7 Proven Techniques to Get Twice the Play Time from Your Bankroll

by Michael Stevens
on April 6, 2018

Bankroll management is one of the most important concepts you can learn in gambling. If you can properly manage your bankroll, then you stand a better chance of lasting longer.

Of course, there are different aspects to bankroll management (BRM). And you may like certain techniques better than others.

If you’re looking for some good BRM strategies, keep reading as I discuss 7 proven methods that’ll help you play casino games twice as long.

1. Divide Your Bankroll into Smaller Units

Dividing one’s bankroll into units forms the basis for many BRM strategies.

Units are good for gamblers who don’t like dealing with dollars. Units also emphasize the fact that you’re playing games for entertainment, rather than stressing over monetary profits.

Breaking your bankroll down into units isn’t hard. All you need to do is divide your bankroll by your average bet size.

Here’s an example:

  • You have $2,500
  • Your average bet size is $25
  • Divide 2,500 by 25
  • You have 100 units

The primary advantage to betting units is that they give you a clean, simple way to deal with your bankroll. Rather than thinking in terms of gambling with $2,500, you’re playing a game with 100 total bets.

I’ve found that looking at your bankroll in terms of units prevents the temptation to chase losses.

If I lose 15 betting units in a session, I’m not thinking about winning back $375 (15 x 25). Instead, I’m focusing on leaving the casino with 85 units.

Given that this mindset helps keep you from chasing losses, your bankroll will stretch much further than one or two sessions.

2. Never Risk More than 1%-2% of Your Bankroll on a Single Bet

Most pro sports bettors never risk more than 1%-2% of their bankroll on a single wager.

The rationale here is that they don’t want to lose too much money in the short term. Instead, they view sports betting as a long-term pursuit where they must survive volatility (a.k.a. short-term fluctuations in results).

Pro sports bettors also subscribe to the first point in this post, which involves breaking their bankroll down into units. This means that they never bet more than two units at a time.

Here’s an example of how a sports betting pro manages their bankroll:

  • $100,000 bankroll
  • 100,000 x 0.01
  • Unit size = $1,000
  • Never bet more than 1 unit ($1k) or 2 units ($2k)

You don’t have to limit this strategy to just sports betting. Instead, the 1%-2% bankroll concept can be applied to any casino game.

Sure, you don’t have a long-term advantage in house-banked games like baccarat, blackjack, craps, and roulette. But having this type of discipline will help you extend your bankroll much further.

It also lowers your risk of ruin, or the chances of losing everything. Allow me to demonstrate by using a risk-of-ruin calculator on baccarat:

  • Bankroll units = 100
  • Units per bet = 1
  • Desired profit = 10
  • Win rate = 49.47%
  • Expected value = 1.06% (house edge)
  • Risk of ruin = 21.16%

You can find risk-of-ruin calculators all over the internet. And these are nice tools for when you’re trying to decide how long your gambling bankroll will last.

You can see in the above example that I have a 21.16% chance of eventually losing everything in baccarat. But if I were to lower my bankroll units to just 20, my risk of ruin increases to 40.60%.

In short, starting with more units boosts your chances of staying in the game.

3. Divide Your Bankroll into “Buy-ins”

Poker players have developed a BRM concept that involves dividing their bankroll into buy-ins. The number of buy-ins a player needs varies based on if they’re dealing with cash games or tournaments.

A no-limit cash game player should have at least 30 buy-ins for the stakes they play. Here’s an example:

  • You have $4,000
  • Cash game buy-in = 100 big blinds
  • 4,000/100 = 4.
  • You can safely play $2/$4 no-limit cash games

A tournament player should have 100 buy-ins or more to lower their risk of ruin. Here’s an example for tourneys:

  • You have $6,000
  • 6,000/100 = 6
  • You can play $5+$0.50 buy-in tournaments

Dividing your bankroll into buy-ins doesn’t have to be limited to poker. You can also do this for other casino games by considering each buy-in to be the max amount that you can lose in a session.

Here’s how this can be done for blackjack:

  • Your bankroll is $5,000
  • You want to have enough buy-ins for 10 sessions
  • 5,000/10 = $500 per buy-in
  • This can be further reduced to betting units (e.g., 500/25 = 20 units)

The overall idea is that you never play past your buy-in amount for a single session. If your buy-in is $200 or 20 betting units, then you quit for the day when hitting this number in a session.

By sticking to the principle of treating each session like a separate buy-in, you always have a solid idea on how many gambling sessions your bankroll will last.

4. Know How to Find Slot Machines with Low Volatility

Slot machines are the toughest casino games to manage your money with. The reason why is because they have lots of volatility due to the big prizes at the top.

Even if a slot machine offers 96% payback, this doesn’t mean that your short-term results will be anything near this. You could win back far more or less than 96% in a given session.

Of course, many slots players don’t mind high volatility as long as they have a greater chance at bonuses and/or a big progressive jackpot. But others want their bankroll to last longer so they get more entertainment.

In these cases, you need to know how to differentiate between a high- and low-volatility slot machine. The only problem is that most slots don’t have a volatility rating.

But you can still get a rough estimation of a slot machine’s variance by looking at a few key points, including the jackpot size, bonuses, and number of low payouts.

