Posts Tagged ‘blackjack budgeting’

Blackjack Spending Limits

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Right now, the United States Congress is involved in a bitter debate over raising the debt ceiling. Generally speaking, Democrats want the limit raised and Republicans say “what’s the point of a debt limit if you raise the limit every time you approach it?” Since this isn’t a political blog, I won’t go into American fiscal policy, but it is important to have a good grasp of your own fiscal policies.

When you play blackjack or any casino game, it is important to have a spending limit. Before you ever begin playing, you need to create a budget. Know how much money you can afford to lose. Then take that number or a lower number and make that your ceiling. You hope to not lose that much money (you hope to not lose money at all), but at the very least you have set a limit to where you won’t spend more money than that.

It is important to set a firm limit, a concrete number, instead of having a general idea because in the heat of the moment, it’s easy to disregard finances if you don’t have a concrete limit. If you’re having fun and just know that you’re about to go on a roll and win your money back, it can be hard to walk away from the tables. If you established a spending limit ahead of time, though, it’s much easier to quit when you should.

Make no mistake. Wagering on blackjack is spending. Unlike other spending, you have a chance to earn your money back, and then some. Still, it is spending because there is no guarantee that you will recoup the money you wagered. In fact, the odds say you will lose more money than you win over time. For that reason, budgeting a limit ahead of time is a must.

Blackjack Strategy: Your Bankroll

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Playing blackjack or any casino game should be looked at as a fun activity. Like any leisure activity, a certain cost is involved. You can’t go to the movies, ride roller coasters, watch a baseball game or go out to a fine dinner for free. All of them have a cost involved and before you go, you have to decide how much you will need to spend that night and whether or not you can afford it (and if you can’t afford it, you don’t do it).

For some reason, people don’t seem to think the same way about playing casino games. I guess it’s because when you play at a casino, there is a possibility of winning money. However, even with blackjack, which has the casino’s lowest house edge, the odds are not in favor of that happening. The other thing that makes playing casino games different is people think “Well, I don’t know how much money it’s going to cost.”

And that is where they’re wrong. Just like any other leisure activity, you can control how much money you spend. How quickly that money is spent is another issue, but you have full control over how much money you use at the casino. That applies to an online casino as well as the brick and mortar variety. Here is what you do.

Before playing blackjack or any other casino game, you should decide on your bankroll in advance. How much money are you comfortable spending during your time at the casino? Once you have decided on an amount, set that aside. If you’re playing at an online casino, deposit exactly that amount, unless you already have an account balance, in which case you would deposit the difference between the two amounts. If you are visiting a brick and mortar casino, you should withdraw that amount in cash and as soon as you enter the casino exchange that cash for chips.

Once you start playing, only wager with that money that you set aside. Any money that you win should be separate and should not be bet. For example, if you decide that you want to spend $200 at the casino that night, get $200 worth of chips when you enter the casino. Then let’s say you go to the blackjack table, bet $10 on the first hand, and draw a winning blackjack, which would pay you $15. In that case, you have $215 dollars to bet with, right?

Wrong. In this case, you would still have $200 to bet with because, by winning, you get to keep your original wager of $10. The $15 you won should be kept separate with your winnings. That way, you won’t lose all of your money and you will at least have something to show for your time at the casino. Some people say that you should bet the $15 right away (letting it ride) because it’s the house’s money. That’s exactly what the house wants you to do. If you always expose your winnings to the house edge, the house will simply take more of your money.

Even if you decide to bet your winnings instead of keeping it, which I do not advise, the most important thing is that once your bankroll goes down to $0, you call it a night. It can be very tempting to simply get more money and keep playing. If you were on a winning streak, you think there is more money to be had. If you were on a losing streak, you might think your luck is due to change and you want to win your money back. In both cases, it’s the worst thing you could do, which is why I say to decide how much money you want to spend before you start playing. If you come up with an amount and make a rule to always stick with it, you will come out much better in the end. Remember that if you gamble irresponsibly, blackjack can be a very harmful game. For that reason, it is best to manage your money wisely and play smart with your bankroll.

Don’t Be Like This Guy: Antoine Walker

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Every now and then I like to point out people who are the antithesis of a role model, those players who do everything wrong. I’ve discussed players with gambling addiction, players who throw temper tantrums, players who sue the casino after losing, players who cheat, players who steal to fund their blackjack bankroll and more. Today I want to discuss Antoine Walker.

