Monday, May 15, 2017

Gamble Blogging: A LifeTime of Running Cold (Part VIII): Get on the Roller Coaster!!

We're getting closer to the end of this, so if you're still following along, Congrats!  If you're just now catching up here's a link to the prior posts:

A Lifetime of Running Cold Series

When we last checked in things were not going well. There's running cold and then there's that sub-zero type of cold where nothing is paying out and everything in the world feels like a losing proposition.

I couldn't remember the last time I'd had a winning session at slots, table games or much of anything else. I was even considering moving back to live poker because a.) I could win on that and b.) nothing else seemed to be working.  And I didn't understand it.  I had read gambling books, had studied strategy for my favorite games, but nothing was clicking.  I understood the concept of variance and why it was a bad thing but in order for their to be a low variant their also had to be a high one right?

During the down period of 2015 I had slowly started to add more video poker into my game in an attempt to decrease volatility. It wasn't working.  All I was doing was shoving $20 bills into machines and watching them bleed me dry. I had decided that the problem was I just wasn't playing enough, giving the machines enough time to hit a hot streak.

With that thought in mind I had planned for a big, big Vegas trip with the largest bank-roll I had ever brought, $2500 with the expressed intent of using it all for a huge Video Poker run.  The wife and I were ready, I had the bankroll, the plan, and (most importantly in my mind) I had studied strategy and practiced for hours on end.  I was ready to turn the luck streak around.

Spoiler alert: I got hammered.  In fact, the wife and I both had the worst run of variance that we'd had in our lives.  I lost all of my bank-roll except for $300. The wife lost everything she brought as well.

The trip started off fine. We took advantage of a free stay at Rio, if you gamble much at all at Caesar's properties it's very easy to get comped rooms there. This is due, in large part, to its being located "off-strip".  In fact, the location is a little bothersome and the hotel is dated, but it's not too bad a place to play.  Outside of rotten luck we had fun there.

But I could not win at anything.  Video Poker, despite my best efforts, was a total bust. I didn't get enough 4-of-a-kind hands to allow me to play for any length of time, and the entire experience was disheartening.  We came back from that Vegas trip discouraged, beaten up and very much lighter in the wallet.  We weren't planning on heading back to Vegas until October (this was August) but we seriously considered cancelling that trip altogether.

In September however we decided to take a trip to our "local" casino, L'Auberge du Lac in Lake Charles and get some gaming in there.  And that's when the roller coaster started moving in the "right" (for me, if not for the casino) direction.

That trip was the first one in which I didn't have a loss to show for it. It was a modest win, but a win. It didn't come close to turning it around for the year, but it was at least a sign of a little bit of progress in what had, to date, been a horrible year of gambling.

The October Vegas trip was back on, and it was where I got my first hand pay.  We were staying at Bally's (again, on a CET "free room" stay) and had decided to spend a day downtown. For lunch we went over to Grotto. (I don't care what people say, that's a solid Italian restaurant) We ate at the bar and then decided to "try out" the new Billion Dollar Buyer machines that Golden Nugget had just installed.

They were dollar machines at five dollars max spin.  My plan was to put $20 in one of the machines, and play until it was gone.  I was expecting 4-spins and done. The machines are a bank of 4 that are right across from the entrance to Grotto.  As we walked up I told my wife to "pick a machine" and we'd go from there. She selected the 2nd machine from the left.  I put in my twenty and started to spin away.

1st spin - Blank.
2nd spin - Won $10 dollars!  Yay! Two more spins.
3rd spin - Blank.
4th spin - Blank.
5th spin - Blank.
6th (and last) spin - I turned around to my wife and said "Oh well, at least we had one hit.  Here's it goes" and hit the button.

My first hand-pay ever.

Needless to say I was ecstatic.  We collected our cash, caught an Uber back to Bally's and locked the money up in the room safe.  Add to that several four-of-a-kinds and some straight flushes later, and this was our second winning trip in a row.  Yes, we were still down for the year but we had clawed some of it back.  Variance was finally turning our way.

After Vegas we shut it down for the year and took our losses that were partially offset by a big win.  This was the 2nd time that I had to declare gambling winnings on my tax form. Fortunately, unlike last time, I had good records of the prior year's losses so I could claim them as an offset.

2017 was on the horizon, and that's the subject of the last part of this series.

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