Aug 19, 2010

Overcome By Emotion

Instinct or analysis? Wouldn't things be easier if we could get emotion out of the way and let rational analysis lead? Except that so often, that gut feeling turns out to be right. We explore both extremes. Antoine Bechara, a psychology professor at USC, tells us about the case of Elliot, an accountant who, after having a tumor removed from his brain, became entirely rational. And writer Steven Johnson recounts the powerful grip emotion held over his brain in the years following a frightening event.

It turns out we aren't the only ones interested in how the emotional and rational parts of our brains interact to make choices. NPR reporter Mike Pesca talks to Gary Loveman, CEO of Harrah's Casinos, to find out how Harrah's has learned to identify the triggers in casino patrons' decision making processes and use them to create a happier gaming experience, and more loyal customers.

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Jad Abumrad:

Hello, I'm Jad Abumrad.

 

Robert Krulwich:

And I'm Robert Krulwich.

 

Jad Abumrad:

This is Radiolab. Today's program is about choice, how we choose, why, and what is choice?

 

Robert Krulwich:

And I'm going to choose, I'm actually going to dream of the possibility one day of walking into a store and instead of being obsessed and turned on by the beauty of an object or by the promise of an object or-

 

Jad Abumrad:

The price.

 

Robert Krulwich:

Price of an object, the status that would be conferred upon me if I chose or not conferred upon me, all those messy emotions. What would happen if I could be like Spock?

 

Spock:

I'm half Vulcanian. Vulcanians do not speculate. I speak from pure logic.

 

Dr. Antoine B.:

Hello?

 

Jad Abumrad:

Hi.

 

Robert Krulwich:

Hi.

 

Dr. Antoine B.:

Hi, Jad and Robert.

 

Jad Abumrad:

We actually put the Spock question to a neurologist, Dr. Antoine Bechara, who works at the University of Southern California.

 

Robert Krulwich:

If I could say abracadabra and go all logic, would I be a happy chooser?

 

Dr. Antoine B.:

I would say no. Based on our work with neurological patients.

 

Robert Krulwich:

Then he told us about a patient he once had. He's changed the name of the patient. He would call him Elliot.

 

Jad Abumrad:

Can you describe him? What was he like?

 

Dr. Antoine B.:

Well, he's about five feet, ten. You know, 170 pounds, I would say. And not that kind of [inaudible 00:01:56]. He looks very normal, like a normal person.

 

Jonah Lehrer:

He was an accountant.

 

Jad Abumrad:

That's Jonah Lehrer again.

 

Jonah Lehrer:

For a large corporation.

 

Dr. Antoine B.:

A successful accountant.

 

Jonah Lehrer:

Upper management, active in his local church.

 

Jad Abumrad:

And he was married at the time?

 

Dr. Antoine B.:

Yes, a very conservative family, very religious.

 

Jonah Lehrer:

House in the suburbs.

 

Dr. Antoine B.:

Good money savings.

 

Jonah Lehrer:

Smart, successful man. Kind of the American dream.

 

Dr. Antoine B.:

And then the tumor happened.

 

Jad Abumrad:

This is in 1982. Doctors discovered a small knot in the front of Elliot's head.

 

Jonah Lehrer:

In a part of the brain called the orbitofrontal cortex.

 

Jad Abumrad:

And where's that?

 

Jonah Lehrer:

That's just behind the eyes.

 

Jad Abumrad:

Did doctors remove the tumor?

 

Dr. Antoine B.:

Yeah, he had the surgery, the tumor was removed.

 

Jad Abumrad:

And then the doctors send him home.

 

Jonah Lehrer:

Well, at first glance, it seems like a tremendous success. No language impairment, no movement disorders. He still scores 97 percentile on the intelligence test. He seems fine, like good old Elliot.

 

Robert Krulwich:

Does good old Elliot go back to the good old job?

 

Jonah Lehrer:

He starts going back to the good old job, the good old family.

 

Jad Abumrad:

And that's when things got really weird.

 

Jonah Lehrer:

At first it's just subtle things, these very minor decisions.

 

Jad Abumrad:

That he suddenly couldn't make. Like he'd be at the office, he'd want to sign a contract and he'd have in front of him a blue pen and a black pen and he would think, "Well, the type on this contract is black, so maybe I should use a blue pen."

 

Jonah Lehrer:

Maybe a blue pen sticks out more. On the other hand, maybe it sticks out too much and will become too distracting.

 

Jad Abumrad:

Then again.

