11 Things You Should Know About Las Vegas Casinos

Downtown Las Vegas Casinos Faded Into Background, Welcome to Las Vegas Sign with Stamp Displaying Text What You Need to Know
So, you’re planning a trip to Las Vegas. Get ready for fun in the sun! No, seriously, Las Vegas is in the desert, so there’s plenty of sun to go around. Even more importantly, get ready to hit the wildest, greatest collection of casinos anywhere in the world. You’re headed to a place where you can go from New York to Egypt to Italy just by walking a few short blocks.

The casinos of Las Vegas are magical places that make the impossible seem attainable, where a few lucky folks can turn a small stack of cash into riches beyond their wildest dreams and where you can feast your eyes and taste buds on some of the best food in the country. Still, before you hit the Strip and start flashing the cash at a casino, there are a few things you need to know.

Generally, most folks look at casinos as great friends who are just trying to give you money or as glitzy entertainment that covers up secret rooms with no cameras a la Ocean’s Eleven. The truth of the matter is, casinos are neither generous nor scary. But if you’re armed with a few casino facts, you’re going to enjoy your Las Vegas visit much, much more.

1- Casinos Want You to Play

Las Vegas Fremont Casino in Background, Man in Suit with Hands Out Welcoming to Casino
For some reason, this statement feels controversial or, at the very least, not obvious. But the fact of the matter is, casinos want you in their four walls liberally splashing some cash. To that point, casinos don’t mind if you win some money.

They obviously don’t want you doing it too much or too often, but if you win some money, you have a good time. It makes you want come back to play again.

Also, they might use you in their marketing to show that dreams really do come true.

The important part, though, is that the casinos will find ways to reward you if you lose money and the loyalty programs offered in Vegas already do a good job at that. These rewards probably won’t be in straight dollars, but if you find that you’ve paid in a tidy sum of money, you can expect to get roughly 30% to 40% of that money back in casino comps.

2- Casinos Only Make Money When You Lose

Loser Text in Bubble Type, Confetti Falling Down, Cash Bills FloatingThe opposite side of casinos wanting you to play is that they don’t want you to play well. The magnificent skyscrapers, fancy lights, and flashy attractions do not pay for themselves. They’re paid for largely by you losing money on the gambling floor, buying tickets to shows, and paying hefty prices for food.

There’s really nothing more you have to worry about with this particular item on the list other than the fact that you should keep in mind that a casino is a business that wants you to spend money.

3- You Can Lose Everything

Sorry to be a bit of a bummer with this one, but it’s important to know that casinos are not there to keep you from betting the mortgage, pulling your last dollar out of your checking account, or spending your monthly food budget playing casino craps. More than likely, if they knew you were doing something self-destructive, they would stop you.

Unless you have a very loud megaphone and announce to the world you’re gambling your last dollar, there’s no way for them to know.

That’s why you always set loss limits for each day and, if you can help it, don’t bring a check card or any more money than your limit to the casino floor. It’s too hard to avoid the temptation otherwise.

4- There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

Drink in a Glass on Table, Sign Saying Yes It's Free, Warning Caution Tape Faded Into Background
Nothing at a casino is free. This is something you will have to tell yourself over and over again. The “free” drinks, the “free” trips to bar, etc. may not cost you anything directly, but that doesn’t mean that you’re not paying for them somehow. Those free drinks you’re being served are there to get you tipsy.

Also, that free breakfast you got from the pit boss saved you $20 or so, but he only forked it over because you already lost more than $20 at the table.

That comp is there to make you feel better about losing so you will come back.

The good news, though, is that nothing’s free. So, that perk or comp or reward can be enjoyed guilt-free, because you’ve already paid the house for it. Well, that may not include the free drinks. You should seriously avoid gambling drunk unless you like giving your money away.

5- Pit Bosses Are Your Friend

If you’ve seen enough movies, the idea of a friendly pit boss probably sounds insane, but it’s true. Sure, the pit boss is employed by the casino and is there to make sure no one is cheating, treating the dealers poorly, etc.

However, with that said, if you have a legitimate complaint about a payout or a question about a decision, the pit boss is there to help you clear up those misunderstandings.

It’s important to be courteous when dealing with pit bosses because they are busy and have a lot of power.

At the end of the day, they will do what they can to do right by you.

6- The Odds Are Not Stacked in Your Favor

Colorful Probability Wheel With the Word No on Each ChoiceYou can’t walk through a casino without seeing pictures of happy winners holding huge amounts of money. Those pictures are there to prime the pump of your dreams and make you think that financial independence is just a spin of a slot machine or a hand of poker away.

The sad fact is that there are probably more people in the casino gambling at any moment than there are pictures on the wall because the odds are not in the gamblers’ favor. That doesn’t mean the games are rigged.

Quite the opposite, casinos have to act with a certain level of honesty or you will go somewhere else.

Still, just because the game isn’t rigged doesn’t mean that it’s designed for you to carry home stacks of cash.

7- Drinks Are Served for a Reason

As mentioned above, the “free drinks” at the casino exist for one primary reason—to make you a worse gambler. Even watered-down drinks (you should expect watered down drinks from any place that hands you a free drink) will pack enough alcohol to make you a bit tipsy. Once you’re tipsy, your mind isn’t as sharp and starts to make little mistakes here and there.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t indulge. And if you would rather drink than make money at cards, go ahead and drink until your heart’s content. If you want to play well, you might stick to soda and orange juice.

8- Casinos Don’t Need Your Business That Badly

In other words, don’t be a jerk. It doesn’t matter if you’re a playing the best high-limit rooms in Vegas or playing a penny ante player, the casinos don’t have to tolerate your bad behavior. They have enough customers that if you are doing something improper, they are well within their rights to kick you out.

9- You Are Being Watched

Guy Looking Over Security Monitors in Surveillance Room, Sign Stating Notice About Surveillance on Premises
Just a reminder, there are cameras everywhere in a casino. This isn’t to invade your privacy or make you feel creepy. However, the casino has to be on the lookout for cheats and thieves. Until the casino perfects mind reading, they’re going to have to scan the crowd using their plethora of (admittedly well-hidden) cameras.

10- Casinos Offer Classes

In case you’ve hit the Las Vegas Strip and have no idea how to actually gamble, have no fear. The casinos will actually teach you how to play because they want you to play their games and lose.

Don’t worry, the casino won’t lead you astray.

The casinos offer good classes that will give you some useful tips on strategy for the game and give you a chance of making some money.

11- Be a Good Tipper

Casinos Employees by Table Game, Hand Slipping Two Dollar Bills on Table
Up above, we mentioned that you shouldn’t be mean in casinos. Now, we want you to actively be nice.

Pretty much everyone on the floor of a casino is living off tips, so don’t be stingy.

Toss your waitstaff a few bucks for those free drinks, tip your dealer when she goes off shift, etc. A happy casino employee is a lot more likely to make your stay more enjoyable than the casino employee you just irritated by being cheap. So be sure to follow the appropriate tipping guidelines whenever possible.


A casino offers a plethora of ways to have fun, be entertained, gamble, and probably lose some money in the process. The good news is that there’s nothing wrong with any of that. If you walk into a casino with your eyes open to what’s going on (namely that a casino is a business, but one that will reward you for doing business with it), you don’t act like a jerk, are nice, and maybe take a class or two, you are going to have a great time in the desert. So go, have fun, and viva Las Vegas!

Love Them or Hate Them: 9 Interesting Facts About Slot Machines

Velvet Texture Background, Slot Machine Icon with Magnifying Glass Over It, Slots in Gold Banner
There’s no avoiding the slot machine. Loved by many, reviled by some, they’re undeniably part of the Las Vegas landscape. They’re available in all casinos (in person and online), beckoning the passersby with the siren’s song of coins hitting a bucket. Plus, there’s usually fairly loud music and some flashing lights.

Slot machines form the backbone of the casino, accounting for 80% of its revenue in some cases. Because of this, casinos are always trying to make new and innovative way for casino slots games to bring in gamers and gamblers looking for fun.

Given their importance to the casino, whether you would play them or not, let’s look at nine facts about the slot machine that even the most ardent slot-hater might find interesting.

Slot Machines Have an Interesting History

According to Wikipedia, the precursor to the slot machine was developed in 1891 in Brooklyn. This machine used 50 of the 52 cards of a poker deck and allowed players to try to make a poker hand for a nickel a game.

Black and White Photography of Charles Fey, Icon of Slot Machine Invented by Charles FeyWhile they quickly grew in popularity, engineering in the early 1890s had no good way to standardize the payouts for all of the possible combinations of wins. Therefore, your prize for winning at this machine varied from bar to bar.

All of this changed by 1895 when Charles Fey invented a three-drum machine with just five symbols. Mechanically, it was easier to standardize payouts on this number of combinations and the slot machine was born.

Oh, and also of note, the original five symbols were the suits of poker and the Liberty Bell, which can still be found in slot machines to this day.

The First Video Slot Machine Was Developed in 1976

The first electronic slot machine was invented in 1963, but it wasn’t until the grand year of 1976 that the first video slot machine was created on a 19-inch color screen and Sony logic boards. According to Wikipedia, the first video slot machines were installed in the Las Vegas Hilton before gaining immense popularity that has continued to this day.

Most, if not all, slot machines operating in the US are video slot machines. The computers inside the machine are less open to fraud, more reliable than mechanical parts, and generally cheaper to produce.

