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Reducing Your Risk of Leaving the Casino Broke

Bankroll money
Written by Joshua

No one goes to the casino hoping that they’re going to leave with all of their money having been spent. Many go hoping to win, and others look at it as their entertainment budget and expect to spend some money, but may aim to not go for broke.

Despite that, many can make decisions that can lead them to take bigger risks than are wise for the budget they have, leading them to end up broke. So in today’s post let’s look at a few steps to take to reduce that potential.

Go With a Set Budget in Mind

Some players will pull money out as they go and not carefully monitor what they’re doing, go on tilt and spend way more than anticipated. It’s best to decide before you leave the house what your budget will be for a casino trip, whether it be an afternoon at a local casino or a week in Las Vegas.

By having a budget in mind, you can make sure it’s money you can afford to lose. You can also make sure that you have a number in mind where you throw in the towel if you reach it.

Do the Math

There’s a concept called “Risk of Ruin” that determines what sort of betting strategy you should enter a casino trip with to avoid running out of money too soon. The idea is if you have a certain number of bets available to you at the start of your session, mathematically speaking you should generally still have money left over after a couple of hours.

For instance, when playing craps, it’s generally recommended to have at least 10 times your bet, so you can ride out a few point seven outs. Having 50 bet units on Blackjack will give you an incredibly strong probability of lasting a few hours.

These are just statistical calculations, but the point of them is to show that games can have swings, both positive and negative. If you don’t have enough betting units to ensure you can ride out general downswings to get to a bigger win or an upswing cycle, you could run the risk of taking yourself out of the game too early.

So how many betting units should you have for a few hours of slots? Well, calculations run by experts usually indicate 500 betting units for a four-hour run. If your bankroll for a casino trip is $500, that’d be $1 a spin. A $200 bankroll would be an average of 40 cents a spin.

Why so many betting units? Well, for once, a slot machine has a lot more wagers per hours than table games like Blackjack. In Blackjack you might play 100 hands an hour, but on a slot machine it’s not difficult to do 400-600 spins an hour. In a four hour session that could be 1500-2500 spins.

The payback percentage on slots is much lower than most table games as well. So your budget has to account for the fact that you’ll generally lose money quicker when you combine those two facts.

The other thing to keep in mind is a Risk of Ruin calculation tries to minimize you going home with nothing. So after that four hours it’s more likely than not you’ll have some sort of money in pocket. That’s good! You get hours of entertainment and you still can bring something home.

Imagine going to a casino with $500 and betting $5 a spin. That could last as little as 100 spins, a mere 10-15 minutes at the rate an average player spins. The Risk of Ruin would be much, much higher at that point.

Adjust Your Bets

The other thing you can do to keep your bankroll going is to adjust your bets as you go. Get off to a great start? Reset your bets at the higher number. Taking a massive hit early on? Lower your bets to make up for it.

Some people have the inclination of betting higher to make up for losses, but that can just mean running out of money even faster. Meanwhile, others may lower their bets when they’re up – that’s certainly fair if you want to try to lock in some profits, but being ahead does give you a bit more flexibility on betting without expecting to bomb out.

Once I got a $1,000 hit on my first day of an eight day trip, which put me significantly ahead on my trip bankroll. So I upped my bet and even by the end of day four I was finally back at even, when I had budgeted to have spent half my bankroll. So I allowed myself to continue to bet heavier until I had a rougher patch, and I brought my bets back down to normal. I still came home with over half my bankroll, despite a day one win that wasn’t half my bankroll for the trip.

Bankroll management is at times designed to help you survive the ups and downs by making decisions as you go to protect yourself.

Longer Trips? Break the Bankroll into Segments

On longer trips, consider dividing your bankroll up into sections. Some do daily segments, some do fourths or thirds. Like the Risk of Ruin calculation above, the goal is to properly pace yourself and not go overboard too quickly. Nothing would be worse than spending a week in Vegas and run out of money on day three.

If you run out of one segment before you’re due to get more money, you wait. If you have money left of one segment and it’s time for the next, You could put that money aside and bring it home, guaranteeing a portion of your bankroll survives the trip.

How many segments your bankroll should be should depend on how you wish to run the trip. I sometimes find a daily budget a bit suffocating, and instead prefer 2-3 day bankroll sets to have more flexibility to play games that I might not be able to if I only have one day’s worth of money available at a time.

Treat Freeplay Like Extra Cash Budget

Some players like to bet high on freeplay since it isn’t their money but a gift from the casino. But the reality is it is your money – you earned it from your previous play, and probably your previous losses. If you have $50 in freeplay, for example, it’s wise to add it into the calculation of how you’re going to bet that day and play it so you get as much mileage as possible.

The main reason for this is the casino will calculate the freeplay and the expectation of how long it will last into their offers math. If you blow it fast, you’ll probably under play the expectation and it could negatively impact your offers in the future.

On the other hand, if you make the money last, you can get recorded play that not only helps your tier earnings, but also potentially boosts your offers in the future on the back of strong time in the casino and overall play. Casinos like to see slot players ideally put in a few hours of play for best results.

Ultimately, if you’re careful with your bankroll and wagering strategy, you can have a reasonable chance of bringing home some money each time, or at the very least keeping yourself on track with your visit budget.

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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