Gambling advice to my Wife and my Daughter

What follows is a bit of advice I gave to my two most cherished ladies as they embarked recently on a Mother’s Day cruise to Bermuda.


First of all, the slots will undoubtedly pay a lot less than they do in any casino town because there are no competing casinos on a cruise ship. On the other hand, Roulette is played exactly the same wherever it is played.

They are both lousy games, and you will most likely lose money if you play either one. But you’ll lose more than twice as much playing the slot machines as you will playing Roulette. Cruise ships slots pay back about 80% of the money you put into the slots.

Now suppose someone was to come up to you on the ship and offer to give you 80 cents for every dollar you had in your handbag? Would you do it? Why, then would you play slots? (Probably for the same reason you buy an occasional lottery ticket. You could get lucky.) But trust me . . . in the long run it ain’t going to happen.

Now let’s move over to the Roulette table.

The odds against you when you play Roulette are 5.26%, no matter how you play. So that same person who made you the 80 cents offer would now be offering you a bit less than 95 cents for your dollars.


Plus . . . if you play Roulette you will be involved in a human game, not a machine one. You will meet people as you play together at the same table and as you do you will become part of the “James Bond” casino experience. In the hype of a cruise line, you will be having fun.

There will probably be $1 Roulette tables on your cruise ship during the day. At night (especially on “formal” night) they may only have a $5 table.

Information time:

When you “buy in” to a Roulette table you put down your money and ask for the chip value you want to play. At a $1 minimum table, the lowest chip value will probably be 25 cents; at a $5 minimum table, the lowest chip value will probably be $1. You can buy in to the game with what gamblers call “paper” (dollars) or with “cash chips” you may already have from other gambling tables. Never “hand” either to the dealer . . . you must simply place your money on the table. You will be given a stack or more of distinctly colored chips, which have no value until you, cash them in. These chips are yours only and they make it possible for the dealer to know who is to be paid when a number hits.

The “table minimum” simply means that you must play a total of four 25 cent chips on a $1 table or five $1 chips on a $5 table, any way you want to, on every spin of the wheel. But even a $5 Roulette table is going to cost you less than the 25 cent slots do, because it’s a much slower game. Take time to check it out: If you put 3 quarters into a slot machine every time you play you will be wagering much more than the $5 it costs to play the much slower game of Roulette in the same time period.

Still feel uneasy about playing for $5?

Here’s how to go about it.

Marcelle plays only “RED” for $5
Nancy plays only “BLACK” for $5

One of you is going to win on each spin of the wheel unless ZERO or DOUBLE ZERO comes up, in which case you both lose. You will come out of the session with one of you ahead slightly more than the other will… and the “winner” buys the wine at dinner the next night. (By the way, don’t look for free cocktails on your cruise ship. They will cost you at least $9 apiece.)

You will have a lot of fun for relatively little money. You will, in effect, be playing against each other…not the casino.

But what if a green number does come up and you both lose?

You could hedge your even-money bets by chipping in $2.50 apiece and putting a $5 chip on the line dividing 0 and 00. If either hits you will be paid $85, less the $10 red/black bets, for a net of $75. Neat! Indeed, if this bet hits now and then you may very well walk away winners. With a bit of luck you could be big winners.

But no matter how you play the two of you will probably end up losing in the long run. Still you can play all night this way, have lots of fun, and end up losing less than the cost of a good dinner back home. Put another way, the amount you lose can be written off as the amount you would spend anywhere else having a fun time.

The best part about Roulette is that you don’t need any skill to play. If you had the skills to play BLACKJACK or CRAPS expertly I would send you there…since either one is much more in your favor than Roulette.

(You probably won’t find a Baccarat table on your ship, but if you do you will get much better odds if one of you plays “Banker” and the other plays “Player”. Don’t concern yourself with the mechanics of the game. Like Roulette Baccarat is a “no brainer” in all respects.)

But you must accept the fact that you will probably end up losing. If the gambling gods are with you (those 0/00 bets) it’s possible you might win a little . . . or even a lot. But the probability is that you will end up losing a little more than 5 cents out of every dollar you wager.

What the hell . . . you are going on a cruise and gambling is just one part of the fun. If you happen to lose $50 just ask yourself . . . “What kind of a good time can I buy, anywhere these days, for $50?” Add to that the possibility that the casino might give you that good time plus a little profit. When did you ever go to a dinner or show and end up with a chance to make a profit?

I strongly suggest you each establish a loss figure you are comfortable with for the entire cruise. Let’s say it’s $200. Divide that number by the number of gambling nights on the cruise, which will probably be no more than the first and 2nd nights coming and going. (On a Bermuda cruise it might only be the first and last nights at sea.) Do not play any more when you have hit that number. You are there to have fun, not to get bummed out.

And do agree to split your winnings/losses. That way you will be having a lot of fun, which is what you came for.

And you won’t be “gambling”.


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