Some people distinguish between recreational gamblers and professional gamblers. Pros call the difference pedestrian vs. advantage gamblers. I say the real gambler is an advantage player, and all the rest just people who use games for fun. Let’s first look at two different patrons at a casino.
Player 1 is visiting a casino with a party pit, playing 6/5 blackjack on hunches, and Player 2 is playing a regular blackjack table, same denomination as player 1, 3/2 blackjack with basic strategy. Player 2 is a gambler – a person who is wagering trying to diminish the house advantage and raise the EV, while, player 1 is interested in the experience, doesn’t care about the EV or strategy – just wants to have fun. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but he’s not a gambler, he’s just a party person using the casino for the experience.
Remember the movie “Guys & Dolls?” Let me refresh your memory your memory when Nathan Detroit, owner of the longest traveling craps game in New York (Frank Sinatra) meets Sky Masterson, a well-known out-of-town gambler, for the first time.
Sky Masterson has a reputation for being a reckless gambler that will bet on anything, but when he bets Nathan Detroit that Nathan didn’t know the color of his tie (covering it up), he won the bet. He knew most people don’t remember things like that. He quickly figured Nathan as one of those, realized the EV was high – and won!
So, what is a real gambler? A real gambler has been personified in movies as a reckless, all-or-nothing person – which couldn’t be farther from the truth. Just because a person visits a casino and plays casino games doesn’t make them a gambler.
In a future post I will be looking into the characteristics of gambling addiction, which must be considered when considering what a gambler truly is. But for now I will try to narrow down the characteristics of the true gambler, as compared to the recreational person who uses gambling for fun.
So, here is what I think a real gambler is. This is only one man’s opinion. But, in that opinion, I feel a real gambler:
1) Is knowledgeable of the game they are playing, employing any strategy that decreases the house edge. This includes
- awareness of sucker bets
- bonus bets that add to the house advantage
- basic strategy in table games they play
- use of casino promotions and point multipliers
- knowing the difference in different rules in same basic game that changes the expected EV of the game – such as video poker pay table differences in the same game, or the difference of a dealer hitting on a soft 17 at blackjack
2) Believes in the science of gambling. This includes the awareness of the ploys the casinos use to fool you into having more knowledge and control over the next bet. Some examples include:
- the electronic board of previous winners at the roulette wheel
- scorecards for baccarat
- or even lots of small wins at a slot machine “due to hit.”
3) Understand the perception of “hot” and “cold” machines are created by humans using an extremely small sample of events. Streaks or patterns do exist – especially if seen in a short period time. But the realization of them is really created by human nature. Acceptance of the science created by the RNG (Random Number Generator) only helps stay away from huge disappointment, anger and the tendency to chase your losses.
4) Uses comps to decrease the house advantage. Free meals, comped rooms, free slot play, giveaways with entries – they all decrease the house advantage and increase your EV by preserving your bankroll or adding to it.
So, there’s one man’s opinion. In a future post I will take a more specific look into EV and what it means to specific games.
That’s all for now.