There Are $100 Slot Machines

Hundred Dollar Casino Slot Machines, Hundred Dollar Bills Spread Out
Typically, a slot machine will “spin” for a single credit, though betting more credits leads to a higher payout. The cheapest credit possible is a single penny and is actually fairly common, especially in more established casinos. On the other hand, the sky’s the limit on how much a credit might cost to purchase.

There are even reports that some machines may cost as much as $100 per play just to spin the wheels once. That’s a fairly high-risk scenario that should be backed up by a serious bankroll.

If that’s your thing, go for it, but for most people, a slot machine that costs around a quarter to a dollar per credit is much closer to the norm.

Penny Slots Are a Great Way to Stretch a Bankroll

If you’re at the casino and don’t have a lot of money (either because you started off with a small casino bankroll or because you hit a bad run of luck), play the penny slots or the closest thing you can find to them. Modern day video slots have a lot more in common with game apps on your phone than hardcore gambling. This allows slot machine designers to have their slot machines run for a while on each play.

Because it takes a while to watch the animation, make a few choices, or perform some other action, playing slot machines can be a much more drawn-out experience.

This is in comparison to the olden days of dropping in a coin, pulling the arm, collecting the payout, and repeat.

If this sounds dreary, it’s not. Modern slot machines are just as addictive as the apps they resemble, meaning you can get a lot of play for not much money and still have a good time.

Slot Machines Don’t Run Hot and Cold

Icon of Real Casino Slot Machine, Icon with Half Sun and Half SnowflakeIf said to the right person, this “interesting fact” might start a riot. Some slot machine aficionados swear they can detect when a slot machine is about to payout big and when a machine has gone cold. Sadly, there’s no such thing as a streaky slot machine, especially not in the age of electronic slot machines.

Everything inside that machine is controlled by a computerized random number generator. Each time you play, it generates a complex series of numbers according to its own perfected algorithm. Those numbers get turned into whether you win or lose.

This random number generator has been tweaked over time to promote a certain win percentage, so that it’s fair to the player and fair to the casino house edge.

Any win or loss streaks that the slot machine features is only the luck of the draw. Anything else would be too difficult to program into the algorithm and still keep things fair.

Slot Machines May Return Over 90% of the Money

Even though slot machines account for a significant amount of casino revenue, they still payout over 90% of the money they take in (sometimes as high as 94% percent). This is good news for the slot player.

Even though it’s fun to play video games at a casino, it’s even better when those video games pay off. Of course, just because the slot machine pays out at 90%, that doesn’t mean it pays that money out to you or at one time. A lot of that money is doled out in small amounts or put into a jackpot.

Slot Machines Owe Their Popularity to the Unlikeliest of Sources

American Flag Waving Background, George Bush and Ronald Regan
Slot machines, which are now legal in all but a handful of states, owe their popularity to two men—Ronald Reagan and George Bush. Both men increased taxes and forced businesses to find ways to generate additional revenue. While flat-out gambling like poker was definitely illegal, video slot machines could be reclassified as game rather than gambling. As it became acceptable to install video slot machines outside of casinos, their popularity continued to grow.

Slot Machines Are More Addictive Than Meth

Actually, we made that up. However, video slot machines are becoming increasingly more addictive (as are video game apps). In fact, since the 1990s, more people attend Gamblers Anonymous for slot machines than for playing poker.

The statistics on how quickly people become addicted to slot machines is frightening, as are the effects of a slot machine player’s addiction.

Not to be too much of a downer, but slot machine players who suffer gambling addiction are more likely to commit suicide than others with a gambling addiction. Therefore, be careful when you start to play, as the effects of playing can be incredibly severe if you can’t control your habits.

There’s Such a Thing as Slot Machine Pros

Guy on Computer Looking Over Paperwork, Computer Displaying Casino Slot GameIn case you are wondering, there are slot machine professionals. We find this to be an interesting career choice as much of playing slots still boils down to the little random number generator inside the machine. The generator is what decides if you’re going to win or not.

With that said, it is nice to know there are slot machine professionals out there to rate existing slot machines, discuss strategies for machines that offer a strategic component, and talk us through the odds of winning.

On the other hand, the general consensus on this is fairly strong: There really is no system to how you play your slots.

Remember what we said above about there being no hot or cold streaks with slot machines? Well, there’s no real system to guarantee huge profits when you play the slots.

They just don’t work like that.

Instead, be happy that you have a game to play, earn a little money on its payout, and have fun doing it. But if you’re spending $100 a pull, then you better hope you have luck on your side!


Slot machines are a lot more interesting than most people give them credit for. Next time you pass by the slots, even if they’re absolutely not your thing, keep in mind that those machines are paying for the casino. In fact, they’re probably paying out just enough to give someone a good winning story.

12 Tips for Gambling With a Small Bankroll

Friends Cheering Playing Casino Slots, Hands Opening Empty Wallet with Dollar Bill Falling Out
Everyone dreams of gambling with a huge stack of chips. It’s nice knowing you can take a chance on an iffy blackjack hand because you have the money to play another game. The same goes with any of the games at the casino. It’s just fun to play with a lot of money.

But what happens when you don’t have a lot of money and you’re practicing better casino bankroll management? Don’t worry, you can still have fun gambling. It’s just as satisfying when you go from the short stack to the table leader as there is starting from the top and continuing to win.

In fact, starting with a small stack can be your test of skill as a gambler if that’s what gets your poker juices flowing. More importantly, though, playing the game with a small bankroll can be every bit as rewarding as playing with a big stack, you just need a few tips on how best to pull it off.

Go Online

Computer Laptop Displaying Slot Online Casino Game on ScreenThe best and easiest way to gamble without a lot of money is to avoid any semblance of a casino. Instead, sit down with a cold drink, maybe turn on some music, and open your laptop. The internet is full of online casinos that will allow you to gamble without paying a single penny, offering free games to play.

Some online gambling sites offer virtual currency for you to start playing on their site. As long as you don’t lose your head and take advantage of the online site’s giveaways, you’ll likely never run out of “money” to play. Once you’ve gotten your fill, you can always find online sites that will take money in exchange for higher stakes, just know the laws in your area.

Avoid Luxury Hotels

It pains us to say this, but if you have a small bankroll, you might be better off staying away from the nicer, newer hotels. Yes, I know they’re beautiful, have great themes, good food, delicious cocktails, and more. However, they’re not free. In fact, they’re not even cheap.

Most of the things you do at a luxury hotel carry a surcharge.

This is because they’re the place to be seen, gambling pros and sharks often congregate at newer venues.

If you want, go to the luxury hotels to see the sights and mess around, but when it gets serious, take your smaller bankroll to a less fancy place. Your money will go farther if you do.

Pick the Right Table

Split Image, on the Right Group of People Playing Casino Craps, Left Photo of People Playing Roulette
Part of picking the right table includes staying away from luxury hotels. Like we said, the sharks, the hustlers, and the pros all congregate there. If you have a small bankroll, you’ll want to stay away from them until you’ve built up a reserve.

Instead, find a casino that has steady traffic with people who are looking for a game, not a victim. When you find that casino, survey the players at each of the tables. If you see someone who is ultracompetitive or just a jerk, they could just be after your money. Instead, find a table that’s at least half full with people that appear calm and friendly. The fact that they aren’t cutthroat should give you a better chance to win some money.

Let the Casino Meet Your Needs

It’s not a guarantee that your food and drink needs will be taken care of by a casino. But some are loose with offering you free cocktails, food comps, and other perks. At the very least, you should be able to swell the size of your bankroll with the money you otherwise would have spent on cocktails and snacks.

But this advice really only works if you’re loyal to one casino. You will need to lose some of that bankroll before you begin receiving casino comps. If you only lose a little here and a little there, you may not get a simple comp at all. So, it’s important that you establish yourself as a regular.

Play the Pass Line

Craps Table Layout with Yellow Arrow Pointing Towards Pass Line
Craps is one of the most economical ways to gamble if you’re looking to play at a casino.

It’s a social environment where you can make some fairly low risk bets that often payout by playing the pass line.

When you’re playing the game of craps, the pass line means you are betting that the shooter will hit a seven or an 11 before they hit a two, three, or a 12. Playing the pass line doesn’t pay out very much (you may only double your bet), but seven is the most common number on two dice, so you have a good chance of winning.

Slots for the Win

All protests about slot machines aside, if you have a small bankroll, slot machines are a great way to stretch it. You can always find cheap slot machines, especially in older casinos, which require very little money for a pull on the lever (or the press of a button).

At the very least, even a small purse can provide hours of entertainment in the casino while a few lucky players will find a significant return on investment at the slot machines.

Make Friends With the Bookie

People Sitting at Casino Sportsbook, Three Dollar Bills Spread Out
Okay, you probably won’t make friends with the people running your local sportsbook, but you can certainly use it to your advantage if you don’t have a lot of money. Sports betting can be incredibly lucrative if you’re willing to bet on some underdogs.

Additionally,there are always events you can bet on.

Consider splashing a little cash at the sportsbook in your chosen casino, then sit back to enjoy the game.

Bet a Small Number of Games

If you do choose to go the sportsbook route, don’t overdo the sports betting. Pick two or three games that you know and bet on those. That will limit your losses while stretching your bankroll over the course of each game.

Blackjack Before Hold’em

Ace of Spades Card, Jack Blackjack Card, Three Stacks of Casino ChipsHold’em can be an expensive undertaking, especially in games with antes and large big blinds. If poker is your game of choice, consider looking for cheaper but fun blackjack games. Some are as low as one dollar. These games will pack all of the skill and competition of a much more expensive game of poker. But the hit to your bankroll with each hand will be far, far lower.

