Gamble Good: Intelligent Gambling vs Compulsive Gambling

Gambling problems can happen to anyone. It can go from a fun, harmless diversion to an unhealthy obsession with serious consequences. Whether you bet on sports, scratch cards, roulette, poker, or slots—in a casino, at the track, or online—a gambling problem can strain your relationships, interfere with work, and lead to financial disaster. 

The idea of winning enough to solve a major financial problem leads them to invest more money into the activity. Over time, this can make the problem worse than it was prior to their introduction to gambling. Additionally, even if a big win happens, they often put those winnings back into gambling in hopes of bringing in even more.

Now, there’s no rocket science to crack the code of gambling. All you can do is identify the difference between compulsive gambling and intelligent gambling to give yourself a slight edge over anyone you gamble against. But before you start, some unspoken rules include: 

  1. The house always has an advantage: No matter what game you’re playing, the house (the casino you’re gambling in) has an edge. 
  2. Luck factor varies from the kind of games you play: Luck is very important when you gamble. The amount of luck may differ from game to game. For eg, in games like slots, roulette etc. there’s no skills involved, it’s purely luck. But, when it comes to games like poker, blackjack, sports betting etc., the skill factor comes into play.

It’s this skill vs luck factor that differentiates intelligent gambling and compulsive gambling. Nobody says it often but one can learn a lot from expert gamblers. These gamblers are the ones that use their skills in the game rather than their sixth sense.

Before we start, we would like to say that we are not for gambling and this article isn’t to encourage you to gamble. However, if you’re already gambling, perhaps there’s a “smarter way”.

Let’s base this article taking the example of Poker – A card game that heavily involves a mix of Psychology, Math (Calculating odds), and the art of dealing with other players on the table (Includes bluffing).

Professional poker players like Phil Ivey, Tom Dwan & Daniel Negreanu say that poker is not gambling, it’s a sport. The reason why they say it is because they know what they’re doing and they do it great. Intelligent gambling will not always guarantee you success but it definitely gives you a slight edge over others. And, this slight edge can turn your funds in millions!

Here are a few tips that’ll help you advance the game of poker. It takes a lot of skills to master these over time but eventually it’ll help you in a long way and give an edge over other players on the table:

  • They think about the ranges, not a specific hand: To explain this, let’s take a situation. Let’s say you’re faced with another player in a poker hand and he bets heavily on the river ( last card of the 5 community cards ), now you’re faced with a decision whether to call or fold. Professional poker players in this scenario try to closely observe other player’s betting patterns throughout the game, their gestures and body language and narrow it down to a range of cards they might have. This gives them a slightly better chance to make a better decision of what to do in the situation.
  • Understand that tilting will take you nowhere: Poker tilts are very common. The reality of poker is that sometimes things will go badly for you, and there is absolutely nothing that you can do about it. It’s very much possible for a person to lose their minds and control in such situations but the truth is that tilting in poker affects you badly and makes you even worse on the table. Intelligent gamblers keep their cool and try to up their odds of winning by not recalling what has happened and moving on to play normally.
  • The advantage of position: In deep-stack games, which are mostly cash games, position becomes more important. Advanced poker players can relate to this. Being out of position is always a disadvantage if you are not short-stacked because your opponent gets to see what decision you make before they have to make their own. This extra information, in a game of incomplete information, gives your opponent a big advantage. When you have a deep stack, this advantage is amplified, so you should play more cautiously.
  • Know when the player is pot committed: When we say a player is pot committed we mean that he has already committed a significant portion of his stack into the pot, and that he is unlikely to fold now, because he would be left with too low a stack. Never try to bluff in this situation, as it will be very hard to chase them out of the pot, there’s no point in bluffing if your opponent is not going to fold.
  • Showing the hand: The general rule is to not show your hand unless you have to – stick to this, there is no need to give additional information to your opponent if you don’t have to. However, some professional poker players show their hands, lay a ground for us to pay close attention and change their actions in the future hands. This basic strategy is also an art and needs practice to master it.

In the end, it’s always encouraged not to gamble but like it’s mentioned earlier, this article just explains the difference between compulsive gambling and intelligent gambling taking an example of Poker. It’s a beautiful yet cruel game that has made and destroyed careers. If you’re good, then you’re good.

Written by

Cheryl Toh

Last updated on

January 14th 2020, 12:11 pm

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