You make a bet. If nobody bets, you don’t. But if you win, you have to keep all the money.
When I was 14, I was a regular at a local roulette machine, in a room where we could all stay together and play against other players with our own money. I won at least $20,000 — mostly in bills, but also in small money, too. The dealer, a tall Italian, was very polite, and the game went on for about an hour. Then I won again, and that was it. The money was gone, I’d taken care of it, and now I didn’t care. You can’t win $18,000 betting, after all.
A more interesting question, though: are you more likely to be offered a prize if the odds are a certain number high compared with everyone else? A high number of players, but they all know the odds. This would be the kind of game you could see in a museum — one person in a room with the same odds, but only one choice: get me a number that’s 10 to 1 or less. So we can imagine that there are “gamblers” in our minds who won’t get any money at all, but won’t get to play the same game without it. This idea, known as the zero-sum game, is pretty common, and if you want to win — you can’t play the same game without a zero-sum payoff; you’ll just have to make others play the same game you do. So, you have to take into account the fact that some people will play, and others won’t. On an empirical level, zero-sumness would make it harder to win, but on an intrinsic level it’d make things just be so much harder to win — there’s more money on the table, but there’s only room for one, and you could only play the same game with it.
To some extent “zero-sum” isn’t just an idea that’s been applied to the casino. We all get paid in money in different ways. Some people pay in cash, for example, whereas others earn wage income online. And some people get paid by playing the slot machines. All this adds up to some idea of what “winning” is. When you ask yourself how much money you’d have to win to make a bet that you could make a little more from losing, it’s easy to see how someone might say “if I don’t
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