Keeping an eye on the size of your bets plays a key role in all gambling games of chance.
If you have a low bankroll one evening, should you risk playing a high variance game and hoping for a big hit early on that will rapidly boost your bankroll and extend your playtime? The risk is that you could go broke quickly, and your night’s slotting will be over. Much worse, you may continue depositing and spending more money than you can afford by continuing to chase big hits and bonus rounds.
Even a modestly sized bankroll should be enough for several hours of fun playing slots if you keep your bet sizing to a reasonable level. If you enjoy playing slots for fun and want to get a lot of playtime for your money, low variance slots aren’t as bad as they might sound. They all have a few moderately impressive wins on the paytable, so there’s always a chance of a winning night – as long as you are willing to quit whilst you are ahead!
Those with deeper pockets will no doubt want to start off playing the high variance games, but the worst thing you can do is make very large bets on a high variance slot thinking you have plenty of spare capital – the highest variance slot machines can and will empty even the richest players pockets in record time if they are careless with the size of their bets.
An interesting option can be to play lower variance slots with bigger bets when you have a larger bankroll. The smaller wins will be worth more, but only in real terms – relative to your stake your returns are the same, so remembering to quit while you are ahead is always important when playing lower variance slots.
You could also try mixing up your bet sizing too, which can be an interesting strategy when playing both low and high variance slots. Let’s take a look at a few of these ideas in greater detail, along with some overall tips and tricks for bankroll management whilst playing slots. If this article interests you, we are posting several other tips and tricks articles for slots players in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out on the site for those.
Overall Tips for Bankroll Management
Poker players will tell you that bankroll management is one of the most important strategies that their game requires if you are to be successful over the long term. Poker is a game of skill as well as chance, so it makes sense to try and build up a large bankroll over an extended period. Can slots players really do this?
It’s a tough question to answer. On the one hand, many of the same ideas apply when slotting as when playing poker. If you split your starting bankroll into several individual stakes that you feel comfortable with and which you believe give you a reasonable chance of hitting something big before running out of money, it seems clear that could give you a better chance of finishing a night in profit than going all out with just ten large bets.
On the other hand, if things take a drastic downturn whilst playing slots there is little you can do to turn the tide back in your favour. You cannot sit back for a moment and reanalyze the other opponents at your table – there are none. You can set a stop-loss limit, which is something we will get to later – but keep in mind that your odds won’t be any different when you come back and begin to play again the next day.
Many slots games have an overall chance of hitting their bonus feature somewhere in the region of 1 in 150. Using this as a starting point for your bankroll management strategy probably isn’t a bad idea – particularly if you know the game you are playing has a bonus feature that has a decent chance of returning a decent percentage of your previous 150 bets to your balance.
Whilst poker players who are playing Sit and Go tournaments might divide their bankroll into as many as 100 buy-ins, those playing cash games tend to go for smaller numbers such as 20, 40 or 50 buy-ins. As a slots player, you should do the same, and alter the size of your bets depending on the variance and volatility of the game you are playing. Check out our article “Loose Slot Machines and the Meaning of High and Low Variance Slot Games” for more information on this key aspect of online slots.
Mixing Different Types of Game
I’m not talking about “hot” and “cold” slots here – that is a myth, as all true slot machines work using a random number generator and do not go through cycles of paying out and tightening up.
When we talk about mixing up your games, we are referring to the technique developed by advantage players and bonus fanatics who discovered that by mixing up the games they play they could sometimes dramatically increase their chances of making a profit from an online casino bonus.
The key to this technique is to switch between a lower variance game such as blackjack or roulette, and the higher variance slot machines as your bankroll dictates. A common way to order this is to begin by playing blackjack or roulette and trying to double your starting balance, before taking your profits over to the slots – probably a high variance machine – and using the free half of your funds to try and hit something big. If you end up back at your starting balance before achieving this goal, simply repeat the process.
