Every gambler loses. This doesn’t mean that you have to accept the fact that you’re going to lose forever. Losses are just a part of gambling.
The difference between most gamblers and the few gamblers that learn how to win is that the winners learn from both their mistakes and the mistakes of others.
I’ve compiled seven lessons that I’ve learned from losing as a gambler. You can use these seven lessons to learn from the mistakes that I’ve made. It’s quite a bit cheaper to learn from my mistakes than to make all of these mistakes yourself.
Never Gamble Without a Budget
The first several years that I gambled, I just used the money in my pocket. If I had money and the chance to gamble on something, I did. When I didn’t have money, I worked until I could build some money up and gambled again.
This is the way that most gamblers operate. I suppose that there’s nothing wrong with this method of operation if you’re not concerned about winning. But I knew that if I learned the right things, I could have a better chance to win.
Just having a bankroll doesn’t make you a winning gambler, but it does something that’s an important step on the path to winning.
When you have a bankroll that you only use for gambling, you can easily track your results. If you start with $2,000 and gamble, then end up with only $1,950 when you stop, you know you only lost $50. This seems simple, but don’t underestimate how important it is to have a separate record of your sessions.
The good news is that it’s easy to use a bankroll. If you’re not already using one, start using one today!
Always Use a Time Limit
Every gambler I know has had the experience of getting ahead, playing too long, and losing everything that they won and more. This is normal, and it happens from time to time no matter what you do.
It’s almost impossible to predict exactly when a winning streak is going to turn into a losing streak. But you have a tool that can eliminate the need to worry about this.
Every time you gamble, you need to set a gambling time limit. This might seem like a simple tool, but a time limit reduces your losses and helps protect your bankroll.
You need to understand one important point before moving on to the next section. Gambling time limits are important until you learn how to gamble with an edge or advantage. Once you learn how to win, you can do away with a gambling time limit.
When this happens, you can base when to quit on how profitable the opportunity is, if you’re too tired to keep an edge, and other factors.
Loss Limits Save Your Casino Bankroll
Another tool that you can use to limit your losses is a simple loss limit. A loss limit works much like a time limit. When you reach your time limit or loss limit, you stop gambling.
For example, if you have a $2,000 gambling bankroll and decide that you don’t want to lose more than 10% in a gambling session, you set your loss limit at $200. If you get down $200, you stop.
When you combine a time limit and a loss limit, you’re using two powerful tools to protect your bankroll. I recommend using both of these tools until you learn how to win. When you combine these two tools with the tool in the next section, you can deal with your gambling losses and lock in some winning sessions along the way even if you’re not a winning gambler yet.
Higher Return to Player Equals Lower Losses
Every gambling activity has a cost or casino house edge and a return to player percentage. You can use strategy and skill to influence these numbers with some gambling activities.
In order to pick the best gambling opportunities, you need to know what the returns to player numbers are. The return to player number, which is a percentage, tells you how much of each bet you make is going to be returned to you. This is a long-term average, but it’s directly related to how much you’re going to lose.
The higher the return to player percentage, the less you lose. Here’s an example using two different gambling activities.
You can play either baccarat making the banker wager or roulette on an American Roulette wheel. You’re going to risk $20 on every hand or spin.
The return to player for baccarat is 98.94%, and the return for American Roulette is 94.74%. Multiply each of these numbers times your $20 wager to see how much you can expect to be returned on each wager.
98.94% X $20 = $19.79
94.74% X $20 = $18.95
This clearly shows that making wagers with a higher return percentage lowers your losses. The games with the highest return include some blackjack games, some video poker machines, and baccarat.
Emotions in a Casino Are Costly
Everything about gambling is controlled by math. Every wager you make and every decision you make needs to be based on mathematical facts. This means that when you let emotions rule what you’re doing, the odds are high that you’re going to lose more money than you need to.
Your job is to find the best opportunity and learn how to exploit it in the best way. These things are dictated 100% by facts and math. They aren’t dictated by anything that has to do with emotion.
You can be angry and frustrated if you want, but you need to keep your mind calm when gambling if you want the best results.
Easy Gambling Is Expensive
A simple rule of thumb that it took me a long time to learn is that the easier it is to gamble on something, the more expensive it is to do it. In other words, the gambling activities that are the easiest to participate in are usually the same activities that have the worst return numbers.
Slot machines are easy to play, and they tend to have much lower return numbers than games that require strategy like blackjack. The lottery is easy to play, but the return numbers are terrible.
Instead of looking for easy ways to gamble, look for gambling activities that require advanced strategy and require you to use your brain. Some of the hardest gambling activities, like playing poker and betting on sporting events, are the ones that actually give you a chance to make a profit.
If a gambling activity is easy, you should usually avoid it until you know more about it.
How to Find an Edge When Gambling
Your goal when you gamble should be to find an edge. It’s not easy to gamble with an edge, but you can do a few things that help you achieve this.
Finding the best gambling opportunities, using things like the return to player numbers, and using the right strategies are the best ways to do this.
Here are the gambling activities that give you a real chance to gamble with an edge.
- Real money poker games like Omaha and Texas Hold’em
- Gambling on sporting events
- Betting on horse races
- Blackjack (using advanced strategies like card counting)
Don’t make the mistake of just reading about my gambling mistakes and forgetting about them. Instead, use my mistakes to help you avoid making them when you gamble in the future. It’s less costly to learn from my mistakes than making them yourself.
Use a budget, bankroll, and limits to reduce your losses. Limiting your losses keeps you in the game longer so you have more time to find an advantage. You have tools available, like return to player numbers, which help you find the best gambling activities.
Keep your emotions in check, remember that easy usually means expensive, and find an edge. This is going to give you the best chance to win.