Find Tournaments

If Hold’em is your game, look for tournaments instead of cash games. In a tournament, you pay a set amount of a number of chips. You then get to play for the life of the tournament off that one single payment. If you’re good enough or lucky enough, a single payment can stretch out into an evening of gambling.

Find Limited Rebuy Tournaments

If you find tournaments are your thing, that’s great. We also recommend that you avoid tournaments with lots of rebuys.

A rebuy means a player can pay a certain amount of money to re-enter the tournament even when they’re out of money.

It’s very hard to knock out a player who can keep buying in, which means it’s hard to cash out and make money at the tournament.

Set Loss Limits

Group of People Playing Slot Machines in Casino, Yellow Sign Warning Reached Bankroll Limit
When you have a smaller bankroll, you need a good defense. That’s where loss limits come into play. Simply put, a “loss limit” is a set amount of money that once you lose, you’re done playing for the night. Set your loss limit and stick to it like a drowning person to a lifesaver.

If you don’t, your entire casino trip might be over before it’s done. In fact, if you can, don’t bring more money than your loss limit to avoid the temptation of going over budget.


While gambling with a small bankroll doesn’t sound as glamorous as gambling on a big budget, it can still be a great time. All you need is a smart strategy, the right place to play, a strong loss limit, and the right game. With the tips we mentioned in this guide, you’re guaranteed to have plenty of fun!

6 Ways You Can Maintain Your Poker A-Game Longer

Casino Floor with Gaming Tables in Background, Up Close Guy with Eyebrow Raised and Poker Cards Up to His Face
Many people play online poker as a form of entertainment. Therefore, they don’t always care what mindset they’re in while playing.

But anyone who wants to make real money with poker needs to be in the right mind frame in order to win consistently. After all, nobody should worry about what’s happening elsewhere when they’re in a serious game.

The goal is to play your “A-game” as much as possible. But how do you bring your best to the table and keep yourself in a good mindset?

Everything begins with knowing more about how to maintain your poker A-game. Once you thoroughly understand this concept, then you can figure out ways to give yourself the mental edge.

What Is Your Poker A-Game?

Silhouette of Guy Staring Down at Poker Cards and Poker ChipYour A-game is the point where you’re playing your best poker. In this zone, you make good decisions with hands, focus intently on opponents, and avoid any inclination to tilt.

If everybody played this way all the time, then poker would be a much more difficult game. Realistically, though, you and every other player will have down moments at the table.

Poker is a mentally draining game and can also be frustrating, too. If you’re at the table for hours and experience a couple of poker bad beats, then you could devolve into your C-game.

In most circumstances, it may not be possible to maintain your poker A-game 100% of the time. The hope, though, is to stay in this mindset as much as possible.

Unfortunately, you can’t always maintain your top form naturally. Instead, you need to make a concentrated effort at playing your best.

How Can You Get Into Your A-Game?

Big Group of People Around Poker Table, Casino Colored Chips Icon in Corner
Many professional athletes talk about being “in the zone” when they’re playing at peak performance and everything is going right. Your poker A-game is essentially the same thing.

However, unlike being in the zone in an athletic sport, you can work to maintain your poker A-game on a more consistent basis. You don’t need to rely on subconsciously shooting a basketball perfectly, for example, to get into the poker zone.

Poker is a mind sport. If you come into each session properly prepared, then you have a strong chance of bringing your A-game to the table. The only question is, how do you do this?

At a very basic level, you need to know proper strategy. When you learn the fundamentals, you have a stronger chance at elevating your play.

Luckily, you can learn through a large number of methods. Articles, books, coaching, training videos, and poker Twitch streams are all available in great abundance.

Another aspect that’ll help you maintain your poker A-game is to eliminate leaks from your play. Leaks are consistent mistakes that cost you money over time.

When you consciously work to get rid of these problems, you can play better poker on a regular basis. That said, you should analyze your play after each session and figure out what you could have done better in tough situations.

Finally, you should look to play against tougher competition at your given stakes. I’m not saying you should always seek out skilled grinders, because you make money by being at tables with worse players.

However, you’ll be more into a game and concentrate better when you know the competition is tough. At this point, you’ll be properly motivated to take your skills to the next level.

Dan “Jungleman” Cates, one of the world’s best high-stakes poker players, once struggled to master online $0.50/$1 No Limit Texas hold’em games.

He changed his fortunes by applying “reverse game selection,” where one seeks out the toughest competition at their stakes. After doing this, he set on the path to becoming one of the best poker players ever.

Your A-game is likely nowhere near Cates’ peak. But the key is to bring out the best in yourself from time to time, even if you’re only playing micro-stakes poker.

Tips for Prolonging Your A-Game

Again, you can’t expect to play at your peak level during every minute of every session. But you can maintain your poker A-game more often by using the following tips.

1 – Get Enough Sleep

Time Clock with Sleep Z's Coming From ClockI’m sure that you know sleep is important to perform your best every day. But do you get enough?

If you’re like many adults, you probably forego sleep so you can get more done during the day. But skipping out on sleep isn’t going to help your poker skills. In fact, it will make things much tougher on you.

You should be logging at least seven hours of sleep per night in order to play your best.

You may need even more rest after a lengthy session so that you can come back refreshed the next day.

2 – Maintain a Healthy Diet

Laptop Computer on Desk, Office Supplies Spread Out, Green Apple on Laptop, Poker Game on Computer Screen
Poker is a sedentary game that can involve long hours. If you’re highly focused on becoming a better player, chances are you have less time to prepare healthy meals.

But taking just 20 to 30 minutes per day to make healthy food can have a huge effect on your poker game. According to research, a good diet helps you focus better and have more mental energy.

In contrast, surviving on fast food and energy drinks is a recipe for disaster. You’ll experience more crashes and mental fog at the poker table as a result.

3 – Slowly Increase Your Playing Volume

Purple Bar Graph with Green Arrow on Top Leading to Top Increased BarYou may dream of playing 10 hours of winning poker per day. At the right stakes, this volume can make you a lot of money.

However, you don’t want to force going from 300 hands per day to 3,000. Otherwise, you’ll be more likely to make mistakes and this quick jump certainly won’t help you maintain your poker a-game.

A better approach is to gradually increase the volume of hands you play each day.

You can set short-term goals, such as playing 100 extra hands each day for an entire week (e.g. increase from 300 to 400).

4 – Eliminate Distractions

Caution Sign Displaying No Cell Phone Zone in Red and WhiteYou can’t play your best poker when constantly talking to friends and/or scrolling through your phone every few seconds. Instead, you have to reduce the number of distractions around you.

Regardless of whether you’re in a land-based casino or playing on an online casino at home, turn your phone off during a session. You should only check your phone during short breaks.

Unfortunately, some elements will be out of your hands in a casino setting. For example, you can’t turn off annoying players at the table.

But you can do plenty to control your setting at home. You should block out anything that doesn’t have to do with poker before playing online.

5 – Consider Meditating

Guy Meditating Sitting Down Outdoors, Poker Icons Floating in Circle Leading to Man in Zen
Many people stereotype meditation as a simple means of calming oneself. However, it has more benefits than just developing a calming presence.

It can also help you ignore distractions and have a longer attention span. The more you meditate, the better you’ll be able to focus during a poker session.

Plenty of pros have adopted this practice. Therefore, you should consider trying meditation at least once or twice to see if it helps your game.

6 – Have an Adequate Bankroll

Colored Casino Chips Stacked, Hundred Dollar Bills Rolled Up with Band on Top of ChipsYou can’t play your best poker if you’re worried about being on your last bullet. Having an adequate bankroll management plan for your given stakes can ease your mind.

The size of the bankroll you need depends upon what stakes you’re playing. You should have at least 25 cash-game buy-ins and 75-125 tournament buy-ins.

If you’re playing $1/$2 NL hold’em, for example, then you need at least $5,000 (2 x 100 x 25). This amount gives you a better opportunity of surviving downswings.

The discrepancy in tourney buy-ins is based on whether you’re playing large or small multi-table tournaments (MTTs). You need more buy-ins for larger MTTs, because they involve more variance.

Make Your A-Game Better Over Time

Your A-game can only go so far as an amateur player. You should strive to boost your poker performance by continually learning strategy and bettering your skills.

As discussed before, the basics are a great place to begin. I personally recommend watching training videos and/or pro players’ Twitch streams.

The only downside to training videos is that you have to pay $30 (or so) per month as a subscription fee. But you may find it worth joining a training site for a few months to learn various concepts.

Guy Sitting in Desk with Laptop, Laptop Displaying Poker Game with Twitch Logo Over ScreenThe nice thing about learning poker strategy through Twitch streams is that they’re completely free. You can look over a pro’s shoulder while they play online sessions and get into their mindset.

Strategy articles are yet another great source for tips. These are excellent resources if you’re a beginner who’s looking to develop a solid strategy foundation.

Of course, becoming a better poker player doesn’t stop with simply learning strategy. You also want to analyze your sessions after the fact and constantly observe opponents.

With enough time and experience, you’ll notice patterns on how opponents handle given situations. You can then take advantage of these patterns and win on a more-consistent basis.


One of your biggest poker goals should be to maintain your poker A-game in every session. After all, your A-game represents the peak of your current poker skills.

Of course, accomplishing this feat is easier said than done. You can’t just expect to naturally play your best every single time out.

