Bankroll Management

Written by: Webster Lupton , Casino, Gambling, and Sports Journalist
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Bankroll management is a powerful tool that helps bettors deal with risk and plan their gambling sessions. Controlling your money is critical and applies to all betting, blackjack, roulette, slots, and most other games in the casino.

This guide shows you how to manage your bankroll at the casino and gives you tips on how much cash to bring with you. We cover the best money strategy for every gambler and show you simple practices that make betting more enjoyable without busting.

Betting Bankroll Management

Everything You Need to Play & Win

What is a Bankroll?

A bankroll is the amount of money you set aside for gambling. When planning a trip to Vegas or a monthly allowance for the online casino, you should set aside a small part of your overall budget. It should always be disposable money that you can afford to lose.

The size of your bankroll depends on your financial resources. The concept applies whether you’re a high roller, a mid-stakes player, or a low roller. In any case, you determine an amount you’re willing to wager, then stick with that amount no matter what happens during the gaming sessions.

What is bankroll management?

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Bankroll management involves setting limits for yourself to ensure you don’t run out of money if you run into bad beats early in a session. Once you have a total dollar amount in mind for the day, you can determine your stakes per hand and wager accordingly. Additionally, it will be easier to determine concepts like stop losses and win goals. 

Bankroll techniques and strategies let you play under control. They help you make intelligent decisions based on realistic expectations and a sure knowledge of your financial situation.

How Big Should Your Bankroll Be?

The optimal size of your casino bankroll depends on a combination of your goals and experience. Ultimately, it should be an amount you can live without and feel comfortable risking.

Casual players visit casinos for entertainment and take a little bit of cash to play with, understanding they could lose it at the expense of fun. Experienced pros have goals in mind and a better idea of the risks and rewards they might face, so naturally, they bring more money to the table.

Your bankroll size also depends on the games you play and the length of time you plan to be in the casino. A day trip requires less cash on hand than a week-long Las Vegas gambling spree. Even tournament poker and single table buy-ins have different monetary needs.

Let’s look at these three things you should factor in when deciding on the size of your bankroll.

What Games Do You Want to Play?

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If you plan to play poker, then the size of your bankroll should be at least 20 tournament or table buy-ins. Then you should use your skills and strategies to manage your chip stack at the table.

Blackjack, roulette, baccarat, and craps tend to have longer sessions. Your bankroll size for these games depends on the flat minimum bet at the table. Your stakes should remain steady to wait out the odds.

Try to limit your wagers to 1% of your total available cash for the session. If you bring $100 to the table, bet $1 at a time to stretch your money, get through losing streaks, and have more fun.

Even Slots Can Utilize Bankroll Management

Slot games use bright lights and bonus features to keep you playing. Gambler’s fallacy can make you think those past losing sessions make a big jackpot more likely. Loss limits and win goals help to shorten slot sessions.  

Regarding your wagers, slot machines start at 1¢ per round and go up from there. Pick a game that you can spin the reels 200 times or more based on your starting bankroll. That lets you play the odds and roll through more chances at big wins.

Budget for How Long You Plan to Play

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Your starting bankroll size depends significantly on the length of time you plan to play. A week-long trip to Vegas when you want to gamble 6 hours a day for five days is going to take more cash than a spontaneous day trip.

Think of the bankroll you set as one of your vacation expenses – much like you would allot money for the shows and concerts you want to see.

Online Casino Bankrolls Require Discipline

You can play real money casino games online 24/7. Make sure you plan accordingly and limit yourself, so you don’t run out of your budget on day one.

As a general rule, betting stakes should only be 1% or less of your bankroll. Many people turn to penny slots and low-limit games to manage smaller bankrolls and stretch their budgets.

Casual Gamblers vs. Professionals

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Beginners usually have smaller expectations and smaller bankrolls because they’re still learning the game. Many casual players get carried away with success and failure.

Don’t get caught up in the gambler’s fallacy – the belief that a lost wager means good luck is on the way.

