Pros & Cons of High Volatility Slot Machines

Row of Casino Slot Machines, Caution Volatility Ahead Sign
Slot machines don’t pay as consistently as most casino games. Instead, your results can vary greatly from one session to the next.

Casino slots are considered volatile due to these highly diversified results. You may win a couple of big payouts one hour, then lose hundreds of dollars the next hour.

It can feel like all of these games are extremely sporadic. However, online slots differ from each other in terms of volatility too.

You may gravitate towards high-volatility slots without knowing it. These games usually have larger jackpots and more bonuses, which makes them attractive.

But you should know the pros and cons of such games before playing them. Keep reading to see the advantages and disadvantages along with more on volatility itself.

What Is Volatility in Slot Machines?

Volatility is a measurement of how much short-term results differ from a statistical mean. Results are highly volatile when they vary wildly from the average.

Mobile Slot Machine Game, Icon of Guy Balancing PercentagesRegarding slots, this term often describes how explosive results are when measured against return to player (RTP).

Here’s an example:

  • You play two different slot machines for three sessions each.
  • Slot #1 offers 95% RTP.
  • You have one great session and two terrible sessions on this game.
  • Slot #2 offers 90% RTP.
  • You have two decent sessions and one below-average sessions with this game.
  • Slot #1 appears to have the higher volatility.

Slot machines don’t pay as consistently as many other games. They offer a wide discrepancy between the top and bottom prizes.

Here’s a simple pay table to explain:

3 Vampires = 5,000 coins
3 Witches = 500 coins
3 Mummies = 100 coins
3 Werewolves = 50 coins
3 Swamp Creatures = 25 coins
3 Ghosts = 10 coins
3 Bats = 1 coin

All casinos, both brick and mortar and online casinos, would lose a fortune if this game paid as often as online blackjack, for example. After all, it offers prizes that are much larger than the average bet.

Online slots must be volatile by nature to compensate for big payouts at the top. While these varied results can be frustrating, they’re a necessary evil in order for large jackpots to exist.

High vs. Low Volatility Slots

Many gamblers commonly associate all slot machines with extreme results. This line of thinking isn’t wrong to a degree.

However, not all slots are the same with regard to volatility. Some offer more-severe winning and losing streaks than others.

Slot machines with big progressive jackpots are highly volatile. They don’t pay out as often in order to compensate for their large jackpots.

Meanwhile, slots with smaller top prizes normally have less volatility. These games can afford to pay more often, because their prize structures aren’t as extreme.

The type of volatility you prefer all depends upon your individual tastes. You may be perfectly comfortable with winning less often as long as you have a chance at a huge jackpot. Or you might prefer the consistent payouts that a low-volatility game offers.

Two Methods for Figuring Out Slots Volatility

You don’t have many options for determining volatility in online slot machines or even brick and mortar slots. In fact, there are really only two ways to figure this out:

  • Look at the help/info screen.
  • Look at the pay table.

Slot Machine Screen Showing Info Button

Some casino slots developers offer a volatility rating for their games. You simply need to visit the help/info stream to see this rating.

For Example:
Pragmatic Play uses a rating system that ranges from 1-5 lightning bolts. Five lightning bolts indicate a very volatile slot machine.

The problem, though, is that most slots don’t have such a rating. In this case, you need to go with the second option that involves looking at the pay table.

You should consider multiple factors when estimating a game’s volatility.

Here are the aspects that can indicate high variance:

  • Large jackpot
  • Multiple big non-jackpot prizes (e.g. 500 coins or more).
  • Few small prizes (e.g. 10 coins or less).
  • Three or more bonus features

A slot machine doesn’t necessarily need all of these traits to be volatile. However, 2-3 of these aspects can indicate potentially extreme results.

Using these factors to determine volatility isn’t a perfect science. However, you can improve the process by understanding how each element correlates to the industry.

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A large jackpot is generally anything worth $100,000 or above. Big progressive slot machines must pay less to account for their massive prizes.

When looking at progressive jackpots, always consider the “seed” amount rather than the current value. Developers only care about what they must seed a progressive jackpot with when setting a game’s volatility – not how much these prizes grow to.

Here’s an example:

  • Microgaming seeds Mega Moolah’s progressive jackpot at $1 million.
  • This prize grows to $10 million.
  • Microgaming only cares about the $1 million with regard to a game’s volatility.
  • The extra $9 million comes from players’ bets, rather than Microgaming’s pocket.

The number of large and small payouts is self-explanatory with regard to volatility. A game with more big payouts, versus small, can’t deliver as many low prizes.

Extra bonus features provide more chances to collect big payouts. Online slots with all of these features won’t pay as frequently.

Pros of High Volatility Slot Machines

I mentioned earlier that slots with high variance are popular among players. Their big jackpots are a huge selling point.

However, this is just one example of why volatile slot machines are worth playing. Check out all of the main benefits below.

You Can Win Big Jackpots

No other online casino and land-based game provides the chance to get rich as quickly as slot machines. Of course, you have to be playing the right slots in order to win big.

I mentioned earlier that high-volatility slots normally offer the largest jackpots. Some of these games feature prizes worth seven or even eight figures.

Megabucks, which is found in Las Vegas casinos, once paid a jackpot worth $39.7 million. It’s delivered plenty of other eight-figure prizes in its existence too.

Mega Moolah Jackpot Wheel Slot Machine Screen Microgaming’s Mega Moolah online slot has paid a jackpot worth almost $22 million. This windfall is just one of the many life-changing prizes that Mega Moolah has awarded.

Low volatility slot machines can also offer decent-sized payouts. However, they’ll never come close to the multimillion-dollar prizes that are available in games with higher volatility.

You’ll Have Access to More Bonus Features

Slot bonuses have become highly advanced over the years. Some slots now feature detailed mini games that serve as bonuses.

Here’s an example:

  • You’re playing a racing themed slot.
  • You trigger a bonus with three scatter symbols.
  • You’re taken to a second screen that features a racetrack and multiple cars.
  • You must pick one of the cars.
  • The hope is that your chosen car wins the race and offers the biggest prize.

Of course, the casino slots world is filled with plenty of other types of bonuses. Free spins, scatter payouts, click-me features, and cascading reels are just some of what’s available.

Many gamblers are initially attracted to slot machines because they want to spin the reels and win big. However, bonuses are part of what keep them coming back.

Larger Regular Wins

Jackpots get all of the attention in the slots world. However, the chances of winning these prizes are very slim.

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Large non-jackpot prizes are the most-realistic route to casino slots riches. More big payouts increases your odds of getting notable wins.

Most slots don’t offer many payouts worth 500 coins or more. But you can still find games that feature multiple bigger prizes.

Cons of Low Volatility Slot Machines

Chasing huge jackpots and triggering bonuses is exciting. But more-volatile slot machines are far from perfect.

They feature several downsides that may make you reconsider playing them. Here are the biggest drawbacks to these slot machines.

You Won’t Win as Much

Hot streaks, where you rack up plenty of small payouts in a short time span, can be almost as satisfying as hitting jackpots. Unfortunately, you won’t experience this joy much with high-volatility games.

These slots don’t pay with anywhere near the same frequency as less-volatile machines. You’ll experience more losing streaks as a result.

Slot Machine Displaying Three Skulls, Thumbs Down

It’s never fun sitting at a slot machine and losing over and over. You have to accept this scenario more frequently, though, with high-variance games.

These Slots Make Bankroll Management Harder

Bankroll management is a crucial aspect to getting more entertainment out of slot machines. Properly managing your bankroll allows you to prepare for potential losses and avoid betting too much.

But highly volatile games make this process harder. You don’t know what to expect as much, which makes it more difficult to judge the amount of funds you’ll need.

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Assuming you don’t hit a big payout, you’ll generally lose 200-300 betting units (average bet size) per slots session. More-volatile games are at the higher end of this range.

You can still make a bankroll plan for these types of casino slots. Just remember, though, that your plan has greater potential to go off track.

High Volatility Leads to High Emotions

Playing slots with extreme payout percentages can lead to a rollercoaster of emotions. One day you might win thousands of dollars, only to lose it all throughout the next few days.

Some gamblers crave these drastic emotional swings. They enjoy experiencing the highs and battling through the low points. You shouldn’t, however, play volatile casino slots if you’re not of the same mindset.

Online casinos are filled with plenty of other games that will give you thrills without causing near-panic attacks.

RTP Means Less with These Slots

Row of Slot Machines, Guy Day Dreaming of Stacks of Money
RTP is a great way to judge how much you can expect to win back from slot machines. However, it carries less short-term significance when more volatility is introduced.

Payout percentages merely indicate what a slot machine will pay over time. It’s not a good indication of what you can look forward to winning within the next few sessions.

You’ll have even less of a clue when it comes to volatile slot machines. Even if one of these games has 97% RTP, it could deliver 25% to 300% payback in the short run.

Your Bankroll Will Run Out Quicker

Most slot machines pay back between $0.92 and $0.96 on the dollar. They’re not terrible wagers on a per-bet basis.

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However, slots can quickly drain your bankroll when account for the speed of play. This fact is only truer with really volatile slot machines.

You of course still have the potential to win big and pad your bankroll. But you also have to account for the increased chance that you’ll lose everything.

Should You Play Slots with High Volatility?

Slots with greater volatility aren’t for everybody. They don’t pay often and can lead to more downswings during gambling sessions.

Row of People Playing Slot MachinesBut these slots can still be worth the headaches. Many players find them far more entertaining than slots with evener payout structures.

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Do you value the chance to win big over anything?
If so, then high-volatility games are perfect.
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Are you more interested in winning frequently and sustaining your bankroll?
Slots with wild variance aren’t for you in this case.

Weighing the pros and cons gives you a good idea on if volatile slots fit your tastes. You can’t beat the bonuses and large jackpots in terms of thrills.

But you must also be willing to put up with longer losing streaks, tougher bankroll management, and more unpredictability. As long as you’re okay with these aspects, then volatile games are a fine choice.

Conclusion

Many gamblers don’t even think about volatility before choosing a slot machine. They instead sit down to play whatever game has the most-interesting theme, best graphics, and/or biggest jackpot.

Ignoring volatility, though, can be a mistake. You want to take into account how a game’s features and payouts will affect your short-term chances of winning.

Of course, this isn’t to say that you should discount the graphics and theme. Casino slots are, after all, about the entertainment aspect before anything else.

Be aware, though, of how volatility affects your payout frequency. You’ll normally win less often with volatile games.

This scenario causes problems in terms of bankroll management and extending your slots sessions. You’ll also experience more frustration when more dry spells occur.

But again, you may be fine with these problems as long as you can win big and trigger more bonuses. It’s up to you to decide if the advantages outweigh the downsides.

The 5 Best Places to Play Video Poker When You Can’t Make it to Las Vegas

AZ, MI, MS, CT, CDN State Outline, Video Poker Machine Screen
Obviously, casino gambling enthusiasts all over the country consider Las Vegas to be their home away from home. The Strip alone is home to 30 casino resorts, spanning the spectrum from the opulence of Bellagio and Venetian to the gritty, old-school gambling halls like Casino Royale and O’Shea’s.

Branching out away from The Strip offers dozens of additional options, so its no wonder why so many video poker fans flock to Las Vegas every single year.

On the flip side though, I know many players who only make it out here once or twice a year. For them, visiting Las Vegas offers just a few days to experience the country’s best video poker options.

So what about the other 360 or so days during the year?

Hopefully folks have a quality local casino – either commercial or tribal – where they can enjoy their favorite video poker variants. And that’s a fair bet, based on the map marking casino presence in all 50 states that you can check out down below:

Map Displaying Which States Allow Gambling

As you can see, only nine states in the U.S. – Utah, Hawaii, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina, Vermont, and New Hampshire – are casino no-go zones. Las Vegas style casino resorts can be found from coast to coast, in California and New Jersey and everywhere in between.

But here’s the big question for video poker grinders – how do these non-Vegas venues compare with the real thing?

Examination of Las Vegas Casino Pay Tables for Comparison

As you well know, video poker pay tables are becoming increasingly hostile for low-stakes players. The trend definitely started in Las Vegas, where casinos aren’t shy about offering the inferior pay tables shown below for a game like Jacks or Better:

Jacks or Better Pay Table Comparison

TABLE PAYBACK
9/6 99.54 percent
9/5 98.45 percent
8/6 98.39 percent
8/5 97.30 percent
7/5 96.15 percent
6/5 95.00 percent
Unless you’re willing to bet big, you just won’t find very many of the old 9/6 full pay Jacks or Better machines in Sin City any longer.

It’s the same sorry situation for other popular versions of video poker too. As the tables below show quite clearly, any game – even the strategic gambler’s fan favorite Deuces Wild – can be turned into a money pit when the casinos start tinkering with pay tables:

Deuces Wild Pay Table Comparison

TABLE PAYBACK
25/15/9/5/3/2 100.76 percent
25/15/11/4/4/3 99.96 percent
25/16/10/4/4/3 99.73 percent
25/15/9/4/4/3 98.91 percent
20/12/10/4/4/3 97.58 percent
20/12/9/4/4/3 97.06 percent
25/16/13/4/3/2 96.77 percent
20/10/8/4/4/3 95.96 percent
25/15/10/4/3/2 94.82 percent

Double Bonus Poker Pay Table Comparison

TABLE PAYBACK
10/7 100.17 percent
9/7/5 99.11 percent
9/6/5 97.81 percent
9/6/4 96.38 percent
8/5 94.19 percent
7/5 93.11 percent

Double Double Bonus Poker Pay Table Comparison

TABLE PAYBACK
10/6 100.07 percent
9/6/4 98.98 percent
9/5 97.87 percent
8/5 96.79 percent
7/5 95.71 percent
6/5 94.66 percent

If you’re a video poker player who doesn’t get out to Las Vegas as often as you’d like, but you still want to find the best pay table options near you, look no further than the vpFREE2 database. This invaluable video poker resource allows you to search your region (just use the “FILTER” tab to get started) for every machine and pay table in the area.

I’ll let you play around with the vpFREE2 search tool on your own, but the list below has been compiled to highlight the five best video poker venues in every corner of the country. Leaving aside Nevada and its various gambling zones, vpFREE2 breaks things down into five key regions – East, Midwest, Gulf Coast, West, and Canada.

On that note, I’ll take the top contender for best video poker provider in each of the five regions.

1 – Fort McDowell Casino in Fountain Hills, Arizona

Arizona Casino Fort McDowell Casino Logo
The vpFREE2 database reveals 10 casinos in the West region where 99.9 percent payback rates can be found.

But it’s Fort McDowell that has the most, as this tribal casino located to the Northeast of Phoenix, Arizona house three variants which reach the “golden” number video poker players crave:

Fort McDowell’s Best Video Poker Options

VARIANT DENOMINATION(S) FULL PAYBACK COIN
Deuces Wild 44 99.96 percent 25¢, $1
Double Double Bonus 99.96 percent 25¢, $1
Super Aces 99.94 percent 25¢
Deuces Wild 99.81 percent $1
Double Bonus Deuces Wild 99.81 percent 25¢, $1
Triple Bonus Plus 99.80 percent $1
Not So Ugly Ducks (Deuces Wild) 99.73 percent 25¢, $1
Triple Double Bonus 99.58 percent 25¢, $1
Jacks or Better 99.54 percent $1

The centerpiece of Fort McDowell’s video poker lineup is Deuces Wild 44, which takes its name from the following pay table:

Deuces Wild 44 Pay Table

HAND PAYOUT
Natural Royal Flush 800
Four of a Kind (with 2s) 200
Royal Flush (w 2s) 25
Five of a Kind 15
Straight Flush 11
Four of a Kind 4
Full House 4
Flush 3
Straight 2
Three of a Kind 1

You’ll also find 9.6 full pay Jacks or better at the Fort, and low limits of $0.25 make the games accessible for everybody.

2 – Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan

Michigan Soaring Eagle Casino Logo
With hundreds of machines offering nine different variants – eight of which meet the minimum 99.0 percent payback rate – Soaring Eagle Casino in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan is like a little slice of Las Vegas meets Midwestern charm.

And as you can see below, this venue’s video poker lineup is top-notch:

Soaring Eagle’s Best Video Poker Options

VARIANT DENOMINATION(S) FULL PAYBACK COIN
Double Double Bonus 99.96 percent 25¢, 50¢, $1
Triple Bonus Plus 99.80 percent $1
Not So Ugly Ducks (Deuces Wild) 99.73 percent 25¢, 50¢, $1
Bonus Poker 99.66 percent 25¢, 50¢, $1
White Hot Aces 99.57 percent 25¢, 50¢, $1
Jacks or Better 99.54 percent 5¢, 25¢, 50¢, $1, $5
Pick’em (Pick a Pair) 99.24 percent 25¢, 50¢, $1
Double Bonus 99.11 percent 25¢, 50¢, $1

With coin denominations ranging from a nickel to a five-spot, nobody is left out of the premium pay table party at Soaring Eagle.

3 – Silver Slipper Casino Hotel in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

Mississippi Silver Slipper Casino Logo
Of all the casinos found in the Gulf Coast region, only the Silver Slipper in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi has four different variants offering a full pay table.

Well, the Deuces Wild game isn’t 100.76 percent payback, but the Not So Ugly Ducks version and its 99.73 percent rate is the best you’re going to get outside of Las Vegas:

Silver Slipper’s Best Video Poker Options

VARIANT DENOMINATION(S) FULL PAYBACK COIN
Not So Ugly Ducks (Deuces Wild) 99.73 percent $1
Bonus Deluxe 99.64 percent $1
Jacks or Better 99.54 percent $1
Bonus Poker 99.17 percent 25¢

4 – Mohegan Sun Casino Resort in Uncasville, Connecticut

Connecticut Mohegan Sun Casino Logo
One of two massive mega-resort casinos in Connecticut (along with Foxwoods), the Mohegan Sun Casino holds a special distinction among East Coast video poker venues.

As the only place back East offering a player edge game – albeit at the high-limit $10 coin denomination – Mohegan Sun has the best pay tables around:

Mohegan Sun’s Best Video Poker Options

VARIANT DENOMINATION(S) FULL PAYBACK COIN
Double Bonus Double Jackpot 100.09 percent $10
Pick’em (Pick a Pair) 99.95 percent 25¢, $1, $5, $10, $25
Double Bonus Deuces Wild 99.81 percent $1
Jacks or Better 99.54 percent 25¢, 50¢, $1, $5, $10, $25
Double Double Bonus 98.98 percent 25¢, 50¢, $1, $5, $10

5 – Pure Casino Calgary in Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Canada Pure Casino Logo
Unfortunately for the canucks out there, Canada’s video poker scene is as sparse as the Great White North landscape in winter.

You won’t find a single 9/6 full pay Jacks or Better machine, for example, and ditto for most popular variants.

With that said, Pure Casino Calgary in Alberta has an array of low-stakes options that make the weaker pay tables much more palatable:

Casino Calgary’s Best Video Poker Options

VARIANT DENOMINATION(S) FULL PAYBACK COIN
Double Double Bonus 98.98 percent 50¢, $1
Jacks or Better 98.45 percent 50¢, $1
Triple Double Bonus 98.15 percent $1
Bonus Poker 98.01 percent 50¢, $1

And in an honorable mention, check out Casino de Montreal for quarter-stakes machines.

Conclusion

Playing video poker against an inferior pay table leaves sharp gamblers feeling a little empty inside – just like 6 to 5 blackjack or watered down 3x-4x-5x on the Odds bet in craps. When you know the casino could offer a game at standard odds that give players a chance, only to see the house pad their edge with substandard pay tables, the blood can start boiling in a hurry. Fortunately, the vpFREE2 database makes it easier than ever before to avoid the sucker machines and confine your action to the best video poker venues around.

Ranking Online Casino Deposit Methods for US Players

Bitcoin Orange Logo, Visa and Mastecard, PayPal
Many countries are able to use a wide variety of banking options when depositing at online casinos. Internet gamblers from most nations can easily find a deposit method that suits them.

Players from the US, on the other hand, have a much more limited selection. America has strict banking laws when it comes to online gambling, which makes it difficult to deposit at casino sites.

The good news, though, is that it’s not impossible to fund an account if you thoroughly know the various options. That said, I’m going to discuss the top online casino deposit methods for US players along with more on the restrictive banking laws.

Why Does the UIGEA Make Casino Deposits Difficult?

In October 2006, Congress passed the SAFE Port Act. This event was significant to online gamblers, because the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was attached to the SAFE Port Act.

The UIGEA makes it illegal for gambling businesses to knowingly accept payments that are connected to unlawful wagers. This law has not only been used to prosecute illegal gambling websites, but also payment processors (e.g. Intabill) that help them.

Of course, some financial intermediaries still let online gambling payments slip through. The key, though, is that they can’t knowingly aid unlawful betting sites.

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Bank transfers, credit cards, and wire transfers (e.g. Western Union) are all covered under the UIGEA. Companies that offer these services try to screen out illegal betting transactions as a result.

The UIGEA hasn’t completely crippled the online gaming industry. Offshore casinos are still able to connect with their customers.

This law has, however, made it tougher to deposit at casinos. The process isn’t as easy as using your Visa with 100% confidence or sending money with your favorite e-wallet.

What Are the Best US Casino Deposit Methods?

US-friendly online casinos can’t offer a wide variety of deposit options due to the UIGEA. Financial intermediaries won’t knowingly serve these casinos or their customers.

Luckily, US-friendly gaming sites still feature a few online casino deposit methods. Here are the best options when funding your account.

1 – Bitcoin

Orange Bitcoin LogoBitcoin is a cryptocurrency that allows for peer-to-peer transactions. It’s a completely decentralized form of payment, meaning it’s not controlled by banks or governments.

The UIGEA has no jurisdiction over Bitcoin (BTC). Therefore, BTC has become the perfect payment method for Americans who want to fund their online casino accounts.

I use the word “perfect” lightly, though, because Bitcoin does have a few issues. The biggest problem is that it’s subject to extreme volatility.

Bitcoin users are very experienced with 10% rises and drops within a single day. While the rises are great, the falls hurt when your bankroll suddenly loses a big chunk of its value.

The fees paid to the miners who facilitate transactions also fluctuate based on network usage. You’ll need to pay higher fees when the network is being used heavily (see 2017 bull run).

Even with the drawbacks, Bitcoin is still the top way for US residents to make online casino deposits. Such transactions don’t run any risk of being rejected, because BTC isn’t controlled by American laws.

2 – Visa & MasterCard

Corners of MasterCard and Visa Cards, StackedVisa and MasterCard handle the vast majority of credit-card transactions throughout the world. Not surprisingly, they’re the top two credit cards when it comes to online gambling too.

The best thing about Visa and MasterCard is that they offer instant funding for your casino account. They’re also accepted at basically every gaming site.

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Unfortunately, these companies try to screen deposits at unregulated casinos. They catch and reject around half of related transactions.

These credit cards are therefore unreliable in the sense that your deposits won’t always go through. Nevertheless, Visa and MasterCard are used more than any other casino banking option.

3 – Prepaid Card

Visa Prepaid CardIf you don’t own a credit card, you can visit a convenience store and load money onto a prepaid card. Paysafecard is one of the most-commonly available prepaid card services.

The benefit to these cards is that you don’t have to worry about a third party rejecting your deposit. Another advantage is that you can keep your online gambling deposits anonymous.

The main drawback is that you have to physically visit a convenience store to get these cards. This process puts an extra step between you and playing online casino games.

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Another downside involves the limits on how much money can be loaded onto a prepaid card. For example, you might only be able to load a max of $500.

This amount is fine if you’re a low roller. But high rollers and/or those who want to take advantage of big welcome bonuses won’t appreciate such limits.

4 – Gift Cards

Standard Gift CardGift cards are similar to prepaid cards in terms of how they work. You can visit either a land-based or online retailer to load money onto your card, then use it to make a deposit.

The main difference, though, is that many online casinos only accept specific cards. MST Giftcards, for example, are only found through internet casinos.

To use them, you visit a relevant online casino and select the MST Giftcard option. You then must complete a series of steps before being able to purchase the card and fund your account.

The main advantage to gift cards is that you can purchase them online, with no need to visit a physical store. The drawback is that they often come with the same type of funding limits as prepaid cards.

E-wallets Noticeably Absent from the US Online Casino Market

PayPal, Neteller, Skrill Payment Logos
PayPal is the most-widely used e-wallet in the US. Millions of Americans use this service to move money to and from their bank accounts and make purchases.

Unfortunately, PayPal isn’t available at offshore internet casinos. This company doesn’t want anything to do with unregulated online gaming.

Neteller and Skrill were formerly available to American online gamblers before late 2006. But they both moved out of the US entirely after the UIGEA was enacted.

It’s a shame that e-wallets can’t be used at online casinos. They’re among the best-overall banking options at gaming sites.

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E-wallets can be used for both deposits and withdrawals. This aspect makes them far more convenient than the average online casino deposit option.

Neteller, PayPal, and Skrill are available in states with regulated internet gaming, like New Jersey and Delaware. But they’re not yet available to the vast majority of American online gamblers.

Will Americans Ever Have Access to More Options?

The biggest roadblock to US players having access to more online casino deposit methods is regulation. The country is slowly seeing more states legalize internet casinos.

“Slowly” is the key word, though, because this has been a painstaking process. At the current rate, gamblers will be left waiting another decade before at least 10 states offer legal online casinos.

Visa, MasterCard, e-wallets, and banks are all willing to serve states with regulated online gaming. However, there just aren’t many states that’ve legalized the activity yet.

Hopefully we see some acceleration in the regulation process in coming years. Otherwise, some of the top financial intermediaries will continue sitting on the sidelines.

Conclusion

Many European countries offer regulated online gambling markets, where players have dozens of deposit methods to choose from. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case in the US.

Americans have a limited selection of online casino deposit methods to choose from. Even the reliable options aren’t always so reliable.

Credit cards seem like the perfect way to fund your account. After all, Visa and MasterCard are both extremely easy to use and offer instant funding.

The problem, though, is that they’re subject to the UIGEA and reject over half of internet casino deposits.

Bitcoin casino transactions aren’t rejected, because this cryptocurrency doesn’t fall under American jurisdiction. However, you have to worry about fluctuating market prices and miner fees.

Gift cards and prepaid cards both offer anonymous ways to fund your account without worrying about being rejected. But each also limit on how much you can deposit at one time.