Instead, you should make a concentrated effort to be prepared before each session. Your sleep, diet, playing volume, environment, and bankroll all have an impact in this matter.

Some of these aspects are part of a healthy lifestyle anyway. You should strive to get quality sleep and maintain a good diet aside from poker.

Other factors relate specifically to the game itself. These include steadily increasing your playing volume, setting up a distraction-free area at home, and having an adequate bankroll.

You might also consider adding meditation to your daily activities. Meditating can gradually increase your attention span over time.

You may not always maintain your poker A-game in every moment. But you’ll have a better chance at doing so by following the tips in this post.

Who’s Who at the Craps Table

Craps Table Layout in Background, Casino Staff Group Up Close, Pair of White Casino Dice
A craps table in a casino is always run by several employees. Unlike other table games, which usually have a single dealer who runs every aspect of the game, craps has multiple employees at each table.

And each of those employees has a different function.

One of the nice things about craps is that most of the employees running the craps game are rooting for you to win. After all, they rely on tips for a high percentage of their income. Also, most craps players make tips in the form of bets for the staff, which means they have a vested interest in each roll of the dice.

This doesn’t mean they do anything to change the odds in your favor. It’s just good for morale, so to speak.

If you’re wanting to play a game of craps, you should know who’s who at the craps table. Once you’ve read this post, you’ll know just that.

The Craps Dealers

Three Craps Dealer at Craps Table, Yellow Numbers Marking Three Dealers
Every craps dealer in the casino has four dealers, but you’ll never see more than three of them at the table at a time. One of them is always on break. These dealers move around the table and take on different positions based on what’s going on.

One of the craps dealers will be “on the stick,” and the other two dealers will be standing on opposite sides of the craps table. These two craps dealers are said to be “on base.”

The dealers at the table should be easy to spot because casinos require them to wear a uniform. Usually, this uniform consists of black and white pants and a white shirt.

The rest of this post looks at what each dealer does during the game, starting with the “stickman.”

The Stickman

This is the craps dealer that’s “on the stick.” You’ll know which one he is because he’s literally holding a stick. He uses that stick to gather the dice after someone shoots.

The stickman is in charge of the proposition bets at the table.

I’ll get into some details about the prop bets soon, but for now, just know that any bet the stickman wants you to make has lousy odds. You should stay away from it.

So, what do I mean when I say he’s “in charge” of this?

It means that he takes the losing proposition bets off the table.

Stacks of Casino Chips, Pair of Red Dice, Craps StickHe also instructs the standing dealers about paying you off when, and if, you win a proposition bet.

The ceremonies surrounding the dice are important, too, and the stickman plays an important role here.

Usually, there’s a tray with six or eight dice in it. The stickman’s in charge of this tray. When it’s time for a shooter to roll the dice, the stickman shoves the tray toward the shooter so he can pick his dice. Once the dice are chosen, the stickman uses his stick to pull the tray back to him.

Finally, it’s the stickman’s job to announce the results.

He’s usually quite the colorful salesman, too, sounding more like a carnival barker than a casino employee.

At any reputable land based casino, the stickman does a good job of stimulating the action with his ongoing patter.

The Standing Dealers

Craps Table Game at Casino with Two Yellow Arrows Pointing to Standing Craps Dealers
The other two dealers are called “the standing dealers.” They handle the players by exchanging chips for the players’ cash. The boxman is involved in this process, too. He’s the only seated casino employee at the craps table.

The boxman always counts the money and gives the chips to the standing dealers to give to the players.

Casino chips usually come in the following denominations at the craps table:

  • $1
  • $5
  • $25
  • $100
  • $500

If you want to make a bet for less than a dollar, or if your payout includes an amount lower than a dollar, the casino just uses a normal coin or multiple coins for that amount.

You can change the denomination of your chips during the game by asking the standing dealers to change colors. Different chips are of different colors.

You will NEVER put anything in a dealer’s hand, and the dealer will NEVER put anything in your hand. This is a measure that’s meant to prevent collusion between the dealers and the players. (I almost hate using that word; thanks politics.)

You’ll put your cash on the table. When you get chips, they’re put on the table, too.

Betting and Getting Paid Off

Casino Craps Game Being Played, Dealer Reaching to Place Bet, Stacks of Colored Casino Chips
The most important thing going on at the table, besides the shooting of the dice, is the placing and paying off of the bets. The dealers have a lot to do with both aspects of the game. In some cases, you can just place your own bets, but some craps bets must be placed for you by one of the dealers.

If it’s a bet that the dealer needs to place for you, you put your chips on the table and tell the dealer which bet you’re placing. If it’s a self-service bet, you put the chips in the appropriate location on the table.

When a resolution of a dice roll happens, the payouts are made by the dealer – just as the dealer picks up any losing bets. Losing bets are normally picked up before winning bets get paid off, as a matter of procedure.

The two standing dealers are on opposite ends of the table for a simple reason: One handles the players at one end of the table, and the other handles the players at the other end of the table.

You’ll usually see between a dozen to 20 players at a craps table, which means each dealer is handling between six to 12 players at a time.

Pay attention to what’s going on, though, because even experienced craps dealers are human and sometimes make mistakes. These mistakes aren’t always in your favor, either.

Don’t be shy about correcting their errors if they’re not in your favor.

Different people have different opinions about correcting the dealer if he makes a mistake in your favor. I agree with Frank Scoblete on this point, even though I disagree with him on many other points.

If the casino makes a mistake in your favor, it’s better to let it slide and keep the money. You’re not obligated to look out for the casino. Your job is to look out for yourself.

The Buck

Craps Table Layout in Background, Casino Craps Marker Disk, On on White Icon, Off on Black Icon
The dealer is also supposed to place the buck in the appropriate spot.

What’s the buck?

It’s a round disk with two distinct sides of two different colors.

One side of the buck indicates that the point hasn’t been set yet. The casino turns it over once it has. They turn it back over once the shooter makes the point or sevens out.

The Boxman and the Floorman

The boxman isn’t really a craps dealer. He’s more like the banker in Monopoly. He doesn’t even wear the same uniform. He keeps an eye on the chips belonging to the casino, and he oversees the dealers’ payouts to make sure they’re correct. His role is to stay quiet and keep an eye on business.

The floorman is the supervisor for the entire craps pit.

A craps pit is made up of four craps tables, and the area inside those four tables is called the pit.

Depending on how busy the craps tables are, there might be more floormen than just one.

The floorman reports to the pit boss, who’s another supervisor working in the pit.

The Proposition Bets and the Mouthy Stickman

Silhouette of Man Shouting, Craps Stick in BackgroundThe stickman is basically in charge of the rhythm of the game, and his main job is to get players to consider the prop bets on the table.

The problem with all these prop bets is that they heavily favor the casino.

It might be that these bets are cheap to make. You might only need to bet $1.

But when the casino house edge is so high on such a bet, it becomes easy to lose a lot of money fast.

The difference between the odds of winning a bet and the payout odds is where the house gets its edge.

For Example:
If you have a bet with 35 to 1 odds of winning, but it only pays off at 30 to 1, the casino has a huge edge.

Your best move at the craps table is to stick with the most basic of bets – pass, don’t pass, come, don’t come, and the free odds bets.


That’s basically everything you need to know about who’s who at the craps table.

This post assumes that you already know a few things about the game, but if you don’t, check out some of the other posts about craps on our site.

5 Slot Machine Rules and Strategies Most Players Don’t Know About

Row of Casino Slot Machines Background Image, Slot Reels Displaying 7, Jackpot Logo, Icon of Yellow Lightbulb
When playing slots, there are no decisions to make after the reels start spinning. Without these human elements to worry about, the rules of slots are simple enough on the surface — put some money in the machine, press the “SPIN” button, and wait to see what happens.

In reality, though, you’ll notice that the modern slots you can play have evolved from the old 3-reel “spin and stare” dynamic.

Today’s slots use advanced video technology to shower players with an endless stream of graphics, animations, and sound effects. These modern slots have been designed to offer side-screen bonus games, free spins, scatter pays, wild symbols, and even skill-based elements like target shooting, memorization, and trivia.

When you throw in payline counts that can run from one to 100, a new payout format that ups your “ways to win” to 243 or 1,024, and topline progressive jackpots that require a precise wager amount to be triggered, it turns out slot players have a lot on their plate.

With so many rules to factor in, successful players try to apply certain slot strategies to give themselves a fighting chance against the house.

The idea of slot strategy might sound like a misnomer, but only when you don’t have a good grasp on the game’s nuances.

To help you navigate the maze of rules and strategies needed to thrive as a modern slot enthusiast, check out the list below for a bunch of slots strategies that most players don’t know much about.

1 – Betting the Maximum Number of Coins Is Always the Best Approach

Take a look down below at the Wheel of Fortune slot machine from IGT and pay close attention to the placard below the wheel and jackpot amount display.

Up Close View of Wheel of Fortune Slot Machine Placard

As you can see, this version of the wildly popular Wheel of Fortune game distinguishes between “1st Coin Winners” and “2nd Coin Winners.”

On the left, as you’re reading the paytable, notice how the 1st Coin Winner table offers a top payout of $10,000 if you land three Wheel of Fortune logo symbols. That’s a pretty sweet return on a $5 per spin bet, which is this particular machine’s coin denomination.

But over to the right, those 2nd Coin Winners score much more than 10 dimes — they trigger Wheel of Fortune’s famous progressive jackpot.

At the time this photo was taken, IGT’s $5 Wheel jackpot kitty had climbed to $3,070,893 and change.

