Managing Your Money in a Casino

Setting a Budget and Sticking to It

To enjoy your gambling experience, you must control your gambling experience, which means setting — and sticking to a budget. Whether you’re taking a weekend backpacking tour in a nearby state park or a once-in-lifetime cruise on the Queen Mary II, you decide what you’re willing or can afford to spend, and then you make your plans. The same goes for a gambling getaway. First, your budget for the transportation to your destination, your hotel and food expenses, entertainment tickets, and sightseeing excursions — and how much you plan to spend on gambling.

You are playing within your means.

For most people, gambling isn’t a lifestyle. Instead, it’s an escape from reality with the same components of thrill, sizzle, and excitement as other forms of entertainment — well, maybe a little less than skydiving and a bit more than the opera.

A good starting point to determine your gambling bankroll is figuring out how much you spend on different types of entertainment and vacations, such as theme parks, ski resorts, or other sightseeing destinations. Knowing this information can help you compare your casino budget to the cost of last summer’s beach vacation or that week in Paris.

Keeping your bets consistent

Unless you’re a professional card counter or an expert sports handicapper, you don’t benefit from changing the number of your bets. The simplest and safest strategy in most casino games is to bet the same amount each time. For slots and video poker, that may mean playing the max number of coins or credits each time playing a progressive machine.

Although games do run in streaks, you can’t know when those streaks begin or end. After you have the money, it’s yours. How you obtained it doesn’t matter, but you still need to be judicious about how you spend or bet the cash?

Limiting your losses

In addition to establishing a budget and portioning it out on a daily — and bet-size — basis, you can employ some simple strategies that help you stay within the framework of your budget. This section contains a few time-honored methods of limiting your losses.

Looking at Casino Credit and Its Risks

Most people feel safer using credit cards rather than cash on vacation because, if stolen, credit is more straightforward to replace than cash. But you have to turn that strategy on its head on gambling vacations. Suppose you want to play it safe when gambling; always use cash instead of credit. The more credit you use (or perhaps abuse), the more you have to replace it when you get home. For example, if you set a personal loss limit of $400 and blow your $400 in cash, stopping is more accessible because you’re out of money. But with a $2,000 credit line, after you burn through the first $400, you can still tap into more funds, which can ultimately lead to serious debt trouble.

Knowing the odds of failure

The best protection you can offer yourself in a casino is knowledge. Having a complete understanding of the odds involved with every game allows you to set realistic limits in your play. You can know when pushing a little more complicated and continuing to play is okay, but you can also have a solid grasp on when it’s time to tuck your tail between your legs and go home. Without a basic understanding of your chances, you won’t be able to recognize when you’ve taken one step too far.

Resisting the urge to chase losses

Even if you’re a highly disciplined soul, the hypnotic sway of the casino can seduce you into uncharacteristic behavior. One typical lure that pulls gamblers off the cliff of control is chasing your losses. For example, say you’ve lost more than you intended. But, you think, if you could win one big bet, your problem would be erased. So chasing your losses is tempting, especially in a casino where people seem to be winning all around you.

Understanding Taxes and the Law

After figuring out how to count cards with a friend, we tried our skills at the blackjack tables, and we both won. Then, as we left the casino, I vividly recall my friend tucking his $80 win into his jeans and saying, “The best thing about this money is that it’s tax-free.”

Unfortunately, that’s not true. Do you remember that old saying: Only two things are certain in life-death and taxes? In casinos, two outcomes are also inevitable. First, the house always wins in the long run. Second, when gamblers somehow turn the tables and get lucky in the short run, Uncle Sam wins, too.


An old joke goes like this: Woody takes his yearly trip to Las Vegas. Dave gives Woody $500 and tells him to bet it all on lucky number 22 at the roulette. Woody dutifully takes the money and, upon arriving in Sin City, he goes straight to the wheel and plunks $500 down on Number 22. Amazingly, Number 22 hits and Woody wins $17,500. After raking in all the chips, Woody says, “Wow that sure was a lucky number. Now I guess I’d better make the $500 bet on Number 22 for Dave.”

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