If you're flat betting, i.e., betting the same amount on the casino's even
money bets -- each hand of blackjack, roll of the dice (pass line), or spin
of the wheel, you get an edge by winning more bets than you lose.
If you're varying your bet size, you get an edge by knowing when you enter
the advantage arena and when to increase your bet.
Understand these eight key decisions which you make in each of your casino
gambling sessions, and you will take giant steps towards grabbing an edge
every time you play.
Time management and money management are the keys for ascending to the
advantage arena, for staying there, and for any short-term approach to a
potential winning casino gambling session.
I like to express this idea as eight decisions that you make in conjunction
with each gambling session.
Making these decisions will establish the discipline that most gamblers lack,
but most winning gamblers possess - the discipline to Get The Edge!
- Decision 1: To play or not to play
- Decision 2: Which game to play
- Decision 3: Which casino to play
- Decision 4: Which table to play
- Decision 5: Betting unit size and tactics for increasing the bet
- Decision 6: When to leave the table
- Decision 7: When to leave the casino
- Decision 8: When to terminate the casino session
Taken together, these eight decisions constitute a Plan Of Action for your
gambling trip (if you're traveling to a remote location like Las Vegas) and
your gambling sessions.
You should think about each one before leaving home and/or before each
gambling session, and write down your thoughts on each decision.
I recommend that you use a small pocket notebook and write down your thinking
on each of these decisions before you play. But even if you don't write down
your decisions, think about them. You will find that this mental preparation
to become mentally ready will contribute to and enhance your winnings or
minimize your losses during the inevitable losing sessions.
Let's examine each decision in detail.
Decision 1: To Play Or Not To Play
Ask yourself three questions before you leave home for the casino, or before
you leave your hotel room for a session:
- Am I tired?
- Am I emotionally upset?
- Do I have a plan of action of this session?
If you answered yes to either of the first two, you should seriously consider
not playing at this time because your risk of losing is high. Or, if you
play, reduce your bet size, or have some fun with the quarter video poker
The casinos will always be there; go when your energy level is normal or high
and you are mentally ready to exercise the discipline to win. Tired or
emotionally upset gamblers risk losing their discipline to stick with a plan
of action; if this happens, you are usually beaten before you start.
The third question above regarding the plan of action is, essentially,
consciously making these eight decisions. As noted earlier, you should
document each one, but even if you don't, think through each one before your
Decision 2: Which Game To Play
Most gamblers have a favorite game which they spend the majority of their
session time playing.
Blackjack is the most popular followed by craps, roulette and baccarat.
Reading this book probably indicates that you are interested in learning to
play and win at one or more of these popular casino table games.
Choose the game you feel at which you have the best chance of winning, or the
game you have practiced at home and prepared for.
If you decide to play more than one game, allocate the time you plan to spend
on each. For example, you may be a good blackjack player and plan to spend
an hour or so playing blackjack, and then hit the craps tables to practice
and/or execute your controlled throw.
This all sounds mundane, but it's important to think it through before your
session. The idea is to establish discipline.
Decision 3: Which Casino To Play
If you have a choice of casinos, choose one with the greater number of tables
and the less crowded conditions.
For blackjack, the more tables you can scout, the more chance you'll have of
finding a player-favorable game. The same goes for roulette -- more tables
equals a greater chance of finding a dealer signature or power sector.
If you're playing craps, you want to find uncrowded tables in which you can
get more turns with the dice to practice and/or execute your controlled throw
and gain the edge over the casino.
If you live close to a casino location and play often, you should assess the
conditions at your local casinos; find out which times are best to play
within your own playing constraints.
An Important Note to Internet Casino Players:
I recommend choosing a casino which deals its games using genuine random
numbers, not pseudo random numbers. For a definition and description of
random numbers used by online casinos, refer to Special Report: Internet
Casinos -- Possibilities And Pitfalls.
Decision 4: Which Table To Play
Are you going to use blackjack's winning factors to scout for and find
player-favorable games (Casino Gambling, Chapter 7)?
Are you going to scout for a power sector at roulette (Casino Gambling,
Or practice your controlled throw (Casino Gambling, Chapter 12)?
This decision ties into which game to play, but keeping it as separate
decision in your winning paradigm is a key part of your approach to the
discipline I'm stressing in this chapter.
The idea is to make a conscious decision and NOT, as most gamblers do, enter
a table at random; i.e., any table with an open seat or open spot.
Decision 5: Betting Unit Size and Tactics for Increasing the Bet
Making this decision starts with a basic money management policy the size
of your bankroll and the number of units into which you break it. I
recommend a 100-unit bankroll, but I realize that aggressive gamblers will go
for 50 and some even less.
I know gamblers who leave home with a couple of hundred dollars and bet with
$5 and $10 units (a 40-unit or 20-unit roll).
The fewer the units you break your bankroll into, the higher the risk of
tapping out, so it's best to accumulate a 100- or at least a 50-unit bankroll
before you take off for the casinos.
If you've been gambling a while and read other books, you've read this policy
elsewhere, but it's important enough to repeat here: Establish a gambling
bankroll with money you can afford to lose and then set it aside for strict
use at the tables.
Once you've defined your unit size, think about the level of risk you wish to
take in raising your bet. Are you aggressive? Do you want to go for the
jugular when you get into a hot game? Or play it conservative settling for
less of a win, but not giving back a whole lot when you do get ahead, or not
losing as much when things don't break your way?
