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Nov

09

2010

Don’t Chase Losses: Easing Off Losing Sessions

If you find yourself losing early in a day at the casino, what do you do? Do you back off and take it easy, or do you assume you’re “due” to win, and make bigger bets to try to recover your losses?

If it’s the latter, you’re making a mistake that can be hazardous to your bankroll. The house edge at casino games isn’t suspended just because you’ve lost some money.

That’s a mistake I’ve seen often. I was at a blackjack table once with a younger man who was betting $5 a hand … then $10 a hand. The more he lost, the more determined he seemed to get it back fast. Pretty soon he was up to $20 a hand, then $25. He blew through $300 in buy-ins that I saw, and finally left the table grumbling.

It wasn’t long before he was back. I don’t know if he’d been to a cash machine, but he seemed bent on getting it back or blowing through his bankroll. He through $500 on the table, asked for green chips, and started betting $50 a hand. It did not end well. In total, I saw this guy who started as a low-limit, $5 bettor drop at least $800.

The games are going to go that way sometimes. Both winning sessions and losing streaks are a natural consequence of the odds of the games. You can’t control when the cards or dice are hot or cold. The player’s job is to control himself or herself. When you’re losing, back off. Take a walk. Check out the restaurants. Get a drink. If you keep playing, make smaller bets. Chasing your losses with larger bets is risky business.

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