You can see that none of the US online casino deposit methods are perfect. Bitcoin, however, appears to be the best option for now.

The simple fact that BTC is decentralized and works 100% of the time is reason enough to use it. You also don’t need to worry about the crazy market fluctuations on most days of the year.

Credit cards are a close runner-up. They have a tendency to be rejected at online casinos, but they’re also fast and easy to use.

The hope is that more of the US regulates online gaming, so that additional deposit methods are available. But you’ll need to rely on Bitcoin, credit cards, prepaid cards, and gift cards until that time comes.

The 6 Best Places to Play Craps When You Visit the Las Vegas Strip

Craps Table, with Two Dice, Las Vegas Sign

Up until a few years ago, the frumpy little Casino Royale – its attached hotel is a Best Western – offered craps players a deal they couldn’t resist. The brightly lit marquee seen above the Casino Royale on the Las Vegas Strip flashed the words “100x Odds on Craps” – yep, you read that correctly.

The independently owned casino right in the heart of Las Vegas Boulevard has always resisted the creeping corporatization, and it doesn’t even charge guests that ghastly “Resort Fee” to pinch pennies. Eventually though, even the Casino Royale did away with its 100x craps tables, opting instead for the watered down 3x-4x-5x structure on the Odds bet that has swept through The Strip like a plague.

But before I get ahead of myself, let me bring the readers who are wondering why this Odds bet is so important up to speed.

How House Edge Applies to Craps

Whether you visit Las Vegas to roll the bones regularly, or find yourself learning craps online through an casino online, knowing how to navigate the maze of available wagers is crucial.

I mean, just get a load of this lengthy list of common craps bets below to get a glimpse into the classic dice game’s complexity:

Payouts and House Edge Rates for Common Craps Bets

BET/RULES PAYOUT HOUSE EDGE
Odds – 4, 10 2 to 1 0.00 percent
Odds – 5, 9 3 to 2 0.00 percent
Odds – 6, 8 6 to 5 0.00 percent
Don’t Pass / Don’t Come 1 to 1 1.36 percent
Pass / Come 1 to 1 1.41 percent
Place 6, 8 7 to 6 1.52 percent
Field (3:1 on 12) 1 to 1 2.78 percent
Place 5, 9 7 to 5 4.00 percent
Field (2:1 on 12) 1 to 1 5.56 percent
Place 4, 10 9 to 5 6.67 percent
Big 6, 8 1 to 1 9.09 percent
Hard 6, 8 9 to 1 9.09 percent
Any Craps 7 to 1 11.11 percent
Hi-Lo (2 or 12) 15 to 1 11.11 percent
3; Yo-leven (11);

Easy hops

15 to 1 11.11 percent
2; 12; Hard hops 30 to 1 13.89 percent
Any Seven 4 to 1 16.67 percent

As you can see, craps bets can largely be divided into two groups – reasonable plays and longshots designed for suckers.

Don’t get me wrong now, I’m prone to splash around on exotic bets like the Any Craps or Hard Way when inspiration strikes – but only occasion.

Craps players who consider the bottom half of that list to be their bread and butter tend to watch their bankrolls get eaten by the casinos in a hurry.

No, the best craps players out there typically stick to the first half of the list by default, especially that Odds bet which carries no house edge whatsoever.

That’s kind of a misnomer, as you can’t place an Odds bet without first putting up an “ante” of sorts on either the Pass Line or Don’t Pass Line. And with those base bets carrying house edge rates of 1.41 percent and 1.36 percent, respectively, you’ll always have a hill to climb even on the 0.00 percent Odds wager.

Here’s how it works… after placing your Pass Line (or Don’t Pass for “dark side” specialists), the shooter will establish a point number more often than not. With a point number now set, the Odds bet allows you to back your base bet up with a second wager that pays out according to true odds (hence the name).

Those true odd payouts – 2 to 1 on points of 4 and 10; 3 to 2 on 5 or 9; and 6 to 5 on 6 or 8 – really do hold a null house edge of 0.00 percent.

And as you might’ve suspected by now, betting as much as you can on the Odds is a great way to lower craps’ overall house edge:

House Edge on Craps Odds Bet (by Odds Limit)

ODDS (TAKEN) PASS LINE DON’T PASS
0x 1.41 percent 1.36 percent
1x 0.848 percent 0.682 percent
2x 0.606 percent 0.455 percent
Full Double Odds 0.572 percent  0.431 percent
3x 0.471 percent 0.341 percent
3x-4x-5x 0.374 percent 0.273 percent
5x 0.326 percent 0.227 percent
10x 0.184 percent 0.124 percent
20x 0.099 percent 0.065 percent
100x 0.021 percent 0.014 percent

See that last entry for 100x on the Odds? With a house edge of just two-tenths of a percent, players who score 100x – you’d be able to bet $1,000 on Odds with a $10 base bet – enjoy some of the best odds in all of casino gambling.

On that note, the following list highlights six casinos on The Strip where sharp craps players can still enjoy high limits on the Odds and other perks.

1 – The Cromwell Hotel & Casino

Las Vegas Cromwell Casino Logo
If you visited The Strip at any point between 1979 and 2007, you know The Cromwell as its previous incarnation Barbary Coast.

The building eventually became Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall, a rough and tumble joint straight out Las Vegas’ glory days.

Bill’s gave way to The Cromwell in 2014, and while the casino resort has blossomed into a full-scale boutique establishment offering the height of luxury, it did retain one element of that gamblin’ spirit – 100x Odds.

Yep, four tables found at the Cromwell offer the only 100x craps still alive and kicking in Las Vegas.

The minimum bet here is a bit higher than the standard at $25 per rolling session, but that’s a small price to pay for the ability to go “all-in” on the best bet in craps.

The Cromwell also caters to sharp gamblers by offering 3 to 2 payouts and double-deck games in blackjack, single-zero European roulette wheels, and commission free EZ baccarat.

2 – Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower

Stratosphere Casino Logo in Las Vegas
Famous for its “Space Needle” like tower stretching high into The Strip’s skyline, the Stratosphere also has the lowest-stakes craps game around.

You can enjoy 10x Odds – the highest offered on The Strip outside of from The Cromwell – for just a $5 minimum base bet. Folks who like to play a bit bigger will also find a pair of tables with a $10 minimum and 10x Odds.

You’ll also come across a gimmick game known as “Crapsless Craps,” which purports to give players a helping a hand by removing losing outcomes from the come out roll. Instead of “crapping” out on a 2, 3, or 12 on the come out roll, Pass Line bettors in Crapsless Craps simply set those numbers as the point.

But knowledgeable craps players avoid this sucker game at all costs, as it balloons the house edge on Pass Line wagers from 1.41 percent to 5.38 percent.

3 – Bellagio Hotel & Casino

Bellagio Casino Logo from Las Vegas
One of the glitziest and most glamorous casinos in the world, let alone The Strip, the Bellagio is a true Las Vegas icon.

The tables here only offer 3x-4x-5x Odds, which lets you bet 3x on points of 4 and 10, 4x on points of 5 or 9, and 5x on points of 6 or 8.

That’s basically the standard on The Strip, aside from The Cromwell and Stratosphere of course, so the Bellagio makes the cut for its sheer beauty and grandeur. Simply put, every gambler should spend at least one day strolling through the Bellagio’s rarified air.

And while you’re there, hit the eight $25 minimum tables or the lone $10 table and let the dice fly.

4 – Bally’s Las Vegas Hotel & Casino

Bally's Casino in Las Vegas Logo
I always advise my craps playing buddies who are stubborn about The Strip to stay at Bally’s.

Four tables here have a low limit of just $5 and 3x-4x-5x Odds, while higher-rollers can up the ante to $15 on a single table.

5 – Wynn Las Vegas

Wynn Casino in Las Vegas Logo
Combined with its sister casino Encore, the Wynn offers a level of luxury to rival even the Bellagio.

This place is gorgeous inside and out, and the nine craps tables with 3x-4x-5x Odds with limits ranging from $10 to $100 paint a pretty picture too.

6 – Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino

as Vegas Casino Westgate Logo
The $5 limit craps tables with 3x-4x-5x Odds at the Westgate aren’t anything special, but whenever you can dabble in dice before hitting the world’s largest sportsbook (the aptly named SuperBook), no gambler worth their salt would pass up that opportunity.

Conclusion

Craps, like any casino game, comes down to the player’s contributions. If you stick with longshot exotics and let casinos offer bad limits on the Odds bet, the mess you make of your bankroll is your own fault. On the other hand, by searching for the best Odds limits and playing a snug, sensible game, craps on The Strip can still be a profitable proposition when the dice cooperate.

The 6 Best Places to Play Roulette When You Visit the Las Vegas Strip

Las Vegas Welcome Sign, Roulette Wheel
For roughly 400 years and counting, gamblers the world over have savored the sweet sweat that can only be created by roulette’s rotating wheel and bouncing ball.

Other casino games like blackjack and video poker might involve more skill, and the slots surely offer a much larger potential jackpot, but for my money anyway, roulette is the quintessential gambler’s game.

Whether you play at an ornate table housed in a brick and mortar gambling hall – or on the internet via one of the top-rated online casinos – the simple appeal of roulette is unmistakable. No complex strategy charts or tough decisions to face here, just a guess and a little hope that Lady Luck is smiling your way.

But First… An Intro into the Game of Roulette

Roulette WheelGames of pure chance like roulette are inherently random, which means skillful players can’t play any better than the baseline, you can still give yourself a leg up by practicing sound game selection. Savvy roulette players know that the game played today in modern casinos has been watered down over time, so they search far and wide for wheels that offer an Old World experience.

When the French originally conceived of roulette, the game featured the same alternating red and black spaces you recognize today. But back in the 17th century, roulette players only had 24 or 28 numbers to choose from, along with a single green “0” space that provided the house its inherent edge on all even money (Red or Black, Odd or Even, Low or High) wagers.

Eventually though, a shrewd casino operator realized that more numbers on the wheel equals less chance to win from the player’s perspective. They kept expanding until the 1-36 number alignment used today was born.

Even then, the traditional version of French roulette was extremely favorable in terms of the odds against. French roulette games use a rule known as “La Partage” – which is French for “The Divide” – to create a low house edge of 1.35 percent.

Just in case you’re hearing about the La Partage rule for the first time, here’s how it works…

American Roulette, French Roulette, European Roulette

After placing an even money wager on a French roulette wheel, players will watch the ball find the dreaded green “0” space on 1 in every 37 spins. But with La Partage in effect, your $10 bet on Red / Black, Odd / Even, or Low / High wouldn’t be claimed entirely by the casino. Instead, it would be divided into even $5 halves, with you collecting one half back as a rebate, and the casino scooping the other half for itself.

Obviously, only losing half of your even money bet when the “0” hits is a godsend for gamblers. Under this simple rule, the house edge on French roulette wheels is very reasonable at just 1.35 percent.

Good things for the player tend not to last in modern casinos though, and at some point La Partage on the French wheel became a rare sight in Sin City. When you see a single-zero wheel that doesn’t offer La Partage, the game is considered to be European roulette and it carries a house edge of 2.70 percent – or exactly double the rate offered by La Partage games.

Even worse, the glorified accountants who run corporate casinos nowadays had another brainstorm that directly affects the player’s bottom line – double-zero wheels.

By doing nothing more than adding another green “00” space to the wheel – thus downgrading your odds on even money bets from 1 in 37 to 1 in 38 – the American roulette wheel swells your house edge to 5.26 percent.

That’s nearly four times worse than La Partage roulette wheels, a fact which essentially turns these various setups into completely different gambling experiences.

And don’t even get me started on the absurd Triple Zero Roulette variant rolled out recently by a few shameless casinos on The Strip.

People Playing Roulette in Casino

Speaking of The Strip, the world’s gambling capital isn’t exactly known for taking it easy on players. And the scourge of Triple Zero wheels and their 7.69 percent house edge aside, roulette on The Strip is largely made up of American double-zero wheels.

Unless you know where to look, it can be quite difficult to find a European single-zero wheel on Las Vegas Boulevard, while French wheels offering La Partage protection are even more scarce.

Fortunately, you will know where to look going forward, thanks to this list of the six best places to play roulette when you’re visiting the Las Vegas Strip.

1 – MGM Grand

MGM Grand Vegas Casino Logo
When you walk into the lion’s den at MGM Grand – and I do mean that literally thanks to the iconic “Roaring Lion” entrance way – you’ll find 16 roulette tables waiting.

The best of the bunch are two French tables featuring the La Partage rule for a house edge of 1.35 percent. In exchange for those friendly odds, players must meet the $25 minimum bet on even money “outside” wagers. That’s a steep price to pay for many recreational gamblers, but it’s the standard for French roulette on The Strip.

If you don’t want to bet $25 per spin, you’ll also find 11 of the American double-zero tables which use a $10 minimum, and three more with a low $3 entry point.

2 – ARIA Resort & Casino

Aria Vegas Casino Logo
Everything about the ARIA screams modern luxury, from the artistic interior design to the impeccable service.

That extends to the roulette tables too, where a single French wheel can be played for $50 minimum bets.

Lower-stakes players have 11 double-zero American tables on hand at the $15 limit, and one more with a $5 starting wager.

3 – Mandalay Bay

Mandalay Bay Vegas Casino Logo
Roulette at the Mandalay Bay is broken down similarly, which makes sense as it shares MGM Resorts as a parent company alongside MGM Grand and the ARIA.

La Partage players will be happy to find a pair of French wheels spinning for $50 limits, while nine other double-zero American tables can be played for a $10 minimum.

And don’t forget about the $3 limit American wheel, which is perfect for casual players looking to see if their number comes in on the cheap.

4 – The Cromwell Hotel & Casino

Las Vegas Cromwell Casino Logo
Famously home to the best craps tables in all of Las Vegas, the newly renovated Cromwell is a sharp gambler’s paradise.

You won’t find La Partage in effect here, but a European single-zero wheel without the rule can be played for a $25 minimum. American double-zero wheels are also found spinning at the $2 and $10 price points.

5 – Flamingo Las Vegas

Las Vegas Flamingo Casino Logo
The neon pink environs of the Flamingo made the cut for one simple reason – $1 limit roulette.

The wheel is obviously of the double-zero variety, but that’s OK when you get to spin for the lowest limits found on The Strip.

And if you prefer to play a bit higher, look for 10 tables that use a $10 minimum wager.

6 – Cosmopolitan

The Cosmopolitan Vegas Casino Logo
Roulette players who don’t like waiting for crowded tables to open up will love the Cosmopolitan, home to 13 different wheels spinning around the clock.

A dozen of the games here are $10 minimum double-zero affairs, while low-stakes shot-takers can fire away at a lone $3 table.

Conclusion

If the casinos on The Strip could add a fourth zero to the wheel and get away with it, they would without thinking twice. And who knows? That cursed development might just happen down the road. For now though, sharp roulette players who want to give themselves the best possible odds still have a few safe havens where French wheels, La Partage, and other player perks await.

The 6 Best Off-Strip Places to Play Craps in Las Vegas

Craps Table with Two Red Dice, Las Vegas Sign and Casinos

Craps is the ultimate gambler’s game, one based mostly on chance, while nonetheless offering just enough strategic play to separate the skilled from the suckers.

The roll of the dice might be entirely random, but the best craps players out there know full well that their own decision-making ability is essential for sustained success.

Don’t take my word for it though, just get a load of the standard craps table betting layout found in every casino in Las Vegas. Craps offers by far the most complicated betting layout of all the table games, featuring dozens of wager types to choose from. Making things even tougher – at least for amateur players experiencing the game for the first time – craps betting is defined by slang terms like “yo-leven,” “hard way,” and of course, “snake eyes.”

As you might’ve suspected by now, unless you know your way around the craps table’s complex betting layout, it can be all too easy to get lost.

That applies to you as well as your chips, because when you make unwise wagers in a heated craps game, the price paid often trends toward some of the highest house edge rates in all of gambling.

As you can see in the table below, craps bets come in two distinct varieties – relatively safe plays that have the right risk-to-reward ratio; and longshot “exotic” bets that are basically like buying a lottery ticket:

Payouts and House Edge Rates for Common Craps Bets

BET / RULES PAYOUT HOUSE EDGE
Odds – 4, 10 2 to 1 0.00 percent
Odds – 5, 9 3 to 2 0.00 percent
Odds – 6, 8 6 to 5 0.00 percent
Don’t Pass / Don’t Come 1 to 1 1.36 percent
Pass / Come 1 to 1 1.41 percent
Place 6, 8 7 to 6 1.52 percent
Field (3:1 on 12) 1 to 1 2.78 percent
Place 5, 9 7 to 5 4.00 percent
Field (2:1 on 12) 1 to 1 5.56 percent
Place 4, 10 9 to 5 6.67 percent
Big 6, 8 1 to 1 9.09 percent
Hard 6, 8 9 to 1 9.09 percent
Any Craps 7 to 1 11.11 percent
Hard 4, 10 7 to 1 11.11 percent
Hi-Lo (2 or 12) 15 to 1 11.11 percent
3; Yo-leven (11); Easy hops 15 to 1 11.11 percent
2; 12; Hard hops 30 to 1 13.89 percent
Any Seven 4 to 1 16.67 percent

Anytime you start talking about double-digit house edge rates, you have a big problem as a gambler.

It’s one thing to battle against a game like blackjack, where the house edge of 0.40 percent for basic strategy players means you can expect to bring back $99.60 for every $100 wagered over the long run. That’s a fair fight, and while the whims of short-term variance will inevitably rear their ugly head, low house edge rates ensure players aren’t flirting with bankroll disaster over the long run.

But when the house edge climbs to 11.11 percent – as it does on the uber-popular Any Craps and Hi-Lo bets – even sweet payouts of 7 to 1 and 15 to 1, respectively, can’t make up for that huge hole the house edge puts you in.

Knowing this, savvy craps players who know the score seldom (if ever) tempt fate by betting on the exotics. Instead, they stick to the low house edge bets like the Place (6 or 8) and Field.

Betting against those house edges of 1.52 percent and 2.78 percent, respectively, is all well and good – but eagle-eyed readers are probably asking one question right about now:

What about those first entries on the table offering no house edge whatsoever?

Those are the infamous Odds bets, a follow-up wager made after players put a chip down on the Pass Line or Don’t Pass Line. Once a point number has been set, the Odds bet allows craps players to place a one-time wager that the shooter will roll the point number again before “sevening” out.

Group of People Playing Craps Game at Casino

If the shooter does their job and hits the point again, Odds bettors receive one of the rarest gifts found on the casino floor – a true odds payout which doesn’t provide the house with a percentage point of inherent edge.

Those true odds payouts – of 2 to 1 on points of 4 and 10; 3 to 2 on 5 or 9; and 6 to 5 on 6 or 8 – make the Odds bet extremely attractive to players who appreciate value.

Let’s say you want to play craps for $15 per rolling session. You could risk the whole $15 on a Pass Line Bet without taking the Odds, and this plan of attack would net you an expected loss of $0.212 ($15 x 1.41 percent house edge on Pass Line = 0.212).

On the other hand, you could also place a $5 Pass Line Bet and save the other $10 for an Odds bet. Using this approach, your expected loss falls sharply to only $0.049 per session.

That’s right, using the Odds bet to your advantage makes every craps session approximately 4.5 times better in terms of expected value.

And based on the size of that Odds bet – based on multiples of your original Pass / Don’t Pass wager – the house edge on craps can be carved down to infinitesimal levels:

House Edge on Craps Odds Bet (by Odds Limit)

ODD (TAKEN) PASS LINE DON’T PASS
0X 1.41 percent 1.36 percent
1x 0.848 percent 0.682 percent
2x 0.606 percent 0.455 percent
Full Double Odds 0.572 percent 0.431 percent
3x 0.471 percent 0.341 percent
3x-4x-5x 0.374 percent 0.273 percent
5x 0.326 percent 0.227 percent
10x 0.184 percent 0.124 percent
20x 0.099 percent 0.065 percent
100x 0.021 percent 0.014 percent

Old-timers who love rolling them bones have long appreciated the Odds bet as one of the best around. Back in the day, casinos gladly offered Odds of up to 100x on your base wager, knowing players would erase their equity gains by splashing around on exotic bets too.

Today, however, the corporate casinos have essentially eradicated 100x craps in Las Vegas, where only a single venue still honors the tradition.

The 100x Odds tables might be a thing of the past, but if you’re visiting Las Vegas and feel like testing your luck at the craps table, take your action to one of the six best “Off-Strip” places to play in Sin City listed below.

1 – Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall on the Boulder Highway

Las Vegas Casino Sams Town Marquee Outside

A classic local’s casino, Sam’s Town is a no-nonsense gambling hall that caters to craps players.

The four craps tables at Sam’s Town each offer 20x Odds, which are the highest in Las Vegas (aside from the lone 100x holdover at the Cromwell on The Strip). Players here also get 3 to 1 payouts (Triple) on the Field bet when a 12 hits, which is always a nice bonus.

Craps base bet limits at Sam’s Town start at $3 minimum and run through the $1,000 maximum, but it’s those juicy 20x Odds that keep players coming back for more.

2 – Main Street Station Casino Brewery Hotel on Main Street

Main Street Casino Las Vegas Front

Another no-frills local’s casino, Main Street Station is a fixture for hardcore craps players.

You’ll find three tables here using a $5 – $1,000 limit on base bets, 20x Odds, and Triple for 12 on the Field.

3 – Green Valley Ranch Resort Spa & Casino in Henderson

Green Valley Ranch Casino Front, in Las Vegas

One of the glitzier Off-Strip casinos is Green Valley Ranch, where craps players enjoy a 10x Odds game and 2 to 1 (Double) payouts on 12 when betting on the Field.

But the four tables here have something special in a series of side bets that can produce massive payouts:

  • “All Small” = 34:1
  • “All Tall” = 34:1
  • “Make Em All” = 175:1
  • After a point number is established, winning on All Small or All Tall requires the 2-3-4-5-6 or the 8-9-10-11-12 combos, respectively, to land before the shooter sevens out. As for the Make ‘Em All bet, you’ll need to see all non-7 numbers land before the shooter’s roll ends to collect.

    4 – Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa in Summerlin

    Las Vegas Casino Red Rock Building

    It’s a bit of a drive from The Strip, but Red Rock Resort is definitely worth the wait.

    This place is modelled after the most modern luxury resorts on Las Vegas Boulevard, except for its craps selection that is. At the Red Rock, you’ll have five tables offering 10x Odds at $10-$5,000 base bet limits, plus the popular Small/Tall/All side bet described above.

    5 – The D Las Vegas on Fremont Street in Downtown

    Outside the front of The D Casino in Las Vegas

    Downtown Las Vegas used to be the home of the 100x Odds, and while those days have passed, The D still spreads two tables with 10x Odds, Triple on the 12 for Field bettors, and low limits of $5-$5,000 on base bets.

    6 – Jokers Wild Casino in Henderson

    Marquee Sign of Las Vegas Casino Jokers Wild Casino

    If you like the idea of betting tiny on the base bets, then upping the ante on your Odds wager, Jokers Wild is the place for you.

    The craps table here uses a $1 base bet minimum, the lowest limit in all of Las Vegas, alongside 10x Odds and Triple on 12.

    This quaint but classic gambling hall also offers roulette for a quarter per spin, and $3 per hand blackjack, making it perfect for budget-minded gamblers.

    Conclusion

    The Odds bet in Craps has become the stuff of legend, as all it takes is a hot shooter to turn a small stack of chips into a mountain of money. Now that you know your way around Las Vegas’ best Off-Strip venues for craps, get out there and take the house on in the fairest fight casino gambling can ever offer.

    How the House Edge Works in Casino Games

    Red Chips Stacked, Red Dice, Poker Cards

    If you spend any time at all reading about online casino games and gambling in casinos, you’ll encounter an expression—“the house edge.”

    You’ll see writers explain that blackjack house edge is the lowest in the casino, and that the slots have the worst.

    You’ll see them mention that some of the bets at the craps table have a house edge of less than 2%, while other bets at the craps table have a house edge of more than 16%.

    But what is the house edge in a casino game and how does it work?

    This site covers some similar concepts as they relate to the math of sports betting, but the casinos’ house edge works slightly differently.

    Some Probability Background that Matters

    You can’t understand the house edge if you don’t understand some of the basics of probability.

    Probability is just a mathematical way to measure how likely something is to happen.

    When a weatherman says there’s a 50% chance of rain, he’s using probability (as well as meteorology) to express that likelihood.

    And most people have an intuitive understand of probability when it’s stated as a percentage, because we use it all the time.

    If you paid attention in 8th grade math, you probably already know that a percentage is just another way of expressing a fraction, and that’s all a probability is—a fraction.Probability Wheel with Poker Cards on Top
    To determine the probability of something happening, you just look at the number of ways it could happen and divide it by the total number of possible events.

    Here’s an Example:
    You’re rolling a 6-sided die, and you want to know what the probability of rolling a 6 is. A 6-sided die has 6 sides numbered 1 through 6. There’s only a single 6.

    Since there are 6 possible outcomes, and since only one of those outcomes is a 6, the probability of rolling a 6 is 1/6.

    You can convert that to a percentage of 16.67%.

    You can also convert it to “odds format,” which just compares the number of ways it can’t happen with the number of ways it can. The odds of rolling a 6 on a 6-sided die are 5 to 1.

    Once you have a basic understanding of probability, you can move on to the next step, which is determining the house edge of a bet.

    What Is the House Edge and Why Does It Matter?

    Every bet has a payout if you win and an amount you lose if you lose. This is often the same amount, or even money.

    For Example:
    If you’re playing blackjack, you bet one unit, and most of the time, if you win, you win one unit. If you lose, you just lose that one unit.

    In other words, if you bet $100 on a hand of blackjack and win, you usually win $100.

    If you lose, you usually lose $100.

    That’s called even money.

    Hand Looking at Cards, Poker Chips on Blackjack Table

    (And some bets in blackjack result in bigger winnings, and you sometimes have the option of surrendering, which means you only lose half your stake. But that’s a complication that doesn’t help you understand the house edge, so I’m going to save that discussion for another blog post.)

    A bet’s payout can also be expressed using odds, though.

    An even-money bet pays off at 1 to 1.

