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Resolve to Keep Zeroes at End of Bank Balance

19 January 2000

It's the dawn of the new year, bringing lots of zeroes at the end of the date. That makes it time for gamblers to resolve to keep the zeroes on their bankrolls.

Try sticking to the following resolutions to hold onto more of your money whenever you hit the casinos:

Resolve to learn to play the best games: In this column, I write a lot about the house edge in casino games. The games with the lowest house edges are the ones you have to work at to learn. By playing basic strategy in blackjack, you can lower the house edge to half a percent or so - on the average, for every $100 you risk, you lose 50 cents. Many video poker games also allow you to narrow the house edge to less than 1 percent.

That beats roulette, where you lose $5.26 per $100 wagered, or quarter slots, where in the Chicago area, you lose about $8 per $100.

Playing blackjack or video poker well takes study and practice. If you're not going to put in the time, you're better off with baccarat, with house edges of 1.17 percent on banker or 1.36 percent on player, or craps, at 1.4 percent on don't pass or 1.41 percent on pass.

Resolve to take it slow: Speed will deplete your bankroll just as surely as a high house edge. Take frequent breaks. Play at slower, big baccarat tables instead of mini-baccarat.

Understand that the slots are the fastest games of all. With a high house edge and fast play, slots are bankroll padders for the casino - not for you.

Resolve to play only with money you can afford to lose: Losing is a normal part of gambling. In fact, nearly all players lose more often than they win. Occasional big wins make up for a lot of small losses, but the most likely result each time we play is that the house edge is going to carve a chunk out of our bankroll.

When the inevitable losses come, you don't want money earmarked for food, clothing, school, the rent or mortgage on the line.

Resolve never to chase losses: After a losing streak, some players are tempted to increase their bets and try to win everything back. They figure they're due to win. That's a big mistake. Players are never "due" to win. Previous results have no effect on future outcomes. The house edge remains in effect, no matter how you've fared on previous bets.

The most likely effect of increasing bets to try to win back losses is bigger losses.

Resolve to keep perspective and play for fun: Gambling in a casino is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Only a handful of blackjack and video poker players have the skill, discipline and bankroll to enable them to make money in the long run. Most of us will lose more than we win.

Most players are best off to treat losses as the price of admission for a day's entertainment.

Enjoy the wins when they come, but be realistic about the outcome that is likely most of the time.

Resolve to stay within your bankroll: Know before you enter the casino how much you can afford to lose - how much you're willing to pay for that day's entertainment. If you've decided you can afford to lose up to $50, slow down and make smaller bets as you approach that figure. Take a timeout - get a snack, watch the roulette wheel for a while. If you hit that $50 limit, quit. Period. Don't reach for a cash reserve or, worse, head for the ATM. You can set your own price of admission. Keep it under control.

Resolve to keep part of your winnings in your pocket: I hear time and time again from players who have won early in a visit to a casino that now they're playing with "their" money. The attitude is that the money they're gambling with belongs to the casino. If they lose it, so what? It's "their" money anyway. Why not have a good time with it?

But the instant you've won it, it's not "their" money anymore. It's your money, and you can choose what to do with it. You can pay bills, treat yourself to a gourmet dinner, buy gifts, put it in the bank - whatever you want. Nowhere is it written that you have to give it back.

I recommend always stashing away at least half of any fairly big hit. If you hit a $1,000 jackpot, take at least $500 home. Whatever you buy later, it feels just a little nicer to pay for it with money you've taken out of the casino.

Resolve to go easy on the alcohol: Many players see the free drinks served in some gaming states as part of the fun. (Free alcoholic beverages are not permitted in Illinois or Indiana.) I'm no fanatic - though my beverage of choice at the tables is bottled water - but I strongly urge you to keep your intake moderate. When there's money on the line, you don't want your judgment impaired by alcohol. Relax and have a good time in the casino, but keep a clear head, too.

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:

> 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:

The Craps Answer Book

> More Books By John Grochowski