I’ve been a member of the same fantasy football league for 30 years. Last weekend we held our annual rookie draft. The location for the draft moves each year, and this year we held it at Jackpot Junction, a casino hotel (with a terrific golf course) located in central Minnesota.
The only time I visit casinos is when our draft is held at one. I have nothing against casinos, except the smell of cigarette smoke.
Anyway, when our draft is held at a casino, our custom is to find an almost-empty blackjack table and take all of the open chairs. Then we spend the evening playing the game and enjoying each other’s company, which is a treat, because we don’t see other very often anymore.
My goal at the blackjack table is to stay in the game for as long as possible. I start with a small bankroll (it was $25 on Saturday) and I quit when the money is gone.
In the past I’ve broken even or made a few bucks, but Saturday night I tripled my stake. Sweet! On Monday morning one of the owners sent me an email: “How do you stay in the game for so long on $25?”
How I Stay In the Game
This is how I do it (your mileage may vary):
I seek knowledgeable advice. I know the basics of blackjack, but I’m definitely a novice. So before I go down to the casino I get a 5-minute tutorial from my friend Ahhhs, who majored in math and works as a computer programmer. Ahhhs knows blackjack odds very well, so I sit next to him at the table ask his advice when I face a difficult decision. For example, “Should I hit my 12 against the dealer’s 2?” “Should I split these 9’s against the dealer’s 7?” “Should I double-down on my 9 against the dealer’s 7?”
I make small bets. I prefer $2 tables, but Saturday we were at a $5-minimum table, so almost all of my bets were $5.
I play “by the book.” The odds of winning at blackjack are pretty decent, if you always make the mathematically correct play. If you take risks in an attempt to win a lot of money quickly, however, it’s likely you’ll go to bed early.
When you play by the book, you remove most of the emotion. You understand there are no guarantees — your 20 can still lose the hand, even when the dealer is showing a 6. But you don’t get flustered when that happens, because you’re going to win some hands when the odds are against you.
I try not to flip-flop. If your strategy is to “hit” at 16, then hit at 16. Don’t hit one time and “hold” the next.
I have an exit strategy. My plan for Saturday night (if I was winning) was: if I double my money ($50), then I’ll set aside the original stake and play only with the money I won. My plan (if I was losing) was to quit at $0 and not borrow any cash or go to the ATM.
I count my money. I disagree with Kenny Rogers on this one; I’m always counting my money.
A Bigger Gamble
Blackjack is a gamble, but solopreneurship is a gamble too, no doubt about it.
(Ponder this for a while: the odds of making a living at blackjack are better than making it as a solopreneur.)
I think the rules I used at the blackjack table hold a bit of value for a solo business: seek expert advice, make small bets, play by the book, don’t flip-flop, have an exit strategy.
If only it was that easy!
The trick is translating the rules to solopreneurship: Who’s really an expert? What’s a small bet? Which “book” should I follow?
Let me know when you’ve found answers to those questions. 😉