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Bankroll Management 101: Tips From the Experts

Whatever your favorite casino game may be, poker to blackjack, slots, baccarat or craps; gambling is a lot of fun. Online casinos are a booming industry, and offer a level of entertainment and incredible game selection that rival the casino floor experience. The best part is that when you play online or at your local land-based casino for real money, you play for a chance at jackpots and high stakes payouts and bragging rights. That’s what makes it so much fun! There is no better feeling than upping the ante at the right moment and winning big.

However, there seem to be times when Lady Luck doesn’t deliver, or just when you’re riding high, she swoops down and takes back your winnings. How can she do that? Those are your winnings! Well, perhaps you need a short lesson in money management.

It’s not rocket science, but believe it or not, there are a few things you can do to maximize your winnings and extend the longevity of your bankroll when gambling. So, how should you go about protecting your personal casino bankroll? We’ll show you how with CoolCat Casino’s best tips for gambling bankroll management. We want you to stretch your gambling dollar and take the house.

What is Bankroll Management?

Playing casino games is great fun and can be a profitable experience. However, to win at these games you need to have enough money to play them in the first place. Without the proper funds, and knowing the correct way to manage your money you could be left sitting in the dark scratching your head wondering what went wrong. Unfortunately, there have been numerous gamblers, even some of the best in the world, who have ultimately gone broke because of poor money management. Read the infamous case of Archie Karas and “the Run” if you’d like a real-life example.

Knowing how to gamble is one thing, but one critically overlooked aspect in any good gambler’s “game” is knowing that a casino bankroll should be considered as a tool. Just like a surgeon who uses his scalpel during an operation, you the gambler use your money as a tool along with the right mindset. This analogy is to show you that your bankroll is a crucial part of making money in casino games. Bankroll management means that you conserve your bankroll, and follow a particular set of guidelines that will ultimately benefit you.

Eye the edge

Assuming that you’ve practiced and know how to play, the best place to start is knowing what casino games offer the best odds to players. This factor is crucial, and it will help you keep your bankroll in the positive with the right strategy. Video poker, baccarat, blackjack, and craps have the lowest house edge out of all of the casino games; with optimal strategy, they can be very lucrative.

Although American roulette and slots require no real skill to play, they come with a much higher house edge and should be avoided. The poorest odds to the player are what are known as sucker bets such as the Big Six, Wheel of Fortune, Keno or other such lotteries.

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Establish your gambling budget

Now that you know where to start, it’s time to set a budget! Ideally, setting a gambling budget is an entirely subjective matter, only you know best what you can afford to play with, but generally, you want to go with a game that is tailored to your budget.

Be mindful of the aforementioned house edge, and each table’s minimum and maximum limits. Some games like baccarat come with a small commission on particular bets, roulette tables can have minimum limits as high as $20 a bet, which can be more than you bargain for if you only have $100 to play with. Never gamble more than you can afford to lose.

Start small

Real money online casinoEven experienced players understand the importance of starting small. Think about gambling like going for a swim in a pool, you understand that it will be a lot of fun because you’ve done it a hundred times before, but you wouldn’t just dive right in. You need to test the water first, before you fully commit. Same works for gambling. Deciding whether a table is paying or not by starting with small stakes. It’s better to start with small bets and slowly up the ante as you start winning. Bet big when it counts.

The bankroll management 5% rule

This strategy works quite well if you’re new to gambling. Let’s say you have a $200 gambling budget, therefore you should never bet higher than your bankroll can afford. For example; if you’re betting $50 per hand at a blackjack table with only a $200 bankroll, that only will only give 4 bets to place. If you lose four in a row, you’re out of the game, for good.

What you need to do is use the 5% rule. This means that the highest bet you should place is 5% of your bankroll. If your bankroll is $100, the highest bet you should place is $5. As your bankroll increases, so will your bets. It’s the perfect strategy using simple math to maintain the integrity of your gambling budget. If you win, your bets increase automatically, if you lose your losses stay low.

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    Play at your limits

    Now that you have established a gambling budget, you have to manage not to spend your money all at once. There’s no point in establishing a budget, if you’re just going to lose it all in one night, right? Gambling professionals like Paul Wasicka suggest that players should never commit more than 10-20 percent of their entire bankroll to any individual game. So, if you’re gambling with $100, you should stop betting if you go over $20. Test the tables to see what works. If you go over your 10-20 percent limit for a given game, it’s time to switch.

    Calculate your win percentage

    Calculating your win percentage is an effective form of bankroll management for sports betting or for gambling on the casino floor. If you keep a record of your win-loss ratio for a given period, whether it’s one night or one week, will give you a good indication of what games, dealer, teams or even casino is benefitting you the most. Objectively, you need to observe your win-loss ratio like a detective in order to catch yourself when you make mistakes. Even if you are an instinctive player, we encourage you to train yourself to keep track in order to recognize any weakness in your game and ultimately improve your abilities.

    Sports betting and the Kelly Strategyweekly football fantasy

    The Kelly strategy is an advanced sports betting strategy that uses a mathematical formula to determine what percentage of your bankroll you should wager on a given event in order to maximize your profit (based on the odds and the probability of winning the bet). We will describe it in three easy steps:

    1. Multiplying the odds of an event with the probability of winning.
      2. Subtracting the probability of losing from the number obtained in part one.
      3. Taking the number obtained in part two and dividing by the odds.

    This method suggests you bet more depending on betting value on offer. You have to assess the probability of a given outcome with consistency. The ‘overlay’ is calculated by:

    Probability x Odds -1 = Overlay


    Team A is playing Team B. Where Team A is at odds of 2.70 to win and their probability of winning has been assessed at 40%.

