How to Build Your Gambling Skills on a Budget

Every gambler would like to win more, but when you start looking for ways to improve your skills and results, you can see that it can quickly add up to a great deal of money. The good news is there are many different ways you can learn more about gambling and start improving your skills without spending a bunch of money.

Many of the suggestions on this page are free, but some of them cost a little bit of money. If you don’t have any money to invest in improving your gambling skills, focus on the free resources that are available. If you have a small budget, take advantage of both the free and budget-conscious sections below.

My goal when I put this page together was to show you how you can invest $100 or less and learn as much as possible. If you’re willing to invest more, you can speed up the learning process, but you can learn just about everything you need to know for less than $100. All it takes is some time and the willingness to put in a little bit of effort.

Free Articles

The internet offers a unique combination of new ways to waste time and a collection of more information than has even been collected in one place in history. The internet has a big problem though, and, it isn’t a lack of available information.

It’s sifting through all of the crap and sorting the good information from the bad.

Anyone with access to the internet can distribute information, so if you’re not careful, you end up reading or watching things that aren’t going to help you improve your gambling skills. But the good news is that if you know how to find beneficial information about gambling, you can access thousands of articles that can help you greatly.

Start by searching for pages about what you want to learn in the popular search engines. At first, you’re going to have to search through a lot of pages to find the best ones, but as you start finding good resources, you can read the other things they offer and look at things they recommend.

I often bookmark or save good sites to my favorites so that I can go back and read more at a later time. Every time I find a site with good information, I make sure to either save it or make a note.

Free Training Videos

Popular video sites like YouTube have millions of videos on them. You can search for videos on strategy for your chosen gambling activities as well as instructional videos.

There will be more resources for some gambling activities as opposed to others. For example, if you’re a poker player, you can watch thousands of hands posted on video sites in addition to instructional tutorials.

Keep in mind that free training videos come with the same warnings as free articles.

Just because you find a video with gambling advice doesn’t mean that the advice is correct. Just like when you look for good articles, when you find videos with valuable content, look for other videos by the same person.

You can also find paid training offered by video, particularly in the poker area. I cover more about this in the paid training section below.

One problem I have with using videos to improve my gambling skills is it’s difficult to skip around and find exactly what I need. In a book, I can look in the table of contents to find the section I want, and in an article, I can skim to find the parts I need.

For this reason, I usually try to find as many articles and books about what I want to learn first. Then, when I’ve learned everything I can by reading, I know exactly what I want to find. This helps me narrow down the search so that I don’t have to sift through hundreds of free gambling videos to get what I need.

Used Books

Books are my favorite form of learning new gambling skills, so I know more about finding them than anything else on the list. This is mostly a generational thing. Both of my children, and just about everyone else in generations younger than mine, tend to learn through online activities like videos first and only go to books as a last resort.

The two biggest current sellers of used books are Amazon and eBay. Many great gambling-related used books can be found for $4 or $5, and you can find just about anything you’re looking for at $10 or less. With a budget of $100, you can pick up between 15 and 20 books, which is a great start to a gambling library.

Here are a few examples:

  • Blackbelt in Blackjack by Arnold Snyder – about $4
  • The Theory of Poker by David Sklansky – about $7
  • Harrington on Hold’em by Dan Harrington – about $4
  • Gambling Theory by Mason Malmuth – about $7
  • Professional Blackjack by Stanford Wong – about $7
  • The Slot Machine Answer Book by John Grochowski – about $4
  • Winning Low-Limit Hold’em by Lee Jones – about $4

That’s a list of seven books you could buy for about $37. And I only spent about five minutes looking. Start building a list of gambling books you want to read and check the popular used-book-selling sites to find a deal.

The more you dig into the best gambling books to read, the more likely you’re going to find some recommendations for books that are rare or out of print. This is especially true if you’re interested in advantage play. I’ve owned many rare and out of print gambling books over the years, and most players don’t need to invest in high-priced books.

If gamblers ask me about the best things to read, I tell them that they should focus on figuring out how to win at one game first by finding inexpensive books and information, and if they want to invest in something more expensive, they should use money they win gambling to pay for them.

One of the most famous advantage play books is Beyond Counting.

I’ve seen copies sell for thousands of dollars, and it’s worth this much to a very narrow market of players. But it’s not what you need right now. The truth is that if you can’t figure out how to beat blackjack using the cheaper books that are available, a book like Beyond Counting isn’t going to help you.

I’m not trying to bash on anyone in particular, but some authors have produced a lot of gambling books that are simply terrible. These books are filled with bad advice that will end up costing you money. You need to make a list of authors to avoid if you’re really interested in improving your skills.

