Wednesday, September 10, 2014

RV crap shoot

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
Before we retired, my wife was a bean counter for one of the largest accounting firms in the U.S. When it comes to numbers she is a bit fanatic. Now that we are traveling most of the year in our motorhome, she categorizes all of our expenditures and keeps constant track of how much we spend. That is all well and good, but one of these categories drives me nuts. She is always trying to keep camping expense in a profit position. The way she plans on doing this involves casino camping a few times each month. I know as an accountant she should understand odds more than most people, but she loves playing roulette. It is hard for me to argue with her on this point because at this time we are ahead. Applying her roulette winnings to the camping expense column we have an average camping cost of less than two dollars a night so far this year. My point is that it can go the other way at any time. She insists she has a system that will cap our losses. How can I convince her that in the end, the house always wins?
--Chipping away at expenses in Laughlin

Dear Laugh:
Let’s break this down a bit. The house does not always win. There are numerous casinos that offer overnight parking, many with free hookups. Most are more quiet than Walmart, have security, and welcome travelers. It’s a win-win situation as long as you don’t go inside. Another way to look at it is entertainment. If you go inside and set your gambling limit at your camping savings, you break even. You don’t explain your wife’s plan on capping her losses; I assume it is similar to my point of breaking even.

Casinos are popping up everywhere. There are several websites that offer updated information on those that extend the welcome mat to those looking for overnight parking. They each have a different set of rules. Some expect you to come in and sign up for a Player’s Club Card, but most just direct you to an RV parking area. In your wife’s defense, roulette seems to be the best odds of any gaming. If she just plays black and red she would have just less than a 50-50 chance. I don’t think the odds get any better than that; it’s all downhill from there.

I agree with you in the fact that eventually the house always wins, because most people don’t know when to fold’em, know when to walk away, or know when to run. However, I get the impression your wife has her own little system. It sounds like she enjoys playing, enjoys calculating her wins and losses against her camping expenses, and seems to think she will cap her losses if camping gets to be more expensive spinning the wheel than not. I have termed trying to find a campground opening in the reservation system, “Campground Bingo.” This puts a new spin on that term.

I wouldn’t worry too much about your wife’s gambling habit unless she insists on casino camping every night, or gets addicted to wheeling and dealing so much she forgets about her cap system. There is one other downside. When she comes back to the RV she will smell like smoke and it isn’t from a campfire.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink


Anonymous said...

Lucky man.

PapPappy said...

What works for me, is to have a set amount of money in my right pocket...that was what I would gamble with....if I won, the winnings went into my left pocket, and would stay there for the rest of the night. If I lost, well, I'd run out of money in my right pocket, and then I'd leave the casino. I would typically end up with more than I had starting, though sometimes, I'd have both pockets empty....and would write it off as "entertainment", after all, while you mentioned that the house doesn't always win, they seldom lose either!

If this is what the wife is doing, the husband shouldn't worry...though I don't understand why she hasn't explained to him what her "plan" is...even in basic terms, to ease his worry.

$2/night is fantastic, and even if they have no luck for awhile, they are still ahead of the game.

Anonymous said...

Rent the movie, "Lost in America". Watch it together for a humorous view of a couple who decide to sell everything, buy an RV, and decide to stop at a casino on their first night on the road.

Anonymous said...

Actually roulette is not a great odds game. The house has a 5.26 percent advantage on each spin of the wheel. Black Jack has a "vig" of between .2 and 2% depending on the number of decks, count, house rules and player skill. Craps is 1.41% on the pass and don't pass lines. Prop bets are worse. Taking and laying odds on the pass line reduces the edge to .86%. Over the long haul the casino always wins.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree that the house does, in fact, always win, unless one is a skilled advantage player. I am unaware of any legal means of beating roulette. (There are a number of illegal means and I am sure your wife would not want to pay the penalty for getting caught at that. It is a high advantage game for the casino. It really has nothing to do with whether you know when to walk away. You can win in the short run but will always lose int he long run. It is a pure mathematical fact that the casino only runs games in which it will win your money. (Or can take a percentage of your money when you play against others, as in poker.) There are a number of ways of legally decreasing the house's advantage in some games, like blackjack, but games in which this can make a big difference are becoming harder and harder to find.