The Ten Things Hardcore Gamblers Do (That Casual Gamblers DON’T Do)
Hardcore gamblers do many things differently than recreational gamblers. They aren’t always better gamblers than their recreational counterparts, but often they do a better job finding games that offer a chance to win or a low house edge.
A hardcore gambler places more bets, both in volume of wagers and total money bet, so they either need to have a larger amount of money coming in from a source other than gambling or need to be able to win enough from gambling to keep playing.
As you read the 10 things only hardcore gamblers do below you’ll see that many of them are focused on playing with an edge. Some hardcore gamblers have money to support their gambling but you won’t learn much that can help you by studying them.
But you can learn a few things to help you from the professional gamblers who can support their play by winning.
1 – Track Everything
Studies have been conducted in sports that show that performance improves simply by tracking results. This carries over into many other areas of life including business and gambling.
Performance improvement isn’t universal, but overall tracking results works. In other words, not everyone that tracks results improves, but on average you do.
Here’s an example:
Two players play blackjack and track their results. They both play the same game with the same rules and bet the same amount of money.
The first player never changes the game, the way they play, or the amount they bet.
The second player learns from their results, finds a game with better rules, improves their strategy decisions, and learns how to count cards.
As you can probably determine, the results of the first player never improve and the results of the second player improve a great deal.
The lesson in this example is that you need to track your results, but if you don’t use the information to improve you’re wasting time and effort.
As you read the rest of this section read it with this thought in mind. You have to take action on everything you track if you want to improve.
This seems like a simple thing, but only a small percentage of gamblers actually take positive action. The rest continue t do the same thing and hope for better results.
Hope isn’t a strategy.
You should track everything to can think of while gambling. Here’s a list of things to track to get started. As you play you should be able to find more things to add to the list.
- Where you play
- When you play
- How long you play
- Which games you play
- How much you bet on average
- Your low bet amount
- Your high bet amount
- The rules of the game you play
- Your profit or loss for each game
- Your profit or loss for each playing session
- How much sleep you had the night before you play
- If you bet on sports you should track the lines, weather, playing conditions, travel schedule of the teams, key players, and everything else you can think of
- Your overall bankroll
- The strategy you use
- What you eat
- How often you exercise
- Information about your opponents if you play poker or other games played against someone other than the house
As you accumulate information you can start seeing when and where you’re the most profitable and which games you should avoid. Just remember that most gambling games are based on long term odds and percentages so short term results can and will vary a great deal.
2 – Always Look for an Edge
If you plan to gamble as much as hardcore gamblers you need to be able to win enough to keep playing. Recreational gamblers tend to play their favorite games and don’t worry about the house edge or long term results.
Recreational gamblers win sometimes and lose sometimes, but if they track their results they usually see a consistent drain on their bankroll. As they lose money over time they need to add money to their bankroll from an outside source like a job.
Hardcore gamblers don’t always play their favorite games because they understand that they aren’t playing for fun. They have to find ways to gamble with an edge as much as possible so they can keep playing.
The first thing to do is focus on games that have the lowest house edge and gambling activities that offer the chance to pay with an edge.
Casinos are set up to give the house an edge in as many ways as possible but if you know what you’re doing you can find opportunities to gamble with an edge.
The three main areas where gamblers can play with an edge are the following.
It’s not easy to play with an edge, but some professional gambler turn a long term profit in each of these three areas.
In poker you play against the other players and pay the casino or poker room a small fee, taken from each pot in the form of the rake, so if you can play better than most of your opponents you can be a long term winner.
Sports betting is based on the lines set and offered by the sportsbooks and if you learn enough about the teams, players, and games you can find lines that offer value. If you find and make bets on enough lines that offer value you can be a long term winner.
Blackjack players can get an edge by finding the games with the best rules, using the best strategy, and learning how to count cards.
3 – Think of New Ways to Gamble
The phrase think outside the box has been used so much that it’s almost a waste of time to state it. But hardcore gamblers try to think of and develop new and different ways to gamble.
