Casino gambling is a fun form of entertainment, but it can be costly if you’re not careful. But you can also win money at times, so it can be a profitable way to enjoy a night out as well.
Here are 10 things you should know about casino gambling that can help you win more often and enjoy your time at the casino more.
1. The House Edge is Almost Everything
Casinos operate as for-profit businesses. They’re like most other businesses in the entertainment world, but they make money in a different way.
When you go to a movie or show you pay an entry fee. The casino lets you in for free, but they make money on the games they offer. This is called the house edge.
The house edge can be determined on games using mathematical calculations. Almost every form of gambling boils down to math. The house edge is the amount the casino makes in the long run on a game.
You can win or lose at any game for a short period of time. But if you play a game with a house edge for long enough the house will win. Casinos don’t worry too much about short-term wins and losses because they know if they make sure the games aren’t being cheated that in the long term their profit will match the expected house edge.
You need to understand two important things about house edge. The first one is that you should play games with a small house edge. The second thing is that the rules and in many cases the strategy you use changes the house edge.
Here’s a list of the house edge for some casino games. In order to achieve this house edge for some of these games you have to play perfect strategy and find the games with the correct rules.
- NSUD Deuces Wild Video Poker .27%
- 9 / 6 Jacks or Better Video Poker .46%
- Blackjack .25% to 2%
- Spanish 21 .4% to 1%
- Baccarat 1.06%
- Craps 1.36% to 1.41%
- Pai Gow Poker 1.46%
- Roulette 2.7% to 5.26%
- Sic Bo 2.78%
- Let It Ride 3.51%
- Caribbean Stud Poker 5.22%
- Slots 2% to 20%
- Keno 20% to 30%
The first game on the list, NSUD Deuces Wild, is a specific paytable. Not only do you have to play on a machine using a specific paytable, but you also need to play using the perfect strategy on every hand. If you don’t the house edge will be higher than .27%.
You’ll find that many of the easiest games that don’t require strategy also have some of the worst house edge numbers. Keno and slot machines don’t have a strategy you can use to alter the house edge and they’re both easy to play. But usually, the house edge on these games is from 5% to 30%.
Other games on the list have multiple betting options with only one or two bets offering a low house edge. Baccarat has a 1.06% house edge on the banker bet, but the other bets are worse. Craps has a decent edge on the pass line, don’t pass line, and odds, but you should avoid the other bet options.
Some games, like blackjack, have a wide range of rules that change the house edge. A blackjack game with good rules can have a house edge as low as .25%, but a game with poor rules can be 2% or higher. Blackjack is another game that requires strategy if you want to keep the house edge as low as possible.
If you’re going to be a casino gambler you need to know which games offer the lowest house edge and how to use the best strategy.
2. Everything Else is Speed
The house edge is the most important thing to understand and use when you pay casino games, but the second most important thing is the speed of the game.
Casinos are designed to win a percentage of the money that gets wagered on their games. This percentage is the house edge. To determine how much a casino wins over time you can multiply the house edge times the amount of money wagered.
Here’s an example:
If a player makes 50 bets of $100 each on an American roulette wheel, which has a house edge of 5.26%, in an hour the casino can expect to win $263.
50 bets times $100 per bet is $5,000. $5,000 times 5.26% is $263.
As I mentioned earlier, these calculations are based on long-term results. These are expected results, and in the long run, they’ll work out as expected. But in the short run, they can vary a great deal. The player may be ahead after an hour, but over thousands of hours of play, the house edge is achieved.
Notice that in the calculation for the expected casino win for the hour we had to determine how many bets were made. This is an issue of speed.
This means that if you only made 25 bets in an hour instead of 50 your expected loss would be half.
Some games play faster than others and some give you control of how many betting decisions you make per hour.
Slot machines usually have a high house edge and you can play hundreds of hands per hour. This is a combination that can quickly drain your bankroll. But you don’t have to play hundreds of spins per hour. You can take your time and only take 50 spins per hour if you want.
Some games have fewer betting decisions per hour than others. Pai Gow Poker is one of the slowest games in the casino because players must set two hands on each deal. Many of these hands end up as a push, so the betting decisions that get resolved per hour are lower than most other games in the casino.
One of the best things to do if you’re a casino gambler is find games that offer a low house edge that you can control how many decisions are made per hour, or play slow. Video poker is one of the best options if you can play slow.
But even a game with a low house edge like some video poker games can quickly drain your bankroll if you play too fast.
3. Use Strategy When You Can
The casino games that have a house edge that can be changed by using strategy are among the best you can play. Blackjack and video poker with the right rules can be played with a house edge of less than a half percent when you always use the best strategy.
The best strategy for these games can appear to be complicated, but you can find strategy charts and cards that have everything you need to know on a small piece of paper.
Craps and baccarat are games that don’t appear to use strategy, but smart players know that they should only make certain bets.
When you play craps the only bets you should make are either the pass line or don’t pass line, and the odds bet. In baccarat, the only bet you should make is the banker bet. This might not seem like much, but these are the best strategies to use on these games.
4. The Easiest Games Usually Have the Highest House Edge
The easiest games to play in the casino are slot machines and keno. These games are also included in the ones that strategy won’t help you win.
