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The $100 Challenge




Recently I was presented with this challenge. My response follows below, and was published in an e-book, Double or Nothing.


 “You have $100 to play in a casino. Your challenge is to double your money. How would you tackle this challenge? Where would you go, on-line or off-line, which casino? What games would you play? What size bets would you make? Lead us step-by-step through your proposed plan!"


I do not endorse nor do I teach players to play for a predetermined win. With any casino game, the odds are always against the player. Any win in a “zero sum” game is a good win. The idea of doubling up or the “jack-pot” paradigm is a myth and casinos stand as testament that the odds of winning favor the house.


What you take to the game as a player reflects back to you. You are the same person playing craps or blackjack as you are in real life. Your strengths and your weaknesses will appear in your casino session, although, sometimes they may be magnified.


Gaming tugs on the heartstrings of human emotion and the yearning for more. Engaging in emotion during a casino session separates the player from common sense and otherwise rational decisions. The player enticed from their emotional comfort zone finds him or herself right in the lap of the casino. Comfortable maybe, but imbalanced emotionally. There is no place for emotion in a casino. Players must be in control of their game, starting with their own self-discipline.


The average player does not know what constitutes reasonable win. Further, the average player has difficulty with both sides of the game. Winning, is never enough and losing produces desperation just to get back to even. Losing a hundred dollars may feel like a lot and take an emotional toll, while winning a hundred dollars does not seem like enough. How much is enough? Stock traders are thrilled with an annual return of twenty percent. Long-term certificates of deposit are barely paying five percent. You might ask, what is an acceptable return for you in a casino game?


The short answer is that your bankroll influences the results of your session. One of the more common mistakes a player makes is entering a game without a sufficient betting bankroll. Being under bankrolled does not allow your playing money a fair chance against the odds. The casino has more money to engage in battle than does the player.


It is imperative that the player enters the game with at least enough of a bankroll to sustain them through a cold run and give their cash the chance it deserves to catch a winning streak. I prefer to have a minimum of thirty units. A player playing any game under bankrolled is like a business that is undercapitalized, destined for bankruptcy in the end.


If a player starts with only a one hundred-dollar bankroll, the challenge of doubling the bankroll is ill fated. I caution the reader against thinking that doubling up is a simple matter of doing all the right things. My fourteen years of playing and studying the games, bears this out.


There is simply too much fluctuation in any casino game to protect a player with a one hundred-dollar stake from the chance of ruin. One hundred dollars is not enough capital to reasonably take on either craps or blackjack, if the goal is to double the betting stake.


Forget about slots, my personal bias, as the machines are programmed and guaranteeing that the player loses in the long run. Never mind roulette and the almost 6% odds against the player, it is too slow for me. I would rather watch paint dry. Baccarat is no game for a $100 bankroll.


So, what is to be my answer? How would I approach a game with a hundred dollars and attempt to double my money? Where would I play, and in what game would I engage? Here is what I consider the better choices of a worst case scenario.


First, I play because I love the game and have a passion for the excitement that can only come from live gaming. On-line casinos would never be a consideration for this author. When playing on-line, players are not playing against cards, dice or a ball and wheel.


They are playing against a programmed random number generator. Humans program random number generators to do what they want, which is, to separate players from their money. There is also the metaphysical aspect that is nearly impossible to perceive in cyber space. Metaphysical aspects, the changes and exchanges or energy, are easy to perceive in live games and provide valuable information to a savvy player.


I am going to give two choices for how I would attack the challenge of doubling up. They are blackjack and craps:


Finding a decent blackjack game is actually more of the challenge than doubling up. I count cards; however, I am going to set this up for the non-counting recreational blackjack player. I would want a two-deck game, Las Vegas rules and I would play flat, betting ten dollar units. I want an empty table or not more than two other “solid” players in the game.


I will sit at center field, directly across from the dealer. Should others join the game, it would usually put one to left and right of me. I will most likely be playing between four and six o’clock in the morning to find the best conditions. I prefer a two-deck game with good penetration so that better than 75% of the cards are dealt. It is difficult to find good penetration these days, so I would chose to play where I am most comfortable.


I love the Mirage, but there is no $10 pitch game at the Mirage. With a one hundred-dollar betting stake, you would find me at Green Valley Ranch or the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas.


The reason I chose not to play $5 units is that my stop loss in blackjack is about the same as my expected win. I expect to win between eight and fourteen units. If I catch it right, playing flat $10 units and playing perfect strategy, I have a shot at doubling the one hundred-dollar buy-in. Playing perfect strategy reduces the house odds to about .5% with Las Vegas rules.


My strategy is to put myself in an optimum game and pull the average number of blackjack hands, win my double down hands, and defend the rest of my hands. Should I receive and win the “money making” hands, I can expect to come close to, or doubling the one hundred-dollar buy in. As I say, “it is a matter of winning the hands that you should win and losing the hands that you should lose”. When that happens, you’ll come away with the cash.


As with the blackjack game, I will look for optimum conditions for my craps game. I will be playing the Don’t Pass, betting $10 flat. I will not lay the odds. It is easier to find a cold losing table than one that is “working”. Usually there are several choices of cold tables. I will want to play later in the day or evening when there are more players. The problem with playing the Don’t is the game tends to break down quickly as players flee the scene.


Here is the play. I will start with a flat $10 bet on the Don’t Pass line. I will win even money when the bet wins. Should the bet lose, I replace the Don’t bet with another $10, win or lose. If the hand loses a second time I again will bet another $10, up to three loses against the same shooter.


Stop loss is critical when playing the Don’t Pass. Running into three passes is the stop loss with one shooter and I will hold off, waiting for the next “good loser”. The reason I am on the table is because the dice are ice. I am playing the table because no one can hold the dice. That is the dice are not passing, no winning points. Ideally, the game should be short hands, point and seven out.


The odds for the Don’t Pass are close to the same as for the Pass Line. However, the dice are dumb and they do not know what they are supposed to do. So, when I correctly read the energy and get myself on a cold table, I should be able to grind out ten units, $100. I may have to hop to another table, should the game break down when everyone leaves. I may have to move around finding another cold table.


I never shoot from the Don’t side. Playing the Don’t Pass is a grind and I have used this method for many years, successfully pulling down twenty or more units from cold tables.


Some things to note about this play: As I am replacing bets after a loss, some hands will push, some hands will take a one-unit loss, no hand will take more than a three-unit loss.


The game is often back and forth, but when you run into the cold streak of eight or nine quick outs in a row, it is like picking up eggs in the hen house. Playing the Don’t Pass line takes intestinal fortitude and the stress is not comfortable for most dice players. This is something you must determine for yourself.


Author’s comment: When a shooter rolls three winning points in a row, a $10 player properly bankrolled, Playing 4 Keeps™ on the Pass Line, would win between $175 and $225 depending on the winning numbers that are rolled, guaranteed. My purpose here is to provide an example only of how the proper bankroll can affect the results of play, never mind the power of Playing 4 Keeps™.


For either the blackjack or craps play, under the conditions I have described above, I would play tight, watch my bankroll carefully, and I would walk as soon as I had doubled my money or even come close. Overplaying, with a very limited bankroll, would most likely result in ruin.


In conclusion, have complete knowledge of your game. Enter a game fully capitalized. Select optimum conditions. Remember, any win is a good win, it is never wrong to take a profit!


Michael "The Professor" Vernon

Playing 4 Keeps.com


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