Friday, October 6, 2017

What Happens In Vegas Should Never Have Happened (Part II)

Paddock Chased Gambling Payouts & Perks:

LAS VEGAS — The video poker machines that Stephen Paddock liked were the ones that did not draw attention. They had few look-at-me flashing lights or listen-to-me bells.
He would sit in front of them for hours, often wagering more than $100 a hand. The way he played — instinctually, decisively, calculatingly, silently, with little movement beyond his shifting eyes and nimble fingers — meant he could play several hundred hands an hour. Casino hosts knew him well.
Mr. Paddock was not widely known among the city’s serious gamblers, operating at a level below the highest rollers. He was not a whale, the term used for the biggest gamblers. But placing bets of $100 or more in video poker, “this guy was gambling high,” said Anthony Curtis, a former professional gambler and currently the owner and publisher of Las Vegas Advisor, a website covering the casino business.
Let me pause by saying: this may be one of the dumbest articles about gambling I've ever read. The reporters keep calling the casino "The Mandalay Bay" (Mandalay Bay itself does not use "the" in its title). And the notion that video poker is somehow on par with regular poker or any kind of serious table game gambling in Vegas is falsely purported.
Video poker receives less attention than poker at the tables, which has garnered fame and riches for those who compete in tournaments such as the World Series of Poker. Video poker shares some of the same parameters — players looking for winning combinations of cards, from pairs and full houses to straights and flushes. But it is a vastly different game.
“Video poker is the crack cocaine of gambling,” Mr. Curtis said.
There are no opponents. There is no bluffing or worrying about competitors’ hands. Generally, five cards are drawn from a refreshed 52-card virtual deck — instantly on the video screen — and players decide which ones to “hold,” or keep, and which ones to exchange for new cards. Players calculate the possibilities remaining in the 47 other cards.
A pair of jacks or better might earn the bet back, a “wash” for the player. A royal flush might pay 400 times the bet — perhaps a $50,000 payout on a $125 wager.
For experts like Mr. Paddock, who had played the game for 25 years, his brother said, each hand required only a few seconds of time. Ten hands could be played in a minute. The computer kept track of the financial tally.
It is a game of coldly calculated probabilities, played without hunches or emotion.
“Gut feel has nothing to do with it,” said Bob Dancer, a professional video poker player in Las Vegas who has written 10 books on the subject. “If I have a feeling that says, ‘I’m going for another heart,’ then I will lie down until the feeling goes away.”
You should lie down and stop writing books pretending anyone can be a "professional video poker player" because there is no such thing. Anyone who knows anything about gambling, particularly in the world of poker, will tell you video poker is the loser version of real table poker, involving absolutely no strategy, thinking, or skill set whatsoever. Doofus was even one of these people who followed others around the machines, so when they cashed out, he jumped on the machine thinking the big payout would be next (this is a mythology as old and dumb as the hills). And in the gambling world, people who wager high amounts on video poker (such as this dope Paddock) are known as complete idiots.

Even funnier in the article is Paddock's brother asserting that he might be losing constantly on video poker, but his "genius" was in the way he used the comps and other freebies extended his way to actually make him come out ahead. 

Again, that ain't the way things work in Vegas. It would be nice if the NYT and other media outlets would do their homework on issues such as gambling, and more importantly, stop trying to portray this idiot as some "genius" gambler who pulled off a "stunning attack." You don't have to be that smart, that ingenious, or that cunning to do what the old cuck did. 

Which gets us to this next article, on how so many "experts" are "stumped" in figuring out what Paddock's "motive" might have been.
In the four days since Stephen Paddock’s attack in Las Vegas — a shooting rampage that left 58 dead and hundreds seriously wounded — what drove him has remained a mystery, vexing the public and putting enormous pressure on federal and local investigators to find answers.
No grandiose manifesto has been found. No account of Mr. Paddock behaving dangerously or holding extremist views has emerged from neighbors or relatives. Unlike past killers, Mr. Paddock did not dial up the police to explain his actions.
Despite the huge scale of the attack, why Mr. Paddock carried it out remained a huge and haunting question mark, said Steven B. Wolfson, the district attorney in Clark County, Nev., where the killings occurred. He estimated that in “99 percent of the cases,” the perpetrator of a drastic killing offers some kind of justification, however twisted.
“Most of the time, you don’t defend it, you don’t accept it, but you hear the why,” Mr. Wolfson said in an interview on Thursday.
“I’ve been doing this a long time and I can’t remember another homicide — and then you multiply what I’m about to say by 58 — where you don’t know why.”
Odd. I've been studying homicide a long time too, and I can remember many, many cases where "why" was and is never answered. 
Mr. Paddock would appear, in several respects, to be an unlikely perpetrator: An affluent man in his seventh decade, Mr. Paddock was both older and wealthier than the typical mass murderer, who is usually a young and isolated white man, often with a history of violence or mental problems.
Mr. Paddock’s father, Benjamin Hoskins Paddock, was a veteran criminal who was placed on the F.B.I.’s most wanted list, which described him as “diagnosed as psychopathic.”
But his brother Eric Paddock said his sibling was not a politically motivated person and had no apparent financial problems. He said he recognized Stephen Paddock’s methodical personality in the planning of the attack, but nothing else.
“He was able to plan this, to do this,” Eric Paddock said. “That is the person Steve was.”
Yeah, like the "genius gambler" he described his brother as in the other article. Frankly, these Paddock brothers come across more as Dumb and Dumber than anything else.

Lost in all the head scratching, chin rubbing, and navel gazing regarding motive is something I mentioned in my post the other day. Sometimes the motive is crystal clear and so simplistically horrifying, we don't want to acknowledge it because it forces us into the gritty political debates over guns, privacy, mental illness, and the like. 

But I'll proffer the same explanation now that I did the other day: dude did it because he COULD. Because we've made it that easy in our society to stockpile guns and ammo, go out in virtually every public space possible while packing via open carry laws, and pull the trigger. Because every time one of these massacres happen, we make it even EASIER to buy more guns and more ammo. That's it. It's not rocket science.

So don't worry about motive, but rest assured (or nervously) there will be more massacres, larger and larger and larger. It's like these "every 100 years storms" we keep having like every other year. "The biggest mass shooting in U.S. history" will quickly be topped by the next one, and the one after that, and the following one, ad naseum.

Lather, rinse, repeat. And bleed to death, eventually.

UPDATE: Wanna see what all this obsession with guns looks like via its death toll? Click here.

UPDATE II: Another hagiographic "appreciation" of the gunman Paddock, calling him everything from a "genius" to "working at a higher level mentally than most people I run into in gambling."

LOL. No one operating with an IQ above 70 regularly plays video poker, yet this "analytical, smart guy" did and is portrayed in the media (even by our current president, who called him "sick, but probably smart") as an evil genius/enigma.

Stupid is as stupid does. And his brothers are only chirping about his attributes, and trying to portray his as a nice guy who "snapped," as a first line of defense in the tidal wave of civil lawsuits heading their way.

UPDATE III: An honest opinion about what can be done re all the gun violence. Rather than dancing around the margins of the issue, the author Bret Stephens says what almost no one dares to say: repeal the Second Amendment. Just as we did away with the 18th via the 21st back in the day, move to repeal the 2nd in its entirety.

Ballsy.

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