What do you consider as a reasonable
profit from a game of chance? I am talking about a zero sum game. You are
you expected to lose. The odds against you guarantee it.
The gaming industry has done the best job
of successfully brain washing the gambler to embrace the “jackpot
paradigm”. “Risk a few coins, have a few free drinks and hit a
million-dollar jackpot.” “Quit your day job and live the ‘life of Riley’.”
“The pot of gold is just a pull away.” “Someone is going to win it.” “You
could be next!” “Step right up and lay your money down.”
Slot machines, long known as the king of
jackpot games of chance, offer the promise of millions. All you have to do
is line up all the cherries across the glass. At least two television
network magazine programs have covered this topic of how casinos can fix
the pay-out. The programs made it clear that the machines are a player’s
Even with the casinos boasting a 98% pay
back, the casino is still getting along with 2% of a “Gazillion” dollars,
twenty-four seven. The City of Dreams stands as a testament to this fact.
“I’m gonna esplain it to you Lucy!” When
a casino orders slot machines, they inform the manufacturer exactly how
much they want the slots to pay out. The manufacturer installs a program
chip call a random number generator.
The RNG is programmed to mathematically
produce the prescribed percentage pay-out requested by the casino. It is a
simple matter of probability expressing astronomical odds. It is a known
fact of gambling that the average slot player will never win a Jackpot of
any sizable consequence. Casinos are not the business of giving away
I can count on one hand the number of
times I have actually played a machine. If you have not guessed by now,
I’d rather watch paint dry than play a machine. Sorry if I offend anyone
that loves playing the one-arm bandits. Oops, I dated myself. I believe
now days all you have to do is push a button. Allow me a moment to
sidetrack with a history lesson.
I can recall receiving a genuine silver
dollar from my Aunt Sylvia when she returned from a trip to Las Vegas.
Back in those days, the dollar slots were played with Morgan Silver
Dollars. I still have a few Morgan souvenirs from my aunt. Those were the
Okay, back to my point, how much profit
is enough? At some point, the dream of striking it rich infected the table
games. When this actually happened, I’m not sure. Probably, thirty-three
seconds after the first casino opened.
The craps and blackjack are zero sum
games. The odds insure the casino a constant rate of return for hosting
the game. This means that you are not expected to win at the table games
either. However, the player has it embedded in their belief system that,
not only are they going to win, they are going to break the bank.
I have nothing against a strong positive
winning attitude. In fact, I insist on it. Here’s the reality check. Table
games simply are not jackpot games. I will honor anyone’s story of a big
win on a craps table or a run of hot hands in a blackjack game. Everyone
knows James Bond makes good on the roulette table! However, I must state
politely, that the profits from a table game will mostly be modest.
This is the point of my article.
I doubt that the average player knows or
understands what a reasonable profit from a table game might be.
Consequently, and because of the lure of the jackpot win, the unknowing
table player is caught up in the casinos “mind game” of “more-always
Pursuing the pot of gold, a table player
may do one of the following. Either they gamble away their entire
bankroll, chasing the jackpot, or after having won a bit, and not knowing
when to quit, the gambler plays away the hard earned profit trying to win
more. Then, what usually follows, is the loss of the rest of their
bankroll, chasing the lost profit.
Funny how a couple of hundred in profit
does not seem like much until taking a loss of a couple of hundred. A
little bit of knowledge and a lot of discipline can make the difference
between red and black ink. Never mind the
emotions and forlorn memories of a game gone south.
So, what is the rule for profit? How many
units per hour is enough? What percentage of increase above the original
bankroll is acceptable? Do you play until you start to lose? Do you play
until you start to win? Do you play, win or lose, until they offer you a
free breakfast? “How much can I make playing this system?”
There is no way to figure an hourly win
rate. A session can last twenty minutes or two hours and twenty minutes.
The smart player should not allow themselves to be “caught out” playing
for a predetermined win or believe in an advertised win rate. Any win is a
The only way to quit “a winner” is to
quit while you are still winning. A winning streak does not continue
forever. You must have the discipline to pull out of a game well ahead of
the crash. It is to late once the game turns and you are losing most of
what you won.
Play smarter, not harder. Never chase a
loss. That is playing out of control, engaging emotions trying to win back
the money. Gaming is adult entertainment. Sometimes you will pay for it.
Play for enjoyment first. Accept the fact that losing is a huge part of
the game. The risk of losing creates the excitement. You can reduce the
amount of money lost when you accept that losing is a part of gaming.
Think of it like auto racing. A crash is
inevitable, but that does not stop the drivers from entering the race.
They race full on knowing that a crash accident is out there in the near
future. Man and machine pushed to the limits while doing everything
possible to win and not crash. Learn to play your game the same way, do
everything possible to win while limiting your losses.
With the odds stacked against you, learn
to appreciate any profit. A win is a win! Because the games do not
typically have great shifts from probability, be prepared to accept
conservative profits. From my years of playing, I have seen it all, large
and small wins. For both blackjack and dice, the units won, will
constantly be modest. This is why I teach and preach to keep losses modest
If you are a blackjack player, consider
six to ten units a respectable return from a single session. If you can
count cards, sixteen to twenty units makes you a hero. Using my
recommended betting stake of thirty units for one session, the net profit
would be between 20% to 60% of the original betting stake. The higher win
rate assumes card counting.
If a player’s unit bet is $10, the profit
could be $60 to $180 per session, six to eighteen units. Play three
winning sessions and that will take care of the “rent” for most hotels in
Las Vegas for a day, plus a bit of walking around money. Considering the
restrictive rules now offered on twenty-one, winning six to ten units is
Craps is a bit more challenging when it
comes to “saying stop”. This game can change directions in a heartbeat. If
the table gets a hot shooter or two, the chips can come at you faster that
you can pick them up. When the dice turn to ice, hell can freeze over. You
must know how to play during these times, when to color up, and leave the
Crap games tend to run choppy most of the
time. This means, either way you play, your stack of chips is chopped
down. If you find yourself in profit 20% to 30% of your starting bankroll
you are doing great. If you come close to doubling your bankroll, three
cheers and order a drink while the box man colors you up.
Having the discipline, and an
understanding of what a reasonable profit is, will make a huge difference
in how much of the casino’s money you will take home. It is a bit like
driving a Ferrari. How fast, is too fast, and, how fast do you really need
Being practical, considering all that
goes with speed: tickets, points, insurance rates and general risk to life
and limb, the prudent choice would be discipline. When driving a speed
machine, it is always better to arrive in one piece. There is no
percentage in bucking the odds, just because you can.
Never lose more than you reasonably
expect to win. Always have a stop loss. Playing 4 Keeps™, the stop loss is
a maximum of thirty units per bet made, or one entire session bankroll. A
bankroll of thirty units per wager provides the player with a fair shot to
win 20% to 30% above the starting bankroll, and sometimes more. If things
don’t go your way, the risk is limited to the one bankroll and the loss is
For some individuals, winning a few
hundred bucks is not enough. The solution for this player is with their
betting unit and bankroll. To win more, they must bet more. The average
number of units won, will be the same no matter if you are betting $1 or
It is a simple matter of increasing your
unit bet. If you want to win $1000 per session playing Blackjack, you will
have to play $100 units. Playing $5 units is never going to result in a
$1000 dollar session. Total dollars won are directly proportional to the
value of the unit played.
It really comes down to your comfort
zone. What unit are you most comfortable playing? Do you have the required
bankroll to play at a higher unit? Do you have the discipline to walk with
the profit, no matter what? Table games do not have a jackpot bonus. Can
you be satisfied with any win or are you just another member for the
casino’s “Jack Pot Paradigm”?