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Best of Walter Thomason

Gaming Guru

 

Casino Gaming: Investment or Career Potential?

25 September 1999

A friend of mine recently told me that she was making more money from playing video poker than she was making from the interest earned on her Certificates of Deposit at a local bank. She told me that her profits from playing this game for three months were five times greater than what she would have earned in interest by leaving her gambling bankroll in the bank. She said, "Should I play more often, and do I have a good chance of making more money this way?"

At a recent book signing presentation for The Ultimate Blackjack Book, a well-dressed and obviously intelligent young man asked me the following question:

"How large must my initial bankroll be to insure me a good chance of becoming a professional blackjack player? I have $10,000 set aside. Is this enough?"

My younger brother had seven consecutive winning trips on a casino gambling ship that sails from the west coast of Florida on a nightly basis. He's a knowledgeable player -- it runs in the family. After his two months of winning at blackjack, he called to tell me that he was seriously considering selling his retail furniture business and becoming a full-time professional blackjack player. He asked me, "What do you think?"

My answer to all of the above questions was: YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING YOURSELF!!

Actually, I responded to their questions with a bit more consideration, and asked them the following questions:

To my friend who won playing video poker, I asked, "Will video poker guarantee you an annual return on your investment, as your CD's do? Will playing video poker guarantee you that you will retain your initial investment? Do you want to play this game every day in order to pay your bills?"

To my "wannabe" blackjack professional with $10,000 to risk, I asked, "Are you financially and emotionally prepared to play this game, day in and day out? Do you have the skills -- total knowledge of Basic Strategy, card counting, and money management -- required to give you a long-term shot at a slight percentage advantage over the casino? Will your bankroll and your personality allow you to withstand the probability of several, perhaps many, consecutive losing sessions while playing this highly volatile game?"

To my younger brother, I asked, "Do you really think that your sizable profits from several winning sessions in a casino are likely to occur on a regular basis? Are you really willing to sell your highly profitable business and risk your financial future on the chances of being a consistent winner at casino gambling?"

Their answers to my questions, after much deliberation and soul-searching, were, "Well, it's possible!" "It could happen!" "Well, maybe not." "I guess not." "I don't really think so." "No, probably not." "No." "No." "No, not a chance!" You get the idea...

Believe me, if I were convinced that gambling in a casino would guarantee me a higher return on my money than I received on my bank savings and stock market investments, I would withdraw all of my savings and become a full-time player. I would do it!

If I thought there was a realistic chance of supporting my lifestyle, moderate as it is, with a $10,000 blackjack bankroll, I would do it!

If I thought I could quit my "daytime job", sell my business, and make a similar income by gambling in casinos, I would do it!

All three of the people mentioned in this article -- my video poker friend, my book buying customer, and my brother -- were afflicted with a temporary personality disorder that affects many casino gamblers: SUCCESS!

Specifically, success in the short run. All three of these gamblers experienced the financial rewards available to players who learn the rules, play the correct strategies, and enjoy the profits of short-term play.

Their mistake, their error in judgment, was to assume that their winning sessions would continue forever, and that they could make a living as a casino gambler. Unfortunately, it just doesn't work this way!

A very small number of people do make a living through casino gaming. Estimates are that there are 300 to 3,000 (?) people who sustain their existence from gambling, playing games like blackjack, poker, and video poker. They're called "grinders," and they grind out a moderate income by playing games that theoretically allow a small percentage profit to highly skilled players. Their cash investment and risks to initial capital are much greater than those associated with normal business ventures, the gaming becomes tedious and boring after time, and only the most patient and dedicated players are able to make a living in this manner. Occasionally, successful players who win too often are restricted or barred from play by casino management.

There are a few "high-rollers" -- players who are financially capable of betting thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars, on the spin of the wheel or the turn of the card. Their exploits occasionally make the headlines, and some of them write books about how much money they won. What we seldom hear is how much they lost at this high-risk venture, and what their overall profit (or loss) margin is. Million dollar winners are not that unique; nor are million dollar losers -- often the same person! The house advantage in casino games of chance remains the same, regardless of the denomination of the chip being wagered.

The point of all this is to tell you would-be professionals that you're more likely to make more money in most any other financial venture, especially if your initial cash investment is at least partially protected. Investing in corporations that own casinos is more likely to return a profit than is investing money on the casino floor.

Let casino gambling be what it is supposed to be -- an exciting, recreational activity where you risk some money and test your skills and luck against the house. Enjoy the glitz and the glamour, brag to your friends when you win, and be very careful about how much you allow yourself to lose. Casino gaming is fun; let's not try to make a living at it!

A closing footnote: If you currently make a living by gambling in casinos, and can prove that you made at least $75,000 a year (after expenses) for the last five years, write to me at P.O. Box 550068, Ft. Lauderdale, Fl 33355. I'll write a book about your accomplishments, and we'll both be rich and famous!

WALLY'S WORDS OF WISDOM
Copyright 1997, Walter Thomason

Walter Thomason
Walter Thomason is the best-selling author of Blackjack for the Clueless and the editor of The Experts’ Guide to Casino Games and The Ultimate Blackjack Book.

A long-time casino gaming enthusiast, he is a frequent contributor to
The New Chance and Circumstance, Midwest Gaming & Travel, and Heartland Casino News.

His new book is
21st Century Blackjack: A New Strategy for a New Millenium. He can be reached
at PO Box 550068, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33355.

Books by Walter Thomason:

> More Books By Walter Thomason

Walter Thomason
Walter Thomason is the best-selling author of Blackjack for the Clueless and the editor of The Experts’ Guide to Casino Games and The Ultimate Blackjack Book.

A long-time casino gaming enthusiast, he is a frequent contributor to
The New Chance and Circumstance, Midwest Gaming & Travel, and Heartland Casino News.

His new book is
21st Century Blackjack: A New Strategy for a New Millenium. He can be reached
at PO Box 550068, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33355.

Books by Walter Thomason:

Blackjack

> More Books By Walter Thomason