Gaming insights Gaming

Stake management

Written by Pai Yao

This article first appeared in the Mar/Apr 2011 issue of World Gaming magazine.

World Gaming magazine gives you the best tips on how to bet and enjoy different forms of gaming. Let’s take that a little further and examine the issue of how much we should bet on each ‘trial’ or ‘event’. Each event could be a hand of baccarat, a roll of the dice or a spin of the roulette wheel.

To understand ‘stake management’ let’s look at the term ‘stake’. Stake is what gamblers refer to as the amount they bet. We often hear about ‘high’ or ‘low’ stakes games or gamblers. Poker players talk about the ‘stake’ size or limit of the game they play. What we are looking at here is the amount of money a player bets on any individual event or series of events. This is ‘stake management’ or ‘staking strategy’, sometimes also referred to as ‘bankroll management’ or a ‘staking plan’.

It’s important to identify the motivation behind playing table games in the first place. Obviously everyone is hoping to win, but in reality different types of players gamble for different reasons. Let’s have a look at a few different types and identify which type of stake management suits each style.

Mr “Big Win Fast”: Mr Big Win Fast wants to turn a small amount of money into a large windfall, and quickly. He wants a result, and he wants it now! Tournaments are an excellent place for these players to go but let’s look at regular table game play for now.

Best stake strategy: Mr Big Win can’t afford to bet the same amount on every bet. Grinding out a huge win in a marathon session is very unlikely. Let’s face it, it’s not easy to turn a small amount into a large amount, otherwise everyone would be doing it. One method is to keep doubling bets after a win (a kind of ‘reverse Martingale’ system). Let’s say Mr Big Win wants to turn $4,000 into $30,000. If he wagers the whole $4,000 on an even-money bet like a baccarat hand and decides to ‘let it ride’ through three wins in a row, he will suddenly have $32,000. But the chance of success is only about 1 in 8 (7 in 8 times Mr Big Win will lose his $4,000). Or Mr Big Win can break it down and bet $2,000 and let it ride four times and give himself two chances of obtaining his goal. He can break it down even further, for example bet $1,000 doubling five times or $500 doubling six times, each time increasing the amount of ‘chances’ or ‘shots’ at obtaining the goal (or getting very close to it). Mr Big Win will have to get lucky to succeed but at least he has a plan that is fun to play!

Mr “All Night Long”: Mr All Night Long is looking to really enjoy his experience. There is nothing wrong in admitting that you love playing at the tables, so let’s see how you can manage your stake during that long period of gaming.

Best stake strategy: The last thing Mr All Night wants to do is lose all his money at the start of the night. He may have travelled quite some time to be sitting in this wonderful casino and to lose all his stake money at the start of the night is annoying – what does he do for the rest of the night? Those who play all night long and turn $4,000 into $8,000 should be very happy, so what Mr All Night wants to do is begin by betting small amounts, say around $200 a hand. Even at $200 it would take a loss of 20 consecutive bets in a row to blow the budget. That is extremely unlikely. If Mr All Night loses a lot of bets in a row he can reduce his standard bet to give him more hands in the game. Let’s say Mr All Night started with $4,000 but finds himself down to $2,500 – he might decide to start betting $100 a hand instead of $200 until his luck starts to change.

On the other hand, if Mr All Night starts to win from the get go he can increase his bet. Let’s say he turns his $4,000 into $6,000 by betting $200 a hand. Now he can afford to start betting $300 a hand because he can always move back down to $200 if he goes back under $4,000 in total. Sticking to the formula of betting about 5 percent of his stake will often see Mr All Night Long indeed playing all night long!

Mr “Shot Taker”: This type of player will wait for the perfect place to make their move. They might be sure that the banker is on a hot roll in baccarat or that it is time for a black number to be spun up at roulette. There is nothing wrong with waiting until you feel that the stars have aligned if you prefer this way of gaming. Generally taking shots neither increases nor decreases your percentage edge, and many players find it great fun to pick the moment to take a shot.

Best stake strategy: This method requires patience and discipline. Mr Shot Taker will sit out plenty of hands or spins, maybe even most of them! At the very least he bets very small until he finds his spot. Mr Shot Taker’s bet size will vary significantly. He has to keep his game disciplined. Let’s say Mr Shot Taker starts with $4,000 and bets $50 a hand while waiting for his spot. The purpose of the $50 bet might really be little more than locking up his seat! He is still entertained and gets to play while waiting, but he has enough to launch an attack when he feels the time is right. Mr Shot Taker might decide to hike his bet up to $500 or even $1,000 when the moment strikes. The hardest thing to do is to reduce the bet back down if the shot fails and things don’t work out.

These tips are no guarantee of winning but managing your ‘stake’ appropriately will give you the gaming experience that you individually enjoy. Let the wins and losses take care of themselves but make sure you have some fun along the way and always leave the game content that at least you managed your money well.