If you’ve ever attended one of my workshops or viewed the full version of the seminar on DVD you know that one of the questions I absolutely hate to hear players ask is “How do I know if I’m winning?” The answer, of course, is “Count your damn chips.” But the question reveals a much deeper problem many players have. They lack a fundamental grasp of money management.
What is money management? Essentially it’s any move to limit losses while optimizing return. But at the end of the day it’s not how you manage your money – it’s how you manage your EMOTIONS. So where do you begin? At the beginning, of course, with the crap between your ears – and with win objectives and loss limits.
One of the questions I ask in pre-seminar surveys is “What is your session win goal?” Roughly 80% of the answers range from “Doubling my money” to “Everything the casino has.” While the former answer is more realistic – both answers are fairly absurd at the end of the day. So what is a reasonable win goal? That depends on your bankroll and buy-in, which is what everything is based on. But at the end of the day a 20% win goal is reasonable – and a 50% win goal is a good stretch objective. So with a $1000 buy in you should be satisfied with a $200 – $500 win. That’s a GREAT return on investment. What are the banks paying on savings accounts these days? One percent if you’re lucky. On a certificate of deposit you might get 1% to 3%, depending on the term. Put it in the stock market and you’re gambling on a larger return – or a loss. So a 20% win goal should look pretty good to you. Especially if you can compound those wins over eight to ten sessions. Your $1000 bankroll becomes $1200. Your $1200 bankroll becomes $1440. Your $1440 bankroll becomes $1728, and so on. It’s the miracle of “compound interest” at work on your bankroll. Wrap your head around that and suddenly that 20% win – which is fairly easy to achieve – looks pretty good.
Now let’s consider one of Dice Doctor’s strategies for money management. The Dice Doctor bet on every shooter who touched the dice. If he bought in for $300 he wanted his bankroll to last at least once around the table. With ten players at the table he’d divide his bankroll by ten and come up with a $30 bankroll per shooter. Don’t worry about how he bet the shooters. If you’ve read The Dice Doctor you know he either played the Don’ts or he played a pass line and odds progression on wins, but it really doesn’t matter. What matters is the money management part of his play. With me so far? That strategy in and of itself limits your losses on a per-shooter basis to just $30. It does not limit your potential win. As long as the shooter keeps tossing numbers you keep collecting wins. But there is a check-point. All wins plus any chips you receive in change after placing your bets are placed in the back rack. When the dice have made one circuit of the table you count up the chips in the back rack and determine if you have a win or a loss. At that point you adjust your bet size and continue – or make a decision whether or not to end your session. If you’ve made a 20% profit on one circuit of the table while betting on the random rollers then perhaps you’ll want to call it a day. Likewise, if you’ve lost half of your bankroll – my recommended loss limit – you may want to take a break.
According to gambling legend John Patrick a 20% win objective is both attainable and reasonable in a random game. John also suggests players limit their losses to 50% of their session stake. But I can tell you that when a guy like Patrick finds himself down 20% he begins to seriously evaluate what he can do to plug the hole in his bankroll and lock up some small wins to recoup. John is particularly fond of hedge moves that put him in a win-win position. Let’s say, for example, he’s established a $50 Don’t Pass bet the point is five. By Place Betting the five he can guarantee himself a win. A $45 five pays $63 if it hits. If the shooter sevens out first you he still collects a $5 win on the Don’t Pass bet. $5 on a $50 wager is a ten percent return. I doubt that any of you are making that much in the stock market most days.
The regression move is another powerful money management tool. Let’s say the shooter establishes the five as the point and you place $85 inside. The first hit will pay $35. Now regress to $34 inside and you have a guaranteed win of $1 for the hand with plenty of action still in the game. Prefer to bet just the six and eight? Start off with $60 each. The first hit pays $70 and you can regress to $30 each with $10 in the bank. The next hit pays $35. Drop $1 on the layout with the payout and press to $48 each. You now have almost $100 in action with only $9 “at risk” dollars. That’s a very powerful move.
While I am a big fan of loss limits, I sometimes like to employ a “recovery stage” when I find myself falling behind in table stakes. The recovery stage almost always involves a series of Fibonacci based “get back” bets, and they are almost always played when I am the shooter.
One of my favorite bets on random rollers is $30 each on the six and eight. It sounds like a lot to toss out on Randy, but remember the house edge is only 1.51% on the six or eight so the long-run cost of that bet is just .91 cents. With the six and eight you have ten possible winning combinations of the dice versus six ways to roll a seven, so it is a powerful play.
After the first payoff I bring the six and eight down, then re-place them for $18 each. That gives me $36 action with just $1 at risk. The next hit on the six or eight kicks off a $20 profit for the hand and I am good to go. But let’s say I get whacked by two random rollers in a row and find myself down $120. Since it’s my turn to toss I’ll go ahead and run the Fibo on the six and eight, placing them for the combined amount of the first two losses – or $60 each. Now, there’s no guarantee that I’m going to toss two sixes or eights. But if I’m going to risk the extra capital then I want it to be on my hand.
Suppose I toss a six and collect $70. I’m no longer down $120. I’m down $50. Do I really need to stay up on the six and eight at the $60 level or should I make a Patrick move and regress to $42 each? Why $42? Because a hit at that level kicks off $49, essentially getting me back to even. Now I’m free to take a second regression back to $18 each, locking up an additional $48 and I start running my regular progressions again.
Another “get back” bet you might consider is the free odds bet. In casinos that offer 10 or 20 times odds it’s a fairly simple matter to run an odds progression during a recovery stage. If, for example, you find yourself down by $50 a $25 free odds hit on the four or ten will put you nicely back in the game.
The bottom line in ALL of this is that you have to COUNT YOUR CHIPS and then evaluate your position after every decision. Then make the appropriate decisions to optimize your return. No, it’s not playing with scared money. It’s playing with smart money.
And it doesn’t hurt to remember to quit when you are ahead.