Sunday, March 07, 2010

Odds and ends from the MGM Grand

I played at the MGM Grand tonight. Nothing especially noteworthy happened in the poker, but there were a few interesting sights along the way.

First there was this guy's hat. Click on the photo for the full-size version, and you'll see how he likes to identify himself.

Then there was a woman to my left using this as a card protector:

For some reason, my cell phone camera completely washed out the color here, but it's actually yellow. She confessed to being from Wisconsin--a cheesehead through and through.

As I was making my way to the poker room upon arrival, I passed a sight so odd that I wasn't sure I had seen it correctly, so after going about 20 feet past it, I turned around and went back for a second look. I had not been hallucinating. Here's what I saw:

This woman was playing a slot machine, and every time the reels were spinning (it's one with actual mechanical reels), she would rub the glass over one of the reels. I watched her for about two minutes, and she did this every time. Most often she would rub over the center reel. But once in a while she would instead rub over the right-hand reel, and once I saw her divide her rubbing, first on the right then on the center during the same spin.

In case you're wondering, no, this isn't some sort of touch panel. The glass does nothing. Rubbing it does nothing, except, obviously, in her mind. I was this close to asking her why she did it, but I chickened out. Nevertheless, I'm about 99% confident what she would say, if she were being honest: She has somehow become convinced that this action enhances her chances of winning.

It does nothing of the sort, of course. The electronic and mechanical innards of the machine do not respond to such inputs. But she clearly believes that they will, else she wouldn't bother expending her energy this way.

She reminded me a lot of the moron I once saw at the Riviera who would rub his magic spoon in front of him before every hand of poker. It's the same kind of lunacy that makes Jerry Yang think that a supernatural being will change the cards in the dealer's hand when he says "Lord, give me a set" in the middle of a hand, after all the chips are in. It is of a piece with Joe Bishop thinking that his dead father will perform similar magic on the deck for him, or Hal Lubarsky thinking that touching his card cap before each hand will make him luckier, or Daniel Negreanu thinking that $50 bills are unlucky, or Shannon Elizabeth believing that positive thinking and speaking will cause good cards to come while thinking and speaking negatively will cause bad ones to come, or Brian Lemke believing that his recently deceased cousin caused a miracle card to be dealt on the final hand that won him a WSOP bracelet last year (something I didn't write about at the time). It's all madness, sheer madness.

As you can tell from the links above, I've ridden this particular hobby horse a few times before, so I won't belabor it again. But I will tell you that one of the reasons I finally decided against asking this woman why she was rubbing the glass was that I was afraid she would tell me that it made the reels spins in her favor, and then I would be unable to resist asking her the only possible followup question: "Are you really that stupid?"


Snuffy said...

OK so you are telling us that you have NO superstitions whatsoever? Mr. 2,4?

fatman said...

I'm not so sure most of the tourists actually believe in the behaviors they exhibit, but do it as part of the fun of Vegas.

Memphis MOJO said...

I'm about 99% confident what she would say, if she were being honest: She has somehow become convinced that this action enhances her chances of winning.

I don't play the slots, but I guess they are all about superstition and variable reinforcement.

Anonymous said...

In all your time in casinos you have never seen this before? I am very suprised!

Anonymous said...

That first picture is of Boo. You should ask Yappy about him sometime!

Mike said...

I agree with your entire post except for the part about the $50 bills. I have proven that they are unlucky.

unaha-closp said...

"It does nothing of the sort, of course."

Rubbing the glass has a positive effect on her bankroll.

She is playing slots, which are definitely -EV. Her "win rate" is -EV of the slot machine program multiplied by the number of times she spins per hour. Rubbing the glass slows her play losing less money per hour and she ends up with more money at the end of the day.

Anonymous said...

Are you really surprised that slot players are superstitious and stupid? If it weren't for these two human frailties, Las Vegas would still be an empty desert.

BTW, I've seen a lot of people rub or knock the machine while the reels spin. It's actually very common. Just like stupidity in Vegas.

Anonymous said...

what else is she supposed to do while the reels are spinning? you listen to your ipod while you play, correct? do you do it because you feel it will help you get better cards? it could easily be a meaningless motion that makes her feel less bored or she may just find it to be more fun to be physically involved (like cheering at a sporting event). just because there is a potentially stupid reason for someone to do something does not mean there can not be a legitimate reason for their doing it. in the future you should ask before posting their picture and speaking disparagingly about them otherwise you wind up looking small and judgmental.

gpo said...

I only have one weird thing I do at a poker table. I won't touch my first card until my second card arrives.

Poker_Guy said...

Funny. My brother does the same damn thing on the slot machines. He presses the button with the right and starts to gently stroke the glass on one row at the same time. How funny! Now, where is my rabbit's foot?