What's Luck Got To Do With Gambling?
By Bill Burton
My friend Al is a serious video poker player. His world revolves around the mathematics of the game. He thinks that luck is a four-letter word that should not be used in polite company. When he has a bad day on the machines he refers to it as a negative fluctuation and when he has a winning day it is a positive one.
My friend Jack is a poker player who believes that even a bad player can get "Lucky" from time to time. I believe that Luck determines the way the cards are dealt and knowledge determines how you play them for the best results. The ebb and flow of positive and negative fluctuation is luck. The right end of the spectrum is good luck and the negative is bad luck.
In the short term Luck will be a big factor in determining whether you win or lose in the casino. This is true of games that have positive expectations as well as games with a high house edge. If you are playing games with a high house edge, such as the slot machines then luck will be the only way to win. In the long run you will lose at these games.
The casino will see the long term because they are open 24/7 and the math will equal out for them. But if you are only an occasional visitor to the casino it is possible to have some short-term wins. This is the reason that people go back to the casinos. If the outcome of each visit were based strictly on math you would never win because there would be no deviation from the long-term results. If this happened no one would play. If you knew you would lose five cents on the dollar every time you bet a number in roulette or pulled the handle on the slot machine it would be pretty silly to just hand over money.
For games of skill like poker, blackjack or video poker the "Luck" factor will even out as you reach the theoretical result refereed to as the long run. Many wonder what constitutes the long run anyway? Is it a million hands or two? There really is no specific answer. Some casual players may never play enough hands in a lifetime to achieve long-term results.
This doesn't mean that you don't need to learn the proper strategy for these games. The knowledge to play proper strategy to the best of your ability will help you move toward the positive end of the spectrum. Just believing in luck is not enough to improve your chances. A wise man once said "Faith will move mountains but you better bring along your shovel and be prepared to help with the work." In the casino your shovel will be your knowledge of proper play.
Luck determines the cards you are dealt. Knowledge and skill determines how you play them. A lucky person finds a way to use his abilities to come out ahead. This is true in casino games and is also a factor in the game of life. Your attitude can make a difference in whether you are a winner or a loser.
We all know someone who is extremely lucky. Think of the luckiest person you know. You will find that person is usually happy, outgoing and upbeat. They know how to make the best of any situation. On the other hand think about someone you know who always seems to have bad luck. Do they complain and gripe all the time? The "Lucky" person is usually optimistic, confident, generous and happy while the unlucky person is usually pessimistic, unsure, miserly and grumpy.
It's just possible that your attitude can change your luck. We've all heard the saying, "When life deals you lemons, learn how to make lemonade." The person that turns an adverse situation into an advantageous one is sometimes looked upon as being lucky, when it was actually their attitude that brought about the luck. I have a small inspirational card taped to my bathroom mirror that I read each morning. It says: “An optimist is a person who expects his dreams to come true while a pessimist expects his nightmares to.”
Here is a little exercise you can do to help change your attitude and your luck. When you get up in the morning think about the luckiest thing that has happened to you in your life. Maybe it was meeting that special person in you life or finding a hot stock that tripled overnight. Perhaps it was that one time you were in "the right place at the right time." Keep the thought of that event in the back of your mind. During the day if things don't go exactly right think back on your past good fortune and don't get discouraged.
There is no guarantee that this will immediately change your luck, but as Sheryl Crow sang in her song, "If it makes you happy it can't be that bad." Being happy is one of the traits of a lucky person.
Until Next time remember:
Luck comes and goes.....Knowledge Stays Forever.
Bill Burton is the former Casino Gambling Guide and former columnist for the Internet portal About.com and author of “1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets,” as well as "Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold'em." Both books are available online at www.billburton.com.