I Don't Hate Poker, Poker Hates Me

If ever they decide a thousand years from now to dig up our nearby OHare Field or our just-down-the- street Rivers Casino in DesPlaines, they will surely find how we gambled every day. On our flights, on our roll of the dice, and on so much of what we do each day.

Some anthropologists say our species is the only one that enjoys playing-games-of-chance. Which may be true, although in my case there’s little chance I’ll ever win any of these games. I have pondered my fate at the tables, and concluded it’s not the games, but me that’s at fault. And while millions of other sore losers use this same excusr, we keep coming back. We keep generating more and more games to play. Gaming in America is a multi-billion-dollar industry every year.

The usual theory is we are intuitively trying to defy the odds of our little lives with some big payoff. Reason tells us otherwise, but tell me — what gambler on winning or losing streak ever thinks to reason his actions out?

For the rich there are casinos like Rivers, palaces like those in Vegas, and now thousands of new little video poker slots jamming everywhere you look from drug stores, to book shops, to malls. These are the down-and-dirty quarter and dollar monsters for the down-and-dirty truck drivers, repair teams and street crews who come in throughout the day. As it turns out, the gambling industry often makes even more profit from these than from those higher-maintainence ones in the fancier houses.

The last time I wandered into the nearby Rivers in DesPlaines, I found myself inquiring whether the players ever felt like the wealthy patricians of ancient Rome and Pompeii. Turns out they didn’t appreciate my anthropological curiosity….

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