The most basic part of winning at gambling is so simple that it's overlooked by nearly all gamblers.
So what basic winning strategy do almost all gamblers ignore to their detriment? Creating a clear-cut definition of what winning means to them.
Yes, this seems so simple it's elementary, but the failure to perform this one small step before putting any of your money at risk is the root cause of great suffering.
If you don't know when you're winning, you also don't know when you're losing -- which means you probably are.
You want to make money? I realize that most gamblers say that, but if that's true, very few indeed are long term winners. If you want to win money, stop making foolish bets.
How about fun? Lots of gamblers really just want to go have a party. I think that's just fine - fun is important. Of course there are a lot of places to go to party and casinos are not necessarily the best. Still, games are a fun party activities and having money at risk makes the games more exciting.
If you want to gamble for fun, the obvious advice is still the best -- use only money you can afford to gamble with. Count it as part of your entertainment budget. If you do happen to walk out of the casino with extra money, treat it as a bonus and use it wisely.
Here's a difference between winning and losing that is not often written about: Your gambling should be consistent with the rest of your lifestyle. If you don't have a high roller income or resource base, don't bet like a high roller.
Just recently, the former Secretary of Education William Bennett has proven to be a high profile loser at gambling. Why a loser? Not because he obviously has a strong drive to bet money ($8 million in 10 years, reportedly), not because he bet more than he could afford to lose (that's reported, but it's credible since he has written bestselling books that made a lot of money and makes a lot of money as a speaker and probably makes a lot of money with various businesses).
And not because he didn't have fun - we'll assume he did or he wouldn't have kept going back to Vegas. What makes William Bennet a loser is that he created a public persona as an advocate for virtue - he wrote THE BOOK OF VIRTUES.
Yes, he maintains that since his gambling didn't hurt anyone, was legal etc that it is not a problem etc -- the fact remains that most people perceive gambling as a "vice" and consider vices to be the opposite of virtues -- and so now consider Mr. Bennett a hypocrite.
Personally, I don't pretend to be an expert on either virtue or vice. I don't believe that fiscally responsible gambling is wrong -- or I wouldn't write about it -- but the fact is, a large percentage of the American public DOES associate gambling and "vice." Including, I'm sure, many gamblers, who maybe enjoy feeling they're being a little sinful :).
Long term, I'm sure Mr. Bennett will still make more money than most of us, but I'm sure that in addition to now being a laughingstock to many people and especially liberal and some conservative comentators, he has reduced the value of his books and lectures in the marketplace.
So gambling has cost him far more money than the bets he lost. Not to mention such intangibles as reputation, respect etc.
Jean Scott appears to be a terrific winning gambler. Why? She greatly enjoys spending large amounts of time playing video poker. She greatly enjoys living the Las Vegas lifestyle. She knows how to find and pick only video poker games that have a positive expectation if played perfectly -- and she knows how to play them perfectly.
She knows how to leverage her playing time to obtain the maximum possible comp rewards, plus find and claim all desireable coupons and other special promotional offers.
She and her husband spend lots of time in Las Vegas and yet pay very little cash out of their pockets. Partly because they play so many video poker games that they qualify for lots of free hotel rooms, free meals and even free air trips.
Partly because they play only positive expectation video poker games and so in the long run they receive more money than they pay out. (In the short run, of course, they may have to pay out more than they receive.)
Like Mr. Bennett, Jean Scott is also the author of a book, THE FRUGAL GAMBLER. I'm sure she hasn't sold as many books as he has, but since the subject of her book is consistent with her lifestyle, she can't be called a hypocrite. I don't know either of these people personally. I have every reason to believe that both are good, upstanding people.
The difference between the winner and the loser is simple. Jean Scott has fit gambling into her life and her life to gambling -- and enjoys it all.
William Bennett kept his gambling part of his private life while his public life was to promote virtue. The gap now makes him seem a hypocrite to many people and over the years will cost him a lot in terms of reduced money for his books, speeches and other promotional activities and his political activities (he'd been considered a possible Republican candidate for President. That's now out of the question.)
So, to be a winner, you must first answer this question for yourself: what do you want out of your gambling? Money or fun?
Tired of gambling books and authors that claim to teach you to "win" when they mean "lose less", Richard Stooker wrote Take Charge Gambling for Winners.
Click here to check it out.