The Mindset of a Professional Gambler

mindset of a professional gambler

mindset of a professional gamblerI’d like to tell you a little story about a conversation I had with an acquaintance of mine and how this ties into the mindset of which a professional gambler should adopt.

For the purpose of this blog post we will call him Dave. (not real name)

Dave is your typical guy. He’s in his mid 30’s, works a 9-5 job and has a  wive and two kids.

Dave has a passing interest in horse racing and has the occasional gamble. He is not an expert by any means and like most people loses money in the long run with his gambling.

Last Friday Dave struck up a conversation with me about the Cheltenham gold cup and asked me if I had any tips for him.

Now normally when most people ask me for racing tips I’m quite reluctant to give them out. This is for a few reasons.

  1. I am aware that the people who ask me for tips don’t bet in fashion that remotely resembles a sensible staking plan. They will usually bet whatever spare money they’ve got or whatever is left in their online betting account.
  2. If the tip loses I can’t help but feel a little bad about them losing money knowing they are not following a sensible staking plan. And if the tip wins they tell all their friends about their win and I get more and more people asking me for tips.
  3. When I am betting on horse racing I am only going to place a bet if I am getting the right value. When I have advised tips previously to people I also quote minimum odds to take. My acquaintances however never seem to grasp the concept of value and usually place the bet I have advised regardless of whether they are getting good odds or not.

For these reasons I usually tell them I don’t have any tips today or I haven’t checked the racing cards yet.

However, for whatever reason, I was in an unusually good mood that day and when asked I mentioned to Dave that I thought Coneygree would win the gold cup. Dave thanked me for the tip and I got on with my day.

Coneygree went on to win the Gold Cup that afternoon at a starting price of 8/1.

When I next saw Dave it was the following Monday he thanked me again for the tip and told me he had put the last £10 in his betting account on Coneygree and was pleased to have won £80.

He then said something which struck a chord with me. Something that made me realize how our mindsets were miles apart.

Dave said to me “I bet you must of had a lot of money on Coneygree being a professional gambler and all, you must have been jumping for joy when he crossed the line first.”

I politely nodded and agreed but couldn’t help but think how what he said couldn’t be further from the truth.

It’s not about one big win

I did indeed have what most people would consider a reasonably sizable stake on Coneygree (this was only 0.25% of my bankroll) but I was not jumping for joy when Coneygree won. In fact I would have felt the exact same way had Coneygree not won the Gold Cup.

For your average person, their idea of gambling is the thrill of getting one big win, so much so that they don’t care if the odds are not in their favor. This is why the UK National Lottery is so popular. These people do not have the mindset of professional gamblers.

To me  a winning bet is just another outcome I enter into my profit and loss excel spreadsheet. You win some you lose some, however, as long as you are taking value with every bet you place you will win more than you lose in the long run.

Making consistent long term profits from gambling does not come from getting lucky and hitting a big win. It comes from lots of small wins on good value bets.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Slow and steady wins the race.

Emotion should play no part

I look at each bet I place as a mini investment. You wouldn’t (or at least shouldn’t) let emotion play any part when you are making an investment.

It is simply a question of whether the expected value of the investment is positive or negative. If it’s positive you invest, if it’s negative you don’t.

The exact same thing should be considered when you place a bet.

If you just want to gamble for fun and involve emotions like Dave, that’s okay, but if that’s the case you must accept that you are likely to lose money from you gambling in the long run and consider it an entertainment expense.

How to take the emotion out of gambling – ( Professional Gambler Mindset)

Feeling little to no emotion is not a particularly natural response to winning and losing money, so how do you go about taking the emotion out of gambling?

The answer is simple, follow a sensible staking plan and place a large number of bets.

Staking Plan

I always recommend a staking plan of betting around about 0.25% of your bankroll. This means if you had £1000.00 to gamble with you would bet £2.50 on each bet. As your bankroll grows you can increase your bet size to match.

This may sound like an extremely conservative staking plan but trust me it’s not. If you are betting £2.50 a time and placing around 40 separate bets each day you would be staking a total of £100.00 each day. 10% of your bankroll.

Let’s say you have a bad couple of weeks where you lose an average of £30 a day. After those two weeks you would have lost over £400. Believe me this can and will happen. That’s just the variance of gambling for you.

Now consider instead of betting with £2.50 stakes you were instead betting with £10 stakes. Over that same two week period you would have lost your entire bankroll in less than a week and a half.

The above example of bad couple of weeks has happened to me many times before, but on a larger scale. This did not affect me emotionally though because I was betting less than 0.25% of my bankroll on each bet and I know my bankroll can handle a bad run of luck.

Places lots of different bets

The other thing I do to prevent my emotions creeping into my betting is placing lots of different bets. That way I remain focused on the bigger picture and I am not too attached to any one particular outcome.

This does not mean you should be betting on anything and everything. You should only be betting when you are getting value.

Now I place around 40+ bets per day and I realize this may not be a realistic number of bets for most people to place each day.

It takes time to find value bets. (I bet on a mixture of my own selections and the selections of some trusted tipsters that I subscribe to)

And it also takes a lot of time to place 40+ bets per day.

If this is not realistic for you don’t worry, just place as many good value bets as you can.

“This information doesn’t apply to me”

I can hear you thinking just that right now. Your thinking, “I don’t place 40+ bets per day so I’m not going to go bust in 1 and 1/2 weeks if I decide to bet £10 instead of £2.50” (or 2%+ of bankroll instead of 0.25%)

Your part right, you won’t go bust in 1 and a half weeks, but you will still go bust. Just more slowly.

Just because you place less bets per day doesn’t mean you are any less likely to have a run of bad luck over the course of 600 bets, just because you placing them in a more staggered manner.


When you let emotion creep into your gambling you start to chase your losses and make bad financial decisions. If this sounds like you I implore you to implement some of my recommendations for reducing your gambling emotions.

If you want to be a professional gambler you must have the right mindset.

Winning money in the long term from gambling is very simple if you just follow two steps.

1. Always be taking value.

2.Follow a sensible staking plan and stick to it.

Do those two things and keep your emotions in check and you will succeed.

Until next time,

Kenny Turnbull