When I first started gambling, I did not know anything, especially about bankroll management. Fast forward a few years, and I think I have learned almost everything there is to know about effectively managing my gambling budget.
It took several failures on my end, and a few successes, but I have finally become confident enough to share what I have learned.
The first time I ever went to a casino, I didn’t have any plan. I had never even heard of a bankroll, so I just went to the casino. Thanks to some advice from my friends, I started with only a couple hundred dollars in cash, but as soon as I got caught up in the excitement, I lost all impulse control.
Luckily, or unluckily, depending on how you look at it, there was an ATM in the casino. The free alcohol convinced me that I would win all of my money back, so I took out a few more hundreds.
By the time we left the casino, I had lost more than $1,000, and I had not won it back as I had hoped. I was ready to swear off gambling altogether after that, but my dad convinced me that my problem was that I had not planned ahead.
He taught me my first lesson on bankroll management: have a bankroll that is separate from your checking account! From there, I have learned all of these other valuable lessons.
If you are just getting started with gambling, setting aside a specific amount of money for gambling is the most crucial step you can take.
You should definitely read the rest of these tips, but they won’t help you if you don’t have a dedicated bankroll to start with. Developing these habits at the beginning of your gambling hobby will make it so much more enjoyable for you!
I am a relatively optimistic person, so whenever I head to the casino, I believe that I have pretty good chances of winning. But when it comes to gambling, I had to learn to “hope for the best and prepare for the worst.”
You would think that I would have learned my lesson after that first disastrous trip to the casino, but I didn’t. The second time around, I was smart enough to bring a $500 bankroll. It was money that I could afford to lose, sort of, but I told myself that I wouldn’t lose all of it.
I was still naïve enough to think that I would win some and lose some and even bring some of my bankroll back home with me. That is, of course, not what happened. All but $5 was lost, and I had to pick up some extra shifts to afford gas for the next couple of weeks.
So, here is what I learned. No matter what, you have to assume that you will lose. There is a minute chance that you could win something, but you cannot bank on that (pun intended).
This is the new rule that I have since adopted: think about how you would feel if you lost every last cent of your bankroll. If that thought makes you cringe or means that you couldn’t gamble again for the next few months, your bankroll is too large.
I usually try to calculate how much I can afford to lose, and then cut it in half to make myself more comfortable with the thought of losing it all.
The bottom line is that you will lose when you gamble because of the nature of the game.
Casinos would not be multi-billion-dollar companies if every gambler won all the time. So, instead of asking yourself how much you can afford to lose, ask yourself how much you are comfortable losing.
It is a small but important distinction. Every win should be an unexpected bonus, not something you count on to save you from your losses.
Obviously, having a bankroll is itself a type of limit because you are restricting how much you are willing to spend. But that is not the only constraint you should give yourself. I believe that there are three other boundaries that a gambler should give themselves.
Limit your time, your alcohol, and your wins and losses. The reason that giving yourself a time restriction is essential is because it is way too easy to get lost in a casino. Brick-and-mortar casinos are designed to make you forget what time it is.
They have no natural light, so you can’t tell when the sun goes down. Lights, decorations, and well-timed cocktails are all intentionally used to keep you playing for as long as possible.
You need to give yourself time away from that environment to clear your head and be able to think clearly. Even online casinos are addictive because you can comfortably sit at your computer for hours without ever realizing that the time has passed.
Time will go faster than you expect it to while you are gambling. Do not rely on your own ability to know what time it is. Instead, set an alarm on your phone or watch to alert you when it is time to go.
If the alarm does not convince you to leave, buy yourself tickets to a show or make a dinner reservation so that you feel obligated to be on time. If you are gambling online, ask a friend or family member to call you at a specific time. When time is up, you finish the hand that you are playing, and you cash out, no matter whether you are winning or losing.
The only reason that casinos are so willing to give players free alcohol is because they know it will lower their inhibitions, keep them playing longer, and trick them into taking more significant risks.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying a cocktail or two while you play, but you need to know your tolerance level. Your ability to handle your liquor will change based on how quickly you drink it, how much you have eaten, and the alcohol content in the drink.