This could be done in many ways, too – you could bet five hands of $20 blackjack, for example, and see how you fare at the end of that. Or you could just throw your whole bankroll on black and cross your fingers – on a European roulette wheel, you’ll be successful nearly 49% of the time, which aren’t the worst odds in the world.
You could also try this system in reverse – start off playing slots, then if you lose half of your bankroll, switch over to another type of game to rebuild your balance before returning to playing slots. Having a fun night should be the only thing that matters, and if you aren’t having fun then this probably isn’t what you should be doing with your money in the first place.
Mixing Up Your Bet Sizing
It’s important to point out straight away that this technique isn’t used to try and take advantage of any kind of flaw or exploit in the slot machines. Some players believe that slot machines reserve their largest wins (as a multiple of stake) for those who are placing smaller bets. If this were true, then mixing up your bet sizing would not help you as you would be wasting your time placing any larger bets at all!
Fortunately, online slot machines are truly random and by mixing up your bet sizing you could be lucky enough to exploit that randomness by hitting a bonus round on a higher bet size. For example, you spin the reels 100 times at a smaller bet of 0.25 units, then increase your bet to 1.00 unit for the next 25 spins. Sure, there is a good chance you might hit a bonus round during the smaller spins, but what’s to say you won’t randomly hit a feature with one of your bigger spins too?
It’s not much of a strategy – you are relying on dumb luck, after all. But believe it or not, it’s a strategy that has worked for many people! Following the above directions, you have a 1 in 5 shot of hitting a bonus round with a 400% bigger pay off than you would during the other spins. You only have to get lucky 20% of the time to get some really big wins. Imagine hitting 10,000x your stake at $1 after betting just 0.25c for the past ten minutes … it could happen to you!
Set Win and Loss Limits – And Stick to Them!
Immediately after depositing at an online casino or walking into a land-based venue, your loss limit is probably going to be the total of funds you have chosen to bring to the casino. Setting a win limit is a little more involved – somewhere in the region of 60-70% is generally considered sensible, and a withdrawal of R170 on a R100 deposit isn’t a bad night’s entertainment, in most people’s eyes.
But what if you win R70 on your first spin, and want to enjoy some more slotting? In this case, why not pocket half of your profits – R35 – and continue playing with the rest? Reach R70 of profit a second time, and you could opt to call it a night once again, or repeat the process, now with R70 of guaranteed winnings in your pocket for the evening. One more time? You’ve now broken even and will be going home or logging off with R5 more than you started with, even if you lose your entire initial bankroll.
And what if you hit a huge win at some point during your session? Have a plan for this too. Think of the things you would like to buy with a little extra cash, and keep them in the back of your mind if you find yourself with R300, R500 or even R1,000 in your bankroll at some point in the evening.
Remember, if something like this does happen you have been extremely lucky – why not walk away and enjoy the fruits of your… ahem, hard work? Have a loss limit planned for this situation too, to ensure that you never lose more than you are comfortable with.
There’s nothing wrong with keeping your initial R100 or whatever in the machine or casino to continue playing with, but never, ever start playing back huge amounts of your winnings. Your chances of winning a huge amount twice in one night are minimal at best. Even if you can afford it, you WILL kick yourself for throwing away the money the next day – take it from someone who’s long ago learnt their lesson.
A Summary of Bankroll Management Techniques
All the above will likely go straight over the head of some players – why not just play by “feel”? In short because slots are an incredibly addictive form of entertainment, and it is far too easy to get caught up in it! By following a few short pieces of bankroll management advice such as these you WILL drastically increase your chances of a winning session.
Nothing is guaranteed – whatever you do, you could still go bust, no matter what type of slots you choose to play. Choose to play an ultra-high variance game at the largest bets you can reasonably afford, and you could end up walking away with a year’s salary even if you only get to spin the reels fifty times. This is just the nature of the beast, but if you play online every week then a little bankroll management might just allow you to build up a casino bankroll.
The worst-case scenario is that you will get a little more playtime for your money – and who can complain about that?