Frank Scoblete on Bankroll Management – Part 2

This is the 2nd post in a series I’m writing about the bankroll management guidelines proposed by Frank Scoblete in his book Guerrilla Gambling. I’ve found that much of his advice is interesting and entertaining, but from a practical perspective, it lacks any real teeth.

In the first post, I covered his advice as it related to blackjack, craps, poker, and pai gow poker. In this post, I’ll cover some more of his craps bankroll management advice, as well as his tips related to roulette and video poker.

Finally, he has some overall suggestions for a trip to the casino that we’ll also take a look at.

He advises the following:

“You will only go up on two Don’t Come numbers. One unit each. Thus, you will be risking two units maximum per shooter. Have 50 units per session. Six hundred units as a total bankroll.”

I’m not entirely sure I understand what any of this will accomplish, other than making sure you stay in the game for a while before losing all your money.

The don’t pass and don’t come bets offer a lower house edge than pass or come, but not by much, really. Any game with a house edge requires an infinite bankroll to stay in action forever.

These arbitrary bankroll guidelines are as good as any other, but no better.

Roulette Advice for “Big Number” Players

Scoblete defines a big number in roulette as any number that has hit more frequently than its probability suggests it should. Since there are 38 numbers on a roulette wheel, any number that hits more than once in 38 spins becomes a big number.

The suggestion is that you bet on these big numbers because the wheel might be skewed in those numbers’ favor. Of course, random chance and variation might also cause the same number to come up more often than it should in the short run. That’s the nature of the short run and the long run in probability.

Here’s Scoblete’s specific advice for being a big number roulette player:

  • Watch at least 10 spins of the wheel before betting anything.
  • Any numbers that get repeated during those 10 spins should be bet on.
  • You bet on all the big numbers.
  • As the number of spins increases and changes, the big numbers also change.
  • You ONLY bet the number (or numbers) that have hit the most number of times.

If 3 numbers have hit twice in 38 spins or less, then all 3 of those numbers are tied for status as the big number. You should bet on each of them.

If one number hits a 3rd time, it becomes the new big number, and that’s the ONLY number you should bet on.

Scoblete also suggests that you only play for 38 spins and quit. If you’re up enough after that where you can afford to bet 38 more spins, you can stay and play some more. But if you’re down, even a little bit, Scoblete wants you to walk away.

He also points out that many casinos use electronic scoreboards which list the numbers that have hit recently. The application here is obvious.

Scoblete claims that the big number strategy capitalizes on the short term fluctuations in probability. This is impossible to do in real life, though, because those fluctuations are literally only visible in retrospect. This strategy would make more sense if it were presented as a means of possibly getting money down on a biased wheel.

Of course, later in the book, that is what he claims. It’s just that he claims 2 different things in 2 different sections of the book.

He suggests that you should have a maximum of 3 or 4 big numbers working at any time. He suggests between 76 and 114 units for a single roulette session. He also suggests having 1200 units as your total bankroll.

Anyway, there’s no real way to beat roulette, so in real life, your bankroll strategy doesn’t matter.

The Captain’s Best Buys in Craps

He suggests a craps strategy for high rollers where you bet on the following:

  1. Buy 4
  2. Buy 5
  3. Buy 9
  4. Buy 10
  5. Place 6
  6. Place 8

The idea is to bet $10 on each of them–$9 plus a $1 commission on each number. He also wants you to bet $42 on the place 6 and place 8 bets. He suggests that you need a $20,000 bankroll for this, which should be subdivided into 10 session bankrolls of $2000 each.

There’s no advantage to playing this way, although the house edge on these bets is better than on some other bets. They’re still a far cry from the best bets on the table, which are really what you should stick to.

Other than how long you’re able to play, your bankroll in craps is still irrelevant. It’s a negative expectation game, and if you play long enough, you’ll lose all your money.

Video Poker Bankroll Requirements

Finally, he suggests that you only play full pay video poker machines. He recommends having a minimum of $12,000 in your video poker bankroll, but he makes no mention of what limits that bankroll is good for.

Frank does point out that you can expect to lose and lose until you eventually hit the royal flush, which is pretty much how video poker works, all right.

Frank Scoblete’s Final Guerrilla Bankroll Advice

Scoblete suggests that a true “guerrilla gambler” is going to hop from one game to another and never stay long at any single one. Your goal is to hit and run with the money at each game. He also suggests weighting your bankroll toward games where you have a positive expectation.

Since the only games in the casino with a positive expectation are blackjack (if you’re counting cards) and video poker (rare pay tables only), “weighting” your bankroll seems useless. Your goal if you care about expectation should be to only play games where you have a positive expectation.

Nonetheless, he offers a formula for how to divide 1000 units at a casino:

  • 800 units on blackjack
  • 130 units on craps
  • 10 units on roulette
  • 10 units on baccarat
  • 40 units on poker
  • 1 unit on video poker
  • 9 units on sports betting

He also offers some guidance for how much action you can expect on a bankroll divided this way:

  • 4 hours a day on blackjack
  • 2 hours a day on craps
  • 1 hour divided among the other games

He claims that this division makes him profitable, but I’m skeptical. His advice is so full of erroneous math and fuzzy thinking that it’s hard to imagine that Scoblete is an advantage gambler.

He’s an entertaining writer, and he’s probably a nice guy, but based on the advice he gives, I’d be really surprised if he were a long term winner at the casinos.

I bet he has a good time, though.

Conclusion

Guerrilla Gambling is an entertaining enough book for the aspiring casino gambler, but it’s definitely outdated at this point. Also, the advice on strategy mostly combines myths related to money management that don’t have any bearing on your probability of winning.

Scoblete offers lots of advice aimed at counting cards in blackjack, but I think a lot of his advice flies in the face of established truths in that niche. His advice for the games where the house has an edge is mostly just silly.

The most interesting advice he has involves being the oddsman at the craps table, but even that only gets you break even odds.

His silliest advice seems to be his roulette strategy, which is justified in 2 different lines of thought in 2 different sections of the book.

You might have some fun playing with Scoblete’s bankroll management guidelines, but they won’t help you win more often through anything other than sheer luck.

Michael Stevens: Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016.