Everybody who arrives in Las Vegas and is looking to explore the casino gambling scene has one idea in mind—win big and walk away with more money than you came with. Hitting a hot streak on the blackjack tables or winning big on a slot machine are only some of the visions that guide millions upon millions of gamblers to Sin City each and every year.
While enjoying a lucky run on the casino floor is certainly the most exciting way to win big in Las Vegas, it’s also the most difficult to accomplish. Simply put, casinos have stacked the proverbial deck against players. By using carefully calculated probabilities and payout odds to ensure a healthy house edge on every wager, casinos make it impossible for players to clear a profit over the long run.
The most effective method gamblers can use to even the score and escape Las Vegas with their bankroll intact involves sensible money management. Unless you’re prepared to apply a disciplined system while gambling, it’s easy to get in over your head.
All in all, Las Vegas casinos can be a cutthroat environment for folks who don’t employ a smart bankroll management strategy.
To help you avoid the fate that befalls a large segment of Las Vegas’ clientele base on a daily basis, check out the list below. You’ll find five easy ways to manage your bankroll responsibly when you visit Las Vegas for a gambling adventure. So, pick the one that works best for you and see if it helps the next time you’re here.
1 – Set Strict Daily Loss Limits and Stick to Them
The most effective way any gambler can govern the fate of their bankroll is through the use of loss limits.
Let’s say you’re in town for a three-day weekend and you’ve brought $1,000 to play around with in the pits. For many players, this entire bankroll would be brought down to the casino floor from the get-go. In the gambling community, players often talk about bringing enough “bullets,” or betting units, to bear in order to give themselves a fighting chance.
After all, with the odds being against you at all times, you should readily expect to lose that first $100 playing table games, machines, poker, or betting on sports. Thus, with a few extra bullets in the chamber, you can survive the early swings and fire a few more in hopes of balancing out the variance.
And indeed, coming to the casino with only a single bullet is usually a recipe for disaster. You need a little wiggle room with which to work, so giving yourself a few opportunities to rebuy and keep fighting just makes too much sense.
On the other hand, those who lack discipline can easily find themselves firing all of their bullets as a luckless streak piles up the losses.
To find the perfect happy medium between playing short, and exposing your entire bankroll, the sharpest bankroll management strategists out there advise gamblers to use loss limits.
In this case, with $1,000 to play with and three days of action awaiting, you could split things up into three $300 bullets—one for each day of play and an extra $100 for emergency purposes.
On your first day exploring Sin City’s casino wonderland, you must force yourself to forget about the other two bullets tucked away in your room’s safe. At this point, you simply have $300 to play with on this particular day, no more and no less.
This amount should be used to dictate your stakes, too. So, even if you feel like you should be playing for $10 per hand on the blackjack tables thanks to that $1,000 bankroll, knowing you really only have $300 today makes it much easier to dial things back to $5 wagers.
If you happen to go broke with your initial $300 bullet, the temptation to head back upstairs and grab reinforcements can often be overwhelming. And that’s where discipline and self-respect come into play…
Instead of sticking around the casino floor and torturing yourself, just get out and find other ways to have fun that don’t involve gambling. Thankfully, the modern Las Vegas is built to accommodate gamblers and non-gamblers alike, so you’ll find no shortage of ways to pass the time. Buffets, sports bars, in-house shows, or just taking a stroll down the fabulous Las Vegas Strip—do whatever tickles your fancy at the time.
Then, when you’ve had a good night’s sleep and are feeling refreshed, you’ll wake up to a second $300 bullet and all the hope that entails.
Winning shouldn’t affect this loss limit approach either. When you manage to beat the house and build your starting bankroll, let’s say to $1,500 after a $500 profit on day 1, you can easily recalibrate the formula going forward. For our sake, with two days left on the schedule and $1,500 in the bag, you can now up your bullet count to $700 + $700 + $100 in emergency funds.
2 – Set Strict Win Limits to Lock up Profits After a Lucky Run
Continuing the example from above, let’s say you’re having a blast and winning at the craps table.
