How to Think Like a Professional Gambler

Silhouette of a Man With a Briefcase in Front of a Casino Chip and Money Background

A long time ago one of my mentors told me that if I wanted to do what someone else is already doing, all I needed to do was figure out what they were doing and do the same things. This bit of advice has been quite helpful to me over the years, and has made me a great deal of money.

When I started trying to become a winning gambler I followed the advice. I tried to find winning gamblers and figure out what they were doing. I read every book and article I could find, and kept trying to do what winning gamblers were doing.

It took a long time, but eventually I learned enough to start turning a profit. One of the important things I learned along the way was that professional gamblers didn’t always think the same way as other gamblers. Over the years I learned that most successful people don’t think the same as people who aren’t as successful as them.

Here’s some information about how professional gamblers think. You can use this information to help you get better results when you gamble. The more you think and act like a professional gambler, the closer your results are going to be to theirs.

What Is a Professional Gambler?

One problem with trying to figure out the difference in the way a professional gambler thinks and how everyone else thinks is defining what a professional gambler is. Is a professional gambler someone who makes a full time living gambling, or someone who gambles most days but also has an outside source of income?

Does a gambler need to make a long term profit to be called a professional, or just dedicate a set amount of time to gambling? Can a professional gambler just play on the weekends? All of these are good questions, but in the end they don’t really matter. The reason they don’t really matter is because you get to decide what it means to be a professional gambler.

For the purposes of this article, I’m going to use my definition. If you don’t like my definition, feel free to adjust it for your own purposes, or write your own article.

My definition of a professional gambler is anyone who is able to make a long term profit gambling.

They don’t have to play a set number of hours or make a full time living gambling. They simply have to be able to make more than they lose over time using a skill or set of skills.

This means that a person who gets lucky and wins a big lottery and dies before they lose all of the money isn’t a professional. But this also means that a blackjack player who uses a simple counting system to break even and gets comps for free is a professional. This also includes winning poker players, winning sports bettors, and casino advantage players.

Now that you know how a professional gambler is defined; consider what this has to do with how they think.

The Use of Skills and Knowledge

One of the most important ways that a professional gambler thinks is that they know that there are opportunities to gamble with an edge. They also know that in order to find and capitalize on an edge they have to develop the proper knowledge and the proper skills.

It’s easy to miss, so I’m going to go over it again, because it’s important. The last paragraph included three very important things. The first thing is that professional gamblers know that there are opportunities available.

This means that not only do they know they exist; but they also are going to be constantly looking for an edge. Most gamblers simply place bets and go with the flow, hoping for a lucky streak. They never look for an edge or try to do anything to change their outcomes.

A professional not only looks for an opportunity for an edge; but they also rarely play anything that doesn’t give them a possible edge. This is why you rarely see a professional gambler playing slot machines or roulette.

Most professional gamblers play blackjack or poker or bet on sporting events. All three of these areas offer an opportunity to gamble with an edge.

Royal Flush Poker Hand Next to Casino Chips

The second important thing included in the opening paragraph of this section is that professional gamblers are always trying to increase their knowledge. Professional gamblers use their brains to get an edge. They know that they can in more than they use if they’re smarter than the casinos.

The third thing is that professional gamblers build a set of skills that help them win in the long run. This set of skills can be in a wide range of areas, and some people include skills in with knowledge. A professional card counter builds a skill in counting cards. A professional sports bettor builds handicapping skills.

What does all of this tell you about how professional gamblers think?

Professional gamblers are somewhat like professional goal setters. They set a goal, develop a plan that is going to propel them toward reaching their goal, and then follow through on their plans. The pro knows he or she can get an edge, so this is their goal.

They build a plan that includes acquiring the correct knowledge and building the correct skills. Then they follow through by constantly building knowledge and skills while at the same time they’re always looking for another edge.


The main difference between most gamblers and professional gamblers is dedication. It’s not easy to be a professional gambler, but most players are smart enough to do it if they dedicate enough time and energy. But most people, including most gamblers, are too lazy to become a pro.

