How to Win Money in a Las Vegas Casino

Las Vegas Money Poker

Learning how to win money in a Las Vegas casino isn’t the hardest thing in the world to do. People win money in Vegas casinos every day, in fact.

Looking to visit an online casino instead? Check out one of the sites above!

But the odds are against you.

That’s why the casinos are still in business and make so much money. They’ve designed the games and payouts so that you can’t win in the long run. They even have a word for the mathematical disadvantage the games offer you—it’s called “the house edge.”

The good news is that the house edge is a long-term phenomenon. Anyone can win money gambling in the short term. In fact, if they couldn’t, the casinos would go out of business because no one would play there.

Some gamblers do a better job of winning money at Vegas casinos than others, though. This post looks at what they do differently so that you can do it, too.

1- Build a Gambling Bankroll

The first step to winning money in a Las Vegas casino is having a gambling bankroll. This is money that you’ve set aside for the purpose of gambling with. It should be money you don’t need for other purposes.

The reason you need a gambling bankroll is because you can’t win money without first risking money. That’s how gambling works. And if you don’t set aside money for this purpose, you’re liable to bet money you can’t afford to lose just to get into and/or stay in action.

How big a bankroll do you need?

If your goal is to stay in action forever at a negative expectation game, you need an infinitely large bankroll. Luckily, that’s not the goal for most thinking people.

You should base the size of your bankroll on your goals. Which games do you want to play? How much are you planning to bet at that game? How much time do you want to spend gambling?

If you want to play blackjack for $100/hand, you need more than $200 to get in any time at the table. Lose 2 bets in a row, and you’re out of action almost immediately. That’s no fun. Most people want to spend more than 5 minutes at the gambling table.

With a blackjack bankroll of $200, though, you might be able to play for an hour or 2 at the $5 tables.

Frank Scoblete offers interesting bankroll management advice for gamblers who play casino games. These are usually based on what it takes to make a quick win. Some of his money management techniques are misleading, as they don’t increase your probability of winning. But his bankroll management advice can help you avoid going broke before getting your fill of fun at the table.

Scoblete suggests having a bankroll of 1000 units for a casino visit, and dividing it up as follows:

  • 800 units for blackjack
  • 130 units for craps
  • 10 units for roulette
  • 10 units for baccarat
  • 40 units for poker
  • 1 unit for video poker
  • 9 units for sports betting

According to Scoblete, this works out to this much gambling on your gaming activities:

  • 4 hours a day for blackjack
  • 2 hours a day for craps
  • 1 hour for all the other games

Obviously, you can see that blackjack and craps are far and away his recommended games. In this respect, at least, Scoblete is on the money. These are probably the best 2 casino games you can play, especially if you can avoid the sucker bets at the craps table.

More about those in the next section…

2- Stay Away from the Sucker Bets

Some casino games offer nothing but sucker bets.

But what’s that mean?

A sucker bet is a bet that only suckers make because the house edge is so much higher than it needs to be. An example of a sucker bet is the game of keno, which usually has a house edge of 15% or higher. (And I’m being generous with that number—most keno games have a house edge of 25% or more, making it marginally better than the lottery, but not by much.)

Some gamblers think American roulette is a sucker bet because of its house edge of 5.26%. If you’re playing in a casino that offers both American roulette and European roulette (which has a house edge of 2.70% or 1.35% depending on the rules), American roulette is certainly a sucker bet. But if American roulette is the only option available, and if you really enjoy the game, it’s not really a sucker bet.

Other casino games, though, have multiple betting options. Some of them have a low house edge, while others have a ridiculously high edge. Craps is the best example of this kind of game. The basic bet in craps is the pass line bet, which has a house edge of 1.41%.

But the proposition bets at the craps table have house edge figures well in excess of 10%. You’d have to be a sucker to place a bet at a table that will result in 7X or 8X the losses in the same time.

How do you know which games and which bets are the sucker bets?

Just spend some time researching the house edge for various games. Baccarat, blackjack, craps, and video poker traditionally offer the best odds. Slot machines and keno are on the other end of the spectrum, offering the worst odds in the casino.

Most of the other games are somewhere in between.

Of course, unless you’re an advantage player (like a card counter), all casino games have a negative expectation. This means if you play long enough, you’ll eventually lose all your money. From the perspective of an advantage gambler, who only bets when he has an edge, all these casino games offer sucker bets.

But for the recreational gambler, your goal should be to get maximum game fun for the least amount of money. Your goal should also be to walk away a winner if you can.

Your best chance of doing so is to stick with the games with the best odds.