That massive haul clocks in at 307 times what you’d win for a single coin wager, and all you have to do to earn it is bet a second $5 coin.

Reels on Wheel of Fortune Casino Slot MachineAnd I do mean “have to” because even when you line up three Wheel logos perfectly to trigger the jackpot, you can’t collect the seven-figure payday unless a max bet was in play.

On a $5 machine reading “Play 2 Credits” like the one in the photo, a max bet obviously comes to $10. Other versions of the Wheel of Fortune game read “Play 3 Credits” instead, but no matter how many credits the max bet comes to, just multiply that number by the coin denomination to figure out your per-spin cost.

Betting the max on today’s top-rated online slots is also the only way to activate the game’s full complement of bonus features, including side-screen games, prize multipliers, free spin rounds, and stacked or wild symbols.

Without these features in play, you’ll be spinning with one hand tied behind your back, as the game’s payback percentage plummets without all of those additional ways to win.

And on a final note, don’t let that $5 -> $10 example scare you off the max-betting path. You can always find the same game using a lower coin denomination nearby, and online slots make it easy to toggle between bet sizes with a few mouse clicks. You can bet pennies, nickels, quarters, or dollars. Just make sure you’re always multiplying that coin denomination by the machine’s max bet to unlock the biggest jackpots and best bonus features.

2 – You Can Track Progressive Jackpots to Ensure You’re Always Playing for Max Value

Casino Slot Machine, Gold Coins Falling Into Pile Behind Slot MachineSpeaking of the Wheel of Fortune progressive jackpot, the top prize amount is seeded with a different starting amount — based on coin denomination — right after a lucky winner cashes in.

For the $0.25 machines, that starting seed is $200,000, and players must max-bet three coins ($0.75) to be eligible. The starting seed climbs to $1 million on both $1 and $5 machines, which both require a two-coin max bet.

But check out the list below, which highlights the most recent Wheel of Fortune jackpots at the quarter stakes, and see if you notice a curious disparity in payout amounts.

Recent Wheel of Forture Jackpots (Quarter Stakes)
2/22/2019 McCarran Airport $485,673.54
1/22/2019 Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino $262,696.85
1/15/2019 Excalibur Hotel and Casino $406,718.17
12/14/2018 Cosmopolitan Hotel & Casino $1,023,743.22
9/21/2018 Palazzo Hotel & Casino $374,769.07
9/3/2018 Green Valley Ranch Casino & Hotel $294,780.30
8/25/2018 Harrah’s Las Vegas $254,347.80
8/19/2018 Rio Hotel & Casino $265,866.77

As you can see, four of the eight jackpots topped out under $300,000, while two climbed a bit higher to between $370,000 and $485,000.

But on Christmas Eve of last year, one lucky winner walked away with a hair over $1 million — all on a $0.75 wager.

That juiced-up jackpot of more than five times the seed amount was only made possible because of a long gap in between wins. It took more than three months after the $374,000 was hit before a Wheel machine at the Cosmopolitan casino triggered the jackpot.

Conversely, the player who scooped a jackpot only a week after the Excalibur paid out $406,718 on January 15 “only” received $262,696.

Think about it like this: one jackpot winner earned more than $800,000 over the seed amount, while another had to settle for a premium of just $62,000.

If you want to give your progressive slot spins as much earning power as possible, use the handy Nevada jackpot tracker above to see exactly how much time has passed — and how much money has been added — between jackpots. When you see a game that hasn’t hit in a good long while, target those machines until they finally hit.

This strategy is especially effective because, at a certain interval of multiples over the seed amount, an extremely high jackpot reward actually increases the game’s overall payback percentage.

3 – Shopping Around for Venues Offering the Highest Possible Payback Percentage

Woman Playing Slot Machine in Casino, Yellow Cycling Arrows in Circle, RTP Text in Green
As for those payback percentages, the internet makes it possible to Google many popular casino games, including slots, to find out their exact rate.

You might see this figure expressed as the Return to Player rate, or RTP for short.

Simply put, the higher payback percentage a slot game offers, the more bang for your gambling buck you’ll receive over the long run.

After all, would you rather play a NetEnt slot like Devil’s Delight with its 97.6% payback or another NetEnt product called Mega Joker, which offers only 76.9% payback?

4 – All Paylines Need to Be Played for You to Enjoy Every Bonus Feature…

This is a variation on the max-bet rule, but whenever you’re playing a slot with multiple paylines, never risk a single cent without activating every last one of them.

Slot Machine Screen with 10 Paylines, Bonus Text in Green on Top of ScreenOn a 10-payline game like Big Bang, for example, the interface will allow you to choose just a single payline by default. Thus, a $0.10 coin denomination would put a dime on that payline, and that payline only, for each spin.

But with 10 paylines on the screen, every spin you make will produce winning combinations that don’t produce a payout.

That’s because these combos land along one of those nine paylines you neglected to activate.

Only by turning on all 10 paylines, which ups the ante to $1.00 at the dime stakes ($0.10 x 10), can you collect on every winner the reels produce.

5 – …Unless You’re Playing a “Ways to Win” Model Like Aristocrat’s Reel Power

With that said, a version of slot gameplay known as “ways to win” removes the concept of paylines from the equation.

The most well-known “ways to win” slot brand is Reel Power, which was designed by leading software provider Aristocrat to provide 243 unique ways to win.

Reel Power slots, which can also offer 1,024 ways to win, use the following relationship between credits wagered and ways to win:

Ways to Win on Reel Power Slots
1 Reel 1 Credit 3 Ways
2 Reels  3 Credits 9 Ways
3 Reels 7 Credits 27 Ways
4 Reels 15 Credits 81 Ways
5 Reels 25 Credits 243 Ways


Slot machines might not be known for their rules and strategies, but that doesn’t mean sharp players shouldn’t know them well.

By working within all the rules and exploiting their associated loopholes, the best slot players turn every spin into the most advantageous play possible for that particular game or machine.

And by applying sound strategies whenever the opportunity presents itself, successful slot spinners never back a bad bet when a better option is on the board.

4 Craps Facts You Probably Don’t Know About

Craps Table, Craps Facts Red Text, Hand Holding Magnifying Glass Over Text, Pair of Red Dice

Walk through any major casino resort, and the center of attention will usually be the craps table.

The classic dice game is played with more enthusiasm and excitement than any other game on the floor because it’s one of the only casino gambles to bring the entire table together.

Most gamblers playing craps end up going for the same bet, which means the whole table wins or loses together.

This communal spirit of cooperative gambling is unique to craps and forms the basis for the game’s greatest appeal — camaraderie. When the shooter is on their game and point numbers are being punched out left and right, everybody ringing the craps table enjoys the experience together.

Colored Casino Chips Stacked and ScatteredIt’s no wonder craps remains one of the most frequented table games among tourists and gambling experts alike. Additionally, the game’s base structure actually forms one of the most reasonable gambles in the casino.

By exercising discipline and sound strategy, players can stretch a basic $100 buy-in over hours of play while enjoying the potential for huge profits to boot.

Indeed, craps is a casino staple for many reasons. But craps still has plenty of facts waiting to be discovered by curious players.

Don’t take my word for it, though. Read on to learn about four amazing craps facts that nobody tells you about.

1 – Craps Offers Some of the Best – and Worst – Bets in Any Table Game

If you ask around with a diverse group of gamblers, you’ll probably hear two prevailing opinions on the merits of craps:

“Only tourists and suckers roll dice. Craps is a money pit defined by longshot bets and losses that pile up in a hurry.”

“I love craps because it’s such a sensible game. I only need three basic bets, and my average house edge falls under 1%… It’s a beautiful thing.”

The biggest secret about craps is that both of these players are technically correct. This game is all about perspective.

Check out the table below to see how many of the most common craps bets stack up, both in terms of payout and casino house edge.

Payouts and House Edge Rates for Common Craps Bets
Odds -4, 10 2 to 1 0.00%
Odds -5, 9 3 to 2 0.00%
Odds -6, 8 6 to 5 0.00%
Don’t Pass/Don’t Come 1 to 1 1.36%
Pass/Come 1 to 1 1.41%
Place 6, 8 7 to 6 1.52%
Field (3:1 on 12) 1 to 1 2.78%
Place 5, 9 7 to 5 4.00%

Place (2:1 on 12) 1 to 1 5.56%
Place 4, 10 9 to 5 6.67%
Big 6, 8 1 to 1 9.09%
Hard 6, 8 9 to 1 9.09%
Any Craps 7 to 1 11.11%
Hard 4, 10 7 to 1 11.11%
Hi-Lo (2 or 12) 15 to 1 11.11%
3; Yo-leven (11); Easy Hops 15 to 1 11.11%
2; 12; Hard Hops 30 to 1 13.89%
Any Seven 4 to 1 16.67%

As you can see, craps bets fall into two distinct camps, which I’ve highlighted using an underline above.

In the first camp, you’ll find the game’s two even-money base bets — the Pass Line (1.41% house edge) and the Don’t Pass Line (1.36%). You also have the Odds bet, a follow-up wager that can only be placed after you take one of the base bets and a point number is established by the shooter.

The Odds is so named because it pays off at true odds — or the exact odds that match each number’s probability of landing.

Whenever true odds are paid, the house holds a null house edge of 0.00%, putting the Odds bets in craps among the very best any casino player can face.

