For several years I was what most would call a full-time advantage player (“AP”). However, my full-time play resulted in me being burned out and wanting to retire. I made good money during my working years. My main concern upon retiring from my previous career was the terrible thought of not being able to continue making money. I was having dinner with Stanford Wong one evening and expressed that thought. Stanford looked at me and said, "Just because you retire, why would you stop making money"? His question hit home.
The things that were important to me were, first, the ability to be a good enough AP to make money; then I want to be in the comfort zone where if I did not make any money I would still be okay in retirement. This meant starting out with a bankroll; but if I lost it, I would still be okay in retirement. My hope was to make enough money as an AP that I would not have to use any of my retirement portfolio until I grew too old to play.
I immediately recognized that while I was a good card counter, there was much more to the game than just counting cards. There are things you need to learn about AP play that are not in any books. It is important, when you first start out, to have contact with a few others that have taken this road before you and are willing to share their knowledge with you. This means you must have the trust of other AP's. Without it, you cannot succeed. I have been fortunate that other very good AP's have been willing to help me. Without them, I would not be where I am today as an AP.
I have had other AP's show me things in the casinos that are so obvious it makes you wonder why it is not known to anyone who walks into a casino. Most people are blind to the opportunities that exist in the casino. It takes other experienced AP's to teach and show you opportunities. You must also develop a calm and controlled temperament to be a good AP. When you are in the casino it is necessary to always be in complete control of your emotions and to be able to handle the emotions of others. Losing control is the fastest way to lose your bankroll.
I have an RV and the reason is twofold. One: I want to travel around the country and enjoy my retirement years. Two: I could use the RV during my travels while being an AP. As I said, my goal was and is to make enough money at AP play so I did not have to use any of my retirement portfolio until I no longer have the ability to be successful at AP play. I did not spend any of my retirement portfolio during my full-time AP years and lived solely on playing income.
Yes, a living can be made as an AP, but you will soon learn the drawbacks. Casino life as an AP will quickly become boring. What may come as a surprise to you is the loneliness of AP play. While you are always around other people, they are having fun and you are working. There is a big difference. You may have other AP's around, but in a casino you seldom if ever communicate with them. There are many approaches that can be used in a casino, but the best one is stealth. This means doing your job with as few people as possible remembering who you are.
I do not believe it is necessary to bet big money to make a living. (The exception to this is team play. In team play, you do want to pound as hard as you can get away with.) The number of hours worked is more effective than exposing yourself to the drawbacks of very large bets. Some will disagree with this, but longevity is important. As an example, there is a game I have been playing for years that is a very positive AP play. I could kill the game within a couple days. Instead, being careful how I approach the game and how much I take from the game has allowed me to get much more from it over a longer period of time than I would have gotten by pounding it. Some here disagree with this approach, but there are many ways of being a good AP. What works for you may not work for others.
Not everyone, no matter how intelligent and educated they are, can be a good AP. The people who are closest to you must be supportive of your efforts. Friends and family members will probably initially think you are a degenerate gambler; in fact, they may never understand advantage play -- most people don’t. At the least, you need the trust and support of your spouse or significant other, or you’ll have a tough road ahead.