Gambling activities are usually designed so the house has an edge. But who says you can only gamble with the casino?
If you know much about professional poker players, many of them make all kinds of side bets while playing or away from the table. They might bet on the color of the next card dealt or on a side game of gold or other activity.
Sports bettors place bets with a sportsbook or bookie and are charged a vig. But what if you were able to find ways to place sports bets without a vig? This would mean that you didn’t need to win as often in order to make a profit.
In order to make a bet you need to have something to bet on and someone to bet against. The casinos and sportsbooks train us to bet against them on games they offer, but hardcore gamblers don’t get stuck in this mindset. They are always looking for new and better ways to gamble.
4 – Always Learning
If you want to improve your gambling results you need to become a student of each game you play. You should always be looking for more information and learning how to play better and find games with better rules and a lower house edge.
When new games are introduced you need to find out the house edge and the best strategies. Even with old games you need to learn everything you can about strategy and rules if you want to alter the house edge.
Long term profit and loss comes directly from the amount you bet and the house edge. Some games have a set house edge and you can’t do anything to alter the results. But many games have an edge that depends on how you play, or the in other words, the strategy that you use.
Slot machines have a set house edge and you won’t find any strategy that can change it. But games like poker, blackjack, and video poker have specific strategies you can use to change the edge.
5 – Take Everything They Can Get
Most casinos offer rewards in the form of comps for players. You usually have to sign up for the player’s club or slot’s club in order to qualify for these rewards.
Some of the possible rewards include:
- Free play
- Cash back
- Free meals
- Free hotel room
- Free flights
- Entry into freeroll tournaments
- Rake back
Hardcore gamblers recognize that anything they can get from the casino is the same as losing less. If you get a free meal worth $20 it’s $20 less that you have to spend out of your pocket.
After you sign up for the rewards program you’re not finished trying to get more from the casino. Don’t hesitate to ask for more. Ask for comped meals, loss rebates, and anything else you can think of.
Ask the employee at the player’s club and the floor supervisors. You can ask the dealers who to talk to about getting more.
If the casino where you play isn’t willing to give you more then find another casino. What you can get depends somewhat on how much you play, but every casino has different regulations about what they can and will give.
The only possible exception to always looking for more is if you count cards while playing blackjack. In most places it’s not illegal to count cards but the casino can stop you from playing. You don’t want to draw too much attention if you’re a card counter so you might not want to hustle for comps too much.
6 – Try to Stay Healthy
Casinos aren’t designed with your health in mind. They’re closed environments with no sunshine where you breathe the air circulated from hundreds or thousands of people. You usually sit for long periods of time and the only exercise you get is walking to the bathroom.
When you don’t take care of your health it can dull your mind. This can cost you money because you’re more likely to make mistakes. The same thing happens when you get tired.
To stay healthy you need to make sure you get enough rest, eat well, and exercise.
When you stay healthy you can play longer and keep your mind sharp. This leads to fewer mistakes and better opportunities for long term profit.
Here’s an example:
You’re playing in a poker game filled with poor players. You usually only play for six hours per session but this game is so good that you can make money as long as you can play with a clear mind.
If you’re tired and haven’t been taking care of yourself you may only be able to play an extra hour or two. But if you’re in the best shape possible you might be able to play and profit for an extra four or six hours.
7 – Practice
Often gamblers get in the habit of placing bets and forget that many opportunities exist to practice and improve for free.
The internet is filled with online casinos where you can play games for free. You can practice your blackjack, video poker, or poker strategy without risking any money.
You can practice sports betting on paper without placing bets. When you develop a new sport betting system you can test it on upcoming games with no risk. You can even back test a system to see how it would perform.
If you do back test a system understand that it doesn’t always mean that it will work moving forward just because it might have worked in the past. You still need to test it moving forward.
It’s exciting to have money riding on a game, but it’s even better to know from practice and experience that you have a good chance to win.
Take advantage of every opportunity to practice and improve and you’ll quickly see improvement in your everyday results.
Practice can also help you understand that gambling is a long term activity. Anyone can get lucky and win a gambling session, but over the long run the base odds and percentages play out.
