Knowing how much money you should gamble with is a fundamental piece of information that far too many punters ignore. It’s not simply a question of looking at your bank balance and plucking a figure out of thin air – there is a proper methodology to coming up with an amount that makes financial and mathematical sense.
First off, let’s acknowledge that every person is different. All our finances vary, from the amount we bring in each month, the total we spend on living expenses, hobbies, luxuries, the quantity of money we have set aside in savings, or our debt.
But with that all being said, the method of knowing how much to gamble with is the same for each and every one of us, no matter what games we enjoy or where we play.
Assessing Your Bankroll
You’ve likely heard of the term ‘bankroll.’ In relation to gambling, your bankroll is not all the money you have at your disposal because some of that must be set aside for expenses and other commitments. Instead, your bankroll is defined as the amount of ready cash you have available that you are willing to gamble with and can afford to lose.
Let’s say you have $10,000 in various bank checking and savings accounts. But once you think carefully about how much of that you can afford to gamble with, you might settle on just $1,000. Now you can say that your bankroll is $1,000 and that you will not spend more, no matter what.
Establishing your bankroll is the first step to carefully managing your gambling costs, whether you prefer sports betting, trips to the casino, online casinos, or playing poker. But you must now learn how to look after that bankroll. After all, there’s no point settling on your $1,000 roll if you lose it fast.
This is what you must not do: with your $1,000 roll, head for an evening’s entertainment at your local casino and be prepared to splurge the lot on a session of roulette, blackjack, or on the slots. Imagine walking up to the roulette table, asking for $1,000 in chips, and then putting it all on red.
What happens if the number comes in black? You’ve lost not only your bet but your entire bankroll. Now, you have no money left to gamble with and must leave the casino with no further entertainment on the night – and for as long as it takes you to save up another bankroll.
OK, that’s something of an extreme example (although we have seen people do this!), but we put it there to introduce the most important aspect of bankroll management: only gamble a small piece of your bankroll at any one time. If you were to put a small bet on red and it came in black, it’s not a problem.
Introducing the Percentage Game
So, you have established what your bankroll is and understood that you need to nurture that bankroll to make sure that it lasts, or maybe (hopefully) even grows.
The best way to do this is to commit to only placing a small percentage of your roll on any single bet.
There is no rule for exactly what that percentage should be, but something in the range of 2 to 5% would be about right. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll use 5% as the example for this article.
Now, 5% of your $1,000 bankroll is $50, so $50 is now the maximum amount you can spend at once. To keep things relatively simple, you can use that $50 for:
- One spin on roulette, one bet at blackjack
- One session on the slot machines
- One poker cash game or tournament
- One sports bet
If you happen to lose this $50, sure, you’ll be sad, but it’s not going to “break the bank” or decimate your bankroll. Instead, your bankroll sits at a still relatively healthy $950 rather than $1,000.
The trick now is to stick with the 5% rule at your new, lower bankroll level, which means your maximum bet at any of the casino and poker games, or sports betting site, is now 5% of $950, or $47.50.
As your bankroll declines, so too should your stakes. The math here speaks for itself – you will take a very long time to go bust!
Of course, unless you are the world’s worst gambler, and we’re sure you are not, quite often, you will win in the casino, at the race track, or in the poker rooms. You can probably guess what this means for your bankroll management?
Yep, you stick to the 5% rule. It’s fundamental to your cash flow and is as important as choosing a safe and secure online casino where you can play games responsibly.
Let’s imagine you started with $1,000 and bet $50 on roulette on a single number. If truth be told, it’s not a sound strategy, but Lady Luck is smiling, your number comes up, and you make a nice profit of $1,800. Woohoo! Now your bankroll is $2,800, and you have two choices you can take:
- Pull out the $1,800 profit from your bankroll and invest it in your retirement fund, then return to your $1,000 bankroll starting point
- Decide to carry on and play with the $2,800 roll and, sticking to the rigid 5% rule, allow yourself a new maximum bet of $140
This means you are risking, comparatively at least, the same amount as you have before. The casino games don’t change or the sports you bet on; only the dollar amounts are higher. You’ll soon be one of the high rollers. If poker is your game, you might find the play gets harder as you go up the stake levels (although there are fish to be found there, too).
Stick With the Rule
Having started out the right way, you must stick with your bankroll management rules. As your roll dips, cut your bets, and as it rises, allow yourself an increase in wagers. Not everyone will want to increase the bet sizing, even if the roll is climbing. That’s absolutely fine and will give you even more security moving forward.
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