Top Money Management Strategies for Online Casino Players

Whether or not you can play with a strategy that increases your chances of winning a casino game depends on which game you are playing. But one thing you can always do to make your bankroll last longer is manage your money wisely.

In this post, we are going to go over the top categories of money management strategies used by casino players online and offline. We will delve into their pros and cons and let you know what works and what does not.

  1. Progressive Betting Systems

First, let’s talk about progressive staking systems. These methods are especially popular among roulette players, but you will also see them used by people playing slots, blackjack and other casino games. Sports bettors make use of them as well.

What is a progressive betting system? There are systems where you increase the size of each of your subsequent bets based on what happened (win or loss) with the previous bet.

Progressive staking systems can encompass either of the following:

  • Systems where you raise your stakes with every loss. These are known as “negative progression systems.”
  • Systems where you raise your stakes with every win. These are called “positive progression systems.”

There are many different progressive betting systems in existence. Here are some of the most popular ones:

  • The Martingale Betting System
  • The Paroli Betting System
  • The D’Alembert System
  • The Iron Cross Betting System
  • The Labouchere Betting System
  • The Fibonacci Betting System
  • The Parlay Betting System

Learn about each of these different progressive betting systems in detail.

Why Do Gamblers Think This Approach Works?

There are several chief reasons progressive staking systems appear to be a good idea:

With negative progression systems, we tend to believe that a win becomes more and more likely with every loss. It seems like an event that has not happened for a long time becomes increasingly “due” to occur.

With positive progression systems, we tend to think that a winning streak is bound to continue (note that this contradicts the belief above).

Eventually, we figure, we must win, and when we do, our stake will be so large that the payout will make up for all the losses that led up to it.

Do Progressive Staking Systems Work?

Obviously, the assumptions underpinning negative and positive progression systems cannot both be true.

In truth, neither of them are true. The belief that a losing streak has to break soon is an example of the Gambler’s Fallacy. And believing in that or the likelihood of a winning streak continuing are both examples of incorrectly assuming that all gambling events are causally connected.

Slot machine spins, turns of the roulette wheel, and many other events in gambling are independent trials. That means there is no causal continuity between them.

The other reason progressive staking systems do not work is because they require infinite funds, infinite time, and zero bet ceilings in order to deliver.

An in-depth explanation of why this is the case is a bit beyond our scope today. You can either take our word for it or look up the mathematics.

Progressive staking systems do work out great for the house, however, as they bleed gamblers dry swiftly.


There really are no pros. Progressive staking systems don’t make any sense. They are founded on bad logic, and they siphon cash out of bankrolls.


  • The poor logic underlying these systems seems to make sense, making a bad idea look like a good idea
  • These betting systems encourage gamblers to make irresponsibly large bets, resulting in massive losses
  • Nobody has the resources to win with money management “methods” like Martingale. Literally no one

Should You Use Progressive Betting Systems?

This question should have answered itself by now, but let’s say it bluntly: No, you should not use progressive betting systems, unless you want to burn a hole in your bankroll.

  • The Bottom Line:

Progressive betting systems involve progressively increasing your risk with each bet based on whether the previous bet won or lost.

While progressive betting systems sound logical in theory, in practice, they are not. They will cause you to lose money, and fast. We recommend you do not use them.

  1. The Kelly Criterion

Another method that can be used to figure out stake sizes is the Kelly Criterion. You will usually see this method in a sports betting context, but you can use it in the casino as well.

The idea is that you are choosing a stake size according to the odds for the bet you are taking. Here is the formula:

((Decimal Odds – 1) * Decimal Winning Percentage – (1 – Winning Percentage)) / (Decimal Odds – 1) * Kelly Multiplier

You do not have to do all this math yourself; there are calculators that will take care of it for you. You just input the numbers, and it will tell you what percentage of your bankroll you should stake.

Of course, casinos do not post the odds like sportsbooks do for their bets. But if you know the rules of the game you are playing, you may be able to look up this information (i.e. you can check the odds for particular craps bets).

Why Do Gamblers Think This Approach Works?

The Kelly Criterion has some validity. It recommends that you stake more when the odds are favorable, and less when they are not. There are even situations where after you crunch the numbers, it might deter you from taking a bad bet.

Unlike progressive betting systems, the Kelly Criterion is grounded in real logic.

Does the Kelly Criterion Work?

The Kelly Criterion can sometimes work out, and other times cause problems, depending on how closely you follow its recommendations.

