Knowledge vs. Understanding | Curious Croupier | Scoop.it

This is my first post. I work as a croupier and I see the same faces night after night. People staking their own money on events in which the most likely outcome is that they will lose. The mathematics of casino games are extremely well understood but what I see from my side of the felt is not someone making a decision based on any kind of mathematically calculated risk. The player knows how to place their chips, they know when to ask for another card and they know what they are doing, right? I am sure they believe they know exactly what they are doing but do they understand what is happening? I don't, and I deal the games.

 

The legendary physicist Richard Feynman tells a story of when he was a young boy on a trip to the Catskill Mountains with his father. Another boy had mocked Richard for not knowing the name of a bird in the woods - a brown-throated thrush. Richard's father points out that, "you can know, in all the languages you want to know, what the name of that bird is, and when you're finished with all that ... then you'll know absolutely nothing whatsoever about the bird, you'll only know about humans and different places and what they call the bird. Now let's look at the bird and what it's doing".

 

I want to look past the brightly coloured chips, the mesmerising wheel, and the hollywood stereotype of casino action...

 

- Where did these games of chance come from?

- What drives people to gamble?

- Why use cards, chips, balls, spinning wheels and dice?

 

- What is happening, mathematically, when you participate in a casino game?

- What events are within, or are beyond, your control?

- How do casinos operate?

 

This blog is my homework. Hopefully it will be interesting to anyone who has ever felt the sting of losing money in a casino or to all you fellow dealers, croupiers, lumpies, chipper-uppers and valets out there taking people's money, excuses and abuses. What fun we have.