‘All gamblers are above average!’ This blog is about the consequences of innumeracy when coupled with over- confidence. My previous analysis* shows gamblers as strivers working against the odds. True but it doesn’t square the statistical impossibility of ALL gamblers being above average. Nonetheless I continue to assert, ‘all gamblers are above average.’ By which, I mean above the average of those who gamble. I will now subdivide those who gamble into two categories, gamblers and punters.
As philosophers say, “It all depends what you mean by gambler?” Gamblers are those who bet knowing what they are doing. This is as good a definition as I can manage after a life- time of thought. Gamblers are thoughtful. Gamblers calculate odds, read and understand form, know when not to gamble. They are in control. Those that bet thoughtlessly are punters. Punters are not gamblers even though they gamble. Punters make up the majority of people who gamble. Betting companies love punters.
In UK betting shops there are a minimum of sixteen monitors ‘helping’ punters. Additionally there are racing newspapers, tips and commentary. All of which is hugely informative and utterly useless to punters. Punters like a ‘flutter’. Punters say, “It’s only a fiver.”** Punters only remember their winning bets. Punters love exotic accumulator bets- the more implausible the better. And, importantly, punters only talk to other punters. Punters scream and shout at TV races/ games, hoping to make a difference. Punters can’t read form. Punters like counter staff to know their name. Punters do better when they’ve had a ‘drink’. Punters love lotteries, ‘You can’t win it, if you’re not in it.’ Punters don’t know what they are doing.
If the mental strain of choosing between different options is too taxing ALL betting shops also have slot machines. Punters love slot machines. The only skill necessary is putting money into the machine. They are quick- fire. They have programmed pay- outs. They accompany bets with pounding sounds. They have attractive visuals. There is no pause between bets. They are the crack cocaine of gambling. And, of course, it is impossible to win if played regularly. No gambler ever uses slot machines. Punters love slot machines because they don’t know what they doing.
Punters gamble but are not gamblers. Punters embrace temptation like anyone with an expense account. Punters are the ballast providing the profits of the gambling companies. Punters protect them from the ravages of gamblers. Therefore all gamblers are above average because all punters are below average.
*Gambling and All That
** £5 = US$8