Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Not much stomach for Gambling, I fear

Back in the early days of The Internet, when online casinos were first introduced, I used to go 'round and snap up bonuses, play blackjack, and after meeting the Terms and Conditions I would cash out fifty bucks or so. Granted, I lost all the money 2/3 of the time, but since it was free money I was unperturbed. If you haven't ever been curious, there's about five bajillion different online casinos, and they all had bonuses.

(Full disclosure - Much of this activity took place during high school, when I was in fact not old enough to play on these casinos. So I did what any entrepreneuring minor might do: I lied about my age. I wonder what type of sin it is to lie to a gambler. Do the two cancel each other out?)

Anyway, I have recently signed up with a program that acts as a sort of secret shopper review panel for online casinos. They give you a little bit of money, you go in and play, and if you win some money above the initial amount, you get to keep it. You fill out a survey and presumably they are tallying up these results somewhere.

The interesting thing is that now I hardly have the heart to lose all that money. Even though I'm not actually allowed to keep whatever they've given me, it still makes my stomach drop to lose $20 at a time. And after I've finished losing all the play money, I'm usually sad and down and kind of tired. I just want to curl up and go to sleep, and not think about that lovely money that just went into the coffers of the casino. (Although I guess the casino is probably paying the program more than the amount they gave me... it still goes back into their coffers and not mine or the program's.)

This is kind of related to why I don't pick individual stocks. I would really like to do it, sure, after reading everybody else's very nuanced and well-thought-out posts about this company or that company. But I just don't have the stomach of iron that is required for the rollercoaster ups and downs that accompany many stocks. While I do have a very aggressive investing stance for my retirement money, I'm usually happy when the NAV of a mutual fund goes down since I can buy more shares for the same amount of money. Also, when you buy a mutual fund share, you aren't actually contracting to own 0.0000324 shares of each company, you're buying a stake in the pot itself. So if one company tanks and is pulled from the fund, you individually won't lose anything (unless the NAV goes down a little, but it will recover), but if a single stock you own tanks, well, you now own yourself a fine hunk of nothing.

Somehow watching the NAV of my mutual funds go down is like winning a raffle, but watching the (8.34 shares of the) one stock I own go down is like losing a pet. Maybe in the future when I have enough money to actually buy more than a few shares in one stock, and get some diversification, I might buy some. Earlier today while reading the backlog at Chrees' World, his monkey portfolio perfectly summed up how I feel about my chances of doing well at picking individual stocks. I might as well let monkeys do it.

Eh. By the by, if anybody else who is not as much of a wuss as me wants to take a shot at winning Big Money by playing online casinos with other people's money, send me an email and I'll hook you up. =)

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