Two legendary professional gamblers are Stuey Unger and Archie Karras. Stuey has won three World Series of Poker (WSOP) gold bracelets and is considered by many to be the greatest card player of all-time, especially Gin that was his specialty. Stuey won millions of dollars playing cards, very few could beat him. Archie was a guy who went to Vegas with $ 50 in his pocket, borrowed $ 10K and turned it into 40 million dollars. He did this by playing pool, then playing cards, then playing craps.
The problem with each of these stories is they don’t end happy (I guess Archie’s could he’s still alive). Stuey was an “action junkie.” He had to have “action” everyday of his life deposit via pulsa.
That would have been fine if he stuck to cards, but cards became almost too easy for him. He would bet on anything and everything. As quickly as he won it, he would gamble it all away on the horses or sports or whatever. Most of us would fear losing all our money because we wouldn’t have any money for a place to stay or food, not Stuey. His biggest fear was not losing the money, but not having a bankroll so he could get in on the “action.”
Stuey ended up dying in a hotel room (he was a cocaine addict and the autopsy says his heart gave out not overdose) with only a couple of hundred dollars to his name. In my mind he was the greatest card player of all time, a true genius, but unfortunately he lacked any self-discipline.
Archie turned 10K into 40 million. You know what he did with the 40 million? Your right, he gambled it all away back to the casinos. Again he was unable to discipline himself enough to put some of that money away not to be gambled.
Now lets take a look at somebody like Bob Dancer, the most well-known pro video poker player, who won over 1 million dollars over a 6 month period. Bob is extremely disciplined in his gambling. he will never play a machine unless it is in his favor (+ 100% payback.)
When he arrived in Vegas with 6K to his name, he would cash in coupons for an extra five dollars or look for change dropped on the casino floor. Somehow I can’t picture Stuey Unger cashing a $ 5 coupon or bending down to pick up a quarter, but Bob did this to survive. Any gambling he did was calculated to have the odds in his favor and there was a very small chance of him going broke, losing his bankroll. Today Bob is financially well off and has a well-rounded career.
I want to be somewhere in the middle of these three pro gamblers. I want to be disciplined in my approach, but don’t want to completely take the risk away because then it really isn’t gambling. I want to make my decisions based on sound principles, not on impulse. That being said, there will be times when I just go for it and put mathematics and statistics aside. Maybe that will be my downfall, or maybe that will allow me to make a run like Archie Karras.
Greg Elder is a former professional gambler and expert in casino gaming. He is a published author, and you can visit his blog.