Bankroll management my sound a little more like accounting than the entertainment of playing slots – but it does have a very useful role to play.
If you are smart about how you manage your slots bankroll, you’ll be able to enjoy the games for longer, and enjoy those wins which come along when things do right more often. By maximizing play for your bankroll, you’ll have a better chance of being around when that life-changing jackpot hits too. I’d like to remind readers of one key factor – no bankroll management strategy will help you unless you start with the ‘golden rule’ of only gambling with money that you can afford to lose.
This page breaks slot jackpot management down into 3 key areas:
The math: How many bets should you start a session with, or put the other way around what size bets should you play for a certain bankroll size.
The background: How ‘Return to Player’ percentages and ‘variance’ affect winning streaks.
Bonuses, Loyalty Schemes and Free Spins: These have a much bigger effect on your slots bankroll than you might imagine, this section shows you how.
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The Math of Slot Bankroll Management
Let’s start with how many bets you should have to start a session. Of course there are a lot of reasons that this number can vary. These include your ability to reload, personal risk tolerance and the types of slot you play (see below). I use the following rule of thumb to start a slot session.
Average spin amount x 100
So, for 50c spins, you should start off with $50, and $2 spins, $200.
This hits the sweet spot between giving you long enough to play to hit bonus features or some bigger regular wins, and not being excessive in terms of the amount of money you need to start a session.
Some sessions you’ll be up, others not. For most players this is a comfortable balance between potential gains and not too much pain those times things do not go well.
The ‘100x rule’ also makes it easy to figure out how much to spin for with a fixed starting amount. For example a $150 session can enjoy $1.50c spins.
Individual Sessions as a Percentage of your Total Casino Bankroll
When you start a session it is never a great idea to use your entire casino bankroll. Most players take a proportion of this per session, and then stop if they dip below this proportion.
My personal rule is 10% for slots play.
So, from a total casino bankroll of $2000, you can start an individual slot session with $200 – and if you follow the 1/100th rule you can spin for $2 a time.
Individual differences make a big difference here. If you can easy replace the money in your bankroll, then you can be more flexible. If you have a fixed amount to gamble with which would be difficult to replace, then maybe you should be closer to 5% than 10% per session.
Game Factors Which Affect Slot Bankroll Management
The types of slot you play will have an effect on your slot bankroll management strategy. There are two main factors at play here, RTP and Variance.
Return to Player
RTP refers to the return to player percentage. Every slot has an amount (usually published!) which is the tested average of the money put in returned to the player. This is a long term average, so your results will vary in individual sessions. RTP is still a decent guide to how ‘greedy’ an individual game is in terms of the money paid out.
Online slots generally have RTP percentages between 92% and 98%. My personal cut off point is 95%, I’ll need a very good reason to play any slot which takes more than this! You will not find too many games at the top end, 96% to 97% is a decent target to aim for.
To visualize how this works, keep in mind that 95% is 5c on the dollar. Each time you spin for $1, the average payout is 95c. If you spin 100 times, then on average you’ll win $95 over the long term. In the short term many people will win more than $100, and others will win less – though on balance, the game will have removed $5 from circulation.
Some slots pay small wins, and pay them very frequently – other slots pay far less often, though when they do pay this is a huge amount.
Put another way, the regular small payout game is ‘low variance’ (the results of any one session do not vary by a whole lot) and the irregular bigger prize game is ‘high variance’ (results of individual sessions vary a lot).
This has an effect on your bankroll management strategy. You’ll need a smaller bankroll if you stick to the lower variance games compared to the higher variance ones – even though your average winnings will be the same for both.
Slots with jackpots tend to be in the higher variance category. Since occasional huge wins are counted as part of their average returns, the remaining wins need to be smaller to balance this. There is some difference between jackpot games of course. Next time you read a slot review here at High Tech Gambling and see the variance mentioned, you’ll know what to expect!
How Bonuses and Loyalty Schemes Affect your Slot Bankroll
For the first 30 to 60 days at a new casino, you’ll be enjoying the benefits of a welcome bonus – usually given as a match to your first deposit(s).
While this will give your bankroll a welcome boost – keep in mind that if you find a casino you really like, you could be enjoying the slots there for several years. The loyalty scheme, promotions and extras like free spins will make a much bigger difference to your bankroll over time than the ‘headline’ welcome bonus will.
Before you join a casino with a big initial offer, check out some of the following to make sure your bankroll will be topped up over the long term:
Comp Points: The best casinos award points for slots play which can be swapped for extra bonuses. Look out for tiered loyalty schemes, where you earn points faster as you move up the levels.
Free Spins: Often given with welcome bonuses, many casinos offer regular players free spin promos too. These let you try out the latest games with the casino’s money.
Reload Bonuses: If you do bust out it can be great to get an additional bonus for those extra deposits. Look for casinos offering regular reloads.
One-Off Promotions: I like to see a list of these, including past promotions. The best casinos are always coming up with new ways to reward their loyal players, while other casinos are very poor in this respect.
Tournament Entries: Slot tournaments are entertaining extras, you’ll have time on a slot to try and make the most money compared to the other entrants. These are often given as extras for loyal players.
These incentives all add up, finding a casino that treats you well can make a huge difference to your slot bankroll over time.
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