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Dude, Don’t Harsh My Feng Shui

A Taiwanese man, after losing 2 million dollars to a Vegas casino, is demanding his money back because, he claims, the casino deliberately gave him bad feng shui. Yes, that is the kind of world we are living in.

Yuan was happy with his Feng Shui when we was winning $400,000, but then his luck turned and eventually he lost his winnings plus 2 million more. Now it is reported:

…the Venetian dug a one-metre (40-inch) square hole on the wall of the presidential suite he was staying in April last year and covered it with a black cloth, said Apple Daily.

The casino also put two white towels in front of Yuan’s suite and turned on two large fans facing his room without notifying him, it said.

Those bastards!

I wonder why Yuan continued gambling even after he noticed this alleged Feng Shui sabotage. He must have noticed it’s dark effect long before he racked up 2 million dollars in debt to the Venetian. I guess 1 million dollars wasn’t enough to convince him that the dark arts were being employed.

Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese art of using decorating – the arrangement of objects and furniture – to align one’s physical space with nature. The most benign interpretation of Feng Shui is purely aesthetic – essentially it is better to surround oneself with beauty than ugliness. However, many use Feng Shui as a form of magic, to actually control the flow of mystical forces (such as luck, health, and fortune).  Clearly it is this latter form than Yuan believes has been used against him.

Of course, the notion that having white towels placed outside one’s hotel room could actually affect the roll of the dice at a craps table is pure magical thinking – childish and primitive. I do wonder, however, if the casino did in fact arrange for bad feng shui for it’s high rollers. We shouldn’t assume that they didn’t, and I could not find any denial or statement by the casino. I would not assume that casino owners were beyong believing in feng shui, or wanting to tip the odds in their favor “just in case”.

This, of course, would not justify letting Yuan off of his 2 million dollar debt to the casino (that’s right, he left Nevada while still owing the casino 2 million bucks).  The Venetian has offered to refund Yuan 100,000 dollars in cash and another 100,000 in chips, without offering any explanation or admission. This seems like typical casino PR – anything to get high rollers who can stand to lose millions of dollars back in the doors.

I further wonder if casino’s will in the future make assurances to customers that no feng shui is being used to adversely affect their luck. Positive feng shui may even be used as a marketing strategy. I seriously doubt any casino will defend themselves by pointing out that feng shui is primitive magic with no basis in reality. Casino’s thrive on the notion of luck, and they would never dare attack their patron saint – lady luck.

Casinos want their customers to believe in magic. They want them to think that they can use the magic of “luck” to beat the odds. What they absolutely abhor is critical thinking, which leads innevitably to the conclusion that gambling beyond one’s means or in the hopes of actually making money is a fool’s endeavor. Gambling for entertainment is different, in my opinion, as long as you think the entertainment value is worth the money you are putting in jeopardy.

Casino’s don’t want just “entertainment gambling” – they want people to gamble more than they really can afford because they harbor a magical belief that their luck will defy the odds.

In my opinion Yuan is an ass and a welcher who should be made to pay his gambling debts. However, it is a strange form of justice that a casino is being bitten by the same kind of magical thinking upon which the industry is largely based.

3 comments to Dude, Don’t Harsh My Feng Shui

  • The Blind Watchmaker

    Now I know why I used to lose poker games in college. The mirror in my dorm room was bouncing the chi right out into the hall. I also didn’t have enough bamboo or electric water falls.

    Doooughhh!

  • DLC

    Hm… well now, this reminds me of the time a fellow asked me if I believed in luck.
    My answer did not satisfy him, but here it is:
    I do believe in random chance. However, I do not believe that anyone is affected more by random chance than anyone else. And yet, there are always stories of people who win the lottery on Monday and get hit by lightning on Tuesday, or some other outrageously improbable events.

  • Just 2 quick comments to the SGU podcast on this subject: The Yuan I know pronounces the name pretty much like the Spanish, “Juan”, not “Yoon” as it was pronounced in the SGU.

    Also, my chinese friend told me that though the name Yuan and the currency Yuan are spelled the same in English, they are actually different words in Chinese. I’m sure that some people probably name their kids Yuan because it sounds like the currency, but it’s a different word.

    I’m 100% not Chinese though, so somebody with better knowledge may have more info.

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