Saving Bullets

Okay, I’ll admit it. I have a few guns around the house. What the hell? I grew up in the woods in Arkansas, had my first BB gun at five and my first .22 at nine. By the time I was twelve I had a 30.06 rifle and a 12 gauge shotgun. And those were just the long guns. I gave up hunting years ago, but now that I’m in my sixties I have a few more guns in the safe, along with a few rounds of ammunition just in case I decide to go to the range and murder a few paper targets. How many rounds of ammo? Well, let’s just say you wouldn’t want to be among the first couple of thousand bad guys to try to break into my house.

Okay, I haven’t always “hoarded” ammunition. Then again, I didn’t always maintain a fairly large bankroll stored in a separate banking account. Back in the day my bankroll fluctuated substantially, from whatever I had in the bank to whatever I had the balls to draw a marker on. You see, a marker is essentially a sight draft – a check – that you have about a thirty day “float” on before the casino cashes. In those days most of the casinos were moving toward corporate ownership, so you rarely got a visit from a collector. I can happily say I never got a call from a collector. Nor did I bounce any markers. I’ve always had enough cash flow to cover my markers. But there have been a few times when I’ve cut it close.

In the nineties, when the riverboat casinos first started opening in Louisiana, I went from being a four to six times a year junket player to being a once or twice a week local player, and that’s really what led me to open a separate gambling bank account. I decided I could no longer risk not having sufficient cash in the household account to cover my markers, and I couldn’t afford the vig on credit card cash advances. The logical choice, then, was to start “hoarding” cash for casino play.

At first I just designated one side of the home safe as the casino bankroll side. Then, I began to fill it up. I started out filling it with rolls of coin from casino free play coupons I’d received. This was back before anyone had come up with the ticket out – ticket in concept. One Shreveport casino sent $20 in Free Coin every week. One national chain, which honored coupons from its sister properties, sent me around $200 in cash and coin a month. The other casinos in the market all had their own offers. Except for rare occasions, 100% of this money went into the safe.

Eventually I had more money in the safe than I felt comfortable in keeping at home, so I opened my first bankroll-dedicated checking account. Believe me, when I had the check’s imprinted with “Steve Heavy Haltom – Special Casino Account” the folks at the bank looked at me like I was nuts. But for me it was important that I see those last three words every time I opened the checkbook. Why? Because this money was dedicated to casino play. It was not for paying bills, spending on vacation, or replenishing our household account. We had one account for gaming and one account for the household – and neither was to be used for the other. Of course, having “Special Casino Account” also removed any temptation my bride might have had to write a check on the account. She would have been too embarrassed to use the account because someone might think she had a gambling problem.

Having a separate account for gaming offers both peace of mind, and a sense of freedom when playing. Yeah, the casino has you out-manned and out-bankrolled. They can run in new dealers on you every twenty minutes and call for a chip fill at will. But you hold a stronger hand. You can quit while you are ahead. You can take the money and run. They have to stand there – 24/7 – working the long run grind the house uses to beat the players. With that said, if you are trying to operate on a short bankroll you are short-changing yourself.

I have found plenty of ways to add to my bankroll through the years. I look for “found” money. Whenever I write a check in the household account I “round up” the amount I write in the check register. At the end of the month, when balancing the checkbook, I may have accumulated an additional $8 – $12 over what’s showing in the register. I write myself a check for that and into the gaming account it goes.

If I get an unexpected dividend check off of one of my investment accounts I’ll deposit half in my gaming account and split the remaining half with my bride. The same goes for my casino winnings, by the way. Half gets plowed back into bankroll. The other half gets split between my wife and I.

Garage sale profits? Split with the gaming account.

Recycled aluminum can money? 100% to the gaming account.

You name it. Even when ammo is in short supply you can find a few bullets on the shelves. Get in there and get some. Then put them in a separate account. It will pay you dividends when the bad guys have you beaten down.