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Money Management 101

How to handle and protect your precious casino bankroll

By Bill Burton


The term “money management” can take on a multitude of meanings for different people. When I was a kid, for instance, my parents wanted to instill the value of money and teach me to be responsible by giving me a weekly allowance.  I received my allowance on Friday and I quickly learned that if I spent it all right away, I would have to go a whole week before I could get any more.

Back then, the money-spending decisions for an 8-year-old kid were fairly simple: Do I buy candy bars or comic books? I guess as a youth I had unknown literary aspirations, because I usually chose the comic books—and today I’m a writer (with perfect teeth).

As I grew older, money management meant sticking to a budget so that I could pay all my bills between paychecks, and still have enough left at the end of the week to have some fun. Whether we call it budgeting or financial planning, it all boils down to how we manage our money.

A Different Meaning


The term money management takes on a different meaning when it’s used by casino players. And depending on which players you ask, the term can still have many different definitions. For some players, the term money management is used to describe a betting system or a way of placing bets that they hope will somehow give them a way to beat the house. Other players use the term to describe how they manage their bankroll.

The House Edge Is Constant


Some players believe that using a certain betting method can change the house advantage of the game and give them an edge. But in reality, no betting system can alter the odds. Will paying a double mortgage payment one month, and then skipping a payment two months later, have any affect on the interest rate you pay? Of course it won’t, just as doubling your bet twice, and then stepping down to a single bet, will have no effect on the casino’s edge on that game.

The goal of that type of money management is to bet more when you are winning, and less when you are losing. This is easier said that done, since you never know you are in the midst of a winning or losing streak—until it ends.


Bankroll Management

The true essence of money management really comes down to bankroll management. It’s all about how you handle your money in the casino to make sure you have enough to last for the duration of your visit. Money management systems will not change the odds of any game. A good bankroll management system will help you control the amount of money that you put at risk.  This will enable you to play longer on your bankroll.


Win Goals and Loss Limits


Since most casino games have a negative expectation, players are advised to set a win goal and stop loss. This ensures they won’t go broke during any given session, and hopefully won’t give back all the profits if they do get ahead.

Some argue that the concept of money management is nothing more than smoke and mirrors, because if you play a game with a negative expectation you will lose in the long run. But I recommend that players set loss limits and win goals. The win goal should be on a sliding scale, increasing as the winning continues. This way the player can continue to win without having to stop at a predetermined figure.

The stop loss is also on a sliding scale once a player has won. This is to ensure that they walk away with some of the money they have won. You can argue the merits of such a system, but the main reason why I advocate money management is discipline. It takes discipline to be a winner at any casino game. This is especially true in poker, where you have to wait for the right starting hands.


Use Common Sense

Good money management starts with good planning. Many of us set up a household budget to manage our daily expenses, and we should do the same with our casino budget. It’s not difficult to do, and the rewards (and the savings) can be great.

Before you leave for your vacation, decide exactly how much money you will spend on gambling. This is going to be separate from your other spending money. This must be money that you can afford to lose. This is your gambling bankroll, and you will use only this money for playing.

Next, divide your bankroll by the number of days you will be at the casino. Put each day’s money in a separate envelope to be used for that day only. At the end of each day of gambling, put all your winnings (or whatever money you have left) back in the envelope and seal it. You will take this money home with you.

Break your casino bankroll down into several playing sessions; don’t risk it all in one session, and take breaks in between. It’s easy to leave the casino when all your money is gone; it takes discipline to walk away when you are ahead. Discipline and self-control are what separate the winners from the losers. If you don’t learn how to manage your money, the casino will do it for you—once it becomes theirs.


Bill Burton is the author of 1,000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets and Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold’em, which are available online at He’s also an instructor for Golden Touch Craps:

Money Management 101.

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