Blackjack Money Management

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This article discusses the basics of blackjack money management in casinos – online, or land based.

What is Money Management?
To my mind, Money Management is simply a methodology to apply when playing in casinos that allows you to have the greatest chance of leaving with the casino’s money. It’s a combination of forward financial planning, discipline, and common sense. Sadly I’ve come across many a fellow gambler in my life who seems to lack these basic tools – so my aim is to help to change that! As I see it there are four main components to basic Money Management. These are:

1) Bankroll – working out what you can afford to play with.
2) Session frequency / timing – breaking up the bankroll into chunks.
3) Get in, Get up, Get out – how to keep your winnings
4) Security – and peace of mind

Setting the Bankroll
The reality of life is that some people are richer than others – therefore it’s logical that they can afford to set a higher “bankroll” for any gambling session(s). Whatever your degree of financial liquidity however, you must PLAN IN ADVANCE before entering any casino, and set your bankroll to an amount that you’re comfortable with, and can afford to lose if things don’t go as you hope for.

Your bankroll will affect the choices of games you can play – in other words, a bankroll of $100 is not truly sufficient to play $5 roulette, but you might play $1 roulette with it, or 5c / 5p slot machines. As mentioned in Partwork One a general rule of 40 times basic stake is right for blackjack – so if you want to play $5 / £5 blackjack then you should have a bankroll of $200 / £200.

However – and this is IMPORTANT – you should not let the games you play decide your bankroll. You MUST let your bankroll decide the games you play! Does that make sense? What I’m trying to say here is that it’s pointless trying to play $5 blackjack if you can’t afford to lose even $50! You should set your bankroll, say $50 for that session, and then decide “oh I can play 5c slots with that bankroll”.

Another important point: you should take whatever you can afford to lose ONLY into a casino, in cash. Do NOT take debit / credit cards or other financial instruments with you if you don’t have the discipline to not use them whilst in the casino… those little machines and card swipe units can lead you down a very dark path! And so setting your bankroll really does mean that you have to plan in advance.

This is equally important for online play – decide your session bankroll, deposit it into the online casino account, and play. If you win, fantastic! If you should lose, DO NOT deposit more for that session.

Session frequency – breaking up the bankroll
If you’re going on a holiday (i.e. to Las Vegas, Reno, Monte Carlo, London) and intend to play more often than in one single gambling session, then you should clearly have a larger bankroll set. So how do you set this amount?

Let’s say that you typically go to a casino with $100 stake for any gambling session. If you’re going to Las Vegas, for a week say, you might have a bankroll of $1500 – to break down as follows: accommodation: $300, food: $150, transport: $50, gambling / free-to-spend cash: $1000.

If $1000 is your gambling bankroll for the week (7 days), then to get a daily limit you would divide this amount into seven: for a daily limit of $142.85.

If you expect to play two gambling sessions each day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, then you would take the daily limit and divide this by two, for a session limit of $71.42.

Here’s how I’d recommend you manage your money for the trip. You might laugh at first, but this method DOES WORK… don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. BEFORE departing for your holiday, get all of the necessary CASH you require ($1500) on your home table. Get a collection of white envelopes, and write the following on them: Accommodation Money, Food Money, Transport Money, Gambling / Spending Money, Session 1 Day 1, Session 2 Day 1, Session 1 Day 2, Session 2 Day 2 etc. Place the required amount of cash (as worked out above) into each respective envelope, and SEAL it. Take all envelopes with you on your holiday / vacation.

When you’re on holiday, simply take the relevant envelope out at the required time to pay / stake. So if you’re paying for a hotel, the money comes from the accommodation envelope, for bus fares / cabs it comes from the Transport Money envelope, and if you’re playing Session 1 on Day 3 your stake comes from the Session 1, Day 3 envelope. This does require discipline – but the reality is that by planning your bankroll in advance, you’ll know CONSCIOUSLY when you’re trying to use money that should be used for other things to gamble etc…

Why do this? Simply put, if you don’t, you could end up spending your entire $1000 gambling budget for the week in ONE DAY! And then you’ll have a miserable time for the next six days – surely you want to have a relaxed and fun holiday? I met a lady once at the Mirage in Las Vegas who was coming on holiday for 2 weeks, and spent all of her money in the first FOUR hours of her stay – she ended up flying home early!

Get In, Get Up, Get Out
Following on from my earlier partwork, which touched on Discipline as point four, I’d like to re-iterate the key mantra I use when playing in casinos. Simply put, it’s this: GET IN, GET UP, GET OUT!

The key to winning in any casino, online or land based, in the US, UK or elsewhere is to play well, play often – and to leave when you’re ahead!

We’ve discussed the envelope system for breaking down bankrolls etc – and ensuring that you can therefore play safely for any gambling session, knowing that as long as you don’t exceed the cash in the envelope for that session, that you’ll remain on budget. This envelope system can also work to ensure that you keep any WINNINGS.

Here’s the plan: you have a SINGLE envelope called “Winnings”. On every casino session you play, you’ll have a “win limit” set – maybe 50% more than what you bankrolled for the session etc (see Partwork One for more details). Some sessions you’ll win, and others you’ll lose. Whenever you win and cash out at the casino cage, put your winnings (including the bankroll stake for that session) into the “Winnings” envelope. You’ll note that you should NEVER have to go into the winnings envelope for cash on your holiday – because all other expenses have their own pre-budgeted envelopes already prepared.

As long as you’re disciplined, at the end of the week you’ll have had a great on-budget holiday, and hopefully a Winnings envelope thick with cash to TAKE HOME. (If you’re not disciplined, take only the envelopes you need for each day to the casino, and lock the others in your hotel safe).

Security – and peace of mind
Just a quick point really: clearly if you’re dealing with large amounts of cash, you’ll need some basic rules to keep safe. I’d suggest the following:

a) Only carry with you at any time the envelopes / money required for that day. Lock the rest in your hotel room safe (or leave at home if not on holiday).

b) Don’t place envelopes into purses / bags etc or other items that can be left behind easily on seats (or be stolen from by unscrupulous people). Keep them on your person in a pocket next to your body / money belt under clothes etc.

c) Don’t make it obvious to others that you’re carrying cash – or that you’ve just won a bundle! Most people are fairly honest (I think) but there are opportunists who will try their own luck if they think there’s a chance you’ve got cash…

d) If you do win a reasonable sum of money, or if for any reason you don’t feel 100% safe in any casino, go to the Security desk and either ask them to walk you out, or alert them to any unscrupulous characters you’re worried about. All casinos have security, and all will offer their assistance to you. At the end of the day the security team are there to protect the casino’s money – however you’re also an asset!

I hope you’ve found the article interesting! As usual, leave comments to let me know your thoughts, or drop me an email at

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