Gaming: Luck vs Skill – Do you need luck or just sharpen your skills?

In Gaming, Op-Ed by Cassie CroneLeave a Comment

Playing with purpose – skills matter!

Risk Intelligence Translates into Bigger Wins

All successful gamblers share similar characteristics, notably their appetite for calculated risk-taking, discipline, and effective bankroll management. While these traits have less to do with the specifics of individual card and table games, they are nonetheless vital to the success of players. This innate ability to separate emotion from gameplay is essential to boosting a player’s chances of success at the tables. Perhaps the biggest downfall of the most talented players is their inability to keep their emotions in check when the going gets tough. It is this cognitive ability to remain calm under fire by employing a calculated mix of skill, risk assessment, and probability analysis that results in long-term success. Contrary to popular opinion, successful players are not wanton risk takers – they are calculated risk-takers. It is this element that distinguishes them from the blind bettors.

How Much of an Impact Does Skill have on Outcomes of Games?

Skill is perhaps the most important aspect of all games, but not for the reasons that most people think. For example, when one considers slot games, or Roulette games, the misconception is that there is no skill involved. However, closer inspection indicates that skill is indeed involved, although not in a linear fashion. Since slots are largely chance-based games, there is little that can be done to influence the outcomes of the game once you are already playing them. This skill component with these games begins with selecting the right slot game to play. For example, 3-reel slots differ from 5-reel slots in terms of payout probabilities, return to player percentages and the size of wins. Also, the size of the wager determines how much of a payout the player will receive when the right symbols land on the activated paylines. Then, there is the issue of bankroll management which in itself is the most important skill in all forms of betting activity. It is generally accepted that players should have at least 20 times the game buy-in available during any gaming session to account for variance.

Nurturing Natural Talent and Fostering a Winning Attitude

This complex phenomenon known as risk intelligence is part innate, part learned. The more a player is exposed to a game of Poker, Blackjack or Baccarat, the more adept he or she will become at reading situations. Risk intelligence is all about number crunching. It is an all-encompassing skill that takes psychological, statistical, and situational factors into account in conjuring up an actionable figure. Probability analysis is at the heart of risk intelligence. The most successful players will remove bias from their perceptions, by mitigating their confidence levels to appropriate levels. Emotion is a difficult component to remove from probability analysis, especially when one’s personal beliefs are influencing the probability figure. For example, if a poker player assumes that there is a 27% chance of his hand winning, that probability needs to be evaluated against reality. A percentage of it is opinion-based, while the rest may be attributed to the cards on the table, the history of the players remaining in the hand, and various psychological factors that may impact on the outcome.

Risk intelligence is only actionable when it is expressed in a percentage. That probability is precisely what the player uses when making betting decisions. The numbers may be low, but even low numbers are workable when a wide range of possible outcomes can take place. For example, if there are eight players in a hand and you calculate your percentage of winning at 18%, you have better odds than most players at the table. In other words, if the expected outcome is greater than the given odds, the wager should be taken. This is often evident with sports betting where bookies offer fixed odds on certain outcomes and punters may believe that their chances are better. For example, if the bookie is prepared to pay out 4:1 on a horse, and you believe the horse has a 30% chance of winning, that may be a bet worth taking. Risk intelligence is about taking advantage of differences in probabilities so that you stand to benefit from them. In the above example, if the bookie was offering odds of 3:1, and you believed that the horse only had a 20% chance of winning, you may not take that bet.

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