5 Best Casinos in Michigan

Michigan Shaped Wood Pieces With Casino Background

Now that sports betting became legal in Michigan in 2020, the action at casinos in Michigan is really taking off. Michigan is home to some of the best casinos in the nation.

From the sleek and modern casinos you’ll find in Detroit to the grandeur of large resort casinos nestled within the picturesque countryside of Upper Michigan, there are gaming destinations in the state that can suit the style of just about anyone.

Here are some of the prime gambling venues in Michigan:

1- Firekeepers Casino Hotel

Located in Battle Creek, Michigan, you’ll discover the stylish gaming resort of Firekeepers Casino Hotel.

Owned and operated by the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi, this high-end gaming venue is home to a 112,000 square foot gaming floor, a live poker room, bingo room, and over 70 different table games.

With a vast amount of stylized rooms and suites, their Four Diamond AAA Rated hotel has a wide range of restaurants as well as a multipurpose event center.

The casino offers up hundreds of slot machines, crap tables, roulette wheels, poker and poker tournaments, and all of your other favorite card games.

Firekeepers Online Gambling Partnerships

In order to provide the best retail sportsbook experience possible, Firekeepers Casino partnered with Scientific Games Corp. in 2020 as well as online iGaming.

The retail sports betting site will be inside the casino at Dacey’s Taphouse, which will eventually be renamed “Dacey’s Sportsbook.”

This sportsbook will embrace a casual atmosphere unlike the more high-intensity Las Vegas sportsbooks.

They will also offer bettors access to Don Best Sports, a website and app that gives wagerers real-time betting data on odds, lineups, injuries, and game scores.

Firekeepers Poker Room and Table Games

Considered one of the most prestigious in the country, the poker room at Firekeepers regularly has professional tournaments with total prize pools of over a million dollars.

“Poker News” has even designated Firekeepers Poker Room one of the best poker rooms in the country.

Firekeepers Casino Hotel Exterior

The poker room features 26 tables, cell phone charging stations, and free WiFi.

Table games at Firekeepers include baccarat, blackjack, roulette, craps, Mississippi Stud, Pai Gow Poker, Crazy 4 Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em, Let It Ride and 3 Card Poker. They also have bingo tournaments, keno tournaments, and video poker.

On Mondays and Wednesdays, they offer classes that teach craps and on Tuesday and Thursdays, they have courses on roulette. No buy-in is required, so there’s no fear of losing your shirt while you’re learning to play a new game.

Patrons are made to feel most welcome at this casino, and their casino hosts will even be available if you would like a couple of pointers on your game of choice.

Firekeepers Hotel

If you’ve spent a long day leaning over the poker table, the Firekeepers Hotel has comfortable and spacious rooms where you can retire to at the end of the day.

Their rooms, from standard doubles to presidential suites, are designed with a contemporary flair with granite vanities and fireplaces, separate living rooms, and whirlpool baths.

And if you really want to live it up you could book one of their luxury suites with a full kitchen and a grand piano.

After a day of rigorous gaming action, you can make use of their multi-level indoor pool, steam room, sauna, or jacuzzi hot tub.

2- MotorCity Casino Hotel

Local Detroit billionaire, Marian Illitch, owns MotorCity Hotel Casino. This is one of three casinos you can find in Detroit.

Shining brightly amongst the city streets of Detroit is the polished, steel exterior of this impressive hotel and casino.

This high-end hotel and gaming venue offers over 2,700 different slot machines, a poker room, a retail sportsbook, and 60 table games.

MotorCity Online Gambling Partnerships

Like other casinos on this list, MotorCity is in the process of building its own sportsbook in response to sports gambling being legalized in Michigan in 2020. Their sportsbook and online gambling will be provided by FanDuel.

It will be a two-story facility that will feature 67 high-def TVs, 6 betting windows, a display featuring up to the minute scores, 54 betting kiosks, and a VIP area.

With Detroit being the 6th largest gambling market in the U.S, sports betting fans from around the midwest are sure to be arriving at MotorCity in large numbers.

MotorCity Poker Room and Table Games

Open 24 hours a day/7 days a week, their 100,000 square foot gaming floor holds poker tournaments and cash games on a regular basis.

Their 10-table poker room, considered one of the best in Detroit, has No-Limit Texas Hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha tournaments and cash games.

MotorCity Casino Hotel Exterior

They also feature Daily High Hand Jackpots and Bad Beat Jackpots and have tournaments 3 days a week that include Bounty and Deepstack games in addition to guaranteed prize pools every month.

Real money slots at MotorCity feature an interactive audio/video system. Players can gamble on the slots using the MYMotorCity app where you can deposit your money, view special offers, and order a drink without having to leave your seat.

They also have an assortment of 40 linked progressive slot games inside their Lightning Link Lounge where you win totals could quickly add up to extra bonuses.

Their table games include unique games such as Progressive 3-Card Poker and many favorites like baccarat, roulette, blackjack, Spanish 21, craps, Mississippi Stud, Pai Gow Poker, and Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em.

MotorCity Hotel

The hotel features Detroit’s only AAA 4 Diamond Award-winning restaurant, Iridescence. Located on the 6th floor, this dining experience includes a splendid menu and excellent views of the city skyline.

There are a number of ultra-modern amenities afforded to guests at the MotorCity Hotel. These include imported bed linens, 24-hour room service, high-speed WiFi, and granite-top desks with ergonomic chairs.

They have 33 spacious suites containing the latest technologies, you will also have access to dry cleaning and laundry services in addition to complimentary valet parking.

At MotorCity’s D.Tour Spa, you’ll be able to choose from massage treatments, facial treatments, steam rooms, thermal whirlpools, rain shower installations, and dry saunas.

3- Four Winds Casino Hotel

Located on the banks of Lake Michigan, you’ll find Four Winds Casino and Hotel in New Buffalo, MI.

Among the trio of casinos owned by the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi, this one is their most prominent.

Their gaming venue measures out at 125,000 square feet and contains more than 48 table games and over 2,600 slot machines.

Four Winds and the Pokagon partnered with Scientific Games(SG) Interactive in order to offer its guests access to the free-play online casino, the Play4Fun Network.

Four Winds will most likely be offering sports betting sometime in May 2020, and will probably add a retail sportsbook at some point as well.

The Casino at Four Winds Buffalo

All of the table games and slots at Four Winds are operated by Bally Technologies which are also the same games featured on Four Wind’s free online platform.

For fans of the one-armed bandits, be sure to be on the lookout for the slot games, Cash Connection, and Buffalo Grand. They respectively have starting jackpots of $400,000 and $500,000.

Four Winds Casino Hotel Exterior

Of the 48 table games they offer some of the most popular are blackjack, roulette, Let It Ride, craps, Mississippi Stud, 3 Card Poker, baccarat, and Pai Gow Plus.

Be also sure to check their custom Electronic Craps table. This high tech version of craps offers instant payouts and fast and exciting play.

Four Winds Hotel

This upscale, 415-room hotel has all the amenities of a luxury hotel, great service, and a variety of comfortable accommodations.

The hotel features a seasonal pool, a pool bar, a 24-hour fitness center, several retail stores, and a supervised play and entertainment area for kids called Kids Quest.

If you opt to make a reservation for one of the suites, you’ll have access to such amenities as whirlpool baths, panoramic views of New Buffalo’s lush forests, master bathrooms, flatscreen TVs with 5 speaker surround sound, and living rooms.

4- MGM Grand Detroit

Voted 4-Stars in the Forbes Travel Guide, the MGM Grand Detroit is the ultimate in luxury gaming and accommodations.

This 400 room casino and hotel features high-end dining, an expansive entertainment venue, great shopping, and an exclusive, contemporary-style spa.

It originally opened as a hotel only, but in 2005 it opened a 100,000 square foot gaming facility.

Open 24/7, this casino offers over 150 table games, 3,500 slot machines, and weekly poker tournaments.

MGM Grand Online Gambling Partnerships

MGM Resorts has partnered with Roar Digital to bring sports betting and real money online gaming to downtown Detroit. The BetMGM Sports Lounge opened in March 2020.

Here at the Sports Lounge, you’ll be able to watch your favorite sporting event while making wagers on those same games. They have 60 large screen HDTVs, 6 betting counters, and 14 self-service betting kiosks.

MGM Grand Detroit Exterior

If you don’t want to wait in line at one of the counters, you can just settle into one of their stadium recliners and make your wager from the BetMGM mobile App.

Also featured at the Sports Lounge, is a full-service bar where you can order a cocktail or a round of craft beers.

MGM Grand Poker Room and Table Games

Conveniently located adjacent to the casino floor, the stylish poker room offers weekly No-Limit Texas Hold ‘em tournaments as well as Pot-Limit Omaha.

They also offer curbside drink service and have 11 large screen TVs featuring the best of the day’s sporting events.

With over 150 different table games in the casino, you’re sure to find a game that suits your gambling style.

For your convenience, they have added an ultra-modern ventilation system to filter the smoke while you try your hand at such games as blackjack, craps, 4-Card Poker, High Tie Blackjack, roulette, Let It Ride, Mississippi Stud, Spanish 21, and Two-Way Monte.

5- Little River Casino Resort

Owned and operated by the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, on the banks of Lake Michigan, you’ll find the luxurious and picturesque Little River Casino & Resort.

This resort is a massive gaming destination that resembles a modern lodge nestled amongst a forested setting.

Their 292-room luxury hotel features amenities such as a number of good restaurants as well as a live entertainment center that presents some of the most famous music acts in the country.

The Casino at Little River

The expansive facility includes a 23,000 square foot gaming floor that features over 1,300 slot and video poker machines and dozens of table games with limits that range from $1 to $5000.

Available games include real money blackjack, roulette, craps, Mississippi Stud, Crazy 4 Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em, Let It Ride, and 3 Card Poker.

Little River Casino Resort Exterior

Their gaming floor is spacious and comfortable, so you won’t have to squeeze through crowds trying to get to the game of your choice. You can also order beers and cocktails right from your seat at the card table.

Amongst the over 1,400 slots and video poker machines that stand out for fans of the one-armed bandits are Dragon Links, Golden Gecko, Celestial Goddesses, Sword of Destiny, and Casablanca.

Little River Hotel

Their hotel offers quiet and comfortable rooms for you to retire to after a long day.

Every room comes with a giant flat-screen TV, a personal safe, 24-hour room service, a coffee maker, and high-speed WiFi.

The hotel also provides a private fitness center, a heated outdoor pool, 2 indoor pools, a spa and salon, a sauna, and a hot tub.  You can also book a reservation for one of their luxury suites that come with a separate living area and fireplace.

Conclusion

What are some of the other better casinos in Michigan? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Bettors Make These 2 Errors With Baseball Futures Bets

Baseball With Futures Bets Text and Yankees Stadium Background

Nothing is sadder than watching a professional baseball player who’s paid millions of dollars a year let a routine ground ball go right through his legs in a playoff game. Even though these adult men are at the top of the baseball food chain, they still make the simplest mistakes at terrible times.

Human error reminds us that baseball is just a game, and like any other game, a team winning or losing should never be the end of the world.  But still in a tightly contested playoff game with thousands of screaming fans, it’s hard for players to not let emotions run away from them.

Betting on baseball can be just as exhilarating, and winning a big bet you’ve invested a good amount of your bankroll in makes memories you’ll never forget. Even though you’re watching the game from the bleachers or your home, you’ll feel like you’re celebrating right alongside the players.

Just like players can make embarrassing mental errors in front of their teammates and millions of fans around the world, you can make mental errors when you’re making baseball futures wagers.

Some of these mental errors are based on cognitive biases like the recency biases, which is expecting something to happen again because it just happened. Other issues can arise because many baseball fans aren’t aware of all the great predictive stats available to anyone with an internet connection.

If you’re unaware of advanced stats like OPS+ or ERA+, or if you tend to bet on the World Series winner of the previous season, you may be frustrated with your results on baseball futures bets and be looking for solutions.

Betting on baseball is hard enough already since there are so many factors like injuries and divisional opponents to keep track of. Do yourself a favor and try to take some of the guesswork out of making baseball futures wagers by avoiding common betting mistakes.

What Are Futures Bets?

When it’s only March, the World Series is probably the last thing on your mind. Birds are chirping and bees are buzzing as players perform hitting and pitching drills in the backfields of Arizona or Florida to prepare for a long, grueling season.

But just because you have to wait all the way until late October to watch the champion of each league face off in the World Series, doesn’t mean you can’t start thinking about which teams you expect to be there, and placing some futures bets.

The World Series is not only the most watched tournament of the baseball season, it also draws more gambling action than any other part of the year.

The best time to make a futures bet is before the season has begun because payouts on futures bets decrease once the season starts. Payouts will be even lower just before the World Series when 28 other teams have been eliminated so it’s best to place your bets as soon as possible.

MLB Mike Trout and Astros Players

Of course, the earlier you place the bet, the more risk you assume that the team you’re betting on won’t even make it to the World Series. Before the season starts, it’s obviously a lot harder to predict who’s going to win the World Series than it is in September when 20 or so teams have already been eliminated and divisions are starting to take shape.

In addition to futures bets on World Series winners, bets are also available for the pennant champs and the division champs of each league. If you’re gonna bet on a team to win the World Series, a pennant bet should be a given.

You can also make futures bets based on individual awards like the Cy Young and the MVP.

Lastly, futures bets are available for win totals of MLB clubs. You’ll make an over-under bet when betting on win totals.

While these bets aren’t as exciting as betting on the World Series winner, betting on win totals takes the random element of a 7 game playoff out of the equation and lets you bet on which team will have the best 162 game regular season.

How to Make Baseball Futures Bets

Also known as an odds to win wager, future bets are any bets made on baseball that happen before the day of the game. The bets are made at fixed odds that are locked in place until the start of the event.

Future bets can be made at sportsbooks at any time of the year, whether it’s the off-season, regular season, or postseason, and most sportsbooks update futures odds on a weekly basis.

1- Betting on Last Years Winners

Recency bias is a phenomenon that occurs when people remember things that happened recently more strongly than things that have happened further in the past. It’s a powerful influence that many people experience without even realizing it and it leads to poor betting practice.

No one is immune to recency bias and many wagers are made based on whichever team or player was successful last year because some people assume that success is guaranteed to continue.

The sad reality is that success is fleeting and it’s rare for a team to repeat a World Series win or for a player to repeat an incredible performance.

World Series

No World Series team has won back to back World Series since the Yankees won 3 in a row from 1998 to 2000.

Even though World Series teams are stacked with great players and often have great seasons after their World Series victory, it’s still extremely rare for a team to repeat winning the sport’s highest honor.

Many World Series winners don’t repeat and succumb to fatigue from the long grueling season.

Winning the World Series can make a team play up to 21 additional games compared to the 162 games every team plays in the regular season and pitchers and players often sacrifice their bodies to help their teams attain the ultimate goal.

Cy Young

In the same way that the World Series is the ultimate team victory, the Cy Young is the ultimate pitcher victory.

The Cy Young is named after a Hall of Fame pitcher and represents the highest honor a pitcher can receive for regular-season performance. Many futures bets are placed on the winner of the previous Cy Young award, but the Cy Young is just as difficult to predict as the World Series.

Hall of Fame Pitcher Cy Young

While Jacob DeGrom has won the last 2 Cy Young awards in the National League, it’s rare for players to win back to back Cy Young awards.

Many pitchers get fatigued from their Cy Young season so you may want to evaluate a pitcher with fewer innings pitched the season before when making a Cy Young futures bet. Look for a dark horse candidate with a strikeout rate over 10.0 or a pitcher with a FIP(Fielding Independent Pitching) stat that’s 1 or 2 runs lower than his ERA.

MVP

We’re starting to see a trend here, we think. Winning any major award in baseball back to back is a daunting task, and the MVP is no exception.

Since the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BWAA) began handing out MVP awards, only 13 players have won one back to back.

They’ve been handing out the award for almost 100 years including 2 extra MVP awards per year, one for each league. Almost 200 of the awards have been handed out and only 13 players have won back to back awards so be leery when making a futures bet on a current MVP.

2- Betting on Older Teams

While many bettors assume that great playoff teams need a veteran leader, oftentimes the veterans are simply overpaid, less productive players.

Young players often produce more value than veteran players in baseball as a team of young players will be faster, stronger, and pitch harder than a team of more experienced veterans.

Baseball players are thought to be in their peaks between the ages of 27 and 30, but many players as young as 20 consistently become a big part of hugely successful teams.

For example, Mike Trout has been one of the best players in the league since he was 20 and is only just now 28 years old. His best years may even be ahead of him.

Many older players are overpaid and while they may be great leaders, their on the field performance is often lacking.

Like Trout, Albert Pujols also plays for the Angels. Pujols is signed through 2021 and he’s 41 years old. Owner of the Anaheim Angels, Arte Moreno, wanted the big star power of Pujols when he signed him from the Cardinals but Pujols has had heel injuries and his performance has suffered.

Miguel Cabrera is another example of a player to avoid making an MVP futures bet on despite his star status and history of MVP awards. His OPS+ was only 96 in 2019 and he, like Albert Pujols, is also signed to a mammoth contract.

The Angels have not been to the playoffs since 2014 despite the stellar performance of Mike Trout, in part due to Pujols slowing the team down. Identifying lagging veterans can help you avoid win totals futures bets on teams like the Angels who continually underperform even with Mike Trout playing for them.

Conclusion

What is your favorite futures bet? Let us know in the comments.

Cool Facts About The New York-New York Hotel & Casino

New York New York Las Vegas Logo and Exterior

When the topics of gambling and casinos are mentioned, Las Vegas and its fantastic entertainment industry is oftentimes what comes to mind for people, and rightfully so.

Since gambling became legalized in Las Vegas in 1931, the city of Las Vegas has evolved and flourished since the classic downtown casinos, such as the  Pair-O-Dice Club and the Golden Nugget opened their doors for the first time.

There are still plenty of Las Vegas’s classic hotels to choose from in what is considered “Old Vegas” if you want the feel of a bygone era.

Out of all of the cool facts and history circulating around Las Vegas, the resort casino that I’d like to bring into the spotlight is the New York-New York Hotel & Casino.

Not only is it an amazing choice, but it also has a unique and patriotic history! Let’s look at what makes this resort casino so amazing.

A Look Inside Of New York-New York Hotel & Casino

Sitting on one of the busiest intersections on the Las Vegas Strip is the New York-New York Hotel & Casino.

From reading review after review, it is unlikely to stumble across a previous guest that did not have the most exceptional experience while staying at this world-renowned resort casino.

The resort truly does bring the experiences that are found in Downtown Manhattan straight to The Strip, from broadway style performances to the abundant and lively nightlife.

Like the city, New York-New York is a resort that never sleeps.

When touring the hotel and casino, guests can quickly take notice of the exquisite detail that architects put into its construction in order to create the illusion of the Big Apple.

Although Vegas once upon a time had earned the title of “Sin City,”, these days, both The Strip and Downtown Las Vegas have opened up doors that have allowed this casino mecca to be way more kid-friendly in recent years.

One thing that both kids and adults love about this particular resort is the death-defying roller coaster known as the “Big Apple.”

Fun & Exciting Things To Do At The “Big Apple” Resort Casino

There are enough entertaining and exciting options at this casino for the entire family.

The casino offers 84,000 square feet of space with more than 67 gaming tables.

If you’re new to gambling, let’s just say that the casino here at New York-New York is exceptionally large compared to many other casino floors.

With all of the floor space, count on all of your favorite games being available here at New York-New York.

Those include Black Jack, Free-Bet Black Jack, Craps, Roulette, 3-Card Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Let It Ride, High Card Flush, Mississippi Stud, and lastly, Face-Up Pai-Gow Poker.

New York New York Las Vegas Brooklyn Bridge

Aside from the casino, there is a whole other world of fun available. The Brooklyn Bridge is a 300-foot long replica of the actual Bridge in NYC, and next to it is a 150-foot tall replica of the Statue of Liberty.

Swing on over to some of the shops such as Stupidiotic, Swatch, and I Love NYNY.

You’ll also find good restaurants with patio seating such as the Shake Shack. There is also a “roadside” burger stand that continues to get fantastic reviews.

At the end of the Brooklyn Bridge, there is a stage that showcases all sorts of live music acts that make for energizing and fun evenings.

Hershey’s Chocolate World is a two-story chocolate factory where you can indulge in a plethora of tasty treats.

There are plenty of other options available at New York- New York that can keep the kids entertained while the adults go and bet at the blackjack tables.

Stay at a Resort that Has a Unique History

The New York New York Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas takes up an 18-acre space that sits at the northwest corner of another famous and popular hotel and casino called the Tropicana.

This particular intersection on Las Vegas Boulevard on the Las Vegas Strip has always been considered one of the prime locations for development due to its proximity to the MGM Grand, Excalibur, and the Tropicana, 3 of the most elite resort casinos on The Strip.

The idea to build the New York-New York resort first cropped up in 1992 when Kirk Kerkorian’s Tracinda Corporation bought the site for $31.5 million and offered the major casino resort company MGM Grand Inc (another company that Kerkorian owned 76% of) a free two-year option to buy the resort.

The idea to build a casino that was modeled after the beloved New York skyline was conceived by Sig Rogich, a former staffer for the White House, and Mark Advent.

Las Vegas casino owners as a whole have done a fantastic job at bringing some of the world’s most famous and highly esteemed monuments to The Strip, with the replicas giving guests a unique and vibrant multicultural experience.

Two companies, MGM and Primadonna Resorts, would go on to create a joint venture and by 1995, the construction process would begin for New York-New York Hotel & Casino.

By the time New York-New York opened for the first time on January 3, 1997, the resort would cost the joint-venture company $460 million.

By 1999, the merger would end between MGM Grand and Primadonna, and MGM would buy out Primadonna for $276 million.

Tributes to the World Center Were Sent to the New-New York Casino

One of the most beautiful bits of history around the New York-New York Hotel & Casino took place around one of the most significant and saddest times in American History.

The attacks on the World Trade Center caused people for quite some time to spontaneously send tributes to the New York-New York Casino.

These items have been put on display throughout the resort.

Local Nevada Police Departments, Fire Departments and the regular citizens of Las Vegas made all different sorts of things that would be brought to New York-New York as a tribute for the 9/11 attacks.

These tributes would be hung all over the walls of the hotel and casino as well as in front of the “Lady Liberty” replica outside the resort.

Some of the most memorable tributes that were brought to the resort were T-shirts that fire and police departments from all over the United States made for the Las Vegas version of New York City.

Another piece of history worth mentioning around New York-New York casino is that an official 9/11 memorial was added to the resort from 2003 to 2013.

Some Final Facts About New York-New York Casino

The last bit of history around New York-New York is a question that pertains to the skyline design, and why the World Trade Center was not included in the original design of the hotel and casino.

The owners of the casino wanted the resort to capture the essence of New York City as it was in the 1940’s, so the World Trade Center, which was erected in the 1970s, was left out of the original design.

The absence of the World Trade Centers in New York-New York’s skyline has unfortunately created space for all different sorts of conspiracy theories around why the building was never added.

Las Vegas Statue of Liberty at New York New York

Here’s another cool fact that sets apart New York Hotel & Casino from other hotels and casinos on The Strip.

There is a US Postal Office stamp called the “Liberty Forever Stamp” which was originally created to show the Statue of Liberty and its location in New York Harbor.

Due to errors made by the stamp designers for the Liberty Forever Stamp, the Statue of Liberty that resides on the stamp is actually the replica that is found at New York-New York in Las Vegas.

The designers simply chose the wrong stock photo and didn’t initially recognize this.

Despite realizing the mistake, the replica has forever remained the same on the Liberty Forever Stamp.

Conclusion

As you can already tell, this particular resort casino on the Las Vegas Strip is not one that you want to pass by.

If you’ve spent time in Vegas already or are totally new to spending time in casinos, this resort is worth making a first or second trip back to Las Vegas.

If you’ve been to New York-New York Hotel & Casino and have a cool experience to share, please feel free to drop a comment down in the section below!

7 Blackjack Tricks That Professional Gamblers Use

Painting Stylized Hand of Blackjack

One of the most popular casino games for professional gamblers is blackjack. It’s one of the games where professional gamblers can get an edge, and once they learn how to do it they can make a consistent profit over time.

The casinos know that some of their blackjack games are vulnerable to professional gamblers, so there’s always a battle between the casinos and the professionals.

Here’s a list of seven tricks that professional gamblers use when they play blackjack. Once you learn these tricks, you can see that playing blackjack at a professional level is easier than most gamblers believe.

1 – Look for Poor Dealers

When I say poor dealers, I don’t mean ones that don’t have much money. While a few crooked gamblers have tried to bribe and buy dealers over the years, it’s a bad idea.

What I mean when I say poor dealers is ones that have poor dealing techniques and/or poor shuffling technique. When you identify blackjack dealers with poor techniques you can use their poor procedures to make money.

A blackjack dealer with a poor dealing technique occasionally flashes the value of their face down card to certain positions at the table. Every time you play blackjack watch the dealer’s hands as they place their face down card on the table.

You won’t see the value of the face down card often, but when you do it gives you a big advantage on the hand.

