Forum Archive : Miscellaneous

Why do people play for money?

From:   Hank Youngerman
Address:   redtop@redtopbg.com
Date:   23 September 2005
Subject:   This might be a dumb question, but......
Forum:   rec.games.backgammon
Google:   0vq7j1tsofnaf2n43qdkjo3v0la1fhshs8@4ax.com

When I play backgammon online for money, I do it because I win money.
I'm sure that people who know me find it believable that I am a steady
long-term winner.

I know there are a few people around who are fairly well-fixed and
play backgammon for money for the sociability also.  A few people
deliberately play medium to high stakes against strong players for the
pleasure of challenging their skills against a top expert.

But why do so many people play and lose?  Most people MUST be losing,
as the house always wins.  There are plenty of places to find online
games at any level.  Even the experts who play on places like TMG and
GE, are mostly not identified by name.  If you are, perhaps, playing
against Giant 32 players, you don't know it.

Are there really that many players who prefer money play to non-money
play, even though it means re-funding their account every week or

David C. Ullrich  writes:

Two things spring to mind:

We have a little chouette here - I've been keeping track, and in
fact all but two of the players are indeed losing.

It's mostly students, hence what you guys would think of as
ridiculously low stakes (10 cents or 25 cents depending on
who shows up first - for a lot of these guys losing 5 dollars
is significant...)

The two better players have each won $150 or so this year.
Most of the other players have lost $20, $40 or something
like that over the year, a few are up $10 or so.
One answer to your question is that most of them say they
regard it as cheap entertainment, and/or they think of the
money they lose as tuition - many of them have been improving
a great deal, learning things from the two of us.

Another aspect is the one _very_ big loser in the group.
He's lost over $200 this year. I'm certain he knows
he's lost money but I doubt he has any idea he's lost
that much. Based on his play and things he says it seems
clear to me his problem is he thinks he's much better
than he is. Maybe a year ago he was much better than the
other guy, but the other guy's been improving very fast
and he hasn't because he thinks he already knows it all.
So for example he's in the box, he'll correctly drop
most of the team, beaver the guy he thinks he can
beat, and get pissed when he loses (sometimes the guy
he takes is better than he thinks he is, sometimes
he doesn't realize that even if he _is_ much better
than this guy he's not enough better to justify a
take in this position...) Or he'll make _totally_
wacky plays, which as far as I can guess are inspired
by misunderstanding the reasoning behind plays he's
seen the two better players make.

I guess the short version of the second answer is
that some people are very good at believing what
they want to believe in spite of evidence to the
contrary. (The fact that backgammon has so much
luck helps him believe he's not playing that
badly - he sees the two better players also
losing all the time.)
Did you find the information in this article useful?          

Do you have any comments you'd like to add?     



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