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A gambling control system

If you play standard casino games with returns that don't exceed a hundred percent, you will lose money in the long run. If you choose to do this, the best way is to learn to control your losses without sacrifycing too much of the fun.

To this end, I offer the following “system” of play which will enable you to project your average losses and play within your comfort zone. There is nothing on this page that is not already basically covered elsewhere on the site, but here my purpose is to offer an all-inclusive plan, for application to all casino gambling, both online and off.

• Controlling your spending

• 1. Your hourly expenditure
• 2. How much you can wager in total
• 3. Your bet size
• 4. Your ups and downs (the “gambling” bit)

• Some additional house edges
• The quick-fix option
• Room to manoeuvre!
• Knowing “where you’re at”

Controlling your spending

One of the many quirky contradictions of casino gambling is that it really isn’t “gambling” at all; each game is governed by the laws of mathematics, and your long term results - and the ups and downs thereof - can all be assessed accordingly using the relevant house edge and standard deviation, upon which the following “four-point plan” is based.

If it’s a bit heavy going, you can skip straight to the “quick-fix option”, which is pretty much the same thing stripped down to the bare bones.

1: Decide on your hourly expenditure.

This first step is really what the whole thing comes down to: you, the player, take a conscious decision about how much you are prepared to spend / lose on your gambling, on an hourly basis or whatever period of time you prefer to use as a benchmark.

The choice ultimately comes down to a combination of your personal financial circumstances and how highly you view your gambling hobby.

As an example, we’ll take a desired average hourly expenditure of ten pounds (£10), playing blackjack:

2: Work out how much you can wager in total

Using correct basic strategy, you can expect to lose an average of just 0.5% of your initial wagers. So now, we need to establish how much we can play in order to average a cost of ten pounds per hour.

Use the following calculation:

Your hourly expenditure rate, multiplied by one hundred, then divided by the house edge.

                  (Hourly expenditure × 100) ÷ house edge.

In our example:

                  (10 × 100) ÷ 0.5 = 2000.

So, to average an hourly cost of £10 playing basic strategy blackjack you can make £2000 of initial wagers.

3: Work out your bet size

Use this calculation:

Total wager amount (£ 2000 in our example), divided by bets per hour, equals your bet size.

                  Total wager amount ÷ bets per hour = bet size.

Is it a crowded table? With a lot of people the game will be slow, and you may play as few as fifty hands per hour. So now, applying the above calculation:

                  2000 ÷ 50 = 40

To average a cost of £10 per hour, on a slow blackjack table, you could make £40 bets.

If it’s just you and the dealer the game will be much faster, as much as maybe 200 hands per hour. Under these conditions:

                  2000 ÷ 200 = 10.

Your initial bet size should be no greater than £10.

4: Estimate your ups and downs (the “gambling” bit)

Playing £40 blackjack, on a slow table, you will average a cost of £10 per hour. However, you will never lose exactly that much. In order to estimate your ups and downs along the way, you need to look again at the standard deviation section.

Applying those calculations, we find that the standard deviation of 50 hands of blackjack is around eight hands.

Now, take that figure and multiply it by your bet size:

                  8 × 40 = 320.

As such, your results will lie within a range of one standard deviation, approximately plus or minus £320, sixty six percent of the time. This represents the majority of your sessions.

Extend that to two standard deviations, plus or minus £640, and you have your results about ninety-five percent of the time.

Going into the realms of reasonable improbability, your results will lie within three standarad deviations, or plus or minus £960, about 99.7% of the time.

That covers pretty much all eventualities.

(If you want to be extremely picky you need to subtract the house edge, or your hourly expenditure, from those standard deviation figures. As such, the one standard deviation figures are actually plus £310 or minus £330. Check again the standard deviation section for these details.)

Some additional house edges

For the sake of completeness, here are the house edge figures for bets pertaining to the four main casino games:

• Blackjack basic strategy: 0.5%
• Baccarat banker: 1.06%
• Baccarat player: 1.24%
• Roulette single zero outside bets: 1.35%
• Roulette single zero inside bets: 2.7%
• Roulette double zero outside bets: 5.4%
• Roulette double zero inside bets: 5.4%
• Craps pass line: 1.41%
• Craps don't pass line: 1.36%

For the standard deviation, simply finding the square root of the total hands will get you near enough.

The quick-fix option

If the above seems excessively complex, you can skip it and simply follow these steps:

• Select a bet size you’re comfortable with, eg. £10.

• Multiply it by the number of hands per hour, eg 80.

                  10 × 80 = 800.

• Divide by 100.

                  800 ÷ 100 = 8.

• Multiply by the house edge.

                  8 × 0.5 (for good blackjack play) = 4.

As such, playing £10 blackjack at 80 hands per hour, your average expenditure is £4 per hour.

If you’re comfortable with the figure you come up with, you’re good to go. If not, adjust the bet size down and repeat the above until you find an acceptable hourly rate.

It’s as simple as that.

Room to manoeuvre!

There’s no particular need to flat-bet the same amount all the time - many players would find that monumentally tedious, and you can still establish the hourly cost easily enough using an “average” bet size.

Basically, whatever your range of bets is, take your “average” as somewhere in the middle.

For example, if you tend to vary your bets between £10 and £ 25, then your average will be around £18; if you bet between £10 and £50, then average will be around £30.

If you tend to bet more in the lower range you can assume a slightly lower average; if your bets are typically higher, then the average will be higher.

No need to be precise - an approximate estimate will do the job.

Knowing “where you’re at”

What all this boils down to is knowing you're spending level. If you gamble on standard casino games you will both win and lose on a day by day basis, but overall the drift will be downwards. If you can quantify both the speed of the downward drift and the swings of good and bad luck along the way, you can enjoy your wins and kick yourself over your losses without ever losing sight of “where you're at” in the overall scheme of things.

You can use other control criteria if you want, setting stop-loss limits, or win limits, for any individual session, and all that is well and good. But if you can marry those criteria to a clear knowledge of your expenditure, per hour of play or per money wagered, your play will never be out of control and you will indeed spend / lose, on average, what you’ve project for yourself, within the quantifiable parametres of Dame Luck.

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