12 November 2007

You can bet on it

    Well, I lost five thousand dollars in Rock Scissors Paper last weekend.
      Phil Gordon

When you're in a place like Vegas with a group, you go out and do stuff. You gamble, go drinking, go to clubs, etc. When you're by yourself, well, not so much. Getting drunk with a bunch of friends in a bar is a blast. Doing it by yourself is sad and somewhat pathetic. So, when I was in Vegas, I mostly just walked around. I might end up chatting with a fellow conference attendee who happened to be eating at the same restaurant, but that was it. I spent the rest of my time walking around the casinos and hotels sightseeing.

One thing I was amazed by was the volume and variety of gambling options. I knew Vegas offers almost limitless gambling options, but I was still unprepared for the scope and scale as seen firsthand. I was once in the AT&T Global Network Operations Center. It had a huge wall lined with screens showing the status of networks and servers all over the globe. It had nothing on the sports betting room in every casino I saw. They were bigger, had more screens, and were more impressive. I stood looking at those walls unable to comprehend all the numbers and stats, each of which represented a bet someone could place. People will bet on anything.

Which brings me to an episode of This American Life I heard back in September, though it was originally broadcast in 2001. Meet the Pros does just that, including professional gamblers in Act Two, where Phil Gordon explains how Rock Scissors Paper is in essence the same as Texas Hold 'Em. Check it out, it's a good one.

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