7 Sucker Bets Most Gamblers Make

Casino Craps Table, Red Dice, Man With Hand Over Face Disappointed
No one likes to be a sucker. Yet the casino industry thrives on players making sucker bets. The problem is that most players don’t know which bets are sucker bets and which ones offer a fairer proposition.

I’ve put together a list of the seven sucker bets that are the most common in casinos. While I don’t spend much time in this article explaining the best bets in the casino, I do include a short list of the best games you can play in the conclusion section.

1 – Insurance

One of the most common bets that blackjack players make that can be considered a sucker bet is insurance. When the dealer has an ace as their up card they offer insurance to all of the players. Insurance pays 2 to 1 and you can bet up to half the value of your bet on your hand.

If you bet $20 on your hand and the dealer has an ace showing, you can make a $10 insurance bet, which is also called even money by some dealers and players, and if the dealer has a natural blackjack you lose your original $20 wager and win $20 on the insurance bet. This means that when the dealer has a natural blackjack you break even on the hand.

But when the dealer doesn’t have a blackjack you lose the insurance wager and play the original bet out. On the surface this might look like a good bet because you break even when the dealer has a natural.

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The reason why it isn’t a good bet is because it’s actually a side bet that you need to look at by itself. It really doesn’t have anything to do with your original bet.

When the dealer has an ace showing, when their down card is a ten through king they have a blackjack. With any other down card they don’t have a blackjack. This is a ratio of nine cards that don’t make a blackjack to four that do, or 9 to 4. The bet only pays 2 to 1, which is worse than 9 to 4. This means that it just makes you lose more in the long run. So, blackjack insurance betting is bad betting.

2 – Inside Craps Bets

Craps has three bets that offer a decent house edge. Some players argue that there are four decent craps bets based on house edge. The three best bets are the don’t pass, pass, and odds. The fourth bet that’s sometimes included is the place six and eight.

Here are the house edge numbers in these four wagers:

WAGERS HOUSE EDGE PERCENTAGE
Odds bets 0%
Don’t pass 1.36%
Pass 1.41%
Place six eight 1.52%

All of the other bets offered at the craps table have a higher house edge, with most of them between 4% and 13.9%. All of the bets other than the four mentioned above at the craps table are bad bets.

3 – Baccarat Tie Bet

When you play baccarat you have three betting options. You can bet on the banker hand, the player hand, or a tie. Both the banker and player hands have a low house edge of 1.06% and 1.24% respectively.

The tie wager has a house edge over 14%. It’s one of the worst sucker bets in the casino and you should never make it.

When you make a wager on the banker hand and win the casino charges a commission. The house edge of 1.06% is the actual edge after the commission, so it’s still the best bet.

4 – Slot Machines

This might come as a surprise because slot machines are the most popular games in the casino, but they’re also one of the worst sucker bets available. Slot machines combine two elements that are bad for gamblers.

The house edge varies from slot machine to slot machine, but almost all of them fall somewhere between 2% and 12%. This alone makes them a bad bet, but when you consider how fast you can play them it makes playing slots even worse.

Row of Slot Machines in Casino, Red Icon with Thumbs Down

Most table games play between 50 and 80 hands per hour, but you can take 600 or more spins per hour on most slot machines. The combination of a high house edge and hundreds of spins per hour drains you bankroll faster than most casino games, and reduces your chance to win any particular slots session a great deal.

If you enjoy playing slot machine based games, you’re much better off playing a video poker machine with a good pay table and a strategy card. Some video poker games have a house edge under a half percent.

5 – Poor Pay Table Video Poker

I mentioned video poker in the last section as a good alternative to slot machines. But you need to find machines with good pay tables and use good strategy. You can’t use strategy to lower the house edge on slot machines, but every video poker machines let’s you use strategy to play with a lower edge.

Playing a video poker machine without a good pay table and strategy card is just as bad as playing slot machines. Bad video poker pay tables have a house edge running from 2% to over 5%.

My favorite video poker game is Jacks or Better. I like it because it’s easy to play and it’s usually easy to find a machine with a good pay table.

The best pay table in most casinos for Jacks or Better is called a 9/6 and pays nine coins for a full house and six coins for a flush. Just make sure you always wager five coins to unlock the bonus when you hit a royal flush.

You can find other video poker variations with good pay tables as well. Follow the link above to see some of the best video poker pay tables in existence. The machines offering over 100% pay back are rare, but a few exist.

Remember that you need to use the best strategy in addition to finding machines with a good pay table. This is easy if you use a video poker strategy card or chart designed for the game you’re playing.

6 – American Roulette

While there are many candidates for the worst sucker bet in the casino on this page, I think that American roulette is the king. The house advantage for roulette isn’t as bad as some slot machines or keno, but the thing that makes it so bad is that many places that offer American roulette also offer European roulette.

Roulette Table Layout, American Roulette Wheel, European Roulette Wheel

The house edge on an American wheel is almost two times as much as a European wheel, so no one should ever play the American version. The easiest way to tell if a wheel is American or European is the American wheel has a double zero space and a zero space and the European wheel just has a single zero space.

Most online casinos offer both types of roulette wheels, so if you play online always pick the single zero wheel. If the casino where you play doesn’t have a European wheel, simply play somewhere else. This is true whether you play in land based casinos or online.

7 – Keno and the Lottery

Games of keno draws players in much the same way the lottery does. You can win a big prize, often $10,000 to $100,000, for a small bet. The minimum keno bet is usually $1, so it’s cheap to play. As a matter of fact, if you’re goal is to make a small bankroll last as long as possible, keno is a good option.

The thing that makes keno a sucker bet is the huge house edge. The edge varies based on how many numbers you pick and the available pay outs, but the normal keno game has a house edge over 25%. This is absolutely terrible, and only a few gambling activities are worse.

The only one that’s worse that comes immediately to mind is the lottery. While you can win millions on a bet of $2 or $3, the edge is often 40% or higher. This makes keno and the lottery sucker bets every time.

Conclusion

The gambling industry makes a great deal of profit from players making sucker bets. Now you know the worst sucker bets you can make, so you can avoid them. I offered a few pieces of advice for making bets with a lower house edge above, but here are some other options.

  • Blackjack
  • Video poker machines with good pay tables
  • Poker
  • Baccarat banker bet
  • Craps pass, don’t pass, and odds bets

You can also do a few other things to help offset the house edge like earning comps on your play. You should also always use the best available strategy on the games where strategy can alter the house edge.