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Protect your bankroll like a pro

By Frank Scoblete


You are a $10 blackjack player and you buy in for $300 and go about your business trying to beat the house. You know the computer-derived basic strategy and you use it exclusively. You do not have an edge over the game but it is a close con- test with the casino—you might be facing about a one-half percent house advantage and that isn’t bad at all.

Today things are going quite well. During a two-hour session you are now ahead $300.Your double downs and splits have been amazingly productive and the dealer at times seems to be a bust machine.

Now you are thinking, “Maybe I should pack this session in and call it an afternoon?” But you are also thinking, “Things are going great; I want to keep playing.” You are on the horns of a dilemma. What should you do? Should you try to win more money or head away from the game?

First let me tell you what I would do. I’d pack it in and do something else until my evening session, say, right after dinner. But I am the type of player who has his feet firmly planted facing the door. I’m skittish about my hard-earned money. Despite the fact that I go to the casinos about 20 percent  of my time I have slowed down a bit. In the past I used to go about 130 days a year! But that was then and this is now. Truly, a wild gambler I am not, so my advice is almost always conservative.

Still, most casino players tend to be unlike me. They relish the journey and enjoy the contest over prolonged periods of time— and that’s fine. Most gamblers also don’t get to the casinos all that often and they have a hunger to play those games they love.  I understand that. If a person goes to the casino several times a year, they might not want to plant their feet facing the door. They just might want to plant their feet deeply at a table or slot machine.

So how about a compromise between staying, thus continuing to play, or heading for the door?  I think a compromise is a good idea. Here is how I would do it:

Take the $300 of your initial buy-in and put it away. You can color that up. Also color up $200 of your $300 win. Now you have $100 to wager and you are guaranteed a $200 win for that session.

Play that $100. If you continue to win, every time you have won $50, put that away. If you lose that $100 or get so tired you can’t keep your eyes open, then head for the doors. By playing this way, you have a win but you also have the seed money for maybe even a bigger win. What you don’t want is to play until you lose your $300 win and most (or all) of your original buy-in.


Protecting your money at other games

Although blackjack is the most popular table game in the casino world, there are plenty of other games that players enjoy playing: roulette, craps, baccarat, pai gow poker and those carnival games that keep appearing and disappearing over the years.

How should you handle these games? Cautiously.

Keep in mind that the faster the game (such as mini-baccarat) the greater the casino’s chances of beating you in any given session. A low house edge does not mean the game is always good for your bankroll. Fast games can be devastating.

Such games as pai gow poker and roulette might have higher house edges than mini-baccarat but such games are slow and can be made even slower by not playing every hand or spin of the wheel. Again, play all of these games cautiously. Yes, your job is to have fun but it is also to protect your bankroll.

Second, avoid any bonus bets that have been added to traditional games. You want to play the traditional game with no extra betting to get special rewards. Why? Because the house edge eats away at you when you make those extra bonus bets. When you bet more money the corollary is that more money will be lost because of the added house edge on that money.

Craps players and roulette players can see a multitude of bets— all of them with high house edges. In craps, some bets can have house edges well over 10 percent! You will see craps players and roulette players often spreading their money over many of these bets—and that is a sure way to flirt with disaster. The more bets, the tougher to come out ahead in any long run of playing.

For craps, stick with one or two low-house-edge bets; prefer- ably the Pass Line and one Come bet. Make the bet low on the line or the come and high in odds. For roulette no more than two bets; preferably only one bet on an outside proposition such as red/black, high/low, or odd/even.

When you are ahead, consider dividing the money up as we did in the blackjack example. Money saved is money earned.

All the best in and out of the casinos!


Frank’s website is His books are available from, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books, libraries and bookstores.


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