How do we mentally cope with gambling losses? Very personally: It’s a heated effort in the harsh environment of cold reality. Two gaming paraphernalia throw in their opinion in a fantasy story about winning, losing, and prevailing over adversity.
“You wonder how to mix oil and water better?” a disembodied, silvery voice whispered.
“Why should we grace you with a pocketful of sunshine?” the other one, with a fruity, honeyed utterance, added.
Great — now I’m hearing two female voices in my head, and the second one seems to know the song of Natasha Bedingfield, the player thought as he sat alone at the casino bar, playing with two dices in the left hand.
His black twill silk tie was undone; the three-piece suit jacket weighed heavily on his shoulders. The thousand-yard stare projected all craps rolls and bets he made earlier onto the movie canvas in his head.
The land-based casino was slowly falling off to sleep.
A few of the most persistent patrons were roaming around slot machines rows, trying to squeeze out remaining reel-juice; winners and the luckiest ones were long gone.
Dealers were closing tables one by one; pit bosses were updating spreadsheets with the latest data. Bartenders were setting glasses up to dry, mopping down, as waitresses serviced a couple of remaining players.
The process was unfolding in the prescribed order, consuming a lot of energy.
Myriad bottom lines were drawn — some on profits and losses, others in the sand. Peaks of players' heated adrenaline and expectations had to become smooth before filling in vast valleys of the cold casino professionalism and life's harsh reality.
There was no tomorrow for anyone.
“This one’s on the house,” the bartender said, putting down a neat bourbon glass in front of the disheveled player.
The euphonious tone in her voice was soothing. Disconsolate, the man was gathering strength to limp back home to his Golden Retriever; any kind of support, even the superfluous one, was more than welcome.
“It must have been a night to forget if they let you off the table with those two dices,” she compassionately added, noticing his nods.
“Never mind that; take your time and let it happen,” she murmured and walked away.
Lovey-Dovey Rabbit Hole
“It’s no coincidence we’re in your hand,” a silvery voice commented.
“You won’t run away from us; even if you hide so well that Google can’t find you, we’ll track you down,” a honeyed one added, commanding instant attention on the player’s behalf.
“Relax, only you can hear us. No one else in this casino can hear you, nor realize what’s happening. Please don’t freak out; we mean you no harm,” a light and pleasant one continued.
“No harm other than what we’ve already caused you,” the second voice divulged disingenuously.
The player felt consternation spreading throughout his body.
“I am either having a stroke or going batshit crazy!” he said out loud tremulously.
As he tried to jump, he felt off the barstool. Lying on the floor, he looked with relief at the pit boss coming his way. A man walked through the patron like a hologram.
In the transcendence state…
The player noticed no one in the casino reacted to his predicament. He could see himself at the bar, mouth agape, staring into dices in his hand, taking a sip of bourbon which turned into a gulp.
“Let me get you another one,” the bartender was quick to react. He observed her broad smile in dismay. “You look cozy over there; I thought you could use a refill.”
“Please, chill. I might expect such reaction from your dog — ‘what the fluff is going on here, I’m calling the pawlice’ — but not from you,” the first voice continued.
“If you won’t offer us a drink — and you call yourself a ladies’ man — we sure as loaded dice intend to invite ourselves in,” the second one said in an undertone.
Maybe I just had too much bourbon and gambling tonight, the player said to himself in a reconciling tone.
“You certainly did spend a lot of time in this palace of luck and skills,” the silvery lady opened the conversation. “Then again, if you didn’t, we would not be having this conversation. Please don’t ask how; it’s irrelevant. What matters is why. Whenever any dice goes out of action, it offers a secret to the player who rolled it for the last time. That is our rite of passage into oblivion, the everlasting place of our rest. So, we’re here to give you two.”
Welcome to the Other Side
“Oh, my baize! You do place a lousy bet at times, but you surely know your bourbon,” a fruity lady exclaimed, smacking her lips.
"Is she always like this?" the player asked the first dice, pointing in the other one's direction, as he slowly came to terms with the situation.
“Constantly. She consciously tries to draw your attention, thrives in mocking, and has rough edges. I feel you. Two of us are Yin and Yang sort of a thing. Thus, I’ll try to balance as much as I can,” a pleasant dice replied.
“Let’s not talk about balances, please,” the player exasperated.
“What she said — totally!” Yin dice, the darker one, noted. “Nice suit, by the way, but you shouldn't be playing by the seat of your pants so frequently. So much about your bankroll. Also, if you already know our secrets, we don't care."
She’s insufferable, he said to himself.
“Sometimes she is, yes, just as she’s generous, Yang dice, the bright one, replied. “Typical gaming mishmash. Anyhow, our time to depart the gambling world has come, and you have the honors of the exit interview — although, frankly, it’s more one-way conversation than anything else. With any luck, you’ll make something out of this. If not, the whole experience might be nice fun, as gambling is supposed to be.”
“But of course, stupid me — this is about fun,” the player replied sardonically. “I’m sitting at the casino bar talking out loud to cubic objects in my hand under the pretense of gambling mysteries, and not a soul around me has a clue what’s going on! Damn, this bourbon is paving its way.”
“Oh, yes, it is,” Yin dice prompted.
Take Us Out, Not on a Date
The ink on our pips fades away. Speckles blur with our worn marbled surfaces. Our will is not ours anymore, though we were never weighted. The outcomes of our rolls begin to play tricks with us, instead of some unfortunate gambler.
