Most of the time, I plan my vacation to Las Vegas months in advance. That way, I have time to plan ahead, search for deals on flights, and earn points to get discounts on my hotel stay. Most importantly, it gives me time to set aside money from each paycheck that I can use to gamble while I am in Las Vegas.
Typically, I bring at least $700 to Las Vegas to pay for gambling, plus I need more money for eating at restaurants and other forms of entertainment.
However, things were a little different for my last trip to Las Vegas. As a matter of fact, it did not start out as a vacation to Las Vegas at all. My family decided to have a reunion in southern California. About a week before my trip, my airline changed my flight, so I had to extend my trip until the Wednesday after the reunion was over.
That meant that I had an extra three days to myself. I could have just stayed in southern California, but when I realized that it was only a couple hours away from Las Vegas, I decided to take a small excursion.
So, now I was heading to Las Vegas with very little warning. I had a little more than a week to plan my trip and gather whatever extra money I could to spend on gambling. Of course, I had to pay for a couple of additional days on my rental car and an extra hotel room in Las Vegas, so those were other expenses that I had not planned for.
After crunching the numbers, I figured that I probably had about $200 left for gambling while I was in Las Vegas. That might sound like a lot to people who do not gamble regularly, but it is a lot less than I typically spend. Thankfully, this trip was a little bit shorter than most of my vacations in Las Vegas, so I did not need to stretch my money as far.
But, it still took a lot of intentional practices to make sure that I had enough money to enjoy my time there. I split my $200 into two sections so that I could spend half of it on each night that I would be in Las Vegas.
However, for someone who spends typically $25 or more on every hand of baccarat, $100 is not going to last very long. It became pretty clear that I needed something more than my usual bankroll management strategies to make sure that my money would last.
I will admit that it took me a little bit of trial and error to find out some methods that would work for me. There were a couple of times that I started losing, and I began to worry if I would run out of money super quickly. But, I eventually got the hang of it.
If you are in a similar position, I want to share the techniques that worked for me so that you do not have to go through all of that trial and error process. So, here are three methods that helped me gamble in Las Vegas on a small budget.
Technique #1- Always Bet the Minimum
There are lots of theories and betting systems that claim to help you win more money in the long run. A lot of gamblers double their stakes when they are winning and lower their wagers when they are losing. Other players are fans of the Martingale system, where they increase their stakes every time that they lose in order to break even when they win.
Most of the time, I do not follow one particular betting system more than another. It depends on which game I am playing. For example, I might use the Martingale system when I play baccarat because my bet is always the same, and I know that it has decent odds of winning with some degree of regularity.
However, when I play blackjack, I try to pay attention to when I think a face card is going to come up, and I raise my stake based on that estimate.
I realized pretty quickly that I could not raise my stakes whenever I wanted to while I was gambling on such a low budget. For example, I played baccarat at one of my favorite casinos. The minimum stake was $25, so I bet $25 on my first hand.
If I followed the Martingale System, I would have doubled my bet during my second hand, assuming that I lost the first one. Depending on the luck of the draw, either I could come out ahead, or I could have lost $75 in two hands.
There is no way that I could gamble more than a couple of minutes with that system. So, I decided that in order to get as much gambling time as possible, I was going to be the minimum stake on every hand. Once I realized that betting the minimum had to be my plan, I started to pay more attention to which tables I played at.
At my favorite casino, I found a roulette table with a $10 minimum. So, I played that for a while, instead of playing the $25 baccarat tables. Fortunately, I had some good luck at the roulette table, and I was able to earn enough to double my bankroll for the night.
That was when I decided to take the amount I had won from roulette and go play baccarat as well. I ended up getting to play both of my favorite games, but only because I had won the first game.
When you want to make your small gambling budget last as long as possible, make sure that you find tables with lower minimum bets and always bet the minimum.
If one game has a higher minimum betting requirement, give yourself a rule that you can only play that game if you win at the other game.
Sticking with a consistent bet will help your bankroll last longer, no matter how much systems claim otherwise.
Technique #2- Avoid Side Bets and Other Unnecessary Risks
The next method that helped me keep my money lasting for my whole trip was to make sure that I avoided extravagant bets. Pretty much every table game in the casino has side bets or betting variations that have higher risks because casinos make a lot of money off of those risky bets.
I am aware that those bets do not generally have the best odds, but I also know that they can make the game more exciting. Let’s take a look at roulette as an example.
You have two main betting options in roulette: the inside bets, or the outside bets. Inside bets are wagers on particular numbers or a set of specific numbers.
You might bet that the ball will land on eight, or you could play a street bet that covers seven, eight, and nine. Outside bets are wagers based on broader characteristics, like red or black and odd or even.
Inside bets in roulette are a lot more challenging to win than the outside bets. When you bet on red or black, you have an 18/38 chance of winning because the only exception is the green zero spaces. It is not a perfect 50-50 chance, but it as close as you can get.
