Gambling Psychology: How to Improve Your Game?

The chances for a player to make money by engaging in advantage gaming are very high when they have the appropriate bankroll, and when they allocate the appropriate time that is needed for the math to work out. Another under reported aspect of advantage play is the mental toughness required to take on this challenging task. This requires infinite patience and the ability to detach ones’ self from the emotional reality of the situation.

The financial swings are dramatic violent and can try the boundaries of one’s own sanity. You could easily half your bankroll before you start making money. If you think a typical 9-5 job is tough you should see the 5-40 spread of the Atlantic City 8 deck grinder. To get into the appropriate mental state a player has to remove emotion from their play. The simplest way to put it is that you must play as a computer, only reacting as the basic strategy charts indicate and scale your bet as the count dictates. The more hands that you play in this way the more likely you will keep your sanity and the more likely it is you will be a winning player. But the player should be aware it is much easier said than done. There are infinite obstacles’ that must be hurdled to achieve this goal.

Nothing that I can write here can prepare you for what you will go through as a professional Advantage Player. The emotional swings mimic those of a manic depressant, and the ongoing badgering that you will receive from casino personal as well as personal tribulations is uncanny. Not so long ago I was consoling a player whose bankroll was down 45% in 3 weeks, and whose partner had left with part of the remaining bankroll and he was also backed off from every major properties blackjack game on the Las Vegas Strip. And to put a cherry on top he had to file a lawsuit against CAESERS entertainment because 4 of their security officers broke into his room while he was sleeping and proceeded to take pictures of him and they forcibly evicted him from one of their properties during one of the busiest convention weeks in Las Vegas.

The only thing I can tell you is that you need to stick with it. The math always works out, ALWAYS. You must stomach the negative swings and be sure to choose a partner or partners that are trust worthy. To be a successful at any advantage gaming venture you must get a lot of play in. The more hands you play the less risk there is because you are getting closer to the point where the Expected Value equals the standard deviation and thus giving player just over an 80% probability of never having the bankroll go negative. This usually occurs at around 10,000 hands for a 1% edge. Being a professional player means keeping good records. You do this to estimate your edge and winnings. In the beginning of bankroll it also gives a goal. The closer you get to that goal the more your actual winnings will reflect the theoretical. 

Relax casino player

There is an array of emotions that you will have when engaging in casino gaming for profit over an extended period of time. I will describe a few of the more dominant ones. The first is when you are going through a positive swing and things are overtly good. The team or player is hitting every double down and getting great second cards on every split. Your stiffs are always against a week dealers bust card and they bust every time. In this positive swing scenario the endorphins are flowing and the player is consistently making money. The attitude that comes with this is “I’ll go to the casino and make a couple thousand dollars today.”

The comps from the casino flow like the Nile; everything from comp suites to lavish gourmet dinners to VIP booths at night clubs and concert tickets come with minimal effort. They player is invincible. Ironically, during these times the casino personal tends to leave the player alone although the eye in the sky is most likely watching from a distance. You feel good, the team feels good and everything is perfect. If you rather play online there are websites that will review different comps and bonuses such as, which focus on real money players that prefers to make real cash wagers. 

On the flips side of that coin when you or your team is going through a negative swing you’ll be losing all your 19 and 20s, your double downs will get weak cards, and you will bust your splits. The thing that I can relay from years of playing on teams and individually is that when you’re losing every aspect of play is scrutinized. It’s replayed over and over in your mind searching for mistakes. At the same time the will to play for players to play is greatly diminished. When the bank is negative many of the players will not want to play at all. To counter this threat of diminished moral in a team environment I find it is best to compartmentalize the players and managers of a given team. Let management keep track of the records and not communicate to the players about results. Another aspect to this is to have trusted players assume the BP role and make it clear to the BP players not to communicate results to spotters and counters. This keeps motivation to make money high.

There are measures that players and teams can take to keep confidence high and also minimize the questioning of others skills set during a negative swing. The first is to have a very stringent set of checkout procedures, checkout procedures refers to the displaying of the skills needed to win money in a casino. Displaying perfect knowledge of basic strategy, accurately keeping a running count and correctly sizing your bet are examples from advantage blackjack play. Playing perfect basic strategy, no more than 2 running count mistakes through 3 shoes of play and being wrong on your bet sizing by one or two units are my guidelines qualifying a player for online casino. Ideally the player should make no mistakes during the check out procedures but there must be some room for error.

Allowable Testing Errors for a Three Shoe Checkout Procedure
Allowable Running Count Errors 2
Allowable Basic Strategy Errors 0
Allowable Bet Sizing Errors 2

Gambling is stressful. Winning demands awareness, alertness and clear thought. Diet, exercise, sleep and relaxation contribute to performing optimally. What you eat contributes to your overall mood.  A healthy stream of fruits and vegetables keeps you sharp and perceptive. Also, knowing what to eat prior to playing or in between sessions is also vital. For example, it’s probably not a good idea to eat a big steak dinner prior to an evening session. You’ll find that it makes you mentally sluggish and physically lethargic. Instead think along the lines of salad with mixed nuts or fruits as snacks and water, lots and lots of water.

Regular exercise also plays an intricate part in stress management because vigorous exercise burns off the stress hormones the body produces. Being active is always a good idea but healthy body always functions better and this is doubly true when referring to the mind. Regular exercise doesn’t imply 2 hours at the gym 4 days a week. It can be as little as a 30 minute walk after dinner 3 days a week or just walking from one Las Vegas Strip casino to the next while playing.  Anyone who’s been to Las Vegas knows that even though the distance between them looks short, it’s usually almost a mile.  A health club may not be a bad idea because many of the new clubs are very reasonable in cost and have massage chairs including in their monthly fees.

Sleep is also very important for the mind to process what has occurred and put events into a rational context. It gives the mind to sort out what you went through while separating emotion from the event(s). Some players find it helpful to take a 45 minute to 1 hour nap prior to play. But the most important thing is to listen to your body. It will tell you if it’s too tired to play, fighting it on this is not a good idea.

Lastly, it’s important to take some time away from playing to reset your mental state. Relaxing is an overlooked aspect. Massages are good, lying out by the pool is good even a night out seeing a live show or even a movie is good. Anything that will take your mind away from all things gaming is good.

Managing your mental state is vital when playing. You have to know how to weather the bad mental states you will endure and how not to get to high of your positive experiences. Unfortunately, knowing what to expect and going through it aren’t anywhere close to being the same thing. But at the very least this article has presented some ways to cope with those inevitable down turns.