In the last section I mentioned that pros know that it’s possible to win. Some gamblers don’t even know that they can get an edge; they simply spend all of their time gambling hoping to get lucky. The reason why you know that it’s possible to be a winning gambler is because other people do it. This means that if you can learn how to do what they do you can win too.

But knowing that you can be a professional gambler isn’t enough. You have to back it up with dedication and determination. Most poker players know that some players win in the long run. Yet most poker players lose more than they win. Is this because they’re not as smart as the winning players?

In some cases your intelligence can alter your chances to be a winning gambler, but most of the time it’s simply because you haven’t done what needs to be done to become a winner.

Are you willing to do whatever it takes to be a professional gambler? Every single professional gambler not only answered that question with a yes; but they also backed it up with dedication and action.

What does this tell you about how a professional gambler thinks?

Professional gamblers have a never say die attitude. They simply refuse to give up until they succeed.

So what if it takes you 1,000 hours to become a master card counter or handicapper? After you put in your time, you profit from your dedication, skills, and knowledge for the rest of your life. 1,000 hours is a small investment for a lifetime of profits.

I’m not saying it takes 1,000 hours to become a professional gambler. Some gamblers do it faster and some slower. The point is that every single one of them did whatever it took, and dedicated enough time to become a pro.

Learning from Their Mistakes

When I play blackjack and poker I see the same players making the same mistakes over and over again. They never learn from their mistakes, so they repeat them.

On the other hand, professional gamblers learn when they make a mistake. Learning from your mistakes involves two parts. The first part is you have to learn e difference between making a mistake and getting a poor result.

Here’s an example of a poor result that wasn’t a mistake:

You’re playing blackjack and have a seven and a four and the dealer is showing a four. You double down and receive a three, for a total of 14. The dealer flips over a four and draws a jack, for a total of 18. You lose the hand, which isn’t the result you were looking for.

But you didn’t make a mistake. You played the hand correctly, so there’s nothing to learn. If you double down with an 11 against a dealer four, in the long run you’re going to make a profit in this situation.

If you didn’t double down in this situation you’re making a mistake. But you’re never going to know it’s a mistake unless you learn about blackjack strategy.

Most gamblers never reach this point. They never learn enough or pay attention enough to realize that they’re making mistakes. Casinos love these types of gamblers, because they make the casino a great deal of money.

Once you learn that you’re making mistakes, the next step is to correct them. This doesn’t mean that you’re never going to make mistakes, even after you’ve spent years working on it. Even the best professional gamblers make mistakes. But they learn from every mistake they make.

Neon Lit Poker Game

When you realize you made a mistake, you have to figure out what the mistake was and make a better decision in the future. Every time you correct a mistake it improves your future, which helps you make a long term profit.

This is seen at the poker tables easier than in most forms of gambling. As a beginning poker player you make many mistakes. You play too many hands, bet too little when you’re winning, and chase hands when you should fold. This leads to losing play.

As you get some experience and read good books and articles and watch good training videos you identify some mistakes and correct them. You stop playing poor hands and you start losing less. You learn how to maximize the pot when you win and stop chasing bad draws. This helps you get closer to break even play.

You keep working on every mistake you can identify and eventually you start winning more than you lose. You learn the value of position and start looking for games with weaker players. Eventually you’re winning quite a bit more than you lose. Now you’re a professional.

Winning handicappers follow the same path. They make many mistakes when they start handicapping, and if they learn from each mistake and correct it eventually they start winning more than they lose.

Blackjack is a little different because you already have access to everything you need to know. You already have access to everything about the rules and proper strategy, so all you have to do is learn how to count cards. All of the information you need is already in books and articles, so all you have to do is build the knowledge and skills.


If you want to get the same results that professional gamblers get you need to learn how they think. If you’re not already a pro, the odds are good that you’re not thinking like a professional.

Professional gamblers know they can get an edge and are always searching for one. They constantly build their skills and knowledge and are dedicated to winning. They rarely play a game where they can’t get an edge and they’re always learning from their mistakes. First they recognize that they’re making mistakes, and then they work on correcting them.

Use this guide to help you learn how to think like a professional gambler, and your results are sure to improve.