In hand shuffled blackjack games, some dealers don’t do a good job thoroughly shuffling the discards. When you play on a blackjack table with one of these dealers, you can use shuffle tracking techniques and ace sequencing techniques to get an edge.

2 – Students of the Game

Professional blackjack gamblers are students of the game. They know everything they possibly can about blackjack, because knowledge is profitable.

If you want to be a professional blackjack gambler you need to know every possible rule and variation of the rules, the house rules everywhere you play, the proper dealing procedure, how to quickly determine pay outs, and everything you can possibly learn about at least one effective card counting system.

Closeup of a Blackjack Game

You need to read a wide range of the best books about blackjack, practice your skills, read articles, get to know the skill level of as many dealers as possible, and learn how to spot profitable opportunities every time you’re in a casino.

Every time you make a mistake playing blackjack it costs you money. The best blackjack gamblers rarely make a mistake. You need to know the one best play for every possible situation at the blackjack table, and always make the best play.

You also need to know every possible side bet that might be available, the house edge of each side bet, and if there’s any way to use each side bet profitably.

Immediately identify what you know and don’t know about blackjack, and start learning what you don’t know. You must be a student of blackjack in order to have a realistic chance to make money playing.

3 – Track the Best Games

Every blackjack game has a house edge based on the rules offered and your ability to use the best strategy. You’re going to learn more about using the best blackjack strategy in the next section, so I’m going to cover the importance of rules in this section.

Every blackjack rule influences the house edge, with some increasing it and some decreasing it. You want to find games that offer a combination of rules that push the house edge as low as possible.

The best games have rules that have a house edge of less than .3%, and most casinos have games available that have a house edge of .5% or less.

But if you’re not careful, you can play at tables with a house edge of 1% or higher.

Learn how each blackjack rule influences the house edge, and start tracking the rules for each table everywhere you gamble. This way you always know where you can find the best blackjack tables.

4 – Use Strategy 100% of the Time

No matter what else you do, you always have to use the best strategy when you play blackjack. This is the only way to keep the house edge low, and every blackjack player can do it without much hassle.

Eventually you need to memorize the best blackjack strategy, but until you memorize it, all you need to do is get a blackjack strategy card and use it.

Don’t ever deviate from the plays listed on your strategy card unless you count cards.

5 – Only Use Side Bets When They’re Profitable

The basic rule for casino game play is to never use side bets. Side bets are available with many casino games, and the main things they have in common is that they’re a way for the casinos to get you to bet more on each hand and they increase the profit for the casino.

In fact, if you simply never make a side bet while playing blackjack, including the insurance or surrender bet, you’re doing better than most blackjack gamblers.

But professional blackjack gamblers also know that sometimes you can use a side bet to make a profit. Some side bets can be beat by counting cards, and some can be used when you have a poor dealer.

Red Blackjack Table With Chips and Cards

Here’s an example of a profitable side bet with a poor dealer:

When the dealer has an ace showing, they offer the opportunity to take insurance or even money. Normally this is a bad bet that increases the house edge. But there are two situations when taking insurance is a smart play.

If the dealer is sloppy and you see that the face down card is worth 10 points, you take the insurance. You know the dealer has a blackjack, so you take the insurance and break even on the hand.

The other time that it’s profitable to take insurance is when you count cards and the deck is high in 10 point cards. All of the best counting systems have information about when insurance is a good play.

6 – Count Cards

Counting cards at the blackjack table is one of the easiest ways to make a profit in the casino. This isn’t to say that it’s easy to count cards, but it’s a skill that you can learn.

This section doesn’t have enough room to give you a complete run down of how to count cards, but many resources are available. I recommend getting at least a couple books about counting cards and studying them.

Learn about the most popular card counting systems for blackjack, pick a system, learn everything about it, and practice using it until can use it in every situation.

Here’s a link that explains how card counting works and how you can get started.

7 – Use Team Play When It’s More Profitable

One thing that most blackjack professionals and books don’t talk about much is the use of team play. Most casual gamblers didn’t even know team blackjack play was possible until it was popularized with a movie about the MIT blackjack teams.

But smart blackjack professionals have been using team play for decades, and Ken Uston wrote about it a long time before the movie was made.

While casinos quickly learned how to spot and combat single card counters and advantage players, they still struggle to catch smart advantage blackjack teams.

A blackjack team consists of two or more players, with some teams using over 10 players. The main way a blackjack team works is by having one or more players making table minimum bets and counting the shoe.

When the count is favorable, they discreetly signal another team member who joins the table. The new player makes higher bets and makes a long term profit. While the new player usually knows how to count cards, they don’t even need to be a counter for this system to work.

The big player is able to make enough profit to make up for the small losses that the counters have and have enough left over for the team to make a good profit.

Conclusion

Learn how to use the seven tricks that professional gamblers use when they play real money blackjack and you can beat the casinos. It’s easy to track the best games and use the proper strategy. Anyone can do these things with a minimum amount of effort.

And it’s not much harder to look for poor dealers and use card counting to your advantage. The only reasons why some gamblers don’t use these tricks are either laziness or ignorance.

Now that you know about these tricks, you can’t claim ignorance. So get started today, and you can enjoy blackjack profits for the rest of your life.

Reasons Why You Should Play Casino War

Ace and King of Hearts With an Explosion Background

My first introduction to playing cards came at the kitchen table enjoying a simple game called “War.” You remember it, the classic high card wins contest where the goal is to capture all of your opponent’s cards after a series of battles. Ace beats king, king beats queen, and so on down the line to the lowly, useless deuce (two).

This pure game of chance is named for when both players show identical cards to tie, this triggering a second draw war to settle the tiebreaker. And believe it or not, you can now play War in your favorite casino.

Brief History and Introduction to Casino War

In 1994, the casino industry was experiencing somewhat of a table game “boom,” as companies like Shuffle Master and Scientific Games pioneered the new wave of hybrid offerings.

I’m talking about new additions turned classics like Three-Card Poker, Let It Ride, and Caribbean Stud—games we all know and love today.

But that year saw a smaller casino game developer known as Bet Technology out of Reno, Nevada, take a gamble of its own. Looking to capitalize on the hybrid table game craze, the folks at Bet Technology looked to their past for inspiration.

By taking the basic War game played by kids and bored parents everywhere, and adapting the rules and gameplay for a casino setting, Bet Technology hit it big. Beginning with a handful of casinos in Northern Nevada, the company’s Casino War game soon spread to Sin City and beyond. One decade later, the industry’s big boys took notice when Shuffle Master scooped up Bet Technology and all of its intellectual property assets in a well-deserved acquisition.

How to Play Casino War

Now that you know where Casino War came from, here’s how the game works.

To play Casino War, you’ll place a single ante bet in the main game, and most casinos opt for a $5 minimum. You can also place an optional side bet on the “tie” option (more on this to come down below) and this long shot wager pays 10 to 1 on your money if you and the dealer show identical card ranks.

As for the base gameplay, Casino War is essentially a glorified high card contest between the player and the dealer. Using a standard 52-card deck of cards—or in most cases, a six-deck shoe a la blackjack—the dealer will do nothing more than deliver one card face up to you and one for themselves.

When your card outranks the dealer’s card, you’ll win even money on your ante bet. And when the dealer’s high card outranks yours, you’ll forfeit those chips to the house.

The fun begins when you and the dealer both show the same card rank. At this point, you’ll be given the option to “surrender,” or pull back half your bet and lose the other half automatically.

Screenshot of Online Casino War

Nobody comes to the casino to give up without a fight though, so you’ll likely decide to exercise the other option—declaring war against the dealer.

When you declare war, the dealer will ask you to place a second wager equal to your ante bet. With this additional ammunition in place, the dealer will burn three cards before dealing out their final card, before repeating the same process for your last card.

Whomever winds up with the highest second card wins the war, but here’s where things get tricky. Instead of winning $10 at even money on your total bet ($5 ante + $5 war bet), you’ll only win half. In other words, your ante bet is returned as a push while the added war bet is paid out at even money.

This may seem a bit unfair. What about, “to the victor go the spoils?” But this payout structure is how the house derives its precious edge over the player. Without the one-half payout on war wins in place, you’d be playing a purely fair even money proposition against the casino and Las Vegas wasn’t built by playing fair.

On a final note, look for casinos which offer a bonus payout of 3 to 1 whenever you score a second tie after initially declaring war. This premium return shaves a few valuable percentage points off the house edge, so it’s always worth asking around before sitting down.

The Long Shot “Tie” Bet Offers a Bonus Payout of 10 to 1

One way to level the battlefield in Casino War is by backing the “tie” side bet whenever you’re feeling lucky.

This optional wager pays out at 10 to 1, making it one of the more lucrative long shots offered in the table game pit. Unfortunately, the player and dealer will only wind up tied on 7.39% of hands, so don’t expect the tie bet to hit with regularity.

But if you hail from a blackjack background, subtly “counting” exposed cards to see if bunches of the same rank have already been buried in the muck can give you a leg up. Once you see a cluster of fours, fives, and sixes go by the wayside, betting on a tie and hoping to see a king-king deal becomes a little more likely.

You’ll Win More Often Than the Dealer

Check out the table below to see one of the rarest sights in all of casino gambling:

Casino War Probabilities

Result Payout Probability
Win 1 50.27%
Lose Ante Bet (-1) 46.30%
Lose After War (-2) 3.34%

As you can see, the likelihood of beating the dealer on any given hand stands at 50.27%. That makes Casino War one of the only casino games ever devised in which players will beat the dealer more than the dealer will beat them.

Of course, when the dealer wins after you’ve declared war, that two-bet loss brings your overall bottom line back down to Earth. Nonetheless, leaving aside that rare 3.42% chance, you’ll be sitting pretty on all non-war hands.

To get an idea of why Casino War is so cool, just compare those numbers above to the same probabilities for a basic blackjack game:

Blackjack Probabilities

Result Payout Probability
Win 1 42.22%
Lose (-1) 49.10%
Push 0 8.48%

Doesn’t look like such a dumb game now, does it?

Casino War Has an Extremely Low House Edge Rate

As a final “pro” in its favor, Casino War offers a very reasonable house edge of only 2.88%.

You can scan the table below to put that house edge rate in perspective:

House Edge of Popular Table Games

Casino War has a much lower house edge than most gamblers think, coming in at 2.88%. A few table games are better, including blackjack at less than .5% with good strategy, a couple craps bets at 1.36% and 1.41%, and European Roulette at 2.7%.

But plenty of table games have a worse house edge including Three-Card Poker at 3.37%, Let It Ride at 3.51%, and the Big Six Wheel at a whopping 11.11%.

Three Card Poker, Let It Ride, Caribbean Stud Poker, and American-style “double zero” roulette are all, by far, more popular among casual and sharp gamblers alike.

Even so, Casino War has them all beat by offering a significantly reduced house edge. If bankroll management is your main concern, consider ditching double-zero roulette for Casino War. After all, they’re both games of chance, but Casino War has a house edge nearly twice as advantageous for the player.

Why Most Gamblers Ignore Casino War Anyway

Let’s face facts… Adults dressed to the nines and armed with a wallet full of $100 bills aren’t exactly lining up to play a children’s game.

The number one knock against Casino War is how it evokes memories of its foundational game. If you came up playing card games like war as a kid, heading out to the casino to partake in essentially the same concept isn’t all that appealing.

War Card Game Played on a Wooden Table

Another reason “sharp” gamblers tend to pass by the Casino War tables is its complete lack of strategic elements. No player decisions to make, no setting hands, just a rapid-fire draw of two cards with the highest ranked soldier emerging victorious in the end.

If you’re accustomed to a thinking player’s game like blackjack, Pai Gow Poker, or Let It Ride, it can be quite difficult to accept the random swings of fortune found in Casino War.

Conclusion

Casino War might seem like a brainless game of chance, one fit for a child’s bedroom rather than a bustling land based casino, but only if you haven’t played before. Once you throw caution to the wind and give this game a shot, I’m willing to bet most gamblers out there will enjoy the brisk pace, back-and-forth nature, and a chance to scoop 10 to 1 winnings on a war.

Sometimes, mathematical calculations and complex strategies aren’t what players are looking for. And when that’s the case, Casino War becomes the perfect place to fire away and have a little fun.

3 NFL Related Avenues to Bet on Before the Start of the Season

NFL Running Play With a Sportsbook Background

In the NFL, there’s no real offseason and these days you can find exciting ways to wager your money before the official start of the season. While there aren’t any games, there are several avenues you can wager to add interest to what most view as a waiting game until NFL training camp begins in July.

Entirely different reality. There are 3 avenues and several streets within those avenues you can walk when looking for fun ways to wager prior to training camp in July.

Now, these betting areas take as much research if not a little more than what you’ll see when betting on the NFL preseason, regular season, or postseason. And they’re areas where you’ll want to ease yourself into before jumping in.

This article outlines 3 NFL-related avenues that you can have some gambling fun with until teams slap the pads on in July.

1- Player Productivity

This one’s a challenge but if you’re up for it, try your hand. What you’re betting on is in the name of this avenue: Player productivity.

How do you think certain players will perform?

Let’s use Tom Brady as an example.

Suppose bookmakers set Tom Brady’s passing touchdowns at 25. Do you think he’ll throw more or less?

Another bet might see oddsmakers stating Derrick Henry will win the rushing title for a second straight season and give him decent odds, like 6 to 1. Or, they’ll set his total rushing yards average at 1,200 yards. Will Henry rush for more or less?

NFL Cardinals Player Between a Play

Want more fun?

Suppose they state Henry will score 12 rushing touchdowns.

Again, more or less?

And that’s basically what the wager looks like for player productivity. If you’re good at predicting stats, this is a good route to go.

But, there’s a ton of homework that goes into this avenue and it’s something covered more in-depth in a later article.

Variables like which defenses will Tom Brady face? How do their pass rushers and defensive backfields fare against passers like Brady who throw the ball 30 to 40 times a game? How strong is Brady’s offense?

You get the gist.

2- Super Bowl Odds

This one is the most straightforward. All 32 teams have different odds to reach the Super Bowl. Often, the worst team from the previous season has the worst odds, often somewhere between 100 and 200 to 1.

This means if you bet $100 on a team with 200 to 1 odds, you can win $20,000. And you’ll probably have made the gutsiest bet in sports history.

Here, you can place bets on a few teams, with higher bets going to the teams with greater odds to win the Super Bowl. For example, say you allot yourself $200 for Super Bowl odds, take between 4 and 5 teams you know well.

I’ll go over a little strategy with this one since this betting avenue is straightforward.

The 1st team might have just 7 to 1 odds, so perhaps bet $100 here. If that team wins, you’ll win $700 in profits. Not a bad payout.

Now, the 2nd team you like might be one with 12 to 1 odds. As you can see, they should be variable, and 12 to 1 still possess good odds. You wager $65 on this team. So, if they win the big game, it’ll bring you in $780.

The 3rd team is a little further down the list. We’ll say Team 3 has 35 to 1 odds. You bet $25 here, which will bring you in $875 if they win. Note that with substantially bleaker odds to win, it will increase your chance at bringing in a larger profit with a smaller wager.

But that’s the name of the game. The worse a team’s odds, the less likely they’re to win. However, some teams with such odds will win.

Anyway, let’s get to the 4th team. You have some fun and place a $10 wager on the team with 150 to 1 odds, meaning you’ll win $1,500 if they win the Super Bowl.

This is just 1 of a few strategies. You can bet the $200 in increments of $50 on teams with high odds.

For example, BetOnline has the following 4 teams with the best odds to win Super Bowl LV:

  • Kansas City: 4 to 1
  • Baltimore: 13 to 2
  • San Francisco 7 to 1
  • New Orleans 7 to 1

So, if you bet $50 on the 4 highest teams and one won the Super Bowl, you would profit:

  • Kansas City: $200. Minus 150 for the other 3 bets, so a profit of $50.
  • Baltimore: $325. Minus 150 for the other 3 bets and you profit $175.
  • San Francisco and New Orleans. $350. Minus 150 for the others and you profit $200.

Again, the worse a team’s odds, the higher the payout. It goes back to that eggs in 1 basket analogy. You can front load the bets by wagering money on teams with higher odds. But if you win, the payout is smaller.

Wager across several teams and you increase your chances of winning more money.

Only downside here is that 1 of the 32 teams will win. This won’t make you a ton of money unless you like to take risks and bet $1,000 on the lowest-ranked team and they somehow win the Super Bowl, but it is a popular avenue for NFL bettors.

3- Win Totals

Another popular avenue. Like Super Bowl odds, the game is simple. Teams have a set win total and you bet whether a team will win more or fewer games for the upcoming year.

Like player productivity, this one takes a lot of research. Know a team’s overall strength of schedule, the strength of divisional opponents, and the division outside and inside the conference a team is playing.

You also need to account for roster and coaching stability, among other factors. This isn’t an avenue where you want to bet on your favorite team or your favorite team’s rivals since it’s easy to overrate your favorites and underrate their rival.

Instead, focus on the conference your favorite team isn’t playing in. Research a few teams, only 5 maximum, and have at it.

Dallas Cowboys Player Celebrating

These win total odds often change as the season draws nearer and if you bet just prior to the regular season, play close attention to what happens to your targeted teams in the preseason.

An injury to a player on your team or a division rival will fluctuate these numbers. Before the season kicks off, they will differ from they were in the preseason, so again, watch your step here.

Fully research your targeted teams and leave as little as you can to chance. The best time to bet on win totals is after the draft when teams have made most of their offseason moves.

The closer you get to the regular season, the more accurate the odds will be for win totals because of potential injury or even an unexpected blockbuster trade. They happen. Tampa could move from 9 to 10 wins if a star player on a division rival goes down.

You can never fully predict this, but you can conduct enough research to increase your odds to win.

Conclusion

All 3 of these avenues will hold you over until the preseason begins and better yet, they require research and time if you wish to maximize your odds of winning bets in this avenue.

You can choose all 3, or you can become the master 1 avenue like the Super Bowl, for example.

While betting in all 3 directions may increase your chance at winning something, it’s also less likely you’ll have the time to dedicate as much research since you have 3 other avenues to worry about.

If you choose 1, you can dedicate more research but if you miss on the 1 topic, it’s likely you haven’t conducted enough research to bet on other avenues.

Agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments.

5 Surprising Tips for Betting the NBA

NBA Player Derrick Jones Jr Dunking

Betting on the NBA, especially in the regular season, is one of the more difficult things to do in sports. When something that most people take for granted, like motivation, is questioned on a nightly basis, deciding who to bet on is an art as much as a science.

Commonly-held beliefs might be logical, but they’re also working against some of the bettors relying on NBA action to pad their bankroll. The good news is this may set up more “fade the public” situations.

In this article, I’ll lay out some tips for betting on the NBA that don’t get the attention they deserve.

1 – Back-to-Back Theories

If you’ve ever read about betting tricks for the NBA, or even just casually asked a friend, it’s likely that you’ve come across the back-to-back issue. Yes, teams in the NBA to play games on consecutive nights (although it’s happening less frequently). No, this does not mean that you should always take their opponent in the second game of a back-to-back.

My contention is not that teams on the second night of a back-to-back are just as good as they are on a couple days of rest. However, I am confident that they’re not nearly as bad as most people make them out to be.

It has almost become a joke inside NBA betting circles that teams on the second game of a back-to-back never win.

Gamblers in general have become hyper-aware of these scenarios, and for some reason, thinks this gives them an advantage over the house and other gamblers.

Sportsbooks don’t just set lines based on what they think the outcome is going to be. They take into account the biases that bettors have. In the NBA, no such bias is as strong as the one that states a team on its second night of a back-to-back is nearly hopeless. That’s hyperbole, but not far off from the truth.

Instead of thinking you have some groundbreaking revelation, realize you have a great opportunity to go the other way. In my opinion, the team on the back-end of consecutive games is one of the best value plays available in the sport.

I understand that it would stand to reason playing two nights in a row is tough – and there’s no denying that it is. Just be sure you don’t overestimate the impact it has on the game. Fading the public isn’t always the right move, but in this situation it can have some real benefits.

2 – Recognize the Impact of Role Players

Before placing a bet on any sporting event you should be checking out the injury report. Upon getting the information about who’s available, it’s important to make a smart decision based on what you know. All too often, bettors tend to place too much significance on role players being out.

Increasingly, the NBA is becoming a league where the top two or three players on a team determine what the outcome of the season will be. It certainly helps to have more than two all-stars, but most teams simply just don’t have the depth, or the cash, depending on the contract situation.

It makes sense why teams would spend a massive amount of their payroll on only a couple players – it’s the formula for winning.

NBA Players in the Post

After checking an injury report before you place a bet, you might discover that a team’s back up shooting guard or late-game defensive stopper is out. Make no mistake about it – I’m not saying that these don’t have an impact on the outcome of the game. I’m only saying that you need to be smart in recognizing just how big of an impact it will be.

For example, if you were going to take the Bulls on a -110 moneyline but find out the fourth-leading scorer on the team is going to be out, that’s probably not going to affect the game enough to swing things the other way.

Unlike when gambling at a casino, sports bettors take pride in finding the insider information that gives them an edge over the house. Unfortunately, this means that they tend to over-value the information they have because it makes them feel, for lack of a better word, superior.

The bottom line is that if a team’s number one and number two scorers are going to be playing, it’s probably wise to still bet the same way you would regardless of who else might be out. In fact, you may even be able to pick up a little extra value along the way.

3 – Home Court Disadvantage

If there’s any consistent them in this article, it’s recognizing the importance of not overvaluing things just because it seems logical. In this case, I’ll present the idea of home court advantage.

Home court advantage can be hugely beneficial for some teams. In fact, some teams are entirely different when they’re on the road as opposed to when they’re at home. With that being said, there are some teams who don’t experience the same level of improved performance when playing in their own arena.

The key to using this as an indicator to help you make educated sports bets is that you need to find the teams who’s home advantage doesn’t match up to the value Vegas (or other bettors) are giving it.

For example, if you can find a team who performs poorly at home, taking the visiting team with the points might be a great method for choosing underdogs.

Keep in mind that this situation is only going to apply to a few teams across the league. By and large most clubs are going to play much better at home. The trick is finding the handful that don’t and taking advantage of the opportunity to bet the other way.

4 – Don’t Be Afraid to Play the Underdogs

Full disclosure – I’m probably a bigger proponent of betting on big underdogs in the NBA than most people. It’s not even necessarily a well-thought-out strategy, I just simply believe that on a random Tuesday night, any NBA team can win or lose.

It’s a reality in the NBA that players take nights off. Sometimes that means they literally don’t play, but other times it means they just aren’t going to be playing at 100% capacity in an effort to save their bodies for more important games.

If you find a game where a bottom-five team is matched up against a top-five team in the middle of the week, take a flyer on the moneyline if it gets around the +400 mark. Don’t believe me? Go back and look at the schedules.

Two NBA Players During a Play

The best teams in the league lose roughly 25-30 games per year. While some of these losses are matchups with good teams, others are just throwaway mid-week games that were essentially nights off.

If you’re a fan of betting for value, going with big underdogs in the NBA can be one way to take advantage of the odds. More often than not you’re going to lose, but over time the wins should outweigh the losses in terms of money made.

5 – Prop Up

Many betting experts would say that prop bets are an easy way to lose money. I get the logic – the odds are typically not calculated in a way that’s favorable to the public.

With that being said, if you follow one player closely enough you can get somewhat of a feel for how they’ll perform on a given night. Remember, you aren’t necessarily competing against the house, but rather other bettors who move the lines.

My advice would be to find one second-tier player, a number two on a good team, and follow him closely throughout the season. Prop bets that deal with rebounds and assists are almost impossible to predict, but overall scoring is easier.

Prop bets shouldn’t be the main part of your NBA betting strategy, but if you can make a little extra money by winning 60% of them, it’s worth incorporating.

Conclusion

“Fade the public” is a common saying amongst bettors, but rarely do they take their own advice. I’ve laid out a few tips that support this theory, and encourage everyone to try it for themselves.

Looking at things counterintuitively can yield tremendous betting results simply because the house is banking on you following in line with everyone else.

Top 2 Gambling Destinations in the World That Aren’t Vegas or Macau

Paris and Aruba Symbols With a Casino Background

Though it can be easy to think of the United States as the top gambling destination in the world (after all, for a long time, Vegas was the place to gamble), the world has come a long way since the 1930s, and the world now abounds with many gambling destinations that the savvy gambler will find worth a visit.

While gambling is still illegal in many parts of the world, legal gambling can be found on just about every continent. And while just about everyone in the world knows about Las Vegas and Macau, you’d probably be blown away to learn how many different awesome gambling destinations there are in the world.

Here are some of the top gambling destinations in the world that aren’t Vegas or Macau (and why you should visit them).

1- Paris, France

Didn’t see that one coming, did you?

That’s right, the other city of lights that’s more known for just about everything but gambling (the architecture, the culture, the art scene, the food, the history, the romance, the fashion—the list goes on!) is also known for having a ton of casinos.

First of all, I will say that if all you speak is English, you can generally get by just fine in Paris as many of the natives speak at least a little English, though it helps to download a translation app on your phone.

