As 2019 begins, I begin my 26th consecutive year of writing casino columns on a weekly, and sometimes twice weekly basis.

It’s been a long, strange trip filled with change in games and technology.

But there have been constants. For me, one is my annual tradition of New Year’s resolutions for gamblers.

The tradition started because of a phone call I received within a few months of my first column. A woman was distraught because she’d lost several thousand dollars on a $5 slot machine. When she lost her initial stake, she thought the machine was due to pay off, so she took out a cash advance on her credit card. She lost that, too, and was stuck not only with her losses, but with credit-card interest rates on her cash advance.

Gamblers needed to understand that the games were never due to pay off, that chasing losses in hopes of recovery was a bad idea and that chasing with borrowed money was even worse.

So each year, I like to underline the point that playing smart is essential. Enjoy the wins when they come, but don’t put yourself in a position where the bad days really hurt.

With that in mind, I offer a few resolutions for 2019:

Resolve to stay within your bankroll: Set a budget before you play, and stick to it. 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 your 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. And do understand that slot machines are never “due” – the odds are the same on every spin.

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. 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: 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.

Resolve to keep perspective and play for fun: Gambling in a casino is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Most of us will lose more than we win at any game.

Treat losses as the price of admission for a day’s entertainment. 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.

May you and yours have a healthy, happy and prosperous 2019.

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

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