Some Good and Bad Advice from Some Good and Bad Gambling Gurus

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One of the goals I have for this blog is to explain which gambling advice is good, which gambling advice is bad, and how you can tell the difference.

Gambling is such a huge industry that there’s a tremendous financial incentive to do anything you can to get some of the money.

This includes giving good or bad advice, whichever is more likely to sell. It includes publishing websites written by armies of non-native speakers who barely understand what they’re writing about – all in the hopes of generating some referral fees from online casinos and/or sportsbooks.

Luckily, you can find good advice and someone to tell you which advice is bad, and I’ll do some of that in this post.

Good Advice: Play within Your Bankroll

I have good and bad experiences reading about money management and bankroll management.

The first precept of managing your gambling bankroll is always the same, and it’s good advice:

Don’t play with money you can’t afford to lose.

When you think about the implications of that advice, you’ll find that it’s far-ranging. You can’t afford to lose money you need for other things, and that includes things like short-term savings, long-term savings, and insurance.

If you’re driving a car without insurance, you can’t afford to gamble. If you don’t have health insurance, you can’t afford to gamble.

But you should be even more strict than just that.

You shouldn’t gamble if you don’t have at least 3 months’ of living expenses in a savings account where you can access it in case of an emergency.

You also shouldn’t gamble if you don’t have a long-term savings plan that you’re investing in regularly.

When you gamble with money you can’t afford to lose, you start making questionable decisions after losing. Many gamblers try to win back their losses when they should just call it a day.

If you’re an advantage gambler, like a card counter in blackjack or a pro poker player, you should also have a large enough bankroll to be confident you won’t go broke just because you have a short losing streak.

Bad Advice: Stick with Your System

I see this advice from John Patrick all the time – he likes to criticize his audience for lacking discipline and not sticking with their system.

This might be true for some gamblers, but the reality is that betting systems don’t work.

I’ve written at length about the folly behind thinking that raising and lowering your bets based on whether you’re in the middle of a winning or losing streak before.

I won’t go into a lot of detail about that here, other than to say this:

You shouldn’t be using a system in the first place. If you are, you’ve lost before you’ve even started.

Good Advice: Make Smart Sports Bets

Sports Balls Coming Out of a Tablet With a Betting App on It
I know certain sports bettors who see a great ROI on their sports betting activities. They do this by educating themselves about inequities in the sports betting marketplace.

But this isn’t something just any random sports bettor can do.

It takes time, experience, and attentiveness to learn how to win at sports betting often enough to overcome the vig.

I’m no fan of R.J. Bell, who runs probably the oldest and largest tout service in the country, but he has some interesting advice about how this line of thinking works:

He suggests that famous sports figures – individuals like fighters or racecar drivers are often favored by the sportsbooks more than they should be.

By betting on underdogs, you can generate a better ROI.

But it’s not enough to just bet the underdog. You need to be paying enough attention to the sport to know which underdogs you should be betting on.

Bad Advice: Try to Control the Dice in Craps

I’ve seen good gambling gurus (Michael Shackleford) and bad gambling gurus (Frank Scoblete) suggest that controlled shooting is a way to win playing craps.

People Playing Craps

The idea is that the house edge in craps is so low already that even if you can only affect the outcome slightly, you can turn a negative expectation bet into a positive expectation bet.
I’m more than just a little skeptical.

Here’s why:

Think about the casinos’ reaction to the reality of card counting in blackjack during the 1970s. They changed the rules of the game in multiple ways to ensure that card counters couldn’t get an edge. They also started banning card counters from their blackjack tables and their casinos.

An entire private investigation company, The Griffin Agency, specialized in identifying and monitoring suspected card counters.

What kind of countermeasures are we seeing in the casino in response to these “controlled dice shooters?”

I’m not seeing bigger craps table. I’ve never seen a casino “back off” a craps player for being “too good.” Have you? Until I do, I’ll remain skeptical of dice control claims.

Simply the amount of effort to try to learn how to control the dice would be phenomenal. How many hours would you have to spend practicing on a realistically sized and shaped craps table before you could be confident you were able to affect the outcomes?

I’d hate to waste 100 hours on something that might be impossible (or even impossible for me.)

Good Advice: Stick to Games with a Low House Edge

The house edge represents the mathematical advantage the casino has over the player. In the long run, this is the amount of each bet that the casino will probably win from the player per bet.
Blackjack is a good example – if you play under the right conditions and with perfect basic strategy, the house edge is only 0.5%.

This means that, on average, over the long run, every time you bet $100, you should lose 50 cents.

If you’re playing 200 hands per hour, at $5 per hand, you’re putting $1000 into action per hour. With a 0.5% house edge, your predicted loss per hour is only $5. That’s cheap entertainment.

Compare that with slot machines, which often have a house edge of 10% or so. If you’re betting $3 per spin and making 600 spins per hour, you’re putting $1800 into action. Your expected loss is $180 per hour.

That’s a big difference in how much money you stand to lose per hour on those games.

In the short run, which game do you think is more likely to return a win in the short run?

Bad Advice: Play the Lottery

I read some advice from a so-called lottery “expert” where he suggested that you’re more likely to win the lottery if you play a lot. In other words, the more tickets you buy, the more often you’ll win.

Lottery TicketsThis is true, as far as it goes. The problem is that it doesn’t account for how much money you’ll lose when buying that many lottery tickets.

Here’s why:

  • Suppose a lottery printed 10,000 scratch and win tickets, and the total value of the prizes on all those tickets was $6000.
  • You could guarantee yourself $6000 in winnings by just buying all 10,000 tickets.
  • But if the tickets are $1 each (which is typical), you’d see a net loss of $4000.

Sure enough, that expert who bragged about having won the lottery 7 times said he played a lot. He said he bought a lot of tickets and played every week.

But he never presented any kinds of statistics about how much he’d won or lost over time.

And those are the most important statistics of all.

The house edge on the lottery varies from game to game and based on the size of the jackpot. Most of the time, though, the house edge is 50% or more.

The lottery is never a good bet. Buying more lottery tickets is akin to setting money on fire.

Good Advice: Treat Gambling as Entertainment

The best book I ever read about gambling suggested that I think of gambling as an entertainment expense and treat it as such over time.

The idea is that these expected losses will eventually become real losses over time, which means that my time at the casino represents an expenditure of money.

The goal is to get as much entertainment as possible from that money. This entails considering your average loss per hour, among other things.

Conclusion

You can find bad gambling gurus occasionally giving good gambling advice, but you can also find good gambling gurus giving bad gambling advice. It’s up to you to be well-educated enough to discern between the good and bad advice.

In fact, you might educate yourself well enough to have different opinions about my advice, too. You might even decide I’m a bad gambling guru.

But at least you’ll be well-informed, which will put you in the top 20% of casino gamblers in the world.

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. ...

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