Those who go to the casino with the objective of leaving with more money than they came in with know the sad reality: It doesn’t happen very often.
With that being said, just because the odds are quite literally stacked against you (to varying degrees), it doesn’t mean you can’t be successful and at least break even. The key? Don’t just leave everything up to chance.
When trying to minimize the damage of the casino on your wallet, there are a few crucial pieces of advice to keep in mind. Here are five that you should remember during your next trip.
1 – Have a Bankroll (Even If It’s Just for the Day)
If you’re not someone who gambles on a regular basis, the concept of a casino bankroll might be entirely foreign. The idea is that you should be setting aside a pool of money that you’re going to use exclusively for gambling purposes. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. So, make sure you’re able to stretch it as long as possible, or maybe even add to it if you’re lucky.
Most experts recommend determining a percentage range of your bankroll to use as a guide for making bets. For example, if you’ve allotted $500 for your trip, you might say you’ll only bet between 5% and 10% of your bankroll on any one single play. That means you won’t be any more than $50 at one time, and even then, you should probably be staying more toward that 5% end of the spectrum.
Just as you risk encountering financial problems in your regular life if you neglect to create and stick to a budget, the same applies to gambling at the casino. Don’t just head over the ATM every time you run out of money. Set aside a sufficient amount, and if it runs out, that’s a good indication that it’s time to call it a day.
2 – Only Play Games With a Low House Edge
The reality is no game is actually in the favor of players when it comes to the odds, but some games are a much safer bet, statistically speaking, than others.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of the “house edge,” it’s time to get acquainted. Essentially, the house edge is the statistical advantage that the casino has over players in various games. The important thing to know is that there’s a very wide range of house edge advantages depending on the game you decide to play.
Take blackjack, for example. It has become, and remained, one of the most popular table games in the casino because of the low house edge. By some estimates, it’s just under 50%, which you simply can’t beat. Unfortunately, there’s a catch—you have to make the right play (speaking in terms of probability) in order to get the edge down to this number. For many, that’s a tall task.
If you’re looking for a game that you can simply walk up to without having to compute probabilities or know the right play to make, playing roulette for real money is going to be your best option. If you stick to putting your money on either red or black, you’re giving yourself about a 48% chance of winning each time (the 0 and 00 space keep you from getting to a full 50%).
3 – Stay Away From Slot Machines
Slot machines are the ultimate mindless gambling activity. You put money in, the wheel spins around, and you’ll win some money if you’re lucky. More often than not, you’ll lose it.
Not only are slot machines a money pit, they’re also extremely addictive. The blame isn’t on players for this phenomenon either. They’re designed to keep you sitting there, spinning, spinning, spinning…all night long. I won’t go into the specifics of what makes slot machines so addictive—that’s a topic for another day. But suffice to say that the odds are stacked against you in more ways than just odds programmed into the machine.
Sometimes, luck is in your favor, and you’ll actually find yourself “up” money on the slot machine. If this happens, that’s your cue to get out of there before things turn around. And they will turn around if you give it enough time. It’s literally programmed to be that way.
When you add up the numbers in slot machine games, they simply don’t stack up as a good option for gamblers. Believe me when I say there are many options on the floor that will give you a better chance to win money. You should play those instead.
4 – Bet, Then Drink
Everyone has heard some version of a lecture that explains the pros and cons of drinking and gambling at the same time. Unfortunately, these are two of the most fun combinations out there, and just about everyone is guilty of breaking the rule at one time or another. The fact that casinos will often give you libations for free does not help the situation.
I wouldn’t tell you that you shouldn’t drink while at the casino. For many, a trip to the casino is a party in and of itself. I won’t even try to convince you that you should remain totally dry during the period of time you’re actually gambling. What I would recommend, however, is trying to avoid drinking heavily until after you’re finished betting.
It’s well-known that alcohol greatly reduces inhibitions, which means there’s a higher chance of you “feeling good” about a highly unlikely bet hitting. If you’re putting them back at the blackjack table, forget about making those prudent decisions when you’re deciding whether to hit or stand on 16.
The bottom line is that you know you shouldn’t drink heavily while you gamble, but most people do it anyway. If you’re able to separate the fun of drinking and gambling, you have a much better chance of leaving the casino with some extra money in your pocket.
5 – Know When to Stop
It’s a tale as old as casinos themselves. You’re playing your preferred game, things are going great, and you find yourself up a nice chunk of change. You’re able to hang on to these winnings and ride the rollercoaster until you see your haul start to disappear slowly.
In an effort to hit it big (getting greedy), you continue to bet more and more. Really you’re just trying to get back to where you were at 10 minutes ago. As your bankroll starts to wither away, you begin kicking yourself for not just walking away while you were up $150 in the first place.
Gambling and continuing to win money all night long is the most fun you’ll have, but you know what’s not so bad? Cashing out your winnings early, grabbing a drink from the bar, and watching your friends play. In some ways, it’s like your work has already been accomplished if you pocket your winnings in the early going.
As I’ve stated above, there are no games in the casino where you have 100% return to player. If you’re lucky enough to overcome the odds, it is best not to test your luck by going for an even bigger win.
Our Thoughts on These Tips
Your trip to the casino is supposed to be fun, and it’s probably not going to feel like it if you’re walking out hundreds of dollars in the hole. The key is to minimize the damage when you’re losing, and know when it’s time to call it a day if you’re fortunate enough to win some money. The saying “quit while you’re ahead,” as lame as it sounds, exists for a reason.
Like everything else, the key to success starts with preparation. Know your limits, make a bankroll, and bet in a responsible way.