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Gambling/Craps bankroll and goal setting


QUESTION: if one were to start an account for gambling how much would you have ideally in it.Ive been told i can do craps as a business as i can walk away when i say even after a short while,i find the hardest is to handle those lost sessions.any advice on this whats your take on treating craps as a business and psychology of walking away etc.?

ANSWER: Blaze,

Sorry about the delay is responding to you as I was on the road these past 3 weeks.

As you may have already read from my previous responses in the Craps section, craps is a -EV (negative expected value) game since no matter which combination of bets or "system" you employ, you will always lose in the long run as the house has the edge.  But for now, let's set that pesky fact aside and focus on your questions.

First, let's address your question of treating craps as a business and look at the initial bankroll you would need.  Bankroll management is critical for any gambling endeavor, whether it be craps, poker, or daily fantasy sports.  To calculate your starting bankroll, you'll need to take into account a couple factors.  1) How much money do you need your business to generate per month?  2) How much time per month will you dedicate to the business?

Why are both of these questions important?  Let's say that you're going to live off only your craps winnings.  Depending on which part of the country you live in, your monthly budget can vary.  Living in New York City is a lot different than living in, say, the middle of Mississippi.  In NYC you may need to win $10,000 per month to have a successful "business", but in MS that monthly win rate may only need to be $2,000.  The more money you want to win, the more you must wager, so the bigger your initial bankroll has to be.  Also, how many hours per month are you going to dedicate to gambling?  Gambling 8 hours daily is different than gambling once per month.  Eight hours a day means you'll be placing many wagers, so they can be smaller as can your bankroll.  Gambling only once means betting vastly larger amounts, thus you'll need a huge bankroll.

To give you a solid answer I'm going to assume that your new craps business is only for recreational purposes and you are looking to win $10,000 per year -- which is $800/month.  $10k is a nice chunk of change at the end of every year -- especially after you look back after 20 years.  Also, let's assume that you only have time to gamble on Saturdays, so you'll only hit the tables 4 times each month.  This is plenty of time to walk away with $200 each week to reach your $800 monthly goal, so you can start with a relatively small bankroll and play at small stakes.  I'd recommend a bankroll of $5,000 (half your annual goal) and playing at a $5 table (or smaller if you can find one in your area).  If your goals are more than $10k/year, then increase your bankroll.  If you plan on playing more days per month, then decrease your bankroll.

Now let's turn our attention another aspects of craps -- which is setting session limits.  Sticking with our example, you're looking to walk away from the tables with $200 each session.  You might win $200 in your first roll and will need the self-control to walk away after 10 minutes with your $200 profit.  Other sessions will not be so easy and you may have to battle back from an initial loss before reaching your $200 goal many hours later.  As long as you have the discipline to walk when you hit $200, you'll chip away at your $10,000 annual goal.  Remember, it's a business.  You're there to make money, not have fun.  You also must set a session loss limit.  How much are you comfortable losing each week?  A rule of thumb is to set the your loss limit at half your win limit -- in this example, $100.  Once you lose $100 you're done for the week.  This $100 loss limit also means you'll focus better and not "go crazy" since you'll know that once you lose that $100 you're done for the week.  Your initial $5,000 bankroll will last you a year of losing sessions.  Every winning session will erase the previous $100 losing session and still add $100 to your bankroll.   Whatever you choose as your annual goal and time to play each month, use the same logic to calculate your session win limit and loss limit.  When you hit those numbers it's time to walk away for the session.

(A more sophisticated system is to understand that since your odds at craps is just under 50%, you should set your winning limit to 3x your loss limit.  If your goal is the $10k/year, or $200/session, then a $300 win limit and a $100 loss limit is best.  Since you'll win 50% of your bets, or 50% of the time, then you can expect an equal number of winning sessions as losing sessions.  Winning $300 half the time and losing $100 the other half will average to a $200 win for every session -- allowing you to hit your $10k/year goal.)

Lastly, let's address the psychological aspects of a losing session.  Gambling, especially if you're doing it as your livelihood, means understanding and accepting odds and variance.  Your odds at craps is never +EV, so in the long run you'll go broke.  But it is possible to win in the short run.  Walking away when you're up is easy.  But you'll lose more times than you win, so when you are losing, look at the session as money spent on something entertaining.  People who spend $100 at a restaurant or $100 at a concert never expect to win -- they know that's the price of entertainment.  Same for you.  Not only were you entertained, but if you play craps correctly at your casino, you'll have earned valuable comps to offset those losses.

Hope this helps you not only survive the swings at the craps table, but let you build your initial bankroll properly.  Good luck at the tables.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Also do you believe on trending a table?And what is good criteria for determining hot cold or choppy tables and also determining when it's going to swing from one to another?

Yes.  I like to watch several tables first before jumping in.  Here's a quick list of things to look for:

1) Number of Players: Too few players means that the table just went cold where several players have already colored up and left.  It also means that if you play there, the dice will come around quickly -- if you like to roll then that's a good thing.

2) Chips on the Table:  Plenty of bets on the numbers, hard ways, and odds bets means that the shooter has been rolling well and the players are winning.  Best indication of a hot table.

3) Don't Bets: If chips are bet on the Don't Pass or Don't Come lines, then the shooter is bad or the table has gone cold and players are trying to capitalize on that.

4) Chip Colors:  Look for tables where some players have big chips in their racks -- like $500 and $1,000 denominations.  This generally means that these big players have already scoped out the table for you.

5) Shooters Skills: Look for tables where the shooters are taking the game as seriously as you are -- setting the dice and making the same tossing motion each time.  Young, drunk players who routinely toss the dice off the tables or throw them inconsistently means this is not a good table for your action.


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Vic G


I can assist you with a number of casino games to include blackjack, craps, roulette, and poker (Texas Hold'em, 7 Card Stud, and Omaha). I have visited hundreds of casinos and may be able to answer specific questions about casinos or poker rooms in your area. Lastly, I have a collection of over 3,700 casino chips, so if you're a collector, or are just curious of what the value of a chip may be, I can assist you.


I grew up in New Jersey during the late 1970's when casinos came to Atlantic City. I played blackjack and craps in Resorts and the Golden Nugget during my high school and college years. I play poker at least once a week in my local card room and make the annual trip to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker each year.

Ante Up magazine: October 2008

BS from Rutgers in Electrical Engineering. MBA from Wright State in Management Science.

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