It’s common knowledge that the first and most important element of success in gambling is the art of bankroll management. If you take a second to think about it, it’s a simple and universal rule in life.
Money management is not a magic spell that can turn you into a big winner on the slots.
It can do nothing to change the odds of the games. You’ll win sometimes and lose more often no matter how well you manage your money. But sound money management techniques can help you to limit the losses in the bad times and to keep more of your winnings when the reels and bonuses are kind to you. That makes learning to manage your money an important skill for anyone who plays slot machines.
The 14 tips described here are not difficult. Many of them are merely common sense. But they can make a difference in the size of your bankroll.
1. BET NO MORE THAN WHAT YOU CAN STAND TO LOSE
That statement really should be common sense, but it’s often not treated as such – we thought it was worth putting it out there as a reminder. You want to keep playing, so be smart about it.
Regardless of whether you’re playing offline or online casino, give due thought to your stakes for the day. If you take stock and decide you can afford to risk $100 for the day, then limit your online buy-in to no more than $100, or take no more than $100 in gambling money to a brick-and-mortar casino.
Once you’ve set your bankroll for the day, don’t exceed it. If you’ve bet your bankroll at $100 and you lose it all, that’s it. Don’t tap on other funds. Walk away from the games for the day.
If you win or never reach the bottom of your bankroll and can extend your play, terrific. But part of smart money management is to never bet money you can’t afford to lose. You want your gambling money to come from an entertainment budget, not from money needed to pay the rent, mortgage, grocery bills, or any of the other necessities of life.
2. SLOW DOWN
There’s a certain level of investment in having this type of fun. You have a hobby, you want to pursue it, but if you’re looking to have a solid streak, you can’t get ahead of yourself. You have to be both realistic and honest with yourself about how much you need to save up before you get started. If you want to prolong a good time and make a little cash, you first need to have the right amount. This really depends on your playing habits and personal preferences – whether you play in short bursts, whether you’re more conservative or daring, etc.
The key is, don’t rush into the start. Make a plan. You should decide how much you need before you can realistically start playing in a way that is sustainable. What’s your bankroll? Build up to it. The amount of money you want to set as your initial bankroll is entirely a personal preference. Think about your style and your goals as a player.
The faster you play, the more chances the house edge has to work against you.
At a land-based casino, don’t be in a rush. Take time to walk around the casino and explore what it has to offer. On winning spins, take a few seconds to look at the winning paylines. Order bottles of water or other beverages — it’s good to stay hydrated — and chat with the waitress. Take frequent breaks.
You don’t have to just hit the button as soon as the reels stop over and over and over again. Take your time.
3. BUDGETING TOOLS
It takes money to win money. Use an online budgeting tool like Mint or YNAB (You Need a Budget) that can help structure where and how you spend your money on a macro level. This is a solid habit to put into place that will benefit all areas of your life.
Don’t allow yourself any wiggle room, especially if you find that you’re trying to change plans while you’re in the middle of a winning or losing streak. Thoughts that begin with: “But maybe…” or “Well what if I try this…” can be damaging – you need to be able to catch and get rid of them when they do pop up.
4. STAY ACCOUNTABLE
Don’t underestimate the power of an accountability partner. For example, you probably know how hard it is to motivate yourself to get to the gym when you’re on your own. And if you’ve ever found yourself a gym buddy, you probably know how much easier it is to stay on track, whatever your goals are. You can’t just cancel plans when you’re lazy because you know you’ll have to break it to your friend and you hate the feeling of letting someone down.
If you’ve got some trustworthy friends and they also frequent online casinos in their spare time, good for you. They’ll be able to relate and possibly even collaborate with you to find the optimal methods of saving up. You’ll both understand each other’s difficulties and work together to find ways to avoid any pitfalls. Plus, celebrating success when you can stick to your goals will feel great.
But what if you don’t really have any close friends who like to gamble? That’s also fine. This comes with its own kind of advantage – you’ll need to do more explaining to someone unfamiliar with the gaming world.
