In its essence, gambling is the chasing of luck and fortune, the pursuit of fun and happiness. We play not just for financial rewards and money, but for the emotion, the thrill, the rush, the adrenalin and the chance for Lady Luck to smile on us.
The unpredictability, the uncertainty, the unknown is what draws us in. It’s not all just about an elusive pot of gold. We may win, we may lose, but we never know what it is coming next, what is coming round the corner. And that is what makes gambling fun, what makes us keep coming back.
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Life is about experiences; it’s about collecting experiences and memories. Gambling allows you to do that in a way that is arguably better than any other. It introduces you to new people, gives you time to remember and provides escapism from the mundane reality of life. It also provides humour in spades, to friend and foe alike.
Take a friend of mine. She swore that she could pick a slot machine about to pay off big, which was about to explode with money. Being a somewhat skeptical person, I didn’t believe her and figured her string of three straight nights coming back from the casino with more cash than she started with was just luck.
So one evening she convinced me to go with her so she could show off her slot machine special power. I went along, thinking that I would be right there to see her luck to run out, ready with a ‘told you so’ mantra. Except, to my massive surprise, she won. She was playing three slot machines at once when she pointed to a machine, gave me some coins and told me to go do a max play. Within three spins miraculously the machine didn’t pay out.
She ended the night up 20 dollars. I end up losing about the same but gaining a deep and abiding sense of confusion about how, exactly, she knew that machine was about to pay off. Like it was talking to her as a special friend. That is the unique allure of gambling. It talks to us in ways some can’t imagine.
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We all like to win and be competitive, and gambling combines both with relish.
As Paul Newman said in the film The Color of Money: