How to Know if You’re a Math Nerd or a Poker Player (Or Both)

Limit Omaha Poker Table With Casino Chips and a Hand Holding 4 Cards

I know that some people use the word “geek” in a negative way, but I assure you I’m using it positively in the title. Many people, including my family, consider me a math geek. In fact, I have a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and have used my math skills in gambling for as long as I can remember.

As someone who looks at gambling from a mathematical viewpoint, I’m always searching for opportunities to use math to win. This helps me avoid games I can’t beat, like roulette and slot machines, and helps me learn how to beat games like blackjack and poker.

Math usually teaches people that there is one right answer and everything else is wrong. It pushes a black and white view on everything in the world. This begs the question, “What’s the best game to gamble on from a mathematical standpoint?” And you might think that because I’m a math geek that I have to give you an answer.

While I do have an answer, I should also admit that it’s not the single right answer for everyone. If you read any of my articles you know that there are more ways than one to be a winning gambler. As long as you master at least one way to beat the casinos, you don’t need to worry too much about finding one best answer.

You can learn how to count cards and play blackjack with an edge. This is a straightforward way to beat the casinos, but it’s not the solution for everyone. As a card counter, you have to find good games and you’re always in danger of being confronted by casino personnel and banned from playing. Some gamblers aren’t willing to deal with this.

Some gamblers have almost a sixth sense when it comes to handicapping sporting events. While most can develop the ability to be a winning sports bettor with thousands of hours worth of work, this isn’t for everyone either.

If you have strong mathematical skills, the best game to learn how to play is limit Omaha poker. Of all the poker variations, it’s the most mathematically-grounded game and the easiest to go from beginner to profit. It has the added benefit of being a game where your opponents tend to make more mistakes you can profit from.

In the following sections, I cover all of the reasons why Limit Omaha Poker is your best choice from a mathematical standpoint. I recommend limit instead of pot limit because it’s easier to reach the profit point at first with limit. Once you master Limit Omaha Poker, you can start exploring others, but stick with limit for now.

The fact is that you’re going to make some mistakes as you’re learning. Playing limit instead of pot limit keeps the cost of your mistakes lower as you’re learning.

The Rules

The first advantage you have in Omaha is the rules. Many Omaha players started with Texas holdem, and while the rules are similar, there are a couple of important things to understand. In Texas holdem, you can use any combination of your hole cards and the board cards to form a hand. In Omaha, you have to use two of your hole cards and three board cards.

This leads to some players making mistakes in Omaha. Any time one of your opponents makes a mistake, it’s profitable for you.

The first thing you need to do is learn everything you can about Omaha rules and make sure you never make a mistake because of the rules. With your mathematical mind, this is easier for you than most people.

Starting Hand Selection and Position

Most poker players don’t understand table position and how it directly changes the values of starting hands. Most players also play too many starting hands in Omaha. They think they can hit more hands on the flop because they have four hole cards.

Once you learn how position changes the value of your starting hands, and learn proper starting hand selection, it gives you a big advantage over most Omaha players. The best starting hands have four cards that work together in some way. Hands that only have two cards working together aren’t worth playing.

Some hands that have three cards working together are worth it, but many of them aren’t. As you learn about profitable starting hands, you’re going to find that playing fewer hands is almost always better than playing more.

Pot-Limit Omaha Poker Cards on a Table

It’s usually not the best idea to set a particular limit to starting hand selection because each game is different. You can play more hands in some games more profitably than others. But because this is aimed at math geeks, shoot for playing somewhere around 20% of your starting hands.

Once you reach this level, you can make small adjustments based on your competition. You also need to learn the correlation between table position and starting hand profitability. From early position, you must only play your best hands.

All four cards need to work together from early position. You can play more hands as you move around the table to late position. All of this is mathematical, and you can use this to your advantage every time you play.

Pot Odds

This section and the next section on expected value are where your mathematical ability is going to make you the most money. Everything you do at the Omaha table boils down to pot odds and expected value. And the best news is that once you master these two things, you’re going to have a huge advantage over most of the other players, because they don’t understand probabilities or don’t use them.

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Pot odds are simply a comparison of the amount in the pot, the amount you put in the pot to remain in the hand, and your chances of winning the hand. In every situation after the flop, you can use pot odds to determine the best play.

Pot odds is an area that requires an in-depth understanding, so I strongly suggest studying articles and books until you completely understand it. A good place to start is The Theory of Poker by David Sklansky. It also has a good explanation of expected value, and it’s responsible for as much of my profit in poker as any other book.

Expected Value

Expected value is the long term expectation, either positive or negative, of any decision you make at the poker table. This includes your decision to enter the hand and every betting decision throughout the hand. In many cases, the expected value uses pot odds.

As a beginner, you have to make your best guess about some things when determining expected value. The truth is that even experienced players have to make a best guess at times, but you refine your skills and get better with experience.

As you learn more about individual opponents and how to put opponents on a small range of hands, your expected value skills become more valuable.

Expected value is the biggest reason why Omaha is the perfect game for math geeks. It takes all of your math skills and translates them into profits. Take advantage of your skills and master expected value. It’s the key to profits, both long term, and short term.

Bankroll Size

You don’t have to be a math geek to determine proper bankroll size for Omaha, but if you need help to learn how to manage your casino bankroll take a look at our guide. Your math skills do come in handy as you learn how to win on a consistent basis. In Texas holdem, even the best players have up and down swings that require a large bankroll.

Loads of Casino Chips and Wads of Dollar Bills

Omaha is based on math more than Texas holdem, so once you master your skills, you’re going to find that you don’t need as large of a bankroll. The common suggestion for Limit Texas holdem is 300 times the big blind.

I suggest starting with this in Limit Omaha Poker as well, but once you use your math skills to master Omaha, you can usually get away with as low as 100 times the big blind. You’re still going to have down swings based on short term variance, but the swings are less severe than in Texas holdem because the math is more important in Omaha if you know how to use it.

Conclusion

Limit Omaha Poker is the best game to master if you have strong math skills. Every decision you make while playing has a correct or best way to play based on math. Most players never learn how to use math to make a profit, but you can use your skills to quickly gain an advantage.

Once you learn how to consistently win at the limit tables, consider moving to the pot limit tables. The same skills you use to beat the limit game are used in pot limit, and the long term profits can be higher. But the short term variance is also higher, so you need a larger bankroll once you move to pot limit play.

Letting Your Gambling Winnings Ride to $1 Million

Jackpot-Woman-Dollar Bills-Champagne

Many gamblers dream of winning $1 million. This well-rounded number has been a common target among gamblers for decades.

Of course $1 million doesn’t go quite as far these days. In fact, $1 million is worth about three times less today than it was in 1978.

Nevertheless, this is still a worthy mark. You can actually reach seven figures just by risking your winnings enough times (a.k.a. letting it ride).

As you may have guessed, this feat isn’t as easy as it sounds. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting route to gambling toward a fortune.

Path to $1 Million

The first step in letting your wins ride to a million is deciding your starting bet amount. This decision is crucial when considering how it impacts the number of wagers you must make to reach seven figures.

If you start at $1, for example, you’ll need to make several more bets than when beginning at $100. I personally suggest starting at $10. It’s a decent amount that gives you plenty of wagers to make runs at $1 million.

You also need to consider what games to play. I’ll get into the math behind each potential choice later. But you should be considering games that offer even-money bets, because they usually offer the best overall odds.

Finally, you need to let your winnings ride after each wager. Assuming you’re making even-money bets, you only have to worry about doubling your wager following each win.

Is This a Realistic Strategy?

Before continuing further, I want to illustrate what doubling your winnings to $1 million through even-money bets looks like:

  • $10
  • $20
  • $40
  • $80
  • $160
  • $320
  • $640
  • $1,280
  • $2,560
  • $5,120
  • $10,240
  • $20,480
  • $40,960
  • $81,920
  • $163,840
  • $327,680
  • $655,360
  • $1,310,720

Adding this sequence up, you’d need to win 18 total bets to earn over $1 million. You might think that this is nearly impossible when considering that winning three to four straight bets is hard enough.

You’d be right to assume that winning this many consecutive wagers is extremely rare. In fact, you only have around a 1 in 262,000 chance of doing so with 1:1 odds.

Here’s the formula for how I arrived at this number, as well as others that are covered later:

  • [1 / (chances of winning a bet x to the power of 18)]
  • g. [1 / (0.518)] = 262,143.81
  • Odds of winning = 1 in 262,144
  • You can use an exponent calculator to multiply to the power of 18.

Of course, casino games don’t typically give you an even chance to beat the house. Therefore, your odds are even lower of winning so many times.

But you also have to consider that progressive slot machines offer longer odds of winning seven figures. The odds of hitting a jackpot on any given spin may be in the millions.

That said, letting your winnings ride on a table game 18 straight times is just as feasible as spinning the reels.

What Games Should You Play?

You can try a variety of casino games in order to reach your goal. However, you might want to be a little more selective when considering that house edges and commissions vary.

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For example, you shouldn’t play American roulette due to its 5.26% house edge. This high house advantage makes it less likely that you’ll win enough to reach $1 million.

Baccarat seems like a great choice when considering its 1.06% house edge on banker bets. This low house edge even factors in a 5% commission that you must pay the house on wins.

The problem, though, is that casinos don’t take commissions until the end of your session. If you go on a long win streak and eventually lose, you’ll be on the hook for all of the commission money, too.

However, you shouldn’t rule out baccarat entirely. The player bet, which has a 1.24% house edge, is very useful here. Your odds of winning 18 straight bets with this wager are 1 in 328,156.

Both French roulette (1.35% house edge) and the craps don’t pass line bet (1.36%) are worth considering as well. They offer 1 in 335,417 and 1 in 340,351 odds, respectively, of tallying 18 consecutive wins.

Craps seems like an even better choice because it offers free odds. For example, don’t pass lined backed with 2x odds features just a 0.46% house edge.

Craps Table-Gambling

The problem, though, is that you can only put odds behind your bet after a point is established. Furthermore, the don’t pass line wager only comprises one-third of your total bet with 2x odds.

If you win on the come-out roll with a 2 or 3, then you never get to use the free odds. Therefore, you’ve made a very small bet that forces you to place more wagers to reach your goal.

Craps with odds represent your best chance of beating the casino. But the betting structure is so unpredictable that you’ll likely need more than 18 bets to reach a million.

Aiming for $1 Million, Instead of $1.3 Million

Earlier, I showed that you’d win $1,310,720 on the 18th bet when starting with a $10 wager. Of course, you’re overshooting the original goal by quite a bit here.

You have a couple of options for dealing with this situation if it arises. First off, you can simply bank any extra amount that’s not needed to reach the target.

Rather than risking $655,360, you’d wager $500,000. You’d have $155,360 left over, which you could either walk away with or put back into play.

Another option is to make single-number roulette bets. A single-number wager offers a 35 to 1 payout when successful.

You’d need to place up to 23 of these bets to win $1 million. Any more than 23 wagers prevent you from hitting the seven-figure market.

The benefit of making all of these single-number wagers is that you have a 62% chance of winning at least one and reaching your goal. This is a better opportunity than any of the wagers covered before.

Cons of Letting Winnings Ride to $1 Million

You can see that trying to win $1 million through even-money bets is an exciting goal. The nice thing is that even if you never reach it, you’ll at least have plenty of fun without risking too much money.

However, you should also consider the downsides before embarking on this quest. First off, you’ll have some difficulty finding a table that’ll accept your bets once you get into the six-figure range.

You’ll definitely have to find a larger casino resort once you get to $163,840 and above. Most resorts that accept this kind of action are based in Las Vegas or Macau.

Another dilemma is that you have limited options for realistically reaching your goal. You can’t, for example, just sit down to a video poker machine or three-card poker table. You have to play the games and make the bets that give you the strongest chance of winning.

Gambling-Loss-Casino

The most-obvious drawback is that your chances of reaching $1 million are slim. You won’t get to bank any previous winnings either when engaging in this strategy.

Finally, you have to consider how far you’ll actually go if you’re up hundreds of thousands of dollars. Will you truly pursue a million when you’re sitting at $327,680 or $655,360 in profits?

The temptation to walk away will be great, especially if you’re not a high roller to begin with. Of course, I wouldn’t fault you for pocketing $328k or $655k.

Conclusion

One of the most exciting aspects of casinos is that they give you a chance to turn a small bet into lots of money. You can win big jackpots through slots, Caribbean stud, and progressive blackjack.

But one of the rare ways of winning big involves starting with a small bet and working your way up. As discussed earlier, you can bet just $10 and turn it into $1 million (or more) over a sequence of 18 wagers.

Your odds of winning seven figures through this route are better than progressive slot machines. And just like with slots, you’re taking a relatively low risk to chase this dream.

The chances of you reaching $1 million through casino games are low anyways. But 1 in 262,144 odds don’t sound completely impossible, especially if you continue making $10 bets.

Even if you never accomplish your goal of winning a million, you’ll get plenty of thrills out of the process. Just imagine being on bet no. 14 or 15 and knowing that you’re only a few more away from a life-changing payout.

Of course, you may decide to walk away with six-figure winnings if you get up to this amount. It all depends upon how badly you want $1 million.

5 Video Poker Tips for Beginners (Or Anyone Else)

Slot Machines at a Casino Floor - Video Poker Screenshot - Man Celebrating

I try not to be judgmental about people’s gambling habits.

But I am always baffled by people who play slot machines instead of playing video poker.

In no way do I understand how you would want to play a game with worse odds where your decisions are meaningless instead of video poker.

Maybe you’ve been playing slot machines for a long time and you’re ready to make the switch from slots to VP.

Or maybe you’re a real beginner at casino gambling, and you’re doing some reading before gambling. (If that’s you, kudos.)

Either way, these 5 video poker tips for beginners should help you have more fun your gambling dollar.

1- Understand Expected Return

With any gambling machine, expected return is the most important factor to concern yourself with. The phrase just refers to how much money you can statistically expect to get back when you play that machine.

You’ll often see expected return called “payback percentage” or “return to player.

These phrases all mean the same thing.

The expected return is a factor of the probability of getting a specific outcome along with its payout.

For example, if you’re playing a simple game where you bet $1, and you have a 50% probability of winning $1 on each bet, the expected return is 50 cents, or 50%.

That’s because half the time you’ll lose the dollar, and half the time you’ll win that dollar.

With gambling machines, it’s a little more complicated, but not much. For one thing, you’re trading the bet you made for your winnings (if any). That’s different from playing a table game. If you win in a table game, you get your original bet back along with your winnings.

The way those odds are explained is different. With table games, you refer to the payout odds as “X to Y,” while with gambling machines, you refer to the payout odds as “X for Y.”

That’s a major difference.

In blackjack, you get paid even money on most hands, or 1 to 1 odds. This means you make a $5 profit when you win a $5 bet.

But on a Jacks or Better video poker machine, you get paid 1 for 1 on a pair of jacks or better hand. This results in no profit and no loss, because the machine kept your $1 bet as soon as you hit the “play” button.

Here are the main things to remember about the expected return:

  1. The higher it is, the better. An expected return of 99% is better than an expected return of 95% by a significant margin.
  2. The expected return is a percentage of each bet that you can expect, on average, over a huge number of repetitions. For example, you won’t win 98 cents when you play a dollar on a video poker game with a 98% expected return. But that will be your average over time if you play long enough.

When you’re playing slot machines, you have no idea what the expected return for the game is.

But with video poker, you know the odds of winning and the payouts for winning, so the expected return for the game can be calculated.

2- Learn to Recognize the Games with the Best Expected Return Figures

Video poker, like slot machines, isn’t just one game. It’s a huge variety of games, all of which have some things in common, like paying out based on the strength of the poker hand you wind up with at the end of the game.

Jacks or Better is the most basic version of video poker. It’s the classic game that deals from a 5-card deck and allows you one round to discard and replace your cards. It also has no wild cards.

The payouts are based on the strength of your poker hand, but the amounts can vary from one game to the next – even if the 2 games are sitting right next to each other on the casino floor.

A full pay Jacks or Better game has an expected return of 99.54% if you play with optimal strategy. The payouts for the final hands in that game look like this:

  • Royal flush – 800 for 1
  • Straight flush – 50 for 1
  • 4 of a kind – 25 for 1
  • Full house – 9 for 1
  • Flush – 6 for 1
  • Straight – 4 for 1
  • 3 of a kind – 3 for 1
  • 2 pairs – 2 for 1
  • A pair of jacks or higher – 1 for 1
  • Anything else – 0 for 1

This is also called a 9/6 Jacks or Better game, because the payouts for the full house and the flush are 9 and 6 respectively.

When a casino wants to have a machine that makes more money for the casino, they just adjust the payouts for those 2 hands.

For example, 8/5 Jacks or Better game has the same payouts for every hand except the full house and the flush. The payback percentage for that game is considerably lower, though – 97.3%.

They even have lower payback machines with a 7/5 or 6/5 pay table.

Regardless of which version of video poker you play, you should learn which pay tables offer the best expected return. That’s the first step in getting good at video poker – finding and playing the best games.

Here are the best expected returns to look for with each variety:

  • Deuces Wild – 00.76%
  • Joker Wild – 100.65%
  • Aces & Eights – 100.25%
  • Double Bonus – 100.17%
  • Loose Deuces Wild – 100.15%
  • Double Bonus – 100.14%
  • Super Bonus Deuces Wild – 100.13%
  • Double Bonus Double Jackpot – 100.09%
  • Double Bonus Plus – 100.08%
  • Double Double Bonus – 100.07%

You’ll notice that all of the expected returns on those games are over 100%. This means that if you play with optimal strategy, you’ll actually have an edge over the house.

You can find websites where video poker enthusiasts scout games in casinos in Vegas and elsewhere to help other players find the best games.

3- Learn How to Play with Optimal Strategy

You can only get the returns listed above by using the optimal strategy for the game in question. Every game and every pay table has its own best strategy to use. The correct strategy is easy to find nowadays, too.

You can find strategy advice on any number of websites. Some sites even offer you the option to input the payout table for the game and get a customized strategy tailored specifically to that game.

But another, more practical option, is to buy one of the many computer programs that will teach you to use the correct strategy by playing on your personal computer.

These software programs offer you a playable version of video poker, but you don’t have to input money to play. You also can’t win any money.

Instead, the game analyzes the decisions you make and alerts you when you’ve made a mistake. The training software usually also points out what effect this mistake will have on your expected return if you make that mistake repeatedly in an actual casino.

You can shop around and find multiple kinds of video poker training software. Most of these programs aren’t particularly expensive.

4- Or Just Use a Video Poker Strategy Card as You Play

My favorite source for usable video poker strategy cards is Bob Dancer’s website. His “winner’s guide” series of books is also excellent and should be on the shelves of any serious video poker players.

Video Poker Strategy Card

These kinds of cards are similar to the blackjack basic strategy cards you see on the internet that you can print. Another option would be to just buy the formatted and laminated strategy cards available through Bob Dancer’s site.

5- Always Play with Your Slots Club Card Inserted

Even though all the video poker game examples above had an expected return of over 100%, you won’t usually be playing those games. I recommend trying to stick with the video poker games which have a return of at least 98%, though.

When you play with your slots club card inserted, you get an additional 0.2% of your action (give or take, depending on the casino) back in the form of rebates and comps from the casino.

If you combine that with the double or triple points happy hour promotions available at these casinos, you can get 0.4% or 0.6% back in the form of comps.

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This can take a good game, like full pay Jacks or Better, with its 99.54% expected return, and turn it into a great game with a close to break-even expected return or even a 100%+ return.

And don’t buy into the popular myths that playing with the slots club card inserted makes you lose more often or makes it impossible to hit the royal flush. That’s just baloney.

Conclusion

Video poker is the perfect gambling machine for beginners or intermediate gamblers. Heck, it’s even appropriate for casino gambling experts.

The trick is to find the games with the best expected return and play them with optimal strategy with your slots club card inserted.

What video poker tips would you offer a beginner?

Is Las Vegas or California Better for Young Poker Players?

Poker Table at a Casino - California and Nevada Map Silhouette - Young Adult Woman Thinking About Something

In the cult-classic poker flick “Rounders” (1998), Matt Damon plays an ambitious young poker player in New York City who dreams of building a bankroll big enough to take a shot at Las Vegas. Damon’s character “Mike McD” describes Sin City’s poker scene circa the late ‘90s in almost reverential tones, repeatedly positioning Las Vegas as the pinnacle of the profession.

“The poker room at the Mirage in Vegas is the center of the poker universe. Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, Phil Helmuth… the legends consider it their office. Every couple of days a new millionaire shows up, wanting to beat a world champion. Usually they go home with nothing but a story.”

I won’t spoil the plot for folks who haven’t seen Rounders. But if you’re reading this page and you haven’t seen the best poker movie ever made, correct that mistake immediately. Las Vegas is still on Mike McD’s mind in the film’s final scene.

As an aspiring poker pro, Las Vegas represents the world’s undisputed capital for every version and variation of the game. Cash games running at the lowest stakes operate around the clock in casino card rooms on the Strip, downtown, and surrounding suburbs.

On top of that, the greatest poker tournament series of all, World Series of Poker, has called Las Vegas home for 50 years and counting. Every summer, thousands of hopefuls from every corner of the globe arrive at the Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino to take part.

Clearly then, Las Vegas remains the center of the poker universe as Mike McD once wistfully described. Nonetheless, a highly-competitive poker industry in California has been humming along on the sidelines for decades now, playing the proverbial second fiddle to Sin City.

Centered around iconic card rooms like the Bicycle Club and Commerce Casino in the Los Angeles suburbs, California’s poker scene has produced top pros like Barry Greenstein, J.C. Tran, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, Brian Rast, and Mike McD’s nemesis at the old Trump Taj Mahal, 10-time WSOP bracelet winner and two-time Main Event World Champ Johnny Chan.

With hundreds of casinos and card rooms spanning the state’s massive land mass, California is increasingly becoming a destination for up and coming poker pros looking to break into the biggest games.

Poker fans in the know religiously sweat the livestreamed high-stakes cash game action from the Bicycle Club in a regular program called “Live at the Bike.”

And thanks to national series like the World Poker Tour (WPT) and World Series of Poker Circuit (WSOP-C), tournament players from San Jose to LA can take part in top-tier events every year.

As a young poker player looking to take your game to the next level, is Las Vegas or California the best place to establish yourself as a pro?

Well, that’s an extremely important decision for anybody to make, so this page won’t pretend to offer definitive answers one way or another. What it will do, however, is offer an objective review of both locales written from a poker-centric perspective, complete with pros and cons for each area.

When you’re finished reviewing the information here, my hope is to leave you with a much better idea as to which place to embark on your next poker adventure.

Pros of Playing in Las Vegas

I already alluded to the historic nature of Las Vegas’ utterly unique poker scene, but it bears repeating. There’s no place on earth with more poker games running right now than Las Vegas.

From the fabulous Las Vegas Strip, where the Venetian and the Bellagio are home to an astounding 37 tables apiece, to the off-Strip casino The Orleans and its 35-table poker room, the game continues to flourish here despite the occasional closure.

The beauty of playing poker in Vegas is that you’ll never be forced to quit for lack of demand. Games run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year without fail. Sure, one room might empty out at certain hours, but it’ll only be a short walk or Uber ride to the next casino to find a crowded game in full bloom.

And this selection is hardly limited to Texas holdem either. While the two-card game popularized on ESPN’s iconic broadcast of the 2003 WSOP Main Event is definitely the most prevalent variant you’ll find in Las Vegas, it’s far from alone. In the larger poker rooms like Bellagio, the sign-up board represents a veritable smorgasbord of poker mixed games and stakes, as shown by the PokerAtlas listing below.

Cash Games Offered at the Bellagio Poker Room

$1/$3 No Limit holdem

  • Buy-in: $100 to $300
  • Runs: Always
$2/$5 No Limit holdem

  • Buy-in: $200 to $500
  • Runs: Always
$5/$10 No Limit holdem

  • Buy-in: $400 to $1,500
  • Runs: Always
$10/$20 No Limit holdem

  • Buy-in: $800 to No Max
  • Runs: Always
$10/$20/$40 No Limit holdem

  • Buy-in: $1,500 to No Max
  • Runs: Weekends and evenings
$50/$100 No Limit holdem

  • Buy-in: $5,000 to No Max
  • Runs: During busier hours
$2/$5 Pot Limit Omaha Hi

  • Buy-in: $200 to $1,000
  • Runs: Rarely
$4/$8 Limit holdem

  • Buy-in: $40 to No Max
  • Runs: Occasionally
$9/$18 Limit holdem

  • Buy-in: $100 to No Max
  • Runs: One or two tables
$50/$100 Stud

  • Buy-in: $500 to No Max
  • Runs: Occasionally
$20/$40 Limit holdem

  • Buy-in: $200 to No Max
  • Runs: Always
$20/$40 Limit Omaha 8/b

  • Buy-in: $200 to No Max
  • Runs: One or two tables
$40/$80 Limit holdem

  • Buy-in: $600 to No Max
  • Runs: Occasionally
$40/$80 Mixed

  • Buy-in: $600 to No Max
  • Runs: Occasionally
$40/$80 Limit Omaha 8/b

  • Buy-in: $800 to No Max
  • Runs: Occasionally
$50/$100 Mixed

  • Buy-in: $1,000 to No Max
  • Runs: Occasionally
$60/$120 Mixed

  • Buy-in: $1,000 to No Max
  • Runs: Occasionally
$30/$60 Stud 8/b

  • Buy-in: $500 to No Max
  • Runs: Friday and Saturday
$80/$160 Limit holdem

  • Buy-in: $1,500 to No Max
  • Runs: During busier hours
$80/$160 Mixed

  • Buy-in: $1,500 to No Max
  • Runs: Occasionally
$100/$200 Limit holdem

  • Buy-in: $2,000 to No Max
  • Runs: During busier hours
$100/$200 Mixed

  • Buy-in: $2,000 to No Max
  • Runs: During busier hours
$150/$300 Mixed

  • Buy-in: $3,000 to No Max
  • Runs: During busier hours
$200/$400 Limit holdem

  • Buy-in: $4,000 to No Max
  • Runs: During busier hours
$300/$600 Mixed

  • Buy-in: $6,000 to No Max
  • Runs: During busier hours
$400/$800 Mixed

  • Buy-in: $8,000 to No Max
  • Runs: Occasionally
$600/$1,200 Mixed

  • Buy-in: $10,000 to No Max
  • Runs: During busier hours
$25/$50 Mixed

  • Buy-in: $5,000 to No Max
  • Runs: Occasionally
$20/$40 Stud

  • Buy-in: $200 to No Max
  • Runs: Usually one table
$30/$60 Limit Omaha 8/b

  • Buy-in: $500 to No Max
  • Runs: During busier hours

Just get a load of the staggering level of variety found on that list, and that’s at the Bellagio alone. Fellow mega-resorts on the Strip such as the Aria, Wynn, and Venetian all boast world-class poker rooms with similar selection. This is why so many international pros make sure to rent suites for extended stays spent grinding for weeks and months on end.

If you’re willing to put in the time and work by consistently playing at a specific Las Vegas poker room, and paying rake on every hand or half-hour, the venue will typically “take care of you” in the form of comps, cash back, and other perks.

The bountiful abundance of options also extends to tournament play, as the WSOP annually spreads upwards of 100 gold bracelet events while paying out nine-figures in prizes to top performers. For six weeks every summer, Las Vegas lives up to Mike McD’s label, attracting the world’s best players, recreational poker fans, and grinders looking to make a life-changing splash on the big stage.

The tourney action here runs year-round too, with recurring seasonal series like the Venetian DeepStack Extravaganza and Wynn Signature Series generating huge prize pools over condensed month-long schedules. The WPT makes annual stops at the Bellagio, the WSOP-C hits the Rio for a revival tour twice a year, and poker rooms like the Orleans specialize in medium-stakes events for weekend warriors.

On a final note, if you’re looking to enjoy a little online poker on the side of your live action, California has nothing on Las Vegas. And I do mean that literally. Nevada is one of only four states in the country, along with New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, where online poker is fully legal and regulated.

Cons of Playing in Las Vegas

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably noticed by now that this page has placed an emphasis on just how good the players in Las Vegas really are.

Leaving aside the insanely talented top pros duking it out at Bobby’s Room and the Aria’s “High Roller” tournaments, Las Vegas still attracts players like Mike McD, the best of the bunch from their hometown who want to test their skills against the best.

You just might be one of them, too, a talented young poker player ready to take the leap and bring their game to the next level. If that’s the case, godspeed good reader, and a sincere “good luck” your way.

When you arrive in Las Vegas intent on earning a living at the poker table, you’ll usually meet five or six players in every game who have the exact same intentions. Aside from the intense competition fostered by Las Vegas’ status as the peak for poker industry climbers, the city has its other drawbacks as well.

Serious Poker Players at a Casino

In order to play on the Las Vegas Strip day in and day out, you’ll need to absorb a litany of supplementary expenses. Comps can only go so far, which means you’ll be paying out of pocket when you tip the valet, hit the buffet, or grab necessities at the gift shop.

These hidden charges extend to the tables too, as Las Vegas’ higher stakes games ($5/$5 and above) generally charge a higher rake than their counterparts in California. Young poker players often neglect to take the rake, or the chips deducted from every pot as the house’s cut, when assessing the viability of one game versus another.

These fees can be charged in “time rake” form at the higher stakes, with all players ponying up a set amount every half hour, but Las Vegas tends to charge higher rates than California no matter how it’s collected.

Rake concerns also extend to tournament play. So, when you’re comparing the various structures used by card rooms in Las Vegas and California, always be sure to check for “service fees” deducted from your overall buy-in.

Conclusion

For poker players of every generation, from the old road gamblers in the 1970s to the online whiz kids inspired by Chris Moneymaker at the 2003 WSOP Main Event, Las Vegas holds an allure like no other.

This city is where the WSOP was born, where Nick “The Greek” Dandolos and Johnny Moss once played the highest-stakes heads-up poker game in history, and it’s where the world’s most talented players convene on a nightly basis to this day.

California may be positioning itself as a potential sidekick. For more on the pros and cons of the Golden State’s poker scene, be sure to check out Part II of this series, but Las Vegas will always be every poker aficionado’s first love.

7 Reasons Why the Blackjack Dealer Always Seems to Win

Blackjack Dealer Smirk - Blackjack Table Full With a Pile of Cash

Of course, the blackjack dealer doesn’t always win, but many people feel the dealer wins a disproportionate number of times in blackjack. It’s a basic rule of the casino business that the house only offers games where it has an “edge”.

The house’s edge is baked into the game.

But the edge doesn’t guarantee the dealer will always win. Over the long run the dealer should only win slightly more often than a perfect player.

So what gives?

The old adage “perception is reality” works on one level because you play the game by how you perceive it. But on another level appearances can be deceiving. And sometimes the players themselves are responsible for the deceptive appearances.

Here are 7 reasons why the blackjack dealer always seems to win.

1 – Players May Not Understand Probabilities Well Enough

If you’re not trying to count cards, then you don’t even need to worry about the probabilities. Basic blackjack strategy takes all that into consideration.

In blackjack there are only two kinds of probabilities players should think about. The first and most well-known is the division between theoretical return to player and house edge.

Contrary to some players’ thinking, the house edge doesn’t predict how often the house wins. The house edge predicts how much money the house keeps. The assumption behind the house edge is wager-neutral.

In other words, the statistical likelihood that the house keeps about 1% of the money over the long-term doesn’t have anything to do with how much players bet on each game. The payout odds are calculated on the assumption that everything happens in random fashion.

Although the house needs to win a lot in blackjack to get ahead, the differences between payout odds and probabilities of card play create the edge. In any gambling game, if there is a statistical 50-50 chance of a certain outcome, the house will pay less than 1:1 on the odds.

The only other probability players need to care about is the probability that the next card they are dealt helps them. How many people are playing at your table doesn’t matter. What matters is what’s left in the shoe when it’s your turn for a card.

2 – The Number of Hands You Play per Hour Matters

If you’re playing head to head with the dealer, you can go through as many as 200 hands in an hour. If there are four other people at the table with you then each round takes longer. You’ll play fewer hands per hour.

Just using basic strategy against the house, you’ll lose money over time. The game is designed to pay slightly less than the true probabilities allow. So the more hands you play, the more likely the house will “win” your money away from you.

You should still win a lot of hands against the dealer. The house’s strategy is a long game. The more hands you play the more likely they’ll keep some or all of your money.

3 – Bad Game Play Provides the House with a “Hidden” Edge

The casino counts on most players making mistakes or bad calls. An inexperienced player makes a bad call. An experienced player who should know better makes a mistake.

Either way, if you hit or stand when you shouldn’t you make it more likely that the house wins.

If you split when you shouldn’t you make it more likely that the house wins. If you miss an opportunity to split it’s not so bad but you could win twice or more against the house on a favorable split.

On those rare occasions when doubling down would pay off well, if you don’t see the opportunity you’ll pass it by.

Player strategy often enhances the house’s strategy. And whereas you decide your strategy on the fly the house is playing by a very simple rule book. House strategy never changes.

I imagine a guy dancing around a fight ring, trying to show off, while the dealer waits to whack him hard in the face. Your opponent isn’t going anywhere, trying to do flashy moves, or hiding anything. He’s just waiting for you to do something stupid.

With few exceptions players sometimes make it easy for the dealer by using the wrong strategy.

4 – The House Undermines Your Advantage Play

If you count cards the way most people advise you to, you’ll raise and lower your bets in a predictable fashion. This is like jumping up on the table, waving your arms, and shouting “hey, I’m counting cards!”

That strategy may have worked well in the 1960s but today’s casinos just shuffle the cards. All your counting is wasted time and energy.

This is why card counters like to work in teams. They can be more subtle, although the casinos still look for coordinated play.

Continuous shuffling machines may have ruined card counting forever. If not, the larger shoes and option to reshuffle on a whim make card counting a less rewarding strategy for most players.

If it seems like the house is winning more than you think they should, it could be you’re counting cards badly or needlessly.

5 – Are You Tipping the Dealer?

The dealer literally wins when you leave a tip. While this is considered a courteous habit and one I myself practice, it makes it all that much harder for you to get ahead.

I limit my tips to when I leave the table. I’ve seen some players split their winnings on big bets with the dealer. Assuming that’s completely legit, it still reduces the player’s winnings.

Smiling Blackjack Dealer Giving Cards - Hand Holding Dollar Bills

Whether you tip the dealer or not, the house is winning if you do tip the dealer. Those tips help casino employees pay their bills. I’ve seen some people argue against tipping because it “supports the system”.

I don’t think it’s fair to push casino employees into a moral quagmire. Either tip or don’t tip, but the tip costs you money. It does affect your win-loss ratio proportionate to how often and how much you tip.

6 – Is the Dealer Feeding You Bad Advice?

I’ve played a few tables where the dealers answered player questions. Blackjack dealers don’t have to be expert players. They only follow one strategy.

If you’ve got a friendly dealer who shares advice, he or she may be well-intentioned but that doesn’t mean they know the best strategy.

I’ve never questioned the integrity of a blackjack dealer. But they may push a progressive bet option. If you want a guaranteed way to improve the house edge in blackjack, go for the progressive wager on the side.

7 – Are You Using a Betting System?

Sooner or later someone sits down at the table with a betting system ready to go. Card counters raise their wagers when they believe the deck favors them but I’ve seen other betting systems.

One guy alternated his bets. He played $25 on one hand and $50 on the next. If he had played perfect strategy it shouldn’t have mattered.

When you talk betting strategies with people someone always brings up the Martingale System. The strategy is simple. Only make minimum wagers until you lose and then double your wager on the next bet to win back what you lost.

The Martingale System requires an endless supply of money, luck, or both. I’ve never met a great blackjack player who believed in a betting system. The best players I’ve sat next to had a set wager amount they always played and stuck to their games.

Conclusion

One of the most important things in gambling is to manage your expectations. The more you expect to win the greater your disappointment will be.

I don’t walk into a casino expecting to lose all my money. I expect to enjoy myself. I want to get the most value for my time and money spent there.

When people allow their expectations to get out of hand they try to make up for disappointment with risky bets. I’ve been one of those guys who got so frustrated he started making aggressive wagers.

When you stop caring about how well you’re playing you should walk away from the table. You can always go back later when you’re feeling better.

The only way the house doesn’t win is if you enjoy yourself and stay in budget. Dropping $200 at a casino is no different from buying $200 concert tickets.

If it’s all for fun and you enjoy yourself the house can’t take that away from you.

Why Insurance in Blackjack Is Sometimes Called Even Money

Man Playing Blackjack and Touching his Wedding Ring Nervously

Anyone who’s read a reasonably good post about basic strategy in blackjack knows that you should never take insurance. It’s a sucker bet.

But sometimes casino dealers will confuse players by offering them “even money.” That’s just another way of offering insurance to the player.

The selling point of even money in blackjack is that you’re going to win no matter what. This post explains the fallacy behind thinking that insurance (or even money) is a good idea when playing blackjack.

How Even Money Works in Blackjack

Even money works when you’ve been dealt a natural, a two-card hand that totals 21. Such a hand is also called a blackjack, and it pays off at 3:2 in most games.

There’s one catch to having a natural. If the dealer also has a blackjack, it’s a push. When the dealer has an ace showing as the face-up card, you get the opportunity to place an insurance bet. They’ll often refer to this as taking “even money.”

If you have $100 in action and agree to take even money, the dealer will pay you $100 and take your cards before looking at her hand to see if she has a blackjack, too.

This seems like a good idea. After all, if you turn down the even money, and the dealer flips over a blackjack, you lose your $100.

On the other hand, if you decline even money, you win $150 on your $100 bet. Which is the better deal?

A conservative player might think even money is a great deal because you have a 100% chance of winning. In that respect, he’s correct, but gambling isn’t about having a 100% chance of winning.

It’s about how much you win or lose in the long run.

To really understand whether even money makes sense, you need to look at how often the dealer will win or lose and how much you’ll win on average every time.

Decisions and Consequences in This Blackjack Situation

Let’s simplify this for a minute. You have two choices. You can take even money and win $100. Or you can decline even money, winning either $150 or facing a push.

It should be obvious why declining even money makes sense, because when you push, you don’t lose any money. You just get your original bet returned to you.

How often will the dealer have a blackjack?

This varies based slightly on how many decks are in use, but for the sake of simplicity, let’s assume that the dealer will have a blackjack only 30% of the time (this is really close to the actual number). 70% of the time, you’ll win 3:2 on your bet.

Let’s play this situation out 100 times in a row.

  • Player A takes even money, which means he wins $100 on all 100 hands, or $10,000.
  • Player B declines even money, which means he wins $150 on 70 hands, or $10,500.

Obviously, declining even money results in more wins in the long run.

What’s the Difference Between Even Money and Insurance?

Insurance is a side bet that the dealer has a 10 as the hole card. You can only place this bet when the dealer has an ace showing face-up, and the wager for this must always be half of the original wager size. If you bet $100, your insurance bet must always be $50.

If the dealer does have a blackjack, you get paid off at 2:1 for your insurance bet, which means it pays off at $100.

You don’t need to have a blackjack to place an insurance bet. You can take insurance with any total versus the dealer’s face-up card. If you have any total other than 21, you lose your original bet against the dealer.

But since insurance pays off at 2:1, you’ll wind up breaking even on that action.

So basically, even money is just an insurance bet that you can only make when you have a blackjack. When you take even money, though, you lose your opportunity to get the 3:2 payoff.

You don’t have to put up the additional bet, because the casino has just subtracted that $50 from your payoff for your hand.

The only difference between “even money” and “insurance” is a semantic one. Even money is just insurance when you have a blackjack.

Insurance is available any time the dealer has an ace showing, but even money is only available when the dealer has an ace showing and you have a blackjack.

There’s An Exception to Every Rule

Not every blackjack game in every casino offers 3:2 payouts for a blackjack. In some games in some casinos, the payout for a blackjack is only 6:5.

You should NEVER play in such a game, because it gives the house an edge almost 1.4% higher than it would have if it paid the standard amount.

But if you ignore that advice and choose to play in such a game, the even money bet suddenly makes sense.

Here’s why. You still have the 30% probability that the casino will have a blackjack. So, now, you’re looking at winning $120 approximately 70 times out of 100, or $8400.

But if you take even money, you’ll win $100 every time for $10,000 in winnings. In a 6:5 blackjack game, even money is a GREAT bet.

Blackjack Table With a Jack and Ace

The problem is that it doesn’t come up often enough to make up for what it does to the house edge. A good blackjack game might have a house edge of around 0.4% if you play with perfect basic strategy.

Convert that to 1.8%, which is what the 6:5 payout does and, suddenly, that great game becomes pretty mediocre. And that 1.8% accounts for the even money proposition, too.

Conclusion

The basic blackjack strategy should inform your every decision in blackjack, but the correct basic strategy varies based on the rules in place.

The differences between insurance and even money and when it’s appropriate to place such a bet are great examples of this.

Do you ever take even money when it’s available at the casino? If so, do you think this post might have changed your mind about that?

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Top 3 Mistakes Every Slots Player Makes

Row of Slot Machines and Man Holding Hands Over Face
Slot machines are popular because they’re easy to play and they offer the chance to win a big prize for a small bet. You can judge how popular slots are by looking around in any casino to see how much floor space is filled with slot machines. The casinos dedicate the most floor space to popular games, and slots dominate most casinos.

The slots also happen to be one of the most profitable games the casinos offer, so the casinos are happy to offer as many machines as they can as long as players keep playing. The same is true for online casinos. They offer as many slot machines as possible, because they know that’s what players want.

Here are the three top mistakes slot machine players make. You can quickly make adjustments and correct all three of them starting today.

1 – You Play Too Many Spins Every Hour

The house edge is higher on slot machines than most other casino games. But this is only part of the problem with playing slots. Slot machine players fall into the trap of not realizing how much they’re risking over time because the amount they bet on a single spin is low.

Slot machines are designed so you can play them as fast as you want. You can hit the spin button as fast as you can and get as many as 600 spins in every hour. This is true whether you play online slots or play at a land based casino.

If you take 600 spins per hour, look at the following information to see how much you’re risking every hour based on the total amount of your bet.

Bet Size Total Wagers Every Hour
.25 $150
.50 $300
$1 $600
$2 $1,200
$5 $3,000
$10 $6,000

As you can see, even if you’re playing on a quarter machine, you’re running a lot of money through the machine every hour when you play fast. If you’re like me and like to chase progressive slots jackpots, many machines have a bet size of $1 or $2 to be eligible for the top jackpot. At this level, you’re really starting to rack up the amount you risk every hour.

With a high house edge, playing slot machines can drain your bankroll faster than most other casino games, even though the bet size is smaller. If you play a table game and bet $20 per hand but only play 50 hands per hour, your risk per hour is $1,000. Compare this to playing 600 spins on a slot machine at $2 a hand. You risk an extra $200 an hour playing slots at a much lower risk per decision.

Once you add in the difference in the house edge between slots and other games, you can see how slots are rougher on your bankroll than most games. Here are some examples for comparison.

Game Approximate House Edge Risk Every Hour Expected Hourly Loss
Slots 5% 600 X $2 = $1,200 $60
Blackjack 1% $20 X 60 = $1,200 $12
Craps 1.5% $20 X 50 = $1,000 $15
Roulette 2.5% $20 X 50 = $1,000 $25

One of the reasons players like to play slots is because they can get lucky and win a big jackpot. The other games on this list generally don’t offer as much upside like slots can. Overall, you lose more playing slots, but you’re never going to win a $100,000 jackpot playing craps or roulette.

One thing you can do to minimize your losses while playing slot machines is to play fewer spins every hour. In other words; slot down when you’re playing slots. You can cut your expected losses in half by playing 300 spins every hour instead of 600. This tactic works for both land based slot machines and when you play online slots.

2 – You Don’t Activate the Bonus Pay Lines

When slot machines started becoming popular, they were much simpler than they are now. They didn’t have as many reels and they only had a few pay lines. Now, with video based slot machines, you can find games with many reels, hundreds of pay lines, special bonus games and games within games, and all kinds of other special features.

Slot machines that offer bonuses, jackpots, and progressive opportunities seem to be available everywhere you can play slots.

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One mistake that many slot machine players make is they don’t read the rules when they sit down to play a new slot machine.

Reading the rules is important, especially if the slot machine has any special features like bonus rounds and jackpots. Some slot machines require extra bets beyond the base game wagers in order to activate the pay lines that unlock bonus rounds, bonus games, and jackpots. If you don’t know the rules, you can play a machine and hit what would be a huge jackpot, but miss out because you didn’t have the correct pay line activated.

The easiest way to avoid making a mistake that costs you a big win is to always activate all of the available pay lines. If this makes the bet size too high for your bankroll, find a machine offering a lower maximum bet.

The good news is that many video slot machines are either designed so you can only make one size bet, which activates all of the pay lines, or are designed so you can hit a single button that automatically makes the max bet.

3 – You Play Online Slots Without a Bonus

I prefer playing most forms of gambling live. I’d rather play poker and blackjack live than play online. But one of the few games that are better online is slot machines. You don’t have to wait for a seat to open up at your favorite slot machines, and you don’t have to worry about anyone sitting down beside you and bothering you.

You also don’t have to load up the card and drive to your local casino or the airport for a trip to Las Vegas or somewhere else. Playing slots online saves you time and money, and you have access to a wider variety of slots games than you have in most casinos.

All of the reasons listed above are good reasons to play online slots, but I haven’t even shared the best one yet. When you play slots online you can get all kinds of deposit and reload bonuses that let you play longer.

When you start looking for bonuses when you play other casino games, it can be difficult because many bonuses aren’t for other casino games. But almost every single online casino bonus you can find is designed for slots play.

I’ve seen slots bonuses of $10,000 and higher, and I’ve never had trouble finding a deposit or reload bonus when I wanted to play online slots. If the casino where I’m playing doesn’t offer one, they usually give me one if I ask, but I can play at dozens of other online casinos that do offer bonuses.

Slot machines don’t have the lowest house edge in online casinos, so I only recommend playing them if you’re trying to win a big jackpot.

To have the best chance to win a big jackpot, you need to be able to take as many spins as you can. This is where a big bonus fits perfectly.

If you’re playing a progressive jackpot slot machine that has a $2 per spin cost, you can take twice as many spins with a $1,000 bankroll as you can with a $500 bankroll. And when you get a 100% matching deposit bonus, you’re doubling your bankroll. Some casinos even offer more than 100% bonus on your deposit.

I never play online slots without a bonus, and I don’t suggest you do so either. Just remember to read the terms and conditions of the slots bonus so you know exactly what you have to do to cash out if you get lucky and hit a huge jackpot.

Conclusion

After reading this list of mistakes that slot players make, you might think that playing slots is a bad idea. While I usually suggest new gamblers start with a game with a lower house edge than slots, the slot machines do have some advantages. The minimum bet is small on most slot machines, and few games in the casino give you a chance to win a progressive jackpot like some slot machines.

If you’re a slots player, use the information in this article to avoid making three big mistakes that almost every slots player makes. Don’t take so many spins per hour, make sure you always have all of the pay lines activated, and never play online slots without a big bonus.

The 5 Worst Card Counting Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Blackjack Table and Drinks at a Casino
Counting cards is my favorite advantage play technique, and for most people, it’s way easier than you think. If you can add and subtract by 1, you can count cards.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy. It’s just easier than you would think if you watched Rain Man or 21 or something. There’s a common misconception that card counters memorize the cards that have been played or predict which cards are left in the deck.

This is only partially true. Card counters actually track the ratio of high cards to low cards in the deck by giving high cards a value of -1 and low cards a value of +1.

High cards are better for the player because they increase the probability of getting a “natural,” which pays off at 3 to 2 odds. Low cards are worse for the player because they increase your probability of going bust.

So, if you can find a deck that has more 10s and aces in it, you can raise the size of your bet and turn that house edge into a player edge. The trick is to avoid the following five card counting mistakes.

1 – Trying to Count in a Casino Before You’re Ready

Counting cards is easy in theater. The first time I read a book about how to count cards, I thought I was ready to get started. After all, I can recognize a high card from a low card, and I can add and subtract 1 like no one’s business.

The problem is that this is harder to do than I thought. Casinos are loud, distracting places, and blackjack tables get the hands dealt and played faster than you think. Even at a table with four other players, you’ll see 70 hands per hour. That’s more than a hand a minute.

People Playing at Blackjack Table

So, how do you get ready? First, practice at your kitchen table using a single deck of cards. Count through it one card at a time until you wind up with a count of 0 at the end.

Then, time yourself. Try to beat your time every time you practice. Move up to flipping over two cards at a time. Keep timing yourself, and make sure that your count is accurate. As long as you’re using a balanced card counting system, you should always end up with 0 when you get to the end of the deck.

Be sure to practice where there’s some noise. Play the radio, the television, and let the kids play. The casino is a loud, distracting environment, so you shouldn’t practice in a quiet environment.

You should also practice not doing anything that would let anyone know you’re counting. This means you need to be SO good at this that you don’t even look like you’re concentrating.

2 – Having Too Small a Bankroll

The thing about counting cards is that even though you have an edge over the casino, it’s a small edge, and you need to be able to survive a losing streak without going broke.

Card counting is a long-term proposition, and in the short run, anything can happen. Losing streaks can be far longer than you’d ever expect. The bigger your bankroll is compared to your average bet, the less likely you are to run out of money before that happens.

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If you’re aggressive and have a high-risk tolerance, you can get by on a 200-unit bankroll. This means that if you’re betting $5 per hand, you should have at least $1000 set aside for your blackjack endeavors.

But you have a 40% probability of going broke if you do. If you get up to 1000 units, you reduce your probability of going broke to less than 1%.

Of course, these “risk of ruin” figures assume that you actually know how to count cards well enough to get that edge over the house.

3 – Getting Drunk

My niece recently took her driving test, and there was a section on the test about drinking and driving. The test question asked about the first thing that would be impaired when you were drinking.

The correct answer was judgment, not balance, eyesight, reflexes, or anything like that. Counting cards and playing blackjack with an edge over the house requires excellent judgment.

Some of this requirement is obvious. You must be able to count well enough to know when to raise your bets. You must be able to play with perfect basic strategy.

King of Spades Inside Champagne Glass

But some of the less obvious judgment calls have to do with knowing how to behave or recognizing when someone has noticed that you’re counting and it’s time to go. These are things you can’t do if you’re drunk.

My suggestion is to have a firm handle on how much you can drink before your judgment is impaired. Anything beyond one or two drinks is just denial on your part.

4 – Not Knowing Basic Strategy

Of course, good card counters know when to deviate from basic strategy based on the count. But you can’t deviate from basic strategy if you’ve never learned it.

And even if you never deviate from basic strategy, you can make money counting cards just by raising the size of your bets when the count is positive.

If you can’t be bothered to learn basic strategy, you have no business playing blackjack at all, much less trying to count.

It’s easier to learn than you might think, too. There are pages on this site that explain the basics, and you can find charts and tables galore with the correct moves, too.

5 – Staying in One Place for Too Long

Okay, so if you haven’t figured this out yet, you should realize it now. Casinos frown on card counting. And the easiest way to get caught counting cards is to stay in one place for too long.

Counting cards will work a lot better for you if you adopt a hit and run strategy. Never play at a casino more than three times a week. Never spend more than an hour in a given casino. Try to play during different shifts during your three visits.

And pay attention to whether anyone is paying a lot of attention to you and your play. At the first hint of heat, cash out and leave. Don’t wait around to get backed off.

On the other hand, you’re not really a good card counter until you’ve been backed off and barred from at least one casino. It’s inevitable. Even if you stick with a hit and run strategy, you’ll eventually catch some heat. That’s the nature of the endeavor. Try not to let it stress you out.

Luckily, in Vegas anyway, the days of getting dragged into the basement and being roughed up by security are ancient history.

Conclusion

Counting cards is a fun way to make blackjack more interesting, and if you want to play a game with a mathematical edge over the house, this is one way to do it. You just need to understand common card counting mistakes and learn how to avoid them.

This means you must know basic strategy cold, and you must be able to effortlessly and quickly count through a deck while looking like you’re not paying attention.

You also need to stay sober and avoid staying in one place for too long. Common sense goes a long way, but make sure you’re ready before starting your card counting career.

The Rise and Fall of High Stakes Online Poker

Poker Cards on a Laptop Keyboard and Online Poker Screen

Land-based casinos and private home games dominate the world of high stakes poker. Some of these games are absolutely massive, with blinds reaching up to $5,000/$10,000.

High stakes online poker once featured similar limits. However, the internet nosebleeds have dropped off considerably in recent years.

What happened to the high stakes online scene? Keep reading as I discuss the rise of the online nosebleeds along with why they’ve diminished considerably.

The Early Days of High Stakes Internet Poker

The first online poker rooms launched in the late 1990s and early 2000s. At this point, many players were scared to even deposit on these sites.

After all, many gamblers were leery of sending their money to offshore poker rooms located thousands of miles away. Eventually, though, players overcame this fear and online poker quickly grew.

The internet high stakes segment grew along with it. Ultimate Bet Poker emerged as the early favorite for elite grinders, such as Prahlad Friedman, Mike Matusow, Patrik Antonius, and Brad Booth.

These tables drew many railbirds who wanted to see the world’s best compete against each other in the biggest online stakes available.

Unfortunately, UB took a serious hit after a massive cheating scandal surfaced. 1994 WSOP champ and UB insider Russ Hamilton was cheating high-stakes players through a “superuser” account.

Russ Hamilton at Poker Table

Hamilton could see his opponents’ hole cards with this program and used it to his advantage. Estimates vary on exactly how much money Hamilton bilked players out of.

But a Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) report suggested that he won $22.1 million. UB was fined $1.5 million and required to repay a portion of players’ losses. Unfortunately, Hamilton never suffered any financial or legal consequences.

In any case, this scandal rocked UB and ruined their reputation. High rollers subsequently gravitated toward Full Tilt Poker by the mid-2000s.

Peak of the Online Poker Nosebleeds

The UB high stakes tables featured some pretty big games taking place on $100/$200 tables. However, their biggest limits looked like low stakes compared to what would follow at Full Tilt.

This online poker giant’s slogan was “Learn, Chat and Play with the Pros.” Full Tilt definitely embodied the latter aspect, because they attracted some of poker’s biggest names.

Antonius, Matusow, Phil Ivey, and Gus Hansen were just some of the famous pros who competed at Full Tilt. In later years, more stars like Viktor “Isildur1” Blom, Dan “Jungleman” Cates, Tom Dwan, Phil Galfond, and Ilari Sahamies would emerge.

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$500/$1,000 tables ran regularly at this site. At the absolute peak, $2,000/$4,000 and $3,000/$6,000 games were also available.

Even the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 did little to slow down this site’s nosebleeds. The best and richest players continued competing at dizzying limits.

As mentioned before, UB’s high-stakes action drew plenty of railbirds. However, some of Full Tilt’s biggest games were almost like professional sports matches in terms of spectators.

Many came to see poker’s top players out of curiosity, for strategy purposes, and for entertainment. They were rarely disappointed either by the stakes or table banter.

Sahamies, who rarely plays these days, was especially notable for his trash talking. He routinely taunted opponents after big wins.

The size of the pots were also something to marvel. Blom was involved in several hands that featured pots worth over $1 million.

Speaking of which, nobody better epitomized the hysteria surrounding Full Tilt’s high stakes scene than Blom. The Swede experienced a rapid rise to fame, where his hyper-aggressive play befuddled some of the world’s top players.

What Happened to the Nosebleeds?

Full Tilt’s time at the top of the high-stakes scene would come to an end on April 15th, 2011. Dubbed “Black Friday,” this event saw the US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York serve indictments to top brass at the world’s biggest poker sites.

Full Tilt was right in the thick of this event. Board members Ray Bitar, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, Rafe Furst, and Howard Lederer were all indicted by former US Attorney Preet Bharara.

Ray Bitar and Full Tilt Poker Logo

Players panicked upon realizing they couldn’t withdraw their funds. Eventually, Full Tilt was revealed to be insolvent and unable to cover an estimated $360 million worth of customers’ funds.

The site tried to continue running until 2012, when they lost their license from the Alderney Gambling Control Commission. Even with their efforts to proceed, Full Tilt failed to influence any high-stakes players to keep grinding on their tables.

They eventually went the same way as UB, where they lost their player base after being involved in a scandal.

The good news is that PokerStars would work out a deal with the US Department of Justice. They purchased Full Tilt and avoided having to admit wrongdoing for $731 million. This money helped repay players who were affected by the Black Friday scandal.

PokerStars, meanwhile, was running their own budding high-stakes scene. While their nosebleeds never reached the same stakes as Full Tilt, they did offer some large games in the $200/$400 range.

These tables managed to keep online high stakes going. Stars also reopened Full Tilt and relaunched their nosebleeds as well.

Unfortunately, online poker would never be the same after Black Friday. The concept of sponsoring and featuring high stakes internet poker players was no longer appealing to recreational customers.

Aside from this fact, Amaya Gaming (now Stars Group) purchased PokerStars for $4.9 billion in 2014. The Canadian company took the poker site in a new direction and began focusing more on the recreational crowd.

The Stars Group eventually came to feel that high stakes tables didn’t do much for their brand. They did away with some of the highest limits at both PokerStars and Full Tilt, which effectively killed the big games.

Where Is High Stakes Online Poker Now?

Chances are that the internet poker world will never see cash stakes over $1,000/$2,000 again. However, the top sites still have some pretty big games at $50/$100 and $100/$200 stakes.

The best players are able to make six figures, and even seven figures in some cases, annually. That said, those who want to compete against the world top online grinders for serious money still have an outlet to do so.

The problem, though, is that there’s not enough liquidity to get bigger games going. The largest online poker rooms now have to obtain licensing from various jurisdictions (e.g. UK, France, Spain). In turn, some of these jurisdictions ring-fence their gamblers from other countries’ player pools.

As highlighted before, another problem is that online poker sites are mostly focused on appealing to amateurs. They care little about reviving the high stakes scene that was so big in the mid- and late 2000s.

Most of those who competed on Full Tilt’s nosebleeds are playing at the Aria (Vegas) or Macau. Some also enter high-roller live tournaments, which can feature buy-ins ranging from $100,000 to $1 million.

Conclusion

High stakes online poker was really something to marvel at over a decade ago. Some of the world’s top players competed against each other for pots worth up to $1 million.

The biggest winners each year regularly hauled in profits worth several million dollars. For example, Ivey once earned $8.5 million in online poker profits in 2008.

However, those days are long gone. Black Friday destroyed the nosebleeds and temporarily brought internet poker to its knees.

The odds of online poker’s golden days ever returning are next to zero. The scene is much different today.

Industry leaders like PokerStars, 888, partypoker, and Americas Cardroom care much more about recreational players. They’ve subsequently done away with their biggest stakes and only feature tables ranging up to $50/$100.

These limits still allow high rollers to throw some serious chips around. However, they’re a far cry from the games that were heavily rail-birded in the mid-2000s.

Again, we’ll almost assuredly never see online poker games reach this level again. The game has moved in a different direction, one where the richest players exclusively compete in land-based cash games and tournaments.

Nevertheless, the golden age of high stakes online poker will always be an interesting chapter in the game’s history.

Semi-Bluffs in Poker: What They Are and How to Win Money with Them

Man at Poker Table and Overview of Poker Table
Most poker players and non-poker players alike have heard of a bluff. It’s a classic strategy that’s implemented in casinos and online poker where you try to convince your opponent that your hand is better than it is, usually through aggressive betting. If done right, a good bluff will convince your opponent to cut their losses and fold their cards. A bad bluff means you lose. Then, there’s the semi-bluff, which combines elements of bluffing with good poker strategy to, hopefully, put you in position to score a big pot and convince your opponents to fold.

But what is a semi-bluff? Simply put, a semi-bluff is when you go ahead and make a bet when you don’t yet have a winning hand. The classic example of this is when you have four of the cards needed for a flush or a straight, but you go ahead and bet like you have a good hand. This is referred to as a bluff because you don’t have a good hand (like a classic bluff), but it’s only a semi-bluff because there’s a chance that the hand will improve into a valid winner.

Now that you know what a semi-bluff is, let’s look at how to use them to take down a few pots.

When to Semi-Bluff

Before we get too far into the strategy of semi-bluffing, let’s establish some base rules. First, this advice applies only to semi-bluffing. If you’ve made the decision to raise post-flop and you’re hoping to fill a straight or a flush because you have a taller stack, you want to bluff, or you have another strategy, there are different rules for governing those situations and rules for dealing with a semi-bluff. What we discuss below applies only to raising when you are semi-bluffing.

Poker Game and Poker Chips

With that said, when is it a good time to semi-bluff? There are two factors that determine, table position and the overall strength of your hand.

First, let’s look at table position. If you attempt to semi-bluff, it’s always better to be in “the position,” which is the poker player’s term for betting last or near the end of all active players in the round. Really, no matter what you’re doing, it’s better to be in the position in poker than out of it because you can acquire more information about what everyone else is doing and respond accordingly.

For instance, if you’re considering a semi-bluff and everyone else at the table bets aggressively, it gives you the chance to change your mind and check or fold altogether. Conversely, if everyone is betting cautiously before you, your semi-bluff has a better chance of winning you money.

Secondly, analyze the odds of winning the hand before you consider a semi-bluff. If you’re drawing to an inside straight, for instance, your odds of winning the hand are far, far worse than if you’re working toward a flush draw.

More importantly, if you have a pair, even if it’s not a top pair, then your chances of winning the hand are higher than if you had nothing.

Next, compare your odds of winning to the overall pot size to determine your pot odds. Pot odds are calculated as the ratio of your odds of winning the hand to the size of the pot. So, if you estimate you have a 10% chance of winning and there’s $100 in the pot, your pot odds are 10-1. If you estimate that you have a 50% chance of winning a pot of $100, then the pot odds increase to 2-1. It should come as no surprise that you want to semi-bluff when the pot odds are more in your favor.

Unless you feel very confident, don’t semi-bluff with more than 5-1 odds until you really get a feel for the game. In other words, don’t semi-bluff if you feel you have less than a 20% chance of winning.

Lastly, for games like Texas Hold’em, you will need to determine when to semi-bluff. A lot of that depends on your risk tolerance and what’s being shown at the table, but it’s always better to semi-bluff earlier in the hand rather than later. With each new card dealt, the chances of you picking up the winning hand get less and less, and your risk gets higher and higher.

When Not to Semi-Bluff

There are several situations in which you should avoid semi-bluffing. For instance, if you’re not in the position, you should strongly consider avoiding semi-bluffing. If you’re betting first, you simply may not have enough information to semi-bluff reliably. Of course, situations will always vary and you may feel you have enough of a feel for the hand, but it’s always better to semi-bluff in the position.

Secondly, if the pot odds are against you, it’s a bad time to attempt a semi-bluff. At the end of the day, a semi-bluff shares its most important facet with a classic bluff—you are bluffing. You don’t have the cards to win the hand, but you’re betting like you do. There is nothing that a bluff is going to do to change that.

If the odds are massively against you, it’s not wise to attempt a semi-bluff because more than likely, you are just going to be giving your chips to someone else.

Beyond that, there are a few other situations in which attempting a semi-bluff may not be the wisest strategy. First, if you’re on the short stack, think twice before you attempt a semi-bluff unless you are committed to seeing it through and making your semi-bluff a full one. Again, this isn’t a hard and fast rule. There are times you are on the short stack and it makes strategic sense to bluff out the other team, but be careful. When those chips are gone, so are you.

Also, to be successful with semi-bluffing, use your skills at reading the table. You need to ask yourself how the others at the table are going to react. Will they fold and let you win the pot? Is that what you want them to do? Are they the aggressive bully types who will call no matter what (potentially leaving you with no winning cards and less chips at the end of the hand)? Figure out the table, then come back and get your bluffing game going.

Pay attention to how everyone is betting this particular hand. Are people going against tendency? Do one or more players seem particularly aggressive? If so, expect that your bluff is going to get called and be prepared for it.

Making Money

There are two ways to make money semi-bluffing. The less common way is when you pick up the card you are looking for to complete your straight or your flush. When that happens, bet accordingly and take some money from your opponents.

Poker Chips and a Hand Picking them up

The more common scenario is that you make money by getting one or more of your opponents to make the call, thereby increasing the size of that pot. This allows you to continue betting in later rounds in an increasingly aggressive fashion until you ultimately get the other players at the table to fold their hands altogether.

Or you can bluff into having them think you drew the winning cards and you have the unbeatable hand. The first scenario is the luck of the draw. The second scenario is your skill at the game measured against everyone else’s skill.

Conclusion

If you never learned the term semi-bluff, it’s still likely you could go on to a professional poker career and make decent money. The point, though, is not that you have learned another term to put into your poker vocabulary. Instead, the real goal of knowing about semi-bluffs is understanding there is a whole strategy behind when you should use one and when it’s best to play tight or just fold altogether.

In the end, the right way to employ a semi-bluff will vary from hand to hand and from table to table. Try to semi-bluff when you’re in position and consider avoiding it when you’re not. Semi-bluff when the odds are in your favor, and always make sure you have the chips to back it up.

Doubling Down for Less in Blackjack

Blackjack Table and Woman Holding American Money
“Doubling down for less” is an unusual move at the blackjack table, and it’s usually a mistake. But since most people never do it, it’s a mistake most players never make. This post looks at how doubling down for less works in a game of blackjack and whether it’s a good time.

An Example of Doubling Down for Less

Suppose you’re betting $100 per hand at the blackjack table, and you get dealt a hard 11 total. Most blackjack players familiar with basic strategy know that the correct move in this situation is to double down.

To double down, you put up more money (the same amount you bet initially) and agree to take only one hit. In this case, if you bet $100, you would put up another $100 and tell the dealer you’re doubling down.

But let’s suppose that the dealer has a 10 showing as her face-up card, and you’re nervous about how good the dealer’s hand might be. You might decide to “double down for less” by putting up $20 or $50 instead of the full $100.

You’re still agreeing to take one, and exactly one, additional card.  You’re also still getting more money into action. Most blackjack players I know don’t even know that this is an option. In fact, I didn’t know about it until I read an article online.

I’ve personally never seen anyone do this. But it’s something you can do. Unfortunately, doubling down for less is also the wrong move to make, and the math behind why isn’t as complicated as you might think.

Why the Math Makes Doubling Down for Less the Wrong Move

You basically have three realistic decisions in the example situation.

  1. You can hit the total of 11.
  2. You can double down on the total of 11.
  3. You can double down for less on the total of 11.

Theoretically, you COULD stand on a hard total of 11, but that’s obviously the wrong play. There’s no downside to getting another card. It’s impossible to bust a total of 11 by taking another card, so it’s ALL upside.

Example of Doubling Down in Blackjack

What Happens If You Just Hit the 11?

You’ll win 56% of the time. This means that your expected value here is excellent. If you win 56 times for every 44 losses, you’ll see a profit of $1200 (on average) over 100 hands. You have 56 wins of $100 each compared to 44 losses of $100 each. That’s an average win per hand of $12.

What Happens If You Double Down on the 11?

You’ll still win most of the time, but the win ratio will drop to 54% because of the extra card. But this time, you’ll have $200 in action on each hand instead of $100 in action on each hand.

54 wins at $200 per win is $10,800. 46 losses at $200 per loss is $9200. Your profit over those 100 hands is $1600 instead of $1200. Even though you’re losing slightly more often, your net profit over 100 hands is significantly higher. You’re winning an average of $16 per hand instead of $12 per hand.

What Happens If You Double Down for Less on the 11?

Your win ratio will be the same, because you’re still taking just one card, 54%. But now, you have less money in action. Let’s assume you double down for less by putting up $50. Now, over 100 hands, you’re looking at 54 X $150 in winnings, or $8100.

You’re also looking at 46 X $150 in losses, or $6900. That’s $1200 in net profits, which is the same profit you’d show if you just took a hit. But $50 isn’t the only amount you could change your bet by.

You could go lower, to $25, or higher, like $75. Would either of those be more optimal? With a $125 bet on the table, you’re looking at 54 X $125, or $6750, in winnings versus 46 X $125, or $5750, in losses.

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Your net win is $1000, or $10 per hand, which means that doubling down for less with an extra bet of $25 provides you with an even lower expectation than just hitting.

What about with a bet of $75? Now, you’re looking at 54 X $175, or $9450, in winnings, and 46 X $175, or $8050, in losses. Your net win is $1400, which is better than what you’d see if you bet $150, but still not as good as if you’d actually doubled down where your net win was $1600.

Any of these can be divided by the 100 hands to get an average win per hand:

  • Just hitting is an average win of $12 per hand.
  • Doubling down is an average win of $16 per hand.
  • Doubling down for less is an average win of less than $16. The less you double down for, the lower the expected win.

The Moral of This Blackjack Story

The more of this blackjack story is similar to the moral of most blackjack stories: You should always stick with basic strategy. The basic strategy for blackjack is the mathematically optimal way of playing those hands. When you deviate from basic strategy, you might be okay in the short term. But in the long run, deviating from basic strategy does one of two things every time.

  1. It increases the amount you’ll lose over time when playing a specific hand a specific way.
  2. It decreases the amount you’ll win over time when playing a specific hand a specific way.
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The ONLY time you should deviate from basic strategy is when you’re counting cards.

Card counting is beyond the scope of this post, except as it relates to the doubling down for less move. But I can tell you this. You would never double down for less no matter what the count was.

I did see someone ask if it would make sense to double down for less if you don’t have enough of a bankroll to double down. For example, what if you’re playing for $100 on that hand, but you only have $50 left on the table besides that?

In that case, then yes, doubling down for less WOULD be the appropriate move. But I’d also suggest that if you only have $150 on the table, you shouldn’t bet $100 of it on a single hand of blackjack. You’d be better off betting $10 per hand so that you could make the correct basic strategy decisions.

Conclusion

Deciding whether doubling down for less in blackjack is a good move is a great example of how the math behind basic strategy works. Once you know the percentage of times you’ll win with a certain move, and the percentage of times you’ll lose with a certain move, you can just do some quick multiplication and division to come up with an average profit or loss per hand.

Did you even know that doubling down for less was an option? Have you ever tried it? I’d love to read your comments below.

2 Roulette Systems Reviewed – Can You Win?

Roulette Wheel and Roulette Table
Have you ever doubled your bet after a loss or let a winning bet ride to try to benefit from a hot streak? If you’ve done either of these things you’ve used one of the systems below.

Roulette players are like gamblers who play other games; they’re always interested in ways to help them win. This often leads to systems that promise riches and easy wins.

The question is can any of these roulette systems actually help you win? I cover two popular roulette systems below and answer the question of if they can help you win.

1 – Double After Loss

The most popular system today is the one that’s been in use the longest. Most systems in existence are based at least in part on the Martingale system. This system is simple; you double your bet after every loss and start over with a small wager after every win.

When you double up after each loss, when you win a spin you win enough to eliminate all of your previous losses and have a profit equal to your base bet that you start each string with. This works great until you lose several spins in a row.

When you lose several spins in a row you’re forced to bet a large amount to win a small amount in overall profit. Eventually, you lose so many spins in a row that you run out of money or hit the table maximum limit.

Dealer at Roulette Table Handling Chips

The double after loss system will never overcome the house edge, so it’s dangerous to use. But if you use it in a smart way it’s no worse than making flat bets.

The truth is that you can use the double after loss system to win for a while. You can even get lucky and win with it for a long time before you hit a series of losses that destroy your bankroll. This system is also fun to use when it’s winning.

But in the long run you can’t beat roulette using the double after loss system. Eventually, you lose a big bet that wipes out all of your previous wins and leaves you worse off than you started.

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If you decide to use the double after loss roulette system, set aside a bankroll that you only use for it.

Never make a bet that doesn’t come from your bankroll. You can add to your bankroll, but never during a playing session.

This way, when you run up against a long losing streak, you only lose your bankroll and you never lose the rent money or the mortgage.  Here’s an example of how this works. You can substitute your preferred bet sizes and starting bankroll, but this gives you an idea.

You start with a $500 bankroll and a base bet of $10 per spin. You always bet on an even money return. Every time you complete a series of bets starting with $10 you win $10 and add it to your bankroll. You win 17 series in a row, so your bankroll is now at $670 and you hit a losing streak.

  • You lose the first bet of $10, for a total loss of $10.
  • You lose the second bet of $20, for a total loss of $30.
  • You lose the third bet of $40, for a total loss of $70.
  • You lose the fourth bet of $80 for a total loss of $150.
  • You lose the fifth bet of $160, for a total loss of $310.

At this point your bankroll is down to $360. This means you have enough to make one more wager in the series, but if you lose it your bankroll will be down to $40. What you decide to do at this point is entirely up to you, but you should seriously consider starting over with your $10 base bet with a bankroll of $360.

This gives you an opportunity to build your bankroll back to $500 by winning several series in a row. When you drop to $40 in a bankroll, it’s difficult to build back up without adding new funds to your bankroll.

Another good option is using all of your wins to build a new bankroll. Using the same parameters of $10 bets starting with $500; every time you win a series you add $10 to a new bankroll. You keep playing with your original $500 bankroll until you lose five bets in a row.

When you lose five bets in a row your original $500 bankroll is down to $190. Add this $190 to your second bankroll and start over. You create a third bankroll with all of your $10 series wins and keep doing this for as long as possible.

This limits your losses to no more than your original $500 bankroll for as long as possible. You still aren’t going to win in the long run, but with a little luck, you can play for a long time before you bust out.

2 – Double After Win

In most ways the double after win system is the opposite of the double after loss system. The biggest difference is there isn’t a built-in stop in the double after win system. In the double after loss roulette system you stop and go back to your original or base bet amount after any win, or you stop when you run out of money.

When you use the double after win system you have to set your stop points before you start. This can be done in two different ways, which I cover later in this section.

Roulette Wheel and Table

The double after win roulette system operates exactly as it sounds. Every time you win a bet you leave your original bet and your winnings in play on the next bet. When you win a few bets in a row your winnings start ramping up quickly.

Most players who use this system make even money bets like the players who use the double after loss system. But you can use this system on any bet available at the roulette table. The reason why most players use the even money bets is because they offer the best odds to win. On a single zero roulette wheel you win 18 out of every 37 spins on average on an even money bet, which means you win 48.65% of the time.

The bet with the longest odds and highest pay out on the roulette wheel is the single number wager. It pays 35 to 1 and the odds of hitting it are 1 out of every 37 spins. In other words, you only have a 2.7% chance to hit a single number wager.

Whether you decide to bet on even money bets or something with longer odds and a higher payout depends on your appetite for risk and reward. You won’t win two or more bets in a row on the longer shots as often as you do on even money wagers, but the reward is much higher.

If you let your win ride on a single number bet after you win one, if you win the second bet in a row you secure a big win. A $10 bet on a single number returns your original wager plus a win of $350. When you bet the $360 total on a single number and win a second bet in a row you win back your $360 and a profit of $12,600.

When you bet on an even money bet and win two in a row you only have $40 on your original $10 bet. But you’re much more likely to win two even money wagers in a row.

The two different ways you can work with a stopping point using the double after win system are setting an amount where you stop any series, or simply stopping when you feel your luck is about to stop. I prefer the first method, but the truth is it doesn’t really matter which way you decide to go.

You need to break your bankroll into small amounts so you have an opportunity to start many series. In the last section, I used an example of $10 bets starting every series with a $500 bankroll. Using these same numbers, you have 50 series starters of $10 each. Every time you lose or reach your preset win number you start a new series with a $10 wager.

The Problem with Gambling Systems

The problem with gambling systems, including both of the roulette systems I covered above, is they never help you overcome the house edge. In the long run you’re still going to lose what the house edge dictates you’re going to lose.

The danger, especially with a system like the Martingale, is that many players use it a few times and win more than they lose and they start believing that it’s the perfect system. But the more times you use any system, the closer you are to disaster.

A player who believes the double after loss system can’t lose will wager more and more following losses, and be tempted to bet money they can’t afford to lose. This eventually ends in disaster, and often bankruptcy.

Conclusion

Can you use either of these roulette systems to win? The answer is no in the long run. You might get lucky in the short term and show a profit, but eventually you’re going to lose. The same thing is true when you don’t use a roulette system. You might get lucky in the short term, but in the long run you’re going to lose.

Why Are Live Dealer Casinos so Popular?

Woman and Man Live Dealers at Casino
The online gaming world used to just feature virtual casino games. If you wanted to play blackjack, your only option was to use a software-generated table with an AI dealer.

Such table games are still available in great abundance. But you can now look forward to live dealer gaming as well.

Live casino games differ from standard virtual table games in the following ways:

  • Action is streamed from either a land-based studio or casino.
  • A human dealer works the table.
  • You can communicate with the dealer via a chat box.
  • Real tables are used.
  • Real cards and other equipment (e.g. roulette wheel) are used.

Some elements of live casinos are the same as virtual gaming. For example, the betting interface is roughly the same between both versions.

For the most part, though, live dealer gaming is very different from regular online casino gambling. Its differences have helped it become more popular among players.

However, the situation regarding live casinos wasn’t always so great. In fact, few people played these games in the beginning.

I’m going to further discuss the slow start for this form of gambling. I’ll also cover what elements have helped it attain a high level of popularity today.

Slow Beginnings for Live Dealer Gaming

Live dealer casinos are nothing new. They’ve been around since the mid-2000s.

Certain internet casinos launched live dealer outfits with an obvious angle: bring the brick-and-mortar experience to the online world.

These casinos were filling an obvious void in online gambling. But they failed to take off right away for a couple of reasons.

  • Consumer internet connections weren’t that great in the mid-2000s. Live tables would sometimes freeze up in the middle of a round.
  • The studios and game play options didn’t make for a fun experience.

As with many new ideas, live casinos struggled mightily due to these setbacks. It took years before they improved to the point where they were accepted on a wide scale basis.

Factors that Have Boosted the Popularity of Live Casinos

Many internet casinos now license live gaming software from various providers (e.g. Evolution). This is a stark contrast from 10 years again, when live casinos were poorly functioning sites with few users.

What sparked this turnaround? The following reasons have all contributed to the rise of live dealer gambling.

Quality Live Casino Studios

The earliest live casinos were rather rudimentary. They featured single cameras at tables and poor virtual interfaces for the betting options.

These outfits have seriously upgraded their technology and presentation. Nowadays, each table features multiple cameras to capture different viewpoints.

The studios themselves also look better than in the past. Rather than blank rooms with casino tables, these studios are fashioned to look like real casinos.

Speaking of which, some providers even operate in brick-and-mortar casinos. For example, Actual Gaming (formerly Vuetec) and MTM Corp both operate from the classy Fitzwilliam Casino in Dublin.

Mobile Compatibility

When live dealer sites first came out, they were originally only available on PCs and Macs. This made sense at the time when considering that mobile phones were still built like small bricks.

Live Dealer Blackjack on Iphone

However, the advent of smart phones changed everything. Smartphone tech allows for better graphics and streaming quality — two crucial elements to the live gaming experience.

Better Internet & PC/Mobile Technology

As mentioned before, internet connections weren’t the greatest when live casinos first launched. But high-speed internet is now available across most of the world.

Players no longer have to worry about games freezing up on them in the middle of a session. Instead, they can enjoy smooth game play at live dealer sites.

PC and mobile technology have also helped to improve this process. Computers, smart phones, and tablets are now able to stream live gambling action without much incident.

Improved Chat Function

One aspect that truly sets live table games apart from their virtual counterparts is communication. You can interact with a real dealer via the chat box.

This process works as follows:

  • You type a question to the dealer.
  • It appears on a large screen in front of the dealer.
  • They respond to you when they get a free second.

Maybe this isn’t as personable as sitting and chatting with the dealer at an actual casino table. However, it’s the most-interactive experience that online gaming currently offers.

More Features

Again, live dealer tables weren’t exactly technological marvels when they were first introduced. Software providers have done a good job at upgrading the features over the years, though.

Here are some of the features that are available at live tables:

  • Bet behind — Sometimes live dealer tables are full. Bet behind allows you to wager on the outcome of a seated player’s results.
  • Card overlays — Virtual card overlays make it easier to see the real card values that are dealt.
  • Fullscreen — Increase the screen size to take up the entire table.
  • Stop/go lights — Green, yellow, and red lights show how much time you have to place bets.
  • Tips — Give your favorite dealer a tip.
  • Virtual chips — Like card overlays, virtual chips enable to you to better see the chip denominations.

Low Stakes

Nothing beats the land-based gambling experience. However, brick-and-mortar casinos require high minimum bets. Plenty of establishments require you to wager at least $25 per hand.

Live dealer software providers differ greatly in this regard. Some only require you to bet $1 to begin playing.

Others may call for $5 minimum wagers, especially regarding blackjack. But this amount is still cheaper than the average brick-and-mortar casino.

Find Your Favorite Dealers

The dealers are quite possibly the biggest draws to live casinos. Not only do they communicate with you, but many of them are also quite attractive.

You can play at different croupiers’ tables and develop a bond with them. Over time, you may find that you prefer one dealer over the others.

Blonde Woman Casino Dealer

In this case, you can check out their schedule to see what shift they’ll be working. Many online casinos provide this information somewhere on their website.

Most live dealer sites also feature dealers who speak a variety of languages. English, French German, Spanish, and Swedish are among the most-popular languages spoken at these casinos.

More Games

Baccarat, blackjack, and roulette have been the staples of live dealer gambling sites. However, this selection has been expanded in recent years.

Here are some of the many games that you can find across the industry:

  • Baccarat
  • Blackjack
  • Caribbean stud
  • Casino hold’em
  • Dragon Tiger
  • Dream Catcher
  • Texas hold’em bonus poker
  • Three-card poker
  • Ultimate Texas hold’em

Beyond the large game variety, certain live games have multiple variations. Blackjack, for example, features a party version, where a host/hostess works with the dealer to keep gamblers entertained.

How Can You Get in on the Live Dealer Gaming Action?

You don’t have to look far to find live dealer casino games these days. Many casinos and providers now feature these options.

It’s important to note that not every gaming site and provider have live games. After all, these outfits are fairly expensive to run and license.

Therefore, the first matter is to find a site that runs live casino games. You can do so by looking for casinos that use software from one or more of the following providers:

This list doesn’t even cover every live operator. Therefore, you can see all of the different options that are available.

Once you choose a casino with live gaming software, the rest of the process is easy. You just deposit and sign up like you normally would at any casino.

From here, you proceed to a casino’s games section. They should have live dealer gaming clearly categorized and separate from their slots and virtual table games.

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Many sites require you to bet real money to play. This differs from virtual table games, which are free to enjoy.

Therefore, a deposit is required before you can play live dealer games. The good news, though, is that live casinos have lower minimum bets than the average land-based establishment.

Conclusion

Live gambling sites may not have started off with a bang. But they’re definitely a major part of the online gaming industry now.

Several factors have contributed to the success of live casinos. Here’s a recap of the main aspects that have helped this style of gambling grow:

  • Better studios; some outfits even operate from brick-and-mortar casinos
  • Live casinos available on smart phones and tablets.
  • Stronger internet connections
  • Improved PC/Mac and mobile phone technology
  • Fun chat feature
  • Added features, including the popular “bet behind”
  • Lower stakes than brick-and-mortar casinos
  • Attractive and entertaining dealers
  • Lots of different games

You can’t perfectly replace the brick-and-mortar casino environment. With the latter, you can touch cards, sit at a real table, talk directly to the dealer, and chat with fellow players.

But live dealer gaming is a suitable alternative when you can’t get to the closest casino. While you may be seeing the action through a screen, the tables, dealers, and cards are real in this situation too.

What’s nice is that you won’t have to work hard to find a live casino either. Plenty of software providers feature their products across numerous gaming sites.

Some casinos even offer free bets that are exclusive to live gamblers. That said, you have extra incentive to try these types of casinos.

3 Ways to Reduce the House Edge

Image Split into 3 Parts, Blackjack Table, Craps Table, and Baccarat Table
The rules of the game are fixed. When you play a casino game the house has its edge and that’s final. You cannot change the theoretical return to the house.

Or can you?

I’ve said before that the house has a “hidden edge”. This is the difference between theoretical return to player and actual return to player based on poor gaming.

But there is another house edge. Call it the “secondary edge”. You run up against this when you’re given two choices of the same game.

Should you play 6:5 blackjack or 3:2 blackjack?

That’s a no-brainer but if there is more than 1 version of a game in the casino, why do people play the version that pays less often?

When the table rules are posted and you can compare the terms of the game variations, curiosity should be the only reason to consider playing a game less likely to pay you. Satisfy your curiosity but go into the game with your eyes open.

You may have heard about a “zero lounge” where the games have little to no house edge. Most people will never find one so I’m not going to include it in my list. You need to be your own zero lounge as much as you can.

What the House Edge Is and Why It’s Acceptable

Every casino game is designed to pay the players out of their own wagers. The rules are set so that over time the house should retain a percentage of those wagers as a sort of commission for running the games.

I like to use roulette to illustrate how this works. If you bet on a single number and win the casino pays you 35-to-1 odds. That sounds like a great return. But in the three types of roulette the probability of the ball landing on any single number is less than 1-in-35:

  • European roulette (37 to 1)
  • American roulette (38 to 1)
  • Sands roulette (39 to 1)

Even without the green slots on the wheel the house is already committed to paying you less than even money on a single number bet. But they do pay even money on outside bets like even/odd or black/red. That’s why they need the green slots, so they always have a statistical advantage.

Also known as single zero roulette, European roulette offers a house edge of 2.7%. If the table uses the la partage rule that refunds half the player’s outside bet when the ball lands on 0, then the house edge drops to 1.35%.

The house edge in American roulette is 5.26% or almost twice the best edge in European roulette.

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Sands roulette, also known as triple zero roulette, has the highest house edge at about 7.69%.

The house edge is important. As players we want to pay the house as little money as possible. But the casino needs to pay its bills. They make their money from running games that allow them to retain a percentage of wagers.

The table games with the lowest overall house edge are baccarat and blackjack, but the casinos can change the rules for these games.

Now, how do we lower the house edge if we can’t change the rules?

We have to work on the “hidden edge” and the “secondary edge” in all games.

1 – Memorize the Basic or Standard Rules of the Game

If you don’t even know basic strategy you’re not going to do well in any game. Baccarat has the simplest choice in strategies (bet on the banker for the lowest house edge). Blackjack strategy is complicated because there are so many possible combinations of cards.

The more complex a game is the more people are drawn to it. Baccarat is probably popular only because of James Bond. Most people who play table games stick with blackjack, craps, and roulette.

James Bond and Bloomberg Playing Baccarat in Movie

Chuck A Luck and its variations offer more complexity in player choices than baccarat but the house edge in those dice games is worse than the edge for many slot games.

When you know the basic game strategy well enough you’ll avoid making the most common mistakes. This reduces or eliminates the “hidden edge”.

When you know the basic rules of the game you’ll also recognize unusual table or house rules right away. If the casino changes how the game is played from the standard version, it’s almost always to make more money from the game.

You might wonder why they need to do this since casinos make most of their money from slot machine games. It doesn’t matter. If they change the payout odds, limits, or minimums the change probably benefits them more than you.

Choosing to play only basic games over house variations reduces or eliminates the “secondary edge”.

2 – Play the Odds in Craps

I know of only one truly even money bet in standard table games: playing the odds in craps.

And like all sweet deals in life, there is a catch. To play the odds in craps you must make a Pass or Don’t Pass bet. Your Odds bet is limited by the amount of your Pass / Don’t Pass bet.

Since the house has an edge on the first bet Taking or Laying the Odds flattens that edge a little bit. Craps experts recommend playing the Odds for that reason.

Most players start with a Pass bet. Pass bets are made on the come out roll, when the black marker on the table reads “Off”. You win even money if the Pass roll is 7 or 11. If the come out roll is 2, 3, or 12 you lose your bet. Any other result sets the the point and the croupier flips the black marker to say “On”.

You can make a Pass bet after the come out roll but it doesn’t pay as well.

Once you’ve survived the come out roll you can Take the Odds, which is an even-money bet that the point will be rolled again before 7 turns up. The payout odds match the probability of any winning number being thrown.

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A few casinos may pay really well on an Odds bet but in the basic game all you need to understand is that Pass + Odds > Pass.

If you make a Don’t Pass bet on the come out roll then you’ll win if the dice tally 2 or 3. You push if the shooter rolls a 12. You lose if any other number is rolled.

Some casinos push on 2 instead of 12.

If you bet Don’t Pass on the come out roll you Lay the Odds, which means you’re betting the shooter rolls a 7 before rolling the point.

The house edge is slightly better for Don’t Pass than for Pass but gambling writers caution people that “most players” don’t like it when someone bets against them.

On the other hand, this is why people in movies and TV shows shout “come on 7!” when playing craps. They bet Don’t Pass and Lay the Odds (assuming the script follows anything like real craps rules).

3 – Leverage the Dealer Disadvantage in Blackjack

A friend recently told me the house has an edge in blackjack because the player goes first. If you bust out then it doesn’t matter what the dealer’s cards are.

Blackjack experts advise against taking insurance and making progressive bets. These are options are like putting extra money in the casino’s pocket.

The whole game of blackjack is designed to make you pay before the dealer plays. That hardly seems fair.

Blackjack Table and People Playing

Blackjack players hurt themselves by helping the house’s “hidden edge”.

The one disadvantage the dealer has that helps you before the cards are played is a table rule where the dealer must stand on a soft 17. Unfortunately casinos are beginning to replace this rule with the opposite: their dealers must hit on soft 17.

The dealer has slightly better odds if he hits on soft 17. It’s a small percentage difference but if you have a choice between a table where the dealer stands on soft 17 and a table where the dealer hits, consider the 1st table.

Of course, other table or house rules may offset the slight disadvantage in standing on soft 17.

Conclusion

Although there isn’t much a player can do to improve their chances of winning, there is much we can do to hurt our chances of winning. The casino counts on that.

And as many “tell all” articles about casino secrets point out, modern casinos create a relaxing environment and keep the alcohol flowing so their players lose track of time and start making mistakes.

In my opinion the “hidden edge” is where the casino makes most of its money. Eliminating that edge won’t guarantee you’ll win but it improves your chances considerably.

7 Signs You’re Gambling Too Much

Man Sitting at Slot Machine and Blackjack Table
Are you gambling too much? How can you tell if you are? On this page, I’ll be discussing seven signs you might be gambling a little too frequently.

But I want to make something clear before you continue. This article isn’t aimed at problem gamblers. Some gamblers have a real issue on their hands and need to seek help immediately. If you have even the slightest idea that you might have a problem, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

This article is for players who can easily control their gambling, including those who might just need to take a break or back off for a short while. Although the focus is often on gamblers that can’t stop and end up losing everything, the majority of gamblers don’t gamble with money they can’t afford to lose and treat their gambling as a form of entertainment.

But even when you’re a responsible gambler, sometimes you need to watch for one or more of the signs below. Once you notice them, you can either take a break from gambling or gamble less.

1 – Chasing Losses

I hesitated to include chasing losses on this list, but ultimately decided it was too important to skip. Many gamblers chase losses as a habit. But keep in mind, chasing losses doesn’t necessarily mean you’re gambling too much.

The problem is when you start chasing losses even if it’s something you usually don’t do. Most gambling activities are for fun and not necessarily for profit. And because of a casino house edge, players lose in the long run.

When you chase losses, you simply lose faster. It puts your bankroll in danger, and you need to understand how short term and long term probabilities work. This way, you don’t run out of money.

2 – Losing Sleep

Woman Lying in Bed Awake, Yellow Sleeping Z's
It’s often difficult to link loss of sleep with one particular thing, but if you start having a hard time sleeping, consider whether it has anything to do with gambling. Losing can leave you in a state of unrest, and it’s possible that your sleep patterns are affected by it.

I’m not a doctor or psychologist, so I can’t help cure your sleep issues. But you need to be aware that it’s at least possible gambling could be the reason you’re not sleeping well.

Another possibility is that you’re neglecting sleep because you’d rather gamble.

This is a choice only you can make, but you need to be aware of the choice so you can make an educated decision.

If you’re working full time and have normal responsibilities in your life, it can be challenging to find enough time to gamble as much as you want.

3 – Hiding Your Gambling

This is a big one, so pay attention. Any time you hide your gambling activities from people, especially the people who’re most important in your life, it’s a clear sign that something is going on.

If you’re hiding some or all of your gambling from your spouse and/or loved ones, you need to figure out why you’re doing it. You have to be completely honest about this and dig down to the root cause.

Even if you struggle with figuring out why you’re hiding your gambling, reduce your time spent gambling for a few weeks.

I recommend using this extra time away from your normal gambling activities to figure out why you feel the need to hide your habits. I’m not here to judge, I’m simply here to educate. You might have a legitimate reason to hide your gambling, but it’s usually a sign you may be gambling too much.

4 – Gambling When You’re Tired

Icon of guy Tired Hunched Over with Cord Leading to Empty Battery, Poker Cards SpreadMost people who gamble are guilty of gambling when they’re tired at least a few times. I’ve done it too many times to count, and I usually don’t regret it. Occasionally, I’ll make a bad mistake because I’m tired, but I only continue gambling when I’m tired in situations where I still have an edge.

Here’s an example of when I’m most likely to gamble when tired.

The main thing I enjoy at the casinos is a good game of poker. I’m able to play well enough to be an overall winning player, but I’ve never dedicated enough time and effort to be able to play full time. One of my most profitable strategies is to find games with bad players. This gives me an edge most of the time.

In a game filled with bad players, I tend to play as long as the game is good and I’m able to continue playing better than my opponents. In a good game, I’ll play when I’m tired most of the time. Only when my profitability goes down because of being tired do I quit playing.

You can continue gambling when you’re tired, but try to be aware of when you start making mistakes because you’re tired. Once you start making mistakes, it’s usually time to pack it in and get some rest.

5 – Behind on Your Bills

When you’re a gambler and you’re behind on your bills, it’s time to take a close look at what’s going on in your financial life. The first thing you need to determine is if you’re a winning or losing gambler. If you don’t know the answer, then it’s safe to assume you’re a losing gambler.

Most gamblers lose money in the long run. If you’re doing anything other than counting cards at the blackjack tables, betting on sports, or playing poker, the odds of you being a winning gambler are almost non-existent.

Even if you play poker or bet on sports, the odds that you win in the long run are small. The only way to know for sure is to track all of your play and expenses.

If you find that you’re a breakeven or winning gambler, you probably don’t need to stop gambling until you’re caught up on your bills. But even if you’re a winner, you still might be able to earn more doing something else, like working, rather than gambling.

On the other hand, if you’re like most gamblers and lose more than you win, you need to gamble less until you get your bills taken care of.

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If you need to gamble less, or even stop gambling for a while, there’s no shame in it.

It takes a responsible and educated person to make a decision like this and follow through.

6 – Experiencing Social Issues

It can be difficult to recognize how your gambling can change your social relationships. But if you never think about it, you’re never going to see it happening. Have you noticed more disagreements or strife in your personal relationships lately? Are you fighting with your spouse, friends, co-workers, or boss?

Guy Confused with Hand on Head, Woman Sad, Thought Cloud with Casino Dice and Chips Inside

Gambling isn’t always the cause of social issues, but losing can make you irritable and defensive. As I stated in an earlier section, I’m not able to diagnose and help correct social issues, but I do want to help you understand that gambling can have an impact on them, and I want to help you watch for the signs.

Don’t hesitate to cut back on your habits for a short time if there seems to be more chaos or disagreement in your life.

7 – Losing Too Much Money

This is probably the easiest sign on the list to recognize and act on. If you’re losing more money than you want, it’s time to gamble less. When your losses become too high, it might even be time to stop gambling for a period of time.

I recommend taking a break and spending the time learning how to be a winning gambler. You can find books, articles, and videos that help you develop the skills you need. Look into playing other games like poker, blackjack, or sports betting, and see if you have the skills needed to start winning.

Only two ways exist to stop losing too much money gambling. You either need to stop gambling or learn how to gamble with an edge.

If you’re already a gambler, the odds are that you don’t want to stop. So, why not learn how to come over to the profitable side so you can continue gambling for the rest of your life?

Conclusion

I like to gamble and I don’t plan to stop doing it. But I’ve taken a few breaks over the years and looking back, I don’t regret any of them. The more you gamble and the older you get, the better chance you have of recognizing when you’re gambling too much.

Use the signs listed above to help you learn when you need to slow down or take a break. You can always start gambling more later and, if you use your time wisely when you slow down, you might even learn how to improve your long-term results.

Love Them or Hate Them: 9 Interesting Facts About Slot Machines

Velvet Texture Background, Slot Machine Icon with Magnifying Glass Over It, Slots in Gold Banner
There’s no avoiding the slot machine. Loved by many, reviled by some, they’re undeniably part of the Las Vegas landscape. They’re available in all casinos (in person and online), beckoning the passersby with the siren’s song of coins hitting a bucket. Plus, there’s usually fairly loud music and some flashing lights.

Slot machines form the backbone of the casino, accounting for 80% of its revenue in some cases. Because of this, casinos are always trying to make new and innovative way for casino slots games to bring in gamers and gamblers looking for fun.

Given their importance to the casino, whether you would play them or not, let’s look at nine facts about the slot machine that even the most ardent slot-hater might find interesting.

Slot Machines Have an Interesting History

According to Wikipedia, the precursor to the slot machine was developed in 1891 in Brooklyn. This machine used 50 of the 52 cards of a poker deck and allowed players to try to make a poker hand for a nickel a game.

Black and White Photography of Charles Fey, Icon of Slot Machine Invented by Charles FeyWhile they quickly grew in popularity, engineering in the early 1890s had no good way to standardize the payouts for all of the possible combinations of wins. Therefore, your prize for winning at this machine varied from bar to bar.

All of this changed by 1895 when Charles Fey invented a three-drum machine with just five symbols. Mechanically, it was easier to standardize payouts on this number of combinations and the slot machine was born.

Oh, and also of note, the original five symbols were the suits of poker and the Liberty Bell, which can still be found in slot machines to this day.

The First Video Slot Machine Was Developed in 1976

The first electronic slot machine was invented in 1963, but it wasn’t until the grand year of 1976 that the first video slot machine was created on a 19-inch color screen and Sony logic boards. According to Wikipedia, the first video slot machines were installed in the Las Vegas Hilton before gaining immense popularity that has continued to this day.

Most, if not all, slot machines operating in the US are video slot machines. The computers inside the machine are less open to fraud, more reliable than mechanical parts, and generally cheaper to produce.

There Are $100 Slot Machines

Hundred Dollar Casino Slot Machines, Hundred Dollar Bills Spread Out
Typically, a slot machine will “spin” for a single credit, though betting more credits leads to a higher payout. The cheapest credit possible is a single penny and is actually fairly common, especially in more established casinos. On the other hand, the sky’s the limit on how much a credit might cost to purchase.

There are even reports that some machines may cost as much as $100 per play just to spin the wheels once. That’s a fairly high-risk scenario that should be backed up by a serious bankroll.

If that’s your thing, go for it, but for most people, a slot machine that costs around a quarter to a dollar per credit is much closer to the norm.

Penny Slots Are a Great Way to Stretch a Bankroll

If you’re at the casino and don’t have a lot of money (either because you started off with a small casino bankroll or because you hit a bad run of luck), play the penny slots or the closest thing you can find to them. Modern day video slots have a lot more in common with game apps on your phone than hardcore gambling. This allows slot machine designers to have their slot machines run for a while on each play.

Because it takes a while to watch the animation, make a few choices, or perform some other action, playing slot machines can be a much more drawn-out experience.

This is in comparison to the olden days of dropping in a coin, pulling the arm, collecting the payout, and repeat.

If this sounds dreary, it’s not. Modern slot machines are just as addictive as the apps they resemble, meaning you can get a lot of play for not much money and still have a good time.

Slot Machines Don’t Run Hot and Cold

Icon of Real Casino Slot Machine, Icon with Half Sun and Half SnowflakeIf said to the right person, this “interesting fact” might start a riot. Some slot machine aficionados swear they can detect when a slot machine is about to payout big and when a machine has gone cold. Sadly, there’s no such thing as a streaky slot machine, especially not in the age of electronic slot machines.

Everything inside that machine is controlled by a computerized random number generator. Each time you play, it generates a complex series of numbers according to its own perfected algorithm. Those numbers get turned into whether you win or lose.

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This random number generator has been tweaked over time to promote a certain win percentage, so that it’s fair to the player and fair to the casino house edge.

Any win or loss streaks that the slot machine features is only the luck of the draw. Anything else would be too difficult to program into the algorithm and still keep things fair.

Slot Machines May Return Over 90% of the Money

Even though slot machines account for a significant amount of casino revenue, they still payout over 90% of the money they take in (sometimes as high as 94% percent). This is good news for the slot player.

Even though it’s fun to play video games at a casino, it’s even better when those video games pay off. Of course, just because the slot machine pays out at 90%, that doesn’t mean it pays that money out to you or at one time. A lot of that money is doled out in small amounts or put into a jackpot.

Slot Machines Owe Their Popularity to the Unlikeliest of Sources

American Flag Waving Background, George Bush and Ronald Regan
Slot machines, which are now legal in all but a handful of states, owe their popularity to two men—Ronald Reagan and George Bush. Both men increased taxes and forced businesses to find ways to generate additional revenue. While flat-out gambling like poker was definitely illegal, video slot machines could be reclassified as game rather than gambling. As it became acceptable to install video slot machines outside of casinos, their popularity continued to grow.

Slot Machines Are More Addictive Than Meth

Actually, we made that up. However, video slot machines are becoming increasingly more addictive (as are video game apps). In fact, since the 1990s, more people attend Gamblers Anonymous for slot machines than for playing poker.

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The statistics on how quickly people become addicted to slot machines is frightening, as are the effects of a slot machine player’s addiction.

Not to be too much of a downer, but slot machine players who suffer gambling addiction are more likely to commit suicide than others with a gambling addiction. Therefore, be careful when you start to play, as the effects of playing can be incredibly severe if you can’t control your habits.

There’s Such a Thing as Slot Machine Pros

Guy on Computer Looking Over Paperwork, Computer Displaying Casino Slot GameIn case you are wondering, there are slot machine professionals. We find this to be an interesting career choice as much of playing slots still boils down to the little random number generator inside the machine. The generator is what decides if you’re going to win or not.

With that said, it is nice to know there are slot machine professionals out there to rate existing slot machines, discuss strategies for machines that offer a strategic component, and talk us through the odds of winning.

On the other hand, the general consensus on this is fairly strong: There really is no system to how you play your slots.

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Remember what we said above about there being no hot or cold streaks with slot machines? Well, there’s no real system to guarantee huge profits when you play the slots.

They just don’t work like that.

Instead, be happy that you have a game to play, earn a little money on its payout, and have fun doing it. But if you’re spending $100 a pull, then you better hope you have luck on your side!

Conclusion

Slot machines are a lot more interesting than most people give them credit for. Next time you pass by the slots, even if they’re absolutely not your thing, keep in mind that those machines are paying for the casino. In fact, they’re probably paying out just enough to give someone a good winning story.

6 Ways You Can Maintain Your Poker A-Game Longer

Casino Floor with Gaming Tables in Background, Up Close Guy with Eyebrow Raised and Poker Cards Up to His Face
Many people play online poker as a form of entertainment. Therefore, they don’t always care what mindset they’re in while playing.

But anyone who wants to make real money with poker needs to be in the right mind frame in order to win consistently. After all, nobody should worry about what’s happening elsewhere when they’re in a serious game.

The goal is to play your “A-game” as much as possible. But how do you bring your best to the table and keep yourself in a good mindset?

Everything begins with knowing more about how to maintain your poker A-game. Once you thoroughly understand this concept, then you can figure out ways to give yourself the mental edge.

What Is Your Poker A-Game?

Silhouette of Guy Staring Down at Poker Cards and Poker ChipYour A-game is the point where you’re playing your best poker. In this zone, you make good decisions with hands, focus intently on opponents, and avoid any inclination to tilt.

If everybody played this way all the time, then poker would be a much more difficult game. Realistically, though, you and every other player will have down moments at the table.

Poker is a mentally draining game and can also be frustrating, too. If you’re at the table for hours and experience a couple of poker bad beats, then you could devolve into your C-game.

In most circumstances, it may not be possible to maintain your poker A-game 100% of the time. The hope, though, is to stay in this mindset as much as possible.

Unfortunately, you can’t always maintain your top form naturally. Instead, you need to make a concentrated effort at playing your best.

How Can You Get Into Your A-Game?

Big Group of People Around Poker Table, Casino Colored Chips Icon in Corner
Many professional athletes talk about being “in the zone” when they’re playing at peak performance and everything is going right. Your poker A-game is essentially the same thing.

However, unlike being in the zone in an athletic sport, you can work to maintain your poker A-game on a more consistent basis. You don’t need to rely on subconsciously shooting a basketball perfectly, for example, to get into the poker zone.

Poker is a mind sport. If you come into each session properly prepared, then you have a strong chance of bringing your A-game to the table. The only question is, how do you do this?

At a very basic level, you need to know proper strategy. When you learn the fundamentals, you have a stronger chance at elevating your play.

Luckily, you can learn through a large number of methods. Articles, books, coaching, training videos, and poker Twitch streams are all available in great abundance.

Another aspect that’ll help you maintain your poker A-game is to eliminate leaks from your play. Leaks are consistent mistakes that cost you money over time.

When you consciously work to get rid of these problems, you can play better poker on a regular basis. That said, you should analyze your play after each session and figure out what you could have done better in tough situations.

Finally, you should look to play against tougher competition at your given stakes. I’m not saying you should always seek out skilled grinders, because you make money by being at tables with worse players.

However, you’ll be more into a game and concentrate better when you know the competition is tough. At this point, you’ll be properly motivated to take your skills to the next level.

Dan “Jungleman” Cates, one of the world’s best high-stakes poker players, once struggled to master online $0.50/$1 No Limit Texas hold’em games.

He changed his fortunes by applying “reverse game selection,” where one seeks out the toughest competition at their stakes. After doing this, he set on the path to becoming one of the best poker players ever.

Your A-game is likely nowhere near Cates’ peak. But the key is to bring out the best in yourself from time to time, even if you’re only playing micro-stakes poker.

Tips for Prolonging Your A-Game

Again, you can’t expect to play at your peak level during every minute of every session. But you can maintain your poker A-game more often by using the following tips.

1 – Get Enough Sleep

Time Clock with Sleep Z's Coming From ClockI’m sure that you know sleep is important to perform your best every day. But do you get enough?

If you’re like many adults, you probably forego sleep so you can get more done during the day. But skipping out on sleep isn’t going to help your poker skills. In fact, it will make things much tougher on you.

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You should be logging at least seven hours of sleep per night in order to play your best.

You may need even more rest after a lengthy session so that you can come back refreshed the next day.

2 – Maintain a Healthy Diet

Laptop Computer on Desk, Office Supplies Spread Out, Green Apple on Laptop, Poker Game on Computer Screen
Poker is a sedentary game that can involve long hours. If you’re highly focused on becoming a better player, chances are you have less time to prepare healthy meals.

But taking just 20 to 30 minutes per day to make healthy food can have a huge effect on your poker game. According to research, a good diet helps you focus better and have more mental energy.

In contrast, surviving on fast food and energy drinks is a recipe for disaster. You’ll experience more crashes and mental fog at the poker table as a result.

3 – Slowly Increase Your Playing Volume

Purple Bar Graph with Green Arrow on Top Leading to Top Increased BarYou may dream of playing 10 hours of winning poker per day. At the right stakes, this volume can make you a lot of money.

However, you don’t want to force going from 300 hands per day to 3,000. Otherwise, you’ll be more likely to make mistakes and this quick jump certainly won’t help you maintain your poker a-game.

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A better approach is to gradually increase the volume of hands you play each day.

You can set short-term goals, such as playing 100 extra hands each day for an entire week (e.g. increase from 300 to 400).

4 – Eliminate Distractions

Caution Sign Displaying No Cell Phone Zone in Red and WhiteYou can’t play your best poker when constantly talking to friends and/or scrolling through your phone every few seconds. Instead, you have to reduce the number of distractions around you.

Regardless of whether you’re in a land-based casino or playing on an online casino at home, turn your phone off during a session. You should only check your phone during short breaks.

Unfortunately, some elements will be out of your hands in a casino setting. For example, you can’t turn off annoying players at the table.

But you can do plenty to control your setting at home. You should block out anything that doesn’t have to do with poker before playing online.

5 – Consider Meditating

Guy Meditating Sitting Down Outdoors, Poker Icons Floating in Circle Leading to Man in Zen
Many people stereotype meditation as a simple means of calming oneself. However, it has more benefits than just developing a calming presence.

It can also help you ignore distractions and have a longer attention span. The more you meditate, the better you’ll be able to focus during a poker session.

Plenty of pros have adopted this practice. Therefore, you should consider trying meditation at least once or twice to see if it helps your game.

6 – Have an Adequate Bankroll

Colored Casino Chips Stacked, Hundred Dollar Bills Rolled Up with Band on Top of ChipsYou can’t play your best poker if you’re worried about being on your last bullet. Having an adequate bankroll management plan for your given stakes can ease your mind.

The size of the bankroll you need depends upon what stakes you’re playing. You should have at least 25 cash-game buy-ins and 75-125 tournament buy-ins.

If you’re playing $1/$2 NL hold’em, for example, then you need at least $5,000 (2 x 100 x 25). This amount gives you a better opportunity of surviving downswings.

The discrepancy in tourney buy-ins is based on whether you’re playing large or small multi-table tournaments (MTTs). You need more buy-ins for larger MTTs, because they involve more variance.

Make Your A-Game Better Over Time

Your A-game can only go so far as an amateur player. You should strive to boost your poker performance by continually learning strategy and bettering your skills.

As discussed before, the basics are a great place to begin. I personally recommend watching training videos and/or pro players’ Twitch streams.

The only downside to training videos is that you have to pay $30 (or so) per month as a subscription fee. But you may find it worth joining a training site for a few months to learn various concepts.

Guy Sitting in Desk with Laptop, Laptop Displaying Poker Game with Twitch Logo Over ScreenThe nice thing about learning poker strategy through Twitch streams is that they’re completely free. You can look over a pro’s shoulder while they play online sessions and get into their mindset.

Strategy articles are yet another great source for tips. These are excellent resources if you’re a beginner who’s looking to develop a solid strategy foundation.

Of course, becoming a better poker player doesn’t stop with simply learning strategy. You also want to analyze your sessions after the fact and constantly observe opponents.

With enough time and experience, you’ll notice patterns on how opponents handle given situations. You can then take advantage of these patterns and win on a more-consistent basis.

Conclusion

One of your biggest poker goals should be to maintain your poker A-game in every session. After all, your A-game represents the peak of your current poker skills.

Of course, accomplishing this feat is easier said than done. You can’t just expect to naturally play your best every single time out.

Instead, you should make a concentrated effort to be prepared before each session. Your sleep, diet, playing volume, environment, and bankroll all have an impact in this matter.

Some of these aspects are part of a healthy lifestyle anyway. You should strive to get quality sleep and maintain a good diet aside from poker.

Other factors relate specifically to the game itself. These include steadily increasing your playing volume, setting up a distraction-free area at home, and having an adequate bankroll.

You might also consider adding meditation to your daily activities. Meditating can gradually increase your attention span over time.

You may not always maintain your poker A-game in every moment. But you’ll have a better chance at doing so by following the tips in this post.

5 Slot Machine Rules and Strategies Most Players Don’t Know About

Row of Casino Slot Machines Background Image, Slot Reels Displaying 7, Jackpot Logo, Icon of Yellow Lightbulb
When playing slots, there are no decisions to make after the reels start spinning. Without these human elements to worry about, the rules of slots are simple enough on the surface — put some money in the machine, press the “SPIN” button, and wait to see what happens.

In reality, though, you’ll notice that the modern slots you can play have evolved from the old 3-reel “spin and stare” dynamic.

Today’s slots use advanced video technology to shower players with an endless stream of graphics, animations, and sound effects. These modern slots have been designed to offer side-screen bonus games, free spins, scatter pays, wild symbols, and even skill-based elements like target shooting, memorization, and trivia.

When you throw in payline counts that can run from one to 100, a new payout format that ups your “ways to win” to 243 or 1,024, and topline progressive jackpots that require a precise wager amount to be triggered, it turns out slot players have a lot on their plate.

With so many rules to factor in, successful players try to apply certain slot strategies to give themselves a fighting chance against the house.

The idea of slot strategy might sound like a misnomer, but only when you don’t have a good grasp on the game’s nuances.

To help you navigate the maze of rules and strategies needed to thrive as a modern slot enthusiast, check out the list below for a bunch of slots strategies that most players don’t know much about.

1 – Betting the Maximum Number of Coins Is Always the Best Approach

Take a look down below at the Wheel of Fortune slot machine from IGT and pay close attention to the placard below the wheel and jackpot amount display.

Up Close View of Wheel of Fortune Slot Machine Placard

As you can see, this version of the wildly popular Wheel of Fortune game distinguishes between “1st Coin Winners” and “2nd Coin Winners.”

On the left, as you’re reading the paytable, notice how the 1st Coin Winner table offers a top payout of $10,000 if you land three Wheel of Fortune logo symbols. That’s a pretty sweet return on a $5 per spin bet, which is this particular machine’s coin denomination.

But over to the right, those 2nd Coin Winners score much more than 10 dimes — they trigger Wheel of Fortune’s famous progressive jackpot.

At the time this photo was taken, IGT’s $5 Wheel jackpot kitty had climbed to $3,070,893 and change.

That massive haul clocks in at 307 times what you’d win for a single coin wager, and all you have to do to earn it is bet a second $5 coin.

Reels on Wheel of Fortune Casino Slot MachineAnd I do mean “have to” because even when you line up three Wheel logos perfectly to trigger the jackpot, you can’t collect the seven-figure payday unless a max bet was in play.

On a $5 machine reading “Play 2 Credits” like the one in the photo, a max bet obviously comes to $10. Other versions of the Wheel of Fortune game read “Play 3 Credits” instead, but no matter how many credits the max bet comes to, just multiply that number by the coin denomination to figure out your per-spin cost.

Betting the max on today’s top-rated online slots is also the only way to activate the game’s full complement of bonus features, including side-screen games, prize multipliers, free spin rounds, and stacked or wild symbols.

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Without these features in play, you’ll be spinning with one hand tied behind your back, as the game’s payback percentage plummets without all of those additional ways to win.

And on a final note, don’t let that $5 -> $10 example scare you off the max-betting path. You can always find the same game using a lower coin denomination nearby, and online slots make it easy to toggle between bet sizes with a few mouse clicks. You can bet pennies, nickels, quarters, or dollars. Just make sure you’re always multiplying that coin denomination by the machine’s max bet to unlock the biggest jackpots and best bonus features.

2 – You Can Track Progressive Jackpots to Ensure You’re Always Playing for Max Value

Casino Slot Machine, Gold Coins Falling Into Pile Behind Slot MachineSpeaking of the Wheel of Fortune progressive jackpot, the top prize amount is seeded with a different starting amount — based on coin denomination — right after a lucky winner cashes in.

For the $0.25 machines, that starting seed is $200,000, and players must max-bet three coins ($0.75) to be eligible. The starting seed climbs to $1 million on both $1 and $5 machines, which both require a two-coin max bet.

But check out the list below, which highlights the most recent Wheel of Fortune jackpots at the quarter stakes, and see if you notice a curious disparity in payout amounts.


Recent Wheel of Forture Jackpots (Quarter Stakes)
DATE CASINO JACKPOT
2/22/2019 McCarran Airport $485,673.54
1/22/2019 Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino $262,696.85
1/15/2019 Excalibur Hotel and Casino $406,718.17
12/14/2018 Cosmopolitan Hotel & Casino $1,023,743.22
9/21/2018 Palazzo Hotel & Casino $374,769.07
9/3/2018 Green Valley Ranch Casino & Hotel $294,780.30
8/25/2018 Harrah’s Las Vegas $254,347.80
8/19/2018 Rio Hotel & Casino $265,866.77

As you can see, four of the eight jackpots topped out under $300,000, while two climbed a bit higher to between $370,000 and $485,000.

But on Christmas Eve of last year, one lucky winner walked away with a hair over $1 million — all on a $0.75 wager.

That juiced-up jackpot of more than five times the seed amount was only made possible because of a long gap in between wins. It took more than three months after the $374,000 was hit before a Wheel machine at the Cosmopolitan casino triggered the jackpot.

Conversely, the player who scooped a jackpot only a week after the Excalibur paid out $406,718 on January 15 “only” received $262,696.

Think about it like this: one jackpot winner earned more than $800,000 over the seed amount, while another had to settle for a premium of just $62,000.

If you want to give your progressive slot spins as much earning power as possible, use the handy Nevada jackpot tracker above to see exactly how much time has passed — and how much money has been added — between jackpots. When you see a game that hasn’t hit in a good long while, target those machines until they finally hit.

This strategy is especially effective because, at a certain interval of multiples over the seed amount, an extremely high jackpot reward actually increases the game’s overall payback percentage.

3 – Shopping Around for Venues Offering the Highest Possible Payback Percentage

Woman Playing Slot Machine in Casino, Yellow Cycling Arrows in Circle, RTP Text in Green
As for those payback percentages, the internet makes it possible to Google many popular casino games, including slots, to find out their exact rate.

You might see this figure expressed as the Return to Player rate, or RTP for short.

Simply put, the higher payback percentage a slot game offers, the more bang for your gambling buck you’ll receive over the long run.

After all, would you rather play a NetEnt slot like Devil’s Delight with its 97.6% payback or another NetEnt product called Mega Joker, which offers only 76.9% payback?

4 – All Paylines Need to Be Played for You to Enjoy Every Bonus Feature…

This is a variation on the max-bet rule, but whenever you’re playing a slot with multiple paylines, never risk a single cent without activating every last one of them.

Slot Machine Screen with 10 Paylines, Bonus Text in Green on Top of ScreenOn a 10-payline game like Big Bang, for example, the interface will allow you to choose just a single payline by default. Thus, a $0.10 coin denomination would put a dime on that payline, and that payline only, for each spin.

But with 10 paylines on the screen, every spin you make will produce winning combinations that don’t produce a payout.

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That’s because these combos land along one of those nine paylines you neglected to activate.

Only by turning on all 10 paylines, which ups the ante to $1.00 at the dime stakes ($0.10 x 10), can you collect on every winner the reels produce.

5 – …Unless You’re Playing a “Ways to Win” Model Like Aristocrat’s Reel Power

With that said, a version of slot gameplay known as “ways to win” removes the concept of paylines from the equation.

The most well-known “ways to win” slot brand is Reel Power, which was designed by leading software provider Aristocrat to provide 243 unique ways to win.

Reel Power slots, which can also offer 1,024 ways to win, use the following relationship between credits wagered and ways to win:

Ways to Win on Reel Power Slots
1 Reel 1 Credit 3 Ways
2 Reels  3 Credits 9 Ways
3 Reels 7 Credits 27 Ways
4 Reels 15 Credits 81 Ways
5 Reels 25 Credits 243 Ways

Conclusion

Slot machines might not be known for their rules and strategies, but that doesn’t mean sharp players shouldn’t know them well.

By working within all the rules and exploiting their associated loopholes, the best slot players turn every spin into the most advantageous play possible for that particular game or machine.

And by applying sound strategies whenever the opportunity presents itself, successful slot spinners never back a bad bet when a better option is on the board.

Can You Beat Roulette With the “Big Number” Strategy?

Different Numbers Scattered in Background, Roulette Table Layout, Roulette Wheel, Stacked Casino Chips
Not long ago, I read an article by a famous gambling writer who suggested the “big number” strategy for the game of roulette. He had an interesting warning at the beginning of his article:

He pointed out that you couldn’t get a mathematical edge at roulette using this strategy.

But then he also said that the system was fun to play.

So far, no problem.

But then he suggested that if you combine the big number roulette strategy with his money management advice, you “might” reduce the overall negative expectation of the game.

And that’s where we run into trouble.

This is math we’re talking about, and “negative expectation” is a specific term related to the probability compared to the amount you risk and the amount you stand to win.

A strategy will either reduce the negative expectation or it won’t. There’s no “might” in math.

If you’ve read about this strategy, and even if you haven’t, here’s a post about whether you can beat roulette with the big number strategy.

What Is the Big Number Roulette Strategy and How Do You Use It?

In the original article I read, the author called the big number strategy more of a trick than an actual system. I don’t think it’s necessary to make such a distinction, but here it is for people who care:

A system is a complicated approach to a game.

A trick is a simple, fast approach to a game.

The big number trick is a strategy where you place a single number bet in roulette. That’s a bet that wins if the ball lands on the specific number you bet on, and it wins 35 to 1. If you bet $100 on a single number and hit, you win $3500.
Roulette Table and Wheel in Background, Two Rows of Digits in Green Circles, Woman with Hand on Mouth Thinking

Most roulette games have a scoreboard that displays the last 20 numbers that came up. Because of the nature of random events and standard deviation, some numbers will have hit more often than they should have.

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In fact, if any number has hit more than once in the last 20 outcomes, you have a statistical anomaly. Remember, there are 38 possible numbers.

Your job with the big number strategy is to choose the number that has come up repeatedly more often than any other number. You just bet on that number.

If there’s a tie, you bet both numbers.

If another number gets hit more times than the big number, it becomes the new big number, and you start betting on it instead.

Here’s an example:

The number 7 has come up three times in the last 20 spins, but so has the number 10.

Your job is to bet on both 7 and 10 until some other number has been hit four times, or until one of those numbers gets hit a fourth time.

If 7 comes up on the next spin, you collect your winnings, but you also stop betting on the 10. It’s not the big number anymore.

The First Principle of Money Management Use in the Big Number Trick

Casino Roulette Wheel, Hundred Dollar Bills Spread Out Behind Roulette WheelYou must decide how much money you’re taking to the table with you, and then you have to decide how much you want to bet on each spin. You should think about how long you want to play when deciding this. You should also consider your overall goals for the session.

Once you’ve decided on a bet size, that’s the amount you bet on a single number.

If you have two numbers tied for a big number, you’ll bet half that amount on each – this way you’ll still only have that much in action on each spin.

Most people bet the table minimum here, but you can bet more if you like.

There’s not really a right or wrong way to size your bets in roulette. It all just depends on your goals and risk tolerance.

When Do You Stop Betting on a Number?

The author from the other article suggests that you should stop betting on a big number once it disappears from the scoreboard. He also suggests that if there aren’t any numbers that have come up more than once on the scoreboard, you wait until one has to place a bet.

I like this suggestion, actually, even though it doesn’t affect the house’s edge over you. That’s because your average hourly loss is based largely on how much you’re betting per hour. Any time you sit out for a spin of the wheel, you’ve reduced the statistical amount of money you stand to lose.

And that’s always a good thing.

Other Options Related to the Big Number Trick

Roulette Table with Multiple Players Reaching to Play, Roulette Wheel Faded in Background
Different players take different approaches to try to beat the roulette house edge and the game itself. Most of the time they try to bet against the trend.

In other words, if black has come up several times in a row, most roulette players will bet on red to try to capitalize on the likelihood that black won’t continue to come up.

The big number trick takes the opposite approach. When something has come up repeatedly, the big number player keeps betting it in the hopes that it will come up again.

In fact, you can use the big number strategy with different bets than just the single number bet. For example, you could use the big number strategy to inform you as to which outside bet to place.

The outside bets hit more often, which can make this strategy more interesting if you get bored losing all the time. The house still has the same mathematical edge, but you’ll win more often.

The only thing is that the size of your winnings will be smaller. The outside bets either pay even money or 2 to 1 odds.

All the Numbers Have Specific Characteristics

Take the number 26, for example. It has specific characteristics you can bet on.

For one thing, it’s an even number. If it’s come up twice in the last 20 spins, you could bet that the next spin will land on even.

For another thing, it’s also a black number. You could bet on even AND on black.

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It’s also in the top third of the numbers (24 through 36), which is another bet you could place.

You could, theoretically, place the following bets:

  1. Even (pays off at even money)
  2. Black (also pays off at even money)
  3. Top third (pays off at 2 to 1)
  4. Single number bet (pays off 35 to 1)

If you hit the 26, you’ll win all four bets. But even if you miss the 26 – which, let’s face it, will be most of the time – you still have plenty of opportunities to win at least a little something.

The Problems With This Strategy

The first problem with this strategy is one that most of my readers are already familiar with. It’s called the Gambler’s Fallacy.

This is the belief that previous results affect future results in some way.

The probability of a number hitting on the roulette wheel is easy to calculate regardless of the situation. You have 38 possible outcomes, and only one of them is that number.

That makes the probability 1/38, or 37 to 1.

This probability doesn’t change based on what happened on any of the 20 previous spins of the wheel.

There are still 38 possible outcomes, and only one of them is the specified number.

How the House Gets Its Edge and Why the Big Number Strategy Doesn’t Beat It

Money Bills Wallpaper, Faded Roulette Table and Wheel
The house edge in roulette comes from the difference between the payout odds and the odds of winning.

The odds of winning a single number bet are always 37 to 1. That doesn’t change based on what happened previously.

The payout odds are 35 to 1.

If you make 38 spins and see statistically perfect results, you’ll lose two units net, assuming you bet the same amount each time.

Over 38 spins, that’s 5.26% of each bet (on average).

That number does not and cannot change just because a number has come up previously.

It also doesn’t change because of any kind of money management techniques. You’ll find plenty of advice about when to quit like when you’ve won a specific amount, when you’ve lost a specific amount, etc.

But none of that changes the house edge, either.

If you play long enough, you’ll lose an average of 5.26% of the money you’ve bet, period.

Conclusion

And so, here’s my conclusion:

Yes, you can beat roulette with the big number strategy.

But if you do, it’s just dumb luck. Playing with this strategy isn’t superior to any other way to play roulette, but it’s worth a shot.

Why Twitch Is So Great for Learning Poker Strategy

Background Image of Live Twitch Poker Stream, Twitch Streaming Logo, Circles with Poker Initials
The poker world is filled with plenty of popular strategy resources. These include articles, books, coaching, heads-up displays (HUDs), and training videos.

Twitch, and live streaming in general, entered the fray in the mid-2010s. Many people have since discovered that Twitch is one of the best ways to learn poker strategy.

But what is it that makes Twitch such a good strategy tool to use for your next game of poker? You can find out as I discuss everything it has to offer in terms of pro players and content.

Twitch Allows You to Look Over a Pro’s Shoulder

Twitch started out as Justin.tv, a platform for people to stream their video game play through. The service has since branched out to other areas, including everything from cooking to talk shows.

Poker players have also found Twitch to be extremely useful for live streaming their sessions. Professionals can now broadcast their sessions via this service. Many amateurs tune in to watch pro players in hopes of improving their own games.

You can see how a grinder handles certain situations through Twitch, whether they’re 3-betting or folding. They often explain why they make certain moves, which gives you a better understanding of their mindset.

You can also ask them questions via the chat box, which creates an interactive element. They’ll normally respond when they get a chance.

Hundreds of poker pros now use Twitch on either a regular or semi-regular basis. Some of these players stand out among others, due to their high skill level and consistent streaming. Here are a few of the most popular poker Twitch streamers.

Jason Somerville (Run It Up TV)

Photo of Twitch Poker Player Jason SomervilleJason Somerville is the most successful poker streamer to date. He began his channel under his nickname, “JCarver,” before changing it to Run It Up TV.

The WSOP champ now has over 250,000 subscribers, a number that continues to grow every month. Somerville gives players an opportunity to play against him through Run It Up home games.

Jaime Staples (PokerStaples)

Photo of Twitch Poker Player Jaime StaplesJaime Staples has managed to garner well over 100,000 subscribers for his channel. He boasts nearly 300 videos and is one of the most active streamers.

