Posted by Mission146
Jun 20, 2016

Making the Case That AP’s Are, ‘Good,’ Gambling Addicts

The first thing that I want to do before people start ripping me to shreds is to state that, as with most general statements anyone has ever made or will ever make about anything, this statement is not meant to apply to all Advantage Players and I’m not even going to say that some serve as an, ‘Exception to the Rule,’ because I am not even classifying this as the, ‘Rule.’  With that out of the way, one question I find myself asking increasingly is, ‘Are there Advantage Players out there who are simultaneously actually gambling addicts, and, if so, do they Advantage Play simply in order to be able to continue to gamble?” 

Between the Forums, Real Life and reading other sites, I have either spoken to or read about many Advantage Players and the only one that I have ever heard of who claims to have never deliberately played ANY Negative Expectation games during his time as an AP is Bob Dancer.  Everyone else I have spoken to admits to enjoying the occasional Table Game, ‘Donking off on X machine while engaged in or waiting for a play,’ or, in some cases, just playing, ‘Bad,’ (read: -EV) machines for no other good reason than they feel like it.  

That in and of itself clearly is not indicative of anything, however, it becomes somewhat indicative when I take a look at the fact that some of these people already spend a TON of time in casinos embarked in active Advantage Play.  In this sense, let’s take a look at other professions and occupations, I have almost never heard of a housekeeper who enjoys her job so much that she would willingly go and clean some other place than her own house for free.  Furthermore, I am not aware of any Real Estate Agents (or other salespeople) who are so enamored with their profession that they would go anywhere or sell anything without a pay or commission from the sale.

That leads me to ask:  What makes Advantage Players different?  The only possible answer is that they love gambling enough not only to do it for free, but to actually do it (occasionally) at a negative expectation.  Going back to my hypothetical real estate agent, that would be like the real estate agent offering some amount of money for the right to show a house to an individual who, if that individual purchases the property, the real estate agent will not receive any commissions.  

Furthermore, one statement that has been made by Forum Member AxelWolf (publicly) on many occasions is that, ‘Money is a tool.’  The first thing that I want to point out is that I am absolutely not suggesting that AxelWolf is an addict, I am merely quoting something he said and noting that many other Advantage Players share this same notion of, ‘Money is a tool.’  Granted, the mantra that, ‘One has to have money to make money,’ is no less true in the world of Advantage Play as it is anywhere else.  The access that an individual has to resources such as money and other people to help out will enable one to embark on some of the most lucrative plays which, in many cases, have more Variance than other players would like.  

However, if money is nothing more than a tool, short of keeping up with living expenses, then the only purpose for money is to use it to make more money.  In fact, while there have been a couple of Advantage Players I have spoken to who have thrown the word, ‘Retirement,’ around, I actually have yet to see any of them actually do it.  Anyway, we end up with this notion that money generates more money which can then be used to accrue more money which will then be utilized to acquire more money forever and into perpetuity.  What’s the target?  What’s the goal?  At what point is the money sufficient and the person stops?

I’m not entirely sure there is such a point because, from the people that I have known, even if they slow down on Advantage Play for a particular period of time, they seem to almost inevitably gravitate back to it simply because a play is, ‘Too juicy,’ to pass up.

Furthermore, I have talked to people who absolutely HATE some of the aspects of Advantage Play, and yet, they persist.  For example, I know one person who absolutely hates travelling, yet if the Expected Daily Value of a play is sufficient, (and it’s not like he cannot make enough to survive elsewhere) then travel he will.  When it comes to strong plays, plans have been cancelled, trips have been organized on the fly, itineraries planned for a destination while one is in the air to a different destination already, (but is going to go somewhere other than the originally planned location as soon as he lands) and people are often willing to turn everything that they are doing upside down in the name of a terrific play with a few exceptions.

Some people have done well enough in Advantage Play, and in other unrelated pursuits, that they are not necessarily going to travel for a good play.  However, most Advantage Players are always on the look out for every opportunity scouring the websites of casinos far and wide and making phone calls to try to determine where the next big short-term, or ‘Regular,’ longer-term play might be.  

I am suggesting that these are not behaviors that are shared with many other professions, if any.  For example, if an individual has already planned a vacation, and in fact, is already on the way to said vacation...it is almost undoubtedly the case that the person would tell his/her employer precisely what to do with themselves if he were en route and the employer demanded he come back.  Advantage Players will not only do something along those lines willingly, but in fact, are often more than happy to do so.  

Advantage Players behave in a fashion unlike other Professionals in many other ways, as well.  For one thing, they are often tireless in their pursuits of a play or plays.  The vast majority of Advantage Players, given the right circumstances, have almost no problem spending twenty or more hours in a casino provided the play is lucrative enough.  I’m not suggesting that there are not any professionals that put in comparable hours at their jobs, on those occasions it is needed...There are, but Advantage Players are doing this joyfully and, furthermore, they actually have a choice not to!  

Of course, to not embark on such a play for as long as physically possible is unthinkable provided there is the requisite Value there.  I’m not even suggesting that this sort of attitude detracts from the Advantage Player, in fact, it is a highly desirable attitude to have with respect to the pursuit of Advantage Play.  The best of the Advantage Players will push exhaustion to the absolute limit to get some coin-in on a strong play because they do not know when the next play of that nature will be.  

