Letters to a Young Gambler: Blackjack Commencement Ceremony Keynote Address


Dear Online Gambling Blackjack Class of 2021,

First of all, congratulations. You’ve worked hard to get here.

You’ve invested tremendous amounts of your precious time and hard-earned money to build a skill set (and a bankroll) capable of consistent, big wins.

You’ve learned all about card counting, as well as how to disguise these gifts to avoid unwanted attention from casino management.

And you’ve met perhaps the greatest challenge: you’ve developed your discipline! You’ve eschewed tables and casinos with player-unfriendly rules, you’ve repeatedly bet the minimum even when your friends were ‘feeling lucky,’ and you’ve ending gaming sessions at the right time, even when companions wanted to keep playing…

… even if they went broke in the process!

All of this is commendable in the extreme, and it will serve you well when you play at the world’s best brick-and-mortar casinos and online games.

Before you depart out into the wide world, surely to do tremendous damage to casinos’ bottom lines and to strike terror into the hearts of pit bosses everywhere, please heed these last few bits of advice.

Though it’s not technically part of the blackjack player’s job description, and though this information isn’t exactly uplifting as you take the next step in your blackjack journey, it’s nevertheless important stuff to keep in mind.

After all, while the bottom line is everything for a professional player, a pro is also a human being! And though it may be an unpopular topic, looking after your needs as a human being will ultimately make you a better player, too.

So, without further ado, here is what no blackjack book or (other) website will tell you.

  • Cigarette smoke can be everywhere in and around casinos, and it’s terrible for you. You don’t even have to do the smoking! Just being around smoking will take its toll on your skin, eyes, and lungs. Prepare yourself for the toll this will take on your body, and take all possible preventative measures.
  • Even with all the thrills of gambling, the unfortunate truth is that casinos can be depressing places to spend extended time. Most guests don’t know the first thing about the games they’re playing, and you’ll see plenty of people drink too much, make terrible decisions, and lose money they can’t afford to lose.

While online play will spare you such visions, spending long hours alone, in front of a computer screen, is not exactly great for a person’s mental health either!

Wherever and however you choose to play, make sure that you spend some time in the sun, get outside every day, and build a community that consists of more than just other gamblers.

  • You might think, if you know your way around the game of blackjack, are polite to the staff and fellow players, and generally behave as a model citizen, that casinos would be happy to have you as a repeated guest. Unfortunately, this is largely not the case. As soon as the house realizes that you’re a threat to their bottom line, you will instantly become persona non grata despite having broken no rules. Plenty of advantage players have been tossed out of their hotel rooms as a consequence of playing a strong game of blackjack! It’s dreadful treatment, but it won’t sting nearly as much if you know to expect it.

If and when they refuse to pay, you may need to enlist a gaming agent in order to get your winnings. And if all else fails, you may need to lawyer up in order to get what’s yours.

  • If you are betting large enough amounts to earn a comfortable living, you will need to travel. A lot. No matter how well you disguise the quality of your play, it’s only a matter of time until your local venues take note of your skill, and subsequently “invite” you not to play blackjack there anymore. And while traveling around the world playing blackjack certainly has its appeals, it can take a serious toll on your personal life.
  • Speaking of personal lives, how many women do you think have dreams of marrying a professional gambler? How many girls’ parents would welcome a professional blackjack player with welcome arms? For ladies, how many men do you think want to set up house and home with a full-time traveler who works long hours, surrounded by degenerate men?
  • What about your own friends, parents, extended family, and elders – do you think they dreamed that one day you might grow up to spend hours upon hours beating casinos at their own game?

For all of these reasons and more, every blackjack player needs a life beyond blackjack.

Be good to your friends and family, especially those outside the industry: you’ll need them. Get outside for a walk, every day if possible. Exercise regularly, even if it isn’t all that intensive – if you don’t yet, start. Meditate every day. Read books that aren’t about blackjack. Whenever possible, connect with people who don’t gamble for a living.

All of these will make you a happier person, and a stronger player.

And make no mistake – none of this takes any of the thrill out of a big win. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with honing your craft until you are a bona fide winning machine! Just know that there are some obstacles that don’t get talked about enough, and that there even amidst the moments of glamor and excitement, there will be some very unglamorous times, too.

Now go forth, play well, enjoy your wins, be patient in your losses, and enjoy every minute!