Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Best of Alan Krigman
The Song Is Wrong -- Always Count Your Money At The Table20 March 1995
Money in a casino is the same as it is on the street.
A dollar bet and won or lost is worth a dollar in the real world of work and pay, buy and sell, save and spend.
OK, maybe it seems banal. Watch people's action for a bit, though. Monitor your own. Then you'll agree. It's the wisdom of the wagers and it's somehow escaped much of the casino crowd.
Some confusion about the value of money in a casino is caused by limited gambling experience. Some by the heat of the moment. But much by lack of common sense. There's no excuse for poor judgement even if you're unsure when to split nines at blackjack, take odds at craps, or go for the straight at video poker. It doesn't take a computer to determine what you can afford to risk and how far you're ahead or behind. The song that says "never count it at the table" is wrong; good gamblers always know their dough.
It would be like shopping with no idea of what you have to spend, what you've already bought, and what's left for whatever else you need. Sure, solid citizens goof at the grocery, show up a shilling short, and regroup by returning the rutabagas. But few start with $20 to buy milk and muffins at ZippiMart, and end by charging ruby rings to their credit cards at Hoi Polloi.
Take Vera P. In heading for her favorite $5 roulette table, Vera stuffs the "pin money" she has handy into her fanny-pack. At the table, Vera "buys-in" for a fistful of bills and starts to play. If she gets behind, she dips into her pouch, but can't tell how far in the hole she is, especially after going to the well a few times. Likewise, if she gets ahead, she usually can't say how much. Often, Vera doesn't know if she's losing or winning. On bad days, when she dips and comes up dry, she uses her "pin cushion" to rent a table at the Food Court until the bus leaves. Vera has no concept of sizing bets to her bankroll or of quitting when she's ahead or comes from behind to break even.
Then there's Max D. He always brings $500 and plays tight $10 blackjack, pressing bets in $5 steps using a secret "system." Max starts with a $100 buy-in. When he's ahead, he slips chips into his pocket so "nobody gets wise." If he falters, he pulls out another $100. After pocketing a few chips, drawing a few bills from his wallet, or both, Max loses track of his money. Like Vera, he lacks data to help make good gambling decisions. I've seen him pass up good bets, for instance hitting 11 against a five instead of doubling, because he had no chips on the table even though he later unhesitatingly dug out another $100. Worse, Max always seems surprised if he taps out "just when it was getting hot." I've heard him say he must have left some of his "play pushke" home by mistake, then rush to the cash advance machine.
There's no one "right" way to manage money so you always know your status. But here's a simple approach many good players use.
Decide in advance how much you're comfortable putting at risk and buy in for that full amount. Use a round figure $100, $500, $2000, whatever. If you play frequently, keep it the same each time. You may want to hold a reserve, a second level with which you may be slightly uneasy but which you can afford and know from experience you sometimes have to risk waiting for a game to come full cycle. Make the backup the same round figure each time. Keep all your chips on the table or in the rack. Now, a glance will tell you just how you're doing.
Slot players can use the same approach on machines with integral "bill acceptors." If your day's bankroll is $100, pre-load $50 at once. The credit meter will automatically keep score for you.
On the casino floor, profit and loss are your sole measures of performance. Only weak players gamble without this information firmly in mind. As Sumner A Ingmark, the money manager's muse, prudently penned:
The weakest of gamblers are those who don't mind,
Best of Alan Krigman