Every gambler has a bankroll. Some are larger than others and some can be replaced more easily than others. Even if you just gamble from time to time with the money in your pocket you have a bankroll.
If you want to play longer on your bankroll and have a better chance to win you can use different strategies to help you.
The 7 best techniques for managing your gambling bankroll on this page are designed to be easy to use and help you protect the money you’ve set aside for gambling.
1. Break into Segments
One of the easiest ways to manage your gambling bankroll is to break it into segments based on days or playing sessions.
If you take a trip to Las Vegas or another gambling destination and plan to gambles on four separate days you divide your bankroll into four parts. Or you can divide it into eight parts if you want to gamble in two different sessions per day.
Here’s an example:
You take a trip to Las Vegas and plan to play a session in the afternoon and a session each night for four days. Your total gambling bankroll is $1,000. You divide this by eight sessions and end up with $125 per session.
This means that you only take or use $125 for each playing session.
You stop playing as soon as you lose your entire bankroll that you have set aside for the current session or day. If you’re finished playing a session or day and still have money you can either divide it across the rest of your sessions or days or put it in your pocket to use for something else.
Here’s an extended example if you decide to spread what you have left after each session over the rest of your playing time.
You start the first session with $125 and finish the session with $35. You divide this by the seven remaining sessions and add $5 to each of your separate bankrolls. This makes your new session bankroll $130.
On your second session, you lose $130 and stop playing.
You hit a lucky streak on your third session and end with $300. You divide this over your last five sessions and add $60 per session. Your new session bankroll is $190.
On the fourth session, you lose $190 and stop playing.
The fifth session ends with $90 so you divide that over your last three sessions and have a new session bankroll of $220.
Your sixth session ends with $100 so you add $50 to each of the last two sessions and have $270 for each.
You win a little on the seventh session and end up with $300. Now you have $570 for the final session.
It always makes me feel good to bring home some of the money I set aside for my gambling bankroll for a trip so I usually put half of what I have left after every session back and spread the other half over the rest of my trip.
2. Set Time Limits
So if you set strict limits to how long you play you can reduce your overall losses.
When you go to the casino or plan a gambling vacation or trip set time limits for each of your gambling sessions. This way you know exactly when you’re going to stop playing.
Once you reach your time limit you stop losing and if you’ve had a good streak you can put the money in your pocket as profit.
You can also decide to play longer if you’re winning, but remember that in the long run, you’re probably going to lose. By walking away from the game, even when you’re up, you protect your bankroll.
It’s helpful to have other activities planned so you aren’t tempted to keep playing. I like to schedule times to eat and to watch shows or enjoy other forms of entertainment when I take a gambling trip.
If possible, I make dinner reservations and buy show tickets ahead of time so I have a set schedule. I also set a time to sleep to make sure I don’t get too tired.
3. Set Loss Limits
Loss limits are a great way to protect your gambling bankroll. With a loss limit, you stop playing any session where you lose a certain amount.
You can set your loss limit at whatever amount you’re comfortable with, but the important thing is to stick to whatever you decide. If you don’t you may try to chase your losses, which usually just makes them larger.
Loss limits can be put into place by the playing session, day, or trip. This is much like breaking your bankroll into segments, covered in the first section.
Though it’s not exactly the same as loss limits, sports bettors often protect their bankroll by only betting a percentage of their bankroll on any single game. This is a form of loss limits so I included it in this section.
Here’s how it works.
You bet no more than 5% of your total bankroll on any single game. So if you have a $1,000 bankroll the maximum bet you make on any game is $50.
If you win a few games and your bankroll goes up to $1,100 you can bet $55 per game. But if you lose a couple games and your bankroll goes down to $900 you only bet $45 per game.
You can do the same thing when playing any casino game by periodically determining your total bankroll and adjusting your base bet to make it a percentage of your bankroll.
4. Set Win Limits
Most gamblers don’t think setting win limits protects their bankroll, but they’re one of the best ways to manage your bankroll. Remember that most gamblers lose in the long run, so the longer you play the more likely it is that you’re going to lose.
How many times have you been gambling and got up on the house only to later lose all of your wins back?
If you set a win limit you stop playing when you get up a certain amount and lock in profits for the session. Many gamblers combine win and loss limits when they play.
