When seeking out philosophical advice, it’s unlikely that Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson would be the first port of call for many.
And yet, the wrestler-turned-actor has delivered a theory that many of us – particularly from a gambling perspective – could learn a lot from.
“Success isn't always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come,” said the artist formerly known as Rocky Maivia in the WWE.
When you think about it, this is a concept that makes a lot of sense. You could be born a natural hustler, but without having the mechanics of game management – consistency in how you play hands, effective staking, emotional control – those natural gifts will ultimately prove pointless.
The fourth part of our ‘Great Gambler Series’ looks at the art of consistency. What is it? How do we achieve it? And why do consistent players tend to outperform their more unpredictable peers in 99 cases out of 100?
What do we mean by consistency?
The Cambridge Dictionary defines consistency as “the quality of always behaving or performing in a similar way, or of always happening in a similar way”.
Consistency is the polar opposite of unpredictability, which can occasionally be a useful weapon in a gambler’s armoury. We’ll look at how and when later in this guide.
Let’s think about things that are consistent. A Big Mac from McDonald’s is consistent – you’re not going to tuck into one and think, “This burger tastes different from last time.” That’s because the ingredients are the same, and the cooking process is managed down to a fine art with the temperature of the grill monitored to two decimal places.
If you buy a car from an exceptional German manufacturer such as Audi or BMW, then two cars from the same range will be identical. Why? It’s down to the precise minutiae of the engineering and production processes.
That’s the key to consistency: keeping the process identical each and every time.
Process + theory = consistency
With that in mind, we can already start to see how we can become more consistent at the gaming tables.
Being consistent is not about winning one hand or even walking away from a whole session with a profit, it’s about ensuring that every time you play, you have the right tools in place to make positive expectancy plays and thus increase your chances of making money.
We know that gambling isn’t that simple: you will have bad luck, bad beats and bad days, but in games such as blackjack and poker, where skill is as much part of the process as good fortune, consistent play is essential.
Long-term thinking for short-term gain
Everyone has a different goal when it comes to their gambling.
For some, playing online roulette or hitting the blackjack table is a fun way to unwind after a hard day at the office, and so they get stuck into free-play games and low-stakes betting to satisfy their craving. There’s nothing wrong with that!
Other people – including you, possibly, if you are reading this guide – have more ambitious designs, and those tend to revolve around making long-term profit from your chosen casino games.
That long-term approach is actually very important when considering how to be more consistent in your play, because by looking at the bigger picture, we can take great comfort from the following.
One losing session is not the end of the world.
We could write thousands of words on the topic of variance, but that can be quite a prosaic topic to discuss and tends to be a good cure for insomniacs!
But let us say this: there will be times when you walk away from the blackjack or poker table having lost money due mostly to the fact that you get a string of poor hands.
Don’t worry – it happens to everyone.
What you will find is that with a long-term approach, the day-to-day isn’t all that important. Yes, you want to be turning a profit in each session, but actually being consistent in your play – and not deviating even in the face of a few losses – is more likely to yield long-term dividends.
Don’t be obsessed by your bankroll
There, we said it. Becoming obsessive over the numbers can be a real problem for players looking for consistency, because when they see their account balance dwindling, that’s when chasing losses or adopting a risk-averse approach becomes a possibility.
Obsessing over your bankroll will lead to emotional responses: the good times bring overinflated confidence, while the bad will have natural implications to your mood.
Forget your balance, because long-term thinking will lead to short-term gain, as far as your own psychology is concerned.
Knowledge is power
If you want to be more consistent in blackjack or poker, then there are no shortcuts: you will need to learn basic theory.
By playing what we call positive expectancy plays more often than not, you can account for variance, bad beats and the like by knowing that you are giving yourself the best possible chance of winning – on a consistent basis too.
Let’s call it playing the percentages, which is how blackjack pros and poker geniuses such as Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu make their money.
It’s simple: maximise your wins, and minimise your losses.
To do so, you will need to uncover winning blackjack strategies and poker philosophies, and implement them on a consistent basis.
Here’s another area where knowledge is king: understanding the behaviours of your opposition.
At the roulette wheel, and the blackjack table to some extent, your opponent is Lady Luck herself.
However, in many forms of poker, the behavioural patterns of your opponents will in some way impact upon how you play your game – even if, in a perfect world, we would pay no heed to bullish all-in calls and pre-flop raises because we are consistently implementing our high +EV plays.
Next time you get the opportunity, watch a big World Series of Poker or European Tour poker game. Notice how intently each player studies the others – even when they have folded their cards. You rarely see a player switch off completely or start having a conversation with their neighbour.