The Canadian poker pro gained further fame for his channel when he won a $150,000 weight-loss bet with Bill Perkins. That said, Staples knows how to keep things interesting, whether he’s playing poker or making big prop bets.

Randy Lew (nanonoko)

Photo Twitch Poker Player Randy LewRandy “nanonoko” Lew is famous for his insane multi-tabling abilities. Therefore, many viewers like seeing the method to his madness through Twitch.

Lew doesn’t log as much volume as he used to. But nanonoko still plays up to 20 tables simultaneously, showing the skills that helped him set a world record with 14,500 hands in eight hours.

Lex Veldhuis (LexVeldhuis)

Photo of Twitch Poker Player Lex VeldhuisGiven that it’s both a popular video gaming and poker platform, Twitch was made for Lex Veldhuis. The Dutch poker pro started out as a StarCraft pro before turning to poker in the early 2000s.

He’s since found a great deal of success in both live tournaments and online cash games. Veldhuis streams his online tourney and cash sessions full-time, meaning he’s easy to catch on Twitch.

Parker Talbot (TonkaaaaP)

Photo of Twitch Poker Player Parker TalbotParker Talbot is no doubt one of the best online poker players who also streams his sessions. He’s earned over $3 million in profits from online cash games and continues to be a profitable player today.

Winning isn’t the only thing that makes TonkaaaaP popular. He’s also quite colorful during his sessions. Some players may not like his animated style, but Talbot has close to 100,000 subscribers, so he must be doing something right.

Enjoy the Entertainment Aspect While Learning

Watching poker pros through Twitch isn’t just about learning strategy. It’s also a fun way to study the game while being entertained at the same time.

The best Twitch streamers are not only good at poker but also at entertaining their audiences. They can explain strategy without being too dry and have interesting stories to tell.

You simply can’t get the same entertainment aspect when studying poker strategy through other means, such as articles, books, and training videos.

I’m not saying that Twitch poker streamers are exciting 100% of the time. But they offer an enjoyable alternative to learning strategy through other means.

Some even put themselves through difficult challenges in order to spice things up. For example, Arlie Shaban once streamed for 1,000 hours total in 25 days. Watching somebody in the midst of one of these challenges makes the experience even more entertaining.

Engage With the Streamers

Live Poker Twitch Stream by Lex Veldhuis
You can’t just walk up to poker pros and start asking them a bunch of questions without invading their personal space. Twitch, however, gives you the opportunity to chat with them in an appropriate arena.

Engaging with the pros is easy. You begin by creating a Twitch account and watching an active stream.

You’ll then be able to type questions/comments to the pro in the chat box. Poker streamers run on a delay ranging from 3 to 10 minutes, but they’ll likely get around to answering you at some point.

The only thing you need to worry about is asking relevant questions. As long as everything you’re saying is appropriate and relates to poker, then you have a good chance of interacting with pros.

You should actually push yourself to engage with them as much as possible. The goal is to get the most out of each Twitch session as you can.

You won’t get a lengthy one-on-one with the pro in question. But you might spark up a conversation between the other rail birds.

The best conversations lead to a strategy discussion that can help improve all of your games. This aspect also creates a sense of community, where players help each other.

Of course, you do want to use some discretion during this process. Not everybody who comments on hands knows what they’re talking about.

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Furthermore, you also have to be aware that the pro will mainly be concentrating on their play. They don’t have time to give you an expert coaching lesson during the session.

A good way to get around this problem is by waiting until they’re done playing and have more time to address everybody. You can then shoot them questions about previous hands, and they’ll have more time to compose their thoughts/comments.

Learning Poker Strategy Through Twitch Is Free

Some methods for improving at poker cost money, including books, coaching, and training sites. The cost for books and training isn’t usually very expensive, but these options still cost money, nonetheless.

Coaching can be very expensive depending upon which pro you’re learning from. You’ll end up spending hundreds of dollars per hour to learn from the best.

Twitch Streaming Chat Icon, Text Reading Free Inside Purple Sticker IconTwitch, on the other hand, is completely free. You only have to spend your time to watch experienced pros grind online.

Of course, some Twitch content is only available through subscription. For example, you might have to spend $5 or $10 to watch a specific segment of a pro’s session.

But Twitch offers so much free poker content that you don’t necessarily have to pay for a subscription to anything. The pros already make money by sharing in advertising revenue with the site.

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Twitch Streams

You don’t need any specific plan of attack when watching Twitch streams. Instead, you can simply choose some well-known pros and check out their streams to pick up tips.

But you can learn so much more from Twitch by going in with a smart plan. Here are some tips for how you can get the most out of watching other poker players’ livestreams.

Watch a Variety of Successful Players

Every poker pro has their specific strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, you want to watch multiple successful players to get a full range of tips and advice.

Some pros are really good at preflop play, while others are excellent at post-flop decisions.

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Watching more than one player helps you get different ideas for how to handle each situation.

You especially want to differentiate between players who specialize in cash games, sit and go’s, and multi-table tournaments. While pros are usually good at all of these mediums, they likely excel at one type of poker over the others.

Take Notes

Black Composition Notebook with Twitch Logo, PencilYou can pick up lots of tips just by intently watching poker pros on Twitch. However, you’re likely to forget much of what you learned over time.

Rather than simply viewing these streams, you should take notes and be more active when learning strategy. Notes serve as perfect references for remembering what you’ve learned weeks or months down the road.

For example, you might see a pro make an excellent check-raise on the turn. You can then jot down each scenario and the explanation behind their decision. Even if you eventually become a pro poker player, there are some tips you just won’t want to forget.

Check Out the VODs

Twitch livestreams give you an opportunity to interact with a poker pro. You can therefore ask questions and make comments in the moment.

However, you don’t have to catch streams live. Many pros make their content available through video on demand (VOD).

VODs allow you to watch streams that have already played.

The advantage to doing so is that you can skip irrelevant or boring parts and go straight to the good stuff.

These replays are also excellent for when you want to re-watch a specific hand or series of hands. It’s easier to take notes when you’re able to view the same content as many times as necessary.

Be Entertained – But Also Serious

I’ve mentioned several times how Twitch offers an entertaining way to study poker strategy. You can see how pros play the game and even interact with them and other viewers.

Guy Sitting at Desk with Computer On, Thought Bubble with Poker Cards and Casino Chips InsideBut your sole focus shouldn’t be the entertainment aspect. You also need to keep a serious mindset about the matter.

Don’t just mindlessly watch a Twitch stream while casually observing how pros play. Instead, you should think about every hand analytically and what you would do in each situation.

Get the Most Out of Your Time

Twitch features so many different poker streamers that you could literally spend all day on this site. Of course, you eventually need to play yourself and put what you’ve learned into practice.

Therefore, you can’t spend all day watching others play poker and expect to improve.

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You instead want to make good use of your time and learn as much as you can within 1-3 hours.

Everything from taking notes to looking at hands analytically will help you get the most out of your time. You may even want to limit yourself to a specific amount of time while watching Twitch. Doing so creates a greater sense of urgency and helps you pay closer attention.

Conclusion

You can learn poker strategy through plenty of means, but you should definitely consider dedicating the bulk of your time to learning through Twitch.

This livestreaming service offers a number of advantages over other methods of studying poker strategy. First off, you can learn how to play better by watching real pros.

Many professional players now stream their sessions via Twitch. Their content is free and doesn’t require a subscription in the majority of cases.

Learning poker through Twitch is also more entertaining than other methods. Livestreaming gives pros a chance to tell stories and thoroughly explain their decisions. In cases like Parker Talbot, they can even showcase their colorful personalities.

You also have an opportunity to engage with the pros while they’re streaming. Just type questions and comments in the chat box and wait for their response.

Yet one more advantage is the fact that Twitch is free. You don’t have to spend anything to watch these pros, unless you feel like paying for the occasional subscription content.

You’ll pick up plenty of tips just by watching professionals through Twitch. However, you should go the extra mile to ensure that you get the absolute most out of your learning sessions.

Watching a variety of pros, taking notes, and checking out VODs are all ways to improve. You also want to take a serious mindset into each session, rather than viewing livestreams solely for entertainment.

I’m not saying that other poker strategy methods like articles, books, and training videos don’t have their usefulness too. But you should strongly consider at least trying Twitch if you haven’t done so already.

5 Ways to Be a Better Blackjack Player

Dealer Placing Cards on Blackjack Table, Blackjack Logo with Cards Behind
Ask anybody who doesn’t gamble seriously to name the first casino game that comes to mind. You’ll inevitably hear blackjack mentioned first and foremost.

Perhaps the ubiquity of playing the game of blackjack stems from childhood games of Twenty-One, which is one of the first card games a child becomes acquainted with. Or maybe blackjack has become so popular because of its penetration in wider pop culture.

With so many Hollywood films famously showing audiences the art of card counting — from a savant’s coming out party in “Rain Man” (1988) to a team of MIT math whizzes toppling Sin City casinos in “21” (2008) — plenty of people who have never visited Las Vegas still know the ins and outs of blackjack.

But while anybody can learn how to hit, stand, split, and double down, blackjack offers gamblers the rarest of opportunities found in any casino — the ability to apply skill and strategy.

Knowing how to make the game’s four primary plays is one thing, but knowing when and why to use one option over the others forms the basis of blackjack’s basic strategy.

In the list below, we’ll dive into the intricacies of optimal play using basic strategy, along with four more easy and efficient ways anybody can become a better blackjack player.

1 – Brush Up on Basic Strategy Until It Becomes Second Nature

Dealer Staring Down Blackjack Table, Hand Holding Blackjack Strategy Chart
While counting cards to gain an advantage over the house definitely looks cool on the silver screen, reality is a different story.

Between the ever-present pit bosses who watch a winning player’s every move to the sheer difficulty of applying blackjack card counting practices in the casino setting, this classic advantage play technique is seldom utilized outside of the professional ranks.

For the rest of us recreational players, the most powerful weapon you can wield at the blackjack table is a series of guidelines known as basic strategy.

To make a long story short, a group of four bona fide mathematical experts back in the 1950s came together for the common pursuit of blackjack perfection.

After realizing that the partial information provided by seeing the dealer’s exposed “up” card turned the game into a math formula, the pals — who were later dubbed the “Four Horsemen” by grateful blackjack enthusiasts — used computers to crunch the numbers.

As they discovered, the relationship between the dealer’s up card and player totals creates a matrix of optimal decisions that offer the best possible odds given the scenario.

In other words, when you know your hand’s total and the dealer’s up card, you’ll always know the perfect play to make.

This crucial information was later published within a book entitled “Playing Blackjack to Win,” and some 60 years later, you can find this basic strategy data condensed into handheld charts.

Blackjack Basic Strategy ChartMemorizing the basic strategy chart is an essential first step, forming the foundation of elite blackjack play. To wit, the average player making decisions based on gut instinct alone faces a house edge of 1.50%. Meanwhile, their neighbor in the next seat over who knows their basic strategy like the back of their hand enjoys a significantly lower house edge of 0.50%.

The color-coded basic strategy chart linked to above can be intimidating at first glance, but most regulars boil things down to five easily memorized rules:

  • If your total is 12 through 16 and the dealer’s up card is 2 through 6, stand
  • If your total is 12 through 16 and the dealer’s up card is 7 through ace, hit
  • Always split two aces and two 8s
  • Always double down on 11 against dealer up cards of 2 through 10
  • If your total is “soft” with A-2, A-3, A-4, A-5, or A-6, always hit (or double down when allowed)

The best thing about basic strategy play is that, unlike card counting, the casinos don’t mind if you take advantage of these tips.

In fact, every casino gift shop gladly sells pocket-sized basic strategy charts that players can pull out and consult right there at the table.

You won’t need to bring a card along, though, because when you stick to the five rules listed above, basic strategy becomes a breeze.

2 – Only Play on Tables That Pay Back 3 to 2 on Blackjacks

Back in a bygone era of casino gambling, the standard payout for making blackjack with an ace and a 10-value card on the deal came to 3 to 2 on your bet. In other words, for every dollar you wagered, landing a natural blackjack would bring back a cool $1.50 profit.

At some point, however, the corporate casino overlords who came to dominate the Las Vegas Strip realized that they could skim a bit off the top, so to speak. By adjusting the payout for hitting blackjack — making it 6 to 5 instead of 3 to 2 — the casino operators instantly siphoned $0.30 off every dollar paid back on blackjacks.

Red Casino Chips StackedUnder the new 6 to 5 payout scheme, which has regrettably become the industry norm across Sin City and the rest of the country, every dollar you bet brings back just $1.20 on blackjack rather than the original $1.50 rate. Thirty cents may sound like chump change, but remember, that’s per dollar.

If you’re betting $10, playing on a 6 to 5 table produces a $12 payout, while the old 3 to 2 system would generate $15 in profit. That’s $3 swiped straight from your pocket, and for the high-rolling $100 per hand crowd, they’re losing $30 every time the deck delivers a blackjack.

Fortunately for sharp bettors, 3 to 2 blackjack tables can still be found here and there, but only if you know where to look.

When playing on the Strip, you’ll typically find 3 to 2 games in high-limit areas, as casinos charge a higher minimum bet in exchange for the superior payout odds.

The table below lists casinos on the Strip spreading 3 to 2 tables, along with the minimum bet.

Aria$50, $100

CASINO MINIMUM BET Bellagio $25, $100 Caesars Palace $10, $100, $200 Circus Circus $15 Cromwell $25, $100 Encore $25, $100 Excalibur $10, $25 Flamingo $5, $25, $100 Harrah’s $10, $25, $50, $100 Linq $10, $50 Luxor $25, $50 Mandalay Bay $25, $200 MGM Grand $25, $100 Mirage $25, $50, $100 New York-New York $10, $25, $50

 

And of course, once you venture outside of Las Vegas Boulevard, the “Off-Strip” casinos spread 3 to 2 tables at the usual $5 minimum stakes.

3 – Stick to the Script When It Comes to Responsible Bankroll Management

This tip is just plain old common sense, so we’ll keep it short and sweet… don’t bet above your limitations and be sure to properly manage your blackjack bankroll.

That means setting loss limits and sticking to them, only bringing money to the casino you can afford to lose, and recognizing when it isn’t your day and walking away.

4 – Don’t Be a Sucker by Falling for the Insurance Side Bet Scheme

Blackjack Table, Hands Placed By Card, Red Arrow Pointing to Insurance on Table
One of the most common “leaks” plaguing uninformed blackjack players is the insurance side bet.

Basically, when the dealer’s up card is an ace, they’ll pause and ask each player whether they’d like to buy insurance. Appropriately named, this side bet — which can total 1.5x your original wager at the maximum — is an insurance policy against the dealer holding a blackjack. If their down card is indeed a 10-value to form blackjack, you’ll lose your original bet, but the insurance bet is paid out at 2 to 1.

This might seem like an attractive option to protect against the dealer hitting the game’s top hand, but the insurance bet carries a house edge of over 6%. Knowing this, players should never take the bait.

5 – Take Advantage of the Surrender Option – But Only When It’s the Optimal Play

Check out the table below, which shows win and loss probabilities and average loss per $100 bet when you hold a hard 16 to the dealer’s 10.

 

ACTION WIN RATE LOSS RATE AVG. LOSS (PER $100 BET)
Stand 22.8% 77.2% $54.40
Hit 23.4% 76.6% $53.20
Surrender 50% of bet 50% of bet $50.00

 

As you can see, surrendering — which lets players forfeit the hand to get one-half of their bet back — is the best play given a horrible 16 vs. 10 spot.

The only scenarios where surrendering in blackjack is correct are when you have a hard 16 against the dealer’s 9, 10, or A, or a hard 15 against a dealer 10.

Conclusion

Playing blackjack at a high level is definitely attainable, provided you’re willing to put in the work and study required to achieve sustained success. That means memorizing your basic strategy charts, applying sound game selection, relying on sensible bankroll management, avoiding extra bets carrying a high house edge, and knowing when to surrender and fight another day.

When you can add all five of these tips to your blackjack toolbox, reducing the house edge to infinitesimal levels is right there for the taking.

6 Fun Facts About Blackjack

Blackjack Casino Cards Spread Out, Did You Know Text Inside Speech Bubble
Blackjack is a thinking gambler’s favorite, an oasis of skill and strategy amongst the desolate desert offered by pure games of chance.

If spinning reels and watching their random revolution decide your fate offends your gambling sensibilities, you probably prefer to mix it up by playing blackjack. As one of the most popular card games ever created, blackjack has been a gambling hall staple since well before the first casinos were constructed during Nevada’s territorial days.

From dusty saloons in the Old West to royal courts in the castles of European antiquity, blackjack and its predecessors have been played continuously over four centuries and counting.

That’s just one of the fun facts about blackjack, so check out the list below to find six more.

1 – Blackjack Was First Described by the Author of “Don Quixote

You probably know 17th century Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes as the mastermind behind “Don Quixote” (1605), a novel that set the standard for European literature of the era.

Rinconete y Cortadillo by Miguel de Cervantes Book CoverBut a few years before Cervantes penned his masterpiece, he wrote a short story titled “Rinconete y Cortadillo,” which told the tale of two gamblers residing in the city of Seville. The title characters form a team of card game cheats, and their preferred game just so happens to be called ventiuna — which is Spanish for “twenty-one.”

Based on Cervantes’ typically florid descriptions, ventiuna is a card game in which aces hold a variable value of either 1 or 11, and the objective is to reach a total of 21 or close to it without going over.

Sound familiar?

Cervantes set his story in the year 1569, which means blackjack’s Spanish ancestor was likely invented at some point in the 16th century.

2 – Regional Variants Dating Back Even Earlier Are Found Everywhere

At the same time Spanish gamblers were enjoying games of ventiuna, their counterparts in France played vingt-et-un — which translates to “twenty-one.”

The gameplay structure of vingt-et-un mimics blackjack as played today, while adding an escalating betting round in which players can increase their wager when they hold a favorable two-card starting hand.

Italy was home to sette e mezzo — Italian for “seven and a half” — a hybrid form of early blackjack which used a modified 40-card deck. When playing sette e mezzo, the cards ace through 7 hold their numerical rank (1-7), while face cards are valued at one-half a point.

Other than that, though, the game plays out identically to modern-day blackjack, only with 7.5 substituting for 21 as the desired total.

During the waves of European immigration to the New World that eventually produced America as we know it today, gamblers brought their favorite card games across the Atlantic.

Upon settling and spreading across the North American continent, these players and their progeny cobbled their regional games together until the template for modern blackjack was born.

3 – The First American Blackjack Games Paid 10 to 1 Jackpots

If you’ve ever wondered where the modern name “blackjack” originated, look no further than the deck’s jack of spades and jack of clubs.

This low-level royal pair provided the first casinos in Nevada with the perfect opportunity to promote their newfangled European card game. In an era when most card sharps preferred the mano a mano combat of the poker table, saloon owners and gambling hall operators had their work cut out for them when it came to convincing skeptical crowds to bet on blackjack.

Ace of Spades Poker Card and Jack of Spades Poker Card, Dollar Bills Surrounding Poker CardsAppealing to every gambler’s most precious commodity, their bottom line, early blackjack purveyors came up with an elegant promotion. Whenever the player looked down to find the ace of spades paired with either the jack of spades or jack of clubs, they’d earn an instant 10 to 1 payout.

This provision obviously caused the card playing community to prioritize landing the deck’s two black jacks, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Once the gambling masses became acquainted with blackjack gameplay, operators slowly phased out the 10 to 1 payout and replaced it with a far more house-favorable flat rate of 3 to 2 on any ace + 10-value combination.

4 – Blackjack’s First Written Strategy Analysis Was Produced by the “Four Horsemen”

In 1953, looking to kill time during their downtime on base while serving in the U.S. Army, four soldiers decided to play some cards. The game was dealer’s choice poker, but when somebody asked to make the game blackjack, the caveat that an appointed dealer must hit on 16 and stand on 17 got the group thinking.

Four Horsemen Blackjack Players, Roger Baldwin, Wilbert Cantey, Herbert Maisel, James McDermottAs it turned out, the four players — Roger Baldwin, Wilbert Cantey, Herbert Maisel, and James McDermott — had more in common than their interest in blackjack. All four were college-educated mathematics majors holding Masters degrees from prestigious universities. Blessed with inquisitive minds, upper-level math skills, and the most advanced adding machines of their era, the foursome set out to determine the most mathematically sound optimal strategy for blackjack.

The analysis took two years of intense number crunching, but in 1956, their paper “The Optimum Strategy in Blackjack” was published as part of the Journal of the American Statistical Association.

Within a year, the four friends published blackjack’s first basic strategy charts in a slim 92-page volume titled “Playing Blackjack to Win: A New Strategy for the Game of 21.”

Known today as the “Four Horsemen of Aberdeen” — after the city where their Army base was located — Baldwin, Cantey, Maisel, and McDermott were inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame as a group in 2008.

5 – This Classic Card Game Has Its Equivalent of Cooperstown

Yep, you read that last bit correctly. Blackjack has its own Hall of Fame.

The shrine to 21 is located inside the Barona Casino in San Diego, California, and it was founded in 2002. That year, 21 undisputed blackjack experts assembled to nominate the inaugural class, which included such luminaries as card counting originator and “Beat the Dealer” author Edward O. Thorp and acclaimed strategy analyst Stanford Wong.

Every year since, the game’s greatest players and theorists come together at the “Blackjack Ball,” a combination party and nominating committee that celebrates blackjack’s greatest accomplishments.

To see how the full list of Blackjack Hall of Fame inductees stacks up, check out the list of legends below.
Hall of Fame Blackjack Icon with Laurels on the Side

2002
    Al Francesco, Peter Griffin, Arnold Snyder,
    Edward O. Thorp, Ken Uston, Stanford Wong
2004
    Max Rubin, Keith Taft
2005
    Julian Braun, Lawrence Revere
2006
    James Grosjean
2007
    John Chang
2008
    Roger Baldwin, Wilbert Cantey, Herbert Maisel, James McDermott
2009
    Richard W. Munchkin
2010
    Darryl Purpose
2011
    Zeljko Ranogajec
2012
    Ian Andersen
2014
    Robert Nersesian
2015
    Don Schlesinger
2016
    Bill Benter
2017
    Don Johnson
2018
    Wally Simmons
2019
    Rob Reitzen

6 – A Hall of Famer Took Atlantic City Casinos for $15 Million in Just Five Months

In a five-month stretch spanning December 2010 and April 2011, a New Jersey advantage player named Don Johnson lived every blackjack enthusiast’s dream.

Armed with an eight-figure bankroll and the confidence of a true high-roller, Johnson arranged favorable deals with a trio of Atlantic City casinos. In exchange for Johnson betting $100,000 per hand, head honchos at the Borgata, Tropicana, and Caesars offered the whale “discounts” on his losses of up to 20%.

In other words, as per his deal with the Tropicana, if Johnson lost $500,000 in bets, he’d only be liable to pay the house $400,000. On the other hand, when Johnson won, he was free to collect the full amount.

Playing under these player-friendly conditions, Johnson proceeded to clean the house’s clock, winning $6 million at the Tropicana, $5 million more from the Borgata, and another $4 million playing at Caesars, prompting all three venues to quit the game by declining to offer discounts.

Conclusion

For a game that only takes a few minutes to learn, blackjack sure does offer a lifetime’s worth of enjoyment and exploration. Learning the vagaries of house rule variations and deciphering the latest side bets ensures players can never rest on their laurels.

But while you continue your blackjack studies, don’t forget to find a little time to savor the game’s long history — and the many fun facts found buried within several centuries of play by gamblers all over the planet.

5 Ways to Cheat at Blackjack and the Risks of Doing So

People Playing Casino Blackjack, Hand on Red Caution Icon, Security Camera Over Blackjack Table
Despite the game’s status as one of casino gambling’s truly skillful affairs, blackjack is nevertheless subjected to deception in the form of cheating.

And no, I’m not talking about the science/art known as counting cards. Tracking exposed cards as they come and using that knowledge to ascertain your current edge is definitely frowned upon by casino operators.

That means they can ask card counting advantage players to take a hike, but thanks to a longstanding legal precedent, card counters can’t be labeled cheats.

Instead, I’m referring to cases like the infamous Archie Karas, a former high-stakes gambling legend in Las Vegas turned low-level blackjack cheat after blowing through his multimillion-dollar bankroll. In 2013, Karas was caught on video surveillance using invisible ink to mark the deck’s 10s and face cards, while wearing specially designed glasses to spot the markings.

Players aren’t the only ones who can cheat at blackjack, either.

While many paranoid blackjack enthusiasts suspect the dealer might be cheating to help the house, cases like that are practically nonexistent. In reality, dealer cheats typically cooperate with unscrupulous players to put the house at a disadvantage using any number of methods.

These are just a couple of the most common ways cheaters attempt to exploit the system when playing the game of blackjack. Gamblers desperate enough to resort to cheating are nothing if not creative. The scams they run are often elaborate enough to go undetected — at first anyway.

Eventually, the ever-present “eye in the sky” sees all, and the casino’s cutting-edge security tech catches cheaters in the act.

With that in mind, read on to learn about five ways you can cheat at blackjack, along with five good reasons why you shouldn’t take the risk.

1 – Marking Cards to “See” the Highs and Lows

Black Sunglasses, Red Spirals, Poker CardsSeeing as how I already mentioned the age-old trick of marking cards, let’s start there.

The basic premise of marking cards is extremely easy to grasp. Imagine playing blackjack with those special X-ray specs sold by mail-order magazines back in the day. While the dealer and pit bosses are none the wiser, you can see through the cards like Superman, scanning them as they hit the felt face-down to see where the 10s and aces are at.

This additional information can be used in multiple ways to gain an unfair edge on the house.

First off, you’ll always know what the dealer’s hole card is, so you can adjust your own strategy to their exact holding. They might show a strong 7, for example, which ordinarily compel players to hit on most holdings against what rates to be a 17 in the end. But if you know the dealer’s hole card is a 9, giving them a 16 and a high likelihood of hitting to climb over 21, you can simply stand back and let them go bust.

Seeing everybody else’s cards is also extremely useful in determining your double down strategy which requires players to keep their cards face down until showdown.

Cheaters use a variety of methods to mark the cards, including the invisible ink and special glasses Karas preferred. A much safer approach involves lightly scratching a small defect in the back of 10-value cards using your fingernail. If the scratch is small and contained in a corner, the dealer won’t notice it. But you’ll know where to look.

Of course, the drawbacks to marking cards are significant and widespread.

The overhead surveillance cameras are designed to zoom in and detect suspicious behavior like scratching, bending, or wiping the cards. Pit bosses and dealers are also trained to watch for warning signs. This includes a player taking too much time to stare at card backs before making their play or deviating from basic strategy in ways that always seem to work out.

Karas is far from alone in the ranks of blackjack card markers who were caught, arrested, and prosecuted for their crimes. A three-person card marking team who attempted to bilk the Delaware Park Casino was arrested and charged with multiple felony counts in 2011.

These charges are no laughing matter, either. Don’t think you’ll get off with nothing but a property ban and a few light fines. There’s just no reason to risk your livelihood and freedom by trying to mark the cards.

2 – Conspiring with a Dealer to Rig the Game in Your Favor

This scheme is less prevalent than the others, simply because it involves a conspiracy between blackjack’s two natural enemies — the player and the dealer.

For the most part, casino employees are happy with a steady job offering benefits and cash tips, so they don’t have much reason to bite that feeds them. Even so, you’ll still hear reports that tell a different story from time to time.

Casino Dealer at Blackjack Table, Blackjack Cards Spread Out, Icon of White Playing Cards

Disillusionment with one’s workplace can strike even the most well-adjusted employee. Players that prey on vulnerability will always be able to ensnare dealers into their cheating plans.

Just ask Steven Darnell Singer, a 19-year old former blackjack dealer at Clearwater Casino in Suquamish, Washington. After another dealer noticed him peeking at the deck, before signaling players to hit or stand, Singer was caught on camera acting as an accomplice in a regular cheating ring.

Singer was ultimately charged with “first-degree cheating,” a felony in the state of Washington, and was jailed on a $10,000 bail.

Whether you’re a dealer looking for a way to supplement your income or a player hoping to land the “dream” scenario of working with an insider, this form of cheating is especially risky. With so many working parts in play, all it takes is one mistake or even loose lips when one of you gets cold feet to sink the entire conspiratorial ship.

3 – Spotting Weak Dealers and Signaling Their Hole Card

Anybody who’s seen the iconic Martin Scorsese gambling/mobster flick Casino (1995) knows all about this complicated and convoluted way of cheating at blackjack.

But just in case you haven’t seen Robert DeNiro channel his inner badass as a casino boss taking down a signaling team, check out the classic five-minute clip down below known as “Cheater’s Justice” for a tour de force.

DeNiro’s character Sam “Ace” Rothstein did a beautiful job of breaking down the weak dealer/signaling scam, so I won’t bore you with the details.

But as you just saw, whenever a dealer is inadvertently exposing their hole card, by flashing it too high or for too long, somebody looking from the right angle at another table gains invaluable information.

At that point, all it takes is a scratch of the nose, a nod of the head, or in the poor sap’s case from Casino, a hidden electronic signaling system, to let your partner know when to adjust their actions accordingly.

The process of “hole carding” a weak dealer might seem easy enough on the surface, but once again, things are never as easy as they appear when it comes to cheating in a modern casino. Cameras are obviously the biggest threat. But as DeNiro showed in his inimitable style, all it takes is a sharp pit boss with experience and a keen eye to quickly deduce when the signaling scam is afoot.

4 – Past Posting to Increase Bet Sizes After a Winner Is Ensured

Every cheat’s inspiration seems to be envisioning the optimal blackjack scenario, then working to make it happen no matter how the deck is shuffled.

That’s true for past posting too, in which cheats attempt to increase or decrease their wager after seeing the hand’s final outcome.

The most common form of past posting involves adding chips to an existing bet after you’ve landed a strong hand.

Say you start the hand with a $100 bet using four green $25 chips in play before receiving a King and Queen for a pat 20.

As the dealer continues to distribute cards around the table, you surreptitiously slide two more $25 chips on top of the original stack, increasing your bet to $150 without the dealer noticing.

Then, after the dealer winds up busting or making an inferior total, you get paid $150 on a bet that should’ve only paid $100, to begin with.

Conversely, a player with $100 on the line might pull back a single green chip after realizing that they’re likely to lose, thereby reducing their liability.

Past posting, which is also known as “late betting,” is one of the more rudimentary forms of blackjack cheating. Recreational players and drunks are prone to take their shot in hopes that the dealer won’t notice.

But as is always the case when it comes to casino gambling, cheats who try to past post are inevitably discovered. They’re caught either through the watchful eye of a sharp dealer or constant monitoring from cameras.

5 – Pretending Their Action Wasn’t Really What They Wanted to Do

Lastly, one of the more insidious forms of cheating in blackjack is based on acting like an uninformed player who doesn’t know any better.

Believe it or not, Las Vegas casinos weren’t built on the back of winners who know the ins and outs of probability and strategy. Instead, the Sin City skyline is a product of a steady stream of losing players who barely know a stand from a split.

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Casinos recognize that recreational gambling rookies won’t come back if they feel like the house took advantage of them. As a result, dealers and pit bosses will often defer to the player whenever errors occur.

Many cheats know this to be true. Don’t be surprised when you see a blackjack player suddenly cry out, “I didn’t hit that!” or “I said hit, what are you doing?” after seeing an undesirable card.

Casino Dealer Moving Around Blackjack Cards, Blackjack Table with Casino Chips, Speech Bubble Going Towards Guy Shouting Wrong

Say you’re sitting on something like 6-8 for a 14 against the dealer’s 10, so you hit and draw a 3 for 17. At that point, you stand and hope to see the dealer go low-high to bust, but they turn over another 10 to make 20 for the winner.

A pretend cheater would suddenly cry out, “Hey, I never said hit, that 3 was yours!” while trying to bully the dealer into submission. And you’d be surprised at how often inexperienced dealers who don’t want to cause a scene will comply.

This might be the most benign form of cheating, as you can’t get “caught” trying to trick a dealer. However, it’s also one of the least effective. Sure, lying about your action might win you an extra bet here and there. But those dollars aren’t worth destroying your reputation when a veteran dealer finally calls you out for trying such BS blackjack tactics.

Conclusion

Cheating at the casino should always be condemned as the crime it is, plain and simple. With that said, the lengths cheaters go to, and the sheer creativity involved in their cons will always inspire grudging admiration from the gambling public at large.

As a longtime casino gambler with decades of experience under my belt, I’m no fan of illegal attempts to rig the game. I understand why others might be inclined to lean in the other direction, though. My hope for this page is to provide a glimpse into the murky underbelly of the gambling industry while letting readers decide for themselves how to proceed.

7 Worst Casino Games for Beginners

Casino Sports Betting, Woman Playing Slot Machine, Poker Table Game with Cards, Chips and Poker Dealer Hands
All casino games bear one similarity in that they’re each forms of gambling. However, every game differs from the next in terms of rules and strategy.

Some games are easy to pick up, while others are far more complex. You definitely want to avoid the latter category when starting out with casino gambling.

But what games are the most difficult to learn as a beginner? You should avoid the following seven games when getting started because they have complicated rules and/or strategy.

1 – Poker

Poker Icons, Spades, Diamond, Club, Heart, Question MarkPoker has several aspects that make it undesirable from a beginner’s standpoint:

  • Multiple variations
  • In-depth rules for each variant
  • Difficult strategy
  • Hard to beat

Poker is a broad term that covers a large number of games, such as Texas holdem, Omaha, stud, Badugi, Crazy Pineapple, Razz, 8 Game, and more.

Most players start with holdem because it’s one of the easiest versions to learn. But even holdem has fairly complex rules compared to the average casino game.

Even worse, anybody will have a tough time beating poker — let alone new players. This game pits human opponents against each other, rather than gamblers against a house edge.

This aspect is good on one hand because it provides the chance to win long-term profits. The downside, though, is that it requires learning lots of strategy to succeed.

Very few new players win money while playing poker, even in $0.01 or $0.02 online cash games. They have to learn basic strategy and also make adjustments based on opponents’ tendencies.

Poker is certainly great from a long-term standpoint, thanks to its engaging strategy and profit potential. However, it makes for an awful introduction to the gambling world.

2 – Craps

Craps Table Game Board and Dice Icon on TopCraps seems like a simple game. Many beginners envision rolling the dice and hoping that their lucky numbers turn up.

The reality, though, is much different. When you play a game of craps, you’ll notice this table game features an extensive board that’s filled with different bets.

Many new gamblers take one look at this board and walk away from the table. Those that do stay are in for a stressful situation.

Not only do you need to understand the countless bets available on the board, but you should also know the various superstitions. You’ll end up as the table outcast by violating any of these unspoken rules, such as saying “seven” at the table.

Craps actually isn’t a very difficult game if you understand a few wagers.

For Example:
Pass line and don’t pass line are fairly simple bets that feature 1.41% and 1.36% house edges, respectively.

But you also must know where to place your chips in order to get started with these wagers. Furthermore, you need to identify the minefield of unfavorable prop bets that can cost you lots of money.

Here are examples of the ugliest prop bets:

Big 6 / Big 8 9.09% house edge
Hard 6 / Hard 8 9.09% house edge
Hard 4 / Hard 10 11.11% house edge
Craps (2, 3 & 12) 11.11% house edge
3 11.11% house edge
Yo (11) 11.11% house edge
Horn 12.5% house edge
Whirl 13.33% house edge
2 13.89% house edge
12 13.89% house edge
Any 7 16.67% house edge

3 – Sports Betting

Baseball Icon, Football Icon, Soccer Icon, Green Money Bag with Dollar SignSports betting is another form of gambling that seems easy in theory. All you need to do is wager on a sporting outcome and wait for it to be decided.

But like craps, sports gambling features a number of betting intricacies that make it difficult to learn. First off, you need to understand how the odds work.

Here’s an example of American odds:

  • Cincinnati Bengals +140
  • Pittsburgh Steelers -170
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As a total beginner, you’d have little idea of what this line means. Why are the numbers in the hundreds? What do the plus and minus signs mean?

The minus sign refers to a favorite, with -170 indicating that you need to wager $170 to win $100. The plus sign designates an underdog, with +140 indicating that you must bet $100 to win $140.

With some practice, you should be able to get the odds down. But then, you still have to learn the various bet types.

Here are the different categories of wagers:

  • Moneylines
  • Point spreads
  • Over/under (a.k.a. totals)
  • Parlays
  • Teasers
  • Live betting
  • Prop bets

One more difficult aspect is the strategy. Successful sports bettors understand handicapping, bankroll management, arbitrage opportunities, steam moves, and how to use relevant software.

If you’re deficient in one or more of these departments, then you’ll have difficulty winning on a consistent basis. Assuming you still begin your gambling days with sports betting, then focus on learning the odds and making small bets.

4 – Esports Betting

Video Game Controller, Pac Man Character IconEsports gambling is essentially the same thing as sports betting in most regards. It features the same style of odds, bet types, and strategy.

Therefore, esports betting makes for a natural transition when you’re already well-versed in sports wagering. But it can also be a nightmare for new gamblers.

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The same basic rules that apply to sports betting also apply to this type of wagering. You have to understand the odds and bet types before getting started.

The strategy is also quite complicated. Again, you must know handicapping, bankroll management, arbitraging, and steam moves.

You should also thoroughly understand the intricacies of any given market that you bet on. You can’t just play Dota 2 recreationally, for example, and expect to be a successful bettor.

Instead, you want to know how teams’ strategies, strengths, and weaknesses can affect a given matchup. You should treat esports betting as a hobby until becoming more confident in your abilities.

5 – Pai Gow Poker

Joker Poker CardIf you think playing one hand is difficult, then you’ll really struggle with Pai Gow poker. This house-banked card game requires you to form both a five-card and two-card hand.

Your five-card hand must be stronger than the two-card hand. Therefore, you can’t just create a good two-card hand to get a push with overall bad cards.

The goal is to beat both of the dealer’s hands and win your bet. Winning just one hand results in a push, while losing both hands results in a lost wager.

The dealer wins all ties. Casinos also take out a 5% commission from winning hands.

Based on these two rules, the house still holds a 2.84% edge if you use perfect strategy.

Playing perfect Pai Gow poker is easier said than done. This game features extensive strategy that’s not worth the effort when considering the middling house advantage.

You can act as the banker and reduce the house edge to 1.46%. But you have to embark on a quest to learn even more strategy in this case.

6 – Skill-Based Slot Machines

Casino Slot MachineSkill-based slots are much like any other slot games you would see on a regular casino slot machine. You spin the reels and let random chance determine your fate.

However, these games also feature a twist when compared to normal slots. They have skill-based bonus rounds that consist of detailed mini-games that often embody arcade-style gaming.

Your skills in these bonuses determine how much money you win.

Assuming you’re bad at a skill-based round, then you’re not going to earn many credits.

On one hand, these games are exciting and provide more interactivity than regular slot machines. The drawback, though, is that they punish you for being an unskilled gamer.

If you’re just looking to play slots casually without thinking too hard, then you should avoid skill-based games.

7 – Three-Card Poker

Silhouette of Man and Woman, Pokers Spread in the BackgroundThree-card poker is played between the player and dealer. It might seem like an innocent house-based table game, but it’s more complicated than baccarat or blackjack.

First off, you need to understand ante, play, and Pair Plus bets. You have to make an ante wager before receiving your three-card hand.

You can also place a Pair Plus bet, which is based on if you’ll receive a pair or better. After seeing your cards, you can either fold or make a play wager that’s equal to the ante.

The dealer will analyze your hand if you make the play bet. He/she will make payouts accordingly if you win. They’ll also make the appropriate Pair Plus bet if you form a strong enough hand.

The one solace is that the strategy is fairly easy to understand. You should make the play bet if you have a Q-6-4 hand or better — that’s it.

The house holds a 3.37% edge on the ante and a 2.01% advantage on play bets with correct strategy.

Casinos have a 2.32% edge on Pair Plus wagers. There’s no complicated strategy here: you either make a Pair Plus bet or don’t before the hand.

Playing the game of three-card poker isn’t the most-brutal entry on this list. However, it’s still harder to learn then most table games.

Conclusion

The last thing you want to do as a beginning gambler is set yourself up for a nerve-racking experience. You should definitely avoid games with complex rules and/or strategy to avoid such situations.

Poker is quite possibly the toughest game for a beginner to master. It features in-depth rules and difficult strategy for each variation.

Craps is also hard to master as a beginner due to its wealth of betting options. You should really understand the wagers beforehand, or you’ll be overwhelmed by the board.

Sports gambling and esports betting are similar in terms of odds, wager types, and difficulty level. You don’t have to be a genius to understand betting odds. However, you must digest a lot in terms of bet types and strategy.

Pai Gow and three-card poker are both tough table games to learn. Pai Gow is especially complicated due to its heavy strategy.

Slot machines are traditionally known as the easiest games to learn and play. But you should avoid the skill-based variety if you’re not confident in your abilities.

I highly encourage you to try one or more of these casino games in the future. But if you’re just starting out, then opt for some easier forms of gambling.

5 Ways to Be a Better Bingo Player

Bingo Cards, Bingo Number Balls, Win Icon
Casino gambling games can be broken down into two distinct categories — those based on skill and those based on chance.

The best blackjack and video poker players out there apply basic strategy to guide their decisions. When playing these skill games, the bettor can apply logic and reason to increase their odds of winning.

Of course, blackjack and video poker results are still influenced by random chance, but only in the short-term. Over the long-term, the more skillful players will inevitably win more than folks who fly by the seat of their pants.

Pure games of chance, like playing roulette, however, are wholly reliant on random results. You’ll notice that the game uses randomization to produce a completely unpredictable result. Try out a game of baccarat too and see it for yourself.

And while roulette and baccarat regulars might swear that they can control, or at the very least influence, the final outcome, their actions have zero impact whatsoever on winning and losing.

And then there’s the hybrid game of bingo.

At first glance, bingo might appear to be just another lottery-like game of chance. Players purchase 5×5 cards containing a random set of numbers, and from there, the hopper mixes up numbered balls which are then called out to the crowd. Whoever gets lucky enough to see their card filled up “earns” the right to claim the jackpot prize.

But what if I told you there was a way to increase your likelihood of calling out that magic “Bingo!” — and indeed, several ways?

Bingo isn’t really a pure game of chance. Players can’t control which balls fall from the hopper or the numbers emblazoned on their cards, but from game selection to simple math, the best bingo players out there aren’t just lucky by nature. They create conditions conducive to sustained success.

Read on to learn more about the five easiest ways anybody can become a better bingo player.

1 – Purchase as Many Cards as the House Rules Permit

The central tenet of bingo strategy involves arming yourself with as much ammunition as the game allows.

