If you’re new to gambling, on a limited budget, or just don’t want to risk a lot of money, you might be wondering if it’s possible to win big at a casino or sportsbook without a large bankroll.
The short answer is yes, it’s certainly possible to win at casinos and sportsbooks with a small about of money. But you have to get extremely lucky. Also, if you’re playing high house edge games like slots and keno with a $20 bankroll, be prepared for many short gambling sessions, which can be frustrating if you’re making a special trip to the casino.
But there are ways to have more fun and make your bankroll last longer, which will give you the best chance to beat the casino on a budget.
Beating the Casino with a Small Bankroll
Winning a lot of money while risking a little is exciting. The elusive “hit and run” and knowing that you beat the casino or sportsbook can be extremely satisfying. While it’s impossible to beat most games in the long run, you can get lucky and win 10-100x on your bet in the short term.
Here are some of the wins I’ve had over the years.
- Took first place for $1k from a $50 buy-in poker tournament
- Hit a royal flush for $1200 playing $0.25 Jacks or Better video poker with $10 in freeplay (ironically it was right after getting knocked out of a poker tournament)
- Hit a $5k progressive jackpot while playing online slots
Budget Gambling Strategies
When my wife and I first started visiting Mississippi casinos in our early 20s, we didn’t have a separate bankroll or large amount of disposable income. Nor did we have much money that we could afford to lose. So we had to be smart about the bets we made and the games we played, or else we would have been in and out of the casino in under 15 minutes.
So here are some strategies that we’ve used to win more money with less, and extend the amount of time we get to play.
Take advantage of bonuses and promotions
If you’re not taking advantage of casino comps and player’s club programs you need to be. Casinos offer new and existing players opportunities to earn free comps and points that not only add up over time, they give you extra chances to win.
Like the time I won $1200 at video poker with $10 in freeplay. Had I not been using my player’s card, I never would have gotten the $10 that led to hitting the jackpot.
You’ll also find large bonuses for new players at online casinos and sportsbooks. Just make sure to read the terms and conditions for any bonus you accept at an online gambling site. Many of them restrict the games that you can play or the types of bets you can make.
Tournaments are probably the best way to win big without risking a lot of money. In a tournament you have a fixed buy-in and are playing against other people instead of the casino, so you don’t have to worry about house edge.
Play games that require more skill
Casinos are filled with slot machines for a reason. Sure, they’re fun. But you also don’t need skill to win and they have a high house edge. If you want to maximize your chances of turning a small bankroll into a large one, study, and play games where making good decisions increase your chance of winning. These include.
- Video poker
- Poker games like Texas Hold’em (against other players)
Use proven strategies instead of making sucker bets and using “systems”
Yes, it’s possible to put $5 on 33 in roulette and win $160 when it hits. I’ve done that, and it’s fun. But roulette has cost me way more than I’ve won over the years. The same goes for betting systems such as The Martingale, where you double your bet after each loss. The assumption is that you have to eventually win and when you do, you’ll win back all your bets +1 additional unit. But it’s much riskier than some people think.
Instead, stick to proven ways to improve your odds of winning like,
- Video poker: always bet the max and look for 9/6 or better machines
- Craps: Bet the pass line and take max odds
- Blackjack: Learn basic strategy, possibly card counting and stick to 3 to 2 tables instead of 6 to 5
- Slots: Play the highest denomination 3-reel machines you can afford and always bet the max
Play at low limit online gambling sites
Online casinos and sportsbooks typically have much lower betting limits than land-based casinos. Whereas it can be hard to find a $5 blackjack table that pays 3 to 2 in Vegas these days, some online blackjack games offer as low as $0.50 bets. And poker sites offer tournaments for as little as a $1. So your bankroll goes further online.
Know when to make riskier bets
So I’ve talked a lot about playing skill-based casino games and avoiding sucker bets. But sometimes it’s more fun to make risky bets, and sometimes it pays off. That’s why I’m not mad at people who buy lottery tickets when the jackpot gets to half a billion dollars and why I prefer playing the $25 dollar buy-in Million Maker on Draftkings instead of grinding out head-to-heads.
At the end of the day, gambling is supposed to be fun entertainment. So if you want to be the next Chris Moneymaker, who turned an $86 satellit online poker tournament into a $2.5 million dollar WSOP win, or the guy who won $100,000 on a $5 15-game parlay, go for it.
Just be sure to have fun and not risk more than you can afford to lose.