlation with heart-rate increase for gamblers in the real casino.  In other words, gamblers most inclined to seek sensation make larger bets than those who are less inclined to do so in real casinos, but in artificial ones they bet the same amount.  (The gamblers’ responses as to why they gambled regularly were: 50 per cent for enjoyment or excitement 33 per cent to be sociable 8.5 per cent to pass the time; and 8.5 per cent to win money.)  Whether sensation- seekers place higher bets as a way of obtaining higher arousal, or whether high arousal makes for higher bets, or how they reinforce each other, is an open question.  Brown believes that the constant ‘jolts to the system ’  provided by gambling can produce a powerful Pavlovian conditioning effect.  As the study concludes,   ‘excitement or arousal … not sexual, but probably autonomic, might be seen as being sought repeatedly by the regular gambler for its own sake.’
            Next, a word about odds.

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