Casino Bankroll Management Strategies for 2020

Bankroll – a word often mentioned but frequently misunderstood. Effective casino bankroll management is key to enjoying a long and (hopefully) prosperous relationship between yourself and casino games.

What is Bankroll?

The word bankroll, in the casino sphere, refers to the funds that a player has to play games with. Your bankroll isn’t your bank balance; it is a specified amount that you designate for the purpose of gambling.

A player’s bankroll amount relates to two key factors:

  1. What the player can afford to put aside as casino bankroll.
  2. What level/stake the player is playing at.

Your casino bankroll should be a percentage of your disposable income. Financial outgoings such as rent/mortgage, food and clothing expenditure and transport should all be deducted first, and once you are left with your disposable income, you can decide how much you wish your (average) monthly bankroll to be. This amount can vary wildly between players, as does income.

The most important element of bankroll management is that the percentage of your disposable income that you do set aside for the purposes of casino play is an amount you are comfortable losing. There’s nothing worse than living on baked beans for a month because you became slightly too enthusiastic while playing Gonzo’s Quest.

 

Why is Bankroll Management so Important?

Did you read the part about eating baked beans for a month? Well, that goes some way to explaining why bankroll management is so important. Smart bankroll management also gives you the chance to enjoy your favourite casino games for longer.

The importance of bankroll management can be broken down to the following factors:

  1. With solid bankroll management, you’re able to play for longer, with a lower risk factor. Once you’re able to play within a set percentage of your bankroll, you can ensure that you have a balance to play with next time you decide to log in and get stuck into some roulette, for example. The flux of wins and losses are an integral part of your gaming narrative and you need to be both aware of and prepared for these.
  2. Clever bankroll management enables you to make more informed choices. By keeping track of wins and losses and factoring in the time of day that these occur – as well as even your mood while playing – can make you a more self-aware, and therefore smarter player.
  3. It makes planning your gaming future easier. If you know exactly how much you can potentially win and you’re keeping an eye on your progress (or lack of it), this makes moving up or down a stakes level a more informed choice.
  4. Lower payment fees. By depositing a single amount each month, you’re avoiding fees from your payment provider, be it a debit card, prepaid card e-wallet or your bank.

Many players hold a kind of ephemeral bankroll spreadsheet in their head – a relatively random memory-based system of wins and losses. This is extremely detrimental to your casino play as wins may be more memorable than losses, and therefore an unreliable indicator of your actual bankroll and overall finances.

 

The Basics of Bankroll Management

Bankroll management, when done correctly, is a simple system that will not only enable you to make a greater number of correct decisions while keeping track of your wins and losses, but it will also give you more longevity when it comes to casino play.

Let’s say you deposit £1000 as your total bankroll to play with. The number one rule of casino bankroll management is that you should only ever plan to lose 10% of your total bankroll in a single session – £100, in this case. Should you lose £100, log out happy in the knowledge that you still have a £900 bankroll to play with. The next time you play, should you experience another run of bad luck, you will once again have 10% of your total bankroll to lose – this time, a sum of £90.

By adapting to the stakes you're playing at, you’re further enabling better bankroll management.

If you’re playing with £100 on blackjack, as in our original example, ideally you want to get at least 20 hands of play out of this session, so you’re looking at a maximum bet of £5 per hand in this session.

Again, if things aren't going your way and you see your session bankroll dwindle down to £50, now is the time to adjust your stake level by half and play £2.50 per hand, where possible, depending on table limits and accepted denominations.

Variance also plays a large part in bankroll management. Blackjack is a game with low variance, meaning more frequent wins and losses, but by a lower amount. Slots generally have a higher variance than blackjack, so your stake needs to be adjusted to reflect this. With a £100 session bankroll, you should probably be playing something closer to £1 per spin.

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Dos and Don'ts for Managing Bankroll

Do:

  • Stick to your guns and, most importantly, bankroll principles.
  • Adjust the stake level to match your bankroll.
  • Have reasonable expectations with regards to wins and losses.
  • Keep a record. Excel, Google Docs and bankroll management software are now your best friends.
  • Protect your deposit. Making timely withdrawals (ideally more than your starting deposit) will ensure you’re on track to being in the black.

Don’t:

  • Go on positive tilt (getting over excited after a win and start placing £50 straight-up bets on roulette, for example) .
  • Forget that losing happens. That doesn’t mean to say that you’re a loser.
  • Think you’ll get rich quick. A healthy bankroll wasn’t built in a day.

 

Pro tips for Managing Your Bankroll

We’ve dealt with the basics – now, read on to level up your bankroll management game even further. 

 

Session Stake and Bankroll – The Frank Scoblete Method

Online casino sessions are usually broken up; as players, we usually don’t play in one long session. It could be during your work lunch break, sitting on the sofa while someone has taken ownership of the remote controller for the next hour, or a few slot spins before you go to sleep.

Let’s stick with the £1000 bankroll example. If you plan to play this in one day, you should break this amount up into how much you’re willing to play per session. For the sake of easy arithmetic, you plan on 5 sessions that day, giving you a per-session bankroll of £200.

If you’re planning on a one-hour session, what if things are going well and you start seeing positive equity from your bankroll investment? You might decide to play for longer. Bankroll management is part science, part instinct, and as a casino player, you need to be flexible but also practical.

To help you out, we've outlined a well-known crib sheet for session bankroll management below. This should be your bible when it comes to dealing with the ebb and flow of casino gaming:

 

Session One: Bet Level is £10. Session bankroll is £400. Maximum time of play is two hours.

