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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Ask the Slot Expert

13 July 2003

Here's a letter about money management I recently received from a frequent contributor to the site:

I think one of the things that makes money management in a casino so difficult for even the experienced gambler is the uncertain relationship between playing time and bankroll. When making other purchases one typically has a good idea of what one is going to get in return. What one will get from a casino visit is not so well defined, and if the cards, dice, balls, and wheels are taking no prisoners there is no way a player can "get his money's worth." Getting destroyed is never fun, and coping with such hopefully rare disappointments -- I've had two in over 35 years of playing -- is a skill learned only by experience, and not one everyone can acquire.

The Midnight Skulker

You bring up a good point. Losing is bad, but losing quickly is worse.

With a movie or baseball game or play, you know you'll get a certain amount of "seat time" for your money, although you may leave before the entertainment is over. There's no such guarantee at the casino.

A few times I've sat down to play and have gone through more than half my stake by the time the pit boss comes by to have me sign the marker. And one time I even had to ask for another marker when he came by to have me sign my first one!

Things you can do to make sure you get your money's worth:

Play at your own pace. It's easy to get caught up in the rhythm of the casino and let it set the pace, but you can make your money last longer by setting your own, leisurely pace.

Play an amount per spin that is appropriate for your bankroll. This tip used to be to play a denomination appropriate for your bankroll, but now that there are many nickel machines on which you can bet more per spin than on most dollar machines, I had to rewrite it. If your bankroll for this session is $100, divide it by 40 to 50 to get the max you should risk per spin. $2-$2.50. You could play a 2-coin $ machine at full coin or load up about halfway on a nickel machine. Longtime listeners know I'd prefer to start with a bankroll sufficient to fund 100 spins. That's usually enough to last until I don't want to play anymore, but there have been a few times when I've run out of bankroll before I've run out of desire to play.

The flip side to the previous tip is to be adequately bankrolled. If you're looking at risking about $5 per spin--whether it's 90 coins on a nickel machine, 20 on a quarter, 5 on a dollar machine--I'd like to see you start with at least $200 to be able to fund 40 spins. Keep in mind that if you hit a cold spell, this could be gone in 5 minutes. Again, I'd prefer to start with a 100-spin bankroll.

Finally, use your slot club benefits. Cashback can give you a little more seat time. Comps may not give you more time at a machine, but they do help your bottom line.


Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at slotexpert@comcast.net.

John Robison

John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots
John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots