Gamblers frequently come in with the mindset that they NEED to win a certain amount whenever they play a game. They often won’t stop until they do, even if they fall deeper and deeper into the hole. This creates a sort of trap, where they need to gamble more to win back their losses, but doing so puts them deeper into that same hole. The term chasing losses isn’t just bounced around for the sake of it, we’ve seen it happen and it usually isn’t a pretty sight.
What they lack are good money management techniques, something that should be a tool in any player’s arsenal, no matter age or skill level. These are not arcane secrets either – anybody can use and apply them to get the most out of their gambling experience. The skills discussed in this article are the key to maximizing your wins while minimizing your losses. These work for all casino games, but for the sake of one very informative article, we’re going to focus on online slots given just how popular they are right now.
Let us tell you right now, Lady Luck won’t always be kind to you when you play online slot games. That’s why it’s up to you to know what to do when you find yourself empty-pocketed at the end of a long gaming session, or on the receiving end of a large sum of winnings.
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Tip No. 1 – Prepare your bankroll before you play
This advice applies regardless of the casino you’re playing at is online or offline – set a limit and stick to it. It doesn’t sound like rocket science and that’s because it isn’t. If you think that you can’t afford to lose more than $50 on a game or in a session, then make that the size of your bankroll. Don’t try to find excuses to increase it, either – that’s the quickest way to spiral into losses that hamper your future power to play.
If you don’t actually reach zero funds, then that’s great. Keep playing and have fun. But the thing to remember is that you should never bet what you cannot afford to lose. Gambling is entertainment – don’t ever think that it takes priority over rent, groceries, medicine, insurance, and other important necessities. It’s great to win, but it’s even better to enjoy yourself and that means managing your money at every turn.
Tip No. 2 – Always keep your casino money and lifestyle money separated
This builds upon the point I made before: gambling is, and should always be seen as, distinct from your other expenses. This can be taken literally, too – perhaps you can keep your important money in your wallet, while your gambling money is elsewhere on your person. Keeping cash separated between gambling and lifestyle simply makes casino play more enjoyable.
Once you let your funds integrate, then you’ll start to forget that they are meant to be distinct, which is where the trouble starts. This is largely psychological, and shouldn’t be forgotten. Otherwise, you might just find that you accidentally gambled away your gas money for the day.
Tip No. 3 – Don’t borrow money to play online slots
Seriously, we can’t emphasize this enough. This is how people end up in a body bag at the bottom of a river. Alright, that might be a bit of a stretch, but it’s still not a good idea to do this. The house edge means that you are never going to break even in the long run if you keep gambling to an excess, it’s all about luck and timing, with a touch of strategy, when it comes to grabbing the cash from an online slot. Debt is expensive, and casinos do as much as they can to underplay that fact sometimes. Many places will let you obtain cash advances using credit cards right at the casino itself because they are counting on people to be reckless with their money.
And of course, we won’t neglect to mention the fees the casinos charge to use their advance payment service. Most casinos charge at least a 10% advance fee, which means that if you get $100, you need to win back $110 to break even. Thankfully, this avenue isn’t open to anyone that plays at an US online casino.
Tip No. 4 – Set up floating win goals and loss limits
Setting win ceilings and loss limits is one of the most reliable ways to ensure that you don’t walk away losing too much, or lose what you’ve gained. Simply put, these are limits that trigger when you lose a certain amount of money or win a certain amount above your initial bankroll. Once either of these limits has been reached, you promptly stop playing. Many players will set a loss limit based upon the amount of bankroll they have.
When you actually reach the loss limit, you must have the discipline to stop playing. This is the key to making this strategy work – no matter how much you want to keep going, don’t. Statistically, if you keep playing after you hit a loss limit, you’ll lose even more money due to the house edge working against you. Some players have the discipline to stick to their limits, but others don’t make sure you are in the former category.
Now let’s say you win $100 on your first online slots spin, not a big win and certainly nothing to sneeze at either. That’s not too hard to do if you get a four-of-a-kind on a $50 video poker game or a slot machine (not penny slots, of course). Getting a triple-7 or three bars will almost guarantee that you win at least this much in a classic, old school game. The rush you get from winning so much on such a small bet is almost a drug in and of itself – you aren’t going to want to stop on such a hot streak. Besides, you’re having fun, aren’t you? But you need to find that will power from somewhere to preserve your online slots bankroll.