Four Bingo CardsTo do so, you’ll want to purchase as many bingo cards for a given game as the house rules allow. Every bingo hall out there utilizes different rules and regulations, so be sure to check the program — or better yet, ask one of the staff on hand personally — exactly where their in-house limit lies.

From there, purchase the maximum lot and prepare to get your dauber moving in a hurry.

This basic strategy boils down to simple probability.

Let’s assume you’re playing in a large bingo hall with 100 people holding one card apiece. In this scenario, every player present shares identical odds of 1 in 100 — good for a 1% chance — to wind up winning the game.

But as any bingo regular surely knows, players seldom limit themselves to a single card. Instead, you’ll find players elbowing their neighbors for space as they carefully align 10 cards in front of them.

Let’s see how a 10-card regular player’s gameplay approach influences the final results. With 100 players in the room, and 99 of them playing a single card to the regular player’s ten, we now have 109 cards to work with.

With your lone card, you’ll have slightly less than a 1% shot at winning (1 / 109 = 0.009).

But armed with 10 cards, the regular sees her odds skyrocket to 9.17% (10 / 109).

Obviously, this example has been simplified for the sake of clarity, but I think you get the drift by now.

Whoever owns the most cards in a given game immediately increases their odds of collecting a bingo.

And whenever you’re playing more cards than the next guy or gal, you’ll always have a higher likelihood of winning than they do.

This doesn’t mean you’ll be a shoo-in to win, though. Not by a longshot. Under the last example, even the regular with win odds of over 9% is still up against the combined field of 99 opponents, which collectively hold a 91% chance.

Thus, bingo always represents an uphill battle. With that said, you can get a big head start by buying more bingo cards than the average bear.

2 – Compete Against Fewer Opponents Whenever Possible

Empty Bingo Hall, Joyful Woman Balling Up Fists
On the flip side of that coin, bingo players can boost their odds of success simply by limiting the number of opponents vying to beat them.

Let’s revisit that example from earlier to see how this strategy works.

Facing off against 99 other bingo fans ensures that the regular, even with a 9% shot to win, is still a decided longshot against the field. So let’s carve the field in half and see how a smaller pool of players impacts her odds.

In this case, she’ll still be playing 10 cards while her 49 opponents carry one card each. That puts 59 cards in play altogether, so the regular’s odds of winning climb to just under 17% (10 / 59 = 16.94). Meanwhile, those other players will see their odds climb slightly as well, but only to 1.69% (1 / 59 = 1.69).

All told, by finding a bingo hall with half as many players present, our intrepid regular has nearly doubled her odds of winning. And even when assessed from a “regular player vs. the field” perspective, her 16.94% odds are quite attractive, as she’ll land a bingo right around one out of six tries.

3 – Play in Many Different Bingo Halls

Three Photos Showing Three Different Bingo Halls
Another effective way to boost your odds of winning at bingo involves spreading your action out across multiple venues.

If you only frequent one bingo venue in your area, you’re missing out on all of the other jackpots and prizes up for grabs in other local halls.

While your regular joint is running the usual assortment of casino games, a competitor might just have a huge progressive jackpot, or a similarly worthwhile promotion, in the works.

To be sure you have full access to all of the bingo action in your community, check out the bingo locator database. This website lets you click on any state in the US or province in Canada to pull up a thorough listing of every bingo game near you.

From there, you can call around to figure out where your bankroll will be best served on any particular evening.

4 – Use the Best Tools of the Trade

Bingo Dauber Purple MarkerOne of the most common pitfalls which manages to trip up bingo players using our first strategy tip is the game’s frenetic pace.

Despite what you might think about bingo being a leisurely game, the next number is usually called in short order after the last. Typically, you’ll have between 15 and 30 seconds to scan your card(s) up and down while daubing the previously called number.

That’s plenty of time when you’re using one or two cards per game, but for the folks trying to play as many cards as possible, trying to scan and daub 10 cards or more in that timeframe takes precision, speed, and accuracy.

Think about it for a minute. With only 20 seconds before the next ball is revealed, a player with 10 cards has only two seconds per card at their disposal.

You can see just how quickly a proficient bingo player must move when using multiple cards in this clip from the documentary “Jackpot”. The couple in question are clearly high-volume players, as their daubers flash across the cards without hesitation, even while giving an interview or tipping the attendant.

But for the rest of us mere mortals, attaining the speed and dexterity needed to manage 10 or more bingo cards is all about working with top-notch equipment. And in this game, that means wielding a high-quality dauber.

5 – Only Play When You’re Alert and All-In on Your A-Game

Woman Concentrated with Hand on Chin, Bingo Card, Bingo Ball Machine
This tip might seem obvious to most, but you’d be surprised to see just how many bingo enthusiasts show up fatigued, ill, or otherwise limited in their mental capacity.

To give yourself the highest possible odds of success, you can’t miss any calls or skip any numbers on your card. Doing so is a fatal mistake in this game, so only play when your body and mind are feeling up to it.

Conclusion

Bingo is almost like the “ugly stepchild” of the casino gambling industry, a game set off to the side for specialists to enjoy while the tourists flock to blackjack, roulette, and of course the always popular slot games. Part of that undeserved reputation stems from bingo’s status as a pure game of chance, at least in the minds of many players and casino bigwigs.

But when you know how to approach a bingo session like a sharpshooter, searching for any avenue to help improve your odds, anyone out there can improve their chances of filling the card and calling out “Bingo!” like clockwork.

Playing Small Pocket Pairs in Texas Holdem

Woman at Poker Table Playing, Two Poker Cards, Small Pair, Texas Holdem
Small pocket pairs present an interesting problem for Texas holdem players. They look good enough to play, but most players end up losing money on them in the long run. Some of the best poker players in the world simply don’t play them. They’re dangerous.

Yet some players can play small pocket pairs profitably, so they’re worth investigating.

Small pocket pairs are any pair below nines. I realize that this may seem odd, but there’s rarely a difference between a pair of twos and a pair of eights. Neither of them is strong enough to win a contested pot, so you should treat them the same.

Take it up a step to get a medium pocket pair. A medium pair is anything from a pair of nines to a pair of jacks. You might win a few pots with a pair of jacks, but they can be hard to play profitably.

Before moving on, you need to understand one quirk about small pocket pairs. Their entire value is based on flopping a set. Regardless of what you think or feel, when you don’t flop a set, you must check and fold to any bet.

Never make the mistake of chasing a set to the turn or river unless everyone checks, and you get to see another card for free. A small pair really isn’t going to win a contested pot.

Playing No Limit Texas Holdem

Guy Sitting at Poker Table, Stack of Money, Casino Chips, No Limit Stamp Icon
Small pocket pairs that flop a set can be profitable in no limit Texas holdem. As a result, many players overvalue them, especially from early position. When you flop a set, you usually win a big pot. But when you lose, it’s always a big pot.

You want to avoid this situation. The worst thing that happens when you flop a set is when an opponent flops a higher set. You end up with your entire stack in the pot and almost no chance to win.

I admit that in some games playing small pocket pairs from early and middle position can be profitable. Nonetheless, most players simply aren’t good enough to recognize these situations.

Therefore, my recommendation is to fold all small pocket pairs in no limit play from early and middle position.

Three Casino Chips StackedYou need to learn from the mistakes of others, and this is a big one to watch out for. The first time you get into a pot for cheap, flop a set, and stack an opponent, it’s going to be a great feeling. Every time this happens it reinforces that this is a great way to make money.

If you’re not careful, you’re going to start looking at small pocket pairs as a gold mine. After all, you either flop a set and keep pushing or miss your set and fold. This seems simple enough. So, why not play them from middle and early position?

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You need to track your play and profits from each position, which most players don’t do. This leads to costly mistakes. If you want to be successful, you need to learn from others’ blunders.

Quit playing small pairs from early and middle positions. It may seem contradictory because all you remember is the times you stacked an opponent, but the odds are high that making this play isn’t profitable. Deviate from this advice at your own risk.

Late position and the blinds have some of the same dangers, like facing a higher set. But in the blinds, your added cost to see the flop is lower. When I face a raise in the blinds with a small set, I usually fold. The only time I don’t is when I know I can get the aggressor to go all in when I hit a set. If there’s any question about getting them all in, or if they have a small stack, I just fold.

From late position, you have the advantage of being able to control the pot size to some degree. This alone turns an unprofitable play from middle and early position to a profitable one.

Once you flop a set in no limit play, you must master ways to maximize the pot size. Sometimes you can let an opponent lead the way until the river, and other times you need to raise earlier.

Your decision changes from game to game. It’s one of the biggest reasons why you should always observe your opponents’ plays as much as possible.

Playing Limit Texas Holdem

Dealer at Poker Table with Poker Cards Spread Out, Casino Chips, Limited Sign
The discussion in the last section was about playing small pocket pairs in no limit Texas holdem. But what about playing them in limit games?

Your basic goals are the same. The only way you can expect to win with a small pocket pair is to hit a set. You also need to ensure the possible reward when you win is high enough to cover all of the times that you don’t flop a set and need to fold.

When you take everything into account, it makes it somewhat easier to offer specific rules for playing small pocket pairs in limit Texas holdem.

Confirm there’s enough money in the pot for you to profit. While your chances of collecting more bets yields similar to those in a no limit game, the best are capped by the table limits.

Instead of having the opportunity to get an opponent all in for 20 to 100 times your original bet in a no limit game, the realistic numbers are only four to 20 times your original bet in a limit game.

Because you can’t accurately predict what’s going to happen behind you at the casinos, just fold all small pocket pairs in limit Texas holdem from early and middle position.

What about late position and the blinds?

Spade, Heart, Diamond, Club Poker IconsFrom late position, I prefer at least four bets in the pot before I enter with a small pair. This relies heavily on my ability to extract more bets when I flop a set. Nonetheless, in most hands with at least four other players, I can do this.

I also generally won’t call a raise from late position with a small pair. Even if it looks like four opponents will remain to see the flop, the bets on the flop are still at the smaller limit, and this restricts my opportunity for profit. While this may seem strict, remember that you’re interested in profitability.

This means that you should simply fold all small pairs in limit holdem unless you’re in late position, and then only enter an unraised pot with at least four other players.

The blinds are slightly different with a small pair than most other hands. From the big blind, if the pot isn’t raised, you’re in a good situation. Your bet is already in the pot, and you basically get a free chance to flop a set.

From the small blind in an unraised pot, you only must add a half bet. If at least three other players are in the pot I complete the bet with a small air. Otherwise, I fold.

When you flop a small set from the blinds in limit Texas holdem you should start betting immediately and keep betting at every opportunity. Forget about trying to get an opponent to make a bet and then check raising or trapping them. You can’t afford to miss a single bet when you flop a set.

If you flop a set from late position in a limit game, you should also usually bet and raise at every opportunity.

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The only time this might not be the best play is on the flop.

If someone bets before you after you flop a set, you can flat call on the flop if you think it can keep more opponents in the hand for the higher betting rounds. But you should never do this with a dangerous board.

If the flop offers a flush or straight draw, don’t wait to raise an earlier bet on the flop. Because there can be a fine line here, I always recommend that beginning and intermediate players simply always bet and raise in limit holdem when they flop a set. When you gain more experience, you might be able to see situations where calling on the flop is more profitable, but if you’re not sure the best way to play is to bet and raise at every opportunity.

Conclusion

Small pocket pairs are hard to play in Texas holdem. For this reason, your best bet may be to simply fold them at all times until you’re an experienced player. But you can play them in some situations. Make sure you always fold them when you don’t flop a set and can maximize your return when you do flop a set.

All 28 Las Vegas Strip Casinos Ranked: Dreadful Casinos – Part 4 of 4

Bally's Casino, Mandalay Bay Casino, Stratosphere Casino, Man Covering His Eyes, Disappointed
Every year sees 40 million visitors touch down in Las Vegas. When they arrive, the bulk will call The Strip their home away from home during their time in Sin City.

For most, that means a dizzying array of world-class entertainment running around the clock, casino gambling options more bountiful than anywhere on Earth, wining and dining and all the rest. With 28 different casino resorts operating on The Strip, it takes some truly bad luck to wind up staying somewhere that doesn’t live up to the hype.

The Wynn, the Bellagio, Caesars Palace, the Aria, and the Venetian are all bona fide must-see attractions for every Las Vegas visitor, which is why they made my list of the top seven casinos on The Strip. And while these venues might cost a little more than their more budget-friendly competitors, paying a premium to enjoy the very best Las Vegas has to offer is definitely worth it.

Icon with Hand Giving Thumbs Up, Hand Giving Thumbs DownBut during my most recent trip to The Strip, which afforded me enough time to visit all 28 casinos on Las Vegas Boulevard, I saw the other end of the spectrum up close and personal. You have the mid-tier casino contenders, or the seven casinos that provide a perfectly enjoyable experience while allowing guests to save a few bucks.

Then there’s The Strip’s disappointing duds, seven properties that seem to be stuck in the neutral, basking in their 90’s reputation while refusing to evolve with the times.

The 14 casinos which make up The Strip’s middle ground each have their selling points, along with clear and unmistakable drawbacks which can’t be ignored.

So, while you might not have the worst time in the world there, you’ll never be able to say you had a picture-perfect trip either.

Unfortunately, that leaves seven casino resorts to round out the list. This bunch really represents the bottom of the barrel. While it pains me even to remember my time touring the seven dreadful dumps listed below, it’s my duty to warn readers about why they should stay away.

22 – Best Western Plus/Casino Royale

To be fair, the Best Western Plus/Casino Royale doesn’t pretend to be anything else but what it is – a low-rent option for thrifty visitors to The Strip.

With that in mind, if all you’re looking for in accommodations is a decent bed and the basic amenities, the price is right at Best Western Plus/Casino Royale.

On the other hand, this property sticks out like a sore thumb amidst the splendor and extravagance that defines The Strip in the minds of most. This is nothing more than a standard economy hotel that might be found anywhere in suburban America, but it somehow occupies valuable real estate along Las Vegas Boulevard.

Best Western Plus LogoI don’t know about you, but without spectacular views from a hotel tower, huge swimming pools that double as a place to party, and an abundance of restaurants, bars, retail outlets, and onsite entertainment, you might as well be staying in any random hotel chain found off The Strip.

Outside the Casino Royale on Las Vegas Strip

The same feeling that something essential is missing permeates the tiny Casino Royale as well. This 17,000 square foot “mini-casino” has far less to offer than the tribal gambling halls scattered throughout the rest of the Southwest.

Casino Royale Las Vegas LogoYou’ll find only four table games spread at Casino Royale – blackjack, craps, roulette, and Three Card Poker. And while 300 slot machines are clustered closely around the cramped floor, Casino Royale only has video poker built into the bar.

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That means no poker room, no sportsbook, and none of the popular hybrid table games like Mississippi Stud Poker, Let It Ride, and Pai Gow Poker.

The reason Best Western Plus/Casino Royale earned the top spot on this list is simple. With no resort fees and free parking, this place makes it possible for budget-focused guests to pinch pennies.

Knowing you won’t be stuck with surprise surcharges at every turn provides valuable peace of mind. It’s especially true given the bait and switch tactics employed by the corporate-owned casinos to come.

23 – Mandalay Bay

I really wanted to love the Mandalay Bay, one of the last casino resorts to open its doors in The Strip’s glory days of the ‘90s.

Mandalay Bay Las Vegas Casino LogoBut even as one of MGM Resorts’ supposed crown jewels since 1999, the Mandalay Bay remains stuck in the past in all the worst ways. Immediately after arriving to check in, I realized I’d be in for a tough time in terms of customer service. It was a scene that multiple one-star Yelp reviews can confirm. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that my mobile check-in attempt using the app failed to go through.

Adopting new technologies to streamline the customer’s experience is an admirable goal, but only if the implementation is successful. In this case, it hasn’t been. So, I joined a group of fellow guests whose mobile check-ins were a miss and stood in line for an hour to do it the old-fashioned way.

Naturally, despite it being 30 minutes past the advertised check-in time of 3:00 p.m., the desk agent told me, my room—which I had reserved months before, mind you—wasn’t ready to enter.

Told I could wait another 30 minutes or so at the bar, I inquired about drink vouchers so I could kill time without incurring unnecessary costs. This polite request was met with a literal laugh in my face, and I was sent on my way to pay $12 for a draft beer.

The experience didn’t get any better from there. The room was still looking disheveled when I walked in, room service meals ran into the triple-digits for a basic two-person meal, and there was a hair-trigger sensor on the mini-bar fridge.

After spending a wholly uneventful two days at Mandalay Bay—the casino is nothing special, while the once amazing pool has been rendered unusable with “cabana fees”—I was hit hard with $124 in additional fees for using the mini-bar. The only thing is, I never touched a single packet of $7 cheese crisps or a tiny $10 shot of Hennessy.

What I did do, however, is gently place my backpack on top of the cabinet which houses the mini-bar fridge. That was enough to nudge the contents contained inside, triggering that overly sensitive sensor and marking me down for a litany of overpriced snacks and drinks.

Despite personally showing a member of Mandalay Bay’s staff that the bottlecaps were still intact, and the wrappers remained untorn, they stubbornly refused to remove the charges. I’ve flagged them as fraudulent with my bank, so here’s hoping on that front, but that ridiculous rip-off also forced me to flag Mandalay Bay as one of The Strip’s seven dreadful dumps.

24 – Paris

Another property to open in 1999, the Paris Hotel & Casino was at one point a top destination on The Strip.

Paris Las Vegas Casino LogoThe iconic Eiffel Tower recreation out front houses an elite fine dining restaurant, while also offering one of the best views anywhere on The Strip in the observation deck. The French theme allowed for an array of high-end European shopping outlets, and culinary delights from Michelin star chefs. And the Caesars Entertainment operated casino was known for its low limits, generous odds, and high payback percentages on the machines.

My how things have changed…

Outside Paris Las Vegas Casino

Today, beware booking a room boasting the famous Eiffel Tower view. This view costs a whole lot more. And while it’s fine by day, you’ll be blasted by techno rave music from the nearby nightclub all night long.

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The Eiffel Tower Restaurant requires reservations well in advance, and unless you like waiting in Disneyland like long lines, don’t bother thinking about seeing the sights from on high.

To cap off my misery, the staff here at Paris were just about as rude as any I’ve yet encountered in Sin City. Dismissive smirks when you ask simple questions, excessive hoops to jump through just to get a coffee maker delivered to the room, and the same mobile check-in failures found at the Mandalay Bay make Paris a pure disappointment.

25 – Bally’s

I won’t waste any more time than I need to discuss the disaster that is Bally’s.

Bally's Las Vegas Casino LogoAfter waiting around for 15 minutes just for a desk agent to show up—not to finish checking other guests in, simply to arrive and get to work—I received a room key that didn’t work. After hoofing it back downstairs to get one that did, I opened the door to find one of the worst odors I’ve ever smelled.

Imagine musty mold mixed with ranch dressing left out to rot for several days and you’ll get the idea.

It took an hour or so of haggling just to get switched to a new room, which doesn’t make much sense given how empty this place was during what should’ve been a busy weekend. And when I found mold in the new room too, I firmly requested a refund and high-tailed it out of Bally’s, never to return.

26 – Mirage

Mirage Las Vegas Casino LogoThe Mirage used to be a legitimate Las Vegas destination, with Siegfried and Roy wowing audiences with their tigers and magic, and an immaculate casino that set the standard upon opening in 1989.

But the tigers are long gone—save a few sad holdovers confined to the world’s sorriest zoo—and the casino doesn’t appear to have been updated in 30 years.

Mirage Casino in Las Vegas

What I hated most about The Mirage, however, was the “surge pricing” used by bars and gift shops to shaft guests. Buy your booze or snacks during a set downtime, and they’ll only be overpriced to the usual tune. Purchase them during “peak hours” though, and you’ll suddenly see the exact same selection double or even triple in cost.

27 – Stratosphere

The Stratosphere does manage to evoke its outer space theme, but only because it’s so dark and empty.

Stratosphere Las Vegas Casino LogoRoom rates here can drop into the teens ($13-$19 on weekdays, plus a resort fee), which should clue you in just to how awful the Stratosphere really is.

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If every casino on The Strip was booked solid except for The Stratosphere, you’d be better served booking a room in even the most dilapidated hotels found Downtown.

28 – Circus Circus

Picture a parody of a casino designed to be grotesque in every way, and you’ll know what Circus Circus is all about.

Circus Circus Las Vegas Casino LogoI realize kids come to Las Vegas along with their parents, and they need a source of entertainment too, but focusing your entire property on carnival games is a bad look.

Everywhere you turn, you’ll see young children standing in clouds of cigarette smoke, shameless salesman trying to hawk overpriced toys, and parents guzzling tall cans while their little ones look on – making for a truly depressing scene throughout.

Outside Circus Circus Casino Las Vegas

Throw in carpets with stains that seem a century old and staff members who don’t have the slightest problem when it comes to ignoring guests. The Circus Circus earns every bit of its last-place ranking on this list.

Conclusion

Every so often, your pat 20 at the blackjack table will be beaten when the dealer flips over an Ace and a face. Now and then, you’ll spin the slots 20 times in a row and lose them all, burning through $100 before you can blink. And if you’re in town playing a poker tournament, pocket Aces can get cracked more often than you can count.

Losing is part and parcel of gambling at any Las Vegas casino, which is why visitors should always try their best to book accommodations at a resort that makes the guest feel like a winner, nonetheless.

When you stay at any of the seven casinos listed here, you’ll experience the opposite effect with the lack of amenities, exorbitant prices, and subpar service leaving you feeling like a loser even if you happen to hit the jackpot.

Every Las Vegas Strip Casino Ranked: Disappointing Casinos – Part 3 of 4

Buildings of Vegas Casinos MGM Grand, Cosmopolitan, Excalibur, Man Disappointed with Hand on His Head
When you step foot on the famous Las Vegas Strip for the first time, the entire experience can be overwhelming, to say the least.

Everywhere you look is another amazing destination waiting to be explored. Within a short walk, you’ll pass through the Parisian cityscape complete with a faux Eiffel Tower, the palatial estate of Roman emperors, and the hulking skyscrapers of New York City. Fountains are dancing in time to the song serenading street-side onlookers, couples are floating happily through romantic canals straight out of Venice, and the iconic neon lights surround you in sensory overload.

The sheer variety of amenities and attractions lining Las Vegas Boulevard make The Strip practically impossible to appreciate fully on your first try – or even your second or third. With 28 unique casino properties clustered so tightly together, and crowds numbering in the tens of thousands all trying their best to reach the next dot on the map, navigating The Strip is a tough ask for Sin City rookies and regulars alike.

Las Vegas Skyline Silhouette, Shopping Bag Icon, Dice Icon, Casino Chip Icon, Knife and Fork Icon

Fortunately for readers, I’ve just returned from a unique opportunity to stay on The Las Vegas Strip for two weeks’ worth of gambling, dining, shopping, and shows. Blessed with such an extended stay, and a burgeoning bankroll thanks to a fortuitously timed Wheel of Fortune jackpot on my first day, I decided to check out all 28 casinos on The Strip for myself.

That reconnaissance mission brought me to places I swore I’d never step inside. There were places with pleasant surprises that belied their “Plain Jane” exterior, and awe-inspiring monuments to what mankind can achieve with unlimited money.

I came, I played, and I conquered. So to speak.

So, now I’d like to share my thoughts having returned home to real life.

Earlier on, I put together a list of the seven best Vegas Strip casino resorts. These properties were deemed the best of the bunch, in my book at least, and I strongly encourage every Las Vegas visitor to experience their delights for themselves.

That list was followed by seven more venues I classified as the Vegas Strip mid-tier contenders. These casinos were perfectly respectable, and in certain cases even preferable, in terms of their accommodations, casino environments, amenities, and non-gambling entertainment options, despite not making the top seven cut.

With exactly half of The Strip lineup now covered, it’s time to dive deep into the seven casinos I’ve deemed the disappointing duds.

I really wanted to enjoy them, and I tried my best to give them a fair shake. But for whatever reason, I found myself looking for the exits in a hurry.

So, strap in and get ready for a full tour of the seven casinos on The Strip that simply failed to impress. With that said, however, these rankings are based solely on my subjective experience as a veteran visitor to Las Vegas. When you hit The Strip for your next adventure, by all means, make a point to spend a session at these venues and come to your own conclusions.

15 – MGM Grand

Here’s the thing about the MGM Grand: this place wants to be a mega-resort casino like Bellagio and Caesars Palace so badly, but it’s just not up to snuff.

Las Vegas MGM Grand Casino LogoAmbition isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, but when guests are forced to pay top-tier prices for an inferior experience, that’s where I draw the line. Part of the problem is MGM Grand’s operators and staff seem to be stuck in the 1990s, an era when the iconic “Lion’s Roar” entrance and other cutting-edge features made the property one of The Strip’s most preferred destinations.

But that was 25 years ago, and while MGM Resorts has sunk billions into luxurious alternatives like the Aria and the Bellagio, the company’s flagship casino has struggled to keep up. From the rundown poker room running $65 daily tournaments, to rooms that lack even basic amenities like a mini-fridge to keep your baby’s bottle cold, the MGM Grand is just lackluster across the board.

You wouldn’t know it from the prices though, what with every bar, restaurant, and gift shop relentlessly charging exorbitant rates.

For the same cost, you can easily enjoy a much nicer stay at actual high-end MGM Resorts properties.

And on a final note, be sure to check the boxing and mixed marital arts (MMA) schedules before you book a night at the MGM Grand. When these sporting events come to town, this place becomes a madhouse, even by The Strip’s standards for debauchery and drunken revelry. I already lived in a frat house for two years way back when, so struggling through crowds of dazed and confused fight fans all evening wasn’t exactly my cup of tea.

16 – Treasure Island

Another relic of the 1990s “boom era” of The Strip, Treasure Island doesn’t seem to have changed much in more than two decades.

Las Vegas Casino Treasure Island LogoWell, it has changed in a few ways, but always for the worse…

Remember that full-fledged pirate ship show put on out front in “Buccaneer Bay” back in the day? Well, if you don’t, this was something straight out of Disney or Universal Studios, a swashbuckling adventure show complete with trained actors raiding a ship, fending off cannon fire, and making folks walk the plank.

Outside Treasure Island Vegas Casino

Cool attractions like that used to be what made The Strip so special, because visitors who didn’t come for the gambling could still feel thrills that can’t be found anywhere else.

So, I was sorely surprised to find Buccaneer Bay a shred of its former self, with nothing going on except the slow spread of algae along the concrete floor. The huge wooden ships are still there, tucked away in a corner and growing barnacles by the day.

The whole scene is just really depressing, especially for folks who knew Treasure Island in its glory days.

Throw in an extremely generic rebranding effort—they call it “TI” nowadays and the old pirate theme has been practically erased from existence—and I just can’t think of a good reason to bring your bankroll to Treasure Island these days.

17 – SLS (Soon to be Sahara)

Between 1952 and 2013, the SLS of today was a true Las Vegas landmark – the Sahara.

SLS Las Vegas Casino LogoI used to call the Sahara my home away from home whenever I was in Sin City. I have a special affinity for the old digs. That may color my low opinion of SLS, one of the most uninspiring casino resort names I’ve yet encountered. Supposedly, SLS stands for “Style, Luxury and Service.” And while that trio of goals is certainly admirable, every casino on The Strip is supposed to offer all three in abundance.

SLS decidedly does not, so much so that many Las Vegas tourists don’t even know it’s a full-scale casino. Instead, most passersby mistake SLS for one of the few non-casino hotels in The Strip area, so they walk right by without even taking a second look.

The lack of interest in SLS became so egregious that new owners the Meruelo Group are going back in time to gin up a new customer base – old-timers like myself.

Sahara Las Vegas Casino LogoEarlier this year, Las Vegas locals and regular visitors alike were thrilled to learn that the SLS would be renovated and rebranded as Sahara Las Vegas, so here’s hoping the second edition can blend the old gal’s unique charms with a modernized setting down the road.

18 – Luxor

Wash, rinse, and repeat…

Outside Aerial View of Luxor Las Vegas Casino

And if I’m being honest, I really wish the housekeeping staff at the Luxor lived by that motto more than what I saw.

Luxor Las Vegas Casino LogoYet another retread from the 90s that hasn’t tried to keep up with the times, the Luxor is still coasting on its reputation from 25 years ago when it was the hot new property on The Strip. Nowadays, though, the Egyptian theme just feels played out and overdone, while the casino and amenities are barebones affairs throughout.

19 – Cosmopolitan

The Cosmopolitan falling this far on my list was surprising even to me. Full disclosure, a particularly nasty front desk agent might’ve clouded my judgment just a bit.

The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas Casino LogoRelatively new with a 2010 opening date, the Cosmo is all about high-class ambience and elite entertainment. Well, it’s supposed to be anyhow…

When I learned that the Cosmo earned the “Best Hotel in the World” designation by Gogobot in 2013, followed by the Condé Nast Traveller “Top Hotels in the World” rating in 2015, I was excited to experience this one for the first time.

Unfortunately, the staff here seems to have bought into that status a little too much because they treated little old me like an outcast from the get-go.

My basic questions were scoffed at, my simple requests were ignored, and my increasingly common complaints were dismissed out of hand.

Of course, I realize that this could’ve very well been a one-off deal wherein I encountered the wrong employees on the wrong day. Nonetheless, it’s my list and I’m sticking the Cosmo here at #19. Nobody visiting The Strip should feel like they’re asking for too much with the exorbitant price points and polished reputation advertised here.

20 – New York New York

Outside New New York Las Vegas Casino
One more on the “it’s the ‘90s calling” list, New York New York is a casino so bland and boring they named it twice.

New York New York Las Vegas Casino LogoTo be fair, nothing at the New York New York is really so awful that I would warn readers to stay away. But on the other hand, nothing here is so worthwhile that I’d recommend a visit either.

Everything from the casino to the accommodations is standard fare – nothing more and nothing less.

But because the NY-NY tends towards the overpriced side of the spectrum, paying a pretty penny for “nothing special” feels like more of a rip-off than other low-end venues on The Strip.

The only true selling point is how the New York New York provides a fun place for kids to enjoy their time in Las Vegas. A roller coaster and a full-scale arcade complete with carnival games will give the kiddos plenty of opportunities to pass the time.

21 – Excalibur

What can I say about the Excalibur without sounding too harsh?

Excalibur Las Vegas Casino LogoThis medieval castle-themed casino sticks out like a sore thumb, almost like a satirist was asked to render the most ridiculous concoction for gamblers to reside. The whole scene inside is tired and outdated.

The knights and damsels schtick was played out 20 years ago, and the general vibe is dingy and disappointing.

Unless you have children who are currently in their “Knights of the Round Table” phase, coming to the Excalibur is a losing proposition for all involved.

Conclusion

Hey, you can’t win them all, right? Every gambler who makes their way to Las Vegas and tests their luck learns this hard truth early on. It’s especially applicable to the seven casinos listed above. These venues suffer from different drawbacks across the board, but the one common thread is a lack of effort.

When you know budget-minded travelers will continue to come, and your operation is strapped for cash in its own right, creating a world-class experience for guests just doesn’t come easily. For that reason, I can’t really blame these duds for disappointing, but I can also choose to bring my bankroll for The Strip somewhere else.

With more than a dozen competitors out there trying just a little bit harder (or going all out in some cases) to make it worth my while, I just can’t find a reason to make repeat trips to these properties a priority.

Ranking Las Vegas Strip Casinos: Mid-Tier Casinos – Part 2 of 4

Outside the Cromwell Casino in Las Vegas, Woman Happy Gambling, Outside Palazzo Casino in Vegas
A little while back, I had the pleasure of exploring the entirety of Las Vegas Boulevard, visiting all 28 casino venues on The Strip in a week of gambling and gluttony.

I’ve been coming to The Las Vegas Strip for all of my adult life, beginning in the 1980s before the big corporations began their ambitious multibillion-dollar building spree. Back then, casinos like the Aladdin, the Imperial Palace, and the Sahara were my favorite haunts; intimate settings that combined modern luxuries with an old-school gambling hall vibe.

The dealers took time to remember your name, pit bosses were happy to reward regulars with generous comps, and the entire scene felt like something straight out of a summer camp for gamblers.

Aladdin Casino in Las VegasOf course, during the 1990s a transformation hit The Strip and turned it into the sterilized skyline of neon facades you know today. The Aladdin, the Imperial Palace, and the Sahara all met their demise, either through demolition and rebuilding, or renovating and rebranding. Planet Hollywood rose from the ashes of an imploded Aladdin, the Imperial Palace became the Quad for a couple of years and is now known as the LINQ, and the Sahara somehow became known by the generic alias SLS.

Don’t get me wrong now, I appreciate the steady march of progress as much as the next guy, and a few of the new mega-resort monuments to of-age entertainment have become new personal favorites.

I took the time to write about my seven preferred casino destinations on The Las Vegas Strip, so you can read about the group I affectionately call “the best of the bunch” here. And sure enough, world-class award-winning casino resorts like the Wynn, the Aria, Caesars Palace, and the Bellagio certainly deserve their status as must-see attractions for the 40 million tourists, conventioneers, and repeat visitors who love Sin City as a second home.

But with 21 other casinos lining Las Vegas Boulevard, I realized my job wasn’t quite done just yet. Having revealed the best of the bunch, the time has come to cover seven more casinos on The Strip which occupy a niche I’ve termed the “mid-tier contenders.” The seven properties listed below each had their definite high points, along with just enough low points to bump them from the top seven.

And just to make things clear, these rankings are purely subjective based on my own personal experiences, so I urge every reader to pay a visit of their own and see for themselves.

8 – Palazzo

The Venetian scored my second-highest ranking of all 28 casinos on The Strip, so it’s not exactly a surprise to see its sister property the Palazzo take top billing here.

Palazzo Las Vegas Casino LogoIn fact, if the Palazzo stood alone and didn’t have the Venetian right next door, I’d have definitely it included in my top seven. It is though, so I had to knock the Palazzo down a few notches simply because I had already been “wined and dined” at the Venetian beforehand.

Opened in 2007—eight years after the Venetian was built by Las Vegas Sands Corp.—the Palazzo borrows the same Italian Renaissance theme throughout the immaculate interior. One of the few “all-suite” hotels on The Strip, the Palazzo boasts the most spacious standard rooms on Las Vegas Boulevard with 720 square feet of living space.

And while size definitely does matter, the appeal of the Palazzo’s accommodations isn’t exactly limited to square footage either.

These rooms, along with the casino and other amenities downstairs, have been awarded the coveted AAA Five Diamond honor every year since 2009.

As for that casino, gamblers can expect a glitzier experience that most venues on The Las Vegas Strip can offer, and that’s saying something given the competition. Everything from slightly juicier minimum limits on table games ($10 instead of $5 on blackjack, etc.), to a higher ratio of high-limit slot and video poker machines, combines to make the Palazzo the perfect place for high-rollers to feel comfortable.

And while you get your gamble on in the pit, which looks and feels more like a palace at the Palazzo, your significant other can spend their day (and your money) exploring the opulent Grand Canal Shoppes. This gleaming assortment of high-end retailers—featuring chic brands like Fendi, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, Bulgari, and Burberry, just to name a few—connects the Palazzo to the Venetian in fine style.

All in all, the Palazzo leans towards the pricier side of The Strip economy, so bear that in mind when planning your trip. But if you have the bankroll to burn, and you’ve already had your fill of the superior Venetian, making the short trip northbound to book a stay at the Palazzo is the perfect way to enjoy your next sojourn to Sin City.

9 – Park MGM

If you’ve never heard of Park MGM, don’t worry too much, as this newly rebranded venue replaced the old Monte Carlo just last year.

Park MGM Las Vegas Casino LogoObviously owned and operated by parent company MGM Resorts, the Park MGM concept was designed to evoke the best of urban cityscapes like New York’s famed Central Park West. That means plenty of open-air corridors with natural landscaping lining them, and an array of boutiques, cafés, and other amenities that offer a completely different vibe from Las Vegas as it’s typically experienced.

Instead of crowding together with the masses in a cramped hallway, without a window in sight to offer natural sunlight, Park MGM prides itself on The Park. This outdoor shopping, dining, and entertainment district transports visitors to another world, allowing you to wander between destinations at your leisure, all while perfectly placed trees provide shade on the hot summer days.

Outside The Park MGM in Las Vegas, Eataly Restaurant

My favorite part about Park MGM was Eataly, an Italian inspired marketplace that replaces the typical casino food court with something truly special. Bakeries, delis, cafés, wineries, ice cream parlors, and food stands combine to create a dining destination like no other in all of Las Vegas.

The casino at Park MGM is standard fare, offering all of the staples in a newly renovated environment that removes all connection to the defunct Monte Carlo. That means the latest slot and video poker machine models, fresh felt at the table games, and all the new side bets players today appreciate.

And to cap things off, Park MGM is practically connected to the nearby T-Mobile Arena, so you can catch a Las Vegas Knights game within walking distance of your hotel.

10 – Harrah’s

For me, Harrah’s represents the Platonic ideal of a Las Vegas Strip casino. That’s not to say it’s perfect by any means, just that Harrah’s seems to straddle the middle ground perfectly in every respect.

Harrah's Las Vegas Casino LogoNothing here will blow you away, but you’ll seldom leave Harrah’s feeling disappointed by your stay. And when you throw in affordable rates, player-friendly odds, and a staff that seems genuinely happy to provide superb service, Harrah’s has earned its reputation as a sneaky favorite for many long-time visitors.

A central location right in the heart of Las Vegas Boulevard doesn’t hurt either.  Booking a room at Harrah’s gives you a great “launch point” from which to explore the rest of The Strip.

Families will appreciate the massive swimming pool by day, while parents can have a blast at the Piano Bar by night. You’ll find a shopping mall, multiple bars and nightclubs, and beloved restaurant brands like Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and Oyster Bar – all of the non-gambling amenities Vegas visitors have come to expect.

Harrah’s can feel a bit dated at times – it was built in 1973 and rebranded in 1992 with the current theme and décor – but that’s all part of the old gal’s charm in my book.

11 – Flamingo

I could easily replace the word “Harrah’s” in the previous passage with “Flamingo,” and my review would remain largely unchanged.

Flamingo Las Vegas Casino LogoAnother template casino, the Flamingo established the mold from which modern casinos along The Strip were designed. That makes perfect sense too, seeing as how the Flamingo became the very first casino resort built on Las Vegas Boulevard way back in 1946.

At that time, the Flamingo was the personal playground of mobster Bugsy Seigel, who billed the place as “The West’s Greatest Resort Hotel” upon opening the doors. Seigel himself was shot dead in 1947, but the legacy he left behind at the Flamingo lives on to this day.

Flamingo Las Vegas Casino Building

The art deco design cues, live flamingos strutting through their outdoor habitat in the center of the grounds, and old-school entertainment like Donny and Marie all give the Flamingo a nostalgic feel that older gamblers will appreciate.

12 – Cromwell

Not many places on The Strip have experienced a “rags to riches” tale like the casino currently known as the Cromwell.

The Cromwell Las Vegas Casino LogoThis venue began life as the Barbary Coast in 1979, and in 2007 it became Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and Saloon as an ode to cheap beers, low limit gambling, and sawdust on the floor just like Las Vegas used to do things.

The Bill’s experiment ended in 2014 when operator Caesars Entertainment took the property in an entirely new direction with the Cromwell. Today, guests come here to experience an ultra-luxurious ambience at one of The Strip’s only true boutique hotels.

That means a limited selection of 188 rooms, and a relatively small 40,000-square foot casino, all of which is designed to offer the height of modern luxury.

Picture those fancy hotels portrayed in old movies, with valets waiting on you hand and foot and all the rest.

Whether you find the Cromwell pretentious or perfect is a matter of personal preference, but let’s just say I enjoy a more down to earth experience. In any event, seeing the Cromwell for yourself should be considered a bucket list item, if only to gamble at the Abbey with a personal host in tow taking care of your every need.

13 – Tropicana

Built in 1955, the Tropicana can often feel like a relic from Las Vegas’ early days.

Tropicana Las Vegas Casino LogoThat’s only natural too, as “The Trop” hasn’t changed much from its time as center stage for many of Sin City’s most iconic moments on the silver screen.

Elvis Presley wowed audiences in “Viva Las Vegas” (1964) while strolling through the Tropicana, while “Diamonds Are Forever” (1971) brought James Bond along for his usual spycraft adventures.

And when Michael Corleone visits his black sheep little brother Fredo in “The Godfather” (1972), the Tropicana stands in for the mob-controlled casino.

Those little historical nuggets alone made the Tropicana worthwhile for me, but other visitors may not appreciate the rundown décor and lackluster amenities – hence its inclusion toward the end of my mid-tier contender list.

14 – The LINQ

My review of the LINQ will be admittedly biased because it occupies the grounds I knew and loved as Imperial Palace.

The Linq Las Vegas LogoThe transformation into the LINQ was only completed in 2014, so this is one of the newer casinos on The Strip – and it shows. A renovation valued at $223 million completely overhauled the interior, so those old jokes about the Imperial Palace’s downtrodden environs are history.

High Roller Wheel at The Linq in Las Vegas

The main draw here is the High Roller, that immense Ferris wheel contraption seen revolving slowly in the backdrop when you face The Strip from the west. I’m not usually one for rides, but taking a trip upward to soak in the Sin City skyline after sunset showcased everything I love about Las Vegas Boulevard.

Conclusion

Sometimes you win big when gambling in Las Vegas, and other sessions produce significant losses. But more often than not, you’ll find yourself breaking even. That’s the impression I got from the seven casinos listed above because while they weren’t the mind-blowing destinations found on my top seven, these venues were still perfectly reasonable alternatives that are far from the worse locales on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Consider these properties to be backup pitchers of sorts, ready to come in and throw a change up your way after the aces start feeling a bit tired. You can only see the fountains at Bellagio or the Aria’s artistic design so many times before those features become familiar, which makes these seven mid-tier contenders a great way to mix things up.

Ranking All 28 Las Vegas Strip Casinos: Part 1 of 4

Venetian Casino Building, Caesars Palace Casino Building, Planet Hollywood Casino Building in Las Vegas
Las Vegas Boulevard has grown from a gamble of its own into a gambler’s paradise ever since the Flamingo opened its doors in 1946.

Over that span, classic casinos on the Las Vegas Strip like the Aladdin, the Dunes, and the Riviera have all came and went, having been replaced by Planet Hollywood, the Bellagio, and the Las Vegas Global Business District, respectively.

A corporate building spree in the 1990s saw The Strip transform like never before, with glitzy mega-casino resorts springing from the desert sands to dominate the landscape. Today, driving through The Strip for the first time – with its iconic neon lights and massive facades – has become a time-honored tradition among gamblers and tourists alike.

But with 28 unique casino properties lining Las Vegas Boulevard nowadays, finding your way to the perfect stay has become quite difficult.

