3 min read

A Tale of Dice Probabilities, Bunco Night, And Stacking The Odds

We all try to stack the odds in our favor.
A Tale of Dice Probabilities, Bunco Night, And Stacking The Odds
Photo by el pepe / Unsplash

This post is a tale of dice probabilities and Bunco night. It's about games played with good food and drink and lots of laughter. It reveals the playful nature of humans and our need to socialize. It's about life and death and stacking the odds in your favor, but above all it's about fun!

I'd like to believe that we all love to watch a good sports game, try our luck in Las Vegas, or play a game of Scrabble. Whether it's a board game or as simple as rolling dice, we all love to play games. The best part of playing these games? It teaches us about the unpredictability of life and how we can "beat the odds" without pushing our luck too much.

Bunco night

A few years ago my partner joined a monthly Bunco night game. It's organized by several women in our community and it's a way for them to gather and socialize. For those who don't know what Bunco is, it's a dice game that's played with four people. On the third Friday of every month, one of the women would host the event at their house for about 20 women.

Everyone would arrive with oodles of food and drink. The male members of the house were told - in no uncertain terms - to leave for the evening if they knew what was good for them!

This led to random husbands calling their friends to see what they were doing that evening. Over time, enough of us realized we were Bunco refugees and decided to form their own game group. We'd congregate over someone's house, cook or order some good food, and play games. We'd play everything BUT Bunco.

Instead, we'd play cards, dice, and board games. Sometimes we'd even wager and make bets. We'd talk about dice probabilities and betting strategies. We'd raise our bet it was smart to keep anting up in the pot and when to fold. We'd talk about how to "stack the odds" in one's favor and examples would creep in about how it applies to work and life. Throughout those evenings we bonded and learned from one another while having fun.

Stacking the odds

I can't help but equate playing games and dice probability with life in general. There's a lot of risk and chance in life and not everyone gets to live long and happy lives. Your success in life depends a great deal on where you were born and to whom. We hear terms like, "the odds are stacked against him/her" or "she got a bad hand dealt to her."

The odds are stacked against you if you're born in a 3rd world country to subsistence farmers. You'd have a better hand if you were born to a rich Manhattanite couple. Yet no one can determine to whom they're born too, but what you have control over is what you do with your life.

I am not an advocate of "pulling yourself up by your bootstraps." That phrase is pure nonsense. What I do believe in is education. Education is the great equalizer and it can pull that subsistence farmer out of poverty.

Education levels the playing field for everyone. It's the only real way to "stack the odds" in your favor over the long run.

Education makes you question with a critical eye. Education helps you sidestep serious mistakes. Education prepares you against danger. Education is the key to everything that humanity needs to lift us out of our misery.

Role the dice one more time

I grew up in the 80s and the music of that decade had a big influence on my life. One popular song, "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey is stuck in my head forever, especially this line:

"Workin' hard to get my fill
Everybody wants a thrill
Payin' anything to roll the dice
Just one more time"

How many times have we "rolled the dice," and gambled? I'm willing to bet it's countless times. We roll the dice every day without knowing it.

Your odds of dying in a car crash is 1 in 93, a bit higher than 1% over the course of your life.

Your odds of dying from a heart attack is 1 in 6, roughly 17%. Covid-19 is 1 in 10, or 10%.

There are many more statistics on how to die, sometimes in gruesome ways, but we can stack those odds in our favor. We can choose to slow down our cars in wintery weather. We can choose to get our COVID boosters, and we can choose to eat healthier.

The reality is that we're going to die one day, that is inevitable but we can "roll the dice" one more time if only we're willing to learn and educate ourselves. In the meantime, roll those dice, play those cards, and play with the people you love and care about. We only have one small shot at this reality, make it count, and make it a fun one.

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