    A bet that pays off at 5 to 1 is also possible—if you win, you get 5 units, but if you lose, you only lose 1 unit.

    In the die-rolling probability example I used above, if you have a payout of 5 to 1, you’re playing a game with no house edge.

    That’s because in the long run, you’ll win as much money as you lose.

    But suppose I reduced the payout for rolling a 6 to 4 to 1?

    ?
    Do you see how the casino would have a mathematical edge in the long run by paying out less for a win in that situation?

    You can use statistics to determine an average amount you’ll lose per bet in this situation.

    You assume 6 statistically perfect rolls of the die. This means you’ll win once and lose 5 times.

    If you’re betting $100 every time, you’ll have a single win of $400 along with 5 losses of $100 each, or a $500 total loss.

    Your net loss after that is $100.

    Since that’s a net loss of $100 over 6 bets, you’ve lost an average of $16.67 per bet.

    That’s the same thing as lose 16.67% of each bet, and that percentage is the house edge.

    There are other ways to arrive at that number, but that’s the easiest method I’ve seen used.

    With every online casino game you play, the house pays off your bets at odds lower than the odds of winning. This results in a mathematical edge for the house.

    Man Looking Down at Empty Wallet After Losing a Casino Game

    That’s why casinos are profitable in the long run, even though every, a percentage of their customers go home with winnings in their pockets.

    Probabilities—and the house edge—are always long-term phenomena. In the short run, anything can happen.

    Individual online casino gamblers are always playing in the short term.

    Online casinos are always playing in the long term.

    If the House Has an Edge, Why Do People Still Play Casino Games?

    So if, in the long run, the house can’t lose because of the math behind the games, why do people still play?

    The answer is simpler than you think:

    Most people don’t think about things from a long-term perspective. If they did, everyone in the United States would save 10% of everything they earn and retire early because their cost of living would be low enough to be easily affordable.

    I have a friend who visits the casino at least once a week. He loses money on 4 out of 5 visits to the casino, but on one of those 5 visits every month, he comes home a winner.

    Guy Winning Grabbing Poker Chips, Guy Head Down Disappointed Casino Loss

    He doesn’t care that he’s losing money hand over fist in the long run. He just wants to keep getting that buzz from his occasional wins.

    The human brain is irrational, especially when it comes to gambling.

    How the House Edge for Various Casino Games Compare

    The house edge is only one factor that affects how much you’re going to lose when you’re gambling on online casino games. Other factors include how many bets you place per hour and how much you’re betting every time you place a wager.

    That being said, if everything else is equal, you should play the casino games with the lowest house edge.

    Keep in mind, too, that game conditions affect the house edge, too.

    For Example:
    In some blackjack games, a natural pays off at 6 to 5 odds instead of 3 to 2 odds. The house edge on such a blackjack game is higher.

    And, in fact, blackjack is a good place to start a discussion of the house edge for various casino games. It’s widely known that the house edge for blackjack is between 0.5% and 1%, but that number assumes that you’re making the optimal move in every situation. The average blackjack player is probably giving up 2% or so in mistakes.

    Craps is a game where different bets have a different house edge. If you stick with the basic bets, pass and come, you face a house edge of 1.41%, which is relatively low. The more “exciting” wagers on the craps table come with a higher house edge.

    Roulette comes in 2 main versions—single zero and double zero. The double zero version of roulette is predominant in the United States, and the roulette house edge for that game is 5.26%. By removing one of the zeroes, the online casino reduces the house edge to 2.70%.

    Slot machines have a house edge that varies based on the PAR sheet for the game. (That’s the logic behind the game which determines the probability of getting various combinations of symbols and the payouts for those combinations.) You can find slot machines with a house as high as 35% or as low as 5%, but you never know what the number is.

    Video poker machines look like slot machines, but they offer a better house edge—if you play the hands optimally. Depending on the pay table, the house edge for video poker can be as low as 0.5% or as high as 5% or 6%.

    Conclusion

    And those are the basics of the house edge as it pertains to casino games.

    Now that you have an understanding of the probability behind casino games and how it affects your winnings and losses, are you going to be more or less likely to play casino games?

    Are you going to change the amounts you bet or the games you play?

    Let me know in the comments.

    The 4 Best Places to Play Video Poker on Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas

    Plaza Hotel, California Hotel Casino, El Cortez Casino, Downtown Grand Hotel, Poker Neon Image
    If you can take one look at a photograph of Downtown Las Vegas in all its vintage glory, and still tell me The Strip can hold a candle to what Sin City used to be, I can’t help you.

    Despite my personal inclinations though, pale imitations of European landmarks paired with faux luxury at sky-high prices does appeal to a certain crowd. It must, with most of the 42 million visitors who made the trip to Las Vegas last year confining their entire experience to The Strip.

    And hey, I don’t mind seeing a cool show like Absinthe, superstar talents like Celine Dion, or the latest culinary masterpieces from Michelin Guide acclaimed celebrity chefs. Who doesn’t, right?

    What I won’t do anywhere on Las Vegas Boulevard, however, is play video poker.

    Simply put, The Strip is where video poker bankrolls go to die. Thanks to corporate consolidation within the gambling industry – MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment combine to operate 17 of the 30 casinos lining The Strip – players are left to the mercy of the house.
    Red and Yellow Video Poker Machine
    As you might suspect, casinos in the Silver State aren’t exactly known for their merciful ways. After all, they didn’t haul in $11.9 billion in gambling win last year alone by taking it easy on players.

    Video poker players bear the brunt of it too, because the ubiquitous Game King machine from IGT allows casinos to tinker with the pay table as they see fit.

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    Instead of offering a video poker variant’s “full pay” table – or the precise payout structure that creates the game’s highest payback percentage for the player – most casinos on The Strip reduce key payouts.

    By changing the 9/6 full pay table in Jacks or Better, for example, the game’s standard 99.54 percent house edge falls off a cliff:

    Jacks or Better Pay Table Comparison

    TABLE PAYBACK
    9/6 99.54 percent
    9/5 98.45 percent
    8/6 98.39 percent
    8/5 97.30 percent
    7/5 96.15 percent
    6/5 95.00 percent

    Playing basic strategy a 9/6 version of this video poker classic offers a perfectly reasonable – and even beatable when comps are factored in – payback percentage of 99.54 percent. That leaves a house edge of only 0.46 percent for players to overcome, which is right on par with the best skill games like blackjack.

    But as the payouts are downgraded – through slight adjustments to the key pays on a full house and/or flush – Jacks or Better becomes nothing short of a travesty. If I wanted to battle against an unbeatable house edge of 5.00 percent, I’d splash around on a pure game of chance like double-zero roulette, not the ultimate strategic thinker’s game Jacks or Better.

    And this pay table conundrum affects all the other variants as well whenever you play on The Strip:

    Deuces Wild Pay Table Comparison

    TABLE PAYBACK
    25/15/9/5/3/2 100.76 percent
    25/15/11/4/4/3 99.96 percent
    25/16/10/4/4/3 99.73 percent
    25/15/9/4/4/3 98.91 percent
    20/12/10/4/4/3 97.58 percent
    20/12/9/4/4/3 97.06 percent
    25/16/13/4/3/2 96.77 percent
    20/10/8/4/4/3 95.96 percent
    25/15/10/4/3/2 94.82 percent

    Double Bonus Poker Pay Table Comparison

    TABLE PAYBACK
    10/7 100.17 percent
    9/7/5 99.11 percent
    9/6/5 97.81 percent
    9/6/4 96.38 percent
    8/5 94.19 percent
    7/5 93.11 percent

    Double Double Bonus Poker Pay Table Comparison

    TABLE PAYBACK
    10/6 100.07 percent
    9/6/4 98.98 percent
    9/5 97.87 percent
    8/5 96.79 percent
    7/5 95.71 percent
    6/5 94.66 percent

    To get a taste of how hostile The Strip has become for sharp video poker players, just realize that you can no longer find a single full pay Deuces Wild machine and its famous player edge of 100.76 percent – anywhere on Las Vegas Boulevard. Not a single machine mind you, even in the best high-limit rooms where whales typically get the best odds in exchange for dumping serious sums.

    Even so, I know there’s plenty of players out there who are cut from my mold. Maybe it’s nostalgia over the good old days, or just the frugal nature of grizzled veteran gamblers who prefer savings over spectacle, but Downtown Las Vegas still calls out to a significant segment of the video poker community.

    Who am I kidding… it’s mostly due to Downtown’s abundance of full pay machines covering all the most popular variants.

    On that front, this is a piece dedicated to the five best places to play video poker on fabulous Fremont Street in the Downtown district.

    1 – The Plaza Hotel & Casino

    Red Plaza Hotel and Casino Vegas LogoAn iconic fixture of the Downtown skyline since 1971, the Plaza has the highest payback percentage on Fremont Street thanks to its low-limit 1-Pair Joker Wild machines:

    The Plaza’s Best Video Poker Options

    VARIANT FULL PAYBACK COIN DENOMINATION(S)
    1-Pair Joker Wild 100.65 percent 25¢, 50¢
    Double Bonus 100.17 percent 25¢, 50¢¸ $1
    Double Bonus Plus 99.76 percent 25¢, 50¢, $1
    Bonus Deluxe 99.64 percent 25¢, 50¢¸ $1, $2
    Jacks or Better 99.54 percent 25¢, 50¢, $1, $2
    Bonus Poker 99.17 percent 25¢, 50¢, $1, $2, $5
    Deuces Joker Wild 99.07 percent 25¢, 50¢, $1, $2
    Double Double Bonus 98.98 percent 25¢, 50¢, $1, $2

    The beauty of video poker at the Plaza is variety, as you’ll find more than 225 machines covering 10 different variants – almost all of which offer full pay tables.

    2 – California Hotel & Casino

    California Hotel and Casino Las Vegas LogoIf you prefer the value-packed action found at Boyd Gaming properties, the California is your home away from home when playing Downtown.

    Along with full pay Double Bonus and it’s sweet 0.17 percent player edge, video poker at the California spans the spectrum from nickel stakes to five bucks a coin:

    California’s Best Video Poker Options

    VARIANT FULL PAYBACK COIN DENOMINATION(S)
    Double Bonus 100.17 percent 25¢, 50¢, $1
    Not So Ugly Ducks (Deuces Wild) 99.73 percent 5¢, 10¢, 25¢, 50¢
    Super Double Bonus 99.69 percent 25¢, 50¢, $1
    Triple Double Bonus 99.58 percent 25¢, 50¢, $1
    Jacks or Better 99.54 percent 25¢, 50¢, $1
    Loose Deuces Wild 99.20 percent $1, $2, $5
    Bonus Poker 99.17 percent 5¢, 10¢, 25¢, 50¢, $1, $2, $5
    Double Double Bonus 98.98 percent 25¢, 50¢, $1

    3 – El Cortez Hotel & Casino

    El Cortez Casino Las Vegas LogoThe Strip keeps adding new casinos every year, but if you want to play at the oldest continuously operated gambling hall in Sin City, the El Cortez is the ticket.

    Constructed in 1941, the El Cortez looks and feels like you’ve gone back in time to a bygone era. That antique vibe can be found in the video poker parlor too.

    El Cortez’ Best Video Poker Options

    VARIANT FULL PAYBACK COIN DENOMINATION(S)
    Double Bonus 100.17 percent 25¢
    Super Double Bonus 99.69 percent $1
    Double Deuces Wild 99.62 percent 25¢, $1
    Triple Bonus 99.59 percent 25¢
    Bonus Deuces Wild 99.45 percent 25¢
    A-C-E-S Bonus 99.40 percent 25¢

    If you couldn’t tell, Bonus-based games are the specialty at El Cortez, so head here to hunt for those high-paying four Aces with a kicker jackpots.

    4 – Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino

    Downtown Grand Las Vegas Casino LogoOriginally opened in 1964 as the Lady Luck Casino, the newly renovated Downtown Grand is like a little slice of The Strip transported to Fremont Street.

    Except for the full pay video poker machines, that is, which are led by the relatively obscure “Super Aces” version of Bonus Poker:

    Downtown Grand’s Best Video Poker Options

    VARIANT FULL PAYBACK COIN DENOMINATION(S)
    Super Aces

    (Bonus Poker)

    99.94 percent 25¢, 50¢, $1
    Jacks or Better 99.54 percent 25¢
    Bonus Poker 99.17 percent 25¢, 50¢, $1, $2, $5
    Double Double Bonus 98.98 percent 25¢, 50¢, $1, $2, $5

    In case you’re unfamiliar with Super Aces, this game is just Bonus Poker with a premium jackpot payout of 2,000 coins (on a max-bet) when you land four of a kind in Aces.

    Conclusion

    Downtown Las Vegas is where it all started, from Benny Binion hosting the first World Series of Poker, the world famous $0.99 shrimp cocktail, and 100x Odds bets on the craps table. Legends were born there, million-dollar bankrolls were built and burned through in a day, and the world’s gambling capital emerged like an oasis in the Mojave Desert sands. The old drag on Fremont Street has seen better days to be sure, but if you’re a sharp video poker player, historic venues like the ones listed above are the most beautiful sight in Sin City.

    Play Obscure Table Games at the Venetian and Palazzo Casinos in Las Vegas

    Front of Venetian and Palazzo Properties, Caribbean Stud Poker and Spanish 21 Logos on Top
    I know I’m getting long in the tooth, but realizing that many of my favorite casino table games are on the decline is still a kick in the… well, the teeth.

    I came up playing advantage games like online blackjack and online video poker, and indeed, these skill-based games are still my bread and butter. But in between the intense, brain-draining sessions trying to grind out a living on those tables, I always found time to blow off some steam playing less demanding table games.

    No, I didn’t “donk” off my winnings playing games of chance like online roulette or online baccarat, I preferred sticking to lesser known skill-games like online Caribbean Stud Poker and online Spanish 21.

    In the case of Caribbean Stud Poker, the clever hybrid table game that rose to popularity in the 1990s appealed to my sense of nostalgia.

    After learning to play cards through five-card stud lessons alongside my grandfather, I’ve always been partial to stud variants.

    And because five-card stud is just as dead as Gramps, playing Caribbean Stud Poker offered the next best thing.

    As for Spanish 21, I’m a blackjack specialist by trade, so relaxing the standard rules and letting players explore a wide variety of new options was right up my alley.

    So it was that I spent many a long night alternating between “work” while playing online blackjack and online video poker, and fun sessions for low stakes at the Caribbean Stud Poker and Spanish 21 tables.

    Knowing all this, you can imagine my dismay when I landed in Las Vegas recently and headed to my favorite haunts – Caesars Palace, Bellagio, and MGM Grand – only to discover both games have been completely removed from the floor. I mean it, not a single table for either Caribbean Stud Poker or Spanish 21 can be found at those casinos, or any other in Las Vegas for that matter.

    Fortunately for me and my fellow old-timers, a pit boss I’ve known for ages clued me in on a little secret.

    Casino in the Background, Two People Up Close, Woman Whispering to Man

    He’s not supposed to advise players to visit competing casinos, so I’ll keep his name and workplace a secret, but this pal told me to check out the Venetian and Palazzo casinos on the north end of The Strip.

    And boy am I glad I did…

    These sister properties both boast an Italian theme, all marble and gold as far as the eye can see; the amenities are top-notch, the service was high-quality.

    Tucked away in a corner of the table game pit was a sight for sore eyes – Caribbean Stud Poker AND Spanish 21 tables running around the clock.

    Left Spanish 21 Table Game, Poker Cards and Chips Showing, Caribbean Stud Poker on Right. Poker Chips

    You should’ve seen me that night, like a kid on Christmas morning rushing across the room to open my new gifts. I hadn’t played the games in quite some time, so I was a little rusty at first, but I picked things up just like riding a bike.

    And wouldn’t you know it? This old gambling man wound up winning a decent sum when it was all said and done.

    I know I can’t be the only online Caribbean Stud and/or Spanish 21 fan still pining for the good old days, so I wrote this post for anybody who prefers obscure table games over the latest hot ticket. Below you’ll find a guide to playing both Caribbean Stud Poker and Spanish 21 at the Venetian and Palazzo casinos, which just so happen to be my new favorite haunts while visiting Las Vegas.

    Playing Caribbean Stud Poker at the Venetian and Palazzo

    If you’ve never played online Caribbean Stud Poker before, just take a gander at this dual-rate pay table to see why my generation took a liking to it:

    Caribbean Stud Pay Table

    HAND ANTE RAISE*
    Royal Flush 1 to 1 100 to 1
    Straight Flush 1 to 1 50 to 1
    Four of a Kind 1 to 1 20 to 1
    Full House 1 to 1 7 to 1
    Flush 1 to 1 5 to 1
    Straight 1 to 1 3 to 1
    Three of a Kind 1 to 1 2 to 1
    Two Pair 1 to 1 1 to 1
    One Pair 1 to 1 1 to 1
    High Card 1 to 1 1 to 1

    *Only paid when dealer has a qualifying hand of A-K high or better

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    That escalating pay table for the Raise bet might not seem all that special nowadays, but you have to remember, Caribbean Stud Poker was the first hybrid table game to offer payouts on a ladder like that.

    You can give the game a whirl by trying the Caribbean Stud Poker training tool that is available online for free. Before long, you’ll be playing like a real pro!

    Over at the Venetian, you’ll find two tables spreading this classic casino offering. Both tables utilize a $15 minimum bet for the Ante, so be prepared to fire $45 total should you make the 2x-sized Raise bet to reach the showdown. High rollers can always up the ante too, all the way up to $500 per Ante bet.

    And speaking of high rollers, the Palazzo has a single Caribbean Stud Poker table on hand with the same $15 minimum and a juiced up $2,000 max-bet limit.

    Playing Spanish 21 at the Venetian and Palazzo

    After I cleaned up at the Caribbean Stud Poker tables, I moved on to Spanish 21, still one of my favorite blackjack offshoots of all-time.

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    The term “Spanish” in this case refers to the deck construction, which removes the four 10s to create a 48-card deck.

    Things get froggy in a hurry thanks to several player-friendly rules. In case you’re unfamiliar with the liberal rules and gameplay, check out the laundry list of additions to standard blackjack used to create Spanish 21:

    Spanish 21 Rules That Favor the Player

    • “Charlie” hands – meaning any five, six, or seven cards without a bust – count as sure winners. Even if the dealer makes blackjack, you’ll still win with a Charlie.
    • If the dealer makes a multi-card 21 (or a non-blackjack 21), any 21 you make still counts as a winner
    • After doubling down once, you can then “redouble” by making a third bet and taking another card.
    • After splitting any pair, you can then double down on the new hands created by the split.
    • After splitting two Aces, you can then “re-split” should another A-A combo appear.
    • Any five-card 21 is good for a 3 to 2 payout. Six-card 21s count for a 2 to 1 winner, and seven-card 21s produce a 3 to 1 payout.
    • Landing a 6-7-8 or 7-7-7 on your first three cards, in different suits, is good for a 3 to 2 payout.
    • Landing any suited 6-7-8 or 7-7-7 counts for a 2 to 1 winner
    • Landing a 6-7-8 or 7-7-7 specifically in spades ups the payout to 3 to 1
    • Landing a suited 7-7-7 with a 7 for the dealer up card triggers a $1,000 jackpot on any bet of $25 or less
    • Landing a suited 7-7-7 with a 7 for the dealer up card triggers a $5,000 jackpot on any bets over $25

    That’s a lot to digest for standard blackjack fans, so head over to try online Spanish 21 out for yourself, free of charge.

    The Venetian spreads Spanish 21 using an 8-deck shoe on three different tables.

    These games require a $25 minimum bet, and the max-bet caps out at $75,000.

    The Palazzo has a single Spanish 21 table with an 8-deck shoe.

    Here they require a minimum bet of $25, and max-bet of $2,500.

    And under the house rules for both games, which match those listed above, you’ll face a reasonable house edge of just 0.76 percent.

    Conclusion

    Boy am I glad I always tip generously and make conversation with the pit bosses. If I didn’t, I probably would’ve found myself leaving Las Vegas under the mistaken belief that both Caribbean Stud Poker and Spanish 21 were dead forever. These obscure table games may be in a state of decline – who among us isn’t, am I right? – but as long as the Venetian and Palazzo are still standing, gamblers with a taste for the old-school like me can still enjoy their favorite games in style.

    How Do You Play Deuces Wild Video Poker Online?

    Deuces Wild Video Poker Game Front and Black Silhouette of Man Head with Question Mark on his Head
    Playing Deuces Wild video poker online is a little more complicated than playing Jacks or Better video poker. For one thing, you have to account for more variation from pay table to pay table. For another, the values of the hands—drawing hands and final hands—differ greatly because of the large number of wild cards involved.

    If you’re just getting started with online Deuces Wild video poker, you should already know how to play Jacks or Better video poker. If you don’t know how to play Jacks or Better, go learn it first.

    Once you’ve got the hang of it, you can get started learning how to play Deuces Wild video poker online with this post.

    Side note: If you’re up for a challenge, there’s a fairly new game of online poker called Pai Gow Poker that’s worth checking out when you have a chance.

    Are Video Poker Machines Random?

    The first question some new online Deuces Wild video poker players might ask is this:

    Are online video poker machines random? The answer is simple—of course they are. But let’s elaborate on that answer a little bit.

    Online video poker machines, like all gambling machines, are powered by computer programs called “random number generators.” (You’ll often see that abbreviated as “RNG.”)

    The way a random number generator works is this:

    It’s a computer program that constantly generates numbers at a rate of thousands of numbers per second. When you press the “play” or “deal” button on an online video poker machine, the RNG stops on the number it’s generating that split second.

    Deck of Poker Cards with Green Background with Random Numbers Faded into the Background

    In games like online Deuces Wild video poker, each random number corresponds to a combination of 5 playing cards.

    And since the probabilities behind a deck of cards are always based on a 52-card deck with 13 cards in each of 4 suits, is relatively simple for the programmers of the RNG to duplicate the probabilities you’d see from an actual deck of cards.

    So not only are video poker machines random, they’re also predictably random in the sense that they have the same probabilities as a real deck of cards.

    Choosing an Online Deuces Wild Video Poker Machine Based on the Pay Table

    The most important thing that differentiates one video poker machine from another, besides the presence of wild cards, are the payouts for the various hands you might wind up with. The most basic kind of video poker, Jacks or Better, has no wild cards.

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    With enough adjustments to the pay table, Jacks or Better morphs into other video poker variations like Bonus Poker, Double Bonus Poker, etc.

    In all Deuces Wild video poker online games, the 2s are wild. But the variations in payouts for the various final hands can differ wildly.

    Here’s one of the most common Deuces Wild video poker pay tables:

  • 3 of a kind pays off at even money.
  • A straight pays off at 2 for 1.
  • A flush pays off at 3 for 1.
  • A full house pays off at 4 for 1.
  • 4 of a kind pays off at 4 for 1, too.
  • A straight flush pays off at 9 for 1. (10)
  • 5 of a kind pays off at 15 for 1. (16)
  • A wild royal flush pays off at 25 for 1.
  • 4 deuces pays off at 200 for 1.
  • A natural royal flush pays off at 800 for 1.

  • This pay table provides a skilled online Deuces Wild video poker player with a payback percentage of 98.91%.

    This means that the house edge is about 1.09%, but it also assumes that you’re making the mathematically optimal play on each hand.

    If you’re just playing by the seat of your pants, you might be giving up between 1% and 4% more in terms of strategy mistakes. That still makes online Deuces Wild video poker one of the best games available at online casinos, odds-wise.

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    The payback percentage is a projection of how much the game will pay out in winnings over a long period of time. It’s a function of the probabilities of winding up with each possible hand and the payout for each of those possible hands.

    With any gambling game, the payback percentage is less than 100%. That’s how the casino makes its profit in the long run.

    But that’s not the only pay table for Deuces Wild that you’ll find. It’s not the best, and it’s also not the worst.

    Changes in the payouts for those hands can have a dramatic effect on your potential payback percentage. And the higher the payback percentage, the better off you are as a player.

    One pay table for Deuces Wild is called “full pay Deuces Wild,” and it’s going to make a liar out of me. Why? Because the payback percentage for full pay Deuces Wild is 100.76%, meaning you have an edge over the casino.
    Stick Figure Jumping Excitedly with Money Flying Around on Screen of Video Poker Game

    Of course, these pay tables are almost impossible to find, so my earlier generalization—that all gambling machines have a payback percentage of less than 100%–still holds for all practical purposes.

    Here are the differences between the common pay table above and a full pay game:

  • A flush only pays out 2 for 1 instead of 3 for 1.
  • A full house only pays out 3 for 1 instead of 4 for 1.
  • 4 of a kind pays out at 5 for 1 instead of 4 for 1.


  • This is counter-intuitive, because you have dramatically lower payouts for 2 of the more common hands, and you only have an increased payout for 1 hand—a hand which is theoretically harder to get than the 2 hands with the reduced payouts.

    But once you’ve done all the multiplication and division, the payback percentage is better for this version of the game.

    Another version of Deuces Wild is often called “Not So Ugly.” It has only 2 differences from the original pay table I posted:

  • A straight flush pays off at 10 for 1 instead of at 9 for 1.
  • 5 of a kind pays off at 16 for 1 instead of 15 for 1.

  • The payback percentage for “Not So Ugly Deuces Wild” is 99.73%.

    This pay table is hard to find, too, but it’s easier to find than full pay Deuces Wild. If you can find it, it’s worth playing.

    But unlike Jacks or Better, which only adjust the payout on 2 hands—the flush and the full house—the payouts on Deuces Wild are often adjusted on multiple hands at one time, making it harder to differentiate between one game and the other.

    Your best chance of finding the best Deuces Wild video poker online pay table? Invest in an app that analyzes pay tables. You can input the payous for any game, and such an app will spit out the payback percentage you can expect.

    These apps will often provide you with an appropriate playing strategy, too.

    How to Play Deuces Wild Video Poker Online Like a Smart Player with a Strategy

    Cartoon Guy with Magnifying Glass Looking Over Video Poker Machine, Math Symbols Above Him
    If you’re just a recreational player like me, the smartest and easiest strategy to remember when playing Deuces Wild video poker online is to remember to never discard a deuce. If you remember that, you’ll be ahead of a lot of the fish in the casino already.

    If you’re interested in taking your game up a notch, though, you’ll need to find a Deuces Wild strategy card for the pay table you’re playing. The correct strategy does depend on which version of the game you’re playing, too.

