Let’s face it; gamblers love to gamble! There’s just something exciting in watching the reels spin, and we all get a rush of adrenaline not knowing whether we’ll win or lose. But, let’s be honest; the point of playing is to win some money. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s a small amount of money or a big win (well, preferably the latter one), winning is what matters. However, that’s not how gambling works. The truth is, the longer you play, the more money you stand to lose.
So to win in the long run (or, more precisely, to lose the least), you need to know how to manage your money. Bankroll management is perhaps even more important than knowing how to play the games. There are several ways you can manage your bankroll, and we’ll go over them. But when you think about it, all of them mainly boil down to self-control and discipline. You just need to figure out when to stop, during both winning and losing streaks. Then, you need to have the discipline to actually carry out that plan, instead of sitting around for “just one more round.” It’s never just one.
Before we go into detail about bankroll management, let’s talk about casinos and why you need to be wary.
Casinos have been such a lucrative business due to the fact that they are brilliant at getting the players to lose their money. They utilize many subtle tricks to get you to stay longer and play without a strategy. Now, admittedly, the “built to deceive” line might be a bit over the top. They don’t say you’re guaranteed to win, but the tricks they use are cunning, and they hit us on a psychological level.
For instance, look at how they’ve designed literally any casino floor. You can’t reach any other amenity without having to go past the games section. Want to go to a restaurant? It’s behind those rows of slot machines. Time to go back to your room? Access the hotel via the poker room. A quick visit to the loo? Sure, just past video poker machines!
Furthermore, another thing we don’t think about when we’re gambling is the use of chips. They’re not there just for aesthetics. Although a $10 bill is worth the same as a $10 chip, our brains simply don’t value it the same. Chips are a gaming prop, and we tend to be more willing to spend them. With actual money in our hands, we don’t hand them over just like that, and that’s why casinos make us make a deposit for chips. Online gambling doesn’t have the means of utilizing chips, but online casinos rely on the fact that we’re less wary of spending the money on our credit cards; after all, they’re just a number on a computer screen, they don’t leave our pockets.
Here’s yet another thing they do that the vast majority of people don’t even think about. Try to imagine your last visit to a casino. Have you seen a clock in the entire casino? You haven’t, because there aren’t any. Of course, you can have a watch of your own, and a quick glance at your smartphone will tell you time, but they won’t help you with it. The thing is, you can easily lose track of time while you’re enjoying yourself. And, as we’ve already said, the more you play, the more money goes to them.
Moreover, all casinos are hospitable, that’s simply their job. But some of the features of their hospitality is not there because they like you. For example, if they offer free drinks, make sure you’re not taking an alcoholic one.
When intoxicated, our senses loosen, and we start making decisions that aren’t well-thought-out. We also get a false sense of confidence which makes us value real money less. As a result, we overpay, bet senselessly, and inevitably lose, all because of free drinks. Free things are always appreciated, but don’t fall for this trap — take a juice instead!
Which game you play can go a long way in determining how effective you will be with your bankroll. Essentially, it’s just not the same if you play slots or if you play poker. The reality is, no matter what game you play, you’re always going up against a mathematical disadvantage. But you need to be wise enough to pick one where that disadvantage is the lowest.
Let’s look at even roulette bets, for example. Black or red? Now, there’s an equal number of both red and black slots (18 each). This would make it a 50-50 shot (thus the name “even bet”), which, in the long run, would have you always break even. However, due to the fact that there are one or two green spots (depending on the variant), the chances of winning lower from 50% to 48.65% or, even worse, 47.37%. As you can see, even in seemingly 50-50 bets, you’re still fighting a disadvantage. As a result, roulettes come with a house edge of 2.70% or 5.26% (depending on the number of zero slots). This signifies that every time you bet a $100, casinos expect to earn $2.70 on one-zero tables and $5.26 on two-zero ones.
On the other hand, we generally divide casino games into two categories — games of skill and games of chance. Games of chance rely entirely on how lucky you are. Slots are a perfect example of a game of chance. When playing on a slot machine, there’s nothing you can do to influence the outcome of a round. And when luck is the only factor, you can bet (ironically) that the casino will be “luckier” than you. So what can you do? Play better games.
There’s no surprise that professional gamblers all play poker. The thing with this game is that you, as a player, compete against other players instead of the casino itself. Consequently, the game doesn’t have any house edge. They do take a small part of every pot so that organizing a poker room would be worth their while. But you don’t have that mathematical disadvantage we talked about in the form of fighting against the odds.
Of course, since you’re competing against other players, it takes a lot of skill and experience to be able to beat them, especially if you’re playing at a high-rolling table in a well-known casino. To be on the winning side more often than not, you’ll need to learn how to read opponents’ moves, i.e., their betting patterns. Additionally, you’ll have to know how to work out what are the possible hands your opponents might be holding in order to figure out whether you should be aggressive or fold. But once you elevate your game to a high enough level, you’ll reap the rewards.
Another game that’s favorable for making profits is blackjack. While it has the classic “player versus casino” setup, you’re facing a house advantage of 0.28% to 1.5%. The house edge depends on the variant and the number of decks.
However, if you’re strategic enough, you can tilt the edge in your favor significantly. Counting cards is a method which can get you to anticipate (with high probability) what the next card from the deck will be. This way, you’ll know whether to ask for a hit or just stand. If you manage to utilize card counting properly, you can be on the winning side.
Well, this might sound superfluous to some of you, but the games you should primarily avoid are the ones you don’t know how to play. You’ll always see some tourists wandering about the casino floor and coming to a craps table thinking, “these guys seem like they’re having fun, let’s see what’s going on!” There’s no easier way to lose money than placing bets you don’t fully understand.
