What separates a responsible gambler from a problem gambler is knowing when to call it quits.
Did you ever have a great run at the casino, perhaps doubling or tripling your original bankroll? What did you do? Maybe you walked out with a big smile on your face, spending that extra cash on some item you’ve always dreamed of. Or, maybe you gambled it all right back into the casino, walking out with little or nothing to show for it.
The difference between these two decisions can be a defining moment in any gambler’s life. If you don’t know when to walk away, your chances of being a labeled ‘problem gambler‘ rise significantly with each trip to the casino.
No one ever plays casino games with the intent of becoming a problem gambler. We all want to be responsible. We want to have a great time. And we would all love to win some cash in the process. But a responsible gambler is one who always knows when to call it quits, win or lose.
So how do you know when it’s time to quit?
Make A Plan
The easiest way is to make a plan before you ever walk through the door, or log in to an online casino. You need to pick a reasonable amount of money you’d like to win, and set a limit as to what you can afford to lose.
Don’t bother setting yourself a time limit, as this rarely works. What if you plan to leave after 3 hours, but after 2 hours your bankroll is way up? Or in reverse, what if your bankroll is depleted after 2 hours. This doesn’t mean you should hit the ATM or make another deposit to keep going another hour.
You need to set a goal based on winnings/losings. Your winning goal will vary greatly by the game you’re playing, and size of each bet. If you’re dropping $5 per hand on blackjack, your goal is going to be a lot different than if you’re laying $20 chips on the table.
In the same token, a strategic blackjack player is going to be grinding the table for quite some time to make any significant profit, whereas a slots or video poker player could lose many plays in a row, or hit a huge jackpot all at once.
I’ll start with losses, because this is the easy part. Only bring with you an amount of money you can afford to lose. If it runs dry, walk away. Period. Do not get more money. Consider it the price of entertainment and know when to call it quits.
The amount you hope to win—the amount that drives you stop gambling—should be based on a percentage of your bankroll. Since these are casino games, and the house always has an advantage, you can’t set your hopes too high. Making a 20% profit isn’t an easy thing to do, and is a reasonable goal for any responsible gambler.
If you walked in (or logged on) with $100, and you’re up to $120, you’ve done very well. Expecting to double it to $200 is a far stretch, and one that casinos hope you will strive for. Their profits are based on the long term, and the longer you play, the more you can expect to give the casino back every dollar you’ve won, and then some.
If you’re playing a more volatile game like slot machines or video poker, and happen to hit a large prize early in your session, you’re not going to want to leave. If you double your bankroll so soon, it’s okay to keep playing a bit longer, so long as you follow one strict rule.
Take your original bankroll, plus the 20% profit, and set it aside. Do not spend it for any reason. Feel free to wager with the rest and even if you lose it all, you’ve still hit your 20% goal. However, if the thrill of the profit drives you more than the entertainment, take that big win an run!