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Your Gambling Bankroll

10 July 1999

Welcome back to the Frugal Underground. In this article, we're going to explore the topic of bankroll, specifically how to stretch your gambling money. Here are some questions Jean Scott (the Queen of Comps and my mother) and I are frequently asked on this subject, along with a few suggestions.

Question: How much money do you need to take with you to the casino?

Princess: There are as many answers to this question as there are people who ask it and it depends on a wide variety of factors: your disposable income, your temperament, your goals, your knowledge of the games. If you're like us, when you're on vacation in Las Vegas or any casino destination, you don't want to spend all your time gambling; that's the definition of a "recreational gambler." Before we leave home, my husband and I make a critical decision: namely, how much we are willing to lose gambling, and how much we can afford to spend on other things, such as food, shows, and souvenirs. We never take our check book, credit cards, or ATM cards with us. Even the daughter of the Queen of Comps is tempted by the convenience of getting extra money in the casino! That's why the cash and traveler's checks we bring with us are IT!

Question: Do you use any tricks to make a small bankroll stretch out over the whole length of a trip?

Princess: We've had to become expert money stretchers over the years of going to Las Vegas to visit Mom and Brad for a week, and it is always a challenge to make our gambling bankroll last that long. Here is one of the most successful plans Steve and I have used. We take our whole bankroll and separate it into smaller bankrolls, based on sessions-per-day and the number of days we plan to play. Say we decide we want to play a couple of two-hour sessions per day for five of the seven days of our trip. Thus, we divide our gambling money into 10 equal shares and we take only one share to gamble with during any one session.

If Lady Luck is kind to us, we can last the whole two hours and still have some money left over. In that case, we promptly quit and stash the extra money in our "profit" bag, which goes home with us as trip winnings. If we lose the amount allocated for that session, even if we have played only a half-hour, we quit gambling until our next session is scheduled. In the meantime, we do other things -- sightsee, people-watch, eat, rest in our room, swim, sit in the Jacuzzi, etc. There are loads of other things to do on a vacation other than gamble!

Next month, Mom, the Queen of Comps, will give you more hints on how to stretch your gambling bankroll. She can squeeze more value out of a dollar in a casino than can anyone else I know!!!

Something to think about: Breaking even, compared to losing, is winning.

Gambling tip of the month: Afternoon shows in Las Vegas are a terrific bargain and give you a lot of entertainment value for a small ticket price. If you're on a tight budget, but want to go to a show in the evening, go to a comedy show—they're much cheaper than production or headliner shows.