What I think I like about the casinos in Paris that you’re just not going to find at other casinos around the world is literally the fact that the casinos are in Paris. Okay, I’m exaggerating a little, but I think this is something that many hardcore gamblers don’t consider—the location and what’s going on outside the casino.

Now yes, we all get that there are a certain breed of gamblers who are solely going to a hotel and casino for the gambling experience and doesn’t plan on leaving, but the vast majority of people are there for a lot more than just gambling.

There’s a reason casinos generally don’t have windows, keep clocks off the walls, give you free drinks, have hotels connected to the casino, make the casinos into difficult-to-navigate mazes, and all the rest—they want you to stay inside and gamble! But for most folks, getting out and getting a breath of fresh air is critical. Not only that, but most folks just want to get outside, get some exercise, and see some sights.

The problem comes when you go sightseeing in Macau or Vegas. Sure, they’re nice in their way, but most of the “sights” are just more casinos, more big, gaudy buildings that have been built very recently, and not much in the way of true history.

Okay, I’ll walk that back a bit and admit that Vegas does have a lot of interesting little museums that explore the history of the place, and I’ll also admit that Macau has a much longer and richer history that goes far beyond just the casinos, but let’s face it—these places are so big that it’s hard for people to get out and take a look.

Exterior of Casino de Paris

That’s why I love Paris as a gambling destination. Many of the casinos (as I’m sure anyone who has been to Paris can imagine) are quite small. The Europeans don’t do the everything is bigger thing that Americans love so much. Some of these casinos have maybe 5 poker tables!

For some people, I can see how this is a drawback—you want to gamble in a place that has lots of action, lots of drama, lots of excitement and goings on. And if that’s your thing, Vegas or Macau is the place to be.

If you love long lines and big crowds, sure, check out Vegas and Macau.

If you love being packed like a sardine into every casino you visit and having to wait forever just to hit the tables, sure, be my guest, go to Vegas or Macau—no judgement.

But if you want something that’s more laid back, that’s more easy going, and that’s set in the middle of one of the most beautiful and culturally rich cities in the world, a place where you can take a break from the gambling to tour the Louvre, or to ride to the top of the Eiffel Tower, or visit the Arc de Triomphe or check out a dozen other amazing, incredible monuments or events, Paris is the place to go.

But let’s say France isn’t your bag (and for a lot of people, it’s not). Where else can you get your gambling fix that’s not Vegas or Macau?

2- Aruba

If you’ve never been to Aruba, you need to go, especially if you live in the United States. The flight out to this little Caribbean island and former Dutch colony is relatively short, the cost of most of the hotels and food is relatively cheap, and the gambling is high quality.

Aruba is often called “The Vegas of the Caribbean” because of its concentration of hotels. First, to get the boring stuff out of the way, Aruba is extremely safe and has worked very hard in the last twenty years to become even safer than it already was.

The fact is that Aruba depends heavily on tourism to make its money. The majority of the residents work in the tourism business in some way, and they understand that it’s critical to make all visitors feel safe and welcome from the moment they get there to the moment they leave.

Now getting off the plane in Aruba can be a bit intimidating as there will be a huge crowd of taxi drivers trying desperately to get you to take their taxi, rent their car, and let them take care of your bags for you. To be honest, I believe that these guys are completely trustworthy—they’re not going to rip you off—they’re just going to overcharge you is all. It’s best to book a car in advance.

The island is multilingual, so you’ll find people speaking English in addition to Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, and Papiamento. Most people will speak English to you with no problem (and the same goes for Spanish), so that’s one of the big benefits of going there—no language barrier.

Now once you get your car and make your way to your hotel, you’re going to immediately see why I recommend Aruba for real money gambling—it’s not the casinos (which are great by the way): it’s the beaches!

View of a Beach in Aruba

I don’t know about you, but most people I know don’t want to gamble until they drop when they’re on vacation. They want to be able to relax and take it easy (at least for a little bit!), and Aruba is all about that island lifestyle.

The beaches are just beautiful and absolutely worth checking out while you’re there. The sand is soft and nice to lay on, and the water is usually the perfect temperature for swimming.

Another big bonus is that, because you’re on an island, everything is extremely close together. Getting from one hotel to the next (or one restaurant to the next, or one beach to the next) takes very little time. In fact, the island is so small that you can pretty much drive around the entire island in about 2 hours!

And when you’re talking about Aruba, you have to mention the food. First of all, avoid the restaurants in the hotels and casinos if you can. They tend to be way overpriced and are pretty much ready to milk you dry. The size of the island also goes in your favor here. You can easily drive a small distance and find something off the beaten path.

There are a number of incredible seafood restaurants in Aruba that have excellent prices and fresh fish literally caught that day. You absolutely have to make it out to one of these places while you’re there. While you’ll certainly be able to get some good gambling done, and while the food in the casinos is high-quality too, getting out and seeing the rest of the island is a must.

If you like spending time outdoors, then Aruba is definitely the place to be. In addition to the beaches and the water sports (all the boat fanatics will love it here), you can also find some incredible scuba diving and snorkeling trips for very reasonable prices.

Some of these trips will take you on a party boat, serve you alcohol and food, and then allow you to snorkel through shipwrecks! If that’s not a good time, I don’t know what is.

And though it is an island, there’s still a large desert region that you can visit if you don’t mind riding a four-wheeler around, and there are also a few high points that aren’t quite mountains but aren’t quite hills either, and if you’re in the climbing/hiking mood, you can certainly make it out there as well.

Conclusion

While there are places to gamble all over the world, these are two of my absolute favorite destinations to recommend to people because they’re so off the beaten gambling path, so unexpected, and so fun. You’ll get great food, exercise, and cultural experiences in addition to getting your gambling fix.

What’s your favorite off-the-beaten-path gambling destination? Let me know in the comments!

5 Things You MUST Understand About Sweepstakes Casinos

Gold Coin With Online Slots Background

One of the most amazing developments in online gambling in the United States in the past few years is the creation of a legal method of gambling online that’s available in all 50 states and even in Canada—sweepstakes casinos.

Sweepstakes casinos work on a simple principle—while in a “normal” online casino (like many of the online casinos that have recently popped up in states like New Jersey or Nevada) you are able to deposit money directly and gamble with real money online, in a sweepstakes casino, you gamble with a currency known as “sweeps coins.”

How does this work? How is this legal? Let’s take a look at how this works.

1- Sweepstakes Casinos Don’t Use Real Money

This is a little complicated to understand, but once you get the principle down, it makes sense.

So in a “normal” online casino, you just use cash—you deposit it and withdraw it just like you would at a land-based casino.

In a sweepstakes casino, you’re not using cash directly. Instead, you’re following what’s known as the “sweepstakes model.”

To put it simply, there are some virtual currencies that you use instead of using cash directly. You actually buy one of the currencies directly, and then you get the other currency as a free bonus.

Luckyland Slots Online Screenshot

Most of these casinos use the same system. What you do is you use real cash to purchase a virtual currency called “gold coins.” These coins have no redeemable value—you can’t trade them for real cash.

However, each time you purchase gold coins, you’re given what are called “sweeps coins” as a free bonus.

Sweeps coins can then be traded for cash. You use these sweeps coins (which are not actual cash, but rather have a cash value) to play whatever games are available in the casino.

So yes, you can eventually make your way to getting real money in these casinos, but only in this roundabout way.

2- These Casinos Are Perfectly Legal in All 50 States

While many states have outlawed online casinos where cash is used directly, the casinos that use the sweepstakes model are completely legal in all 50 states.

This is huge, especially given the fact that many states are now legalizing online gambling and allowing anyone within state lines to play for real money.

For most people, unless one of the states that have legalized gambling is directly next door (as in, you live right next to the border), it just doesn’t make any sense to go all the way to one of these states to gamble online.

In fact, it makes a lot more sense to just go to the nearest land-based casino. It would be pretty silly to just drive over state lines, park your car, and then gamble on your phone for hours while sitting in an uncomfortable seat.

With sweepstakes casinos, gamblers are able to gamble directly from home. You can purchase gold coins as often as you want and get the free sweeps coins that come along with your purchases, and you can do so from any state in the union.

3- Most of These Casinos Give You a Sign-Up Bonus

Another huge benefit of sweepstakes casinos is that you get a sign-up bonus just for signing up and creating an account.

Now in most cases, this does mean that you have to give them some personal information, and if you actually end up winning any sweeps coins and want to redeem them, you have to give them even more personal information.

To get back to the sign-up bonus—this is a pretty simple concept. When you sign up and create an account on any of these casinos, you get a bunch of gold coins and a few sweeps coins for free.

While the gold coins are essentially worthless, you’re given a ton of them, so if you’re just a fan of online slots, online scratch cards, or online poker, then you can use them as much as you like without any real risk.

The sweeps coins are where the real money is at, and depending on the site, you might get anywhere from 2 to 10 free sweeps coins just for signing up.

You can use these sweeps coins immediately to play games, but because the number of sweeps coins you get is usually so low, it’s pretty hard to actually win much of anything and build up a bankroll this way. You pretty much just have to get lucky.

4- Some Casinos Will Give You Free Sweeps Coins by Mail

Because of the sweepstakes model that all these casinos use, they usually have a strange way of letting players get free sweeps coins—the mail.

The fact that this is a method of getting sweeps coins isn’t exactly advertised by the casinos, but you can usually find out how to do this by looking through their rules—they just bury it so it’s hard to find.

The reason they have to do this is pretty much a legal one. In order to use the sweepstakes model, there has to be a way to directly get free sweeps coins without making any purchase.

While many of these casinos will have contests where you can win free sweeps coins, the mail-in method has to be available too.

You’re not exactly going to get a ton of sweeps coins by using this method, so don’t expect to see your account overflowing with sweeps coins after your letter is received, but if you’re patient and don’t mind waiting, you can use this method to get all the sweeps coins you want to use the casinos for free.

That’s right—I said as many times as you want. All of these casinos will give you free sweeps coins for every envelope you send in, although they do put a lot of requirements on how this works.

First, your handwriting must be legible, and whether or not it’s considered “legible” is totally up to them. If they don’t think it’s legible, then you don’t get your coins.

Second, you have to follow the rules exactly. If you don’t follow the rules just as they’re laid out, you won’t get your free sweeps coins.

You also have to wait for the letters to actually show up in the mail and then be processed, but you can send as many letters as you want.

That being said, it does cost you a little money—the cost of stamps and the cost of the envelopes themselves—but that’s usually less than the amount of sweeps coins are worth.

5- Gold Coins Let You Practice Without Risking Real Money

One of the biggest benefits of playing on these sites, especially the sites that have games that require serious skill, like poker, is that you can use those “worthless” gold coins to practice.

Real money online poker is a great example of why you need to do this. When you’re playing poker, you really have to make sure that you’ve got the game down and you know what you’re doing.

If you’re not clear on how the game works and which cards are worth holding or folding, then you’re going to lose your sweeps coins when it comes time to make bets that are worth something.

Luckyslots Online Slot Screenshot

Those gold coins that you get (either by purchasing the gold coins or as part of your sign-up bonus) have no redeemable value, and because you get a ton of them (many of these sites will give you bonus gold coins every time you sign in or as you complete certain “tasks” (like winning a certain number of hands), you might as well use them to practice.

While you might think that this isn’t a great idea for poker because people are going to play loose with coins that aren’t actually worth something, I’d say think again.

With games like poker, there are always going to be people who want to win for the love of the game, and not because there’s any real money at stake.

For slots, using gold coins is great because you can learn how each slot works and try to find one you think will pay out great when you use your sweeps coins.

Conclusion

Sweepstakes casinos are a fun way to practice your skills at poker, slots, or other games of chance, and they give you the ability to actually make some money gambling.

Thankfully, there are also many ways you can get sweeps coins for free, so you’re not limited to making purchases. For the savvy gambler, that means you can potentially make some real money without risking any money if you play your cards right.

Have you played any games at sweepstakes casinos before? Tell me your favorite game in the comments—I’d love to hear it.

4 Ways to Improve Your Chances of Winning Money on a Casino Trip

Casino Chips With a Casino Floor Themed Background

It’s hard to replicate the excitement of walking into a casino knowing there’s a chance you walk out richer than when you started. Not to mention, if you win, it’s basically like free money since you enjoyed the process of making it.

The unfortunate reality of the situation (unless you’re the house) is that few people put the necessary thought into a casino trip that it requires to be successful. It’s challenging, but walking away with more money than you started with is possible.

In this article, I’ll outline 5 ways you can improve your chances of winning money on your casino visit.

1 – Play Slow and Take Breaks

It sounds obvious, but the sentiment is ignored by the vast majority of casino gamblers. One of the most effective ways to win money is to minimize the amount of money you lose.

If you begin playing and quickly get down $150 in the first 20 or 30 minutes of your trip, that means you’ve put yourself in a hole. The best way to get out of it is not to keep on playing until your luck turns around, but rather take a break and start again.

When you begin to lose, frustration sets in as you see your bankroll dwindling. More often than not, this leads to bigger bets in hopes of getting back the money you’ve already lost. It’s tempting to look for the big win that rights the ship, but the risk of falling even deeper in the hole just isn’t worth it.

Aside from simply putting yourself further and further behind the proverbial 8-ball, there’s another reason why it’s important to play slow: casino comps.

Blackjack Player Reaching for Casino Chips

Comps are free perks that casinos give their most loyal players as an incentive to keep visiting their casino. These perks can be anything from free food and drinks, extra money to use at the casino’s amenities, free entry into certain tournaments, and much more.

One of the ways that comps are determined is by the amount of time players spend on the floor gambling. It’s to your benefit to play slower and increase your time on the floor (good for comps), as well as reducing your risk by making fewer bets.

The bottom line is that players who rush, especially when they get down early, will suffer the consequences in a number of ways. Simply put, it’s better to play slow and take frequent, short breaks.

2 – Play Games with Better Odds

I get it – what could be more obvious than suggesting players stay away from games with a high house edge? It might not seem like this advice is necessary, but if you’re new to casino gaming it can be easy to get sucked in to a game that is heavily tilted in the casino’s favor.

First and foremost, slots are going to be a difficult way to win money. Varying odds make it hard to say exactly what the house edge is on each game specifically, but suffice it to say that there are always going to be better options.

Another notable game that should be avoided is Wheel of Fortune (sometimes called Big Six). This game receives a lot of attention from players who walk in without a plan simply because it’s one of the most eye-catching features of the casino floor.

A general rule of thumb is: if it flashes and makes noise, it’s compensating for something. Most often, that something is low odds for the player.

The good news? There are several games that offer very favorable odds for gamblers. Real money blackjack, for example, has a house edge that’s roughly only 1%. Keep in mind that this low number assumes you’re making the right plays, so be sure to study up on your blackjack basics before taking a seat at the table.

Another great option is craps, which also has an extremely small house edge of around 1%. The key to being successful with craps is knowing how to manage your money so that you aren’t taking on any unnecessary risk.

Finally, if you’re looking for a game that is both easy and offers good odds, roulette is the way to go. The standard version of roulette that can be found at most casinos will have a less than 1% house edge. If you’re betting on red or black, you have just about a 50% chance of winning.

One wild card which should be mentioned is poker. The house edge doesn’t really apply here as players are competing against each other. If you’re a skilled player you can easily make a good deal of money simply due to being better at the game. On the flip side, if you aren’t very experienced, you could be out quite a bit of cash very quickly.

Game selection doesn’t guarantee walking away with extra money in your pocket, but in gambling, just like anything else, it’s crucial to put yourself in a position to succeed.

3 – Practice Online Beforehand

The old cliché of “practice makes perfect” certainly applies to casino games. Honing your skills in both the actual gameplay and the money management the games require is a great way to improve your chances of having a profitable casino visit.

In the past, there was no real way to replicate the feel of a game without actually going to the casino and learning by experience. Unfortunately, this meant you had to put up real money in order to get that experience. Today, that’s no longer the case.

Before heading into a physical casino, get warmed up by utilizing the best online casino platforms. With nearly endless options to choose from, you can play games using fake money or very low amounts of real money so that you aren’t risking a great deal in the name of gaining more experience.

Person on Their Laptop and Phone

One of the primary reasons that newer players make money management mistakes on the casino floor is because they’re preoccupied with learning how the games work. Any mental effort you have to put into playing the game properly is effort that you could be putting into making sure you’re keeping track of your bankroll.

Not to mention, playing a game you aren’t totally familiar with around strangers can cause a level of anxiety. When anxiety and gambling are mixed, bad things typically follow.

You don’t need to spend hours and hours online before heading to the casino, but getting in a little practice with low-stakes games can be a great way to get prepared.

4 – Know When to Leave

Nobody likes walking away when they’re down a boatload of money, but sometimes it’s easier than leaving when things are going well.

If you’re fortunate enough to have been successful during your casino trip in the early going, don’t ruin it by getting greedy and risking your winnings.

Any time you’re planning to gamble, set a limit where if you reach that number, you’ll walk away feeling like you won.

As frustrating as it can be to admit that you just gave away hundreds of dollars to a casino through your losses, it’s even worse to look back and think all you had to do was walk away and you’d have been successful.

Don’t let your drive home be full of regret when you could be enjoying a free night out on the town thanks to the casino. If you’re lucky enough to win, don’t be foolish enough to lose it all.

Conclusion

Casinos are always going to have a house edge over players. Over the long run, the probabilities give the house an almost sure bet that they’ll be profitable. With that being said, you can be one of the few who comes out ahead.

Simply playing smart and being responsible with your money is the single biggest factor in what the end result will be. Mind your bankroll, practice the games you’ll be playing at the casino, and above all, know when to call it a day.

If you do those things, there’s no reason you can’t take a few bucks from the house on your next visit.

Weekly Poker Update: June 29, 2020

Black Poker Chip With June 29, 2020 Text

While we’re still waiting for the world of poker to normalize again, it’s can be increasingly difficult to find the pastime in the news at all. We know that poker rooms are slowly but surely opening back up, albeit not yet for tournaments on any scale. And we also know that major online events are in the offing; we’ll be talking about some news concerning one of those events a bit later in this article.

All of that is a preface to saying that it was quite refreshing to see all of the publicity this week surrounding a book about poker. It’s called The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win, written by Maria Konnikova. And it’s an intriguing take that goes well beyond the do’s and don’ts of holding and folding.

Konnikova, who makes her living as a freelance writer, several years back faced suffered a series of personal setbacks that included family tragedy, financial turmoil, and health problems. It was around that time that she became fascinated by poker and submerged herself into the game. She also had the idea to a write a book about the experience.

The Biggest Bluff Book

Along the way, she convinced poker legend Erik Seidel to become her coach, something that he hadn’t really done before. The Biggest Bluff contains a blow-by-blow of how Konnikova went from complete poker novice to tournament champion in a relatively short amount of time, albeit with some bumps in the road along the way. But it also acts as a kind of self-help book in addition to being a memoir, as Konnikova used the game as a way to rethink her personal circumstances, with Seidel along for the ride as a kind of inadvertent guru.

Konnikova has been making the rounds in the past week to promote the book, with a feature in the New York Times, a CBS This Morning profile, and excerpts popping up on different online sites. It’s clear from that push that her publishers expect big things from the book.

From the excerpts that this author has checked out, you shouldn’t go into it expecting a how-to on high stakes poker. But you could end up gleaning some insights about your life from it.

In interviews, Konnikova has driven home the idea that the game allowed her to rethink the way she viewed the turmoil in her life. In one excerpt, she talked about how, just as you shouldn’t go through your poker life complaining constantly about the bad beats that haunt you, neither should you spend your life dwelling on the bad stuff. Instead, you should be forging personal resilience as a way to cope.

Whether or not the book is able to make those connections remains to be seen; I haven’t had the chance to check out the book yet. But the excerpts are engaging, with Konnikova using real-life poker examples to drive home her points. It helps that she’s a writer of serious note, with other published books and a long line of magazine and online articles to her credit prior to this book.

Obviously, there is no shortage of poker memoirs and books out there. But this one has the potential to be different in that Konnikova came in with a fresh perspective. Even though she quickly became an expert, the way that she got to know the game on the fly could be useful to others who want to learn to play.

And who knows? It might be genuinely helpful to those who are trying to find a way to deal with excess crisis in their lives.

As someone who is generally skeptical of self-help in general, I have to say that the excerpts I read show that Konnikova doesn’t come at it with a heavy hand. She’s making observations based on her experiences, some of which might indeed be germane to others.

Will The Biggest Bluff end up ranking with other poker-with-an-angle classics like James McManus’ Positively Fifth Street? Or will it be something that fills a niche but not necessarily the one that hard-players care about?

That remains to be seen. But, if nothing else, you’ll have some intriguing reading material available to you while you’re on the waiting list for your real money poker table.

WSOP Online Event Taking Shape

While it’s good to have optimism about it, there is no way to tell if we will actually witness a live World Series of Poker event this year. It was officially postponed and not cancelled, so there is still hope. But there is no way of knowing in the months to come, making it impossible to predict the eventual outcome.

That’s why any news on the World Series of Poker Online Series has to be greeted with much enthusiasm. This past week, the schedule of how the 85 bracelets will be broken up was released, including information on all of the international events taking place via GG Poker. That is in addition to the events previously announced to be held at WSOP.com.

In addition to the schedule, the values at stake in each event were also released. And the numbers should have prospective players salivating.

World Series of Poker Bracelet

The behemoth prize is the $5,000 No Limit Hold’em Main Event, which begins on August 30. That carries a guarantee of $25 million in purse money.

There are 10 other events on the schedule with guarantees of at least $1 million. And the variety of tournaments is also encouraging, with just about every imaginable offshoot in the offing.

There is even some mystery involved with the People’s Choice bracelets up for grabs, since there hasn’t been specific word yet and how those choices will be determined. Even if you’re not a player, you can follow along with all the action at GG Poker to get your vicarious thrills from it all.

The whole affair begins on July 19 and concludes on September 6. In an ideal world, maybe conditions will have improved by that point to where the actual World Series of Poker could then take place, making it like the icing on the cake after the online action. But, if nothing else, these online tournaments at the top gambling sites should provide enough excitement to help get poker fans through the long summer months.

All About Bellagio in Las Vegas

Cirque du Soleil Performer and Bellagio Fountains Image

While the Bellagio is famous for gambling, one of its most popular attractions has nothing to do with gambling. Since 1998, “O” has been performed by the Cirque du Soleil at the Bellagio. “O” is pronounced the same way as “eau,” meaning water in French.

The entire performance is based around water—all the acrobatics, both aerial and ground, synchronized swimming, and stunning feats are performed with a 1.5 million-gallon pool of water acting as the centerpiece.

Inspired by the “infinity and elegance of water’s pure form,” O has been a staple at the Bellagio for decades, is played twice most days, and has grossed over a billion dollars since its inception.

While O is a fantastic attraction and worth a visit in its own right, it’s not all the Bellagio has to offer. The resort, luxury hotel, and casino, all located on the Las Vegas Strip, make it one of the most popular gambling destinations in the world.

Casino

Featuring Club Privé – One of the best High Limit Rooms in Las Vegas, draws a crowd. Club Privé is designed to give casino-goers the option to play in a secluded area or amongst an exciting crowd.

The contemporary club offers artistic features like a raised floor, interlinking metal, dark wood, and glass-and silver-leafed screen partitions, while the high-limit lounge has a speakeasy bar with a private selection of drinks.

Club Privé has the following exclusive spirits:

  • Del Maguey “Tobala” Mezcal
  • Woodford Reserve VIP Bourbon
  • Dewar’s Signature Scotch
  • Xellent Vodka
  • Goslings Family Reserve Rum
  • Hardy “Rosebud” Cognac
  • Chinaco 30th Anniversary
  • “Emperador” Tequila
  • Macallan “1966” Vintage Scotch
In addition to a bar featuring exclusive drinks and a once in a lifetime atmosphere, Club Privé also offers great table games to enjoy during your trip to Las Vegas.

Blackjack

Blackjack, also known as 21, is a world-famous table game that’s played at casinos across the country.

Dealers deal out two cards to themselves, as well as all the players at the table. You’ll be able to see one of the dealer’s cards values, helping you decide whether to hit or stay as you try not to bust.

Roulette

One of the easiest games for newcomers to play, this exciting table game has the numbers 1-36 marked on a wheel.

Players can choose different color and number combinations as they try to balance the risk and predict where the ball will end up.

Craps

Dice are passed from shooter to shooter once a shooter “seven outs.” Wagers must be placed before the shooter throws the dice.

Baccarat

Participants wager on whether the bank or the player will end up with the hand closest to nine in baccarat.

Three-Card Poker

This variation of poker gives players three options: bet on the player’s hand, bet on the dealer’s hand, or bet on both.

Players make an ante before cards are dealt and can up their wager throughout the game.

Pai Gow Poker

Just imagine poker, but instead of being responsible for one hand, the player has to watch over two hands.

Then, add in three dice, and you’ll get closer to understanding Pai Gow Poker.

Let It Ride

Players place three equal bets and are dealt three cards at the beginning of the game. You have the choice to “let it ride” throughout the game as the dealer turns over community cards one at a time.

