Don’t Mix Poker and Gambling

October 15, 2013 Posted in Strategy by No Comments

Poker and gambling are closely related. Walk into any major casino and the odds are you won’t be far from a poker room. Sign up at one of those big all-in-one gambling sites like Bovada and you’ll find poker, gambling and sports betting under one roof.

The convenience is nice, but poker and gambling don’t go well together. There are many accounts of successful poker players going broke due to gambling habits away from the poker table. There are also plenty of accounts of lucky gamblers taking their wins over to the poker tables and subsequently losing everything.

Just look at Archie Karas who won a million, lost it all and then won it all back multiple times over the course of his career dabbling in all sorts of gambling games. Or look at Erik Lindgren who filed bankruptcy last year despite millions of dollars in poker winnings.

This might not be a big deal for casual players, but professionals should avoid dabbling outside their areas of expertise. If you’re a talented card counter, stick to the blackjack tables. If you’re a great poker player, stay the hell away from the craps tables. And if you make a living betting on sports, stay away from all of the above.

The problem with mixing poker and gambling is that skillsets do not translate easily from one game to the next. This becomes even more problematic when you master one game, win a bunch of money and get that “I’m invincible” feeling that frequently follows success. Skill in one game does not mean skill in all games.

At the very least, keep one bankroll for poker and a completely separate bankroll for gambling. That way, you can limit the damage that usually ensues jumping between different games. A bad night at blackjack won’t kill your poker bankroll, and vice versa.

But really, it’s best to just stick to what you know. If you’re fortunate enough to be successful at poker, blackjack, video poker or sports betting, stick to it and make the most of it while you can. The last thing you want to do is go from top-of-the-world to scrounging together a couple hundred bucks for your next night at the hotel. It happens all the time.

If you do want to branch out, do it in baby steps. Drop way down in stakes and develop a winning record before you move up in stakes. It might not be any fun throwing down $20 bets when you’re used to 8-tabling 5/10 no limit, but that’s just the way it goes. It is easy to lose a lot of money if you don’t drop down and learn the game properly.