Smarter Gambling

5 Things You Should Do Every Time You Play at a Casino

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Written by Joshua

I’ve written before about mistakes players make when they visit the casino, so let’s flip the script a bit and talk today about five things a player should do each time they visit the casino.

Taking these steps can help you reduce your risk of ruin, get the most comps you’re entitled to and hopefully leave with some money to boot.

1. Set a Budget

The casino can be an alluring place, full of games to play and the fantasy of coming home with more money than you arrived. It can also be an emotionally punishing place, full of highs and lows. Some players struggle when they’re on a downswing, trying to chase losses to make a comeback.

One of the worst things you can do is not set a budget. Your budget should be based on funds you can lose (some call it an entertainment budget) that ultimately won’t impact your ability to pay your bills or live life without financial stress.

Setting a budget and holding yourself to it can avoid a walk of shame to the ATM, or spending of money you can’t really afford.

2. Set a Time Limit

Time is on the casino’s side – the longer you’re there, and the more wagers you place, the more likely they are to win money. This is because every game has a house advantage in favor of the casino, and the more wagers you place, the more likely the overall results will emerge in factor of the house.

On a slot machine, you could make hundreds of wagers an hour on a machine that has a house advantage of as much as 15 percent. Long-term grinding on slot machines will over time simply erode your bankroll.

This is why a time limit is critical. If you get ahead, it can be tempting to keep pushing and try to get the number even higher. It could certainly happen, but the odds are against it happening.

3. Always Use a Player’s Card

Your player’s card gives you access to something that’s quite beneficial – comps. As you play, you’ll earn comp dollars that can be redeemed for food, shopping, hotel rooms and more. You’ll also get casino offers sent to invite you back, based on your play history, which can only be confirmed by using that player’s card.

A player’s card doesn’t impact the payback of a slot machine or table game, but it does give you access to a percentage of your play back in the form of comp dollars and offers, so not playing with one can be an expensive mistake, as you’ll have to pay out of pocket for things that could be comped for your play.

4. Bet Based on Your Bankroll

The amount you wager per slot machine spin, video poker hand or table game round should be dictated based on your bankroll. If you go into a casino with $500 and bet $5 a spin, you have 100 chances to make something happen. On a slot machine that money could be gone in a few minutes if things go horribly.

By comparison, if you’re betting $1 a spin, you’ll be much more likely to get hours of play out of that bankroll and have a higher chance of going home with at least some money. If you have enough bankroll to cover 500 spins, your risk of running out of money in a few hours is low.

For table games, you don’t need as many betting units to survive a few hours, because there’s less wagers per hour on a table game vs. slots – but the wagers also tend to be higher, so you do have to balance out for htat.

5. If You Get Way Ahead, Recalibrate

Sometimes you get really lucky – you hit a handpay, win something massive on a small bet, or have just some very unusual luck. I’ve had a few of these moments, including a few handpays and royal flushes on video poker. Whenever such a scenario happens I reset many of the items above.

For instance, if I went to the casino with $500, and now find myself with $1500, I may say to myself, I’ll give myself the original $500 to play with again, and take out the other $1000 from the casino, regardless of how that $500 goes. I get to play longer (since I probably was already playing with some of that $500), and I know I’m going home a winner.

For those who aren’t the most disciplined about these things and are worried they will just keep betting, there are things like Winners Banks that can let you lock up the money so you bring it home, presuming you leave the key at home as well.

Do you have other things that are musts for your casino trips? Share them in the comments!

About the author


My name is Joshua, and I’m a slot enthusiast who works in tech as a marketer by day, and dabbles in casinos periodically during off-times. Know Your Slots will reflect my interests in understanding the various ways you can play slots, travel, casino promotions and how you can get the most out of your casino visits.

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