If you play a game like Jacks or Better video poker the casino is going to take your money. Even with perfect strategy the house edge is close to a half percent. This means that if you bet $1,000 an hour in the long run you’re going to lose $5 per hour.
You might win sometimes, but in the long run the results will be a drain on your bankroll.
8 – Never Give Up
Being a hardcore gambler can be tiring and depressing. Some poker players grind out a small profit per hour but end up needing to play 60 or 70 hours a week to survive.
Sports bettors have to find an edge over many contests and create a profit over time. Even card counters have ups and downs.
You have to be able to survive the grind and the up and down swings. This becomes more of a mental challenge than a physical one in many ways.
But if you can find opportunities where you can play with an edge and understand the long term expectation it can help you keep playing. You’ll learn more about this in the section about knowing the numbers.
Unless you make a commitment to never give up and stick with it you’re simply an overworked recreational gambler.
9 – Protect Their Bankroll Like Their Life
A hardcore gambler understands that their bankroll is the lifeblood of their occupation. If they run out of money they can’t place bets. Even if they find an opportunity where they can make a good profit, if they don’t have enough money to play they can’t exploit it.
This means that you have to make sure that you always know how much you have to gamble with and make bets of an appropriate size so you don’t risk going broke.
You need to understand the chances or odds of winning and losing each situation so that you can place a bet of the maximum amount while protecting your bankroll.
Here’s an example:
If you have a $100 bankroll and find someone to agree to pay you $20 every time a coin flip comes up heads and you only have to pay $10 when it comes up tails would you take the bet?
Most of us would take the bet because the odds of it coming up tails the first 10 times in a row are astronomical.
But what if you only had a $10 bankroll?
I don’t think there’s any question the bet is good for you, but if the first flip is tails you lose your entire bankroll and won’t be able to enjoy your long term edge.
This is the basis of every betting decision you make. You need to determine the chance of success against the amount or percentage of your bankroll you have to risk.
Most hardcore gamblers use approximate percentages in order to avoid complicated mathematical calculations. This is fine as long as you don’t risk too much on any single bet. Remember that there’s never a sure thing where gambling is involved.
Every NCAA football season we see games where a powerhouse program is playing a weak opponent and the favorite loses. It doesn’t happen often, but it happens often enough that it can cost you a great deal of money.
It might seem like taking the money line bet on the heavy favorite is a sure thing, but you have to risk such a large amount to win a small amount that you only have to be wrong occasionally to have months of profit wiped out.
If you’re a sports bettor how much should you risk on any individual bet?
A great deal depends on how good you are at placing winning bets, but betting more than 5% of your total bankroll on a single game is dangerous. Betting 1% or 2% of your bankroll per game is much safer and helps you avoid taking a big hit.
Even winning sports bettors have streaks of losses. You don’t want to place 5% of your bankroll on 10 different games and have a bad streak that wipes out half of your bankroll. Don’t think this can’t or won’t happen.
It’s also important to know how easy you can replace a lost part of your bankroll. If all of your income is from gambling you probably don’t have any outside source of capital to replace your losses. But if you have money saved or a side job you might be able to risk a slightly higher percentage of your bankroll in high leverage situations.
10 – Know the Numbers
You’ve learned a few things about knowing the numbers already, but if you want to be a hardcore gambler you need to know and understand all of the numbers associated with any bet you make.
You need to know the odds and percentages for every game and bet. If you place sports bets you need to know the vig and understand how it factors into how many games you need to win to show a profit.
When you play poker you have to understand pot odds and the chances of hitting a hand so you can size your bets correctly and adjust your strategy.
Games like blackjack and video poker require the use of perfect playing strategy to keep the house edge as low as possible.
If you don’t know all of the numbers, odds, percentages, and strategies for a game you need to learn them before you play.
By learning 10 things that hardcore gamblers do you can improve your chances of winning. Eventually you should try to incorporate all 10 things on this page, but you can start with two or three.
As you improve you can add other things from the list.