Playing slot machines can require discipline. It’s very easy to get sucked into a game, wanting to play for just one more bonus. It’s easy to get angry if you hit a bad pocket, and keep pushing, trying to make up for some of the losses. And you’re playing a game that’s got a significant house advantage.
Further to that, I’ve seen a lot of players lamenting lately that they wished they had stopped at different times on a game
But you can use various money management techniques to slow down losses, lock in wins and so on. Here are some ideas on how to practice good money management and help yourself on the casino floor. Even if you don’t use these techniques 100 percent of the time, using them even part of the time can help.
Limit Cash Into the Machine
Based on your bet level, pick an amount you’ll put into the machine. Never put a ticket in, especially a large ticket – aim for a set amount of cash, like $20, $50 or $100. Make it a number where you can have a reasonable chance of something happening on the machine, but if nothing does, you can reach a decision point.
The key behind this model is to ensure you’re not giving yourself too much runway and lose a lot of money at one time. By avoiding tickets, you can control the exact amount. If you win, cash the ticket out and use the cash in the same process as before, so you don’t burn through that winning ticket and give back everything on the next machine.
You can always decide to put a second round in if you want to try again, but having that decision point can help make it easier to not throw good money after bad.
Decide Your Stopping Point
There’s a variety of scenarios you can pursue. Here’s some examples of goals you can set for yourself, keeping in mind that you don’t have to use the same goal for every machine:
- Double or Nothing: Try to double your original amount. This works best when both the amount deposited and the bet level are friendly to this. if you put $100 in and are betting 50 cents a spin, that can be difficult; if you put in $20 and are betting $5 a spin, you’re going to resolve awfully quickly (which may be OK!).
- Bonus or Bankrupt: Try to get a bonus before running out of money, and cash out once successful.
- X Dead Spins: Some players I know have a system of moving on if they don’t win for a certain number of spins. This ensures that they’re not just shoveling money into a machine without anything to show for it.
- Cash Out When Ahead: There are various variations of this, but some players will cash out if they get even a penny ahead; others will target a $5 profit and move on at that point.
- Stop Loss Method: Let’s say you put $20 into a machine. You initially would cash out if you run out of money. Now, let’s say you get to $25. The new cash-out point is $5 – $20 from your peak. If you continue to win, you shift the cash-out point. $30 is $10; $40 is $20; etc. In this way you don’t give it all back.
Get Ahead? Set Aside the Winnings
Let’s say you go to the casino with a $200 budget. You quickly get ahead; let’s say you get to $300. You put the extra $100 aside, and reset as if you have your original $200 budget. This ensures you go home with something.
You were going to be happy spending $200 to begin with, so why not continue to play as if that’s what you have? There’s no need to spend all $300 once you have it. Plus, since you’ve already been playing for a bit, you may be able to bring part of that $200 home with you as well, as you’ll have less time to lose it.
Longer Trip? Set a Daily Limit
I’ve written about this in more detail in the past, but dividing your budget up for longer trips also avoids you burning too much of your budget in a single day, leaving you short-handed for the rest of the trip.
If you get ahead or don’t exhaust a day’s budget, you can use the previous technique above to take home some money, or you can decide to set some aside, and have a bit more budget, since a longer trip can have plenty of ups and downs. But the goal shouldn’t be to play harder, and still go home empty handed if you’re finding yourself trending ahead of budget.
Get a Winners Bank
The Winners Bank and similar devices can allow you to put the money aside in a way that you can’t access it until you get home. Most of the above require you to still make decisions that require discipline.
If you don’t feel that you can trust your own discipline to get out of the casino with money, a Winners Bank will do this for you by allowing you to put money in and be forced to bring it home.
It’s a pretty affordable device, given it will help you take home plenty more cash than you’ll spend on it, so I recommend it for those who need a bit of extra help with money management.