    These strategy cards consist of a ranked list of hands. You start at the top and work your way down until you find the highest-ranked hand that matches the hand you have.

    Those are the cards you’ll hold. You’ll discard the other cards.

    These strategy cards always sacrifice at least some tenths of a percentage to make them playable. A full, completely accurate pay table would be too complicated to actually use.

    Just keep in mind that if you’re using a video poker online strategy card for a game with a different pay table, you’re sacrificing some percentage points back to the casino.

    If you’re a recreational player, that’s okay, maybe—but if you have hopes of being an advantage player, you’ll want to get as close to the optimal strategy as possible.

    Conclusion

    Online Deuces Wild video poker is a lot of fun and offers some of the best odds in the casino, usually—but that varies based on the pay table.

    And yes, the game is completely random.

    The difference in pay tables is what changes the expectation for both the player and the casino. The casino doesn’t have the ability to adjust the randomness or lack thereof for the game.

    Once you can differentiate between pay tables, you just need to find an optimal strategy and start playing.

    Sticky Online Casino Bonuses – Are They a Rip-off?

    Hand Holding Mobile Phone, With Bonus Offer on Screen, Online Casino
    Many online casinos use impressive welcome bonuses to draw new players. Some even offer deals worth thousands of dollars.

    You may immediately be attracted to such offers due to their sheer size. But be forewarned that these deals may not be exactly what you think.

    The biggest online casino bonuses are usually “sticky,” which work somewhat differently than expected. They can be severely disappointing if you’re not prepared for how they work.

    Obviously you don’t want to be misled by a sticky bonus. Keep reading as I cover more on what these offers are, how they compare to regular welcome bonuses, and their pros and cons.

    What Is a Sticky Bonus?

    A sticky bonus is a deposit bonus that can’t be withdrawn. This offer is only used to generate winnings that can be cashed out.
    Cartoon Man Carrying Giant Money Bag

    You’ll be able to withdraw your winnings after meeting wagering requirements (a.k.a. playthrough). Wagering requirements are either listed as a multiple of the bonus, or multiple of the bonus plus deposit.

    Here’s an Example:

    • You deposit $100 under a 300% match offer.
    • You now have a $400 bankroll ($100 + $300).
    • Wagering requirements are 25x the bonus plus deposit.
    • 400 x 25 = $10,000 must be wagered.
    • You can withdraw your winnings after meeting playthrough.

    Sticky bonuses break down into two classes, including a phantom and expiring bonus. A phantom sticky offer is one that disappears as soon as you cash out.

    Here’s an Example:

    • An online casino is offering a 400% match sticky bonus.
    • You deposit $200.
    • You qualify for an $800 sticky bonus.
    • Your total bankroll is now $1,000 ($200 + $800).
    • You win $50 by the time wagering requirements are met.
    • You’ll be able to cash out the $50 in winnings, plus regular winnings.
    • Anything left over from the bonus, however, will disappear when you cash out.
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    An expiring sticky bonus can’t be withdrawn either. However, it remains in your account once you do cash out.

    Here’s an example of an expiring deal:

    • A casino is offering a 300% match bonus.
    • You deposit $50.
    • You now have $200 combined ($50 + $150).
    • You win an extra $75.
    • Your total funds are now worth $275.
    • You can withdraw $125.
    • The remaining $150 (bonus) remains in your bankroll.
    • These funds can be used to keep generating winnings until they’re lost.

    Of the two types of sticky bonuses, the phantom variety is most common. These are featured at casinos run by major software providers like Microgaming, Playtech, and RTG.

    Phantom sticky bonuses look very attractive due to their large match percentages. You may get a 300% or 400% match bonus on your deposit.

    Guy on Cell Phone Reading Contract
    Of course, you’ll want to thoroughly read the T&Cs before jumping at these offers. I’ll cover more on the terms behind a sticky bonus later.

    Sticky vs. Non-Sticky Bonus

    The big difference between a sticky and non-sticky bonus is that the latter can actually be cashed out. A cashable bonus allows you to withdraw a lump sum once you’ve met playthrough.
    Weighing Scale
    Here’s an Example:

    • A gaming site is offering a 100% match bonus up to $200.
    • You deposit $150, thus making you eligible for a $150 bonus.
    • Wagering requirements are 40x the bonus.
    • 40 x 150 = $6,000 must be wagered.
    • You can withdraw the entire $150 after betting $6k total.

    Many gamblers like non-sticky bonuses, because they’re less complicated to understand. You get to withdraw an exact amount of bonus funds upon satisfying T&Cs.

    Of course, the drawback is that you can’t win any more money than what you’re qualified for. If you deposit $100 under a 100% match bonus deal, then $100 is the most that you can earn.

    Common Terms on Sticky Bonuses

    I mentioned earlier that phantom sticky bonuses are the most common throughout the industry. But you won’t see these offers referred to with the words “phantom” or “sticky.”

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    Instead, online casinos refer to these deals as “not cashable” or “for wagering purposes only.” If you see either of these terms, then you’re dealing with a sticky bonus.

    Such offers are combined with your deposit to give you a larger bankroll. I covered several examples before on how these deals boost your starting bankroll.

    The main term to understand behind sticky bonuses is that you can’t cash out until meeting wagering requirements. Otherwise, all extra winnings that you accumulate will disappear along with the phantom bonus.

    Playthrough is another Important aspect that you want to take into consideration. Lower wagering requirements allow you to earn bonus winnings faster.

    Certain games may also offer reduced contributions towards playthrough, or be excluded entirely. High-paying slots (97.0% RTP and above), table games, and video poker games are often in the reduced contribution category.

    You’ll be restricted from making bets worth over a certain amount too. Casinos don’t want you placing one or more huge wagers for the sole purpose of collecting bonus winnings right away. You’ll also be subject to time limits on both claiming the bonus and satisfying wagering requirements

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    You often need to visit your account and claim the offer within 3-7 days. Casinos usually give you between 30 and 180 days to meet playthrough.

    Many gaming sites also place a cap on how much you can win from a sticky bonus. For example, you might only be able to cash out winnings worth up to $300.

    Of course, every online casino can differ with regard to terms and conditions. You always want to read the T&Cs anytime that you’re dealing with a new gaming site.

    What Are the Advantages of Sticky Bonuses?

    The biggest benefit of a sticky bonus is that you start off with a much bigger bankroll than usual. This is especially true when dealing with a 200% match percentage or higher.

    Here’s an Example:

    • The bonus deal is a 400% match up to $800.
    • You deposit $100.
    • You receive a $400 sticky bonus, thus giving you a $500 bankroll.
    You can lose lots of money in the beginning and not have to worry, because much of it will be from the bonus offer. If you win, then you can capitalize even more thanks to the bonus winnings.

    Another cool thing about sticky deals is that you can use strategy to boost your chances of success. After reading the T&Cs, you can get an idea on what kind of strategy to use when pursuing bonus winnings.

    For example, you can bet as close to the maximum amount allowed under the T&Cs. if you’re only allowed to wager up to $25, then you can bet between $15 and $25 to meet terms faster.

    Here are a couple of examples on strategies you can use to maximize a sticky offer:

    High Limit Baccarat Online Casino Game

    • You deposit $50 under a 400% match deal.
    • This leaves you with $250 total.
    • You put the entire amount on a single baccarat wager.
    • Your bet is successful and you now have $500 total.
    • You can meet playthrough through smaller, safe bets afterward.

    Meet wagering requirements with large bets

    • You deposit $100 under a 200% match offer.
    • This leaves you with $300 total.
    • You win an additional $100, giving you $400 total.
    • The max bet when meeting playthrough is $50.
    • You bet $50 every time until satisfying wagering requirements.

    These are just strategies that I whipped up as examples. You may tailor your own plan based on your risk tolerance and the casino’s T&Cs.

    The first strategy gives you an excellent chance of earning bonus winnings as long as the bet is successful. You can then place manageable wagers afterward to meet playthrough.

    But you also risk losing everything on the first wager. Additionally, some casinos may deem an all-in first bet as bonus abuse.

    The second strategy is also fairly risky. However, it at least keeps you from risking everything all at once.

    Downsides to Sticky Bonuses

    Sticky bonuses might give you a chance to win more money than a non-sticky offer. But these deals also present a greater risk too, because they don’t guarantee anything.

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    You only get to cash out what you win from the offer — not the actual bonus itself. If you lose everything before meeting wagering requirements, then you walk away with nothing

    Here’s an Example:Non-Sticky Sticker, Bright Green

    • You deposit $100 under a 200% match sticky bonus offer.
    • You start with $300 total.
    • Wagering requirements are 30x the bonus plus deposit.
    • 30 x 300 = $9,000 must be wagered.
    • You lose the entire $300 bankroll before satisfying playthrough.
    • You don’t get any bonus money and must deposit to play again.

    A non-sticky bonus, on the other hand, at least gives you a realistic opportunity to win bonus money even when you’re not doing very well.

    You may deposit $100 and only wind up with $50 after satisfying playthrough. But at least you end up with something thanks to this cashable bonus.

    The other big drawback to sticky bonuses is the fear of the unknown. You have no idea how much money you’ll truly be playing for, unlike with a cashable offer.

    Some players find it exciting to go after a variable amount of bonus winnings. But you may instead prefer the comfort of knowing exactly how much you stand to win through a non-sticky bonus.

    One more potential downside is the disappointment that can follow upon cashing out. Assuming you’ve read everything up to this point, then you have a good understanding on sticky bonuses.

    Unfortunately, not everybody reads the T&Cs associated with these offers. They’re then devastated upon withdrawing and finding out that the bonus disappears.

    Again, you personally shouldn’t have a problem with this. But many gamblers have been crushed after discovering that sticky bonuses can’t be withdrawn.

    Conclusion

    Should You Still Go for a Sticky Bonus?

    You don’t have to ignore sticky bonuses in favor of cashable ones. They can be just as good as cashable bonuses under the right circumstances.

    But you want to have a good idea on how they work before pursuing them. After all, sticky bonuses are misunderstood by a large portion of gamblers.

    The first thing to know is that these offers can’t be cashed out. You’ll only be able to withdraw winnings from them after satisfying playthrough.

    These bonuses also include other common terms and conditions. Winnings, bets, and game contributions can all be limited with sticky bonuses, just like with many other types of bonus deals.

    Sticky offers do have some inherent advantages over cashable bonuses. First off, they allow you to start with a much bigger bankroll. These deals often feature high match percentages on your first deposit ranging from 200% to 400%.

    Sticky bonuses also give you the ability to win more money than most cashable offers. Your winnings are only limited by any restrictions that a casino imposes.

    Your personal preferences may weigh into whether or not you want to pursue a sticky bonus. For example, you might not like the thought of playing for an unknown amount of winnings — or none at all.

    But then again, you may love being able to win hundreds of dollars through a small deposit. Sticky bonuses are definitely exciting if you’re willing to roll the dice.

    5 Amazing Secrets About Caribbean Stud Poker No One Tells You About

    Group of Friends Surrounding Laptop Playing Online Game, Background Image of Caribbean Stud Poker Game
    Caribbean Stud Poker has experienced booms and busts akin to every gambler’s personal experience.

    After debuting in the late 1980s, casino operators and players alike flocked to the new table game, the first to shake up the old guard of blackjack, baccarat, craps, and roulette. Five-card stud poker game play taking on the house instead of fellow players, an easy to learn structure, strategic elements, and bonus payouts – the game was always destined to be a fan favorite.

    Unfortunately, the rise of Caribbean Stud Poker prompted game designers to try their hand at creating the next big thing.

    While the Caribbean Stud Poker tables became increasingly common sights on casino floors from coast to coast in the 1990s, rivals like Mississippi Stud Poker, Let It Ride, and Three Card Poker emerged. Eventually, players moved on from the original hybrid table game and found the “new wave” of alternatives were more to their liking.

    From having hundreds of placements in Las Vegas alone in the ‘90s, Caribbean Stud Poker slowly died off, so much so that only two venues in Sin City (Venetian and Palazzo) still offer the game today.

    Fortunately for fans of the game like myself – and you if you’re reading this – online casinos have sparked a revival for Caribbean Stud Poker. Every major online casino platform spreads their own version of the game, usually under a slightly different title to avoid copyright infringement, so a real rebirth has occurred over the last few years.

    If you’ve recently discovered online Caribbean Stud Poker, or simply want to learn a little more about an old favorite, I hope you’ll enjoy the five amazing secrets nobody tells you about the game listed here.

     1 – A Three-Time WSOP Champion Claims He Invented Caribbean Stud Poker

    If you’re like most poker players, you probably have a dog-eared copy of Doyle Brunson’s Super / System: A Course in Power Poker (1978) on your bookshelf.

    But old “Texas Dolly” – a 10-time World Series of Poker (WSOP) gold bracelet champion – didn’t write the epic tome all by himself, he enlisted fellow top pros of the era like David Sklansky to contribute chapters on their best games. Sklansky tackled the beast known as seven-card stud high-low split, one of the more complex poker variants of them all.

    And for good reason…David Sklansky at a Poker Table with Casino Chips Stacked in Front of Him

    Sklansky was, and still is, a mathematics experts and statistical theorist who mastered the ins and outs of poker in all its various forms.

    Sklansky brought home three gold bracelets himself, winning his trio at the 1982 and 1983 editions of the WSOP. He followed that success up by becoming an author of his own, publishing “Hold’em Poker (1984)” and The “Theory of Poker (1999)” some 15 years apart.

    Back in 1982, however, Sklansky says he had his mind on another card game, one he invented in fact – “Casino Poker.”

    To play Casino Poker as devised by Sklansky, players put up a forced Ante bet to draw five cards randomly from the deck. The house dealer also drew five cards, leaving two of them face up for the table to see. Based on this partial information – their own five-card hand and the dealer’s two up cards – Casino Poker players then proceeded to either a) fold or b) place a second “Play” wager worth double the Ante bet.

    Whoever made the better five-card poker hand at showdown was the winner, and if the dealer held A-K high or better for a “qualifying hand,” players with strong hands would receive additional bonus payouts up to 100 to 1 for a Royal Flush.

    No, I’m not confusing Casino Poker with Caribbean Stud Poker… Sklansky claims he invented the former before another gambler co-opted it to create the latter.

    Taking to his popular Two Plus Two online poker forum in 2007, Sklansky declared himself the true brains behind the operation in a post titled “I Invented Caribbean Stud”:

    “In 1982 I invented the game that became Caribbean Stud. I called it Casino Poker. Except for the fact that I exposed one card rather than two, and had no progressive jackpot betting option, the rules were the same. Ante one, bet two more, dealer qualifies with AK. Plus there were bonus pays for high hands. I was told I couldn’t patent the game but I trademarked the name and put it on trial at Vegas World. I didn’t follow through because my girlfriend died during that time and I wasn’t up to it. A few years later a poker player asked me about the game because he knew a casino owner in Aruba. He brought the rules down there, they added the progressive, exposed only one card and got it patented. There is ongoing controversy about that patent and I was asked to give a deposition about it a few years ago.”

    Sklansky’s reputation in the gambling industry is unparalleled, so there’s no reason whatsoever to doubt his story.

    And sure enough, plenty of poker pros have stumbled into great ideas over the years, before ultimately failing to protect them properly through the patent process.

    For my money, I’d bet my bottom dollar Sklansky did indeed invent Caribbean Stud Poker, only to see his lack of patent protection put the rights into another player’s pockets.

    2 – Caribbean Stud Poker Provided the Template for Three Card Poker

    The year was 1994 and Caribbean Stud Poker was all the rage.

    Derek Webb was a casino gambler and aspiring game inventor at the time, so he started tinkering with existing hybrid table games to see if he might come up with the next gambling sensation.

    And boy did he ever…

    As Webb recounted to Global Gaming Business magazine a few years back, Caribbean Stud Poker formed the foundation for his new invention Three Card Poker:

    “I wanted to design a three-unit bet game that incorporated what I thought was the best of Caribbean Stud and the best of Let It Ride, and it was going to be naturally faster than Caribbean or Let It Ride. But also, the design needed to make sure that we got the three bet units out more frequently than Caribbean or Let It Ride. And those two combined features meant that it could go with a lower house advantage than either of those games, and give the player a more positive experience, and at the same time, create a higher win for the operator. So, in effect, you’re serving both sides of the table better than what was already out there.”

    As luck would have it – bad luck for Caribbean Stud Poker fans – Webb’s new game wound up crushing all comers to become the favored poker-based house-banked table game.

    And it remains so to this day, with hundreds of tables currently running around the clock in Las Vegas alone – many of which likely occupy the same floor space where Caribbean Stud Poker tables once stood.

    3 – You Should Be Folding Right Around Half of Your Hands

    One of the main reasons explaining Caribbean Stud Poker’s decline can be found in the table below:

    Probability Chart for Caribbean Stud Poker

    OUTCOME

     PAYOUT

    UNITS WON PROBABILITY
    Player Wins with Royal Flush 100 to 1 201 0.0001 percent
    Player wins Straight Flush 50 to 1 101 0.0008 percent
    Player wins with Four of a Kind 20 to 1 41 0.0142 percent
    Player wins with Full House 7 to 1 15 0.0834 percent
    Player wins with Flush 5 to 1 11 0.1097 percent
    Player wins with Straight 4 to 1 9 0.2198 percent
    Player wins with Three of a Kind 3 to 1 7 1.1751 percent
    Players wins with two pair 2 to 1 5 2.4482 percent
    Players wins with pair or less 1 to 1 1 11.7555 percent
    Dealer doesn’t qualify 1 to 1 1 22.7385 percent
    Push 0 0 0.0016 percent
    Fold N/A (-1) 47.7745 percent
    Dealer wins N/A (-3) 13.6786 percent

    As you can see, statistical expectation for basic strategy players shows that 47.77 percent of hands should be folded straight away.

    This “tight is right” strategy is right out of Sklansky’s playbook for traditional poker, but recreational table game gamblers don’t like the idea of forfeiting their Ante bet without a fight.

    At least not on half of the hands they see, that is…

    When the only choice is to hand the dealer a chip without going to showdown, or make a mistake by playing the Raise bet in bad spots, it’s no wonder so many players sought more exciting options.

    4 – Perfect Strategy for Caribbean Stud Poker Is Extremely Easy to Learn

    If you start out with one pair or better in this game, even a lowly pair of 2s, you should ALWAYS make the Raise bet.

    And if you’re hand ranks at A-K-J-8-3 or worse – meaning hands like A-K-10-x-x or A-Q-x-x-x – you should ALWAYS fold.

    That’s literally the entire basic strategy for online Caribbean Stud Poker right there in two simple rules. Using this system creates a house edge of 5.32 percent, along with a 2.60 percent element of risk.

    5 – You Can Practice Your Basic Strategy Skills for Free Online

    Screenshot of Caribbean Poker Training Tool
    You’re now armed with basic strategy lessons for Caribbean Stud Poker, so the next step should be to test your newly acquired skills with a training tool.

    An online Caribbean Stud Poker trainer will let you know if you’ve made a mistake based on basic strategy, so after a few hours spent practicing, you’ll be playing to perfection without a second thought.

    Conclusion

    The beautiful thing about casino gambling is how it constantly evolves with the times. Players in the ‘70s widely derided blackjack as a “woman’s game,” a diversion for the wife while they rolled dice at the craps table. Then, basic strategy and card counting books made blackjack the game of choice for a new generation. Caribbean Stud Poker came next, and after a rollicking decade of success in the ‘90s, it disappeared like dust. And today, thanks to online casinos taking a gamble of their own, the game is back to offer a new generation of players a taste of the old days.

    How Casino Comps Work for Beginner Gamblers

    Front Desk Casino Staff, Talking to Customers, Casino Chips Stacked on Bottom Right
    If you’ve never played at a casino before, you might not realize that you get free stuff just for playing. Free casino comps and given by the casino as an incentive to gamble more.

    Whether it’s really free or not is a subject of debate, though.

    After all, if you’re losing more money than the value of the free stuff you’re getting, it’s not really free at all.

    Some players specialize in taking advantage of the comps system at the casinos, too. They play basic strategy blackjack or optimal strategy video poker and get the house edge so low that the casino comps rate really does result in getting stuff that’s worth more than what you’re losing on the games.

    That sounds like a great deal, and it is, but it requires more effort on the part of the casino gambler than just plopping yourself down in front of the nearest slot machine and inserting your players’ club card. That’s a sure way of paying for your own casino comps indirectly via the money you’re losing.

    If you’re a complete casino beginner, this post starts with the basics of how the comps system works and how to potentially earn free casino comps. Before you can get the most out of the comps system, you must understand how the basics of the system work.

    Free Drinks

    The most basic level of free casino comps at a casino is the free drink. This isn’t a standard in Oklahoma, but in other bigger casino destinations (like Vegas or Atlantic City), EVERY player is eligible for free drinks. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing penny slots or baccarat for $100 per hand—you get free drinks.

    Three Beers in Glass Cheering

    Even in smaller casino destinations like Illinois or Oklahoma, you can get casino comps in the from of free soft drinks and coffee.

    These free drinks, by the way, are the only free casino comps the casino is willing to give you while letting you remain anonymous. The casinos’ goal is the same for every comp system—to encourage you to play more at their casino.

    The Players’ Club Card

    If you want more than free drinks, you must let the casino know who you are. This means signing up for a players’ card. Most casinos have their own loyalty club, although some chains provide you with a loyalty club card that’s good at any of their properties.

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    Signing up for this card puts your name and contact information into the casinos’ database. They’re going to use that information to market their casino to you.

    Any time you play a gambling machine at the casino, you should insert the card into the machine so that it can track how much you’re playing. You’ll also present this card to the dealer of any table games you’re playing. They’ll estimate your hourly action and update your card accordingly.

    The Other Kinds of Comps

    Once you’ve signed up for the players’ club, you’re eligible for multiple kinds of comps. One of the favorite comps for most gamblers—especially slot machine players—is cash back. (In fact, most table game players aren’t eligible for cash back unless they’re high rollers.)

    High Roller at Casino Table Putting in Poker Chips, Casino High Roller Chip at Top Left Corner

    As you gamble, you earn points on your card. These points are earned based on how much you wager, not how much you lose. You can win at the casino and still get points and cash back.

    The points are based on a percentage of your action, usually at a rate of something like 0.2%. For example, if you bet $600 on a slot machine in an hour, you’ll earn points worth about $1.20.

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    With these cash back rewards, you can sometimes even get your cash on the same day you earned it. Other times you have to wait until the casino sends you a voucher in the mail. That’s the casinos’ favorite way to do it, of course, because that gets you back in their doors to gamble more.

    Cash back isn’t the only freebie, though. Most players’ clubs also allow you to get free valet parking as a matter of course. Free entries to casino game tournaments, like slots tournaments, are also common and require next to no amount of gambling to get in on.

    With only a little bit of action, most casinos will give you a free meal at one of their lower-end restaurants, like the coffee shop. If you gamble a lot, you can get coupons for free meals at their higher end restaurants, too.

    It’s also common to be awarded free rooms and free upgrades to nicer rooms. If you gamble a lot, you can even get free airfare. These kinds of perks are the ones where you must start putting some real money into action before you’re eligible to get them, though.

    How the Casino Thinks of Comps

    The casinos understand the idea behind theoretical loss better than the average gambler. The rate at which they award you comps is based on that theoretical loss. If you lose more than expected, you might get extra awards, but you’re never penalized for winning.

    The card just takes into account the amount of time you play and the average size of your wagers. They multiply that by the house edge for the game to get your theoretical loss.

    Here’s an Example:
    You’re a roulette player, and you’re betting $20 per spin of the wheel. You’re averaging 100 spins per hour, so you’re putting $2000 into action per hour. The casino knows that the house edge for that game is 5.26%, so your theoretical loss is $2000 multiplied by 5.26%, or $105.20.

    The casino’s goal is usually to give you about 25% of that back as comps, or $25 per hour or so. This varies, though—from 10% to 40%.

    Basic strategy players can use this system to their advantage. This approach is covered in detail in Max Rubin’s excellent book Comp City.

    The average blackjack player loses 2.5% of every bet on average, but a basic strategy player can cut that number to between 0.5% and 1%.

    The average player who wagers $1000 on blackjack will lose $25, but the basic strategy player will lose between $5 and $10.

    But most comp systems just treat all blackjack players the same. If the casino is awarding your comps of $10 on $1000 in action, and your expected loss is $5 or $10, it’s easy to see how you’ll come out ahead in the long run.

    This is called being a comp wizard or comp hustler. It’s one of the perks of being good at basic strategy blackjack.

    Asking for Comps

    You should never be shy about asking for free casino comps. It’s rare that casino employees will just walk up to you and offer you free stuff, but it happens. That doesn’t mean you should be passive and wait for the casino to offer you the freebies, though. With a little bit of chutzpah, you can ask for and get free meals with a smile and plenty of good humor from the casino employees.

    Blackjack Casino Table, Hand Out Asking for Money Comps

    The appropriate person to ask for free stuff when you’re playing table games, by the way, is the pit boss. Don’t be shy about pointing out how much money you’re gambling.

    I once played at a casino in Kansas City where I was gambling between $10 and $100 per hand at the blackjack tables. The dealer had me rated at $10 per hand, but I was probably averaging more like $50 per hand. I only knew that they had me rated at $10 per hand because I asked. I explained to the pit boss that I was actually ranging the sizes of my bets.

    Of course, you have to be careful of this at the blackjack tables, too, because ranging the sizes of your bets is a big clue that you’re counting cards.

    If you go to the casino often, it’s a good idea to get a casino host. This employee’s job is to make sure you get taken care of so you’ll keep coming back to the casino. Casino hosts are authorized to give your more in the way of comps than you’d earn just through using your card.

    You’ll get plenty of free stuff in the mail without asking for it, though. You’ll get vouchers good for playing slot machines or video poker. You’ll also get tickets for free meals. You’ll even get coupons good for free or discounted room rates.

    The main thing to remember is that the casinos’ goal is to get you to keep coming back so that you’ll gamble more. They know that the best predictor of how much money they’ll win is the amount of time you spend gambling. And the best way to do that is to make you feel welcome.

    The Tricks to Getting More in Comps

    You have several ways to get more in comps than you might otherwise. Some of these are obvious, but some are less obvious. One way to do that is to work with a partner who can offset your bets.

