I really do try to be an Advantage Player, but the Degenerate within, has more power than I’d like it to. In order to validate the Advantage player, while taming the Degenerate, I keep a Gambling Log.
Technically, one should keep a gambling log to provide proof of win/loss to the IRS. Gambling winnings are reported as income but gambling losses can only be deducted if you itemize your deductions and then, only up to the amount of your wins and a record of your wins and losses is required to do this. Some may poo poo this and just add up their W-2G’s (a form you receive from the casino if you win $1,200 or more from bingo or slot machines or $1,500 from keno) and use their Win/Loss Statements from the casinos they gambled at for their losses, but you need more than that if you are audited.
Compliance and Clarity
I keep a Gambling Log to comply with IRS rules, but the main purpose for me is to see where I am, in the light of day. Did I have an advantage while playing? Did I stay within my session bankroll or did I get carried away (ATM!) How lucky or unlucky was I really? Did I win on a bad game or hit a jackpot at a higher or lower denomination than most of what I was playing? How is the year going? Can I afford to try to win back my losses or am I doing so well that I should lock that win in?
I also find it useful to look back on previous years to determine if what I am doing is really worth it. Am I a lifetime winner, in a losing year? I have to assess if I want to continue bad enough to risk becoming a lifetime loser. Does the fun merit it?
Finally, am I getting enough from the casinos to justify the risk? Am I getting the perks I feel my play deserves? If not, should I change my strategy? Should I possibly even, cut back?
My log keeps me on the straight and narrow, because it allows me to adjust my behavior when the Degenerate has been on a rampage, and hang in there when I’ve been an Advantage Player, but variance is just not going my way for the time being.