Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was originally published (2001) in the revived Gambling Times, called Win magazine.
My proudest quote ever is: “In the beginning, everything was even money.” You may have seen it repeated in many places, even in Newsweek where it was reported that this is my mantra. Fine, but it isn’t just something to be chanted, and it isn’t simply some fancy wording. Those are the seven words that say everything there is to say about gambling to win and living to succeed.
So, now that I’ve dramatically and immodestly argued for the importance of my own seven words, I should try to convince you why they’re important. So, I will.
I want you to think back to the day you were born. You were so stupid then. I could have told you that choo-choo trains splash around in ponds between lily pads and ducks carry cargo cross country on rails. It would have sounded reasonable to you.
That’s because everything seemed reasonable to you on the day you were born. And everything seemed unreasonable, too. You just didn’t know.
Of course, you couldn’t understand words, but even if you could, any single thing you heard would be either true or false. It was fifty-fifty, a coin flip, even-money. And that fifty-fifty-coin-flip-even-money perspective lasted awhile. Then you began to grow.
And as you grew, you began to realize that your whole life was governed by odds. Well, wait. This doesn’t mean that it dawned on you that odds and probability were controlling your outcomes. It just means that this is what was happening, whether it dawned on you or not.
You learned not to crawl off ledges, because you didn’t know how far you’d fall. Even though you didn’t realize it, you were secretly asking yourself: “What are the odds?
When you got to be five or six, you thought about crossing the street to play at a friend’s house. And you looked both ways, like your parents told you.
Not 100 percent
But while you were looking both ways, you had to decide what the odds were. No car in sight? That seems pretty safe, but not 100 percent safe. There’s always the chance that a truck will suddenly appear out of nowhere, perhaps from a parking space, and splatter your young bones all over the asphalt.
Not pretty. Not fun. But it’s worth the gamble, otherwise you’ll just stay on this side of the street for the rest of your life. And who knows? You might get hit by a meteorite while standing here.
Yep, there’s risk everywhere. But you’ve evolved, even though you’re still a child. You know – maybe not in words or objective thoughts – but you know that it’s not a fifty-fifty proposition, crossing this street right now. You’re much more likely to survive than that. But on the day you were born, it was fifty-fifty, even money. So you’ve evolved.
Are you getting what I’m telling you? If you’re going to succeed in life or be successful as a gambler, you’ve got a job to do. That job is simply to examine anything you do in terms of whether the odds are really even money. More information, deeper insight, better analysis, enhanced judgment – that’s what you need to win.
Once looked at objectively, something might still be even money. The point is that not everything will be even money. Most things won’t be. But in the beginning they were.
In the beginning, you had no information, no tools to handicap life, nothing. But you improved.
And the better you get at defeating the notion that everything is even money, the more you’ll be able to make quality decisions in life and in gambling. You must separate good bets from bad ones.
So, make it your lifelong quest to challenge the notion that something is even money. That’s all there is to it.
The most powerful and useful truth anyone is ever going to tell you is: In the beginning, everything was even money. Think about it. — MC