 

Jonah Lehrer:

Black pen is lower on ink, so you want to save that for later.

 

Jad Abumrad:

This would go on an on, says Jonah.

 

Jonah Lehrer:

For half an hour.

 

Robert Krulwich:

And if it takes him a half an hour to decide which pen to choose, imagine Elliot in the cereal aisle in the grocery store.

 

Jonah Lehrer:

I mean, the cereal is particularly tough because there must be 200 varieties of cereal.

 

Robert Krulwich:

This is a sugary cereal. This is a not sugary cereal.

 

Jonah Lehrer:

Standing there, I think about what would I prefer tomorrow?

 

Robert Krulwich:

This is the one with extra protein.

 

Jonah Lehrer:

I've got these other cereals at home. Are they also honey nut themed? Do I want something to break up the honey nut monotony? Is there one cereal on sale? That's a better deal.

 

Jad Abumrad:

With Elliot ...

 

Dr. Antoine B.:

It'll take forever to decide.

 

Jad Abumrad:

According to Dr. Bechar, he would just keep on analyzing.

 

Dr. Antoine B.:

Analyzing.

 

Jonah Lehrer:

This one's 14 ounces.

 

Dr. Antoine B.:

Analyzing.

 

Jonah Lehrer:

That's 15 ounces, but they're the same price.

 

Dr. Antoine B.:

Analyzing. Analyzing. Analyzing. Analyzing.

 

Jonah Lehrer:

All day long.

 

Jad Abumrad:

The question was what exactly had happened to Elliot to make him that way? Like, what exactly did that tumor do? And the breakthrough came when Elliot went to see a neurologist named Antonio Damasio. And Damasio immediately noticed something. Even though Elliot was perfectly thoughtful, perfectly articulate ...

 

Jonah Lehrer:

Always controlled, always relaxed.

 

Jad Abumrad:

When he spoke, he seemed kind of numb.

 

Jonah Lehrer:

No sign of anger or rage or self-pity.

 

Jad Abumrad:

No feeling at all. So Damasio had an idea. He put Elliot in a chair, hooked him up to all these measuring devices, and then showed Elliot a series of really charged pictures.

 

Jonah Lehrer:

A severed foot, a naked woman, a house on fire. Pictures that in normal people trigger an automatic emotional response. You can't help it, but your blood pressure increases, your pulse increases, your hands start to sweat.

 

Jad Abumrad:

But with Elliot ...

 

Jonah Lehrer:

These pictures triggered nothing.

 

Jad Abumrad:

And that's when it became clear what had happened to Elliot, what his tumor had really done was cut him off from his emotional mind. He'd become, in effect ...

 

Jonah Lehrer:

Some kind of like Spock-like Vulcan. The conventional theory would be that a person without emotions would be perfectly rational. That emotions somehow interfered with rationality, that they got in the way. And yet, here was this guy who couldn't experience emotions and he was pathologically indecisive.

 

Robert Krulwich:

So then the answer to my question, my first question, wouldn't we all be better off if we could be completely rational? You now have the answer. It's no. When you've got all these options to consider and they're more or less the same, the only way to wheedle your way to a choice is to stop thinking and go with a feeling.

 

Jonah Lehrer:

Right. And so the logic of yes, no, yes, no, yes, no leaves you nowhere, but the feelings of yes, no, yes, no, that does lead you somewhere.

 

Dr. Antoine B.:

That's right.

 

Robert Krulwich:

Feeling, says Antoine Bechara, that's the key. Without feeling, you're stuck.

 

Jad Abumrad:

So what ended up happening to Elliot?

 

Dr. Antoine B.:

He ended up in a divorce, ended up losing his job, losing all his savings.

 

Jonah Lehrer:

He got involved with a con artist. He had to move back in with his parents. Elliot was stuck. His life fell apart.

 

Robert Krulwich:

Which makes you kind of reevaluate the Dr. Spock advantage, so called. Because if we really were keeping company with a flock of Spocks and we brought them to the grocery store, there they'd be, 55 Spocks staring at the Cheerios, staring at the honey nut, staring at the Cheerios.

 

Jad Abumrad:

Not to mention that they're divorced and broke.

 

Robert Krulwich:

So I mean, obviously we have some advantage over these Vulcans because we have these feelings that can push us to a solution. But what I still don't get is, is it just the roar of feeling that does it or is there something about having a feeling that's more subtle than that? Is there some ... what is the power of the feeling?

 

Jad Abumrad:

That's an interesting question. Let me walk this story in from a writer, Steven Johnson. So he's written a whole bunch of books. Emergence, Mind Wide Open. And he tells this story that ...