House Icon Representing Casino House Edge, Speech Bubble with Percent Symbol InsidePlayers looking to have a little fun on the post-point rolls can also opt for a Place bet on 6 and/or 8 for 1.52% house edge. And even the Field (3 to 1 payout on 12) bet is decent at 2.78%, while the Place on 5 and/or 9 is reasonable at 4.00%.

On the other hand, all of the more well-known craps wagers — the Hard 8s, Yo-levens, and other exotics — are terrible in terms of the odds. You might have a chance to win 15 to 1 on your money backing the Hi-Lo (2 or 12) bet, but the 11.11% house edge makes it worse than most penny slot machines.

Knowing the best bets in craps is an essential skill, and that’s a task made much easier when you learn the secrets found in the table above.

2 – There’s an Easy Way to Score More Than the Maximum Odds

Because the Odds bet offers the house no edge at all, casinos tend to cap these wagers with a limit of 5x your original bet.

A few casinos in Vegas — the Cromwell and Casino Royale — still use the old 100x odds, but the standard today is a 5x limit.

But in a certain scenario known as “breakage,” you can bet more than those 5x odds on the 6 or 8.

Here’s how it works.

Craps Table Layout, Green and Yellow 25 Casino Chip, Green and Yellow 5 Casino Chip

With a $5 Pass Line bet and $25 on the Odds for a point number of 5 or 9, the casino has to pay you 3 to 2 true odds when the point is hit again. However, in this case, 3 to 2 odds on a $25 wager comes to a $37.50 payout.

Craps tables don’t bother with quarters or half-dollars, though, so the house would be forced to round up or down. Neither option is attractive. The house never likes paying more than it needs to, while paying less violates gaming regulations, so many casinos use the breakage rule, allowing players to bet $30 on the Odds to create an even $45 payout.

3 – An Atlantic City Gambler Set the World Record for Longest Roll

Patricia Demauro prefers to play the slots, but in May of 2009, the New Jersey native took $100 to a craps table in Atlantic City’s Borgata casino.

What happened next made gambling history.

Guinness World Record LogoDemauro started her roll at 8:13 p.m. local time and set a point number of 8. Over the next 4 hours and 18 minutes, Demauro could do no wrong, hitting 25 point numbers in all before she finally sevened out.

Her continuous craps session lasted for 154 consecutive rolls without a seven out, smashing the old Guinness Book of Records mark of 3 hours and 6 minutes set by Stanley Fujitake in 1989.

4 – Fujitake and His Fellow Golden Arms Meet Every Year to Test Their Rolling Skills

After establishing the first documented craps world record with 118 consecutive rolls, Fujitake was minted as Las Vegas royalty.

The California casino in Downtown Las Vegas parlayed the feat into a running promotion by crowning Fujitake as a “Golden Arm.” That honor was reserved for any player who rolled for one hour straight without sevening out, and eventually, the club grew to include a few dozen so-called “dice controllers” who still meet up every year at the California.

Whether players like Fujitake, Richard Favela, and their fellow Golden Arms can successfully use dice control is a matter of debate.

If you’re in Downtown Vegas looking to play craps in April, head to the California to check in with the most prestigious private club in all of craps.


Craps is such a complex and layered gambling game that it’s no surprise to see it holds many facts that most players don’t know about. From the mathematical underpinnings that offer players a double-edged sword to world-record rolls that beat 1 in a trillion odds to a close-knit club of craps legends convening every year in Sin City, this casino classic definitely deserves the title.

6 Amazing Blackjack Secrets No One Tells You About

Blackjack Table Faded Into Background, Blackjack Cards Spread Out Behind Icon with Woman Whispering to Man, Blackjack Secrets Text
Out of all the casino games ever invented, blackjack might just offer the deepest well of instructional material from which players can study.

Basic strategy charts can be bought for a few bucks in any casino gift shop, and tons of experts have written books covering multiple aspects of blackjack strategy.

With such a wealth of knowledge already available to the gambling public, what secrets could blackjack possibly still hold?

Well, if you’re like the vast majority of recreational casino game players out there, blackjack has plenty of secrets up its proverbial sleeve. While most players can recite rules of the road like “always split aces and 8s” or “double down on every 11,” blackjack’s configurable rules and evolution throughout history combine to create one of the most complex casino games ever devised.

Don’t take my word for it, though; just take a look at the list of six amazing blackjack secrets nobody tells you about to see for yourself.

1 – Card Counting Isn’t Really a Crime

Ever since Edward Thorp’s seminal studies were published within “Beat the Dealer,” sharp gamblers have known that tracking exposed cards throughout a blackjack session lends the player a distinct advantage.

Thorp’s method of “counting” the cards was codified in the Ten Count system, and over five decades since, dozens of different alternatives have been devised. Of course, casinos aren’t known for spreading action that allows the player to enjoy any sort of edge, so they soon responded with countermeasures designed to eradicate counters.

Those responses included a ban on mid-deck entry and multiple-deck shoes, which force counters to wade through hundreds of cards rather than the standard 52-card arrangement.

But even as these wrinkles in the rules worked wonders in discouraging recreational players from counting, a few experts still used their memory and math skills to terrorize the tables.

One of those experts was Ken Uston, a legendary advantage play gambler who fought valiantly to preserve the rights of card counters everywhere during the 1980s.

Illustration of Three Supreme Court Judges on Stand, Middle Judge Holding Gavel, Casino Spade Icons

After suffering massive losses to Uston and his team of card counters, Atlantic City casinos owned by Resorts International elected to nip the problem in the bud by banning the advantage players altogether. Uston appealed his ban to the New Jersey Casino Control Commission (NJCCC), and the subsequent case — Uston v. Resorts International Hotel Inc., 445 A.2d 370 (N.J. 1982) — wound up reaching the New Jersey Supreme Court.

After examining the Garden State’s gambling regulations, along with Uston’s conduct, the Court issued a decisive 5-0 ruling defending his right to count cards. The following is a direct quote from the court proceeding:

“In sum, absent a valid Commission regulation excluding card counters, respondent Uston will be free to employ his card-counting strategy at Resorts’ blackjack tables.

There is currently no Commission rule banning Uston, and Resorts has no authority to exclude him for card counting. However, it is not clear whether the Commission would have adopted regulations involving card counters had it known that Resorts could not exclude Uston.

The Court therefore continues the temporary order banning Uston from Resorts’ blackjack tables for 90 days from the date of this opinion. After that time, respondent is free to play blackjack at Resorts’ casino absent a valid Commission rule excluding him.”

Uston wasn’t surprised, though, as he had previously told People magazine that advantage play was a Constitutionally protected right.

“Barring me for winning is like the major leagues saying they won’t play ball with anyone but minor league players.

Somebody has got to show these guys that it’s not unconstitutional to win.”

The precedent established by Uston’s quest remains in place today, so while casinos can “frown” on counting cards, they can’t ban players or withhold winnings.

2 – Single-Deck Blackjack Isn’t Extinct

Welcome to Las Vegas Sign, Two Blackjack Cards, Green Background
If you prefer to play blackjack the old-fashioned way, using a single deck of 52 cards shuffled after every three or four hands, modern progress hasn’t been your friend.

Corporate casinos with no shame about tilting the blackjack odds and house advantage even further in their favor largely rely on six- and eight-deck shoes to discourage would-be card counters. As a result, most blackjack tables in Las Vegas — or any casino industry in the country, for that matter — will use multiple-deck shoes.

But that doesn’t mean single-deck games, which offer a much lower house edge of only 0.17% for basic strategy players, have disappeared entirely.

The list below highlights Las Vegas casinos where single-deck blackjack can still be found, along with the number of tables at each venue.

Las Vegas Casinos with Single-Deck Blackjack Tables
Aliante 2
Arizona Charlie’s  1
Binion’s 1
Boulder Station 1
California 2
Casino Royale 1
El Cortez 7
Encore 3
Fiesta Rancho 1
Fremont 2
Gold Coast 2
Golden Nugget 4
Harrah’s 4
Main Street Station 2
Monte Carlo 1
Orleans 3
Palace Station 1
Red Rock 2
Sam’s Town 1
Santa Fe Station 2
Silverton 1
SLS Las Vegas 4
Treasure Island 2
Westgate 3
Wynn 2

3 – Online Blackjack Doesn’t Have to Be Digitized

By now, everybody knows you can hop on the internet and risk real money gambling via online casinos, poker rooms, and sportsbooks.

But while the bulk of these online venues transform your favorite table games into pixels and animated graphics, a few go the extra mile.

Live dealer online blackjack is an innovation pioneered by software designer Evolution Gaming.

Using a dedicated casino studio, live dealer blackjack connects players on their laptop or smartphone straight to human dealers working with genuine tables and cards.

It’s not quite the same as experiencing the sights and sounds of Sin City, but live dealer blackjack definitely beats the sterile digital alternative.

4 – Blackjack Can Be Played in Tournament Form Just Like Poker

The poker boom may have petered out a decade ago, but tournaments still captivate the average gambler’s imagination.

Believe it or not, blackjack tournaments are an increasingly popular niche that appeals to a certain subset of players.

You can see how blackjack tournaments work in the clip below from the now-defunct World Series of Blackjack (WSOP):

Once you learn the ropes, inquire with your favorite casino operator to find out if their properties run weekly or monthly blackjack tournaments.

5 – Casinos Will Gladly Teach Gamblers How to Play

If you’re not quite comfortable playing for real money just yet, don’t hesitate to take the casinos up on their offer to teach you blackjack free of charge.

