It occurs to me that what I would most like to do right now is put up the most irrelevant post ever! Maybe it will provide a small insight into the world I inhabited prior to starting up a blog about modern monetary theory and other heterodox approaches to economics. It is a world in which numerous teams and many solo players are at loggerheads with the casinos of the world. However, few if any operate in a manner anything like the loose circle of individuals I was involved with for several years. “Advantage players”, so called, invariably pride themselves on their hard-nosed attitude to finding a legal edge in any game they can. Little else matters. It is amoral and apolitical, other than to stay within the law. What counts in advantage play is “getting the money”. Only the most incompetent dreamers could be less effective in this regard than the circle of which I was lucky enough to be a member.
The subject itself is a sensitive one, since there are workaholic, narrowly focused professionals plying their utterly unproductive trade all over the world using various methods that are only partially understood by others, and they would prefer to keep things that way. I figure the least informative means of broaching the topic is to reproduce below an excerpt from the secret blueprint provided to me by my mentor, and leader of our circle, Mr X. Until now, this blueprint has been read by only a tiny few – the small entourage of frustrated writers, musicians, artists and all-purpose theorists Mr X surrounds himself with, who have found it necessary at various times to inhabit the often seedy casino underworld. No one has really understood the blueprint’s implications, or whether it even has any implications, though its pages have been deconstructed by young philosophers, rolled up and smoked by bohemian poets, and used as bedding by the homeless on the streets of various casino cities.
Read at your own peril. Hopefully you will not wind up homeless as a result. My mentor has led me to understand that in preparing the blueprint he was inspired by a well known dissident tract in the advantage play world, Clarke Cant’s Blackjack Therapy, which is considered by some to be not merely a tremendous guide for the borderline homeless but a creative literary contribution, catering especially to the right-libertarian. The form of therapy administered by Mr X, in contrast, caters to the left-libertarian who is not so much borderline homeless as private school educated and embarrassed by his comfortable middle-class upbringing. In this way, Cant’s Blackjack Therapy and Mr X’s Impossible Blueprint if read in close succession would appear to offer a well rounded set of principles for advantage play and for libertarianism of both left and right-wing varieties.
TOWARD AN IMPOSSIBLE BLUEPRINT FOR LIFE
A Heterodox View of Everything
by Mr X
[early parts unrelated to advantage play omitted]
PART SIXTY-SEVEN: Impossibly Heterodox Advantage Play
Under capitalist team play in its most developed form, the exploited player is:
a. Compelled to play casino games for longer than is necessary to reproduce her playing power simply to generate surplus Expected Value for non-playing, usually male, investors;
b. Expected to wager at levels more stressful and career shortening than would be necessary to obtain similar personal bankroll growth in a solo or player-cooperative arrangement under conditions of socialized credit;
c. Sometimes confined to more menial aspects of casino play as a result of capitalist deskilling or for reasons of uniformity, team discipline and managerial control.
67.0.1. Uncertainty and Imperfect Capital Markets
In a world without uncertainty and with perfect access to credit, a talented player could always obtain the appropriate bankroll for solo play. However:
a. The immorality of usury would remain;
b. Solo players without talent would be left with no means of survival.
67.0.2. Socialist Revolution
It follows from 67.0.1. that capitalism should be overturned in favor of a libertarian socialist or communist society in which the means of production are owned in common and all are free to pursue their own interests other than to meet a minimal labor-time commitment. Casino games would be transformed into activities of no financial consequence but immeasurable recreational benefit and intellectual challenge. All bankrolls would be distributed as tokens on casino entry and recollected on exit, there being no need for money in the outside world. Cheating manouvers would not win if spotted, but no other sanction would be required or appropriate. In this way, human capabilities could be developed and celebrated in their most diverse forms, unhindered by the narrow provincial morality engendered under capitalism.
67.0.3. Pre-Revolution Solo Play
In the meantime, a liberty-loving player should remain solo or part of a player cooperative:
a. For the secular minded, this enables dissociation from the dictates of capitalist team play and resists the centralization of bankroll;
b. For the biblically minded, the warning of Revelation 18:4 to exit Babylon seems pertinent:
Then I heard another voice from heaven say: ‘Come out of her, my people,’ so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues.
