The art and science of gambling don’t differ very much. Art is more about the style of game play and science is more about the mechanics.
When you break casino games down into their basic rules a few common factors stand out. They’re all designed to give the house an edge in the long run. They all pay back less than players wager overall.
And the riskier your betting becomes the less likely you’ll win.
With these thoughts in mind, here are 7 proven ways to gamble strategically in any casino.
1 – Separate the Wheat from the Chaff
Everyone grows bored with their favorite game. There come times during long evenings when we need breaks.
If craps is your game but you want to spend time socializing with friends or family on the slot machines, change your betting habits.
Instead of going for the max just make minimum bets while you chat. You may hit the jackpot and wish you had bet max, but if slots are your game then strategy is more wishful thinking than reality.
If you want enough money that you don’t mind frittering away a couple hundred dollars then play a few games you don’t know well.
Otherwise limit your aggressive betting to the game you prefer most. That is the one you’re more likely to learn inside out. That is the game you care the most about.
2 – Play 2 Games at Once
This borrows a page from the book of slot gaming but it’s a strategy for games like craps and roulette.
The idea is to divide your stake into two wallets. The first wallet is for basic game strategy. Bet the max for your budget on outside bets in roulette. Bet your personal max on Pass or Don’t Pass and Come or Don’t Come.
The second wallet is for the riskier bets. In roulette these are the inside bets like street bets (3 numbers in the same row), split bets, or corner bets.
Riskier bets pay higher odds but have less chance of success. Those higher payout odds give you a little bit of wiggle room for spreading your coverage but you need to do the math.
The duo game strategy keeps you in play without risking all your money on a single betting system. It’s a diversity strategy.
3 – Step Down Your Bets
Regardless of what game you play, there is always a range of allowed bets. You have the most flexibility on table games but even slot machines usually have at least 3 wager levels.
This strategy is based on the assumption that making a few large bets is better for you than making a lot of small bets.
Large bets multiply whatever prizes you win and if your goal is to win, say, $1000 you’ll get there sooner with large bets than with small bets. The advantage of making large bets is all in the goal you set. You must stop playing to realize that advantage.
Casinos count on you to keep playing. If you do that with large bets then you’re nullifying your advantage. If you don’t have a specific goal in mind then you’ll keep trying to win more.
And that is where the casino has you. The longer you play the more you’ll lose than win regardless of how much you bet per game.
And this is why the Step Down strategy helps some players. You gradually wean yourself off the large bet. When you’ve finally made the table minimum bet you should walk away.
This strategy doesn’t guarantee you anything except that you’ll eventually stop making bets. Stopping is the hardest part of gambling.
Players who win big on their early bets will save more money by stepping down the wager amounts on each successive game. You’ll still win some nice prizes along the way but this strategy protects you against long streaks of bad luck.
4 – Only Play Low Volatility Games
Gamblers often use variance and volatility interchangeably, although most writers distinguish between the two words in some way.
A simple way of describing variance is to say that it covers the full range of scores a game can produce. A simple way of describing volatility is to say that it represents how often positive (winning) scores in a game occur (within a given timeframe according to some writers).
Sports and casino writers have borrowed these words from the world of statistics and probability.
A low volatility game is expected to pay prizes more often than a high volatility game in an average gaming session.
A low variance game is expected to pay fewer large prizes than a high variance game in an average gaming session.
Gambling experts usually say slot games have higher variances than card games like baccarat, blackjack, and poker. Players can affect the volatility of blackjack and poker through the decisions they make, but that flexibility is limited by the basic probabilities of both games.
You can vary how much you bet in any game. Hence, if you want to make larger wagers you’re better off playing low volatility games because your wagers will provide a better return in the long run.
5 – Get all the Free Practice Time You Need
Before we had free online gambling and gambling game CDs the only ways to practice for the casino were to find neighborhood games or spend a lot of time in casinos.
These were expensive ways to practice gambling.
Whether your game is craps or roulette, the more you practice and study the game the better you become at playing it. Although gambling is based on unknown outcomes these are still games. They have rules.
When you’re standing at the tables in the casino the excitement may overcome a minimal preparedness.
You want your instincts to take over as soon as you start playing the game. Ask for the chips you need and start laying the bets you want to play.
If you see a new game you’d like to try wait until you can play the game for free. It’s not like the games are going away any time soon. Time is on your side when you use it properly.
6 – Switch to Tournament Play
If you’re good enough to win then you’re good enough to compete in tournaments. Tournament play is a new level of challenge. You’ll find some people reaching for the stars too soon but you’ll meet a lot of players with knowledge and experience.
Start with smaller, less well-publicized tournaments. The idea is to build up your experience and your competitive strategies. When you have a strong track record start looking for sponsors.
The smart thing about sponsored play is that you’re no longer risking only your money. With enough sponsors you won’t risk any money.
The downside to sponsored gambling is you must your backers on a percentage basis. If they fund 100% of your gaming then you must negotiate terms that allow you to keep some of your winnings.
7 – Always Play the Lowest House Odds
In blackjack you should never make a decision without looking at the dealer’s up card. And in every other kind of game where player decisions affect the outcome of the game, you should always look at the consequences of what you’re doing.
The casino is counting on you to improve its chances of winning by making mistakes. Even though experts say you shouldn’t play the slots, most people do. So if you’re going to play the slots you should only play games with the highest return to player.
I won’t play a game that doesn’t tell me what the RTP is. And I don’t settle for a machine that only says “this game has a 1 in 4.5 chance of paying a prize”. I want to know if that is a 92% RTP “1 in 4.5 chance” or a 97% RTP “1 In 4.5 chance”.
In blackjack you improve the house’s edge by taking side bets, splitting when you shouldn’t, and doubling down when the dealer has a face up card. I know some people double down if they have 11 against a face card but that’s still taking on extra risk.
Keep your bets simple in roulette and craps. The higher payout odds bets are exciting because they are less likely to go your way. Victory is so much sweeter when it’s harder fought, but leave the hard-won battles to games of skill.
And throwing the dice across a table is not a skill in my book.
There are strategies for nearly every type of casino game. Learning the best strategies for those games is the most important step to take in your gaming career.
But take a step back and look at the bigger picture. There are so many lessons to be learned that help you with all games. Gambling may be all about taking risks but choose your risks carefully.
You can’t guarantee when you’ll win but we can guarantee the casino wins more often than anyone else in the game. They don’t need our help with that.
Make good choices and enjoy the sweet success of living wisely.