I allow myself to have one cocktail or two glasses of wine every hour, and I always make sure that I have had a decent meal before I start drinking. Drunkenness will get you kicked out of a casino faster than you can blink, so be sure that you can handle yourself. If you know that you make poor decisions when you have been drinking, stick to soda or water.
It might seem counter-intuitive at first, but you also need to limit your wins and losses. One of the most common mistakes that gamblers can make is to believe that they are on a winning streak and accidentally lose it all. On the other hand, when they are losing, they get desperate for a win.
If you are feeling lucky or desperate, you will start betting emotionally. Instead of rationally betting the same amount or knowing when to stop, you will increase your bet amounts, and you are bound to lose. Even the greatest winning streaks come to an end, and you don’t want to lose all of your winnings on one hand.
So, I give myself a limit on wins and losses. Any time that I have won or lost more than three times in a row, I cash out. It doesn’t matter how much I still have in my bankroll; I give myself a break.
I would prefer to take a break while I still have money instead of losing all of my money and needing to stop playing altogether.
Each of these restrictions is self-imposed, but they are the best habits that I have ever created for my gambling budget. They allow me to keep a clear head and keep playing without getting caught up in emotion or inebriation.
If you don’t believe me, just try giving yourself limits for your next trip to the casino and see how different your experience can be.
When I first started gambling, I didn’t think I needed separate bankrolls because I was only going to one casino. But the more I gambled, the more I tried new things. Soon enough, I was playing online, going to casinos on a regular basis, and dabbling in sports betting.
Even before I started different types of gambling, I still had to separate my bankroll. My first trip to Las Vegas was a week-long vacation. I lost my entire bankroll in the first two days and had to sit by the pool while the rest of my friends continued gambling.
Any time you want to be able to gamble multiple times, like each day of a vacation, you should divide your total bankroll so that you have enough smaller bankrolls for each session. You can always roll your bankroll over to the next casino visit if you have money left over, but if you don’t plan ahead, you will run out of money faster than you think.
Once I started expanding my gambling repertoire, I needed to learn how to manage multiple bankrolls. Luckily, I was smart about it this time around instead of messing everything up for myself.
The first time I decided to try sports betting, I knew that I could easily lose the money I had set aside for casino games. It was during another Las Vegas vacation, and I wanted to be able to try both forms of gambling without losing all of my money.
So, I divided my bankroll into ten different sections. I planned on visiting the casino two or three times each day for three days, so nine of my mini-bankrolls were set aside for casino games.
Since I was brand-new to sports betting, I didn’t want to give myself a lot of money to spend on that. To be honest, I didn’t think I would like sports betting as much, and I assumed that I would lose a lot, so I only gave myself $100 to spend on it.
By the last day of the vacation, we had only gone to the casino eight times, and I had loved sports betting more than I expected. So, I chose to use my last bit of casino money to try sports betting one more time.
You can always change the plan and move money around after you have separated your bankroll.
But if you don’t have a plan to begin with, your money won’t last long enough to be able to do so.
Another important consideration for me is my online gambling accounts. I handle those accounts differently each month. When I am setting my monthly budget, after I have paid bills, bought groceries, and put money in savings, I consider how much money I have left over.
If I know that I am going to visit a land-based casino, I put money aside for that first. Then I divide the amount that is left over between my online casino accounts.
The next tip goes into a lot more detail about how I manage my online accounts, but the main point, for now, is that if you want to gamble both in person and online, you will need to allocate money to both activities. Apply the same mentality that you would if you were separating your bankroll to fund several days of in-person gambling.
As I already mentioned, I set aside money each month for my online gambling accounts. Before I go any further, I should explain how many accounts that I have. Some of my friends think I am crazy for having multiple gambling accounts, while other friends tell me that I could earn more bonuses if I opened another account.
I appreciate a welcome bonus as much as any other online gambler, but I find that too many accounts become impossible to manage. So, I have three accounts that I choose to keep active for specific reasons.
My first account is a state lottery account where I buy online lottery tickets. I don’t spend a ton on lottery tickets, so I never have more than $50 in that account, unless I win a prize that is automatically deposited. Next, I started an online account on a casino website that I love.
