It’s a terrible feeling being broke in Vegas. If you don’t properly plan and budget your gambling vacation, you’ll likely find yourself standing on the Strip with your empty pockets turned inside out watching the fountains for free because you can’t afford to do anything else. To avoid this tragedy, you must plan and budget your gambling time. Otherwise, you’ll be broke after the first night.
Suppose you’re an average Joe (or Jane) who makes an average salary and you’re going to Vegas for a four-night gambling vacation. Plan your trip to get an idea of how long you’d like to gamble. Your plan doesn’t have to be set in stone, but you need some idea of how much gambling you’ll do to get an idea of how much money you’ll need. For example, suppose you arrive in Vegas at noon on Sunday and depart at 7:00am on Thursday. Excluding activities such as eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, shopping, getting a massage, etc., your gambling plan might look something like the following (your plan can be more or less detailed, but the point is that you must do some level of planning).
Sunday 2:00pm to 4:00pm play craps. Sunday 7:00pm to 10:00pm play craps. Monday 2:00pm to 4:00pm play craps. Monday 8:00pm to 10:00pm play craps. Tuesday 11:00am to 1:00pm play slots. Tuesday 8:00pm to 11:00pm play craps. Wednesday 2:00pm to 5:00pm play 2-4 Holdem poker.
Wednesday 8:00pm to 11:00pm play craps.
Your plan will change because of many influences, such as whether you win or lose during a particular session. Remember, this is simply a starting point that allows you to estimate how much gambling money you should bring. If you don’t have the discipline to make such a plan, then you have a good chance of going broke before your vacation ends–and being broke in Vegas is no fun.
Using your plan, estimate the amount of gambling money you need to bring. This estimate should be based on the table limits you plan to play. I prefer to play at craps tables with $5 minimums or less. If you play at $10 tables, then you must double the amount of money you bring.
The first step to creating your gambling budget is to divide your gambling time into 1-hour sessions. The second step is to remind yourself that you’re going to play good, tight craps and avoid bets that have high casino advantages. If you play loosey-goosey, you’ll deplete your entire bankroll in mere minutes. For $5 minimum-or-less craps tables, a rule of thumb that I always use is to budget $100 per 1-hour session. I’ve found that $100 is enough to endure a few cold streaks, yet small enough so my total gambling time for the trip doesn’t cost me a fortune. Using this rule of thumb, let’s look at how much money you should bring so you don’t go broke before it’s time to go home. (Note: I can usually play 2-4 Holdem poker and nickel slots a long time for $100, so I budget $100 for each poker and slot session even if the session is longer than one hour.)
Sunday 2:00pm to 4:00pm play craps = $200. Sunday 7:00pm to 10:00pm play craps = $300. Monday 2:00pm to 4:00pm play craps = $200. Monday 8:00pm to 10:00pm play craps = $200. Tuesday 11:00am to 1:00pm play slots = $100. Tuesday 8:00pm to 11:00pm play craps = $300. Wednesday 2:00pm to 5:00pm play 2-4 Holdem poker = $100. Wednesday 8:00pm to 11:00pm play craps = $300.
Whoa, it adds up fast! For this trip, based on the frequency I plan to play and the table limits I plan to play, I must bring at least $1,700. You might think, “What? You mean I need THAT much money just for gambling?” Yes, you do. If that’s how much time you plan to play, then that’s how much money you should bring. You should not assume you’ll win or break even in an early session to sustain your play in a subsequent session. Instead, you should assume you’ll lose your entire allotment for each session. Yes, that’s right. For purposes of determining how much money to bring for craps, you must assume you’ll lose everything. This ensures you don’t go broke before it’s time to go home.
For example, suppose you plan to play eight 1-hour craps sessions, and instead of bringing $800 (i.e., 8 sessions x $100 per session = $800), you bring only $400. What happens if your first four sessions are ice cold and you lose everything? What are you going to do the rest of your time in Vegas? There’s nothing worse than being broke in Vegas. It’s no fun walking the Strip with empty pockets. Be advised that you must never gamble with more than you can afford to lose. If you lose your entire gambling bankroll before it’s time to go home, you must always have the discipline to avoid the ATM machine.
You probably won’t lose your entire allotment for each session, but for planning purposes, you should always assume you will. For example, you might lose $50 after session #1, lose $15 after session #2, win $25 after session #3, lose $90 after session #4, win $80 after session #5, etc. So, if you don’t lose your entire allotment for a particular session, what should you do with the leftover money after each session?
You can lock it up in your wallet and not touch it for the remainder of your trip. You can even consider any leftover money as winnings. For example, suppose your first session results in a $75 loss, which means you cash out for $25. Put that $25 away and consider it a win! Look at it positively this way–you paid $100 for that morning’s fun and entertainment, but then you got a $25 rebate at the end. It’s like you won $25. This is one way to stay positive and enjoy your vacation even when you lose.
Another option is to apply the leftover money to subsequent sessions. Although you always play smart and maintain your craps discipline, you decide that you’re on vacation and you don’t care if you lose everything. For example, suppose your second session results in only a $10 loss, which means you cash out for $90. You can divide that $90 among your remaining sessions or you can blow it all on the next session and buy-in for $190 instead of just $100. Do whatever you think will result in the most fun. That’s what it’s all about–fun. You don’t go to Vegas expecting to beat the casino and go home with extra zeroes added to the end of your bank balance. You go for the fun and excitement. In Vegas, fun and excitement aren’t free. That’s an important lesson you must never forget.