Pai Gow

Originally from Asia, pai gow starts by having dealers shuffle dominos, then you roll three dice.

Then players try to create two hands which are higher than the bank hand as players, and dealers take turns being the bank in pai gow.

Featuring some of the best slot action available in Las Vegas, Bellagio has over 2,300 reels, video reels, and video poker games. Jackpots and progressives have the chance to grow into the millions at this lively casino.

M Life Rewards Mastercard

Purchases at the casino can be turned into M life Rewards Points. Points can then be exchanged into FREEPLAY and Express Comps for use on rooms, dining, and entertainment.

Spending money at M life Rewards destinations will earn purchasers three times the number of points for every dollar spent, while gas and supermarket purchases will earn people two times points and tier credits for every $1 spent.

People using the M life Rewards Mastercard will earn the normal amount of points and tier credit for every other $1 spent on the card.

While spending money at rewards destinations, supermarkets, and gas is the most effective way to rack up points, all purchases will help you earn points you can use on exclusive rewards.

Bellagio Conservatory Spring Theme

Cardholders will also earn 10,000 points when they spend $1,000 in the first three billing cycles. By signing up for the card, you’ll be eligible for an automatic upgrade to pearl level status.

You’ll also be able to receive priority hotel check-in at M life Resorts with no annual fee. Lastly, you’ll incur no foreign transaction fees as you use the card.

Pearl level status includes complimentary self-parking at Las Vegas resorts. Members can also receive buffet line passes at Las Vegas resorts, giving them the option to bypass the long lines that plague some buffets on the strip.

You’ll also receive a 10% bonus on points and express comps for whatever you spend on gaming.

Bobby’s Room

This signature poker room is named for Bobby Baldwin, the 1978 World Series of Poker Champion and Chief Design and Construction Officer, President and CEO of CityCenter.

Like its namesake, the poker room has a winning style and is open 24 hours a day for high-stakes poker.

The room is famous for hosting the highest-limit poker action in the world. The buy-in is prohibitive. It costs $20,000 just to get a seat at one of these exclusive poker tables.

Be careful if you’re playing there, too. Many notable, competitive poker players play here, so you’ll want to make sure your chops are up to speed before joining in.

BetMGM Sportsbook at Bellagio

This 5,600 square-foot venue contains state-of-the-art screens, including 99 individual racing monitors, seven large screens for racing, six large screens for sports, 38 sports bar flat screens plus other screens spread throughout the sportsbook at strategic locations to give you the best experience possible.

The sportsbook is open Mon through Sun, 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. The sportsbook has the ability to post up to 25 tracks per day. Up to seven types of parlay cards are available for players including Half Point, Parlay, Teaser, Super Teaser, Advantage Teaser, Monday/Sunday, and Moneyline.

The lounge area features leather seats and the sportsbook also has a non-smoking section. You can also order drinks or food from any Bellagio restaurant or bar.

“O”

The Canadian circus and entertainment company, Cirque du Soleil, has made O into one of the biggest-drawing attractions at the Bellagio.

The water-themed attraction draws thousands of patrons every year as the performers acrobatically move in, on, and around water in a magnificent theatre meant to recall the architecture of a European opera house.

The theater has 1,800 seats and the show happens twice a day, meaning 3,600 people get to see the show every day.

While this seems like a lot, the show is in such demand at the Bellagio that it can still be hard to score tickets.

Cirque du Soleil O Performers

Showtimes typically occur seven days a week at 7 PM and 9:30 PM. Inspired by the concept of infinity, O is a tribute to performance and theater. The show is aided by 150 stage technicians who set the stage for the 85 performers.

Backstage tours have been available since 2010 and give you the chance to see what goes on behind the scenes as performers, technicians, and workers prepare the stage.

O is a rewarding spectacle and has received many accolades like the Entertainment Design Award, Best Production Show, 1998, “Las Vegas Review-Journal”, Best Production Show, 1999–2006, THEA, live show category, 1999, and Prix Italia, Creativity in High Definition, 2009, for the documentary Flow.

Fountains of Bellagio

Choreographed to the music and light, water shoots out of these fountains located in front of the Bellagio hotel which can be seen from vantage points all along the Las Vegas Strip.

The show occurs every 30 minutes from mid-afternoon to evening, so even if you’re not staying at the Bellagio, you can stop by the fountains and see the show.

The light show is even better at night and occurs every 15 minutes from 8 PM to midnight.

When the fountain opened, it was the largest in the world. Since then, it’s been passed in size by two other fountains, one in 2010 and the other in 2017.

While it’s not the biggest fountain in the world anymore, it’s still another great reason to spend time at the Bellagio.

Conclusion

What is your favorite attraction in Las Vegas? Let us know in the comments.

Only 1 in 50 Gamblers Can Identify these Gambling Mistakes

Frustrated Man With Hands Pulling Hair

Gambling mistakes are a huge roadblock. People who are new to gambling are often hamstrung by their fear over doing something dumb and looking foolish or losing money.

I consider a gambling mistake to be anything that people tend to do that I feel is wrong or a bad play. Think of them as bad gambling habits if you’d like.

In some cases, these are based on long-held myths and superstitions. In many cases, we identify mistakes that gamblers make because the casino very much encourages them to make them.

I’ve advised new gamblers and newcomers to gambling games so often that I feel compiling a list of common gambling mistakes to avoid is immediately in my wheelhouse.

While it may be of some benefit to some if I were to simply make a bullet point list of the 50 biggest mistakes I see. I’d rather give you a few key mistakes that few will immediately identify.

In order to make it easier to find holes in your own games without having to pour over a sea of words, I’ll provide you an immediate and easy guide to reference.

Of course, if it were easy, everyone would do it. Certainly, anyone that has gambled for any significant period of time knows that being successful at gambling is not an easy task by any means.

While you may not be able to control the odds or where the cards fall, there are many common, small mistakes you can learn to avoid in order to have a more lucrative gambling experience.

Below I’ve provided some of these gambling mistakes that can be easily avoided with minimal knowledge. In fact, only 1 in 50 gamblers can identify these gambling mistakes.

Thinking You Are Due

“The Gambler’s Fallacy” is a concept every gambler should know. A common faux pas among novice gamblers is thinking that because a particular outcome hasn’t occurred in a while, that makes it more likely to occur in the near future (and vice versa).

Results in most gambling games are independent of each other, and like in a coin flip, the next result (or flip) has nothing to do with the last ten. I’ve seen it happen countless times and been guilty of it myself more than I care to admit.

I cringe when I hear fellow players start to proclaim how they are due. I once chased a blackjack dealer for over 60 hands, the probability of hitting a natural blackjack is roughly 1 out of every 21 hands. Ouch.

A more famous example of people falling victim to this line of thinking came during a roulette game at the Monte Carlo Casino in the early 1900s. During a streak where the ball landed on black 26 consecutive times, bettors lost millions betting against black, thinking that red was destined to come up on the next spin. Keeping this rule in mind can keep you in check from making what might otherwise be irrational bets.

Not Knowing What You Are Playing

Not all casino table games are created equal, even if they might appear to be. Even with some of the most common games in the world (like blackjack), there can be an countless number of variations.

Also, the version played at your local casino could have a different set of rules compared to what you are used to playing online. Even if these differences don’t appear to be huge ones, they could be the difference between being up hundreds, or more, or calling it a day after 30 minutes of play.

I’ve been on both sides of this conundrum. I can assure you, there’s nothing fun about sleeping out in the car flat broke while your buddy is inside the casino having a blast.

Spinning Roulette Wheel

i’ll say most players especially aren’t aware of the different versions of roulette. Depending on if you are playing American roulette (with a 00 space) or European (no 00 space), your odds and betting strategy are going to be different.

However, all of this is easily fixed by doing some research before playing. By simply identifying this mistake, you are almost certain to not make it.

Many real money online casinos have free play features that let you figure out the ins and outs of a game without risking any money, and most live casino dealers would be happy to explain all the rules before you begin to play.

Playing the Wrong Games

Not knowing the rules of a game is one thing, but there’s also a whole slew of games that are best avoided altogether if you are looking to do more than just play for fun, no matter what the odds are.

Games like Keno, Big Six Wheel, Caribbean Stud Side Bet, Baccarat Tie Bet, and Roulette all carry house edges anywhere from 5-25%.

While blackjack is famous for being the casino game that gives you the best odds, that’s only if you know basic strategy and commit to it. Playing on “hunch” bets or even taking insurance bets in the game can increase the casino edge anywhere from up to 8-20%.

Other casino games that will give you better odds include craps and some video poker machines.

In no way am I discouraging you from playing any game you’d like. I’m just letting you know that if you’re planning to keep at least some of your money, you need to find another game or employ basic strategy.

Gambling With Impaired Judgment

It should be obvious that alcohol and other substances will massively impair your judgement to make rational gambling decisions at the casino (despite casinos being all too eager to offer you free or discounted booze while you are playing). But one should also be aware of how emotions, both positive and negative, can affect your play.

As fun as it may seem, alcohol will affect your ability to make rational gambling decisions.

For the most part, no one is really immune to the psychological effects of gambling. By nature, gambling is exciting, and the steeper the odds are for us to win, the more exciting it becomes.

For someone to win at gambling, many others must lose, a reason we can experience a heightened sense of self-worth when we go on a lucky streak. While it’s fine to gamble just “for fun”, it is difficult for some people to keep all of this mind when they are winning (or losing).

Which just stresses the importance of my last point even more.

Not Playing Within Your Bankroll

Whatever you want to call it, not chasing your losses, setting a budget, managing your bankroll, not knowing when to walk away, this is the number one mistake gambler’s often make.

There is a thrill associated with winning big, one that makes you want to see just how high you can build your stack of chips or cash. But if you devise some simple bankroll management strategies and stick to them, you can help minimize your potential losses even on the days where lady luck is seemingly in another building.

Whether it’s online or in the casino, a good rule of thumb to follow is to always set aside 50% from all your wins. As long as you don’t get cleaned out right from the start, this guarantees that you’ll leave the table with at least the amount you sat down with.

Hands Shuffling a Deck of Cards

Another popular strategy, combined with a set amount of how much you are willing to lose is called the Stop-Loss Strategy, meaning decreasing the value of your bets whenever you endure a loss.

Finally, it’s always a good idea to only play with tangible cash as opposed to trying to fight the temptation of gambling on credit.

I want to stress to you that gambling is merely a form of entertainment, no different than going to a ball game or a concert. You should never put your financial situation in jeopardy over a game. If you find yourself having difficulty stopping, please seek help.

Conclusion

If gambling was easy money, do you think us gambling experts would be spending our free time writing gambling content for a living?

Likely not.

Even the best gamblers, the most successful professional sports bettors and blackjack card-counters, struggle to live above the break-even point. One bad run or one series of mismanaged bets can easily knock them out of the black and into the red. It’s not easy to be successful at gambling, that’s why you have to follow so many rules.

If gambling were easy, you could occasionally get away with placing a prop or exotic wager, taking insurance against a dealer blackjack, or betting on your emotions.

The fact is, making any of the above gambling mistakes could ruin your entire gambling season and keep you from turning a profit.

You can’t control the odds, you can’t control where the dice land or how the cards fall, but you can learn to avoid common mistakes. I’m not promising winnings, just slightly better odds and certainly a much better gambling experience.

How many of the gambling mistakes that only 1 in 50 gamblers can identify could you spot? Gamble on.

Using Advanced Stats in Over/Under Baseball Bets

Stats, MLB Logo, Bryce Harper
The history of baseball is intrinsically intertwined with gambling.

The Blacksox Scandal of 1919 involved 8 Chicago White Sox players being accused of throwing the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. The team was accused of taking money from a gambling syndicate led by Arnold Rothstein and 8 players from that team were banned from baseball for life.

This criminal act changed the game of baseball forever and resulted in Kenesaw Mountain Landis being appointed as the first commissioner— his duty was to restore the public’s faith in baseball.

Even though a betting scandal changed the game of baseball forever, baseball betting is still alive and well as sportsbooks around the country offer baseball betting year-round.

What Are Baseball Over/Under Bets?

An over/under bet in baseball is simple enough to make. The oddsmakers will give you an over/under like 6.5, which is the number of runs both teams will score added together. Then you’ll either bet “over” that number or “under” that number.

An over bet means you think the total runs between the two teams will be over 6.5.
An under bet means you think the total runs between the two teams will be under 6.5.

If you pick the over, you’re probably expecting both teams to have big offensive nights. This can be because both pitching staffs are fatigued or not very good, or because both teams just have some tremendous power hitters.

You may choose to make an under bet when one of the team’s starting pitchers is an ace. An ace pitcher, like Max Scherzer, is one of the top 30 or so pitchers in the league. Aces are expected to give up around 3 runs or less on an average night and cause the run total to lean towards the under.

Over/unders are different from other bets though in one key area. Over/under bets are not valid unless the game goes the whole 9 innings.

How to Understand Odds in Baseball Over/Under Bets

When you make an over/under bet, you’re not betting on which team will win—so it doesn’t matter which team you think is superior or is your favorite. You’re betting on how well the offenses— or conversely how bad the pitchers will do— on that night.

The over/under odds will look something like this for a Yankees Red Sox game:

  • Line: 6.5
  • Over (-110)
  • Under (+120)

If you want to bet on the over, you’ll need to bet $110 to win $100.

If you want to bet on the under, you’ll need to bet $100 to win $120.

As you can see, you can make more money per dollar by betting on the under than the over in this scenario. The oddsmakers set the odds in favor of certain sides to draw bettors into those sides and make money off the losing bets.

How to Predict Runs Scored

Now that you understand what an over/under bet is, how odds work, and how the payouts work, you can start thinking about making some over/under bets.

Runs scored is the determining factor of an over/under bet, so you need to look at how well the overall offense works.

i
OPS is the sum of a player’s slugging average and on-base percentage.

Team OPS indicates the average OPS for the whole team and is a better indicator of total runs scored than one player’s batting average.

The strength of a team’s offense is an important factor, but pitching and fielding of the opposing team can suppress even the most potent of offenses.

While many bettors use traditional stats like ERA(earned-run average) and RBI’s(runs batted-in) to place their over/under bets, these stats are not as predictive as advanced stats like ERA+ and OPS+. (Available at Baseball-Reference)

You can be more accurate when making over/under bets by using these advanced statistics that do a much better job of predicting runs scored than traditional stats.

ERA+

Before we can show you how effective ERA+ is at predicting runs scored, we’ll discuss why using ERA stats are less useful when making wagers.

Despite it’s less predictive nature, earned run average (ERA) is historically one of the most popular baseball stats. Henry Chadwick came up with the stat in the early 1900s when relief pitchers became necessary.

Before then, almost every starting pitcher would pitch a complete game so relief pitchers were not commonly used.

Once relief pitchers started pitching more often, it became necessary to calculate ERA to determine which pitchers gave up the least amount of runs.

Aroldis Chapman

Many traditional gamblers still use ERA to predict which pitcher will be more effective when making over/under bets.

In this example of using ERA to predict an over/under bet, the game’s over/under will be set at 7.

If both starting pitchers have an ERA of 2.3, then you could expect the total runs scored in the game to be slightly higher than 4.6. Each starting pitcher will give up between 2 to 3 runs and the bullpen may give up another run or two for each team.

Since both teams have starting pitchers with low ERAs, most traditional bettors would take the under.

While this is a sound strategy, the oddsmakers will know this and favor the under in a game with two great starting pitchers. This is where ERA+ can be useful.

ERA+ is a weighted average of ERA that uses ballpark factors and league average ERAs in its calculation. This makes ERA+ better for comparing pitchers who pitch in different ballparks and gives bettors a more true indication of which pitchers are actually better at preventing runs.

ERA+ will either be a number less or greater than 100. The further away the number is from 100, the further away the pitcher is from league average.

Pedro Martinez has the modern record for ERA+ in one season at 291, indicating he was 191% better than league average that season.

Pedro Martinez

While ERA is a good, general indicator of how good a pitcher is, it doesn’t account for what the average ERA of the league is, or if the pitcher pitches in a pitcher-friendly ballpark. ERA+ does a better job of showing how pitchers compare to the rest of the league.

You can use ERA+ to gain an advantage in over/under bets. If a starting pitcher has an ERA+ of 120, he’s 20% better than the league average so you may want to take the under on the bet.

ERA+ helps bettors see which pitchers are really effective and which ones just play in a beneficial park.

OPS+

While ERA+ is used to determine how effective pitchers are compared to league average, On-base Plus Slugging Plus (OPS+) is used to determine how effective hitters are against the entire league and can give you an advantage when making over/under bets.

Many bettors would incorrectly use batting average to see how many runs a team will score when they’re making an over/under bet. While batting average is good for showing how many hits a player gets and how good his contact skill is, it doesn’t show you how good of an offensive player he is.

OPS considers how many walks and extra-base hits a player gets while batting average is calculated solely off hits. Walks and extra-base hits both contribute to runs scored as much as hits do, so leaving them out makes batting average an inferior stat.

Walk in Baseball

OPS+ takes the greatness of OPS one step further and compares the OPS of players to the league average OPS. OPS+ works in the same way that ERA+ does— the number is scaled to 100. The further a player’s OPS+ is from 100, the further that player is from league average, positive or negative.

So a player with a 150 OPS+ is 50% better than league average while a player with an OPS+ of 75 is 25% worse than league average.

OPS+ can show you how much better a team’s offense is than a league-average offensive team. This is much more useful than OPS when predicting whether to bet over or under on a team because it does not consider the conditions of each ballpark.

Both OPS+ and ERA+ can more truthfully show you how good players are while ignoring park effects. The stats are more effective than traditional stats like ERA or batting average at predicting how many runs a team will score.

You can even compare a team’s OPS+ to their opponent’s ERA+ to see which team is further from league average offense or pitching, which will give you a big leg up on bettors who only look at stats like ERA and batting average.

Conclusion

What’s your favorite advanced baseball statistic to use when betting on over/unders? Let us know in the comments.

How to Hack Casino Games

Person Coding on a Laptop and Playing Cards Image

What does it mean to want to know how to hack casino games? Does it mean you want to learn how to cheat at slot machines? Does it mean you want to get unauthorized access to the computer programs generating the results for various gambling machines?

I tend to prefer the definition of “hack” that refers to solving a problem or working your way around a problem with a clever strategy. (This is the usage that you’ll see “life hackers” prefer, too.)

This isn’t an etymology blog, though. The only reason I get into the definition is because I want to clarify what I mean when I say I’m going to teach you how to hack casino games.

How to Cheat at Slot Machines

I want to start by going on the record to say that I am AGAINST cheating at slot machines. Even if you know how, you shouldn’t do it. Here’s why.

Cheating at casino games is a felony in Nevada. I’m not sure what the laws are in other states, but I suspect they’re similar. At the very least, using a device or illicit computer program to get an edge at slots would be illegal. And you don’t want to spend time in prison over that sort of thing.

Just ask Tommy Glenn Carmichael, although he’s probably a bad example. (He can’t seem to stop.)

Now that I’ve warned against it, how would you cheat at slot machines if you wanted to? I’m not a computer programmer, but I’m sure that if you have an education in programming, you could get far cheating at slots by hacking the source code for the games.

Less intense ways to cheat at slots might include using fake coins to play, since you’re not risking real money, anything you earn is pure profit. But you would have to find a coin slot machine to get this to work.

Most machines nowadays only use bills and tickets. If you come across vintage slot machines or can find them in your area, then the fake coin trick might be a fun little gimmick. But you also have to watch out for the “eye in the sky!” That’s why cheating at slot machines is pretty much a lost cause.

How to Hack Blackjack

Learning how to hack blackjack is easier and way better than cheating at slot machines. All you need to do is learn how to count cards.

The casinos think that counting cards is cheating, but it’s not illegal. The reason it’s not illegal is because you’re not really cheating. You’re not marking the deck, doing something to affect the randomness of the shuffle or the deal, or anything else that affects the conditions of the game.

You’re just THINKING hard about the game. How could you consider that cheating?

The real trick to counting cards in blackjack is to do so without being obvious about it. If the casino staff think you’re counting cards, they’ll take countermeasures. They might ban you from the blackjack tables, for example.

Or they might ban you from the casino property altogether. Even if counting cards is legal, trespassing is still illegal.

Why Counting Cards in Blackjack Works

The reasons counting cards in real money blackjack works is because a deck of cards has “memory.” Also, the cards worth 10 and 11 points are better for the player.

To understand why a deck of cards has memory, imagine this scenario.

You’re playing blackjack from a single deck, and after a couple of hands, all the aces are gone. At this point, it’s impossible to get a blackjack (a two-card hand totaling 21).

Since blackjack pays off at 3 to 2 odds, the potential payout drops, because every other hand pays off at even money if you win.

Do you see how that might change your theoretical payback percentage? As it turns out, removing even one ace from the deck changes your probability of getting a blackjack. And every card affects your expectation when it’s removed from the deck.

Once the deck is reshuffled, it returns to its original state, and the house edge returns to its original mathematical expectation.

If you have a way to know when the odds are tilted more in your favor, you can bet more in those situations. And you can bet less in situations where the odds are tilted more in favor of the house.

The aces and the tens are the most important cards in the deck, because they’re the cards that result in blackjacks (or “naturals”).

If a deck of cards has a higher proportion of tens and aces than usual, you’ll bet more. If a deck of cards has a lower proportion of tens and aces than usual, you’ll bet less. Simple, right? But how do you know?

How to Count Cards in Blackjack

You need an easy system for tracking that ratio of high cards (10s and aces) versus low cards. The simplest system for doing so is called the Hi Lo System.

Every time you see a 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6, you add 1 to your mental tally. Every time you see an ace, a 10, or a face card, you subtract 1 from your mental tally. (Face cards are worth 10 points each.)

When the count is positive, you have an edge. The higher that positive count is, the bigger your edge is. The count informs how much you bet.

Closeup of a Blackjack Hand

You start by deciding what your betting range is going to be. This is a function of how big your bankroll is versus how risk averse you are. The bigger your betting range, the likelier it is that the casino will notice you’re counting cards. Also, the bigger your betting range is, the more of an edge against the house you’ll have.

Let’s say you’re reasonably conservative and you’re going to have a betting range of $5 to $20 (1 to 4 units).

If the count is 0 or lower, you’ll bet $5 per hand. When the count is 2, you’ll bet $10 per hand. When the count is 3, you’ll bet $15 per hand. When the count is 4 (or higher), you’ll bet $20 per hand.

Converting the Running Count to a True Count

This might be a lot to take in if you’re new to blackjack, but there’s more.

If you’re playing in a blackjack game where there are multiple decks, you’ll want to account for the dilution effect of having multiple decks in play. What do I mean by that?

Let’s go back to our earlier example, where all four aces got dealt out of the pack of cards, and your probability of getting a blackjack dropped to 0%.

If you’re playing in a game dealt from two decks, though, the probability of getting a blackjack has dropped, but it hasn’t dropped to 0. Half of the available aces are gone, which is significant, but it’s not a dream-killer, either.

To account for that, you divide the count by the number of decks left in the shoe. This is a two-part skill, by the way.

First, you must learn to estimate how many decks of cards are left in the shoe. Second, you must learn to divide in your head without looking like you’re thinking about.

You base your decisions based on the true count, which is the running count divided by the number of decks left in the shoe. And don’t forget to start the count over when the deck gets re-shuffled.

Other Ways to Hack Casino Games

Another casino game worth hacking is video poker. Start by learning the differences between one video poker pay table and another.

For some video poker games, like Jacks or Better, the pay tables from game to game are almost completely standard. The only differences in payouts are for just a couple of different hands.

And for other video poker games, like Deuces Wild, the pay tables can vary payouts on several different hands. Most people will need to consult a chart of some kind.

Once you’ve learned to compare video poker pay tables, you can start gravitating toward the VP games with the best payback percentages. But hacking video poker is also a two-part process.

Royal Flush Jackpot on a Video Poker Machine

Not only do you need to be able to recognize the best possible pay tables, you must also be able to play every hand with close to perfect strategy.

Since there are 32 possible ways to play each hand, this might seem unlikely. But it’s easier than you think. Invest in some video poker tutorial software and practice. Or buy some of the strategy books and/or cards from Bob Dancer’s website.

When you combine perfect video poker strategy on a game with a greater than 99% payback percentage and the cashback on your slots club membership, you put yourself in a positive expectation situation.

Conclusion

Do you understand how to hack casino games now? In the space of a single blog post, you can only cover so much information.

Other people have detailed dozens of other ways to cheat at slot machines and other casino games. Which ones are your favorites, if any? Let me know in the comments below. Good luck with your gambling!

4 MLB Parlay Bet Mistakes

Fan of Hundred Dollar Bills and Baseball

Parlay bets are an intriguing proposition for many bettors. The prospect of small stakes turning into big returns is enough to entice many people into making these risky bets.

However, parlay bets are like the lottery in several ways.

First, the odds. Lotteries are known for having notoriously small odds. Texas Lotto offers odds of one in 25,827,165. Compared to normal sports bets, or other table games, these are extremely low odds with insignificant chances of winning.