67.1. Practical Winning Methods
So far, we have focused on the socioeconomic framework in which all advantage play currently takes place. It might be thought, with some justification, that things could hardly get more practical than that! However, there is an ugly side to advantage play in which practicality becomes truly overt. In this section we turn to the somewhat distasteful – though sadly inescapable – need to possess or otherwise obtain money while living in a monetary production economy that is as dire as the actually existing global capitalist system. By “actually existing” we always mean existing in actuality. Existing, actually. So, in some contexts, we can refer simply to “existing” as a shorthand reference to the more profound sounding “actually existing”. It is trapped within this actually existing global capitalist system that we find ourselves, and so it is imperative that we discover a way to survive within it. Unfortunately, this involves the generally squalid – squalid, in general – activity of groping about in an unseemly way for money.
67.1.1. The Heterodox Rule of Obscurity
For the left-libertarian advantage player who, sadly, needs to possess or otherwise obtain money, obscurity is important in so many ways. Above all, in the world of advantage play, you should be an obscure person. It is best not to meet any advantage players beyond those you have already met by the time you encounter this rule (i.e. now), and it would be best if you had never met any previously. If another advantage player knows what you look like, they may spot you in the casinos and realize that you have found an opportunity to obtain money. They may hinder your efforts by joining in the game or calling in teammates if they are members of a capitalist team.
The winning methods should also be obscure, whenever possible. The less people who know your methods, the less identifiable you are as a winning player. The danger here is not so much casino staff as other advantage players. If another advantage player observes your play, you do not want them to understand what you are doing. Otherwise, they might do it too, and cause the opportunity to end prematurely.
For many left-libertarians who are new to advantage play, the rule of obscurity is troubling. Their instinct is always to share, whether it be information or knowledge, opportunities or methods. They also tend to be sociable creatures who like to interact with others.
In view of this, it is perhaps not surprising that, on occasion, I have been accused by new protégés of being a less committed left-libertarian than my pronouncements on political and economic matters would suggest. To this accusation I have always given the same response. It is that they are right to abhore this hoarding of information and knowledge, but that it is a product of the socioeconomic environment in which we find ourselves. It is a capitalist contradiction. Helping the many harms the selfish interests of the wealthy and powerful few, and it is the selfish interests of the wealthy and powerful few that drive behavior in the system. So the system requires this selfish behavior, yet is undermined by it to the extent it spawns dissent.
This response rarely, if ever, placates my idealistic protégés, and that is to their credit. Be that as it may, obscurity in identity and method preserves opportunities.
Of course, there are other advantage players – the orthodox majority – who argue that self-interested behavior can lead to mutually beneficial information sharing and other forms of social interaction and cooperation. This is fine – and is in fact appropriate advice – for those who are prepared to travel far and wide, often to out-of-the-way, culturally impoverished places, in the vulgar pursuit of money. But for left-libertarian advantage players, there is a certain social cool to maintain. There is underground theater and performance poetry to digest, dissent to propogate and literature to discuss, dying independent cinema and live music venues that need propping up through regular attendance, and so on. These are rarely found outside fashionable inner-city locations. We cannot be expected to venture out to sparse areas barely accessible other than by polluting motor car. It is environmentally unsustainable, to say the least.
67.1.2. The Iron Exception to the Rule of Obscurity
There is an important exception to the rule of obscurity, which is that the games played need not be obscure. In fact, the less obscure the game, the more widespread the opportunity, and therefore the less a player has to travel out of civilized environs, such as the immediate surrounds of the CBDs of major cities. For instance, the author of this manual resides in a very backward place, a country in which there is precious little civilization to speak of. There are simply not that many places he could happily go. Likewise, Woody Allen prefers not to leave the island of Manhattan. It is hardly likely that he would be sighted playing a 2:1 blackjack promotion out in the sticks. It is the same principle.
67.1.3. Exception to the Iron Exception
A game need not be widespread if it is local. The localness of a game is sufficient to enable the advantage player to avoid travel, and so obviates the need for a widespread game. Artistic, intellectual, and other delicate pursuits can be carried out largely unhindered by mercenary distractions.
67.1.4. Sense of Decency Principle
There has been a small minority of protégés who objected to this reticence to travel, suggesting that an advantage player should do what most effectively gets the money.
In every case, these protégés were later revealed to be closet capitalists of one stripe or another. The vulgarity of their objection could not be more obvious. Yes, advantage players should do what most effectively “gets the money”, as they so tactlessly put it, but only within the confines of good taste.
67.1.5. Longevity Concession
For reasons of casino scrutiny and longevity, it is best to play games that are widely regarded as difficult to beat. In this sense, bad games are better than good games.
