Gambling Tips > Cash Management


By Henry Tamburin

What’s the one thing you positively must have if you want to gamble? Of course, c-a-s-h.

Most folks just use folding money. Nothing wrong with that, but there are other options, some better, some worse. And what about managing that cash when you gamble on the tables or machines? Do you have a plan for what you are going to do if you start losing? What about winning? And what would you do if you won some serious money? How would you get it home, safely? The point is that how you get, use, access, and manage your money when you gamble is just as important as which games you play and how you play them.

Every player –high roller, low roller, table, or machine player – must do the following if they want to partake in the casino action.

  1. Convert money into a playing bankroll.

  2. Manage that bankroll when they play.

  3. Convert what’s left of the bankroll into cash and head home.

Step 1. Converting “Money” into a Bankroll.

This is a fact – you can’t gamble in a casino without a bankroll. So some way, some how you must put together a bankroll before making your first table bet or dropping a coin into a slot machine. You’ve probably heard this a hundred times but it’s worth repeating. The funds you use to create that gambling bankroll shouldn’t come from money you need to pay rent, buy food, or pay for your kid’s college education. The money you earmark for gambling should come from your discretionary income that you’ve smartly saved for activities that you enjoy like gambling. Assuming you’ve done this, these are your options to convert that money into a gambling bankroll.


This is a no brainer and what most players do - they simply use good old American Greenbacks to create their bankroll. It’s uncomplicated and gives the player flexibility in the sense they can use the cash at any casino and it costs nothing to use it. Plus you can’t lose more than you brought so you have a built in stop loss. Using cash also offers you privacy which some players prefer (use cash and you don’t even have to give the casino your name if you don’t want to). But, there are some negatives. You could lose it or worse get robbed of it. And nowadays if you carry a lot of cash through airports you’ve got to be concerned it could be confiscated as part of the government’s crack down on money laundering (slim chance but still a possibility). But if you decide on using cash, here are some common sense tips on how to protect it.

  1. Don’t flash wads of cash around in a casino. That might impress the pit boss but you never know who else might also get a glimpse of it, if you get my drift.

  2. Gentlemen should always carry cash in their front pants pocket. That minimizes the chance that a professional pick-pocket could wind up with it.

  3. Ladies, keep that cash in your handbag that you securely hold at all times.

  4. Consider putting your cash in a money belt, which you can purchase in airport stores or any luggage store for that matter.

  5. Use the free safety-deposit box provided by most casino hotels to store your cash. Some hotels have in-room safes (some might charge a fee to use them). Never stash cash in a secret hiding place in your hotel room.

Travelers Checks

For years, this was and still is my personal favorite way to bring cash into a casino. You can get Traveler’s Checks for free if you are a member of the American Automobile Association. Many banks and some credit unions also offer free Travelers Checks if you have an account with them (I always get mine at my local bank – for free). Traveler’s Checks are universally accepted and you have piece of mind knowing if they are lost or stolen you can get always get them replaced (not so with cash).

Front Money

This is cash that you deposit with the casino and then draw from when you play. You can either wire the cash ahead to the casino (so you don’t have to travel with it) or simply deposit it with the casino when you get there. Front Money offers you privacy. You only have to sign a signature verification card and you don’t have to give the casino your bank account number and other private information. Secondly, you have a built in stop loss-if you lose it that’s it. Thirdly, it gives the perception to the casino that you plan to gamble with all that money that you deposited with them a plus when it comes time to ask for comps.

ATM Machine

Don’t even think of this. Yea I know it beats carrying around a lot of cash but wait till you see the fees that casinos charge to access your own money when you use their ATM machines. An ATM card also gives players down on their luck an easy way to get more cash. My advice - leave your ATM card at home.

Credit card

This is another bad way to bankroll your playing session. Fees are exorbitant – you’ll get charged an upfront fee based on the amount of money being advanced to you and of course you are going to have to pay interest on that cash advance. This is not a smart way to get funds for your bankroll so forgetaboutit.

Casino Credit

This is a good option for most players because it eliminates carrying around cash and you don’t have to pay any interest or fee. But you will have to give the casino your personal information including your bank account number.

To establish a line of credit with a casino, you must complete a credit application. What the casino wants to know is the particulars of your bank account. A casino representative will contact your bank to obtain your average six month balance in your account and with this information, set your credit limit (note that casinos are usually liberal when establishing credit limits). Once your credit has been approved you’ll be given a VIP card that you can use at the tables to get chips (your bankroll). You’ll also have to sign a marker – which is a check that is written on your bank account. When you are done playing you are expected to give the chips that the casino gave you back to them before you head home. When you do so they will destroy the marker. If you don’t have enough chips because you’ve lost, you have a specific time period (usually 30 days) to send a check to cover the marker (or you could pay them by check before you leave the casino).