Here’s an example:
You play blackjack and have a $100 loss limit and a $50 win limit. So you start playing with $100 and if you lose it all you quit. But you also quit if your balance reaches $150.
In the long run, you’re still going to lose more than you win, but you’ll find that many sessions end with a $50 profit.
5. Play Slower
One of the most powerful things you can do to protect your bankroll is to play slower. The slower you play the less you lose.
Even if you play games with a high house edge like slots or keno, if you play slow you lose less over time.
Some of the games that play slow or allow you to play slow are:
- Pai Gow Poker
- Video Poker
- Slot Machines
- Almost every online casino game
The slower you play the less you wager per hour. As you’ll learn in the next section, the house edge chips away at your bankroll as you play. So anything you can do to lower the amount you risk, including playing slower, the less you lose.
6. Play Low House Edge Games
Casinos are designed to have an edge over the players. Each game has a house edge built in. Some games have a higher edge than others, so your choice of game goes a long way in determining how much you’ll lose.
Some of the games that offer the lowest house edge include:
- Blackjack – From .5% to 1% depending on the rules and your strategy
- Video Poker – From .5% to 2% depending on the game, paytable, and strategy
- Baccarat – 1.06% on the banker bet
- Craps – 1.36% on the don’t pass line and 0% on the odds bet
- Spanish 21 – Less than 1% depending on rules and your strategy
Here are some of the worst house edge casino games:
- Caribbean Stud Poker – 5.22%
- Keno – 25% +
- American Roulette – 5.26%
- Slot Machines – 2% to 20% +
Notice that on most of the games that offer the lowest house edge that the return is somewhat based on strategy. You have to find games with good rules or pay tables and use the best strategy.
9 / 6 Jacks or Better and Not So Ugly Ducks Deuces Wild when combined with proper strategy both offer a house edge of less than a half percent. Blackjack and Spanish 21, a blackjack variation, with good rules and proper strategy also have a house edge of less than a half percent.
If you want to play a game with a decent house edge and not worry about strategy, you can make the banker bet while playing baccarat or the don’t pass line bet at craps and take the full odds.
If you know the house edge of the game you play, how much you bet, and how many decisions you have per hour you can get an idea of your expected loss per hour.
Here’s an example:
If you play 9 / 6 Jacks or Better and use perfect strategy the house edge is .46%. So if you bet $1.25 per spin, which is 25 cents per hand at five coins per hand, you can determine your expected loss based on how many hands per hour you play.
Here’s how the calculation works.
300 hands per hour times $1.25 per hand times the house edge of .46%. You convert the percentage to a decimal and then multiply the numbers to get the expected results.
300 X $1.25 X .0046 = $1.73
This doesn’t sound bad, but realize that for the overall house edge to be so low it calculates that you’ll hit a royal flush every once in a while to bring your numbers back to the edge. What this means is that you’re going to lose more per hour than the expected loss most of the time.
Here’s the same calculation playing blackjack with decent rules and a perfect strategy. In this calculation, you bet $20 per hand and play 100 hands per hour.
100 X $20 X .005 = $10 per hour.
Blackjack doesn’t have the same problem as video poker where you need to hit a big win to even things out, but you still face up and down swings. This means that blackjack has less variance but you’ll still lose more than expected some hours and win some hours.
If you play baccarat at $20 per hand and play 100 hands per hour here are your expected hourly losses.
$20 X 100 X .0106 = $21.20 per hour.
Remember in the last section we discussed the ability to play slower in some games to reduce your losses?
It’s difficult to play slower while playing live blackjack or baccarat, but if you play either game online or play video poker either online or live you can play slower.
In the blackjack example above your expected loss per hour on 100 hands is $10. But if you only play 50 hands per hour your expected loss is cut in half to $5 per hour.
7. Play Tournaments
One of the best ways to protect your gambling bankroll and have the chance at extended playing time and a possible big win is to play in tournaments.
Tournaments have a set entry fee so you can schedule an entire trip around tournaments.
Poker tournaments are the most common, but you can find slots tournaments, video poker tournaments, and blackjack tournaments available in most gambling destinations.
If you’re planning a trip of five days and have $1,000 to gamble with you could play in a $200 or less poker tournament each day or play in two of $100 or less each day.
You can use the 7 best techniques for managing your gambling bankroll to play more and have the chance to win more playing sessions. You can use each of the techniques above one by one or combine many of them together for maximum results.