The Machine Zone

My wife and I have been known, on occasion, to play video poker for many hours at a time. While we like hitting a Royal Flush as much as the next addicts, playing video poker is really about achieving a sort of hypnotic, rhythmic relaxation. The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal describes it well: “What is the machine zone? It’s a rhythm. It’s a response to a fine-tuned feedback loop. It’s a powerful space-time distortion. You hit a button. Something happens. You hit it again. Something similar, but not exactly the same happens. Maybe you win, maybe you don’t. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. It’s the pleasure of the repeat, the security of the loop.” This sensation probably sounds familiar to you even if you’ve never had the pleasure of playing video poker. “This is where you go when you just can’t stop looking at pictures on Facebook.” So gambling is is basically Facebook without the friends. No wonder it’s so popular.

+ Why we keep playing the lottery.

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