Vegas gambling pioneer Sam Boyd once summed up the difference between winning players and losing players: “The losers act like they are going to lose … while the winners act like they expect to win, talk like they are going to win, and bet like winners.” He knew that attitude plays an important role in any gambling session. And he knew that winners approach their gambling from a unique perspective.
Here are some key differences in the attitudes of winning players and losing players:
Winners want to win. Losers expect to lose.
Winners accept small wins. Losers chase the big win.
Winners set limits on how much they're willing to lose. Losers keep digging into their pockets, figuring their luck will change.
Winners are alert and on their game. Losers rush ahead whether conditions are right or not.
Winners believe in having fun but being careful with their hard-earned money. Losers look forward to the party atmosphere and regard their bankroll as “money to blow.”
Think of a recreational sport, like softball or volleyball. The activity itself is fun, and the competition with other teams keeps it interesting. It doesn't really matter which team wins — you can enjoy yourself either way — but winning adds a little extra zest to the experience. Recreational gambling (as opposed to gambling professionally, when it becomes more of a business) has the same elements. The activity itself is enjoyable, and the competition — winning or losing against the house or other players — keeps it interesting. Expecting to win and being prepared to lose within reason are fundamental components of a winning attitude.
Self-confidence also is an essential part of a winning attitude. If you know your game, understand the odds, and have the discipline to stick to your established budget, you'll approach each gambling session with a great deal more self-confidence. And you'll be less likely to fall into the common errors so many players make.
When you know your game, you know the best way to play and the best way to bet. You know how to recognize when it's time to quit or take a break, and this knowledge gives you the self-confidence you need to walk away. You won't succumb to the tempting thought that your luck is due to change. Instead of believing in the illusion of control that many players have, you recognize which factors you actually have control over and which are beyond your control. And you won't relinquish the control you do have.
Acting on Your Knowledge
Winning players have enough self-confidence to give themselves permission to act on their knowledge and experience. They don't need others to reassure them that they're making the right decisions; they get that reassurance from inside, from the self-confidence they've built by learning about and playing their game. That doesn't mean winning players never make mistakes. It does mean that they learn from those mistakes and use that knowledge to avoid making the same mistakes again.
Of course, it takes time and discipline to acquire the knowledge that builds your self-confidence, which in turn gives you the internal permission you need to act on what you've learned. So, in a way, being aware of your limitations when first starting out also allows you to act on your knowledge. If you've read about craps but haven't actually played before, for example, you have enough knowledge to watch the action for a while before joining in and playing conservatively until you feel more comfortable with the game.
Remember, too, that your comfort level with a particular game is an intensely personal thing. Some people might need only a session or two to become comfortable and confident, while others may need more time and practice to feel truly confident. You are the only one who can judge your comfort level, so trust your gut when it comes to playing.