John Grochowski

John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski

As it is still relatively early in the new year, and I begin my 25th year of writing this column, I have a few traditions.

One of them is to kick off the New Year with a few words of caution. All year long, there are games and strategies to explore and fun stories from readers. One time each year, it’s worth slowing down to urge caution and common sense so we all can enjoy the winning times and still have fun in the losing times.

So for 2018, I offer my annual resolutions for casino players:

Resolve to stay within your bankroll: Set a budget before you play, and stick to it. If losses approach the amount you’re willing to spend, slow down. Take a timeout, get a snack, watch the roulette wheel for a while. If you hit your limit, quit. Period.

Resolve to play only with money you can afford to lose: When the losses come, make sure you don’t have money earmarked for food, clothing, school, the rent or mortgage on the line. Play with money budgeted for entertainment, not for life’s necessities.

Resolve to learn the games before you play: A little homework goes a long way in helping to cut the odds against you at casino games. Learn basic strategy in blackjack and for each video poker game you play. Know the rules and best bets in craps. Regardless of whether your style of learning favors books, online sites or software for practice, there are plenty of resources available.

Resolve to keep part of your winnings: Your winnings aren’t “their money.” As soon as you’ve won it, it’s yours, and you don’t have to give it back. On any sizable win, put at least half of it away. You can buy yourself a treat, go out for an evening on the town, put a little away for the kids’ or grandkids’ educations, pay bills — whatever you want.

Resolve never to chase losses: What’s worse than losing money? Losing even more in a desperate attempt to win it back. You’re never “due” to win, and wins and losses don’t have to even out in the time we play. A losing streak means it’s time to ease back or quit, not bet more.

Resolve never to use credit card cash advances for gambling money: Think the house edge is high on some games? Try comparing it to credit card interest rates. The house edge added to interest on borrowed money and ATM fees is a tough combination to overcome.

Resolve to go easy on the alcohol: If you want to have a drink while you play, that’s your business, but think moderation You don’t want your judgment impaired with money on the line. Have a good time, but keep a clear head, too.

Resolve to keep perspective and play for fun: Gambling in a casino is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Only a handful of advantage players, mostly in blackjack and video poker, have the skill, discipline and bankroll to enable them to make money in the long run. Most of us will lose more than we win at any game.

Treat losses as the price of admission for a day’s entertainment: Casino gambling is a form of entertainment, a way to have a good time. On those days when we take a little extra cash home, so much the better. But even a losing day can be fun if you keep your expectations realistic

Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).

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