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Create a Game Plan18 December 2004
Going to the casino is not a "new age," "we are the world" kind of activity where the casino personnel and the players are singing from the same hymnbooks or chanting the same mantras. Far from it, casino gambling is far more primal than that, far more elemental, far more competitive. The most apt analogy I have ever come across is one that looks upon casino gambling as a contest, much like sports, chess, checkers, or, yes, war. After all, the casinos want to take your money and you want to take their money.
It is a contest. There are winners and losers. There are happy faces and sad faces. There is real risk involved. And, of course, money is on the line. If money were blood, we're going for the jugular and so are the casinos.
However, unlike war (or love) all is not fair in casino gambling. It is not fair to cheat, for example, and it is not fair for the casinos to cheat either. There are rules to this contest; rules that players and casinos both obey that are very much like the Geneva accords, which few countries obey.
Sans cheating, all else is definitely fair in casino war. You have the absolute right to play the best strategies you can muster and look for the loosest machines, both slots and video poker, that you can find. The casino has the absolute right to set up its games as they see fit and to program the machines within the guidelines established by the state authorities.
With that said, there are intelligent and not-so-intelligent approaches to casino warfare, just as there are intelligent and not-so-intelligent approaches to regular warfare. When the Polish cavalrymen, on their horses, old wooden guns ablazing, attacked the Nazi tanks in World War II, that was a bad strategy. They were slaughtered. When the Japanese refused to surrender when we alerted them to the fact that we had a doomsday weapon and were about to drop it on their heads, that was a bad strategic move on their part. When Saddam Hussein from the luxury of his billion-dollar palaces scoffed at America's threats to remove him, those decisions led him to his ultimate private hideaway -- a spider hole. Bad assessment on his part.
So, assessing the situation you face when you enter your casino battles and planning accordingly are of paramount importance if you wish to stand any chance of coming home a winner.
The very first decision you must make is what game or games you are going to play. Too many novice gamblers head right for the slots, often playing machines that are like tanks to the player's cavalry. The player winds up with mounting losses as the weeks go by and he often wonders if there is any possibility to beat those infernal machines.
If you play a machine that is returning only 85 percent of the money put in it, your chances of coming home with the laurels of victory are remote indeed -- especially if you play a lot. However, if you play machines that are returning 98 or 99 percent, as some slots and video poker machines do, then you have a much better chance of taking some of the casino's money home.
So when you plan your battle against the one-armed bandits, do so with the thought that you want to find the loosest machines you possibly can -- not the flashiest, not the current fad, not the one with the fancy bells and whistles and definitely not the one that is linked to a host of other ones. You want to play machines that have been established over time to return the most; in fact, some of these machines are actually certified as having a 98 percent return. On video poker machines, it is quite possible to find machines with 99 or better returns, as long as you know how to play them.
Once you know which machines you are going to play, you must give yourself ammunition; that is, money. What kind of casualties are you willing to take before you surrender? Are you willing to lose $100, $400, $1,000 or more? Know your acceptable loss limit before you start playing. Say to yourself, "I will only allow myself to lose this amount and no more!"
If you give yourself a loss limit in advance, you have a much better chance of sticking to it. If you are the weak type who likes to dig into pocket, purse or ATM machine, then only bring what you are willing to lose and leave the rest at home -- along with your credit cards.
For table-game players, the game plan is similar to what a video poker player uses. Decide what strategies you will use at craps that keep the house edge low and stick to that strategy. In blackjack, learn the proper basic strategy of every player hand against every dealer upcard. Do this and you increase the chance that the casino will be losing its money to you.
Once you know which games you are going to play, what strategies you are going to use, and how much you will allow yourself to lose in the event the war goes against you, you should also then consider how much you will win before you head for the door. Do you want to double your buy in? Triple it? Do you settle for a 10 percent win or do you want any win, no matter how small?
If your idea of a victorious evening is merely being able to last, the way Rocky did against Apollo Creed in the first Rocky movie, then make sure you bring enough ammo to actually last if things go down the tubes, as they inevitably will on some occasions.
Having a game plan and sticking to it, will give you much greater pleasure in the long run because it will allow you to come home with a victory every now and then. Playing on whim, charging at tanks, ignoring big bombs, and snubbing your nose at the mighty house edge could make you wind up in your own spider hole of despair.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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