A Jungian Look at the Sucker

“W.C. Fields once said, ‘Never give a sucker an even break.’ Most people hear that and think it’s just some conman credo, a self-serving ethic of opportunism. They believe you ought to go easy on the innocents and the naïve. Hold their finger to the fire, but don’t burn it. But after 70 years of life as a gambler, I’ll tell you what I’ve learned. It’s immoral to let a sucker keep his money.*

“Gambling ain’t for sissies. It’s not for the wide-eyed folks who think it’s just a game of chance and luck. They go to a casino looking for some novelty. They got some dough to play around with; they think they got some money to lose. I say, help them lose it. You know why? Because the first rule of gambling, and life for that matter, is that you’ve never got money to lose. Money is like time and energy, like life itself. It’s not a plaything, a toy. It’s not expendable. There’s a reason why the fool and his money are soon parted: money is better off in the hands of those who know its value.

“Sure, you wear kid gloves when you’re playing with kids. Children are innocent and naïve by nature. They’re learning the basics of life so you take them by the hand. But an adult, well now that’s another matter. A man wants to take a seat at the poker table, you treat him like a man. Nature don’t cut no breaks to those who should know better. It don’t remind the winter traveler to pack some gloves and a coat, or the fisherman to bring his life jacket.

“You see, the real thing about being a sucker is being unconscious. Sure, we’re all ignorant of some things. But life don’t have a lot of mercy for people that are ignorant about things they shouldn’t be ignorant of. I call it negligent ignorance. Go easy on the sucker and you just enable him in his ignorance. Or, better yet, at the end of the night, when he walks away with all your money, it will dawn on you that the real sucker wasn’t him. It was you.

“I’ve learned two rules through gambling that have helped me a lot in life. The first is that life don’t support unconsciousness; and it don’t support those who collude with unconsciousness. The second is that the unconscious and the innocent are rarely as unconscious and innocent as you might think. Being unconscious is a bet that some people have made with life. And, rest assured, they’re betting it will pay off big time with you.”

*  “It’s immoral to let a sucker keep his money” is a quote from the movie Rounders. This is an excellent film is about a man whose destiny was to become a gambler.

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