I was a college basketball player and one of my favorite sayings was, “Good shooters are lucky shooters.” In other words, I believe hard work and the development of skill will lead to good fortune.
What has been the most influential book you have read and why?
As far as gambling, there are two: Bob Dancer’s Million Dollar Video Poker and Ian Anderson’s Burning the Tables in Las Vegas. Both books were influential in convincing me that it was indeed possible to be a pro gambler.
What blogs do you follow?
I follow http://www.blackjackapprenticeship.com/. They have a great online forum and newsletter. Also, http://apheat.net/ (advantage gambling) http://jscott.lvablog.com/ (Jean Scott video poker) http://dianeravitch.net/ (education blog)
You were once an algebra teacher. Do you need to be a math wiz to understand casino odds?
One of the reasons I started writing about gambling was the fact that many books made the mathematics behind casino gambling too complex. Especially in my latest book, A Winning Gambling Strategy…And How To Get It! I try to keep the math as basic as possible, so everyone can easily comprehend what I’m talking about. Yes, if you get heavily into the mathematics behind advantage gambling techniques it can become a bit overwhelming. However, in most cases, it isn’t necessary. The answers have already been figured out by other very smart people. As a gambler, you just need to understand the basic concepts and memorize the strategies. You don’t need a Ph.D. in mathematics.
When you played professionally, your favorite game was video poker. Why?
I started with counting cards in blackjack and got tired very quickly of the constant cat and mouse game between the casino as well as other players. When you split tens because the true count is plus twelve, not only are you going to draw immediate heat from the casino personnel, but you have to deal with other players at your table who think you’re a complete moron. Video poker seemed to attract less casino attention initially, and it was a solo endeavor, which I preferred.
Which video poker games should a newbie play?
The best video poker game to begin learning the correct strategy for is 9/6 Jacks or Better.
What advice would you give readers who would like to increase their odds of success at the casinos?
Don’t enter a casino without understanding what games offer the best odds. I realize most people don’t want to take the time to learn advanced gambling strategies, but at least take the time to learn the basics to give yourself a fighting chance. Don’t just hand over your money to the casino by relying solely on luck. You've worked too hard for that money.
Do you have any gambling superstitions?
I’m human, so as much as I try to stick to the math and avoid relying on intuition and superstitions, there are times I catch myself. For example, I strongly believe anytime you are at the blackjack table or video poker machine and someone sits next to you and they’re doing something that irritates you, you should leave immediately. I don’t know if that is superstition as much as being practical, but I do believe that negative thoughts and emotions will negatively affect the way you gamble.
What book is on your bed-side table right now?
You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero and Frank Scoblete’s new book I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack!
What was your biggest challenge as a professional gambler and how did you overcome it?
Biggest challenge was dealing with losing streaks and not allowing them to impact my decision making process. Whether you’re winning or losing it’s important to remain confident that the mathematically sound strategies will prevail in the end.
If you could go back in time to when you first began your professional gambling career, what advice would you give yourself?
Never over bet your bankroll. It’s the most common mistake among those that try to gamble professionally, and I was guilty of it. It was stupid because I knew better, but I hopefully learned my lesson.