When you find this combination you’ve usually found a game with a high house edge.
Casinos try to have a wide range of games so that every visitor can find something they like to play. Many gamblers don’t want to think about anything so the casino takes advantage of this by offering games like slots where you can just sit down and press a button or pull a handle to gamble.
Blackjack and video poker are also easy to play and they can offer a low house edge. But if you don’t play the games with good rules and use the best strategy the house edge is higher. It’s still not usually as high as when you play slot machines, but it can still put a fast dent in your bankroll.
If a game is easy to play it’s a good sign that you’re playing a game with a high house edge.
5. Some Casino Games Can Be Beat in the Long Run
Even though casinos are designed to take your money, you can find a few games that you can beat in the long run if you know how to do it. It’s not easy to be a long-term winner, but it’s possible.
The three most common areas casino gamblers can find a long-term edge are at the poker table, playing blackjack, and betting on sports.
When you play poker, like Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and 7 Card Stud, you play against other players, not the casino. The casino makes money by taking a small percentage, called the rake, from each pot. This means that if you can learn how to play well enough that you can win more than you lose in the long run.
It’s difficult to play poker good enough to win consistently, but some players can do it. Start by learning the rules and then study the best strategies. As you gain experience and refine your strategy you can learn how to win.
Blackjack can be beaten if you learn how to count cards. Because certain cards in the deck help you win and others work against you, if you track when the deck has more good cards than bad you can raise your bet when the deck is in your favor.
This sounds complicated but with a little practice, anyone can learn how to count cards. Not many players are willing to do the work required to be winning blackjack players, but a small percentage are actually able to make a living playing blackjack.
Sports betting is tough to do profitably, but some people are consistently able to beat the books. You need to find good betting lines. Look for opportunities to make bets with low vig, and become a student of the games you bet on so you can find weak lines.
It’s not easy to learn how to beat the casinos, but if you’re willing to put in the time and effort it’s possible.
6. Keno Is the Worst Unless
In the first section, you learned that keno was one of the games with the worst house edge. But in the second section, you learned that the speed of a game also has a great deal to do with how much you lose per hour.
Keno is one of the few games where you can make a bet as small as $1 and have the chance to win $10,000 or more. It’s also a game that plays in a slow manner unless you’re playing video keno.
In many casinos they have keno draws every five to 15 minutes. If you bet $1 per draw you’re only wagering $4 to $12 per hour. The house edge is still large, but your expected loss per hour is small because you aren’t playing many bets per hour. And you still have the chance at hitting a big win.
7. Don’t Play the Lottery, Play Progressives
Lotteries offer a chance at a life-changing win for a small bet. But the odds are highly stacked against you.
Slot machines with progressive jackpots also offer the chance to win a life-changing amount for a small bet. Slots also have high odds against you, but they’re usually better than the odds of hitting a big lottery jackpot.
Of course, many gamblers play both the lottery and slot machines, but your odds are better taking an occasional shot at a big-slots progressive than the lottery.
8. Side Bets Should Usually Be Avoided
Many casino games offer side bets. These are usually available for $1 and can add to the excitement of the game. But most of these side bets are designed with a higher house edge than the game they’re attached to.
Unless you know the house edge of a side game you should avoid playing them. It might not seem like much to bet an extra dollar on a hand, but if you play 50 hands per hour that’s an extra $50 in wagers every hour you play.
9. The Slots or Player’s Club
Most casinos have a slots club or player’s club. You go the designated area of the casino and sign up for the club. You receive a club card and use it when you gamble.
When you play slots or video poker you put it into the machine and it tracks your play. If you play table games or poker you give your card to the dealer when you start playing.
These clubs give you free things for your play. Common things you can earn include free meals and hotel rooms, special tournament entries, and even cash back at some places.
It’s free to join the player’s club or slots club and you should always do it before you start playing. If you’re going to gamble anyway you should at least earn some free things while you do it.
The free things you earn are called comps. Most clubs won’t tell you exactly how much you need to gamble to earn certain comps, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
It might seem like the casinos offer clubs to reward gamblers, but they’re actually designed to get players to gamble more. This doesn’t mean you should avoid taking advantage of their offer.
But make sure you don’t gamble more than you planned to do just because you can earn comps.
10. Learn the Rules
The rules of each casino game dictate the house edge. You’ve learned how important the house edge is in the first section. This means it’s important to learn about the rules of each game you consider playing.
Another important reason to learn the rules is so you don’t make mistakes. Every time you make a mistake while gambling it costs you money. When you don’t know all of the rules it’s likely you’re going to make mistakes.
Take a few minutes and make sure you completely understand all the rules before you play any casino game. If you don’t understand the rules for a game ask the dealer for clarification. You can also learn how to play games with different rules variation on this site and others like it.
Most cell phones have a way to search the internet for information so the rules are usually just a few clicks away. If you gamble online most of the games have a link to a rules page or section.
Use these 10 things you should know about casino gambling to find the games with the lowest house edge and games that you can play slow. When you combine a slow game with a low house edge it gives you the chance to win more often and it extends your playing time.