While it’s fun to play the lottery, the low odds mean you shouldn’t ever really expect to win.

One reason the lottery is fun to play, despite its low chance of winning, is that it doesn’t cost a lot to play.

Texas Lotto games cost $1 each. Since people aren’t really putting a lot of money into a lottery bet, they don’t worry too much about how low the odds are.

Parlay bets are also similar. People assume since they can win $500 from a $10 parlay bet, it’s no big deal if they lose. They consider the huge payout and minimal risk and assume they must be getting a great deal.

Lastly, parlay bets are similar in the potential for payouts.

The Texas Lotto pays out 18.25 million to players who successfully pick 6 correct numbers from 54. That’s life-changing money and incentivizes players to play like lucrative payouts from parlay bets do.

An example of a huge parlay payout is an 8 team parlay. An 8 team, $10 parlay with odds ranging between +100 and +160 will payout $10,858.98 if all the teams hit.

The allure of $10 turning into $10,000 is too much for some players to resist.

It’s important to remember that the reason the payouts on parlay bets are so immense is because of the significant odds parlay bets present.

1- Associating Small Amounts with No Risk

People making parlay bets think that just because the risk is low, the bet is worth making.

Bettors will see that a parlay bet only requires a stake of $10 and think they can make as many parlay bets as they want to. Then, they’ll find themselves with a rapidly depleting bankroll when many of the bets don’t payout.

Even though the stake is low, you can lose money just as fast on parlay bets. You’re more likely to win more of the moneyline or run line bets you make than parlay bets, keeping your bankroll at a more constant level. Thanks to their long odds, parlay bets have the potential to drain your bankroll faster than other bet types.

Many people will also focus on the wrong factors when making MLB bets, and this can be even more damaging when you’re making parlay bets.

If you only focus on a pitcher’s ERA, instead of the batting average and slugging percentage of the team he’s pitching against, you’ll leave yourself vulnerable to losing parlay bets.

Adam Ottavino pitched to a 1.90 ERA out of the Yankees bullpen and was one of their more feared relievers. Even though his ERA was low, his Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) was 3.44, indicating that he got lucky quite a bit during the regular season.

FIP is much more useful at predicting how a pitcher will perform than ERA is—it eliminates the bias scorekeepers have when determining errors, and instead only focuses on the factors the pitcher can control like strikeouts and walks.

If you focus on ERA instead of FIP, you’ll be less likely to make consistently good bets. This, combined with focusing on parlay bets instead of over/under bets or run line bets, can put you in a poor position to bet on baseball.

2- Focusing on Big Payouts

Many people are drawn to parlay bets because of the big payouts. The following is an example of an MLB parlay bet with a $10 stake.

Red Sox Money Line +150
Yankees Money Line +110
Blue Jays Money Line +140
Twins Money Line +160

Parlay Payout: $ 317.60

If all 4 teams hit, you can win $317.60 with a $10 stake.

This is a great payout compared to how much money was put down, but the odds of you winning are so low that it’s hard to justify even that small amount of money.

The more games you put on a parlay bet, the more the risk increases. For a parlay bet to payout, every single team involved in it has to win.

The chances of you picking 8 teams to win are significantly lower than the chances of you picking one team and winning a moneyline bet.

MLB Pitcher Luis Severino

If you were to make a single moneyline bet on the Twins at +160, you could take home $160 with a $100 stake. The chances of the Twins winning are a lot higher than all 4 of those teams listed above.

The Twins had one of baseball’s best lineups last year, led by Nelson Cruz.

While Cruz is getting up there in age— he’s about to enter his age 39 season— he’s continued to produce power at a high-level year in and year out.

He doesn’t play right field anymore like he used to and instead focuses on hitting from the DH position, but Cruz is still one of the most feared hitters in the league. He hit 41 home runs and 108 RBI’s for the Twin last year, helping them win the AL Central.

Making a single moneyline bet on a team like the Twins, who have a solid lineup in addition to some phenomenal young pitchers like Jose Berrios, who recently graduated to the majors, makes a lot more sense than tying up money in a risky 4-team parlay.

3- Going Over Budget

Another mistake many parlay bettors will make is going over budget.

Even though parlays involve small stakes, people find that they lose track of their bankroll quickly when making parlay bets.

If you want to make a 4 team, $10 parlay on the Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays, and Twins, all of them have to win for it to payout.

The risk of a parlay bet is that it’s hard to be confident that all the teams involved will be able to win that night—if just one team loses, the whole bet falls apart.

While the Twins have a great lineup, the Blue Jays lineup has been inconsistent over the last few years.

MLB Player Edwin Encarnacion

Since the departures of Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, and Josh Donaldson, the Blue Jays hitters haven’t been able to strike fear into opposing clubs like they used to.

In 2015, all 3 players had an OPS over .913 as they led the Blue Jays on a playoff run that ended in a gut-wrenching ALCS loss to the World Series-winning Kansas City Royals.

Those 3 players formed the backbone of the offense for 2015 and 2016. The 3 combined for 120 home runs in 2015, forming a top of the lineup that could intimidate any starting pitcher. Encarnacion was an on-base machine, reaching base by walk or hit at least 37% of the time in the ‘15 season.

In recent years, however, the Blue Jays haven’t had the same level of offensive success as they did in their glory days.

Their best hitter in 2019 was Lourdes Gurriel Jr. The young player performed admirably, hitting 20 homers over the season, but his offense was severely lacking when measured up against the former Blue Jays greats no longer with the club.

Even if the 3 other teams in your parlay: the Yankees, Red Sox, and Twins all won that night, a Blue Jays loss from a young, inexperienced offense could spell doom for your parlay bet.

Part of what makes MLB parlay bets so risky is that each team has so many factors that can lead to a loss on a given night. It’s hard enough making a regular moneyline bet on a game, but making 4 successful moneyline bets at once can be too much of a challenge.

4- Betting Parlays on Underdogs

The last mistake parlay bettors will make is getting too greedy.

Parlay bets already payout fantastically in the off-chance that you actually win one, but some people will try to take this a step too far.

Bettors are already drawn to underdogs more than favorites for many bets.

If you see a bet will payout at +150, you’ll be much more drawn to that side than a bet that pays out at -110. Many people lose lots of bets because they always bet on the underdog, instead of the team they actually think will win.

Parlay bets are even worse for betting on the underdog. If you take the slim odds of winning a parlay bet, and reduce them even further by only betting on underdogs, you do yourself a disservice as a bettor.

One smart way to make somewhat safe MLB parlay bets is to load up on favorites. Even though the payout won’t be as substantial, you can still win if all 4 of your favorites in a parlay bet win that night.

Conclusion

Do you make MLB parlay bets? Do you have any tips? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Cascading Reels, Rolling Reels, Avalanche – Is There a Difference?

Slots
If you’ve been playing online slots for long, you may have come across the following terms:

  • Avalanche
  • Cascading reels
  • Rolling reels
  • Tumbling reels

These terms appear to indicate different types of features at first glance. But as you’ll find out below, they actually describe the same feature in a slot.

This situation presents lots of confusion for players who move between a rolling and tumbling reels slot, for example. I’ll discuss this matter below along with why developers use multiple terms to describe the same thing.

What Do These Terms Signify?

Traditional real money online slots give you one chance to form wins in each round. You spin the reels and hope to line up matching symbols in paylines to win.

However, games with avalanche, cascading reels, etc. work differently. They give you more opportunities to win in each round as payouts continue coming.

Here’s how avalanche/cascading/rolling/tumbling reels work:

  • You spin the reels and score a payout(s).
  • Symbols from this win(s) vanish/explode and leave blank positions.
  • New symbols fall to help fill out the grid.
  • The game re-evaluates the grid for new wins.
  • This process continues until no more payouts can form.

Every term mentioned so far describes the same mechanism. Symbols from winning combinations explode and give way to fresh symbols.

This feature is quite popular because it can lead to many wins in the same round. The best part is that you don’t need to risk any more money to enjoy these extra winning opportunities.

Instead, you can keep racking up more payouts with a single bet. The winning only stops when no additional wins happen.

Avalanche Slots Came First

Back to the original matter, why do developers use various terms to describe one feature? The answer lies in the history of this slots mechanism.

NetEnt released a revolutionary game called Gonzo’s Quest in 2010. Besides its stellar graphics and game play, Gonzo’s Quest included something that had never been seen before.

Symbols that help form payouts simply explode and give way to icons falling from above. Before this point, slots only gave you one chance at winning before a new round started. NetEnt dubbed their inventive mechanism “avalanche.” The latter term perfectly describes what happens with this feature.

When winning symbols disappear, they leave holes in the grid. More icons pile onto the reels to help fill the holes. This sequence may not be so impressive for a single payout. However, it becomes quite a spectacle when you net multiple prizes in the same round. The end result looks something like an avalanche of new symbols falling onto the reels.

Other Terms for Avalanche

Many developers witnessed the success of NetEnt’s avalanche mechanism. However, they didn’t want to roll out similar games and also call their feature “avalanche.”

Therefore, they introduced new terms to describe the same event. You can see the various terms that are used to describe this mechanism below.

  • Collapsing Reels – Playtech introduced this term to describe their games that also explode winning symbols and allow for more wins.
  • Rolling Reels – Microgaming’s Jungle Jim: El Dorado presents “rolling reels.” Now, Microgaming describes all associated slots in the same manner.
  • Swooping Reels – Quickspin deems their avalanche-like slots to have swooping reels.
  • Tumbling Reels – IGT dubs the term “tumbling reels” with their associated slots.
  • Cascading Reels – I’m not sure which developer came up with this phrase first. In any case, cascading reels is one of the most popular ways to describe an avalanche.

Each developer may add certain modifiers to their version of cascading reels. For example, Microgaming likes to attach win multipliers to tumbling reels.

Again, though, these developers are just using a different phrase to describe the same mechanism. You won’t experience much or any difference when moving from swooping to tumbling reels, for example.

Why Do Developers Use Cascading Reels?

Tumbling reels have become very common in the gaming world. Below, you can see why countless games now offer this feature.

Avalanche Creates More Action

In decades past, slots players were fine with basic games that included three reels, fruits, and simple graphics. They merely wanted to chase big payouts and experience the thrill of gambling.

However, times have changed greatly in the gaming industry. Gamblers are no longer happy with just spinning the reels and waiting for payouts to line up.

They want more action and entertainment, including everything from detailed animations to in-depth features. Cascading reels have become very appealing to this action-craving crowd.

Gonzo's Quest

They cause winning symbols to explode and more icons to land on the screen. This process produces an interesting spectacle while also creating more wins.

Opportunities to Win Big

Rolling reels give you the chance to earn many payouts in a single round. These payouts can really add up when you get hot.

Some developers even add win multipliers to the equation. Your multiplier increases as you keep earning more wins.

The multiplier typically resets after the round. However, bonuses (e.g. free spins) sometimes allow you to carry over the same multiplier from round to round, thus, giving you a chance at huge prizes.

Players Love Cascading Reels

Developers wouldn’t keep putting tumbling reels in their games if this feature didn’t work. They keep inserting this mechanism because players love it.

As covered earlier, cascading reels create additional action. You’re more likely to be entertained upon seeing exploding symbols and chain reactions afterward.

Basic slots, which only give you one chance to win, don’t offer this same appeal. They only give you one shot to win per spin.

Examples of Popular Avalanche Slots

I’ve covered cascading reels and what they do. Now, I’d like to discuss some of the more popular avalanche games in gaming history.

Gonzo’s Quest

This slot revolves around a Spanish conquistador trekking through a South American jungle. The 3D graphics in this 2010 release were far ahead of their time.

Gonzo's Quest

With a five-reel setup, Gonzo’s Quest appears to have simple gameplay at first. But as mentioned before, it introduced gamblers to the avalanche feature.

As an added bonus, you also get to see Gonzo celebrating your wins off to the side. Gonzo’s Quest remains one of the biggest online classics to this day.

Bonanza Megaways

Bonanza is one of the biggest hits from Big Time Gaming. It features a Megaways format that sees each reel hold a varying amount of symbols.

Bonanza Megaways

When each reel holds the maximum amount of symbols, the game features 117,649 ways to win. It also adds cascading reels to the mix.

Therefore, you get a nice combination of Megaways and avalanche payouts. You can win up to 12,000x your stake through Bonanza as a result.

Jungle Jim El Dorado

This five-reel, 25-line game centers on an explorer named Jungle Jim. Like Gonzo’s Quest, it takes place in a remote South American jungle.

Jungle Jim El Dorado

Jungle Jim El Dorado actually has other similarities to Gonzo’s Quest. Jim stands off to the side and cheers for your wins just like Gonzo.

This slot isn’t overly original when compared to other avalanche games. However, its graphics and fun theme make it worth trying.

Will Cascading Reels Ever Lose Popularity?

The trend in slots involves packing lots of features into games. Again, players want action, and developers need to supply this demand for action.

Rolling reels are an important part of this trend. A developer can seamlessly include avalanche along with other features.

i
Bonanza is a perfect example of this point.

Big Time Gaming combines Megaways, free spins, and cascading reels into one game.

Simply put, I don’t see tumbling reels fading away any time soon. I wouldn’t be surprised if over 80% of games offer this feature at some point.

Cascading reels have become a common mechanism in gaming. They may very well continue being a norm for decades to come.

Conclusion

You might be confused when seeing cascading, collapsing, swooping, and tumbling reels all used regarding slots. But these words describe the same type of feature.

Developers simply switch up the terms to avoid copying each other. If you’ve played one avalanche or cascading reels game, then you’ll feel comfortable playing any of them.

These slots can include other features too, including free spins, respins, multipliers, and Megaways. That said, you might consider trying different types of avalanche, collapsing reels, or swooping reels slots for the various features alone.

6 Common Sports Betting Rookie Mistakes

Hand Holding Money With a Sports Bet Background

Whether it’s a quarterback making an ill-advised throw that gets intercepted or a point guard committing a turnover at the end of a game, rookie mistakes are a well-known phenomenon in sports.

These errors in judgement that can be chalked up to inexperience are also very prevalent in the world of sports gambling.

Each year, countless sports bettors lose huge amounts of money due to mistakes made as a result of their lack of experience with sports gambling. The good news? It can be fixed.

In this article, I’ll lay out the top 6 most common rookie betting mistakes and what you can do to turn them around.

1 – Not Managing Your Bankroll – Or Not Even Having One

It’s not sexy, it’s not fun, but it’s vitally important. Yes, I’m talking about bankroll management.

Before you place your first bet, it’s important to set yourself up for success through proper money management. If you’re unfamiliar, a bankroll is pool of money from which you bet.

When deciding on your bankroll, make sure you’re only putting it together with money you can afford to lose. Think of it as a purchase for which you’re probably not going to get a return. Obviously you would hope this isn’t the case, but it’s necessary to think about it in this way to avoid potential financial issues.

Once you’ve determined what your overall bankroll number will be, the next step is to determine how much of your bankroll you’ll bet on any one play. This isn’t so much a specific number, but a percentage range.

Roll of One Hundred Dollar Bills

Most experts recommend setting your range somewhere around 3% to 10% of your overall bankroll. This would mean that on any single play, if you had a $1,000 bankroll, you wouldn’t bet less than $30 or more than $100.

If you’re thinking that a bankroll and its percentages seems restrictive, you’re not considering one of the most important aspects of sports betting and gambling in general: minimizing losses is a crucial part of success.

2 – Not Shopping for the Best Line

When you go to make a purchase, it’s likely that browse a few different sites to find the best deal. Even if you’re only saving a few dollars, it adds up. Right?

The same philosophy should apply to sports betting. Just as there are a number of different sites selling the same retail product, there are dozens (if not more) reliable gambling sites offering odds on the same games.

Because the lines can be impacted by the action a sportsbook receives, you’ll find that the numbers can vary from site-to-site. It’s important to find the best value for the play you want to make, even if it’s just a small difference. Just as with purchasing things, small savings add up in the long run.

The next time you’re considering a certain bet, take a look at five or six different online sportsbooks and find which line gives you the best risk vs. reward proposition. You might be surprised at how much the numbers can differ, especially on bets that receive less action like props.

Shopping around takes time and effort, but if you’re serious about winning money, it’ll pay out nicely in the long run.

3 – Not Handling Losses Properly

It’s called gambling for a reason. Anytime you put a wager on a sporting event, there’s a very real chance you’re going to lose at least half of the time. In fact, some of the best gamblers, those who do it professionally, only win about 55% of the time.

Since the success rates of even the best in the world are relatively low, it’s important to recognize what sets them apart from amateurs and other inexperienced gamblers. One of the factors is discipline after losses.

When you have your hard-earned money on the line, emotions can run high. It’s completely understandable that many bettors’ first instinct after losing is to try to win that money back (and then some) as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, trying to recoup your losses in your next bet often leads to worse outcomes. When you lose, the most detrimental thing you can do is double down on your next play. For example, if you lose $50, you shouldn’t bet $100 on the next bet so that you’ll come out ahead on the other side.

Gambling, especially on sports, is a long-term game. To reiterate a point I made previously, part of becoming a profitable bettor is minimizing losses.

If you’re going to be a sustainable sports gambler you need to accept that how you deal with losing is going to be a huge part of your success. Ending the day “even” isn’t necessarily the worst thing. Maintain discipline and don’t let emotion drive your bets following losses.

4 – Not Doing Adequate Research

Oddsmakers have special instruments at their disposal that allow them to set accurate lines. That doesn’t mean that they always take into account every aspect of the game or match that could have an impact on the outcome.

Before placing any bet, it’s critical to do some type of research on the game that helps you make your decision. You shouldn’t be gambling based on gut feelings or team allegiances, and should rely on the things that can affect the competition itself.

Going over the injury reports, checking the team’s schedules (specifically the most recent game and the next game), and evaluating motivational factors can give you a significant boost in your likelihood to win a bet.

If you’re able to do an even deeper dive into the data, such as historical data for the matchup you’re going to be betting on, even better. However, just taking 10 to 15 minutes to read through some game previews and top-level statistics can have a significant impact.

Even if research only helps you win 5% more of your games, it’s going to be worth it in the long run. Always remember, informed decisions are an absolute necessity when it comes to betting your own money.

5 – Thinking Expert Advice Is the Answer

Even with something as data-driven as the stock market, “experts” often get it wrong. When it comes to something even more unpredictable, like sports, it’s all-but-impossible to reliably predict outcomes.

Sports betting has been on the rise for several years now due to relaxed laws and public acceptance of gambling. With this rise has come a large number of sports betting gurus who are looking to make a few dollars without actually taking any risks.

Row of Slot Machines

If you look around the internet, you’ll find a number of websites and individuals claiming to have a 60% success rate in the NFL season, or tremendous earnings betting on baseball. I’m not saying that they’re lying about their success, but having one good season doesn’t guarantee they have the recipe for success.

Paying for gambling advice is almost always inadvisable, and if the advice doesn’t help you out (which it likely won’t), you’ll be out even more money than if you had just made the betting decision yourself.

6 – Choosing Favorites Over Value

If my experience is any indication, new gamblers love the idea of choosing huge favorites on the moneyline in hopes of getting an easy win. Obviously the payout is small compared to the risk, but it’s a sure thing right?

What these gamblers fail to recognize is that it only takes one loss to derail this whole strategy. And there are endless examples of upsets that can quickly derail the “favorite moneyline” strategy.

Consider this: if you’re taking a favorite at -500, which means it would take a major upset to lose, that still means you have to win 6 bets before losing 1 in order to make any money. Simply put, it’s just not worth the risk.

Instead of looking to get easy wins, focus on betting for value. Any time you can win more money than you have to risk, it’s worth seriously considering.

Conclusion

It’s a great time to be a sports bettor. Increased accessibility, overall security, and of course. Increased accessibility to sports gambling knowledge, all make it a hobby that sports fans can get behind.

Just be sure that you take the necessary steps to jump in responsibly. Make sure you avoid falling victim to the rookie mistakes above, and you’ll save yourself quite a bit of cash.

4 Types of Blackjack

Closeup of Blackjack Cards With Casino Background

The first mention of a from the history of blackjack came from a Spanish dictionary dating back to 1611. Blackjack, the American card game where players try to reach 21, was originally known as Ventiuno. In 1613, Miguel de Cervantes mentioned this game in one of his novellas. While Cervantes is famous for writing Don Quixote, one of the most influential works of literature in the world, he was also an avid gambler. In fact, many of his famous characters were cheats and miscreants.

While Cervantes’ novel was written about two characters in the Spanish province of Seville trying to cheat at the game that would later become blackjack, other countries like France also picked up a variant of the game in the 18th century.

When Ventiuno became popular in France, it was known as Vingt-Un. The game would be known by that name as it traveled through the rest of Europe, becoming popular in Britain and Germany by the second half of the 18th century.

Upon arrival in America in the 1800s, the popular card game went through another name change. This time the name was changed from the French Vingt-Un to its current name of blackjack. Common folklore holds that blackjack got its American name when casinos were trying to increase the game’s popularity.

Closeup of Blackjack Hand

Casinos would payout 10 times more than usual if the player’s hand consisted of an ace of spades and a “black” jack. While this is a cute story, there’s no evidence to back it up, and blackjack likely received its name a different way. The game increased in popularity during the Gold Rush and was a popular pastime among prospectors.

Sphalerite, a mineral known to indicate if gold or silver ore deposits were nearby, was nicknamed blackjack by miners thanks to its color. It’s suggested by scholars that the top bonus in the original game was referred to by players as blackjack, leading to the game itself taking on that name. Blackjack has many variants because the game has such a long history and has been played in so many countries.

If you’re in a casino, you may be perplexed when a dealer is offering a blackjack variant you’ve never heard of. Luckily, many alternatives are easy to understand if you already know how to play blackjack, so you’ll be able to fit right in and play at the table.

How American Blackjack Works

Real money blackjack is played differently around the world, but we’ll describe the US rules a little bit before moving on to blackjack’s other popular variants.

In the US, each player and the dealer are dealt two cards at the start of the hand. One of the dealer’s cards is face up and one is face down. The values of numbered cards are as shown. Face cards like jacks, queens, or kings have a value of 10, and aces have a value of one or 11.

Players draw cards until they bust. You bust if your sum exceeds 21. Your sum will be different depending on whether the ace is high or low.

Let’s say you have an original hand of a five and a six, meaning your sum is 11. Then, you draw an ace. If the ace were to be high, your sum would be 22 and a bust. But because aces can be high or low, your sum is now 12. You draw a five, then decide to hold because you don’t want to risk busting.

While busting means you automatically lose, you still want to draw enough cards to get close to 21 without going over. Once you and other players finish drawing, it’s the dealer’s turn. The dealer will hit until he reaches 17.

If the dealer has a high ace in his hand, he will continue hitting and the ace will turn into a low ace. Once the dealer either busts or has the sum of 17 or more in his hand, the game is over. You are betting that your final sum is higher than the dealer’s sum.

A blackjack is when a player receives an ace and a card with a value of 10. The player will win if he receives a blackjack, but the dealer will not. And the player loses if he busts, even if the dealer busts, too.

If the player has a higher sum than the dealer without going over 21, the player wins. If the dealer and player end up with the same sum, then the bet is a push, and all stakes are returned.

Side Bets

Once you’ve gotten the hang of simply placing wagers on blackjack games, you may be interested in spicing up your game with side wagers. In a designated area next to the box for the main wager, you’ll find a box where you can make a side wager at most blackjack tables.

Some games will require the blackjack wager to equal or exceed the side bet wager, so you won’t be able to make a huge side bet without betting just as much on the actual game itself.

While blackjack is known to have a relatively low house edge compared to many other table games, side bets aren’t as great for the player value-wise. Side bets have a worse house edge than the game of blackjack does, but they’re still a fun way to add extra flavor to a regular game of blackjack.

1 – Spanish 21

Spanish 21 has a few key differences from regular blackjack.

If you’ve been frustrated by hitting 21 at the same time as the dealer in regular blackjack, you’ll appreciate Spanish 21. The game pays out 3:2 any time a player hits a blackjack. Many venues offer late surrender in Spanish 21. If the dealer doesn’t have a blackjack, players can surrender and get half their stake back.

Spanish 21 and blackjack both have the dealer dealing two cards to themself to start the game. However, a key difference is if the dealer receives a visible ace in their hand, they’ll peak under the hole card to see if they have a blackjack.

If the dealer is dealt a blackjack, they’ll automatically win and the round is over (except if a player also hits a blackjack, then the player wins and gets paid 3:2).

2 – European Blackjack

The form of blackjack from which the American game evolved, European Blackjack, has a few rule differences from its American counterpart. European Blackjack is played with six decks while American Blackjack can be played with anywhere from one to eight decks.

In European Blackjack, the dealer will only get one face-up card to start the game. The dealer won’t deal himself the second card until the player has finished their hand. Compared to Spanish 21, European Blackjack doesn’t allow the dealer to check for blackjack if his face-up card is an ace.

This prevents the player from being able to double down as easily as other blackjack games since the player doesn’t know if the dealer has a blackjack until the game is over.