    Overlay = (0.40 x 2.70) – 1)

    =  (1.08) – 1)

    = 0.08

    This calculation tells you that betting on Team A has an 8% value, and will ultimately determine how much of your bankroll you should stake on a bet with 8% value. The stake is worked out by using the following formula:

    Overlay / (Odds – 1)

    Thus, you go back to the example:

    Percentage of bankroll to bet = 0.08 / (2.70 – 1)

    = 0.0471

    So, with a bankroll of $500, the Kelly Strategy tells you to bet 4.71 % of $500 = $23.55. And there you have it!

    The Kelly Strategy has these versions:

    The Full Kelly – It can make gambling more exciting as it incorporates riskier betting amounts. For instance, it may suggest a bet of 50% of your bankroll. Meaning, it can empty your bankroll fast if you lose. However, hitting a winning streak can quickly take you and your dollars to high levels.

    The Fractional Kelly – Easy and a more conservative stem of the Full Kelly. Gamblers bet a certain fraction of the recommended bet. It could be 50% (The Half Kelly), 25% (the Quarter Kelly) or any chosen amount. This has the potential to be safer for the long term.

    The Constant Kelly – This one is the same as the Full Kelly, but it invites gamblers to take a percentage of a constant number. For example, instead of suggesting 15% of a diminishing or improving bankroll, it recommends 15% of a constant amount.

    Inside Out

    lottery winningThis strategy is strictly meant to reduce losses and is similar to a method known as the Slice of the Pie strategy based on considering the odds offered for a particular bet. Let’s say that you bet 5% of a $1000 bankroll the standard unit is $50. If betting on $2 odds, the unit remains $50, but when betting for example on $11 outsider, that unit becomes $5. Again, the downside to this strategy is that it doesn’t take into consideration the recognized value of a particular betting proposition. We recommend combining the Fractional Kelly, since it protects your bankroll while being able to play with the types of bets usually made.


    Gambling by nature is competitive. Often times, you can make the right move, but still find yourself on the short end of the stick. When that happens, human nature tells you to get even. This is the wrong approach because it leads you to make wagers that you can’t afford. Getting away from your original game plan is one of the cardinal mistakes you can make on the tables.

    The important thing about managing your bankroll properly is exercising a certain amount of mental toughness. Many players will set off on the right track and have a plan in place about how to properly conserve their bankrolls, but once the game begins they toss that plan right out the window. Proper strategy for maintaining your bankroll is only half the battle; the other half is applying that strategy.

    It’s easy, especially for beginners to get caught up in the heat of the gamble, let emotions run wild, and lose one’s cool. Especially if you are on a hot streak. Although it is important to have fun, it’s equally important to remain cautious, and not assume that you’re immune to bad fortune at the gambling table.

    Anyone can start their night off well, but with poor money management end up losing it all before the night is over. As with anything that requires practice, discipline is the key to success, and games of chance are no exception. Sticking to the budget and correct mental discipline can be the difference between winning big or losing big.

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    Be mindful of your opponent – even if it’s yourself

    It is important to practice playing casino games as often as possible if you intend to develop the confidence to play for real money. This means recognizing weakness in your own game and improving them. Also, certain casino games that you play against another player, and you should be aware of what they have to bring to the table. For instance, Poker is a fun game that combines skill, luck, strategy and social dynamics.

    Unlike other table games, poker adds an x factor, where one’s ability to fool the opposing player can deliver a win. A key factor is bluffing and betting. Know when to bet, check, call, raise and most importantly fold. In poker, you don’t play your hand, you play the person across from you.

    Never play more than your bankroll will allow, because if you play too aggressive too soon you increase your chances of failing. If you play too soft too late, you could lost a big hand. Intelligent players will be looking for weaknesses in your game and study your body language in order to find tells that can eventually hurt you and your pockets.

    Keep your runs short

    When it comes to gambling, it is undeniable that the odds are against you. Casinos do not have to rely on strategies or systems to win, because all casino games from slots to poker have a built in mathematical advantage, the house edge. This is the mathematical certainty that if you gamble on any game long enough, you will lose a percentage of your money. If you are not careful with your bets, however, you can lose all of it.

    The only things players can do to prevent this, is to limit the amount of time that they play each game. In the short term, casino games, whether on or offline, can be very profitable. Skilled players know that on top of ability, not getting greedy and keeping playtime short is the best way to bypass the house edge. If you play enough, you will get on a roll from time to time, but when you’re riding high it’s important to know when to cash out.


    Effective bankroll and money management skills are the hallmark of a good gambler. After all, you’re only as good as your bankroll shows, so mastering it is key. Whether you are on the up with your winnings or simply trying to ride out a cold streak, it is critical to know how to stay afloat. Gambling is a risky endeavor, but is also a great source of fun and entertainment. The rewards can be significant if you know how to handle them.

    Join CoolCat Casino and immerse yourself in our wide selection of over 150 exciting casino games. Get into blackjack, video poker, slots, and many more as you choose to play for free to improve your skills or for real money to prove your bankroll management. All it takes is signing up for a free account and logging in to start playing right away! CoolCat Casino, where all the cool cats go to play.

    Laura Barton

    Laura Barton is a self-declared "adventurer". Highly energetic and unpredictable, you will never find her without something to read on her hands. She loves casinos, after all it's in her blood: her father was a Las Vegas mogul and a former owner of some of the largest casino entertainment chains in the US. Loves rock climbing, surfing and playing drums.