 

Losses:

One hour or less: If you lose half of your session bankroll, pack your bags and head back to the homestead.

Two hours: If you see a single loss, it’s time to leave this session.

 

Wins:

One hour or less: If you win £200, you put away that £200 for another day, still leaving you with £400 to play with.

One hour or less: If you win a further £100, you deduct this from your original session bankroll. You still have £400 with which to play, but £300 has now been saved. With every £100 win, you take that from your original wager. Once you reach £400 in win, don’t allow yourself to lose more £200.

Two hours: Log out from your session, or take 1/3 of your winnings and play with the remainder. Should you lose half of that amount, your session is over.

 

Patterns of Wins/Losses

What mathematicians call ‘fluctuations of probability’, casino players call ‘good luck’ and ‘bad luck’. Players of games of chance inherently have streaks; some good, some bad, some terrible. The house edge ensures that, while there is an in-built mathematical advantage for the casino, there is such thing as a winning player.

The importance of recording the win/loss ratio of your every casino session is one that cannot be stressed enough. Influencing factors such as the time of day, how you were feeling at the time and your reasons for playing should all be noted in the hope that you can avoid certain times to play and know when you’re at your optimal time for tearing up the tables.

 

When to Walk Away

There are a number of factors that can indicate when you should end your casino session. Self-discipline is an extremely important aspect when it comes to online gaming; here are a few red flags that you should keep an eye out for when deciding to leave a session:

  • When you have reached your session bankroll limit. Simply log out and look forward to your next gaming session.
  • When you’re chasing losses. If this is happening, you’re not following basic bankroll management.
  • When you reach your session win limit. It can be tempting to push your luck further, but not only is this unprofessional, it's also giving the casino the advantage in allowing it to reach its house edge.
  • When you start making bad plays in a skill-based game. If instinct, rather than perfect basic strategy play takes over at the online blackjack table, it’s time to vacate your virtual seat.
  • When you’ve reached your personal time limit. This comes back to self-discipline. When your time is up, your time is up.

 

Bankroll Management and Casino Bonuses

We all love a bonus. Perhaps not the wagering requirements that come with it, but the bonus itself, yes.

A fantastic way to give your account balance and bankroll a boost, players should always take advantage of a casino bonus, providing that the applicable T&Cs are fair and reasonable. As the old saying goes: don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched. Always wait until your wagering requirements have been met before counting that bonus balance as a part of your bankroll.

 

Bankroll Management and Different Casino Games

Bankroll management is a simple and friendly beast to tame, and although the basic principles apply to all forms of games of chance and skill-based games, there are a few caveats to remember when playing each specific game. We’ll go into a few of these now.

 

Slots

As with all casino games (excluding some poker variants), slots are a negative expectation game. Therefore, you should expect to get less back than what you put in, as a general rule. Slots, therefore, are not the game to play if you wish to increase your bankroll. Slots should be treated as a game for entertainment, and any losses you incur during your gaming session should be viewed as a fee for all the exciting graphics, nifty sound effects and animated bonus rounds.

Learn more about the best Slots Strategy here.

 

Roulette

Roulette is a game with a house edge of around 96%, depending on the form of roulette you’re playing. So, once again you can expect to be a losing player overall with this table game. There are methods of limiting the damage to your bankroll and this involves placing bets where the house edge is at a minimum, and therefore RTP at its best.

By playing the outside bets – red, black, odd, even, high and low – you’re essentially minimising the house edge and doing both your RTP, and in turn, bankroll a favour.

 

Blackjack

Blackjack, when played perfectly, is the casino game with the lowest house edge, giving perfect strategy blackjack players an RTP of close to 99.5% – the best a casino game has to offer. A blackjack bankroll rule of thumb is that your bankroll should be enough to cover 20x the minimum bet. So, if the table is £2 minimum, you need a session bankroll of at least £40 to get the full potential out of your play.

 

Baccarat

As with blackjack, in baccarat, you want to ensure that your session bankroll is 20x of the table minimum. Always bet on the banker and never, ever play the tie. Although the 8/1 odds may be seductive, this is a sure fire way of nibbling away at your bankroll and should be avoided like the plague. With zombies.

 

Bingo

One of the most well-known and effective methods for maximising your bankroll longevity is by first choosing a game that has fewer participants than other bingo games, therefore increasing your chances of taking down the house. Taking advantage of all promotional offers and bingo-related bonuses are also a great way of making your bankroll go the extra mile.

 

 

FAQs

What’s the smallest possible bankroll to start with?

Most players say that your session bankroll should be somewhere between 10x and 20x of the minimum bet level. So, for a £1 blackjack game, you’ll need between £10 and £20.

Which game can be played with a small bankroll?

Although not technically a casino game, poker has the lowest stakes with minimum bet values as low as £0.01p. Any game that offers a very low minimum bet requirement is a smart choice when it comes to playing games with a diminutive bankroll.

When can I increase my wagers in regards to bankroll management?

This all depends on how things are progressing. If you’re lucky enough to see a rise in your bankroll, you can adjust which stake levels you’re playing accordingly. Your bankroll should be between 10x to 20x of the minimum bet on any game.

What’s the best way to avoid tilt?

Originally a poker term, 'tilt' is when you lose emotional control over how you’re betting or playing a game. Tilt can come in many forms; a big loss, a technical error or even someone trash talking you at a table. Tilt manifests itself by causing players to place bets or decisions that they would not normally make. Common examples of players going on tilt might be over betting on a game or making rash, instinctive plays that lead to losses that should not have occurred.

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