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Half a Banana  
BY:  Michael Vernon

It is truly wonderful that we are all so different. That, which makes us unique, defines who we are and contributes to the palette of life.  
 
I have long said, that the person who gets out of bed, goes to work, and does the daily routine of life, is the same person that you take to the gaming table. All your strengths and all of your weaknesses will make their appearance, especially in the heat of a game. If controlling your temper is a problem for you in day-to-day life, your temper problem will, no doubt, make its appearance in a game. If you are afraid of risk, likely your game will be too tight and even when you are experiencing a good run, you will miss out on the profit. If you lack discipline in your life, you will be short on discipline in the game.  
 
I have taught a number of people how to play and win. The quick studies were the ones who came to me without prior gambling baggage or bad habits. I am never surprised by the strategies or methods of play to which the students subscribe to. They love to explain their game to me in excitement, even though, by their own admission, it seldom has resulted in success. So, why do they cling to the system? It is simple really. Everyone has to have a system of play. The catch is the player holds dear to their belief, though they usually never really examine the system to see if there is any merit for the system. The tendency is to cling to a “belief” rather than to notice if the method of play actually works.  
 
Recently my wife and I moved house and life to another town and state to care for my ailing mother. Each morning, my mother cuts a banana in half and has it with her breakfast. She always tries to get my wife or me to eat the other half. It has nothing to do with the size of the banana, big or small, she will only have half. One day, my wife asked my mother why she couldn’t seem to eat a whole banana. My mother replied, “When my husband was alive, we would share a banana.” My father passed away nearly ten years ago but my mother continues with the ritual of eating only a half banana. She does not want the banana wasted, but she will never eat a whole banana.  
 
During a lesson, I asked a student a few questions so I could better understand their game. One thing that he told me was he buys in for $300 and his stop loss is $500. Whoa! Back up the wagon. How can a person have a stop loss greater than their buy-in? A poker buddy of mine calls it “gardening”… digging in your pocket.  
 
This individual was a craps player that made a $10 line bet with $20-25 odds and placed the 6/8 for $12 each. With three bets, this player would have $54 of his $300 buy-in in action. A $300 buy-in is enough to make the set-up only five times. (I recommend a minimum of ten set-ups)  
 
Not to criticize this student, but to show an example of how we get an idea in our head, right or wrong, and ride with it to the bank or bankruptcy. Buy-in for $300 and then planning to pull out $200 more, if needed, was what this player understood as money management.  
 
To further explain my example, I will say this this; as a player, you must have sufficient funding for each bet to see you through the swings in a game. Otherwise, you may find yourself going from game to game under bankroll, down and out. “How come I keep losing?” Well, from the above example, the player is betting too aggressive for the bankroll allowed. In a tough game, this player will run out of money in a shorter time and have to leave. They move on to another table under bankrolled and repeat the same scenario. I am not saying that, had the player been at the table longer then they would have won, I am saying that gaming is about swings and trends. If you walk into a cold trending table you will lose. If you come into a game that is on the up swing, but you are under bankrolled, you may still lose. Money management is about having enough money to support your method of play. It is about giving your cold hard cash the chance at opportunity and positioning yourself in a game worthy of investment long enough to hit a return.  
 
We all have our stories about what we believe to work, to win, or give us an advantage. My point is that these stories need to be carefully examined. A pleasurable habit is not always a winning strategy. Nostalgia is great but remember that it is a yearning for the past, not an honest look at the situation now. Take time to reflect on your game. Write some things down and review them for validity. Scrutinize your play and look for any “half banana” routines in your game. In a zero sum game, with odds against the player to win, it is all the little things that add up to providing you with an edge. Being an advantage player means taking advantage of every piece of the game that makes you a stronger player. Eliminating the weak links in your “chain” also makes your game stronger.  
 
Michael Vernon  
Copyright © 2006 Michael Vernon  
www.dicebusters.com  
www.playing4keeps.com  

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