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Gambling's A Lot More Fun When You're Winning


We've got good news and bad news...

First, the bad news...Even though casino games can be great fun, you can't expect to beat them over an extended period of time. Craps, video poker, roulette, slots, keno, etc., must be regarded as being strictly entertainment. The reason is, of course, that the odds in those games are always tilted against the player - sometimes only very slightly and sometimes not so slightly. The house enjoys a mathematical advantage in those games on virtually every bet, so players are bound to ultimately lose. Mathematical laws of the universe simply cannot be violated for an extended length of time.

Let's be doubly clear on that. In spite of what you've probably heard from some down-in-his-luck guy in a bad suit, and in spite of what you may have read in a how-to-get-rich-quick-in-a-casino $6.95 paperback book, there is no such thing as a professional roulette player and there is no such thing as a professional craps player. If you have a sure-fire winning roulette system or can't-possibly-lose craps system, your local casino will gladly send for you in a limo. It doesn't matter how well a player understands the games of roulette or craps, over any appreciable period of time nothing will overcome those negative expectations. Trick money management won't work, wearing your lucky underpants won't work, - nothing will work. The only way to win at roulette or craps over the long term is to either own the table or cheat. That same rule applies virtually always to slots, keno, bingo, baccarat, lotteries, etc.

Yes, I know there are people who have won a fortune playing the lottery, or by hitting a mega-jackpot against the slots. Those people make headlines. They come from places like Buck Snort Tennessee, risk $12, and hit the $50 million Super-Wooper Slots Jackpot...But a reality check quickly confirms that as a percentage of the whole, only a tiny number of players ever so much as break even. Research has shown that in Las Vegas the average local resident loses about $1200 per year playing slots.

Mind you, we are not saying you should never play those games. Of course you can. Those games are great fun, and are certainly more entertaining than an evening watching Dharma and Greg Search For A Script. We are only pointing out that you can't realistically expect a long term profit from playing roulette, keno, craps, bingo, baccarat, etc.

      "In spite of what you've probably heard from some down-in-his-luck guy in a bad suit, and in spite of what you may have read in a how-to-get-rich-quick-in-a-casino $6.95 paperback book, there is no such thing as a professional roulette player and there is no such thing as a professional craps player."

However, now for the good news: There are ways to gamble - even in many casinos - which do offer beatable propositions. One is poker, and another is - sometimes - blackjack, and another is sports betting. The reason that poker, blackjack and sports betting can be beaten is, those games are not mathematically fixed. Their outcome is arbitrary. 

Oh, no; - none of those are easy to beat, and none of them offer overnight wealth. We're not saying that. It's not easy to regularly come out of a casino with a profit...But it's possible. Against poker, for example, all you have to do is beat the other guys at the table. The casino's profit from poker comes from renting the chairs. If you're better at poker than the other players, you figure to win. And against blackjack the trick is to know which cards remain in the deck and their relevance to the odds concerning whether you'll win the next hand.

Tough stuff, alright, - but not impossible.

The best news concerns sports betting. It is almost self-evident that an expert sports handicapper can make a long term profit. The key factor is that when you bet on sports you're not going head-to-head against the experts. Make no mistake about it, you can't beat the experts. Instead, when you bet on a pro sports event you are pitting your judgment against the opinion of the general betting public. More precisely, you are pitting your judgment against your bookmaker's other customers.

You can beat those guys. That's the critical difference that makes sports betting a beatable proposition. A bookmaker's posted lines are not intended to be predictions. The purpose of pointspreads is to make sure the bookmaker gets enough action on both sides of a bet. If public opinion is not reasonably balanced, a disproportionate amount of money would be wagered on one side of a game. That would force the bookmaker to gamble, and bookmakers are not in business to gamble. The bookmaker's role, strictly speaking,  is to act as a broker, much like a stock broker or a Realtor. His job is to 'hold the money,' and to charge a fee for that service. He adjusts the lines in order to get an acceptable amount of money risked on both sides of a proposition. (Not an 'equal' amount of money, by the way, as you've probably heard, but simply an 'acceptable' amount of money; - bookmakers rarely get an 'equal' amount risked on both sides. They actually DO 'gamble' in a sense, but that's a subject for a different article.)