If you’re playing casually for entertainment, your betting stakes should be smaller to stretch your bankroll further and get you through some rookie mistakes. 

Pro Players Treat Their Bankrolls Differently

Pro players obviously have bigger bankrolls. Experienced poker players often have career winnings in mind when they calculate their per-hand stakes.

They usually play with a sound strategy and lots of control. The same tactics hold true with most professional casino bettors, whether it’s poker, slots, or blackjack.

Managing Your Bankroll

Managing your bankroll is about setting a budget and some rules for yourself and sticking to the plan. During a gambling session, it’s tempting to push your luck or up your wagers when you’re winning. It’s also easy to chase losses and try to bounce back when you hit a streak of bad luck.

10 Bankroll Management Tips

Setting an overall amount is only the start of a solid plan. You’ll need to manage how you bet on each hand and decide on when to get out. Here are 10 tips to help you budget and get through your sessions while having a good time.

  1. Stick to Your Plan / Budget

    Stick to your strategy. Don’t deviate when the results don’t meet expectations. Casino games get your adrenaline going, so stay calm and strategic.
  2. Only Carry What You Want to Spend

    Don’t have a lot of excess cash on hand. Consider leaving your credit card in the hotel room. Don’t overload your online player account with extra money.
  3. Stick to Smaller Bets

    Each bet should be 1/100th of your total bankroll or smaller. That’s why progressive systems are dangerous because they tempt you to wager larger percentages.
  4. Play Slowly

    You’ll enjoy the anticipation just as much if you play slowly. Face the house edge as few times an hour as possible while still enjoying the game. Don’t choose auto-play on the slots, and don’t play multi-hand or multi-spin versions of a game. 
  5. Play Games with a Low House Edge

    Learn about the house edge of all the options you’re considering playing. Some table games have bets that are almost a 50/50 shot at an even money return.
  6. Follow Strategy Charts

    Some casino games have a lower house edge when you make decisions that are in your favor mathematically. If you don’t learn basic strategy, you won’t enjoy the nice return-to-player.
  7. Don’t Raise Your Buy-In or Bet Per Round

    Adapt to the game results. When playing poker or slots, only raise the stakes when you’ve won a big pile of cash. Don’t be reactive to losses, but apply a more aggressive strategy when winning.
  8. Take Breaks

    Players make mistakes when they are tired, sleepy, hungry, thirsty, or otherwise restless. Take frequent breaks, which helps you stay calm and under control.
  9. Don’t Chase Your Losses

    Poker players call this going on tilt, and it isn’t good. Problem gamblers tend to chase losses, slowly ramping up their bets in the hope of that one lucky hit. Those who push progressive betting systems urge players to do the same, but it’s a more expensive way to play.
  10. Set a Max Winning Limit

    Win goals are your friend. It’s tempting to keep betting when on a “hot streak,” but that’s a fallacy. If you want bigger winnings, set a more aggressive win goal beforehand. Either way, follow your strategy and not your emotions.

The Benefits of Bankroll Management

Bankroll management techniques help players stretch their funds and enjoy casino gambling longer. Using money management techniques gives you focus and assures your passions won’t take over.

Set a bankroll, then choose a safe and logical betting stake based on your calculations. Following the tips above provides you with the following benefits.

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Longer Low-Risk Sessions

Bankroll management and flat betting models let you play for longer with less risk. Increasing your wagers doesn’t change the fact that you’re up against a house edge. It only exposes you to greater risk.

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Weather Losing Streaks

Managing your bankroll better helps you weather the bad luck streaks. Return-to-player (RTP) gets calculated over many games. Even a thousand hands, dice rolls, or spins is considered a tiny sample.

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Have More Fun

It might sound counter-intuitive, but playing within your limits allows you to have more fun. You know that you won’t end the session with huge losses. Follow the plan and get excited when you win big.

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Stretch Casino Bonuses

Casino bonuses can boost your bankroll and lower the effective house edge. Managing your extra funds will extend how long you can play and increase your chances of hitting a random progressive jackpot.