Walker played 13 seasons in the NBA and made $110 million over that time, not including endorsement contracts like he had with adidas. Now not only is he broke, he is in dept and facing felony charges of fraud for writing bad checks to Las Vegas casinos.

Walker was a talented player who had his best years with the Boston Celtics, but it seems that the only thing he enjoyed more than hoisting up a three-pointer was wasting his money. Even by NBA standards, Walker’s extravagance is the stuff of legend. Even today, in all of the trouble he is facing, which includes possible jail time and a debt in the millions, he doesn’t seem to get it.

Walker seems remorseful about squandering his vast fortune, but still doesn’t seem to understand. In an interview with ESPN, he said that he thought spending all of that money was his “calling” and that his “job is to give back.” By giving back, he doesn’t mean donating to charity or helping in the community. Instead, he means taking his wife and teammates to fancy dinners, buying his family and friends (and himself) collections of Hummers, Bentleys and Benzes, and buying himself and his family luxurious mansions.

He also loved to gamble, spending “a couple thousand dollars a hand playing blackjack.” His gambling problems seem to come from hanging out with Michael Jordan in 2001, who was a known high-stakes gambler and also happened to be one of the greatest players in NBA history. As someone Walker looked up to, Jordan would hit the blackjack tables and bet thousands on each hand. If he lost, no big deal. After all, it’s only money.

Betting that much money on blackjack, of course, is stupid. You don’t need to bet high to have fun. The amount of the wagers, though, isn’t the biggest problem. That came when Walker established a credit line and began betting with money he didn’t actually have on him at the time. I have cautioned against that time and time again. It is too easy to lose track on how much you’re spending. Eventually, Walker was betting money he didn’t even have in an account and when he needed more, he wrote checks to the casinos. Of course, if you write someone a check knowing there’s no money in your account to cover it, that is not only stupid, it’s also a crime.

As a result of his poor decisions, Antoine Walker, the man who was once one of the most popular players in Beantown, is now facing a court battle over his debts, a different court battle over fraud, a different court battle over child support and a court battle over property he owns in Chicago (turns out he’s not a great landlord, either). So let me say this as clearly as I can: Do not be like Antoine Walker. Use your finances wisely at all times, especially at the blackjack table.

Man Sues Casino for Loaning Him Money

Friday, March 5th, 2010

In my blog I make a point to discuss gambling responsibly and taking a personal responsibility for your habits and actions, so when I heard about this case I had to write about it. A Kentucky man is suing a casino in Indiana for loaning him money while he was drunk.

Jimmy L. Vance was gambling in what was then called Caesar’s Casino (now the Horseshoe Southern Indiana) back in 2004 and lost $75,000 to the casino. What’s worse is that it wasn’t Vance’s money. After presumably losing his own money at the casino (none of the news stories say), Vance took credit advances for the $75,000 in several installments. Vance says he remembers borrowing the first $20,000 but not the rest.

Vance has not paid the money he owes and is suing the casino for taking advantage of him. According to Vance, the casino loaned him money when he was clearly inebriated and, therefore, not of sound mind to make a decision to borrow money. Vance’s lawyers are arguing that if he was drunk he cannot legally enter into a contract with the casino. Therefore, the loan contract would be null and void and he would not owe the casino a thing. His lawyers also state that surveillance videos clearly show that Vance was intoxicated.

The casino argues that he was fully functional and didn’t sway or stagger. They say he seemed fine while playing blackjack, walking the casino floor and talking to the dealers and cocktail waitresses. If the casino wins this case, they could seek up to $225,000 under Indiana law, which includes what Vance currently owes, interest and legal fees.

One of the issues at question is whether the casinos can legally offer a loan to a player who is drunk. Some see that as taking advantage of someone who is vulnerable. Others believe that it is the responsibility of the player to make their own decisions, including how much to drink. Most states, however, can charge a bartender for serving alcohol to someone who is intoxicated and hold them legally liable if there is an alcohol-related incident, such as DUI. It’s not a stretch for the same concept to be applied to a casino giving out loans. Similarly, several players have sued casinos for allegedly taking advantage of their gambling addiction, but so far none have been successful.

This case is kind of a he said-she said and I don’t know the truth, but I will tell you this. You should never take a loan from a casino. Ever. If you don’t have the money to gamble with, you have no business gambling. You should only gamble with money that you can afford to lose and if you need a loan to gamble, this is obviously not the case. Aside from that, the only advice I can give you is to be careful how much alcohol you consume in a casino, because the more you drink, the worse your decisions get.