Look at the two slots pay tables below for a comparison:

High-Volatility Slot Machine

  • 3 bonus rounds
  • Progressive jackpot seeded at $100,000
  • 10,000-coin payout for 5 pandas
  • 2,000-coin payout for 5 tigers
  • 1,000-coin payout for 5 monkeys
  • 200-coin payout for 5 birds
  • 100-coin payout for 5 snakes
  • 50-coin payout for 5 rats
  • 10-coin payout for 5 snails

Low-Volatility Slot Machine

  • 1 bonus
  • Progressive jackpot seeded at $10,000
  • 5,000-coin payout for 5 gold bars
  • 1,000-coin payout for 5 silver bars
  • 500-coin payout for 5 copper bars
  • 100-coin payout for 5 gold coins
  • 50-coin payout for 5 silver coins
  • 10-coin payout for 5 copper coins
  • 5-coin payout for gold dust
  • 1-coin payout for coal

The second slot machine has more low payouts along with a smaller jackpot. Therefore, this game has a better chance of delivering short-term payouts.

Playing slots with lower volatility helps you win more often and keeps your bankroll intact. Meanwhile, big progressive jackpot slots pay less in the short run, because they must make up for seeding a large prize.

5. Stick with Even-Money Bets

The best bets with regard to making your bankroll last are even-money wagers, or those that pay at 1:1.

Even-money bets have a low house edge and strong odds of winning. Here are some of the different casino bets that you should consider:

  • Baccarat player bet = 50.68% (not including ties)
  • Blackjack hand = 46.36% (not including ties)
  • European roulette = 48.64% (red/black, odd/even, high/low)

These wagers aren’t created equally, but they’re all similar in terms of your chances of winning. This means that you can expect your bankroll to last a while with any of these games.

Avoid bets with longer odds when you’re trying to extend your bankroll. Craps and roulette are notorious for having a number of wagers with long odds.

Every European roulette wager has the same 2.70% house edge. But these bets also have different odds of winning and payouts.

Craps has solid bets like pass line (1.41%) and don’t pass line (1.36%). However, it features long-shot bets with over a 10% house edge.

Here are some craps bets to illustrate this difference:

  • Don’t pass line/don’t come = 1.36% house edge
  • Pass line/come = 1.41%
  • Place 6/place 8 = 1.52%
  • Lay 4/lay 10 = 2.44%
  • Lay 5/lay 9 = 3.23%
  • Field = 5.56%
  • Craps (2, 3, or 12) = 11.11%
  • Hard 4/hard 10 = 11.11%
  • 2 = 13.89%
  • 12 = 13.89%
  • Any 7 = 16.67%

You can get far more play out of your bankroll by avoiding long-shot wagers and sticking to even-money wagers.

6. Choose the Best Games and Bets

In addition to making bets with high odds, you’ll also want to choose wagers that have a low house edge. Doing so improves your chances of winning profits, or at least losing less money.

The house edge refers to how much money you stand to lose in the long term. For example, a 1.0% house advantage means that you’d theoretically lose $1 for every $100 wagered.

Here are some games that feature a low house edge:

  • Blackjack = 0.5% to 2.0% (based on table rules)
  • Baccarat = 1.06% (banker bet)
  • French roulette = 1.35%
  • Craps = 1.36% (don’t pass line and don’t come)
  • Pai gow poker = 1.46%
  • European roulette = 2.70%

These games have a dual benefit of featuring bets with a low house advantage and good odds. Therefore, you have a strong chance of winning both in the short and long run.

Video poker is another casino game that has a low house edge. But like slot machines, video poker also has a lot of volatility.

The reason why is because each video poker machine features a royal flush payout worth 4,000 coins. Some video poker games also have additional large payouts worth up to 2,000 coins.

This means that you can’t always look at the house advantage alone to determine how long your bankroll will last. But generally speaking, the house edge is another important factor to consider when you’re trying to conserve gambling funds.

7. Study Strategy for Skill-Based Casino Games

Skill-based games usually offer the best chance to beat the house. The most popular skill-based forms of gambling include:

  • Blackjack (basic strategy)
  • Blackjack card counting
  • Daily fantasy sports
  • Poker
  • Sports betting
  • Video poker

Of course, you actually need to develop the skills that will help you lower the house edge, or even gain a long-term advantage. And your best tool for doing so involves studying strategy for casino games.

Strategy complexity varies based on the specific game you’re dealing with.

You can quickly learn basic blackjack strategy through an online chart. This game’s strategy remains the same as long as the rules are consistent.

But games like poker and daily fantasy sports (DFS) have more complex strategy because you’re competing against humans. This means that optimal play can differ based on the specific opponents and/or game conditions you’re dealing with.

An aggressive poker player may require you to tighten up and look for spots to trap and take advantage of them. DFS strategy depends upon finding undervalued players, which changes by the day/week.

The downside to skill-based games is that bad players can lose more money than when they play simpler games like baccarat, craps, and roulette.

But the good news is that you can also win far more often when you’re a good player. In fact, some card counters, DFS pros, poker pros, and sports bettors even earn long-term profits.

Even if you don’t become this good, though, you can still win enough to sustain your bankroll by studying strategy and improving.

Conclusion

Bankroll management is a broad topic that includes different strategies. And you can adopt one or more of the techniques that I’ve covered here to make your gambling funds last longer.

My personal favorite BRM method involves dividing your bankroll into units and never betting more than 2 units at once.

You might also consider treating each gambling session as a separate buy-in, regardless of whether you’re playing poker or a different game.

Beyond managing your money, it’s also important to find bets and games that give you high odds. Even-money wagers are especially good with regard to boosting your short-term chances of winning and keeping your bankroll steady.

If you’re really up for a challenge, I suggest playing a skill-based game. Becoming a highly skilled gambler lets you preserve your bankroll, or even win profits in the long run.

In summary, try one or more of the methods I’ve covered here to make your bankroll last twice as long – or even longer.

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