Many games (craps is a prime example) contain what we call sucker bets. Sucker bets look brilliant at first glance, and many newcomers to the game rush to place a bet, believing they’ll win big. However, they’re not called sucker bets without reason. The expected return on such bets simply doesn’t justify the poor odds of winning you face.
For instance, an insurance bet in blackjack is a sucker bet. You can make the insurance bet when the dealer’s card is an ace. When you place the bet, you receive double your bet if the dealer has a blackjack. Newcomers look at it and think, “Well, this way, I’ll at least get something!” But the odds of the dealer having a blackjack are 9:4, and you’re bound to lose your money this way. Never test out a game in the casino itself, that’s why we have the internet (well, among other things as well).
There are, however, some games that you shouldn’t play because they don’t represent good value for money. Namely, if you want to win some money by playing lottery games, you won’t have a good time. For instance, keno comes with one of the worst house advantages of all games, with its house edge sitting at 25%. Similarly, Big Six and Big Wheel have an edge of 23%. Out of lotteries, bingo is perhaps the best with an advantage of 11%, but even that is not generous by any means.
Some games can be fraught with pitfalls if you’re not familiar enough with them, which brings us back to the first point in this section. If you’re not an experienced craps player, you won’t know which bets are good for you and which aren’t. Depending on which bets you place, the edge can vary from 1% to 21%. And best believe you’ll have no trouble placing that 21%-edge bet if you don’t know which one it is. Similarly, edges on bets in Sic Bo can go from 2–78% all the way to 47.2%.
Now, say you’ve settled on which game you want to play, you’ve decided you won’t be drinking, and there are three watches on each of your hands (hopefully, that’s six total, unless a squid is reading this). Let’s talk about how you handle the money you have in your pocket.
Rule number one with bankroll management is never bet money you can’t afford to lose. It might seem weird that this needs singling out, but that’s a hurdle many fall at. Simply, don’t buy a Tesla if you can’t afford a Skoda. If you’re okay with saying goodbye to $100, don’t deposit $150. If you’re betting with money you’re afraid will go into someone else’s pocket, gambling will be stressful and not enjoyable. Not to mention how it can cripple you financially.
It’s always important to limit yourself moneywise. When you go to a casino, have a set limit of how much money you’re willing to spend. For instance, if you’re on vacation to Las Vegas, define your gambling expenses exactly. You can decide to spend $100 a day and $1,000 for the whole trip. These numbers are arbitrary, you should pick the amounts that are suitable for your budget, but always stick to this, and don’t go overboard. If you have a winning session on the first night, don’t forget that can (and probably will) change, so don’t fall for the trap of feeling overconfident.
You should also decide on your win and loss limits before you go to the casino. Most people usually think about one aspect of this, as nobody really likes to walk into a casino thinking, “Well, let’s see how much money I’m going to lose today!” Deciding on your win goals, as well as your loss stops, is important for any playing session.
When you decide on these, you need to have the discipline to stick to the deal you’ve made with yourself and don’t go back on it for any reason. For instance, if you walk in with the plan of not going under $30, and calling it quits at $500, you do that regardless of whether you’re feeling lucky and think the next round will be lucrative.
Moreover, you ought to consider how much money you’re spending in the long run. Keep track of your gaming sessions and figure out your expenses on a monthly basis. If you’re comfortable with it, then go ahead. If you find yourself borrowing money in order to keep playing, you’re doing it wrong and should stop and re-evaluate your behavior. Don’t forget, excessive gambling can lead to an addiction, and everyone can succumb to it. Remember, gambling is a pastime activity; it shouldn’t be the focal point of your everyday life.
Let’s talk about betting itself. You can have a strategy on raising or lowering your bets, but the common rule is not to go overboard on single bets. Most people stick to the rule of not going over 1% of your entire bankroll. If you’ve come in with $100, don’t bet more than $1 per round. This way, you don’t become overcommitted to a single game, and you don’t have to cry yourself to sleep. On the other hand, the rewards on a bet of such value are still significant enough for you to care enough about it.
There are several betting strategies people use to optimize their earnings. For example, one of the most common strategies is Martingale. In Martingale, every time you have a losing round, you double your bet, and every time you win, you revert to the initial bet. So, if you bet $1 and lose, you bet $2. If you lose again, you bet $4, and so on. Once you win, you go back to the $1 bet.
This way, you’re theoretically guaranteed to win, as the first time you do, you’ll recoup all your previous bets and get even more. In the example above, if you score on your fourth round (betting $8), you’ll get $16 which will give you a dollar’s worth of earnings. Basically, whenever you win, it’ll be as if you’re always returning the first bet.
However, the keyword here (which is the problem with other strategies as well) is “theoretically.” The problem comes up when you don’t have an unlimited budget, which nobody does. If your initial bet is $10, after seven consecutive losses (which is highly likely), you’ll be looking at the expenses of $1,270. Can you afford to continue on?
All in all, bankroll management boils down to just being sensible with your money. Don’t become emotional about it and start chasing losses just to recoup what you’ve already lost. That’s never a good thing. Don’t go overboard with your spending and never dip into the funds you’ve put aside for other life expenses.
The thing with gambling is, the second you start playing you have to accept you’re facing an uphill battle. The fact that a house edge exists means that you have a mathematical disadvantage, and that house edge is constant, irrespective of your betting system. So take it lightly and enjoy yourself — they’re just games after all! Consider the money you lose as the price for the entertainment you experience. Just don’t get carried away and stick to some of the bankroll management principles we’ve shared with you. Don’t spend more than you want, and you’re good to go!
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