Gambling Isn’t Quite Like Gaming

I’m back from Vegas! Sorry for a slow few days around here. While in Vegas on a 4 day business trip I was able to try my hand at gambling for the first time. I looked for some fun slot machines, took my 5 dollars, and tried my luck.

The one I found had pirates on it and it made cannon sounds. I cautiously put in a dollar. Hit the button. And lost my whole dollar. I then went to the PENNY slots, put in my dollar, and lost 75 cents. It was then that I figured out a penny slot could still bet 75 cents at a time. So I found a true penny slot that let me literally play 1 cent at a time. I ended up playing for 30 minutes betting anywhere between 1 and 10 cents per bet.

At one point I thought I won the jackpot. I got 3 skull and crossbones and the thing started making all sorts of sounds. Nope, I just won 40 free plays. I was a little sad that I wouldn’t be starting up my own gaming studio.

In the end, I lost my $5 but had 30 minutes of trying to figure out the most effective way to maximize my bets. While sitting in the gross, smoke filled casino gambling away my pennies I was thinking about how this could relate to video games. It really didn’t. I wasn’t “playing” anything here. I was pushing one button and hoping. But the business model felt akin to some games monetize. Hearthstone, for example, is essentially gambling. You put down your money and hope good cards come out. Many games are the exact same way.

I walked away still feeling the same way: I like to know that the money I spend on entertainment is guaranteed, or at leave highly likely, to entertain me. Sure, I take a “gamble” on seeing a movie every now and again that I may not know a lot about, but I still do my best to do my homework. For example, I love Disney so I knew I would enjoy Zootopia (I did, best movie I’ve seen in a long, long time.) I was skeptical about Batman vs. Superman, and sure enough the reviews were scathing — I skipped it.

Video games are the same way, though I do take more gambles in order to give you guys my thoughts. I tend toward buying games I know I will enjoy.

  • The mobile Gatcha games thrive on this. The good ones sneek in gambling principles so you hardly notice them as you RNG for different hero cards and gear all the time.

  • You gamble like I do. I find a fun slot machine and just bet 25 cents a time. I won $300 once that way. It was a Princess Bride slot machine. The themed ones are usually pretty cool.

  • I have never understood how people ‘play’ slots. Between knowing the odds are some of the worst in the casino to the pace being glacial, the whole setup is -100 fun to me.

    Craps, and Blackjack are enjoyable if I want to gamble. Poker is my go-to, but I’ve always viewed that less as a casino game and more of a skill-based game that just happens to be hosted at the casino, since you aren’t playing against the house.

  • @syncaine I’m under no illusions of winning. I just like to play the themed ones, hear the sounds, watch the clips etc. Time waster basically while the wife plays craps.

  • I haven’t a clue how to play craps, and I think I’m a novice at Blackjack at best. The casino was really, really crowded so I really couldn’t find a spot that looked like the people would mind having someone there who had no idea what they were doing.

    I was just looking for a place to spend $5 making the machine spin around. 😉

  • I’ve never understood the appeal of slots. Might be because I can’t wrap my mind around the idea of having zero control over the odds, it’s completly random after all. At least, some other random gambling related activites like bingo can be played in group and actually have fun with your friends.

    The comparaison with video games would probably be easier with other games. The exact amount of skills involved in card games is debatable, but at least players have the illusion they can work on something to beat the house, much like videogamers can work on their skill set to beat a tough encounter.

  • If you are going to play only $5 slots was the right decision. If you want to lose more money, and you read a book first, your odds are better at blackjack. Not great, but better.

  • Craps looks intimidating, but its very easy to get into. Just play the Pass line, which pays out whenever the table ‘wins’, and you only lose when the table is cleared (not the correct terms but you get the point). A lot of people do just this, and in no casino that I’ve been to has anyone minded. Bonus with this bet is its also one of the highest % payout at a casino, so with a bit of money you can play for a long time given average luck.

    This way you are playing and around the table, but keeping it simple. As you watch, you will pick up on how the numbers and other bets work. It’s a fun game because at a full table a lot of people win/lose at the exact same time, so the emotion gets going (especially once you get into it and have multiple bets going and a few good dice rolls can double or triple your money).