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How to Lose Less on Your Vegas Vacation

If you ain’t just a little scared when you enter a casino, you are either very rich or you haven’t studied the games enough. VP Pappy

Later this Spring my wife is off to Las Vegas. Her annual Vegas trip gives her some much needed and deserved R&R; we have two kids and her full time job is dealing with them!

While I love my wife, I don’t love that she comes home with nothing but the lint in her pockets. Sure, she has fun out there and clearly there is a cost to fun. However, is it impossible to come home with a little cheese left over? After all, I could use the winnings (or non-losings, if you will) as a reward for my hard work. I mean, this DLM thing isn’t a piece of cake – especially when I still have a normal job!

So to break this spell, I am coaching her on the games to stay away from, the games to increase the bets on, how to manage her money, etc. Trust me, she is never going to do all of these, but creating this list became fun so if she does a couple, I’m happy.

Here is what I came up with. If you have some extra tips, please add them in the comments.

General Tips

The reason for this is two-fold: mentally, it’ll be easier for you to walk away with cash versus chips, and secondly, once you have all chips, it’s difficult to get your money back; dealers will not cash you out. To get cash back, you are forced to find the cage which entails walking by eighty other game tables, cheering crowds, waiting in line, etc. That’s a lot of temptation that you can avoid simply by retaining some cash.

Here are my opinions on some of the more popular games in Vegas. I am not making any promises, heck, you will probably still lose it all. However, the lesson I want to get across is this: Learn the game, learn the odds. Would you invest in a company without knowing how they operated? NO. Would you take a job without knowing anything about the company? NO. Well, then why gamble without knowing the games and knowing how to win?

One point that is worth discussing is the betting lines. When you walk up to a $0.25 machine, your $0.25 is buying you the lowest payout. In order to get the max payout (you know, the huge number in blinking lights) you have to bet ‘max lines’. On some machines it’s 10 lines, on some it’s 20. If you go with 10 lines, your single pull will cost you 10 x $0.25 or $2.50 per spin. That’s slightly more than the quarter you planned to spend isn’t it?
Odds: Plan to lose unless you sat at the right time. General payouts are anywhere from 80%-98% depending on the casino.

So the clear lesson is to choose the game with the lowest house advantage. If you hate blackjack, which has one of the lowest house advantages, move on and find something else. Once you have chosen the game you think you’ll like, study it. My hope is that you’d do this before perusing the airport’s book store because at that point, it’s too late. There are tons of books that you can read ahead of time. Then, practice with a buddy or by playing on a free gaming site.

Good Luck!

By the way – do not take pictures inside casinos. They will ask you to leave.

– Jay

Written on 3/24/2008 by me, Jay White, the founder of Dumb Little Man and an all around average guy.  
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