If you enjoy playing slots, there are two facts you need to be aware of. The first one is that slots have a high house edge, often as high as 10%. The second fact is that slots can burn through your bankroll faster than just about any game in the casino.
The good news is that it’s still possible to play slots for hours on a small bankroll. On this page, I’m going to show you how you can enjoy playing slots all day on $100 or less, and I’m going to give you the tools to determine how big your bankroll needs to be for a set period of time.
This knowledge is helpful when you plan a trip to the casino or when you plan a longer trip to a destination like Las Vegas to play the slot machines.
I’ve seen gamblers blow through $100 in an hour playing slots, so it might seem like a tall order to be able to play all day on only $100. But once you understand the information included below, you’ll be able to stretch your bankroll and still enjoy hours of slots play.
The Importance of Expected Value in Slots
In order to completely understand how playing slots all day on a small budget is possible, you need to understand a little bit of the math behind the game. This is fairly basic information, so don’t worry if you’re not a mathematician.
The truth is you don’t really need to understand the math on a deep level, because you can just plug numbers into the simple formula that I show you later.
Expected value is at the root of every type of gambling game. In the simplest terms, expected value is the amount you can expect to win on any given bet on average. The important thing to understand is that expected value is an average based on hundreds of thousands or millions of times making the same wager.
On any single spin of the reels on a slot machine, you either win or lose. When you lose, you lose your entire wager. When you win, you win an amount that varies a great deal based on the combinations of the reels.
The easy way to view expected value is using the casino house edge or the payback percentage for the game you’re playing. The casino house edge is the percentage of every bet the casino keeps in the long run on a game they offer.
The house edge for slot machines varies a great deal from machine to machine, and the casino industry doesn’t like to share information with the public. Most slot machines have a house edge between 2% and 10%.
If you know the house edge, you can simply multiply it times the amount of money you bet to come up with the expected value. You can do this for a single wager or for a longer time, like an hour.
With a house edge of 10%, if you make a bet on a slot machine of $1, the expected value of the bet is 10 cents for the casino. This means you can expect to lose, on average, 10 cents every time you bet $1.
To take this a step beyond this, if you make 400 bets in an hour of $1 each, you can expect to lose $40.
Total amount of wagers X house edge = Total expected loss
The total amount of your wagers can be determined by multiplying the amount of each bet times the number of bets you make. So, if you bet $1 per spin and take 876 spins, the total amount wagered is $876.
You simply plug in the relevant numbers into the formula and you can quickly determine how much you’re going to lose on average. Remember that this is an average, so in the short term, you can possibly win or lose a great deal more than the expected numbers. But over time, the expected value always becomes true.
Using Expected Value to Determine Bankroll Size
Now that you know how to determine the expected value, you can easily use this information to figure out how big your bankroll needs to be and how to manage your bankroll to play for a set amount of time. In the example above, when you make 400 bets every hour with a 10% house edge, you expect to lose $40 an hour.
Or you could only make 200 spins per hour at 50 cents and come up with a needed bankroll of $100 to play 10 hours.
Let’s say you’re planning a trip to Las Vegas and want to play slots six hours a day for five days. This is a total of 30 hours of slots play. You like to play a progressive slot machine with a bet of $2 per spin and usually take 400 spins per hour.
Here’s how to determine the required bankroll:
The truth is that you need to plan for a higher bankroll amount because the expected loss is a long-term average. To make sure you don’t run out of money, you should take a bigger bankroll, or play on a machine with a lower bet amount, and/or take fewer spins per hour.
Playing Slot Machine Games All Day on $100
Now, let’s look at exactly how you can play slots all day on only $100 using the information that’s already been covered. I’m going to use a 10% house edge because it’s about as bad as you’re going to end up playing.
If you’re lucky enough to find a machine with a lower house edge, the expected value is better for you, so you can play longer.
Slot machines are designed so you can play hundreds of spins every hour. The casinos want you to risk as much money as possible, so they design the slots so they’re easy and fast. Some machines can run 500 to 600 spins per hour.
In the calculations below, I’m using 300 spins per hour. This is still a fast rate of play, letting you take five spins every minute. If you play faster than this, you need to slow down or you’re going to burn through your bankroll faster.
While most casinos advertise nickel and penny slots, the truth is that you can’t just bet a nickel or a penny. The lowest minimum bet machines in many casinos let you bet a quarter. So, the first thing is to find a slot machine you can play for 25 cents per spin.
Here are the numbers we have so far:
You should be able to play over 13 hours on a bankroll of $100. Even with the knowledge that expected value is an average and that you can lose more than expected in the short term, the combination of the expected time being over 13 hours and the possibility of a lower house edge machine, you should be able to play eight hours on $100.
I suggest running the numbers with fewer spins per hour to see just how long you can stretch your bankroll.
If you know the numbers and plan ahead, it’s easy to play slots all day on a $100 bankroll. I like to find a quarter machine that has a jackpot so if I get lucky, I can win a big prize. It’s even better if you can find one with a progressive jackpot. But this system works with any machine.
Once you understand how bet size, spins per hour, and the house edge directly relates to your bankroll, you can quickly see how much you need to play with. If you don’t know the house edge for the slot machine you’re playing, use 10%. This is a safe number and is on the conservative side, so you don’t run into any surprises.