I should start by pointing out that neither I nor this site has any association with the original 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In fact, I’m pretty sure that Stephen Covey would disapprove of this post.
When I was younger, I read a lot of personal development material, and the 7 Habits had an almost cult-like following.
Now that I mostly write about real money casino gambling for a living, I thought it would be interesting to apply some of those principles to your career (or hobby) of gambling.
Below, I’ve provided my take on the seven habits of highly successful casino gamblers.
1 – Be Proactive With Your Casino Gambling
The first three habits in the traditional model have to do with personal victory as an individual. And the first step in that process is identifying what you can and cannot control and staying focused on what you CAN control.
What can you control when you’re a casino gambler?
You can choose which games to play. You can choose which bets to place. You can decide how to size those bets. You can decide whether to join the players club. You can decide to play when there are bonus points and rewards available for members of the players club.
You cannot decide what the outcomes are going to be for a specific bet. You have no way of knowing or controlling whether the ball lands on red or black in roulette, or whether the next roll of the dice at the craps table is 7 or 11.
By focusing on what you can control, you can be more effective. For example, at the craps table, you can choose the bets with the lowest house edge.
At the blackjack table, you can learn to count cards and raise and lower your bets based on whether the deck is favorable to you.
2 – Begin With the End in Mind
This is just a fancy way of saying you should set goals. With casino gambling, it’s mostly unrealistic to set a goal of making a living as a casino gambler (although it’s possible for advantage players like card counters in blackjack).
What kinds of goals should you set instead of being a winner? You might set goals related to how much time you get to spend playing. Or you might set a goal for how much you want to win and be willing to quit once you’ve won that much.
You should certainly have a limit on how much you’re willing to lose. (This is called a loss limit.) Most of these goals won’t change the odds. They’ll still be against you.
But without deciding what success looks like beforehand, it’s impossible to know when you’ve achieved it.
3 – Put First Things First
This basically means you need to prioritize. For a casino gambler, I think this has a lot to do with money management strategies.
Most people gambling in a casino have traveled to that casino on vacation. If that’s the case, you need to know how much money to budget for things like transportation, food, and room and board.
It’s sad but true that a lot of casino gamblers lose so much money gambling that they’re tired and hungry before they return for their trip.
It’s easy to lose track and lose a bunch of money before your trip is over.
Put first things first. Set aside the money you need for other purposes before deciding how much money you’re going to gamble with. Be extremely self-disciplined and diligent about staying within your budget.
Don’t even take a trip to a casino unless you’re already in good financial shape to begin with.
4 – Think Win-Win
The next three habits have to do with dealing with other people. You might not see how this applies to the life of a casino gambler, but let’s face it, dealing with other people matters everywhere no matter what.
Thinking win-win is the idea that you’re going to look for a solution that looks like a win to both parties.
Let’s say you’re playing slots in the casino and you really enjoy beer. The cocktail waitress comes by and brings you a beer. And you LOVE that it’s free because you’re gambling.
If you don’t tip her, guess how many more rounds you’re getting? Not only will the cocktail waitress you stiffed refuse to bring you more drinks, she’ll warn the other waitresses about you.
On the other hand, if you tip her a $5, $10, or $20 when she brings you the first beer, she’ll make sure you’re toward the top of the list of customers to bring drinks to for the rest of the night. All you’ll need to do is tip her $1 every time she brings you a drink.
If you spend a lot of time in the casino, it might be worthwhile to give her another $5 every couple of hours just to keep her happy.
You both win. She makes a decent amount of money, and you get to drink cheap without having to wait for service.
5 – Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
The idea is that most people are trying so hard to convey their ideas to other people that they lose valuable rapport with that other person.
When does something like this come up? Let’s suppose you’re a reasonably high-dollar gambler, and you have your own casino host assigned to you.
If you think about what his goals are first, you’re more likely to work out situations where you can get your goals achieved, whatever those might be.
Maybe you want to get an upgrade to a suite to impress your girlfriend. If you talk to your casino host with an attitude of what you can do to help him, you’ll be more likely to get what you want.
This works with everyone else in the casino, too. You can often get an upgraded room by slipping the hotel desk clerk a $20 bill when you check in.
6 – Synergize
This is a fancy word for using teamwork. I know that there are gamblers who prefer to gamble on their own without dealing with other people. This habit might not apply to them. But think about the people it does apply to.
For example, the most successful card counters in history belong to teams. Some of the most successful poker players also belong to teams.
This is an example of combining multiple people’s strengths to achieve results you couldn’t achieve on your own.
For example, you might not be a great poker player, but you might have a huge bankroll. It might be worth your while to find a couple of young poker winners to sponsor. You pay for their buy-ins, then you get a cut of their winnings.
I recently bought 2% of a poker player’s action in the World Series of Poker. He didn’t place in the money, but it sure was fun. He probably could have entered the event without any investors, but some poker pros really do need financial backing to get into the game.
7 – Sharpen the Saw
This is based on the old story about how someone asked Abraham Lincoln what he would do if he had eight hours to cut down a tree. He said he’d spend the first seven hours sharpening his saw.
In your case, YOU are the saw. You can’t play the game of poker effectively if you’re drunk, tired, or sick. Sharpening the saw means taking care of your health and well-being so that you can perform effectively. This is true of world-class sports bettors or card counters in blackjack, too.
But it also applies to recreational gamblers.
Guess what happens to your self-discipline and willpower if you’re not well rested?
So, yes, the seven habits of highly effective people do have specific applications to being a casino gambler, even if Stephen Covey would disapprove.
Do you have any examples of how these habits of highly successful casino gamblers have informed your casino play?