3 – Pontoon

Pontoon can be played amongst a group of people without a dealer. At the beginning of the game, no player will be the dealer. Then, the first player to draw a jack will become the banker, which is another way of saying “dealer.”

The combination of an ace and a face card, or a 10, is known as a pontoon. Like blackjack, a pontoon is the best possible hand to receive in the game. Unlike blackjack, pontoon’s next best hand is known as a five-card trick.

Closeup of Blackjack Table Game

A five-card trick is any hand that has five cards in it but has a sum of less than 21. A five-card trick will beat a hand of three or four cards, even if the hand has a higher sum than the five-card trick. The banker will always win in pontoon if he has a hand equal to the players. Pontoon gives the banker a bigger advantage than the dealer has in American blackjack.

4 – Perfect Pairs

One of the most popular blackjack variants, Perfect Pairs is played all around the world. Playing perfect pairs is like playing a regular hand of blackjack but automatically includes a side bet. The side bet is whether the player will be dealt a pair as their first two cards.

There are three types of perfect pairs in the game:

  • Two cards with the same number value. For example, two nines or two kings
  • Two cards with the same number value and color, like an ace of spades and an ace of clubs
  • A perfect pair where the two cards are identical with the same value and suit

Conclusion

We hope this shed some light on blackjack history and provided you with information of the different variations of blackjack that are popular. What is your favorite variant of blackjack? Let us know in the comments.

5 Casino Resorts in Louisiana You’ll Want to Visit

Lousiana State Seal With Casino Background

Louisiana is known for its food, music, and culture. You may think of New Orleans as the center of the state with its annual Mardi Gras celebration and packed cobblestone streets. But other hubs in the ‘Bayou State’ include the capitol Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Shreveport, and the city of Lake Charles.

Although gambling is legal to a degree in most of the state some of the casinos you’ll find on this list are in lesser known cities. Some of the best treasures are hidden among the states rice fields and blue highways.

A unique mix of French, Haitian, Spanish, Native American, and African cultures has led to Louisiana being one of the only states without an official language. This variety of culture has led to lasting impacts on the region. Old-world Roman Catholicism gave Louisiana its familiar celebrations of Mardi Gras, All Saint’s Day, and led to the parish system instead of counties.

Louisiana has over 53 casinos in its 64 parishes. This article will highlight 5 of its finest and discuss what makes these destinations unique.

1- L’Auberge du Lac

In the heel of the boot you’ll find the city of Lake Charles. This area of the state is known as ‘Cajun Country’ and his home to two casinos on this list. Both are conveniently located off of US Interstate 10 making the drive from New Orleans and Houston a simple trip.

Opened in May 2005 by Pinnacle Entertainment, the property was later acquired by Gaming and Leisure Properties. In an interesting twist the property was leased back to Pinnacle in 2016 who became Penn National Gaming. Along with L’Auberge, Penn National Gaming operates the Ameristar and Belterra casino lines as well as several racetracks.

The casino resort boasts an incredible 999 rooms.  In addition to standard luxury rooms, the casino resort has a line of the themed suites including Royale, Marquis, Palais, Versialles, and Garden. The Big Dog and Cool Cat suite features custom lighting, a pool table, and a 110-inch media wall to go with your custom butler service.

L’Auberge du Lac Hotel and Casino

Casino amenities include 6 restaurants hosted by resident chef Lyle Broussard. The resort also houses 3 clothing stores, a jeweler, and a florist. Visit Contraband Bayou Golf Pro Shop before you hit the links on L’Auberge’s 18 hole Tom Fazzio designed golf course.

Because of Louisiana’s riverboat gambling laws L’Auberge du Lac’s casino floor is built on a floating structure. Walking from the lobby into the casino you would never know that you were actually standing over water.

L’Auberge casino contains over 1,600 slots and video poker machines. The 2,100 square foot casino floor has 73 tables featuring your favorite games. Baccarat games include Baccarat, EZ Baccarat, and Mini Baccarat. Other table games include Blackjack, Craps, Fortune Pai Gow, Four Card Poker, High Card Flush, Mississippi Stud, Progressive 3 Card Poker, Roulette, Ultimate Texas Hold’Em, 21+3 (a combination game of Blackjack and 3 Card Poker).

2 – Golden Nugget Lake Charles

Also located in Lake Charles, the Golden Nugget neighbors L’Auberge du Lac.  Sharing it’s name with the original location in downtown Las Vegas, the Golden Nugget Lake Charles completed construction in December 2013 and opened in December of 2014.

Like L’Auberge du Lac, the Golden Nugget went through several owners before being acquired by Landry’s, Inc. Eventually Landry’s, Inc. settled on adding the resort to it’s Golden Nugget line; Atlantic City, Laughlin, Las Vegas, and now Lake Charles. Previous names for the project included Mojito Pointe and Ameristar Lake Charles.

The 242 acre waterfront casino has 1038 guest rooms and suites housed in a 22-story tower. Stay in the  standard Deluxe rooms or 1,000 square foot Suite options. The 1,500 square foot Presidential comes with a baby grand piano. The 2,000 square foot two-story Loft Suite includes fireplace and private patio with Jacuzzi.

Golden Nugget Lake Charles Pool Area

The Golden Nugget contains an incredible 10 restaurants. Get your meat on at Vic & Anthony’s and Salt Grass Steakhouses. You’ll have two seafood options; Chart House and Landry’s Seafood House.  There’s a wide selection at the California gold rush themed Claim Jumper restaurant. Other options include Grotto Italian Restaurant, Lillie’s Asian Cuisine, Cadillac Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar, and the aptly named buffet, ‘The Buffet’. Bars include Blue Martini, Rush Lounge, Ice Bar, and Bar 46. Bill’s Bar and Burger faces Contraband Bayou, complete with a mini-white sand beach and marina to dock your yacht.

Other amenities you won’t want to miss include live entertainment from the nation’s top acts, spas, salon, and a barbershop.  The casino resort includes 9 stores with everything from Aqua, for your pool gear to Riveted, for denim. Visit the Pro Shop for golf gear before you tee off at The 18-hole, par 72 golf course on the bayou; designed by California-based architect Todd Eckenrode.

The Golden Nugget’s Select program offers nationwide comps for it’s entire line of casinos. You’ll find over 60 tables and 1,650 machines. The Poker Room includes no-limit and pot-limit versions of Texas Hold ’Em, 7 Card Stud, and Omaha. Blackjack options include 6 deck shoe, double deck and 6:5 single deck games.  Other tables you’ll find on the floor include Craps, Roulette, 3 Card Poker, Baccarat, Mississippi Stud, Pai Gow Poker, and Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em.

3 – Margaritaville Resort Casino

Outside of Bossier City, Louisiana on the Red River is Margaritaville Resort Casino. It is owned by Vici Properties and operated by Penn National Gaming.  It uses its name under license from Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville.  The hotel has 395 tropical themed rooms housed in an 18-story tower. The casino was built as a barge floating in a pool with 2 feet of water pumped in from the Red River, to comply with Louisiana’s riverboat casino laws.

Margaritaville Casino Exterior

Visit the Spa and Salon at Margaritaville or catch a touring musical act at the 7,000 square foot Paradise Theater. 5 restaurant options include the World Tour Buffet, Riverview Restaurant & Brew House, Jimmy’s Seafood & Steak, and the Bamboo Asian Cafe.  Keeping with the Margaritaville theme there are 2 bars; The Busted Coconut and Its 5 O’clock Somewhere Bar.

Each month over $90 million is paid out.  The casino has over 1,200 of the hottest and newest slot machines. The High Limits Area is Blackjack only with 21+3 and In-Bet games. Blackjack options include Single Deck, Double Deck Pitch, and 6-Deck Shoes.  Other table options include Three Card Poker, High Card Flush, Cajun Stud, Craps, and Roulette. The Baccarat Room features 4 mini-bac and 2 midi-bac tables.

4 – Coushatta Casino Resort

Coushatta Casino resort in Kinder, Louisiana is owned by the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana; one of three federally recognized tribes of the Koasati people. It is the largest private employer in Southwest Louisiana and 2nd largest in the state.

Coushatta offers 4 ways to stay. The Grand Hotel is an “adult-exclusive” property reserved for guests ages 21 and up. The Seven Clans Hotel has comfortable and modern rooms with spa style showers. The Coushatta Inn has more traditional design with 195 spacious rooms. The Red Shoes RV and Chalet Park has fully furnished 1 or 2 bedroom chalets with personal decks containing you’re own picnic table and grill.

Coushatta Casino Resort Interior

The Dream Pool features a lazy river, two slides, swim-up bar for adults, and a splash pad area for kids. Ride the 184 ft. triple-loop slide and the 112 ft. speed slide that intertwine or swim in the 5,000 sq. ft. pool. The Koasati Pines, a dynamic 18-hole golf course has a par 72 championship layout; with six sets of tees and multiple approaches on three holes. Visit The Clubhouse while your on the links for some food and to rent the latest gear. Lucky Paws Dog Park has leash-free fun, agility equipment, and plenty of running room for dogs.  There is also a fully supervised Kids Quest facility and Cyber Quest arcade with over 60 arcade machines. Coushatta has a fully-stocked lake for fishing if you’d like to try you’re luck another way.

Coushatta has thousands of slots with high limits and progressive jackpots. Electronic table games include Blackjack, Craps, Roulette, and video poker.  Blackjack options include 6-Deck Blackjack, Double-Deck Pitch, 3-Card Blackjack, and 21+3 Blackjack.  Other table games include Roulette, 20x Odds Craps Tables, Fortune Pai Gow Poker, Dragon Bonus Mini-Baccarat, 3-Card Poker, 4-Card Poker, Mississippi Stud Poker, Flop Poker, and High Card Flush.

Fusion Blackjack/Roulette is a unique game that allows players to play 2 games at once in comfortable stadium seating. Coushatta also offers off-track betting at Saratoga, Del Mar, Gulf Greyhounds, Louisiana Downs, and Evangeline Downs racetracks.

5 – Delta Downs

Located in Vinton, Louisiana; Delta Downs is an American thoroughbred and quarter horse racetrack. Owned by Boyd Gaming, this 200 room resort opened in September 1973 making it the oldest casino resort on the list.

Restaurant options include the Rosewater Grill & Tavern for mouth-watering steaks and delectable seafood. The Lookout Restaurant offers a bird’s eye view of the live horse racing action and food from Delta Downs award winning chefs. Enjoy the Triple Crown Buffet for Louisiana favorites and the diner-style Gator Grill for more casual dining. The racetrack resort also hosts national musical acts at their Delta Event Center.  The intimate Gator Lounge provides a venue for local and regional acts.

The racetrack itself is a furlon furlong oval. There is a 550-yard Quarter-Horse chute, in addition to 0.62 mile and 1.062 mile thoroughbred chutes. The track surface is a mixture of sand (from the Sabine River and clay, with a limestone base. The Delta Downs grounds features horse pastures which are visible from the entrance. Draft, miniature horses, and thoroughbreds are on display. Resident Quarter Horse Red River Rebel is the leading money-winning quarter horse in Louisiana.

Delta Down Casino Interior

The casino has 1,600 of the most popular slots and video poker machines. The 24 B Connected perk program has locations nationwide to redeem your benefits. Like many casinos, Delta Downs Racetrack and Hotel makes it easy to apply for casino credit for worry-free gambling.  One thing to be aware of is Delta Downs does not have table games.

Conclusion

Many of the land-based casinos on this list are in south-west Louisiana, with the exception of Bossier-City.  This area of the state is where Louisiana gets its moniker ‘the Sportsman’s Paradise’ because of year-round hunting and fishing.

As with any of the casino resorts in Louisiana make sure you get your fill of the unique Cajun cuisine. If you’re lucky you might meet a local speaking the endangered French Creole dialect. Ask them about any events in the area and do as the locals do.

5 Ways to Gamble Without Guilt

Royal Flush of Hearts With a Dice Background

Millions of people gamble every day, playing lottery games and casino games. When you can afford to gamble without it affecting your day to day life, there’s no harm in a risky bet or a couple of slot spins. If you ever feel guilty for gambling, I’ve put together a list of five ways to gamble without feeling guilty.

But there’s one important thing you need to know before you continue reading. This list is for people who can afford to gamble. We want to reiterate that it is absolutely necessary to gamble responsibly. If you’re gambling with the rent money, mortgage payment, or money for food, you should feel guilty. And you should stop gambling, then seek help immediately.

Below, you’ll find a few ways to have some fun while gambling!

1 – The Entertainment Budget Strategy

Do you know how much money you spend on entertainment every week, on average? Entertainment can include watching television, going to a movie theater, going out to eat, going shopping, and a lot of other things.

Most people spend money every week on entertainment. And there’s nothing wrong with this. If you can afford to spend money on entertainment, you deserve to be entertained.

But many people don’t view gambling as a form of entertainment.

The truth is that gambling is just like any other form of entertainment. You use money to do something that you enjoy or allows you to take your mind off of other things in your life.

And gambling with your entertainment budget has one possible upside that’s quite important. When you gamble, you have a chance to win money back. When was the last time you went out to eat or to see a movie and came home with more money than you left with?

Set an entertainment budget for each week or each month, and use part of it for gambling. You’re going to spend the money on entertainment anyway, so you might as well use part of it for gambling entertainment. You don’t need to feel guilty when you gamble for entertainment if you were planning to use that money to spend on something fun anyway.

2 – The Lottery Strategy

When it comes to gambling, the lottery isn’t the best option available out there. The payback percentage for the lottery is far lower than almost all games in a casino. But the lottery does offer two benefits that most casino games don’t.

The first benefit is that you can play the lottery for as low as $1. And you can buy lottery tickets to some big jackpot games for only $2 or $3.

This brings us to the second benefit the lottery has over casino games. The big national jackpot lottery draws sometimes climb into the hundreds of millions. While a few casino jackpots cross the million dollar mark, even the biggest ones don’t approach the size of the big lottery games.

Dice and Hands Background

Many people never think twice about spending $4 or $5 a day on coffee, or spend $10 to $20 eating lunch every day. If you spend money on things like this and feel guilty when you gamble, simply spend a few dollars less on these things every day and buy a lottery ticket.

Instead of spending money on coffee when you’re out every day, make your coffee at home for less than $1, and buy a lottery ticket with the money you save. You can buy a $2 lottery ticket every day and only spend $14 a week. And you have seven chances to win a big jackpot.

This lottery strategy gives you the chance to gamble every day without the need to feel guilty while doing it.

3 – Free Entry

It’s not always easy to find them, but there are opportunities to gamble for free. I’m not talking about the free poker tables or free slots that you can play online.

While these are good ways to play for free, the thing that makes them different from what I’m talking about here is you can’t win any real money.

The opportunities that I’m talking about here are ones where you can gamble without using money and give you an opportunity to win real money.

The most common form of free gambling where you can win real money is freeroll poker tournaments. Some online poker rooms offer tournaments that are free to enter and have cash prizes for the top finishers.

The prizes are usually small, but a little is better than nothing. The other problem with these types of tournaments is that they usually attract a large group of players. So, even if you’re able to stay in the tournament long enough to win some cash, it usually takes several hours of play.

Poker tournaments aren’t the only free entry gambling events. Sometimes, casinos run promotions and offer coupons or free bets to get players into the casino. This is true for some land-based casinos and some online casinos.

A common online free play promotion is free spins on a slot machine. You can also occasionally find a no deposit bonus offered by an online casino.

4 – Low Stakes Online Play

It can be expensive to gamble in real money casinos. You usually need to take at least a couple hundred dollars to even play, because the minimum bets on table games start at $10 to $20 in most casinos. You can play slots for less per spin, but even $100 can disappear in a short time playing slots.

Online casinos can offer much lower betting limits than land-based casinos, because they don’t cost as much to open and run. You can find online casinos with table minimum wagers as low as $1.

If you like to play poker, you can play online at micro limit tables with bets as low as a few cents each. And you can bet on sporting events for as low as $1 at some online sportsbooks.

Depending on what you play online, and how good you are at what you’re playing, you can gamble for $20 or less per week. If you’re a good poker player you can put $5 or $10 in and play on it forever.

Online play is a great way to gamble with a low bankroll and not feel guilty about it. Just make sure you don’t put more money in than you’re willing to lose.

5 – Win With Advantage Play

This is the best way to gamble without the need to feel guilty. When you learn how to play with an advantage, you win more than you lose in the long run.

It’s not easy to learn how to be an advantage gambler, but you can do it. You just have to follow the same steps that other advantage gamblers have followed.

The first step is to pick the right game or area to specialize in. You have some options, but not every gambling activity provides a long term profit opportunity. For example, you can’t play most table games or most slots as an advantage player.

Your main options to gamble with an advantage are blackjack, poker, sports betting, and possibly video poker.

Closeup of Roulette Wheel

Some gamblers make money playing blackjack or poker, and betting on sports. Video poker has a slight possibility of playing with an edge, but the best most video poker players can hope for is playing with close to a zero percent house edge. And this isn’t even easy.

Blackjack is the easiest to start with, because it’s mechanical. You have to use strategy, but the steps are straightforward. Poker has some advantages over blackjack, but it’s not as easy to learn the best poker strategy.

You can make money betting on sports, but it’s probably the most difficult gambling area to master as an advantage player.

The main point is that you don’t need to feel guilty about gambling once you learn how to be an advantage gambler.

Conclusion

If you send money on any type of entertainment, you can use some or all of your entertainment budget on gambling. The upside to this is you have a chance to end up with more money than you started with when you gamble.

The best strategy for gambling without guilt is to learn how to be an advantage player. As an advantage player you can win more than you lose in the long run, which means there’s nothing to feel guilty about.

You can also use one of the low cost gambling strategies listed on this page to gamble without feeling guilty. The lottery strategy, free entry strategy, and low cost play online are all ways you can gamble with just a couple dollars a day.

4 Of The Best Gambling Game Shows In History

Hand Over a Buzzer With a Casino Background

There are so many exciting aspects to both game shows and gambling of any kind. However, when you combine the 2 together, then you have a recipe for unparalleled excitement.

Sure, winning the big bucks in a Las Vegas casino is cool, but winning in front of a television audience takes the cake. Game shows and gambling are as American as apple pie.

Let’s take a look at 4 of the best gambling game shows in history.

1 – $100,000 Fortune Hunt

The $100,000 Fortune Hunt is one of the first lottery game shows.

It was based in Illinois and aired nationally. There were actually 2 more lottery game shows in Illinois that aired after the $100,000 Fortune Hunt.

There are some similarities between this game and the Wheel of Fortune. 6 players would pick a number that was on a “trilon.”

There were 36 trilons in all and a woman by the name of Linda would then turn the trilon (much like Vanna White).

The trilons would have a positive or negative amount. This amount was either added to or deducted from the current player’s score.

However, there were other spaces available on the board that a player could encounter. For instance, a player could choose a number and a Double space would be revealed. This allowed the player to choose another space.

$100,000 Fortune Hunt Screen Shot

If a positive dollar amount was chosen, then the double applied to it and that was the amount won. The double did not apply to negative amounts. A player could also get a free turn when they selected a number from the board.

This could be redeemed by the player whenever they wanted to get an extra shot at making a good pick from the board.

Much like Wheel Of Fortune, players could pick a number from the board and get a Bankrupt square. At which point, the player would lose all of their money.

A very interesting aspect of this game is that a “Decision” square could be chosen from the board. This is where a player could win a car and leave the game. They could also pass and continue to play if they so wished.

Starting in 1990, if a player won $100,000 in the first game, they could return for a maximum of 5 weeks. This gave them a shot at winning $500,000.

That’s a pretty sweet deal.

2 – Illinois Instant Riches

Illinois Instant Riches was another game show based on Illinois gambling. Eventually the name of this game show was changed to illinois’ Luckiest.

A contestant would be chosen from 15 people by spinning a wheel and seeing who it landed on. At this point the selected contestant would win some lottery tickets and get to play the game.

Force Field was one of the games that involved magnets. There was a magnet that hovered above a group of magnets that had different dollar amounts on them.

A pendulum with a magnet is swung above the dollar amount magnets. It then attracts a magnet with a certain dollar amount and the player would then win the amount on that magnet. Then that dollar amount would be replaced by a “Wipe Out” magnet.

At this point, the player got another chance to swing the pendulum to win more money. If the “Wipe Out” magnet was attracted to the pendulum magnet, then the player lost all the money they earned from their first try.

Mismatch is another game that might be played by a contestant. The contestant stands behind 2 containers and none of the contestants get to see what is in either of these containers.

Illinois Instant Riches Game Show Screenshot

The containers contained 3 colored balls, green, yellow, and red. So, the contestant chose a ball from the right container which was referred to as selecting a “base” color. At this point the contestant is spotted $5,000, and must choose a ball from the other container.

All the contestant would need to do to get a “mismatch” is pick a ball that was a different color than the first ball they chose to win an additional $5,000. If they chose a ball with the same color, they won no additional money.

Once the contestant made 3 pulls, they would be presented with the choice of making one last pull or stopping altogether. If the contestant wanted one more pull, another ball that was the same color as the first ball they chose would be added to the second container.

If the ball they chose at this point was a mismatch, then it would triple their money. If the ball was the same as the “base” color, then the contestant lost half of their money.

A contestant could win up to $60,000 on this game.

The Wrecking Ball game was a fun addition to this show.

A rotating platform had 12 buildings on it. The wrecking ball was attached to a crane off to the side. The contestant would have to have their back to the rotating platform. At this point, the contestant would pull a lever to release the wrecking ball.

The wrecking ball swung over the platform six times knocking over buildings in the process. After the first wrecking ball swing, the remaining buildings were each worth $1,500. There was then a second swing of the wrecking ball. After this, the remaining buildings were each worth $3,000.

Now the contestant had a choice of stopping or going for one more round with the wrecking ball. The maximum amount won off this game was $108,000.

3 – Idiot Savants

Idiot Savant Game Show Screenshot

This was a fun game show that was on MTV.

This game had an educational aspect to it and was a typical question and answer format that four contestants would compete in for an entire week. Each day of the week a game ensued with eliminations and a bonus round.

At the end of the week, each contestant would have a total score for the entire week. The contestant with the highest score at the week’s end would win the grand prize which would usually come in the form of a car or vacation.

4 – Joker Joker Joker

This was a version of the game show Joker’s Wild where the contestants were kids.

2 kids went head to head and played for points instead of dollars.

The kids would then try their luck by pulling a lever that triggered a giant slot machine. This would cause the wheels of the slot machine to spin and on each wheel were a set of categories

So, three categories would be shown when the wheels stopped. The contestant that had pulled the lever could then choose 1 category from their 3 choices. The host would then ask the contestant a question from that category.

If the contestant got the right answer they were awarded points. However, if they answered incorrectly, this gave their opponent a chance to answer the same question and thus win the points.

Joker Joker Joker Game Show Image

Since there were three wheels, a category could come up on two or all three wheels. So, more points were awarded for a correct answer if the category showed up more than one of the slot machine wheels.

A $500 savings bond was awarded to the kid that won. The kid who lost also got a savings bond that was worth $100.

Jokers were included on these wheels and, as you might have guessed, the jokers were wild.

If the contestant got a joker they could then make it any category they wanted to make a match from the spin or go off the board and choose a category that was not represented by the spin at all.

It’s nice that in this version, everybody is a winner of sorts.

Conclusion

Game shows based on real money gambling have been and will continue to be an integral part of American entertainment.

It is fun to root for a player and also to think of how well you would do had you been there instead of the televised contestants.

Winning big at one of these game shows can dramatically alter someone’s life forever.

Are there some additional gambling game shows that are your particular favorites from over the years? If so, let me know in the comments.

Omaha vs. Texas Hold’em – The 7 Major Differences

Texas Holdem and Omaha Poker Mixed Image

Most people who have watched a little bit of televised poker are familiar with Texas Hold’em, even if they’ve never played. It’s a game where you get two hole cards, then share five more cards with the other players.

Any combination of your two cards along with the five community cards on the board can make up your final five-card hand, even if you don’t use either of the cards in your hand.

The biggest difference between Omaha and Texas Hold’em is the number of hole cards. You get four hole cards in Omaha instead of two.

This one big difference has multiple ramifications for the game, and I list and explain those seven big differences below.

1 – Omaha Is Often Played “Hi-Lo”

In Texas Hold’em, the showdown determines who wins the pot. A showdown only happens when you have two or more players still in the pot at the end of a hand. If everyone folds except one player, that players wins the pot by default.

When there is a showdown, the player with the better hand wins the pot. The hands are ranked according to the standard rankings of poker hands. A royal flush is the best possible hand, followed by any lower straight flush, followed by four of a kind, and so on…

This is how showdowns are handled in Omaha, too. But Omaha is often played as “eight or better” or just “hi-lo.” Here’s what that means.

At the showdown, the pot is split between the player with the best possible hand and the player with the best qualifying low hand.

A low hand must consist of five cards ranked eight or lower. The lower the highest card is, the lower the hand is. And in the event that the lowest high card is tied, you settle that with the next highest card.

The easiest way to understand this is to treat the hand as a numeral starting with the highest card in the hand and working your way down.