Famous Casino Bankroll Management Techniques

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular and famous money management techniques. None of these methods assure that you’ll win. The whole point of gambling is taking a risk on an uncertain outcome in hopes of winning a prize.

Some Tactics That Work for Everyone

First, take a look at some good betting advice that will help you manage your bankroll and have a good time doing it.

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Set a Stop-Loss

Setting a “stop-loss” is simply deciding beforehand when you’ll walk away from the table. If you have a $500 bankroll, you might choose to set a loss limit of $100.

If at any time you lose $100 from your bankroll during the session, you end the session. That assures you don’t get caught chasing losses.

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Set a Win Goal

Decide what you’re happy winning beforehand. Let’s say your win goal is $100. If you win $100 or at any point, you walk away from the table and end the session.

This tactic is the opposite of a stop loss. It is often used in tandem to create a comfort buffer above and below your starting gambling bankroll.

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Keep What You Win

The “Take All Winnings Home” method is a fantastic way to enjoy a gambling trip. You only wager with your initial bankroll and keep any money you win in your pocket.

Don’t re-wager the $20 you won on the last hand. This technique shows you exactly what you win and lose over time.

High Roller Betting Models

Many high-stakes gamblers use progressive betting systems when making even-money wagers on blackjack and roulette. So with each losing round, you step up your stakes. The idea is to win back your stake, plus all lost bets.

Betting systems are for gamblers with deep pockets and, even then, aren’t usually your best way to manage a bankroll. The risk of ruin is high, and you need a lot of money to pull them off. We suggest you avoid these tactics and make flat bets. Even a small streak of bad luck could result in you wagering massive amounts for eventual small gains.

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The Martingale System

The Martingale structure is the original progressive betting system. Wagers amounts progress quickly in a string of losses: $5, $10, $20, $40, $80, $160, $320, $640, and so on.

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The d’Alembert System

The d’Alembert betting system isn’t as risky as the Martingale system since it progresses more slowly. A losing wager increases the next bet by $1, and a win decreases it by $1.

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The Fibonacci System

A Fibonacci sequence is a pattern of numbers that often appear in nature. A $5 base bet becomes $10, $15, $25, $40, $65, $105 and so on up the ladder.

Bankroll Management Is Key to Having Fun at the Casino

Bankroll management helps gamblers enjoy more sessions over a longer time and have more entertainment in the casino. Winning is fun, so use these proven techniques to increase your odds of taking the prize.

Chip Stack Accumulation From Bankroll Management

The goal is to regulate your betting, to keep it strategic and under control. Avoid the progressive systems you can’t afford and gambler’s fallacies that make you deviate from your strategy. Always keep your money in mind when playing casino games. You’ll be a better player and a happier player when you use bankroll management. 

Manage Your Money to Win

All These Games Benefit from Bankroll Control

Managing A Gambling Bankroll FAQ

Below are the most common questions we get from players trying to manage their casino bankrolls.

What is a good bankroll?

A good bankroll for cash games in the casino is about 100x the bet you plan to make each round. So if you want to wager $1 per hand in video poker, you should put $100 in the machine. If you can’t afford that based on your budget, find a 25¢ or 5¢ game with lower limits.

How many buy-ins should my poker bankroll be?

You should have at least 20 tournament or table buy-ins to make sure you can get through some bad rounds. So, if you want to play $5 sit-n-gos, you should have at least $100.

How do you manage your bankroll in blackjack?

Blackjack bankroll management involves picking a bet that is about 1% of your table buy-in and sticking to it. If you have $200 in chips, you should wager $2 per hand and slowly build up your stack.

What is the purpose of Poker Bankroll Management?

Poker bankroll management techniques help card players to gamble with less risk, weather losing streaks better, and ultimately enjoy the game more.

Webster Lupton

Webster Lupton Casino, Gambling, and Sports Journalist

Webster Lupton is a journalist and expert sports and casino writer with over 30 years of experience. He is a seasoned researcher and a published author that enjoys the outdoors and birdwatching.

Learn More About Webster