Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I'd buy a lottery ticket...but...

I really do have almost no luck.

First of all, today I log into Second Life to find that yet another wonderful glitch has returned my entire studio building and all its contents to my inventory.

This means I had to spend a couple of hours putting the building back together jigsaw puzzle-like, hanging the pictures back on the walls (it is a photography studio after all) and then replace and reset all my equipment.

Know what else? When I want to put up a new picture, I just duplicate one of the existing ones and just slap the new texture on there.

Why is that a problem? Well, it means I had 50 objects returned that where all simply named “Object”. Imagine trying to sort through that shit.

Now, that probably won’t interest you unless you play SL. This next part might.

Having put everything back the way it was, and seeing no-one I particularly wanted to talk to online, I decided to explore a little. I ended up in a casino, playing roulette. (I don’t gamble in real life, but enjoy the games, so I like betting with “pretend” money.)

Now a while ago, I remember someone telling me a “sure-fire” way to win at roulette.

Here’s the system. You pick a color and always bet on that color. You bet 10. If you lose, you bet again, but this time bet 20. If you lose, you bet 40 and so on and so on.

In short, your bet has a 50/50 chance of winning. By doubling your bet each time, the first time you win, getting double your bet back, you’re back where you started. The problem is, by doubling, your bets get really big really fast, and once you hit the max bet limit, you’re screwed.

I managed to lose 10 50/50 chances in a row. I started with a 10L bet, and the table limit was 100. In other words, I was screwed.

Now you’re probably thinking the table is fixed. Trust me, it isn’t. There’s plenty of checks and balances in place to stop this from happening. Plus, I was playing at the same time as multiple other players…and they where winning just fine!

So I tried my hand at Blackjack. After playing while, I almost broke even.

Then I tried poker. I lost…a lot.

At that point, I gave up. I’d reached the limit I’d allow myself to lose. (Even though it’s ‘pretend’ money, I don’t like losing, so I give myself a set amount to gamble with. IE, if I lose X amount, I quit.)

Now, this might not seem so strange. Everyone’s had bad luck streaks, especially when it comes to gambling. It was what happened next that surprised me.

I went back to my place, and sorting through some freebies, I discovered I had a couple gaming machines. I had a blackjack table…so I broke it out and started playing.

(Note : These are ‘real’ machines that take SL money. Some of the same ones you play “for real” in SL Casinos. However, I was gambling against myself. In other words, they work the same way as machines owned by other people, but if I lose a 100L bet, I’m losing 100L to myself, so my actual account balance never changes).

So, I bet 100 and win. In fact, I get a 5 card trick.

I win eleven times on the run before I lose a hand. If this machine was owned an operated by someone else, at 100L a bet, that would have been 1000 Linden Dollars winnings.


I ‘open’ the machine and check the script that runs it. It’s a simple random number generator that chooses cards from a library at random. It’s a ‘simple’ game. No way to set the odds of winning, it’s as random as playing regular blackjack at a casino.

It didn’t make me feel any better that I’d been reamed in the past using exactly the same game owned by other people.

So I pull out a video poker machine I also had. I broke even on two hands, then got a Royal Flush, the highest scoring hand in the game. With a 100L bet, I would have won 20,000.

So I open that one up and check the script. It’s just like the other one. The only “changeable” variables are cost per “spin”.

Then we come to the really weird part.

I had a game called “Crashing Mania”. It looks like a laptop, and it’s a pure “random” game, no skill involved whatsoever. Basically, you pay a certain amount, and the laptop tries to “boot-up”, if it boots successfully, you win double your bet. If you get the “blue screen of death”, you lose your bet.

So I started playing, and won five times on the run before losing.

I opened it up and checked the script again. This one you could set the chances of winning. It was set to a 5% chance of winning.

That’s a one in 20 chance of winning.

If I remember my high-school math correctly, (I do, I just looked it up), you multiply odds together to work out the probabilities of these things happening on the run. For example, the chances of randomly pulling the ace of spades out of a deck of cards is 1/52. Putting the ace back in the deck, shuffling and pulling it out again is 1/52 X 1/52 = 1/2704….in other words, a 1 in 2704 chance of happening.

So me winning 5 times on the run at a 1 in 20 chance is 20x20x20x20x20.

That’s a 1 in 3200000 chance! That’s twice as difficult as winning the lottery!.

Of course, at this point, I thought the thing was just jiggered, so I tried again, and won twice in 20 tries.

I reset the script, tried again and got nothing out of the ordinary.

So apparently, if I’m gambling for real, I can lose 10 50/50 chances in a row. Then I can only break even at blackjack and poker.

Then, when I’m playing some of the same machines, but only wining money from myself:

I can beat the dealer at Blackjack 11 times on the run.

I can get a royal flush at poker (a 1 in 649,740 chance).

Then in a game of pure chance, I can hit on a 1 in 3200000 chance

I shudder to think what the odds are of all three of these things happening in an hour’s time.

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