I see posts quite often on forums that discuss how every casino trip is a losing one, and that it can be a frustrating experience. When we enter a casino we play negative expectation games, where over time it’s expected for the house to come out ahead.
But that doesn’t mean every casino trip has to be a losing one, and some simple methods for being smarter while in the casino can help you leave the casino with money.
For the purposes of this article we’re talking about basic considerations, and not diving into deeper categories like Advantage Play, although that information is elsewhere on the site if that’s your prerogative.
Lock in Your Casino Budget for the Visit
I say this in a lot of posts but it bears repeating when trying to have winning sessions – your budget should be set and not move. If you lose your budget, you don’t pull out more money. And the goal shouldn’t be riches or ruin – there’s nothing wrong with leaving with half your budget still intact, for instance.
The longer you’re at a casino, the more tempting it can be to push if you’ve still got money in your pocket, but pushing your luck can lead to faster and bigger losses, for instance, so that’s partially why setting limits is so important.
Also Don’t Under Budget
If you’re going to the casino and plan to be there for a few hours, make sure your bankroll reflects that goal. If you go to a casino with $100 expecting to do $3 a spin, you might be broke before you barely have time to get comfortable in your chair.
To really ensure a minimum risk of losing everything, I recommend having 500x your average bet as your bankroll. So if you plan on doing $1 a spin, $500 should last you the session a good percentage of the time. You could get away with less, but you could run out of money more frequently before your time’s up, and that’s one easy way to ensure you’re going to lose frequently – underbankrolling yourself.
Adjust Your Betting As You Go
If you’re having a rough start to the session, there’s also nothing wrong with pruning your bet level a bit. I’ve had awful starts to casino visits an hour in, and I’ll cut my bet level down based on how much money I have left just to ensure that my money will sustain itself.
If I begin to have a bit of luck and regain some ground, I can always reconsider and increase my bet level again, but part of my strategy is to never put myself in a situation where I sit down at a machine with the plan of being there another hour and having only 20 bets left at my bet level.
Set Win/Loss Limits in Advance
If your goal is to have a winning casino session, and you start the day with a $500 bonus, it can be difficult to calibrate when you’re already off to a good start. But I see so many stories of people who kick themselves for not being more careful and ultimately losing not only their winnings, but everything they brought with them.
So one way you can do this is to set limits in advance. For instance, if you get more than $x ahead, you must bank a certain amount, or leave the casino with your winnings.
I many times set a rule that if I get ahead early, I bank the winnings and restart with my original budget. So if on my first game I get up $100, I pocket the $100 and still have my original bankroll. If I have a good day and get ahead on a few machines I can many times leave with more than my original bankroll just playing on that basis!
I once had a casino trip where I started with $200 on small bets (all under $1) and over the course of a few hours built to nearly $1,000. I never allowed myself more than $200 from any new high point, to guarantee I’d walk out way ahead, but I always had my original $200 to play with.
Another time, I got a royal flush on free play before I had gotten going, and I made sure to bank it so I didn’t spend it all. In that case I did allow myself a bit more budget for the day, because even doing so I would be leaving with no less than 2x what I brought with me, so it would be a guaranteed winning session.
Slot channel Neily777 has a system where you put $20 in and cash out whenever you get at least $25. You can always put a fresh $20 in if you want to keep playing a game, but it encourages cashing out when you get ahead.
Bank Your Winnings
Some players use devices like Winners Banks to put cash away when they have a big win. This can encourage leaving with money, and if you get ahead can help you ensure you leave with that money.
But even if you don’t use a device to lock away money, there will be casino sessions where you simply manage a substantial win. And during those times, it’s the discipline of putting that money aside and not splurging that will ensure you can come home with a win.
On my most recent trip to Las Vegas I managed two of my biggest slot hits ever within a single trip. Instead of upping bets or losing discipline, I stayed the course to ensure I’d be bringing money home, and had my most successful Vegas trip to date, despite being there for 10 days.
Don’t Chase Your Losses, Cut Your Losses
I don’t think I can say this one enough. Some players think if they’re down, all they need to do is up their bet and they’ll get their big win and make it all back. But the losing streak can simply continue and then you’re losing money faster.
It’s sometimes better to accept a given trip will be a losing one than hitting the ATM to try to turn it around. You can always make another trip to the casino, with your normal budget, and try to have a better outing.
Take Breaks to Keep a Clear Mind
It’s also not necessarily a problem if you’re getting frustrated and having a lot of losses consecutively to stop, get up and walk around so you don’t let the emotion of the moment take control. It’s easy to make poor betting decisions in the heat of the moment (poker players who do this are said to be “on tilt,” and you have to figure if there’s a term for it it happens enough).
So sometimes, if you’re riding the high of a big win or the devastation of some heavy losses, it helps to take a break.