On one of the slot forums I frequent, a player asked a really simple question, but with a very wide open net:
How much of a gambling budget should I bring to Vegas?
Lots of people started throwing out numbers, but the reality is that’s not something anyone can answer for someone. Instead, some thought should be given to a few broad categories that each player can fill in for themselves.
What Can I Afford?
It’s always important that you’re not gambling with the rent money or the food money or things you need to sustain yourself. Your entertainment budget is fine – and that should dictate what you bring to Las Vegas.
That means it might not be the same number each trip – if you got a work bonus and you want to bring that to Vegas, great! If you’ve been saving for months and you are going to make what you saved count, also great!
Some people like to bet high, some are low rollers. None of that matters as Vegas is a wide open net that can cater to basically everyone. If you’re able to manage a bankroll at home, you can do the same in Las Vegas.
How Long Am I Going?
This question matters because it’s how you’re going to divide the bankroll. I’m very much for metering out the bankroll so you don’t go bust before the trip’s over. If you’re going for five days and have $500, limit yourself to roughly $100 a day, and if you spend your day’s budget, you know the next day has budget.
More recently I’ve divided it by the number of days plus one, and I call that a “break glass” day. Slots can be punishing at times and you can just get banged up, so having that extra little money can be nice to give you a chance to rebound or play a bit more when you get off to a bad start.
So in that same example, you divide the $500 by 6 to get roughly $80 a day, and $100 in “break glass” money if you need a recharge, or want to go a bit crazier one day.
I’ve divided in different ways at different times; sometimes I’ll break it up into quarters for quarters of the trip, or by hotel since I bounce around every couple of days, but I’d say the last 4-5 years or so when I’m on a longer trip there’s some sort of plan involved so I don’t go bust too early in the trip.
What Bet Level Am I Playing?
Your budget should dictate how you play and not the other way around. If you bring $100 a day and are playing $2 a spin, that’s 50 shots at something happening and that may not be enough tries on slots. So you might want to adjust based on risk of ruin calculations to improve your chances of making your budget last for awhile.
If you decide your budget based on how you want to bet, you might find you don’t have the budget and make the mistake of spending money you can’t afford.
If you’re a table game player, you can generally find the scenario you want if you’re willing to look around. You can find $1 Blackjack in Las Vegas, $5 Craps tables and so on. COVID has put some temporary wrinkles and things but you can expect games to return as things rebound back to normal.