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Best of John Grochowski

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New Year's Resolutions Revisited

16 March 2004

When I gave my annual New Year's resolutions for gamblers a while back, I mentioned that an old friend of mine was teasing me, giving me the business about playing Scrooge by urging caution with money just a day after Christmas.

But I heard from a couple of readers who didn't think the advice was Scroogelike at all. In fact, they added a few thoughts of their own on the subject of keeping your head while playing in the casinos.

First, there was Mike, a casino dealer and frequent e-mailer who brings an insider's perspective. He's a player as well as a dealer, so he sees things from both sides.

Don't let anyone dissuade you. Your resolutions are always worth repeating -- should be in everyone's wallet when on the flight to Vegas, or in the car driving to the riverboats (but not while driving!).

I would add:

A. Before you can stay within your bankroll, you must HAVE a bankroll for a game; $100 is not a good bankroll for a $15 or $25 table game (some argue it's not enough for a $5). If you're in the casinos -- especially those in Illinois -- on the weekends, come bankrolled or don't play them at all. Short bankrolls need luck RIGHT NOW, or they're gone.

B. Definitely put some away -- if you're up at the end of the shoe, color up, get a black or purple chip and KEEP IT! (Don't do it in the middle of the shoe, please; you may need it for double downs or splitting pairs.) If you lose the rest, WALK! One of the most disheartening parts of dealing is watching someone win, then stay too long to try to "bust the house" -- repeat after me: "I'm not Kerry Packer, so I can't do that" -- and POOF! it all comes back. Magic? Cheating? Heck no -- no discipline, that's what.

C. By all means, learn the games BEFORE entering the casino, but read the signs, too. Many's the time I've seen people walk up to the blackjack table, right where the sign is, or right by the glass on roulette (again, where the sign is) and ask, "What's the minimum?" Scary, ain't it? Now if you don't know what a $5 minimum means in, say, roulette, that's what the books are for -- info you should know before you go. I'm not saying the dealers can't help you, but you gotta know the basics first -- learn to fly, not on the fly.

D. Not chasing speaks for itself. Nothing is ever "due" from a casino, unless you're the utilities supplying them. YES, you can lose 10 hands (or more) in a row in blackjack -- even with 20s. YES, red can come up 10 straight times on the wheel. YES, dice can be so cold (point/7, point/7), you think you're in Santa's casino -- outdoors; YES, you could play video poker 30 hands and not get so much as a pair of Jacks. YES, slots can go colder than an Arctic blast in winter. Maddening? Sure. One hundred percent above board? You bet your bippy (but don't lose that, please).

E. The bars and clubs are for drinking, the casino is for playing. Drink too much, then you wonder why you lose. I know why -- alcohol. Not to say I've never indulged, but rarely while playing. "Above all, never check brains at the door just to have a good time. You might just have a better time! To quote Paul Newman in The Color of Money, "Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."

*****

In the same day's e-mail came a note from Terry, who found validation of his own playing style in the resolutions.

"As I went through the categories, I found I go along with pretty much everything.

"I have my set bankroll when I head to Las Vegas so I have a loosely structured session plan. It is enough to play a good mix with some $1 play thrown in.

"I always like to stash some of my winnings if I hit a royal flush or some good hands. I will use some of it at a higher level to see if luck is smiling on me. So after a 25-cent royal worth $1,000, I take $300 or $400 and play 50-cent machines or some dollars. Once I caught a 50-cent royal.

"As for playing with what we can afford to lose, I consider the trip a vacation. Main Street Station in Las Vegas has been nice to me, so I have Silver card status. With comped rooms and meals, I will risk my budget (on gambling). I do have fun and mix in two or three shows.

"I can say I have never used a cash advance in any of my 23 trips. Chasing losses is always bad. A friend of mine will do that. I have seen him have a bad run at craps, playing green chips ($25), and next thing I see some blacks ($100) come out. He ends up not so happy most times.

"I also agree with you about going easy on drinking. I only have a beer or two. Sometimes, if I am back at my home base for the night, will have a few extra but I will not go over 25-cent play.

"As for your advice to play for fun -- how true. I learned long ago they do not build these huge monster buildings for us to win in. Another friend used to go with me a lot, and he really would let the bad streaks get him down a lot. He would get SO mad. I know what my odds are. There have been good and bad gaming trips. But win or lose, 94 percent have been fun!"

Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

The Craps Answer Book

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski