Gambling is inherently risky. You can never be sure of a win, no matter what the “experts” say. Every game is a game of chance, and the odds are always in the house’s favor, not yours.
With that caveat, there are things you can do to be a successful gambler. Its just that “successful gambler” doesn’t mean “wins every time.” A successful gambler is a gambler who manages to leave the casino or track richer than they were when the walked in, and someone who doesn’t let their gambling control them.
You can never eliminate the risk when you gamble, and you don’t want to, anyway. The risk is what makes gambling exciting. What you can do, though, is avoid risking too much, and maximize your chances of winning something while guaranteeing that you’ll enjoy every minute of it. Here are our tips on how best to achieve that.
Don’t Let Your Emotions Rule You
Emotionally driven decisions are usually bad decisions. Emotions cloud your mind and make it hard to think clearly. When you’re gambling, both winning and losing can stir up a lot of emotions in you that can lead to poor decision making.
If you’re winning, you feel a natural high. We’ve all felt it, it’s great. But it clouds your judgment in a big way.
Win one bet, and you feel good. Win two, even better. Win five in a row? You’re on cloud 9, and you feel invincible. You should stop, but now it’s hard to quit. This is when a lot of people get themselves into trouble. They let a winning streak go to their heads, and they just keep betting.
Eventually, you’re going to lose. And now you’re going to chase the loss- you’ll just keep betting and betting, trying to recover what you lost, and maybe restore some of your pride in the process. You’ll just lose more, though.
Successful gamblers know when to quit. They might stop after winning one bet or, if they’re feeling a little bold, after a streak of two or three.
Losing can be just as hard to handle, but not in the way you might expect. Of course losing feels bad, but if you’ve lost several bets in a row, you might start to tell yourself that the next bet must be a winner. You’ve lost so many you must be due for a win, so you keep betting and digging yourself into a deeper hole.
Don’t let your emotions rule you. Successful gamblers know when to quit while they’re ahead, now matter how much they’ve won or lost.
Don’t fall for the Gambler’s Fallacy
This is very similar to what was described above, except it’s not always emotionally driven.
The Gambler’s Fallacy is the belief that, if something unlikely has happened regularly in a certain span of time, it’s bound to change. Or, conversely, that’s bound to continue.
Essentially, the Gambler’s Fallacy is that you can predict future events based on past outcomes.
For example, in roulette, the likelihood of the ball landing on red five times in a row is a lot lower than the likelihood of it landing on red twice in a row. So, you’d be tempted to think that it must land on black next. However, each spin of the wheel has exactly the same probabilities as all the other spins.
If a fair coin lands on hands ten times in a row, there is still only a 50/50 chance that it will land on heads with the next toss.
You can’t place your bets based on the outcomes of previous rolls, spins, or hands.
Know Your Game
If you don’t know the rules of blackjack, don’t gamble on it.
If you don’t understand basketball, don’t place a bet on it.
Stick to what you know. If all you know is the slot machines, that’s fine.
Most people understand this fairly well when it comes to sports betting. Few people will bet on a football game if they don’t watch football regularly enough to understand what they’re betting on. Not everyone applies that logic to the casino, though.
To have a shot at winning a bet on blackjack, you really need to understand the game clearly. You don’t just need to know the basic rules, you need to understand the strategy for playing to win. It’s not just blind luck hoping to be dealt a good hand; you need to know when the cards in your hand are telling you to quit.
Same with Poker. There’s more strategy and decision making involved than a lot of people realize.
Really, this is true for every kind of gamble. Sure, the decisions are mostly about when to take a risk and when not to, but if you don’t know how the game works you can’t make those decisions wisely. Successful gamblers don’t bet on games they don’t know.
Successful gamblers don’t just know the rules, they know the odds.
For instance, you have a 46% chance of winning every blackjack hand. If you lose 10 hands in a row, you still have a nearly 50/50 chance of winning the eleventh hand. This helps keep your emotions in check and avoid the Gambler’s Fallacy, too. You always have a 46% chance at every hand in blackjack, no matter who you are, how well you know the game, or how many hands in a row you’ve won or lost. 46%, every time.
If you know the odds, you’ll handle losing streaks much better. The odds never change, not in any game. If you always know the odds, you’ll always have a rational frame of reference to base your decisions on.
Never play a casino game without knowing the odds. That’s a surefire way to lose money fast.
If you just want to gamble for fun on the weekends, then this one isn’t for you.
