Gambling Vs Investing

September 10th, 2000

This is one of the biggest shifts you need to make in your thinking. Card Counting is an investment. You need to stop being a gambler.

Video Transcription

One of the first things we get asked a lot is “is card counting gambling?” In order to answer this question we have to really distinguish between the difference between gambling and investing. This is really important for you to know, because if you can’t tell the difference between what just flat out gambling is and how card counting is more like investing then chances are you are just going to fall into the category of a gambler.

Now it’s important to understand that blackjack is much more an investment than a gamble. One of the key things that makes it that way is investments require calculated risk with a warranted mathematical expectation of return. Whereas most gambling just involves throwing your money at a place and hoping that some of it comes back.

The other things is investors really base all of their decisions on statistics and probabilities. So, essentially it’s an entirely mathematical thing. Whereas most gamblers really have very little understanding of the math behind it and they’re basing their decisions mostly on unwarranted hopes.

We’re gonna go through a couple examples of how gamblers and investors think to scenarios differently. The first we are going to look at is how each of them view other people at the table. Now you might find yourself falling in line with one or two of these people and these mindsets and you need to really make sure that you align yourself with the mindset of the investor as opposed to the gambler.

A gambler usually views other people at the table in a negative way in that they affect the flow of the cards or the impact of their particular hand. You hear gamblers say things all the time like “that person took the dealers bust card” or “that person doesn’t know how to play so they made me lose.” Now an investor understands that other people at table really have no bearing of this nature on the game whatsoever. Because in the long run another player at the table really has no affect on the statistics of the cards. In fact for every time they hurt you, statistically speaking, they are just as likely to help you.

But that’s not to say that other players do not have any affect on the game for an investor. In fact it’s more of an unlikely one and what people would not expect is that the way that is does affect the game is it slows the game down.

Very similar to how a grocery checker is paid by how many items that can scan per hour and they get scored that way, a blackjack player is no different in that the amount of money we make is directly correlated to the number of hands we can play per hour. So although it is very different from how a gambler views it, other players do in fact have an affect on the game. And that should be taken into account.

The second thing we are going to look at on how gamblers and investors see the game differently is when you should leave. I’ve talked to all sorts of gamblers and investors on this topic and you yourself may have answers on this and that’s a question everyone should ask. “When should you leave?”

A gambler usually says something like “Oh I’m on a hot streak so I should stay.” Or “I’m on a cold streak. I just lost a bunch so I should leave.” or “I just won a bunch of money so I should leave.”

There’s a lot of faults in these types are arguments and the main mindset is that they look at the past to determine what the future holds.

An investor understands that in the same where you flip a coin and it lands on tails, it doesn’t make sense to say the next time you flip a coin to should bet on heads because it’s more likely to land on heads. Or you should bet on tails because it’s on a tails heater. So in the same way when you go into a casino you take a look at the games and whether you win or lose $100 or $100,000 in the last half hour, that has no mathematical bearing on the future hour of whether you will win or lose money.

So there’s many differences and the ability for you to understand the difference between a gambler mindset and an investor mindset is really going to ultimately determine whether or not you are able to play blackjack successfully.

We’re going to look at the final way- the main difference between an investor or a gambler and this is in how you tell if you are a winning player. Now, a typical gambler will determine whether they’re a winning player based upon the simple fact that they win or have won.

As investors we have a much bigger picture in mind and that is not just do we having a winning session or do we win a hand but are we going to take money from the casinos to keep in our pockets in the big picture for the long run. In order to do that we need to take a look at a much bigger picture and that is can we beat the game or can we do what we call in the gambling or professional gambling world ‘generate EV.’ Which stands for expected value.

So we’ll get into talking about expected value later but these topics are really important for you to understand as you take a look into professional blackjack