Your Bankroll

You bankroll, in other words, is how much money you have to play with. You need to have a method of how you manage your money. It is impossible to succeed in gambling if you do not have a good grasp of how to handle the money you have. This is the single most important skill to learn when starting out as a gambler. It doesn’t matter how well you know your games. It doesn’t matter how much money you earn in your day job. Nothing else matters other than how you handle the money you already have. This is the difference between a shark and a fish. When there are sharks in the sea, you do not want to be the fish.

It helps to understand what a casino really is. Most people think it is a place where one goes to play games. True, in the strictest sense of the word. The more astute imagine the casino as a place where one pits his luck against the casino in a one on one battle. This person might imagine a tug of war on his money, where the casino might ultimately win because of the house advantage. This second type imagines the relationship as a one way ticket for the money at stake. Either it goes to the casino or it goes to the player. Fine concept. The truth is much more bizarre. A casino is a massive operation whose job is to take money and shuffle it around and redistribute it in random weird ways.

To understand how a casino works, imagine a giant tornado. It touches down and sucks up everything in its path. Picture it sucking up cars, and cows, and barns, and mailboxes and anything else in its way. It goes along this way for a while and then deposits all that stuff randomly down the road. Picture a cow deposited a mile down the road then a car launched up a tree in the next town. There are other things in this tornado—desks, chairs, who knows? The mystery is that all the stuff that got sucked up is deposited elsewhere, but some stuff, like an encyclopedia set, for example, never turns up. It just disappears forever. That encyclopedia set is the house edge—the percentage of everything that the casino keeps. Everything else is the cars and cows and barn roofs. In other words, the money that the casino takes along the way is given back, but not to its original owners. Someone might find nothing left in his yard—the people who lose their money. Another person might find a cow and a pickup truck neatly deposited in his yard. This is a winner.

The magic of the casino is that anyone can be a winner or loser. It’s just a numbers game. Like a tornado, it is completely unpredictable, and just as its direction can change at any time, so can your luck. The way to survive the casino’s forces is similar to how one survives the tornado. You have to bolt things down. This is called your daily budget limit.

To set a budget limit you must know exactly how much money you have at your disposal. How much you earn. How much of it is discretionary. How much of it must go to rent, mortgage, food, utilities and so on. Set a budget. It is very easy to find out how much of your discretionary income you can burn through and not feel the pain of it. For some people it is more than for others. Be honest, though. Once a discretionary income amount is set, it is time to hack it up into pieces. Decide how many days per month are set aside to gamble. Four? Eight? Thirty? Everyone is different. The more days you choose to gamble per month, the smaller the daily budget per day will be. For the sake of argument, say you decide you have $1,000 a month you are willing to lose and no harm is done. And say, you want to play four Sundays a month. You break up your money into four $250 allotments. And that is the daily limit for each of those four days. You must never go over this budget. Never. Not even if you think you can afford it. This is a promise you make to yourself. And if you don’t intend on keeping it, choose a different hobby.

As you know if you have been alive for longer than 17 years, in life you win some and you lose some. Some days you will win tons of money. This is great. As long as you are winning, there is no limit to how long you can play that day. The limit is only in the other direction. When you start to lose, the second you hit your earmarked threshold you stop immediately. Go back to the money you’re winning, though. There is something interesting you should be doing when you’re on a winning streak. An old standby trick, is to treat won money as though it does not exist for the day. In a real casino the way gamblers handle this is to keep two sets of money separated into two pockets. One pocket has your budgeted bankroll. The other pocket is where you stash your won cash. Play normally as you would, but anything you win, goes into a separate pocket. Online it’s a bit tricky because you have your one account. The way to handle it online is with paper and pen. Keep a record as you play. Remember your budgeted limit. Do not wager more than your limit allows. If you’re winning, you should be ok, because you should be stashing away only the money left over after breaking even. You can try a practice round at an online casino like Winner Casino.

Because of fluctuations in your account due to this technique, it might be tempting to throw caution to the wind and play more aggressively, safe in the knowledge that your set aside winnings will cover you. This is not a good way to play. The worst offense is to play the Martingale method, which is what people in a bind tend to naturally try. The Martingale method is a progressive betting system, but most people know it simply as doubling or nothing when you’re losing desperately. Double or nothing does not work. The theory behind it is sound, but you will quickly hit the table betting limit if you keep doubling your bets. The increase in wager size is exponential and cannot be sustained. Even if there were no betting limit, it would only take ten losses to make the wager necessary to cover losses so big that most people could not afford it. When you are managing your bankroll, the main purpose is to avoid getting into this particular trap.

Play small managed wagers as long as you can or until you hit your personal loss limit. You will still have your budgeted allotment for your next gambling day, whether that is the following week or the next business day. It behooves you to know your odds at whatever game you are playing. This information is freely available on the casino website. The best tactic for responsible play and optimal bankroll management is to choose the games that offer the best odds. Keep a level head, play the games that pay out best, and you will have a long and prosperous gambling career.