Vector8 Journals

Friday, October 15, 2004

On Gambling and Psychic Powers

I watched a hilarious documentary last night about the extent people would go to win at the card game in casinos called Black Jack.

There was this mathematician who developed the strategy of "counting cards" when he made a fortune until the gambling industry wised up and created several deterrents.

First, the dealer would shuffle the card during the game. Since counting cards depends on the cards not being shuffled, the casino owners were on to a winner. But then this backfired on them as people stopped gambling. After a few weeks the casinos reverted to the old technique of not shuffling in the middle of a game.

Second, the dealers used several decks to try and bamboozle gamblers counting cards. This strategy didn't work either.

Third strategy used was "setting a thief to catch a thief." Casinos trained their dealers in the art of counting cards. The dealers became experts at spotting when someone was counting cards so the gambler had no chance of winning.

There was this particular gambler who was very good at counting cards but because the dealers could read his _expression, he was always losing. He decided to fight back. He teamed up with his son to develop a computer system that could count cards surreptitiously while freeing him to look casual about his moves. They created a microcomputer which he could operate through his feet that did the counting and would tell him when to gamble big. It worked and he started raking it in until the casino owners got suspicious. One day they took the son to the back room for a friendly chat. He was strip searched. They found a microchip on him with wires and believed these to be aiding and abetting his crime but couldn't prove it. They called the police in but they didn't know what the computer was being used for either. Apparently, the computer was so advanced that the FBI didn't have a clue what it was. The casino had to let him go. The man and his father mass-produced these computer chips at $10,000 a chip. In the end, the casinos pushed for counting cards to be made illegal. The casinos won this stage of the battle.

New types of gamblers emerged in the scene. They were MIT students, mathematical geniuses who were not into following rules. The old trick of counting cards was used and developed. This time, BlackJack gamblers worked in groups of threes. One was responsible for counting cards; the second worked out the mathematical probabilities; and the third decided how much money to gamble. Students went around making fortunes for their investors. Since the students weren't making much money, three students decided to break away and form their own company where they made a fortune.

The casinos had to fight back didn't they? They hired private investigators, who studied gamblers who made it big. They discovered that though these gamblers were giving assumed names there was one thing that was consistent about them, they all lived around the Boston area. Was it possible these gamblers were MIT students? The investigators studied the MIT year bookand found the photos of the suspects all looking very innocent and far from being card counters. Armed with this information, whenever an MIT student was making his fortune, all the casino bosses had to do was check their computer records and then ask the student to leave. Spoil sports!

In the meantime, the three MIT students who had broken away, weren't going to let a little hitch like computer records stop them. They headed off to Europe where they made a fortune day in Monte Carlo they were asked to the back room for a friendly chat. Their pictures were taken and much to the gamblers' dismay they discovered that they were internationally renowned card counters. They were chucked out of the casino and out of the country with a warning to never return or else...

As for the crreator of the counting card strategy, he went on to make billions at the Stock Exchange. How jammy is that?

Interesting documentary. My thoughts were that it was so much hard work. Why didn't they just use mind techniques? Reminds me of psychic powers. The day before, I watched a documentary about mediums.

There was this spiritualist who talked about mediumship and psychic powers as gifts from God and should never be misused. Says who? I can just picture it now, God giving out all those wonderful powers and saying, "make sure you use them correctly, OK." Do me a favour! The only one who makes up these rules are humans. Besides, if you've been given a gift, isn't it up to you to use the gift as you see fit? If the one giving you the gift is telling you how to use it, it is not a gift. At least that's not how I define a gift. It's like Christmas gifts, I prefer if someone asks me what I would like or they buy me what I would like. If you buy me something stupid, I'm going to have to do something stupid like give it away.

A few months ago I was in the bookshop browsing. I was sitting next to this couple. I had a book on my lap. The woman asked if she could look at the book. When she had finished she gave me a little packet of biscuit as if it was her way of saying thank you. The biscuit was called "Stupid." Apparently, someone had given it to her and she didn't want it. Her husband didn't want it either so she passed it on to me. I like biscuits so I ate it. She asked me what I thought of it. I said it tasted stupid. Well, what else did you expect me to say?

Anyway, I believe psychic powers are not gifts at all. They are part of me, just like my arm is part of my body. I am naturally clairvoyant, clairsentient, clairaudient, clairtaste and clairsmell. How I use these powers are up to me. We all have the same powers. If someone chooses to believe in someone or group telling them how to use his power, that's up to the individual, isn't it? Only I can decide how to use my natural "gifts."

Back to gambling, I guess casino owners are playing with the illusion. They have to give the illusion that some people win otherwise no one's going to want to gamble. They have to be very careful not to appear to be winning all the time. Even if they did know how to use their psychic powers they can't afford to use them because they would lose customers. They have to play the game of luck and chances; some you win, some you lose.

In conclusion, my view is let people have their fun however they choose. And I will use my powers how I like. Deal?

All my love,

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