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Concentration, knowledge critical to gain 'The Gamblers Edge'

May 29, 2012 3:00 AM

S.L.A.C.K. is the acronym for skill, luck, attitude, concentration and knowledge, five ingredients in gaining “The Gamblers Edge.” This column covers the final two elements of the formula: Concentration and Knowledge.


Heard the expression, “Use it or lose it?” Concentration is hard to use and easy to lose. Poker table distractions lurk like bandits ready to rob you of your attention and steal your bankroll: TV monitors, food and drink servers, non-stop talkers, clanging slot machines, blaring loudspeaker announcements. Each is a thief of your continued concentration.

But in spite of these distractions, the poker table can be a good place to practice your concentration skills. If your attention span is relatively short, try concentrating fully for about an hour and then take a short break. Gradually increase the length of time you play before taking a breather.

Another focusing technique is wearing a headset to block out annoyances. Phil Hellmuth, who has won 11 bracelets at the WSOP, is noted for his “Sony” ears and recommends wearing headsets during tournaments.


After you’ve read all the books and played a zillion free-play online games to practice the how-to part of poker, there are additional things you must know to complete your knowledge base.

In his excellent video, Pro Poker Seminar, Mike Caro advocates knowing all the house rules in live games, understanding the structure of the tournament you’re playing, learning your opponents’ habits, and acquiring a working knowledge of the odds.

Years ago, Napoleon Hill wrote a nifty book I recommend to gamblers and other entrepreneurs. In Think and Grow Rich, Hill points out that we respect college professors for their extensive knowledge, but we do not respect their low incomes.

Some people become experts in a given field, but do not turn their expertise into high income producing endeavors. That doesn’t have to be your plight in gambling: You can turn knowledge into money by practicing good gambling skills, being open to luck, maintaining a positive attitude, concentrating on attaining your goals, and constantly increasing your base of knowledge.

When you consistently cut yourself this kind of S.L.A.C.K., you’ll sharpen your “Gamblers Edge.”