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Slots: Praying to the God of Chance [Kindle Edition]

David V. Forrest
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

This astonishing book reveals that there’s a lot more to playing slot machines—one of America’s fastest growing forms of entertainment—than good fun, deep relaxation and the dream of a multi-million-dollar jackpot. Slots tells how the machines work, how the random numbers that govern them are generated, and how the casinos make their profit . . . slowly but surely . . . as they keep only a dime of every dollar invested. It also offers strategies of slot play, and suggests alternate activities to distract us when casinos become harmfully habitual.

But ultimately, as Dr. Forrest writes, to spend one’s time feeding money to the machines is to participate in, well . . . a form of prayer. And the gaming industry seems very much aware of it, as players annually plunge more than $365-billion into slots (of which casinos keep about $30-billion); and as casinos—70 to 85 percent of whose profits are earned by slot machines—have spread to more than a dozen states and even into a number of racetracks (where they’re called “racinos”). 
What this book describes with both humor and a sense of awe is the way slots emporia have steadily been transformed from underground grottos to soaring cathedral-like structures where congregants sit and commune—all to the end of worshipping the god of chance.

Editorial Reviews


“In David Forrest’s vision, the slot machine becomes a trope for the transcendence of desire.” —Harold Bloom, Sterling Professor of English, Yale University, and author of The American Religion

“Linking his own personal insights as a slots player with the latest research on the biological basis and cultural underpinnings of gambling, Dr. Forrest has written a must-read guide to understanding the lure of slot machines, and their unexpected utility in today's complex world.  His immense erudition is well complemented by an easy approachability that is apparent on every page. And Slots is more than just an academic meditation on the vagaries of chance; Dr. Forrest imparts clever practical advice to players, including how to recognize when their playing is becoming unhealthy, as well as ‘slot substitutes’ that can replace excessive play. Slots is a jackpot of a book.” David G. Schwartz, Director, Center for Gaming Research, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
“Dr. Forrest's Slotsvividly and insightfully evokes the astonishing religio-spiritual world of slot machine gambling. As a psychiatrist who has also studied gambling, I am deeply impressed by Dr. Forrest's brilliant descriptions of this most fascinating phenomenon. His book will be most useful to clinicians who treat compulsive gamblers, as well as offer exciting reading for the millions of enthusiasts who have fallen under the spell of slot machines.” —Raymond Moody MD, PhD, and author of the international bestseller Life After Life

About the Author

A native New Yorker, David V. Forrest, M.D., studied criticism at Princeton University and received his medical, psychiatric, and psychoanalytic training at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, where he is now clinical professor of psychiatry. He was chief of the largest U.S. Army psychiatric clinic in Vietnam at the peak of American involvement there and received the Bronze Star. He is a past president of the American College of Psychoanalysts and the New York Clinical Society, and is a fellow of the Explorers Club.
In addition to writing hundreds of scholarly articles on psychiatry, neuropsychiatry, applied psychoanalysis, literary analysis, anthropology, and artificial mind, he has coauthored an educational videotape series, was a consultant to the television show Star Trek, and has created a slang dictionary for foreign doctors. He lives in New York City with his wife, Lynne Stetson. They have two grown children.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1178 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Delphinium Books (January 3, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005XE5AWG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #317,741 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slots: Praying to the God of Chance January 5, 2012
By Sunny
Format:Kindle Edition
This was a fascinating book - much more than a how to beat the system book. I enjoyed the background information about the machines and the casinos. The comparison of casinos to cathedrals and gamblers to congregants was a particularly interesting take on gambling. It's great to have an expert show the behind-the-scenes elements of both slot machines and why we enjoy them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spot on !! February 10, 2012
By Asfor
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was very impressed with Dr. Forrest's knowledge of the Asian psyche and particularly how it affects our interest in gambling and particularly in playing slot machines. I would heartily recommend reading this book if you want to learn more about yourself and how the casinos have patterned their gaming to attract and keep you in their clutches.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's a Gamble of a Read April 19, 2012
I was lured to SLOTS in much the same way that habitual slot players are drawn to a particular slot machine: by the promise of possible fortune. A few times a year I play slot machines and when I first heard about the book, I decided to read it based upon this one statement in the promotional literature, "It also offers strategies of slot play." I figured that if I could get a few tips of how to play a slot machine better, then that would be great. Unfortunately, SLOTS doesn't really offer many strategies of slot play. The few that it does, such as don't drink alcohol while playing, are common sense.

SLOTS is divided into two sections: "The Why of Slot Machines" and "Rethinking Your Slot Play." The first section is a thorough examination of the author's main thesis that slot playing has become a new religion for many people (although it is an unconscious choice by most). The author goes into great detail describing casinos around the world and how they resemble temples and churches. In some cases, casinos have been designed around the architecture of old cathedrals. This section also examines how a slot machine actually works as well as providing a brief history of slot play.

The second section, offers a few tips about how to play slot machines. However, it's mostly a lecture on why people should play slots, essays on the mental and psychological disorders that can affect, suggestions on what people should do instead of playing slot machines, an examination of the different people who play slot machines, and predictions on the future of slot play.

I was disappointed by SLOTS. The book is a quick read, but other than a few trivial tidbits, I really didn't learn anything from it and found it dull and dry.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a gamble; quite a fun read January 6, 2012
I was fascinated by the author's take on this strange world. How slot machines literally mesmerize us. How casinos have become temples. Why slots are so popular. He doesn't defend or deny; with a very accessible, smooth style, he just explains for our enjoyment the psychological and sometimes physiological appeals of gambling. Any reader interested in the state of America, about human nature, and about such a big business will love this book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slots of Luck January 12, 2012
Amazon has categorized Slots: Praying to the God of Chance as a book about psychology, puzzles and games, and social sciences. They could just as easily have tagged it philosophy, essays, social history, or gambling studies. It may be difficult to categorize, but it's very easy to read and get caught up in.

David Forrest, a psychiatrist, has spent a lot of time over the years playing slots, and more time observing other people playing slots, and talking to people about slots. He discusses the history of slot machines, how they work, the math of slot machines, the variety of slot machines, how they are regulated and operated, and what their place in today's casinos is. If you find any of these slot topics uninteresting, before you know it, Forrest is off on another slot-related tangent.

Forrest manages to pack a lot of material into this short book. His main idea is that playing slots is, for many people, a form of prayer. The meditative rhythm of playing is in direct contrast to most games of chance in which players compete and make decisions on which cards to play or which teams to bet on. He finds slot players non-competitive - they even celebrate other peoples' wins. And there are no strategies in slots, you just watch the wheels go around and eventually maybe they'll line up in a winning combination.

From this intriguing, but unconvincing argument (I find it hard to believe that many people find playing slots a zen-like experience - the greed factor is hard to overlook), Forrest outlines the addictive nature of slot play and explains how to tell if you are at risk, and how to avoid becoming addicted (this involves examining what it is about slot play you find irresistible and replacing slots with an appropriate substitute such as bird watching or knitting).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slots: Praying to the God of Chance April 13, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book. I found the comparison to church and gambling interesting. The descriptions of the various casino's the author visited is interesting and it made me hope to visit them at some point. I have not traveled the world but visiting casino's maybe fun to do while on vacation at various destinations. So many senior citizens do go on trips to casino's with their church groups and friends. I do know a few seniors that frequent the casino's alot and do not have close relations with their children. The personality types -- I pretty much fit into one category. I think this book is helpful as slots are becoming so mainstreamed into society and accessible. I must confess shortly after reading this book I took a ride to Atlantic City for lunch and played the slots. Thank you. :)
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