We’ve been rolled way too many times.
I don’t know how old are we nor who made us. We’ve been places you wouldn’t believe. The list of people who held us spans from Egyptian pharaohs and Romans up to Charlize Theron and Leonardo DiCaprio.
There are many of us. Besides the six-sided type, we exist in the shape of a pyramid, pentagon, prism, or a kite. We may have twelve, twenty, fifty, sixty, one hundred twenty sides. We can be spherical.
Other than serving as paraphernalia in backgammon and craps — games with high ceilings and low basements — there are also poker dices. Thrill to play: You roll them as each of six surfaces represents an Ace, King, Queen, Jack, ten, and nine, which you use to create a poker hand.
When it comes to lovers, there’re even sex dices. Like, you have six different erogenous zones or activities you can explore with your partner as you roll them on. For the record, we hold no responsibility for your silly ‘sex faces’ or ‘silly sex’ faces — ours are the chances, yours are the choices.
“Enough with small talk, I ain’t got whole evening,” Yin dice interjected.
“Right. Our point is, you took umbrage at yourself tonight,” Yang dice continued.
“How does it feel to be in your own shade, in the shadow cast by wrong gambling decisions?” Yin dice relentlessly stung.
“Must you always rub it in,” Yang dice reacted sternly. “You know he can’t progress as a player without such shadow, with no time spent in that shade!”
“Obviously,” Yang dice interposed ironically and took another sip of bourbon.
Fail Again, Try Again
“The thing is,” Yang dice continued unfazed, “losing is winning, just as winning is losing.”
At first, this sounds illogical and counterintuitive, especially when you consider the financial or competitive angle.
Just like us, successes and failures have many sides.
In each loss, there is one hidden treasure you can take away. Whenever you embrace defeat and try to decipher its message — through introspection, acceptance of imperfections, and self-improvement — you plant a seed of future success. If you learn such a lesson well, you reduce the effects of unrelenting Groundhog Day of inevitable mistakes.
Equally so, in every victory, there’s one tiny, hidden Pandora’s Box. Every time you indulge in self-satisfaction, boast, complacency, pride, even hubris, you plant seeds of future failures. But, if you remain modest about your gambling skills and humble in front of the Goddess of Fortune, you minimize the impact of perpetual, unavoidable losses.
Don’t fret over your craps performance tonight. In time, you’ll realize you haven’t lost a thing — “or two,” the Yin dice chimed in, unable to refrain — but instead, you paid for a lesson.
You invested in yourself.
Still, only you define the returns on such investment: They can have many zeroes or not a single one.
“What you take away from the loss, just as we took from you this night, is what enables you to win,” Yang dice emphasized. “You truly lose only when you don’t build upon failure.”
We know you know this. Samuel Beckett cut it out for you masterfully:
"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
Since when dices read, the gambler shook his head in disbelief. Although, I did exercise over-confidence and complacency tonight. By the end of my session, I even committed one of the ultimate gamblers' sins and began to chase my losses. Interestingly, these realizations don’t hurt that much anymore.
“I told you, bourbon is excellent,” Yin dice declared and slapped the player on his back.
Enjoy Heating Up
Secondly: Similar to blending oil and water, you can’t mix winning and losing without the heat.
You think oil and water cannot blend instantly since the former is less dense than the latter. And, you’re right: Even the massive amount of oil floats on the top of the tinny layer of still water.
No pressure can change the outcome.
Surely, you can mechanically shake them or use sound waves to stimulate coalescing, but eventually, the two separate.
When you cool down the oil and heat the water, the latter, vaporized from the air, condenses onto the oil surface. Then, the two form perfect droplets which remain stable over an extended period.
“My goodness, now we’re into physics,” the gambler shook his head.
“Oh, yes, we are — MIT style,” Yin dice butted in.
So, to integrate your gambling failures meaningfully into future successes, you need the heat.
You have to boil your losses and lessons learned up to 212°F (100°C) to blend them sustainably with the cold-blooded winning. You may use mental RPMs of regret to create such a high temperature, but don’t ever cross the red line.
Once there, infuse the whole experience. Extract vaporized molecules of newfound knowledge, and condense them onto the cold surface of responsible, well-calculated gambling decisions.
Otherwise, you won’t be able to blend viscous expectations with fluid outcomes.
“My, oh, my, I have a few questions, and that’s only right,” the player replied, intrigued.
Fade Away Into the Sunshine
The silence was painfully loud. Instead of answers, a numbing void filled in the reinvigorating realm. Voices were gone: They entered with no hallo, exited without a goodbye.
“Here is your bill, Sir, we’re closing down,” the bartender said gently.
Startled, the player tipped her well, tucked in two dices in his hanky, and walked tall out of the casino.
I’ll ask them next time, he thought.
Dices never spoke to him again. Ever.
Not even a few weeks later, when he scored hugely in the same casino, at the same table, playing the same game.
Pocketful of sunshine was for him only.
The sun is on my side and takes me for a ride; I smile up to the sky, I know I’ll be alright, he thought with self-effacing joy, listening to Bedingfield's song on his inner headsets.
Smiling contently, the player tapped his left breast pocket with the right hand’s palm. Therein, two dices were residing since the first night, accompanying him wherever he went.
Here is your place of everlasting rest, he said to himself.