I’ve spent more time writing about bad gambling gurus like John Patrick and Frank Scoblete than most. I think a lot of their advice is more than just irresponsible.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because they recommend gambling systems that don’t work or money management techniques that are doomed to fail that everything they say is useless.
Here are several pieces of good advice that you can get from even the bad gambling gurus.
Tip #1: Learn How to Play a Game BEFORE Playing It
This is a piece of advice from John Patrick, and he’s so right. It’s simple! You should never play a game you don’t know anything about. Casinos specialize in creating games that are simple on the surface but have a huge mathematical advantage over the gambler.
If you don’t understand something about the game beforehand, you can lose a lot of money fast.
Here’s an Example:
Craps has some of the best bets in the casino. The house edge for the basic bet in craps, the pass line bet, is just 1.41%. The odds bet in craps has no house edge at all (making it a unicorn among casino game bets.)
But the game also has some of the worst bets in the casino. Any of the proposition bets at the craps table have an awful house edge, usually 9% or higher. What’s the house edge?
I won’t get into too much detail about that here, other than to explain that it’s the difference between the odds of winning and the payout odds for the game.
The house edge is a statistical expectation for what you’re going to lose over the long run based on the math behind the game. The higher the house edge is, the bigger the casino’s mathematical edge over the player.
Knowing how the game and the bets work includes understanding which bets have higher and lower house edge predictions.
Tip #2: Exercise Self Discipline and Self-Control
Some people have no self-control when it comes to some things. Personally, I have trouble controlling my portion sizes while eating, and I sure can’t handle my liquor. Impulse control issues are no joke.
It’s tempting to think you needn’t worry as much about self-control when it comes to gambling because you’re not ingesting a substance that changes your body chemistry.
But I’d submit that the brain chemistry changes caused by gambling create the same kinds of chemical changes in the brain that foreign substances create.
What does this mean in practical terms?
It means having a limit to how much time you’re willing to spend gambling and how much money you’re willing to lose gambling.
Then, stick to those limits. Even the worst gambling gurus are unanimous in this advice. And they’re right.
Tip #3: Manage Your Money Appropriately
You’ll see two different suggestions related to money management techniques. One of those has to do with making sure you have a bankroll set aside specifically for gambling. Your strong resolution is to never gamble any money that isn’t part of your bankroll.
This might mean saving up a specific amount of money to take with you on your annual trip to Las Vegas. It might mean saving up a specific amount of money to play poker with and re-investing your winnings so that you can eventually afford to play in higher-stakes poker games.
The second approach is the goal of winning by cutting your session short when you’ve won or lost a percentage of your bankroll for the session. This isn’t great advice, but it doesn’t hurt anything either, so long as you understand that it doesn’t change your probability of being a winner.
Here’s how that approach works:
You go to the casino with a bankroll of $600, and your goal is to have six gambling sessions during your visit. You divide your $600 bankroll into six session bankrolls of $100 each.
At each session, you have a win goal and a loss limit. When you’ve won or lost the amount of money represented by your win goal or your loss limit, you end the session. Your win goal is usually a percentage of your bankroll. For example, you might have a 40% win goal and a 40% loss limit for each session.
You’d quit a session if your bankroll hit $140 or if your bankroll hit $60. The advantage to this kind of system is that you’ll sometimes walk away a winner. Also, you’ll never lose all your money in a session unless you make your loss limit for that session 100%. But this approach doesn’t alter the casino’s mathematical edge over the player.
Tip #4: The Casinos Are NOT on Your Side
In Frank Scoblete’s book Guerrilla Gambling, which is filled with what I find to be all kinds of mediocre advice, he suggests that you change your attitude about the casino and understand one thing more than any other: The casino is NOT on your side.
If you gamble enough to warrant a host, he’ll do his best to make you feel like an honored guest. He’ll make sure you have plenty of whatever you want to eat or drink. You’ll get tickets to shows. He’ll play golf with you. But his goal is to separate you from your money.
How does he do that? His “friendship” comes with a cost. You must spend a specific amount of time playing casino games, and you must be playing for specific stakes or higher. The more time you spend playing casino games, the more money you’ll lose in the long run.
You might have some trips and some sessions where you come out ahead, but in the long run, the casino knows that the best mathematical predictor of how much money you’ll lose is the time you spend playing.
Tip #5: Stick With Games and Bets That Have a Low House Edge
The house edge isn’t the only consideration you should have when choosing a gambling game, but it should be high on the list.
Generally, table games have a lower house edge than gambling machines with the exception of some video poker games. Blackjack has a house edge of less than 1% if you choose the right game and play with perfect basic strategy.
Craps has a house edge of 1.41% if you stick with the pass and come bets. Take odds with those bets, and you’ve reduced the house edge on the total amount of money you have in action even further.
Even roulette has a house edge of only 2.70% if you stick with the roulette wheels with a single zero.
Slot machines, on the other hand, might have a house edge as high as 25%. The average might be lower than that, but it’s almost always far higher than the house edge for most table games. When you look at the magazines and websites which report average payback percentages for slots, it doesn’t take long to realize that even the average slot machine has a house edge of 6% or more.
Tip #6: Quit While You’re Ahead
I see variations of this advice from both Frank Scoblete and John Patrick. They suggest getting a quick win early in your gambling session and quitting right away. They’re absolutely right about this. The way a negative expectation bet works is simple.
The more often you make it, the likelier you are to lose your money. Play long enough, and you’re CERTAIN to lose your money.
If you want to win at casino gambling, your only hope is to get a quick win early and call it a day. This is another way in which money management techniques work. They force you to stay in the short run.
I’ve seen better gambling writers suggest that the best strategy with table games with a low house edge is to make fewer, larger bets rather than more, smaller bets.
Tip #7: Tread Lightly
I saw this advice in a question and answer column that Frank Scoblete wrote. The reader had written in and mentioned that he was “obsessed” with some aspect of gambling.
Scoblete pointed out that he gambles 80 to 100 times a year, but he’s never used the word “obsessed” to describe his gambling behavior. Problem gambling can cause such a negative impact in a person’s life that you should do anything you can to avoid developing a problem. In other words, tread lightly.
Gambling addicts not only go broke, they risk losing their entire lives—family, friends, savings, and careers—just for the thrill of getting money into action. For example, they might borrow money to gamble with.
It’s fun (and remarkably easy) to point out how awful some of the gambling advice from “gurus.” But that doesn’t mean you should ignore their good advice.
I think I might have covered all their general advice that’s good in this post, but I know that some (but not all) of their advice about blackjack and craps make sense, too.
It’s important to review any advice from a source and do your research to confirm whether it’s been proven to benefit gamblers. When it comes to gambling online, you should know who to trust.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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