What if you can afford 250 bets for one session, but not 1,000 bets for four sessions (or whatever you need for the length of your trip)? Happily, you will win sometimes, especially if you use optimal strategy and a rolling stop-loss. Let’s say you begin with a trip bankroll of 750 bets. You may find that it’s enough to cover four or even five sessions. But if you want to be sure that you can play the entire time, then play fewer sessions, or lower the amount of your base bet.
What if you want to play longer than two to three hours? That’s okay, but take a break and begin a new session (with a new bankroll) when you return.
What happens if your session bankrolls consistently disappear too quickly? Stop playing, and start thinking about your game. You’re either not correctly using optimal strategy, or you’re not funding the bankrolls correctly. Think things through before you take more money from your main bankroll to fund another session (we’ll talk more about strategies for your main bankroll in Part 5 of this book).
What if you hit a big jackpot? What do you do with the windfall? Same advice as above. Stop playing, and start thinking about your game. Set aside some of the money (for spending and such), and use the balance to fund your main bankroll. Now you can increase the size of your bets and shoot for bigger wins. However, before you bet bigger, you’ve got to think about the vig.
Vig is short for vigorish. It’s a fee that a casino charges for providing betting services (the venue, machines, drinks, and so forth), and it’s synonymous with the house edge. The vig for most gambling games is subtracted from the payback. For example, slots pay back only a portion of the money put into them. But in some games, such as craps and baccarat, the vig is a separate fee.
Either way, the vig eats into your bankroll, unless your luck is consistently above average, or you eliminate the house edge.
If you’re playing against a vig, then you are depending on luck to some degree, and nobody has good luck forever. The amounts I suggest for session bankrolls are meant to keep you comfortably ahead of the vig, and to give you a good chance to hit some wins. But when it comes time to calculate the size of your main bankroll, then you must accept the fact that you usually will be putting money in and rarely pulling money out, unless you erase the vig with optimal strategy.
Would you like to erase the casino’s advantage when you’re playing video poker, blackjack, craps, and other contests? Get optimal strategies for all your favorite games in Basil Nestor’s book The Unofficial Guide to Casino Gambling.
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