 

Robert Krulwich:

Can we press record?

 

Jad Abumrad:

Really gets at what you're asking.

 

Steven Johnson:

My wife and I had moved into this new wonderful apartment that overlooked the Hudson River on the West side of Manhattan. It had this vast window. It was one kind of window in this room, but it was huge. And we would sit there and stare out at the river all times of day. And at one point, the first summer we were there, the storm started to come in and they were to kind of build up over Jersey and come rolling in and we thought, "Oh, this is great. We can look at the white caps on it and see the lightning over Jersey City and all this stuff."

 

Steven Johnson:

And one late June day, we're sitting out there in our apartment, we can see the sky's getting darker and darker. And we immediately say to each other, "Wow, this is going to be a great show." So we both go over to the window and we're standing at the window, my wife literally with her hands pressed against the glass. And I'm standing right next to it, just to the side of it, kind of looking out. And a storm starts really kicking up. There's a lot of lightning. And you can see the window actually kind of flex just a tiny little bit, which-

 

Jad Abumrad:

Yeah, so you noticed this?

 

Steven Johnson:

Yeah, we noticed that there was a little bit of give. And a window that size, it has to have a little bit of give, otherwise it's not stable. So we could tell it was really windy. And there were a couple of pretty powerful gusts. And then all of a sudden, there's this very strange sharp kind of click sound. My wife instantly jumps back from the window, jumps back kind of four or five feet. And says, "What was that?" I say, being the incredibly perceptive person that I am, I say, "I'm pretty sure it was the study door slamming with the wind around the corner in the other part of the apartment." So she goes back around the corner to check on whether it was in fact the study door slamming. And at that moment, as I'm standing two inches from the frame and the window, the entire thing blows up. It makes an insane noise. It shatters glass. And all of a sudden, there's a 60 mile an hour storm like blowing through our apartment.

 

Steven Johnson:

So we both run into the bathroom and close the door. And all of a sudden, I suddenly think like, "Oh my God, you were standing in front of that window three seconds before. If I hadn't stupidly told you that I thought that clicking sound was the door slamming, that thing would've landed on you." I think it's entirely possible that it would have killed her.

 

Jad Abumrad:

Okay, so that happened. His wife, by the way, was fine. They installed a new window, they cleaned up the apartment.

 

Robert Krulwich:

They did? Because I am covered with imaginary glass. I mean, our sound effects are so unbelievably real.

 

Jad Abumrad:

Thank you very much. But what's illuminating and what gets at the question you asked is actually what happened next. It's the postscript to that event.

 

Steven Johnson:

For literally years, every time I heard the sound of wind blowing through a window in that apartment and really pretty much anywhere else, I had an involuntary fear reflex.

 

Jad Abumrad:

The sound of any wind or is it a specific kind of wind sound?

 

Steven Johnson:

It was the sound of wind associated with a window. So it's the ... I would go to my parents' house who live on the ground floor in a house in suburban Washington, but I would just hear wind kind of going through the window there and I would think, "Something's not right."

 

Jad Abumrad:

And this was not a rational feeling?

 

Steven Johnson:

It was certainly not a rational thought. I could look empirically and say, "It's 30 miles an hour, this wind. The window is clearly not going to blow in. It's not that big a window." And I'm standing nowhere near it.

 

Jad Abumrad:

But you still somehow couldn't shake the dread?

 

Steven Johnson:

I couldn't get rid of that feeling. And it's one of those moments where you really ask yourself, I think, "Who's in charge? You know, who's driving this ship?" Because some part of me is looking at this situation empirically and saying rationally, "This window is no threat to me. It's not going to blow in." And yet some other part of me is unable to shake this emotional state of dread and fear and alertness and threat.

 

Jad Abumrad:

All right, now to get back to your question, Robert, where do feelings come from?

 

Robert Krulwich:

Why do I say yes to wheat Chex with power?

 

Jad Abumrad:

Right. Well consider the story we just heard from the perspective of Steven Johnson's brain.

 

Robert Krulwich:

Okay.

 

Jad Abumrad:

So what a brain wants to do most of all is keep the organism safe, right? And it does that by looking for patterns. Like here's an explosion, wife almost died.

 

Steven Johnson:

I think it's entirely possible that it would have killed her.

 

Jad Abumrad:

In that moment, brain soaks it all in, takes kind of a snapshot. Like, "What have we got here?"

 

Steven Johnson:

Wind, window, glass, shock.