Poker games are another thing, entirely. That’s a game of skill, and I encourage you to learn to play poker and play it well. Since you’re competing with other poker players for their money, you don’t have to worry about a house edge. You just need to be more skilled than most of the other players at the table.

Sports betting is another thing, too. The bookmakers set up the odds so that they’re going to make a profit, so it’s hard to get an edge, but they’re not perfect. If you’re better at picking winners than they are, you can get an edge over the books, too. In fact, if you’re really good at handicapping, your best chance of leaving the casino with a lot of money is by putting money into action in the sports book.

3- Stick with a Strategy for the Game You’re Playing

Most games have no strategy other than avoiding the worst bets at the table. Some games require you to make decisions about how to play your hand, though. The latter are the games with the best odds.

No matter which kind of game you play, you should go into it with a strategy and stick with that strategy. Ignore your hunches and psychic insights about what’s going to happen next. Just make the best possible bets you can.

Roulette is a game with a simple strategy. Most casinos in Las Vegas offer what’s called “American” roulette. Every bet on that roulette game but one offers a house edge of 5.26%.

There’s one exception:

The 5-number bet has a house edge of 7.89%. Since that’s significantly more than all the other bets at the table, the best strategy is to never make that bet.

You can then decide how you want to bet on the other roulette numbers based on your tolerance for risk and your desire for a big payout. If you like frequent small wins, stick with the even-money bets. The probability of winning those bets is close to 50% (47.37%), but you only win even money.

On the other hand, if you don’t mind losing for a while, you can place a single number bet. That pays off at 35 to 1, but the probability of winning that bet is only 1/38, or 2.63%.

You can also place a plethora of bets with payouts and probabilities between those 2 options.

With a game like blackjack, though, the house edge varies based on how well you play your hands. In blackjack, there’s a mathematically correct move to make in every possible situation. This is called “basic strategy.”

A player using basic strategy in blackjack only faces a house edge of 0.5% to 1%. If you ignore basic strategy and just play your hunches, you’re probably giving the house an extra 3% to 4%.

That’s a huge difference. If you’re going to play blackjack, you should at least learn a simplified version of basic strategy to keep the house edge as low as possible

Also, even if you use perfect basic strategy in blackjack, the house still has an edge. Play long enough, and you’ll lose all your money.

But when you reduce the house edge as much as possible, you increase the probability of walking away from a Las Vegas casino as a winner.

You can find detailed articles about every casino game you can imagine on this site. Those articles all cover the appropriate strategies to use for these games.

4- Quit While You’re Ahead

No one can win money in a Las Vegas casino if they continue to play. Since the casino games have an edge, you’re likelier to lose than win, and every bet you make brings you that much closer to the long run. The Law of Large Numbers suggests that the more trials you get involved in, the closer your actual results will mirror the mathematically expected results.

This means that if you hit a big win early in your casino visit, it’s a good idea to set aside at least some of those winnings rather than gambling them all. I once won $6000 on a slot machine on my 6th spin of the reels. I immediately cashed out and set $3000 aside to make sure I could go home with a profit. (My bankroll for the entire trip was $1000, so I still had about $4000 to play with for the rest of my stay in Vegas.)

You’ll find some writers talking about money management and the importance of setting win goals and loss limits. An example of a win goal is someone with a $1000 bankroll who decides he’ll quit once he’s ahead by $200. That’s a win goal of 20%.

A stop loss limit, on the other hand, is an amount of money you’re willing to lose before quitting. With a $1000 bankroll and a 20% stop loss limit, a gambler would quit when his bankroll got down to $800.

Here’s the thing about win goals, stop loss limits, and money management:

None of these techniques change the house edge. No matter when you walk away from the tables, unless you walk away permanently, the house edge will eventually come into play in your casino game hobby.

Yes, you should quit when you get ahead.

Or at least set aside enough winnings that you can go home a winner.

Just realize that this concept doesn’t increase your chances of winning money in a Las Vegas casino in the long run. It just makes sure that you sometimes go home a winner. You’ll go home a loser more often, but not as often if you occasionally quit while you’re ahead.

5- Don’t Be Afraid to Go Big or Go Home

The last time I visited the Winstar, I had a small bankroll of just $200.

But I also had a plan.

I was going to bet $100 on odd. We chose that because my traveling companions and I decide that we were all odd people, so that might be lucky for us. (I didn’t have the heart to tell them that the odds of winning were 47.37% regardless of whether we bet on odd or even.)

