6 Money Management Tips for Casino Gamblers
One of the reasons the casino business is so profitable is because they’re experts at separating you from your money. They use multiple practical and subtle strategies for this purpose. That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun in the casino, but it does make your money management strategy more important than anything else.
Some of the things casinos do to separate you from your money include:
- Providing you with free drinks.
- Exchanging your cash for chips.
- Designing the floor plan to force you to walk through the gambling area.
- Eliminating clocks.
Drunk people are less inhibited and make poorer decisions. The free drinks probably aren’t worth it.
There’s a difference in putting actual money down for a bet and putting clay chips down for a bet. You probably know it’s the same thing, but psychologically, there’s a big difference.
Want to go to a restaurant? You must walk through the casino. Want to go to the gift shop? You must walk through the casino. Want to get to your room? You must walk through the casino.
Since there are no clocks in the casino, you probably lose track of time. And the #1 measure of how much money a casino makes from a player is the amount of time he spends playing the games.
Want to be a winner?
Here are the money management tips you need to get past the casino’s expertise:
Money Management Tip #1 – Understand that You’re Playing with Your Money
The first step is to understand that this is real money at stake. Also, every dollar you bet is your money—at least until you lose that bet. And every bet in the casino is made at a mathematical disadvantage.
Some people use gambling systems that involve raising the size of your bets after a win or two. They might involve getting ahead by a certain amount and squirreling away an amount equal to your starting bankroll. You’re then suppose to keep playing “with the casino’s money” until you achieve your win goal for the session.
This sounds good in theory, but it ignores the simple fact that once you’ve won this money, it isn’t the casino’s money any more.
It’s your money.
And when you place a bet on a casino game, you’re risking that money at a mathematical disadvantage. In all but the rarest cases, that mathematical edge for the casino is impossible to overcome in the long run.
What does this mean in terms of your goals as a casino gambler?
- Your focus must be on the short term. Since it’s impossible win in the long run, your focus must be on winning in the short term. The Martingale System, for example, works fine for improving your probability of winning—but only in the short term. It’s also a great way to have occasional huge losing sessions.
- Your goal must change from winning money in the long run to having as much fun as possible. A secondary goal related to this is to make your bankroll last as long as it possibly can.
If you’re looking for a money management guide that tells you to step away from a casino game once you’ve won X amount or once you’ve lost Y amount, you won’t find it here.
Quit when you’re not having fun anymore.
Money Management Tip #2 – How to Bet on Casino Games
You have two ways you can bet on casino games, and they’re based on how much you bet:
- Flat betting is when you bet the same amount every time. If your goal is to lose as little as possible, this is probably the best way to bet on casino games. You’ll do better by betting less on each outcome rather than betting more on each outcome.
- Progressive betting is when you raise the size of your bets based on whether you’re winning or losing. If your goal is to have the best chance of winning a small amount of money, increase the size of your bets after losses. Once you’ve recouped your losses, go back to your original betting size. On the other hand, if your goal is to have a big win, increase the size of your bets after winning until you’ve reached a win goal that satisfies you. This increases your probability of having a big win, but you’ll be more likely to have a lot of losing sessions this way.
- Random betting is when you raise and lower the size of your bets based on hunches and your gut feeling. Some people just enjoy the adrenaline rush provided by gambling. Some people like confirmation that they’re going to win when they feel luck. There’s nothing at all wrong with raising and lowering the sizes of your bets at random.
Money Management Tip #3 – How to Mitigate the Effects of Compulsions
Some people have trouble managing their impulses. Sometimes these people are said to have compulsions—they feel compelled to do something. In serious cases, absolute abstinence from that compulsion is the only solution.
For many gambling addicts, the only sensible solution to this problem is to never place a bet on a casino game again.
If you don’t think you’re a gambling addict, but if sometimes you wish you hadn’t lose so much money at the casino, you might need a strategy to manage your own behavior.
For people like this, quitting just because you’re no longer having fun is too vague a tip to be of any use. For them, I offer this advice:
For example, you might decide you’re only willing to lose $300 during a gambling session, and you might only be willing to lose $1500 total for your entire vacation.
But those amounts are for you to decide, not me.
If you’re a low roller, $30 per session and $150 per trip might be more appropriate. If you’re wealthy, you might be willing to lose $3000 or $30,000 per session, or $15,000 or $150,000 per trip.
No matter what loss limits you set for yourself, understand that the loss limit has no effect on the house’s innate mathematical edge. You’re still playing against the math in the long run. Stopping and starting doesn’t “reboot” the house edge.
Sure, casinos don’t have clocks, but everyone I know has a smart phone now. And those have clocks with alarms on them. Commit to spending no more than 2 or 3 hours at the table per session. Commit to not spending more than 8 or 9 hours per day playing.
The longer you gamble, the more tired you get. As you grow weary, your decision-making abilities start to erode. It’s best to avoid that.
Money Management Tip #4 – Watch Yourself Closely for Signs of Addiction or Compulsive Gambling
Casino gambling games are designed to be addictive—especially slot machines. You’re not immune to compulsions or addictions just because you know they’re possible. So you must be vigilant about your own ability to manage your behavior.
