48 Laws of Power for Professional Gamblers


This is the first in a series of posts about Robert Greene’s book “The 48 Laws of Power.” Greene’s book is in the vein of classics like Machiavelli’s “The Prince,” and Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War.” The 48 Laws of Power is an unvarnished description of how to gain power, and protect yourself against the selfish ambitions of others. This series of posts applies these truths to those who gamble for a living.

These posts are not moral in nature; they are merely strategic considerations of how to accomplish a thing. You must still have your own code of ethics and honor, and being able to do a thing does not mean you should.

Law #1 “Never Outshine The Master”

Always make those above you feel comfortably superior. In your desire to please and impress them, do not go too far in displaying your talents or you might accomplish the opposite – inspire fear and insecurity. Make your masters appear more brilliant than they are and you will attain the heights of power.

Pit Bosses

In a casino, it is generally beneficial to treat most casino employees as your superiors. Card counters are, as a group, very smart, very rational people. But remember, most people are not impressed by intelligence, they are afraid or intimidated by it

When the boss comes over and starts talking to you about the game, be very deferential to his great knowledge. Do not flatter, and always be sincere, but also avoid telling everything you know. Treat him as a master, and you will avoid his vengeance. You may even be liked.

Remember your purpose in a casino. You are not there to look smarter than the boss. You are there to look dumber than the boss, while simultaneously being smarter than the boss. Think of Kaiser Soze, the criminal mastermind, sitting in the office of the police investigators.  This is the way of the true master of our craft.

When negotiating with for a comp, it is often beneficial to be seen as a poor negotiator, who gives great deference to the master. When asking for a suite for a prime weekend, do not demand it based on your strong record. Meekly ask if your masterful host can use her great powers to find a spot for a humble wretch like you.

Not only does this make you appear not to be smart (goal #1) is is likely to get you the comp you want (goal #2), since the host will want to help you.

Play Blackjack Like Keyser Soze Plays Police Investigators

Other Players

Never try to appear smarter than other players. This will only make them distrustful and angry toward you.

When you hit a 12 against a bust card, and take the dealer’s ten, do not say it was the correct play. Tell them that you guessed wrong, and should have listened to them. This strokes their ego, disarms their anger, and builds camaraderie.

Do not offer advice to other players. If they ask for advice, give it humbly: “I think the book says to hit, but I’m not 100% sure” empowers them to make a choice, while “You have to hit” restricts them. If someone disagrees with your recommendation, do not be contentious.

You can even agree with the logic of their position, without accepting their recommendation: “Yeah, I guess you could end up taking the bust card there. Good point.” Opposite to what we would expect, this makes people more likely to listen to our advice when we want them to make a certain play.


Whenever possible, avoid showing up anyone in a casino. Let the muggles believe they are masters of blackjack, and they will see you as their peer. Let the employees believe you are the mark, and they will happily be your mark.

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