That was half my total bankroll for the trip on a single bet. I wanted to go big or go home. I was going to use the other $100 to bet on craps, actually, but I was just going to stick with the $5 bets.

But it was a Saturday night at the Winstar, and they only recently started offering real roulette and real craps. Prior to this change, they generated results using playing cards instead of wheels and dice.

As a result, the tables were so crowded I couldn’t get anywhere near them. I wound up playing Lightning Sevens and The Big Lebowski slot machines, instead.

I still broke even for the night, but that was all luck.

Still, there’s much to be said for making one big bet instead of making lots of small bets. I’ve written about something called “maximum boldness” in gambling before. The idea is that making a single big bet on a negative expectation game offers you a better probability of doubling your money than making any combination of multiple, smaller bets.

This is because of the Law of Large Numbers, which I think I’ve already mentioned.

Here’s the easiest way to understand it, though:

You goal is to make $1000 on a single bet in roulette. You choose black (or any other even number.) You have 2 possible outcomes:

  1. You could win $1000.
  2. You could lose $1000.

Possibility #2 is more likely, but those are still the only 2 possibilities.

Now suppose you make 2 bets of $500 each. Here are the possible outcomes:

  1. You could win both bets, for a $1000 profit.
  2. You could win bet #1 and lose bet #2, which results in you breaking even.
  3. You could win bet #2 and lose bet #1, which also results in you breaking even.
  4. You could lose both bets, for a $1000 loss.

The likelihood of these events varies, but you’re more likely to lose both bets than you are to win both bets. That’s obvious. But you also have 2 other possibilities which are also pretty likely.

And obviously, the more bets you make, the more possibilities are out there. Suppose you make 4 bets of $250 each:

  1. You could win all 4, doubling your money.
  2. You could win 3 and lose 1, which would result in a profit.
  3. You could win 1 and lose 3, which would result in a loss.
  4. You could win 2 bets and lose 2 bets, which could happen in multiple ways, and you’d break even.
  5. You could lose all 4 bets.

The reason casinos make money is because they’re in it for the long run.

Wanna beat the casinos?

Decide to get happy with wins in the short run.

6- Spend Some Time Doing Other Things in Las Vegas, Too

It’s hard to win money on any kind of gambling if you’re tired or bored. Gambling is supposed to be fun. If you’re gambling compulsively to the point where you’re uninterested in any other activity, you’re in trouble.

Luckily, in Las Vegas, you can find lots of things to do. Heck, just walking around Downtown or the Las Vegas Strip can be loads of fun. There are free shows right on The Strip, too—the water fountains at the Bellagio and the pirate show at the Mirage cost you nothing. You can even go see circus acts at Circus Circus.

Spend some of your entertainment money on other forms of entertainment. Think about hitting a couple of the cool museums in town. Whether you like organized crime or nuclear experiments, Las Vegas has a museum to help educate you about it.

And you won’t find a better selection of shows anywhere on the planet.

The number and variety of bars and nightclubs is staggering. So is the number of restaurants.

Don’t just gamble.

Enjoy some of what else Vegas has to offer.

7- Learn How to Play Poker, Please

If I could convince you of one thing, it’s this:

If you want to win money in a Las Vegas casino, stay away from the “casino games” entirely and play poker.

Not all Vegas casinos have cardrooms, but find one that does. Learn how to play poker and learn how to play the game well.

The skill element is what sets poker apart from the other games. The casinos take a 5% cut of every pot, which means you can’t just sit down and break even.

But it takes less study and effort than you might think to become a break-even poker player. With a little effort, you can make a long-term profit at the Texas holdem tables.

90% of poker players don’t profit, but that means 10% of the players do. That’s a bigger percentage of Vegas winners than you’ll find playing slot machines, I promise you.


Anyone can come home after winning some money in Las Vegas. People do it every day. It’s easier to pull off if you stick with the games offering better bets.

Of course, learning the right strategies for the games you’re playing helps, too. Being able to distinguish between good and bad bets is one critical skill. But in games like blackjack and video poker, you must be able to make the decisions offering the best expected value, too.

Finally, if you really want to win money in Las Vegas casinos in the long run, become a solid poker player.

Petko Stoyanov
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About Petko Stoyanov
My name is Petko Stoyanov, and I've been a gambling writer for more than ten years. I guess that was the natural path for me since I've loved soccer and card games for as long as I can remember! I have a long and fairly successful history with English Premier League betting and online poker, but I follow many other sports. I watch all big European soccer leagues, basketball, football, and tennis regularly, and I keep an eye on snooker, volleyball, and major UFC events.