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Let's Go Buy Some LuckPublished September 2, 2008
Businessmen in India have found a new way to make money: they hire gamblers to win it for them. Is this a good investment, or are these gamblers just taking the wealthy for a ride?
India, with its booming population, fairly high levels of literacy and education, and rapidly expanding middle class, is the great beneficiary of the western world's outsourcing, a trend made possible by the internet's revolution in communications. A lot of Indian businessmen have gotten very rich providing white collar labour to the US and Western Europe. And now, like the rich always do, they're looking for a good investment.
Some of them think they've found it. They're hiring jockeys. No, not horse jockeys (although they will invest in racehorses); they're hiring gambling jockeys. These are professional gamblers, folks who make their living at card tables, by knowing when to hold ‘em and knowing when to fold ‘em.
In Hindi culture, games of chance are not frowned upon, but as in the West, they do require more than just luck. A good gambler needs to know how read faces, how to follow the game, and how to calculate (or at least intuit) the odds in his head, on his feet. Professional gamblers in Gujarat State have begun hiring themselves out to wealthy businessmen, especially the nouveau riche, who are looking for an investment.
Terms and conditions
The gamblers ask that the patron provide the initial stake and additional chips when necessary. In return, the "investor" gets to keep 80% to 90% of the gambler's profits. If he loses, he loses. The patron is out the stake, and the gambler is out nothing (although if he loses too many times, he may have trouble finding backers).
Win and win
In some ways, it's not a bad deal for either party. The gambler can play without personal exposure, and if he's good, he'll earn some daily bread. The investor buys himself a better chance at the games. From the investor's point of view, win or lose, it's a winning proposition.
So here's the question: would you invest your money in a gambler?