Don't bet on the poker machine

It’s all about speed.

You want to spend money, and you want to spend it quick (and let me tell you that is what the owners of casinos and clubs want you to do)? Then sit yourself down and start feeding in the notes – no need to worry about some human changing the money for casino chips and then dealing out cards – just press that button as fast as you can.

[As a blackjack dealer] I certainly saw people lose $1,200 in an hour – but not at the seemingly low value $10 a hand. In fact $10 black jack tables are about the cheapest you can get nowadays – the casino makes up for the lack of speed by increasing the minimum bet. To lose $1,200 in an hour on blackjack would have meant you doing some serious punting – probably $25 a hand at minimum.

[Australia's] Productivity Commission also nicely shows the adage that the House always gets you in the end is true. As you can see in the upper left graph, 30 per cent of players can win if they just play the pokies one session of one hour. That sounds about right – a group of 10 friends playing the pokies – three winning, the rest losing seems about right. Come back four times though and that winning per cent is down to 21 per cent. Sixteen times – and only 7 per cent. Sixty four times – and yes, we may well be talking problem gamblers here – and the winning percentage is 1 per cent.