Playing the Odds

By Amy E. Bean Napier

After spending a week in Las Vegas, watching many people throwing a lot of money at slot machines and gaming tables trying to beat the odds and go home winners, it really made me think more about the odds of winning at anything, whether in Vegas, home or at work!

Per www.dictionary.com, the top three uses of the word odds is defined as:
noun, ( usually used with a plural verb)
1.  the probability that something is so, will occur, or is more likely to occur than something else:
The odds are that it will rain today.
2. the ratio of probability that something is so, will occur, or is more likely to occur than something else.
3.  this ratio used as the basis of a bet; the ratio by which the bet of one party to a wager exceeds that of the other, granted by one of two betting opponents to equalize the chances favoring one of them:   The odds are two-to-one that it won’t rain today.
(plus 4 more definitions)

In my job in association management, we play the odds quite often with membership, meetings, products and services.  As we plan meetings and conferences, develop new membership benefits and create new products, we are basically betting that our members will play along and embrace what we are offering.

My gambling preference while in Vegas is always slot machines.  They are fun and exciting with all the lights and noises.  And you don’t have to think to play a slot machine, just put in money, push a button (or pull the handle if you are old school like me) and cross your fingers the machine will start singing!  Plus it’s relatively inexpensive to play on slot machines!

Per www.wizardofodds.com, slot machines work like this:
Whether you’re playing a 3-reel single-line game or a 5-reel 25-line game, the outcome of every bet is ultimately determined by random numbers. The game will choose one random number for each reel, map that number onto a position on the reel, stop the reel in the appointed place, and score whatever the outcome is. In other words, the outcome is predestined the moment you press the button; the rest is just for show. There are no hot and cold cycles; your odds are the same for every spin on a given machine.

400 Slot Win 7s$400 win on one spin!

Planning an association conference (or other association services) works a lot like a slot machine.  There are a lot of “numbers” involved in the planning process including dates, location, speakers, topics, prices, etc.  The attendees will choose whether or not to attend based on how they view the content (i.e. numbers or lines) and the return on investment (i.e. odds of winning).

Basically the odds of winning “big” on a slot machine in Vegas aren’t great.  The following table shows the casino win for Clark County Nevada (where Las Vegas is) for all slots for calendar year 2012:

clarkcounty

The odds of winning in associations are just about the same.  Sometimes you hit the jackpot and have a very successful membership plan (recruiting more new members and retaining most existing members) or conference (more participation by attendees, exhibitors and sponsors resulting in more revenue), etc.  And sometimes you don’t do as well as you had hoped.  But you always strive to win by planning ahead and doing everything possible (including following successful tips of the trade) to ensure a positive outcome.

I found myself following these same guidelines on the slots in Vegas.  Some friends, who are also successful in Vegas, helped to educate me on some important tricks and tips on how to win more on slots including be loyal to one game and venue, join the player club, play higher stakes (The higher the denomination, the better the odds. For that reason, it is better to play one coin per line on a 5-cent game than five coins per line on a 1-cent game. – www.wizardofodds.com) and don’t look up (this one is specific to the Wheel of Fortune slot machine when you are spinning the wheel)! Thanks to R.J. and Dawn’s great tips, we cleared over $1500 in winnings this trip!

1600 Spin$1600 win for the expert players!

Not looking up may not be the best tip for association management as you never know what might be coming down towards you in the exhibit hall.  But being loyal to your association and members, joining their industry “club” and being in the know about what they need and are experiencing helps to ensure more wins for the association almost every time.  Try playing higher stakes with your association to get better benefits, more services and more engaging speakers.  But also remember that successful association management and meetings are not all luck.  By seeking out relevant information and employing hard work and best practices you can greatly improve your odds of success

So play the odds in everything you do.  Help your odds by listening to the tips of those experts in your work and home life that have been there and know more about it.  And don’t hesitate to gamble on the outcome.  You just might come out a winner!

AmyBeanNapierBioCurious about the paw print? Go ahead and click on it to see more.

 

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