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Best of John Robison

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What should be in my win/loss diary?

3 May 2010

John,

Just found your site. WOW, just what I've been looking for, great info! Have two questions I hope you can get to.

1. Nobody knows what the IRS requirements are as far as a win/loss diary. I keep detailed info for my trips but do not know exactly what to have in case of an audit. Last two years have been lucky and I have profits both years. I've read that the IRS does not regard win/loss statements as proof?? That makes no sense to me but who knows with the IRS. Please advise as how to structure a correct diary for the IRS.

2. Is it better to play two coins in a $5 machine or one coin in a $10 machine?

Thanks so much,
Mike

Dear Mike,

Thanks for the kind words.

Question 1: I think I read on the IRS site that one possible diary would include a description of each wager and how much was won or lost on it. That level of detail might be appropriate for horse racing, in which only a dozen or so bets are made in each trip to the track, but certainly not for casino games, in which you might make hundreds or thousands of wagers.

Here's the diary that I keep: I note the date, the name of the machine, how much I started with, and how much I ended with. I don't bother with trying to find the serial number of the machine. I usually play long enough on each machine to warrant noting it on its own. In the past, when I've played a spin or two while walking through a casino, I just put down "multiple" in the machine name column.

Now, the reason the IRS does not want win/loss statements as primary evidence is because people sometimes don't use their players cards and, on rare occasions, play doesn't get recorded in slot club databases. The IRS, however, does accept the win/loss statement to back up your personal diary.

Question 2: There's no way to know for sure which is better (and by better I mean has a higher long-term payback) without seeing the PAR sheets for the machines. I wouldn't be surprised to find instances in which playing two coins on a $5 machine has a higher long-term payback than one coin on a $10 machine. That said, I think it's pretty much of a toss-up between the two. There's usually not that much difference in long-term payback between $5 and $10 machines. Play whichever machine you want.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at slotexpert@comcast.net. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.

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