“How do I know when I should quit playing a particular machine?” This is probably the most frequent question I am asked. Although it's a basic query, the answer is not so straightforward.
• when you're playing a negative-expectation game (one in which the casino has the edge and over the long run you're mathematically guaranteed to lose). Serious gamblers and professionals, whose main interest is profit, will tell you to walk away from that kind of game even before you drop in a single coin. However, the goal of casual players is entertainment; they're looking for the fun factor. They want to play a variety of machines and they don't want to learn complicated strategies. They're hoping for the big win and are depending on luck. However, math can still be their ally. They can "walk" often, bouncing from machine to machine with wild abandon. The more time they spend changing machines instead of actually playing them, the less they will lose. The money they don't lose is money won!
• when a promotion -- one that made a bad or so-so play a good one -- ends. We've played many negative-expectation games when a promotion transformed the casino edge into an advantage for the player - but when the promotion was over, we walked.
Common Sense Tells You to Walk
• when you're hungry, tired, or need a bathroom break. When you haven't eaten for a long time, your blood sugar drops and you can't think clearly. When your eyes start to blur from staring too long at a video screen or spinning reels and when your shoulders, arms, and back start to burn from sitting too long in the same position, you will not make wise decisions.
• when the environment is not pleasant, comfortable, or healthy. I often have to change machines when the air-conditioning is blasting Arctic air directly down on my already-aching neck and shoulders. Another typical “move” situation comes when the smoke from the cigarette of the person right beside me is drifting straight into my poor allergy-suffering sinuses. You may want to move if the seat is uncomfortable or your chatterbox neighbor is a whining pessimist or a constant complainer.
• when the machine you're playing has a fuzzy or jumpy screen that gives you a headache, or the bill acceptor doesn't work and you hate to feed coins, or there is a sticky video poker button that causes you to make mistakes on your card holding.
• when you've lost the money you budgeted for that particular gambling session. In this instance, walking means straight out of the casino, into your car, and out of the parking lot. There should be no side trips to the cage to cash a check or to the ATM machine to lay your hands on money that you earmarked for other purposes.
• when your partner wants you to quit and join him or her in a non-gambling activity. I don't have exact statistics on how many relationships break up in a casino, but I suspect there are many. Try to consider these "interruptions" as desirable breaks from the intensity of gambling. Besides, even gamblers need to stop and smell the roses.
Emotions Tell You to Walk
• when you reach your personal win/loss limit.
• when you're losing AND it's getting to you. A "fresh start" on a new machine or a short break can do wonders for your mood.
• when you've been up and down for a long period of playing time and finally get even or up a little. Being on a gambling roller coaster is an exhilarating but exhausting ride, and sometimes Brad and I choose to quit a session when we have finally achieved a small win.
• when you're getting bored or you just aren't having fun.• when you win a jackpot. However, this is not for the reason that most people give when they do so: "Now this machine won't be due for another jackpot for a long time." Remember, there is no little computer chip that tells the machine not to give another jackpot right away. The machine has the same mathematical chance to give a jackpot on the next hand as a week later. However, there IS a valid psychological reason for many people to walk after a big win: It's fun to CELEBRATE! The joy of winning is a universal human emotion. Stop and savor the feeling.
ReadyBetGo! is an independent gambling news and information service. If you plan to play in casinos, ensure
that you are not breaking any local laws. It's up to you to know the legality of your actions when you gamble.