Closeup of a Omaha Poker Hand

For example, you might have 87654, which is the worst possible low hand you could have. Someone with 87653 would have you beat.

The best possible low hand is often called a “wheel.” It consists of 5432A. For purposes of calculating the qualifying low hand, flushes and straights are ignored. And yes, it’s possible to win both the best possible high hand and the best possible low hand at the same time. This is called “scooping the pot.”

This change in who gets paid off at the showdown has dramatic effects on Omaha poker strategy.

2 – You Don’t Get to Use Combinations in Omaha

In Texas Hold’em, you can use two, one, or none of your hole cards along with three, four, or five of the community cards to make up your final hand.

In Omaha, though, you must use two (and exactly two) of your hole cards and three (and exactly three) of the community cards to create your final hand.

This can create some confusion for new Omaha players.

For example, if you have four cards of the same suit in the hole, you have a lower probability of having a flush because two of your outs are actually in your hand. You can’t use them.

3 – People Play Omaha Hi-Lo for Higher Stakes

Since Omaha Hi-Lo involves splitting the pot, it’s often played at higher stakes to stimulate interest.

For example, a $3/$6 Texas Hold’em game is about the same as a $6/$12 Omaha Hi-Lo game. That’s because your share of the pot (after splitting it with the low hand) in Omaha Hi-Lo is about what it would be if you were playing $3/$6 Texas Hold’em.

Don’t be intimidated by these higher limits at the Omaha poker games. As long as you know how to play, the higher stakes are no big deal.

4 – Omaha Hi-Lo Is Less Volatile for Skilled Players

New Omaha players always see lots of potential in their hole cards because they have twice as many hole cards as they have in Texas Hold’em. Many times, they play more hands than they would in Texas Hold’em. In fact, many new Omaha players participate in almost every hand and stay in almost every hand too long.

These players find justification for this, too, because they get lucky pretty often. After all, they have so many possible starting two-card hands to choose from because of their four hole cards.

They lose more money than anyone else at the table, though. You just need to have more skill than these new players.

When you compare Omaha Hi-Lo with the other major poker games—Draw, Stud, and Texas Hold’em—you’ll have much lower variance at Omaha Hi-Lo than any of these other games.

All you need to do is learn how to play tighter than usual. This is hard for a lot of players because they think with the extra cards and extra possibilities they should loosen up.

The opposite is the case. The more cards in the game, the tighter you should play.

5 – Hand Values in Omaha Are Different From Hand Values in Texas Hold’em

In Texas Hold’em, I’m usually thrilled with top pair and a big kicker. I even get more excited about two pairs. Those are great hands in a Texas Hold’em game.

I’ve won more money with those hands in Texas Hold’em than any other hands I can think of.

But in Omaha, with the extra cards, you need stronger hands on average to win. Top pair with a great kicker isn’t even something I’d play all the way down to the river.

I don’t get excited about two pairs in Omaha, either, and neither should you.

Think about it like this. You’re probably playing Omaha with eight other players. Each of those players has four hole cards, which is the equivalent of having six different two-card starting hand combinations. That’s basically like playing in a Texas Hold’em game with over 50 other players.

I think you’ll have more fun learning how to play Omaha, because you’ll have more potentially good hands every round. You’ll also get to chase more outs, since you’ll have so much more potential.

You’ll either have the nuts given what’s on the board, or you’ll be drawing to a hand that’s better than the current nuts. That’s fun.

6 – Raises Aren’t as Powerful in Omaha

Since you have so many possible outs, many of your opponents will call your raises. Raising to force people out of a pot just isn’t as effective a strategy in Omaha as it is in Texas Hold’em. It’s tricky to “thin the field” at an Omaha table.

It’s not hard to see why. Every player at the table has the equivalent of six Texas Hold’em starting hands, so they’re going to see that a lot of the time. They’re getting good pot odds and implied odds to call your raises.

You’re not going to eliminate anyone preflop with a raise unless they were going to fold anyway. If your opponent wants to see a flop, your raise isn’t going to scare him off.

Stack of Poker Chips

And you’re also less likely to eliminate players by raising on the flop. Your opponents will often have completed a big hand. If not, they’ll often have at least one draw to a flush or a straight. They might also have a draw to the low hand.

The only opponents who will fold in the face of a raise on the flop are the ones who completely missed the flop.

For the same reason, you won’t be as likely to get a free card on the turn because you raised on the flop. You have so many potential hands in everyone’s cards that someone is likely to bet into the pot even if you raised on the flop.

I’m not a fan of bluffing all the time in general, either. Bluffing is even harder in Omaha, though. The best reason to raise in Omaha is to build the size of the pot and scoop it.

7 – Slow-Playing in Omaha Is Usually the Wrong Move

A lot of players slow-play their Texas Hold’em hands as a deception technique.

In Omaha, you can’t afford to slow-play. You can’t give away free cards to your opponents, because you need to get your money in the middle of the table when you’re a favorite to win the pot.

This is a major difference between Texas Hold’em and Omaha.

Conclusion

Personally, I enjoy playing Omaha better than Texas Hold’em. But it took me a while to get to that point.

I still enjoy the differences between Omaha and Texas Hold’em. They’re not limited to these seven distinctions, either. In fact, there are more differences than just these.

But you’ll only know for sure how you feel about these differences when you’ve experienced real money poker in action. So, don’t be afraid to try out both options and figure out which one you like best! Either way, it’s always good to be flexible when it comes to your poker knowledge. It just might help you make better moves in future games!

4 Interesting Facts About Gambling Addiction and Recovery

X-Ray Image of Human Brain With Poker Chip Background

Gambling is a very social activity much like having drinks with friends on the weekend.

However, also much like drinking, when some people start to gamble they can’t stop and when they want to quit gambling, they find that they can’t.

How our society views addiction has changed over the past 100 years. Although there is a strong stigma still attached to addiction, the medical field recognizes addiction as a disorder of the brain.

The addict’s brain is unable to make rational decisions because part of the brain is affected by addictive behavior.

The past 100 years have also given birth to a multitude of 12-step fellowships for addictive behaviors.

These fellowships have meetings that members attend regularly in order to help each other keep from going back to their addiction.

Here are 4 interesting facts about gambling addiction and recovery:

1 – The Need for More and More is a Strong Sign of Gambling Addiction

It is interesting that gambling addiction closely mimics substance abuse rather than obsessive-compulsive disorder.

One of the ways that these two addictions are similar is the need for more and more to get the desired effect.

When a cocaine addict is addicted, they usually have to increase the amount they use over a considerable amount of time in order to get the feeling they seek. What $20 worth of cocaine used to do now takes $80 worth.

With gambling addiction, there is a need to bet more and more money as the addiction progresses.

What seemed like big bets at the onset of the addiction are now relatively small compared to the size of the bet that the addict must make to continue to get the desired effect.

Both substance abusers and gambling addicts share a delusional perception about the current state of affairs.

Upset Woman With Pile of Poker Chips in Front of Her

In the grips of the addiction, the addict believes that they are completely in control.

They also minimize the seriousness of the problem and often refuse to look at the consequences of their actions.

When the addict tries to cut down or stop altogether, they are usually very restless and irritable.

This restlessness and irritation is only quelled by gambling again which releases the cycle all over again.

The Australian government defines the problem of addictive gambling as, “characterized by many difficulties in limiting money and/or time spent on gambling which leads to adverse consequences for the gambler, others, or for the community.”

2- Mental Health Disorders Contribute To Addictive Gambling Behavior

Addictive gambling usually doesn’t happen all by itself. There is an underlying condition or a co-occurring addiction that is going on when addictive gambling becomes evident as a serious problem in an individual.

Much research has been done on Narcissism Personality Disorder and Pathological Gambling.

There is a definite link between narcissism and problem gambling. Impulsivity and the need for sensation-seeking are both traits of narcissism.

With this in mind, it is easy to see how that could lead to problem gambling.

Narcissists also believe they are better at certain things than they actually are. So, narcissists may continue to gamble despite consequences because they actually think that they are really good despite evidence to the contrary.

Narcissists tend to display a lack of judgment in many areas of their life and tend to have the belief that they can control things such as the outcome of an event.

Even in the face of losing consistently, many think that the ‘next one’ is going to be better or different than the previous attempts. This is also a trait of drug or alcohol addiction.

Many gambling addicts also have a substance abuse disorder. There could be an environmental factor to this as most casinos serve alcohol.

It can be common that someone who used to be addicted to alcohol but is now sober, can develop a gambling addiction even after sober from alcohol for several years.

When taking a closer look at addiction, there comes a lot of guilt and shame coming from the sufferer. The gambling addict may use drugs and alcohol to lessen those feelings after a bad night.

Gambling coupled with cocaine use is a common occurrence. The cocaine addict may try to supply their habit by gambling. This could occur as a scratch-off lottery ticket problem.

A cocaine addict may also have a delusional perspective of how well they do at the gaming tables.

There are also many illegal gaming rooms across North America and for various reasons this seems to attract methamphetamine abusers.

There are many compulsive behaviors that can emerge once someone gets high on methamphetamine, but the desire to gamble at an illegal gaming room seems to be one of the most common.

3 – Gamblers Anonymous Was Founded by a Member of Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous is the original 12 step program. From it have emerged numerous other fellowships that use the 12 steps as a means of recovery. Regular meeting attendance is a huge part of the recovery process.

In 1957, Gamblers Anonymous was founded by a gentleman by the name of Jim Willis.

He was a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and thought that the 12 steps could be applied to compulsive gambling as well.

The very first Gamblers Anonymous meeting took place in Los Angeles, California. There were 13 people present at that meeting.

Much like other 12 step fellowships, Gamblers Anonymous has 20 questions that an individual can answer to see if they think they have a problem with compulsive gambling.

Since Gamblers Anonymous is not a group of professionals, only an individual with the help of a doctor can diagnose themselves.

The American Psychiatric Association states that compulsive gambling includes the need to increase the amount of money bet, the need to borrow money in order to continue gambling, and keeping gambling a secret from family members and co-workers, among other behaviors.

Stack of Poker Chips

Counseling is highly suggested as well as a means to help a gambling addict achieve recovery.

Just like in Alcoholics Anonymous, Gambler’s Anonymous has definite suggestions for the newcomer.

These include 90 meetings in 90 days, not going to gambling establishments, refrain from hanging out with people who are active gamblers, getting a sponsor to work the 12 steps with, and frequently calling other GA members when they are not at a meeting.

Like AL-Anon, there is also GAM-Anon that is for the people in the gambling addict’s life who have been gravely affected by their loved one’s gambling addiction.

4 – Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy is a Best Practice for Problem Gambling

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy has a lot of success with many compulsive behaviors.

The object is to use therapy sessions to rewire a patient’s brain so they react to situations differently.

This can help with how an individual deals with certain triggers that might set them off to return to the destructive behavior.

There are thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs that are considered ‘faulty’ in an individual who shows definite signs of problem gambling.

CBT has been shown not only to keep problem gamblers from the pitfalls of gambling, but it has helped problem gamblers gamble less.

A goal of CBT when it comes to problem gambling is to make the individual aware of their cognitive distortions or ‘faulty’ thinking.

The individual will have delusional beliefs around their gambling activities.

They may not think they have that severe of a problem while everyone around them knows that they do. Problem gamblers usually think their beliefs about gambling will affect the outcome of the thing they are gambling on.

CBT for problem gambling occurs mainly in a one-on-one setting. However, a therapist may hold group sessions for several problem gamblers and therapy can be applied in this setting as well.

Conclusion

If you or someone you know is showing signs of problem gambling then you should call the National Problem Gambling Hotline at 1-800-522-4700.

You can get help 24/7 and the help you receive is confidential.

By calling this number, you can get in contact with many resources that can help anyone struggling with problem gambling.

3 Easy Ways to Be a Better Sports Gambler

Hand Holding 20 Dollar Bills With Sportsbook TVs Background

You can find many different ways to improve your sports gambling results. Some of these ways require a great deal of work and time. But others aren’t as hard.

I made a list of all of the easy ways I know of to become a better sports gambler, but it turned out to be longer than I thought it would. So instead of writing about everything on the list, I concentrated on a few areas that can have the biggest impact on your results.

Here are three easy ways to become a better sports gambler. Once you master these three areas you can keep learning and working to improve more.

1 – Combine Statistics and Your Eyes

Sports gambling is much like every other type of gambling. Most sports gamblers lose more than they win, and the house is profitable in the long run.

This is important because it tells you that if you do the same things that most gamblers do, you’re going to lose. So the first secret to being a winning sports gambler is to do things in a different way than the majority of gamblers who bet on sporting events.

Normal sports gamblers do one of two things. One group watches games and makes bets based on what they see in the games they watch. The other group relies on statistics to make betting decisions and don’t watch as many games, or use what they see in the games that they do watch to make betting decisions.

If you want to be a better sports gambler you need to use both statistics and what you see when you watch games.

A good sports betting statistical model is valuable, and it can help you find profitable betting opportunities. But there are some things that a statistical model simply can’t tell you. Some things can only be learned by watching and evaluating games.

If you currently make betting decisions based only on watching games or only on statistics, you need to stop making real money wagers immediately. Instead, start watching more games and start building a statistical sports betting model.

When you watch games, watch them as a handicapper. Look for information with your eyes that can help you find value in upcoming games and make better wagering decisions. Look for players on hot or cold streaks and players that might be battling a minor injury that is hurting their performance.

When you build a statistical model, you need to test as many variables as you can. Start with popular statistics and keep testing new statistics one at a time. You can’t test more than one new statistic with your model at a time because if your results change you don’t know which variable caused the change.

If you want to test two or more new statistics with your model, run a new model using each of the new statistics. You can also use some back testing methods to help you find statistics that might help you and eliminate ones that aren’t going to help.

Start combining statistics and your eyes to improve your sports gambling results today.

2 – Find Value Where Others Don’t

Sports gamblers who make profits in the long run are the ones that learn how to find value. They identify games that offer value and bet on them, while ignoring all other games.

One thing that some sports gamblers seem to struggle with is understanding that value is tied to the lines that you can bet on. A game in itself never offers value.

A game might not offer any value at a line of +7 or -7, but the same game might offer value at +5 or -5. And while it’s rare, there are times when you might be able to bet at the 7 or the 5 at different sportsbooks.

In fact, some gamblers exploit line variance to make profits on the value between two lines at different sportsbooks. This is a dangerous game, but it is possible to profit from lines.

The reason why all of this is important is because you have to understand that value is the only thing that matters. If you want to be a better sports gambler, you have to focus 100% on finding value.

College Football Fans in the Stands

Most sports gamblers think the only way to find value is by handicapping and evaluating games. Actually, let me back up and say that most sports gamblers don’t even think in terms of value. They simply guess or make wagers based on their gut feeling and hope to get lucky.

The main way to find value is in evaluating and handicapping games and comparing your results to the lines offered. But it’s not the only way to find value. And if you want to make long term profits as a sports gambler, you have to find value in every way possible.

The best ways to start finding value are included in the previous section and the next section. Start with these strategies, and then look for other ways to identify value.

One of the best things about betting on sports is there isn’t a step-by-step blueprint to profits. This is also one of the worst things about betting on sports.

Every profitable sports gambler has to develop his, or her, own system for finding and taking advantage of value. This isn’t easy, but it’s worth it in the long run because you don’t have to rely on others to make money from sports betting. You only have to rely on your brain and your systems.

3 – Bet on Fewer Games

Have you ever heard the saying about quality over quantity? In sports gambling this is just as true as in any other area.

In the last section you learned how important finding value is to your long term profitability betting on sports. One of the best ways to find value is to invest more time in fewer games. The more time you can invest, the easier it is to find value.

Consider some numbers comparing betting on 10 games and three games. If you invest 20 hours in evaluating and handicapping and bet on 10 games, you spend roughly two hours handicapping each game.

On the other hand, what if you spent two hours eliminating games that don’t offer value, or don’t offer much value, and then spent six hours each on the three games that show the best profit potential?

I realize that this is somewhat simplified, but it doesn’t change the fact that the more time you can spend on a game the better chance you have of making a profitable bet.

One of the best ways to find value while betting on fewer games is to specialize. Become an expert in a specialized sports area instead of trying to know some about a wide range of leagues and teams.

Baseball Stadium View From Stands

The more you specialize, the easier it is to find value. Learn everything you can about all of the teams in one division or league, follow all of the writers for these teams, and outwork the sportsbooks in your specialized area.

This is one of the fastest and easiest ways to become a better sports gambler. Instead of trying to guess about value on every game on the schedule, focus all of your time and energy on a small piece of the schedule and you can see which games might offer value and which ones you can ignore.

Find one game on the schedule every day that looks like it has value and do a deep dive into the evaluation. As soon as you see it doesn’t offer value, move to the next game that looks like it has value.

If the game does offer true value, make a wager after doing a complete evaluation and then look for the next game with value.

You only need to bet on a few games every day or week to make a profit, as long as you do a good job evaluating the games you do bet on.

Conclusion

If you want to be a winning sports gambler you can’t afford to be one dimensional. Learn how to use both your eyes and statistics to evaluate game. This is the best way to learn how to find value.

When you focus on value instead of everything else you have the best chance to find it. Remember that value is the only thing that matters in sports gambling.

Finally, focus on quality over quantity when you gamble on sports. This lets you maximize your value while spending your time on the most important areas.

7 Best Seafood Restaurants in Atlantic City

Picture of Phillip's Seafood and Harry's Oyster Bar and Seafood in Atlantic City

For those not living in Atlantic City, the first thing that comes to mind when one hears those words isn’t necessarily the ocean. Sure, the world “Atlantic” is right there in the name, and most people know that Atlantic City has its boardwalk, but it’s not the first thing for which AC is known.

However, once you travel to Atlantic City, you only need to raise your head a few inches up from the boardwalk and away from the casinos to see a glorious, blue ocean, amazing seaside sunsets, and some very nice oceanside real estate.

All of which means one thing—seafood restaurants. One cannot be that close to the ocean, smell the salty air, and not think about all of the delicacies found in the seawater.

Fortunately, Atlantic City provides. There are a lot of places that offer seafood in one variety or another that one can enjoy. There are so many, in fact, that I’ve helped you to narrow them down to just seven for you to try.

Sure, that’s a lot, but if I know anything, it’s that you can never have enough seafood.

7 – Kelsey’s

Technically, Kelsey’s isn’t a seafood restaurant at all. It’s actually a soul food restaurant which doesn’t seem like it should have anything to do with seafood at first glance.

However, Kelsey’s has a fairly eclectic menu and one of the things it does do is serve up soul and Southern versions of a lot of seafood-heavy dishes. For instance, you want a seafood starter? Try their shrimp etouffee!

Dish From Kelsey's Restaurant in Atlantic City

For your meal, you can try the fish tacos (which were good enough to make my best taco list for Atlantic City) or shrimp and grits, stuffed shrimp, fried fish, grilled salmon, or crab cakes. See, that absolutely makes Kelsey’s a seafood place, right?

Okay, in all seriousness, going to Kelsey’s isn’t quite the same as going to a place like Dock’s or Harry’s, but that’s okay. Kelsey’s has a strong culinary viewpoint and you will enjoy the seafood you get there.

Now, let’s get to some more traditional seafood places.

6 – Phillips Seafood

Located in Playground Pier at Caesars, Phillips Seafood is rated as one of the better restaurants in all of Atlantic City.

With that said, Phillips looks a lot like one would expect of a Atlantic City casino restaurant. The décor is nice and features a few touches of the sea, but it really doesn’t scream seafood joint. What it does scream is “I have a huge wine selection” with a see-through collection of bottles dominating the area right by the kitchen. So, that’s definitely a big win.

Of course, the real gem of a seafood place is its menu, and that’s where Phillips can really shine.

Highlights of the menu include the Ultimate Surf and Turf (that’s a six-ounce filet and a lobster tail in true casino fashion), premium broiled seafood platter (including lobster tail, crab cake, shrimp, and salmon), whole Maine lobster, fried seafood platter, or snow crab legs.

For dessert, the chocolate peanut butter pie is a great choice, but if you like bread pudding, Phillips’ Signature Warm Cinnamon Bread Pudding is, well, their signature. It’s pretty hard to go wrong ordering it.

Whatever you order, you’re going to enjoy it. And Phillips is basically right next to the ocean on Playground Pier. It’s hard to find a better location than that.

5 – Olon

I admit that I tend to have a bit of a weakness for celebrity chef restaurants, especially when those chefs are Iron Chefs. It doesn’t always work out, but when it comes to Chef Jose Garces, I’ve never had a bad meal at any of his restaurants. This includes Olon, which is a Latin-inspired take on fresh seafood.

First, let me say that the food at Olon is gorgeous. It’s cliché to say that we eat with our eyes first, but if you can hold off shoving the food in your face, you will notice that the presentation of food at Olon is second to none on this list.

Olon Restaurant Seafood Dish

Even better, you can enjoy Olon in several different ways, depending on what you are looking for and when you go. During the week from 4 PM to 6 PM, for instance, you can go and enjoy a three-course tasting menu featuring items like cheese empanadas, roasted half chicken, shrimp anticuchos, and citrus tarts.

During happy hour (everyday from 4 PM to 7 PM), there are reduced prices on some food items including the buck-a-shuck raw oysters. It’s hard to beat that deal.

There are also the dessert and dinner menus, where the menu really starts to shine. It’s hard to pick just one thing to order, so go with a group and share. But in all seriousness, the guacamole with jumbo lump crab and scallop gratin both jump off the menu.

For the meal, I suggest either one of the ceviches (Mexican, Peruvian, or Veracruz style), the whole branzino or the fried shrimp. Hopefully, you save some room for dessert and check out the dulce de leche sundae or the coconut parfait.

4 – Council Oak Steaks and Seafood

Located in the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, Council Oak is by far one of the fanciest of the seafood places on this list. It’s the type of place where you might want to dress up a little more, but the food is definitely worth it.

Council Oak Fish’s focus is on ocean-to-table dining (their words) and cold seafood selections, several different types of oysters, “for the table” options like crab cakes, clam chowder, wood-fired shrimp, and clams oreganata.

If you like wood-fired selections, you can choose from several types of fish, lobster, chicken, or steaks. Perhaps best of all, though, are the shellfish pots that serve lobster, crab, shrimp, clams, mussels, scallops, and other options in various broths and sauces.

The good news is that even though Council Oak is a little more fancy, the prices are still reasonable and, in general, it’s a solid meal.

3 – Chart House

Chart House Restaurant View of the Ocean

If you like your seafood overlooking the bar, Chart House is for you. Part of the Golden Nugget, Chart House is fine dining in a place that remains classic to this day.

It’s hard to tell where to start with the menu at Chart House. The wicked tuna and charred octopus are both amazing starters, but it’s hard not to order off the “dock to dine” section of the menu, featuring mahi, swordfish, ahi, and other fish.

There’s also a nice seasonal portion to the menu which you don’t see in all seafood places. All in all, it’s hard not to pick something great at Chart House, especially when you end the night with hot chocolate lava cake.

2 – Dock’s Oyster House

Hands down, Dock’s is one of the best restaurants in all of Atlantic City. There’s something about this restaurant that melds old-school rustic charm with nice new modern renovations, a huge bar, and a fantastic raw bar that says, “You need to come here and eat.”

The raw bar menu reads like a who’s who of delicious oysters and cold seafood selections (may I suggest the fluke crudo and chilled one-pound lobster?).

The steamed clams are a terrific appetizer, and the sea scallops make a satisfying meal (again, if you want to order a meal and not just eat off the raw bar).

Dock’s has been around Atlantic City for over a century. It’s pretty tough to beat this place no matter what you are looking to eat.

1 – Harry’s Oyster Bar and Seafood

It was hard putting Harry’s at number one over Dock’s, but I made the tough decision and I’m sticking to it. Why did I make the decision? Ambiance.

Harry’s Oyster Bar and Seafood is a nice, fun place to hang out, get some oysters and clams, and maybe a one-pound lobster or tuna poke. Then, you can sit, eat, and enjoy the picture of a fish handing you a beer on the menu. It’s just that kind of place, and since there are definitely some more fancy places to get seafood on the list, I wanted to make sure there was a casual place, too.

Iced Oysters and Lemons

This is a fun place that serves good food.

In addition to the raw bar, there are sandwiches (hello lobster roll!), entrees like the seafood combo or pasta my way (in this case, with crab in a fra diavolo sauce, thank you very much). There’s also a huge drink and specialty cocktail menu for you to enjoy as you chow down on your fish.

Conclusion

Despite my earlier comments, it’s no surprise that a place on the ocean would have a great selection of restaurants. The seven above are just a few options, but I highly recommend each one. The real key is what type of seafood experience you want.

Luxury? Fun? Comfortable? Soul-food? Atlantic City has a seafood place that will cater to them all.

Which Lottery Game Has the Best Odds?

Hundred Dollar Bill and Closeup of Lottery Balls

Many people, including myself, have day dreamed of the financial windfall that comes from a lottery win. I have had many acquaintances tell me all about their planned purchases and vacation plans following their upcoming lottery jackpot.

