Not everyone who reads this blog has a lot of money to risk gambling in a casino. You can call such gamblers low rollers or budget gamblers or whatever you want, but they deserve tips and advice about how to get the most for their gambling dollar, too.
In light of that, I’ve put together a list of gambling activities you can partake in even if you’re almost broke. I don’t recommend living on Cup Noodles so you can have more money from lottery tickets, but that’s also not my decision to make.
In fact, some people like Cup Noodles.
Anyway, if you have to gamble on a budget, here’s how you can gamble even if you have “little or no money.”
A “freeroll” is any kind of gambling tournament or event with a prize but no entry fee.
Freerolls are probably most common in the poker world, especially at online poker sites. The prize pool is small, of course, but since you’re not risking any money, it’s a distinctly positive expectation bet.
But casinos also offer tournaments that offer the chance to play free casino games – especially slot machine tournaments. You’ll usually need to be a member of the players club at a casino to get invited to participate in one of these tournaments.
It’s more common to find free poker tournaments in bars these days. Many of these are administered by the Amateur Poker League. Not only do you get a shot at $20 or $50, but you also accumulate points that can be cashed in for entries into bigger tournaments.
It’s a great way to practice and get in action.
Finally, many online casinos offer free slot machine spins when you sign up. These are freerolls, in a sense, too. Just keep in mind that the amount you can win from these freebies has a cap. Also, you’ll probably need to make a deposit of some kind before you can cash out any money you’ve won from these free slot machine spins.
2- Lottery Tickets
Lottery tickets offer terrible odds and an awful payback percentage, but they only cost a dollar or two. If you’re on a strict budget, you could spend $1 a day on a lottery ticket.
The best odds usually belong to the scratch and win games, but pick 3 games often offer a similar payback percentage.
Compared to slots, though, the payback percentage for the lottery is abysmal. We’re talking about 50%.
In fact, if you were a millionaire and bought $1 million worth of scratch and win tickets, you’d only get back $500k in winnings. You’d LOSE $500,000.
If you “reinvested” that $500,000 on day 2, you’d probably lose half of it, too.
In fact, in less than 30 days, you’d be dead broke.
So if you’re going to play the lottery, stick with a small budget that you can easily afford. I recommend a dollar a day – no more.
3- Bingo Games
Most towns have a bingo hall or are driving distance from a bingo hall. The great thing about bingo is that you can spend an entire evening playing. Most of the time, you can buy a bingo card for a dollar or two. You can play multiple cards, but that’s not necessary.
Another fun thing about bingo is its social nature. Most bingo players are friendly and like to chat with you while you’re playing.
If you play online bingo, you can find online bingo halls which sell bingo cards for even less than a dollar. Some of them even have bingo cards for a dime. And you still get to socialize because of the attached chat rooms.
I’ve already written about freerolls, but that’s not your only option for gambling on a budget at the poker tables. You can also find online poker websites offering poker tournaments with buy-ins as low as $1. You can easily get in hours of play with low buy-in poker tournaments.
You can also specialize in the microstakes poker games. Not every online poker room offers game at super-low stakes, but many of them do. When you have a blind of a penny or two, you can get in a lot of hands for very little money.
In fact, it can be a fun challenge to see how big you can make your bankroll with a small investment. In fact, if you start by playing freerolls, you can play until you have a small stakes and start playing at the no limit Texas holdem games with the small buy-ins.
You can read about the success Chris Ferguson had with that strategy a few years ago. It’s a good way to make sure your poker skills are sharp.
5- Young People
I used to have some friends who ran an underground cardroom in Dallas. They got busted by the police twice, and they decided to shut down. So they opened a new cardroom in Denton, which is a college town about half an hour away from Dallas.
It didn’t take them long to realize that most of the college kids here didn’t have much money to gamble with, and they folded their new venture pretty quickly.
A high school student might think $10 is a lot of action on a football game, for example.
A poker satellite is a low buy-in tournament where you win your way into a bigger tournament. Chris Moneymaker won his way into the World Series of Poker in a satellite tournament online. His total investment was less than $100.
Sometimes you can play in one satellite and win entry into a bigger satellite. I used to play in tournaments with a $10 buy-in where you won an entry into another, bigger $100 buy-in tournament.
You could either buy-in for $100 at the bigger tournament, or you could play the smaller tournament and try to parlay your way up in stakes.
This can be an effective way to gamble on a budget and eventually win significant money.
7- Slot Machines
You’ve probably already heard of penny slots, but be careful. Most penny slot machines have a bet of a penny, but they force you to make multiple bets per line on multiple lines. I’ve played on penny slot machines where I put $1.25 minimum into action on every spin.
Generally, it’s better to play a higher denomination slot machine with fewer paylines activated. If you can find a 3-reel slot machine with a single payline for $1 per spin, it’s a better deal than the penny slot machine.
And you stand to have a better payback percentage, too.
These 7 ideas for budget gambling are just the tip of the iceberg. Anyone can afford to do some gambling. Heck, I have buddies who still pitch pennies.
What are your favorite ways to gamble on a budget?
Which gambling activities do you think offer the lowest risk?