What are casino gambling tricks, anyway?
I’ve seen the word “trick” defined as a cunning feat of skill.
What kinds of cunning feats of skill can anyone perform in a casino?
Here are 7 casino gambling tricks that you can pull off regardless of your skill level.
Enjoy the Free Drinks
I usually tell new gamblers to avoid the free drinks, but if you’re comfortable with your levels of self-control, enjoying free drinks can be a profitable trick to use in the casino.
The trick is to gamble as little as possible in exchange for the free drinks.
Casinos make their money based on how much money you risk per hour. That’s an easy calculation to make – you just multiply the number of bets you average per hour by the average size of each of your best.
For example, if you’re an average real money slots player, you might risk $3 per spin and make 500 spins per hour. This means you’re putting $1500 per hour into action.
Depending on the casino’s mathematical edge, they might predict that you’ll lose $75/hour on that kind of action – on average in the long run.
Here’s where the trick comes in:
You should stick with games that have a low house edge, and you should also do everything you can to make fewer bets per hour – everything short of slowing down the game for the other gamblers. Spending a lot of time laboring over a decision on a blackjack hand is just going to upset the other gamblers at the table, and you don’t want to do that.
Play Low Limit Table Games
One of the best ways to minimize the amount of money you lose at the casino is to stick with the low limit table games with the lowest house edge. This usually means finding a casino that offers $5 per hand blackjack with reasonable rules.
If you’re at a $5 blackjack table with several other players, you might get 50 hands per hour. At $5 per hand, that’s $250 per hour you’re putting into action.
If you master basic blackjack strategy – the mathematically optimal way of playing every blackjack hand – your house edge is only 1% or less. (This assumes you avoid the 6/5 blackjack tables, of course.)
1% of $250 is only $2.50.
Would you rather be the gambler losing $75/hour mindlessly spinning the reels on a slot machine, or the blackjack player losing $2.50/hour playing a game where your decisions matter?
The choice seems clear enough to me, but your idea of fun might differ from mine.
Get More Comps for Your Action Than Other Gamblers
If you get a chance to, read a book called Comp City by Max Rubin. It’s dated in some ways, but the principles behind his trickery still apply today.
The idea is that you can become something called a “comp wizard” – a gambler who gets more than his fair share of casino comps through various techniques that he explains in the book.
One of those techniques is as simple as being bold enough to ask for and negotiate for free stuff from the casino.
Some of the other techniques are more involved than that, but here’s a hint:
If you master basic strategy, though, you can get that number down to between 0.25% and 1%.
If the casino calculates your comps based on their projects of 4%, you’re going to see more in comps than you’ve “earned.”
And that’s a trick worth learning.
Take Advantage of Online Casino Bonuses
I have a good friend who once bought himself a jukebox by aggressively taking advantage of the biggest online casino bonuses he could get his hands on. This, of course, was 15 years ago – before the casinos started tightening up the terms and conditions surrounding their bonus offers.
He would make the deposit, claim the bonus, gamble just enough to clear the wagering requirements, and cash out with his profits.
In those days, you could do this and see a positive mathematical expectation.
Now, though, online casinos have raised their wagering requirements and limited the number of games that count toward their wagering requirements that it’s become next to impossible to show a profit after claiming a casino bonus.
That’s okay, though, because sometimes you’ll still get lucky.
After all, if you deposit $200 at a casino and get a $400 bonus, you get that many more opportunities to hit some kind of slot machine jackpot.
And the variance is high enough in slot machines that this can be a significant amount of money.
If nothing else, you get 3 times as much action for your money, which isn’t a bad deal, either.
The Maximum Boldness Gambling Technique
My favorite show-off technique is to go into the casino with a big wad of cash – maybe $500 – and bet it all on a single bet that has a close to 50% probability of paying off. Roulette is the best game for a maximum boldness strategy.
You have a 47.37% probability of doubling your money. If you’re with a date and want to impress her, this could be one way to do it. She’ll admire your chutzpah if you lose, and she’ll be impressed if you win.
I took my dad to Reno 20 years ago and used this technique to impress him. I was up about $50 at the video poker games, and I told my dad, “Watch this.”
We walked over to the roulette table, and I put $50 on black. Dad shook his head, but I won $50 and walked out of the casino with $100 in winnings for the night.
This trick only has one problem:
Most of the time it doesn’t work.
But most of the time, in this case, is only barely most of the time – 52.63%
Go With the Low Volatility Bets
Even money bets when playing roulette is a good example of a low volatility bet. If you look at a graph of your wins and losses at the roulette table, the curve will be gently downward over time – at least if you stick with the outside bets, especially the even money bets.
You’ll see wins almost half the time, and you’ll see losses a little more than half the time. Your bankroll will increase by one or decrease by one with each win or loss.
These are examples of low volatility bets.
The house edge doesn’t necessarily change just because you switch from a high volatility bet to a low volatility bet.
It’s just a gentler way to gamble.
Hit the Craps Table Hard
Okay, so learning how to play craps isn’t much of a trick. Give me 5 or 10 minutes in person, and I can teach you to play craps better than almost any gambler in the casino.
The trick is realizing that the best bets in craps are the easiest bets to make.
The trick to playing craps like a gambler who knows what he’s doing is to stick with the following five bets:
- Don’t Pass
- Don’t Come
- Free Odds
The pass bet and the come bet are essentially the same bet, as are the don’t pass and don’t come bets. These are just bets on whether the shooter is going to “succeed” or not.
The free odds bet is a bet you can only place after the shooter sets a point, but the brilliant thing about the odds bet is that it has no house edge at all.
It pays off at the same odds you have of winning, so it’s a break-even proposition in the long run.
It’s one of the only bets in the casino where the casino doesn’t have a mathematical edge, so every penny you can put down on the odds bet is a penny well-spent.
(The only other bet in the casino with no house edge is the double up bet in some video poker games, where you get to double your winnings if you guess right about whether the next card will be red or black. Not all casinos have this option on their video poker games.)
I don’t have any magical tricks to offer you that will eliminate the casino’s mathematical edge. The tricks I’ve offered in this post just allow you to have more fun at the casino for your money.
That’s a worthwhile trick in itself.