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Best of John Robison

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The Importance of Record Keeping

9 January 2003

It's the end of the year and time to make those dreaded New Year's resolutions--the promises you make to yourself that you break sometime between January 2 and the end of the month.

This year I want you to make a New Year's resolution that you will keep this year and forever. That resolution is to keep records of your gambling sessions.

Why should you keep records? I'll start with some practical reasons and finish up with some emotional ones.

  • You can offset W-2G gains with losses. You can offset any wins you have to report on your tax return because you were issued a W-2G with losses, but to do that you need to know how much you lost. Of course, you can always request a win/loss statement from the slot club, but...
  • Slot clubs are not always accurate. Slot club systems have always been very reliable and they're even more reliable today than they were in the past, still mistakes do happen. I've had play on machines that never showed up on my account. I've had card readers suddenly flash reinsert card in the middle of a session after the card had been sucessfully read earlier. Something to keep in mind today is that some systems will automatically require that you reinsert your card after a certain period of no activity. The systems do this to thwart the cheats who leave their cards in machines hoping that the next player will not have a card and will play while the cheat's card is in the machine. On these systems, if spend five minutes chatting with the cocktail waitress, your friend at the next machine, or your host, the slot club will miss some of your play if your session times out and you don't notice it and reinsert your card. Finally, sometimes you may forget to insert your card.
  • Your records corroborate the win/loss statement. Even though the net you calculate from your records may not agree 100% with that on the win/loss statement, it should be very close--unless you made a mistake or the slot club system had a major breakdown. I suppose I should really have said that the win/loss statement corroborates your records. In any case, you now have two pieces of evidence to prove how much you won or lost.
  • You can celebrate your wins twice. You celebrate the first time when you walk out of the casino with some of their money. And you get to celebrate again when you record your results in your records.
  • You're less likely to go on tilt. Anyone who has any experience with trying to change behavior knows that you're more likely to be successful if you track your progress. You're less likely to have that third helping of mashed potatoes or super-size your burger and fries when you weigh yourself and record the results regularly. Similarly, you're less likely to go on tilt and lose more than you can afford or chase your losses if you know you're going to record the results at the end of the day. When you record your results, you not only get to relive your victories, you also get to relive your defeats. You will have some losing sessions; there's no way around that. That's why they call it "gambling." But if the loss is greater than it should have been because you broke your money management rules, that sinking feeling you get when you relive the loss as you record the result will make you less likely to do it again in the future.
  • It gets you more involved in your gambling. There was this one old guy I used to see all the time when I was a regular at the Desert Inn. This guy would sit at a right angle to his chosen slot machine. With his left hand he hit the Spin button. He used his right hand to alternate between taking drags on his cigarette and sips from his cocktail. He rarely looked at the machine. The only way he knew he had run out of credits is when the Spin button didn't work. I don't think he got much from his gambling sessions. Contrast him with another lady I know from the DI. She used to scream at every little jackpot she won. You should have heard her reaction when she won 1,000 coins on a Wheel of Fortune machine. She was so involved in her session--and so loud--the craps pit had to ask the slot supervisor to ask her to be a little more quiet. She got her money's worth from her playing sessions. If you resolve to track your gambling results, you will be more involved in each session and you will get a richer experience from each gambling buck.

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