October 12th, 2008

summer reading

The Universe Revealed in the Roll of the Dice

Last week-end was my husband's birthday and my family went to the coast to celebrate. We had a great time, not least because we only get a few full week-ends together as a family a handful of times each year. There are a couple of casinos built on Native American land so we found entertainment for our daughter and her friend and went off to enjoy the casino on Saturday night. I became quickly annoyed by the slot machines (even the penny slots) because it's no fun to put money in and hardly ever win. We love craps, and the casino had two tables on the floor, but had only one open that night. It was so crammed with people there was no room for more players. My husband sat down for some single deck 21 and I sat with him. He came away a winner, so that made it fun.

On the way home, we stopped in at the other casino in the area and I got to indulge in craps while my husband went back to the 21 table. Knowing that I'm quickly bored by gambling, we put me in charge of the clock and agreed we'd leave in about 45 minutes. Well, my table got hot and I was having a blast (not to mention winning) so I let the 45 minutes blow past and it was a bit over an hour before I went back for my husband. It was kind of funny not playing with my husband there. You see, we have this method of judging how lucky the rollers will be for us and it's uncanny how often we're right. Men with hats and glasses? Universally unlucky. The guy rolling when I joined the table was obviously hot, so I bet on him. The guy next to him I couldn't read and it was just a couple of rolls until he was out. Another man joined the table who rolled a few minutes later; as his turn started I commented to the man on my left, "I don't think he looks very lucky" and he looked at me like I'd lost my mind. Sure enough, though, that roller didn't last long. I'm lucky more often than not and have won other people lots of money over the years, which undoubtedly adds to why I like playing so much. When the table has a positive roll going, there's this energy to it - people throwing down bets, talking and laughing, and things move at a frantic pace. There was a man a few slots away who was apparently a retired football player who several people knew. I was of course clueless as to his identity along with the other famous football players he discussed. All I knew was that Bob was bad for me. Whenever I bet for him, I lost. Whenever I bet against him, I lost. I decided to quit betting for or against him and found it didn't matter much because he never rolled more than just a few times before crapping out. But the guy next to me - the one I'd made that comment to - he was very lucky. He was the reason I was late leaving the table. Because when there's a streak going, you ride the streak. I came away $60 richer and were I a less conservative better, I could've had a lot more. That's just not me, though. I feel every dollar I lose too profoundly and can't stand the thought of losing a lot, so I bet very low amounts. (I came to the table with $20 from my husband's allowance and $20 from mine and there was no way I would've lost it all.)

Playing craps is one of those exercises that always has me looking deeper into the metaphysical side of things. Here why: I mentioned the guy who was rolling when I joined the table. He was obviously in the middle of a long roll when I joined, so my thinking was I didn't want to bet much on him because it had to be ending soon. He kept rolling my number, though. The number 9 came up several times in the few minutes I spent observing the table before joining it. It was uncanny. How can you not take that as a sign?

Later on he was rolling again and I had this sudden thought that next he would roll 5 several times. So I placed a special bet on the number 5 and sure enough, just after I placed my bet - I mean, the very next roll - the 5s started. He rolled several and the people working the table marveled that I had chosen just the right number at just the right time. I did that for myself and others for the rest of the time I was there and most of my winnings were from those side bets where I internally matched a roller to a number. This has happened for me several times when playing at a "hot" table. It always makes me wonder: does the universe respond to what I'm thinking, am I responding to some sign from the universe, or is it a strange coincidence that is beyond all explanation?

And what is it that turns a table hot and turns a table cold? There's no question to me that there's a different energy at a table when the rolls are long and very profitable vs. short and just profitable enough to keep you there, waiting for the energy to turn. Is the hot streak something conjured up by the players and the mood around the table? Is the cold streak? I can never help but think that the thoughts and attitudes of the rollers absolutely affect the dice. But is that really possible? There's a long tradition in world religions and mythologies for believing that a person's wishes alone can change the future - or else, what is prayer about?

The experience of "predicting" the numbers a person will roll has me thinking there must be something to the notion that our will can have an actual physical affect on our environment. It also has me thinking that the universe has its own agenda, or else why wouldn't we always get what we want? We'll never know when we can think or pray something into reality, but we'll keep gambling, won't we, that this time will be the time we'll get exactly what we want? That this time will be the time when what we want for ourselves aligns with what the universe wants as well.

Religions have been founded on less, I think. I suppose that means it'll do for me as an on-going philosophy whenever I step up to a craps table and seek to have the universe reveal itself to me in the roll of the dice.