It is my favorite place to play slot machines, blackjack, and live dealer games. That website has all of my preferred casino games, but it does not have sports betting. So, when I started sports betting, I added one more online account to allow me to place sports wagers online.
Managing online accounts comes down to depositing and withdrawing at the right times. Each website will have different banking methods. Deposits are usually instantaneous, but withdrawals can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks, depending on the amount and banking option.
Knowing how long withdrawals can take is one of the most important parts of managing your online accounts. If your car breaks down, and you try to withdraw money from an online account to pay for repairs, you are going to be waiting a while to fix it.
Some online casinos will not allow you to withdraw any money until specific amounts of bonus money have been used, so make sure that you know the restrictions before you sign up.
Most online casinos and sportsbooks, including my state lottery account, will automatically deposit my winnings into my account. So, sometimes I can keep playing without having to make another deposit.
My lottery spending is so low, and I win enough small prizes, that I can get away with only depositing into that account three or four times a year. Unfortunately, I have yet to win a lottery prize large enough to withdraw the money from the account, but I’m still hopeful!
When it comes to my sports betting account, I manage that one differently than I do my other casino account. I enjoy sports betting, but only for particular games. So, I have to budget wisely to keep my sports betting account well-stocked during the football and basketball seasons.
During the off-season, I usually withdraw most of my money. Sometimes, I use it to play slots and other games on that website, but I prefer my casino website’s options, so I only do that if I have to because of bonus restrictions.
My casino account is the one that I keep money in at all times because I use it most often. I play blackjack or baccarat on my train ride to work, slot machines in between meetings, and live dealer games when I have a few minutes at home. So, I need a steady amount of money in that account.
It is the only account that I intentionally try to get the maximum bonus amounts that I can earn because I know that I will use the bonus money. I rarely take money out of this account, but I have won several hundred dollars on multiple occasions, and I withdrew those winnings pretty quickly!
One of the biggest mistakes an online gambler can make is to not keep track of their online accounts.
Some of my friends have seven or eight different accounts, and they have no idea how much money is in each account.
If you don’t keep track of your accounts and use them wisely, you are just wasting money. My friend Brayden had $250 in an old account that he stopped playing, and it wasn’t until a year later that he realized it and withdrew the money.
As long as you choose to gamble online, you need to plan ahead to manage each of those accounts. It is okay to have multiple accounts, but only if you can keep track of them all. There are no rules that say you have to treat each account the same, either, so find a system that works best for you. How your system works doesn’t matter, as long as you have one.
You should also make sure that you stick with trustworthy and reputable gambling sites.
Gambling is a fun hobby, and it should be treated as an entertainment expense. But it is a lot more fun when you can use your hobby to fund other things. Since your gambling budget is taken out after necessary expenses, you should never need to win to pay for something. Instead, when you do happen to win, you should reward yourself.
One option is to use gambling winnings to fund your next game. I think that is perfectly acceptable and an excellent way to get some extra time playing, but I don’t think it should be the only way you spend prize money.
It depends on the situation, but most of the time, if I win less than $100, I keep it in my bankroll to use for the next game.
On the rare occasions that I do win a significant amount, I cash that money out and do something fun with it. Using my winnings for other things adds so much more enjoyment to my gambling experience and allows me to be a person with multiple hobbies.
There is an infinite number of things you can spend your prize money on, so just choose one that is fun to you. Give yourself a threshold so that any time you win more than that amount, you will cash it out.
Or pay yourself every time you win. It doesn’t matter how you choose to spend your gambling winnings, but I think it is a lot more exciting to spend them on things you wouldn’t typically be able to afford.
If you are overwhelmed by the tips that I have described here, just choose one to work on at a time. Keeps these things in the back of your mind the next time you gamble.
Or you can decide to ignore my advice and continue suffering like I did the first few times I gambled, but my guess is that you will change your mind pretty quickly.
Incorporating strategic bankroll management is one of the most critical skills a gambler can learn. They will allow you to keep playing for longer and to enjoy gambling more.
Any bankroll management plan is better than none, so make a plan, have fun, and always try to learn from your mistakes!