That’s especially true given the ongoing corporate consolidation in the area, as MGM Resorts (10) and Caesars Entertainment (8) collectively control more than half of all casinos on The Strip.

Each of the properties found in this world-famous gambling district offers a distinct vibe, based on its overall theme, the culinary options on its menu, luxury amenities, non-gambling entertainment options, and odds furnished to gamblers. And if you don’t know one place from the next, it can be all too easy to spend your precious trip to Sin City staying somewhere that doesn’t really do it for you.

On that note, I recently had the pleasure of enjoying an extended stay on The Strip, so I made it my mission to visit all 28 casinos for myself. What follows is a completely subjective ranking, based on my own experiences alone, of the top seven casinos you’ll encounter when you visit The Strip for yourself.

1 – Wynn

One of the few venues not falling under the MGM Resorts or Caesars Entertainment umbrella, Wynn is the namesake of former casino mogul Steve Wynn.

Wynn Las Vegas Casino LogoSimply put, Las Vegas wouldn’t be what it is today without Wynn’s guidance, as his glory days produced fixtures like the Mirage and the Bellagio on The Strip, as well as Golden Nugget in the Downtown district.

But after selling those properties off and launching his own company, Wynn Resorts, the influential architect of modern Las Vegas built the Wynn Las Vegas in 2005.

Everything about this place impressed me, from the ultra-chic décor and luxurious setting to the top-notch service delivered with a smile.

Everything’s a little fancier here, so it may not be the preferred destination for budget-minded travelers.

Even so, you don’t have to book a room here to pay a visit to the Wynn and see what all the fuss is about.

2 – Venetian

Woman Paddling Gondola Boat, Canals Inside Venetian Las Vegas Casino
Another casino built as a monument to one man, the Venetian is the brainchild of multibillionaire gambling mogul Sheldon Adelson.

The Venetian Resort Casino in Las Vegas LogoAdelson wanted the Venetian to be the biggest and best casino on The Strip when it opened in 1999, and his $1.3 billion investment certainly shows even today.

Personally, I enjoy the blend of modern luxury with Old World stylings, as the Venetian is themed around Venice and its famous canals. You can even take a gondola ride through the outdoor canal recreation, which offers the perfect place for a romantic date.

And if you’re a poker player, don’t forget to hit the Venetian Poker Room, home to many of the most popular tournament series among the local pros.

3 – Aria (CityCenter)

Whenever I want to feel young again, I find myself hitting the town at Aria, one of the newer casinos to go up on The Strip.

Aria opened in 2009 as part of the ambitious CityCenter project, a mixed-use area combining hotel towers and attached casino with permanent living spaces, a high-end outlet mall, and so much more.

Aria Casino in Las Vegas LogoThe beauty of enjoying an evening at the Aria is that you don’t even need to gamble as this place offers the full spectrum of amenities on the side. Spas, buffets, nightclubs – what more could you ask for when visiting the Las Vegas Strip?

This blend of gambling and non-gambling offerings might be why Aria has become so popular with the 20-something crowd since it opened.

But if gambling is what floats your boat, Aria also has that covered in spades with low-limit tables and player-friendly odds across the board.

The poker room here has quickly overtaken all-comers becoming the preferred place to play for top-cash pros like Jean-Robert Bellande, Andrew Robl, and Daniel Cates.

4 – Encore

If you like what you see at the Wynn, why not double-dip by visiting its sister property, Encore?

Encore Las Vegas Casino LogoFrom the exterior, Encore is a carbon copy of the Wynn, hence the pun in its name. In other words, the Wynn worked out so well for Steve that he decided to go for two by building a tribute to the original.

Between the regular AAA Five Diamond awards doled out to Encore and its world-famous Encore Beach Nightclub, this place quickly became one of my personal favorites upon my first visit.

5 – Caesars Palace

Inside the Caesars Palace Casino in Las Vegas, Statues
An oldie, but a goodie, Caesars Palace has been one of The Strip’s staple destinations since opening in 1966.

Caesars Palace Las Vegas Casino LogoIf you’ve ever seen the hit comedy “The Hangover,” you’re already well familiar with Caesars Palace (and no, the real Caesar didn’t live here). You’d be forgiven for pulling an Alan and asking though, because the exterior and interior combine to form one of the more faithful cultural recreations found on The Strip.

Everything here is colossal in size and scope, giving gamblers the feeling that they’ve gone back in time to the Roman Empire’s glory days.

And don’t forget to bring an empty stomach before hitting the Bacchanal Buffet, which routinely takes top honors as the best all-you-can-eat spread in Sin City.

6 – Bellagio

Beginning with the dancing fountain show outside which wows tourists from all over the world and followed by the gorgeous Dale Chihuly hand-blown glass exhibit Fiori di Como that covers more than 2,000 square feet, the Bellagio is a casino unlike any other.

Bellagio Las Vegas Casino LogoThe MGM Resorts owned Bellagio is a monument to everything The Strip should be, providing gamblers and non-gamblers alike with an endless array of entertainment options. Simply put, you could spend a full week at the Bellagio and leave with an unmistakable urge to come back at the earliest opportunity.

From the high-stakes area, “Bobby’s Room,” where poker legends like Doyle Brunson and Phil Ivey can be seen in their natural habitat to the full-scale shopping mall seamlessly integrated within the overall property, you owe it to yourself to see everything this amazing casino destination has to offer firsthand.

7 – Planet Hollywood

Inside the Planet Hollywood Casino in Las Vegas, V Theater, Blondies Bar
You’ll come for the affordable rooms and player-friendly gambling, but you’ll stay for Miracle Mile, a Willy Wonka-like drag encompassing all the shopping your heart desires.

Planet Hollywood represents the perfect ideal for a “mid-range” stay on The Strip, combining a luxurious feel with low prices, while never sacrificing customer service as a result.

Planet Hollywood Las Vegas Casino LogoAnd if you’re a fan of the famous live shows held daily in most major casinos on The Strip, check out The Mezzanine at Planet Hollywood for the time of your life.

Top-rated shows in Sin City – including “Peepshow,” “America’s Got Talent,” and “V” just to name a few – all call Planet Hollywood home throughout the year.

I even got to take my teenage daughter to see Gwen Stefani, of “No Doubt” fame, from the front row, all without breaking the bank. Winning jackpots on the slots is always a treat but seeing your kid’s face light up with a smile when the curtain goes up is what makes Planet Hollywood a real winner in my book.

Conclusion

Visiting the fabulous Las Vegas Strip is always a mixed bag. Depending on your personal preferences when it comes to entertainment, dining, shopping, and of course, gambling, one mega-casino resort on The Strip can offer a completely different experience than the one right next door.

Throw in pricing considerations, service and staff, loyalty programs, and other features, and it typically takes tourists at least three trips to get their bearings. I only hope that this seven-venue Part I installment of my personal experience touring all 28 properties found on Las Vegas Boulevard can help make that task a little bit easier.

Stuck On a Slot Machine – What Should You Do?

Man Sitting on Slot Machine in Casino, Woman Frustrated with Hands on Her Forehead, Time Clock Ticking
Gambling experts say one should never play the slots. The slots pay terrible RTP. It’s a waste of time and money.

Card and table players may turn to slot games to kill time. Some may do it for love. Others may do it because they are down to their last $5.

I remember sitting down on a slot machine one night next to a talkative lady. Now, I’m not a serious slot player, so I indulged her. She chatted away about how she loved the slots.

She had been there all evening. She wasn’t sure where her husband got to. I asked which game was her favorite.

“This one,” she said. “It’s the only game I play.”

The conversation led from one thing to another and I finally had to ask: “What do you do if you need to take a break?” I meant to visit the Ladies Room.

She laughed and said that sometimes it was a big gamble. She waits for her husband to come to hold her seat when he drops by every now and then to check on her.

1- Do Casinos Allow Players to Reserve Slot Games?

Casino Slot Machines, Man Wearing Suit, Arms Folded

I can’t say I’ve played at every casino, but none of the casinos I play at have game reservations. A slot machine is available until someone sits there.

The most excruciating time to win a jackpot is during a change of shift. The staff is counting money, checking out, checking in, or doing whatever it is that they need to do. If you win when you need to get up, you’re stuck.

I asked the casino staff what happens if the player has to leave. If the staff has your ID card, then they know who won the jackpot. Otherwise, you forfeit the game. I don’t know if that is how all casinos handle the situation, however.

You can’t ask the staff to hold a game for you, nor can you put a sign on the game. You can’t do anything to the game to make it unplayable for others.

2- Innovative Ways Players “Save” Their Slot Machines

Some years back, I visited an Indian casino where all the slot games had 4-legged chairs in front of them. The players who needed to get up leaned their chairs into the games. Near as I could tell, no one ever took a game away from a player.

As the years rolled by, I noticed that more and more slot games had seats that can’t lean over or move.

Is this the way the casinos deal with players who “hold” their machines?

Slot Machine in a Casino, Reserved Card Sitting on Slot

When the night is young or during the graveyard shift, there are only a few players at the machines. Saving a machine is easy. I’ve even seen players drop a stack of bills or a tray of chips on their game.

One woman was clever. When she needed to get up for a few minutes, she leaned over, pulled an empty wallet out of her purse, and laid it on the console. “It’s empty,” she assured me. I don’t know anything about women’s wallets, but I was certain it was cheap.

Some people drape their jackets or coats on the seats. While it makes sense in the winter when it’s cold outside, I’ve seen coats hanging on chairs in mid-summer when it was 90 degrees outside.

Another woman used a paper bag she got while shopping. I didn’t look to see what was in it, but no one took her seat.

One man left a paper plate with a half-eaten sandwich on his slot machine. Casino staff came by and picked it up as trash. Surprisingly, he didn’t bat an eye when he came back.

3- My Slots Rule: Don’t Play the Slots Alone

Scroll Reading Rules, Don't Play AloneIf I have any silly gambler superstitions, this is one of them. It’s a crazy thought, but it’s to never play the slots when you’re alone.

I tell myself it’s a rule that I have made. Instead of worrying over who will take my slot machine, I stay beside my partner as much as possible. She and I take turns watching each other’s machines.

And it’s more liberating. If I want a sandwich, I can go get one.

Plus, playing slots with another person is more fun.

It’s a hard choice to make when I want to hit the tables. My partner doesn’t like blackjack. And the machines near the tables aren’t much fun.

We have a “tap out” system. We gently brush each other on the back to quietly say, “I need a break.” The other partner is supposed to pay attention to your game until you return.

4- Do People Ever Fight Over Slot Games?

I’m sure there are stories circulating about fights. I’ve never seen one. The closest I’ve seen to a fight was on a crowded night. A man was sitting at a machine, and the woman standing behind him grew impatient.

Silhouette of Two People Arguing, Woman and Man“Are you ever going to play that thing?” she asked. She was obviously fuming. He explained that his wife was getting more money.

She eventually showed up with a wad of bills, and everyone went their own way.

I remember playing a slot game next to my partner. She was betting the max, and I was betting the minimum. I wasn’t really interested in the game. And I hit several jackpots in a row.

“He’s wasting all the good spins,” I heard someone say behind me. I didn’t realize there was a crowd watching us play. We were on two of the most popular machines in the casino.

The disgust and frustration I heard in that voice behind me were bothersome. After 30 minutes, when no one behind us had moved, I suggested to my partner that we go get something to eat.

I was up about $50.

5- Sometimes I Choose Games No One Else Is Interested In

This is a cardinal sin for all gamblers. If people aren’t playing a game, it must be terrible, right?

Empty Slot Machines in Casino, Backside of Guy Looking at Slot Machines

In my defense, I look for the payout and RTP information on the game’s help screen if it’s there. If the casino has displayed one of those cards explaining how often the machine pays, I read it.

I do avoid the really bad RTP games. If I’m with someone, I play the minimum until I start winning or we move to another part of the casino. I don’t see the point in betting the max on a game where skill doesn’t apply.

It’s a lot like playing musical chairs. Only, instead of everyone scrambling for the last chair, the players do their best to avoid playing certain machines.

If I’ve been walking around for a while and want to kill time, I’ll just sit down until someone asks if I’m playing the game. Then I’ll politely give it to them.

6- Why Not Play When the Crowd Is Small?

This isn’t rocket science.

Every popular casino has a “hot” time, usually from about 8 PM to 11 PM. It starts a little earlier and lasts longer on weekends.

Group of People Sitting on Row of Slot Machines, Time Clock Displaying 8pm

During this “hot” time, the crowd is so thick, you are lucky if find an open game. There are lines everywhere. Even the buffet has an hour-long wait.

We try to enjoy our favorite games before the crowd shows up. But sometimes we stay too long. You can chalk that up to the environment the casino creates.

Plus, if I have to drive 40 minutes to get to a casino, I want to spend a full evening there.

Conclusion

I don’t know why I feel trapped on a slot machine. Statistics says each spin should have about the same chance of paying as the last. The RNG is supposed to ensure that.

But I feel more comfortable at the blackjack table. I have a sense of control. Every hand, I decide how far to take my wager unless I bust out early on.

Knowing I can leave a busy table and come back later should feel no different from knowing I can leave a slot machine. But it does.

The 1-person nature of a slot machine makes it feel like a premium game.

I think that is why people are territorial about their favorite slot machines. What do you think?

How Dice Combinations Work in Craps

Multiple Colored Dice Wallpaper, Craps Game Icon
Craps is some of the most fun you’ll have in the casino. However, if you want to be an educated craps player, you’ll need to understand some of the probability and odds involved with rolling a pair of dice.

Craps is always played with two dice, each of which is shaped like a cube less than an inch wide. Unlike the dice you’ll buy at your local game store for board games or RPGs, the dice used in craps have sharp edges and pointed corners.

Craps dice are also bigger than the dice you’ll find in a game like Yahtzee or Monopoly. Most of the time, a casino will imprint their logo on the dice they’re using, too. The dice are red, but they’re also translucent, so you can see that there are no weights attached.

Craps shooters often get on hot streaks. If a shooter gets on too hot a streak, the boxman will pause the game to examine the dice to make sure there’s no funny business going on.

The number of possible combinations on a pair of dice is what the game is built around. That’s also the subject of this post: how the dice combinations work in a game of craps.

What Combinations Are There?

Different Dice Combinations Background, Green 3D Questions Marks
Each die has six sides, and they’re numbered from 1 through 6, using dots. If you add the numbers on opposite sides of the dice together, you always get seven. So the 1 and the 6 are opposite each other, the 2 and the 5 are opposite each other, and the 3 and the 4 are opposite each other.

You have a total of 36 possible combinations – you have six possible combinations on one die and six possible combinations on the other die. Out of these 36 possible combinations, you have 11 possible totals.

Here are the possibilities:

  1. A total of 2, which can be made up of only one combination: a 1 on each die
  2. A total of 3, which can be made up of two different combinations: a 1 on the first die and a 2 on the second die; or a 2 on the first die and a 1 on the second die
  3. A total of 4, which can be made up of three different combinations: 1 – 3, 2 – 2, 3 – 1
  4. A total of 5, which can be made up of four different combinations: 1 – 4, 2 – 3, 3 – 2, 4 – 1
  5. A total of 6, which can be made up of five different combinations: 1 – 5, 2 – 4, 3 – 3, 4 – 2, 5 – 1
  6. A total of 7, which can be made up of six different combinations: 1 – 6, 2 – 5, 3 – 4, 4 – 3, 5 – 2, 1 – 6
  7. A total of 8, which can be made up of five different combinations: 2 – 6, 3 – 5, 4 – 4, 5 – 3, 6 – 2
  8. A total of 9, which can be made up of four different combinations: 3 – 6, 4 – 5, 5 – 4, 6 – 3
  9. A total of 10, which can be made up of three different combinations: 4 – 6, 5 – 5, 6 – 4
  10. A total of 11, which can be made up of two different combinations: 5 – 6, 6 – 5
  11. A total of 12, which be made up of only one combination: a 6 on each die

If you look at this closely, you’ll notice that it makes a symmetrical bell curve. Also, the number of combinations that create a specific total can be divided by 36 to get the probability of getting that total.

A Note on Probability

Probability Colored WheelProbability is a way to measure how likely it is that an event will occur. For our purposes, an event is a total on two dice.

Probability is just a ratio comparing the number of ways something can happen with the total number of possible events.

For Example:
If you want to know the probability of rolling a 7, you just divide the number of ways you can get a 7 (there are six ways) by the total number of possibilities (36).

Six divided by 36 is the same as 1/6, which is also the same at 16.67%.

When it comes to craps, it’s often useful to use odds as your preferred format for expressing probability. To do that, you just compare the number of ways something can’t happen with the number of ways it can. For example, the odds of rolling a 7 are 5 to 1. They’re actually 30 to six, but you reduce, just like you would a fraction.

You can compare the probability of winning a bet with the payout odds to see what kind of mathematical edge your land-based casino has on a specific bet.

This is the beginning of craps wisdom.

The Point Numbers

Hand Out, Rolling Pair of Dice
The point numbers are 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10.

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The 4 and the 10 have three possible combinations, making them the least likely of the point numbers to get rolled.

The 5 and the 9 have four possible combinations, and the 6 and the 8 have five possible combinations.

The odds of a 7 coming up before a 4 is easy to calculate. You have six possible combinations totaling 7 versus three possible combinations totaling 4.

That’s 2 to 1 odds.

The odds are the same for rolling a 10.

The odds of a 7 coming up before a 5 (or a 9) are six versus four, or 3 to 2 odds.

The odds of a 7 coming up before a 6 (or an 8) are six versus five, or 6 to 5 odds.

When the shooter makes a point, it’s his job to roll that point total again before rolling a 7.

Now, you know the odds that he’ll succeed.

Proposition Bets

Man Rolling Craps in a Casino, Hand with Fingers Crossed
One of the worst bets you can make at a craps table is a proposition bet. This is usually a bet on a specific total on the next roll. Depending on the number, the odds might look like the following examples.

If you’re looking at a 2 (snake eyes), the odds of winning are 35 to 1.

If you’re looking at a 12, you face the same odds.

If you’re looking at a 3, the odds of winning are 17 to 1. The same holds true for a total of 11.

If you’re betting on “any 7,” the odds of winning are 5 to 1.

If these bets paid off at those odds, you’d be facing a house edge of zero. If you played long enough, you’d break even or come close to tie.

But the casino isn’t in the business of breaking even. It’s in the money of making a profit.

That’s why they set the payouts for these proposition bets much lower than the odds of winning them.

For Example:
If you bet on the shooter rolling a 2, you face 35 to 1 odds. If you win, though, you only get a 30 to 1 payout.

Statistically, 36 bets of $100 each would mean losing $3500 on your 35 losing rolls and winning $3000 on your one winning roll.

Your net loss is $500.

Average that out by 36 rolls of the dice, and you’ve lost an average of $13.89 per bet or 13.89% of your action.

That’s the house edge, and it’s a huge number.

The “any 7” bet is another proposition bet which is always a one-roll bet, by the way. It’s a bet that the total will be 7 on the next roll.

The odds of winning this one are 5 to 1, but the payout is only 4 to 1.

You can calculate the house edge on this bet easily, too.

Assume six perfect rolls betting $100 each.

You’ll lose five of those bets for a total of $500 lost.

On the one bet you win, you’ll get a $400 payout.

Your net loss over six rolls of the dice is $100.

Divide that by six, and you can see that the house edge on the any 7 bet is 16.67%.

By the way, when you compare these numbers with the more basic bets at the table – like the pass line bet – it’s easy to see which bets are better.

The pass line bet has a house edge of 1.41%.

On average, over enough rolls of the dice, you should lose $1.41 every time you place a $100 bet on the pass line.

But if you bet that same $100 on any 7, you’d lose $16.67.

Which one of those sounds like the better bet to you?

Conclusion

That’s as good an introduction to the dice combinations in craps as you’ll find. Once you understand the math in this blog post, you can figure out everything you need to know about every bet at the table.

7 Tips for First-Time Omaha Players

Hand Holding Four Poker Cards on Poker Table, Omaha Poker Icon with Poker Card Icons
Omaha is a fun and entertaining poker variation with many twists and turns. You can go from the best hand to the loser on one street, or find yourself in a no-lose situation where you can pump as many chips in the pot as possible and be guaranteed at least one call.

But Omaha can be a minefield for new players. You need to know a few essential things before you get started, especially if you’ve been playing Texas holdem. Here are my top seven tips for first time Omaha players.

1 – Two and Three

Four Poker Cards Lined UpWhen you play Omaha, you get four hole cards. In Texas holdem, you only get two. In Texas holdem, you can use any combination of your hole cards and the cards on the board to create a five-card hand. But in Omaha, you have to use two hole cards and three board cards to form a hand.

While this doesn’t change things on every hand, it can be a costly mistake to make sometimes. It can get even more confusing when you play Omaha Hi-Lo Split. That is because you can use two cards for your high hand and a different two cards for your low hand.

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The important thing to always remember is that you must use two, and only two, of your hole cards for every hand.

Eventually, this will come naturally to you as you play, but as a first-time player, you need to constantly remind yourself of the two and three rule.

2 – Tight Is Still Best

Winning Texas holdem players learned that tight starting hand requirements are more profitable than loose. This is the exact reason why many losing Texas holdem players switch to Omaha. They think they can play more starting hands because they have twice as many cards.

But the truth is that winning Omaha players also understand the importance of tight starting hand requirements. I’ve played in many Omaha games where the most profitable strategy was to play fewer starting hands than in Texas holdem, not more.

Players Hand Holding Four Poker Cards

You also need to learn how the four cards in your starting hand work together. The best starting hands have four cards that work together in some way. A high pair with matching suits to both other cards or a high pair and another pair have the possibility of hitting a big hand.

Hands that have three cards that work together and one card that’s not related can sometimes be played, but they give you fewer chances to complete a big hand. A hand with three high cards can make a high straight, but one with four high cards gives you a better chance and more protection against having your hand counterfeited.

3 – Pot Control

It may seem safer for a beginning Omaha player to play in a limit game, and this is true as far as protecting the maximum amount you can lose on a single hand. But it’s more valuable to learn how to control the size of the pot in no limit and pot limit games.

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When the odds are good that you’re going to win the hand, you want to build the pot as much as possible. And when you’re on a draw, you want to minimize the size of the pot until you hit your hand.

This sounds like common sense, but it seems like most players simply go with the flow on every hand and don’t have a plan.

Guy Sitting at Poker Table, Holding Cards, Though Bubble with Question Marks

Start every hand with a series of plans depending on what happens. Think through different possibilities so you don’t have to make decisions without enough time to think. It’s also helpful to know as much about your opponents as possible.

Watch how they play hands, even when you fold, so you can identify the ones you can manipulate later. This is a key component to influencing the pot size when you want to. Knowing which players call any bet chasing draws and knowing which ones will build a pot for you will help your long-term profit.

4 – The Nuts or Nothing

When you play Texas holdem, you can win many pots with the third or fourth-best possible plan. When you flop a set, the odds are high that you have the best hand, even when it’s not the top possible set. You can win hands with the second or third best straight and sometimes sneak into a win with a low flush.

But when you play Omaha, you see many more nut hands. It’s still rare to see a four of a kind or a straight flush, but when the board pairs, the odds are good that your flush is not the best hand.

Every time you’re involved in an Omaha game, identify the best possible hand, and try to determine how likely it is that one of your opponents has it.

Don’t commit too much money to the pot when you don’t have the true nuts, or at least a second-best possible hand with a low likelihood of an opponent holding the nuts.

5 – Passive or Aggressive

The general belief is that aggressive play at the poker table is better than passive. This belief is true in many situations, but the best Omaha players understand that in some situations, it’s more profitable to be passive.

Omaha players are more likely to call bets on the flop and turn because they have more possible draws. While this is great when you’re trying to build the pot, it also means that one benefit of being aggressive is diminished.

Woman at Poker Table, Throwing Poker CardsOne of the reasons aggressive play is thought to be better is because when you bet and raise, you can win by having the best hand at the end or when your opponents fold. When your opponents fold less, it makes aggressive play less valuable.

Aggressive play is still better than passive play in some situations when you play Omaha, but you need to learn when it’s better and when you should utilize a more passive style of play.

6 – Things Can Change Fast

I’ve never played a game where your fortunes can swerve drastically with a single turn of a card. In Omaha, you can have the stone cold nuts after the flop or turn and get wiped out on the turn or river. It’s even possible to have the nuts on the flop and not even be a favorite to win the hand.

It won’t take long before you see this for yourself. But it’s important to understand this in every hand you play. While common sense says you should build the pot as much as possible when you have the best hand, you need to learn how to estimate your true chances of winning. This takes quite a bit of experience but being aware of it helps you learn.

You can also use this to your advantage when you’re a favorite to win the hand, but you don’t currently have the best hand. When an opponent has the current nuts, he or she is forced to call any bet you make, even if you’re the favorite to win.

Let’s say you flop four to the nut flush, an open-ended straight draw to the nut straight and a set. This won’t happen often, but in this case, you often are favored to win the hand even though an opponent currently has a better hand. In this case, you need to bet the maximum amount to get as much money in the pot as possible.

On the other side, you need to play more passively than in other games when you flop the best hand, but the board shows the possibility of an opponent hitting a better hand. There is a fine line between protecting yourself and maximizing your profits, but it’s a line you need to quickly learn about if you want to join the ranks of winning Omaha players.

7 – A Few Big Wins

Most Texas holdem players win several small and medium pots to turn a long-term profit.

While some Omaha players seem to be able to do this as well, I found that my overall profits started going up in pot limit Omaha when I began focusing on winning a few big pots every playing session and stopped fighting for small pots.

I learned how to recognize opportunities where I could get as much money in the pot as possible with limited risk.

Icon of Hand Holding Flush Poker Cards, Poker Chips Stacked

Here’s an example of a wildly profitable Omaha play:

You have the nut straight after the turn, and it looks like one of your opponents has the same hand. But you also have a draw to a flush. In this situation, you make the maximum bets and raises on the turn because the odds are high that the worst thing that can happen is you split the pot with your opponent.

Your opponent is forced to call every bet you make because they currently have a nut hand, but if the river completes your flush, you scoop the pot.

The same situation comes up sometimes when you play Omaha Hi-Lo, where you have half the pot locked up and have a draw for the other half. When you can scoop two or three huge pots in a playing session, you often leave the table as a big winner, so long as you don’t waste too many chips chasing smaller pots.

Conclusion

If you take the time to learn from the seven Omaha tips on this page, you can quickly improve your chances of winning. Some Omaha skills take more experience to master, but the tips on this page are a great place to start.

The Lottery and Privacy – How to Remain Anonymous if You Win

Guy Holding Lottery Check, Silhouette of Guy Celebrating
Each year, over $100 billion are spent on lotteries in the United States. And that number keeps climbing. The popularity of multi-state lotteries such as Powerball and Mega Millions have driven tens of millions of people to buy tickets for chances to win upwards of $1 billion in some cases.

But there’s a danger in winning. Whether a person wins $10,000 or $2 billion, they become targets. It starts with long lost family members, then spreads to charities, and then scammers.

Lotteries thrive on publicity. A person winning several millions of dollars in a jackpot is great publicity for the state and the lottery itself.

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In many cases, state lotteries are required to publicly name all winners. So remaining anonymous may not be possible.

This is further complicated by each state’s version of the Freedom of Information Act. If you’re curious as to what gambling laws your state currently has in place for gambling, be sure to check out our legal page.

The Freedom of Information Act was originally a federal law that required federal agencies to disclose information to the public upon request. States followed suit in enacting similar laws that bound themselves to a similar standard.

Because the lottery commissions in each state is a government agency dealing with public funds, most states are required to disclose where the money went as part of the transparency of the distribution of public funds.

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Some states publish the winner’s name, city, county and the amount won. Other states may require the publication of a picture of video of the winner. Some may even require a televised press conference.

How much that the state is required to disclose varies. The lotteries in which the winner’s likeness is used may also require the winner to sign a waiver authorizing the state to use the images in any way they see fit to promote the lottery.

But there are some exceptions. Some states do allow winners to remain completely anonymous. This is rare, and they may even try to pressure the winner to disclose their information for the benefit of lottery publicity, but they’re under no obligation to do so.

Aside from the transparency in where the money is going, it also allows the state to show that the lottery isn’t rigged.

This was the case involving an employee of the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL). MUSL is the parent organization that controls Powerball and Mega Millions.

The Hot Lotto Fraud Scandal

Between 2015 and 2017, a former security director for MUSL was convicted in a scheme involving rigging lotteries in 5 states between 2005 and 2013. His name was Edward Tipton.

Person Checking Lottery Numbers on Ticket, Red X Mark

The states involved in the scam were:

  • Iowa
  • Oklahoma
  • Colorado
  • Wisconsin
  • Kansas

The first incident was in November 2005. Tipton’s brother Tommy won $568,990 jackpot in a Colorado Lottery drawing. The random number generator was designed by Edward Tipton. Tommy Tipton asked a friend to claim the winnings for a 10% cut.

The next incident was in December 2007. A Wisconsin Lottery prize of $783,257 was paid to a limited liability corporation controlled by a man named Robert Rhodes. Records show that the corporation wound up transferring the money to Tipton.

A 3rd incident occurred in November 2011. A Hot Lotto (the predecessor to Lotto America) jackpot of $1.2 million was paid to a man named Kyle Conn of Texas. Conn bought the ticket in Oklahoma. Oklahoma investigators were suspicious because Conn was not a frequent player, came from out of state, and specified the winning numbers manually instead of relying on a random pick. Tipton had rigged the random number generator that selected the winning numbers.

In December 2010 a drawing of Hot Lotto had a prize of $16.5 million.

Hot Lotto Ticket with NumbersOn November 9, 2011, Philip Johnston, a resident of Quebec City, Canada, phoned the Iowa Lottery to claim a ticket that had won the jackpot; stating he was too sick to claim the prize in person, he provided a 15-digit code that verified the ticket, but his prize claim was turned down when he was unable to answer questions that verified he was the owner of the winning ticket.

On December 6, Johnston phoned again, stating the ticket was actually owned by an anonymous individual, who was being represented by a trust. However, Iowa Lottery rules forbid anonymous prize claims, so the claim was turned down.

On December 29, 2011, just before the expiration of the deadline to claim the prize, a Des Moines law firm presented the winning ticket at the Iowa Lottery headquarters, signed on behalf of the trust and New York City-based attorney Crawford Shaw. However, the trust name was misspelled on the ticket and the prize claim was turned down.

On January 12, 2012, Shaw met with Iowa Lottery officials in person to try claiming the prize but was turned down yet again after he refused to identify the owners of the trust. Shaw withdrew his claims over the prize afterward, and the prize money was returned to Hot Lotto’s member lotteries in February 2011.

In an interview with Iowa’s Division of Criminal Investigation, Johnston explained that Robert Rhodes and Robert Sonfield of Sugar Land, Texas, had asked him to assist in anonymously claiming the prize.

In October 2014 investigators released surveillance footage from a QuikTrip convenience store in Des Moines, which they believed showed the purchaser of the ticket, later identified as Eddie Tipton.

As a MUSL employee, it was illegal for Tipton to participate in any lottery game.

On January 15, 2015, Tipton was arrested and charged with two counts of fraud for attempting to illegally participate in the lottery, and attempting to use fraudulent means to claim prizes.

Tipton was convicted twice for the various scandals. On September 9, 2015, he was sentenced to 10 years’ for a guilty verdict on 2 counts of fraud, He was subsequently tried for the previously undiscovered lottery rigging scams from 2005 and 2007. Tipton confessed to the crimes and was sentenced to an additional 25 years.

When asked about the case, Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich said the requirement that names be made public was “the layer of security [Tipton] couldn’t break”.

Forming a Trust

Some states allow “an entity” to claim a winning prize. Usually, these “entities” are trusts formed by the winner’s lawyer that shield the winner from their information being publicized. A trust is a legal tool that allows for the administration of assets of a beneficiary.

Most winners contact a lawyer before claiming the prize and the lawyer sets up the trust so that the winnings can be claimed in the name of the trust. The lawyer may also set up a bank account in the trust’s name so the lottery can deposit the funds directly without the winner’s anonymity being breached.

Sometimes this doesn’t go as planned as was the case in New Hampshire on January 6, 2018.Silhouette of Guy With Suitcase Walking

A woman, known only as Jane Doe, won the Powerball jackpot of $559.7 million. She immediately did as most lotteries advise and signed her ticket so no one else could claim the ticket if it was lost or stolen. The issue was that the winner wanted to remain anonymous. And because she signed the ticket, her name became part of the public record.

The woman and her lawyer filed suit and after a few months of legal wrangling a New Hampshire judge ruled that the state could release the town she lived in, but her name didn’t have to be released. She was then able to claim the jackpot in the name of the trust established by her lawyer.

What Do States Require?

Each state has different rules as to what needs to be disclosed when winning the lottery. Most of the time, the information can be found on the state lottery commission’s website. But sometimes it takes some digging to find out the information.

Pile of Lottery Tickets, United States Map with US Flag Inside
Because of all of the major jackpots that have occurred in the last year, I wondered what states would allow a winner to remain anonymous and what states that had to disclose the winner and to what degree they needed to disclose.

In some cases, the answer was right on the website. In others, I had to research 3rd party websites. In some rare cases, I had to write to the state lottery commission to find out the rules regarding anonymity.

As of 2019, 44 states, 2 territories, and the District of Columbia all have lotteries. One other state, Mississippi recently approved a lottery and expect it to be up and running before 2020.

Here are the rules regarding lottery anonymity for each state:

Alabama

– Does not have a lottery

Alaska

– Does not have a lottery

Arizona

Shape of Arizona State– The names of persons or legally formed entities that are paid lottery prizes or winnings of $600 or more are held confidential for 90 days from the date the prize is awarded and are not a public record during that period. Information regarding the prize winner’s city and county of residence is not confidential. The Arizona Lottery will not accept a blind trust the law requires the Lottery to ensure that any Lottery winner does not owe the state a debt, which must be set off against the Lottery prize.

Arkansas

– Winner information is subject to disclosure under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Winners must come forward and identify themselves within 90 days. Arkansas has a debt setoff requirement to determine if the winner owes taxes to the state or back child support.

A winner who receives a prize or prize payment from the Arkansas State Lottery (ASL) grants the ASL the right to use, publish and reproduce the winner’s name, physical likeness, photograph, portraits, and statements made by the winner, and use audio sound clips and video or film footage of the winner for the purpose of press releases, advertising, and promoting the ASL.

California

– California state law requires that the California State Lottery release the winner’s name and the name and location of the retailer where the winning ticket was purchased.

Colorado

– In Colorado, the name, city of residence and prize amount is public record and may be made available for public information.

Connecticut

– The Lottery will publish and upon request, make available a winner’s name, city or town of residence, date, and amount of win and the name and location of the retailer that sold the winning ticket.

Winners can claim winnings using other legal entities (i.e., trusts, business partnerships, etc.). In those instances, the Lottery will promote the win using that legal entity’s name.

Delaware

– Winner can remain anonymous.

Florida

– Florida Lottery winners can’t remain anonymous. The Florida Lottery can disclose the winner’s name, the city of residence, game won, date won, and amount won to any third party who requests the information.

Georgia

– Winner can remain anonymous.

Hawaii

– Does not have a lottery.

Idaho

– The Idaho Lottery may use the name, city, and photograph of winners in any Idaho Lottery promotional campaign. However, exceptions can be requested and the Idaho Lottery Director will make a final determination.

Indiana

– The Hoosier Lottery may require that winners participate in press conferences and other public relations activities.

Iowa

– The Iowa Lottery can use a winner’s name and likeness for any publicity purposes that it deems desirable.

Kansas

– Winner can remain anonymous.

Kentucky

– Kentucky Lottery can use the winner’s name, image, and voice for any reasonable publicity it considers desirable.

Louisiana

State of Louisiana – Under the Lottery’s statue, all prize payment records are open records, and the public has a right to request the information. Louisiana law also allows the Lottery to use winners’ names and their city of residence for publicity purposes such as news releases. However, the Lottery’s regular practice is not to use winner information in paid advertising or product promotion without the winner’s willingness to participate.

Maine

– The Maine Lottery is required to release the name, town, date won, and amount won on lottery winnings. Their name may be used in any future marketing plans the Maine Lottery might have. If the winner wants to remain completely anonymous, they are able to form a trust or corporation.

Maryland

– Winner can remain anonymous.

Massachusetts

– The Massachusetts State Lottery regulations state that a claimant’s name, city or town, image, amount of prize, claim date and game are public record. A winner’s photographs may be used to publicize winnings.

Michigan

– Michigan law gives winners of prizes greater than $10,000 the right to remain anonymous. However, Mega Millions and Powerball winners are exempt from this act. The names and cities of residence for all Michigan Lottery Mega Millions and Powerball winners (including the jackpot) are considered public record.

Minnesota

– The winner’s name, city, and prize amount is public information and may be released.

Mississippi

– A law allowing lottery sales was passed in August 2018. As of April 2019, the lottery commission has yet to be set up. It is unknown what information, if any, will be required of winners.

Missouri

– Missouri state law requires the lottery to release a winner’s name, city of residence, and the amount of the prize.

Montana

– A winner’s name, city of residence and prize amount is public record and may be made available upon request.

Nebraska

– The winner’s name, hometown, and prize amount are public information.

Nevada

– Does not have a lottery.

New Hampshire

– New Hampshire state law requires the winner’s name, town, and amount won be available for public information. Winners can claim winnings using other legal entities in order for the winner to remain anonymous.

New Jersey

– A winner’s name, town, and county can be made available either through a press release or through a formal request for public records by any citizen or member of the media.

New Mexico

State of New Mexico– The winner’s name, the city in which the winner lives, and the prize amount won is subject to disclosure under the Public Records Act. The New Mexico Lottery Authority and its retailers and advertising agencies, as well as the news media and their editors, may use the winner’s name and photograph for reproduction in any medium they see fit for the purposes of advertising, display, exhibition, or editorial use.

North Carolina

– The North Carolina Education Lottery considers a winner’s name, city, and the prize amount a matter of public record, unless the winner produces a valid protective order or Address Confidentiality Program authorization card.

North Dakota

– Winner can remain anonymous.

Ohio

– Winner can remain anonymous.

Oklahoma

– All information including the winner’s name, city, and amount won are subject to disclosure under the Oklahoma Open Records Act and public disclosure laws.

Oregon

– The winner’s name, city, state, zip code, game in which prize was won, date of game drawing, date prize was claimed, amount of prize won, and the retail location in which winning ticket was sold are public information and are subject to disclosure. Oregon law prohibits claiming a prize through a limited liability company or a trust.

Pennsylvania

– The Pennsylvania Lottery publishes the name of winners, the city of residence, the name of game won, and the date of win on its website in the Winners’ Circle.

Puerto Rico

– Winner can remain anonymous.

Rhode Island

– The Rhode Island Lottery will do everything possible to keep a winner’s information private if requested, however, this information falls under the state’s Freedom of Information Act, and a winner’s name and city or town of residency must be released upon request.

South Carolina

– Winner can remain anonymous.

South Dakota

– Lottery Commission rules allow the lottery to publish the name, city, state of residence, and prize amounts of instant scratch and lotto game winners as a matter of public record.

Tennessee

– State law requires the lottery to disclose the name, home town, and home state of winners if a request is received for such information.

Texas

– Winner can remain anonymous.

Utah

– Does not have a lottery.

US Virgin Islands

– Winner can remain anonymous but are encouraged to do some degree of publicity.

Vermont

– The name, town, and prize amount won is public information. If the prize is claimed by a trust, the name of the trust becomes public information.

Virginia

State of Virginia– The winner’s name, home town, and prize are public record and are released to the media for prizes $100,000 and up. Winners must agree to allow the use of their photo for publicity and news releases. Game rules may require the winner to appear at a press conference. Virginia state law prevents winners from claiming a prize with a limited liability company or a trust.

Washington

– The winner’s name, city, and prize amount are subject to the public disclosure laws.

Washington DC

– Lottery winner information is public record. Winners claiming a prize of $2,500 or more are required to have their photograph taken in order to complete the claim process and receive their lottery prize.

West Virginia

– A winner’s name and photograph may be used for any reasonable publicity purpose.

Wisconsin

– Upon request, the lottery must release the name and city of the winner.

Wyoming

– Winner can remain anonymous.

Conclusion

So, as you can see, each state has its own rules and laws regarding disclosure. There was certainly a time when disclosing a name and city where the winner lived benefitted the public good. It was a way to show citizens that a legitimate winner had come forward and that the lottery wasn’t some sort of scam.

In 2019, a case can be made that public disclosure of winners’ names isn’t necessary anymore. In fact, it may be dangerous. Anyone can go on the internet and find out a slew of information on a winner and use that to scam a winner or worse.

I agree that the winner’s name should be disclosed to the state for tax purposes and to settle any child support liens or court orders. But the information at that point should be sealed at the request of the winner.

I’m a big fan of claiming winning via a revocable trust. This way the winner’s name isn’t disclosed. This is the safest method. It avoids scammers, the bombardment of organizations requesting donations, and of course, long-lost family members that crawl out of the woodwork asking for a handout. It allows the winner to enjoy their privacy as well as the fruits of their winnings.

Should You Make Multiple Bets at the Craps Table?

Hands Throwing Dice on Craps Table, Craps Table Layout
Most craps gamblers have multiple bets on the table simultaneously. This has the effect of creating huge winning streaks and huge losing streaks.

But is that the best way to play the game?

You might be surprised to know this, but I have an opinion about whether you should make multiple bets at the craps table.

Having 3 Bets Going at the Craps Table at One Time

Most craps players try to get 3 bets going simultaneously at the craps table. They’ll start by making a pass line bet. Then on the next roll of the dice, they’ll place a come bet. On the 3rd roll of the dice, they’ll place another come bet.

Two Red Dice Stacked on Top of Each OtherIf the shooter is rolling point numbers the whole time, the player winds up with 3 bets in action all at the same time.

And some craps bettors will just keep placing come bets until the shooter rolls a 7, which can result in gobs of chips on the table.

Real wild men at the craps table supplement these standard bets with other bets with worse odds. Some of them are only marginally worse, like some of the place bets, but others are outrageously bad, like the any craps or any 7 bet.

The problem with a craps bet is the same problem you face with any bet in casino games:

A bet on a casino game is, essentially, a negative number.

And if you paid attention in math class, you’ll know that no matter what, if you add a series of negative numbers together, the sum is always also a negative number.

It doesn’t matter if you double or triple the size of those bets.

The more money you put into action per hour at the craps table, the more money you’ll lose in the long run.

Sure, you’ll have big swings when you hit a lucky streak, and you’ll also have big losing streaks.

But on average, your results are going to follow the same formula:

The number of bets you make per hour multiplied by the size of those bets multiplied by the house edge determines your expected average hourly loss rate.