    For Example:
    If you and your buddy are both playing roulette, one of you can bet on red and the other can be on black. You’ll both earn casino comps on that action, but you won’t be losing as much as if just one of you were playing the game.

    You could use the same approach playing craps—one of you takes the pass bet and the other takes the don’t pass bet.

    This will minimize your losses, but you’ll still lose in the long run. That’s just how the house edge works. For example, in roulette, you’ll both lose when a 0 or 00 goes up.

    Another approach is to make it look like you’re betting more per hand or game than you actually are. The best way to do this is to place larger bets when you first sit down, because that’s what the pit boss is going to rate you on. You can lower the size of your bets later during your gambling session.

    Another trick is to make it seem like you’re placing more bets than you actually are. You can do this by taking frequent breaks or sitting out various hands. A lot of the time, you can keep your seat at the table even when you’ve taken a break to go to the bathroom. This can take 20 minutes off the clock per hour if you’re smart about it.

    If you’re only spending 2/3 of the time at the table that the casino is rating you for, you’ll only be losing 2/3 of the theoretical loss.

    Combine that with convincing the casino that you’re wagering more per bet than you actually are, and it’s easy to see how you can come out ahead of the free casino comps game.

    Conclusion

    If you’re a casino gambler, it’s in your best interest to understand how the comps system works. For one thing, you want to be the beneficiary of the system. That’s impossible to do unless you understand the intricacies of the system to begin with.

    Also, the comp system is there for the purpose of making the casino more money. Your goal is just the opposite, so you must work hard to make that happen. Hard work isn’t enough, though—you also have to be smart.

    This post is just the beginning. If you want to get serious about comp hustling, you should review 2 books in particular. The first is Comp City by Max Rubin, and the 2nd is The Frugal Gambler by Jean Scott. The first focuses on blackjack and table games, and the 2nd focuses on video poker, but both cover the basics of how the comps system works in more detail than any single blog post ever could.

    How to Make a Living from Online Gambling

    Guy Sitting by Six Computer Monitors, All Displaying Various Casino Games
    Online gaming is commonly praised for its convenience. You can enjoy online gambling virtually anywhere through a smartphone or tablet.

    Now, imagine if you were also able to make a living through this convenient form of gaming. Some people actually have the skills and know how to pull this feat off.

    Part of their knowhow includes choosing the most-profitable forms of online gambling. After all, only certain types of gaming offer a long-term edge.

    What can you play to emulate professional online gamblers and earn big profits? Here are the types of online gaming that can actually lead to profits.

    Online Sports Betting

    Cell Phone in Hand, Placing Soccer Bet, Background of Soccer Game
    Sports betting sees you wager on outcomes involving sporting events. The most-common bet is a moneyline, which is a straight-up wager on which side will win a contest.

    Here’s an Example:

    – San Francisco 49ers +155
    – Seattle Seahawks -185

    You can see that the odds attached with these bets aren’t even. You stand to win $100 for every $185 wagered on the Seahawks. Meanwhile, you’d earn $155 for every $100 bet on the underdog 49ers.

    Unbalanced odds give sportsbooks a profit margin (a.k.a. juice). As long as they don’t consistently lose big money to pros, they’re virtually guaranteed to make money thanks to the juice.

    This profit margin might seem like a house edge, which guarantees that the average gambler will lose over time. But sports betting works differently.

    You can still earn long-term profits by wagering on sports. You just have to win at a high enough rate to beat both the odds and juice

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    The rate that you need to win at to become profitable in sports gambling depends upon the exact odds. You can find plenty of calculators that allow you to determine the break-even point for each set of odds.

    If you’re wagering on a team with -135 odds, then you’d need to win 57.4% of the time to break even. Assuming you betting on a team with +120 odds, you’d have to win 45.5% of your wagers.

    The exciting thing about sports betting is that you don’t really have to win frequently to make profits. At 10% juice, the average professional only wins at a 53% to 55% rate.

    The problem, though, is that sportsbooks have sharp enough lines to where it’s difficult to win over half the time. You’ll need to put in plenty of work to become a strong bettor.

    Handicapping is the best place to start. This process involves looking at multiple variables involved with a match, then determining which side offers the best value.

    Two Guys Cheering, Watching Soccer Game on TV

    Some of the variables that you want to consider include a team’s past performance, injuries, weather, statistics, and lineup changes. These aspects only cover the surface, but they provide a nice starting point with regard to learning handicapping.

    You might also consider investing in a sports betting software program. They offer a number of helpful statistics that help you spot profitable betting opportunities.

    Here are some of the situations that you can spot with these programs:

    • Arbitrage opportunity – A difference in odds at multiple sportsbooks that helps you make a guaranteed profit by wagering on both sides.
    • Public betting percentage – Shows what percentage of betting slips are on each side of a wager.
    • Odds change – Tracks every time that major online sportsbooks shift odds for various games.
    • Reverse line movement – When a line changes differently than expected, thus indicating which side the “sharp money” is on.
    • Steam move – When bookmakers change a line in near unison to counteract sharp money.
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    You don’t necessarily need to have software in order to be a probable bettor. But these programs are something that you should consider as you gain experience.

    One more thing to realize is that being a successful sports gambler isn’t anything like people expect it to be. You don’t just get to sit around watching games and making money. Instead, you need to constantly analyze the action from a gambling perspective.

    This process certainly doesn’t sound as exciting as merely being a fan. But sports betting is still a more-entertaining job than most.

    Esports Betting

    Esports Tournament in Background, Hand on Bottom Right Holding Money
    Online sportsbooks completely ignored esports a decade ago. After all, competitive gaming was confined to a very nice audience back then.

    But Esports have rapidly gained popularity within the past several years. As a result, most online sportsbooks now see the value in covering this industry.

    Esports gambling isn’t anywhere near as big as traditional sports betting yet. But it’s definitely picking up steam and is projected to be worth tens of billions of dollars in the coming years.

    Betting on esports can earn you a decent living now.  Of course, you definitely have to know competitive gaming in order to earn serious profits by betting on it.

    The easiest path towards big esports winnings include popular markets like Dota 2, League of Legends (LoL), Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), and Overwatch. These games have enough liquidity and different bet types to where you can earn significant money with them.

    The secondary markets are a bit lacking in esports gambling. Too much is focused on the major games at this point.

    Nevertheless, esports bookmakers don’t have the sharpest lines on games like World of Tanks, Street Fighter II, and SMITE. You can gain some additional value by betting on these games.

    Overall, esports wagering is a good form of gambling to jump into now. It only looks to grow in popularity in the future, meaning you can be on the ground floor and develop your skills now before the industry explodes.

    Online Poker

    In the mid-2000s, online poker experienced a boom unlike any other form of gambling has ever seen before. It went from something that was typically played by hardcore poker enthusiasts to becoming a global phenomenon.

    Many pros have since become multi-millionaires through this game. Di Dang, Hac Dang, Tom Dwan, Phil Galfond, Phil Ivey, and Ilari Sahamies are just some of those who made a fortune with online poker.

    Unfortunately, the online game has lost some of its luster due to various factors, including laws, regulation, and bots.

    Many countries have segregated their player pools after regulating online poker. These actions have reduced online poker’s liquidity and made it harder for sites to offer high stakes and huge tournaments.

    Bots are AI that are designed to play poker. Some of the best bots can consistently beat low and middle stakes, making them quite dangerous to the average recreational player.

    Despite the drawbacks, online poker is still one of the most-viable ways to earn a living through. It offers the opportunity to earn serious profits through cash games and/or tournaments.

    The catch, though, is that you must dedicate a lot of time to improving your skills. Both amateurs and pros have improved significantly over the years.

    But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to become a highly profitable player. If you’re motivated to log numerous hands and learn enough strategy, then you have a chance of being successful at this game.

    You should also pay special attention to bankroll management. You need enough money to survive any major downswings so that you can stay in the game.

    Cash players should have enough to cover at least 20 full buy-ins (100 big blinds) for their desired stakes. Multi-table tournament players should aim for 75-100 buy-ins.

    Daily Fantasy Sports

    Group of People on Couch Watching TV and picking Fantasy Football Team
    Daily fantasy Sports (DFS) are much like online poker in that they also saw a big boom. DraftKings and FanDuel pushed this industry to new heights by running countless advertisements in the mid-2010s.

    The result is that the public quickly became aware that they could gamble on fantasy sports. Industry growth has slowed down since then due to regulation. But DFS is yet another avenue for earning a living with online gambling.

    DFS involves filling out fantasy sports lineups while staying under a salary cap. For example, you might have to choose 10 NFL players without going over a salary cap of $100,000.

    The skill is choosing players that’ll outperform their given salaries. The better you are at doing this on a consistent basis, the stronger your chances of winning money.

    DFS is similar to online poker tournaments with regard to prize pool structures and fees. These tourneys require you to pay a buy-in, which contributes to both the prize pool and house fees (usually 10%).

    Here’s an Example:

    – A tournament requires a $10+$1 buy-in.
    – $10 goes into the prize pool.
    – The site takes the extra dollar as a fee for offering the tournament.

    Your goal is to win enough money to cover your buy-ins and also book profits. Of course, accomplishing this feat is easier said than done.

    DFS prize money is heavily weighted towards the top, with only around 10% to 15% of the field cashing. This structure creates plenty of volatility, where you’ll often go for a long time without cashing.

    I suggest having a sizable bankroll before getting started with DFS. After all, you need enough money to handle the variance.

    If you’ve play online poker, then you may already be familiar with this level of volatility. As covered before, a poker tournament player should have anywhere from 75-100 buy-ins.

    The same holds true when playing DFS. You need enough money to survive the dry spells in between your tournament cashes.

    Daily fantasy Isn’t the easiest route towards making online gambling profits. But the opportunity is here if you thoroughly understand sports/athletes and put the hours into learning specific DFS strategy.

    Conclusion

    Is It Worth Trying to Make a Living through Online Gambling?

    You have to take multiple factors into account before deciding if an online gaming career is right for you. The first of which is if you truly love any of the forms of gambling covered above.

    You must spend lots of time honing your skills for whatever path you choose. If you’re not passionate about a certain game, then there’s no way you can stand spending hours learning it.

    Another consideration is if you have the time to take online gambling seriously. You can’t realistically expect to become a pro if you only have 3-5 hours to spend on it each week.

    You’ll of course need to figure out which kind of gambling you want to pursue. As discussed above, DFS, esports betting, online poker, and sports betting can all be beaten.

    Bankroll management is yet another aspect to consider. You want a large enough bankroll to help you get past any low points so that you’ll eventually get back to profitability.

    Bankroll requirements vary based on the specific stakes and game you’re playing. It’s up to you to figure out exactly how much money you’ll need.

    Professional online gambling can be a great career that allows you to make your own hours and earn big profits. But like anything else, you’ll get out of it what you put in.

    Do Slot Machines on the Vegas Strip Pay Well?

    Welcome To Las Vegas Sign, Slot Machines in Casino in Background
    The Las Vegas Strip is no doubt one of the most-popular places to play slot machines. Millions of tourists hit Las Vegas Boulevard every year to spin the reels.

    Most of these gamblers aren’t too concerned about their exact chances of winning. They just want to enjoy fun games and get a few thrills.

    Of course, your bankroll stands to last longer when you do choose slots with fair pay. Therefore, you might be interested to know how Vegas Strip slot machines stack up to the competition.

    Whether you’re going to Sin City anytime soon, or just thinking about it in the distant future, you’ll want to know the following info on Vegas Strip slots payback.

    A Look at Vegas Strip Slots Return to Player (RTP)

    The Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) regularly offers revenue reports on their casino gambling industry. These resources cover gaming wins for the past 12 months, including wins for slot machines.

    You can get a composite view on how well Nevada slots pay and their house edges by looking at these reports. You’ll also be able to see a breakdown on prominent jurisdictions within the Silver State.

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    The Vegas Strip has its own set of numbers, given that it’s the key attraction of Nevada’s gambling industry.

    The NGC’s report breaks down how much the Strip’s slot machines pay based on coin denomination.

    Here’s how much the most-popular coin denominations delivered in 2018:

    • Penny slots – 88.30% RTP (11.7% house edge)
    • Nickel slots – 91.63% RTP (8.37% house edge)
    • Quarter slots – 89.40% RTP (10.60% house edge)
    • Dollar slots – 92.30% RTP (7.70% house edge)
    • Multi denomination – 93.61% RTP (6.39% house edge)

    You can see that penny slot machines are at the bottom in terms of payback. They only offered 88.3% RTP, making them one of the worst choices of all casino games in terms of winning.

    The multi-denomination machines featured the best rate at 93.61% RTP. You might want to stick with these games on the Strip, given that they both let you change the coin size and offer the best payback.

    How Do Vegas Strip Slots Compare to the Rest of Nevada?

    Knowing how much Vegas Strip slot machines pay is a great start. However, a reference point is needed to measure if the Strip’s slots do or don’t pay well.

    MGM Grand Casino on Vegas Strip, Nevada Gaming Commission Badge on the Top Right Hand CornerAgain, the NGC provides gaming win for the entire state as well as specific areas. These numbers can be pitted against the Vegas Strip’s figures to make a valid comparison.

    Here’s how well slots paid throughout the Silver State in 2018:

    • Penny slots – 90.0% RTP (10.0% house edge)
    • Nickel slots – 94.39% RTP (5.61% house edge)
    • Quarter slots – 92.83% RTP (7.17% house edge)
    • Dollar slots – 93.61% RTP (6.39% house edge)
    • Multi denomination – 94.74% RTP (5.26% house edge)

    Comparing the numbers, the Vegas Strip definitely doesn’t pay slots players like Nevada as a whole. All of their coin denominations offer at least 1% lower RTP than the entire state.

    The biggest difference can be seen in the quarter slots. The Strip only delivered 89.40% in 2018, while Nevada paid 92.83% overall.

    Another large discrepancy can be noticed with nickel slot machines. The Strip delivered just 91.63% against 94.39% for the state.

    Numbers Show That Vegas Strip Slots RTP Isn’t So Hot

    Vegas Strip slot machines are far from generous. In fact, they’re some of the lowest-paying slots that you’ll find anywhere in the world.

    The penny slots are especially awful. They only offered 88.3% RTP last year, which is about as bad as it gets with slot machines.

    Penny slots are often thought of as “cheap” games, because they only require one cent per line. But you’re theoretically losing $11.70 for every $100 wagered on Vegas Strip penny games.

    Surprisingly, the quarter slots barely paid better than the penny slots. The Vegas Strip’s quarter slot machines offered 89.40% RTP, which is really bad when considering the coin size.

    Only nickel, dollar, and multi-denomination slots delivered over 90% RTP. Multi-denomination machines were the best deal at 93.61% payback.

    Nickel slot machines paid 91.63% RTP, which is okay by the Vegas Strip’s standards. However, this payout percentage isn’t so great when looking across the board.

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    Keep in mind that these are merely averages from a single year. But the percentages are fairly accurate when considering how many bets are taken into account each year.

    Why Don’t Vegas Strip Slot Machines Pay That Much?

    The primary reason why Vegas Strip slots fail to offer reasonable payback is because they don’t have to. Casinos on the Strip can feature low slot machine RTP and still draw visitors.

    This iconic four-mile stretch is home to some of the world’s most-lavish casinos. Bellagio, Caesars Palace, MGM Grand, and the Wynn are just some of the headlining establishments on the Strip.

    Aerial View of Vegas Strip at Night

    Las Vegas Boulevard also offers many other attractions that draw tourists. The Park, LINQ Promenade, Neon Museum, and Fountain of Bellagio are some of the spectacles located here.

    Few people go to the Vegas Strip in search of the highest-paying slot machines. The small number that do would be severely disappointed upon seeing the numbers.

    The Vegas Strip is instead about the experience, with gambling mixed into the equation. Slot machines found here could probably pay even less, yet millions would still gamble on this famed boulevard every year.

    But the fact remains that the Strip doesn’t offer good slots payback. It lags behind many other areas of Vegas and the rest of the state.

    Vegas’ Boulder Strip exemplifies what good land-based slots payback should be. They offer some of the best-paying slots in the country.

    Here’s the Boulder Strip’s slots RTP for 2018:

    • Penny slots – 90.21% RTP (9.79% house edge)
    • Nickel slots – 96.23% RTP (3.77% house edge)
    • Quarter slots – 95.93% RTP (4.07% house edge)
    • Dollar slots – 95.13% RTP (4.87% house edge)
    • Multi denomination – 95.42% RTP (4.58% house edge)

    You can see a tremendous difference between slots payout percentages on the Vegas Strip and Boulder Strip. The latter offers around 2% or higher RTP with every coin denomination.

    A glaring difference can be seen in how much each location pays on quarter slots. The Boulder Strip delivered 95.93% RTP in 2018 — over 6.5% higher than what the Strip paid.

    Another notable difference included nickel slots RTP. The Boulder Strip featured 96.23% payback, versus just 91.63% for Las Vegas Boulevard.

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    Of course, it’s important to realize that these figures don’t necessarily represent what the machines are programmed to pay. They instead only account for what was realized last year.

    However, the numbers are far enough apart to show that the Boulder Strip offers a much-better deal. The Vegas Strip, meanwhile, lags behind the state. But you also have to remember that Boulder Highway doesn’t exactly have the same ring to it.

    The Eastside Cannery Casino Hotel, Sam’s Town Gambling Hall, and Boulder Station are all popular casinos. They just don’t have anywhere the amenities as a Bellagio or MGM Grand. You therefore want to consider if the higher slots RTP is worth it.

    Getting the Most Bang for Your Slots Buck on the Strip

    The Strip isn’t the greatest gambling destination in terms of slot machine RTP. But again, it’s not defined by offering great chances to win at casino games.

    Las Vegas Boulevard is instead an all-around entertainment hub that gives you the opportunity to gamble. Nevertheless, you should at least know which games will help stretch your bankroll further.

    The best deal is multi-denomination slots for two reasons:

    1. They offered an average of 93.61% RTP last year.
    2. These machines let you choose the coin size.

    You should definitely seek out multi-denomination games when you’re in Vegas. They offered at least 1.31% higher RTP than the rest of the slots last year.

    Dollar slot machines are your next-best bet purely in terms of payback. They delivered 92.30% RTP. But you’ll actually get more play out of nickel slots.

    Here’s a theoretical comparison between both slots to show the difference:

    • You perform 1,000 spins on dollar slot machines.
    • House edge is 7.67%.
    • 1,000 x 1 = $1,000 in total bets
    • 1,000 x 0.0767 = $76.70 in losses on dollar games
    • You perform 1,000 spins on nickel slot machines.
    • House edge is 8.37%.
    • 1,000 x 0.05 = $50 in total bets
    • 50 x 0.0837 = $4.19 in losses on nickel games

    The theoretical losses with both types of slots can differ when there are varying amounts of paylines involves. But if all lines are equal, then the nickel games are cheaper.

    The same can be said of penny slot machines when compared to nickel slots. They only charge one cent per line, meaning they’re fairly cheap to play.

    However, RTP is the problem with penny games. You have to weigh whether it’s worth facing 3.3% lower RTP with penny slots just to enjoy lower risk on a per-bet basis.

    Do Some Bankroll Calculations Before Visiting the Vegas Strip

    Slot machines aren’t cheap on the Vegas Strip. Penny slot machines are especially expensive, boasting an average house advantage of 11.70% last year.

    You therefore want to have a strategy in place for handling your gambling funds before leaving for your trip. The first order of business is to make sure that you don’t bet money you can’t afford to lose.

    A good way to do this is by going through your bills and figuring out how much free money you have each week or month.
    Hands Using Calculator, Taking Notes, Slot Machines Background
    You can then set aside a percentage of this amount (some should be used for savings) for a slots bankroll.

    The next step is to think about important variables, such as your spins per hour, average bet, and hourly losses. You can either come up with these estimates by tracking them yourself or merely thinking about the proper numbers.

    Most slots players spin the reels between 500 and 700 times per hour, depending upon breaks. You likely fall somewhere in this range too.

    Your average bet size should be fairly easy to figure out. You probably have a typical wager size, such as $0.25 or $0.50.

    Hourly losses can be difficult to determine, because they change based on the volatility and house edge of the games you’re dealing with. But a nice round number to consider is 250 lost bets per hour.

    You’ll probably lose around 250 wagers each hour until you’re able to hit some big payouts. If you’re wagering $0.50 per spin, this equals $125 in losses per hour.

    The final step is to run the variables and figure out how long your bankroll should last. The goal is to get an idea on if you should bring more money or make smaller bets to extend your entertainment.

    Here’s an Example:

    • You have a $1,000 bankroll
    • Your average bet size is $0.25
    • 1,000 / 0.25 = 4,000 total bets
    • You lose 250 bets an hour
    • 4,000 / 250 = 16
    • Your bankroll will theoretically last for 16 hours

    Slot machines are so unpredictable that it’s tough to determine if your bankroll will last X amount of hours, even with in-depth calculations.

    But you can at least get a nice estimate on how long your bankroll will hold up. Of course, you could also win some huge payouts and be up big at the end of your session.

    Play Some Online Slots on Your Vegas Trip

    Woman on Laptop Playing Online Casino Game
    You’re probably heavily into the land-based casino experience if you want to play slots on the Vegas Strip. But you might try mixing up your play with online slots during the excursion.

    Internet slots pay far better than those on the Vegas Strip or in any other land-based casino destination. The average online slot offers around 95% or 96% RTP, which is unrivaled in most brick-and-mortar casino hubs.

    The aforementioned Boulder Strip is about the only place that compares to internet slots RTP. Even then, you have to bet at least a nickel per line to play games with 95% payback.

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    Online casinos allow you to play penny slots with 95% RTP or better. Land-based casinos, on the other hand, can’t do this and still make money due to their overhead costs.

    Again, you probably aren’t going to the Vegas Strip to sit in your hotel room and play online slots. But you might consider lounging around the hotel, a bar, or elsewhere and spinning the cyber reels for a little bit to preserve your bankroll.

    Conclusion

    It would be great if you could enjoy the amenities of a Mandalay Bay or Wynn and have a great change to beat slot machines. Unfortunately, you can’t because Vegas Strip casinos don’t offer great slots RTP.

    Multi-denomination games led the way with 93.61% payback in 2018. But this figure is nothing to get excited about in the overall scheme of things.

    Penny slot machines paid just 88.30% RTP on average last year. You’d therefore be facing an 11.70% house edge with the average penny slot, which is horrible.

    You’ll get an okay deal with dollar slots (92.30% RTP). Then again, betting $1 per spin and still facing low payback isn’t anybody’s vision of gambling bliss.

    The truth is that you should head elsewhere in Vegas, such as Boulder Highway, if you want the best chance to win. The Boulder Strip offered over 95% RTP for all of its denominations, except penny games, in 2018.

    You can also play online slots on the side during your trip enjoy the best payout percentages of all. Of course, the key drawback here is that internet slots don’t offer the same experience as land-based casinos.

    Overall, you can’t go into a Vegas Strip casino expecting to beat the slot machines. They just don’t pay enough to give you a strong chance of winning.

    What you can do, though, is combine proper bankroll management with reasonable expectations. Performing bankroll calculations helps you go into each slots session with a realistic mindset. This process also keeps you from betting money that you can’t afford to lose.

    7 Reasons Video Poker Is Dying

    Three Video Poker Machines, with RIP Gravestone
    When video poker was introduced to casino floors, it quickly became a popular option for players. It offered something new and was another option for slots and blackjack players to try something new. New games were developed on a regular basis and the popularity grew. But it seems like video poker has been losing popularity for several years now.

    It’s rare to see a new video poker game in the casino or video poker online, and many of the older machines are being replaced with slot machines or table games or have pay tables that aren’t as good as they used to be. When you factor in the lower comp rates most casinos are paying for video poker play, it’s no wonder that it’s losing popularity.

    I don’t think that online video poker will completely die out for decades, because there are still players who go to the casinos to play it. Online casinos have no reason to stop offering online video poker games because it doesn’t cost more to keep the games they already offer available. But this doesn’t mean that video poker isn’t dying. Here are seven reasons video poker is dying.

    1 – Limited Game Variety

    Answer these two questions. Your answers don’t have to be exact; just make a quick estimate.

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    How many different slot machines are available in the casinos you visit and online?
    ?
    How many different video poker games are available in the casinos you visit and online?

    I don’t know the exact answers to these questions, but my guess is there are over 1,000 different slot machines available in land based casinos and online casinos. On the other hand, most people are hard pressed to name more than five video poker games.

    In truth, there are somewhere between 10 and 20 video poker games offered in big land based and online casinos. But the majority of play is on a few of these games. As a matter of fact, there are only three video poker games that I recommend learning how to play.

    • Deuces Wild
    • Jacks or Better
    • Pick’em Poker

    The reasons these are the only three I recommend is because they each have pay tables available that have a low house edge and at least one of them is available in just about every casino on the planet.

    Casinos have the opportunity to add new slot machines on a monthly basis. Slot machine manufacturers are always developing and offering new machines. Gamblers like to play new things, so the casinos want to offer new experiences.

    Slot machine manufacturers also keep coming up with new features and ways to improve their games. Instead of simple machines with three reels spinning inside with cherries and bars, we now have slot machines with story lines, video and audio aids, multiple bonus rounds, and graphics that rival live television.

    Video Poker Screen of Jacks or Better GameNow think about the advancements in the video poker machine industry over the last 40 years. Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild are basically the same as they’ve been since they were introduced.

    This limits the variety of games, and it doesn’t look like this is ever going to improve. The casinos are more focused on their profit per square foot than ever, and the bottom line is they have a better chance to make money with the latest and greatest slot machine than with a new video poker machine.

    2 – Fewer Good Pay Tables

    The house edge and pay back percentage of video poker machines are based on the pay table and the strategy that you use. While most video poker machines, even those with poor pay tables, have a lower house edge than slot machines, you still need to find the best pay tables if you want to have the best chance to win.

    The casinos don’t want serious video poker players. Instead they want recreational players who don’t know anything about how pay tables change the house edge and who don’t use strategy to lower the edge. The casino makes more money on video poker machines with poor pay tables.

    If you play video poker online, such as Jacks or Better, the best pay table is the one that pays nine for a full house and six for a flush. This pay table is called a 9/6. When you play on a 9/6 machine and use a strategy card the pay back percentage is over 99.5%. This doesn’t leave much for the casino. They still make money on the machine, but it’s limited in comparison to slot machines.

