I ‘ve had a ridiculous week. I turned 16 last week and as a present from one of my older sisters she gave me a “starter pack” consisting of Sainsbury’s basics cider, three durex and a lottery ticket. After laughter and thanks, some time went by and before I knew it it was Saturday. I’d marginally forgotten that I had this ticket so I ended up checking it a few hours late and found that I had matched three number and won a tenner. Grand. I sent my sister a thank you text and collected my winnings soon after. Aside from the intrinsic joy of being handed £10 you’ve done nothing to earn, the novelty soon faded as I was hoping I had lost. Saying that I have an addictive personality is taking it a stage too far, but I do find myself easily hooked on things. Because of this I realised that the best way for me to not get into a downwards spiral of purchasing lottery tickets for every possible draw could get pricy and unfulfilling. Some of you will know that I see poker as a skilled game, whereas others see it as a rich boy’s pastime with it all being on the cards. However, the thing I dislike most about the lottery is how no skill is involved. None whatsoever. Though given my past week, I find it justifiably hard to dislike the lottery.
After my win, I came home and had a stab at an online “instant win” game on the National Lottery website. I picked Scrabble, as I was curious to see how they could transform a game of no stakes and high intellect into one of high stakes and sheer luck. They managed it and, to infuriate me further, I won £60 on my first go. Again. This takes my total spend to £2 and total winnings to £70. How on earth is that possible? Obviously, with a skeptical view such as my own, I found it hard to play Scrabble again. However, I did spend £2 of my winnings on two lotto draws with the idea that I would lose and finally be done with my flirtatious affair with the lottery. And yet, on Saturday 18th 2011, I won another £10. By this time, I had decided to drop my anger and just accept that I am exceptionally lucky. However, if I could choose the sort of “exceptionally lucky on the lottery” then I’d rather have the winning millions sort, not the winning a few in a row sort.
By this time, I completely understand if you’ve stopped reading in anger of either me being such a lucky bastard, or because of home I’m smugly angry at being a lucky bastard. However, if you’re still here, I shall continue. Why is it that, culturally speaking, the lottery is acceptable? Chronic gambling is a bad habit. And yet, you don’t have to go outside to prevent other people from doing it or coughing, you’re allowed to play and drive and you can do it in broad daylight without anyone looking at you funny. You don’t even have to be 18. I can’t quite decide whether the law caused the culture or the other way round, but either way I have problems with the lottery being seen as whimsical when poker players are given a bad name.
This gets worse when compared with something that we are all expected and pressured to do. It’s ‘for the best’. If you don’t do this, are you mad? If you don’t get it for certain things, it illegal and for others you’re just selfish. I’m talking about insurance. You know, that bet you place every month that you will crash your car, burn your house down and lose your loved ones. Of course when you put it like that you sound plain evil, however we should be made aware that that is what you’re doing. What’s even more incredible is that, unlike any other form of gambling, you are more in control of the outcome than anyone else. I’d be mad to suggest that it’s a bad thing; it offers help in times of need and many couldn’t do without it, but it’s cruel. If you want to financially benefit you have to suffer. I bought a camera not all that long ago and took the £60 option to get it totally covered for 3 years. Whilst doing this, I was conscious that after 2 years 264 days I’d be pretty tempted to throw it out of my window to get a new one for the next few years.
So if the lottery is gambling but gambling is good, can I please play poker now I’m 16? At least if the casino burns down, I’ll be morally and financially covered.
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