 

Jad Abumrad:

So that later, wind blows, brain thinks, "Wait a second."

 

Steven Johnson:

Wind, window, glass.

 

Jad Abumrad:

We've seen this before. Warn the organism.

 

Steven Johnson:

Be afraid, be afraid, be afraid.

 

Jad Abumrad:

My point is that feeling of dread ...

 

Steven Johnson:

Dread and fear and alertness and threat.

 

Jad Abumrad:

That's just an alarm signal. The brain is just trying to help Steve make the right decision. Okay, now to the cereal aisle.

 

Speaker 9:

I got cereals at home.

 

Jad Abumrad:

There you are, you're looking at all the boxes.

 

Robert Krulwich:

Cheerios, Captain Crunch.

 

Jad Abumrad:

And as your eyes fall on the Rice Krispie box ...

 

Robert Krulwich:

Rice Krispies, Rice Krispies.

 

Jad Abumrad:

Just like Steve Johnson with the wind, somewhere way deep down, your brain is calling up all the experiences you've ever had with Rice Krispies, the good Rice Krispie experiences, the bad ones. Maybe in college you got dumped by that girl who likes Rice Krispie treats. I don't know.

 

Robert Krulwich:

I remember her.

 

Jad Abumrad:

Thousands of little memory fragments down there roil about.

 

Robert Krulwich:

A lot of information.

 

Jad Abumrad:

Too much. Too what ends up happening is that it all gets summed, somehow, in your subconscious and then it bubbles up as a feeling.

 

Robert Krulwich:

Rice Krispies. All right.

 

Jad Abumrad:

So one way to look at a gut feeling is that it's a kind of shorthand average of all of this past wisdom.

 

Robert Krulwich:

So you have this tremendous [German 00:13:25] of feelings inside.

 

Jad Abumrad:

[German 00:13:27] Whoa, that's nice.

 

Robert Krulwich:

That's German. I can do a little German. But there is, say scientists, one feeling that humans have that seems to trump all the others, and that is the feeling of loss. People hate to lose.

 

Jad Abumrad:

You can actually put a number on it, how much they hate to lose versus winning.

 

Robert Krulwich:

And it's a really cool experiment that was done. It's been done everywhere, but our experiment will be done by National Public Radio's wonderful reporter, Mike Pesca.

 

Mike Pesca:

Are you a bit of a gambler or would you rather just keep your money and not risk it?

 

Speaker 13:

I mean, I wouldn't mind risking a few dollars, but I just don't want to go overboard. You know?

 

Mike Pesca:

Would you say you're a gambling woman? Do you like gambling?

 

Speaker 14:

No, I don't.

 

Speaker 15:

I don't really gamble.

 

Speaker 16:

I'm very cautious and finicky, whether it's eating or taking chances.

 

Speaker 17:

Yeah, the risk of losing something isn't worth the gambling of it, I guess.

 

Speaker 15:

I wouldn't take a risk, let's put it that way.

 

Mike Pesca:

If we were to play heads or tails, would you want to do it if you won, you won a dollar, but if I won, I won a dollar?

 

Speaker 18:

Probably not, no.

 

Speaker 19:

No. No, thanks.

 

Mike Pesca:

If you knew the game was on the up and up and I were to flip a coin and I said, "Oh look, I'll pay you $1.25 if you win, you only have to pay me a dollar."

 

Speaker 20:

No, I ain't doing it with you.

 

Speaker 21:

No.

 

Speaker 22:

I don't know. That just doesn't seem worth it.

 

Mike Pesca:

If I said, "Look, I'll give you a $1.50 and you only have to put up $1, would you do it then?"

 

Speaker 19:

No.

 

Speaker 23:

Not really. 50 cents is not worth ...

 

Mike Pesca:

What if I offered you a $1.75 if you won?

 

Speaker 18:

That's a possibility.

 

Speaker 24:

Maybe.

 

Mike Pesca:

Like at that point you maybe start thinking about it. Fine, I'll give you $2. You only have to put up $1. Would you be interested?

 

Speaker 18:

Sure, yeah.

 

Speaker 22:

I would do that. I would do that.

 

Speaker 19:

Yes, sure.

 

Jad Abumrad:

Wow. So everyone seems to converge around two bucks. Two to one?

 

Mike Pesca:

Yes.

 

Jad Abumrad:

So that means that like loss is twice is painful.

 

Mike Pesca:

Yeah. You could say loss hurts twice as much as gain feels good.

 

Jad Abumrad:

Why do you think that is?

