Think Like A Professional GamblerOne of the key factors in taking your gambling up to the next level, is the correct mental attitude. A professional gambler must show discipline and be in control of his or her emotions at all times, as well as working extremely hard. Professional gamblers think differently to the average punter too, as we will discover in this article.

Long Term Expectation
It is important to remember that when you are gambling, you are playing the long game. Long term expectation is far more important than any results in recent sessions. If you bet £1 on number 5 for one spin of the roulette wheel, you will either lose £1 or win £35 of profit, but your long term expectation is actually a loss of around three pence.

Assuming that we are dealing with a European roulette wheel, we have a total of 37 numbers to choose from – 0 and the numbers 1 to 36. This means that the actual probability of our number 5 coming up, is 1 in 37. Another way of saying this, is that for every 37 spins we take, we will win once. The odds that we are paid when this bet comes up, are 35/1. So we will receive £35 of profit plus our original £1 stake, for a total of £36.

The number of losing spins in that same sequence of 37 spins, is 36 – or in other words, we will lose 36 out of every 37 spins. So in the same sequence, we would lose our £1 36 times, for total losses of £36. We can calculate our long term expectancy on this bet as follows:

Expectancy = [probability of winning multiplied by the amount won] + [probability of losing multiplied by the amount of losses]

So, for this example: [1/37 x £35] + [36/37 x -£1] = -0.027

This means that for every £1 wagered, we can expect to lose £0.027, or a little under three pence.

So if we have £100 worth of spins in a session, we expect to lose £2.70. It is entirely plausible that every single spin would lose, meaning losses of £100 or that 10 of the spins would win, meaning the drinks are on us, but our long term expectation is a loss of £2.70.

What Can We Learn From This?
The most obvious lesson here, is that a long series of winning sessions, or indeed a string of losing sessions, means nothing in the grand scheme of things. It is important not to be too downbeat after a losing session – keep working and the results will come. Equally, big wins in the short term do not mean you have the game beaten and you must keep your focus and discipline.

We have already illustrated that betting on single numbers at roulette is a negative expectation game – there is no way of realistically making a long term profit from such a wager. In fact, there isn’t a single positive or even neutral expectation bet anywhere to be found on the roulette layout. So playing roulette long term is ill advised.

Blackjack on the other hand, is one casino game that can be turned into a positive expectation proposition, by learning to count cards and by playing at tables offering favourable rules. The exact rules will vary from casino to casino, but certain changes in the rules can increase or decrease the house edge. For example, the blackjack dealer usually stands on 17, but a rule variation found in some casinos allows the dealer to hit a soft 17 and this decreases the player’s expected returns by 0.22%.

The exact edge gained by counting cards will depend on the system used, but it is widely accepted that no player will ever gain more than a 2% edge over the casino.

Assuming an advantage of 1% when playing blackjack, we can calculate that by playing £5 per hand, we would expect to gain £0.05 per hand. The first lesson to note here, is that five pence per hand is not a huge sum of money. Most live blackjack dealers will give you something like 60 hands per hour when there are multiple players seated, so in this case, we expect a profit of £3 an hour – this is not going to be a “get rich quick scheme” and a lot of dedication and effort is required in order to see any long term profits.

We also learn, that the ways to improve that expectation, are to either increase your advantage over the house – very difficult to achieve – or to increase either your average wager, or your hands per hour. The safest of the latter two options to alter is hands per hour. If you can find yourself a seat at an empty table, you may get as many as 150 or even 200 hands per hour. Three times as many hands would mean three times as much profit.

Discipline Is Crucial
If you are to make long term profit at any form of gambling, be it as a professional gambler or just a keen player, discipline is the most critical thing of all. As we alluded to earlier, you can’t afford to believe you have the game cracked after a string of wins and you should never worry about short term losses, as long as you are consistently making the correct plays.

Emotions can spell the downfall of a gambler and the correct attitude is to keep these to a minimum. Try not to drink while gambling and don’t gamble if you are too tired. A professional gambler should be looking to put in as much quality time at the casino as possible, in order to take full advantage of his or her edge over the house. The amounts won or lost in a session are irrelevant – see the bigger picture.

Best of luck at the casino.