Betting bankroll

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Generally speaking I don’t like to use anecdotal stories to try and prove a point. This is because, for the most part, they don’t actually prove anything. For every story someone can tell about how something happened, there is probably someone out there who can tell how the exact OPPOSITE occurred in a similar circumstance.

Today, I’m going to bend my rule a little bit. I’m not really trying to prove a point, I’m going to use a recent event to illustrate something I recently discussed.

A few weeks back my, column was about making sure you have the proper bankroll to survive the hot and cold streaks of a video poker session. While the size of your bankroll does not give you any true advantage over the long run in terms of the overall payback, it can most definitely increase your enjoyment in short sessions.

You don’t want to run out of money 30 minutes into what you hoped would be a 3-hour session, nor do you want to really bring significantly more money than you need to when you venture out to the casino.

Case in point is what happened to me the other night. At the moment, I’m in Las Vegas for some R & R with my family. We’re staying in Henderson and as we were a bit tired from our long day’s journey from the East Coast, we decided to stay local and head on over to the Sunset Station. I really wasn’t sure what I was in the mood to play – video poker, blackjack or Three Card Poker. Given the long day, I was not about to venture towards anything that required a great deal of thought.

As we entered the casino, we quickly saw some three-play/five-play video pokers. The paytables were far from full-pay, but again, beggars couldn’t be choosers. I had about $100 in my bankroll, so I decided to play 5-play double double bonus for max-coin nickels. At $1.25 per deal, I was just barely properly bankrolled.

As would be no surprise for this game, my session was very much up and down. So much of double double relies on hitting your four of a kinds. I couldn’t really complain in this regard. I’d hit one and be up a bit. Then a cold streak would come in and I’d be down a bit. After about 30 minutes, I had burnt through my first $20 bill and put in a second one.

The pattern pretty much continued. I’d hit a quad and be near even. I’d go a while without hitting a quad and the bankroll would dwindle. I had played for about 90 minutes when my second $20 had begun to all but disappear. Then, I got “the hand” – I was dealt an open-ended 4-card Royal Flush … 10, Jack, Queen, King of Spades. You cross your fingers and you hit the Draw button.

The first hand was the 9 of spades – I hit a Straight Flush for 250 coins. The second hand was the Ace of spades – the beloved Royal for 4000 coins. I barely noticed when the 5th hand hit for a regular Straight.

The next button I hit was the ‘cash out’ button. I was up just under $200 playing nickels. I couldn’t ask for anything more than that – plus I was exhausted from the long day.

When I told my wife that I hit a Royal, she thought at first that I had hit one playing quarters for $1000. My first thought was that would’ve been nice. Of course, had I tried to play quarters on my $100 bankroll, when I lost that first $20, I would’ve lost $100 instead and my bankroll would’ve been gone. I would’ve been done for the night right then and there.

The Royal Flush didn’t occur because I brought enough money to the casino. I merely had the opportunity to be the person who hit it because I had enough money to last that long. So, I guess I could lament over not having played quarters – but then I would’ve needed to bring $500 with me to get to the same point.

Or I can be thankful that given that I had $100, I chose to play nickels and went home with $200 more than I started.

About the Author

Elliot Frome

Elliot Frome’s roots run deep into gaming theory and analysis. His father, Lenny, was a pioneer in developing video poker strategy in the 1980s and is credited with raising its popularity to dizzying heights. Elliot is a second generation gaming author and analyst with nearly 20 years of programming experience.

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