Secret Strategy

My wife and I work late on Tuesday and Thursday nights, so we go out to eat at nearby restaurants. This semester, we decided to meet at Broadway Diner on Tuesday nights and Johnny’s on Thursdays. Johnny’s underwent remodeling this semester and along with the new decor, the restaurant introduced a trivia game on Thursday nights. So, since we were there, we started playing. Our team is the Silly Professors.

The DJ, Marshall, asks twenty trivia questions and plays songs while we think about our guesses. We get extra points if we guess the songs’ artists.

We do okay. We average about 80 points before the bonus round. This means we get about 7-8 questions and 4-5 songs right each night. We know or guess about one third of the answers. In the bonus round, we can wager from one to all of our points. We have to get three out of four questions right to win the wager. Now one team, with eight players, usually wins with a total after the bonus round of about 180 points. We have been in first place, second place and third place a couple of times each. We were out of the money once or twice. When I say out of the money, I mean that literally since first place gets a $30 gift card, second wins $20, and third gets $10. Yes, we’ve been eating for free. What’s our secret? It’s not our profound knowledge of trivia. It’s our wager for the bonus round. We bet next to nothing just about every time. Most all of the other teams like to take a big risk and bet it all for the total victory. We like to eat for free, so unless the category, which Marshall tells us up front, is about a topic we know about and can remember (which is another story), we trust that the law of averages correctly predicts that we won’t get three out of four bonus questions right. We often get two questions right, but rarely get three. We know and understand our limitations. Yes, our low wager is not as exciting as making a big bet and ending up in first place, but our conservative bet pays the bills.

In life, we need know when to gamble and when to be conservative. Playing a game at a restaurant is trivial, but in important relationships too many people gamble when they should be conservative. We need to play the game of life with an eye for good long-term results, not the potential pleasure of the moment. We will win more than we’ll lose when we understand our own strengths and weaknesses, pay attention to our track record, and avoid putting everything we have built up at risk.

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