Gambling Tips > Money Management Tips for Slot Players


by Henry Tamburin



Managing your money when playing the slots is a cornerstone of smart play. It allows you to play in control and avoid the common mistakes that doom slot players to lose. If you’re a slot player you know these pitfalls all to well.


  • Playing non-stop until you manage to lose your entire bankroll.
  • Getting a nice size win and then losing it all back.
  • Playing dollar machines with a short bankroll.
  • Getting greedy and playing your winnings on a higher denomination machine to win more, faster.
  • Losing your allotted bankroll then borrowing more money to win it back.
  • Playing with money that you can not afford to lose.


If you are hell-bent on losing every time you play the slots, then just keep doing any or all of the above. This is how losers play the slots. But this article is not about losing; it’s about winning. You can have plenty of fun and still leave with some money (even profits) if you follow these seven money management tips.


  1. Play with money you can afford to lose.

Most slot players never give much thought as to how much money they should take with them to play. First and foremost, you should never go to the casinos with money that you can’t afford to lose.  That means financially and emotionally. What’s the worst that can happen? You have one of those nights where no matter which machine you play, you end up with nothing. It could and does happen. So never gamble with money you need to pay bills or other necessities and heed this advice: if you sweat it, don’t bet it.


  1. Divide your bankroll by the number of playing sessions.

To protect yourself from losing it all in one session, you must divide your bankroll by the number of playing sessions. Suppose you have a $600 bankroll and you plan on playing three sessions. That leaves you with $200 bankroll per session.


The key concept is to restrict your losses to an affordable amount. If the worst happens and you lose $200, you still have $400 left to try your luck again.


  1. Determine what denomination machine you should play.

A slot player will typically have 500 plays per hour. On average the cost for each hour of play assuming 3 coins played per play is:


Denomination Cost/hr.
Nickel machine $7.00
Quarter machine $26.00
Dollar machine $60.00



We can use the above information to get a rough idea on the denomination machine you should play. Assume your total bankroll is $600 and you plan on playing a total of 9 hrs (3 three-hour sessions). This means the maximum amount you could afford to lose is about $66 per hour ($600 divided by 9 hours).  Checking the above table it shows that you could play a dollar machine at 3 dollars per play and still have enough bankroll to last you through the 9 hours (this assumes average payback of 96% and 500 plays per hour).              If your bankroll is $200 and you plan on playing 8 hours ($25 per hour maximum loss) then you should be playing quarter machines at 3 coins per play.



4.  Set a stop loss equal to your session bankroll.

In the example above, under no circumstances should you lose more than the allotted $200 in any one playing session. This amount is your loss limit. You must discipline yourself to stop playing if the worst happens and you lose your $200 session bankroll. Take a break if this happens, and then start your next playing session with your second $200 session bankroll.


  1. Protect your winnings.

The worst thing you can do when you play the slots is to dump your winnings back into the machine until you end up losing it all. You must protect your winnings; it’s your money, not the casinos and your goal is to walk away with it.


The easiest way to accomplish this is to set win goals. Here is how it works.


Suppose you begin a playing session with a $100 bankroll. Set a goal of winning $30 (30% of your session). If luck is on your side and your bankroll reaches the $130 goal, then increase your win goal to $160. As long as you keep winning, you incrementally keep increasing your win goal to a higher level. Sooner or later your luck will run out. When this happens and your bankroll drops below the last win goal that you exceeded, that’s your signal to quit with your profits in tact.


If you follow the above advice you will never lose your profits back. You will also not limit the amount you can win should you be blest with a hot paying machine. As long as you keep winning keep playing and keep increasing your quit point.


Sometimes this strategy will result in a modest win after a relatively short playing period. So be it. Your goal is to win and to walk away with your winnings. This will be much more gratifying then playing for a longer time and losing it all.


  1. Slow down your play.

Unfortunately, no matter which slot machine you play the casino has the edge. This means the faster you play and the longer you play, the more you will lose over the long run. You can slow down your loss rate if you play slower.


One way to accomplish this is to play one coin instead of three coins per play. But be careful. Only do this on machines that pay proportionally. This means that the winning payouts increase proportionally as you increase the amount of coins played. Do not play one coin in machines that have a higher proportion payout especially for the maximum coin jackpot. For example, if a slot machine has a 1,000 coin payout for one coin, 2,000 coins for two coins, but 5,000 coins (rather than 3,000 coins) for three coins you would be penalized with a lower overall return by playing less than max coins in these machines. (If instead the machine paid 3,000 coins for 3 coins then it would be OK to play one coin in this machine without any penalty).


Another way to slow down your play is to just pause between plays. Players who pound the spin button at a rapid pace can easily get 600 or more plays per hour. By slowing down to 400 plays per hour, you’ll be cutting your loss rate by 33%. At the minimum you’ll be getting more playing time for the same bankroll.


  1. Always use your slot card to benefit from cash rebates that can be used to supplement your playing bankroll.

This one’s a no brainer. You can get up to a 1% cash rebate from the casinos just by joining the casinos slot clubs and using your slot card when you play. It costs nothing and the cash rebates and other goodies you’ll get from the casinos just for playing will increase your overall return. Read the Slot Club Round-Up by Jeffrey Compton in Strictly Slots to keep abreast of the slot club offerings.


What should you do if your machine ends up being a dud? You push the spin button and nothing. You do it again and still nothing. After five or ten spins, not one payout. Should you stay and play or switch to another machine? Technically it doesn’t make a difference but psychologically I’d switch. So when my machine isn’t cooperating, I tend to move to another. Moving isn’t going to change my overall odds or the casino’s edge, but it makes me feel I’m in control of my destiny and I never second guess myself for playing one lousy slot machine.


Playing the slots is fun and you can maximize your playing time – and maybe, with a little luck, end up a winner to boot. The key is to have a money management plan and to stick with it.