Playing blackjack for a living is fun and rewarding, but don’t forget that being a professional player is a job just like any other. Every successful blackjack player keeps very detailed records on their playing sessions, and so should you. It is a simple thing to do. Once you have a system set up for keeping your records it only takes a moment or two to update them.
Why Keep Blackjack Records?
There are several important reasons why you should keep track of your wins and losses at the blackjack table.
First, you need an accurate record for tax purposes. Yes, you read that right. Did you think that playing blackjack for a living made you exempt from paying taxes? The truth is, in the United States the Internal Revenue Service recognizes gambling as a legitimate profession. It is the same in many other countries as well. By definition of the law you are a professional blackjack player if the majority of your income is derived from playing cards. This means that come the end of the year you must file a tax return and pay taxes on your winnings. If you don’t file you could end up getting into serious trouble.
Most players don’t think about filing taxes because they reason that no one knows how much they bet. This might be true for recreational players but it is false for professionals. The IRS is not stupid. For one thing, all transactions over a certain amount of money are reported. When you cash out a large sum of money there will be a paper trail. Also, how can you explain the purchase of that brand new Mustang when you have no income on file? Taxes are a fact of life, even for blackjack players. Trust us. You don’t want problems with the government.
Paying taxes on your blackjack income doesn’t have to be troublesome. Since you are a professional player you are also entitled to deduct your losses. You may also be able to deduct expenses, such as your gas to and from the casino and any meals you purchase. Please consult a tax professional regarding these matters. Counting Edge does not offer tax or legal advice beyond advising you to maintain your records.
A second reason you need to keep an accurate set of blackjack records is to mark your progress. Without records you have no way to analyze your game and see if you are winning or losing. When you have good records you can look at them and see if you are playing very well or very poorly. Records will help you to recognize a slide and tighten up your game.
How to Keep Blackjack Records
The easiest way to keep blackjack records is with computer software such as Excel. If you do not have access to this or similar software, buy yourself a spiral notebook. In either case you should create a table that looks something like the following:
This is a very simple example of what your personal blackjack records should look like and contains the basic information. At the minimum you should list the date, where you played and how long, and the amount of money you won or lost. It can also be helpful to make a note of how much you bought into the game for (the amount of your session bankroll) and also to jot down the names of pit bosses or other casino employees who could verify you were in the casino that day playing blackjack.
In the expenses section you will notice an entry for blackjack books. That’s right. You just might be able to deduct some of your book purchases as a professional expense! Always be sure to keep receipts for all of your expenses. If you are ever audited you will need to show proof of these expenses.
As you can see, setting up a record keeping system is very easy and you can update it in a matter of minutes. Take a moment right now to set up your blackjack record keeping system and know that doing this will prevent any potential trouble you might encounter as a successful professional blackjack player.
One final word should be said on record keeping. In this day and age the Android and iOS platforms are becoming increasing popular. It is very possible to find an app for your Android or iPhone that will track your sessions at the blackjack table. You can update your records very easily this way.