Skill vs. Luck
Luck is easier to get if you first understand skill. Let’s start by examining what it means to be a skilled player.
Typically the casino has the advantage but if the player can turn the house advantage in their favor while following all of the casino’s rules then this is the definition of “Skill”:
Player Skill: Following all of the rules the casino sets out and doing everything by the book yet still defeating the house.
When the player is able to win while doing everything the casino asked of them that’s skill. A great example of this is Card Counting. By playing basic strategy on the right table the player can bring the house edge down to 0%. By counting the cards the player can turn the advantage in their favor without breaking the house rules.
Card counting is not illegal but is in fact a 100% legit way of beating the game. For more information on how card counting works, check out our article Card Counting 101. You can find the link in the description below. If you practice remember to set goals.
A good card counter can count a single deck in 30 seconds or less, while a professional card counter can do it in 20 seconds or last. The fastest card counter in the world can count a single deck in 8 seconds. For the most part casinos don’t care if you count cards as long as you stick with a small spread. Using only $5 and $25 chips a card counter who wants to go undetected will keep his spread between $5 and $55.
If they start to go crazy, like $5 to $500, then this will certainly grab the manager’s attention. This is a friendly game of cat and mouse and when the cat catches the mouse the casino manager will back off the player by saying “Thank you for playing but unfortunately you’re too good for us. You can play any game except blackjack while you’re here.”
An Advantage Player (AP) also follows the casino’s rules as they look for weaknesses or loopholes that will give them an advantage over the casino. Many AP’s are card counters but some AP’s look for loopholes or take advantage of casino promotions. Advantage Players are also called AP’s for short. The two most common actions AP’s take is card counting and finding flaws in casino promotions and taking advantage of them. Amazingly, many casino managers don’t understand the full capacity of promotions and they tend to give away more then they should, losing money in the process. AP’s see and recognize this, finding creative ways to take advantage of it.
Are Advantage Players a polite way of saying cheaters? Advantage Players are not cheaters. They are not cheating. Even though casino staff may use that term to refer to them, advantage players and card counters are not doing anything illegal. This is not against the law, however, AP’s are right on the cusp since they are taking more then they should be.
We just went over skill and you can learn more about luck in the first part of this series.
So now let’s compare skill to luck. Let’s think of this as a scale. Luck is on the left side of that scale and cheating is on the other side of the scale. If we were to start at luck and go all the way to cheating then that scale would look something like this:
Luck → Skill → Advantage Players → Cheaters
As we compare the first two, luck and skill, we see that luck is a chance occurrence that just randomly happens to a person while skill is time and focused energy spent on perfecting an action.
Luck is when a player wins because of pure chance.
That player took no actions to obtain that win. It just happened because luck is being at the right place at the right time. Winning a coin flip and the all familiar self-fulfilling prophecy of how we perceive this world.
Compare that to skill, such as card counting on blackjack, where the player spent a good deal of time learning, practicing and perfecting their skills that ultimately changed the math in their favor. AP’s also spend a good amount of time and energy looking for weaknesses and loopholes to take advantage of.