You came to Las Vegas with $1,000 and on day 1 you’ve turned that initial $300 bullet into a pile of chips worth $800, good for a $500 profit. For the vast majority of gamblers, the path forward from here wouldn’t require much thought at all. The dice are rolling your way, things are going great, so they’ll keep playing and try to rack up an even larger win by night’s end.
Of course, in a highly volatile gambling game like craps, or any casino offering for that matter, continuing to place bets with your profits only favors the house. The odds are working for the casino, not you, and they’ll inevitably catch up as a short-term run extends into the long run.
In the end, these players not only lose their $500 profit, but their $300 starting bullet. And if they’re not in control by using loss limits, maybe even their entire bankroll could be out.
The best way to dodge that trap is by setting win limits that help you lock up profits in the short-term. I usually opt for a “triple up” win limit when I’m playing, so whenever my starting bullet has been multiplied by three, I consider the session a success and bank the win by cashing out.
You can feel free to adjust that formula as you see fit, but the goal with this tip remains the same. When you’ve already beat the odds by beating the house, don’t tempt fate by continuing to place bets that offer a negative expected return. Instead, happily cash out your chips and secure a sweet profit that can then be rolled over to increase your bullet sizing for the next day of play.
3 – Do Everything You Can to Avoid Going on Tilt
I’m sure you somewhat understand the pernicious plague of gambling tilt in-depth, but I recommend reading up on it to teach yourself a few great tips on maintaining emotional stability as a gambler.
With that said, I’ll keep this entry short and sweet…
As a gambler, you must realize that losses are par for the course. And not just run-of-the-mill losses like hitting on a 12 and catching a 10 to go bust, I’m talking about the brutal bad beats that seem to defy all statistical probability.
If you’ve ever drawn a pat 20 on the deal, only to watch the dealer miraculously improve their 9-3 (12) by drawing perfect to the 4 (16) and 5 (21), you know exactly how cruel casinos can be when the gambling gods aren’t on your side.
Tough losses like this can cause even the most stoic among us to experience tilt, and when a gambler goes on tilt, all of their best laid plans go out the window right then and there. Suddenly, you’re betting bigger than your bankroll can bear, while making poor plays out of spite as you try to return the bad beat favor.
Don’t be “that guy or gal” who can’t seem to control themselves on the casino floor. Use the five tips I offer in the aforementioned page on tilt mitigation, and cool off to avoid losing your cool whenever the dealer delivers a cooler.
4 – Lower Your Standard Stakes to Stretch a Depleted Bankroll
Imagine you’re on day 3 of that three-day weekend and your first two bullets have been misfires.
That leaves you with a lone remaining $300 bullet (plus $100 in emergency funds just in case), and your back is up against the wall. Most players would simply stick to their script by betting at the same stakes as they have been all along.
But when you’re down to your final bullet, the best way to make it count is by dropping down in stakes to stretch your bankroll as far as it can go.
This extends a lifeline of sorts, allowing you to weather the swings of random variance far more easily than you would when playing at your preferred stakes.
And naturally, if you’re able to build that last bullet into a larger bankroll, by all means, feel free to reset back to your normal stakes to repeat the process.
5 – Ditch the Fast-Paced Games of Chance for Easy Skill Games
Along the same lines, players who have burned through most of their bankroll bullets on the slots, roulette, baccarat, or any other game of chance should consider trying a skill-based game next.
Don’t get me wrong, I love chasing progressive jackpots on the Wheel of Fortune slot and spinning for 35 to 1 payouts on single-number roulette bets. Gambling is a gamble, after all, so nobody should force you to look down upon games that are reliant on random chance alone.
With that said, if you’re struggling to maintain your bankroll playing non-skill games, shifting to a skill game like blackjack, table poker, or video poker is the best way to give yourself a fighting chance at a comeback.
Pick up a basic strategy chart at the gift shop, sharpen your skills with a few free practice hands online, then get to work in an arena where players can actually influence the outcome.
Casino gambling in Las Vegas isn’t for the faint of heart, and far too many visitors arrive here with no plan of action to speak of. They go for the gusto right out of the gate, betting big and betting often, only to wind up watching from the rail after their bankroll has been devoured.
By practicing these five savvy bankroll management strategies, however, you can level the playing field by taking ownership of the one thing that’s under your control in the casino.