A new direction

Recent Texas Hold 'Em earnings graph showing profit over 5000 hands
Recent Texas Hold ‘Em earnings graph showing profit over 5000 hands

This website has taken a new direction in recent months. While I occasionally write about atheism, separation of church and state, philosophy, and activism, I have been releasing videos in the new category of gambling atop this website – primarily in the areas of Jacks or Better video poker and No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em.

Followers of my work have generally been supportive of my gambling-related content, but some — friends and foes alike — hold various misconceptions about me and my approach to gambling.

Opinions range from me being a degenerate gambler — someone who isn’t playing skillfully and only when holding an advantage — to my gambling being a hopeless pursuit which will only end in bankruptcy or a serious financial loss.

My interest in gambling started with taking advantage of promotions on ReferLocal.com offered in conjunction with the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs casino. The deals, as I have explained in previous videos, when coupled with accurate video poker play and credit card rewards, allow for me and my friends to — in the long-run — eat and drink at a close to 97% discount with very little risk involved.

While I will not be ahead after every individual video poker session, and will not break even in the long-term [I will statistically lose 3% of the money I play with], I am content with eating and drinking, while having fun with friends and family, at an effective 97% discount – spending far less money than those who pay full price or close to it at bars and restaurants.

Since video poker is a game of skill, much unlike slot machines which typically only offer an 85% long-term return [as losing games for players], and I have ‘done my homework,’ I am confident in my play and have been doing really well in the close to two years I have been playing at a high level. I don’t put money in machines when I lack an edge. I only play in conjunction with deals offering food and drink in addition to play…which is well worth the lost 3% over the long term.

ReferLocal certificates usable for food within Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs
ReferLocal certificates usable for food within Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs

More recently, starting in December of 2013, I started to play and learn No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em lamenting the lack of good East Coast casino promotions outside of the ReferLocal deals.

No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em continues to challenge me three months after beginning play. I have a great deal of fun in the process of making money at lower stakes, with hope to advance to higher stakes with more experience and skill, and learn so much.

Throughout my life — whether it was playing Super Nintendo games, World of Warcraft in top 100 United States guilds, playing and hosting Dungeons and Dragons games, or Scrabble — I have enjoyed gaming and competition with an urge to excel and outperform, but never before have I earned money through play.

Texas Hold ‘Em offers a unique opportunity for me to have fun while being competitive, stimulating my intellect, learning, and earning money. While luck is a small factor, in the long-run skill prevails and allows those with skill to profit [play while knowing very little about the game and see how much skill is needed to profit]. I am not a degenerate gambler, but rather am someone who takes calculated risk which offers a long-term profit – much different than those who gamble ‘for fun’ with hopes of chasing long-shot jackpots in negative expectation games.

At the moment, I am taking a break from the typical activity on this website and will instead be focusing on releasing videos, writing about gambling, and occasionally chiming in on issues in the categories of atheism, philosophy, activism, and separation of church and state.

20130822_182540Hopefully you will enjoy the new content and will understand why I am pursuing other interests – especially when a ‘community’ or ‘movement’ I once so enjoyed is tainted – particularly by a toxic brand of feminism and organizations which continue to enable people ruining the ‘community’ or ‘movement.’

I’ve written at great length about problems with feminism — particularly its manifestions in the atheist ‘community’ and ‘movement’ — and don’t find much reason to continue deconstructing the hypocrisy and fallacious claims. I think there is still hope in the atheist ‘community’ and ‘movement,’ but I am not too optimistic. As the Epica song “Living a Lie” says, “Hope is a desert running dry.”

I still hope, though, to engage in local activism and speaking engagements when opportunities arise. 2013 was quite a year for activism. Regardless, it’s good to cultivate new interests and not become burned out with the same content and interests.

Justin Vacula

Justin Vacula hosts the Stoic Philosophy Podcast; serves as co-organizer and spokesperson for the Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA) Freethought Society; and has hosted monthly Stoic Philosophy discussion groups for the Humanist Association of Greater Philadelphia. He has appeared on and hosted various radio shows and podcasts; participated in formal debates and discussions; was a guest speaker for college-level courses; was featured in local, national, and international news; and has been invited to speak at various national, local, and statewide events. Vacula received bachelor's degrees in Philosophy and Psychology, a minor in Professional Writing, and the distinguished W.A. Kilburn Memorial Award for Philosophy from King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He is currently living in the Scranton, PA area attending Marywood University's graduate-level Mental Health Counseling program and has worked with the Arc of Luzerne County's Transition to Community Employment program as a teacher's assistant and job coach alongside adult learners with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He also plays poker; volunteers as a member of the website and media team for the Greyhawk Reborn Dungeons & Dragons campaign while playing at events in the Eastern United States; and enjoys metal music.

  • Best wishes on the new direction! There’s no reason to limit oneself to any one thing, and burnout’s a bitch. I do hope that, as you said, you will still post on atheism/secularism/skepticism, etc when you feel the inspiration or see the need. Don’t let ideologues get you down, their influence is not all-encompassing. Such things were bound to happen, and I’m actually surprised at how much actual backlash there has been against ideologues, given how “progressive” the whole scene was to start with. They don’t run the whole show in secularist/skeptic/atheist circles, nor near as much as they might like.

    But again, enjoy the new interests. There is nothing wrong or illogical at all with reasonable, disciplined gambling, paying a small amount for a lot of “free” stuff and entertainment….no doubt all the exposure to skepticism and critical thinking helps with your gambling choices, too!

    • Indeed. Skepticism should be globally applied and can be applied to gambling – challenging popular notions and explaining fallacious reasoning.

  • rg57

    Again, (perhaps due to sites like the one you reference) you are using an incorrect definition of the word “return”. If people have 85% of the money they started with after playing the slots over the long term, then the return is -15%, not +85%. It’s net money going away, and that’s negative.

    • I understand the distinction. When I use return I am talking about the expected bankroll following play; when I say 85% return I mean that, over the long-term, one can expect to have 85% of money wagered. Maybe it would be more clear to express in terms of wins or loses like -15% or +x. Thanks!

  • Joma

    It is always good to have new interests and to evolve and develop as a person. I support your new interests and direction.

  • I hear you Jason. Atheism has already moved on. The girls of the American Girlyban have been mocked and marginalized. Enjoy.