“[…] My father used to religiously record the Play Whe results until my inquisitiveness caused him to give way, and he reassigned the task to me. It was a good bonding opportunity for us, and I became his diligent understudy, scribe, and good luck charm.
“[…] To my delight, he believed that if I was with him when he placed his bets, he was more likely to win…”
The following Letter to the Editor on Trinidad and Tobago’s supposed relationship with Play Whe was submitted to Wired868 by Alana Abdool:
Trinis are notorious for their unreliability. In this regard, they are dubiously consistent. But if a Trini could be depended upon for one thing, it would be to be superstitious.
Superstitious beliefs come about due to a belief in fate, luck, chance, or magic. The fact that so many Trinis are superstitious is probably the reason why Play Whe has such widespread appeal, quite unlike standard casino games.
We believe that Play Whe is not about random luck. Winning is predicated on our knowledge of local symbolism, dreams, gut instinct, “signs” and notable news events. I believe that this superstitious culture is the reason Play Whe became both iconic and successful.
Casinos bank on the certainty offered by models of probability. It is why they are profitable. Casinos make a profit by paying out winnings that are lower than the odds, or chances, that would make a game break even.
I saw the debate over “errors” in the recent Play Whe draw and speculated about the thinking that went into the models of “how de mark buss” in Play Whe would work so that the NLCB stays profitable. Albeit my first considerations should have been the premature appearance of red and white balls during the live draw, and the odds of them matching the results exactly.
Trinis are influenced by superstitions and local events when placing their bets; their choices are not random. While I don’t believe in Play Whe superstitions, I used to—and more so in luck and chance.
Fate and magic had little place in my cultural upbringing, so they were never major factors in directing my thinking. I relied on the community to educate me on the signs that would bring good luck or bad luck and the symbolism in objects and events.
Beyond their superstitious ideas, when they acknowledged them, they believed even God could send signs about what mark to play in Play Whe.
My father used to religiously record the Play Whe results until my inquisitiveness caused him to give way, and he reassigned the task to me. It was a good bonding opportunity for us, and I became his diligent understudy, scribe, and good luck charm. Recording the daily results was simple, but only he could analyze the Play Whe results to create the Play Whe chart and call the shots on which numbers to bet.
I trusted the process because I didn’t yet have the scientific repertoire to evaluate his Play Whe chart systematically.
Using a combination of a Play Whe chart with carefully determined geometric patterns of numbers and gut instinct about local events, he enjoyed incredulously unexplainable winning streaks. Even more uncharacteristically—but to my delight—he believed that if I was with him when he placed his bets, he was more likely to win.
I believed in this affirmation of my luckiness until I realized it only worked for my father and not my mother. The conviction he had about my luckiness was, in fact, only due to chance.
I became certain it had nothing to do with me after I saw my mother place one particularly unlucky and hilarious bet. Out of sheer disbelief and frustration over my father’s winning streak compared to her own, my mother—when the pay-off was 24:1—bet $1.00 on each of 22 different marks and still lost.
These are examples of the dynamics that influence individual behavior. It is only a consideration of the populace of Play Whe players that could direct the NLCB’s models.
One person can be influenced to play “Dead Man” because of the morbid undertones of a dream. But this is significantly different from many people who are more inclined to play “Jamette” because of a raunchy report of political debauchery.
Play Whe is emblematic of Trini superstitions, and after the fiasco of Play Whe “errors” is over, I hope the originality of the game is still around.