Having Only One Bet on the Table at a Time Reduces the Amount of Money You Have in Action

You have multiple techniques you can use to decrease your average hourly loss rate.

One of those is to stick with the games (or bets) that have the lowest house edge.

Up Close Focus of Pass Line on Craps Table, House Icon, Arrow Going Down

For example, the house edge for the pass line bet is only 1.41%.

But the house edge for a bet on snake-eyes is 13.89%.

If you put $300 into action per hour on the former, your expected hourly loss is only $4.23.

Put that $300 into action on the latter, and your expected hourly loss skyrockets to $41.67.

For the purposes of this post, I’ll assume you can already tell the good bets from the bad bets at the craps table. (The main thing to remember is to stick with pass, don’t pass, come, don’t come, and odds bets.)

Since you already know how to minimize the house edge, let’s talk about how many bets you’re placing per hour.

If you place a new bet every time the shooter rolls the dice, you’ll bet putting a lot more money into action per hour than if you placed just one bet and waited for it to be resolved before making another bet.

This will reduce the amount of money you lose per hour dramatically.

An average craps table with about 9 players sees about 120 rolls per hour.

About 1/3 of those rolls will be new come-out rolls, or 40 rolls.

This means that you can reduce the amount of money you lose dramatically by only betting on the new come-out rolls.

Let’s assume you’re betting $10 per roll, and you bet on either pass or come on every roll. That’s $1200 per hour you’re putting into action, and you can expect to lose (on average) 1.41% of that.

That’s an expected hourly loss of $16.92.

Now assume you’re betting pass on every new come-out roll. That’s 40 rolls at $10 each, or $400 in hourly action.

Your expected loss is 1.41% of $400, or $5.64 per hour.

i
The only thing I want to warn you about here is that you shouldn’t pay too much attention to what’s happening in the short run – at least not as it relates to your decisions about how many bets to have on the table at one time.

Craps is a random game, and it’s streakier than most. (This means it has a high standard deviation or volatility.)

This means that you’ll sometimes be at the table and win seemingly constantly.

It also means that sometimes you’ll be at the table and seem to lose way more than you expected.

The math in the long run doesn’t change, though.

The Worst Thing You Can Do

The worst thing you can do at the craps table is take any of the prop bets being offered by the stickman. All of these bet have a high house edge. And even though the minimum bet is low, over time, that high house edge will more than make up for it.

Proposition bets are one-roll bets that are determined on the outcome of the next roll.

Craps Table and Two Dice Showing Six

One example is the boxcars bet in craps. This is a bet that the next roll of the dice will result in a pair of 6s, for a total of 12.

You probably already know that there are 11 possible totals in craps, but some totals are more likely than others. That’s because some totals have multiple ways of coming up.

There are actually 36 possible outcomes when you roll a pair of dice. A total of 12 is only 1 of these, which means the probability of that bet winning is 1/36, or 35 to 1.

So yeah, a bet on boxcars is a longshot, but that’s not what makes it a bad bet.

What makes it a bad bet is the comparison of the payout with the odds of winning.

The boxcars bet normally pays off at 30 to 1, which means that, in the long run, you’ll lose a lot of money on that bet.

How much? The math is easy.

Guy Thinking, Math Equations BackgroundJust assume you’re betting $1 on boxcars 36 times in a row. You’ll win once and lose 35 times – if you see the mathematically predicted results.

How much money will you win or lose in that situation?

On one of those rolls, you’ll win $30.

On the other 35 rolls, you’ll lose $35.

That’s a net loss of $5 over 36 rolls, or a little over 13 cents per roll.

The house edge on that bet is that number expressed as a percentage. In this case, we’re looking at a bet with a house edge of 13.89%.

It should be obvious why you’d want to avoid a bet where you’re going to lose an average of 13.89% of your money, but if it’s not:

There are much better bets on the table.

The house edge for the pass line bet is only 1.41%, which means that over time you’ll lose 10X as much betting boxcars than you would betting the pass line bet.

The boxcars bet isn’t even the worst of the prop bets. It’s bad, but some of the other proposition bets are even worse.

All of them have a house edge of almost 10%, but most of them are significantly more than that.

Conclusion

You should not make multiple bets simultaneously at the craps table. The only thing you accomplish by doing so is increasing the average amount of money you’re going to lose per hour when playing.

Instead, just stick with the pass line bet, and when it’s resolved, bet it again.

Taking odds every time is a good idea, too, because it’s a bet with no house edge.

But even if you want to skip the odds bet, you’re better off not making too many bets at a time at the craps table.

Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments.

The Contrarian Guide to Casino Gambling

Group Sitting at Table Game, Silhouette of Man and Woman with Question and Exclamation Point
Despite the casino’s reputation as an “adult playground” where anything goes, recreational gamblers often have a rude awakening when they discover just how restrictive a gaming floor can be.

A strictly enforced regimen of rules and regulations govern every bet and game. Floor staff and supervisors pace the floor while casting a wary eye on winners and losers alike. Players bind themselves to basic strategy and proper play, studying statistics and probabilities before backing only those bets which offer the best possible odds.

And unspoken points of etiquette can easily cause friction when strangers blame their own bad luck – read: poor play – on one another.

All things considered, casino gambling is much more ordered and rigid than meets the eye. In the eyes of most experienced players, there’s definitely “right” and “wrong” ways to approach every avenue of action the casino can serve up.

You’ll hear all about it too, if you play long enough. Casino veterans can be a prickly bunch, preferring to stay in their lane while pestering rookies who happen to make a bet or play that doesn’t fall within their own personal parameters.

Two People Playing Blackjack Table in CasinoJust sit down at the left-most spot on a blackjack table and start playing wildly to see just how explosive typically mild-mannered gamblers can get…

This negativity can get tiresome rather quickly, which is why so many casual gamblers quickly make one of two decisions – quit or fall into line. The folks who still want to play, but don’t like the idea of getting harangued every time they make a mistake, invariably learn the rules of the road for themselves. By studying and mimicking the more experienced gamblers in their midst, beginners pick up habits and patterns that standardize their gameplay to fit the norm.

And one day down the road, they become the old gambler at the table impatiently lecturing youngsters on how they’re doing it all wrong.

I believe casino gambling should be approached more like an art than a science, with everyone holding a chip and a chair free to indulge their whims as they wish. Of course, there’s always a place for proper strategy and decorum while exploring the casino – but gamblers shouldn’t feel forced to conform.

On that note, the guide below highlights several entertaining ways of tapping into your inner contrarian while gambling at the casino:

Dance with the Dark Side at the Craps Table

Of all the unspoken rules that reign supreme on the casino floor, the one which says betting on the “dark side” of the dice in craps should be forbidden is by far the most notorious.

In case you’re a craps novice, here’s a CliffsNotes version of how the game’s basic bets work. To start a game, the first shooter makes what we call the “come out roll,” or the first roll within any betting session. As the player, your first job is to bet on how the come out roll will land.

Hand Out Ready To Roll Dice on Craps, Thought Bubble with Fingers Crossed

This is accomplished by placing a wager on one of two primary craps bets – the Pass Line and the Don’t Pass Line.

Those who back the Pass Line are betting “with the shooter,” so they’re hoping to see a 7 or 11 on the come out roll to win an immediate payout. On the other hand, a 2, 3, or 12 on the come out roll produces an immediate loss, better known as “crapping out.”

The real fun begins when the come out roll results in any other number (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10), which then becomes the rolling session’s “point number.”

From there, the shooter continues to roll until either a) they roll the point number again to make the Pass Line bet a winner or b) they roll a 7 to make the Pass Line bet a loser (known as “sevening out”).

Using this binary dynamic, craps players who wager on the Pass Line are hoping to see a “hot” shooter hit their point numbers over and over again with as few 7s as possible.

And because you can supplement the Pass Line bet with a juicy Odds bet, or Place bets that win when non-point numbers are rolled, a shooter who can go on a long run without hitting a 7 produces bountiful wins for almost everybody present. When this happens, you’ll see the famous scene involving strangers high-fiving and whooping it up that has come to define craps in the public consciousness.

I said almost everybody for a reason though, as a certain subset of the craps crowd chooses to buck conventional wisdom by betting against the shooter rather than with them.

This is done by placing a wager on the Don’t Pass Line instead of the Pass Line. When you put money down on the Don’t Pass Line – popularly known as “dark side” betting in craps vernacular – you want the shooter’s come out roll to hit a 2 or 3 for an immediate win, while a 7 or 11 loses and a 12 pushes.

From there, dark side bettors are hoping that the shooter sevens out before hitting their point number a second time.

Obviously, playing this way puts Don’t Pass Line bettors on the direct opposite of their Pass Line brethren. In other words, dark side bettors win when the rest of the table loses, and vice-versa.

Craps Table, Red Arrow Pointing to Don't Pass Line, Emoji Face Gasping

Given the stats show Don’t Pass Line wagers represent roughly 10 percent of a come out roll’s action, when a dark side bettor wins their wager, they’re typically the only ones at the table happy with the outcome.

One reason for the Pass Line bet’s overwhelming popularity is that it seems like it offers the most advantageous odds at first glance.

Think about it for a second and you’ll see why…

On the come out roll, a dark side bettor has eight combinations of the dice (1-6, 2-5, 3-4, 4-3, 5-2, 6-1 = 7; 5-6, 6-5 = 11) that can make them an immediate loser. Conversely, only three combos (1-1 = 2; 1-2, 2-1 = 3) will mint a winner right out of the gates.

Because the Pass Line crowd – also known as “right side” bettors – enjoys eight combos (1-6, 2-5, 3-4, 4-3, 5-2, 6-1 = 7; 5-6, 6-5 = 11)  to make the come out roll a winner, and just four combos (1-1 = 2; 1-2, 2-1 = 3; 6-6 = 12) for a loser, they do indeed boast a small statistical advantage on the come out roll.

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But craps is played beyond the come out roll in most cases, and when a point number is established, the odds swing back decisively in favor of dark side bettors.

When the point number is a 4 or 10, the odds are 1 to 2 in your favor that a 7 will arrive first. On a point number of 5 or 9, the odds are 2 to 3 for the good your way, while a point number of 6 or 8 gives you odds of 4 to 6.

These odds are much better compared to the Pass Line, which offers odds of 2 to 1 against on a point number of 4 or 10, 3 to 2 against on 5 or 9, and 6 to 5 against on 6 or 8.

Because the odds tilt so dramatically in favor of Don’t Pass Line bettors after the come out roll, this controversial wager actually offers a slightly better overall house edge than the Pass Line:

Probabilities for Base Bets in Craps

BET PAYOUT EXPECTED ROLLS* HOUSE EDGE

(PER BET SETTLED)*

Pass Line 1 to 1 3.38 1.41 percent
Don’t Pass Line 1 to 1 3.47 1.36 percent

*Average number of rolls before result is expected to show

As the gulf between 1.36 percent and 1.41 percent isn’t all that wide in the eyes of a casual gambler, most craps players “go with the flow” by betting on the Pass Line by default. This creates a spirit of camaraderie at the craps table that simply can’t be matched in any other casino setting.

When a hot shooter is doing their thing, nailing their point numbers over and over again, the table swells with excitement. People who would never bother to speak with one another suddenly become the best of friends. And every winning roll is punctuated by a collective roar of approval that sounds like something out of a championship game in a packed arena.

Nonetheless, some gamblers are contrarians by nature, while others hone in on that 0.05 percent reduction in the house edge. These folks love to roll with the Don’t Pass Line, but because of the camaraderie amongst Pass Line bettors mentioned earlier, dark side bettors who are winning quickly become table pariahs.

Picture it for a moment…

There you are, watching your Pass Line and Odds bets getting scooped up unceremoniously by the dealer. The shooter is cold as ice, and every time you put chips on the baize, they seem to disappear before you can even bother getting your hopes up.

Then, out of the corner of your eye, you see it – the same dealer who claimed your chips is busy paying out big returns to a solitary player who stays mum all the while. As you’re losing your shirt, this guy or gal is silently building a castle of chips – and every brick seems to come at your expense.

It’s easy to see why the Don’t Pass Line has been dubbed the dark side now, right?

In an article titled “Confessions of Dark Side Craps Players” – published by the Casino City Time blog in 2016 – legendary gambling author Frank Scoblete asked a craps player named Jim Demonte to describe his experiences betting on the Don’t Pass Line. Unsurprisingly, the dark side specialist reported a steady stream of snickering and derision from the rest of the table:

“There are times at the table that when I lose right side players will cheer, even if no one won on the number that just hit.

Some more aggressive players snicker at me when I lose or clap as they look at me. But when I win, everyone tends to get quiet.

So, yes, I know that I am usually not liked when I play, but this is the way I play and that’s that.”

Scoblete went on to ask another dark side enthusiast by the name of “Bernie” about embracing his role as the table’s sworn enemy:

“Oh, yeah, they hate me. You know why? Because I actually cheer for the seven; I want the shooter to seven out and I call it.

I’m not afraid of anyone. I say the heck with them. They cheer when things are going well for them so I can cheer when things go right for me.

The seven is my friend, after the come-out roll that is.”

You won’t find many bettors more contrarian than Bernie, who not only turns to the dark side, but celebrates vocally when his win causes everybody else to empty their pockets.

I’m not advising anybody to go that far, but given the bet’s proven advantage over it’s safer counterpart, playing the Don’t Pass Line is the perfect way to dance with the devil as a casino gambler.

Go with Your Gut from “Third Base” in Blackjack

A close cousin to the dark side in craps can be found at the blackjack table, but in this case, players who run afoul of the unwritten rule don’t do so intentionally.

When you play blackjack, all players must act on their hands before the dealer turns up their hole card and runs through the stand / hit routine. And because players act from right to left, or clockwise, around the table, whomever is sitting in the last seat on the left (near the dealer’s right shoulder) makes the final decision.

Blackjack Table, Silhouette of Guy with Hand on His Chin Thinking

This seat has been dubbed “third base” by experienced blackjack players, and if you ask them, decisions made from this position are more pivotal than any other.

According to the widely held third base theory, the last player to act can influence whether or not the dealer will win or go over 21 to bust.

Here’s how it works…

Let’s say the first five players have already acted, with two going bust and three others standing on 20 totals. The dealer is showing a 3 as their up card, while the third base player has a 12 total. At this point, the folks holding pat 20 totals all stare straight at the third base player, mentally begging them to stand on 12 against the dealer’s 3.

According to their logic, a 3 up combined with a likely 10-value card down gives the dealer a 13, so if they hit and draw any 9, 10, J, Q, or K, they’ll go bust to make everybody left with a live hand a winner.

But for whatever reason – either because they are using basic strategy or they’re just flying by the seat of their pants – our third base player elects to hit on their 12. Following the deck’s weighted odds, a 10-value card shows up next, causing the player to go bust with 22.

Then, like clockwork, the dealer turns up their expected 13 total, before hitting and drawing an 8 to make 21. The dealer scoops up every bet in play for the house, while three unlucky losers watch their previously attractive 20s go down in flames.

“Why’d you go and do that you dummy? You hit and took the dealer’s bust card, cost the three of us money by playing so badly!”

That’s one of the players who lost assailing the third base occupant, and in this case, the language has been seriously toned down.

This example is admittedly contrived to show you how the third base myth works, but you’d be surprised to see how many situations play out exactly like this at blackjack tables everywhere.

Gamblers are a naturally superstitious lot, so when they see a card that could’ve caused the dealer to lose – more like should’ve using their flawed logic – taken by third base, only for the dealer to wind up a winner, the saying “staring daggers” is an understatement.

Here’s the thing though… the third base player’s actions have no statistical impact on blackjack’s inherent probabilities. Over the long run of your individual session, or the infinite long run for that matter, the third base player will “take” as many winning cards from the dealer as they do winners.King Poker Card, Queen Poker Card

In the example hand from earlier, the cards could’ve just as easily been shuffled slightly differently, with the 8 moved one spot up ahead of the 10-value. In that case, the third place player’s hit would give them an 8 on top of 12 for a 20 total, while the dealer now takes a 10-value to go bust on 23.

But when scenarios like that occur, you’ll seldom hear anybody remarking about how the third base player “saved the table” by taking the dealer’s win card.

The truth is, these plays inevitably balance out in the end, with the dealer winning and losing at exactly the rate blackjack’s inherent probabilities makes possible. You might notice a few instances in which the last player’s action seems to “steal” a win for the dealer, but that’s only because gamblers tend to focus on what goes wrong over what goes right. When a third base play gives players a win they “shouldn’t” have had, everybody is too busy counting their profits to notice that they had a helping hand in the far left seat.

No less of an authority than Michael Shackleford – founder of the Wizard of Odds gambler’s resource website and a professional casino game analyst – was asked to settle the third base myth dilemma once and for all.

Here’s what the Wizard himself had to say as published on Wizard of Odds:

“In ten years of running this site I steadfastly denied the myth that bad players cause other players to lose in blackjack.

However, you are the lucky 1000th person to ask, so I took the trouble to prove it by random simulation. The rules I put in are the standard liberal Vegas Strip rules as follows.”

Shackleford goes on to describe a standard Vegas-style blackjack game. That means a six-deck shoe is used, the dealer stands on soft 17, players can double on any two first cards, doubling after a split, up to four re-splits, and late surrender are all allowed.

Using these rules, Shackleford designed a computer simulation in which two players took on the dealer using a sample size of 1.6 billion hands. Both players were programmed to use perfect basic strategy, and in the end, they produced identical loss rates of 0.289 percent.

To complete the experiment, Shackleford then programmed the second player to adopt a much more liberal, loose, and sloppy strategy. Meanwhile, the first player to act still used perfect basic strategy.

After another 1.6 billion hands were in the books, the sloppy strategy player wound up losing at a rate of 11.26 percent. Meanwhile, the perfect strategy player posted a loss of 0.282 percent, even though they had an inferior player making mistakes from third base.

If you’ll notice, the player forced to deal with bad decisions from third base actually posted a slightly improved loss rate. But in any case, their losses remained right in the same zone of 0.28 to 0.29 percent – proving once and for all that third base actions have no impact whatsoever on the rest of the table.

Naturally, a logical scientific conclusion like this won’t do much to sway the misinformed myth believers out there.

And honestly, who cares about them anyhow?

Sure, you’ll probably take some grief for playing your third base hands however you see fit. That shouldn’t put you off the prospect entirely though, so grab the last seat in the first blackjack game you can find and let it fly.

Take the Tie Bet at a Baccarat Table

Unlike the first two tips, this one is based on backing a longshot bet that offers terrible odds.

With that in mind, you should probably limit your Tie bets when playing baccarat to a novelty, something to throw in here and there for the sake of variety.

Baccarat Table, Guy with Praying Hands Hoping

But this is a page for contrarians, after all, so by all means feel free to fire away on the Tie if high risk to reward ratios tickle your fancy.

In baccarat, players do nothing more than guess which of two hands – the Player hand and the Banker hand – will wind up closer to 9 after taking either two or three cards. Based on their starting two-card totals, the Player and Banker hands might get a third card, and whichever one gets closest to 9 is the winner.

As you might suspect, those results happen roughly half the time, but every so often the Player and Banker hands will wind up sitting on the exact same total. When that happens, folks who bet on either hand get their money back in a push, while anybody bold enough to wager on the Tie receives a sweet 8 to 1 score.

The tables below break down payouts, probabilities, and return rates for the Tie bet in baccarat:

Probabilities for Tie Bet in Baccarat

OUTCOME PAYOUT PROBABILITY RETURN
Banker wins -1 45.86 percent -0.458597
Player wins -1 44.62 percent -0.446247
Tie 8 to 1 9.51 percent 0.761248
Total N/A 1 -0.143596

House Edge Rates by Baccarat Bet

BET HOUSE EDGE
Banker

1.06 percent
Player

1.24 percent
Tie

14.36 percent

As you can see, the basic Player and Banker bets offer a snug gameplay experience, winning at a 45 percent clip on average, paying back even money, and incurring a low house edge of either 1.06 or 1.24 percent.

On the other hand, the Tie bet only comes into play less than 10 percent of the time, and in exchange for that hefty 8 to 1 payout, you’ll face a massive house edge of 14.36 percent.

For these reasons, the Tie bet is almost universally scorned amongst the baccarat set as a “sucker bet.” And it very well may be, but that’s no reason to go along to get along, so have a little fun with your next baccarat session and hope you can beat the odds.

Pull the Old “Hit and Run” in a Poker Cash Game

This last one’s especially dirty, but for the contrarians out there, it’s just too good to pass up.

When you find a cash poker game running – something like $1/$2 blinds No Limit Texas Hold’em – take a seat and wait for a great spot to get your money in. Hopefully, your strong hole cards combine with a favorable board, or maybe you “suck out” on somebody by scoring a bad beat.

Poker Table, Silhouette of People Cheering

Either way, if you can clinch the double up, calmly rack up your chips and walk to the cashier’s cage to collect your winnings.

Poker players are accustomed to their opponents giving them a chance to “win my money back” after somebody doubles through them. This means winning one big pot and leaving the game – a practice known as the “hit and run” – is universally reviled.

When you try this one, be sure to rack your newfound chips slowly, while scanning the faces around the table for good measure. You’ll never see so many sullen, surprised faces in your life.

Conclusion

The gambling community, like any other, is bound by norms and customs that aren’t necessarily official rules. Learning to navigate the maze of etiquette and expectations can make the casino floor a scary place, a fact which compels most players to keep their head down and blend in with the crowd.

Contrarians don’t like keeping their heads down though, so if you want to become a rebel with a cause, visit the casino and try your hand at any or all of the tips above.

The Big Number Roulette Strategy (Does It Work?)

People Playing Roulette Casino Game, Numbers in Background
I recently read a post by another gambling writer who offers a roulette strategy. He makes the following claim about this “big number roulette strategy:”

If you use these 2 roulette tricks and combine them with my money management advice, you might reduce the overall negative expectation of the game.

He starts the post by rambling about dice games during the time of Caesar, which seems to be a digression. He follows up by explaining the difference between a roulette trick and a roulette system.

The conclusion he comes to is that there isn’t much of a difference between roulette tricks and roulette systems. A trick, basically, is less complicated than a system.

The idea behind the big number roulette strategy is that you look at the numbers which have hit over the last 20 spins. These are usually posted digitally above the roulette table. You look for a number which has hit multiple times.

The number that’s hit the most often is “the big number.”

When you sit down at the roulette table, you start betting on that big number.

Here’s an Example:
You sit down at the roulette table, and out of the last 20 spins, the number 20 has come up 3 times. The 8 has come up twice, too.

Since both these numbers are “repeaters,” you’re going to bet on each of them each spin.

The Size of Your Bets Using this Roulette Trick

Placing Casino Chips on Roulette Table Number This would be a boring roulette trick if it were this simple, so the blogger includes some additional advice about how to size your bets.

If you’re betting the table minimum, you just place the minimum sized bet on each number.

If you usually bet more than the table minimum, you divide the size of your usual bet by the number of bets you’re making. You’ll rarely be betting on more than 3 numbers at one time, so your bet sizes will usually work like this:

If you’re betting on one number, you’ll just place your normal sized bet.

If you’re betting on 2 numbers, you’ll just bet half of your normal sized bet on each number.

If you’re betting on 3 numbers, you’ll bet about 1/3 of your normal sized bet on each number.

When to Stop Betting with this Trick

The next part of the trick to keep in mind is that you’re supposed to watch the “scoreboard.” When a number disappears from the scoreboard, you stop betting on it.

Stop Sign

It’s possible that at some point there won’t be any repeaters on the scoreboard. When that happens, you stop betting until one of the numbers has started repeating.

His premise is that it takes self-discipline to stop betting. This is true, although—as I’ll explain shortly—it’s not impressive to exercise self-discipline when you’re using a faulty strategy.

The only advantage to sitting out a few rounds of betting is that you’re putting less money into action. Anything you can do to reduce the number of bets you place per hour lowers your predicted hourly loss rate.

Negative Betting

He goes on to explain that some players prefer to bet against numbers which have come up multiple times already. He calls this “negative betting.”

The language he uses to describe this is interesting. He says that this approach is “just as valid” as the strategy he’s presenting.

On this, I agree with him.

Here’s Why:
Betting on a number because it’s come up repeatedly does nothing to improve your odds. Betting against numbers that have already come up does nothing to improve your odds, either.

I’ll have more to say about that shortly, too, but I want to make sure I do a good job of making the case for the big number strategy before offering my critique of it.

Multiple Numbers Repeating a Different Number of Times

I guess one of the questions some roulette players ask about this system is what they should do if multiple numbers have shown up repeatedly but with a different frequency.

For example, if one number has come up 4 times, another number has come up 3 times, and a 3rd number has come up twice, should you change your betting strategy?

Roulette Wheel with Ball, Guy Icon Thinking with Question Mark

The writer’s advice is to stick with the same flat betting amount on each number. The idea is to keep it simple.

Then he offers the most honest piece of information in the entire description of the strategy:

Nothing you do is going to change the fundamental math or probability—that you have a 1/38 probability of winning a single-number bet on an American wheel, and you have a 1/37 probability of winning a single-number bet on a European wheel.

It’s almost as if this writer has multiple personalities, because the implication is that you are doing something worthwhile by betting on the number that’s come up repeatedly.

But according to his statement about the probabilities, you could just bet on any number you want every time you spin the wheel. And there would be no difference.

Other Bets Besides the Straight Up Bet

He goes on to explain that you’re not locked into making the straight single-number bet. That has the best payout (35 to 1), but you can place other bets based on the big number that will hit more frequently, albeit with lower payouts.

Let’s say, for example, that the black 10 has come up repeatedly.

You could place the following bets, all of which pay out at even money—and all of which win closer to 50% of the time:

  • You can bet on black.
  • You can bet on even.
  • You can bet on low.

If you place all 3 of those bets and that black 10 hits again, you’ll win all 3 bets.

You could even place those bets along with some more aggressive bets, like a bet on 1-12, which pays off at 2 to 1. You could even bet the single-number bet in addition to these other bets.

Of course, if you have multiple repeaters, you might be prevented from making some of these bets. If there’s a red repeater AND a black repeater, you wouldn’t bet on black (or red).

Some Tips to Keep in Mind When Using the Big Number Roulette System

He also offers some more tips from his perspective as a “conservative player:”

Silhouette Man Sitting Reading Book on Roulette Tips

  • Don’t make too many bets at the same time. (He doesn’t explain how many bets are too many, though.)
  • Don’t increase the size of your bets when you’re losing. (This is good advice, actually, although it doesn’t matter as much as you might think. After all, when you’re playing a negative expectation game like roulette, you’ll lose all your money eventually anyway if you keep playing.)
  • Don’t bet so much money that you’ll be upset if you lose it. (This is also good advice, actually. You shouldn’t be gambling with money you can’t afford to lose, ever.)
  • Keep your gambling money in a separate bank account. (This is meant to prevent you from mixing your living expenses with your gambling bankroll. I think this is overkill. It reminds me of some of the strategies alcoholics use to try to reign in their drinking. Those strategies never work, by the way. I promise.)

What’s Wrong with this Roulette Strategy?

This post about the big number roulette strategy was one of the stranger posts about roulette strategy that I’ve ever read, because it never gives any justification for why you would want to use this strategy.

I can surmise—based on reading one of the blogger’s books in print—that the idea is to take advantage of a biased wheel, but he doesn’t explain that in the post. He just says, hey, here’s a neat way to bet on roulette that might decrease your negative expectation.

His strategy doesn’t do that, by the way, but I’ll finish his argument for him below:

The idea behind the big number roulette strategy is to take advantage of it when a specific roulette number is “hot.” You’ll read stories about how certain roulette wheels aren’t structurally perfect. If a number is coming up repeatedly, it MIGHT be because of an imperfection in the wheel.

And by betting on that number, you’re taking advantage of that imperfection.

How Realistic Is It That You’re Going to Find a Biased Wheel in Today’s Casinos?

At one time, casinos did have biased roulette wheels on their floors. You can read numerous accounts of gamblers not only getting an edge but winning lots of money taking advantage of such biased wheels. Some gamblers won millions.

Here’s the thing, though:

Modern casinos run a tight ship. Casino equipment is replaced regularly and moved often. Even if you found a biased wheel, it might not be in the same location during the next shift at the casino.

I’d put the odds of actually finding a biased casino at slim to none to begin with.

How would you know if a wheel were biased?

It would take more than 20 spins to have any kind of confidence that a wheel is anything other than random. In fact, it would take more than 200 spins, too.

Roulette Wheel in Motion Spinning

You couldn’t reliably expect to have an idea about an imperfection on a roulette wheel unless you observed at least 2000 spins.

Even then, your confidence level should be low. You’d need 5000 to 10,000 spins to realistically predict which numbers come up more often than they should.

Let’s assume that you can observe an average of 50 spins per hour on a roulette wheel. This means a minimum of 40 hours of observation clocking the wheel before you can have any confidence in your results.

You’d be better off, though, with between 100 and 200 hours of observation.

And since the casino moves the wheels around from time to time, you’d need at least one—possibly 2 or 3 confederates to help you clock the results.

That’s a full time job for all 3 of you.

But consider this, too:

You might spend all that time clocking a wheel only to find that there’s no bias at all.

Or you might spend that time clocking a wheel to find a bias, but it’s not enough of a bias to get an edge over the casino. After all, on an American roulette wheel, the house edge is 5.26%. Even if there’s enough of a bias to cut that in half, you’re still facing a significant edge.

Hot Numbers, Cold Numbers, and the Gamblers Fallacy

The Gamblers Fallacy is the belief that previous results affect subsequent results in independent trials.

A spin of a roulette wheel is an independent event. The probability for an independent event is simple—you divide the number of ways you can win by the total possible number of outcomes.

On a roulette wheel, there are 38 different numbers. With a single number bet, only one of those numbers can win, so the probability is 1/38.

The payoff is 35 to 1, so it’s obvious how the house gets its edge. You’ll lose slightly more often than you should to break even, and the house gets to keep the money.

Roulette Wheel, Ball, Arrows Repeating Cycle

But if the ball lands red 5 times in a row, you’d be forgiven for thinking either of the following:

  1. You should bet on red, because red is hot and more likely to come up on the 6th
  2. You should be on black, because black is overdue. It’s unlikely to see red come up 6 times in a row.
The truth is, though, that the probability doesn’t change on that next spin. Yes, it is unlikely to get a red result 6 times in a row. But you’re not betting on red coming up 6 times in a row. You’re betting on the outcome of the next spin.

Betting on a number because it comes up more often in a set of 20 spins doesn’t change the probability.

Betting against that number doesn’t change the probability either.

Thinking that it does is engaging in the Gamblers Fallacy.

The Problem with So-Called Roulette Strategies like This

Even though the post I read explaining the big number roulette strategy includes multiple disclaimers, it also leads you to believe that you’re somehow going to get an edge over the casino. The author even stated early in the post that even if you can’t get an edge, you might lower your negative expectation.

He contradicts himself later in the post, but at least he was accurate in that later section.

Roulette Board and Wheel

You can’t get an edge at roulette. The house edge for the game is almost carved into stone. It’s not something you can change by following trends.

It might be fun to bet this way.

But in no way does it reduce the house’s inherent mathematical edge against you.

Keeping your gambling funds in a separate bank account, watching the size of your bets, and betting on a number that’s come up repeatedly in the last 20 spins does nothing to help you succeed at roulette.

Conclusion

The big number “roulette trick” is just a strategy for betting on roulette that exemplifies the Gamblers Fallacy in action. A big number roulette bettor looks for a number or multiple numbers that have come up repeatedly in the last 20 spins. He then places single number bets on that number. Or he makes broader bets based on the color of the number, or whether it’s even or odd, or whether it’s in the 1st, 2nd or 3rd dozen.

The problem with the strategy is that it doesn’t work in the long run.

Sure, you can sometimes hit a win with a strategy like this.

But your probability of hitting a win with a strategy like this is no better than it would be if you just chose a different number every spin of the wheel.

I don’t like posts that promote this kind of betting strategy, even when such a post includes disclaimers. I want to be really firm about this:

I don’t recommend using the big number roulette strategy.

It doesn’t work in the long run, and it offers no advantages over any other “strategy” for the game. It might be entertaining, but I don’t think it’s much more entertaining than just playing roulette haphazardly.

Why You Should Play Table Games Instead of Slot Machines

Half of an Online Table Game, Half of an Online Slot Machine, VS in White in the Middle
I’m a firm believer that all online casino gamblers would be better off if they dropped online gambling slot machines from their repertoire altogether and stuck with the online table games.

You’ll have more fun and lose less money in the long run if you stick with online table games like blackjack, craps, and even roulette.

This post looks at the math behind the games and why table games are so much better for the player. I also offer some recommendations about which online table games to try and why.

How Average Losses Work in Casino Games

All casino games have a built-in edge for the casino. This “house edge” can be expressed as an average amount of each bet you can expect to lose in the long run, and that number is always expressed as a percentage.

Cartoon Guy in Suit Winking, Holding One Money Bag Titled RTP, Another Money Bag Titled House Edge

If you’re playing a game with a 5% house edge and betting $10 per round, your expected loss per bet in the long run is 50 cents.

Obviously, the more bets you place, the higher your expected loss is.

One way to look at casino games is to look at how much money you can expect to lose per hour when you’re playing them.

That formula is simple:
Average bet size X number of bets per hour X house edge = expected hourly loss

If you’re playing an online slot machine with a house edge of 5%, and you’re spinning the reels at 600 spins per hour, and you’re betting $1 per spin, your expected loss is easy to calculate:

$1 X 600 bets per hour X 5% = $30/hour

This is, of course, an estimate, but if you gamble long enough, your actual results should start to resemble the mathematically predicted results.

If you lower any of those 3 factors, you can reduce the expected loss per hour.

For example, if you decide to play slot machines half as fast as the average person, your expected loss per hour drops to $15 instead of $30—even though you’re playing the same game at the same stakes.

This leads right into my discussion of why table games are better even though they seem like they’d be more expensive.

Why It Only Seems Like Table Games Are More Expensive

The minimum bet at most table games in most online gambling sites is $5 or $10. For a slot machine player who only bets $1 per spin, that might sound like a lot of money.

i
But online table games play so much more slowly than online slot machines that it’s actually cheaper in the long run to play the table games.

Also, the house edge for most table games is lower than the house edge for most gambling machines.

Finding a slot machine with a house edge of only 5% is a trick in itself. At most online casinos, the house edge for an average slot machine is probably closer to 10%.

Even roulette, with its house edge of 5.26%, is better than that.

Screenshot of Online Roulette Casino Game

But look at it from the perspective of your average loss per hour:

Let’s say you’re playing online roulette for $5 per spin. You’re probably looking at 50 bets per hour, maximum. And you already know that the house edge is 5.26%.

Your average loss per hour on this roulette game is:

$5 X 50 bets per hour X 5.26% = $13.15

That’s less than half of your expected loss on the slot machine you’re playing for $1 per spin, even though you’re wagering 5 times as much per spin.

Look at a game like blackjack, where if you learn basic strategy, you can get the house edge down to 1%. If you’re at a table where the dealer is getting in 70 hands per hour, you’re looking at the following average loss:

$5 X 70 bets per hour X 1% = $3.50

I don’t know of many forms of entertainment as fun as blackjack for $3.50 per hour.

It’s Okay to Ask the Dealer Questions

You might have other objections to playing online table games instead of online slot machines. Maybe you’re afraid that you won’t know how to play.

Here’s the thing about that:

You can learn to play most table games in practically no time at all. The casinos, in fact, have a vested interest in making the games easy for you to learn so that you’ll be more likely to play.

i
Most casinos even offer free classes in various table games. These classes are usually held during the day when the tables are slow anyway. Think mid-morning, like 10am.

You can also find online casino game tutorials all over the internet. Free versions of these games are also available. Between the tutorials and the free games, it should be easy to learn to play any casino table game you can imagine.

Don’t be shy about asking a dealer questions while you’re playing. My partner and I visited a casino recently, and he sat down to play Mississippi Stud without ever having played before. We were the only 2 players at the table for most of the night, and the dealer had no problem explaining how to play the game.

We had a blast, and we didn’t lose much money that night, either. We wound up with some good hands early, so we ratholed enough winnings that we were playing with house money for the rest of the night.

Which Table Games Should You Play?

Screenshot of Variety Online Table Casino Games, Red with Yellow Shadow Question Mark Over It
ANY online table game is better than an online slot machine.

But some online table games are better than others.

Your temperament makes a difference, too.

The game with the best odds in almost any casino is blackjack, but to achieve that low house edge of between 0.5% and 1%, you must learn basic strategy. If you’re not willing to learn it, you can also bring a basic strategy chart to the table with you and consult it on every hand.

I see that advice a lot, but I’ve never actually seen a player with a basic strategy chart at the table. I think most people memorize it or just use their best guess. I think most gamblers are afraid they won’t look “cool” if they use a basic strategy chart.

Craps is another table game you should consider. It’s fun and exciting, and the house edge is relatively low if you stick with the basic bets (pass, come, and odds).

The drawback with craps is that it can seem overwhelming if you’re not familiar with the game. Luckily, it’s easier to play than most people think. And once you get it, you’ve got it.

Roulette gets looked down on by a lot of “serious” gamblers because the house edge is so high compared to other games.

Those snobs who ignore roulette aren’t taking into account the relatively sedate nature of the game. Most roulette tables, especially the full ones, are moving so slowly that you’re only placing 30 to 50 bets per hour.

This means that your losses are correspondingly lower, too, because you’re just not putting that much money into action per hour.

The even-money bets on the roulette table are ideal for betting systems like the Martingale, of which I’m a fan. That puts me in the minority, but I love the Martingale system.

The trick with the Martingale is to accept that it won’t work in the long run.

But in the short run, if you keep your playing session slow enough, you can actually improve your probability of walking away a winner.

You just have to accept that you’re going to walk away a big loser some of the time, too.

And when you average those big losing sessions with the smaller winning sessions, you’ll still be a net loser.

The new breed of poker-based table games are all fun in their way, too, and many of them include a strategic element. My partner loves Mississippi Stud, for example, but I’m a bigger fan of Let It Ride. I think most players probably prefer Mississippi Stud.

The bottom line is that you should be willing to learn and try any table game in the casino until you find one that you love.

Conclusion

Now that you’ve explored the differences between table games and gambling machines, are you willing to switch from one to the other?

Or were you already playing table games some (or all) the time already?

Let me know if your gambling habits will change based on this information in the comments.

How to Use Bitcoin at Online Casinos

Figure Icon Holding Guide, Laptop Displaying Online Casino Game, Bitcoin Wallpaper
You’ve likely heard of Bitcoin at some point within the last year. This digital currency is constantly in the headlines for its quick price increases and decreases.

Many people look at Bitcoin (BTC) as an investment. After all, it’s gone from being worth $0.01 per coin when it was launched in 2009 up to $5,000 at the time of this post.

However, BTC has more utility beyond just investing. It can also be used as a currency for online services and products.

The currency aspect means that you can use this on Bitcoin gambling sites. It serves as a suitable alternative to fiat currencies like USD, EUR, and GBP.

Of course, Bitcoin’s relatively short existence means that many gamblers are still in the dark about using it. If you’re also in this boat, then keep reading as I cover everything you need to know about betting with BTC and other cryptocurrencies.

What Is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer digital currency that’s based on blockchain technology. The peer-to-peer aspect means that transactions are made directly between two parties, with no middleman in between.

Blockchain refers to the platform that BTC runs on. The blockchain is a publicly available online ledger that shows all Bitcoin transactions. Open-source blockchain allows anybody to see various transactions that people make on a daily basis.

Bitcoin CryptocurrencyThe Bitcoin Network requires nodes, which are server farms and terminals run by “miners.” The miners are extremely important with regard to producing new BTC units and authenticating each transaction.

They solve computational puzzles via their computers to accomplish these tasks. In exchange for their work, miners received small amounts of Bitcoin.

A miner should not be looked at as middleman. Instead, they merely help produce BTC units and record transactions.

Contrast this to companies like Visa, PayPal, and Bank of America. They all have some degree of control over their customers’ ability to purchase items.

These companies have the power to block any transaction at any time. Miners, on the other hand, don’t have the authority to determine which transactions can and can’t go through.

Why Should You Care about Gambling with Bitcoin

The decentralization of Bitcoin makes it a perfect choice for gambling in certain circumstances. Generally speaking, you get a lot of value out of BTC when your native country has restrictive online gaming laws.

The US is a great example, because they have a law in place called the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). The UIGEA doesn’t make it illegal to place online bets. It instead prevents financial institutions from legally processing unlawful gambling transactions.

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What constitutes unlawful in this situation?

Any bet that’s placed outside of a regulated market is considered illicit (although not automatically illegal).

Outlined Map of US StatesSome states like New Jersey and Delaware have regulated online gambling markets. Therefore, banks and other financial institutions are able to serve residents of their states.

But the vast majority of America hasn’t made a decision on internet gaming one way or another. All of these states are still subject to the UIGEA.

Bitcoin offers a way to still gamble online in lieu of other options. Given that it’s not controlled by a bank or government, it can be used freely to place online bets as long as the activity isn’t explicitly deemed illegal.

If you live in a state like Washington, where it’s illegal to gamble online, then you’re breaking the law by betting with Bitcoin or any other currency. But if you’re in a state like Ohio, which hasn’t made any determination on internet gaming, then you’re within your right to enjoy gambling on online Bitcoin casinos.

Decentralization isn’t Bitcoin’s only advantage. It also offers other perks, such as low fees and fast transactions.

I’ll discuss the benefits towards the end of this post. But for now, I want to express how important Bitcoin’s decentralization is to its gambling utility.

Steps to Playing at a Bitcoin Casino

Playing at online Bitcoin casinos present some challenges in the beginning. However, none of these obstacles are overly difficult to overcome.

Everything starts with purchasing your Bitcoin at an exchange; the rest is downhill from here. The following steps will provide everything you need to know about buying this cryptocurrency and using it at Bitcoin casinos.

Buy Bitcoin

Before you can use Bitcoin, you need to acquire it in some manner or another. Perhaps you’re lucky enough to have a friend or relative who’ll send you a little BTC and get you started.

Hand Holding Money Bag with Bitcoin Logo. Hand Holding Out for Bag

But the more-likely scenario is that you’ll have to purchase Bitcoin on your own. This process begins with finding an exchange that lets you buy cryptocurrency with fiat.

For Example:
Coinbase and Gemini are two popular sites where you can purchase BTC. You need to register for an account and deposit at such exchanges.

The registration process is just as simple as signing up at an online casino. You merely need to provide the Bitcoin online casino simple details, such as your name, email, address, and desired password.

Signing into your account is a little trickier, because some banks and credit card companies block cryptocurrency transactions. You’ll have to selectively choose which banking method you wish to fund your account with.

