How to Become an Expert at Casino Gambling

People Playing Casino Roulette, Casino Entrance Sign
You can find a lot of utter nonsense on the internet about how to become an expert at real money casino gambling. I found a page on one site with subsection titles like this:

  • How professional gamblers play roulette
  • How professional gamblers play blackjack
  • How professional gamblers play slots

If you’re completely new to casino gambling, I’ll explain why this is such utter nonsense.

You can’t play a negative expectation game as a “professional.” And no betting system or strategy will help you overcome the house edge in roulette or slots.

Blackjack, on the other hand, is another story.

Part of becoming an expert at casino gambling is recognizing which casino games can be beaten and which ones can’t.

Another part is realizing how much each casino game is going to cost you over a specific amount of time playing.

Here’s what you need to learn to become an expert at casino gambling.

The Difference Between Table Games and Gambling Machines

Starting with the basics, you can categorize casino games into two broad types:

  1. Gambling machines
  2. Table games

For the most part, table games are superior to gambling machines in almost every aspect. Below, you’ll see the main table games you need to learn to become an expert casino gambler.

  1. Blackjack
  2. Craps
  3. Roulette

The main gambling machines you need to understand can be found below.

  1. Slot machines
  2. Video poker

All casino games have a mathematical edge over the player, and I’ll cover how that works in the next section. To start, understand that you’ll lose money on casino games over time. But you’ll get more action and lose less money per hour playing table games than you will playing gambling machines.

Understand What the Casino House Edge Is and Why It Matters

Most people know that the casino makes money from the casino games, but not everyone realizes exactly how that works. You can’t call yourself an expert if you don’t understand this in some degree of detail.

The first thing to understand is the concept of odds. You can use the word “odds” to describe the probability of winning something, and you can also use the word “odds” to describe how much a bet pays off.

Odds are always representative of a ratio. When you play online roulette and bet on a single number, you have 37 to 1 odds of winning.

Wynn Casino in Las Vegas, Pile of Money

That’s because you have 38 numbers on the roulette wheel, and you’re only betting on one of them to win. You have 37 ways to lose, and you have one way to win. That bet, by the way, pays off at 35 to 1 odds.

In other words, for every dollar you risk on that bet, you get $35 in winnings when your number hits. See the difference? That difference is how the casino makes its money, and the principle is more or less the same on every game.

The odds of winning and the payout odds are NOT proportionate, which gives the casino a mathematical edge you can’t beat. That edge is represented as a percentage of each bet that you’re expected to lose on average over the long run.

In that roulette game, the house edge is 5.26%. For every $100 you put into action on the roulette wheel, you’re going to lose an average of $5.26, but only as an average over a long period of time. In the short run, of course, you’ll either lose $100 or win some multiple of $100.

How Odds Work Differently on Gambling Machines

When I describe the payout odds for roulette, I say that the bet pays off at 35 to 1. If I were describing the payout for a gambling machine, like a slot machine or a video poker game, I’d say that the bet pays off at 35 for 1.

The difference between “to” and “for” is significant.

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When you win a bet on a table game, you get your original bet back plus your winnings. But when you win a bet on a slot machine game, you sacrifice your bet “in exchange for” the amount you put into the machine.

Let’s say that you bet a dollar on a single number on roulette and get 35 to 1. You put $36 in your pocket afterward, $35 in winnings plus your initial bet of $1.

When you bet a dollar on a spin at slot machine reels and get 35 for 1, you only put $35 in your pocket afterward. You traded your $1 for $35.

The main thing about this to remember is that instead of describing a slot machine as having a house edge, you describe a slot machine as having a “payback percentage.”

But really, the payback percentage is just the house edge subtracted from 100%. A slot machine game with a payback percentage of 95% has a 5% house edge.

Understanding the Concept of Average Hourly Loss

An individual gambler might win a lot of money in the short run. A single bet on a single number at the roulette table could win the first time you place such a bet. If you walk away after that, you’re a winner.

