I’m reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and among many interesting things, one in particular struck me. There is a section about gambling, and Duhigg writes about Near Misses — when your slot machines ALMOST hits the jackpot, when that ’7′ is just one line too low. And, of course, this is all bullshit because there is no such thing as ‘almost’ with slot machines. The outcome is pre-programmed. It may look to the player as if they were close to the jackpot, but in reality they were no closer than if they hadn’t put money in and pulled the lever (pushed the button these days). Duhigg writes that pathological gamblers basically get high off of near misses. Neurologically speaking their brains light up when it appears they have come close to that elusive jackpot…What’s interesting, as a strategist, is understanding how and why people get ‘mental highs’ from almost getting/achieving something. Near misses trigger habits — and much of what we study in this industry are habits. So, what is the moral of this story? If you lose playing slots, then keep playing until you win or your money is gone. Or read this book.