But The Patient Died
You’ve heard the expression, “The operation was a success but the patient died.” What does it mean? Could it relate to the concept of: “Gamble Perfectly But Still Lose?”
Gamble Perfectly But Still Lose
For many people, the “but the patient died” is the definitive part of that expression. Somebody dying means that there was a failure in the process.
For me, “the operation was a success” is the definitive part of the expression. You did everything right based on the information you had at the time. It didn’t work this time, but that’s not really relevant. There’s nothing more that could have been done.
There is often an, “If we only knew that blah, blah, blah, then we could have done things differently.” Maybe. But you didn’t know. And reconstructing history based on, “If we only knew,” is not a useful exercise.
If we’re talking about an actual death, and the death is somebody close to me (i.e. wife, brother, friend, etc.), then I might not be so dispassionate about the dying not being relevant. Although intellectually I know that we all are going to die some day, when somebody close to me dies, my life is changed irreparably. When somebody dies, they don’t come back to life again — miracles aside.
Great Video Poker Play But Losing A Lot Of Money
Let’s switch the argument to gambling. All good video poker players have many times had the experience that the game, slot club, and promotion made for a great play. They did everything right. And they lost a lot of money. Whether that means $100, $1,000, $10,000, or more depends on the stakes that you play.
This is a perfect example of, “The operation was a success, but the patient died.” We did everything correctly, but on this particular game, the cards didn’t fall our way. It has happened to all of us—many times. We gamble perfectly but still lose.
Regular readers of my writings know that I tend to take the view of, “It’s no big deal.” Swings happen. If you keep playing correctly when you have the advantage, eventually you will come out ahead.
Relation To Your Bankroll
I’m assuming, of course, that however much you lost this particular day is a small fraction of your bankroll. If you lost your entire bankroll — or a significant part of it — then obviously you’re going to feel this is pretty damn important. In fact, you’re going to feel like this is a disaster.
Losing your entire bankroll is quite a bit different than actually dying. Many gamblers have periodically been broke. (It happened to me in 1980. I had to — horrors! — go out and get a job. It was awful!) But being broke today doesn’t mean that you are broke forever and ever. It is possible to financially come back.
What Losing Really Is About
When I say that losing today is no big deal, some people dismiss that as, “Well, you’re rich. If you didn’t have so much money you wouldn’t feel that way.” Maybe. If you’re not close to “dying” financially, you’re not as worried about it as if you are. But a lot of this is like saying, “You have such a big family, losing only one relative isn’t such a big deal.” And that, of course, is rubbish. The pain of losing a relative isn’t about how many you have. It’s about how much you care about these people.
The same is true with money. The pain of losing money isn’t primarily about how much you have. It’s about how much you enjoy holding on to your money. And it’s about how much you feel the need to compare your current wealth with your wealth in the recent past.
If someone has $50,000 in savings, it’s easy for them to believe that if they had $53,000, life would be a lot better; but if they only had $47,000 life would suck. For somebody with $30,000 in savings, it’s hard for them to relate to how life with only $47,000 would suck.
For most of us, daily swings do not change the quality of our life — unless the swings are seriously trending downward. There are a lot of people with poor gambling skills who end up losing everything. This is sad. This is tragic. But these are not the people I’m speaking to in this column.
If you have sufficient gambling skills, and many of my readers either have or can develop such skills, then your gambling bankroll will be trending upward. For these people, the swings do not matter.
Bob Dancer is the premier video poker writer and teacher in the world. He has created a number of how-to-win products available at bobdancer.com. He co-hosts a weekly radio show called Gambling with an Edge, which is also archived on his website. (The show is also available on iTunes.)
FAQ – When You Gamble Perfectly But Still Lose
Yes, absolutely. We did everything correctly, but on this particular game, the cards didn’t fall our way. It has happened to all of us—many times. We gamble perfectly but still lose.
More video poker:
Video Poker | Not All Lessons Are Learned So Easily – Bob Dancer
Video Poker | Have You Got What It Takes? – Bob Dancer
Video Poker | How To Learn The Right Lessons – Bob Dancer
How To Play Video Poker The Smart Way
How To Solve The Video Poker Puzzle
Video Poker | Listening To My Mentor – 10x Points At Borgata
Why You Might Be Disappointed With A Straight Flush Jackpot
Be sure to check out some of our other articles on casino loyalty programs & casino gaming:
Casino Loyalty Cards are Similar to Those of Airlines and Hotels — But Not the Same
Video Poker vs. Regular Poker
Why I Prefer Video Poker To Slots
Video Poker vs. BlackJack
Note: Updated September 2020 by the TravelZork editorial staff. This article was originally published in July 2016.