Advice such as, “Never take insurance in blackjack,” or “Don’t bet the moneyline on a huge favorite,” is certainly worth taking to heart. However, for those who have managed to achieve the dream of making a living through gambling – whether on sports or casino games – there’s more to the story than strategy.
Professional gamblers haven’t just mastered the rules of the game – they know all about the intangibles it takes to stay profitable for years on end.
In this article, I’ll explain 7 essential pieces of advice you don’t often hear from the pros.
1 – Emotion Must Be Removed
Anyone who has ever screamed at the TV as a garbage time touchdown causes the “under” bet to lose knows that emotions run high when betting on anything. To try to remove it entirely from the equation almost seems impossible, but it’s an absolute necessity.
It’s commonly said that emotion is the enemy of reason, and when it comes to gambling on anything, reason needs to take the lead.
If you bet using your heart instead of your head, you’re likely (if not almost certainly) going to make mistakes such as: betting on your favorite team even when you don’t feel confident, chasing losses so you don’t have to deal with walking away down money, or simply losing focus and not making the bets you know give you the best chance to in.
The bottom line is that the margin between sustained success and relatively quick failure is very small. Those who make emotional mistakes are apt to fall into the latter category.
2 – Your Bankroll Deserves Respect
When you think of a professional gambler, it’s likely you imagine a high roller who takes risks with seemingly no concern for his bankroll (if he has one at all). This couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, often times the thing that separates a sharp (a professional sports handicapper) and a square (your buddy from college who bets on every game despite losing constantly) is the way each treats their bankroll.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, your bankroll is the pool of money that you’ve set aside for the sole purpose of real money gambling. This is an amount of money that you should feel completely comfortable losing. Obviously you don’t want to consider that possibility, but it’s the prudent thing to do.
Once you have you pool of money set aside, the next thing you need to determine is what percentage of that money you’ll bet on any single game/hand/spin, etc. Most experts recommend setting a range between which you’ll bet.
An example of a properly set up bankroll would be: $1,000 and a percentage range of 3% to 5%. This would mean that you would only bet between $30 and $50 dollars on any single play. This helps stretch your bankroll out long enough until you’re able to string a few wins together.
Professional gamblers look at betting not so much as a recreational activity, but as a business. Your bankroll is like your business’s budget, and it should be treated with the same degree of respect.
3 – Discipline is Key
To continue on with the theme of treating gambling as a business, professional gamblers have long been saying that discipline is one of the keys to success. If you aren’t able to control the temptations that come with gambling, you aren’t going to be able to produce consistent results.
Upon losing a bet, the initial response most people have is to double down on the next one. If that one loses, follow the same method again. Taking this type of Martingale-System approach might seem like a good idea, but unless you have an endless bankroll things can come crashing down if you suffer an unlucky weekend.
Discipline doesn’t just apply to how you handle your losses, however. It’s important to know when to, as they say, ‘quit while you’re ahead.’ For instance, following big wins, some professional gamblers have mentioned that they take a short break and deposit some of their winnings instead of simply putting it back into their bankroll.
4 – It Takes Hard Work
Gambling is supposed to be fun. With that being said, if you want to be profitable, you’re going to have put in the time. Learning the strategies involved in all types of different games isn’t a short and easy process, which is why so few people take the time to do it. This also explains why most people lose money over time.
The thing that professional gamblers have realized is that even games of chance aren’t entirely left up to chance. Or at least not in the way most people think.
The goal isn’t so much to tip the scales in your favor – that probably isn’t going to happen. Rather, the goal is to get your odds as close to the true “house edge” as you can.
For example, you’ve probably heard about blackjack’s player-friendly house edge. What you might not know is that if you’re making mistakes when you play, the advertised house edge doesn’t mean anything at all.
If you truly want to take advantage of the games with the best odds in the casino, you need to know how to make those odds applicable to your game. Unfortunately, there aren’t any shortcuts. It takes years of conscientious studying and practice to truly know exactly what you’re doing.
5 – Tracking Is Essential
Remember the theme of treating gambling like a business? It’s continuing on here.
Although I already covered how to set up and manage your bankroll, this is slightly different because it goes beyond the money aspect. This is especially applicable for those who prefer sports betting over casino games. For this reason, that’s what I’ll focus on.
Tracking your wins and losses doesn’t need to take up all your time, but it should include the basic details of the plays you’re making. This not only helps you stay aware of your financial standing, but it also can help you recognize patterns about which types of plays have been successful for you.
For example, you might realize that when you bet on underdogs in college football you win at a 65% rate, but if you bet on favorites in the NFL, you win only 35% of the time. These insights are invaluable in putting together an optimized betting strategy.
6 – Not All Losses Are Bad
Nobody likes losing, but not all losses are created equal. Both casino gamblers and sports bettors know that sometimes you make the right move, but it just doesn’t work out in your favor.
When you stand on a hard 17, for example, you’re making the right move regardless of how the hand ends up. If you don’t take insurance when it’s offered in blackjack and it turns out it would have helped, you’ve still made the right move.
In terms of sports betting, there are times when you’ll lose on a last-second fluke play or due to an injury that occurs during the game. It might not be much consolation because it won’t give you your money back, but you can still walk away feeling like you made the right play.
The bottom line is that everyone has a tendency to “play the results” – and for good reason. The results are the most important thing. However, it’s important to recognize that if you make the right decisions often enough, the luck will eventually start working in your favor.
7 – You Need to Take Risks (but in a Smart Way)
Betting the house on a +500 underdog is probably not a good idea. Neither is betting $1,000 on “00” at the roulette wheel. Although it never pays to be reckless, having a healthy risk tolerance is necessary for gamblers.
Professional gambling, like stock trading, is all about assessing the risk vs. reward in a situation. If you’re always playing it safe (always betting the minimum on blackjack, always taking moneyline favorites in sports), you’re going to, in all likelihood, die a slow and painful gambling death.
The big wins are what help you cover your losses, and you need to have a decent number of higher-risk plays included in your strategy. Again, this doesn’t mean you should bet recklessly, but you can’t bet scared either.
Professional gamblers have figured out how to make the games, which are inherently based on luck, work in their favor.
All of the points in this article would lead you to believe that the life of a pro bettor is actually more business-like than expected – and that is the case. Act smart, track your bankroll closely, study up and strategy, and one day you might be able to bet for a living, too.
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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