Almost everything that John Patrick wrote should be avoided. He was popular a couple decades back, and he wrote a lot of books, so you can find them for cheap. He even had a television show before there were a million channels, so he sold a lot of books.

The good news is that you can search online for reviews of any book you’re considering buying, and you can read the reviews on Amazon.

Online Forums and Groups

I used to spend a great deal of time in online forums, and I learned a lot about gambling. But I stopped using them because I found that I was wasting far too much time reading and following the forum politics and infighting instead of learning what I needed to learn.

But there’s still a lot of good information available in forums. You just need to do your best to ignore everything except what you want to learn. You can quickly figure out which people offer good advice and are trying to really be helpful and the ones that are just wasting your time.

Forums are being replaced in some ways by groups on platforms like Facebook.

I don’t belong to any Facebook groups, but I’m sure there are dozens or hundreds of gambling groups on the platform, so it might be worth your time to check it out.

Facebook is a great deal like forums in that you can end up spending hours watching videos of funny cats and reading silly stories instead of working on your goal of learning how to win more gambling. If you have plenty of time to waste and enjoy the separation from reality, it’s fine, but just keep this in mind when you start looking for information in forums and on social media.

Free Practice

The absolute best thing about the internet for gamblers is the easy availability of free ways to practice. You can play just about any game you can imagine for free online through a wide range of providers. You can even play most of the same games for free that are available for real money play simply by signing up for an online casino account.

I use free online blackjack games to practice strategy and to practice counting cards. I don’t play much online for real money except poker, but I use the free game options quite a bit.

You can also find some free online software solutions designed to help you improve your gambling skills. You can find free poker tools and free blackjack tools by using any search engine or just by exploring gamblingsites.org. Some of these tools can make a big difference in your play if you use them.

Paid Training

You can find many different paid training options, including mentoring, coaching, videos, and software. I’ve used paid training for different things in my life, and some of it has been well worth the money. But I never recommend any paid training before you exhaust all of the free resources and inexpensive books.

Here’s why I always look at paid training last. If you find as many good articles and videos about improving your gambling skills as you can and read at least ten books about it, but you haven’t started winning yet, there’s a problem somewhere.

You’re either reading the wrong thing or watching the wrong thing, or both, or you’re trying to learn how to beat a game that can’t be beaten.

If you’re trying to figure out how to beat slot machines or roulette, you’re not going to find any legitimate answers.

But if you’re trying to learn how to beat blackjack or poker, there are plenty of good resources available that are either free or cheap. Once you use all of these resources and start seeing real results, then you can consider using some paid training.

A $100 Example

I stated that my goal was to give you a way to build your gambling skills for $100. The sections above show you many different options to do this, but I wanted to show you a step-by-step example of how I’d lay out a specific plan for a beginning gambler.

Here’s an example for a beginning poker player.

I’d start by reading anything online that you can find written by Steve Badger. He used to have a website called Play Winning Poker, and most of the content is now available at stevebadger.com. I know this is a specific recommendation, and in the section above about free articles, I mentioned that you should search for good articles.

You should still search for good articles and good authors on your own, but Badger has put out some great stuff that every poker player should read. This is especially true if you have any interest in playing Omaha.

Spend at least an hour a day looking for the best poker content available online.

Keep doing this until you have a large list of poker resources and then start looking for good instructional videos. If you’ve read enough good content, you should know exactly what you need to find. This will make it easier to avoid all of the videos that don’t help you.

Now start buying some used books. Start with the Lee Jones book I listed above and look for just about anything by 2+2 publishing. You can find other good poker books, and you should look for the ones with the best reviews, but if you read everything Badger has and the Jones book and several 2+2 titles, you’re going to know more about playing winning poker than most poker players.

The next step is to put together a small bankroll and start playing. You can play at the free money poker tables online, but the play is so bad that it can actually hurt you if your goal is to play for real money.

Continue looking for more resources and keep learning as you play. I’ve been playing poker for several decades, and I still buy poker books from time to time.

You can follow the same plan for blackjack. I’d start by reading everything on Arnold Snyder’s site and look for used books by him and Stanford Wong. Eventually, you might want to read a few books by Ken Uston and others, but Snyder and Wong have covered just about everything a beginning blackjack player needs to learn.

Conclusion

It’s easy to build your gambling skills on a budget, especially poker. You just need to put in some extra time finding and using the excellent free resources that are available to you.

It’s also a good idea to find the “best” used books available on your subject. As you saw in the used books section above, you can get some of the best gambling books for as low as $4.

Michael Stevens: 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.