Posts Tagged ‘money management’

Can Casino Bonuses Be Bad?

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

One of the great things about online casinos is the bonus money, where they reward you for joining or being a returning customer by giving you some free money. People like getting free stuff, and any extra money to help you out with your wagering is bound to be appreciated. Can casino bonuses be bad, though?

Bad is a relative term, but sometimes the deals aren’t nearly as good as you think. Sometimes they are good for some players, but not for others, depending on your playing style. The drawback to casino bonuses is that there are strings attached. Those strings are called wagering requirements.

Wagering requirements are a predetermined amount of times that you have to wager the bonuses before they can be withdrawn. These were created to put an end to people taking advantage of the casinos by joining, taking the bonuses and leaving without ever playing. The bonuses are intended to be used for wagering purposes, to help you play more games and have more fun at the casino. If you win money using that bonus, that’s great, but you might be surprised at what happens next.

Let’s say that the online casino gave you a $100 bonus on your deposit. Let’s say that bonus has a wagering requirement of 25 play-throughs. That means you have to wager that $100 in bonus money 25 times. If you’re not good at math, let me put it this way: you would have to wager $2,500 before you can withdraw the bonus money. That’s not bad as long as your winnings are separate, but at some casinos you can’t withdraw the winnings, either, until you have satisfied the wagering requirements.

If you bet a lot of money at casinos, that’s not a big deal. You’ll meet the requirements before long and everything is fine, but what if you don’t have a lot of money in your gambling budget? What if you take that $100, wager it and hit the jackpot? I’m sure you’d like to withdraw those thousands of dollars, but depending on the terms and conditions, you might not be allowed to.

For that reason, before you ever accept any bonuses from casinos, check out the terms and conditions and make sure they agree with your playing style. A lot of casual blackjack players who only wager small amounts opt out of bonuses and that might be best for you.

Can Casino Bonuses Be Bad?

Monday, February 21st, 2011

One of the great things about online casinos is the bonus money, where they reward you for joining or being a returning customer by giving you some free money. People like getting free stuff, and any extra money to help you out with your wagering is bound to be appreciated. Can casino bonuses be bad, though?

Bad is a relative term, but sometimes the deals aren’t nearly as good as you think. Sometimes they are good for some players, but not for others, depending on your playing style. The drawback to casino bonuses is that there are strings attached. Those strings are called wagering requirements.

Wagering requirements are a predetermined amount of times that you have to wager the bonuses before they can be withdrawn. These were created to put an end to people taking advantage of the casinos by joining, taking the bonuses and leaving without ever playing. The bonuses are intended to be used for wagering purposes, to help you play more games and have more fun at the casino. If you win money using that bonus, that’s great, but you might be surprised at what happens next.

Let’s say that the online casino gave you a $100 bonus on your deposit. Let’s say that bonus has a wagering requirement of 25 play-throughs. That means you have to wager that $100 in bonus money 25 times. If you’re not good at math, let me put it this way: you would have to wager $2,500 before you can withdraw the bonus money. That’s not bad as long as your winnings are separate, but at some casinos you can’t withdraw the winnings, either, until you have satisfied the wagering requirements.

If you bet a lot of money at casinos, that’s not a big deal. You’ll meet the requirements before long and everything is fine, but what if you don’t have a lot of money in your gambling budget? What if you take that $100, wager it and hit the jackpot? I’m sure you’d like to withdraw those thousands of dollars, but depending on the terms and conditions, you might not be allowed to.

For that reason, before you ever accept any bonuses from casinos, check out the terms and conditions and make sure they agree with your playing style. A lot of casual blackjack players who only wager small amounts opt out of bonuses and that might be best for you.

Gambling and Taxes

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

This is probably the least favorite blog post I will ever write, so I’ll try to make it short and painful. If you live in the United States, tax day is coming up in April. You are no doubt dreading this day even more so than you dread looking at the deductions on each paycheck. If you play blackjack for real money, here’s what you need to know.

You are probably aware that if you hit a jackpot of $1,200 or more at a casino, the casino will then take down all of your personal information and have you fill out a tax form on the spot. The casino will then pass that information along to the IRS. What you may not know is that any amount you win on gambling must be reported. Even if your net win was $1, you must report that $1 as income received from gambling.

Yes, it’s true. And it’s not just casino games. According to the IRS, you must report winnings from all gambling, which includes but is not limited to, winnings from casinos, horse races, lotteries, and raffles. That means if you play a scratch-off game and win $5, you’re required to report that to the IRS. Yes, I realize that no one does that, but to be in full compliance with the law, you must.

The IRS taxes all income you make, including from a casual game of blackjack. The good news is that if you itemize your deductions, you can also report your losses and receive deductions for those. Hey, at least the losses are good for something! To deduct your gambling losses, “the amount of losses you deduct may not be more than the amount of gambling income reported on your return,” according to the IRS website.

What this means is that when you are gambling, you need to be a good bookkeeper. Record how much you wager, how much you make and how much you lose for each gambling session. That way, you can accurately report your tax information to the government. Recording that information is also good for your budgeting and I recommend everyone do it to make sure they aren’t spending too much money at casinos.

