The Upper Cap

March 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

Why do people make scams worth crores?

Let me take you to a Casino in the German city of Wiesbaden where I learned more about how to keep control. We used to go there sometimes, just to see the beautiful place – similar if not better than any Casino you see in movies. And I liked to suit-up for the place too. We weren’t allowed without a shirt and formal shoes, you see.

I chose the simple game of Roulette to gamble. Cards get too unwieldy for me. But let me skip the games and talk about the self-control part. Whenever I went there, I set myself a stop-loss amount. That is, for example, I will stop playing if I lost, let’s say, 10 Euros. That ways, I would be sure not to lose a very high amount. Sounds reasonable and I assume that others who gamble (including stock market speculators) would also be using such a method.

But here is what I did differently – I also set a stop-gain amount for me. For example, I would stop playing if I had ‘earned’, let’s say, 8 Euros. This amount was equal or slightly lesser than the stop-loss one. Now this was surely tough, for when you are on a ‘winning-streak’, superstitious ideas fill up your head, like – ‘this is my lucky day’, or ‘odd numbers work for me’. You tend to forget the Maths. That this is a game of pure chance. And just one roll of the Roulette wheel can take you to ‘worst day of my life’.

I won some and lost some, coming out almost even overall. But, more importantly, I never felt helpless or out of control. In one case the temptation became too strong, and I busied myself by eating free candy, looking here and there, and ultimately, when I could hold back no more, leaving the place.

And so, when I read about people involved in scams worth crores, the first thought which comes to mind is ‘What does he do with so much money’? There is some limit to spending. Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer in ‘money makes you happy’, but I also believe that ‘getting caught scamming makes you sad’. Maybe if the guy had thought that he would set up an upper limit, to go no further than a given point, he might have saved himself. I am not condoning scams, but if people have an upper cap on their acquisitive instinct, things will be better.

Spending makes us happy. Earning enables us to spend. A disproportionate focus on earning can make us lose the pleasure.

Or so I think.

About the pic: This is the Casino Wiesbaden mentioned in the post.

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