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I’m not the first brainwave to figure out that gambling games only work when there is real risk (money) at stake. If there are no consequences for failure then the analysis of risk is inherently flawed.

For example, I played five card brag with my eldest son and a couple of his mates last night. The betting chips flew, and he bet and lost his whole stake on one hand. When called he was holding… nothing. No winning hand of even the lowest order. His reasoning? That he was bluffing and that presumably everyone else was an idiot and would just give it to him – because he was ballsy.

We redistributed the chips and he did it again. He was not the only culprit. The others also seemed to have no idea of cutting their losses. They would stay in the bidding far longer than was sensible, simply because they could not make themselves stop.

This is the purpose of Brag, of course. It is a fast paced pub gambling game designed to separate mugs from their dough, and fast. In this way it is probably a game only for experienced gamblers, or perhaps gamers that have far better impulse control than teenage boys. 

In an attempt to rectify this I suggested they all put five dollars in a jar to play, and winner takes all.  The son sabotaged the game immediately and slouched off, taking his droogs with him, and that was the end. Subsequently he crowed that he had actually played a game with me, something I am constantly nagging him over. Thanks, mate, your momentary attention was worth the wait.