Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Winning at gambling is very hard work

Since I've had my blog up, I've received a few emails asking what they can do to get better at sports betting. Some of these emailers have asked if they can help with some work, so that I can benefit from the results, and they can benefit from both the results and the knowledge from the work. Unfortunately none of these emailers have panned out because they haven't followed up with the work once I give them the details of what needs to be done. My guess is that the details are just too daunting. No one likes the thought of spending hours at the computer compiling a database, or fact-checking a database to make sure there are no errors. The bottom line is that winning at gambling as a player, be it sports betting, playing poker or any other game, takes a lot of work.

It takes time, it takes analysis, it takes grunt work in collecting data and adjusting it to fit one's spreadsheet or analysis software. It takes a person dedicated to win, not a guy that just wants to win. It takes a motivated self-starter that would make a good self-employer. From what I have experienced, this type of person is rare. Most people prefer working for corporations and getting direction. They may not say that...in fact, they may bitch and moan about their boss, their work schedule...etc. But once you put them in a position where they have to come up with the work themselves without outside direction...that's when many fail.

It simply is not easy to be a self-employer, and it is even tougher to add the tough life of gambling to that. I'd bet that less than 1% of people who even try to do make a living gambling acutally are still doing it 2 years down the line. There are too many obstacles, including:

- talent - some just aren't smart or skilled enough to do it.
- managing finances - understanding the amount to bet per game, and not moving up too quickly. many that start off winning invariably play too big afterwards. once they hit a dry spell, their bankroll can't handle the negative deviation and crashing they come.
- persistence - gambling is not an easy life that many think it is.
- motivation - if no one is going to dock your pay, threaten to fire you, or yell at you for coming to work late, or give you peer pressure for continuing to miss opportunities...are you still going to work as hard on a daily basis?
- finding opportunities - it takes work to go out and find the best opportunities out there. it may mean pounding the streets of Las Vegas in the effort of finding the best lines at the casinos. Think of spending 6 hours a day driving, parking, walking the maze from the parking lot to the sportsbook, walking from the Wynn to the Aladdin in 100 degree Las Vegas heat. It is easy to give up.

and even for the guys that do it for a while and are successful, there are more traps, including:

- disdain for the little bets - why bother with finding that good $300 bet with 10 cent edge when you are betting $5K on other games? Those $300 bets feel like they are meaningless, but they are still important. Forgoing those wagers means the negative swings on the other wagers will hurt more.
- forgetting what money means. Gamblers that carry a lot of money around when they gamble forget what money means in the real world. If they are playing 100-200 Hold'em and have swings of $2K-$10K a day, after a while, they forget what a $100 means in the real world. They think of it as a small blind, big deal. Soon, a typical $5 lunch becomes a $30 lunch and is meaningless. Instead of walking, a $20 cab ride means nothing. These are small things, but they add up in the expenses of a gambler that can never be recouped. A person making the same money in a corporate lifestyle may not wontonly throw their money around like the gambler does.
- resting on their laurels - bookies get smart. other players get smart too. if you use the same strategies and never adapt or never pick up new strategies, pretty soon your old strategies won't be have as much edge anymore...or in the worst case scenarios, books will stop taking those type of bets, or the bookies will have gotten smart enough to come up with accurate lines. the seasoned gambler needs to work hard to continue.

This applies to sports betting and poker players too. Before you seriously think about a drastic lifestyle change, make sure you are actually up for this kind of stuff. Maybe take a month off of work and go pound the pavement and see if you really enjoy it and can really motivate yourself. You may find the answer surpising.

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