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Getting Rich from Gambling?

17 February 2002

By John May

Gaming authors spend their time writing about how you can't get rich from gambling even though that was what got them interested in the first place. Be honest now. Who'd have bothered to look at gambling theory if you'd been told from the get-go you can spend six years studying advantage play and maybe make a reasonable monthly return on investment via the rigours of a random walk, provided you are reasonably well-financed though you'll be treated like a common criminal by the casinos and spend far too much time in hotels and have other players hate you because you took the dealer's bust card?

No, what I wanted was big money. Ever-flowing riches with no application or skill required. Fasten a charmed bracelet round my arm or cast a horoscope and collect.

I didn't want to learn any academic disciplines. I didn't want to be patient. I didn't want to do accounts. I didn't want to manage. I had no life skills and I didn't need them because I was going straight to the bank and out again.

And then somewhere down the line things went wrong. It became clear that just picking up a text on blackjack card-counting or poker or sports or whatever was not going to be enough. A lot of the information in the books was out of date or simply incorrect. I had to check out the information I'd been given by learning math and statistics and checking out the theories to see what would work and what wouldn't.

The money didn't flow in initially, of course. I broke even for several months at the blackjack tables. And I acquired the patience of a monk. Not just any monk I'd add--one of these extreme hardcore monks that take vows of abstinence from breathing.

I got into team play to reduce fluctuation and increase profit. With all the expenses, divisions of winnings based on time and money invested, I ended up rifling through more number-crunching data than an IRS inspector.

When the team endured a heavy negative swing in its fortunes, I found myself cooling out two former friends who suspected each other of stealing from the team and getting a black eye in the process of separating them.

In short, I achieved almost everything I have achieved in gambling through the painful acquisition of knowledge and hard work and stoicism. Damn.

John May
John May is one of the most feared gamblers in the world. He has developed "advantage play" techniques for many games that are considered unbeatable.

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