I got paid to drink and gamble in Ponderosa

When another Ubyssey editor first told me about a psych study that would pay you $20 to drink beer and gamble for two hours, I thought it was too good to be true. Fortunately for me, a group of grad students operating out of the Centre for Gambling Research at UBC are running exactly that. No catch.

Well, there are a couple catches. You have to be:

1. Male

2. 19 years old

3. A social drinker

4. A once-per-month-or-more gambler

5. Someone who has no history of gambling or alcohol addiction, mental or neurological illness or head injury and who is taking no regular medication.

Other than those catches, no catch. If you fit all those descriptors, you can send an email to Juliette at jtobiaswebb[at]psych.ubc.ca to let her know. She’s very prompt at responding, especially now that -- if you can believe it -- they’re having trouble finding people to participate.

Again, lucky for me, I was a perfect match -- I figured if my luck was this good before I even started gambling, I had to follow through with it. I talked to Juliette, got penciled in the next week, and was told to show up at the Audain Arts Centre.

When I got there I was greeted by Juliette herself, a friendly Australian who gave me a breathalyzer (just in case I got an early start), who then sat me down in a room to fill out a questionnaire about my drug and alcohol habits, my feelings about gambling (i.e. whether or not I had a gambling problem) and my overall mental health. Once that was done and anonymously stored, it was off to the hilariously-named “lab.”

The reason I found this the funniest thing in the goddamn world is because the “lab” is a room full of gambling equipment and a fridge full of beer. I took a seat beside the one other participant, Juliette took hers and after a few simple instructions, we were off. I can’t say exactly which games we played for the sake of the study, but we were given $40 each and half an hour to blow it.

At the end of the allotted time I was sitting around $35, and my co-participant was in the black at $43. Considering my usual luck at the River Rock, I considered it a success. We didn’t get to keep our earnings, but the fact that I didn’t lose very much money meant that I earned a bonus $10. Score.

After another, much shorter questionnaire, it was time for the drinking portion. We all sat down in slightly comfier chairs, grabbed a beer and chatted for another half hour. I briefly remembered my exam tomorrow between Molsons, but a couple midday drinks and some good company pushed the thought out of my mind.

And then we were done. We got our winnings ($30 total for me), then we were breathalyzed again and sent back out into the world. If that all sounds appealing, all it takes is an email to land yourself a spot!

The study runs until the end of May, but my guess is that spaces will start to fill up after exams are done, so it might be worth at least getting your name on the list. And yes, I asked Juliette about full-time positions, but unfortunately there were none available. Even if you’d work for free.