    Casinos have been phasing out video poker machines with good pay tables. Instead of offering several 9/6 Jacks or Better machines, they’ve replaced many of them with 8/5 machines, or worse. You can still find 9/6 machines, especially when you play online, but they’re getting harder and harder to find.

    The same is true for Deuces Wild and other games. By reducing the number of available machines with good pay tables, each casinos profits per dollar wagered on the machines goes up, but it reduces the number of people playing the games.

    This cycle gives the casinos even more reason to look for more profitable options for the space taken up by video poker machines. If this continues, and I don’t see any reason it won’t, it’s going to kill land based video poker machines in any but the largest ones.

    As I mentioned above, you can probably keep playing video poker online and on your smart phone for years to come because the games are already developed and the cost to keep offering them is minimal. In other words, the online and mobile casinos operate with a different cost and profit structure than land based casinos, so it’s not killing online and mobile video poker.

    3 – Few Progressive Jackpot Opportunities

    Every gambler doesn’t dream of hitting a huge jackpot that can change their financial future, but many of them do. Every day thousands of people who never go to a casino take their chances with a lottery ticket. Casinos do everything they can to duplicate the dreams of untold riches that the lottery produces.

    In almost every casino you can find slot machines with progressive jackpots. Many of these jackpots climb to over $1 million from time to time. Even the ones with jackpots as small as $100,000 offer life changing money to most of the people who play them.

    When is the last time you played a video poker machine that offered a progressive jackpot?
    Group of People Sitting Playing Video Poker at Casino

    They do exist, but there aren’t many of them. The last one I played was over 10 years back, and it was a Jack or Better with a poor pay table. The progressive wasn’t much higher than the normal 4,000 coin pay out for a royal flush, so it wasn’t a popular machine.

    With the top pay out of 4,000 coins on the most common video poker machines, players don’t see how they can win a life changing jackpot. While hitting a 4,000 coin payout is nice, it rarely produces enough to break even on your play over time.

    If you’re playing a quarter machine and wagering five coins per hand your total bet for the hand is $1.25. When you hit a royal flush the win is $1,000 on this machine. Everyone wants to win $1,000, but it’s not like you can pay off your house or car with it.

    Even if you’re playing a $1 machine, the total bet per hand is $5 at max coins, and the royal flush pays $4,000. These jackpots pale in comparison to the hundreds of thousands and millions that many slot machines offer.

    The only upside to video poker progressive jackpot machines, if you can find one, is if the jackpot climbs to a certain point the game can be played with a positive expectation.

    This doesn’t happen often, and it requires some mathematical skills to determine where the jackpot has to go for it to eliminate the house edge. You’re almost always better off in the long run to stick to a regular video poker game that has a good pay table and use a strategy card. If you want to chase a big pay day, play the lottery or a progressive jackpot slot machine.

    The lack of a life changing jackpot is clearly one of the reasons that video poker machines aren’t as popular as slot machines.

    4 – Strategy

    In order to keep the house edge as low as possible and have the best chance to win any time you play video poker online or in a land based casino, you have to play the best possible strategy. One of the best things about video poker is that you can play your hands a certain way to maximize your chances to win.

    Video Poker Games at Casino, Floating Gray Outline of Head with Symbols Inside

    Video poker games are based on poker hands. Most of them use a standard deck of 52 playing cards, but a few use a standard deck plus a joker. You receive a starting hand and choose which cards to hold and which cards to exchange for new cards in hopes of improving your hand.

    The pay tables shows how much you win for each hand and you can use this information when you decide which cards to keep.

    Here’s an Example:
    You’re playing Jacks or Better video poker and you get a pair of queens in your starting hand. You know that any pair of jacks or higher guarantees a win. You keep the pair of queens and draw three new cards. You hope to receive another queen or another pair, because these hands pay more than the pair of queens.

    The ability to use strategy is good for players, because if you always make the correct playing decisions it lowers the house edge. On the other hand, every time you make a mistake it makes the house edge go up.

    This ability to use strategy is good for the reason I just mentioned, but it also hurts the popularity of video poker. When you play the slot machines you don’t have to worry about strategy. You don’t even have to think. You put money in the machine and push the spin button. Many slot machines have a feature that even lets you set the machine so it automatically takes a number of spins so you don’t have to do anything.

    Different players go to the casino for different reasons. They all want to win, but for most of them this is just a hope, not a plan. Many gamblers want to forget about the world and their problems for a little while so they don’t want to be forced to think while they play.

    Slot machines, and many other casino games, are perfect for relaxing and forgetting the outside world. Video poker machines don’t really fit. If you want to have the best chance to win playing video poker you have to work at it.

    You have to use a strategy card or have the correct strategy memorized. After you memorize the basic video poker strategy for the game you’re playing it becomes easier to play. But it still requires more work and thinking than the slot machines or other games like baccarat or roulette.

    5 – It’s Boring

    Video Poker Screen with Man Yawning
    If you’ve never played video poker you might not realize how boring the game gets. Sign up for a free account at one of online casinos on this site and play 1,000 hands of video poker. After you learn how to play and achieve a few winning hands, you can see that the game quickly becomes boring.

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    As you learn the best strategy it can be somewhat interesting, but you quickly realize that most hands play themselves. Once you learn the most common plays, everything about your play becomes mechanical.

    Video poker only uses 52 or 53 cards most of the time so you see the same set of cards every hand. Even when you switch to a different video poker machine you see the same set of cards.

    Compare this to modern day slot machines. Each slot machine uses a set number of symbols, but many slots also include bonus features and games within games to keep them interesting. You can also move just a few feet and play a slot machine with completely different symbols and features.

    New slot machines introduce new twists and features all of the time, but new video poker machines are stuck with the same basic setup as old ones. In addition, boring casino games don’t give gamblers much of a reason to hurry back and play again.

    The casinos understand that gamblers want to play new and exciting games, so they’re using video poker less and more exciting and profitable games like slots more.

    6 – Lower Comps

    Most land based casinos, and many online casinos, offer a slot’s club or player’s club program that rewards players for gambling. The casino gives players comps for their play. Comps are based on the amount you gamble and the theoretical amount the casino makes from each game you play.

    Casino comps programs are unique to each casino, or group of casinos owned by the same company. You usually don’t know exactly how much you earn for your play, because you don’t know the return percentage the casino predicts for each game and you don’t know the percentage of that number the casino gives back in comps.

    Over the years the casinos have learned how much they can expect to make for each game and they’ve learned how much they can return to the players in comps and still keep a good profit.

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    You can find books, with most of them written several years back, that talk about playing video poker using good pay tables and proper strategy that earned enough comps to break even or come close.

    Casinos have access to the same books that you do, and they realized that some players were using comps in combination with smart play to reduce the casinos’ profit. The answer to this from the casinos’ side was to reduce the amount of comps you earn.

    In the past you might have earned .25% in comps when you played Jacks or Better, but today it might only be .1%. The other thing that casinos can do now is break up your play for comps purposes based on the individual game you play.

    Instead of lumping all of your video poker play into one category, whether you played Deuces Wild or Jacks or Better, they can assign a different comp rate for each individual game. In most land based casinos your comps play is tracked electronically, so it’s easy to use a computer program to track everything you do.

    This is even easier to do when you play at online or mobile casinos. The reduction of comps leaves less money for video poker players to play with, so it hurts the entire segment. This is directly adding to the death of video poker.

    7 – Fewer Machines

    Woman Counting Stacks of Money
    I’ve mentioned this in a few of the sections above, but the fact is that fewer video poker machines are available in land based casinos today than there used to be. As the profit per square foot of casino space used for video poker machines has went down, the casinos have replaced them with slot machines or table games that offer a higher profit.

    Land based casinos, at least the larger ones, will probably still offer a few video poker machines for several years. They know that a few players still come to play video poker, so they don’t want to drive these players to another casino. But the casinos don’t want to have too many low profit machines.

    Everything you’ve read so far might make it seem like the casinos lose money on video poker. The truth is that video poker machines are still profitable for the casinos; they just aren’t as profitable as other games. This means the casinos aren’t losing money on video poker, they just aren’t making as much on it.

    Here’s an example:
    If you play Deuces Wild or Jacks or Better with good pay tables and use the best strategy you can keep the house edge below .5%. Most video poker players don’t use the best strategy and play on machines that don’t have the best pay table.

    This can make the house edge go up to somewhere between 2% and 5%. This means that for every $100 you bet on a machine the casino keeps between $2 and $5. This isn’t bad, because it doesn’t take long to run $100 through a video poker machine.

    The house edge on slot machines runs from 2% to 10%, depending on the factory settings. This means that for every $100 you run through a slot machine the casinos keep between $2 and $10.

    I don’t know the exact numbers, and they vary from casino to casino, but the average profit for every dollar played on a slot machine is higher than the average on a video poker machine.

    In addition, players play more spins per hour on a slot machine than hands per hour on a video poker machine. Each video poker hand takes longer to play because you have to pick the cards you want to keep and draw new cards.

    Many slots players play twice as many spins per hour than video poker players play hands per hour. This makes slot machines even more valuable.

    Conclusion

    I enjoy playing video poker, so I don’t want to see it die. The odds are that it won’t completely die out anytime soon, but the trend of fewer machines in casinos looks like it’s going to continue. Online and mobile casinos will probably always offer video poker, but I can see a day when land based casinos completely do away with video poker.

    Land based casinos are already eliminating video poker machines with the best pay tables, and as fewer players play because of the lower pay tables it just makes the situation worse.

    7 Ugly Truths Behind No Deposit Bonuses

    Money Bag With Money Stacks Coming Out, Black Boxed Questions Marks Floating
    No deposit bonuses are among the most-popular offers in online gaming. They’re one of the few deals that give you a chance to win something for nothing.

    These bonuses are easy to obtain too, because you merely need to register for an account to qualify. As long as your account is approved, you’ll receive the no deposit offer.

    You can then take your bonus and play real-money games for free. If successful, you’ll collect winnings that can either be withdrawn or used to generate bigger prizes.

    No deposit bonuses sound like the perfect deals for a low roller who’s hoping to build a bankroll. However, these offers are far from perfect.

    In fact, no deposit bonuses have some flaws that you want to know about before considering. Keep reading as I uncover the 7 ugly truths behind these deals.

    1 – No Deposit Bonuses Are Small

    You’ve likely seen the flashy welcome bonuses offered at online casinos that are worth hundreds or thousands of dollars. For example, a gaming site may offer a 100% match bonus worth up to $1,000.

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    The average no deposit bonus is a far cry from these types of offers. Instead, a no deposit deal is usually only worth between $5 and $25.

    It makes total sense why casinos won’t give you hundreds of dollars in free funds. After all, your account registration details aren’t quite worth a $500 starting bankroll.

    Nevertheless, you want to keep in mind that gaming won’t shower you with free cash. They merely dangle these bonuses in hopes that you’ll later make a deposit and play for real money.

    2 – You Can Only Cash Out Winnings

    One of the biggest misassumptions regarding no deposit bonuses is that they work like a deposit bonus. In the latter case, you can withdraw the given bonus (provided it’s cashable) after meeting terms and conditions.

    Laptop Giving Money Bag Through Screen to Person Playing

    Here’s an example of how this works:

    • You deposit $100 under a 100% match bonus deal.
    • You meet T&Cs.
    • You’re now able to cash out the full $100.

    No deposit bonuses don’t work like this. If you’re given a $25 bonus, you don’t get to withdraw $25 after satisfying T&Cs. You only get to cash out the winnings that are generated through the offer.

    Here’s how no deposit bonuses work:

    • You receive a $20 no deposit bonus.
    • You win $10 by the time you meet T&Cs.
    • You’ll only be able to cash out $10 — not $20.

    Some players are disappointed to learn that they can only get the winnings. However, you can avoid this disappointment by knowing the deal ahead of time.

    3 – The Playthrough Is High

    Of all the terms and conditions, playthrough (a.k.a. rollover) is arguably the most important. This term is the basis for how much you’ll need to bet before collecting winnings from your bonus.

    Rollover is expressed as a multiple of the bonus amount. Provided you’ve met the other terms, you’ll be able to collect your winnings after satisfying playthrough.

    Here’s an example:

    • You receive a $10 no deposit bonus.
    • Rollover is 60x the bonus.
    • 60 x 10 = $600 must be wagered before cashout out winnings

    The problem here is that 60x playthrough is incredibly high. Most deposit bonuses, in contrast, only carry around 40x requirements.

    Casinos are perfectly within their rights to set the bar high for winning with no deposit bonuses. But the high rollover makes it difficult for you to earn anything from these deals.

    4 – Certain Games May Not Count Towards Rollover

    The best strategy for satisfying playthrough is to play slots and table games with the highest return to player (RTP). But there’s one problem with this idea: not only games count the same towards rollover.

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    Casinos may exclude all table games from meeting playthrough for a no deposit bonus. Other games, such as high-paying slots, may offer reduced contributions.

    In the latter case, a slot with 97% RTP may only contribute 20% towards rollover.

    Here’s an example of what to expect in this situation:

    • You play a slot with 97% RTP.
    • Playthrough on no deposit offers is normally 60x.
    • But this game only contributes 20% towards rollover.
    • 60 / 0.2 = 300x playthrough

    The rollover has now been increased fivefold. You’re better off playing a slot with 95% RTP, or even lower, to earn your winnings in this case.

    You want to thoroughly examine the restricted/reduced-contribution list before using a no deposit bonus. Your desired games may offer an unfavorable deal due to their reduced contributions.

    5 – Your Winnings Will Be Capped

    The ultimate online gambling dream would be to turn a no deposit bonus into a massive jackpot. For example, you might get extremely lucky and use a $10 bonus to win a $100,000 slots prize.
    Man Sighing with Money Signs Surrounding Him
    Casinos aren’t about to get burned by this dream scenario. They cap your winnings at a certain point with these offers.
    You’re normally only able to win between $100 and $300 with these deals. You probably wouldn’t complain about earning hundreds of dollars for free, but this isn’t a life-changing fortune.

    Gaming sites aren’t trying to satisfy your dreams with no deposit bonuses. They merely want to recruit you as a potential customer.

    6 – You Have to Meet the Casino’s Minimum Withdrawal

    Even if you win a few dollars, no deposit offers seem worth the signup effort. However, you won’t necessarily be able to withdraw this small amount.

    Every online casino has a minimum cashout amount. They don’t want to waste their time processing withdrawals worth $2 or $3.

    Most minimum cash outs range somewhere between $10 and $25. If you don’t earn enough with your no deposit bonuses to meet these amounts, then you can’t withdraw the money.

    Here’s how this can be a problem:

    • You win $5 after meeting T&Cs.
    • The casino requires a $10 minimum withdrawal.
    • You must keep playing until reaching this $10 amount to cash out.

    Many gaming sites require you to make a deposit before withdrawing no deposit winnings. Therefore, you may be able satisfy the minimum cashout after placing your deposit.

    7 – You May Not Be Able to Get the Welcome Bonus

    Some casinos have a stipulation that you can only get either a no deposit bonus or welcome bonus — not both. In these situations, you need to decide what’s most important to you.
    Brief Case with the Words Welcome & Poker Chips as A BonusNo deposit bonuses are great from the perspective that they offer a shot to win free money. Odds are, though, that you won’t earn anything significant from them.

    Welcome bonuses often give you the chance to win hundreds or thousands of dollars. But they also require an investment and can end up costing you money by the time T&Cs are met.

    You aren’t necessarily wrong by forgoing a welcome bonus in order to pursue a no deposit deal. This is especially true if you’re a low roller who just wants to try out a casino before depositing.

    However, you want to know ahead of time if you’re giving up a chance at more bonus money just to chase no deposit winnings.

    Conclusion – Are No Deposit Bonuses Still Worth Pursuing?

    Now that you know the ugly truths of no deposit bonuses, you can decide if they’re truly worth the effort.

    The benefit to these deals is obvious: you can win free money, with the only cost being the time it takes to complete account registration.

    However, you also have to be prepared to waste plenty of time with these deals before you actually profit. The high playthrough, game restrictions, capped winnings, and minimum cashout are all working against you.

    Casinos wouldn’t offer these deals if they lost big to the average player. They know that the chances of you winning anything by the time T&Cs are met are low.

    But this doesn’t necessarily mean you should ignore no deposit bonuses. They’re nice offers depending upon what type of player you are.

    If you’re somebody who’s just looking for a new casino and don’t care about big bonuses, then no deposit deals are great. They give you a free opportunity to cash in while trying out games.

    They key, though, is to be realistic when signing up for no deposit offers. They won’t make you rich, because the winnings are capped anyways.

    At best, you’re probably only going to wind up with a few bucks after meeting the lofty rollover. You’ll then need to make a deposit just to withdraw the winnings.

    Some gaming sites also force you to choose between a no deposit and welcome bonus. You want to opt for the latter if earning big bonus money is your goal.

    In summary, keep the downsides of no deposit bonuses in mind before jumping at these opportunities. Nothing is ever truly free, especially in the online gaming world.

    5 Top Slot Machine Tips for Beginners

    Woman on Slot Machine, Money Signs Floating Around Her
    Slot machines are easy to play and offer the opportunity to win a nice prize for a small investment. This is why the slots are the most popular games in the casino. It’s also why so many new gamblers start playing slots.

    Playing slot machines is simple, but there are a few things you can do to improve your experience and give you a better chance to win. I’ve put together a list of five top slot machine tips for beginners to help you get started.

    1 – Read the Rules

    To get started playing slot machines is easy. You put some money into the machine and hit the spin button. Some machines let you choose how many lines to activate and/or how much to bet per coin, but it doesn’t take much time or effort to get started.

    Because it’s so easy to play slots, many players don’t read the rules before they start playing. While this isn’t always damaging, if you don’t read the rules it can cost you money.

    Here’s an example:

    Many progressive jackpot slot machines require you to activate all of the pay lines ad make the maximum coin size wager in order to be eligible for the jackpot. If you don’t follow the rules you could miss out on a prize of hundreds of thousands, or even millions.

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    The rules aren’t located in the same place on every machine in the casino or on online slot machines. Look for a button on the machine or screen that takes you to the rules screen. It might be labeled rules or information, but you should look for it any time you start playing a new slots game.

    2 – Jackpot or Bust

    Slot machines are popular for gamblers, and the casinos love them too. The slots have a higher house edge than most games in the casino, and they don’t require much in the way of man power to run. They don’t need a dealer for gamblers to play, so they just sit there waiting for the next player.

    The house edge is the amount the casino makes from wagers. You often see different terms when reading about slot machines, like return to play and hold. But all of the terms basically boil down to one thing; how much the casino keeps.

    Here’s an example:

    A slot machine with a house edge of 3% has a return to player percentage of 97%. This means that in the long run the casino pays back to the players $97 out of every $100 wagered on the machine, and keeps $3 for profit.

    Jackpot Shown on Casino Slot Game, Showing 3 Strawberries

    This might not seem like much, but what it means is that the longer you play the slots, the more money the casino takes from your bankroll.

    The house edge isn’t something that works on a perfect basis from minute to minute or hour to hour, but in the long run, over months and years of play, always works in the casino’s favor. This means that sometimes you can win, but in the long run the odds are high that you’re going to lose.

    This is why I prefer playing progressive or jackpot slot machines. I know that the casino is going to slowly drain my bankroll while I play slots, so I want to have the chance to win a big jackpot when I play.

    In other words, every time I play slots I plan to either lose all of the money I’ve set aside to play or hit a big win. I never fool myself into thinking I can beat the slots. If I get lucky and hit a big jackpot, then I might get ahead.

    In this aspect, I treat the slot machines a great deal like the lottery. I risk a set amount of money for the chance to win big. The size of the jackpot that you decide to shoot for is a personal preference. I don’t play anything that doesn’t have at least a $100,000 top prize, and I prefer progressives over $1,000,000. But some people are happy to play for a chance at $10,000 or $20,000.

    This leads to my advice for every beginning slot machine player; forget about beating the slots and play all out for a big win. You might never hot a huge win, but if you do, at least it’ll be enough to make a difference in your life.

    3 – Online Bonuses

    I’ve played slot machines in land based casinos and online, and to me there isn’t much difference between the two. One big difference is you can get some big bonuses when you play slots online. And a big bonus if the exact thing you need when you follow my advice in the last section.

    If you have $500 to play the slots with, you can find online casinos that are willing to match that with another $500 or more. This gives you twice as many chances to hit a jackpot. If you go into it with the same plan I use; playing for a jackpot or bust, you have no reason to avoid online bonuses.

    The main thing you need to watch out for when using an online slots bonus to chase a jackpot is to make sure there isn’t a maximum amount you can cash out if you win big. Most bonuses don’t have a limit, but you need to read the rules to verify.

    One other thing to look for in the rules is if there’s a weekly or monthly maximum cash out clause. Once again, most online casinos don’t have this clause, but you need to know before you make a deposit.

    When you get ready to get a big bonus and chase a jackpot, start with the casinos listed on this site. Most online casinos are legitimate, but there are a few bad apples. That’s why this site only recommends trusted casinos.

    4 – Slot’s Club

    Casino Rewards Club Front Desk

    If there’s a single rule that every slot machine player should always follow, it’s this one. Always sign up for the slot’s club or player’s club before you start gambling. It doesn’t cost anything to sign up, and you can earn comps and other special offers with your play.

    Just about every land based casino has some sort of club, and many online casinos offer them as well. Land based casinos commonly give players free meals and merchandise, and if you’re a big player you can earn free hotel rooms, free flights, and free trips.

    Online casino slot’s clubs also help you earn free things, but most of them focus more on extra bonuses, which is perfect when you’re chasing a progressive jackpot.

    5 – Fewer Spins per Hour

    Slot machines are designed to get you to wager as much money as possible. Most machines are set u so all you have to do is keep hitting the spin button and they’ll play as fast as you can push the button.

    When you spin as fast as you can, you end up wagering a large amount of money in a short time, even if you’re only risking a small amount per spin.

    Here’s an example:

    You’re playing on a slot machine that costs $1 per spin. It’s designed so it remembers your preferences and all you have to do is hit the spin button. By spinning as fast as you can, you can realistically take 500 to 600 spins every hour.

    This means that you’re betting between $500 and $600 every hour. While every spin gives you a chance to win a jackpot, it also means the casino is keeping a small percentage of every wager.

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    Consider what you learned about the house edge in an earlier section. If the slot machine has a 5% house edge, which is a 95% pay back, you lose on average $5 for every $100 you bet. Betting between $500 and $600 an hour costs you between $25 and $30 every hour on this machine.

    The easiest way to make your bankroll last longer is to take fewer spins. Instead of making 500 to 600 spins every hour, if you take 250 to 300, you basically can play twice as long.

    Conclusion

    Use these five slots tips when you decide to gamble and you’re going to be taking advantage of everything you can. It only takes a minute to read the rules, and this can help you make sure you don’t miss out on anything important, like a big win.

    When you play for a jackpot instead of trying to figure out how to win a little, you don’t have to worry about trying to beat a game that you can’t win. When you combine a bonus and join the slot’s club, you get to play longer, earn some cool things, and increase your chances at hitting a big win.

    3 Reasons You Should Play Baccarat

    When is the last time you played a hand of baccarat? How long has it been since you played the slots?

    Casino Baccarat Table, cards facing up and poker chips on table

    For most gamblers, the answer shows that they’ve played slots more recently than baccarat. Slot machines are the most popular games in the casino, and baccarat is one of the least popular games. This is exactly how the casino likes it, because they make more money from a player sitting at the slot machine than they make from a baccarat player.

    Gamblers like slots for many reasons, but some of the benefits you get from playing slots you can get playing baccarat. When you look at many of the same benefits, and add in that baccarat helps your bankroll last longer, it’s a wonder that more people don’t give up slots and play baccarat instead.

    My guess is that most slots players don’t know enough about baccarat to try it out. This is true for gamblers who play other games as well. On this page I’m going to explain why baccarat might be a better option than your current favorite gambling game.

    1 – Baccarat Is Easy to Play

    The easiest game to play in most casinos is a slot machine. You find a machine, sit down, put some money in the slot, and push a button or pull a lever. The reels spin and the machine either keeps your money or adds money to your balance when you win. You can’t use strategy or skill to influence slot machines.

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    This is why slots are so popular. You don’t have to think about anything, so you can let your mind wander and forget about what’s going on in the real world for a few hours. Casinos know that the ease of use is one of the things that make slot machines so popular.

    The casinos take advantage of this by using slot machines with a lower pay back percentage than most other games. I discuss the house edge more in the next section, but did you know that there’s another game that’s just as easy to play that offers a lower house edge?

    Baccarat shares many of the same benefits as slot machines when it comes to ease of play. In baccarat, you find a table, sit down, and place a bet. The dealer takes care of everything else. While you can and should use strategy when you play baccarat, the strategy is simple and you only have to do one thing.

    Always bet on the banker hand.

    That’s the entire strategy in one sentence. You don’t even have to push a button or pull a lever when you play in a land based casino. When you play online, playing baccarat is just as simple as playing a slot machine. Open the game, place a bet, and push a button, and then see if you win or lose.

    Some players feel the need to understand how to score baccarat hands, but you don’t even need to know how to do that. When you play online the casino software takes care of everything, and when you play in a casino the dealer takes care of everything.

    This is technically only true when you play mini or midi baccarat. This is the version that most people play in a land based casino. It’s played on a table that looks like a blackjack table. The actual game of baccarat is played on a bigger table, usually for high stakes, and the players take turns being the bank.

    If you see one of these tables, look for a mini baccarat table. If you don’t see one, ask one of the casino personnel. When you play online, every baccarat game is the mini baccarat version, even when it’s just called baccarat.

    If you want to know how the hands are scored in baccarat, here’s a quick tutorial.

    The point value for each card is added together, and if the total is over nine, the first number is dropped. In other words, when a value goes over 10 you subtract 10 from it. If the value is over 20, you subtract 20 from it, leaving just the single digit number.

    Here’s an example:

    The player hand receives a king and a four. The banker hand receives a five and a three. The player hand totals 14, so you drop the first number, resulting in a total of four. The banker hand has a total of eight, so it doesn’t draw another card. The player hand gets another card and receives three. This is added to the original total of four, for a total of seven. The banker hand wins.

