Playing on a small bankroll: How to start with $10k and barely thrive
It's possible, but you'll have to save, play very wisely, and even then there's a good chance you'll end up broke. With 10k, if you can still find $5 tables, you can do the following:
1. If you use hi-lo, full indices, playing a 0.8 cut double-deck game (0.40, H17 DAS), play-all, with three other people and playing two hands at + counts, spreading from 1x5 to 2x50, you'll have a Risk of Ruin (RoR) of 0.5%, so not bad. The win rate will be $21.29/hr, SCORE = 62, N0 = 16k. However, your actual RoR will be greater, since you'll have expenses that are coming out of your bankroll. However, wonging out on bad counts should counterbalance that.
2. If you use hi-lo on a six deck, same rules as above, except, cut = 1.5, spreading 1x5 to 2x60, and wonging out on negative hands, spreading to two hands at TC >= +1, you'll make only $11.68/hr (same 0.5% RoR), obviously not enough to live on.
3. If you want to risk it a little, and if the situation is great, you could play for a 5% RoR and find a better game like S17, 1.0 cut, and you'll quadruple your take: $38.27/hr, RoR 4.9%, SCORE = 82. Yes, this is possible.
4. If you play at odd hours, you'll do just great, since you'll play with fewer players. The numbers above can surpass $100/hr if you play heads-up. With double deck, once the cut gets to 0.7, you can make $120/hr, with a RoR of 5.1% (SCORE = 102), spreading one hand of $5 to one hand of (yikes) $240.
5. Get rooms comped. This is harder to do at that betting level, but if you're playing at a 5% RoR, the green chip play will make it possible at many casinos.
6. Gasoline will likely not get comped. Hey, no one ever said making a living on a shoestring budget is gonna be easy. So you'll need a cheap car. It should get over 25 miles per gallon on the highway, preferably over 30 mpg. It has to be cheap and easy to fix. At the absolute minimum, it should have cruise control for long trips, and air conditioning. It has to be reliable.
If you live near Las Vegas, you won't have to worry about driving as much, since your action, even with almost no cover, will go unnoticed for a long time. If you don't currently have a car as listed above, and you're not in Las Vegas or Reno, you might get away with buying a very cheap new car, depending on credit of course. This is especially important if you'll be doing a lot of driving. With semi-decent credit you can buy a car for zero down and $300/mo for five years. That $300 per month will get you 35 mpg highway, and very few repair costs.
7. You'll need to hustle the pit crew for meal comps. You can save lots, lots of money by not eating often, maybe just once or twice a day, at casino buffets. When you go there, make sure you eat healthily. Although it is not within the scope of this post, briefly, don't forget to eat a few fruits, vegetables, nuts and dairy/eggs/lean meats every day. Also, don't drink sweets, even artificially sweetened sweets.
8. Hustle toiletries from hotels and motels, who will often provide toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc., free of charge.
9. You'll have to do lots of driving to lots of places, so having good Internet access is convenient, especially for checking the latest CBJN on the first of each month. But access is not absolutely essential since most hotels have a computer area where you can get online for free or using comp dollars.
10. Coupons. Get matchplay coupons and other benefits, including cash back for playing. These can amount to a lot of money in the long run and will decrease your RoR.
In summary, starting out at advantage play with a very small bankroll is not for the faint of heart or the risk-averse, but given the right circumstances, it can be done.
Originally published on bj21.com Green Chip, edited for this format.