PAUL'S POINTERS: ANATOMY OF A WINNING STREAK
by Paul Wilson
BJI contributing writer Paul Wilson is a quasi-Renaissance man and graduate of Millsaps College. Some of his interests and hobbies include finance, consulting, travel, photography, and rock music. He's an avid baseball fan. Paul has done freelance writing and editing for gaming publications and takes blackjack, video poker, and sports betting very seriously. As we learned in the November issue, he also might have a "thing" for Wonder Woman.
This month I'm going to talk about winning streaks. In the process I'm going to share a true story of my recent personal-best winning streak. I'm not one to gloat and my intention is certainly not to invoke envy. Streaks come with the territory when you are keeping score. My goal is to share some insight and look at some of the variables that contributed to my lengthy streak in hopes that we can all learn from my experience.
Just the Facts, Ma'am ...
Before we delve too far into the details, I want to set the parameters for you; then we'll get to the good stuff. For book-keeping purposes, a casino gambling day for me begins with the first bet I make and ends when my head hits the pillow. In my younger days, that often meant early the next day and on occasion the sun may have been coming up. This book-keeping is straight forward and works well in a local casino gambling market when you have access and can play regularly - each day is its own trip or entry. During a casino gambling destination visit, I score each day this way and then combine the details into one data entry point or record; for example a weekend trip to Tunica or a week in Las Vegas is one entry. This distinction came up once during my streak when I stayed at a casino-hotel for three nights and went on a four-day romp Memorial Day Weekend. Casino gambling means blackjack, video poker, or any casino bet or action that contributes to the "final score" for that day. I've always maintained separate records of my sports betting activities and they are not part of this discussion.
My personal record breaking run began April 11 and ended May 31. It spanned 25 "trips" or data entries per the parameters outlined above. It eclipsed a run of 23 outings to the up side set over a decade ago; a feat I never thought I'd get anywhere near again. That's a run of seven weeks without a loss. I didn't get rich by any means, but believe me if you play regularly and go that amount of time without a loss, it's going to help your bankroll. For the record, I managed to erase a dreadful first quarter of this year and I amassed the equivalent of 71% of my losses from last year during the stretch.
One day I was one of life's losers ...
I hate to admit it, but last year was a losing year for me. After having a very good first two quarters to begin 2014, things began to go south in July. The downward spiral continued into this year and I managed three straight losing quarters and only two winning months during the past nine until April. Most of the losing was a function of poor video poker results, but my blackjack results were only slightly positive during this period as well. I thought things had turned around thanks to a big win in March, followed by another small win. However, my losing ways continued and I finished March even and still in a big hole for me at the conclusion of the first quarter of this year. I was working hard, playing correctly, and in good games, but not seeing results. I was to the point of delving into statistical means and standard deviations for answers and realizing that I was in a prolonged slump that was challenging my knowledge and experience. Gambling slumps are like batting slumps in baseball. I remember an Atlanta Braves announcer telling a story when I was a kid, "Batting slumps start at the plate. Go to your head. And end in your stomach." I sure identified with that.
I closed the books on March and began a new month and a new quarter with two small wins. Then a big win! Suddenly I was plus for the year. After a careless loss at the Westgate in an unscheduled video poker session when I was doing baseball homework, I quickly got back most of that loss and was feeling that maybe I had turned the corner. Then I took a big loss when I had planned to just play a few hands to quality for a kiosk promo game. Afterwards, I was furious with myself. I'd been fortunate to have two large wins the past two months to dig out of the negative zone and I'd gone out and had a total breakdown in discipline. A couple more of these and I'd have a mess on my hands again.
I tell this story because that night I promised myself that I would get back that loss, slowly with small "tactical" gains. I had more free play and free bets in April (no doubt a function of my previous losing months) and I decided to use them all judicially. There would be no "fun" or distractions until I won back that last loss. This would force me to be disciplined and grind out small wins as opposed to long sessions at the tables battling the ebbs and flows or long sessions with lots of coin-in (CI) in the video poker machines. I promised myself I'd take $5 and $10 wins; anything positive until I'd reached my goal. That was April 10th.
I'm winning ... I'm winning and I don't intend losing again
I was fortunate and it only took eight outings to reach my goal mentioned above. I found myself with an eight-game winning streak and when April came to a close the streak was up to 12. I finished April with a bang and the second biggest win of the month, thanks to four deuces showing up on a Not-So-Ugly Deuces Wild (NSUD) video poker game to erase a loss, and good fortune grinding out some free play at another establishment on a 9/6 Jacks or Better (JoB) machine. When the dust cleared, April was one of my best months ever.
The streak continued for 13 more outings until...
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