Friday Free-for-All #73: 10/10, casino, hotel, lonely

Here’s the next in an ongoing series in which I answer random questions generated by a website. Here are this week’s questions. Feel free to give your own answers or ask your own questions in the comments.

What’s your go to casino game?

First of all, everything in a casino is rigged in the house’s favor. Well, not even rigged. It’s just that the way that the odds work, you’re most likely going to lose unless you happen to walk in and win that $500,000 jackpot with your first dollar in a slot machine and then cash in and walk out.

Otherwise, slot machines aren’t known as “one-armed bandits” for nothing. They’re based on the concept of an intermittent reward. After you’ve put in maybe ten coins and won nothing, then you might get a payout of eight and feel like it’s a big deal, but it’s an illusion.

That’s because your brain immediately thinks, “Hey, I just eight bucks gambling one,” forgetting the other nine that went in before that. So you feel like you’re up instead of down, and keep going.

In theory, casinos do have to pay out slightly more than they take in on the slots, but it doesn’t have to be per hour or per day. Instead, they will tend to tighten up the slots — decrease payouts — during times that the tourists are there, then loosen them up — increase payouts — when it’s going to be only locals.

If you want to even have a chance of winning at the slots in Vegas, you want to go play in downtown Vegas in the middle of a day in the middle of the week, in the afternoon.

The other huge sucker’s game is roulette. Avoid this one entirely. The best you can do is bet black or red, but it’s a 1:1 payout on a not quite 50/50 chance. Did you ever wonder why a Roulette wheel has either one or two green slots, zero and, sometimes, double-zero?

That’s right — so that a red or black bet will be less than a 50/50 chance. It also slightly reduces the 1:36 odds on any individual number. But if you’re betting on single numbers, you might as well just take that money and donate it to charity.

Craps can involve a little bit of strategy, but unless you want to take the time to learn the intricacies of it, it’s probably not worth trying. Likewise, poker is the one game you might actually win at, but there are two reasons. One is that it requires skill on top of chance. The other is that you’re mostly playing against the other players, not the house.

Video poker is different, by the way. The actual odds of any particular hand coming up for you have, naturally, been skewed in the house’s favor and those hands are not random.

So my casino game of choice is blackjack, even though I haven’t been to a casino in years. My reasons are simple. It’s a group game where you can be as social (or anti-social) as you want, the rules are easy to learn, and the dealer is on a somewhat equal playing field. Not entirely, but closer than in any of the other games.

I do have a few rules, though. Any time I go to a casino, I set aside a certain amount that I’m willing to lose. Or, as I think of it, this is what I’m willing to spend playing blackjack. When it’s gone, I’m done, period.

Second is that I stick to the really low-limit tables, $1 or $5, although I have a feeling that one-dollar tables are a thing of the past — that’s how long it’s been since I’ve been to Vegas. Or any casino, although I’ve been close to the ones in Palm Springs and have been tempted.

Other than that, always split Aces, never split tens or face cards, learn how to double down, and keep your winnings and what’s left of what you’ve come to lose separate. With any luck, you can keep it going for a while. With a lot of luck, you actually can walk out with more than you brought in.

What three activities would you rate 10/10 would do again?

There’s really not a lot of detail to any of these, so here they are in no particular order:

    1. Canoeing on a mountain lake. Preferably in the front of the canoe. There’s just something remarkably calming about gliding across the glass-like surface of the water and yet feeling the power and control via the paddle while going relatively quickly.
    2. Sex. Even when it’s bad, it’s… okay, but when it’s average it’s amazing. Get up into the realm of good sex and beyond, and you’re already way past a 10.
    3. Visit New York City, only with time to actually enjoy it. I am kind of odd in that I love both dense urban environments and unspoiled natural landscapes, but New York just has an energy that’s unmatchable. (I would have said San Francisco, but apparently she’s not what she used to be.)

If you built a themed hotel, what would the theme be and what would the rooms look like?

I would definitely create the Fandom Hotel & Resort — and yes, that’s a play on Wyndham. Each floor, or group of floors, would be themed to a particular fandom and designed accordingly, with the rooms and suites also being themed.

It could cover fandoms like Star Wars, Star Trek, Stranger Things, Game of Thrones, Firefly, X-Men, Marvel, DC, Pixar, Harry Potter, Disney, Pixar, the Askewniverse, and on and on and on.

Keep in mind that this is a fantasy hotel, because most of the franchises on the list would never license out to a third party or, if they did, the rights would cost so much that rooms would have to cost a million dollars a night to break even.

If this were going to be a real thing, then it would be a Choose Your Own Adventure sort of place, although not based on the books — and the name might have to change. The idea is that the floors and rooms would reflect certain genres, and might even incorporate 3D projection windows to replace the outside views with images appropriate to the genre.

For example, in a SciFi room, you might see a starfield and planet(s) out the window, while adventure might show you towering mountains with a roaring waterfall and wide river from a ridiculously high POV.

The trick would be coordinating the serving staff to match the theme of the floor so that you wouldn’t have a generic bellhop bringing you room service — then again, for a SciFi floor, a dumbwaiter delivery system that would simulate a working replicator might do it, although there’d still need to be some way to tip whoever got the meal together and loaded it in.

As an added touch, there could be nightly shows, separated by theme floor and guests, using motion simulators. The main shopping, retail, and restaurant area might combine all of the themes vaguely separated into zones.

It would be sort of like a Disneyland you could stay in, and participate as much or as little as you wanted to.

Why are there so many people who are lonely? Why is it so hard for people to make real connections when almost everyone wants to make real connections?

The thing holding people back the most is fear. Fear of rejection is the big one, and so people don’t put themselves out there in the first place. You can’t be rejected if you don’t ask, after all. But if you wait around for someone to ask you, you may just wait forever.

But when you have met someone, the next level of fear is that of exposing your true self and being vulnerable. We put up walls, always worrying, “Will they still like me if I tell them that?”

Some people exaggerate and embellish to fight insecurity and try to impress others. The problem is that this always fails when the embellishments and lies fall apart or inconsistencies and impossibilities begin to pop up.

“Wait — you said you remember being at Elvis’ last concert? But you were, like, two when he died.”

Pro-tip: You have to do a lot of work to remember your lies. You don’t have to do anything to remember the truth.

But we won’t break through the walls to meet other people in the first place, and then we all put up more walls which prevents us from making real connections. We say that we want to make real connections, but that scares us, because then we have no secrets and we’ve exposed our true self.

But those are the only ways to actually make that connection. You have to be willing to strip emotionally naked, or no one will ever know who you are or connect with you.

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