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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Best-Case Money Management Scenario - Part 1

6 February 2003

Last time I mentioned that we talk about money management in losing situations more frequently than in winning situations because the house edge against us makes it more likely that we'll be behind than ahead. This time let's look at some money management ideas for when we're ahead.

As I've said before, money management to me has two goals: to ensure that your bankroll lasts as long as your visit and to make your visit more fun by removing some of the stress involved in dealing with money. By thinking about how you're going to handle various situations, you'll be less likely to make a big mistake when you have to make a split-second decision under the gun.

The first situation I'd like to look at is when you have a small profit at the end of the session. What I usually do is just use this amount (initial bankroll plus profit) as my bankroll for the next session. Other people take the profit and put it aside in their "guaranteed to take home" envelope.

The same options apply when you have a profit at the end of the day. Again, I usually just use the amount as my bankroll for the next day, but others put their profits aside never to be touched again during the trip.

The key point in these two situations is that the profit is small. The definition of small is up to you, but I think it should be a small percentage of you total bankroll, say 10 to 25%. We're not talking about life-changing jackpots or enough to buy a car, just an amount from pennies to a few hundred, maybe a thousand dollars, depending on your bankroll.

Now let's look at having a relatively big profit at the end of a session or day. We're still not talking about "now I can retire and buy houses for all the kids and grandkids" money, but we are talking about an amount that is a significant portion of your bankroll, if not even greater than your bankroll. Unless you're bankrolled like Donald Trump or Rudi, any jackpot that requires a W2-G falls into this category. Although you can reach these lofty heights by having a series of profitable sessions, most of the time you'll be here because you hit a royal flush or the top jackpot on a machine.

One option you have is to take the entire jackpot home. This won't affect your future play on this trip because you were adequately bankrolled for the entire trip, right? Putting the jackpot aside is easy when you get it handpaid. If you're playing a machine that just adds the jackpot to your credit meter after the IRS paperwork is done (usually a ticket-printing machine), you'll have to be careful not to play away your winnings.

If you want to make sure your jackpot makes it home intact, you can ask the casino to pay it with a check instead of a handpay. Jackpots of the size we're talking about in this scenario usually fall into the range in which a casino will default to paying you in cash but will write a check if you request one.

Another option you have is take a small amount of the jackpot and use it to live out a fantasy. Let's say, for example, that you always wanted to play in the high limit salon. You can take a few hundred from the jackpot and play a $5 or $10 machine one coin at a time. Play very slowly to make sure you get your fair share of fine hootch, hors d'oeuvres, back rubs, and whatever other perks offered to high end players.

Another option is to take a small amount of the jackpot and use it to raise the limit on your play. You can use it to increase your playing time by increasing your bankroll and using your usual betting pattern, or you can keep the same playing time but bet more per hand. You can increase denomination--go from nickels to quarters or quarters to halves or dollars--or stick with the same denomination and bet more coins per spin. If the amount you were betting per hand or spin was just below the amount needed in the high-limit area, you may be able to increase your bet to make the high-limit area your home for the rest of the trip.

A few other ideas: If you're uncomfortable carrying around large amounts of cash, put your jackpot in a safe-deposit box. If you plan to play with some of the money, you can put it on deposit at the cage and then draw markers against it. Just be careful that you don't play your jackpot away.

The goal with all of these options is to make sure that most of your jackpot goes home with you and doesn't go back into the casino's pockets.

Next time we'll dream about hitting the life-changing jackpots and what we'll do when that happens.


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


For more information about slots and video poker, we recommend:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots by John Robison
Break the One-Armed Bandits! by Frank Scoblete
Victory at Video Poker and Video Craps, Keno and Blackjack! by Frank Scoblete
Slot Conquest Audio Cassette Tape (60 minutes) with Frank Scoblete
Winning Strategies at Slots & Video Poker! Video tape hosted by Academy Award Winner James Coburn, Written by Frank Scoblete
The Slot Machine Answer Book by John Grochowski
The Video Poker Answer Book by John Grochowski
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