Here’s what you can do. You can use what is called floating win ceilings and loss limits. These are when you change what these values are, after hitting a certain win ceiling. The most reliable strategy is to change your loss limit to about twenty percent of your win goal. This ensures that you’ll still walk away with something if you lose, while still letting you have some fun.
Side Note: Win goal example
If you set a loss limit of $50 and a win ceiling of $10, you’ve reached your win goal if your initial starting funds hit $60. This means that you should adjust your loss limit and win the ceiling up by $10. This then means that your win ceiling is now $20, and your loss limit is still at $50, albeit with a larger bankroll than before.
This strategy makes it so that you’re still banking $10 even if you lose $50 in a string of bad luck. As much as you might want to use those $10 to finance your next games, resisting the temptation to do so means you don’t lose everything when you walk out.
This pattern is repeated each time you reach the next win ceiling. If you win another $10, then set your win ceiling another $10 up, while your loss limit moves up the same way. On a new bankroll of $70, this means that you walk away with $20. This system is designed so that you don’t ever give away all your money to the casino. Smart money management is the key to gambling without hurting yourself financially.
What your win ceilings and loss floors are is entirely up to you. Ideally, your loss floor should be set based upon how much you can afford to lose – never bet more than what you can part with unless you want to be on the wrong side of a gambling debt; this goes back to our earlier points. Your win ceiling will be commensurate with your loss limit, and should typically be between 20% and 40% of what your loss limit is. That might seem small, but it adds up over the course of many trips to the casino. Never underestimate the power of additive savings.
Tip No. 5 – Always bank half your winnings from any big slots win
This may go against your intuition and instincts as a player, but trust us when we say – don’t treat jackpots as being part of your earnings. This is because you want to actually take home some of these earnings when you get them. If you don’t want to take these winnings away from the online casino and splash that cash elsewhere, what are you even doing playing in the first place?
We use the following cautionary tale as to why: we know of a poker player who managed to win $1,000 dollars on a 25-cent poker machine, with this being a really impressive return for such a small wager. She hit a royal flush and instantly increased her initial investment 4,000x over. She got greedy, starting betting bigger, and wound up losing everything she had won. Trust us, this happens a lot more than you think both at online casinos and at the tables in Las Vegas.
Most players will take their bout of luck to mean that they are on a hot streak and that they should ride it as far as it will go. Such superstitions will only work against your mindset and psyche because reality does not work the way that we would like it to. The first step you should do is set aside at least half of it and not touch it. Those are your guaranteed winnings – the money that you will absolutely walk away with even if you lose everything else. Think of it as cash that’ll you enjoy, rather than throwback into the game, or even worse, the online casino’s pockets.
We suggest pocketing 50%. The other 50% is yours to spend however you want. Entertainment, food, alcohol, more casino play, anything you want – it’s yours for the taking. If you want to set up a new win ceiling and loss limit system with the other 50%, you can even do that, so go right ahead. But expunge the other 50% out of your mind – treat it as though it can never be used for gambling. It might help to imagine all of the things you can do with that money – pay off debt, make a down payment on something, buy a luxury item, or do something nice for a person you care about.
Oh, and don’t forget about taxes if you’re playing in the US – we know that some of you are. The IRS will come for its cut sooner or later, and it’s easy to forget about that when you’re riding the euphoric rush of a huge jackpot. Setting that money aside will help you cool off, enabling you to make more rational decisions regarding what to do with it. You might be able to beat the casino, but you’ll never be able to beat the taxman – sorry guys, you best make sure you declare you winning sooner rather than later.
Tip No. 6 – Don’t be in a rush to spend your winnings
We get it. Nothing is more exciting than busting out your bankroll after a long visit to the online casino. The endless options for entertainment with your hard-earned cash can be incredibly enticing, but what fun is it if you are already out of funds in the first few hours of having the cash in your pocket? You need to think a little bigger and long-term if you want our two cents.
