My best advice for unborn gamblers

Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was originally published (1992) in Card Player magazine.

I was born in 1944. In May. That makes me 47 year old, pressing 48. You and I will agree that 50 years ago I wasn’t anything.

As I recall, the worst part about not being anything was that I didn’t have a clue how to be a successful gambler. I remember thinking at that time, “If I ever get born, I’m going to write a column helping everyone in my condition.”

How to succeed gambling. Here are four points that unborn gamblers should keep in mind:

1. Study first. You’ll get the urge to activate your bankroll quickly. Don’t. So much quality information has come out in recent years that failure to use it is like trying to be a doctor without studying medicine.

2. Know what’s scientific and what’s not. There is not, there will never be, there cannot be gambling success through magic-number systems or silly betting patterns. Remember, there’s no way you can manipulate the amount of your bet to gain an advantage unless you have an advantage on that bet to begin with. Remember, there’s no such thing as a rush visible on the road ahead, only rushes that you can see in the rear-view mirror. Remember, to make the odds more favorable, your gambling decisions must matter logically, not from a pretend-we-have-a-system notion.

If the book you’re about to read violates any one of those things I just told you to remember, burn it.

3. Poker’s best. What game should you specialize in? Not craps or roulette, that’s for sure. Not if the rolls and the spins are random and the odds are fixed against you. Maybe blackjack. Maybe sports betting. Maybe…

Let the Mad Genius save you some time, unborn gambler. Choose poker as your basic game. Then be alert to other gambling opportunities.

4. Take most risks when your bankroll is small. This is precisely the opposite of what friends will tell you. Logical money management systems may help, but these seldom consider your bankroll’s collision with the real world. You see, you can start with $300 and, if you go broke, you can scrape together another $300 sooner or later. But once you successfully build that $300 into $300,000, you’d be foolish to accept the same risk. Why? Because it takes too long to reestablish a bankroll that large.

If you lose $300 and have a collision with the real world, that’s a detour. If you lose $300,000 and have a collision with the real world, that’s a disaster.

Now go out there and be born! — MC

Published by

Mike Caro

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Known as the “Mad Genius of Poker,” Mike Caro is generally regarded as today's foremost authority on poker strategy, psychology, and statistics. He is the founder of Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy (MCU). See full bio → HERE.


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