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Winning With Character

Anyone can win money at a casino.  That's what games of chance, like craps, are all about. 

But certain regular players seem to win frequently, while a lot of others lose consistently.

What causes this?  Is it luck, skill, knowledge, or something else?

In most cases, it's a little of each of those, plus a huge amount of CHARACTER.

It’s easy to determine whom the regular players are at a casino no matter where you play.  I play all over the world, and it seems that from Aruba and Puerto Rico to Monte Carlo and Australia to Nevada and Mississippi, the local folks who are VERY frequent players stand out from the casual visitor or tourist.  Even in this crowd, the constant whiners and complainers stand out from all the rest, because they are so easy to spot. 

On the other hand, there is also a tiny, almost imperceptible number of professionals that are so low-key, you might hardly notice them if it weren’t for the good, consistent hands that they seem to roll almost every time it’s their turn to shoot.  

You might think that it’s luck, and perhaps a bit of skill and knowledge, but one thing you can be certain of.  It’s not a coincidence! 

Let's look at some common traits that most frequent winners and every professional player has:

1)     They play their best game all the time.

Craps is a marathon, not a sprint. Someone who remains focused all the time, and doesn't take things for granted, is the kind of player that will walk out of the casino with more cash than they entered with.  It is the ability to perform well, day in and day out, which determines the consistent winner.  Life is full of distractions, the casino lifestyle is like life at full throttle.  One of my friends likens it to juggling chainsaws going “full rip.”  Sure, it’s entertaining, until someone loses a limb!

2)     They are always thinking about context.

Craps is not a game of absolutes. What's right in a Hot game, is totally wrong in a Cold game. The right play ten minutes ago, can be the wrong play now.  Every situation is different, and players who stay alert to the changing differences are more likely to be winners.

3)     They study and learn as much as they can.

I continue to learn aspects of strategy during almost every session.  Whether it be improvements to my Precision-Shooting, experimenting with a new method, sizing up other dice-setters, or maximizing my Comp values, the learning never stops.  It pleases me that I am still able to improve my game on an almost weekly basis, from the things that I have learned or improved upon from the previous week.

4)     They have self-confidence, but don't think they "know it all."

There's almost always more to learn, and if you don't bother to learn it, well, like Satchel Paige said, "Don't look back, somebody might be gaining on you."  I’ll be honest with you, I like arriving in a casino, walking up to the craps table, and buying in for perhaps $1,000, knowing that 19-out-of-20 times, I will end that session with a decent profit.  I also like being able to confidently know that I can “turn the table around”, when it becomes my turn to shoot the dice.  Even if the table has been “cold enough to sink the Titanic,” the forecast is pretty good that a tropical heat-wave of equatorial proportions is coming my way.  But I also recognize when another players betting method has a lot of potential, or when another Precision-Shooter is about to tear the roof of the joint, or when a lucky random-roller is building what could be the roll-of-the-day.

5)     They decide what their goals and/or motivations are.

It's pretty hard to hit a target if you haven't aimed at it. The kinds of things one does with a goal of earning a comfortable living is different from the kinds of things one does if they are just out to have a good time with their friends once in a while. A few players are great enough to have a realistic goal of being one of the best players in the world. Most of the rest of us need a somewhat more realistic goal, at least in the short run.

6)     They understand themselves.

You need to understand your own strengths and weaknesses, and be able to determine threats and opportunities.  It does no good if your spouse doesn't believe in what you do.   In a later article I’ll closely explore this subject, but suffice it to say that most woman really do not have a fantasy about marrying a professional gambler.  Nor during career day at school, does a child like to get up in class to explain that “Daddy plays craps for a living.”  Counter to that thought, is that actions truly do speak louder than words, and the professional player has to indeed be very professional in everything that they do, simply because most people are looking to deflate any notion that craps can become a positive-expectation game through Precision-Shooting.  Believe me, the battle is not in convincing them, it’s the battle of self-discipline that you struggle with even as your bankroll grows to that earned by other professionals like lawyers, doctors or dentists.

7)     They know when to change gears.

Sometimes it's right to play with a great deal of discipline, and sometimes it's right to gamble it up a bit, and the best players can switch styles rapidly, as the situation demands it.  If you play one method all of the time, your losses will surely outstrip your wins on a very regular basis.  What will work is if you use the same winning method in the same situation every time.   Second guessing yourself is the downfall of most near-break-even players.  Similarly, know when to take a break, or take a well-deserved non-gaming vacation.  Keeping things in balance is critical.  After two marathon months of island-hopping in the casino-dotted Caribbean, I ventured into the deepest parts of the Amazon rainforest of Brazil and Equador, with some other like-minded intrepid explorers.  The casino may require jungle-warfare tactics, but two weeks in the real jungle refreshed my mind, body and spirit, plus it restored that critical “balance”.

If you put a great deal of energy into following these principles, you will be pleasantly surprised when your current results improve.  Character has a lot to do with winning consistently, and it is that consistency that brings home the profit nearly every session.

Good Luck & Good Skill at the Tables…and in Life.

By:  The Mad Professor

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