Eddie Walls’ Seven Deadly Mistakes to Avoid as a Gambler
I was recently walking through a casino and saw a common sight. Two very successful gamblers I was friendly with were looking for a stake, a loan, or to just borrow enough money to allow them to get back into the game.
I’ve gone bust three separate times in my life which led to a lot of self reflection. If you feel you are immune to ever going broke but deal in a liquid market with large doses of variance, you are being ignorant and are possibly the most likely candidate of someone who will eventually find themselves on the outside looking in.
The first time I went broke I was very young and playing well outside my bankroll limits. I play with around a 75-unit bankroll that I reassess at the start of every season depending on the sport. If you subtract the five from that number my 25-year-old self was no doubt brave but also naive.
My 28-year-old self was much smarter. He had a large bankroll, read hundreds of books, played with some of the best poker players around, and was keeping records of online and live sessions. He then met a very successful bookie and felt that sports betting may be something he would enjoy. He decided to move to bigger games in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. He did not understand that emotional stability equals bankroll and financial stability. He would book small wins but also HUGE losses. Tilt was a real thing and in 90 days his six-figure bankroll was depleted before he headed back home to reevaluate and rebuild.
My 31-year-old self was a force online. With a decent bankroll, he made a name for himself on Full Tilt as a Omaha 8 and limit specialist. His tilt was pretty well managed. He exercised regularly, saw a therapist, and learned to eat healthy. He played incredibly long sessions online and live. Stuck or unstuck he had no real life outside of getting in as many hands as possible. Then it was over. Black Friday hit. Bankroll in limbo, drug use, a breakup, numerous trips to Los Angeles to play bigger and bigger, and while some were successful, in the end it was all destined to go exactly where it ended.
Here is my guide to not going broke. Let’s call them the Seven Deadly Mistakes; all of which I’ve made and wanted to share so you don’t have to.
1. Don’t make ultimatums with yourself. This is a degenerate trait if there ever was one. You’re not stable in this mindset. You will go broke, period. If this is your last month if you don’t win, if this is the last time you chase steam, if this is the last time you play above your bankroll if you win, or last time you pay a figure like this, etc. it’s time to walk away. Find something else that has a better chance of creating happiness.
2. Do the work! Are you giving it 100 percent? Are you getting the best number? Are you getting lazy in your approach? You have to reevaluate constantly in this game. I listen to others and most are smarter than myself but the common ingredient is hard work. I never want to be outworked by anyone. I just told you how I went broke three separate times. They all had one thing in common if you look closely. Others were working harder than me in the same field. In theory, I chose to go broke.
3. Keep records. Immaculate records! Do your figure daily and if you don’t have time or can’t find time between handicapping and balancing life, hire someone. This is vital. If you don’t know if you are winning, or more importantly losing, you’ll have no idea how to calculate what it’s costing you. If you are blind to what’s losing there’s no light at the end of that tunnel.
4. Evaluate your edge. It’s really not difficult. Closing line value, ROI, bankroll expected growth/decline…whatever factors you want to use. It’s a lot easier to evaluate that than what Fresno State’s offense will look like next season or how many points a interested Kawhi Leonard is worth to a total vs. that of a disinterested Kawhi.
5. Spending habits. Know how many successful gamblers make a score and go out and buy a $75K car, a watch, and new clothes before they even realized they still hadn’t paid taxes on winnings? Endless people in my life have played in $10K buy-in cash games before owning a home. There is no 401K or retirement plan you can set up with your favorite sportsbook or poker room. Live within your means but also treat yourself occasionally. Do it smart and remember for every upswing is the danger of the opposite occurring at some point.
6. Make sure you’re doing what you love. I can honestly tell you I love researching sports. I’m never happier than in mid-July with my notebooks, sweating small MLB bets and preparing for making big bets in September with what I learn daily. If you find no joy in the wins but are miserable with the losses, get out now. It’s only going to get worst as you go on. If you can’t celebrate an unexpected win, reevaluate right away.
7. Relationships. This is tricky as most gamblers are taboo on this subject. Do you have a support system? Do you have people in your circle who want to see you win? Are you having enough sex? Are you sleeping enough? Are you taking care of your health? If you don’t believe any of these things are tied to financial ruin you’ve overlooked the fact that your best work always comes when you’re emotionally stable. If you feel no joy outside of gambling you’re now working for only the sake to work and we as bettors do not get a paycheck regardless of our performance. Want to see a huge downswing? Find a guy or girl who just went through a messy breakup. Never fails, unfortunately.
We must feel happiness, find joy, feel affection, feel touch, have people in our corner that matter and will be there for us. If you have people who constantly show the opposite it’s likely to bleed over to your long term results.
If there is concern over going broke please reevaluate how much you are betting, your edge, talk to people who care and have experience in this matter. And if you don’t feel stable mentally about what would take place if you do indeed lose, please feel free to reach out to me at any time.
Thank you and as always, best of luck in all walks of life,