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Money Management

The first rule is the most important of all rules of gambling. Don’t play with money you can’t afford to lose. This can’t be repeated or stressed often enough. No matter how skillful a player you are, no matter how lucky you feel, if you’re gambling with money you can’t afford to lose, you’re asking for trouble.

And above all, don’t borrow money to gamble with. This leads to disaster. Don’t ask for casino credit if you’ll have to dig into savings or use essential money to repay the losses.

After you’ve decided that you can gamble with a certain amount, play according to your gambling bankroll. If you have $1,000, don’t start betting $100 chips and risk losing everything before you have a chance to start a winning cycle.

The pages on blackjack, craps, and baccarat deal fully with the proper total bankroll for the game, the single session bankroll, and the limits of play according to the bankroll. Study these carefully before playing any of these games for real money, for the sections on money management are just as important as those on correct playing strategies.

One rule constantly stressed in these sections is not to play with scared money, that is, money that is insufficient for the game you’re playing.

If you’re at a $25 table in blackjack and have only $200, you’re undercapitalized, and you’ll either have to forgo higher bets in favorable situations or, worse still, make foolishly high bets in the hope of increasing your bankroll so that you can properly play the game for correct stakes.

Either move is bad. Always play with adequate funds, or don’t play at all. Be patient. Save up until you can properly bet what you have to in order to take full advantage of the game you’re playing.

Let It Rides The Tournament Playoff Eligibility

In the brochures available from Shuffle Master Gaming, the company states that “if your winning hand is good enough, the casino will ask you to fill out a Tournament Registration form. All the forms are submitted for ranking at the end of the Qualifying Round. The top 100 hands are invited to participate in the Let It Rides The Tournament”‘ Playoffs. . . .”

It seems that a “qualifying round” lasts for three months. When you’re playing Let It Rides at a casino during this period of time, you’re in the qualifying round if you’re placing your dollar on the tournament spot. Will you have a chance to go to the playoffs with a four-of-a-kind hand? Very, very unlikely. Even a small straight flush, such as 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 of hearts probably won’t get you there.

In the October 1995 playoff tournament, Shuffle Master picked the top 100 hands plus all ties, and in this case the number of eligible players came to 133.

Speaking to a representative from Shuffle Master Gaming about this, I was told that a royal flush will automatically get a player into a tournament playoff. In October 1995, the weakest eligible hands were eight high straight flushes, that is, hands consisting of an 8, 7, 6, 5, and 4 of the same suit.

As the game increases in popularity, the eligible hands will become stronger and stronger, and may eventually be limited to just royal flushes. When you do get a royal flush, however, you will automatically be eligible for the tournament playoffs.

How will you know if you made the tournament playoffs if you didn’t get a royal flush? If you have been deemed eligible, you will receive a registered letter and a phone call inviting you to the playoffs. Once you’re in the playoffs, as we shall see, you’re guaranteed prize money!

The Tournament Playoffs

There are four rounds in all to determine the distribution of the top prizes. According to Shuffle Master Gaming, in October 1995 the prizes were distributed as follows:

Grand prize $2 million

Second prize $500,000

Third prize $250,000

Fourth prize $100,000

Fifth prize $50,000

How to Disguise Counting Methods

This is a favorite topic of mine, for I’m intrigued with disguises, and when I discuss disguises, I don’t mean physical changes. There are some card counters who have been barred from practically all casinos, and they must resort to false beards and things like that. The disguises I refer to are emo­tional and intellectual ones, for they are more effective than physical changes and are necessary to a card counter who is winning.

The following are the best methods of disguising play:

Don’t stay at any one table more than an hour or in any casino more than two hours at one time.
If you play often enough at a particular casino you’ll be recognized by the casino personnel. That’s all right as long as they don’t recognize you as a card counter or winner. By hit­ting and running, you stand the best chance of not being barred. Long play at any one table gives them the opportunity to really scrutinize your play, so don’t linger.

Change your betting patterns when you have to. Even though the methods outlined in this site give you the best chance of winning by altering your bets according to the count, there will be times you won’t be able to do this and survive in a casino.
Sometimes if you’ve put out a big bet in anticipation of a favorable hand and the dealer shuffles up instead, it pays to leave the big bet out. If you constantly change your bets at the last minute when the dealer breaks the deck, it will raise a red flag in front of both the dealer’s and floorman’s eyes. I always wait until the last minute to make my bet, eyeing the ,dealer surreptitiously, waiting to see what he is doing with the cards. If he breaks them, I then make my normal or neutral bet without having to remove chips from a previous bet.

I can remember one incident vividly, at a Strip hotel-casino where I had done very well on many occasions. I was playing head-to-head with a dealer at a single-deck game. The minimum bet allowed was $25, and I was altering my bets from a minimum of $25 to a maximum of $200.


The fingernails are a revealing source of information into the life and habits of an opponent. It is certainly easier for you to gather clues about someone’s nails if there is something irregular about them. Whether they are immaculate or the person chews them to the nub, they should tell you something.

There are four things I notice when I look at a player’s fingernails. First, are there any clues as to their profession or hobbies? Second, do they bite their nails or cuticles? Third, do they maintain them impeccably? Finally, do they shabbily maintain them but not bite them?

Profession or Hobby clues

Notice nails that have dirt, oil, or other extraneous material (maybe even poker felt) under them. This gives you a clue as to what they do for a living or for fun. Construction workers, painters, carpet layers, car mechanics or other machinists will usually have signs of their occupation on their hands and fingers.

Doctors and chefs will have hands that look clean with nails neatly trimmed or perhaps their hands are dry from constant cleaning. I will talk more about the relevance of an opponent’s job in a later section. Many poker players enjoy other games and sports as hobbies. If their fingers and knuckles are callused, is it because they are a rock climber, plumber, or a carpet layer? Other activities wear a person’s hands in different ways.

You will often know how serious a person is about a sport or hobby by how worn their hands are. The likely background for someone who works with their hands is much narrower than for someone who does not work with their hands because of the wide variety of white-collar jobs. When you ask them about what else they do for fun, you can see if their answer explains the shape of their nails. The following examples of nail care might reveal something you can use.

Impeccably maintained nails

Clearly, a man that maintains his nails and cares about his appearance is making a different statement than a woman who does the same. American culture emphasizes that women spend more time on the upkeep of aesthetics.