Gamblers hope and pray for luck while playing in a casino. They love the feeling of winning. That is because it happens so seldom. The fact that every casino game is rigged to give the house the edge means every player will lose in the long run. All gamblers know this. That is another reason winning is such a momentous occasion.

It is easy to handle winning, but with the wins come losing streaks. These long (sometimes very, very long) losing streaks can be hard for the average gambler to handle. However, there are keys to surviving losing streaks. Read on to find out what they are.


  1. Why there must be losing streaks
  2. Key one: Bring an adequate bankroll (and don’t play above it)
  3. Key two: Bankroll must be truly discretionary
  4. Key three: Play the lowest house edge games or bets
  5. Key four: Play the games with the lowest variance
  6. Key five: Have the right attitude
  7. Key six: Get everything to which you are entitled
  8. Key seven: Have a firm stop limit & take a break!
  9. Summary

1 – Why there must be losing streaks

This was touched upon in the introduction. In any game based on random events, there will be streaks. How long the streaks are, whether they will be winning or losing streaks cannot be predicted. Unpredictable is the definition of random.

In video poker, royal flushes occur approximately once every 40,000 hands. In double-zero roulette, each number on the wheel (1 thru 36, 0 and 00) will occur once every 38 spins. In casino craps, the number 7 will occur once every six rolls.

The math is correct. These happenings will occur as stated, on average, after hundreds of thousands or even millions of trials. The problem for players is they don’t know exactly when the NEXT occurrence will happen. It could be the next hand, spin, or roll – or it could be hundreds, thousands, even hundreds of thousands of hands/spins/rolls. This is true even if the event just occurred. Royal flushes have happened back-to-back and will continue to do so on occasion.

The random nature of casino games means there will be streaks. Players need to survive the losing streaks to enjoy the winning streaks.

2 – Key one: Bring an adequate bankroll (and don’t play above it)

The single biggest key to surviving losing streaks is to have an adequate bankroll – pure and simple. Think about it for a minute. If your bankroll for 25-cent video poker ($1.25 per hand) is $20, you will not survive an eight-hand losing streak without some initial wins. 

However, if your bankroll is $10,000 for the same game, losing streaks are simply not an issue. I am very doubtful anyone with a $10,000 bankroll plays 25-cent video poker, but you get the idea.

How can you determine what an adequate bankroll for your planned play? It is not an exact science, but there are some very good ways to zero in on it. How much do you plan to play?

  • Number of sessions per day for each game
  • Number of days
  • Length of each session
  • Number of bets per hour
  • Total amount bet per hour
  • Total amount bet per session/day/trip

The totals might surprise you. For example, playing a quarter video poker game at $1.25 per hand at a rate of 500 hands per hour – a little over seven hands per minute means you will wager a total of $625 per hour. Playing two three-hour sessions per day amounts to $3,750 wagered per day. It adds up fast, doesn’t it?

So how can you determine the bankroll size for your play?

Here are some rules of thumb. They do not guarantee you will not run out of money, but it should happen rarely – maybe 5 percent of the time or less. The numbers are based on a three-hour session with around 500 bets per hour for slots and video poker and 50 to 100 bets for table games. Increase the bankroll when playing more sessions.

Three-hour Session Bankrolls

Game Bankroll
Penny/Nickel Slots 250 bets
$1/$5 Slots 150 bets
Video poker 150 bets
Table games Table games

Using video poker as an example, the bankroll requirement for a three-hour session of 25-cent video poker ($1.25 per hand) is 150 X $1.25 = $187.50 or roughly $60 per hour of play. For dollar video poker at $5 per hand the amount for a three-hour session is $750 or $250 per hour.

Remember, bankrolls of this size do not guarantee you will not run out of money, but it should not happen often. However, bringing a larger bankroll would not hurt.

3 – Key two: Bankroll must be truly discretionary

Just because you bring a large enough bankroll to the casino does not guarantee you will survive losing streaks. If your bankroll consists of money that you need for house or car payments or even life-saving surgeries, panic will very likely set in as the bankroll dwindles.

Having a large enough bankroll is very important. Making sure that the money contained in that bankroll will not cause hardship should it disappear is critical! You must be able to lose the bankroll and not have it concern you. 