The following Las Vegas casinos offer daily blackjack lessons that don’t cost a penny:

  • Circus Circus: 10:30 a.m. – Daily
  • Excalibur: 11:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. – Daily
  • Golden Nugget: 12:00 p.m. – Daily
  • Luxor: 12:00 p.m. – Daily
  • Palazzo Venetian: 11:30 a.m. – Monday through Friday

6 – Surrendering Doesn’t Have to Be a Sucker Play

Every so often, you’ll see a fellow player get the dealer’s attention, slide their cards forward, and take back half their bet.

This curious maneuver is known as the “Surrender” blackjack play, and it’s a much-maligned move amongst self-styled blackjack experts.

Here’s how it works.

Circle Icon with Red Diamond Blackjack Card and one Ace of Spades Blacjack Card Inside, Icon of Man on His Knees with Surrendering FlagWhen the dealer shows a 10-value or an ace as their up card, they’ll scan their down card to see if they have blackjack. When they don’t make a natural 21, players can let the dealer know they’d like to surrender, or forfeit the hand right then and there in exchange for exactly half of their bet being returned.

Betting $10 only to send $5 of it directly to the house without a fight puts many players off, so plenty of people have sworn surrendering off altogether.

But as you can see in the table below, which outlines win and loss probabilities when you hold a hard 15 against a 10, surrendering is actually the best option available.

Win & Loss Probabilities When Holding 15 Against 10
Stand 22.80% 77.20% $54.40
Hit 23.40% 76.60% $53.20
Surrender 50% of bet 50% of bet $50.00

Sitting on a hard 15 against a 10 is one of the worst situations in blackjack, as hitting and standing both leave little room for success. Thus, taking the path of least resistance and surrendering leads to the lowest expected loss rate.

Along with hard 15 vs. 10, you should also surrender with a hard 16* vs. 9, 10, or ace.

*Naturally, you should still split your 8-8 hard 16, as the “always split aces and 8s” rule supersedes the surrender option


Blackjack holds its best secrets close to the vest, as this list of obscure revelations makes clear. Nonetheless, once you’ve gained access to these invaluable insights, you can take your 21 game to the next level.

Loopholes in the rules, seldom used strategies, and wider knowledge of blackjack law are all essential skills wielded by experts.

Can You Beat Roulette With the “Big Number” Strategy?

Different Numbers Scattered in Background, Roulette Table Layout, Roulette Wheel, Stacked Casino Chips
Not long ago, I read an article by a famous gambling writer who suggested the “big number” strategy for the game of roulette. He had an interesting warning at the beginning of his article:

He pointed out that you couldn’t get a mathematical edge at roulette using this strategy.

But then he also said that the system was fun to play.

So far, no problem.

But then he suggested that if you combine the big number roulette strategy with his money management advice, you “might” reduce the overall negative expectation of the game.

And that’s where we run into trouble.

This is math we’re talking about, and “negative expectation” is a specific term related to the probability compared to the amount you risk and the amount you stand to win.

A strategy will either reduce the negative expectation or it won’t. There’s no “might” in math.

If you’ve read about this strategy, and even if you haven’t, here’s a post about whether you can beat roulette with the big number strategy.

What Is the Big Number Roulette Strategy and How Do You Use It?

In the original article I read, the author called the big number strategy more of a trick than an actual system. I don’t think it’s necessary to make such a distinction, but here it is for people who care:

A system is a complicated approach to a game.

A trick is a simple, fast approach to a game.

The big number trick is a strategy where you place a single number bet in roulette. That’s a bet that wins if the ball lands on the specific number you bet on, and it wins 35 to 1. If you bet $100 on a single number and hit, you win $3500.
Roulette Table and Wheel in Background, Two Rows of Digits in Green Circles, Woman with Hand on Mouth Thinking

Most roulette games have a scoreboard that displays the last 20 numbers that came up. Because of the nature of random events and standard deviation, some numbers will have hit more often than they should have.

In fact, if any number has hit more than once in the last 20 outcomes, you have a statistical anomaly. Remember, there are 38 possible numbers.

Your job with the big number strategy is to choose the number that has come up repeatedly more often than any other number. You just bet on that number.

If there’s a tie, you bet both numbers.

If another number gets hit more times than the big number, it becomes the new big number, and you start betting on it instead.

Here’s an example:

The number 7 has come up three times in the last 20 spins, but so has the number 10.

Your job is to bet on both 7 and 10 until some other number has been hit four times, or until one of those numbers gets hit a fourth time.

If 7 comes up on the next spin, you collect your winnings, but you also stop betting on the 10. It’s not the big number anymore.

The First Principle of Money Management Use in the Big Number Trick

Casino Roulette Wheel, Hundred Dollar Bills Spread Out Behind Roulette WheelYou must decide how much money you’re taking to the table with you, and then you have to decide how much you want to bet on each spin. You should think about how long you want to play when deciding this. You should also consider your overall goals for the session.

Once you’ve decided on a bet size, that’s the amount you bet on a single number.

If you have two numbers tied for a big number, you’ll bet half that amount on each – this way you’ll still only have that much in action on each spin.

Most people bet the table minimum here, but you can bet more if you like.

There’s not really a right or wrong way to size your bets in roulette. It all just depends on your goals and risk tolerance.

When Do You Stop Betting on a Number?

The author from the other article suggests that you should stop betting on a big number once it disappears from the scoreboard. He also suggests that if there aren’t any numbers that have come up more than once on the scoreboard, you wait until one has to place a bet.

I like this suggestion, actually, even though it doesn’t affect the house’s edge over you. That’s because your average hourly loss is based largely on how much you’re betting per hour. Any time you sit out for a spin of the wheel, you’ve reduced the statistical amount of money you stand to lose.

And that’s always a good thing.

Other Options Related to the Big Number Trick

Roulette Table with Multiple Players Reaching to Play, Roulette Wheel Faded in Background
Different players take different approaches to try to beat the roulette house edge and the game itself. Most of the time they try to bet against the trend.

In other words, if black has come up several times in a row, most roulette players will bet on red to try to capitalize on the likelihood that black won’t continue to come up.

The big number trick takes the opposite approach. When something has come up repeatedly, the big number player keeps betting it in the hopes that it will come up again.

In fact, you can use the big number strategy with different bets than just the single number bet. For example, you could use the big number strategy to inform you as to which outside bet to place.

The outside bets hit more often, which can make this strategy more interesting if you get bored losing all the time. The house still has the same mathematical edge, but you’ll win more often.

The only thing is that the size of your winnings will be smaller. The outside bets either pay even money or 2 to 1 odds.

All the Numbers Have Specific Characteristics

Take the number 26, for example. It has specific characteristics you can bet on.

For one thing, it’s an even number. If it’s come up twice in the last 20 spins, you could bet that the next spin will land on even.

For another thing, it’s also a black number. You could bet on even AND on black.

It’s also in the top third of the numbers (24 through 36), which is another bet you could place.

You could, theoretically, place the following bets:

  1. Even (pays off at even money)
  2. Black (also pays off at even money)
  3. Top third (pays off at 2 to 1)
  4. Single number bet (pays off 35 to 1)

If you hit the 26, you’ll win all four bets. But even if you miss the 26 – which, let’s face it, will be most of the time – you still have plenty of opportunities to win at least a little something.

The Problems With This Strategy

The first problem with this strategy is one that most of my readers are already familiar with. It’s called the Gambler’s Fallacy.

This is the belief that previous results affect future results in some way.

The probability of a number hitting on the roulette wheel is easy to calculate regardless of the situation. You have 38 possible outcomes, and only one of them is that number.

That makes the probability 1/38, or 37 to 1.

This probability doesn’t change based on what happened on any of the 20 previous spins of the wheel.

There are still 38 possible outcomes, and only one of them is the specified number.

How the House Gets Its Edge and Why the Big Number Strategy Doesn’t Beat It

Money Bills Wallpaper, Faded Roulette Table and Wheel
The house edge in roulette comes from the difference between the payout odds and the odds of winning.

The odds of winning a single number bet are always 37 to 1. That doesn’t change based on what happened previously.

The payout odds are 35 to 1.

If you make 38 spins and see statistically perfect results, you’ll lose two units net, assuming you bet the same amount each time.

Over 38 spins, that’s 5.26% of each bet (on average).

That number does not and cannot change just because a number has come up previously.

It also doesn’t change because of any kind of money management techniques. You’ll find plenty of advice about when to quit like when you’ve won a specific amount, when you’ve lost a specific amount, etc.

But none of that changes the house edge, either.

If you play long enough, you’ll lose an average of 5.26% of the money you’ve bet, period.


And so, here’s my conclusion:

Yes, you can beat roulette with the big number strategy.

But if you do, it’s just dumb luck. Playing with this strategy isn’t superior to any other way to play roulette, but it’s worth a shot.

Why Twitch Is So Great for Learning Poker Strategy

Background Image of Live Twitch Poker Stream, Twitch Streaming Logo, Circles with Poker Initials
The poker world is filled with plenty of popular strategy resources. These include articles, books, coaching, heads-up displays (HUDs), and training videos.

Twitch, and live streaming in general, entered the fray in the mid-2010s. Many people have since discovered that Twitch is one of the best ways to learn poker strategy.

But what is it that makes Twitch such a good strategy tool to use for your next game of poker? You can find out as I discuss everything it has to offer in terms of pro players and content.

Twitch Allows You to Look Over a Pro’s Shoulder

Twitch started out as Justin.tv, a platform for people to stream their video game play through. The service has since branched out to other areas, including everything from cooking to talk shows.

