By Jean Scott
Playing smarter in a casino does not necessarily require a lot of math knowledge and special skills. It IS good, of course, to study the games and learn about mathematical odds, but what if you don’t want to go to “gambler’s school.” You just want some simple advice on how to make your gambling bankroll last longer in a casino. Okay, let’s see what we can do, by just using common-sense ideas.
1. Accept the fact that the main thing casinos are offering is entertainment. Of course everyone wants to win, but be honest with yourself: you know that it is more likely that you will lose. So what is your real reason for being in a casino? You want to have fun, right? Too many people will not admit this to themselves; and then, when they lose, they feel very unhappy because they have “wasted” their money. The healthy attitude is to consider your bankroll your “cost” for this entertainment choice. And what other entertainment options give you a shot at bringing home more money than you took with you!
2. Choose your gambling bankroll from the part of your household budget marked "Entertainment." This is money you sometimes use to eat out at a nice restaurant or go to a movie or spend on a skiing trip. This is not money you set aside for groceries or the mortgage or the kids’ school clothes. Unless you are an extremely disciplined person, you should have this whole bankroll with you, in cash if it is a small amount, in traveler’s checks if it a large sum. You should NOT have your checkbook or your ATM card or your credit card. Nothing will take the fun out of gambling faster than losing money that has already been earmarked for necessities.
3. Choose your playing denomination carefully. If you have been playing dollar machines in the past and your bankroll usually didn’t last long enough, then the sensible thing to do is play quarters. Lose too much playing green chips at the tables? Stick to red chips. Going down in denomination is probably the easiest technique to use to stretch your money.
4. Give yourself frequent breaks. Nothing will make you more sluggish than sitting at a machine or table for hours at a time. Go outside for a fresh-air break. Hit the snack bar for a quick bite. Or stop in the race book and put a couple of dollars down and watch one horse race. You can also change machines or tables frequently to stretch tired muscles.
5. Play at a slower pace. Choose crowded tables so you are putting less money at risk by playing fewer hands. There is no reward for speed demons on the machines. So stop sometimes to chat with your neighbors. I observed a couple recently who had a unique and enviable way to slow down their video poker play. They took turns playing one machine while the other watched, and every time they hit four-of-a-kind they stopped and hugged and kissed.
Do you think you are a pretty sensible person? You work hard at your job; you pay your bills on time; you shop sales; you budget your money carefully. Then don’t drop your common sense at the entrance to a casino. Take it in with you and use the very same careful thought – and you will find that you can play longer and have more fun.
Jean Scott is one of the country’s most renowned and successful gamblers and has appeared on many TV shows, including 48 Hours, where Dan Rather gave her the nickname of Queen of Comps. Her first book, The Frugal Gambler, has been a best-seller for nine years. She also wrote a sequel, More Frugal Gambling, and a tax guide for gamblers. She provides a complete resource package for video poker players, from beginners to the experienced: the Frugal VP software program which goes with her new book, Frugal Video Poker, and the must-have Frugal Video Poker Scouting Guide. Her Web site is www.queenofcomps.com