The good news is that there are still plenty of financial institutions that let you purchase cryptocurrencies. Your chosen exchange will show you what options are available.

Once you have a valid banking method on file, you need to determine how much BTC you wish to purchase. Most sites require you to spend a minimum of $20.

When you enter the fiat value that you’re spending, the software will show you how much BTC it will provide. Keep in mind that exchanges take a small amount out of each transaction.

Once you verify the transaction, you simply need to wait for the miners to approve it. Depending upon the network congestion, this could take anywhere from a few minutes to hours. Luckily, you won’t be waiting very long in most cases.

Decide Where to Store Your Bitcoin

After buying BTC, you need to figure out where to store it.

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Options include an online wallet, hardware wallet, or an exchange like the one where your purchase was made.

The term Bitcoin wallet can be slightly misleading, because it doesn’t actually store your coins like a regular wallet. The blockchain is actually where your coins are stored.

The wallet instead gives you access to BTC. You need to know your public and private keys to gain this access.

E-Wallet with Card Coming Out, Security Lock on TopA public key refers to the address that you use to receive Bitcoin, while the private key is used to send it. You need to be especially careful with the private key, because it protects your wallet’s security.

You can find various websites that’ll walk you through the process of creating and using your wallet. Blockchain.info and Bitcoin.org are two such examples.

A hardware wallet (a.k.a. cold storage) allows you to store your coins offline. Ledger and Trezor are two examples of such cold storage.

Hackers are unable to get to your Bitcoin when it’s offline. Online wallets also prevent hackers from getting to your coins as long as they never get a hold of your private key.

If you only have a small amount BTC or just don’t want to go through the hassle of getting a wallet, then you can simply keep your coins on an exchange. This method is quick and convenient, especially since you can buy Bitcoin and immediately send it to your chosen casino.

The downside, though, is that you don’t have complete control of your Bitcoin in this instance. Sure, you can choose when and where to send your funds. But the exchange also has some degree of control over your crypto.

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They could get hacked and lose a significant amount of cryptocurrencies, rendering them unable to pay you and others back. The exchange could also somehow make a mistake with your account and refuse to make it right.

Luckily, these problems aren’t common at some of the bigger exchanges. But you can never rule out the possibility.

These potential downfalls are why some cryptocurrency enthusiasts adamantly recommend that you have your own wallet. As long as you have access to your public and private keys, you control everything regarding your coins.

Deposit Your Bitcoin at the Casino

Regardless of where you store your Bitcoin, the next step is to send it to your preferred online Bitcoin casino. To do this, you’ll need a BTC wallet address from the gaming site.

You find this by visiting the online casino’s banking section and choosing Bitcoin from the available options. This is the area where you can generate a wallet address, which will serve as the recipient in this transaction.

Sending Bitcoin to Online Casino, Bitcoins Coming From Phone

The next step is to go wherever you’re storing your coins. Whether it be an exchange or a wallet, you need to choose how much BTC you wish to send to the casino.

Near the end, you’ll be prompted to enter the recipient’s address (casino). You then simply need to verify the transaction and wait for your funds to arrive.

As mentioned earlier, the process can take anywhere from a few moments to hours. You’re normally be dealing with the shorter end of this range.

The only time that you’ll have to wait hours is if BTC transactions are happening frequently. The biggest problems could be seen in December 2017, when Bitcoin was in the midst of a huge bull run.

Outside of these rare instances, though, the transaction speeds are relatively quick. BTC doesn’t move as fast as credit cards, but it can outdo eWallets and bank transfers.

Start Playing with BTC (Or Not)

The final step is to start playing casino games with your Bitcoin. Depending upon the chosen Bitcoin casino, your bets will either be listed in fiat value or BTC.

In the former case, you make a deposit on online Bitcoin casinos like normal. But your wagers will be measured in popular fiat currencies, including US dollar, British pound, or euro.

This situation is perfect if you’re unfamiliar with Bitcoin denominations and simply want to stick with what you know. But certain online casinos only offer betting in cryptocurrency denominations.

Luckily, you don’t need to know all of the denominations (there are eight). You simply need to know that a milliBitcoin (mBTC) equals a one-thousandth of a full Bitcoin. An mBTC relates most closely to smaller dollar figures.

For Example:
One mBTC currently equals around $5 at the time of this writing.

Regardless of the situation, you shouldn’t have much difficulty using Bitcoin to play at online casinos. You merely need to know the value of mBTC at the point when you’re playing.

Pros of Gambling with Bitcoin

Green Check MarkI’ve already touched on some advantages of playing online casino games with Bitcoin. But I’d like to go more in-depth on the multiple benefits that this cryptocurrency offers gamblers.

Play from Almost Anywhere with This Decentralized Currency

Again, BTC is a decentralized currency. No government, bank, or credit card company can freeze your transactions.

The government can potentially seize coins in criminal cases. For example, the US feds seized 140,000 Bitcoins after the Silk Road bust.

However, a central government can’t force Bitcoin to apply to financial laws like they can banks and other institutions. The BTC Network is autonomous and can’t be stopped by authority figures.

Pay Lower Fees Than with Credit Cards & EWallets

When you deposit in traditional payment methods like Visa, Mastercard, Neteller, and PayPal, you need to pay fees to these companies. You don’t, however, need to do the same with Bitcoin.

The only fees are those paid to the miners for their work. But these costs don’t typically amount to much.

You can actually choose how much you’re willing to spend per transaction for miners to do the work. The advantage of offering a higher amount is that they’ll take on your transaction faster. But you can also pay less and simply wait longer.

Even when you do offer more, you’ll generally pay less than 1% of the total transaction. In contrast, eWallets and credit cards can take up to 3% or more of your funds.

Deposit Anonymously

The problem with having a bank or credit card company standing in the middle of your transactions is that they know exactly who’s sending money where. Bitcoin, in contrast, doesn’t have anybody overseeing your purchases.

Money Bag with Bitcoin Logo, Anonymous Silhouette of Guy with Tux

Your Bitcoin online casino deposit will be anonymous in almost every case. The only time when this isn’t true is if you’re the subject of a federal case.

In this scenario, the government may put in a full-force effort to learn who’s behind a wallet address. But doing so is extremely hard when considering that wallet addresses give no personal information on the users.

In short, you can deposit at Bitcoin online casinos anytime without worrying about somebody seeing the transactions appear on a statement with your name.

Get a Bitcoin Casino Bonus

Some Bitcoin online casinos offer special bonuses to those who deposit with Bitcoin. These sites want to steer players towards BTC, because it means that they don’t get hit with big fees and have to deal with too many customers’ transactions being rejected.

Bitcoin-only casinos of course offer bonuses in this currency too. You can look forward to pretty huge fees in some cases, ranging up to 1 BTC (currently around $5k).

Here’s an example of what one of these offers looks like:

  • A casino is offering a 100% match bonus up to 0.1 BTC (currently $500).
  • You deposit 0.05 Bitcoin.
  • You’re now qualified to earn up to a 0.05 BTC bonus.

You need to meet terms and conditions on the offer before being able to withdraw the money. But you can see that these bonuses work just the same as those offered in fiat values.

Make Quick BTC Deposits at Online Casinos

One more big advantage to depositing with Bitcoin is that you can look forward to fast transactions. In many cases, your deposits will be completed in less than an hour.

BTC transaction speed will probably never compete with major credit cards, which can process over 20,000 transactions per second. But they at least outperform eWallets and bank transfers, which often take days to process transactions.

Cons of Gambling with Bitcoin

Red X MarkYou can tell that I’m high on BTC when it comes to online gambling. However, I’d like to paint a complete picture by also covering some of the downsides associated with this digital currency.

Bitcoin Network Isn’t Built for Large Volume

The Bitcoin Network can be brought to its knees with too many transactions. I mentioned December 2017 earlier, because this bull run brought on numerous transactions.

Many people wanted to invest in this skyrocketing asset. The same people found themselves waiting for hours or even days to receive the BTC they purchased.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, transaction fees were at an all-time high. They peeked towards the end of 2017, hitting an average of $48 per transaction.

Luckily these fees and wait times have been drastically reduced. Furthermore, developers have released a Lightning Network that speeds up the amount of transactions per second.

Nevertheless, another bull run could cripple the network once again. Things likely won’t be as bad as they got in late 2017, but even Lightning Network won’t make BTC run as smoothly as Visa.

BTC Experiences Lots of Volatility

Much is made about the volatile swings associated with Bitcoin. The market can see as much as 10% or 20% swings in a single day.

Graph Showing Volatility Going Up and Down, 20% and 10%, Bitcoins on Graph Bars

Such massive changes aren’t commonly seen. But the potential is always there for extreme volatility.

Sometimes you benefit from these moves, while other times your bankroll will take a hit. If you’d rather do your gambling in the casino, then BTC may not be for you.

You Must Learn How to Gamble with Bitcoin

Some online casinos don’t require you to play in Bitcoin denominations. In other situations, your bets will be measured in this cryptocurrency.

I discussed earlier that you shouldn’t have too difficult of a time learning how to place bets with crypto. The main thing you need to understand is how much an mBTC is worth.

Even still, you may find it slightly frustrating to have to constantly think about how much each mBTC is worth in your native currency.

Easier to Lose Track of Your Funds

You shouldn’t have trouble keeping track of your Bitcoin as long as you leave it on an exchange. But I covered earlier that keeping crypto on an exchange has some notable downsides, including that you don’t totally control your coins.

Wallet with Cash and Bitcoin Coming Out, Silhouette of Guy Scratching His Head, Casino DiceOf course, the difficulty with using an online or hardware wallet is that you could potentially lose your funds. All you need to do is forget your private key and your access to the online wallet is gone. You can also lose your cold storage wallet and have the same problem happen.

You won’t have to deal with the same problem with a bank. These institutions safeguard your deposits so that you don’t have to worry about the matter.

Conclusion

Gambling on online Bitcoin casinos can be an intimidating task if you’re used to playing with USD, EUR, or another accepted currency. But you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting adjusted to using BTC at gaming sites.

You can start playing in a few simple steps. The first matter is to buy Bitcoin with fiat.

For Example:
You can buy Bitcoin at exchanges like Coinbase and Gemini.

Next, you need to figure out where to store your BTC until sending it to the casino. The simplest option is to keep it on the exchange. But you only have full control over coins when they’re in your online or hardware wallet.

Once you have BTC and figure out where to store it, you can proceed to making a deposit at the casino. Their banking section will generate a wallet address upon selecting the Bitcoin option. You use this address as your recipient when sending coins from either the exchange or wallet.

The final step is to begin enjoying casino games with BTC. Some Bitcoin online casinos have you bet in fiat values, while others show wagers in mBTC.

This cryptocurrency offers a perfect alternative to funding a casino account when credit cards, eWallets, or bank transfers aren’t an option. Bitcoin even has some advantages over these payment methods, with the most-notable being decentralization.

That said, you should seriously consider playing online casino games with this crypto if you’re looking for a reliable option.

Zero House Edge Blockchain Casinos — Are There Any Downsides?

Woman Playing Online Roulette on Laptop, Blockchain Background, Question Marks
Online casinos traditionally hold an edge on the games they offer. They need this advantage to ensure long-term profits and make it worth their while.

But a new wave of online casinos are being released that promise something very rare up until this point — no house advantage!

Zero house edge casinos are in the works or already being released on blockchain platforms, including Edgeless and Zero Edge. The proposition here is simple: you play online casino games without facing a house advantage.

This setup sounds too good to be true. You’re essentially flipping coins with the casino, because they have no advantage.

What’s the catch to no house edge casinos? I’m going to first explain more on these gaming apps along with if there are any downsides to using them.

What Is a No House Edge Casino? What is Blockchain?

A zero house edge casino is one that doesn’t have an advantage on their games. Such a characteristic is virtually unheard of in the gaming world, given that casinos rely on a house edge to guarantee themselves profits.

You can therefore play a game like blackjack or roulette without being at a disadvantage. Furthermore, you have a 50% chance of winning each bet.

This new breed of zero house edge casinos are running as decentralized apps (DApps) on blockchain technology.

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The decentralized aspect means that these apps will eventually run autonomously and can’t be controlled by anybody, including the founders.

A DApps’ transactions (bets in this case) are stored on the blockchain for anyone to see. Blockchain therefore serves as a digital ledger for the bets.

How Does a Casino Benefit from Zero House Edge Games?

These types of casinos benefit from their services in two ways. The first is that they run an initial coin offering (ICO) and keep some of the tokens.

Crypto Currency Tokens Pushed Towards Dice Table GameAn ICO is when a cryptocurrency/blockchain project allows people to invest by purchasing tokens. The goal of every investor is to see their tokens appreciate in value.

By keeping a portion of the tokens, founders benefit by retaining some of the project’s value. They also hope that their stake will increase in value at some point in the future.

The second way that zero house edge casinos make money is through skill-based games. A game like online blackjack or online video poker has a variable house edge based on your skills.

If make the right decisions, you lower the house advantage to its lowest point. But any strategy mistakes that you make will lower your chances of winning.

You have to use perfect strategy to reduce the house edge to zero with these games. Considering that the average player isn’t perfect, they’ll be at a slight disadvantage.

Edgeless casino, for example, expects to have a total advantage of 0.83% in their blackjack and video poker games. The absence of a house edge is only theoretical in the case of skill-based games.

Of course, many gamblers will still be interested in these DApps when considering that there’s no built-in casino edge.

Advantages of No House Edge Casinos

The main benefit to playing at zero house edge sites is obvious, because you have a stronger chance of winning. But I’m going to further expand on this advantage and others below.

You’re Flipping Coins with a Casino

I’ve mentioned multiple times that online casinos traditionally hold an edge over players. They don’t make their money by offering 50/50 propositions to customers.

No house edge operations differ, though, because they theoretically give you a 50% chance of winning. You’re basically flipping a coin with them.

Roulette Wheel and Table, 0% House Edge

No house edge roulette is a perfect example, because it doesn’t have a single or double zero pocket like other versions. The lack of these casino-friendly pockets puts you on equal footing with the house.

In other cases, you must use perfect strategy to lower the casino advantage to 0%. However, you’ll still find it worth playing with these DApps over regular casinos.

You Have a Stronger Chance to Win Money

Expanding on the first point, you have a better opportunity to earn money due to the lack of a house edge. This is especially true if you’re playing a non-skilled game like roulette, where your chances of winning aren’t dependent upon strategy.

Of course, you can still log off a loser at the end of the day. But your odds of earning profits are equally as good with no house edge operations.

You may have had big nights before at regular casinos that do have an advantage. Just imagine how many more times you’ll experience winning sessions when there’s no casino edge.

Your Tokens (Bankroll) Could Gain Value

Investing in cryptocurrencies is a volatile activity that’s often compared to gambling. The crypto industry is essentially the wild west of Investments, considering that the market can rise and fall by 10% on any given day.

If you have the gambling spirit, then you may appreciate that your casino tokens can gain significant value overnight. The tokens behind no house edge DApps are available on cryptocurrency exchanges or through ICOs (if still ongoing).

Some people don’t even buy these tokens for gambling purposes. They’re instead only speculating that the prices will rise.

Laptop with Bitcoin in Shopping Basket, Man in Suit

The more people who buy and hold (a.k.a. hodl) these cryptocurrencies, the better chances your bankroll has of increasing in value.

You Don’t Have to Leave Money on the Casino — Like at Similar Sites

Zero house edge casinos aren’t a totally new concept. In fact, certain non-blockchain casino sites have already done this.

Just like the blockchain versions, these gaming sites need incentive to run their operations. This incentive comes in the form of keeping a portion of your withdrawals.

If you cash out $100 at one of these casinos, for example, then they may take 10% of the value. They sell this idea by pointing out that you can choose when to withdraw money.

But the point is that you’ll eventually have to leave some of your funds on the casino. The blockchain casino-based versions, however, allow you to cash out everything.

Potential Drawbacks to Zero House Edge Casinos

No house edge DApps seemingly have a big advantage over regular online casinos at face value. But they still have some notable downsides that you want to take into account before depositing.

Your Tokens Could Depreciate

I discussed earlier how one of the benefits to these casinos is that your bankroll could quickly increase in value. But you also have to consider the reverse in that your tokens could be worth much less in the future.

Crypto is among the riskiest investments in the world. Zero house edge casinos are no different, because they don’t currently have mainstream adoption.

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Your tokens could very possibly increase tenfold or more in the future. But you’re just as likely to lose most of the money you’ve invested in these tokens as well.

You’re Helping the Founders Get Rich

Assuming no house edge DApps do take off, then the founders of these projects are going to be very wealthy. After all, each project’s founders retain a notable percentage of the ICO tokens.

You may be perfectly fine with this as long as you get to enjoy the advantages of zero house edge gambling. Furthermore, you might also benefit right along with them as your tokens get a boost.

On the other hand, you might not be thrilled about helping others get rich. This point all depends on your mindset about the matter.

Zero House Edge Apps Are Unproven

Online casinos first launched in the mid-1990s. Many were skeptical about them, given that remote sites were handling their money.

Over time, internet casinos have largely proven themselves to be reputable operations. Some bad apples exist, but the majority of sites offer fair gaming and process cashouts in a timely manner.

The cryptocurrency world and blockchain projects in general have yet to gain the same approval. In fact, Bitcoin — the leading cryptocurrency project — is sometimes labeled a “scam” by prominent investors.

Considering that the new wave of no house edge casinos are blockchain-based, they have a lot to prove before becoming reliable options. Many gamblers who hear of these DApps are hesitant to buy, even when considering the lack of a house advantage.

The Founders Could Be Scamming You — Like Many ICOs

2018 was the year of the ICO. Many cryptocurrency investors rushed to pour money into these new projects, given the previous successes of Ethereum, Ripple, Stellar, and other crypto.

However, many of the same people were absolutely burned by scammy ICOs. Some proposed projects flat out took people’s money and ran.

Woman on Laptop Researching, Cryptocurrency

An easy way to avoid being victimized by these scams is to thoroughly research projects and the teams behind them. Even still, you may be investing into a bad idea and/or an unmotivated team.

You must be cautious about buying tokens from new zero house edge casinos. You have little guarantee that the operation will work as advertised.

Conclusion

In theory, zero house edge casinos are a gambler’s dream. They remove the house advantage and provide a better chance to win.

These types of casinos aren’t a revolutionary concept. Such gaming sites exist already and make their money by forcing gamblers to give up a portion of their withdrawals (typically 10%).

But the new wave of no house edge casinos are popping up as DApps through blockchain technology. Their founders earn money through different ways, including keeping a portion of the distributed ICO tokens and offering skill-based games.

Regarding the latter, most gamblers don’t play perfect blackjack or video poker. They make strategy mistakes here and there, which effectively increase the house edge.

The founders earn their revenue by speculating on the token value and players’ strategy mistakes. These profit-earning methods seem favorable to giving up a portion of your cashout.

Of course, you also have to consider the downsides to these casinos. They’re unproven, the token value (your bankroll) could depreciate, and the founders could be scamming you.

2018 was rife with questionable ICOs, as many new DApp developers raised millions of dollars on half-baked ideas and outright scams. The current zero house edge casino projects must soon prove themselves to avoid the scam category.

The idea of such blockchain casinos is still relatively new. Only time will tell if they can live up to their promise and offer reliable gaming services.

My hope is that they do, because who doesn’t want to play at a casino with no house edge?

The 6 Best Places to Play Craps on Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas

Downtown Las Vegas Fremont Street, Shoot To Win Craps Icon
Perhaps more so than any other casino game, craps inspires an aura of mystique around its crowded tables.

When the dice are tumbling just right – nailing point numbers like clockwork and dodging the dreaded 7 at every turn – recreational gamblers and hardcore craps experts alike come together in an unmistakable scene. Perfect strangers suddenly find themselves hugging and high-fiving, and maybe even shouting to the heavens in celebration when the shooter tosses yet another perfect roll.

Curious onlookers gather around, craning their necks to see the table’s intricate betting layout covered with chips. The excitement is positively contagious, so much so that simply watching a packed craps table can be more exhilarating than playing many other casino offerings.

Craps is also capable of producing legitimate gambling legends like Stanley Fujitake and his fellow “Golden Arm” club members.

History of Winning Big on Fremont Downtown Craps

Back in 1989, while visiting Downtown Las Vegas on a lark, Fujitake strolled into the California Hotel and Casino to play a little craps.

Well, I shouldn’t say “little,” because despite starting with the table minimum of $5 on the Pass Line, Fujitake wound up cleaning the California out. And I do mean “cleaned out” too, as the Hawaiian tourist wound up rolling 118 times in a row without sevening out. He hit 18 point numbers for the Pass Line winner over that span, which lasted a whopping 3 hours and 6 minutes to set a world record for longest consecutive craps roll.

Las Vegas California Casino Building, Cash Bills Falling Down, Silhouette Guy Cheering

You can learn more about Fujitake’s record-setting roll here in this profile by the Los Angeles Times.

But take it from John Repetti – the California’s casino manager who watched in a mix of shock and awe as a low-stakes gambler walked in off Fremont Street and proceeded to roll pure like nobody else ever had:

“The first call came and he’d been shooting for an hour, and we were losing a couple hundred thousand dollars at the time. I said if he continued, to call me at every $100,000 loss interval.

Well, the calls kept coming every 15 minutes. Another $100,000. And another $100,000. After the fourth call and fifth call, I decided I’d better get some clothes on and get downtown.”

Fujitake’s record was eventually broken by a recreational player in Atlantic City, but his legacy lives on in Downtown Las Vegas.

Every year, Fujitake and his fellow “Golden Arms” – a distinction held by anybody documented to have rolled for one hour consecutively without sevening out – convene every year at the California for a special craps tournament.

And if this florid description of the Golden Arms arriving to the tables like rock stars doesn’t do it for you, craps just isn’t your game:

“On a recent Saturday night, Favela and other Golden Arms had descended on the craps tables after attending a banquet honoring their achievements.

There was Garton Mau, who rolled 59 minutes that night – an impressive 72 rolls – and who already was a four-time Golden Arm.

Masao Yamamoto, 82, is the only blind Golden Arm and previously had rolled for an hour and 24 minutes.

Lionel Cazimero and his wife, Alicia Cazimero, had reached 1:28 and 1:04, respectively.

When they all strolled into the pit, it looked like the 1927 Yankees taking the field.”

It’s not every day that ordinary gamblers can be compared to the vaunted 1927 edition of the “Bronx Bombers,” but that’s exactly what happens when you roll the bones in Downtown Las Vegas.

While the big corporate casinos on The Strip water their tables down with 3x-4x-5x- capped Odds bets and other restrictions, the old gambling halls lining Fremont Street still cater to craps purists.

So if you want to play the game as the gambling gods intended, check out the list below to find the six best places to play craps in Downtown Las Vegas.

1 – The D Las Vegas

The D Las Vegas Casino Building
Previously known as the Sundance Hotel, and then the Irish-themed Fitzgerald’s Casino, The D Las Vegas was renovated from the ground up in 2012.

And along with modern digs and luxurious amenities on par with The Strip’s mega-resorts, The D is home to the best craps tables in the Downtown district.

You won’t find the old 100x limit on Odds bets any longer, but The D does have a juicy 10x cap on the Odds to give bold players a chance to shoot for the moon.

The minimum Pass Line or Don’t Pass wager at The D stands at just $5 too, so low-stakes players won’t find themselves boxed out of the attractive 10x Odds. As for the high-roller set, maximum limits climb to $5,000.

And adding to the player advantages, The D’s pair of craps tables also offers the 3 to 1 payout (Triple) when you land a 12 with the Field bet working.

All things considered, The D does its part to keep Downtown Las Vegas’ legacy as craps capital of the world alive and kicking.

2 – Plaza Hotel & Casino

Plaza Las Vegas Casino Building
For nearly 50 years now, craps players have considered the Plaza to be their home away from home.

The two standard craps tables at the Plaza utilize the same 10x Odds / $5 minimum / Triple on 12 for the Field setup as The D.

And you’ll also find a variant known as “Crapsless Craps,” which turns the 2, 3, and 12 into point numbers instead of losers on the come out roll. Crapsless Craps might sound appealing, but the house edge on this gimmick game climbs to 5.38 percent, making it a bad bet for sharp craps enthusiasts to avoid.

3 – Golden Gate Casino Hotel

Las Vegas Casino Golden Gate Building
The oldest continuously operated casino in all of America, the Golden Gate is truly an iconic relic from Sin City’s golden era.

Everything about this place instills a sense of history, making it the perfect place for gamblers who appreciate the past to spend a session at the craps table.

And those tables are quite attractive too, with Golden Gate running a pair of games with $5 minimum bets, 10x on the Odds, and Triple for 12 on the Field.

4 – El Cortez Hotel & Casino

Las Vegas Casino El Cortez Building
The last of Downtown’s 10x Odds craps tables can be found at the eclectic El Cortez.

Once again, you’ll find two tables running here, each using the familiar $5 minimum / 10x Odds / Triple on 12 for the Field structure craps diehards know and love.

5 – Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino

Las Vegas Casino Downtown Grand Building
Odds bets at the Downtown Grand are capped at 5x rather than 10x, so it’s always going to play second fiddle to the foursome found above.

Nonetheless, for a change of scenery, the Downtown Grand’s low $5 minimum and Triple on 12 for the Field make it a decent backup plan when the dice aren’t cooperating elsewhere.

6 – Binion’s Horseshoe Gambling Hall

Las Vegas Casino Binions Building
Binion’s Horseshoe was once the most popular casino in all of Sin City, home to the World Series of Poker (WSOP) and limitless wagering for ultra-high-rollers.

The old gambling hall has seen better days, but if you want to roll for $3 minimums instead of $5, Binion’s is the ticket. Odds are capped at 2x on the $3 table, but you’ll find 5x Odds for $5 minimum on three more games.

Conclusion

Craps players, perhaps more than any other gambler subset, can quickly deduce when a casino is trying to get one over on them. Limiting the Odds bet to 3x-4x-5x, or even lower, might work on the unsuspecting tourists who hit The Strip, but those tricks won’t work on informed players. And that means you, now that you know all about the attractive craps games found on famous Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas.

Should You Use MST Gift Cards at US Casinos?

Guy on Computer, Playing Casino Game, MST Gift Card, Slot Machine Background
US-facing online casinos don’t exactly feature a robust selection of deposit methods. Most gaming sites only offer a couple of credit cards and Bitcoin as banking options.

However, you can find some alternatives when depositing at US-friendly casinos. One of these options is an MST Gift Card.

If you have no idea what an MST Gift Card is, then don’t feel bad. This payment option was created specifically for online gaming and isn’t available to general shoppers.

You may be skeptical about using such a niche option. That said, I’m going to discuss more about MST Gift Cards and offer advice on if you should consider them.

What Are MST Gift Cards?

Visa and MasterCard are the two most-popular ways to make deposits at online casinos. They’re also the most-popular credit card brands and accepted at most gaming sites.

But there’s just one problem with Visa and MasterCard deposits: they get rejected around half the time.

Both companies are leery of the UIGEA, which creates headaches for financial intermediaries that freely process gambling transactions.

This law isn’t aimed at financial institutions. But it does give certain government agencies the authority to “work with” a company that’s a pipeline for online gaming deposits.

MST Gift Cards are a direct solution to this dilemma. Those who worry about having their credit deposits denied can turn to MST cards, which are almost always accepted.

The weird thing about these gift cards is that they’re not available for general shopping purposes.

Websites and stores don’t sell MST Gift Cards. Instead, they’re created specifically for online casinos.

How to Deposit at Online Casinos with MST Gift Cards

The first step to depositing with these gift cards is finding a gaming site that supports them. This payment option isn’t the most popular in online gambling, but it’s available, nonetheless.

The Main Street Group, which runs many Realtime Gaming (RTG) slots and table games, is one notable company that features MST.

Guy on the Phone Talking to Customer Service RepThese cards work differently than the average payment method, because you can’t immediately access them from the banking section. Instead, you must contact email customer support for an invitation to use them.

Customer service will email you instructions for buying and using MST Gift Cards. The email will feature a link that you follow to get one of these cards.

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You’ll need to fund the gift card with a credit or debit card. You’ll be provided with a special number that you can then use to fund your casino account.

Pros of Depositing with MST Gift Cards

These gift cards offer a few benefits that make them worth considering when available. Here are the primary benefits to making MST Gift Card casino deposits.

High Success Rate

Bar Graph, Arrow Going Upwards, SuccessUnlike credit cards or e-wallets, this payment option was created with online casinos in mind. You can likely look forward to a 100 percent success rate when funding your account.

The possibility exists that your deposit could be rejected for some strange reason/glitch. But you can generally almost always expect an MST Gift Card deposit to work.

Quick Deposits

Money Symbol, Arrows Going In and OutThese cards are essentially like debit or credit cards in terms of speed. Once you input the gift card number and deposit, your funds will be available immediately.

As I’ll cover later, the process of using MST Gift Cards is a bit annoying. The good news, though, is that you don’t have to wait for funds after initiating a deposit.

Anonymity

Silhouette of Guy, AnonymousPerhaps you don’t want your gambling deposits to be seen by anybody else. In this case, MST Gift Cards are a great way to keep your gaming habit under wraps.

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Your bank or credit card statement will show that you made a gift card purchase. However, it won’t say what the gift card was used for.

Additionally, MST cards leave no trail after a deposit is made. You can clear related emails out of your inbox to remove all evidence of any casino deposits.

Good for Low Rollers

Casino Roller Icon with Casino Chips StackedIf you’re a low roller, then you’ll appreciate the limits on MST Gift Cards. They range in value from $5 to $500.

This option is nice for when you don’t want to move hundreds of dollars to an online casino. You can purchase one of these cards for a small amount and quickly start playing for low stakes.

Cons of Depositing with MST Gift Cards

MST cards aren’t perfect by any means. In fact, they have some notable downsides, which you can check out below.

Time Consuming Process

You can just visit a casino’s cashier section and start funding your account with most banking options. MST Gift Cards differ, though, by forcing you to first contact customer support.

Guy Frustrated Sitting by Laptop, Clock Ticking

You must then deal with a couple of emails — one involving instructions for using the card and another after you’ve purchased one.

Finally, you can proceed to making a deposit. If you don’t like dealing with extra hassles during the deposit process, then you won’t be a huge fan of MST Cards.

High Fees Relative to Transactions

As mentioned before, these cards are good for low rollers. However, they’re not exactly the most economically efficient banking option.

You have to pay around a $5 fee to buy them. This amount won’t break your bankroll, but it’s high relative to the purchase price.

If you buy a card for $20, for example, then 25 percent of this amount is going to fees. This is a ridiculous percentage when compared to credit cards and e-wallets (both around 3 percent).

You can get value when buying a $500 card, because $5 only accounts for 1 percent of the transaction. However, the average player doesn’t make $500 online gambling deposits.

Inconvenient for High Rollers

The $500 cap on MST Gift Cards may appeal to most players. However, it’s not enough for the true high rollers, some of whom deposit thousands of dollars.

What’s more is that MST doesn’t allow gamblers to take full advantage of welcome bonuses. Some US-friendly sites offer “sticky bonuses” worth up to $10,000. An MST card doesn’t come close to enabling one to gain max value from such deals.

No Withdrawals

One reason why banks, Bitcoin, and e-wallets are popular casino banking methods is because they can be used for deposits and cashouts.

MST Gift Cards, however, can’t be used for withdrawals. If you deposit with this option, you must find another method for withdrawals.

Not Widely Supported

Even if you’re fine with all of these drawbacks, you may not be able to use MST Gift Cards anyways. The vast majority of online casinos don’t offer them as a payment option.

You’ll even have trouble finding them at US-friendly gaming sites. This aspect is odd when considering that they solely exist to get around the UIGEA.

Alternatives to MST Gift Cards

Laptop with Casino Dice Wallpaper, Alternatives Methods Icons to Casino Deposits

Interested in other options for funding your casino account? Here are some other deposit methods that are found at US online casinos.

ACH

Automated Clearing House (ACH) allows you to send eChecks to an online casino. This process lets you fund your gaming account directly through your bank.

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The advantage to ACH is that it’s quick and convenient. You merely need your routing, account, and check numbers to complete transactions.

One drawback is that ACH isn’t available at most US-friendly gaming sites. When it is available, you still run the risk of the bank rejecting the deposit.

Bitcoin

Bitcoin (BTC) is my personal recommendation for depositing at US-friendly gaming sites. It’s relatively anonymous and decentralized.

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The latter means that no government or laws control Bitcoin. Therefore, your online casino deposits will always go through.

Downsides to BTC include its fluctuating value and learning curve. But if you can deal with the price swings, then BTC is a great option for online casino banking.

E-wallets

Most US-friendly casinos don’t just serve Americans. Their services are available to many other countries as well. This is why you’ll find e-wallets like Neteller and Skrill at said gaming sites.

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Neither e-wallet serves Americans, which is the biggest drawback if you’re from the US.

Assuming you’re from Europe, South America, or elsewhere, then e-wallets are handy ways to deposit and withdraw funds.

Wire Services

Western Union and MoneyGram allow you to wire money to a gaming site via an agent. The benefit here is that you’re using a trusted service to complete fast deposits.

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Unfortunately, Western Union and MoneyGram aren’t available at most American-facing sites. They also require extra effort to use, because you must deal with an agent.

Conclusion

Final Verdict on MST Gift Card Online Gambling Deposits

MST Gift Cards became available at a time when the UIGEA was really hampering the gaming industry. They’ve allowed certain casinos to bypass this law and still connect with American players.

They let you quickly fund your account with more anonymity than a bank, credit card, or e-wallet. You can also look forward to all of your deposits being completed, rather than turned away.

However, MST Gift Cards are losing some relevancy today. They’re not available at most casinos and carry relatively high fees.

If you want anonymous deposits without the possibility of rejection, then Bitcoin is a more-suitable alternative. Far more gaming sites accept BTC than these cards.

Nevertheless, MST Gift Cards are still worth considering as a US player. They don’t fluctuate like Bitcoin and are still valid deposit methods when available.

The 5 Best Places to Play Let It Ride When You Visit the Las Vegas Strip

Group of People at Gaming Table, Let It Ride Logo

Many gamblers know the origin story of Let It Ride, the quirky table game that seems to play out in reverse.

But just in case, here’s the Cliffs Notes version…

Back in 1983, former truck driver John Breeding found himself increasingly intrigued by news stories about blackjack card counters beating the casinos. Breeding wasn’t like most of us though, as his interests didn’t lie in joining the legions of aspiring card counters. No, he wanted to invent an automatic card shuffling machine to help casinos protect their bottom line from card counters – while lining his own pockets in the process.

Thus, Breeding spent the better part of a decade toying around with various prototypes until he perfected his Holy Grail – an automatic card shuffling machine that could be installed underneath any casino game table.

At the time, however, casinos were already getting ahead of the card counting curve by utilizing six- and eight-deck “shoes.” These multiple-deck shoes served their intended effect quite well, adding so many cards to the equation that counting became practically impossible in the casino setting.

Unfortunately, because his automatic shuffler was designed to randomize only one deck at a time, the multiple-deck shoes threatened to put Breeding’s new company Shuffle Master out of business before it even got off the ground.

After consulting his wife, who challenged Breeding to create a single-deck table game that would make his shuffling machines more attractive to casino operators, the inventor put together his masterpiece – Let It Ride.

Breaking Down Let It Ride’s Pay Table

The game proved to be an immediate hit with both casino managers and players alike. Casinos liked the fast pace of play, all the better to get more bets put in play, while players loved the multiple decision points and escalating pay table shown below:

Let It Ride Hands and Payouts

HAND PAYOUT
Royal Flush 1,000 to 1
Straight Flush 200 to 1
Four of a Kind 50 to 1
Full House 11 to 1
Flush 8 to 1
Straight 5 to 1
Three of a Kind 3 to 1
Two Pair 2 to 1
Tens or Better 1 to 1
Anything Else Loss

Let It Ride Table Game, Poker Cards, Chips on TableWith the potential to turn a $15 minimum bet – really a $5 minimum, but with all three Ante bets allowed to “ride” – into $15,000 when the elusive Royal Flush shows its face, Let It Ride offers a distinct jackpot element that gamblers crave.

Table game enthusiasts also enjoyed the reverse engineered gameplay. By requiring players to start out with three Ante bets, before deciding whether or not to let two of those wagers remain in play before showdown, Let It Ride flipped the script from traditional table game betting.

Seemingly overnight, Let It Ride spread throughout Sin City casinos like a bona fide phenomenon. But this game was no fad, and nearly 25 years after making its debut, Let It Ride remains one of the more prevalent offerings in Las Vegas.

Simply put, you can’t walk into a casino on The Strip without running smack dab into a packed Let It Ride table.

Speaking of the fabulous Las Vegas Strip, table game players who specialize in the standards like blackjack, roulette, and craps have long known to steer clear of this potential tourist trap. Whereas the independent casino operators who made Sin City famous used to treat regular players right – with single-zero roulette wheels and 3 to 2 payouts on blackjack the norm – the tables have turned for table game enthusiasts.

Nowadays, you’ll largely find inferior versions of your favorite table games. Picture double- and even triple-zero roulette that double and triple the house edge, or 6 to 5 payouts on blackjack along with harsh rules that benefit the house.

That’s a shame, of course, but Let It Ride fans are in luck. The game’s house edge rate of 3.50 percent is already right in the casino’s preferred “sweet spot,” so they never bothered tinkering with Let It Ride to further their inherent advantage.

Sure, you’ll find a few optional side wagers that are true sucker bets, but those are always optional in Let It Ride. By sticking to the base game, even visitors to the Las Vegas Strip can enjoy Let It Ride as Breeding intended.

On that note, settle in for a full tour of the world’s gambling capital with the five best places to play Let It Ride on the Las Vegas Strip.

1 – Harrah’s Las Vegas Hotel and Casino

Las Vegas Casino Harrah's LogoThe Strip is all about excess, and in Las Vegas, more is definitely more.

That’s why Harrah’s Las Vegas Hotel and Casino takes top billing on this list, what with twice as many Let It Ride tables on the floor as any other casino in town.

You’ll find four Let It Ride games running around the clock at Harrah’s, while no other gambling hall in the city has more than two.

And on all four games, players enjoy a comfortable $10 minimum bet, which will actually come to $30 given the three mandatory Ante bets. But don’t worry about that, as you’ll be pulling two of the three bets back from the brink right around 75 percent of the time when using basic strategy guidelines.

As for the high rollers out there, Harrah’s maximum wager limit on Let It Ride stands at $300, which means your $900 three-way bet plus a Royal Flush deal would be good for $900,000 at 1,000 to 1 payout odds.

That’s not the only way to win a life-changing jackpot sum though, thanks to the “Millionaire Maker” progressive jackpot program organized by Harrah’s parent company Caesars Entertainment.

Jay Bean – who serves as Vice President of Table Games for Caesars Entertainment – ushered in the new era of million-dollar progressive jackpots at properties like Harrah’s in December of 2018.

In a post published to the Caesars Blog, Bean explained why he adapted the wide area progressive jackpots famously paid by slot machines for table games like Let It Ride:

“By linking them citywide it only increases all our jackpots faster, resulting in millions of additional prize money awarded in Las Vegas.”

For an additional bet of only $5 on the Progressive side bet, landing any Royal Flush on the five-card deal is worth at least $1 million for the lucky winner.

Of course, a Royal Flush will only be dealt on 1 in 649,740 deals according to statistical probability, but like lightning, longshots have to strike somewhere right?

2 – The Venetian and Palazzo

Las Vegas Casinos Venetian and Palazzo LogosLightning struck recently at the Venetian, a golden palace devoted to the canals of Venice which shares a sister casino in the Palazzo right next door.

While playing Three Card Poker, a lucky visitor to the Venetian spiked a perfect Royal Flush to trigger a progressive jackpot of just over $1 million. And while Sean Barry of Ohio wasn’t playing Let It Ride, he very well could’ve won the same jackpot on the Venetian’s lone $5 minimum / $500 maximum table. The odds remain the same at 1 in 649,740 for a Royal Flush on all poker-based table games in which five-card Royal Flushes are required to trigger the reward.

Lance Gautreaux – who serves as Senior Vice President for Venetian parent company Las Vegas Sands Corp. – told the Las Vegas Review Journal that the Venetian and Palazzo have minted five new millionaires thanks to their progressive jackpot promotion on table games like Let It Ride:

“The Millionaire Progressive has paid out more than $5 million this year. That’s five millionaires, made each from a $5 side bet. A huge congratulations goes out to all of our winners so far.”

Canadian tourist Kevin Ripski was another beneficiary of the Venetian/Palazzo progressive jackpot back in February of 2019. He was playing Caribbean Stud Poker, but as he told KTNV-13 News while celebrating his $1,114,079 jackpot for a Royal Flush, folks who enjoy Let It Ride would be well-served to put that extra $5 chip on the side bet before every hand they play:

“I always play the bonus bet for the very reason if you hit it and are not playing the bonus, you will regret it for the rest of your life. I let the dealer flip over my cards, so it’s a surprise at the end of the hand.”

3 – Bally’s Las Vegas Hotel & Casino

Las Vegas Casino Bally's LogoCircling back to the Caesars property family, Bally’s Las Vegas Hotel & Casino has two Let It Ride tables connected to the company’s Millionaire Maker progressive jackpot.

This pair of games also uses the lowest minimum bet around of just $5, so recreational players can enjoy the action without worrying about exhausting their bankroll in a hurry. High rollers are in luck too, as the $500 maximum bet is second only to the $2,000 big bet table found at the Palazzo.

4 – Paris Las Vegas

Las Vegas Casino Paris LogoOne more extravagant Caesars property where progressive jackpot hunters can grind Let It Ride in style, Paris has a pair of tables using the $5 / $500 limits – plus the Millionaire Maker opportunity.

5 – MGM Grand

MGM Grand Vegas Casino LogoThe MGM Resorts family of casinos along The Strip might not have a progressive jackpot attached to their table games, but at MGM Grand, the minimum bet on Let It Ride is $25.

The maximum limit tops out at $500, so this game definitely isn’t for everybody, but if you want to press your luck and go for major base game scores for non-Royal Flush hands, the Let It Ride table at MGM Grand is for you.

Conclusion

Let It Ride is beloved by both casinos and players for one simple reason – it straddles the middle ground perfectly. The house edge of 3.50 percent is high enough to warrant prominent placement on the gaming floor, while players have the option to reduce their risk (twice no less) whenever the cards fail to cooperate.

And with massive progressive jackpots now tied to the game at many of the major casino resorts, playing Let It Ride on the Las Vegas Strip is always a winning proposition.

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.

    i
    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.

    i
    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.

    i
    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.

    i
    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.
    i
    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

    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.

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    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%.

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    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?

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    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.

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    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.

    ?
    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.

    ?
    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.

    ?
    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.

    ?
    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.