    This is basically how to score baccarat hands. Each casino has specific rules about when each hand stands and when each hand draws another card, but you don’t have to worry about them. You can ask for a copy of the rules if they aren’t posted on the table in a land based casino, or you can read the rules when you play online by clicking on the rules, how to play, or help section when you load the baccarat table.

    Hand Placing Poker Chips on Baccarat Table, Question Marks

    You won’t find an easier game to play than baccarat in the casino. You can find games that offer a lower house edge, but you trade the ease of play for more work. To get a lower house edge, you have to use strategy and more brain power. If you’re looking for a way to play for hours and forget the world, baccarat is your best bet.

    2 – The Low House Edge

    Casino games are profitable for the casinos. They all have something called a house edge. The house edge is a percentage of every bet that the casino keeps as a profit. Different games have different house edges, and some games are designed so you can use strategy to lower the edge.

    Blackjack is a good example of a game that allows players to use strategy to change the house edge. The rules of the blackjack game also change the house edge from game to game. A blackjack game might have rules that allow a player to keep the house edge as low as .5% or lower, but only if they use perfect strategy.

    If you don’t use perfect strategy, the house edge for the same game can be 1% to 2% or higher. It’s not particularly difficult to use good strategy especially if you use a strategy card, but you have to think about what you’re doing on every hand.

    Video poker is another example of a game that sometimes offers a low house edge, but just like blackjack, you have to use perfect strategy and make mental decisions on every hand.

    The casino is also filled with games that have a much higher house edge. Slot machines have an edge of 2 to 9 or 10% in most casinos, and many table games range from 2 to over 5%. The house edge is directly responsible for draining your bankroll, so it’s important to look for games that have a low house edge.

    Casino games with a low house edge give you the best chance to win and help your bankroll last longer. When you play a game with a house edge long enough, the casino eventually takes all of your money. Every game in the casino has a house edge, so gambling is usually a long term losing proposition.

    The good news about baccarat, in addition to being so easy to play, is that the house edge on the banker bet is only 1.06%. This makes much lower than slot machines, and also makes it lower than most other games, even when you use strategy to lay them.

    If you want to play games with the lowest possible house edge and are willing to work at it, blackjack, some video poker games, and traditional poker like Texas holdem offer better opportunities. But when it comes to casino games that are easy to play that offer a low house edge, baccarat is the king.

    The house edge on the player bet at the baccarat table is 1.24%. This is still better than most of your other options, but there’s never a reason to make this bet when the banker bet offers a lower edge. The tie bet is always the worst bet on the table, with the edge as high as 14.36% depending on the pay out.

    The bottom line is, the only strategy you need to use when playing baccarat is to make the banker bet.

    The casino takes a commission of 5% on all winning banker bets. This is already figured into the 1.06% house edge for the bet, so it’s still the right wager. The only downside to this is the dealer has to make change on every hand where the banker bet wins unless you bet a certain amount.

    This isn’t really a downside though, because it can slow the game down. The fewer hands per hour you play, the longer your bankroll lasts.

    The house edge is useful to know for other reasons than simply knowing that you should play games with a low edge. If you know how much you bet per hand and how many hands you play per hour you can use the house edge to predict how much you lose per hour and how long you can play with your current bankroll.

    Here’s an example:

    Casino Banker Throwing Poker Chips on Gaming Table

    You play baccarat and always bet on the banker. You make $20 bets on each hand, and where you play the average number of hands per hour is 100. To determine how much you can expect to lose you multiply $20 per hand times 100 hands per hour. This gives you a total wagered of $2,000 per hour.

    Now, multiply this amount by the house edge of 1.06% and you get the amount you can expect to lose, on average, per hour. This is $21.20 in expected hourly losses.

    If you have a $500 bankroll, you can divide it by the expected hourly loss rate of $21.20 to figure out how many hours you should be able to play before running out of money. This comes out to 23.5 hours of play.

    Your results will vary from hour to hour. Some hours you’re going to lose more than $21.20, and some hours you’re going to lose less, or even win. But over a long period of time, the expected loss per hour, or average loss per hour, is going to be $21.20 using the numbers above.

    When you play baccarat in a land based casino, the tables have a minimum bet. Many tables have a minimum bet of $10 or $20, so you’re forced to put quite a bit of money at risk every hour you play. But when you play online baccarat you can find tables that have a minimum bet of $5 or less. I’ve even seen tables with a $1 minimum bet online.

    By lowering your bet size, you can play much longer on the same bankroll. The downside to playing baccarat online is that you can play many more hands per hour than when you play live. The baccarat software runs each hand as fast as you can push the play button, so it’s possible to play 400 or more hands per hour.

    The more baccarat hands you play per hour, the more you lose on average. If you want to play for as long as possible on your bankroll, you should play online at a low minimum bet table, but you should try not to ply faster than you play at a land based casino.

    Here’s an example of how much longer you can play with a lower bet size.

    In the last example you had a bankroll of $500 and could expect to play 23.5 hours making 100 $20 bets per hour. If you play online and make 100 $5 bets per hour you can play four times as long.

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    $5 X 100 = $500
    $500 X 1.06% = $5.30 expected loss per hour
    $500 bankroll divided by $5.30 = 94.3 hours

    Even if you play 200 hands per hour instead of 100, you can play twice as long with the same bankroll making bets of $5 instead of $20.

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    $5 X 200 = $1,000
    $1,000 X 1.06% = $10.60 expected loss per hour
    $500 bankroll divided by $10.60 = 47.2 hours

    You can run the numbers yourself using this simple formula with different bet sizes, bankroll amounts, and number of hands per hour.

    3 – Online Baccarat Bonuses and Comps

    So far you’ve learned about how easy it is to play baccarat and how the house edge makes it one of your best choices at the casino. You’ve also learned how to figure out how long you can play based on the house edge, your bet size, and the number of hands per hour you play.

    The news about baccarat gets even better. When you play baccarat online you can find casinos that are willing to give you a bonus when you make a deposit. This can often double the time you can play on your bankroll. Sometimes you can find a bonus that triples your bankroll.

    Before you continue reading you need to know a couple important things about online baccarat bonuses. Not all casino sign up bonuses can be used to play baccarat. Some of them are only for slots play, so make sure you read about the restrictions before you make your deposit. If you can’t see if baccarat play is allowed with the bonus, send a message to the support department and ask.

    i
    Another important thing to know about bonuses is that some of them can be cashed out after you meet the play through requirements, and other can’t be cashed out. This isn’t a big deal if your goal is to play for as long as possible, but you still should find out before you play.

    I mentioned play through requirements in the last paragraph. Online bonuses have rules about clearing the bonus. You can learn more about these when you read the terms to find out if baccarat can be played with the bonus.

    When you play in a land based casino you can’t get a bonus to play baccarat, but you can sign up for a player’s club card and earn comps for your play. You can earn free food and even free hotel stays or flights if you’re a big player.

    Some online casinos also have comp programs, so if you can find one offering a nice baccarat bonus in addition to a comps program you can enjoy the best of both worlds.

    Bonuses are the best way to play more on the same bankroll. You learned how to figure out how long you can play on a $500 bankroll in the last section, so let’s run a few scenarios using a bonus to see how much longer it lets you play. Here are the numbers for four different scenarios.

    Scenario one: You get a 100% deposit bonus, bet $5 per hand, and play 200 hands per hour.

    Scenario two: You get a 100% deposit bonus, bet $5 per hand, and play 100 hands per hour.

    Scenario three: You get a 200% deposit bonus, bet $1 per hand, and play 200 hands per hour.

    Scenario four: You get a 200% deposit bonus, bet $1 per hand, and play 100 hands per hour.

    Here are the results:

    Scenario one: A 100% deposit bonus gives you an extra $500, for a total bankroll of $1,000. Betting $5 per hand and 200 hands per hour is $1,000 in total wagers per hour. This is an expected loss rate of $10.60 per hour, which means you can play 94.3 hours.

    Scenario two: You start with a bankroll of $1,000, but your expected loss rate is only $5.30 per hour because you bet 100 hands instead of 200. This means you can play 188.7 hours.

    Scenario three: Now you get an extra $1,000 to play with, for a total of $1,500. You’re only risking $200 per hour, so your expected hourly loss rate is just $2.12. This means you can play 707.5 hours.

    Scenario four: With the same $1,500 bankroll as the last scenario, you’re only risking $100 per hour. Your expected hourly loss rate is only $1.06 and this means you can play 1,415 hours before you should run out of money.

    The numbers clearly show if you want to maximize your playing time you should play online using a bonus and make the minimum bet on every hand.

    One thing to consider if you want to play baccarat for as long as possible is that you can play it for free online. You can sign up for a free account at any of the casinos listed on this site and they’ll let you play free baccarat for as long as you want.

    Friends Winning at Casino Table Game, Poker Chips and Cards on Table

    Conclusion

    Baccarat isn’t the most popular game in the casino, but it combines a low house edge with simple game play. When you add a bonus, you can play for hours on a small bankroll and have a chance to come out ahead from time to time.

    If you’re looking for an easy game to play and extended playing time, baccarat is the best option in the casino.

    How the House Edge Works in Casino Games

    If you spend any time at all reading about casino games and gambling in casinos, you’ll encounter an expression—“the house edge.”

    You’ll see writers explain that blackjack has the lowest house edge in the casino, and that the slots have the worst.

    You’ll see them mention that some of the bets at the craps table have a house edge of less than 2%, while other bets at the craps table have a house edge of more than 16%.

    ?
    But what is the house edge in a casino game and how does it work?

    Some Probability Background that Matters

    You can’t understand the house edge if you don’t understand some of the basics of probability.

    Probability is just a mathematical way to measure how likely something is to happen.

    When a weatherman says there’s a 50% chance of rain, he’s using probability (as well as meteorology) to express that likelihood.

    And most people have an intuitive understand of probability when it’s stated as a percentage, because we use it all the time.

    If you paid attention in 8th grade math, you probably already know that a percentage is just another way of expressing a fraction, and that’s all a probability is—a fraction.

    To determine the probability of something happening, you just look at the number of ways it could happen and divide it by the total number of possible events.

    Here’s an example:

    • You’re rolling a 6-sided die, and you want to know what the probability of rolling a 6 is. A 6-sided die has 6 sides numbered 1 through 6. There’s only a single 6.
    • Since there are 6 possible outcomes, and since only one of those outcomes is a 6, the probability of rolling a 6 is 1/6.
    • You can convert that to a percentage of 16.67%.

    You can also convert it to “odds format,” which just compares the number of ways it can’t happen with the number of ways it can. The odds of rolling a 6 on a 6-sided die are 5 to 1.

    Once you have a basic understanding of probability, you can move on to the next step, which is determining the house edge of a bet.

    What Is the House Edge and Why Does It Matter?

    Every bet has a payout if you win and an amount you lose if you lose. This is often the same amount, or even money.

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    For example, if you’re playing blackjack, you bet one unit, and most of the time, if you win, you win one unit. If you lose, you just lose that one unit.

    In other words, if you bet $100 on a hand of blackjack and win, you usually win $100.

    If you lose, you usually lose $100.

    That’s called even money.

    (And some bets in blackjack result in bigger winnings, and you sometimes have the option of surrendering, which means you only lose half your stake. But that’s a complication that doesn’t help you understand the house edge, so I’m going to save that discussion for another blog post.)

    A bet’s payout can also be expressed using odds, though.

    • An even-money bet pays off at 1 to 1.
    • A bet that pays off at 5 to 1 is also possible—if you win, you get 5 units, but if you lose, you only lose 1 unit.

    In the die-rolling probability example I used above, if you have a payout of 5 to 1, you’re playing a game with no house edge.

    That’s because in the long run, you’ll win as much money as you lose.

    But suppose I reduced the payout for rolling a 6 to 4 to 1?

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    Do you see how the casino would have a mathematical edge in the long run by paying out less for a win in that situation?

    You can use statistics to determine an average amount you’ll lose per bet in this situation.

    You assume 6 statistically perfect rolls of the die. This means you’ll win once and lose 5 times.

    If you’re betting $100 every time, you’ll have a single win of $400 along with 5 losses of $100 each, or a $500 total loss.

    Your net loss after that is $100.

    Since that’s a net loss of $100 over 6 bets, you’ve lost an average of $16.67 per bet.

    That’s the same thing as lose 16.67% of each bet, and that percentage is the house edge.

    There are other ways to arrive at that number, but that’s the easiest method I’ve seen used.

    With every casino game you play, the house pays off your bets at odds lower than the odds of winning. This results in a mathematical edge for the house.

    That’s why casinos are profitable in the long run, even though every, a percentage of their customers go home with winnings in their pockets.

    Probabilities—and the house edge—are always long-term phenomena. In the short run, anything can happen.

    Individual casino gamblers are always playing in the short term.

    Casinos are always playing in the long term.

    If the House Has an Edge, Why Do People Still Play Casino Games?

    ?
    So if, in the long run, the house can’t lose because of the math behind the games, why do people still play?

    The answer is simpler than you think:

    Most people don’t think about things from a long-term perspective. If they did, everyone in the United States would save 10% of everything they earn and retire early because their cost of living would be low enough to be easily affordable.

    I have a friend who visits the casino at least once a week. He loses money on 4 out of 5 visits to the casino, but on one of those 5 visits every month, he comes home a winner.

    He doesn’t care that he’s losing money hand over fist in the long run. He just wants to keep getting that buzz from his occasional wins.

    The human brain is irrational, especially when it comes to gambling.

    How the House Edge for Various Casino Games Compares

    The house edge is only one factor that affects how much you’re going to lose when you’re gambling on casino games. Other factors include how many bets you place per hour and how much you’re betting every time you place a wager.

    That being said, if everything else is equal, you should play the casino games with the lowest house edge.

    Keep in mind, too, that game conditions affect the house edge, too.

    i
    For example, in some blackjack games, a natural pays off at 6 to 5 odds instead of 3 to 2 odds. The house edge on such a blackjack game is higher.

    Blackjack Logo Icon

    Blackjack is a good place to start a discussion of the house edge for various casino games. It’s widely known that the house edge for blackjack is between 0.5% and 1%, but that number assumes that you’re making the optimal move in every situation. The average blackjack player is probably giving up 2% or so in mistakes.

    Craps Logo Icon

    Craps is a game where different bets have a different house edge. If you stick with the basic bets, pass and come, you face a house edge of 1.41%, which is relatively low. The more “exciting” wagers on the craps table come with a higher house edge.

    Roulette Logo Icon

    Roulette comes in 2 main versions—single zero and double zero. The double zero version of roulette is predominant in the United States, and the house edge for that game is 5.26%. By removing one of the zeroes, the casino reduces the house edge to 2.70%.

    Slot Machine Icon Logo

    Slot machines have a house edge that varies based on the PAR sheet for the game. (That’s the logic behind the game which determines the probability of getting various combinations of symbols and the payouts for those combinations.) You can find slot machines with a house as high as 35% or as low as 5%, but you never know what the number is.

    Video Poker Logo Icon

    Video poker machines look like slot machines, but they offer a better house edge—if you play the hands optimally. Depending on the pay table, the house edge for video poker can be as low as 0.5% or as high as 5% or 6%.

    Conclusion

    And those are the basics of the house edge as it pertains to casino games.

    Now that you have an understanding of the probability behind casino games and how it affects your winnings and losses, are you going to be more or less likely to play casino games?

    Are you going to change the amounts you bet or the games you play?

    Let me know in the comments.

    Should You Chase Casino Promotions?

    Casinos run all kinds of promotions designed to get players to gamble more. Some casinos give away cards and large cash prizes, and others run constant promotions like bad beat jackpots and high hand bonuses in poker rooms.

    Casino Chips and Deck of Cards

    You can earn entries into free tournaments, win free flights and hotel stays, as well as just about anything else you can think of. Land-based casinos aren’t alone in running promotions, as many online casinos offer promotions to their players as well.

    Online casinos also offer different kinds of deposit bonuses and reload bonuses to get players to start playing for real money and to come back and play again and again.

    On the surface casino promotions of all kinds look like a good thing. After all, isn’t it good when you can win or get something extra for something that you plan to do anyway?

    Instead of looking at it that way, why don’t you ask why the casinos run promotions if people are going to gamble anyway? Do you think casinos lose money on their promotions?

    Casinos don’t usually lose money on anything they do. Many casinos offer a slots club or player’s club where players can earn comps, and the clubs are designed to make money, not lose it. So don’t believe for a second that casinos run promotions out of the good of their heart. They run promotions to make more money.

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    Knowing this, the next question you should be asking is if you should chase casino promotions?

    The answer depends on what you have to do to get the promotion, and if it changes what you’re planning to do. Here are some things to consider before you start chasing a casino promotion.

    Online Bonuses

    Online bonuses, both deposit and reload bonuses, can be a great way to gamble with a bigger bankroll than you normally can. But before you make a deposit there are a few things you need to know.

    Online casinos don’t just give bonuses away for free. Even the ones that are no deposit bonuses have very strict terms and requirements, and the odds of cashing out any money from them are small.

    You need to always read the complete bonus terms and conditions before you sign up for any bonus.

    Find out what games you can and can’t play, and how much you have to wager before you can make a withdrawal. Also look for anything dealing with a maximum withdrawal amount, as some bonuses limit the total amount you can take out.

    If you’re planning to play until you run out of money anyway, you might as well grab the biggest bonus you can find. Or if you plan to take a shot at a progressive jackpot or go bust, a good bonus can give you a better chance to win.

    But if you want to play a game with a low house edge and want the chance to get lucky and win some money, you might want to skip an online bonus. The important thing is to educate yourself about exactly what you’re getting into so you can make the best decision.

    Online Promotions

    Many online casino promotions are in the form of bonuses and free play, so you need to learn about the terms and conditions just like normal deposit and reload bonuses.

    But you can find online casino promotions from time to time that aren’t in the form of bonuses, like earning entries into free tournaments. This is most common in online poker rooms, where you can earn entry into freeroll poker tournaments that payout real money.

    Land-Based Casino Promotions

    As I mentioned in the opening, land-based casinos run a wide range of promotions. Many of them are based on how much you play, so this can lead players to gamble more than they plan to in order to earn entries into the promotion.

    Sometimes it’s worth chasing promotions if the pay off can be large, but most of the time it simply costs you additional money in losses. This is where you need to take a hard look at the promotion, what you have to do to earn entries, and how much it costs you.

    For most players and promotions you’re going to find that it’s not worth playing more than you originally planned to gain entries into a promotion. Many promotions are based on a draw from all entries, and only a few people win big prizes.

    The main promotions that you should consider are the ones where you can earn an entry into a free tournament that pays out cash prizes.

    Make sure you understand all of the rules and exactly what you need to do to earn an entry and how the prize pool is paid out.

    If you have to play 20 hours to earn an entry into a tournament with 500 people that only pays out a few thousand, it’s probably not worth your time and extra play. But if you’re planning to play 20 hours anyway, you might as well take a chance for some extra cash.

    Poker Room Promotions

    Poker room promotions usually involve earning entries into freeroll tournaments, but you can also find bad beat jackpots, splash the pot promotions, and high hand promotions.

    I haven’t played there in quite a few years but the Excalibur poker room used to have a wheel with prizes on it you got to spin for having certain high hands. It was a nice bonus if you got a big hand, but it wasn’t worth changing the way you play to chase the hands.

    This is what most promotions come down to. If you can earn the promotions without changing the way you play it’s great. But if you have to change your normal play in any way, including playing longer, it’s simply not worth the effort.

    If you’re already a winning poker player, it might be worthwhile to chase an entry into a tournament by playing more than usual, but even then you need to make sure the free tournament is worth more than you can make playing your normal games.

    If the free tournament has 200 seats and the total prize pool is $5,000, the average return is only $25. And you might have to play for hours to get into the money.

    If you’re good enough and lucky enough to reach the final table the return will be higher, but you still might be better off playing your normal games and grinding out a profit.

    Conclusion

    The next time you see a big casino promotion; keep in mind that it’s designed to make the casino money, not you. You can still take advantage of promotions, but try to avoid changing the way you play or gambling more than you originally intended to.

    I’ve used online casino bonuses, earned entries into freerolls online and in land-based casinos, and earned entries into land-based casino promotions. Overall, the only ones that I’ve made money on are the poker freerolls, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get lucky.

    Just make sure that you don’t change your normal gambling and check all of the rules and terms before you decide whether you should chase a promotion.

    7 Absurd Blackjack Lies That You Believe

    Blackjack is full of know-it-alls. These players make up their own assumptions on how the game works, then pass this “knowledge” onto others.

    The worst types are those who realize they don’t have a clue, yet still continue acting as if know everything. These players could even be considered liars.

    It’s okay to follow severely misinformed players if you like lighting money on fire. However, you’ll do well to see through their lies and understand the truth if you’re focused on winning.

    Keep reading as I discuss seven of the most-absurd blackjack lies ever conceived. These lies cover everything from basic strategy to card counting.

    1 – Blackjack Has the Lowest House Edge

    Blackjack has developed a reputation for having an extremely low house edge. I’ve seen many articles state that blackjack has around a 0.5% house advantage.

    This figure is no doubt among the best in casino gaming. Only certain video poker variations can compete with a house advantage this low.

    The only problem is that not all games feature a 0.5% edge. In fact, the vast majority of them don’t.

    Rules can vary between table to table. Each rule has an effect on the blackjack house advantage.

    The goal is to choose tables that have player-friendly rules and provide a better chance to win. However, accomplishing his goal is becoming harder and harder.

    Brick-and-mortar casinos are especially bad about including unfavorable blackjack rules. Many land-based tables feature around a 2% house advantage.

    While this figure isn’t terrible in the overall scheme of gaming, it’s not exactly what most players expect. Finding blackjack tables with less than a 1% house edge is the end goal.

    Understanding the rules is an excellent step towards making this happen. Here are some different blackjack rules and how they affect the house edge:

    • Natural blackjack payout – A 3-to-2 payout lowers the house advantage by 1.4% when compared to a 6-to-5 payout.
    • Number of decks – Single-deck blackjack lowers the house advantage by 0.59% when compared to eight-deck blackjack (all other rules being equal).
    • Double down – Being able to double down on any total lowers the house edge by 0.25% when compared to a 9-to-11 restriction.
    • Dealer’s action on a soft 17 – The dealer hitting a soft 17 reduces the house advantage by 0.2% when compared to standing.
    • Double down after splitting (DAS) – Being able to double down after splitting drops the house edge by 0.17%.
    • Re-splitting aces – Having the option to re-split aces reduces the house advantage by 0.08%.
    • Late surrender – Lowers the house edge by 0.07% when allowed.

    The size of natural blackjack payouts is the most-important rule. You only want to play at tables that offer 3-to-2 payouts.

    The number of decks also has a large effect on the house advantage. You’ll rarely find single-deck blackjack with 3-to-2 payouts at land-based casinos. However, these games are pretty common at online casinos.

    The other rules certainly have an impact on your odds of winning too. But you especially want to focus on finding the best natural payouts and, preferably, four or less decks.

    2 – Blackjack Strategy Is Intense

    Some blackjack players claim that basic strategy is tough to pick up. They’ll cite the many decisions that must be made throughout the course of a session.

    It’s true that blackjack strategy involves lots of decisions. After all, you need to decide whether to hit or stand in every hand. When you do hit, you’ll then need to decide once again to hit or stand.

    Depending upon your score and game rules, you may also be able to double down, split, or surrender. These options add further complications to blackjack strategy.

    But this strategy only seems difficult on the surface. You can make the matter much easier just by grabbing a blackjack strategy chart.

    These color-coded guides show every decision that you should make based on your score and the dealers up card.

    Here’s an example:

    • You have a score of 15.
    • The dealer’s upcard is 8.
    • You scan down the strategy chart.
    • You see that hitting is the correct play here.

    A strategy chart offers a quick way to use expert blackjack strategy. Any beginner can grab one of these resources and immediately start making good plays.

    The only drawback to strategy charts is that they can slow you down. It takes time to look up the correct decision for every hand.

    This in itself isn’t such a bad thing. As long as you’re not in a hurry, you can take your time and refer to the chart in each round.

    However, the problem comes when playing at land-based casinos. Dealers are supposed to keep the games moving, and they don’t appreciate somebody slowing down the action. Other players can even get testy when you’re disrupting the game flow.

    I, therefore, suggest that you start playing free or real-money online blackjack and using a strategy chart on the side. You have infinite time to make decisions at online casinos, making this the perfect way to memorize and apply blackjack strategy.

    Of course, you can learn the game in other ways too. The internet is filled with plenty of articles and YouTube videos on the subject.

    However, it doesn’t get any easier than using a chart. Just google “blackjack strategy chart” and look in the “Images” section to find one of these resources.

    3 – Other Blackjack Players Can Make You Lose Money

    Many experienced blackjack players get upset when another gambler causes them to lose a hand. They may leave the table afterward or even curse at the other person’s bad play.

    This scenario is most common when a bad player is sitting at third base, which is the seat to the dealer’s right. Third base acts right before the dealer, making it seem like they have a huge impact on the game.

    Here’s an example:

    1. The player at third base (seat to dealer’s right) has 12.
    2. The dealer’s up card is 5.
    3. The player should stand here.
    4. They instead hit and draw a 10, thus busting out.
    5. The dealer draws a 9 and 7.
    6. They now have a 21 and beat everybody still remaining in the hand.

    If the player had used correct strategy, then the dealer would have busted out with 24. However, third base hit and helped the dealer get a perfect score.

    In this case, the bad player technically caused other people to lose. But what many gamblers don’t realize is that these same players can help just as much as they hurt.

    Here’s an example:

    1. The third-base player has 13.
    2. The dealer has 6.
    3. Correct strategy is to stand here.
    4. But the player hits and draws a 9, thus busting out.
    5. The dealer draws a 6 and a 10, causing them to bust too.

    Assuming third base had stood, then the dealer would have gotten 21. But thanks to their bad strategy, the dealer ends up losing.

    Bad blackjack players give and take. In the long run, they won’t have any effect on your chances of winning.

    Some gamblers also believe that others can make them lose by entering a game mid-shoe. They think that the player will disrupt the flow of cards and possibly hurt their chances.

