If you’re new to gambling, you might be wondering what the best gambling game to play is if you want to win money.
I’d love to give a single, definitive answer. But the truth is, it depends on you, your temperament, your willingness to develop skills, and what’s available in your area.
In this guide to determining the best gambling games to play, I’ll offer multiple recommendations about which gambling games you should choose if you want to win money.
I will also offer some tips on how to beat the odds.
For a Small Winning Session, Try the Martingale System at a Roulette Table
You can’t win money using the Martingale System in the long run, but if you want a good shot at a quick, hit-and-run win, this is a surprisingly good strategy. In fact, if you keep your playing session to less than an hour, you have probably an 80% chance of walking away a small winner.
The other 20% of the time, though, you’ll lose enough to make up for all those winning sessions and then some. And there’s no way to predict when that one losing session will happen during five gambling sessions.
The Martingale system is easy to implement. Just choose one of the even money bets at the roulette table. You can bet on red (or black). You can also bet on high (or low) or odd (or even).
Each of those bets has a slightly less than 50% probability of winning, around 47%.
If you lose, double the size of your last bet. If you win on this subsequent bet, you’ll win back what you lost before, AND you’ll show a profit. If you lose twice in a row, double your bet again.
Eventually, you’ll hit a big losing streak because the odds are against you. But, most of the time, you’ll see a small profit in the short run.
If You Want to Win Money Long-Term, Try Blackjack
Blackjack is easy to play and has some of the best odds in the house. Most experts measure a casino game’s odds by the game’s house edge, the statistical amount of money the casino expects to win over time when you play that game. The house edge is based on the difference between the odds of winning and the payout odds for the game.
The house edge is always expressed as a percentage. In roulette, the house edge is 5.26%, which means the casino expects to win $5.26 for every $100 the players bet over time.
Real money blackjack has a house edge of less than 1%. With the right rules in place, that number drops below 0.5%. There’s a catch, though.
Blackjack is a game of skill, and to achieve that low house edge, you must play according to basic strategy. That’s just a shorthand way of saying “the mathematically optimal decision in every situation.” It’s easier to memorize basic strategy than most people think.
Once you’ve accomplished that, you can learn how to count cards and play with an edge over the house. Most people don’t get rich counting cards, but it can happen. It requires effort, persistence, and smarts, though.
If You Want to Have Fun With a Great Chance of Winning, Try Craps
A lot of new gamblers are intimidated by craps, but that’s mostly because they just haven’t learned how to play yet. You can find several good tutorials about how to play craps online (including the one on this site).
What I want to talk about here is how to improve your chances of seeing some big winnings at the craps table.
This advice might be counterintuitive, but my suggestion is to avoid the bets with the biggest payouts and stick with the bets with a money payout that’s close to even.
Unlike most table games in the casino, the various craps bets don’t have the same house edge. The bets with the biggest payouts have the highest mathematical edge to the casino.
The exception is the odds bet. But even with the odds bet, the biggest payout is 2 to 1. The probability of winning the pass line (or the don’t pass) bet in craps is close to 50%.
The probability is lower for the odds bet, but the payoff is proportionate. In fact, the house edge for the odds bet in craps is exactly zero.
So, if you want to have some exciting fun with a great chance of walking away a winner, try the craps game. You’ll probably enjoy the camaraderie and esprit de corps at the craps table, too.
If You Want the Chance to Win a Lot of Money From a Single Bet, Try Slot Machines
Slot machines usually have the biggest payout when you’re betting, with the top jackpot on most games offering a 1,000 for 1 payoff. Progressive slots have even higher payouts.
The problem is that the odds of winning that payoff are usually small, and the house edge on every slot machine I’ve ever played was absurdly high.
If you’re going to play slots for real money and want the best chance of going home a winner, try the most boring slot machine games first. This means trying the games with three reels and a single payline. It also includes games with a flat-top jackpot.
If you’re absolutely devoted to winning a life-changing jackpot, go ahead and play the progressive jackpot games.
Just rest assured that you’re probably going to lose a lot of money and never hit that jackpot. You might as well be playing the lottery, really.
If You Like Table Games and Want to Book a Big Win, Try Parlaying Your Bets
I read an article once where the author suggested that the odds of winning a lot of money are a lot bigger if you parlay your bets one after another when compared with just playing a slot machine game with a big jackpot.
Here’s an example of how that would work.
You go to the casino with the goal of winning $1,000. You sit down at the roulette table, and you bet $5 on black. You win. You let your winnings ride and bet $10 on black, and you win again.
How many bets would you need to win in a row to reach your $1,000 goal?
You’d only need to win eight bets in a row to achieve your goal.
Yes, the probability of winning eight bets in a row is low, but you’re talking about turning $5 into $1,000. If anyone knew how to do that 50% of the time, we’d all be rich.
Learn How to Play Poker Like Texas Holdem
One of the great things about real money online poker, especially Texas holdem, is that it’s a game of skill. You’re not competing against a house with an immutable house edge. You’re competing against other players, most of whom are making constant mistakes.
This process starts, I think, with understanding Sklansky’s Fundamental Theorem of Poker, which states:
Every time you play a hand differently from the way you would have played it if you could see all your opponents’ cards, they gain; and every time you play your hand the same way you would have played it if you could see all their cards, they lose. Conversely, every time opponents play their hands differently from the way they would have if they could see all your cards, you gain; and every time they play their hands the same way they would have played if they could see all your cards, you lose.
You might think this means you should bluff with every weak hand, hoping your opponents will fold, but that’s folly.
Also, not only do you need to be good enough to beat the other players, you need to be good enough to beat the other players by a big enough margin that you can overcome the rake. That’s the 5% charge that the casino takes out of every pot.
Without the rake, poker would be a break-even game for the average player, as long as he stuck with playing with other average players.
Learn How to Bet on Sports Like a Professional
I’ve made my share of sports bets, but I’m not what you’d call an expert. Still, I do understand the most important aspect of betting on sports with a goal of winning, though…
The biggest mistake most people make in sports betting is having “skin in the game.” In other words, you won’t be able to accurately gauge your edge when betting on the Dallas Cowboys if you’re a big Cowboys fan.
But you can’t just be right 51% of the time and win big money betting on sports. Just like poker has a rake, sports betting has a vig, which basically represents the book’s edge against the player.
Usually, this works by asking the bettor to risk $110 to win $100 on a 50% proposition. The way it’s expressed varies from sport to sport and bet to bet, but the book always puts that little edge in there for itself.
For you to win, you need to be able to get the odds right more often than the sportsbook and win 53% (or more) of your bets.
Those are the best gambling games to play if you want to win money. If you just want to get into action and have money to burn, you can play whatever your heart desires.
But if your goal is to win, look closer at your goals and make appropriate decisions based on that.