Thursday, August 24, 2006

Sponsored Post: Gambling Guide

Before getting into what I expect to actually be a fairly meaty post, I'm going to do the sponsor right and encourage you to visit The Gambling Guide. If you gamble -- or if you're interested in doing so -- it's a fine resource.

For obvious reasons, it's best to equip yourself with some basic knowledge before your first trip to the casino, or before playing games you haven't played before. The Gambling Guide offers tutorials on the standard games, as well as -- so far as I can tell -- sound advice on betting practices, strategies and "systems." As a long-time leisure gambler and the author of one gambling book (the self-e-published Roulette for the Leisure Gambler, which I may put back up for sale some time soon) and of help files for an online casino, I think I'm reasonably qualified to render that judgment. I've reviewed the guide's roulette and blackjack sections. While they're not comprehensive, they do cover the basics and include the appropriate cautions to keep novices from making really bad betting decisions.

The monetization of the site seems to be based on affiliate links -- casino signups, book sales, etc. -- rather than on direct revenue from gambling. In other words, the site's proprietors don't have a stake in giving the reader bad scoop on play. That's a plus. Outside the "guide" sections on games, venues and such, the site also includes scrolling odds boards and other tools that sports bettors may find useful.

Bottom line: If you're going to gamble, be smart about it. The Gambling Guide is definitely a great place to arm yourself with the information you need to do that.

Now, to some explanatory material (some readers of this blog may find it odd that I gamble or advise others to do so):

In a recent email exchange, Paul Wakfer asked me to explain my views on "the value and rationality of gambling," as his views on it, in his words "have always been negative." Here's an excerpt from my reply:

For most people, gambling is not a rational activity if it is undertaken in the expectation of winning big or doing it as a profession. Every casino game has a house edge against the player -- some more than others and some with minor exceptions, but in general, gambling for money per se is an irrational activity.

Gambling can only be considered rational if one finds it entertaining, or otherwise rewarding on some basis other than the likelihood of winning.

Many people (myself included) do. If I play my cards right (pun intended), I can go to a casino for an hour or three, have a meal, drink as many beverages as I care to drink, sit around a table and converse with people I've never met before and often find interesting ...

... and at WORST I'll spend about what I'd have spent having dinner and drinks and watching the latest 90-minute Hollywood abortion down at the local cinema. At best, I may win some sizeable amount of money. In the usual course of things, I break about even. Maybe I'll leave the casino with $10 more or $10 less than I entered it with, but I'll also leave it having eaten prime rib for dinner, consumed a couple of drinks that I like but wouldn't pay bar prices for ... and probably with a couple of interesting conversations under my belt.

Once again, The Gambling Guide is the place to start if you want your gambling experiences to resemble mine as described above. Have fun!

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