We mentioned earlier that stuffing away 50% of your wins is important, and while you are entertaining ways to spend, we do recommend being realistic. It’s easy to burn through it in a flash no matter what the amount is, so be sensible, and you’ll find that you enjoy it much more. Look at any big casino winner (even speak to them if you can!) and they’ll relay the same message that we just have, fools rush in to spend their casino winnings, don’t become part of that crowd.
Tip No. 7 – Slow down and play at a steady pace
The online casino industry is set up to profit from the impulsiveness of gamblers, it’s how they rake in most of their money at the end of the day. It’s not a coincidence that slot games are adorned with bright lights, catchy sounds effects, and more flashy graphics than our eyes can process. Don’t succumb to quick temptation; you’ll want to pace yourself, gather your thoughts, and seriously analyze the games you want to play. If this means taking your foot off the gas and slowing down then so be it, it’ll certainly be to your benefit in the long-run.
We’ve found that the easiest way to slow down and play at a steady pace is to set a slot play window and stick to it. Have an idea in mind of how many games and spins you would like to achieve in that time and work to stretch the experience as far as possible. Don’t be afraid to savor the moment of a big win and take your time before you start spinning again. Remember, the machine you’re eyeballing isn’t going anywhere. You can always come back to it later and give it another crack.
Tip No. 8 – Understand the games you are playing and what it takes to win
What are the paylines? What is the size of the jackpot? What other prizes are there? How much does it cost per spin? What is the RTP? Who makes the game? These might seem like clear and obvious questions, but time and time again we see countless players spin a slot that they have absolutely no idea about. It’s actually really frustrating to see, as those are the players that are pretty much throwing their money away, and that’s just nonsense in our eyes.
Slot games aren’t overly technical and you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand them – if we did, we would be in big trouble. All you have to do is head into the game’s settings and start reading, you’ll soon have an understanding of how the game works and how to get the absolute best out of it, with this information being nothing short of golden.
Tip No. 9 – Play all types of online slots and don’t get fixed on a single game
There are literally thousands upon thousands of online slots out there, ranging from classic 3-reel slots that are throwbacks to the Las Vegas of old to blockbuster video slots that’ll truly blow your mind. We, for one, never imagined just how huge the world of online slots would become in such a short space of time. The prizes and performance of these games have moved with the times tremendously, so entertainment is on tap for millions of players at the click of the mouse or tap of the screen. That’s why we have to ask some of you this question, why are you playing just one type of slot game? Do you not know how many awesome games are out there?
Far too many times we’ve seen players pumping cash into a single type of online slot game, usually progressive slots. Yes, these games have dream-making prizes, but there is often very little beyond that on offer. You need to think smarter and spread your wagers around, mix up the games and don’t fall into the trap of chasing the jackpot on just one slot game.
Tip No. 10 – Don’t believe in hot streaks or cold streaks
This, my friends, is the ultimate online casino myth. Winning at online slots certainly requires a little bit of luck, but the idea that hot streaks and cold streaks exist is a bit ridiculous. We’ve all seen the headlines that show a player won on back-to-back slots and the implications are always that such a player got there by riding a hot streak to victory. Or, the idea that a player’s luck is so bad that they can’t buy a win. You need to discount these stories out of hand, as they’re simply there to get you pumped up to start spinning the reels and that’s it.
Just because you’ve won a round on the slots, or fallen short a few times before, doesn’t mean that your future results when spinning the reels will head in the same direction. Every spin is independent of the last on an online slot, it certainly pays to remember that if you want your bankroll to stretch as far as possible.
Start Spinning, Start Winning!
Caught your breath yet? The idea of making your bankroll go the extra mile when playing online slots is the dream of every player, but so few know where to start when it comes to making it a reality. This is exactly where we’ve tried to step in and help with all of the above information. Some of these tips are big, some are small, some well-known, and some a little less obvious, we’ve even thrown in the odd side tip along the way, but it’s all here to make sure that you don’t blow your bankroll next time you try to rock the reels.
We can’t guarantee that these tips will make you a better online slots player, but we’re sure that if you put them into effect, your bankroll will go a lot further than it would otherwise.