    Here’s an example:

    • A table features an eight-deck shoe.
    • The shoe has seen about three decks dealt.
    • Bob has been hot and is receiving plenty of good cards.
    • Tim enters the game.
    • Bob suddenly starts getting bad cards.
    • He blames Tim for disrupting the flow of cards.

    This situation is similar to the third-base topic discussed before. A player may affect your immediate chances of winning when they come into the game mid-shoe.

    An extra set of cards is added to the table, thus altering the course of the game. However, the card sequence will be changed for better or worse.

    Tim could have received all the bad cards and caused Bob’s hot streak to continue. Everything regarding the deal is based on luck.

    Of course, many tables nowadays have rules against mid-shoe entry to hamper card counters. But don’t worry about players disrupting the card flow when tables do allow mid-shoe entry.

    4 – Only Geniuses Can Count Cards

    Card counting is among the most-popular subjects in gambling because it’s one of the few techniques that can be used to consistently beat casinos.

    However, most blackjack players don’t attempt this advantage-play technique. One common reason why is because they think that counting cards is too difficult.

    Movies like 21 and Rain Man have perpetuated the myth that only geniuses know how to count cards. The prevailing theme is that you must be an MIT student or autistic savant to win with this method.

    While you do need some basic math skills, card counting isn’t as difficult as it seems. Just about anybody who can learn basic strategy can also pick up this technique without too much effort involved.

    You can use a simple system like the Hi-Lo to learn card counting in a matter of minutes. Here are the basics of the Hi-Lo:

    • You want to track card values to determine when the deck has more 10s and aces.
    • This point is when you have a better chance of getting a natural blackjack.
    • You want to bet more when the deck has more aces and 10-value cards.
    • Cards 2-6 are counted as +1 (fewer low cards is good for you).
    • Cards 7-9 are neutral and counted as 0.
    • Cards 10-A are counted as -1 (fewer high cards hurts you).
    • Divide your “running count” by the estimated number of remaining decks.
    • Doing so gives you the “true count,” which accounts for multi-deck shoes.
    • A higher positive true count calls on you to make larger bets.
    • Start your count over at the beginning of a new shoe.

    As long as you know the points above, then you know how to count cards. The next stop involves learning how to spread your bets during favorable counts.

    The MIT Blackjack Team came up with the following concept, which is widely practiced today:

    • You make the minimum bet for most hands (e.g. $10) until you have the advantage.
    • Come up with a unit size by which to raise your bet (e.g. $25).
    • Figure out the true count (e.g. +4).
    • Subtract 1 from the true count (4 – 1 = 3).
    • This number represents your multiplier.
    • 3 x 25 = $75
    • You should bet three units ($75).

    The biggest challenge to card counting isn’t learning how to do it. Instead, you need to be good at dealing with the casino’s distractions and making sure that you’re not obvious about the matter.

    Chances are that you’ll eventually be thrown out of some casinos if you continue counting. But don’t let the idea that card counting is too difficult to learn keep you from trying this pursuit.

    5 – Card Counters Make Huge Profits

    I just established that card counting isn’t too complex.

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    Given this, why aren’t more gamblers using this technique to pull in big profits?

    Counting cards isn’t a guaranteed path to riches. The idea that you can make huge profits from card counting is yet another lie of that stems from movies.

    For example, The Hangover features a scene where Alan (Zach Galifianakis) counts cards in order to make $80,000.

    He knows his stuff when it comes to counting and precedes to earn the necessary $80k over the course of the night. If only it were this easy…

    This advantage technique doesn’t give you a very big edge. Even as a skilled counter, you only have between a 0.5% and 1.5% advantage over the casino.

    Here’s an example to show how much you could expect to make per hand with this advantage:

    • Your average bet size is $50 throughout the session.
    • You play 80 hands an hour for five hours (400 hands).
    • You make $20,000 in total bets (400 x 50).
    • You have a 1% edge.
    • You’ll theoretically earn $200.

    Most people would be perfectly happy making $200 in five hours of work. However, blackjack is anything but a normal job.

    With most jobs, you’re guaranteed pay for your work. Card counting differs, though, because you’re going to lose almost as often as you win.

    A 1% edge is hardly anything. Casinos have this advantage, or better, and still lose to many players on a nightly basis.

    You need a large bankroll in order to survive the ups and downs of card counting and realize your advantage. As a solo counter, you probably won’t want to start with anything less than $5,000 or $10,000.

    You need enough funds to both survive unlucky nights and make the large bets needed to capitalize on positive counts. Without a big bankroll for blackjack, you’re taking a huge gamble on card counting.

    6 – You Can Pick Up Good Comps through Blackjack

    Blackjack is a popular game among high rollers. Given that these whales bet lots of money, they receive lavish comps like penthouse suites, top-shelf liquor, and limousine transportation.

    Many gamblers hear these stories or even read articles about them and think that blackjack is a great way to earn comps. But the exact opposite is true.

    Blackjack is actually one of the worst games for picking up freebies because it has a lower house edge than most casino games.

    The house advantage is one of the main aspects that casinos factor in when determining how many comps a player receives. Generally speaking, games with lower house edges offer fewer rewards.

    Players are lucky if they’re comped 0.05% on their total wagers. This leaves one need to bet thousands of dollars just to earn a few dollars in rewards.

    Here’s an example:

    • You bet $5,000 total in blackjack.
    • The comp rate is 0.05%.
    • 5,000 x 0.0005 = $2.50 in comps

    You should never gamble just to earn rewards. The comps don’t come close to covering theoretical losses.

    But if you love earning freebies, then blackjack isn’t your best bet. It offers a low comp rate due to the small house edge.

    7 – You’re Due for a Win

    Blackjack sees you win close to half of the total hands you play. This win rate creates a perception that you’re very unlikely to go on a long losing streak.

    Some players take this idea too far, though, and claim that they’re due for a win after losing several hands in a row. They think that the blackjack gods owe them a favor.

    Here’s an example of this line of thinking:

    • Roy loses three blackjack hands in a row.
    • He knows that he’s supposed to win nearly half the time.
    • Roy doubles his next bet in anticipation of a win.

    The biggest problem with this philosophy is that it involves factoring in previous hands. Using past results to justify future outcomes is what’s known as the gambler’s fallacy.

    Players who fall for this fallacy think that the odds must always even out. However, past blackjack results don’t have any bearing on what happens in the future.

    The odds don’t change just because you’re on a winning or losing streak. They instead stay the exact same on the next hand.

    Conclusion

    Listening to blackjack players who have no clue what they’re talking about is a quick way to lose money. You instead want to learn strategy for yourself and avoid relying on falsehoods that other gamblers make up.

    For starters, you need to realize that not all blackjack games are created the same. Look for tables with good rules so that you’re facing the lowest-possible house edge.

    You can especially boost your chances of winning by using good strategy. All you need to do is google a blackjack strategy chart to get the perfect guide.

    You may even fall so in love with blackjack that you take up card counting. This advantage-play technique isn’t that difficult to learn. Just realize, though, that it does require plenty of practice and a large bankroll.

    Whatever you do in blackjack, don’t fall for the notion that you’re “due for a win.” This line of thinking is not only false, but can also lead you to make bigger bets under the assumption that you’re guaranteed to win.

    Also keep in mind that blackjack isn’t the greatest game for comps. It has a low house edge, leading casinos to be less generous with rewards.

    In summary, blackjack isn’t as difficult as people make it out to be. You simply need to spend a little time learning the strategy and other aspects of the game.

    Why Are There Age Requirements for Gambling (Online and Off)?

    Every teenager eventually runs into prohibitions based on age. To a 15-year-old it’s understandable why a 5-year-old shouldn’t be allowed to drive.

    But why do you have to wait another year to get a driver’s license?

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    And if you have a summer job, why can’t you spend your money on alcohol, cigarettes, and gambling the way 18-year-old or 21-year old friends and relatives do?

    Everyone feels “mature enough” to make mature decisions before their elders say they’re ready.

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    But is the nearly universal prohibition on underage gambling based on tradition or some scientifically established fact?

    Reflecting upon all the factors a gambling establishment, either online or land-based must consider, several reasons come to mind.

    Age of Majority

    This seems to be the most important factor.

    Despite any precocious emotional or intellectual maturity young people may possess, in most jurisdictions, an age of majority prevails.

    The age of majority determines when an individual can enter into legally binding contracts. A law-abiding gambling company cannot do business with minors.

    Every member of an online casino must register and honestly affirm their age. To collect winnings they must prove their identity and age eligibility.

    If a minor successfully enters a land-based casino, plays a game, and collects a modest stake, the casino has broken the law. The young player may get away with it.

    But if the young player wins a jackpot requiring any kind of paperwork the casino won’t honor the win.

    Not only do they not have to honor the win they legally cannot.

    Laws Governing Gambling Activities

    Governments around the world decided not to allow minors to gamble in licensed establishments. Gambling laws take the decision out of the casinos’ hands.

    Many teens learn how to play blackjack, poker, roulette, and other gambling games at home or from their friends.

    They may even play for money in unlicensed gaming situations.

    If caught by authorities the teens may not be prosecuted, but game organizers would almost certainly be arrested.

    Teens’ parents are also held accountable for the behavior of their children.

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    But how often do teenagers take unwarranted risks without thinking about the consequences for themselves or others?

    Age restrictions on gambling fall into a complex system of laws designed to protect young individuals from making life-destroying choices.

    Emotional and Intellectual Maturity is Vital to Managing Risk

    While few fully mature adults (estimates range from 5% to 10%) are considered gambling addicts, many acquired addictive habits while still adolescents.

    Science is still uncertain about when people become fully mature adults. In 2014 the National Academy of Sciences proposed that ages 18-26 be considered the final stage of emotional and intellectual development.

    The truth is that science has yet to show at what age the general population can make good choices about risky behavior. This goes well beyond gambling and into many types of activities.

    Teens are not permitted to compete in many types of professional sports. They may lack the physical characteristics and training to compete, but their mental abilities are not yet ripe.

    Social concerns about teens’ readiness to make important choices are reinforced by one disturbing study: a 20-year study found that children experiencing stress do mature faster than their peers.

    This is not a justification for allowing some teens to gamble, smoke, drink, or take other risks. It’s clear confirmation that young people are not naturally ready to make adult choices. Gambling is all about risk, and society has deemed it’s too risky for young individuals.

    Gambling Requires Financial Responsibility

    If you gamble, you’re staking something of value. In both online and offline gambling establishments, money is at stake.

    And gamblers are expected to cover their losses.

    Unfortunately, this is easy to do with debt. You can borrow $1000 and take it to the casino. All the casino can do is insist you put money on the table before they allow you to pay.

    Online casinos can only insist you deposit funds into your account before playing.

    An emancipated teenager has the right to earn a supporting income, but most teens are not emancipated. Without the ability to enter into legal contracts, they can’t even borrow money.

    Ironically, even though casinos don’t care where you get your money, they need you to bring in new money every time you gamble.

    They’re counting on your losses for their profits.

    Having a steady income, being able to support yourself, and budgeting a reasonable amount for entertainment makes you a more desirable customer for a casino. A business that depends on financially unstable teenagers accepts greater risks than most casinos do.

    ?
    How’s that for irony?

    Younger People Are More Susceptible to Addictive Behavior

    Although science still has much to learn about how the brain develops and works, recent findings show that adolescents are more prone to addiction than adults.

    An individual who grows to adulthood in a supportive, healthy environment is less likely to become an addict.

    There are no guarantees in life, but requiring teens to wait before taking some risks helps them later in life.

    Gambling addiction is the number 1 reason why some organizations oppose the spread of organized, legal gambling. The cost to society of treating addiction is calculable.

    But that cost rises as one considers secondary issues, such as criminal behavior driven by addiction. Many crimes are committed by non-addicted people, but the connection between addiction and crime is undisputed.

    Age-restrictive laws are intended to ensure that young people have a fair chance to grow to full maturity in safe environments. By holding adults accountable for how they interact with teenagers, society hopes to prevent some exploitative situations. And let’s face it: some adults are unscrupulous enough to intentionally manipulate less mature teens into bad situations.

    What Is the Youngest Legal Gambling Age in the World?

    It’s impossible to be sure, but this Wikipedia article lists no age restriction for a Category D gaming machine in the United Kingdom.

    The same article includes a few other restrictionless forms of gambling:

    • Private or non-commercial gaming and betting
    • Equal chance gaming (prize gaming permitted or licensed family entertainment)
    • Prize gaming at an unlicensed family entertainment centre or traveling fair
    • The United Kingdom also permits 16-year-olds to gamble in:
    • National lottery
    • Scratch off ticket games
    • Football pools

    Another country enacting unusual gambling laws is Afghanistan.

    They forbid all land-based gambling activities, but anyone of any age can gamble in an online system. Afghanistan may not be known for its high-speed Internet, but cell phones are widely used there. The Wikipedia article says that Tunisia may have inadvertently made gambling legal for all ages by failing to make it illegal for all ages.

    The country of Malawi in southeastern Africa allows children as young as 5 to gamble in land-based casinos.

    Other than the exceptions noted above, gambling laws around the world set the minimum age at either 18 or 21.

    Also, the Wikipedia article may not be up-to-date, and some of the points listed above could be inconsistent with current laws in the countries named.

    Conclusion

    The ancient Roman writer Tacitus wrote in his famous treatise, The Germania, that the ancient Germans of his time had a reputation for gambling:

    “An amazing thing to us is that they practise gambling as the serious occupation of their sober hours; and they hazard to win or lose so recklessly that, when all he has is gone, a player will stake his personal liberty on a last and decisive throw.

    If he loses he goes into voluntary slavery; and, although he may be the younger and the stronger man, he suffers himself to be bound and to be sold. They exhibit herein a most perverse obstinacy, and call it paying a debt of honour.

    Successful gamblers get rid of the slaves held under this title by selling them to the merchants in order to escape their share of the shame.”

    While some historians question the accuracy of Tacitus’ description, there is some universal truth to the matter. Gambling has earned a hard reputation through the centuries. Some people do lose everything. For that reason society has learned to protect its youngest members (in most countries) from taking such risks until they have grown to an age to make sound decisions.

    Life doesn’t promise we’ll always make the right decisions. That’s why we make laws to slow us down when we’re most apt to rush in where angels fear to tread.

    Can You Play Slots for a Living?

    You can find stories about people gambling for a living. Many people play poker for a living, and it’s easy to see why. Poker doesn’t have a built in house edge; it has what amounts to a seat charge in the form of rake. Poker players aren’t trying to win the house money, they compete for other player’s money. This is different than most other forms of gambling.

    You can also read about blackjack players that have learned how to count cards or find sloppy dealers that flash the value of down cards. Some of these players are able to play blackjack for a living. A small percentage of sports bettors, horse track bettors, and dog track bettors are also able to make enough money to gamble for a living.

    But it’s rare to find people who can gamble for a living who play other casino games. Bob Dancer claims that he was able to play video poker for a living several years back, but even if his claim is true, many things have changed since then. It’s harder to find full pay video poker machines and casinos pay lower comp rates for video poker play.

    I’m just guessing, but I believe that Dancer has probably made much more money from writing books than actually playing video poker.

    Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that and I’m not trying to say that he didn’t make money playing. But I don’t know if anyone is making a living playing video poker today. It’s possible, but if there are players doing it, there aren’t very many.

    A few authors claim to make money playing craps using dice control. This has always struck me as a way to sell books and training courses, but just like Dancer’s claim in video poker, I suppose a few people can use dice control. Also just like video poker, if people are successful at dice control, there aren’t very many of them.

    Games like slots, roulette, baccarat, and other table games don’t have stories about gamblers playing them for a living. Does the lack of stories mean that these games are impossible to beat?

    Slots are the most popular form of gambling in casinos. People love to play slots. This brings me to the reason for this article.

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    Can you play slots for a living?

    The Hard Truth

    Before you continue, consider exactly what making a living means. Some people live on $25,000 a year, while others seem to need $50,000 or $100,000 a year. Many factors come into play when determining how much someone needs to live.

    Some of the factors include:

    • Where you live
    • How many people you have to support, like a spouse and children
    • How frugal your lifestyle is
    • How much debt you have

    For the purposes of this article I’m going to use $52,000 a year as the threshold for making a living. This works out to $1,000 a week. You can use any number that you want, but unless you live in an expensive area, most people can survive on this amount.

    Another issue that must be considered when you think about playing slots for a living is the lack of health insurance and other benefits. Professional gamblers have to find health care and they don’t get paid time off. Health care is a serious expense for many people and it can be dangerous not to have some type of coverage.

    Many young people don’t worry about the lack of health care coverage, but as you get older it often becomes a real concern. If you have to pay for health insurance it can take a big chunk out of your income. Keep this in mind when you determine how much you need to make to play slots for a living.

    The hard truth is playing slots for a living is almost impossible unless you’re already wealthy and have enough money that you can afford to lose in the long run. It’s much more likely that you’re going to lose $1,000 a week than win $1,000 week playing slots.

    While most slots players lose in the long run, it’s not 100% impossible to play slots for a living. But such a small percentage of players make money that the truth is that you should probably forget the idea.

    Slot machines are designed to guarantee, or lock in, a long term profit for the casino.

    Each machine is programmed to pay back a certain percentage of every dollar wagers and keep the rest for the casino. These numbers are called different names, but I call them pay back percentage and the house edge.

    A slot machine’s pay back percentage is the amount of all bets returned to the player through wins on the machine. If a slot machine has a 95% pay back percentage that means that on average it gives back $95 out of every $100 wagered to the player.

    If you consider this from the other angle you get the house edge. When the slot machine pays back $95 out of $100, it keeps the other $5 for profit. In other words, a machine that pays back $95 out of every $100 wagered has a 5% house edge.

    When you add the house edge percentage and the pay back percentage together, they always equal 100%. This means that if you know one number you can subtract it from 100 to get the other number.

    You can use these numbers to predict how much money you should win or lose over a set period of time, based on how much you bet per hour. Because the house edge is in the casino’s favor, it means that if you can’t figure out how to overcome the edge or get lucky, you’re going to lose in the long run.

    Most slot machines have a payback percentage between 90 and 98%. This means the house edge is between 2 and 10%. With a house edge, it means that you lose between 2 and 10% of every dollar you run through the machine.

    Here’s an example:

    • You play on a slot machine that has a 98% pay back percentage, which means it has a 2% house edge. Your bet size is $2 per spin and you make 400 spins per hour. You can figure out your average loss rate, or what you can expect to lose on average per hour, by using this formula.
    • Amount bet per spin times spins per hour times the house edge.
    • $2 X 400 X 2% = $16

    This means that if you play for 10 hours your expected loss is $160. You simply multiply the expected hourly loss times the number of hours you plan to play and you get the average expected loss.

    Slots are run by computers, which use a program based on math. These programs, unless the programmers made a mistake, make sure that the underlying math principles always come true. It might take millions of spins, but the programs guarantees that the machine produces the programmed profit percentage for the casino.

    The house edge and pay back percentage are long term things. This means that these percentages are realized over a long period of time. In the short term the house edge and pay back percentages vary, sometimes a great deal. But eventually the short term variance evens out and produces the correct results.

    ?
    How can you overcome the built in house edge?

    Most players can’t, and this is why it’s almost impossible to play slots for a living.

    If you still want to try to play slots for a living, the following sections have additional information you need to know. Just keep in mind that even if you use every trick and strategy in your power, you still might lose money in the long run.

    Finding the Pay Back Percentage of Slots

    You just learned about pay back percentage and the house edge and how these things guarantee the casino a profit. So the next question is how do you find out the house edge and pay back for slot machines?

    Most casino games are designed in a way that it’s fairly easy to determine the house edge and pay back percentage, or you can easily find the numbers with a quick internet search. But slots are different. The programs that run the machines have so many variables that unless you have access to the program it’s impossible to determine the house edge and pay back percentage.

    Another problem is that some machines offer different pay back percentages from the manufacturer, so each casino can order their machines with the percentage they want. You can find out more about finding slot machine pay back percentages here, but the news isn’t good.

    If you want to have the best chance to play slots for a living, you need to find the machines that offer the lowest house edge. These machines have the highest pay back percentage, so you have less to overcome.

    The following sections include everything I know that can help you improve your chances to win. Four of them are strategies that you can put into action yourself, and the other one is based on hope. Sadly, hope isn’t much of a strategy, but it fits in perfectly with how most people gamble. They put their money out and hope to win.

    Online Bonuses

    Online casinos often offer bonuses for slots players when they make a deposit. You can get 100% or more of your deposit matched with bonus money you can use to play slots. This sounds like a great way to overcome the house edge, and if the money was free it would be.

    While bonus money looks like it’s free, when you read the conditions and terms associated with the bonus you find out that it’s not a simple as the casino giving you free money.

    Every online slots bonus comes with rules and regulations about how you can use it, what you have to do before you can cash out your money, and if you get to keep any bonus amount when you meet the terms of the offer.

    The terms vary from online casino to online casino, so it’s important to read them before you make your deposit. Some bonuses are deducted from your balance when you make a cash out request, while others can be cashed out eventually.

    When you accept an online slots bonus you have to meet certain requirements. These are usually called play through requirements. A play through requirement means that you have to play the bonus amount, and sometimes the deposit amount as well, a certain number of times to clear the bonus. The requirement is usually shown as a multiple, like 25X or 50X. This means you have to make wagers totaling 25 times or 50 times the bonus, and sometimes the deposit amount.

    Here’s an example:

    • You sign up at an online casino that offers a 100% sign up bonus on deposits up to $250. You make a $250 deposit and get a $250 bonus. This gives you a total bankroll of $500. The terms and conditions state that you have to play the deposit and bonus amount 50 times before you can cash out.
    • The total of the bonus and your deposit is $500, so you multiply this by 50 to find the total amount you have to bet. 50 X $500 = $25,000, so you have to make $25,000 worth of bets before cashing out. The best can be any size as long as the total amount reaches the limit.

    You can use a trick at this point to get an idea of the possibility of clearing the bonus and having money left over. You can multiply the total amount you have to wager times the house edge to find the expected loss.

    Using this example, if you play on a slot machine with a 5% house edge, your expected loss is $1,250. This means that usually you’re going to run out of money before you clear the bonus. The only ways to change this are to play on a machine with a lower house edge, or find bonuses that have lower play through requirements.

    You also need to make sure you understand the difference between cashable bonuses and the ones that are deducted from your balance. A bonus that can’t be cashed out when you meet the playing requirements makes it unlikely you can beat the house edge.

    Here’s an example if you play a slot machine with a 2% house edge, using the same bonus numbers in the last example.

    $25,000 X 2% = $500. This means that your expected loss is the same as your total bankroll of $500. Even if you get lucky and don’t lose all $500, the odds of you having more than your deposit of $250 left after clearing the bonus is slim.

    ?
    Does this mean that you shouldn’t use online slots bonuses?

    You should defiantly use online slots bonuses if you want to play slots. Even a bonus that’s not cashable gives you extra money to gamble with. It also gives you extra chances to hit a big jackpot, which is the only way most slots players have of getting ahead.

    Slots Tournaments

    Slots tournaments aren’t run at all casinos, but some casino run them from time to time, and a few run them on a regular basis. A slots tournament offers a minimum amount of play for a set entry fee and awards prizes for the top finishers.

    Some casinos offer slots tournaments as a reward for a set amount of play and/or connected to their slots club program. If you can earn a free entry into a slots tournament, anything you win helps overcome the house edge on your normal slots play.

    When you’re looking for a slots tournament that has an entry fee, you should look for ones that have a guaranteed prize pool. If you can find tournaments that don’t get enough entrants to cover the prize pool you can play with an edge. It won’t greatly improve your chances of finishing in the money, but when the entry fees don’t cover the prize pool it’s profitable to play.

    Here’s an example:

    • The casino offers a slots tournament with a guaranteed prize pool of $1,000. The entry fee is $10 and they only get 80 people to sign up. If you divide the prize pool by the number of entrants you get the average value of playing.
    • In this case, the average is $12.50. Any time the average return for playing is higher than the entry fee you’re playing with an edge.

    You still have to finish in the money to win some money, but if you play in enough of these types of situations you come out ahead eventually.

    Playing Slots for Comps and Promotions

    Every time you play slots you should be earning comps. Sign up for the slots club at your local casino and look for online casinos that have a rewards program. The casinos don’t give back enough in comps to overcome the normal house edge, but every penny you get back in comps helps lower your cost to play.

    If you can combine an attractive online slots bonus with a decent comps program you improve your chances of winning a great deal.

    Casinos also run promotions from time to time. You might be able to find free slots play vouchers and match play coupons in the local paper or on the web site of the casino where you’re planning to ply. Promotions and coupons are a great way offset the built in house edge of the slot machines.

    Getting Lucky

    I hate to say it, but the only way most people can play slots for a living is to get lucky. If you’re lucky enough to hit a big jackpot sometime in your life, and are smart with the money, you can afford to play slots full time.

    The only slot machines I play are the ones that offer either a progressive jackpot or ones that have a set top jackpot prize of $100,000 or higher. I know I can’t overcome the long term house edge without a big win, so I don’t waste my time on machines that can’t make a big deposit into my bank.

    Getting lucky isn’t a strategy, but if you don’t put yourself in position where you have the chance to be lucky you don’t even have reason to hope. If you want to play slots for a living focus on slots with big jackpot possibilities.

    Progressive Jackpots

    The only way to truly play slots with an edge over the house is to play a progressive jackpot slot machine where the top prize has grown so high that it overcomes the edge. The problem with this is the same as I discussed earlier. If you don’t know the house edge you can’t determine how high the progressive jackpot has to climb before it makes the play profitable.

    I recommend sticking with slots that have high jackpots, because it’s the only way you have a chance to win enough that you can play slots for a living.

    If you don’t know the house edge, simply play the slots that have the highest jackpots. Most casinos, both online and off, have at least one slots game with a jackpot over $1,000,000.

    If you can’t find one with a jackpot over $1 million, look for the highest one you can find. A $500,000 jackpot win might not set you up financially for life, but it’s enough to help out quite a bit.

    Conclusion

    Playing slots for a living is a dream of many gamblers. But the truth is that it’s almost impossible to succeed. The house edge locks in a long term profit for the casinos, so very few people win.

    You can use the tips and strategies on this page to give yourself the best chance to overcome the house edge, but if you want to gamble for a living your best bet is to stop playing slots and pick a different game.