Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Casino, poker, gambling

Whether we want to gamble or like to gamble or not, life is a gigantic casino that forces us to constantly play a metaphorical poker.

There lies the appeal of the Deal or No Deal show on British and other TVs.

The game consists of 22 identical, sealed boxes containing varying sums of money, from 1p to £250,000 (we are now talking about British pounds). From these boxes the player, the contestant in the ‘hot seat’, has to choose which ones to open progressively. The sums which are uncovered are lost to the player who, in order to win, should keep the largest sums of money undisclosed for as long as possible.

The reason for this is that the so-called banker, a mysterious figure behind the scenes playing a sort of poker game complete with bluff and high stakes with the player, will make the player offers of money that reflect the situation of the game at different, pre-determined moments of the game.

So, for instance, if the big sums of £250,000, £100,000, £75,000 and £50,000 are still to be disclosed, the banker will make a higher offer than if these sums are revealed.

Why? Because if they are unrevealed, one of the large sums might be contained in the sealed box that the player has in front of him or her, picked up at random at the beginning of the game. Whatever sum of money is in that box the player will have won at the end of the game, unless s/he deals with the banker by accepting his offer before.

It is in the banker’s interest to make a high offer of cash if the development of the game allows the possibility of a great sum of money to be won by the player.

Remember that in the box there could be 1 penny, or there could be a quarter of a million. Real wealth, lots of cash, what they call life-changing money can be easily won and just as easily lost. There is so much at stake.

What is fascinating about this gambling TV show is exactly that: it is an entire gamble. The player has no idea how much money each of the boxes contains.

And this is the situation we are in many times in real life.

Like the players, we don’t know what’s in the boxes that we encounter in our lives, yet we must make decisions about them, about things that we have not enough knowledge about. Informed decisions are a luxury in the big casino of life; more often than not, we have to play poker, we have to download an existential game and gamble.

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