Now decide on which betting strategy you are going to employ. I recommend
choosing one in this book, but if you're a recreational gambler and have your
own betting strategy which has worked well for you over the years, by all
means, use it.
Each of the most popular table games -- blackjack, craps, and roulette -- has
extensive descriptions of optional betting tactics for betting when you are
in the advantage zone and when you are not.
Decision 6: When To Leave The Table
How do you know when it's time to leave a table?
Here are the three criteria to use:
1. Depart on a Game Breakdown
In blackjack, if you find yourself playing into a strong dealer bias and
losing most of your hands, it's time to leave. Don't wait for things to
turn. Strong dealer biases can last for many shoes, some for hours. Get
away quick; cut your losses short.
In craps, if you're having trouble in executing your controlled throw and
suffering too many quick seven outs, its time to leave.
If you're playing for fun, remember Huey Mahl's words of wisdom: "we are
exposed to the vagaries of dice for very short periods in the overall scheme
of things". Anything can happen in the short term. The table may be in a
losing trend and this losing trend could continue even though, in the long
run, things will even out to the small house edge. If you don't believe that
craps tables exhibit trends, observe several games in your next session.
You'll see hot tables, cold tables and choppy tables.
In roulette, if the power sectors are not sustaining and you are not hitting
early on, call it off and move on to another game or take a break.
2. Depart on a Stop-loss
Part of this decision process is establishing a stop-loss which would apply
to each table you enter. How many betting units will you lose before you
quit playing and depart? I've discussed stop-loss considerations with each
betting tactic described in this book. You need to review them and adopt the
ones that fit the level of risk you are prepared to take.
3. Depart on a Stop-win
This is a concept which is foreign to many gamblers, but very important
nonetheless. A stop-win is the opposite of a stop-loss. A stop-win can
occur in one of two ways: (1) you have set a win goal for this session and
accomplished that goal; (2) you're in a hot game and have experienced a nice
win; you've set a trailing stop-loss and have moved it up as you continued to
win; the trailing stop-loss is triggered and you depart on a stop-win.
Decision 7: When To Leave The Casino
If you have a choice of casinos in the casino location you find yourself in,
leave when the tables are crowded and you have difficulty finding a winning
table in blackjack, or a craps table where you can get the dice quickly or a
roulette table where power sectors are hitting. Go to a casino with better
I live near Atlantic City and enjoy wonderful conditions: eleven casinos
within a one and a half mile section along the famous boardwalk. So I have
no problem in changing casinos. Atlantic City offers the best playing
conditions in the world especially if you like to walk. No auto traffic;
bike traffic only between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.; just fresh air and a
beautiful ocean. And plenty of games to choose from -- hundreds of
blackjack tables and dozens of craps and roulette tables.
Sure the Vegas Strip compares favorably, but there is the traffic to contend
with whether you are walking or driving. Downtown Vegas offers good
conditions but fewer tables to choose from.
If you're locked in to a one-casino location, be careful. If playing
conditions are bad, keep your bet sizes small and respect your stop-losses.
Keep in mind that every unit you save, every unit you don't lose, looks that
much better especially after a losing session because you've cut your losses
short. Never give back a win when you're confronted by poor playing conditions.
This is the time to go to the Video Poker machines and have some fun playing
Decision 8: When To Terminate The Casino Session
There are two good reasons to terminate a gambling session:
1. You have reached the limit of your optimal session time. You need a
break to keep your perspective and your control. I have found that, in many
years of working with my gambling students, optimal session time is around 90
minutes. Give it a try.
2. Fatigue; you are just plain tired and this is affecting your judgment and
Serious loss. For example, you lost your discipline and dropped a session
bankroll at one table. Don't dig for more money. Leave and take a break.
Assess the situation.
We call these eight decisions a winning paradigm; taken together, they
constitute a plan of action for your casino trip and/or session.
I suggest cutting and pasting this page into a Word Processor document and
then printing it out for study and use.
Better yet, purchase Casino Gambling and read Chapter 2; there is more good
advice therein besides these eight decisions.
Best of luck!
P.S. There is much more about discipline and self control in Blackjack: A
Winner's Handbook, a best seller since it was published in 1977, now in it's
3rd edition with over 250,000 copies sold.
Jerry Patterson is the author of two best selling books: Blackjack - A Winner's Handbook and Casino Gambling.
[Article submitted June 2002]
Gambling Articles (Main Index)
Great gambling information site
Use the "Main Menu" on the top right margin to explore this site. This is a comprehensive gambling information site with advice on winning, how to gamble, Betting systems, gambling articles, world land-based casinos directory, casino reviews (reviewed and rated), the best Online casinos, free online games, and lots of gamblers information and resources.
Topics covered include game rules, how to play, how to win, betting strategies, gambling tips, glossary, on: Blackjack, Roulette (showing Table layouts of American, European and French roulettes and also the fast-play Roulite version), Poker classic and variants including Texas hold'em and Let-it-ride, Craps (dice game), Jackpot slots, Videopoker, Video games, Baccarat, Keno, Lotto/Lottery, Powerball, Bingo, Sports betting, Horse and Greyhound racing (including racetracks, race programs and results), and new gambling games.
This is the gambling website with lots of information and resources as well as helpful advice and frequent updates thanks to your helpful feedback.
Back to top
Gambling Articles (Main Index)