Smarter Gambling

Bankroll Management: Cash + Free Play

Bankroll money
Written by Joshua

I’ve previously written here about being able to go home with money through proper bankroll management, as well as avoiding risk of ruin. I’ve also talked about thinking of free play money as an extension of your bankroll.

In this post I’m going to put some of this altogether and talk about how I put this into practice during my trip to Atlantic City, which as this is posted took place earlier in the month, with a few updates on Instagram. I’m also going to return to my look at my trip to Vegas coming up and how I’m handling it there.

In this situation I’m looking beyond a single day and into a longer trip, so some of the recommendations may be a bit more targeted for a longer trip, but there’s something for everyone.

Reviewing Offers

Whenever you travel to a more competitive market, you have the opportunity for multiple offers that can overlap. In the case of my trip to Atlantic City, just about every property there had something for me. The offers ranged from the more generous (my best offer was from a casino that was offering me $30-$40 each day) to the meager ($10 freeplay weekly).

I had four different properties offering me complimentary stays, and I laid out a trip that spread my stay out across three of those properties ultimately, no more than three days at any one property.

If I aggregate all the offers while I’m in town, it works out to $500 in freeplay (if I opt for all free play and not gift cards in a few cases), which is certainly a good bankroll padder. Of course, with 9 casinos spread out, one aspect of the freeplay is might simply not be logistically wise to run to a ton of casinos a day.

As it happens if I choose to stick to three casinos max a day, I can redeem virtually all of it. Some casinos choose to skip a day, or have a 2-3 day redemption window, and so all told it’s manageable to collect.

Historically, when it comes to Atlantic City, I haven’t put a huge amount of play into any one casino, and the one offering me the biggest offer is actually one that worries me the least to maintain offers from, so I’ll make the most of those offers and not expect them to stick around unless something great happens.

Determining the Daily Bankroll

I’m bringing a bankroll that’s smaller than normal for me for an AC trip, mostly because of the Vegas trip in December. In this case I’m bringing $1,000 cash for the purposes of this trip. So add that to the $500 in freeplay and we’re talking $1,500 total to work with. So what I decided to do is to have a $200 daily bankroll, and a $100 “in case of emergency, break glass” leftover in case I have a disaster of a day and want to play a bit more.

In the past I would divide the cash evenly for each day, and the free play would be an added bonus. But I got a distorted view of how each day went because I could have little to no freeplay on one day and a sizable amount another. This trip is no exception; a couple of the days I have closer to $40, and a couple of the days closer to $100.

So for the two upcoming trips I’m literally putting my free play money where my mouth is by factoring that into my cash situation. So on days where I have $100 in freeplay, I’m giving myself $100 in cash to go along with it. I put together a little formula in Google Sheets to figure everything out and this is where I landed:

Along with my cash budget and free play, I planned on keeping an eye open for advantage play scenarios; being a larger market, I wouldn’t be surprised to encounter a lot of hawks watching over machines, but all it takes is being in the right place at the right time to snag an AP opportunity. My locals have people watching over machines and yet I trip into opportunities pretty routinely.

This is a bit of an unorthodox system for sure; for a week long trip I sometimes do thirds or quarters instead of a daily budget, and I may end up doing that instead, but then I just combine two days together instead of a single day. But ultimately it still means that I have roughly the same amount of gambling budget per day, since I tend to take efforts to convert my freeplay to cash.

Locking in Wins and Comps

If I have a good day, I also plan on locking in budget and keeping it for December, vs. spreading it across the remaining days. So I plan on keeping most of my leftover bankroll for a given day if I’m running well.

I also plan on conserving comps at properties where I’ll be at a sister property in December: Golden Nugget, Mlife, Caesars and Tropicana all have sister properties where I’ll be, and with a longer trip, those comps could prove handy.

Other than that, it’s the basic goal. An upcoming post will go over how the trip went, so stay tuned!

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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