      "A bookmaker's posted lines are not intended to be predictions. The purpose of pointspreads is to make sure the bookmaker gets enough action on both sides of a bet."

Consequently, if you can outwit public opinion more than 53 times out of 100 - (or, to be more specific, if you can outwit your bookmaker's other customers more than 53 times out of 100) - you figure to be a winner over the long haul.

Moreover, unlike blackjack wherein an expert player takes the casino's money, big sports books actually have no real incentive to care who wins or loses on a regular basis.

Forget horse racing and dog racing. Those are not the same as sports betting. The gigantic vigorish charges are simply suicidal. The 'drag' from horse and dog racing is typically higher than 15-20 percent. That's why race tracks are going broke throughout the country; - bettors are getting too sophisticated to stand for a 15% "tax." You'd actually be facing better odds playing the wheel-of-fortune. When was the last time you met a rich horse player, anyway?

I interviewed legendary Las Vegas sportbook manager Sonny Reizner while doing research for my book, How Professional Gamblers Beat The Pro Football Pointspread, and Sonny told me this:

"You don't even have to be especially smart to win at sports betting today...the house can be put at a decided disadvantage...No sports book can have all the information when posting a number, and that's when the house is at risk...But the player has another very big advantage: The player can pass. The player doesn't have to bet on every proposition. The house can't pass."

The key is in doing your own objective research and learning to understand the outcome of sporting events. Remember, the sole requirement is to be able to out-predict the general betting public. Learning successful handicapping techniques is much like learning anything else; - you must go to 'school.' Study what experts have to say. Read books by proven experts. Both 'how-to' books and books with plenty of past team stats are available from any gambling bookstore. (Check our Order Page for important and informative works by recognized experts.)

Concerning 'how-to' books, be sure to read several different authors. The more you read, the better you'll be able to separate the legitimate pros from the phonies. Be especially wary of authors touting progressive betting schemes. Progressive betting systems are for suckers. They're a sure sign of a non-professional. Also, avoid authors who claim they can pick an outrageous percentage of winners. Against pro football lines, for example, nobody can consistently pick 65% -70% winners. My brother, R. J., for example, was a winner in the 1997 "Pick The Pros" contest sponsored by the Barbary Coast, Gold Coast, and Orleans casinos in Las Vegas. He beat out some 39,000 other entries by calling 69% of NFL games straight up, without pointspreads at all.

It's also best to learn to do your own forecasting and to avoid using touts. Touts are like the smell of bacon frying and coffee perking; - they can't possibly deliver as much as they promise. Ninety-nine percent of 900-number gurus don't gamble for a living at all, - they peddle 900 numbers for a living. Getting input from other knowledgeable - successful - bettors is one thing, but buying picks from phonies is something else. 

In any case, if you're considering gambling on a serious level, sports betting is without a doubt the best way to go. Concentrate first on those sports which interest you most. Look for fundamental differences between perennial winners and perennial losers. When studying stats look past the scores at other factors that affect scoring. In football, for example, the stat concerning total rushing yards has a direct correlation to a game's outcome. That team which gains the most rushing yards usually - but not always - wins. Therefore, if you can predict which team figures to gain the most yards on the ground, you can usually - but not always - predict the winner of an upcoming game. Just remember, you can't help losing bets, but you can usually avoid betting on the wrong team.

Stay objective; don't be swayed by emotion. If you consistently bet on a team because you're a fan of that team, or if you like to bet against a coach because you don't like the way he combs his hair, you're not likely to win over the long haul.


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How Professional Gamblers Beat the Pro Football Pointspread
- J. R. Miller
Insights Into Sports Betting
- Bob McCune
How to Profit from Parlays -
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Revelations in Sports Betting
- Bob McCune

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