Blackjack Side Bets: Instant 18

Friday, December 17th, 2010

We all know that a hand of 18 is a pretty good hand. After all, following basic blackjack strategy, you will always stand on a hard 18, regardless of the dealer’s up card. Even if you’re terrible at math, you probably know that a hand of 18 can only be beaten by three hands: 19, 20 and 21.

Therefore, you would probably be pretty happy to be dealt an 18. Well, what if you could be guaranteed of being dealt a hand of exactly 18 on every round? Would you take those odds?

That is the option you have if the blackjack game you are playing has the “Instant 18” side bet. This side bet has been found in casinos in California, Las Vegas and online. The side bet is simple. In addition to one regular hand, you would wager on a second hand that will be exactly 18 points. Wins on the side bet pay even money.

That may sound like a great deal, but like all side bets, it is not. Casinos don’t offer side bets out of the kindness of their hearts. They offer side bets to make money. Like all side bets, the Instant 18 bet carries a higher house edge than the regular game. One of the things that lowers the house edge of traditional blackjack to as low as 0.5% is the fact that blackjacks pay out 3:2. If you lose that extra payout by having all wins pay even money, you lose a significant amount of money.

The house edge of the Instant 18 side bet is different depending on the number of decks and whether the dealer hits a soft 17. Most blackjack tables, including online, use eight decks, though. With eight decks, the house edge is 0.66% if the dealer stands on a soft 17. That’s not too bad, but it’s worse than the 0.5% for the regular game. If the dealer hits a soft 17, though, the house edge for that blackjack side bet is 2.06%. That’s more than an extra 2% that goes to the house.

Blackjack side bets can be a fun way to try something new, but they are not good for your wallet. For that reason, wise money management suggests avoiding all blackjack side bets.

Choosing your bet size

Friday, October 29th, 2010

There are a lot of things to decide when playing blackjack, such as which tables to pick, when to hit, when to split, when to walk away and more. Probably the most important part that is rarely discussed, though, is how much to bet on each hand.

Your bet size is dependent on a lot of things, such as how long you want to play and how much money you have. Obviously, the larger your bet, the faster you will go through your bankroll. A bet that is too small will bore some players, though, because there isn’t enough riding on the hand to make them nervous. It all depends on you and what you are comfortable with.

There is a general rule of thumb, though. Most of the blackjack experts recommend that you start with a bankroll that is 100 times your bet. To find how much you should bet on each hand, work backwards and first decide on a bankroll. How much money are you willing to spend at the casino? And yes, I mean spend. When deciding on a bankroll, assume that you will lose all of the money that you wager, every last dollar. That way, you are planning for the worst-case scenario. If you decide that you can’t stand to lose that much money, all that means is that you need to reduce the bankroll.

Once you have decided on how much money you were comfortable spending, divide that amount by 100 and you will have your average bet. Of course, not all bets will be the same, because sometimes you will split or double down. Still, doing this will give you an idea of how much to bet with. If you start to become uncomfortable with the amount of money you’re spending, you can always reduce your bet size or walk away from the table altogether. Once you have chosen an amount, you are ready to start playing, so go have fun!

Blackjack strategy: Play sober

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Today’s blog about blackjack strategy has nothing to do with statistics, X’s and O’s, or anything like that. It is about your mindset and maximizing your winning potential by not handicapping yourself. My advice for today is simple: Don’t play blackjack drunk.

To some, that seems like strange advice. After all, if you go to a casino, isn’t everyone drinking? That’s part of the fun! Many casinos will even give you free drinks while you’re on the casino floor!…Well, why do you think they do that? Playing blackjack when intoxicated is a bad idea. If you are visiting a brick and mortar casino, turn down that cocktail waitress. If you’re playing at home, don’t pour yourself a drink before logging on for some online blackjack.

The reason it’s bad to play blackjack when drinking is that alcohol affects your judgment. You don’t need me to tell you that. We have all said something we shouldn’t have said, drunk-dialed someone we had no business calling, or gone home with someone we didn’t even know thanks to alcohol-induced stupidity. Most people don’t think that such a thing applies to playing card games, though. It does.

I’m not saying that if you have a few beers, you’ll find yourself saying “I only have a 20…Hit me!” However, when drinking it can be easy to deviate from blackjack basic strategy. You might have the strategy memorized, but when drinking, you may come up with a “better” idea for what to do in that situation. That idea came to you by doing your own statistical calculations. Needless to say, mathematics is another thing that gets worse when you drink. Therefore, the calculation you made is probably wrong and bad math in blackjack costs you money.

Drinking also affects your memory, which can really hurt you if you’re counting cards. It can become easy to forget the count or come up with the wrong number. Of course, card counting doesn’t work online.

Probably the biggest mistake that drinking causes when playing blackjack – and this is the reason casinos are happy to give you drinks – is mismanagement of your bankroll. I always advocate picking an amount to play with before you begin and then sticking to that. It is wise money management. However, if you’re drinking, it is common to decide to deposit more money and try to win back the money you lost because “I just know I’m about to hit a hot streak.”

Spending too much money is a common problem when drinking and it is the number one thing that will hurt you if you combine alcohol and blackjack. For that reason and the above-mentioned reasons, I advise playing blackjack with the clearest head possible, which means no alcohol.

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.

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.