9 Best Ways to Gamble When You’re Broke

Man Counting Pennies on Left and Casino Game Logos on Right

Being short on cash is one of the genuinely frightening experiences avid gamblers face. Without proper funds in a healthy bankroll, players are unable to practice their favorite hobby.

Being sidelined because you don’t have piles of money to gamble doesn’t necessarily have to take you out of the game. You merely need to adjust your approach to gambling activities more suitable to your meager bankroll.

Let’s dive into some of my favorite gambling options for the gambler that needs to be creative with their money. Here are the 9 best ways to gamble when you’re broke.

1 – You Don’t Have to be a Whale to Sit at the Baccarat Tables

Baccarat offers players a fantastic avenue for stretching their bankroll as far as it may go. Many recreational gamblers assume the baccarat tables are only for the high rollers, but that’s not the case at all.

Fortunately, baccarat is accessible for bankrolls, large to small. You’ll merely need to find suitable table limits to play.

Baccarat has sat on the fringes for U.S. gamblers for many years. However, the game’s immense popularity in Asia has influenced casinos in the States to make baccarat a higher priority.

That’s fabulous for gamblers because baccarat has one of the lowest house advantages in the casino. Of the two primary bets in baccarat, neither has a house edge above 1.3%.

Having such a low edge means players can expect to lose just over $1 for every $100 they wager. So, if you’re playing a $5 table, you’ll lose roughly $1 for every 20 hands.

That’s a slow burn that can make life much easier when you’re a broke gambler.

2 – Play Basic Strategy in Blackjack

As I noted while covering baccarat, finding games with the lowest house edge will be paramount to your gambling activities. This applies to your bankroll and value anytime but becomes far more critical when you’re broke.

Blackjack is another table game that gives gamblers the chance to stay in the game for the long haul. The standard house edge in blackjack is around 2%, but that can be significantly diminished.

The blackjack basic strategy is a method developed with the express purpose of providing players with the mathematically best play given any situation. Sadly, you won’t have a positive expectation like card counters enjoy.

An Active Blackjack Table

Still, you can cut the house edge to a nearly non-existent 0.5%. You’re expected loss will be a mere $0.50 from every $100 you put into play.

Again, finding tables with the lowest minimums will be incredibly important. You’ll also want to avoid games that are only paying 6 to 5 for a blackjack.

Avoid the heightened advantage on the tables with 6 to 5 payout, and use the basic strategy on every hand you play to achieve the best results. You can utilize a strategy card at the tables, so no need to concern yourself with memorizing a complicated system.

3 – Start Your Own Home Poker Game

Poker boomed in popularity during the early 00s. I couldn’t make it through a holiday without getting three or more poker sets as gifts.

At one point, I had over 37 complete poker kits, and 34 of those were brand new in the wrapper. I have no clue why I ever needed the other three; I suppose I had a loaner and a travel kit.

Chances are that you’ve got one of these poker sets hiding out in a closet or in the garage. When you’re broke, bust it out and give it a thorough cleaning.

Then invite seven of your closest friends over for a poker night. It will help if they aren’t better poker players than you, but I’ll let you make the call.

You can set the buy-in to whatever amount you prefer, but $20-$40 seems to be right in the sweet spot. Then you’ll be able to play your favorite game for hours in the comfort of your own home and not need to stress about how much you’re losing or the added expenses of gambling in a casino.

4 – Penny Slots Aren’t as Cheap as They Sound

Novice gamblers always toss out the penny slots as a form of gambling that won’t kill your bankroll. They don’t see how a penny could make much trouble because they don’t understand how the games work.

Many of the penny slots have upwards of 25 individual pay-lines and up to a 10x max credit. So, when you’re betting the max, as you should, you’re actually playing for $2.50 per spin.

At a rate of over 600 spins per hour and an average RTP of only 89% at best, you’ll be hemorrhaging $165 an hour. Not exactly ideal for being broke; it sounds like a decent way to go broke.

Penny Slot Machine Sign

Fortunately, there’s no casino rule that I’m aware of saying you must bet max everything when playing. So, play for your penny per spin and watch the money slowly siphon away.

This method won’t be the most exciting gambling adventure of your life, but it’ll at least get you in the game.

5 – Betting on Sports Doesn’t Have to Break the Bank

A sportsbook is an excellent option for bettors that are light on cash. You can bet on a game and be entertained for hours on a single bet.

You should make sure you’re betting on the games where you see a fair value and not merely betting out of boredom. Betting because you’re bored may have been what got you in this predicament to start.

You should also avoid betting with your heart; the goal of this exercise is not to go further in the hole. Regardless of whether you’re betting $10 or $10,000, always approach each wager with the same care and desire to win.

Otherwise, you may develop some dangerous gambling habits that could have you in a constant cycle of being broke.

6 – Video Poker Can Give You a Positive Expectation

Video poker gets regularly overlooked by casino gamblers. That’s unfortunate because video poker can be one of the few casino games that give you a chance to pocket some cash in the casino.

Even when you don’t win, many of the games have an RTP above 98%. That means you’ll be losing money much slower than on the slot machines.

Closeup of Video Poker Machine

For the best results, find games that give you a positive expectation when the proper strategy is used. You may make money with this approach and be able to start building your bankroll back up.

When you’re broke in the casino, give video poker a shot. You shouldn’t dig too much deeper of a hole, and you might get a lucky win.

7 – Find Tournaments with Low Entry Fees

Playing in tournaments is one of the most productive ways a broke gambler can stretch their remaining funds. The tournament avenue gives players a chance to turn their small buy-in into a substantial payday.

You can find tournaments for nearly any game in the casino, so you can tailor the experience to suit your individual preferences. However, I feel like some games are better attuned to tournament play.

Poker is the obvious choice for playing in a tournament setting. You’re facing off against the other competitors, and the strategy remains essentially the same throughout the various phases of tournament play.

Other players may prefer the excellent tournaments in blackjack or on the slot machines. These will add another element to your typical gaming as you compete against the house edge and against the field.

Tournaments will add increased strategy to the games, and you’ll be entertained for hours on a minimal initial buy-in. I find tournament play highly satisfying because of the added competition.

8 – You Can Make a Day Out of Keno

I’m not going to sugarcoat it; keno can be painfully dull. You first need to decide if you prefer to gamble broke or merely sit at home broke before playing keno as a last resort.

If you’ve gone broke over the course of a casino trip and are trying to limp towards the finish line, the decision may have been made for you. I see a great deal of down on their luck casino gamblers trying to make the most of their last $20 in the keno hall.

View of a Keno Lounge

When your main focus is staying in the game and doing as much as possible with only a few bucks, keno has a place in your arsenal. Still, things are incredibly bleak when you start resorting to keno.

9 – Make Fun Prop Bets with Friends

One of my favorite ways to wager is also one that won’t cost you a dime. Making prop bets with friends is a great way to gamble when you’re flat broke or flush with funds.

The great thing about this style of gambling is that you can wager on anything from the Super Bowl to how many blue cars will drive past your house in an hour. The possibilities are endless, and that’s what makes the prop bets so much fun.

You can also use anything you’d like to wager. I’ve won dinners, golf balls, had my yard mowed, and gotten a few car washes out of my neighbor. The critical aspect of making prop bets with friends is to keep it light and fun.

Our Thoughts on These Gambling Games

You don’t need a giant wad of cash to gamble, but it would definitely help. When it’s time to be creative and make the most of a dwindling gambling bankroll, use the 9 best ways to gamble when you’re broke to stay in the game longer.