The bankroll must consist of money that is truly discretionary. Start a savings account that is totally separate from any other accounts. Only when the gambling account is large enough should you consider bringing it to the casino.

Vieo poker strategy

4 – Key three: Play the lowest house edge games or bets

The casino has the edge is virtually every game on the floor. Certain video poker games or slots might at times have a slight player edge, but not often. 

The player’s ability to survive losing streaks is directly related to the house edge of the game being played. The lower the house edge of the game (or sometimes the bet) the less players will lose, on average. Here are some typical house edges for various games.

  1. The mega-jackpot slot machines can have house edges above 5 percent. 
  2. Standard slot machines usually have lower house edges – maybe 3-5 percent.
  3. Video poker house edges run from about 0.5 percent up to about 5 percent.
  4. Roulette has about a 5.26 percent house edge depending on the rules and bet.
  5. Some of the bets on a craps table can have a 25 percent house edge. Others can be well under 1 percent.
  6. The house edge on blackjack runs from about 0.5 percent to around 3 percent depending on the rules and number of decks.

Playing the lowest house edge game reduces the amount lost. It is therefore easier to survive losing streaks.

5 – Key four: Play the games with the lowest variance

Another factor that impacts losing streaks is variance. Variance is the fluctuation in bankrolls experienced while gambling. Low variance means the bankroll grows and shrinks in a gentle fashion. High variance means the bankroll grows and shrinks more abruptly.

Think of it as the difference between the kiddie roller coaster and Millenium Force at Cedar Point. Obviously, the kiddie roller coaster ride is easier to take than Millenium Force.

6 – Key five: Have the right attitude

Attitude can have a huge influence over negative happenings. If you enter the casino expecting to win, you will be disappointed – sometimes seriously disappointed. However, if you approach the game anticipating that you will most likely lose (which is the case), losing streaks will be expected – and survivable.

Approach the game with the proper attitude. It can work wonders.

7 – Key six: Get everything to which you are entitled

There is more to the casino experience than just playing the games on the floor. Make sure you sign up for the player’s club and use the card for all your play. This can pad your winnings (or reduce your losses) by awarding points that are good for free play, food, or other goodies. Your registered play could also earn entry into contests and tournaments, as well as free play on future visits to the casino. Free rooms, drinks and dinners are also possible.

Don’t leave these things “on the table.” Take every thing to which you are entitled. You earned them.

Roulette strategy

8 – Key seven: Have a firm stop limit & take a break!

Make sure you have a firm stop limit. Generally, this is the session bankroll that you brought with you for the current session. Split the trip bankroll into several session bankrolls that match the number of sessions you are planning to play. Take only the current session bankroll with you. When that is gone, you are done for that session. 

Do not dip into the next session’s bankroll. Do not under any circumstances go to the ATM to supplement your bankroll. This will do wonders for surviving losing streaks.

Finally, as a last resort, if things are going so bad that they become intolerable – take a break. Get out of the casino. Walk around for a while. Let the stress drain from you before you try your luck one more time. 

If need be, cancel the rest of the trip. Go home. Do not provide the opportunity to make a bad situation worse.

9 – Summary 

  • Losing streaks will happen. They must happen in games based on random events. Some losing streaks will be short – others could be very long.
  • The best way to survive losing streaks is with an adequate (and completely discretionary) bankroll.
  • Games with a low house edge make losing streaks less costly and more survivable.
  • Low variance games reduce the severity of losses.
  • Have the proper attitude – you will probably lose. Expect that. Celebrate the wins.
  • Don’t leave anything on the table. Get all the comps to which you are entitled.
  • Have a strict stop loss. Take a break if things get too bad for you.
  • Strictly following all the keys presented in this article will not eliminate losing streaks. Some may be very long. Following these keys will, however, make weathering them much more bearable.

Jerry “Stickman” has been involved in casino gambling for nearly 30 years. He is an expert in blackjack, craps, video poker and advantage slot machine play. He started playing blackjack in the late ‘80s, learned several card counting systems and used these skills to become an advantage blackjack player and overall winner of this game. He also acquired the skills necessary to become an overall winner in the game of craps, accomplishing this by a combination of throwing skill and proper betting techniques. Stich is also an overall winner playing video poker.