Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Johannesburg Diary 2 - Stereotypes in a casino

 In my trip to South Africa, I had the chance of visiting several casinos. Before you make any assumptions, let me clarify that we visited casinos due to the fact that A) It was a novelty to us; B) Every nook and cranny had it; and C) In a place which practically closes down at dusk, casinos seemed to be the only mode of “entertainment”.

And that’s not all; the casinos that I went to had spas, four star restaurants of all cuisines, cinema halls, swimming pools and various other attractions for the entire family. So even if you don’t want to play in the casinos, there would gazillion other things that you just might find equally interesting. How about that Prada bag that you were ogling at? Why not a game of golf? Maybe even catch a movie!

But what takes the cake is the Casino itself. The moment you walk in to a casino, you are welcome by a variety of sounds ranging from ding-ding-ding and ding-dong-ding of the slot machines to the “biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig win” of a person winning something on machine; to kachink 
sound when pulling the lever of a slot machine to the dealer saying “No more bets please”. There is melee of people roaming around playing on slot machines and roulette tables and poker and what not. Even if you don’t like being in a casino, the very presence of so much human emotions around makes it kind of an infectious thing to be. To see people win and lose; smile and cry.


And being in that atmosphere did give a lot of insight into an environment which I was entirely unfamiliar with. It gave me a lot of “masala” and a good understanding of the human behavior in such an environment.

So without further ado… here we go!




The thinker: A very rare variety, this person would look at the roulette table, calculate the probability of a number appearing on the basis of its position on the spinning wheel, numbers gone by and number of times that number has appeared previously. A slight variation in this is that frail, elderly gentleman that you see standing behind you who has a neatly ruled sheet with him on which he scribbles god-knows-what and wins bet after bet.

The aggressive bet(ter): This person is now so habituated to the games and the betting and all that the small wins (or most likely the losses) do not faze him at all. So, in roulette table where everyone would be betting 10 each on the multiple numbers inside, this person would put up 500 on any random number. They are hooked to playing for the sake of it and not for the wins or losses. They often overlap with “The Hopper” (See below).

The passive bet(ter): He likes to just sit around in the casinos and would much rather observe others playing the game than involve themselves in it. Off and on they might play a game but only when they feel like the odds are in their favor of winning. Their overall sum involved too doesn’t go to a high level.

The Hopper: You can easily guess by the name that this one hops. Well.. not physically like a grasshopper but hops between the table from one table to the other table. Putting a tener on one and collecting 100 from the second table while losing some at the third. A distinguishing feature of people in this category is that they are rarely anxious or flustered. Those who prefer to venture into the tedious waters of “hopper”ism are amongst the most calm and collected individuals; regardless of their winning or losing in the game. An anxious hopper is a losing hopper and, thus, a rarity.

The anxious one: In contrast to the hopper covered above, this genre of casino players is anxious to the extreme. And their anxiousness has got nothing to do with their winning or losing. They get anxious just by playing and even more so when they are not. And it is at this point that they are bound to get irritated at each and every incident happening around them. At one table, there was an old gentleman who somehow had developed the belief me being in his proximity was somehow, in a twisted way, leading him to lose. So whenever I would approach the table, his face would be nothing short of that mask you see in Scream. At one time, he actually said “Shit! You are back!!!”

The one with ATM card: This is what the Casinos live for. These people are the bread and butter for Casino industry. These are the boon that every casino ever hopes for. At the very outset, let me warn you. It is ALWAYS foolish to take your card(s) to the casino. Not because somebody might rob but because you yourself might rob yourself of all the money that you have by repeated betting. So essentially what these people do is that they keep on betting, low or high, on the games. As soon as they run out of money in their wallet; and in their shoes; and in their secret pocket inside their trousers; and god-only-knows-what-places; they run off to the ATM to get fresh money to bet! A point to note here is that GENERALLY these are also the people who rake in big moolahs. It is a different thing altogether that they might have lost twice that amount already before winning some.

The guesser: Frankly I found this category of the people to be the most fun to be around. Now this category has two further sub-genres: Mr Theory and Mr. New-game-each-day. Mr. Theory would keep on formulating one theory after the other to explain the outcome of a game so that one might have a winning combination… eventually. Some of the theories I hear were “66% Theory”, “2nd dozen Theory” and “Odds make me even Theory”. Needless to say that, while successful at times, these were theories nonetheless as otherwise Casinos would have gone bankrupt long time back and as we all know that doesn’t happen… except perhaps in some random casino heist Hollywood movie. Mr. New-game-each-day is a very fickle character. He likes to hop from one slot to another; from one game to the other; from one strategy a day to some other the next day. 

The I-Couldn’t-Care-Less-About-Casino-But-I-Will-Bet-Anyways: The compulsive gambler. There is always one in a casino. In a day, they will easily spend a hundred times any normal person, forget where they bet and their winning be given to them by a random casino staff who happened to spot them somewhere. They are often the high rollers with swanky shades and a drink in one hand.

The one at home: And then there is a peculiar variety of casino goers who have a unique attraction for the casino. The ones that you see as frequently as 5’O clock in the morning as midnight. These are the ones which practically, in some cases inside their car parked overnight at casino, live in the casino itself. They are the ones which may not even be a high spender. They however sustain the casino in a small, every day way. They keep on playing different slot machines and tables; making multiple small bets throughout the day; winning some and then losing some. The casinos, on their part, sustain them by providing an odd meal and drink to them on the tables so that continue to play their games. Kind of a symbiotic relationship!

Sometimes the sight and sound that you will be greeted with, when entering a casino, might be overwhelming. But worry not! I am sure you will enjoy yourself!!!

PS: One phrase displayed prominently in all the casinos was “Winners know when to stop” (Read more here). I always felt it should have been “Losers should know when to quit”. :D





PPS: One word of advice to anyone planning to go visit a Casino. SOMEONE has to lose in order for someone else to win. Because there is now way that the casino is losing, since the odds always favor casino.

PPPS: I will try and get some images for each of the stereotypes. Just feels like it will add a lot of zing to the content. Feel free to comment in case you know where I can find some.

Disclaimer: This is a collection of various observations that I made across my trips. This is in no way a reflection on anyone and any resemblance to real people or events is purely coincidental. Read the earlier post on Johannesburg here.

Images Courtesy: bartonsclub93.com, diamondcasinosavannah.com, grassodefense.com, eurocasino888.n, onlinecasinomasters.com, visualeditors.com

This is an entry for the "Around the World with Expedia" blogging contest with Expedia and Indiblogger. If you like it please vote for me here

6 comments:

  1. Anonymous2/22/2012

    Great work Ashish..I am sure some of these roles were played by us!!

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    Replies
    1. I am sure they were.. my guesser friend!

      BTW, Welcome to the world of my Wandering Thoughts... Feel free to explore more!

      Delete
  2. Anonymous2/23/2012

    Hey Aashish, all this sounds very good. We were priviledged to have you in South Africa and you are a great ambassador to India. BK

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey BK... I am glad you liked this and thanx for the compliment! Welcome to the world of my Wandering Thoughts... Feel free to explore more!

      Delete
  3. nice post...engaged me at more than one level...nostalgia for my trips to casinos in the past, got me planning my next vacation, which will surely include a trip to a casino, and got me wondering which category did I fall into? :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Interesting analysis. Congrats on getting consolation prize at expedia.

    ReplyDelete