Machine to Help with Problem Gambling

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Gambling, whether it’s done in a brick and mortar or online casino, can be a fun way to spend your time if you are responsible. Like many forms of entertainment, including sporting events, movies, theme parks and more, it costs money to play your favorite casino games. One difference, though, is that you don’t necessarily know how much it will cost you ahead of time. That’s where budgeting and planning how much to spend ahead of time comes in handy.

Some people, however, have a hard time doing that and even if they do plan, in the excitement of the moment have a hard time walking away when they should. That is a form of problem gambling, an ailment that afflicts too many players worldwide. Now there is a machine available that can help people manage their money more effectively.

A Canadian gaming company called TechLink has introduced the Responsible Gaming Device, which is made to be used in brick and mortar casinos, though it is likely that an online version will be available soon.

How it works is this: Casinos purchase a machine, called Gameplan, and install the software for that device on their gambling machines. Players purchase the Responsible Gaming Device, which can be plugged into the casino’s machines. That Device identifies the gambler and all of the conditions that have been selected.

The machine allows the player to select certain limits, whether it’s a maximum amount of losses during a time period, a certain amount of money wagered, or any other similar limit and is notified when those limits are met. The device then locks the player out and no more bets can be made. If necessary, the player can also use the device to exclude themselves entirely, which is basically a self-blacklisting.

Though this would be easy to incorporate into machines like slots and video poker, I don’t know how it could be used, if it can, for table games like blackjack. For that reason, I think the software is better suited for online casinos. That way it could be applied to every game and it could refuse to let the player make a deposit or play any games once the limit is met.

Ideally, everything that this machine accomplishes would be done by the gamblers without any help. Setting your own limits before you start playing is wise and it’s the easiest way to make sure you don’t spend too much. However, for people who have a problem with compulsive gambling, this machine is a great idea and will eventually help a lot of people. I, for one, am excited about it.

Budgeting for Blackjack

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

The story sounds familiar. You hit the blackjack table full of confidence, placing $10 bets on each hand, but early on are losing. Knowing that your luck is about to turn around, you decide to double your bet in order to make your money back. By the time you realize this is a mistake, you’re out of money and the night is still young.

Or maybe this story rings a little more true to you. You’re doing well at the blackjack table and have made lots of money. In order to increase your winnings, you start placing larger bets. At first, that strategy works and your pile of chips is getting larger and larger, but then you start losing and the pile begins shrinking. Determined to make that money back, you increase the wager again and soon enough are out of chips. After a quick stop at the cashier, you have more money, eager to get back on that winning streak. Before you realize what you’ve done wrong, you are calling your wife to explain why you have to cancel your anniversary trip.

There are countless other scenarios I could bring up, but they all amount to the same thing: poor budgeting leading to you losing money you never intended to spend. Anytime you go out for a night on the town, a vacation, or any other trip that isn’t free (and what trips are?), you should always make a budget ahead of time.

Before you ever sit down at a blackjack table (or log onto one if you’re playing online blackjack), you should decide how much money you want to spend at the casino. Think of it as an outing like any other and one that requires money to have a good time. How much money are you willing to spend? Always consider that any money you wager you might lose. In fact, statistically you are more likely to lose than win each bet. Therefore, you should never wager money that you can’t afford to lose.

A good idea is to determine a specific dollar amount that you are willing to spend, cash in that amount for chips (or deposit it in an online casino) and do not spend anything else, no matter what happens at the blackjack table. In addition, any winnings should be kept separate. Put that money aside instead of adding it to the money for you to wager. That way, you can’t lose any of your winnings and you are guaranteed of having at least something to show for your time at the table, even if you still had a net loss.

Once you decide how much you’re willing to spend at the blackjack table, you need to decide how much you’re willing to bet on each hand. Obviously, those two amounts are related. To come up with the amount you want to wager, you need to take into account the total amount you are willing to spend and the amount of hands you plan to play. The easiest way to do that is to first decide how long you plan to play blackjack at the casino. Though the speed differs for each table, as a general rule at a full blackjack table you can play approximately 55 hands in one hour.

Using simple math then, you can decide how much money you are willing to spend on each hand. You should then bet that amount (or less) and bet the same on each hand. There are a lot of betting strategies out there, such as the martingale strategy, that claim to give you better odds, but statistics show that you are better off with flat betting. Once you decide on an amount per bet and the total amount that you are willing to spend, you are ready to have a good time playing blackjack at the casino. Best of all, you don’t have to come up with any excuses for how you lost money that you needed.