Gambling

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The term "money management" is derided by the experts. Mason Malmuth, who is the most acerbic among gambling writers, declared in Gambling Theory and Other Topics: "I hate money management. I hate it because it is a bunch of junk." Mathematics professor Peter Griffin, author of the classic The Theory of Blackjack (1979), dismisses the term as meaningless. Arnold Snyder, "the Bishop", who is currently the most active writer and thinker on blackjack, explains that the reason all the experts say the idea is worthless is because so many hucksters try to con the public, by selling systems as a sure thing.

What is money management? It is simply a way of handling your bankroll. If, for example, you have pounds 100 gambling money, you can stick it all on one number at roulette and have a huge win if the number comes up. If your number does not come up, at least you save a lot of time. At the other end of the scale, you can have 100 pounds 1 bets, and pass two or three agreeable hours in the process. The odds of your winning on each individual bet do not change.

So is money management really a matter of how you organise your time? Yes and no. If you have a plane to catch, and want to have a final pull on a slot machine as you leave the casino, fair enough. But most people, obviously, want the gambling experience; they want to make their money last.

If you are in Las Vegas for three days with a thousand bucks to gamble, it makes sense to divide the money into three portions, so you can play a thousand a day, and probably divide each thousand again into three, so you can afford, say, a mid-morning, a pre-dinner and a late-night spin, according to taste.

The positive side of money management is that if you give yourself enough time - whatever game you play - you can expect to have a lucky streak or two, in between your losing runs. In gambling you want to give yourself the chance of hitting that streak. In the long run, whether the game is dice, punto banco, roulette or casino stud, the player will lose.

The casino hold on roulette is around 20 per cent, thanks to the accumulation of players' bets, even though each individual bet on a number is "only" 2.7 per cent against the player and 1.35 per cent on red or black. But in the short run, you can get lucky.

Money management, therefore, is a useful way of disciplining yourself so as to get the biggest bang for your buck.

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