Playing slots on a budget

If you have been avoiding the slots because you think that you don’t have enough money to enjoy a good gaming session, think again.  Casino games advisors have developed a program that lets you play any of your favorite slots for real money regardless of the funds in your gaming budget. 

If you’re counting your pennies while you play slots, set up a basic framework and then enjoy your slots gaming  - whether you're at a land-based casino, or here at Springbok Casino on your PC or on your handheld mobile device. 


When playing slots, you need to keep a few basic facts in mind.

  • Slots have a high return to player rate - usually 97-98%.
  • Slots gaming is fast so when you’re playing slots keep a close eye on your bankroll.

You can still enjoy an hours-long gaming session of slots entertainment on a small bankroll. Some players have been able to use this system to play slots all day on $100 or less.

It requires planning, discipline and an ability to keep your betting impulses in check. But regardless of whether you’re playing online or on-site, you can certainly experience a fun day of interactive slots action without exceeding your gambling budget.


To prepare yourself to play slots on a small budget, best to understand some of the math behind the game. You don’t have to be a mathematician to understand this information. This is fairly basic information, so don’t worry if you’re not a mathematician. Just plug numbers into a simple formula to get an idea of how it works.

The most important concept here is that of “expected value.” Expected value is the basis of every type of gambling game. It refers to the amount you can expect to win on any given bet on average. Expected value is an average based on making the same wager millions of times.

Any single spin of the reels on a slot machine results in either a win or a loss. When you win, you win an amount that varies based on the combinations of the reels. When you lose, you lose your entire wager.

To fully understand the meaning of expected value, you can use the payback percentage or the casino house edge for the game you’re playing. The casino house edge involves the percentage of every bet the casino keeps, in the long run, on the game.

Most slot machines have a house edge between 2% and 3%.  Also, don’t forget that the house edge varies greatly from one machine to the next. Sometimes you can find information about a specific machine’s house edge and if you have that information you can multiply the house edge times the amount of money you bet to come up with the expected value. This works both if you do this for a single wager or for multiple wagers. If you don’t have the house edge, figure 5% and this should cover all games.

For instance, if you have a machine that gives a house edge of 3%, the expected value of your bet is 3 cents to the casino on a bet of $1. So you can expect to lose, on average, 3 cents on every $1 bet.

To take this a step beyond this, if you make 500 bets in an hour of $1 each, you’ll be betting $500 and you can expect to lose $15.

In short, the formula is: house edge times total amount of wagers equals total expected loss.

Now....don't forget that there are winners, large and small and you could just as easily end your hour of $1 bets with a plus of $15 or $100 or $10,000 or more.  And this is what makes slots so exciting - the unknown possibility of a big win!

Bankroll Size

Now you can use the total expected value to determine how to manage your bankroll so that you can play for a set amount of time. Even if you don’t know the actual house edge of a specific machine, you can average it out at 3%, which is the house edge of most of today’s slots. Or just consider a 5% house edge to be safe.

To manage your bankroll, you need to consider the amount of time that you want to play. 

For the sake of easy math, say that you want to play for 10 hours.  At max bet you’ll need approximately $500. BUT, if you want to stretch your budget, instead of betting $1 a spin, consider betting 50 cents per spin. Now you’ve halved your budget but you can still play for the same amount of time!  Or play for double the time with the same bankroll.


Some tips to make sure you don’t run out of money:

  • take a bigger bankroll
  • play on a machine with a lower bet amount
  • take fewer spins per hour
  • quit for the day when you're "ahead"

Bottom Line

So, how can you play slots for a long period of time for a small amount of money?  Using a budget of $100 and a house edge of even 5% as an example, here are some things to remember:

  • Slot machines are designed so you can spin hundreds of time every hour. The games are designed so that they’re fast and easy. Some machines can run 500 to 600 spins per hour. This adds to the excitement levels - but you can slow it down to stretch your bankroll.
  • Some machines have a 1 penny minimum bet, so if you want to play longer, look for those machines.  Keep in mind that the lower the bet is, the lower the wins are.
  • Using these guidelines, you should be able to play over 8 hours on a bankroll of $100.
  • If you find a quarter machine with a jackpot, you might get lucky and win the big progressive jackpot prize

With preparation of knowing bet size, return to player (RTP) rate and spins per hour, you can estimate your gaming budget for playing slots.

If you don’t know the house edge for the slot machine you’re playing, use 5% which is a conservative number and saves you from running into any surprises.