In fact, you can lose 33 times in a row and still have a net win if you hit your number on that 34th spin of the wheel. But once you start dealing with the averages in hundreds and thousands of spins, you start dealing with an average amount lost.

Casino Roulette Wheel with Casino Chips on the Side

Anyone can estimate how much money will be lost per hour with just a little bit of knowledge and some multiplication.

The first thing you need to know is the house edge or payback percentage for the game you’re playing. The next thing you need to know is how much you’re betting on each outcome.

Finally, you should have an estimate of how many bets you’re making per hour.

Here’s an example:

This is why the casino doesn’t mind when you win at roulette. They know that’s just part of offering the game. They’re basically trading 95 cents for a dollar, repeatedly, with dozens and hundreds of customers per day.

Slot Machines Will Eat Up Your Bankroll Fast

The biggest factor in determining how much your average losses will be over time is how many bets per hour you’re making. A game of roulette with 40 spins per hour is a relatively leisurely activity compared to playing slot machines.

An average slot machine player makes 600 spins per hour. And the house edge on a slot machine is almost always at least 5%. But usually it’s more, like 8% or 10%. In some locations, the house edge on a slot machine might be as much as 25%.

Let’s assume you’ve found a slot machine with a good payback percentage of 95%, though. You’re betting $1 per spin, which is 1/10 of what you were betting at the roulette table.

But since you’re making 600 bets per hour, you’re putting $600 per hour into action. This means your expected loss is $30 instead of $21. And you know what the house edge is on a roulette game.

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You don’t usually have no idea of what the house edge is on a slot machine game. It could be as much as 25%, remember?

It might even be higher than that depending on which jurisdiction you’re playing in. States usually have laws regarding what an acceptable payback percentage is, but it’s always a number that results in a healthy profit for the casino.

So, no matter what game you play at the casino, really, all gamblers need to take in proper casino bankroll management. This way, you don’t end up going home sad because you wasted your entire casino budget.

Learning How to Play Real Money Casino Games

You might think that the most important part of becoming an expert at casino gambling is understanding how to play the games. And yes, that’s important. But it’s also not that hard, and I’ll tell you why…

Casino games are designed to be easily understood. In fact, if a game can’t be explained to a gambler in a minute or two, it doesn’t get played very often. And games that aren’t played make the casino no money.

Group of People and Casino Dealer Playing Craps

So, the casinos make it easy to learn the basics of all their games. Even craps, which is arguably the most intimidating game to play in a casino, isn’t that hard once you get the hang of the basics.

You can find tutorials about how to play all the major casino games on this site. You can also find free versions of almost every casino game you could imagine at any of the casinos recommended on this site.

Choosing the Best Bets in the Casino Instead of the Worst Bets

This is how I define being an expert casino gambler—someone who understands the risk-to-reward ratio for each casino game and chooses accordingly.

An expert casino gambler understands that the house edge when playing blackjack with real money is 0.5% if you choose the right game and play with the appropriate strategy.

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He also understands that the pass, don’t pass, come, don’t come, and odds bets at the craps tables all have a house edge of lower than 1.5%, making them some of the best bets in the casino.

AND he understands that a lot of the other craps bets have a house edge of more than 10%, making them sucker bets he’d rather avoid. And he knows that slot machines are always a lousy bet, even though they’re one of the only opportunities to win a huge jackpot in the casino.

By huge, I mean life-changing. You just can’t win a life-changing amount of money playing table games, so one of the considerations an expert casino gambler makes is what kind of outcome he’s shooting for and playing accordingly.

Conclusion

How do you become an expert casino gambler? Start by learning how the odds and payouts work for various casino games. Try playing the free versions of those games online so you’ll understand how the gameplay for each game goes.

Then, try some of the games at a real casino playing for real money. Measure how much fun you’re having versus the amount of money you expect to lose at that game. Choose your games and play accordingly.

Being an expert casino gambler doesn’t imply that you’re a professional or a card counter, although that might be your eventual goal. But plenty of recreational gamblers can also be considered expert casino gamblers with enough knowledge and practice.