6 Important Lessons I Learned from Studying Gambling Books

Stack of Gambling Books on Left and a Woman Reading on Right

As I was growing up if you wanted to learn more about something you found a book about it. The internet wasn’t invented yet, and you either found the information in an encyclopedia or went to the library or book store to see what you could find.

While you can find a lot of information online, I still like to read books to learn things. And there are 100’s of books about gambling.

Here are 6 important lessons I learned from studying books about gambling. Hopefully you can use what I’ve learned to get better results.

1 – Nothing Is Left to Chance in Gambling

When you’re gambling do you know how much you’re going to win, or are you relying on luck? Most gamblers rely on luck, because they don’t know there’s any other way.

The problem is that luck or chance doesn’t exist in gambling. It looks like you get lucky sometimes, but everything about gambling is based on mathematics and long term probabilities. And this is the most important thing you need to learn about gambling.

As long as you’re relying on luck, you’re never going to learn how to win as a gambler.

You’re going to learn exactly how to determine how much you’re going to win or lose when you gamble in the next 2 sections. But before you move on, you have to accept the fact that there’s nothing left to chance when you gamble.

How much you win or lose is determined before you even start gambling. While there are going to be periods of short term variance in any gambling game, the long term results are determined by the rules and how you play.

Short term variance is what most gamblers think is luck. But short term variance is simply another way that math works over a short period of time.

2 – The Importance of the House Edge

Every gambling game and wager has a house edge. This is the amount of money, in percentage form, that the casino or other gambling establishment makes as a profit when you make bets.

The house edge is 1 of the most important things you can use when you gamble. With the house edge you can easily compare 2 or more wagers or games and determine exactly how much it costs you to gamble. You’re going to learn how to use the house edge to determine losses in the next section.

When a game has a house edge it means that you’re going to lose. The only way to make money when you gamble is to figure out a way to play a game so that you have an edge, instead of the house having an edge.

Closeup of a Casino Craps Table

In section 5 in this article you’re going to learn about 2 of the best things to do if you want to gamble with an edge. And in section 6 you’re going to see what I learned from books that can help you beat blackjack games.

The sad truth is that most gambling options have a house edge that you can’t overcome. If you play these options you’re going to continue losing money.

3 – How to Use Expected Value

When you know the house edge for a game or wager, you can use a simple formula to see how much you’re going to lose. Remember that short term variance can make your wins or losses vary in the short term, but the long term results you get are going to line up perfectly with the house edge.

Here’s the formula you need to use. House edge as a percentage times the amount you bet equals expected loss.

For example, if you’re playing roulette on a single zero wheel with a house edge of 2.7% and you play for 3 hours for a total of 175 spins and you bet $20 on each spin, you can plug these numbers into the formula.

2.7% X 175 spins at $20 each = $94.50 expected loss.

You can lower your expected loss by either making wagers that have a lower house edge or betting less. If you play French rules roulette with a house edge of 1.35%, the numbers are different.

1.35% X 175 spins at $20 each = $47.25 expected loss.

Finally, if you only bet $10 on each spin and play 100 spins instead of 175, your expected loss is even lower.

1.35% X 100 spins at $10 each = $13.50 expected loss.

4 – Why Your Gambling Bankroll Is Important

I spent years gambling without thinking about using a bankroll. I did what most gamblers do and played when I had money and didn’t play when I didn’t have money.

The books I read were all saying that using a bankroll was important, but I couldn’t see why I needed to use a bankroll. Eventually I decided to give a formal bankroll a try, and I have to tell you that it was 1 of the best things I’ve ever done.

Dollar Bills, Casino Chips, Casino Dice

The most important thing that a bankroll did for me was make it easy to track my results. When I gamble I only use money in my bankroll, and when I’m done gambling I put the money I have left back in my bankroll.

This isn’t the only good reason to use a bankroll, but it’s a good enough reason to try it. You can also use a bankroll to help you determine how much you need to bet, and to determine how much you can afford to risk when you’re gambling with an edge.

5 – Sometimes the Best Bets Aren’t in the Casino

When you read or hear the word gambling, what do you think of first? Most people automatically think of casinos and casino games. But the best gambling options aren’t always found n the casino. You’re going to learn more about the best gambling option in a casino in the next section.

Only a few gambling options provide the chance to get an edge. These gambling options are where you find the small percentage of gamblers who make a profit.

Two of the best options if you want an edge are sports gambling and poker games. While some casinos have poker rooms and sportsbooks, these aren’t usually directly associated with casinos.

You can get an edge playing poker games because you’re competing directly against other poker players, instead of against the poker room. You still pay a fee to play poker, but if you’re better than the people you play against you can win enough to cover this fee and make a profit.

Sports bets have a fee when you place them, but you can overcome this fee if you learn how to evaluate games well enough to win more bets than you lose.

Poker games and betting on sports are tough to win, but it’s possible, unlike most other forms of gambling.

6 – How to Beat Blackjack Games

The game offered in casinos that you can get an edge against is blackjack. And you can learn everything you need to get an edge against blackjack in books.

You need to read books about how to count cards. My favorite blackjack book is Blackbelt in Blackjack, but there are plenty of other good books about how to count cards and make a profit.

Casino Dealer at Blackjack Table, Blackjack Cards Spread Out, Icon of White Playing Cards

Blackjack games usually have a lower house edge than other casino games, even if you don’t learn how to count cards. The house edge in blackjack depends on the rules and if you use strategy. But with the right rules and the right strategy you can play casino blackjack with a house edge of .5% or lower.

If you compare this house edge to other casino games, you’re going to find that most games and wagers have a house edge of 1% to over 10%. This makes a house edge of .5% at least twice as low as most games, even if they’re considered good games.

The only other games in casinos that can have a house edge this low are some video poker variations.


If you want to learn more about gambling you can read, watch, or learn from experience. All 3 of these are good ways to learn, but I always start with reading. I’ve learned more about gambling from reading books than the other methods, and you can too.

Once you learn that nothing is left to chance when you gamble you realize that you have control over your results. In other words, you don’t have to rely on luck, because luck doesn’t exist. Instead, you can use expected value and the house edge to determine the best gambling opportunities.