Even though the Kelly Criterion has a lot going for it, it has one fatal flaw: it is super aggressive at times.

You might sometimes see this system telling you that you need to bet 25% of your account, or maybe even more.

There is no time when this is ever a good idea, no matter how good a bet might look.

It takes just 4 losses at 25% to blow your bankroll. Losing streaks of 4 or more bets happen often in casinos and sports betting. You should never wager this much.


  • The Kelly Criterion’s logic is actually valid, unlike the “logic” that underlies progressive betting systems
  • You can get perspective on bets you are thinking about taking by seeing what the Kelly Criterion suggests you wager


The Kelly Criterion suggests staking much higher percentages of your bankroll than is wise. As a result, following it to the letter can bankrupt you fast.

Should You Use the Kelly Criterion?

You can use the Kelly Criterion if you would like, but we would suggest you do so with care.

Consider using it more as an advisory tool, rather than as a staking system. Input your numbers and see how confident the Kelly Criterion is that you are looking at a good bet. Then, decide based on that whether it is worth taking or not (accounting for the rest of your context and analysis, of course).

Do not follow the Kelly Criterion to the letter when you are sizing your bets. If it suggests that you bet some ludicrous percentage, don’t. Set a cap for your maximum stake size. Let’s say you go with 5%, for instance. If it says to bet 25%, just bet 5%.

  • The Bottom Line:

The Kelly Criterion applies a formula that takes the odds for a bet into account, and is based in logical, real-world considerations.

Some gamblers may find the Kelly Criterion useful for establishing bet sizes, or even just for deciding whether to take a gamble.

That said, it recommends betting way too much money sometimes. When that happens, you should not do as it suggests.

It doesn’t matter how many chips you have, you only have so many of them! Make sure you’re playing them smart!

  1. All-In

This isn’t exactly a money management “strategy,” per se, but it is worth mentioning. Some gamblers occasionally choose to go all-in and stake everything in their bankroll on a single bet.

This happens a lot at the poker table, of course. Sometimes it is hard to avoid, even if one usually stakes rather conservative amounts. If you are close to busting, you might either need to fold with next to nothing or go all-in for a shot at getting out of the hole you have fallen into.

But some gamblers go all-in for other reasons. Maybe they are frustrated with a string of losses and are now on tilt. Or perhaps they are simply bored, and risking it all sounds exciting.

Why Do Gamblers Think This Approach Works?

Most gamblers know when they go all-in that they are taking a massive risk. They will literally either lose everything, or win big (or at least stay in the game).

Why they think it will “work” depends on their motivation.

Someone who is on the verge of busting out of a poker game may go all-in because at this point, they know they are not likely to last much longer, especially if their opponents have a lot in their bankrolls. By that point, they are at such a disadvantage that they are okay with possibly losing if it means giving themselves a shot at taking a large pot and getting back to a more competitive bankroll. They may have already put a lot into that pot as well, and figure it will be a waste to let it go now. If they are holding a solid hand, going all-in might actually be logical.

Sometimes a poker player might go all-in while trying to bust out somebody else who is also all-in.

A player on tilt who goes all-in might be trying to “win it all back” out of desperation (which may or may not happen), or they might be trying to blow their bankroll on purpose (because they are so frustrated and just want to quit).

A gambler with a tendency toward self-sabotage may sometimes go all-in to punish themselves (probably not entirely consciously).

If a player goes all-in out of boredom, they will probably achieve the excitement they are looking for. That said, it might end up being negative excitement, as they could lose everything.

You will need to examine your own motivations to figure out how going all-in might affect you.

Does Going All-In Ever Work?

We pretty much answered this question above. Going all-in sometimes results in a win, and other times in a busted bankroll. Whether it has a psychological payoff depends on what you are looking for.


  • There are some select scenarios where going all-in might be sensible, especially at the poker table
  • Sometimes you do win when you go all-in. It may mean being able to keep playing a while longer, or even finding yourself with a nice gain


  • If you go all-in and lose, your bankroll is spent and you are done gambling until you can replenish it. Obviously, that is no fun
  • Some people get into some dangerously irrational and painful situations involving going all-in. In some scenarios, it might even be part of a pattern of problem gambling behaviors

Should You Go All-In?

We certainly do not suggest going all-in as part of tilting. Instead, we recommend you learn to practice better emotional regulation so you can avoid tilting.

We also do not recommend going all-in in an effort to sabotage yourself. If you believe you might have self-sabotaging behaviors, you should address them so you can get on a better (and more profitable) path.

