How Fast Is A Week?

Today is Saturday so it’s not quite a week yet since Easter. It’s a cliche and yet time does fly. Often whether we’re having fun or not.

Sometime in the last couple of years I saw on the Science Channel that we are biologically wired to experience time the way we do. So when we notice how fast time seems to go by when we are adults versus how much more slowly we perceived time’s passage as children, there is a physiological reason for it. It’s not just psychological.

I don’t remember if the scientist got very specific, but we do have a biological clock that speeds up as we get older. What will happen if we start living to 130 or so? Time must seem like it’s whizzing by at that age.

That’s not too farfetched either. There have been a lot of breakthroughs in recent decades and one has to do with telomeres and telomerase. You can Google it. What happens to the end of our chromosomes – the telomere – is pretty simple to explain in layman’s terms. It gets shorter. When we are born it is 15,000 (pairs?) long. (I’m rusty on the terminology.) When we die of aging it’s 5,000 units long.

Here’s something very interesting about this relatively new science. They have discovered how to stop the telomeres from shortening. I’m not sure if they can make them longer, but they can stop the shortening process. The problem is that what they can use to stop them from getting shorter is toxic. I don’t know if it’s immediately toxic or if it kills you in the longer term, but that’s the problem.

There are scientists looking at how we could possible stop the shortening process with natural, nontoxic compounds. My guess is that it’s not more than a decade away.

Now that doesn’t mean that this is the ONLY factor in causing death naturally, but it’s an excellent start.

Here’s where I think a lot of people have trouble with this. Are you ready? Most people can’t be reasoned with when it comes to stopping the aging process. They might not realize it, but it’s true for a lot of people on a lot of different subjects.

If you believe (the key here is belief and NOT open-minded, rational thinking or examination of the problem) that something cannot possibly happen or cannot possibly be true, then how can someone explain the solution to you.

Let’s say you simply believe that all gambling is luck. Many people believe this and they are not willing to be challenged on it. They think that there is no skill involved in any type of gambling. If they were open to critical thinking about the problem instead of simply believing that you absolutely cannot have skill when it comes to gambling, then they can be reasoned with.

But, let’s say that they are open to learning in this area. You could help them understand that while roulette is dependent on luck, poker also has an element of skill. Why? Well, roulette is a ball going around a circle and landing in a slot (in simple terms). The “house” makes money because when you lose a dollar, they get to keep the whole dollar. But, when you bet a dollar and win, (on average) you get about 97 cents or less back for your win. Think of it this way: if you and I flip a coin 100,000 times and there is no cheating involved, the coin will come up heads about 50,000 times and tails 50,000 times. There is no magic in mathematics. But, if I win your dollar every time heads comes up and you get only 98 cents every time tails comes up, I’m going to take a little bit of your money MANY, MANY times. Hopefully you see that.

So that is similar to what happens in roulette. In effect, the house is being completely fair when you lose the bet and they are being UNFAIR (in a mathematical sense) when you win by paying you less than what they get paid when they win your bet.

Poker, on the other hand, is a game where you are competing with other players and the “house” or casino does not even care who wins. OK. Maybe they prefer that the bigger tippers win, but the house does not compete with you as they do in roulette or blackjack or craps, etc… In poker, the house makes money because they charge “rent” by taking a little bit of money out of every pot that is created by the bets of the players. The winner of the poker hand gets the pot MINUS the “rent” that the house took. In a sense, the casino is taking its tiny share from the winning players.

Now, if you understand what I wrote above, you will see how poker has some skill involved BECAUSE you are playing against human beings and not a fixed set of house rules that the house benefits from as in roulette and the other games. Because human beings make mistakes it is a game of skill and while it is not chess, you can beat the game because beating the game means having better skills than the other players. In the long run, more highly skilled players will beat players with lower skill in poker and the house will still get its little cut from each pot.

You might have thought of something and that is this: What if the house takes too much money out of a pot? It is possible for the house to take too much money out of the pot so that the game is no longer beatable. This is rare because if the casino does take too much money people will stop playing the game. If the pot has $40 in it and the house takes $20, then they are really engaging in highway robbery, so to speak. That simply does not happen because the house knows that if they simply keep the game going (all day and all night in some cases) that they will get their little bit of rent every hand. The house wants the game to move faster and that means more hands are dealt an more money is made.

This is also why online poker is so popular where it is legal. The online poker casinos can deal more hands electronically than a physical dealer in a casino and that way they can also take a smaller amount from each pot. They know that they will keep making money 24 hours a day if the games are going and the way to keep them going is to not take too much money from each pot. So they have incentive to have cheaper “rent”.

Now you can’t say “I don’t care about anything you’ve said, there is no skill in any type of gambling.” If you do, then you are not willing to listen to reason and while that is your right, it does not make you correct.

In the same way, you could say that it doesn’t matter what anyone says, “No one will ever be able to stop someone from dying of old age.” Well, you are allowed to believe that. It’s a free country. At least most countries where you can read this are free countries.

But simply believing what you believe no matter what evidence anyone offers is not being intellectually reasonable.

Of course, you could believe, too, that the trip I won to the Bahamas a few years ago in a Texas Hold’Em Poker Tournament was just luck and had nothing to do with skill. Even though there were 10,000 people in the first round and only 18 got to move to the second round. After I made it through the first round there were still 1349 people in the second round and only first place got a prize of a trip to the Bahamas and a seat in a really big poker tournament. Second place in the second round didn’t get anything – not even a cup of coffee. I won the second round and took my wife to the Bahamas.

Like I said, it’s not chess, so it’s not ALL skill. But there is some skill. I will also be the first tell you that there was some luck, too. That’s how poker tournaments go.

Of course, you could choose to believe that I never went to the Bahamas.

What did I get a passport for then?

Wait. I forgot to mention that there can be skill in blackjack if you count cards, but that’s for another day.



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