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Best of John Robison

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The Slot Expert's Guide to Winning at Slots and Video Poker

28 September 2002

Let's continue our discussion of money management. To me, money management is a way to control your bankroll in order to ensure that you don't run out of money, that you don't lose more than you can afford, and that you get more fun from a visit to a casino by minimizing money-related stress.

Last time we looked at setting and sticking to a loss limit of how much we could afford to lose. This time, let's talk about some ways to make sure our bankroll lasts as long as we need it to.

It sounds hackneyed, but it really is useful to break up your bankroll into a daily bankroll and, perhaps, even into session bankrolls. This technique is like setting a loss limit for each day or session. If you have your sessions funded beforehand, you won't have to worry about running out of money.

Here's what I do. I have a credit line at each casino in which I play. The amount of the credit line is usually the amount I'm comfortable losing, but at a couple of casinos it's a little higher. In Las Vegas, some casinos want you to settle your markers at the end of your stay unless your credit line is above a certain amount. Then they'll send you a statement after your trip and give you 30 days to pay. At those casinos, I've gotten a line at the threshold for a statement even though I don't intend to use that much. (On a side note, you can always try requesting to be switched from cash on departure to a statement after you've built up a history with a casino. Treasure Island in Las Vegas switched me to a statement even though the amount of my credit line is below the amount for which you automatically get a statement.)

Okay, I've set the maximum amount I'm comfortable losing for this trip and now I divide it by the number of days in my trip. This gives me a loss limit for each day that ensures that I'll still have money to play with on my last day. I don't usually break my daily bankroll down into session bankrolls, but I'm always aware of where I stand in relation to the day's loss limit.

I start my first day by taking out a marker either for my entire day's bankroll or just enough for my first session. I play until I don't want to play anymore, until I lose the session bankroll, or, if my marker was supposed to last the whole day, until I lose somewhere between 25% to 50% of the marker.

When I want to play again, I use whatever money I have leftover from my first session, possibly augmented by drawing another marker. Now I play until I don't want to play anymore, until I lose the session bankroll, or, if I took out a marker that was supposed to last the whole day, until I lose somewhere between 33% to 67% of the marker.

I usually play three sessions a day, so I repeat the process one more time. I take out another marker if I haven't already drawn my limit for the day and I need more money. Again, I play until I don't want to play anymore, until I lose the session bankroll, or, if I took out a marker that was supposed to last the whole day, until I lose the marker.

The first session on the second day is played the same way as the last session on the first day, except that I have another day's worth of bankroll available now. If I have enough money leftover from day one to fund this session, I won't take out another marker. If I need more money, I have more available now. Once again, I play until I don't want to play anymore, until I lose the session bankroll, or, if I took out a marker that was supposed to last the whole day, until I lose the portion of the marker that I've allocated to this session.

I continue funding my sessions using the above procedure for the rest of the trip. The key point is that even though I may be out of playing money at the end of a session, I always have money still available to fund future sessions.

What do you do with money leftover after a session? If you have enough, you can use it fund your next session. If it's not enough to fund a session, you can just add it onto your bankroll for your next session. Another option is to collect the small amounts leftover after sessions until you have enough to fund a session.

I try to minimize both the amount of cash I carry and the amount of markers I take out. I usually use whatever I have left to start the next session, even if it's not really enough to fund the entire session, and take out another marker if I have to during the session.

To recap, take your trip loss limit and divide it by the number of days in your trip and, optionally, by the number of sessions you want to play per day. Play as much as you want, but stop if you ever use up all of the bankroll you have allocated for play up until that point.


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