Knowing When to Walk Away

Quick, without thinking – when is the best time to end your craps session? If you said “while you’re ahead” I like your thinking. Of course, then you have to decide just how MUCH you have to be ahead before you pull the plug. But that is where session win goals come into play.

I recall a time about ten years ago when I made the 90 minute drive over to the casino and met up with my pal, “Shootitall,” who has about a two-and-a-half hour drive to the boats. My win objective, based on a $1000 trip bankroll, was $200. Within about forty-five minutes I was a little over $500 ahead. I locked up my initial buy-in and a $200 profit and continued to play with my excess chips. After one turn around the table $100 of my surplus had crossed the table and ended up in the dealer’s bank. It was time to lock up the rest of that excess and run.

When all was said and done I walked with a $410 profit for less than an hour’s work. Not bad. But I had to put in three hours of windshield time for less than an hour of table time. I love this crazy game of ours, and would have liked to have stayed and played longer. But I didn’t, because I’d reached my win goal for the day and knew that the longer I played the greater the chance that the casino would get my hard-earned winnings back.

Placed in the same situation, most of the players I know – including many of you reading this article – would have made some excuse about the entertainment value of the game and the fact that you play for fun as well as to win. They would do the same thing I used to do – refer to themselves as a “serious recreational craps players.” In all likelihood these players would have stood at the table for another four to six hours, losing their entire win plus their buy in. All because they didn’t have a win goal or the discipline to quit while they were ahead.

What is a reasonable win goal? According to gambling guru John Patrick you should think in terms of 20% of your buy-in. That figure makes perfect sense to me as well. If you buy in for $300 per session then it is reasonable to assume that through the normal give and take of the game you can achieve a $60 win. With a $500 bankroll set a win objective of $100. At the $1000 level your goal might be to win $200. To think that you can win more than that – especially if you routinely be on random rollers as opposed to limiting your action to your own hands and those of other DI’s, is simply unrealistic.

Setting a win goal is not the thing as setting a win stop. It is rare that you will want to stop playing as long as you are winning. So if you surpass your win goal continue to play as long as you continue to win. But if the table starts to take back what you’ve already locked up, don’t continue to stand there giving it back. Instead, set your initial buy in and win goal in the back rack and continue to play with the excess chips. Limit yourself to two or three losses out of your excess. And under no circumstances should you lose more than half of this surplus. If you lose half of the chips in the front rack, that’s your key to color up the rest and call it a session.

The great thing about this game is that YOU control the timing of your play. The casino has to keep the doors open 24 hours a day, but YOU can play when you want and for as long as you want to. Use the power of the clock to make the casino work just as hard at beating you as you do at beating them. Remember my old axiom: Get in, get it done, and get gone.