How to Use Your Journal and Benefit
Begin now and
then start at the New Year. Keep an annual journal, January though
Have one journal
for each game you play, craps, blackjack, poker and so on.
journal with you when you play, fresh memory means more accurate
session, no matter how short, win or lose, and even if you don’t play or
just watch a game.
Be honest with
yourself. It will be to your advantage.
Make it your
secret discipline to keep a journal.
Keeping Your Journal:
The purpose of a journal is to provide you with important honest
information about your game. It will help you improve your game in many
ways. It will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. Your
journal shows you how you are doing financially with wins, losses and with
your year to date total.
When recording a session, you may have a short entry or you may use
several pages. It is up to you to record what you feel are the important
and necessary pieces of information.
Here are a few things to definitely keep track of:
The game played
Time of day
Length of session
Minimum bet -unit
Year to day total $
How you rolled
Sets if any
How you felt
What did not work
This is a required discipline for the player serious about improving their
game. It is easy to keep a running count of profit and loss from each
game. This provides you with an accurate account of where you stand for
the year. It is important that you know if you are up or down for the
Keeping a record is essential for tax purposes. Gambling losses are tax
deductible against gambling profits. If you are going to itemize gambling
income, you must be able to defend losses with a record. The casino is not
going to write you a receipt for your losses when you cash out. It is up
to you to be able to document your gambling history.
The most important reason to document your playing time is for a
reference. A journal can be a powerful resource to help you to identify
strength and weakness in your game. If you find yourself in a slump, the
first thing to do is refer to your journal. Read backward until you find a
pattern or the place where your game started to break down.
A player can review their journal, look at the losing sessions, and
usually identify essential elements that lead to the slump. When a player
is experiencing an unsuccessful streak some typical telltale signs could
be playing too long, chasing a loss, engaging in poor playing conditions,
making mistakes, playing too tight, or playing too aggressive. This
information should show up in the journal.
too long is playing in a game that is going nowhere and ignoring the signs
that the game has stalled. A game that goes back and forth - win one, lose
one, and push - is a dead game. After an hour and half to two hours, the
game turns cold and, in less than fifteen minutes, the entire betting
stake can be lost. Better to leave early, cut losses and find another
game. Playing too long tends to lull a player into a trance-like state, as
the player believes that the game is bound to turn around and become
Playing carelessly usually shows a lack of discipline. The player enters a
game that they have no business playing. It often is a matter of ego or
emotion that causes a player to think they are invincible and that they
can walk up to any table and make it pay. Being too eager to play, and
getting into bad games, is an unsuccessful habit for both experienced and
novice players. Getting into a game that you have not assessed for
positive playing conditions will usually cost you money. The idea of
playing anytime, on any table, is what built the “City of Dreams”. The
games are always available. You must take charge of your game by being
patient. You are a winner when you play at optimum times with optimum
conditions. Realize that you are a hunter, if you are going to “eat”, you
must hunt smart.
Here is a sample journal entry:
+ / -
YTD + $256
10/27/03, Mirage, Craps, 7:00am, $5 unit, $200 buy-in, played 1.5 hr., +28
units, 6-7 players – head down blinkers on kind of guys…fun to play with.
Steady game, back and forth, no one really doing much, mostly short hands,
1 or 2 points and quick outs, but treading water, (keeping even). I broke
the ice with a long three-point hand, my dice looked great from release to
landing. Felt good too! Setting for points with 3-V, 2-V and modified 3-V
for 5/9. Knocked down, a point of 6, 9 and 10… mostly all inside numbers.
Set for 7’s on the come out rolled two back to back on the come out, total
of five passes. Next shooter followed with a nice six-point hand, 6/8
progressions worked great. Then back to the earlier game with the other
players’ short hands. I didn’t wait for more, I colored up +28 units.
Never down more than 10 units, I felt fresh and rested, had fun, good
crew, hit a couple of hard-way tokes for the boys when I had the dice,
game moved along at a quick pace, no one playing the prop bets. No heat.
+140 YTD $396
journal may have shorter or longer notes. You may create your own “cues”,
but however you chose to do it, include enough information to remind you
of the session. The idea is to record information for your benefit, and
learn from it when you need a review. When first starting out with a
journal, more information is better while you get into the practice. You
will find your groove and the information most important to you.
How you can interpret information:
In the example, the player identifies that the dice game was worthy of
playing noting that he was not losing, but keeping even, (treading water).
There were 6-7 players, this indicates a smaller game with the dice coming
around for a dice influencer, more turns as the shooter. Note the shift in
the game when it broke away from one or two point hands to his hand with
three points, totaling five passes. Also, note that the seven-set was
working, drawing out two sevens in a row on a come out. Nice to have the
sevens appear at the right time. He is content with the way his dice are
laying down. Playing early morning, the player is fresh, rested, and
having fun with the other players. He indicates he is playing with a good
group, including the dealers. With the game not costing this player, he
was encouraged to continue, even though it was not producing much. Then
that moment of “right time” came along and they caught a nice little
burst. Seeing the game return to short hands, he made the wise decisions
to quit and take the profit. Not a bad move for a 45-minute game.
games are usually the result of catching a long craps hand. Play like the
“patient hunter”, waiting for your time to come. Sometimes you have to
play tight defense while waiting for your opportunity to come along. Learn
to recognize the difference between a game with promise and one that is
going nowhere. Record your sessions and you will document the signals and
start to discriminate between the two types of games. It will become
clearer to you when it is time to bail out, and you will recognize the
signs of a game worthy of your attention.
Keeping a journal and reviewing wins and losses can accurately paint the
picture of your playing habits. You can honestly evaluate your play,
recognizing those things that you are doing well, and the weaknesses that
need improvement. The rewards will be evident as you educate yourself with
the discipline of keeping a journal. $$$