All players have bankrolls. Some are bigger than other ones, and some may be more easily replaced than other ones. Even if you only occasionally gamble with the funds in your wallet, you have a bankroll.
If you want to get more action for your money, or if you want to have better odds of winning, this post has strategies to help you protect your gambling bankroll.
Below you’ll find the 8 best ways to manage and protect your gambling bankroll. I’ve tried to keep it simple.
1. Break Your Bankroll into Multiple Smaller Bankrolls
The easiest way to manage your gambling bankroll is to divide it into multiple, smaller day-specific or session-specific mini-bankrolls.
If you visit Vegas for 4 days, divide your bankroll into 4 daily bankrolls.
If you plan to play twice a day, subdivide your bankroll into 2 session bankrolls per day, or 8 bankrolls total.
Your total bankroll is $1,000. Divide that amount by 8 sessions, and you have $125/ session.
You’ll only take $125 to gamble with during each session.
When you’ve lost that $125, it’s time to quit for that session. When you’ve lost $250 for the day, that’s it for the day. If you’re carrying additional funds, keep it in your wallet.
You don’t have to play until you’ve lost it all. You can quit while you still have money. You can also quit if you’ve won. In fact, you should quit whenever you’re not having fun anymore.
You start with $125, but you lose $90. You’re tired, so you quit while you still have $35.
You could divide that into your next 7 sessions to have an extra $5 per session.
Now you have $130 to gamble with during your remaining gambling sessions.
Let’s say that during session #2, you lose $130. Time to quit.
Then during session #3, you win $170. You end the session with $300. You can divide that by the 5 remaining sessions you have left, and add $60 to your starting bankroll for each of those sessions. Now you have $190 to gamble with during each session.
You lose $190 during session #4 and call it a day.
You get tired during session #5 and quit while you still have $80. You have 4 sessions left, so you can add $20 to each session and start with $210 per session.
You get tired again during session #6 and quit while you still have $100. You add $50 to your last 2 session bankrolls, so you start with $260 on both those sessions.
Let’s assume you win $40 on session #7. You have $300 when you quit, so you add that to your final bankroll. You have $560 to play with during your final playing session at the casino.
You might put aside some of that money to make sure you go home with money left in your wallet. Maybe you’ll put $260 in your pocket, and you’ll still have $300 to play with during your last session.
That’s just one bankroll management strategy, though.
You could also pocket your winnings from each session and just set that money aside to take home with you.
Or you might take all your winnings from one session and add it to the next session bankroll. Your mini-bankrolls would then go up and down along with fortune’s favor.
2. Establish Time Limits for Your Gambling Sessions
Here’s the truth:
Most gamblers lose money over any given time period.
And, the longer they play, the more they lose.
So if you want to decrease your losses, set strict time limits for how long you’re going to gamble.
You’ll need your own watch for this. Casinos don’t post clocks. They WANT you to lose track of time.
The trick for this strategy is easy, too:
Set an alarm on your watch. When it goes off, quit gambling. If you were losing, you’ll cut your losses by quitting. If you were winning, you can pocket some of your winning for a change.
Some people have different rules. They might allow themselves to keep playing if they’re ahead for the session. Since casino gambling is a negative expectation activity, this is rarer than you might think. Also, the longer you play, the more likely it is that your actual results will resemble your long-term expected results.
Find other things to do when you’re not gambling. Schedule meals at the casino’s restaurants. Buy tickets to the shows. Having other activities built into your schedule will protect your bankroll.
I always like to stick with my usual bedtime, too. I don’t enjoy playing games if I’m tired. Going to bed on time and getting up at my usual time keeps me fresh and fun-loving.
3. Establish Loss Limits
A loss limit is a great method of protecting a bankroll. Using a loss limit, you’ll quit sessions when you’ve lost a specific amount.
You can establish a loss limit at whatever amount you’re comfortable with.
The trick is sticking with whatever choice you made. If you don’t stick with your loss limit, you’ll probably try to chase your losses.
Chasing lost money means losing more money.
You can set a loss limit for a trip, a day, or a playing session. It’s a lot like breaking a bankroll into smaller bankrolls.
Sports bettors often protect their bankroll by only betting a percentage of the bankroll on any one game.
You decide to bet no more than 5 percent of your overall bankroll on any one game. Your overall bankroll is $1,000. Your max bet on any single game is $50.
If you win a couple of games, and your bankroll rises to $1,100, you can bet $55 a game.
But if you lose some games, and your bankroll drops to $900, your bet drops to $45 a game.
You can do the exact same thing when you play a casino game. Determine your overall bankroll. Then adjust the size of your base bet by making it a percentage of your gambling bankroll.
4. Establish Win Goals
Many gamblers don’t believe establishing win limits will protect their bankroll.
They’re wrong, though.
Win goals are among the best methods of managing your bankroll.
Most gamblers lose over the long run. So, the longer you play, the more likely it is that you’ll lose.
Anything that limits the amount of time you play casino games preserves and protects your bankroll.
Think about it.
How many times were you ahead at the casino? And how many times did you keep playing only to lose it all and then some?
By setting a win goal, you stop gambling as soon as you’ve won a specific amount. (That amount is your win goal.)
Most gamblers who believe in bankroll management use win goals AND loss limits at the same time.
