There are two kinds of gambling experts: those who quote blogs on the internet and those who have learned everything they can about their games of choice.
When it comes to needing real gambling knowledge, you’re talking about blackjack or poker. These card games require true skill and expertise. You can compute odds all day long but that won’t make you an expert gambler.
Here is how to develop your skill and knowledge to the point where people trust your advice and your own experience helps you win more often.
Learn the Basic Game Thoroughly
This principle holds true for every type of gaming. You can’t become a better slot game player when all you do is push buttons. But you can become better at choosing the right slot machine games to play.
Knowing the basic game inside out means you understand how the house edge works. With slot games, you need to know the difference between variance and volatility. And you should understand that some bonus games are not actually free.
In blackjack, the basic rules are easy to learn. It’s the strategy that takes time to master. But you can’t master strategy until you master the rules.
If any game has more rules than “put your money down and wait,” then study the rules until you can recite them from memory.
Some players read everything they can about playing a game, but they don’t read the rules of the game. I’ve seen people use the wrong strategy at the tables because they didn’t understand the rules well enough.
Learn Strategy for the Basic Game First
On a scale of mindless to thought-demanding, poker is at the thought-demanding end of the spectrum. I don’t know of a gambling game that requires more knowledge and skill than poker.
You might ask about fantasy sports league betting, but that’s only loosely what I would call gaming. And casinos don’t run fantasy sports leagues next to the craps tables.
Strategy teaches you to decide what to do next. The only strategy you need for playing a slot game is to decide when to stop pushing the “spin” button.
In blackjack, you need to know when to split, when to double down, when to hit, and when to stand. And you need to know to avoid those crazy side bets.
In poker, everything is much more complicated. And that leads me to my next point about strategy. The more complicated the game, the longer it takes to learn basic strategy.
Basic strategy gets you through a game against an average or novice player. If all you have going for you is basic strategy, then an advanced player will eat you alive.
Advanced strategy is more nuanced. Like in blackjack, inexperienced poker players may use the wrong strategy for a hand. And yet, everyone knows about a game where some great player bluffed or raised or called when others would have folded.
There’s an instinct to playing the game. And part of any good poker strategy includes reading and intimidating the other players. But these skills come after you master basic strategy.
Start Memorizing the Variations on the Game
There are dozens of variations on blackjack. They’re variations because of differences in the rules. They may use different values or cards.
I don’t know how many variations on poker there are, but in the casinos, you’re looking at somewhere between 10 and 20 different types of poker. Most casinos concentrate on just a few variations.
If you’re playing regularly at a few casinos, then study the variations they offer on the games you play:
You should learn the key differences between the games. Be able to recognize them without having to watch a lot of play. Each variation has its own style.
Learn the rules for each variation. Compare the differences in rules between variants on a game so that you’re less likely to become confused in gameplay. This is where I see many players fail.
The more variants you learn, the more confusing it can all become. Professional poker dealers often take some time in between games to refresh their memory regarding the rules they’re about to play by.
If the people who are expected to run the game need a refresher on game-specific rules, you and I do, too.
Don’t let your ego teach you how to play all the variations of a casino game. Study each variation, compare them to each other, and learn to switch between rules subconsciously.
Practice, Practice, Practice
This should go without saying, but sometimes, people think they can become experts after reading a single book. You haven’t learned to play blackjack and poker until you’ve learned by heart all the ways you can lose. And that means you’ll never stop learning.
Anyone can read a book about playing the game. In fact, you can read a whole library of books. That won’t do you any good until you play the game over and over.
You’ll make the same mistakes repeatedly before you learn not to. That’s why free online blackjack and poker games are so important. Practice play gives you a chance to learn from your mistakes without spending any money.
Know the difference between computer play and human play. A bot may look like a human player behind the cards, but people really do have their own unique styles.
It’s easier to practice blackjack against a computer. You don’t have to train for dealing with other player’s shenanigans like you would in real-life poker. All you need is for a dealer that passes out the cards at your request.
I prefer blackjack to poker because blackjack is a less emotional and complicated game.
Read Every Good Book You Can About the Game
I said you can’t master a game by reading a single book, but you can improve your game by reading more books. Start with the basic tutorials and work your way up.
Learn from the masters. Any book you choose should be written by someone who has plenty of experience with the game and has won multiple tournaments.
Did you know that anyone can generate ebooks from Wikipedia articles and sell them online? Don’t fall for fake expertise. Real players showcase their skills better than your average Wikipedia article. They’ve been there in the ditches, sweating out the decisions like everyone else.
If a book doesn’t walk you through games step by step, and explain the mistakes people made. then you should pass on that book.
No one writes a war memoir without talking about the friends they lost, the battles where they were forced to withdraw, and just how scared they were.
Real people have feelings and they share bad experiences. If the book you’re reading doesn’t talk about the downsides of the game, then it’s not a valuable book. It was probably mass produced in a “pocket guide” factory somewhere by someone with no real knowledge of the game.
Develop Some Skepticism
You can’t believe everything you read and hear. Skepticism isn’t about pushing back on what others say. It’s about waiting for signs of proof. You can keep an open mind on any topic and still be skeptical.
In blackjack, everyone is an expert because they can grab a strategy card and read off the dos and don’ts of the game. But that’s not good enough for me.
A real expert, in my opinion, can explain to you why your best move is to stand, split, or double down. He may be counting cards when he plays, but his decision has to be about the cards on the table.
A real expert also talks about what is in the dealer’s hand as well as his own. The dealer’s up card could be the only thing you need to know.
Be Willing to Walk Away From a Game
You’re not a slave to the game. It doesn’t own you.
A true expert knows when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em, as the old song says.
If you can’t recognize and admit that you’re beaten before you’ve lost all your money, then you haven’t earned the title of “expert” yet. Keep working on it.
Gambling is so popular, there really are a lot of experts out there. No one is an expert because they are a celebrity or have a huge following on Facebook.
Some experts become famous because of their skill. But I’ve also known other expert players that no one else has ever even heard of. They don’t brag. They just enjoy the game.
They spend their free time playing instead of quoting strategy cards.
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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