Using stereotypes to say “women are this way and men are that way” in today’s political climate is a formula guaranteed to generate multiple negative comments. Rightfully so. There is very little interesting where you can say that every female (or every male) is a certain way. There are always exceptions.
With that said, there are also tendencies that appear to be there. A tendency doesn’t mean a certainty. For example, I can correctly say that in general men tend to be taller than women. And that’s true on average — but we recognize there are some taller and shorter examples of each sex.
What brings this up is something that happened to a friend of mine, Reuben, who is also a competent video poker professional. He was playing at a casino whose name he doesn’t want me to publish, and playing a game that is still around. He said that if I wrote about it, I could call it $5 Multi Strike — just to give it a name — but in fact it was a different game.
He was playing two machines at a time — which happened to be the only two $5 Multi Strike machines in the casino. He believed that the game plus the slot club plus whatever promotions were going on gave him enough of an advantage to justify him being there.
He rarely played two machines at a time. It often announces “I am a pro” to a casino which tends to reduce your longevity there. But in this particular casino, he had run unlucky and to date was a big loser — even though he had always played games with positive EV. Since he figured this casino wouldn’t make him as a pro, he could play more aggressively than he otherwise would.
After playing a while, a woman he had never seen before came up and asked if these were the only two high-denom Multi Strike machines in the casino. Instead of his usual “I don’t know,” which is generally the smart answer in cases like this, he told her that yes, he believed they were.
The woman then asked, “How long do you intend to play?” Reuben said he hadn’t really decided yet. It depended on how much he lost and how quickly. Which was nonsense, of course. Reuben was planning on playing until midnight, which was when the promotion ended. She looked at the machines longingly for a while and then left.
Reuben speculated that she was waiting for him to offer her a machine. After all, in Reuben’s experience, women tend to be more empathic and less direct in their requests. Had it been his wife instead of a stranger, his wife would have expected him to realize that she wanted a machine — and hence, given one to her because it was the polite thing to do.
Still, keeping both machines was the desired goal and if this lady wanted a machine, she was, at a minimum, going to have to explicitly ask for one. Whether Reuben would have said yes or no wasn’t a certainty. He would have made a decision when necessary — but not before. There are often extenuating circumstances one way or the other.
Reuben considered the possibility that the woman would go to the slot shift boss and complain that she couldn’t get a machine and one guy was hogging both of them. He didn’t want that to happen, although it was largely out of his control. He preferred to be a “low maintenance” player. It doesn’t take too many incidents for some casino employees to conclude this player is “always” causing trouble. If he developed that unwanted reputation, close calls down the road (such as whether to pay him in a sticky button situation — or whether to allow him to remain even after he starts winning) might not go his way.
If the slot shift boss came over and asked for a machine for the woman, Reuben’s answer would have been an immediate, “Of course.” He likely would have added, “All she needed to do was to ask me, but she never did.” The last four words were absolutely true. The first nine — maybe. But the slot shift boss couldn’t know that.
It’s possible the woman believed she shouldn’t have to ask. She possibly believed even a guy should have been able to understand she wanted a machine. It could seem to her to be common courtesy that should prompt Reuben to give up a machine. That definitely was Reuben’s best guess as to what his wife would believe were she the one wanting a machine.
One thing that Reuben felt was a bit of a safety cushion this time was that the slot shift boss was a man. Right or wrong, he believed a male shift boss would be more sympathetic to “she never actually asked” than a woman shift boss would. Reuben’s actions would likely have been the same with any boss, but he would expect the aftermath to be gentler on him when the boss was a male.
Could Reuben’s stereotypes and assumptions based on them have been way off? Of course. No player or boss acts exactly like you expect him or her to.
Is he smart to use such stereotypes and assumptions in his decisions? Absolutely. You are frequently called on to make decisions based on incomplete information, and sometimes stereotypes give you some extra information that is useful.
Would Reuben be called prejudiced or sexist if he verbalized his thought processes? That too. You can’t please everybody, and people will use whatever ammunition against you that you give them. Often, it’s better to make your decisions quietly and not discuss why you made them.