Voicing your thought process will be just as beneficial to yourself and will help you better understand your tendencies, both positive and negative, allowing you to be a more responsible and effective player. Sometimes it can be a beneficial thing to have someone to disappoint.
5. PLAY FOR REAL MONEY
We want you to be careful on this one – it can be tricky to accomplish. But, if it’s done well, it has the potential to make a significant difference.
Consider the possibility of actually supporting the hobby with the hobby itself. It means you’ll have to think about strategy and maintaining the fine balance between responsibility and fun, but it can be rewarding.
6. KEEP IT SEPARATE
If you’re going to try this idea out, then compartmentalizing is definitely a good idea. Start with this…
Playing for fun versus playing to increase your bankroll should be treated as two completely separate things. Of course, we all know that hitting a winning streak is a welcome occurrence regardless, but your intentions going into the game will matter.
It’s kind of like what they always say about mixing business with pleasure. (Don’t do it.) Of course, playing casino games should always be enjoyable – if you ever reach a point where it no longer seems fun, it’s time to stop and reevaluate how you’re going about things. However, that doesn’t mean all forms and instances of gambling should be treated the same.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re currently playing just for kicks, that’s it. For that reason, your main goal is to keep yourself playing for as long as you possibly can, which in turn means not depleting your financial resources too quickly. Now maybe you’re a slots lover, but you’re also realistic about it. You’re fully aware that when it comes to making a fortune on slots, your chances are pretty slim. You know that there are payback percentages to take into consideration, so that should affect your decisions.
It’s great to play slots and win big during a good streak, but you need to have a separate mentality when you’re playing for the fun of it and when you’re playing to win. When it comes to winning, we’d also suggest thinking about the odds for different games. If you’re into slots, save that for when you’re aiming just to have fun. If you want to increase the size of your bankroll, then looking into video poker might be a good move.
The bottom line is that there are two separate mindsets that you can adopt when you’re playing. When you’re having fun, let yourself have fun. If you’re sitting down to a session where you hope to make some additional money, though, act accordingly.
7. CHOOSE THE RIGHT GAMES
Don’t jump around aimlessly from game to game – that’s for when you’re just having fun. We’re discussing the “business” side of things, so to speak. That means you should stick to playing what you understand – be realistic and focus on trying to improve your skill level. If there doesn’t seem to be much skill involved in a particular game, move on, or bookmark it for later, when you feel like taking a shot at a game of chance.
8. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
We’ll use our previous example. Let’s say you’re a fan of slot machine games. If that’s the case, maybe it’s time to pick up video poker for when you’re playing to win real money. This is the part where you get smart with your bankroll in mind.
Video poker is a game that involves a surprising amount of strategy. There are people who play video poker professionally and make a lot of money doing so. Play the game often and study a lot – books, online guides, casino forums, and wherever else you can find helpful resources.
Building in time to practice in a low-stakes environment will be important when it comes to increasing both your skills and confidence. You can easily take care of this with our unlimited Free Play option.
9. BE SMART
When you’re gambling in hopes of building your bankroll, don’t get too ambitious. Make the most of any small or modest wins by quitting while you’re ahead – even if that just means setting aside some time to do something else for a bit.
And don’t let yourself get too excited. Be aware that winning can often boost your confidence, and you need to be cautious because that isn’t always a positive side effect. Don’t let it throw you off. (Still, keep in mind that this is an entirely different scenario when you’re playing entirely for entertainment purposes. If it’s for fun, just let yourself have fun. The important thing is to not confuse the two.)
10. STAY SOBER
Okay, what we really mean here is don’t drink TOO much. If you’re a responsible adult who can enjoy adult beverages in a perfectly responsible manner, great. But you really need to think about whether that’s the case or not. Remember, we’re talking about building up skills.
You wouldn’t think about drinking before other performance-based activities – driving a car, playing sports, or going for a run. In this case, maybe a beer or two can actually help loosen you up in a good way, just be mindful that it doesn’t become a problem.