In the worse case if you leave without paying off your marker, the casino collection agency will send you friendly reminders to pay up. If you don’t the casino will simply cash the marker you signed when you got your chips (remember the marker is nothing more than a check that you signed made out to the casino with your bank account on them).

Each casino handles casino credit a little bit different so it’s best to contact the VIP department of the casino and get all details directly from them.

The disadvantage of casino credit is that if you use it in casino A you are limited to playing in casino A. Also, if you lose a lot you can often have the casino extend you more credit which means you could lose more than you intended to. And of course there is always the temptation to use your casino credit when you shouldn’t (like when you are really short on cash). Finally don’t ever think of stiffing a casino. In Nevada, for example, the courts have upheld that markers are checks and if you don’t pay up you could be subject to civil and criminal prosecution.

Step 2. Managing Your Money

Once you’ve got your gambling bankroll in place and start using it, now you better know how to manage it. Let me state clearly up front that no money management system alone is going to eliminate the long term house edge against you. What it will do is help you make your bankroll last longer so you can play longer and that is what most casino players want.

Here are some tips to manage your money.

  1. On an extended gambling trip, set aside a portion of your bankroll to use each day. If you lose the amount you earmarked for day #1 then you must stop gambling on day #1 (do some non-gambling activities)

  2. Establish session (or timed) stop loss limits. If you’ve set aside $300 to use for gambling on day #1 and you plan on two sessions, only bring $150 to your first session. If you lose the $150 then you quit playing. However, you’ve still got another $150 that you budgeted for session #2.

  3. Don’t over bet. Playing dollar slot machines with a hundred dollar bankroll just isn’t going to work. If you really want your money to last, play at a lower denomination.

  4. Don’t “chase your losses” meaning betting more in the hopes of winning it all back quickly. This is a common mistake made by most gamblers.

  5. Don’t lose back the money that you’ve won in a session. Easy to say but sometimes hard to do. Here’s a plan that can help. Set a win goal equal to some percent of your session stake. Let’s suppose your session bankroll is $100 and you would be happy if you could walk away with a $50 profit. If luck is going your way and you exceed the $50 win goal, go ahead and keep playing but increase your win goal to $100. As long as you keep winning keep incrementally increasing your win goal. Now here’s the discipline – when the tide turns and your winnings drop below the previous win goal you should leave the table with profits intact (i.e., take the money and run).

  6. Get in the habit of setting aside the money you win from a gambling session to bring home. If you lack discipline to do this then place those winnings in an envelope in the hotel safety- deposit box (where it stays untouched until you leave for home). If you need more push then convert the winnings to Travels Checks and immediately mail them home. The point is don’t put into play any hard earned money that you’ve managed to win (don’t think of it as playing with the “casino’s money” – once you’ve won it, it’s your money).

Step 3 Getting Your Bankroll Converted Back to Cash.

At the end of your gambling trip, if you’ve played smartly and managed your bankroll wisely you’ll have a bankroll that needs converting into cash.

  1. If you’ve won a lot chips at a table game be sure to color up before you leave. This means the dealer will convert your smaller denomination chips into larger chips so there will be less of them to bring to the cashier.

  2. Many slot and video poker machines will dispense a ticket when you cash out. Take care not to lose the ticket and be forewarned they expire. So it’s best at the end of your trip to take that ticket to the cashier and get cash rather than bring the ticket home where it could get lost.

  3. If you’ve won a lot of money at the tables then you should ask the casino to issue you a check for your winnings. It’s a lot easier and safer leaving for home with a check in your pocket than a wad of cash (note that the casino cashier will confirm with the pit supervisor that you indeed won those chips at the tables).

  4. Likewise if you hit a big slot machine jackpot make sure you tell the casino employee that shows up at your machine that you want to be paid by check (or you could ask for some of the jackpot in cash and the rest paid by check).

  5. If you insist on converting your chips or machine winnings into cash and you have a lot of it, to be safe ask casino security to escort you to your car.

  6. If need be, you can always go to a local bank and convert your cash to Travelers Checks, which is a much safer way to get your money home.

If you want more details on how to manage your money in a casino, check out the books More Frugal Gambling (Jean Scott) and Comp City (Max Rubin).

It’s your hard earned money that you gamble with in a casino. So doesn’t it make sense to use it wisely?