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Five traits that make players tough competitors

By Frank Scoblete


In baseball there is an elite category called the “five-tool” player. Such a player is excellent in the following areas:

  • Batting average (usually near, on, or over 300)
  • Power hitting (home runs, triples, doubles)
  • Fast runner (base running, base stealing ability)
  • Good arm in the field (can throw the ball with power from his position)
  • Good fielder

Such players are rare indeed. You might call to mind Willie Mays, Joe DiMaggio, Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr. and now Mike Trout. These players certainly fit the five-tool bill.

In the casino world there may also be players that we can categorize as five-toolers. These players exhibit five traits that make them “tough outs” because they do not go lightly into the night of the house edge of the games they play. So here are the five qualities of the casino player five-toolers:

  • Knows the math of the games he or she plays and only makes bets with low house edges
  • Keeps the number of decisions as low as possible
  • Practices wise money management principles
  • Knows when to quit a session
  • Steady when playing

Let’s take a look at each category:


This could be a hard category to conquer. There may be games that look somewhat appealing but are deadly when played. Take the Big Wheel, a carnival game where the house edge is in the double figures all the way up into the 40 percent mark. Playing that game would be a waste of one’s money.

A player might love blackjack and knows the computer derived basic strategy of play. Still, playing one-to-one against a fast dealer can be a giant pitfall. Too many hands played opens a player up to almost guaranteed losses. A smart blackjack player looks to play at crowded tables with good rules.

A craps player will forgo all bets except those with house edges of 1.5 percent or under. That leaves out all the bets in the middle of the table, in addition to the Field, and almost all place bets.


I can drive my car into a brick wall and not hurt myself and also cause little damage to my car. At one-mile per hour I have little to worry about. The speed of the car is the key ingredient here.

All casino games can be played at various speeds. The faster the game, the better for the casino. Speed can even overcome good house edges. Look at mini-baccarat where two of the three bets come in with house edges of just over one percent. Those edges are wonderful but there is a BIG “but” here: A player can play between 150 to 200 decisions per hour at this game. That is like hitting a brick wall at about seventy miles per hour.


Money management is not a winning strategy; it is a “don’t let me lose too much” strategy. You have to face facts, you are playing games where the casino has the edge but that doesn’t mean you just throw your money indiscriminately into the casino’s throbbing gullet. Always play with money set aside for casino gambling; do not use your heart surgery money! Bet as low as possible, at the level that gives you a thrill but not a stroke. Always give yourself a set amount to play with and should you lose that, you stop playing.


It is very hard for people to say, “Okay, I’m done for the day.” Casino trips stimulate players; sometimes they stimulate players too much. Here is where you need control. Even great fighters have had some of their fights stopped by their corner men; I’m thinking of the old Muhammad Ali’s destruction by Larry Holmes and Joe Frazier versus Muhammad Ali in their Thrilla in Manilla fight when Frazier’s corner would not let him continue.

Casino players often have to act as their own corner men. That isn’t easy but if it is not done, then you will lose your money over time – sometimes over short periods of time too.


Emotions can be great. Something good happens and you cheer; there’s nothing wrong with that. But in casino gambling negative emotions can cause major problems, the main one being “I’m going to bet more in order to win all the money I lost back. I’ll show the world! Oh, and give me another drink!”

If you start to feel yourself going into the emotional whirlwind, you must stop playing immediately. Nobody likes to lose but foolish players think that they will definitely come back if they just stick to it. Sometimes they will come back; most times they won’t.

You must maintain a steady emotional keel when you play. I’m not recommending being a robot but you have to keep your emotions in check, especially your negative emotions.

The true five-tooler plays a strong game against the house. He may not have an edge over the games he plays but he plays those games wisely. So make sure you are a five-tooler.

[Read Frank Scoblete’s books I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage- Play Blackjack, I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps and Confessions of a Wayward Catholic!All available from, on Kindle and electronic media, at Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores. Visit frank’s web site at]


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