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Rolling the dice and figuring the odds

Writing Gambling on Magic, I learned a great deal about the world of gambling. Enough to stay away from it. There is an interesting article In Psychology Today about our innate urge to take risk, and here’s an excerpt:

“For most of human prehistory, living through the night was not a given. For this reason, goes the evolutionary hypothesis, our ancestors learned to take what we'd now consider murderous chances in pursuit of food and mates. Those who continuously gambled and won became our forebearers, passing on a taste for the "off chance." The possibility that a big score could be just around the corner, but you never know where or when you'll hit on it, parallels modern gambling: One more rock overturned and you find dinner.”

And later on the way we calculate odds in gambling:

“High risk is linked to high yield in our minds, because risks like staging a coup or making a power play are often worthwhile. But what about wagering double-or-nothing? Gambling upends the natural correlation between high risk and high yield. Losses quickly add up, but the gains don't increase accordingly, though we're likely to think they do. That's because we're notoriously bad oddsmakers.”

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