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Keeping Your Winnings

12 February 2010

By Bill Burton

Everybody loves to win. It gives us great pleasure when we beat the odds and are victorious. I think that most of us who visit the casino on a regular basis are optimists at heart. We know that the games favor the house yet we enjoy playing them and have hopes that we will be the one to overcome the odds. People win every day so our chances are just as good as the next person's to hit a jackpot and be a winner.

What you define as winning can be somewhat subjective based on your own background and current financial status. A $100 win might be considered big to someone who started with ten dollars playing a nickel slot machine but it would be a small win for someone wagering five or ten dollars a spin on a high limit slot machine. Your wins will fall into four categories that are based on your starting bankroll.

Here are some suggestions for each situation to ensure that you keep some of your winnings. Remember, it is easy to walk away when all your money is gone, but it is a lot harder to walk away when you win. What you do with the money you have won will ultimately decide whether you are a winner or loser.

Small Win

A small win is five times your starting bankroll or less. For example: if you started playing with $20 and you won $100 that would be five times your starting bankroll. The best way to ensure you will be a winner is to lock up your initial starting money along with a small profit. I suggest about ten percent of your win. You can then play with the remainder of your winnings. If you continue to win, add a percentage to your profits and keep playing.

Medium Win

A medium win will be five to ten times your starting bankroll. For example: If you started with $100 and won a $1,000 jackpot, that would be ten times your starting bankroll. With a medium sized jackpot I like using the one-third rule, which means that I will continue playing with a third of the money and I will put one third into my gambling account to use during my future casino visits. The remainder of the money I spend on something special that I will enjoy that is not gambling related. This might be a nice dinner at a gourmet restaurant or some new electronic gadget I had my eye on.

When you purchase a special item with your winnings, you have something tangible to show for it. Every time you use that item you will be reminded of your win and have a good feeling about it.

Large Win

A large win is any jackpot that is more than ten times your starting bankroll or a jackpot of more than $1,200, which requires the casino to give you a W-2G slip and report your winnings to the IRS. When you receive a W-2G you will have to pay taxes on your winnings when you file your tax return. If you hit a large jackpot I suggest using the "quarter rule."

You should immediately set aside 25 percent to cover the taxes so you won't get caught short come tax time. I would put 25 percent into my gambling account to use for future visits. As I do with a medium-sized jackpot, I would also use a quarter of the money to spend on something special that is not gambling related. The other quarter of the winnings can be used for gambling. However if it is a very large amount you should probably use less. If you hit a $10,000 jackpot you shouldn't plan to gamble away $2,500 for the rest of your day.

Life Changing

Any jackpot over $100,000 will probably be a life changing amount for most of us. One of the most sensible solutions for dealing with a big financial windfall is very simple yet practical. Put two thirds of the money you win into a bank CD or some other investment that you cannot touch for a full year.

The reason for this is that it will give you time to think about the money and formulate a plan for your financial future. You can still use the third of your winnings that you didn't lock away to celebrate and enjoy, but it will keep the rest of our money safe while you develop a plan to keep your new found financial freedom for the rest of your life.

Don't Get Greedy

Regardless of the size of jackpot you hit, you can only be a winner if you actually leave the casino with more money than you started with. Hitting a jackpot and gambling back all of the money you won makes you a loser.

The biggest downfall for anyone winning money is getting greedy. The person will start playing higher denomination machines or make foolish bets on the table games in hopes of winning more. Many players feel that once they have won money, they are playing with the casino's money as if it had less value because they won it. You have to remember that once you win money, it is YOUR money and you should be prudent as to how you spend it. Enjoy your win!

Until next time, remember:
"Luck comes and goes...Knowledge stays forever!

Bill Burton
Bill Burton is a gambling expert and best-selling author of Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold'em and 1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets. He is the former Casino Gambling columnist for

Burton's Texas Holdem book was published in 2002 long before the game became a national phenomenon. The producers of Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown used his book during the first season to teach the game to the participants.

He writes for several national gaming magazines and newsletters. These publications include: Casino Player, Strictly Slots, The Southern California Gaming Guide, Midwest Gaming and Travel magazine, Southern Gaming and Destinations magazine, Midwest Player and Blackjack Insider.

Burton is an instructor for the Golden Touch Craps dice control seminars teaching players how to gain the advantage in craps. He is an expert at all casino games and can teach players how to play any casino game as well as offering them advice to get the most out of their casino visits.

Bill Burton Websites:

Books by Bill Burton:

1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets

> More Books By Bill Burton