But if you are simply down to the last few dollars in your bankroll, going all-in might be all that is left to you, aside from quitting for the day. It might not make much of a difference either way.

If you have a good hand in poker and you either need to go all-in or fold, you will need to rely on your expertise and strategies to figure out what is the right thing to do. Sometimes going all-in might actually pay off. Other times, folding might be a smarter move.

  • The Bottom Line:

Going all-in is not a money management method per se, but there may be times when gambling that you find yourself thinking about doing it for one reason or another.

Going all-in is frequently a bad idea, but other times, it might not be. Once in a while, it might even be strategically sound.

  1. Going with Your Gut (also known as “No Method“)

  2. That’s your money sitting there. Are you sure you want to trust your gut?

Speaking of money management approaches that are not really “methods,” another one is simply setting your stake sizes based on your instincts or other arbitrary factors.

You might decide to wager more or less on a particular spin of the roulette wheel or slot machine because you “just feel like it.”

We will go ahead and put cognitive fallacies and superstitions into this pile as well. You might perceive for whatever reason that a given game seems “hot” right now, and raise your stakes accordingly. Or you might feel like Lady Luck is “on your side” tonight.

Why Do Gamblers Think This Approach Works?

A huge chunk of casino players do not have any sort of systematic way of setting their stake sizes.

Some of them might really think that following their instincts with betting will “work.” Again, this could be because they are superstitious, or it could be because they are operating under some cognitive distortion like the Gambler’s Fallacy.

Or, they might have a cognitive distortion about their own abilities. They could really believe that they have some “special” knack for knowing when they are going to get lucky.

Other times, gamblers who set their stake sizes arbitrarily might simply be lazy. They might not be convinced that their approach will “work”; they just do not feel like bothering to choose or use a systematic money management method.

Does Going with Your Gut Work?

No, going with your gut does not work. Nobody has an innate magical ability to figure out when a slot machine is going to pay out or not. The fates do not single out anyone for special treatment, either.

If you raise your stake sizes based on these factors, you are essentially doing it at random. Over time, the only guarantee is that you are going to wipe out your bankroll more rapidly than you would if you did not do this.


  • Following your instincts when selecting your stake sizes when playing casino games is certainly easy. No thought is required, just feeling


  • Over the long run, arbitrarily lowering and raising your stakes is going to burn through your bankroll
  • In the short run, you might sometimes win large amounts of money by coincidence. When you do though, all that is going to do is convince you that you know what you are doing when you really do not. Ultimately, that belief is going to be a costly one

Should You Go With Your Gut?

No, you should not go with your gut or play casino games without a systematic, logical method for setting your stake sizes. This approach will cost you money.

  • The Bottom Line:

Some gamblers lack a system for money management because they are lazy. Others lack one because they believe that instinct or another irrational basis for their staking decisions is going to make them profitable.

Either way, it is not a smart idea to wager this way. Sometimes you may get lucky, but in the long run, you will lose.

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  1. Fixed Wagering (Amount-Based)

There are two types of fixed wagering systems you can use:

  • amount-based
  • percentage based

An amount-based system is one where you always bet the same amount of money. Imagine you have $500 in your betting account. You might decide that each of your bets will be $10.

This is a reasonably small percentage of your bankroll (2%, to be exact).

Why Do Gamblers Think This Approach Works?

A fixed, amount-based wagering system is simple and intuitive. If you are not risking more than $10 each time you take a gamble, you never have to worry about losing more than that amount on any given bet.

Does Using an Amount-Based Fixed Wagering System Work?

Wagering a fixed amount does work. You are setting rules that control your risk exposure and keep it manageable in relation to your overall account.

That having been said, there is a weakness to an amount-based system when compared to a percentage-based system.

With an amount-based system, you are keeping the number static, and failing to account for the rise and fall in your overall account value.

What $10 means with respect to your account depends on your account balance. If your account balance tends to hover close to $500, it will continue to be 2%. But picture these scenarios:

Your account balance rises to $1,000, but you are still betting $10. You are now betting just 1% of your account. You are holding yourself back from higher potential profits, despite the fact that you could pursue them without an increase in risk relative to your bankroll.

Your account balance drops down to $100. But you still are betting $10. Now you are wagering 10% of your account on every bet which just isn’t a wise idea.

These are some dramatic examples; you will probably routinely revisit and adjust the amount you are wagering. Still, you can see the potential issues. They can be easily resolved by switching to a percentage-based system, however.


