- Read. It's impossible to live long enough to learn from all of your own mistakes. That's why books offer such a fantastic educational opportunity. Instead of learning from your own mistakes, learn from the mistakes of others. And when it comes to gambling, that means your education will be cheap. In the past six weeks I have been reading constantly. I recently wrote a review on Winning Craps for the Serious Player. Two days ago I finished a book on video poker. Yesterday I started reading another craps book. I have 6 books from the library on my desk waiting to be read. Books will educate you about the rules of a game, proper etiquette, and the good and bad bets to make. Additionally, the exposure to different ideas and strategies will help you formulate your own.
- Practice. There are some pretty sweet Flash programs that simulate casino table games, many of which can be found at Poorman's Casino. These games allow you to practice different techniques, to get a feel for the rhythm of a game, to learn the rules, to understand how to bet odds, and to see if you even enjoy the game. Don't underestimate the value of practice, especially when no money is at risk.
- Live-fire practice. I have been fortunate that I have been able to make a trip to Black Hawk and to Las Vegas in the past 6 weeks, and I have a trip planned to Black Hawk this weekend. Very unusual for me, as I've never really considered myself to be a gambler. These "live-fire" practice sessions help to acclimate your psyche to the stress and excitement of gambling REAL money in a live gambling environment. I remember when I went to Vegas last March. I didn't hit the tables until my third night there. I was nervous. I was intimidated. I had to psych myself up to walk up to that table. Now it's no problem. I feel very comfortable standing at a craps table.
- Reflect. A very important part of learning is to give yourself feedback. Think back over a gambling session and mentally replay the bets you placed, the emotions you felt, and the mistakes you made. This is why I bring a reporter's notebook with me so I can mark down every roll of the dice and what I won or lost. Congratulate yourself on what you did right, and make a mental note of what you can do to improve the next time.
- Repeat. You don't learn everything you need to know after one trip to a casino. You may have taken a beating at the tables, but don't be discouraged. Pick yourself up, brush off the muck, learn what you can from the experience and start the next cycle of learning.
For the past six weeks since I began this blog I have earnestly been trying to become a better gambler. My (modest) goal has been to consistently come away a winner during my gambling forays. While I know I have a ways to go, at the same time I feel like I have improved my game. A big part of learning to be better at anything is constant reflection. I thought I would take a moment and fill in the reader with the things I have been doing, and which I feel have been effective in my journey to becoming an Educated Risk-Taker.