11. AVOID ATMs
This tip will help with betting wisely and not going overboard, in any situation. Avoid ATMs at all costs. Land-based casinos will make it all too convenient for you to withdraw more cash, but take precautions (like not bringing your debit card out with you). With online casinos, just make rules for yourself about how often you’ll deposit and how much.
12. DON’T BORROW MONEY
We’re advising you not to spend more of your money than you’ve planned. With all that careful consideration, do NOT go spending other people’s hard-earned cash! That flies in the face of everything we can advise you on when it comes to bankroll management.
If you’re getting to a point where you’re working on a pitch to get your friends or family to lend you money, this impulse should seriously give you pause. Your hobby has become a habit. It’s not a good mentality to have – in fact, it’s dangerous. If that’s what you’re thinking, maybe it’s time to take a break. You don’t want to be indebted to anyone, and you don’t want to break the trust you’ve built up with people who care about you.
13. TRY A SYSTEM OF FLOATING WIN GOALS AND LOSS LIMITS
Win goals and loss limits have been part of the slot player’s toolkit for decades.
In their strictest form, the limits have you set both a floor and a ceiling. If you’ve set your bankroll for the day at $100, then that is your loss limit. If you lose $100 you stop and don’t draw on other funds. At the same time, you set a win goal. If you decide that for your $100 bankroll, you’d consider it a great day if you could walk out ahead by half that amount, then your win goal would be $50.
Any time you reach either your win goal or loss limit, you call it a day. In this example, if your gambling bankroll reaches $150, meaning you’re ahead by $50, you stop there and lock up your winnings. If the bankroll reaches zero, of course, you’ve hit your loss limit and are done for the day.
14. PUT AWAY AT LEAST HALF OF ANY REALLY BIG WIN
Think of good-sized jackpots as something separate from win goals and loss limits. You want to make sure you bring a large share of the money home. Don’t repeat the sad tale of a video poker player who wrote that she draw a royal flush good for $1,000 on a 25-cent machine. She decided to move up to a dollar machine to see if she could win really big. Instead, she lost it all and went home empty-handed. When you win a jackpot like that, it’s OK to try higher denomination games to see if lightning can strike twice for an even bigger jackpot. But it’s also important to set limits.
With a $1,000 jackpot, immediately put at least $500 of it away, not to be touched for the rest of your casino outing.
It’s your call as to what to do with the other $500. If you want to try a more expensive game, good luck to you. If you want to set a higher loss limit while playing the same games, that works too. If you want to put an even bigger portion of it away, take your partner or friends out to a nice dinner, go to a play, add it to your children’s education fund or just put it in savings. more power to you.
With a really enormous, lifestyle-changing jackpot such as the multimillion-dollar payouts on Megabucks, give yourself a cooling-off period. If you want to gamble with an extra few thousand dollars, that’s only natural. But leave almost the entire jackpot intact until you’ve had time to let the initial rush of excitement pass, talk things over with your family or financial adviser, and decide what you really want to do with the money.
The jackpot doesn’t have to be anywhere near that large for taxes to come into play, and that brings special needs.
In the United States, for example, the Internal Revenue Service requires casinos to have players sign tax forms before the casino can pay any jackpot of $1,200 or more. The casino usually does not withhold tax money — it’s up to you as a player to pay. Make sure you hold onto enough money to pay the taxes in addition to the money you’re keeping to bring home.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The basics of money management boil down to protecting your money, limiting your losses, making sure you keep some winnings, and limiting the number of chances the house edge has to work against you.
When you do that, you won’t change the house edge or create extra winning spins, but you will make sure your bankroll stays a little fatter and isn’t stretched beyond your limits.
Gambling bankroll management is crucial. It sounds paradoxical, but you should take your fun seriously. Make sure you’re being responsible and making financially sound decisions that will enhance and prolong playtime, and we guarantee it’ll improve your overall playing experience.