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Friday, January 25, 2019

Increase Your Gambling Savvitude

"I only gamble for entertainment." "I expect to lose my bankroll anyway." "I don't mind losing but I hope I can at least sit and play for a while." This kind of thinking leads to one thing. Losing.

I've spent over 60 trips trying to solve Las Vegas. After the first 3 trips losing all my bankroll every time, I thought 'there has to be a better way, an edge I can find, or some way I can lose less!'

Some reading led me to learn that the return on slot machines is quite bad, and the return on blackjack, craps, and video poker can be much, much better.

That's when I started to develop a savvy attitude - or what I now call Savvitude.

Why Savvitude? Because I had to make something up for this article and savvitude sounded jargony.

What is Savvitude?

Savvitude is rooted in a general attitude that you are willing to make some effort in order to get a better deal, and that you are going to put yourself in the best position to win.

Do Savvitude like a Drunken Spaceman!
Let’s look at two gamblers, one with Savvitude, and one without. See if you can tell them apart at first glance.

We’ll call the first gambler “Johnny Greencash”.

We’ll call the second gambler “Loser Drunk With a Terrible Attitude and Somewhat of an Asshole” Sperry Blowhole.

Did you figure it out?

Which one has more savvitude?

Correct! Johnny Greencash has savvitude, and Sperry Blowhole spews money out of his gambling oriface.

Sperry thinks gambling is entertainment. He plays any slot or machine that looks shiny at any particular moment - and knows nothing about them. He plays 2 coins a pull on a slot that requires 3 coins a pull to hit the massive progressive.

He plays 15 numbers on keno tickets, 50-play video poker, betting one credit per hand, and doesn’t bother with casino player's cards.

Sperry plays in 29 different casinos on a typical four day trip - none of them in the hotel he’s staying at. He’ll play any blackjack game he comes across and has never heard of 6:5 versus 3:2.

Sperry knows he is going to have a good time (if he can remember it at all) and is more than likely going to burn through his entire gambling budget because WOOO VEGAS BABY!

Not one to flinch at rack rate for rooms, Sperry will book an offer if one drops in his lap, but has never talked to a casino host, asked for a comp, or had his play evaluated.

Sperry Blowhole is a bit of a twat, and a casino’s dream customer.

Now let’s look at Johnny Greencash’s approach to the casino lifestyle - one steeped in the sweet funk of Savvitude.

Johnny isn’t against spending a few bucks, but he wants to get value where he can. He puts a bit of effort into educating himself about the various games he’s interested in. He looks for opportunities to sign up for bonuses and mailings and weighs the different offers he gets to see which ones have the most appeal and the most value. (Johnny also reads Royal Flusher Vegas, to pick up on any useful gambling tips that he might come across. So far, he's been sadly disappointed.)

Johnny Greencash figures that if he is going to put his money at risk, he might as well try to reduce the amount he is likely to lose. He’s learned a little about odds and expected return, and picked up some strategies for his favorite games, and knows what the best and worst bets are. He uses slot clubs to his advantage, without being a slave to qualifying for tiers and racking up points, just to earn some tawdry casino swag, like a garter set, a shot glass, or a tin of Vermont's Original Bag Balm.

Johnny has introduced himself to a host or two at the properties he likes to stay at. He asks for comps and sometimes gets a free meal or some charges taken off his hotel bill.

Basically, Johnny has a positive attitude about the whole experience. He assumes that he can win, that he is going to win, and does everything he can to ensure it happens.

Read that again. He assumes he can and will win, every time out.

Of course, nobody wins all the time, or even most of the time. The point is that a winning attitude naturally leads Johnny to make sure he does the things that help him move in that direction.

What else increases Johnny's savvitude? Well, he knows a few money management strategies to limit his losses.

He keeps his eyes open, reads the rules of tournaments and promotions, looking for advantages and loopholes, and takes advantage of the goodies that abound if you are just willing to try.

Now, nobody’s perfect. Johnny occasionally has one too many Mai Tais, throws down a few huge cash bets on roulette, and ends up puking in a potted plant while trying to take the elevator to his room - not knowing he’s in the wrong hotel.

Having Savvitude doesn’t mean being anal and having no fun. But it does mean swinging the needle in your direction a little bit - or maybe more than a little bit - by shaving the house edge.

How's your savvitude? Are you going to be a Johnny Greencash, or that other mook?


Royal Flusher

Addendum: I am far from perfectly savvitudinous. I drink while playing skill games, and sometimes I play the worst game in the house - keno. When I'm on a losing streak, I figure that keno actually saves me money because it costs maybe $20 an hour. I can easily lose hundreds in that same hour if things go badly. I don't plan to, but it happens.

Remember the 15-number keno ticket that Sperry Blowhole plays? Why is that so bad? And why is, say, 6 or 7 numbers better?

Well, the odds of hitting 7 out of 7 numbers on Keno is about 1 in 41,000. (That's about the same as the odds of hitting a royal flush on video poker.)

The odds of hitting 15 out of 15 numbers on Keno is about 1 in holy-fucking-shit-that's-a-lot.
I'm talking about 1 in 428,000,000,000. (That's billions. Or nearly half a trillion. But who's counting.)

You don't have a hope in hell of hitting 15 out of 15 - and to add insult to injury, look at the payouts!!!

Hitting 15 out of 15 pays the same as  hitting 10 out of 10! There's no reason ever to play 15 numbers on a straight keno ticket.

10 out of 10 will come in, roughly, one time every 9,000,000. Would you rather have a 1 in 9 million shot at winning $100,000 or a 1 in 428 billion shot at winning $100,000?

With just a little observation, you can make a much better decision. (You can also decide not to play keno at all, which would be the best decision of all.)

To increase my savvitude, I play mostly video poker and blackjack, using strategies that return the most possible. I play craps too, which can have a very low house edge if you stick to pass line with odds.

Sadly, I have a thing for Buffalo. And that's part of it - yes have fun, but don't lose it all every time. Apply some savvitude and play to win. Your bankroll will thank you. And so will the potted plants.

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