You can find all kinds of crazy stories about compulsive gambling on the internet in forums and blog posts. No one is immune. In fact, it seems like intelligent and successful people are more likely to become gambling addicts than others.
Want to feel humiliated?
Gamble until you’ve ruined your life. That feeling of humiliation is one of the most common elements of such stories on the web. (And I’ve read lots of them.)
No one becomes a gambling addict overnight, either. Their gambling always starts as an innocent and seemingly-harmless pastime. In fact, because of short term variance, some people start off on a winning streak.
The human mind is such that it wants to believe, and false optimism seems like reality when you’re a few grand ahead after 3 or 4 road trips to the Winstar Casino in Oklahoma (or the nearest local casino).
In fact, if I had a dollar for every casino gambler who told me that they are breaking about even at the slot machines in Oklahoma, I’d no longer have to write blog posts about gambling. But I know they’re probably not breaking even at all. Confirmation bias ensures that they think they’re winning when they’re not.
Once the compulsion takes hold, though, the joy in your gambling activity disappears. You become a zombie-like slave to the betting. This is especially common among slot machine players. And the sights, sounds, and payout frequency on those machines are all cleverly designed to trigger this kind of thinking and behavior.
People who gamble like this love to chase their losses–even when those losses are insignificant.
They’re also never satisfied with the size of their winnings.
In other words, they just can’t quit, regardless of their wins or losses.
And the amount of time they spend on their “hobby” increases gradually until gambling dominates their lives.
If some of this sounds familiar, you can take some steps to stop—especially if you’re gambling regularly at online casinos. Contact their customer service team, tell them you’re a gambling addict, and ask them to no longer allow you to play from your account.
Legitimate online casinos will be happy to comply with such requests.
But not all internet casinos are compliant with such requests.
And you should seek therapy and maybe a support group. Dealing with an addiction is easier when you get as much support from experts as you can.
Even if you think you’ve ruined your entire life by gambling, don’t give up. Success at recovering from a gambling addiction is possible, but it takes time. Yes, you’re responsible for your behavior.
But don’t make the mistake of doing something drastic over your mistakes.
Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get on with your life.
Money Management Tip #5 – Consider Games with a Low House Edge or Games Where You Can Actually Get an Edge
With most casino games, like slot machines or roulette, it’s impossible to get a mathematical edge over the house. If you don’t understand how that math works, let me give you a quick example:
You’re playing roulette, and it seems like you have a 50/50 chance of winning even money on a red or black bet. That’s deceptive, though.
Yes, there are just as many red numbers on a roulette wheel as there are black numbers.
But a roulette wheel also has one or two green numbers.
An American roulette game has 38 numbers on the wheel. 18 of them are red, 18 are black, and 2 are green.
This means your bet on red or black will only win 47.37% of the time.
If you had a 50% chance of winning even money, over time, you’d break even.
But if you’re losing 52.63% of the time and only winning 47.37% of the time, you’re eventually going to go broke.
The house edge measures the average amount of each bet that you’ll eventually lose over time if you play long enough. On an American roulette wheel, that amount is 5.26%.
Every time you bet $100 on the roulette wheel, the casino expects to win $5.26.
But this is a long term average, and in the short run, anything can happen.
The higher the house edge is, the worse your odds of winning.
One trick to managing your money is to focus on games with a low house edge. And in some games, you can flip the edge around so that it’s in your favor, not the casino’s.
In blackjack, you can get an edge by counting cards. You can find posts about how that works elsewhere on this blog. In a nutshell, card counting works because you bet more when the deck has more 10s and aces in it than usual.
In video poker, you combine your knowledge of the best pay tables with optimal playing strategy and the rewards program at the casino to get the payback percentage for the game over 100%. You can read more about how to do that here on this blog, too.
Some writers and experts are proponents of clocking roulette wheels. I think this is possible but unlikely.
Other writers and experts believe in dice control during the game of craps. I think this is likelier than clocking a roulette wheel, but I’m not convinced.
Money Management Tip #6 – Never Play with Money You Need for Anything Else
This advice is so obvious that I almost forgot to include it in this post, but when you’re managing your gambling money, the most important thing is to never play with money you can’t afford to lose.
Have you paid the rent?
Are all the utilities paid?
Is your child support caught up?
Do you have plenty of groceries?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, take care of those bills first. If there’s money left over for entertainment, you can risk it gambling.
You can never count on winning, even if you’re an advantage gambler. In the short run, anything can happen. Even professional caliber poker players and sports bettors sometimes hit a losing streak.
Serious gamblers keep their gambling bankroll separate from the funds they use to live.
Money management tips for casino gamblers are often common sense, but it’s also easy to underestimate the power of the casino’s business model.
It’s also possible that if you’re a complete neophyte to gambling in a casino that you’ll need some help figuring out how all this works. This post is just a starting point.
From here, you’ll want to learn which games have the lowest house edge, which games offer high or low volatility, and what your specific goals for casino gambling are.
You’ll find a wealth of blog posts on this site providing additional specific tips for doing that.