 

Mike Pesca:

It must have something to do with when we were all running away from lions on the Savannah.

 

Jad Abumrad:

Yeah. It always seems to come back to that, doesn't it?

 

Mike Pesca:

I guess a wildebeest in the brush is worth a lion on the heels or something.

 

Jad Abumrad:

I don't know what that means. But were there any people that you talked to who went way past two to one?

 

Mike Pesca:

Sure. Okay. A hundred to one?

 

Speaker 19:

No.

 

Mike Pesca:

Come on. You're crazy. A hundred to one in a coin flip.

 

Speaker 19:

A hundred to one. Nope, no. I'm just not a gambler.

 

Mike Pesca:

Is this a religious thing?

 

Speaker 19:

Nope. I'm just not a gambler.

 

Jad Abumrad:

So here's the question to get us to our next thing. Given that human beings hate to lose, what do you do if your entire business is getting people to lose money?

 

Robert Krulwich:

You're talking about casinos, are you're not?

 

Jad Abumrad:

Indeed, I am.

 

Robert Krulwich:

We're going to Las Vegas, are we?

 

Jad Abumrad:

Atlantic City, yeah.

 

Robert Krulwich:

Atlantic City, then? All right.

 

Jad Abumrad:

Now normally what a casino will do, they will try to distract you with fountains of jellybeans and-

 

Robert Krulwich:

Greek statues that move.

 

Jad Abumrad:

But there's one casino in particular called Harrah's. It's a chain that doesn't do any of that.

 

Mike Pesca:

Yeah, they offer slots and they offer a blackjack, but there's no exploding volcano. There's no Picasso on the wall.

 

Jad Abumrad:

Yet, according to Mike ...

 

Mike Pesca:

Harrah's jumps out at you.

 

Jad Abumrad:

They are the success story in the casino base.

 

Mike Pesca:

And Gary Loveman has a lot to do with that.

 

Gary Loveman:

Any minute you're not drunk or depressed, I'd like you in the casino.

 

Mike Pesca:

He's the CEO of Harrah's casinos and he's developed a really brilliant technique for slaying the beast that is loss aversion.

 

Gary Loveman:

That's one way to put it.

 

Jad Abumrad:

What's his technique?

 

Mike Pesca:

Loyalty cards.

 

Robert Krulwich:

What's a loyalty card? What does that mean?

 

Jad Abumrad:

Well, basically, I mean, you know how back in the day if you wanted to play the slots, you just stuck a quarter in?

 

Robert Krulwich:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Jad Abumrad:

Can't do that anymore.

 

Mike Pesca:

Right. You're like, "I'd like to throw a quarter in the one armed bandit." Turns out there are no quarters. Okay, I'll slide a dollar bill in. Turns out before you have to do it, you have to sign up for a card. Well, why would I want to sign up for a card? Well, A, you have to. But B, the first time you play, we'll give you a couple extra dollars. Everyone wants to sign up for that card. It's free money.

 

Jad Abumrad:

Now, just to be clear, at Harrah's, it's actually not obligatory to sign up for this card, but most people do to get the rewards. And so there you are, you've got this little loyalty thing and you're sticking it in every slot or machine that you play. And that offers them certain ... Well, they've got this new pilot program where they basically watch every move you make. Check it out.

 

Mike Pesca:

Okay. Let's say you're playing the slots.

 

Jad Abumrad:

Okay.

 

Mike Pesca:

You stick your card in the slot machine.

 

Karen Massey:

All right. My card is in.

 

Mike Pesca:

At that very moment, the information is transmitted downstairs. In the case of this casino we were at, it goes downstairs, deep in the bowels of the casino.

 

Speaker 27:

I need to take a four to Julie.

 

Mike Pesca:

There's a dispatcher sitting there in front of a monitor. This computer sees that you've put your card into slot machine number 42. And the computer begins taking notes. Every game that you play, they're logging, adding, dividing, graphing, whatever.

 

Speaker 28:

Whatever.

 

Mike Pesca:

It's able to crunch those numbers. And over many visits, the casino begins to know you. They know your game is slots. They know you like to play for an average of six hours. And they know that generally, you have a limit, say $89.

 

Jad Abumrad:

Wow. They can know that I usually leave after losing 89 bucks?

 

Mike Pesca:

Yeah. And they know on this particular visit, you're not doing so well. You've lost more than you're winning. In fact, you've lost 72 bucks, which is really close to your personal limit.

