I have this friend who lives in Las Vegas and is a financial planner. But, he's also an inveterate gambler. Now, don't get me wrong. He doesn't gamble with any of his clients' money (actually, he's done rather well for them), but he likes to spend some time relaxing in front of the slots. He doesn't play blackjack, or baccarat, or even visit the roulette table, and craps is certainly not for him. But he especially likes the nickel and quarter slots where he can wile away a weekend afternoon or evening watching cherries, bells, faces, and numbers tumble over and over.

I raise all of this because my friend is pretty good with slots and his winnings are well ahead of his losses. Actually, he spent some time with professionals and with casino owners, whom he knows very well (he's their financial planner), and got some pretty good tips on how to handle slots.

Now, I don't suppose you want me to pass these tips on to you but I will anyway and they are rather simplistic. They have nothing to do with how to play slot machine poker but more to do with basic philosophy of winning and losing, and what the pros actually do if they play slots.

First thing, if you sit at a machine and it hits, you are to scoop up your winnings and move immediately to another machine. Don't, they say, think that the machine is a lucky one for you and if you sit there all night, it will keep filling up the metal tray. You've had your shot, the machine is exhausted. Go somewhere else.

Second, keep an open pocket. This is standard stuff, but the pros say it works. You come armed with a roll of quarters. You drop one coin in the slot, pull the lever--chunk, thunk, clang--and the tray fills with five quarters. Take four of them (your winnings) and put them in your pocket. Play with the fifth quarter, the original one. Never ever go back into your pocket. When you have exhausted your roll or rolls, then step back and plunge your hand into your pocket. They represent your winnings or reduced losses.

Also, say the pros, unless you have unlimited resources, set a ceiling and don't go beyond it. Takes a lot of will power not to finish up an entire chocolate cream pie at one sitting, but it does work. When you have exhausted the stake, move away.

By the same token, if playing is simply a lark and you can take or leave it, then leave it. Let me give you an example. I am not a gambler. Why? I don't like to lose money. I can do that easily enough with the stock market and get aggravated at the same time.

A few months ago, I was in Vegas and was returning to my room from dinner. Naturally, wherever you go, you have to pass through the casino. I sometimes stop and watch the action but don't really care to participate. I happened to reach into my pocket and there were three quarters. Spare change. So I said, okay, and as I passed three slots, I dropped a quarter into each and pulled the respective lever. Slot one, nothing. Slot two, more nothing. Slot three, chink, plunk, thunk. The machine went into spasms. I watched the tray filling and filling with quarters. Lights went off, bells rang. Party time! I stared at the quarters. An elderly lady with blue hair clutching a cup of coins sidled alongside me. She obviously wanted the machine next--the good luck machine (remember what I said previously?).

I took a cup and scooped all the quarters into it. It runneth over. I looked at the machine. I had a full evening's entertainment right in front of me, or I could quietly cash in and go upstairs to watch another rerun of "The Andy Griffith Show."

I thought about this. I am not a gambler. I don't even like it, but on the other hand, here is free money. Free money. Of course, it won't be free if I give it back, I reasoned.

You know what I did? Sure enough. I cashed it all in, just like that. So, it cost me 75 cents to take the casino for $63.75. Hoo hah!

Hey, there's a place in Reno that has penny slots. Hmmmm. Maybe that's more my style.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access