An Introduction to the Art of Gambling

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Aristad is a recently retired professional gambler. He has most
graciously volunteered to write a series of posts for AoM on the
ins and out of gambling in general and the basics of various games
for the education and enjoyment of those AoM readers who are interested
in this subject.

Gambling is
probably a different thing to everyone who takes the time to form
an opinion on the matter. Job, diversion, hobby, glamorous lifestyle,
addiction, sin, vampyric drain on the economy and the body politic,
half hearted restitution to the indigenous population of a wealthy
country, mob business, diversion of royalty and the wealthy, social
occasion, or legitimate business. What you, the reader thinks, I
do not know. What I do know is this. As a man, gambling, the skill,
the art, the technique, the manners and the etiquette, are not just
a way of making money, but an effective tool for building your social,
political and business circle, as well as mingling with the highest
echelons of society in a manner that will display your class and
dignity. But how can you learn this lost art when every book on
the subject today is written to teach you how to make money, or
in such a way that no one who isn’t already in these circles
could possibly ascend to them? There is no simple answer, and in
truth, there is no guide. To rise up through gambling is one part
training, and five parts nature, but that one part can be possessed
by the soul of brevity, so without further ado, allow me to present
the first part of a series of articles on the heart of gambling,
the purpose of which is to separate the wheat from the chaff, and
the shark from the gentleman.

You Know
What They Say…

The average
gambler is superstitious, and ultimately not very smart. And their
method, such as it is, is defined by three sayings that are in truth
three logical fallacies or statistical rules from which no one can
escape. The trick is to recognize them, and then to escape them.

Saying #1:
“I’m Due”

This fallacy is appropriately called the “Gambler’s Fallacy.”
It is the belief that based solely on a previous run of bad luck,
you are certain this time to get a good hand or a good roll. This
is nonsense. The failure in reasoning here is the belief in a certain
outcome, the positive benefit, without actual evidence. This fallacy
is the logic behind slot machines and the marketing genius behind
the gigantic boards advertising how long its been since the last

Recognize the nature of the situation. Each game has a set of controls
you can employ to alter your outcome. In the absence of your use
of one of those controls, expect nothing except an even game.

Saying #2:
“I’ll stop while/when I’m ahead”

This saying is also called the “Gambler’s Conceit.”
This is also the little voice that tells us, “just one more
drink.” The problem with this saying is that if you are ahead,
your capacity to predict when you will stop being ahead is likely
zero unless you possess clairvoyance. And if you are behind and
therefore waiting to get ahead, there is most likely a very good
reason you are behind, and you are therefore unlikely to get ahead
at all on a meaningful basis within any reasonable time frame.

QUIT NOW! As soon as you think or say this phrase, or any phrase
that sounds like it, that is an immediate sign from God, Allah,
Buddha, or whoever you pray to to stop playing. If you have to justify
why you are playing, you shouldn’t be playing.

Saying #3:
“The House always wins”

This saying is rather appropriately called “Gambler’s
Ruin,” for it is the rocky, mist clad shore upon which Viking
ships full of gamblers are wrecked. Now I know what you are saying,
“Plenty of people beat the house. You beat the house.”
This is true, for a little while, but play the House long enough,
and they will win. And not just win, but break you. Why? Because
they have unlimited cash and you don’t, and given enough time,
the player with unlimited cash in any fair game will beat the player
with limited cash.

Don’t play the house. The object of the game is not to beat
the house, it is to make money. The house has the most money, but
they also have the advantage. They make the rules, and they have
every edge. But the other players at the table have money too, and
they can’t close the table or kick you out. Go for them, and
while people may hate you and flee the table like rats from a sinking
ship, you will last a lot longer in the long run.

The Basic

The key to
gambling with class once you have control of yourself and the situation
is the lie. Not just the bluff, but the construction of an entire
table facade that allows you to deceive and obfuscate your opponent
so that whenever you wish, you may drop it and produce confusion
and fear in your enemies. Unfortunately, this skill can not be taught.
To learn how to hide who you are with absolute effectiveness, you
must first gain a certain level of self-awareness, and then apply
the basics of obfuscation to yourself in the specific. However,
there are three basic tells that the observer can use to identify
the great liar from the poor liar, and to learn the craft themselves.

The Eyes

Many gamblers
will tell you that there is a magic to the eyes, that every gambler
is different, that when you lie you look one direction and when
you tell the truth you look the other, that every person has a different
pattern of how they move their eyes, and that by reading it, a skilled
gambler can divine complex truths about a player and predict their
every move. These gamblers are either stupid, lying or both. Allow
me to pull back the curtain on hundreds of years of gambling magic,
and reveal the conscious or subconscious trick to the biggest tell
in gambling. When people have a good hand, their pupils dilate.
When they have a bad hand, their pupils contract. Now the reasons
behind this are some fairly complicated neurochemical ones that
escape me at the moment, but this is the basic truth of it. Watch
the pupils. If they are too small to follow, watch the iris’s.

The Smile

There are two
kinds of smiles. One is genuine and one is fake. A fake smile involves
only the muscle of the mouth and expresses little if any genuine
joy or happiness. A genuine smile involve the muscles around the
corners of the eyes, causing crows feet to temporarily develop,
and is an expression of genuine joy. Now human testing has determined
that a genuine smile is difficult but not impossible to fake. Observe
your opponent and his smile and its relationship to the cards. If
he can only fake a smile, then he is a passable liar. But if he
can produce a genuine smile on command, then he is a liar of respectable

The Hands

Always watch
the hands. Busy hands means someone is bored. If someone is bored
and winning, they are good. If someone is bored and losing, they
are bad. But how does that affect their status as a liar? The key
is to pay attention to how busy they are when they bluff. If someone
stays busy even when they bluff, then they have it. But if they
have to focus to keep everything together for the bluff, then you
have a perfect way to identify the quality of their hand beyond
their bet. Now almost all gamblers fiddle, but the key is to pay
attention to the exceptional fiddlers, especially the people that
bother the other players. They are either really bored, cheating,
or they have a system.

the rest of the article

11, 2010

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