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
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
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,
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