If you want to be a consistently successful gambler though, you’re going to really need to love numbers. Statistics and probabilities and even multiplication and division all factor in to successful gambling.
Before I continue, let me be clear: we’re not talking about shady practices such as counting cards here. Understanding this stuff is perfectly legal and won’t get you kicked out of a casino.
You also don’t need to be a genius or have a formal education in math to do it. Plenty of the world’s most successful gamblers are drop-outs. They learned the math through practice.
The more you gamble, the more you begin to understand the game. In fact, for a lot us, the math behind successful gambling is complex enough that we’d never understand it if someone tried to teach it to us in a classroom. But long hours on the casino floor, practicing, watching, and experiencing the math happening in a real life situation can teach you better than an MIT professor.
You might still need to do some reading and studying to really understand the math and have a shot at predicting the outcomes of the games, but once you’ve spent enough time playing, that becomes much easier. Which brings us to the next point.
You Have to Gamble
You can’t expect to walk in off the street, sit down at a blackjack table for first time in your life, and win big.
To be a successful gambler, you’re going to have to be an unsuccessful gambler first. That’s because consistently successful gambling requires that you understand the game and the math. You have to actually sit down and play the game for a while, and you’ll lose while you’re learning.
That’s why you should play it safe when you start out. Make small, safe bets. Not only does that minimize the amount of money you lose, but making smaller bets keeps you in the game longer, and it doesn’t affect your win probability at all.
You can even play some games, like blackjack and roulette, for free online. The online games work more or less exactly the same way as the game sin the casino, but you aren’t putting any money down at all, so there’s zero risk. You can learn the game and be an expert in it before you ever bet a single dollar.
Choose Games with a Low House Edge
Blackjack has a much lower house edge than European Roulette. American Roulette has a much lower house edge than European Roulette. Really, almost everything has a lower house edge than European Roulette.
Baccarat and Blackjack usually have the lowest house edge, which means those are the games in which you have the best chances of winning. Video Poker, American Roulette, and French Roulette are all a step down from there- the house edge is bigger, but you still have a decent chance.
The house edge in European Roulette is usually 70%. Don’t play European Roulette.
Remember, the house edge describes a long term advantage. Play any of those games long enough, and you will lose.
Create a Bankroll
Creating a bankroll means that you’re setting aside a percentage of your income each month just for gambling. This means that each time you gamble, you know exactly how much you have to spend and you know that, even if you lose it all, you’re fine, because you’ve already paid your bills.
For most of us, the amount we set aside each month won’t get us very far at a casino. We’ll have to save up for a few months before we can start gambling with our bankroll, and if we lose it all it’ll be a few more months before we can do it again.
That’s fine, because it forces you to spend those months thinking over strategies and playing free online versions of the game to practice. You can maximize your odds of winning while you wait for your bankroll to be large enough.
Manage Your Bankroll
Once you have your bankroll, you don’t want to lose it all in two hands of blackjack.
Decide in advance what percentage of your bankroll to use on each bet. If you have a $1,000 bankroll, you might decide to never bet more than 2% at a time. That’s $20 per bet. This way you minimize your losses and maximize the number of bets you can place.
It’s also a good idea to decide how much you’re willing to lose and how much you’re willing to win.
It seems odd to talk about how much you’re willing to win, but successful gamblers quit while they’re ahead, because if they keep going they’re guaranteed to lose it all eventually. Most people aim for somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-15% in won or lost money as their stopping point.
Casinos don’t won’t you focused. That’s why they created party pits- areas of the floor with loud music and attractive, nearly naked dealers. It’s also why they comp so many drinks.
Stay sober, and play at tables in more mild-mannered areas of the casino so your mind stays sharp. A distracted gambler is a losing gambler. A focused gambler can still lose- luck, remember- but the odds are much more in your favor.
If you’re gambling at home, in an online casino or a friendly poker game, don’t play loud music or try and watch TV while you play.
There’s no way to totally eliminate the influence of luck when you gamble, but successful gamblers understand this and take it into account. If you understand the game that you’re playing and know the math behind it, you can still manage to minimize the role that luck plays.
The truth is that most of us are never going to be professional gamblers. Most of those people seem to have some sort of skill or intelligence that they were born with, that makes them geniuses when it comes to gambling even if they’re men and women of average intelligence overall.
You don’t have to be like them to be a successful gambler, though. As long as you know what you’re doing, you can still walk out of any casino a winner.