Setting Your Limits
Before you start gambling, you have to know when to quit. That means knowing exactly how much your bankroll is, how much time you can or should play, and what kinds of bets you should stick with. These limits will vary depending on what kind of trip you're planning. For example, if you live near a casino and want to spend a Saturday evening there, your bankroll and time for playing will be smaller than if you're planning a weeklong vacation in Las Vegas. And if you're eager to try a new betting system at craps, you might deviate from your normal betting strategies.
Players who don't take the time to plan their gambling outings often find themselves playing with so-called scared money — funds that should be reserved for the mortgage, car payment, or electric bill — and chasing their losses, thinking that one big win will return to them what they've lost. In fact, the casino atmosphere is much more conducive to chasing losses than it is to getting up from the table and moving on when you've reached your limit. If you don't set your limits in advance, you might not realize you've exceeded them until it's too late.
Your bankroll is the money you have set aside to gamble with. You should always keep your bankroll separate from other funds. Some players like to keep their gambling money in a special bank account; this can help counter the temptation to withdraw “a little extra” from the household budget for gambling. At the casino, you should keep your bankroll separate from money for food, parking, gas, tips, and other essentials. You can do this by keeping your gambling funds and other money in separate pockets or in separate compartments in your wallet or purse.
Some players recommend keeping your bankroll in one pocket and any winnings in a separate pocket. With this system, you bet only with money from your bankroll pocket; the money in your winnings' pocket goes home with you. This takes some discipline, but it's a good way to make sure you have some money left at the end of your gambling session.
Make sure your bankroll contains only the amount of money you are willing and can afford to lose. Naturally, you hope to win, but inevitably you will encounter times when, no matter what you do, you'll lose every bet. If all you can afford to lose is $100, then take only $100 with you to the casino. If you'd like a bigger bankroll but can't really afford more than $100 right now, postpone your casino visit until you can afford to boost your bankroll to a more comfortable level.
If you keep your bankroll in a separate bank account, you can leave the ATM card for your regular account at home and only take the bankroll account card with you to the casino. This way, you won't be tempted to dip into “scared money” while you're playing.
Getting money to gamble with while you're at the casino is easier than ever before — sometimes too easy. ATMs allow you to take cash advances on your credit cards as well as withdraw money from your checking or savings account. At some casinos, you can even transfer funds from your checking account to your slot club account without ever leaving the machine. If these easy options will tempt you to exceed your set bankroll, leave your credit cards, debit cards, and checkbook at home.
Types of Wagers
Planning for the types of wagers you'll place is another important part of protecting your bankroll and making sure you get the most enjoyment out of your gambling session. Before you go, know the house edge for the various bets on the games you want to play, and stick with the wagers where the house edge is 2 percent or lower. It's easy to get caught up in the moment and make those enticing “sucker bets,” such as the insurance bet in blackjack. But if you do your homework in advance, you'll find it easier to resist the temptation of these losing bets.
If you hear or read of a new betting strategy that you just can't wait to try, remember to build the extra risk into your bankroll planning. You might be lucky enough to win on a bet that has a house edge of 11 percent, for example, but the odds are against it. So, when you budget your bankroll, budget for a loss when you try a new system. The extra risk may mean adjusting the length of your sessions, the size of your bets, and even the kinds of games you plan to play.