Little Losses, Big Wins

Little Losses, Big Wins
Photo by Dusan Kipic / Unsplash

Buckle up, let me teach you how to gamble and win.

First thing, if you want to win at gambling, there is one surefire way to do that: don't gamble. Seeing as the casino has an advantage, breaking even (the term for leaving the casino with the same amount of money that you started with) is a huge win. The odds were against you, and you beat the odds without placing a single bet.

A man who will remain nameless (not to protect his identity, but because I can't remember who he was) once told me a story about gambling. It went like this: say you are at a function, and just after you arrive, you see the most incredible car pull up (I forgot what car he said, and seeing as I also forgot this person's identity, that is not hard to believe, so just insert any car that you are aware of that is worth a staggering amount of money. If you don't know anything about cars, then it is a Ferrari). Out of it gets a man and a woman wearing beautiful clothes; he is wearing a million-dollar watch, and she is wearing an even more expensive necklace. Out of curiosity, and before it was a thing on TikTok, you go to the couple and ask what they do for a living.

The man tells you that they are professional card players; he plays all kinds of poker, and she plays blackjack. They don't win every game and beat every player, but they do win most of the time and are extremely rich. While you are admiring this couple's success, they ask you a question: "Do you want to play cards?" Only a fool, looking at their win record, would play them in cards, yet millions of people try to do that every day in casinos around the world.

Now, I promised I would teach you how to gamble and win, and there is only one way to do it: you need to lose little and win big. Blackjack has some of the best odds in the casino, but it also brings in the most money because people don't know how to play. If played properly, the casino has about a 52% chance of winning, and you have 48%. Now, if that doesn't sound fair, some other games give the casino a 70-80% chance of winning. So let's say you are playing blackjack properly, doing everything right. Statistically, if you bet $100, you will walk away with $98. This is not winning. So let's look at it in a different way.

If you play 100 hands, statistically, you will win 48 of them and lose 52 of them. So if you alter your bets to be small when you lose and big when you win, you will walk away the victor. This shows the stupidity of gambling, as there is no way you can know which hands you will win or lose, and the statistic might take 1000 hands for it to even out, so the 100 hands you play, the house may win 80 of them.

Moving on from the casino, this concept of little losses and big wins has really helped me over this last season. And it all started with COVID. On a recent road trip to Queensland (about 10 hours drive from Sydney), towards the end, Jas got COVID. This was extremely disappointing, as we had to cut our trip 2 days short and didn't get to see some people we were really looking forward to seeing. This was a loss, for sure, but we were determined to ensure that it was a little loss.

We took a moment as a family to experience the disappointment, let it wash over us, shed a tear, and then get to work to move on. We ended up resting one day while Jas got better enough to travel, and then we headed back. We canceled the rest of the plans because five days later, we were flying to Tasmania. Funny enough, we discovered we all really needed that rest. When our flight day came, everyone was much better and tested negative, so we headed to Tasmania and had a great time with my parents. This time of resting was a big win.

But COVID was not done with us. Unsettled that we didn't lose big, it attacked again, this time getting my mother a few days before Christmas. This was a loss because it put our Christmas plans in jeopardy, but again we got to work making sure the loss was small. Due to some great planning and communication, we were able to still hold Christmas with all attendees except my brother's family, who pretty much all got COVID. As a bonus, seeing Jas very recently had COVID, she was able to freely interact with my mother to help out. Christmas was a big win.

Then, as one more desperate attempt, COVID took out my father. This put in jeopardy my other brother and two sisters coming for a number of days over New Year's Eve, as well as a large family catch-up on New Year's Day. But now, because of the big wins we had previously had, and our choice not to have these losses affect the whole experience, we could handle this very well. Dad had two nurses (my wife and his), but he didn't really need them because he suffered very few symptoms, and everyone was able to come together and still feel comfortable. On New Year's Day, I had my two sisters and two brothers and all their families together with us and my parents, and this was the jackpot.

All those little losses faded into insignificance as we all enjoyed the win of family. And as a bonus, the day before we left, we had an impromptu BBQ at my brother's place where we were going to have Christmas day, this time with even more of my family than what was going to be there on Christmas.

I know this year there will be losses, but when they come, we intend to do the same thing: stop, experience the disappointment, and then get to work to ensure this loss is small so we can bet big on a future win.