Poker players have also found Twitch to be extremely useful for live streaming their sessions. Professionals can now broadcast their sessions via this service. Many amateurs tune in to watch pro players in hopes of improving their own games.

You can see how a grinder handles certain situations through Twitch, whether they’re 3-betting or folding. They often explain why they make certain moves, which gives you a better understanding of their mindset.

You can also ask them questions via the chat box, which creates an interactive element. They’ll normally respond when they get a chance.

Hundreds of poker pros now use Twitch on either a regular or semi-regular basis. Some of these players stand out among others, due to their high skill level and consistent streaming. Here are a few of the most popular poker Twitch streamers.

Jason Somerville (Run It Up TV)

Photo of Twitch Poker Player Jason SomervilleJason Somerville is the most successful poker streamer to date. He began his channel under his nickname, “JCarver,” before changing it to Run It Up TV.

The WSOP champ now has over 250,000 subscribers, a number that continues to grow every month. Somerville gives players an opportunity to play against him through Run It Up home games.

Jaime Staples (PokerStaples)

Photo of Twitch Poker Player Jaime StaplesJaime Staples has managed to garner well over 100,000 subscribers for his channel. He boasts nearly 300 videos and is one of the most active streamers.

The Canadian poker pro gained further fame for his channel when he won a $150,000 weight-loss bet with Bill Perkins. That said, Staples knows how to keep things interesting, whether he’s playing poker or making big prop bets.

Randy Lew (nanonoko)

Photo Twitch Poker Player Randy LewRandy “nanonoko” Lew is famous for his insane multi-tabling abilities. Therefore, many viewers like seeing the method to his madness through Twitch.

Lew doesn’t log as much volume as he used to. But nanonoko still plays up to 20 tables simultaneously, showing the skills that helped him set a world record with 14,500 hands in eight hours.

Lex Veldhuis (LexVeldhuis)

Photo of Twitch Poker Player Lex VeldhuisGiven that it’s both a popular video gaming and poker platform, Twitch was made for Lex Veldhuis. The Dutch poker pro started out as a StarCraft pro before turning to poker in the early 2000s.

He’s since found a great deal of success in both live tournaments and online cash games. Veldhuis streams his online tourney and cash sessions full-time, meaning he’s easy to catch on Twitch.

Parker Talbot (TonkaaaaP)

Photo of Twitch Poker Player Parker TalbotParker Talbot is no doubt one of the best online poker players who also streams his sessions. He’s earned over $3 million in profits from online cash games and continues to be a profitable player today.

Winning isn’t the only thing that makes TonkaaaaP popular. He’s also quite colorful during his sessions. Some players may not like his animated style, but Talbot has close to 100,000 subscribers, so he must be doing something right.

Enjoy the Entertainment Aspect While Learning

Watching poker pros through Twitch isn’t just about learning strategy. It’s also a fun way to study the game while being entertained at the same time.

The best Twitch streamers are not only good at poker but also at entertaining their audiences. They can explain strategy without being too dry and have interesting stories to tell.

You simply can’t get the same entertainment aspect when studying poker strategy through other means, such as articles, books, and training videos.

I’m not saying that Twitch poker streamers are exciting 100% of the time. But they offer an enjoyable alternative to learning strategy through other means.

Some even put themselves through difficult challenges in order to spice things up. For example, Arlie Shaban once streamed for 1,000 hours total in 25 days. Watching somebody in the midst of one of these challenges makes the experience even more entertaining.

Engage With the Streamers

Live Poker Twitch Stream by Lex Veldhuis
You can’t just walk up to poker pros and start asking them a bunch of questions without invading their personal space. Twitch, however, gives you the opportunity to chat with them in an appropriate arena.

Engaging with the pros is easy. You begin by creating a Twitch account and watching an active stream.

You’ll then be able to type questions/comments to the pro in the chat box. Poker streamers run on a delay ranging from 3 to 10 minutes, but they’ll likely get around to answering you at some point.

The only thing you need to worry about is asking relevant questions. As long as everything you’re saying is appropriate and relates to poker, then you have a good chance of interacting with pros.

You should actually push yourself to engage with them as much as possible. The goal is to get the most out of each Twitch session as you can.

You won’t get a lengthy one-on-one with the pro in question. But you might spark up a conversation between the other rail birds.

The best conversations lead to a strategy discussion that can help improve all of your games. This aspect also creates a sense of community, where players help each other.

Of course, you do want to use some discretion during this process. Not everybody who comments on hands knows what they’re talking about.

Furthermore, you also have to be aware that the pro will mainly be concentrating on their play. They don’t have time to give you an expert coaching lesson during the session.

A good way to get around this problem is by waiting until they’re done playing and have more time to address everybody. You can then shoot them questions about previous hands, and they’ll have more time to compose their thoughts/comments.

Learning Poker Strategy Through Twitch Is Free

Some methods for improving at poker cost money, including books, coaching, and training sites. The cost for books and training isn’t usually very expensive, but these options still cost money, nonetheless.

Coaching can be very expensive depending upon which pro you’re learning from. You’ll end up spending hundreds of dollars per hour to learn from the best.

Twitch Streaming Chat Icon, Text Reading Free Inside Purple Sticker IconTwitch, on the other hand, is completely free. You only have to spend your time to watch experienced pros grind online.

Of course, some Twitch content is only available through subscription. For example, you might have to spend $5 or $10 to watch a specific segment of a pro’s session.

But Twitch offers so much free poker content that you don’t necessarily have to pay for a subscription to anything. The pros already make money by sharing in advertising revenue with the site.

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Twitch Streams

You don’t need any specific plan of attack when watching Twitch streams. Instead, you can simply choose some well-known pros and check out their streams to pick up tips.

But you can learn so much more from Twitch by going in with a smart plan. Here are some tips for how you can get the most out of watching other poker players’ livestreams.

Watch a Variety of Successful Players

Every poker pro has their specific strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, you want to watch multiple successful players to get a full range of tips and advice.

Some pros are really good at preflop play, while others are excellent at post-flop decisions.

Watching more than one player helps you get different ideas for how to handle each situation.

You especially want to differentiate between players who specialize in cash games, sit and go’s, and multi-table tournaments. While pros are usually good at all of these mediums, they likely excel at one type of poker over the others.

Take Notes

Black Composition Notebook with Twitch Logo, PencilYou can pick up lots of tips just by intently watching poker pros on Twitch. However, you’re likely to forget much of what you learned over time.

Rather than simply viewing these streams, you should take notes and be more active when learning strategy. Notes serve as perfect references for remembering what you’ve learned weeks or months down the road.

For example, you might see a pro make an excellent check-raise on the turn. You can then jot down each scenario and the explanation behind their decision. Even if you eventually become a pro poker player, there are some tips you just won’t want to forget.

Check Out the VODs

Twitch livestreams give you an opportunity to interact with a poker pro. You can therefore ask questions and make comments in the moment.

However, you don’t have to catch streams live. Many pros make their content available through video on demand (VOD).

VODs allow you to watch streams that have already played.

The advantage to doing so is that you can skip irrelevant or boring parts and go straight to the good stuff.

These replays are also excellent for when you want to re-watch a specific hand or series of hands. It’s easier to take notes when you’re able to view the same content as many times as necessary.

Be Entertained – But Also Serious

I’ve mentioned several times how Twitch offers an entertaining way to study poker strategy. You can see how pros play the game and even interact with them and other viewers.

Guy Sitting at Desk with Computer On, Thought Bubble with Poker Cards and Casino Chips InsideBut your sole focus shouldn’t be the entertainment aspect. You also need to keep a serious mindset about the matter.

Don’t just mindlessly watch a Twitch stream while casually observing how pros play. Instead, you should think about every hand analytically and what you would do in each situation.

Get the Most Out of Your Time

Twitch features so many different poker streamers that you could literally spend all day on this site. Of course, you eventually need to play yourself and put what you’ve learned into practice.

Therefore, you can’t spend all day watching others play poker and expect to improve.

You instead want to make good use of your time and learn as much as you can within 1-3 hours.

Everything from taking notes to looking at hands analytically will help you get the most out of your time. You may even want to limit yourself to a specific amount of time while watching Twitch. Doing so creates a greater sense of urgency and helps you pay closer attention.


You can learn poker strategy through plenty of means, but you should definitely consider dedicating the bulk of your time to learning through Twitch.

This livestreaming service offers a number of advantages over other methods of studying poker strategy. First off, you can learn how to play better by watching real pros.

Many professional players now stream their sessions via Twitch. Their content is free and doesn’t require a subscription in the majority of cases.

Learning poker through Twitch is also more entertaining than other methods. Livestreaming gives pros a chance to tell stories and thoroughly explain their decisions. In cases like Parker Talbot, they can even showcase their colorful personalities.

You also have an opportunity to engage with the pros while they’re streaming. Just type questions and comments in the chat box and wait for their response.

Yet one more advantage is the fact that Twitch is free. You don’t have to spend anything to watch these pros, unless you feel like paying for the occasional subscription content.

You’ll pick up plenty of tips just by watching professionals through Twitch. However, you should go the extra mile to ensure that you get the absolute most out of your learning sessions.

Watching a variety of pros, taking notes, and checking out VODs are all ways to improve. You also want to take a serious mindset into each session, rather than viewing livestreams solely for entertainment.

I’m not saying that other poker strategy methods like articles, books, and training videos don’t have their usefulness too. But you should strongly consider at least trying Twitch if you haven’t done so already.