The casino holds an advantage in nearly every game that they offer. This is exactly why casinos from Las Vegas to America have gotten bigger and more lavish over the years.
You may feel that your only chance of winning is to get lucky. However, some games actually offer you a chance to make guaranteed profits through advantage play (AP).
This guide discusses several casino games that you can beat with the proper knowledge and skill. It also covers what techniques you can use to win in each game.
I’ll start with the most-famous advantage gambling method of all time: card counting. You can count cards in blackjack and make solid profits.
Many movies and TV shows have portrayed blackjack card counting as a get-rich-quick scheme. In reality, it requires a lot more patience than most AP methods.
Even as an expert counter, you can only look forward to between a 1% and 1.5% advantage. Therefore, you need a combination of the right game, in-depth knowledge, and a large bankroll.
Learning card counting is actually fairly easy. You simply need to track cards that come out of the shoe and assign them specific values.
The values and card groupings vary based on which system you’re using. Here are examples using the popular Hi-Lo system:
- 2 through 6 = +1
- 7 through 9 = 0
- A through 10 = -1
You want to count until determining a positive count. At this point, you can raise your bets to take advantage of the situation.
Counting cards involves a few more intricacies that you must know to master the strategy. You can read more about using the Hi-Lo to the fullest here.
Blackjack is also susceptible to two other AP strategies in shuffle tracking and hole carding. I’ll discuss the later more under the Mississippi stud and three-card poker sections.
As for shuffle tracking, it provides an added layer on top of card counting. It calls on you to begin counting cards like normal until the shoe is shuffled.
At this point, you’ll be able to determine whether the dealt or undealt section of the shoe has a positive count. Here’s an example:
- The croupier deals six out of eight shoes.
- You have a -2 count by the time the shoe is shuffles.
- This means that the last two decks have a +2 count.
Seeing as how you’ve now located the positive portion of the shoe, you want to track these cards through the shuffle. Assuming you visually track the different positive card clumps, you can raise your bets as they’re coming out of the shoe.
Shuffle tracking is a lot more difficult than card counting alone. But it can give you a larger advantage ranging around 5%.
Caribbean stud is mainly known for its large jackpots and god-awful house edge (5.22%). However, it also gives you an opportunity to make profits through collusion.
The first step you must take when colluding in Caribbean stud involves getting a team of seven players. A seven-player team is the only way that you can swing the odds in your favor.
With a full table working together and executing perfect strategy, you can gain a 2.38% edge over the casino. Sit down to the table with just six players, though, and you’ll be facing a 0.4% house edge at best.
The basic jest is to discreetly/silently share how many aces, kings, and cards that match dealers upcard (a.k.a. matches) your team collectively holds. You then need to use this information properly to gain an advantage.
Writing in his book Beyond Counting, James Grosjean proposes that you use the MAK system. MAK stands for matches (M), aces (A), and kings (K).
Here’s what you do in various situations with MAK when colluding:
- If M equals 0: you only make the raise bet when holding a higher pair than the dealer’s upcard.
- If M equals 3 and A + K is 7 or 8: you should raise no matter what.
Mississippi stud is similar to three-card poker and Caribbean stud in that it sees you compete against the casino rather than other players. Your goal is to use your two hole cards and three community cards to form a qualifying hand.
Here’s the Mississippi stud pay table:
- Royal flush – 500:1 payout
- Straight flush – 100:1
- Four of a kind – 40:1
- Full house – 10:1
- Flush – 6:1
- Straight – 4:1
- Three of a kind – 3:1
- Two pair – 2:1
- Pair of jacks or higher – 1:1
- Pair of 6s through 10s – Push
- Any other hand – Loss
Each round starts with you and other players making an ante bet. The dealer will then deal you two hole cards along with three face-down community cards.
At this point, you can either fold and forfeit your ante or make the third-street bet to stay in the hand. Assuming you stay in the hand, the dealer will flip over the first community card.
You can make the fourth-street bet or fold. After the dealer flips over the second community card, you can place one more wager in the fifth-street bet or fold.
The biggest problem here is that few casinos offer these games. Your best chance of finding them is in Las Vegas.
This AP technique involves trying to see hole cards when the dealer pulls them out of the shoe. You’ll rarely find a croupier who’s bad enough at their job to consistently flash card values (a.k.a. flasher).
However, flashers do exist in the gaming world. You may be able to find one if you visit enough casinos and Mississippi stud tables.
Upon locating a flasher, you want to sit at an angle that allows you to see the cards without being too obvious. Essentially, you should lean back so that your eyes are closer to the table felt, but you still look natural. If you pull this technique off, you can potentially gain over a 50% advantage.
Poker doesn’t require an AP technique to win. Instead, you just need to be better than the opponents you’re playing against on a consistent basis.
Real money Texas hold’em is the most-famous poker variation. It sees you try to form the best hand possible out of your two hole cards and five community cards.
The first step is to determine if your hand is worth playing based on your hole cards. The second step is to decipher what your opponents may hold based on their betting actions and overall profile.
Texas hold’em strategy is a complex affair that requires weeks, months, or even years to master. But assuming you do you become highly skilled at hold’em, or any other poker variation, then you can win serious money.
Three Card Poker
Three-card poker is a house-banked game that calls on you to beat the dealer. Each round starts with you placing the ante bet and receiving three hole cards.
The dealer also receives three hole cards as well. Your goal is to try and see as many of their cards as possible when deciding on the play bet (equal to ante).
You’ll have a much better chance of determining if the play bet is worthwhile with dealer hole card information. Under ideal circumstances, you’ll gain a 3.5% advantage over the house.
You’ll really benefit by seeing when the dealer doesn’t have a queen-high. Assuming you make the play bet and the dealer doesn’t at least hold a queen, then you automatically win the ante bet (play wager is a push).
Video poker is the one casino game where you don’t need to use an AP technique or beat human opponents to win. Instead, you have to find beatable variations and execute perfect strategy.
A few different video poker games offer over 100% payback, including:
- Full-pay Deuces Wild = 100.76% RTP
- Full-pay Joker Wild = 100.65%
- Double Bonus = 100.17%
- Double Double Bonus = 100.07%
Secondly, you’re not going to get rich or even make a decent living through the best video poker games. Even with a full-pay Deuces Wild game, you can only hope to earn between $8 and $10 an hour.
Nevertheless, video poker is still a valid way to make profits if you find the right game. You will, of course, need to perfect your strategy for any given variation that you play.
The casino may seem unbeatable in the long run. However, you can clearly see that there are several games that can be beaten.
Blackjack card counting is the easiest and most-popular way of gaining an advantage, but it only gives you a 1.5% edge at best. You may consider hole carding or shuffle tracking instead when playing blackjack.
Mississippi stud presents the most-attractive target. Through hole carding, you can gain over a 50% edge when seeing all three hole cards.
Of course, you may have your mind set on beating another game besides Mississippi stud or blackjack. You can use this guide to plan which game you’d like to attack.