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Random Reflections on Gambling

I survived Vegas with about even money in my pocket and quite a few hours of lost sleep -- sleep I’m still trying to get back. It seems like it’s taking me longer and longer to recover from such weekends as I get older. I had to take a power nap a little while ago to get through the day.

I’ve been thinking about the whole gambling thing and what a heathen I am. OK, not really. I’ve really been thinking about two types of gambling: with machines and with people. I don’t like gambling with a machine- it is such a mechanical way to spend time- put the money in, pull the handle, repeat. You may win or lose, but the experience is always the same- the machine never consoles you when you lose or roots for a good hand.

On the other hand, gambling with people rocks. In blackjack there is the whole dynamic of you being an individual player and looking out for your own interests while having to consider how your decisions impact other players at the table. There is a constant undercurrent of teamwork that often goes unsaid. Everyone at the table depends on one another to push the game along to get the desired outcome (usually making the dealer bust). The whole experience is human.

There is something about playing with people that is an irreplaceable element and I think the same is true with the web. You can play with web sites that stare back at you with a mechanical glaze and marketing copy, but they aren’t as fun – they get old fast and offer few reasons to come back.

On the other hand, you can play with sites that are human and dynamic, sites that speak to you like a person and enable you to work along side other people. These sites are compelling because they are a connection to real people. In the end, I would rather spend my time with people than with a machine (unless that machine has better odds I guess).

Of course, as I write this, I’m at home alone typing into a machine – but I’m really just talking to you, right?