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Best of John Robison

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

3 October 2002

For the past few weeks, we've been talking about money management. Money management to me is a way to ensure that you don't run out of money before you run out of casino time and to ensure that you don't lose more than you can afford. The goal is to get more fun from casino visits by eliminating much of the stress of dealing with money.

This week's advice is for people who are prone to go out of control when they're in a casino. The best example of this type of person is the Chevy Chase character in Vegas Vacation. By the end of the movie, he has gambled away all of his savings and the family has about $2 left between them.

We've all gone on tilt, as Frank Scoblete calls it, at one time or another. By definition, you can go on tilt only when you're losing. Increasing your bets or playing long hours when you're winning doesn't cost you money, so I don't consider it going on tilt. I've never increased my bets in an attempt to recoup lost money, but I have continued feeding machines or playing at tables that were draining my wallet thinking that my luck just had to change.

You may think that some of the ideas that follow are extreme or silly. These techniques are designed for people who are prone to lose control when they're in the casino.

Leave your credit cards at home. The best way to avoid the temptation of taking a cash advance on a credit card and paying the onerous fees and high interest is to leave the cards at home. Not having a credit card makes it difficult to check into a hotel or rent a car, so some people travel with a credit card that has a low credit line, enough to handle travel and incidental expenses, but not enough to fund a bankroll.

Leave your ATM card at home. As with the credit cards, the best way to avoid the temptation of using an ATM card is to not have it available.

Use your ATM card. ATM cards usually have a maximum amount that can be withdrawn per day. If the ATM card is your only source of funds, it will enforce your daily loss limit. For example, say you have $1,000 budgeted for a four-day trip. You could bring $1,000 in cash with you, but you run the risk of losing it all the first day. If you bring your ATM card instead of cash and your maximum daily withdrawal is capped at $250, you can get your hands on only $250 per day.

Keep in mind that the limit is usually applied per banking day and that Friday evening, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday may all be considered the same day. Bank holidays can affect this technique too. One last thing, in order to reduce fees you have to pay, make one trip to the ATM instead of multiple trips.

Use a line of credit. Request a credit line equal to your trip loss limit and use it to fund your bankroll. If you have to, leave your credit and ATM cards at home and bring just enough cash for incidentals.

Break your bankroll into daily bankrolls. Put each daily bankroll in a separate envelope. When you leave your room in the morning, you take that day's bankroll envelope with you and leave the others in the room, in the safe, or maybe even in a safe deposit box at the hotel.

Here's a little psychological game you can play. Keep your envelopes in a safe deposit box and make an agreement with yourself that you will use only one envelope per day. If you start thinking about making a second withdrawal from your safe deposit box one day, the thought that the clerk will know this is the second time you've accessed your box that day will cross your mind. Of course, the clerk doesn't know that you're breaking the agreement you made with yourself, but the fact that there is evidence that you broke your agreement in the form of the access card you have to sign and a witness that you broke your agreement will act as a deterrent.

Break your daily bankroll into session bankrolls. Put each session bankroll in a separate envelope. When you leave your room, you take only that session's bankroll envelope with you. Granted, this tip is the most extreme money management tip I know. Some people I've met get so caught up in the casino atmosphere that this is the most effective way they've found to stick to their money management plan.

To recap, if you have a problem with sticking to your money management plan and find yourself frequently going on tilt, the best way to keep from gambling away your trip bankroll or savings is to limit your access to funds.


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