This is another edge you can implement, because your consistency – over a lengthy period of time – will trump your opponent’s unpredictability, if that’s what your studying of them determines.
Even when you are playing online, have a notepad handy to jot down little pointers about your fellow players at a table – that little primer you’ve noted that ‘PokerKing John’ is a bluffer might just be the difference between the right call and the wrong one.
Five tips for consistent gambling success
Being consistent does not come naturally to everyone, and that’s down to personality types. Some people are simply more disciplined than others.
Not to worry though, because there are some basic rules to follow that will ensure that you can add consistency to your game and enhance your chances of long-term profit.
1. Have a plan
If you go into your gaming ‘blind’, you might be heading for trouble.
As we know, there are different types of each casino game – from roulette and blackjack to baccarat and poker – and the individual rules determine what a positive expectancy wager looks like.
Some players just stake however much they fancy on the day, and some players don’t have a profit target in mind when they sit down – meaning that they can generate a handsome profit before giving it all back, if they don’t have an end goal.
Our advice is to plan what you want from each session. Never deviate from your staking plan, and if you do hit your profit target, then get out when the going is good.
And, of course, have a stop-loss in mind if things don’t go according to plan.
By having a clearly defined strategy, you will be more disciplined and relaxed at the table – enhancing your consistency.
2. Keep it simple, keep it tight
Consistent players aren’t the ones throwing their metaphorical weight around – such a high-stakes approach is unlikely to yield positive results over the long term.
Slow and steady wins the race, so keep it simple and keep your stakes tight – safe in the knowledge that your understanding of blackjack and poker theory will ultimately produce results.
Consistency leads to accumulation, with nice wins – albeit small in stature – helping to build your bankroll and/or chip stack. Know when to fold to cut your losses. Remember, you can’t win every hand.
Take your time, make the right call based on the theory that underpins your game, and don’t be afraid to take every millisecond on the clock to get your decision right.
3. Patience is a virtue
Some people have this perception that online casino gambling is a glamorous, opulent world and an easy way to make a living.
Wrong. Being successful at online poker and blackjack requires discipline, diligence and the patience of a modern-day saint.
And that means folding on the poker felt and staying rather than hitting on the blackjack table – calls designed to mitigate risk and losses.
Why? Because we know that a better hand is just around the corner.
Winning the war is not about triumphing in every battle – sometimes, we have to wave the white flag of surrender.
Remember, the key to consistency and prolonged gain is looking at the long game. Have you ever heard of poker players referred to as ‘grinders’? This is their exact modus operandi, and many are able to make a sizable second income from their gambling as a result.
4. Keep your emotions in check
How can you expect to play consistently if your emotions keep leading you into making irrational decisions?
If you cannot control your emotions, unfortunately you are going to find it difficult to make long-term gains in the casino.
We’ve all been on the wrong end of bad beats, misfortune and our fellow players folding like dominos pre-flop as we sit poised with pocket aces.
We could write a whole chapter on the topic of ‘tilt’ and yet can also summarise the notion with one short sentence: tilting players do not play well in 99.9% of cases.
All casino games require luck at their very core, with skill only counting for so much even in strategic games such as Texas hold ’em and blackjack.
Annoying defeats are almost a certainty, but do you see poker pros throwing their hats down in disgust at a bad beat?
No, they dust themselves down and prepare for the next hand. Luck comes and goes, and variance is ever present.
5. Kick luck to the kerb
Whether irrational or not, some players have lucky numbers, lucky cards or even lucky hands.
These set off triggers in the brain, release a dizzying rush of endorphins, and can lead to you making bad decisions – as if holding the ace of spades, for example, was a sure-fire sign that you are onto a winner.
But does the hand lead to an outcome of positive expectation? How should you play the hand according to best strategy?
Those are the only considerations you need, so you need to de-program yourself from any thought of playing cards or even numbers on the roulette wheel acting as lucky unicorns.
The only mindset and playing style you need is one of consistency.
Mr & Mrs Consistent
Hopefully, you have found this article illuminating about a topic that often gets overlooked in gambling.
In this glamorous sector, it is easy to lose sight of what is truly important, and that is a) having fun and b) doing everything you can to secure some kind of long-term profit, no matter how big or small.
The best advice is to start small by playing your favourite games in demo mode, which helps you to put your strategies to the test and ensure that you are adopting that consistent approach.
You can play a huge range of free casino games at Bitcasino, and we’ll even welcome you into the family with a handy welcome bonus to get you started. You can’t say fairer than that!
Words: Sean McNulty