If you bet on an inside bet, the highest chances you can have is 6/38. The casino pays more for inside bets because it knows that it will not have to pay out often on them, but the outside bets only pay even money or two to one.
Typically, I play most of my money on outside bets, but I usually throw in an inside wager for fun. For example, I usually place $10 on an even money bet, $5 on the first twelve, and a single $1 chip on my lucky number. Most of the inside bets lose, but I usually do not mind because it is only a dollar.
But that does not work when I am trying to stretch my money as far as possible. If I played ten rounds of roulette and lost every inside bet that I made, I would have lost enough to make an additional even money bet that has much higher chances of winning. It is worth it to save my money so that I can play longer, instead of placing my hope in a risky bet that is unlikely to pay off.
When you are trying to make your gambling money last, you want to avoid anything that is riskier than your average wager. In roulette, that means playing only the outside bets. If you play baccarat or blackjack, it means avoiding the side bets that only pay off in very particular situations.
Avoiding those unnecessary risks can save you a lot of money and keep your bankroll lasting much longer than you might expect.
Technique #3- Find Other Activities To Fill Your Time for Free
Most of my trips to Las Vegas involve gambling, seeing a Cirque du Soleil performance or another show, shopping at some of my favorite stores, and eating at some of my favorite restaurants.
However, that was not an option this time because I did not have enough time to save up extra money for all of those other costs. Any money that I would have spent on expensive dinners or a show would have decreased my already small gambling budget. So, I had to find other ways to fill my time.
No matter how well you play, there is no way that you are going to be able to make $200 last for two days if you are gambling for several hours a day. The money will eventually run out. Using some of the techniques that I have mentioned here can make sure that your bankroll lasts for two to three hours each day, but even that only works if you are doing really well.
So, it would be best if you found other ways to spend some time, but you do not want to spend money during that time. Fortunately, Las Vegas has a lot to offer that is free! I have found that it works best for me to plan on spending my morning and early afternoon doing other activities, and then I can go to the casino in the evening.
One of my favorite free activities in Las Vegas is to go to the swimming pool. It is best to enjoy the pool during the heat of the day, which is one reason that I recommend you enjoy your other activities before gambling. You can enjoy the pool at your hotel for free, but you might have to pay a fee if you try to go to a swimming pool at a different hotel.
All of the major hotels have swimming pools, and many of them are quite fantastic. Mandalay Bay has a human-made beach in the middle of the desert. Golden Nugget has a shark tank in the middle of their pool, complete with a water slide that takes you through the middle of their habitat. Cosmopolitan has three different pools, including one that hosts dive-in movies at dusk. These swimming pools are a lot more exciting than what you would find at most hotels, so do not brush off the idea before you try it.
Every casino on the Las Vegas Strip has a different theme or style, so they all have something different to offer. But, they all have something that you can explore for free. Of course, the Bellagio is famous for its fountain shows, but did you know it also has a botanical garden inside that you can enjoy free of charge? Even if you have seen the garden before, they change it every few months, so it is always worth seeing again.
Aria and Vdara have a fine art collection with twenty sculptures and other artistic pieces on display. You can use the link below to download a map with a description of the art that you can use to create your own self-guided tour through the collection. Many of the other casinos also have fine art, such as Chihuly blown glass sculptures scattered around their premises.
If you are looking for something a little more light-hearted, you can wander around Circus Circus to see circus performers, or you can explore the pirate ship at Treasure Island. Many of the casinos have charming gardens, waterfalls, lakes, and rivers that provide a beautiful backdrop for a walk. You do not want to miss the Grand Canal at the Venetian. Be sure to take a moment to look up at the incredibly realistic painted sky.
All of the casinos on the Strip have some combination of art, design, and horticulture to create their signature look. You can walk through all of them to explore, without ever spending a cent. Unlike the pools, you do not have to be a guest of the hotel to enjoy their scenery.
Another free activity that I enjoyed is exploring the Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area, which is about twenty minutes outside of Las Vegas. It was easy for me to get there since I had driven my rental car to Vegas, but it might be more expensive if you have to pay for an uber drive. But once you get to the Red Rock Canyons, you can hike and explore for free. There are several trails that also highlight Native American petroglyphs, which are really fun to see.
You will have to do some research to find the ones that appeal most to you, but there is no shortage of free things to do in Las Vegas. If you can fill your day with exploring all of the free activities, or just soaking up the sun by the pool, you can spend your evenings in the casino, without needing to spread your bankroll too thin.
It is not easy to gamble on a small budget in Las Vegas. The casinos are intentional about making it easy to spend as much as possible, so you have to be intentional when you are trying to save money. But it is not impossible.
As long as you fill your days with other free activities, play the minimum bets, and avoid risky side bets, you should be able to gamble for a couple of hours each day without spending more than your small budget allows.