I would also like to point out that this is not a situation of the, ‘Pot calling the kettle black,’ with respect to the Plaza Promotion, I spoke to someone who mentioned to me how much he was paying players, per hour, just to sit there and hammer a button on Keno and I mentioned that I would have been more than happy to fly out to Vegas and play for that hourly amount.  Would I have gotten rich?  Absolutely not.  I would have covered my flight costs and I know enough people that I could have gotten some free or cheap hotel rooms.  I probably would have made $100 over and above that, but I would have picked up my LVA and ACG books and gotten a little bit of extra money out of a coupon run.  The person to whom I am referring probably could have also found something else, perhaps not as lucrative, for me to get into, as well.  

The point is that Advantage Players, for the most part, (Josh Axelrad is one example of a notable exception) absolutely enjoy the casino atmosphere and love spending their time in casinos.  Is it possible to absolutely say whether or not they would be gambling addicts in the event that Advantage Play did not exist?  Perhaps not, one would have to look at their bankroll in the event that all Advantage Play were to cease to exist and whether or not they spent similar amounts of times in casinos.

Perhaps a good term to apply to some of the Advantage Players out there is that they are, ‘Conditional Addicts.’  I should imagine that many of them would stop playing and find something else to do if there was suddenly no way to continue to play at an advantage.  However, I also have to believe that there are at least a few that couldn’t give up the rush of a jackpot, the free drinks (in some states and with those who do drink) and the overall enjoyment of the casino atmosphere.

That leads us to the original question:  Are they addicted?  I would surmise that many Advantage Players are addicted to Advantage Play in the sense that they will drop almost anything and pursue a good opportunity with a joyousness, glee and single-mindedness unseen in virtually any other profession.  While most professionals are eager to go home and kick off their shoes after a, ‘Day at the office,’ Advantage Players often return home to research other opportunities, network with other AP’s or people they could work with, or to plan their next move.  In that sense, Advantage Players are certainly more devoted than others.

One other thing to consider is the oft-repeated mantra that, ‘Advantage Players could make more money doing something else,’ but from what I have seen, that’s not necessarily true (some of them make a ton of money!) or is only true if they wanted to pursue higher education.  

That also brings us to a question of, ‘Instant Gratification,’ which is, in fact, one of the qualities that makes an addict an addict!  Why do some Advantage Players who clearly have the intelligence to do whatever they want not pursue higher education to become a doctor, or, perhaps an attorney?  My suggestion for this is that a good play at a casino offers, if not Instant Gratification, then at least a less-delayed gratification.  To become a professional in any other field that would make as much money as some of the Advantage Players I know (or know of) would require many years of schooling for which one is not going to realize the rewards while it is going on.  When it comes to Advantage Play, the positive results of the play are, in many cases, almost immediately tangible.  When they are not, then a person certainly does not have to wait years to witness the fruit of an individual play.

Ultimately, I do not think that most Advantage Players are simultaneously gambling addicts, but I think that a few of them are.  However, the very discipline that is required in order to be a professional Advantage Player, (irrespective of whether or not one might be a gambling addict) is enough to offset the other addictive tendencies that might otherwise be that person’s downfall.

The previous paragraph is absolutely true, too.  I’ve heard stories and been warned by virtually every Advantage Player that I have ever spoken to that the two biggest keys to success are having the discipline to avoid too much negative expectation gambling and also not to embark on borderline plays for which I am under-bankrolled just to justify being in action.  In fact, I’ve been directly admonished on the latter of those two things, but have since learned my lesson.

Another question I have to ask myself is: Is this Article in some way introspective?  In other words, in poring over all of this, am I really asking this question of myself?  My answer is: Maybe.  I definitely think that I would avoid gambling altogether if not for the opportunity to Advantage Play because I could see myself potentially getting hooked on situations that I deemed, “Close enough,’ to 100% without actually being positive plays.  On that note, it is always important to remind oneself that, regardless of how much or how little the game in question is away from 100%, provided it is less than 100%, then the final bankroll expectation given enough play is always the same: $0.  


jml24 Jun 20, 2016

Another example would be good poker players. There are many skilled players that have the discipline to play poker only, and also only when conditions are good. There are plenty of others that are able to play at an advantage but they also will play craps, BJ, or stay at a table where they do not have an edge just to keep in action.

MrGoldenSun Jun 21, 2016

Interesting ideas. I enjoyed this.

Mission146 Jun 22, 2016


Great point, I believe Phil Ivey, just to name one, certainly loves the Craps table.

Mr. GoldenSun,

Thanks for the compliment!

JimRockford Jun 22, 2016

Regarding people practicing their profession for fun, you need to consider other professions that are considered entertainment to amateurs. Some NASCAR drivers spend an off weekend racing at a local dirt track.
If you don't follow pro cycling (I know, of coarse you don't) it is hard to overstate how physically demanding the Tour De France is. 2000+ miles in 3 weeks much of it in europe's highest mountains. Rest days are few, usually only two. An easy two hour training ride is scheduled for most riders, but a few of them enjoy it so much they ride in the mountains all day.

Zuga Jun 22, 2016

a good read mate

Mission146 Jun 22, 2016


Those are good points, so maybe APs can fall within that category.


Thanks for the compliment!

Zuga Jun 23, 2016

@jml24 perfect example is Gus Hansen who lost millions and not just on poker.

Wizard Jul 07, 2016

In my opinion, about 25% of full-time advantage players are compulsive gamblers. If there is nothing positive to play, then they will play something negative.

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