Losing is bad enough, but losing at a fast clip really stinks

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Do you have any suggestions on how I can slow down the pace of losing? I typically play dollar slots with a bankroll of around $75 per visit. Martha N.

Taking note, Martha, that your letter comes from the Chicagoland area, I thought I would share that recently I was in Chicago to take in a Cubs game, the Blue Man Group, and to check out the local casino action.

The scalper’s price for a terrace reserved ticket to a sold-out Cubs game was $75, the Blue Man Group ticket was $64 (Okay, for me it was a freebie, being that my son is a Blue Man, but we’re talking math here.), and I allotted $100 for a quick stop to check out the Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City. The point I’m making here, Martha, is that all three forms of entertainment allow for a certain amount of “seat time” in exchange for your hard-earned dollars.

With the baseball game and the Blue Man Group, you get a couple hours of assured hip hip hooray or hilarity for a specific amount of money. One thing you cannot get in a casino is that same guarantee.

So, Martha, I’m figuring you’ve got a few options here. Do you like baseball? Loud drum beating? All-righty then, let’s stick with gambling as your leisure-time diversion.

First, Martha, learn to play at your own pace. Your money will last longer if you ease off the spin button. Other games, like blackjack for instance, dictate the speed of play, but in slots you can, and should, be playing at a leisurely tempo.

Play one dollar (credit) at a time on a Straight Multiplier machine. A straight multiplier, or “equal distribution” machine, usually has one payline and pays according to the number of coins you play. For instance, if you hit the jackpot having played one coin, the machine will pay 250 coins, but if you had played two coins, you’d have won 500 coins, three coins, 750, four 1,000 and five coins, 1,250.

Playing the full coin amount on machines of this type is an unnecessary expenditure, because the average return never changes based on the number of coins played. When you play one coin on these machines, you’re playing at the maximum payback and hit frequency, with the lowest risk per spin. And what’s more, playing a straight multiplier keeps you in action longer by doling out more low-end jackpots.

The main reason, Martha, I am recommending a straight multiplier machine is that I don’t believe the amount you are probably betting per spin is appropriate for your $75 bankroll.

You are most likely are playing a “bonus multiplier” slot machine, a machine that tacks on an additional amount of money (a bonus) to the jackpot if you’ve played the maximum number of coins. You are in all probability risking $3 per spin, and for octane of that level, I’d like to see you start with at least a $150 kitty to be able to fund at least 50 spins.

And yet, even with a $150 bankroll you could hit a cold spell from hell and your wad could all be gone before the Cubs bat in the first inning, which leads me to a final tip.

I’m recommending that you drop down in denomination. If you cannot afford to play the maximum amount of coins, or at least have a 50-100 spin bankroll, you should not be playing on a machine of that denomination.

Dollar slots seem to me a little over-rich for your bankroll, so amuse yourself on a quarter machine. You’ll have longer staying power and get better value by playing three quarters per spin versus three dollars a pop.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “Good poker skills are acquired after many years of experience. Experience is acquired after many years of bad poker skills.” VP Pappy

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