 

Jad Abumrad:

And this is the crucial moment. You're starting to get that sinking feeling. And you might just pack it in.

 

Robert Krulwich:

And walk out of the casino?

 

Jad Abumrad:

Yes. The casino doesn't want you to do that.

 

Mike Pesca:

They want to keep you there. So-

 

Jad Abumrad:

As your losses are increasing from 72 to 77 to 85 and you're getting closer and closer to that point ...

 

Mike Pesca:

In a back room, there's a computer going off, a dispatcher seeing it.

 

Speaker 27:

Juliet 3703.

 

Mike Pesca:

The dispatcher knows to call the slot attendant up on the floor.

 

Speaker 27:

Tango Four Willie. I have a DCL1 at golf 1401 for Karen Massey.

 

Speaker 29:

Copy that. Willie. DCL1 for Karen Massey. Copy.

 

Mike Pesca:

And the slot attendant walks out, taps you on the shoulder.

 

Speaker 29:

Hello, how you doing, ma'am? Ms. Karen Massey?

 

Karen Massey:

Yes.

 

Speaker 29:

Everything going okay for you today?

 

Karen Massey:

I'm losing.

 

Gary Loveman:

Of course, we know that's the case because our systems allow us to monitor that.

 

Mike Pesca:

And so, the attendant offers you something you might like.

 

Gary Loveman:

To visit to the steak house and visit to our coffee shop.

 

Mike Pesca:

They could offer you tickets to a show, Celine Dion's playing the big room. Or they could just offer cold, hard cash.

 

Speaker 29:

You won some money today just by playing with your card, your lucky reward card.

 

Karen Massey:

Oh really?

 

Speaker 29:

I got $15 DCL1 for you. Will you accept it?

 

Karen Massey:

Yeah, sure.

 

Speaker 29:

All right, all right.

 

Mike Pesca:

And all of a sudden, you're happy that you won 15 bucks. You're not fixated on the fact that you've lost 72. And so you come back again and again and again.

 

Speaker 30:

I think it's great. It's something to do.

 

Speaker 31:

I'm always on board.

 

Speaker 32:

I lose $300 all the time.

 

Speaker 30:

But finger boys don't know how much.

 

Jad Abumrad:

Now here is the amazing part.

 

Mike Pesca:

For all the different thousands of people who come through the doors of Harrah's casinos, they could figure out their own individual pain points.

 

Jad Abumrad:

So you're telling me that if you walk into a casino, I walk in right after you, Robert Krulwich right after us, and we do that enough times, after awhile they can know that you like to gamble until you're about $700 down. Me, I usually leave around 11 bucks.

 

Mike Pesca:

And moneybags Krolwich over there ...

 

Jad Abumrad:

Moneybags Krolwich usually holds out until he's four grand in the hole. And they can know that about each of us?

 

Mike Pesca:

Yeah, they can.

 

Jad Abumrad:

What do you think about this? This strikes you as a good business proposition or does it strike you as a creepy example of big brother-ism?

 

Mike Pesca:

Obviously this works out well for Harrah's. So does it work out well for me, you, and Robert Krolwich? I think it does.

 

Jad Abumrad:

What do you mean?

 

Mike Pesca:

Well, they can't ever change the odds. So when we go into a casino, by state law, they'll never be able to change the odds of the game. All that Harrah's can do is kind of manage the feeling that we get.

 

Gary Loveman:

They leave a lot happier than if they had simply had a bad gaming experience, put their wallet back in their pocket, and gone home unhappy.

 

Mike Pesca:

And everything about going to a casino is a poor decision, an irrational decision. And if there was a way they can make me walking out of there feeling like 1 million bucks when I spent 2 million, well then, I say more power to them.

 

Gary Loveman:

And I would add, of course, that almost any business could try something similar, assuming they had appealing sorts of things to do for customers that had bad experiences.

 

Jad Abumrad:

What's your pain point, by the way?

 

Mike Pesca:

You know what it is? If I'm down 300 bucks, I'm really pissed off. I'm not going to get there.

 

Jad Abumrad:

Yeah.

 

Mike Pesca:

There's only one thing that would keep me at the table.

 

Jad Abumrad:

What's that?

 

Mike Pesca:

Celine Dion. Not tickets for a concert, if she was actually in the game. She's a terrible poker player, what we call dead money.

 

Jad Abumrad:

Thanks Mike.

 

Robert Krulwich:

We'll be back in a moment.

 

Jad Abumrad:

Hey, by the way, Mike works at NPR News. Thank you to them for letting us borrow him.

 

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