It can also be an advantage if the correct strategy for the game has not been publicly disseminated.
Unfortunately, many of the games that fit the above categories may be widely regarded as difficult to beat with good reason. This difficulty is captured in the following beatability paradox:
You should never play a game that you cannot beat, but you should never beat a game that is known to be beatable.
The tension between these two principles is unavoidable. If you know how to beat a game, it is known to be beatable, but if you cannot beat a game, for you it is unbeatable. To achieve maximum longevity, you’ll need to find a way to resolve this paradox. Many have tried, and perished in the attempt.
67.2. The Task in a Nutshell
As the preceding instructions indicate, the task of surviving as an advantage player is soul destroying and fundamentally unrewarding under capitalist conditions, but conceivably doable for a tiny minority of committed left-libertarians. To summarize, the steps to success are:
a. Agitate for revolution and the overthrow of capitalism (an end to alienation);
b. In the meantime, play solo or, if you must, as part of a cooperative (reject capitalist team play / come out of Babylon);
c. Remain utterly obscure in the world of advantage play (the rule of obscurity);
d. Find a game that is widely available (the iron exception) or local (the exception to the iron exception) and preferably regarded as difficult to beat (longevity concession) that resolves the beatability paradox;
e. Find an obscure, preferably hitherto unknown method for beating the game (the rule of obscurity).
f. If you must make money, do it in good taste (sense of decency principle).
[later parts not directly related to advantage play omitted]
The Impossible Blueprint may strike some readers as excessively preoccupied with politics and the arts and overly reticent when it comes to extracting money from the casinos, but the approach worked for me. After reading it and committing it to memory, I completed an unpublished novel, a screenplay, progressed my routines at the comedy club immeasurably, and branched out into painting and protest art. I participated in numerous antiwar demonstrations and political protests against austerity measures, environmental destruction, racism and the unjust detention of refugees. I also started a blog.
On a personal note, Mr X and I hit it off pretty much straight away, perhaps because of our similar backgrounds. The left-libertarian approach to advantage play, especially as it pertains to politics, music and the arts, just naturally seemed to make sense. Seeing this is my first – and perhaps last – post on advantage play, and a particularly useless one at that, I figure I will close by explaining in unnecessary detail how I came to meet Mr X.
As it happens, I had a rather tough upbringing, especially as a teenager, attending a number of high schools. One was a private boys school in an inner suburb of Sydney. The girls from the sister school were very pretty, but if they thought a day boy was behaving immaturely on the train station platform, they would roll their eyes just so. If they thought you showed dash, they kissed nicely though. The discipline at school was certainly unforgiving. On one occasion when a group of us were caught sipping sweet sherry behind the student mess, Mr Quizby suggested we might like to venture indoors for the remainder of lunch hour and read a spot of Dickens. By the bell we had penned the draft of a critical essay Mr Quizby thought might have a shot, if polished further, in the annual essay competition run by the seniors of 12B.
Later that evening, after bidding farewell to the chaps, I was able to wow Professor Johnson’s daughter, Melanie, with my literary knowledge while our parents discussed the problem of the capital gains tax and socialism over tastefully slaughtered New Zealand lamb. After dinner, Melanie and I took a stroll along the harbor foreshore, pausing at the water’s edge to take in the city skyline. A busker played Brahms’ violin concerto in D major and we felt sufficiently melancholy to drop a dollar bill into his violin case. He said, “Please. That is unnecessary. The pleasure is mine,” and we looked up to see that it was James Mottmiller, who, unknown to me at the time, was a friend of Mr X. Mottmiller, an audacious old boy, known for his wicked sense of humor, was now studying at the Conservatorium of Music. We laughed heartily. He introduced us to his friend, Michael, and Melanie kissed him on the cheek. We sat down at a Patisserie and caught up on old times.
Three years later I was at university and found myself in an economics tutorial conducted by a tutor who had forgotten to bring the set questions for discussion. The tutor spent the first half hour discussing a Hal Hartley film, which was not on the syllabus, then led us all to a nearby café to get to know each other. Eventually we ended up at a pub. Some time after midnight, with only a few stragglers remaining, the conversation somehow turned to casinos. I professed the view that it was impossible to beat them. The tutor – who I now know as Mr X – agreed. We ordered more beer and turned our attention to socialist revolution, which we believed imminent. Shortly after, the Berlin Wall came down, and the Soviet Union collapsed.