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The fun way to pitch good money after bad

27 July 2012

By Mark Pilarski

Dear Mark: Let us say you get on a once in a lifetime winning streak. Will the casino allow you to start betting more than the highest table maximum in the casino? Joe T.

Most, Joe, probably will not, principally because two possible scenarios threaten the casino. The Bloke that comes in and starts doubling his initial $25 wager, wins 15 hands in a row, and walks out a slum dog millionaire, or a player who has too much capital. The latter happened in Las Vegas when the late Australian billionaire, Kerry Packer, beat the MGM out of $26 million, most of it while playing blackjack. The casino finally barred him, not because he was a card counter, but because he was more capitalized than the casino. A lucky streak by some Joe Schmoe, or a player with more financial resources than the house, and the casino is in jeopardy of a serious whooping. Ah, but there are exceptions to the rule, one of which I just so happened to read about last week.

A gentleman from Hawaii had this dream of home ownership, and he figured the quickest way to raising the needed capital was one spin at the roulette wheel in Las Vegas. He shopped around by calling eight different casinos trying to place the bet, finding that they all said $20,000 was the maximum on a single wager, except one. Binion’s said, bring it on, so with $66,200 riding on "even," ta-da, winner EIGHT!

Terry Caudill, owner of Binion’s and the Four Queens Hotel & Casino, later stated, “We are in the gambling business; this is what we do.” “I consider these kinds of requests on a case-by-case basis.” Good for Caudill, great for the player, but let me be very clear; Yours Truly is not advocating this money management technique.

One more thing before I close this out, I mentioned someone who could double up an initial winning wager then streak their way to owning the casino, but far too many players also believe this system, the Martingale system, is foolproof when losing because you have to win eventually. The three problems with this money management system are: 1) you do not have an inexhaustible bankroll, 2) the casino owns the bank and sets the rules—like the table limit, and 3) your hourly wage if you win could be something like $0.01.

Allow me Joe, to show you the fatal flaw with this form of wagering. You bet $25 and lose, then $50 to recoup that loss. Then $100, $200, $400, $800, $1,600, $3,200, and finally $6,400. You have just invested an extra $12,700 just to get your $25 back.

As for those table limits, on a $25 game, a string of 10 loses in a row, and your next bet would butt up against a 10K table limit, but you have already been wiped out in less than three minutes, so we might as well focus on the positive. Some pit boss will probably let you squeeze a $3.99 steak and eggs’ breakfast out of him.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "A gambler is nothing but a man who makes his living out of hope." —William Bolitho
Mark Pilarski
As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.