You’re playing blackjack. You have a $100 loss limit and a $50-win goal.
So, you start to play with about $100. If you lose all of it, you stop. (You don’t buy back in.) But you also stop if your balance gets to $150.
In the long run, you’ll still eventually lose more than you’ll win. But you’ll at least see some playing sessions finish with a $50 profit.
5. Play the Games Slower
The most powerful thing a casino gambler can do to protect her bankroll is to gamble slower. You’re going to lose less money if you play slower.
Even if you play some games with a high house edge–like keno or slots–if you gamble slow enough, over time, you’ll lose less money.
Some examples of games you can play slots include:
- Any casino game on the internet
- Slot machines
- Video poker machines
- Pai Gow Poker
When it comes to internet games, slots, and video poker, you’ll need to exhibit self-control to slow the game down. The average slot machine player makes 600 bets per hour.
The slower a player gambles, the less he’ll wager per hour. The house edge chips away at your bankroll every time you place a bet
Anything you do to reduce how much money you’re risking will reduce your expected loss.
6. Play Games with a Lower House Edge
Casino games are designed with a mathematical edge favoring the casino. Every game in the casino has this built-in house edge. Some games have a higher edge than other games
Your selection of game will go a long way in deciding how much you will lose.
Some casino games with a low edge include:
- Spanish 21 – 1% or less
- Craps – 0% on the odds bet; 1.36% on the don’t pass line.
- Baccarat – 1.06% on the banker bet
- Video poker – From 0.5 % to 6%
- Blackjack – From 0.5% to 1%
Below are a few casino games with a high house edge:
- Slot Machines – 5% to 25(or more)
- American roulette – 5.26%
- Keno – 25% (or more)
- Caribbean Stud Poker – 5.22%
Most of the games with a low house edge usually involve using strategy to minimize the edge. You either need to be able to find the video poker games with the best pay tables or use perfect basic strategy in blackjack to enjoy the lowest house edge.
For video poker, some of the best choices include Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild. But you have to understand which pay tables are better than others.
For blackjack (including Spanish 21), you have to memorize and use basic strategy. You can’t just play willy-nilly and follow your gut if you want the lowest house edge.
If you’re not interested in learning to make good mathematical decisions, stick with the banker bet in baccarat. The house edge is only 1.06% on that bet.
Otherwise, stick with the pass line or don’t pass line bet in craps. Then take as big an odds bet as you can.
Understanding the games, the house edge, and the rate of play can help you predict your average hourly losses.
If you play 9/6 Jacks or Better and use the ideal strategy, the house edge is only 0.46%. If you bet $1.25/ hand (25 cents at 5 coins per hand), you only need to know how many hands per hour you’re playing to predict your hourly loss rate.
Here is how this calculation works:
300 hands per hour X $1.25 per hand X 0.46% house edge = $1.73/hour
Most of the time, you’ll lose slightly more than that. The return on a Jacks or Better game is based on winning a royal flush once every 40,000 hands or so. At 300 hands per hour, it’ll take a while for most people to get that royal flush.
Also, most people wager an average of 600 hands per hour when playing video poker. This example assumes that you’re deliberately playing at half speed to protect your bankroll.
Blackjack is a great game, too—if you can find a game with reasonable rules. It also helps to use perfect basic strategy.
Assuming you’re playing for $20/hand, and you’re playing 100 hands per hour, your expected hourly loss can be calculated as follows:
$20/hand X 100 hands per hour X 1% house edge = $20/hour
Blackjack has a lower variance than video poker. You’re not waiting on the occasional jackpot to “catch you up”. But it’s still subject to winning and losing streaks.
Keep in mind that anything you can do to slow this rate of play down lowers your predicted hourly loss. With most table games, you’re at the mercy of the dealer. But you can sit out an occasional hand if the table’s not too busy.
But any game you play on the internet can be played more deliberately to slow down your losses.
7. Try Tournaments
When you play in a casino game tournament, you pay a single buy-in. Then you get to play for an arbitrary period of time set by the casino tournament organizers. You also have the potential for a big win.
The most common casino game tournaments include slot machine tournaments and video poker tournaments. The same philosophy applies to poker tournaments, although those games actually offer you a chance of getting an edge. (When you play poker, you’re competing with other players in a game of skill.)
You’re going on vacation for 5 days. You have a $1000 bankroll. Every day, you play in 2 tournaments, each of which has a $100 buy-in.
8. Do Not Make Yourself an Appealing Mark
Robbers, muggers, and thieves are also problems for your bankroll. The question is not whether you’ll have something they want; it’s whether you’ll have more of it than the next individual.
They’ll also think about whether it’ll be simpler to take it from you than from one other mark.
Don’t be the most appealing mark in the room. Don’t flaunt the big wins. All other things being equal, don’t look like somebody with a load of money. Even keeping funds in a pocket that has a zipper may make you a tougher mark for an unskilled robber.
If you feel the need, get an escort. At the end of a session, usually security escorts are available to escort you to your vehicle. Some card rooms have a few remote areas in their parking lots , and they may be places where you’re vulnerable.
The first step to protecting your bankroll is to manage it well. Slow down your rate of play. Set win goals and loss limits. Limit the amount of time you spend playing.
You’ll find that gambling is more fun if you focus on the games with the lowest house edge, too. Those are the games you’re most likely to win, too.