Chapter 5. What We Can Learn from Gamblers

Investment Success Comes from Process

Several years ago on a business trip, I went to a casino to play blackjack. Aware that the odds were stacked against me, I set a $40 limit on how much I was willing to lose. Wanting to get as much mileage out of my $40 as possible, I found a table with the smallest minimum bet requirement. My thinking was that the cheaper the hands I played, the more time it would take for the casino's advantage to catch up with me and take my money.

I joined a table that was dominated by a rowdy, half-drunken fellow who told me several times that it was his payday (literally: He was holding a stack of $100 bills in his hand) and that he was winning. I played by the book. But that didn't seem to matter—luck wasn't on my side. The rowdy guy was making every wrong move. He would ask for an extra card when he had a hard 18 while the dealer showed 6. The next card he drew would be a 3, giving him 21. Then the dealer would get a 10 and then a 2 (on top of the 6 that already showed), leaving him with 18. The rowdy guy barely paid attention to the cards. He was more interested in saying "Hit me."

Every "right" decision I made turned into a losing bet, while every "wrong" decision he made turned into a winner. His stack of chips was growing while mine was dwindling. His loud behavior and consistent winnings attracted several observers. Some were making comments such as "This guy is good." Nobody paid attention to me—I was not ...

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