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Casino Gambling : A Winner's Guide to Blackjack, Craps, Roulette, Baccarat, and Casino Poker
by Jerry Patterson
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If you're planning a trip to Vegas or any other casino gambling destination and want some quick and easy-to-follow advice to give you a good shot at coming home a winner: Read Chapter 7 for blackjack advice, Chapter 13 for craps advice, Chapter 17 for roulette advice, Chapter 18 for baccarat advice or Chapter 19 for advice on the popular variations of casino poker.
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Bankrolls and Money Management Decisions

Prepare a Schedule of Casino Play and Other Activities

When you travel for business purposes, do you start with a schedule of where you’re going, and what you will be doing when you get there? Jerry PattersonJerry Patterson is an internationally known gaming author, player, and instructor and has written five gambling books. The two most popular are 'Casino Gambling: A Winner’s Guide to Blackjack, Craps, Roulette, Baccarat and Casino Poker 'and 'Blackjack: A Winner’s Handbook.'  Jerry's website is  Of course you do.  Think about your casino visit in the same perspective.  Schedule your casino playing sessions around other activities.

I recommend NOT jumping right into action upon your arrival.  Relax with a nap, a meal, check in with your host, set up dinner reservations, etc.  Consider a workout in the fitness room before your first gambling session.

Even if your visit is just for the day or evening, it’s worth your time to think through your sequence of activities and what you will do before your first casino session.

Divide your bankroll into portions corresponding to the number of days or number of sessions you plan to play.

For example, if your trip bankroll (money you can afford to lose) is $600, divide it by 3 for a weekend trip and allocate $200 for Day 1, $200 for Day 2 and $200 for Day 3.  If you lose the $200, call it quits for the day and do something else.

Most casino areas offer plenty of outside attractions, and it’s good to investigate them beforehand as part of Tip 1 above.

If you’re an occasional player and wish to risk only $100 – $300, I recommend playing blackjack in a $5 game if one is available.  If you play in a $10 game, set a tight stop-loss of just three betting units ($30) and leave the table if the stop-loss is triggered.  Be sure to learn the basic strategy for hitting, standing, doubling down and splitting pairs.
Consider your tolerance for risk or aversion to risk in sizing your bankroll and deciding on your bet size.

For serious gamblers with an aversion to risk, I recommend deciding on the level of risk you wish to take and then sizing your bankroll accordingly.

I recommend a 200-unit bankroll, but I realize that aggressive gamblers will use 100 and some even less depending on the funds at hand and the table betting limits to contend with.

For example, $10 players working with a $1,000 bankroll can play conservatively with a $5 unit ($1000/200) or a little more aggressively with a $10 unit ($1000/100).

If you’re playing with a $5,000 bankroll, I recommend using the 200 divisor and a betting unit of $25.   

The fewer units you break your bankroll into, the higher your risk of losing your bankroll on a bad luck run, so give this decision some serious consideration before your casino visit.

Know When to Increase and Decrease Your Bet Size

The point to remember in making this decision is don’t let your emotions get in the way of making an intelligent wager; i.e., don’t chase any losses or bet up too heavily on a winning streak.

This latter point is especially important if you’re a craps player.  I have seen players “pressing up” their bets on a “hot shooter” only to leave most of their winnings on the table when the shooter sevens out.

It is very important to bet with a carefully thought-out plan in the heat of battle.

My recommendation, especially to less experienced gamblers, is to only increase your bet on winning activity and use a progression based on successive even money bets won as follows:

Conservative Progression:  1-1-2-2-3-3-4-4-5-5-6-6

Aggressive Progression: 1-1-2-2-2-4-4-4-8-8-8.

The numbers above are “betting units” and you are making bets that pay off at one-to-one, i.e. blackjack, craps pass line, and roulette outside numbers (red, black, odd, even, high, low).  For example, if your betting unit is $5, your conservative betting line would look like this:

$5, $5, $10, $10, $15, $15, $20, $20, $25, $25, $30, $30

In each case, increase your bet to the next unit level in the series on each win.  On a loss, revert to a one-unit bet and start over.

Study these progressions and you will come to appreciate their value in not only accumulating profits on a winning streak, but also protecting these profits.

I suggest writing your selected betting progression on a 3X5 card several times.  Then cross off each number as you reach that betting level.  If you draw any attention from the dealer or the other players, just tell them you’re using a “system.”

How far do you go in each of these progressions?  Make this decision before you start play, not in the heat of battle.  Notice that each progression gets you a 12-unit profit after six successive wins.  Not too shabby!

These winning streaks do happen, but I suggest you pick a reasonable level to reach, and then back off to a one-unit bet.

Tip A for risk averse blackjack players:  I suggest modifying the conservative progression and require a win AND a dealer break before advancing to the next bet in the series.  If you win with no dealer break, stay at the same betting level.

Tip B for risk averse blackjack players:  When you reach Level 5 of the betting progression, I suggest NOT doubling down or splitting pairs.  Why?  Because you are risking too much of your accumulated win.

Betting in “Choppy” Games

If you are willing to take a little more risk and you find yourself in a choppy back-and-forth blackjack or craps game, play a mild up-as-you-lose progression, e.g. 1-2-4, reverting to a one-unit bet on any win of 1, 2, or 4.  Note that any win in this series nets you a profit of one unit.

Let me stress here that you are risking seven betting units in employing this tactic – this equates to $35 in a $5 game or $70 in a $10 game.  If you lose the seven betting units, I suggest taking a break before returning to action to another table.

Also, be sure to see the Stop-Win recommendation under Tip 7 below.

Table Departure on a Stop-Loss

If you’re in the business world, how long would it take you to bail out of a losing operation?  You would have a plan, wouldn’t you?  You need to apply this same kind of thinking to the table you select for play.

This decision concerns how many betting units you will lose before departing this game.  I recommend 3 to 6 and no more than 10.  So, if your betting unit is $5, leave the game if you’re down $15 to $30 and find a better one.

Keep in mind that every unit you save, every unit you don't lose, looks much better later, especially after a losing session because you've cut your losses short. 

Table Departure on a Stop-Win

A stop-win is the opposite of a stop-loss.  I recommend using a “trailing stop loss” to make this decision.  Here’s how:  When you accumulate a win, e.g. 50% of your buy-in amount, divide your chips, including buy-in and chips won, into three even piles.  Only bet off one pile.  Use chips won to keep the piles even.  When you lose, only bet the chips from one pile.  When that pile is gone, your trailing stop loss has been triggered – leave the game with the other two piles which represent your buy-in and your win.

Document Your Results

I recommend using a pocket notebook, the kind that fits into a shirt pocket or sports jacket pocket.  After leaving a table, cash in your chips and record your win or loss along with any comments you want to make about your table play.  You will be pleasantly surprised at the satisfaction this decision gives you after your session ends and you can look back and reconstruct your actions.

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