  • The concept of a fixed wagering system makes sense, as it helps you tightly control your risk while you gamble
  • You can set a conservative amount that will not quickly exhaust your bankroll
  • Fixed wagering systems are not informed by the odds the way the Kelly Criterion is


  • A fixed wagering system that is based on a dollar amount, rather than a percentage, is not ideal. That fixed dollar amount can represent higher or lower levels of risk based on the funds in your account at any given moment

Should You Use an Amount-Based Fixed Wagering System?

You should consider using a fixed wagering system, but we suggest that you make it percentage-based, rather than basing it on a specific dollar amount.

  • The Bottom Line:

Fixed wagering systems can work well for keeping your risk controlled, but using a dollar amount is not as sensible as using a percentage.

Okay, maybe you would have to place some smaller bets for a while, but that amount’s going to get larger as you keep on winning!

  1. Fixed Wager (Percentage-Based)

A percentage-based fixed wagering system is the superior alternative to a fixed wagering system with a flat dollar amount.

Instead of always betting $10, for instance, you could always bet 2%.

Why Do Gamblers Think This Approach Works?

Gamblers think that a percentage-based fixed wagering system works because, frankly, it does. There are no cognitive distortions to account for here, so let’s just talk about why this is a good way to manage your money.

Does Using a Percentage-Based Fixed Wagering System Work?

Yes, a percentage-based fixed wagering system works great, so long as the percentage you choose is conservative enough to not chew rapidly through your bankroll.

A good rule of thumb is to make your percentage about 2%. You could go lower or slightly higher, and be fine, but we do not suggest exceeding 5%.

In our example above, the reason you chose $10 as your wagering size is because you calculated that it represented 2% of your account when your bankroll consisted of $500.

What you will do differently with this system is calculate 2% of your bankroll every time you make a gamble. Doing so adjusts the dollar amount you are staking so that your risk stays at 2% no matter what size your bankroll is.

The dollar amount scales up as your account grows, and scales down as you experience drawdown.

If your account size doubles to $1,000, you will be risking $20 instead of $10. If your account shrinks down to $100, your will only risk $2.

You can see how if you do this consistently, it would be very hard to actually completely blow through your bankroll.


  • When you wager a fixed percentage of your account, you never let your risk grow out of control
  • As a percentage scales with your bankroll size, you continue to keep your risk within acceptable thresholds as your account size changes
  • The rules you set with a system like this one encourage the utmost consistency when you are gambling, removing some of the temptation to randomly change your stake sizes


  • You do need to run a lot of calculations when using this money management system. This may be inconvenient and unrealistic for a lot of gamblers, as it disrupts the experience. If you want, you can modify the system so that you re-run the calculation every time your account grows or shrinks by some set amount. This makes the system less perfect (and more like an amount-based fixed wagering system), but it does save time and effort
  • Some gamblers may get impatient with this system if it means staking very small amounts

Should You Use a Percentage-Based Fixed Wagering System?

Alongside the Kelly Criterion, a percentage-based fixed wagering system should be the top money management strategy you consider using. It is one of the safest and most logical options, assuming you keep the percentage small.

  • The Bottom Line:

Percentage-based fixed wagering systems are not “perfect” money management systems, but they are close. Despite a couple of drawbacks, they are logical, straightforward, and help gamblers hold onto their bankrolls.

Summary and Key Takeaways

Having had a chance to explore the different money management techniques that are popular with casino players, you can draw a few conclusions:

Progressive betting systems like Martingale are illogical, do not work, and actually can speed up your losses at the casino. Do not use them.

The Kelly Criterion is not arbitrary in its recommendations; they are based in mathematics. They can be useful when deciding whether to bet. But you need to stick with conservative bet sizes, not the huge bet sizes that this system sometimes suggests.

Going all-in is extremely risky, and usually, something to avoid. There are some scenarios where it can be a smart tactical play, however.

Betting with no method at all for money management or using your “instinct” to determine stake sizes is a costly approach.

Fixed wagering systems offer a conservative, controlled approach to stake sizing that can be effective. A percentage-based system that keeps your risk consistent with respect to your account size is the best choice.

Based on the points above, we can offer some final recommendations for money management for online casino players.

We suggest you use either of two systems for money management that actually work:

Use the Kelly Criterion, but set a maximum bet size that is a small percentage of your account.


Used a percentage-based fixed wagering system, keeping the percent small.

There is no reason to waste time and money on other money management systems. These ones will do the most to extend your bankroll. Good luck, and browse our archives to learn more about money management and other aspects of gambling.

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