While the largest lottery jackpots often attract the most entries, they often have the longest odds. But with numbers this size, it can be hard to wrap your head around the odds, and know which games offer the best chances of winning.

I should note that of all the people that have expressed in detail how they plan on spending their millions, every one of them is still waiting for that day.

Understanding the Odds

According to USC mathematics professor Kenneth Alexander, it does not make financial sense to play the lottery.

He explains that people who play should use it as entertainment only, spending the $2 to get that feeling that you could hypothetically win. The odds are against you that you’ll actually win, but plenty of lottery fans are willing to spend $2 on the fantasy.

But if you are going to play, what are the odds?

If you play the Powerball lottery, you’ll need to match five numbers plus the Powerball to win the jackpot. The odds of scooping the grand prize are 1 in 292,201,338.

The overall odds of winning a prize are 1 in 24.87, so for smaller cash prizes the odds are a lot better.

Mega Millions odds are even tougher to beat, at 1 in 302,575,350. Just to put that in perspective: the odds of getting hit by lightning are 1 in 700,000 while the odds of getting dealt a Royal Flush are 1 in 649,740.

So, let that sink in before you take a second mortgage and come home with a wheelbarrow full of the tiny slips.

The odds are so tough to beat that buying more tickets really doesn’t help.

I’ll see if this puts it into a clearer perspective; my favorite description of Powerball odds is that if you’d been buying 1,800 tickets per week since the time of Jesus, there’s a better-than-even chance you wouldn’t have won the jackpot yet.

What?!

Lotteries That Offer Better Odds of Winning

So, if the odds of winning Powerball are that tricky, which lotteries should you play if you actually want to win?

The experts say that you players looking to win should stick with pick-3 or pick-4 games that are only offered to in-state residents. The payouts may be much smaller, but your odds of winning are significantly higher.

You might only win a few hundred dollars, but at least you stand a chance to win back more than you’re spending on tickets.

Some states are more generous than others. Looking at average payout per dollar, Massachusetts state lotteries are the most generous, getting close to 80 cents. Most states range between 60-70 cents per dollar, with some falling well below that.

Mega Millions Lottery Cards

In fact, if you’re playing state lotteries in West Virginia, you’re looking at just 16 cents of every dollar! That said, you still have a better chance of winning a state lottery in West Virginia than a national lottery.

Another popular option are scratch offs. Because of the range of prizes awarded in scratch cards, you’ll have a 60% or higher chance to make back what you spent on the ticket. Winning a substantial prize can quickly change to 1% or less, but they still tend to payout more often.

This means that you’ll be able to play more scratch cards while staying afloat, compared to other lotteries where the odds are you’ll never recoup your ticket prices.

There are a number of ways you can improve your chances of winning scratch cards too.

Improve Your Odds With the Right Games

People talk about entering the lottery as if it were just one game, but every state has a selection of lottery games, and they each have different odds of winning.

Read the odds before you spend your money to ensure you’re maximizing your chances of winning. By picking games with better odds, you boost your chances of being a lottery winner.

Remember that lottery games like Powerball and MegaMillions are national lotteries. They have fixed odds of winning, but if many people enter, you could end up splitting a jackpot. That would lower the value of your prize.

Don’t write off scratch-off games, either. They usually offer smaller prizes but higher chances of winning overall.

Multiply Your Odds With Second Chance Games

OK, so your numbers didn’t come up in the drawing. That means it’s time to toss your lottery ticket, right?

Nope.

Many lotteries offer second-chance drawings on non-winning tickets. Fill out the form on the back, send it in, and you’ll have a bonus chance to be a winner.

On June 8, 2010, a woman in Kentucky reported a big lottery win. She didn’t win because of the numbers she played when she bought the ticket, but because she entered the second-chance game in the Kentucky Lottery.

Her name was randomly drawn as the second-chance winner, and she took home $120,610.70 after taxes.

So, I encourage you to not give up just because you didn’t win the first time. If your lottery game includes a second-chance drawing, entering could be your ticket to winning.

Beware of Lottery Scams

Unfortunately, many scammers try to take advantage of people’s dreams of winning the lottery. Here are a few tips to protect yourself and avoid lottery scams:

  • Only buy tickets from authorized lottery retailers.
  • It’s not legal to sell lottery tickets across national borders. You can usually buy tickets if you are located in the country, but offers to sell international lottery tickets by mail or online are usually illegal.
  • If you didn’t buy a lottery ticket or participate in a second-chance lottery game, you didn’t win.
  • The lottery doesn’t notify you when you win; you are responsible for checking your winning tickets.
  • You’re never required to pay money up-front to receive a winning lottery prize.

The Largest Lottery Wins in History

Even though the odds are astronomical, the biggest gambling wins in history come from games like Powerball and Mega Millions. In May 2013, a Florida woman won a jackpot worth about $590 million, which at the time was the biggest jackpot won by a single person.

It’s important to note the number of winners for these prizes. For example, in December 2013, there was a winner in Georgia and California for the $648 million Mega Millions. Both opted for the lump sum payout, getting $173 million each.

Powerball Logo

After winning the $758.7 million Powerball jackpot in August 2017, the single winner quit her job and took the lump sum payout of $480.5 million before taxes. When the Powerball hit $1.586 billion in January 2016, three winning tickets were sold, which meant they each got about $327.8 million as the pre-tax lump sum.

But the research shows that the fantasy of winning is often way better than the reality. For many, the lottery makes lives worse instead of better.

About 70% of people who receive a cash windfall lose it within a few years. Beyond blowing it on frivolous things, many winners end up getting cheated out of cash or losing loved ones.

Don’t Miss a Lottery Win!

Even worse than never winning at all perhaps are those who misplace winning tickets.

Imagine winning a big jackpot, but missing out on your money because you forgot to double-check your numbers. It happens more often than you think.

One MegaMillions lottery ticket worth nearly $300,000 was never claimed. Somewhere out there, there’s someone with no idea that they won, and lost, a huge prize. Don’t let that happen to you.

When you buy a lottery ticket, keep it somewhere where you can find it again easily. Jot down the drawing date and time in your calendar if you’re afraid you might forget it.

Check the numbers against your ticket, and double-check them, just to be sure. Also, make sure that you are looking at the numbers for the correct date.

Some people like to have convenience store clerks verify their tickets to be sure they don’t make a mistake while checking their numbers. Another option is to use a lottery app to help you keep track of the drawings.

The Best Advice if You Win?

Hire a financial planner and accountant to help you manage your money for the future.

Also, if you live somewhere that allows you to stay anonymous, that’s probably best, unless you want to spend the rest of your life fighting off friends and acquaintances asking you for cash.

Conclusion

I have not purchased a lottery ticket in a couple of years. While the fantasy of striking it rich can be a fun distraction, I’ve decided I prefer the simpler life.

I take pleasure in picking up my own dry cleaning and I don’t have much use for a fleet of supercars anyway.

For me, removing the complications of what would come with actually winning and focusing on what I have today has made me much happier.

Having said that, I would not discourage anyone with a few dollars to spare from giving it a go with a local or online lottery. Just understand, you’re almost certainly not going to win.

So, enjoy dreaming of kicking back in luxury on your mega-yacht or visiting your summer home in Italy. Just don’t go broke chasing your lavish dreams. Gamble on.

Why You Should Be Using Basic Strategy in Blackjack

Blackjack Hands With Gear Drawings Background

Playing and mastering blackjack are very different things. Mastery of blackjack starts with understanding the house edge and recognizing how it can impact your game.

Understanding the house edge is vital for becoming a player that is capable of taking on the house. Without further ado, let’s look at how to reduce the house edge.

The basic playing strategy is a set of guidelines that gives you the optimal way to play every hand dealt to you when the only information you have is your hand and the dealer’s up-card.

Basic strategy is the mathematically correct way to play every hand because over time it will maximize the amount of money you will win and minimize your losses.

The reason that the game of blackjack is subject to mathematical analysis is because it is, inherently, a numbers game; that is, blackjack has a fixed set of rules.

What Is the House Edge?

The casino house edge is the mathematical advantage that a casino has over its players.

This advantage changes by game, and is typically represented as a percentage and denotes the amount of return that the house can expect to receive over time.

It also represents the percentage of losses that the player will likely incur over any measurable amount of time.

Let’s say that the house has an edge of 5% in a particular game. If a player bets $100, then the house will usually earn $5, while the player will usually lose $5.

This does not mean that the player can’t win more or even turn a profit, it only means that the house will take some money in the long run.

How Much is the House Edge in Blackjack?

The house edge in blackjack is relatively small, with it being as low as 1% when a basic blackjack strategy is implemented correctly.

In blackjack, the house edge comes from the dealer having a hidden card about which the player has to make assumptions.

In addition, if the player busts, the dealer wins, even if they then bust in the same round. Learning blackjack odds and strategy makes this less of an issue.

Blackjack Odds

I’ll admit, understanding blackjack odds is more difficult than it is for other casino games. This is attributed to the randomness of the draw and the number of different combinations.

Regardless, there are some ways of determining the odds of drawing specific cards. The initial probability of drawing a card of any value is just under 8%, based on there being 13 different possible options.

Man Shuffling Cards on a Blackjack Table

However, seeing as Jacks, Queens and Kings all have a value of 10 in blackjack, the odds of drawing a card valued at 10 is 4/13, which is a probability of 31%.

As a result, the house edge can be reduced simply by having an idea of the odds of drawing certain cards.

For example, if you happen to draw a Jack and a King, then you know that the odds of drawing yet another 10-value card are much reduced. Please don’t though. Keep your 20 and your money, most of the time.

Now that you have a basis for understanding the house edge, let’s take a look at some basic strategy.

Surrender

You should surrender a hand when your chance of winning is less than one out of four hands, i.e., your expected loss is worse than 50%.

This means that statistically, if playing the hand has less than a 25% chance of winning and therefore greater than a 75% chance of losing, you will save money in the long run by just surrendering.

Besides reducing the house edge, surrender also has this benefit: it will stabilize your bankroll, meaning surrender will flatten the fluctuations in your bankroll, compared to a game where surrender is not offered and you have to play all your hands to completion.

Logical Splits

There are three main reasons why it makes sense to split rather than to employ an alternate strategy. You should always split when:

  • You will win more money on average (bold strategy)
  • You will lose less money on average (defensive strategy), or
  • You will turn a losing hand into a winning one (offensive strategy).

Double Down

Most of the time when you play blackjack you must play defensively because the dealer’s hand has a likelihood of beating your hand. But the logic for doubling down is you get to go on the offensive at the best possible time – when the dealer has a relatively high probability of busting or when you have the edge over the dealer on the hand.

The logic for doubling on soft hands isn’t always clear to players so they often pass up the opportunity.

The reason you double on soft hands is not so much to outdraw the dealer as it is to get more money on the table when the dealer is vulnerable to busting (shows a low-value upcard of 2-6).

If you follow the hard doubling down basic strategy, your gain will be about 1.3 percent. Learn when to double down on soft hands and you’ll gain another 0.13 percent.

What is ironic about doubling down is that with some hands, you will actually be reducing your chances of winning the hand because you get only one draw card.

Take a 6-3 against a dealer’s 5 upcard. If you doubled down and drew a 2 for an 11, the only way you could win the hand would be if the dealer busted.

If you hadn’t doubled down, you could have drawn another card to your 11 and improved your chances of winning. Nevertheless the right play is to double down because of the extra money you put into action. Here’s why.

Hit’em Hard…..or Soft

The most common mistake made by novice blackjack players is to always stand on their stiff hands because they are afraid to bust.

Stiff means a hand that can be busted by a one-card draw; for example a hard 12 through 16.

However, this is a big mistake when the dealer’s upcard is a 2 through 6. Since you know the dealer must hit stiff hands by the rules of the game, you should:

  • Not risk busting your stiff hand (resulting in an automatic loss) when the dealer’s up-card is 2-6 because she may end up with a stiff hand
  • Instead, stand pat, let the dealer draw, and hope she busts

There is one exception to this rule and that’s when you are dealt a 12 and the dealer’s upcard is a 2 or 3.

Consequently, the percentages are slightly better for:

  • Hitting a hard 12 against a dealer’s 2 and 3 up-card rather than standing.

When the dealer shows a 7 through A upcard, there is a strong likelihood she will end up with a pat hand (i.e., a 17 through 21). Therefore, when you hold hard 16 or less, and surrendering, pair splitting, or doubling is not an option, the percentages are better if you hit your hand even at the risk of busting until you achieve at least a hard 17.

Reducing the House Edge in Blackjack

There are a variety of ways to reduce the house edge in blackjack.

As previously mentioned, the simplest is to learn a basic blackjack strategy and commit it to memory before you play. A basic blackjack strategy is a set of rules, usually presented in a chart, which tells you how to play your hand after it is dealt.

For example, if you are dealt a soft 17 (Ace, six), the chart compares it to the dealer’s upcard and informs you of how to act. In some cases, using a basic strategy can reduce the house edge to just 0.5%.

Blackjack Dealer Shuffling Multiple Decks

If you want to lower the house advantage, studying the basics of blackjack strategies is a good place to start.

In addition to basic strategy charts, several strategies have been developed to reduce the house edge in blackjack even further.

Unlike the basic charts, which only focus on the total value of your hand, these strategies look at what cards make up your hand and give specific actions depending on the cards, they’re called composition-dependent strategies.

In most cases, by using a composition-dependent strategy along with the existing basic strategy charts, it’s possible to reduce the house edge to as little as 0.18%, which is basically breaking even.

Conclusion

Blackjack is one of the best games in the casino for a player, but it’s important to learn basic strategy if you want to take it seriously and have the best odds of winning.

With numerous cards valued at a 10 or 11 (10, jack, queen, king, ace), there are a variety of things to consider when it comes to hitting, standing, doubling down, or splitting.

There are numerous resources to check out and learn the best strategy when playing real money blackjack, and it’s highly recommended. Applying the strategy perfectly can reduce that house edge down to as low as .05 percent.

There’s also one more thing to remember: Unlike the movies, players are not allowed to touch the cards. Simple hand movements are the norm in most games. Gamble on.

5 Things We Don’t Like About Casinos

Well Dressed Gambler Next to Disheveled Gambler

There are plenty of people who enjoy gambling, but don’t love casinos. And that makes total sense. It’s hard to love a place if you’re the type to leave Las Vegas empty-handed. Most all of us can agree that there are some not-so-fun aspects of casinos that really grind our gears.

1 – The House Always Has an Edge

It isn’t a mystery that every game in a casino is tilted in the house’s favor. To put that more simply, the games are set up in a way where casino owners always win in the long run. It’s because they’re a business and have costs and employees to cover. Does that keep a player from coming back for more? Absolutely not.

People are drawn to these games due to the potential of high payouts, but you are inevitably going to lose more than you are going to win when playing these sorts of games. It’s always in your best interest to find out exactly what the odds are for each game and to try to play a game where the odds are at least fair.

A great example of this is blackjack. If you’re familiar with basic blackjack strategy, you can lower the house edge.

Licensing can influence the risk of your guaranteed loss. In a lot of countries, casinos need to have a license to operate. For the countries that do not require it, the player can run a higher risk of potentially being cheated by the casino since the casino isn’t being held to licensing standards.

If you choose to go to a casino, make sure it’s licensed! There is the possibility that you can leave with big winnings, but know that the odds are not typically in your favor.

2 – Smoky Environment

I’m not knocking smoking itself as an activity, but one has to admit that most people don’t enjoy a building filled with smoke from cigarettes.

Some casinos are older and have a strong odor of smoke that’s essentially disruptive to the environment and the people in it.

Smoking indoors has been somewhat mitigated in the state of Nevada, but you can still definitely find it in a lot of casinos. Fortunately, a few casinos have made an effort to get cigarettes out and turn their facilities into smoke-free facilities, but they are in the minority.

Lit Cigar Next to Playing Cards and Chips

I think besides the obvious, secondhand smoke can be harmful to you. The real turn off is that casinos that have smoke in them are also serving food and drinks. I can tell you that a cigarette after a meal can be great, but a cigarette during a meal might not be the most pleasant.

Cigarette smoke drifting onto your food and into your drinks while you’re trying to enjoy yourself isn’t ideal for most people.

So, nothing against smoker, but in a casino, there isn’t anywhere else for the smoke to go. It might be a good idea to just take a quick smoke break outside and be courteous of all others.

3 – Drunk Patrons

Again, I have no problem with people who drink. In fact, I enjoy a few drinks myself from time to time, and I don’t have a problem with people getting drunk on their own time and enjoying themselves either.

But no one likes a sloppy drunk at a casino, especially one who is being disruptive and making things decidedly un-fun for everyone in the building.

I’m sure we all have friends who have acted like this in the past (if we haven’t done it ourselves at least once or twice), so we all understand that a single lousy drunk can be a handful.

Now, I’m sure you can only imagine an entire casino full of them. Casinos are notorious for handing out free drinks, and while yes, they’re probably watered down, you can still get drunk on watered down drinks. On top of that, plenty of people are buying drinks as they wander about.

If you get enough drunk fools together in a casino, you end up with fights, you end up with yelling and argument, and overall, you just end up with a bad time for the rest of us who are sober(ish) and trying to enjoy ourselves.

4 – Busy Crowds

When you walk into a Las Vegas casino, it can be so packed that it can be difficult to move around. I have a hard-enough time with navigating Vegas casinos in general, but being packed in a large noisy space shoulder to shoulder is not my favorite type of environment.

If you have anxiety issues being around people, then a casino is definitely not going to be a pleasant experience for you.

For people who don’t have anxiety issues in crowds, just being shoulder to shoulder next to a drunken stranger can be a pretty anxious experience. For those that love gambling but hate crowds, many will actually only play in the mornings, which doesn’t always eliminate the possibility that the place will be less crowded.

When you’re at a casino, the energy is very high. Most people have a drink in hand. For me, this kind of environment, with this many people that are under the influence, can create an atmosphere that feels nothing short of being in a wild jungle.

A Crowded Casino Floor

And even when it doesn’t, it just means that you’re constantly having to think about your wallet and your phone, about what people are doing around you, and you can’t really concentrate on the games themselves.

I can think of so many other ways I would like to spend my time. I hate large crowds, especially crowds filled with people are filled with way too much energy that don’t entirely match how you feel. You have people that have been losing for days straight that are projecting all kinds of negative energy into the casino. I could go on and on about this one, but we’ll just leave it at that.

5 – The Likeliness of Violence

This was one I had not really ever thought about until doing some extra research. Browsing various articles over this topic online, the most interesting were some stories I found here. Here is a short little excerpt from an interview with a casino receptionist.

One day, this massive guy—almost seven feet tall with a beer gut to match—decided to kick off at 8 AM in the morning. I should’ve known he was trouble when he came in—he had this really intense look on his face.

When he signed in to our computer, I noticed a yellow mark next to his name. Yellow ticks mean one of two things—you’re either a high roller or an aggressive cheater. He could have been either. He was allowed to play, but only on the condition that I notified the security staff. The chap had barely sat down before he started throwing massive sums of money around.

He was placing heavy bets all over the table. After a few consecutive losses, his mood turned, and he threatened to throw a metal ashtray at the dealer.

I found story after story of these sorts of encounters happening at casinos all over the US and Europe. It makes sense to me that these sorts of things would be pretty common. People losing all of their money can be a situation that arouses some pretty hefty emotions, and it is just a matter of time before someone finally explodes, which is another huge reason why you won’t find me spending my free time at my local casino.

Conclusion

Sure, casinos can be an interesting experience, but you’re probably much better off spending your time (and money) at a real money online casino in the comfort of your own home.

You won’t run into any crowds, you get to breathe your own air, and you’re less likely to encounter any sloppy drunks or aggressive gamblers. The best part is that you get to use online casino apps or visit gambling websites within seconds of grabbing your device. There’s no need to get dressed or drive somewhere just to get some gambling action in.

Most of the qualities that we hate about casinos that are listed here are avoidable at the best online gambling sites. Is there anything I left out that you hate about casinos? Let me know in the comments!

10 Best Movie Themed Slots of All Time

Movie Theater Screen With a Slots Game Projected on It

Blockbuster movies make for one of the most popular subjects in online slots. Developers have collectively produced many slots based on hit films.

Some of these games are as big of hits as their associated movies, while others are the equivalent of box office bombs. Obviously, you want to avoid the latter and only play the best Hollywood-inspired slot machines.

That said, I’m going to cover the 10 best movie-inspired slots of all time. Each of these games provide the same thrills and entertainment as their big screen counterparts.

1 – Jurassic Park

The first Jurassic Park film came out in 1993. It features an original concept that involves dinosaurs being brought back to life so that they can inhabit and, unintendedly, terrorize a theme park.

Microgaming licensed and released a slot based on the original Jurassic Park in 2014. The seemingly late timing of the release coincided with the then-upcoming Jurassic World film.

As for the slot, it’s the best movie-based game in existence. This five-reel, 243-ways game offers real-life deceptions of the film characters, excellent graphics, and a host of features.

Jurassic Park Online Slot Graphic

The latter include a T-Rex Alert (35 wilds spread out over six spins) and five types of free spins. Simply put, Jurassic Park does an excellent job of delivering features and volatility that live up to the first film’s most terrifying moments.

2 – King Kong: The Eighth Wonder of the World

The first King Kong—a black and white film—graced theaters in 1933. The remake, which stars Jack Black as Carl Denham, came out eight decades later in 2005.

Playtech got a hold of the remake’s gaming rights in 2011. The result is a five-reel, 20-line game that truly honors the oversized ape.

King Kong slot offers real-life character depictions and great graphics, just like the Jurassic Park slot. It allows you to play in two different modes, including Jungle and City Mode.

Differences between the two include the backgrounds, symbols, and bonuses. But no matter which version you choose, you’re sure to like this game.

3 – Halloween

Michael Myers has been scaring movie audiences since 1978. It’s only right that the Halloween franchise finally got its own slot in 2017.

Another Microgaming production, this five-reel, 50-line game does an excellent job at bringing the same ominous, fall feeling to the reels. It also includes four notable characters from the movie, including Laurie, Lynda, Loomis, and Annie.

You can look forward to several features in this game. For example, you can unlock a Trick or Treat wheel that delivers cash prizes.

The only downside to this game involves the fairly low 500x maximum payout. Other than this, though, Halloween slot is a definite winner.

4 – Gladiator

Gladiator, a 2000 release starring Russell Crowe as General Maximus, still has plenty of fans to this day. This classic movie showcases Maximus’ revenge journey, which runs straight through the viscous gladiator pits of Rome.

Although it’s a box office smash, this film is no fairy tale. Playtech’s Gladiator slot expertly depicts the movie’s grave tone through its somber graphics and music.

If you enjoy the film, you’ll appreciate seeing notable characters like Juba the Champion, Commodus, Lucilla, and Proximo. We suspect that Playtech couldn’t put Crowe in the film for some strange licensing reasons.

Even without Crowe, this game is still a hit due to its atmosphere and music. It also offers a large progressive jackpot that has reached as much as €2,374,847.

5 – The Expendables Megaways

Following the 2000s, the action careers of Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Jason Statham, and Jet Li seemed to be winding down. However, Stallone turned the idea of aging action stars into an interesting concept in The Expendables.

Spanning from 2010 to 2014, this franchise revolves around old soldiers teaming up for death-defying missions. StakeLogic transitioned this idea into a Megaways slot.

The Expendables Online Slot Title Screen

The Expendables Megaways features six reels and anywhere from 324 to 117,649 ways to win. It boasts a maximum win worth 20,000x your stake and a few features.

The latter include a Bullet Bonus (five random wilds), free spins, and an Expendables Bonus (removes low-value symbols). These features help deliver just as much action as the movie series itself.

6 – Creature From the Black Lagoon

Released in 1954, Creature From the Black Lagoon centers on a research team that stumbles upon a gill-man. The latter becomes obsessed with Kay Lawrence and is willing to kill researchers to get its prize.

NetEnt released a Creature From the Black Lagoon slot in 2013. Its game excels at combining the classic movie feeling with splashes of terror.

You’ll feel like you’ve been transported back to a 1950s theater upon hearing this game’s music and seeing the unique graphics.

This slot offers an interesting bonus that sees you attempt to hit the gill-man with harpoons. It also features three different types of wild symbols.

7 – Rocky

Released in 1976, Rocky details the life of an underdog boxer who takes world champion Apollo Creed the distance in a brutal fight. Produced by Stallone on a $1 million budget, the movie itself was just as big of an underdog story after grossing $225 million worldwide.

Another Playtech game, the Rocky slot covers the first four movies in the franchise. It includes notable opponents of Rocky Balboa, such as Creed, Clubber Lang, and Ivan Drago.

This five-reel, 25-line slot doesn’t feature as great of graphics as most other slots on this list. However, it does boast a cool Knockout Bonus.

The latter gives you a ringside seat as Rocky faces off against one of the aforementioned opponents. Your bonus prize depends upon how well Rocky fares in the fight.

8 – Terminator 2

The first Terminator film was a mild success. However, Terminator II: Judgement Day is the bigger-budget follow-up that’s better known by movie buffs today.

Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, this film revolves around the Model 101’s (Schwarzenegger) efforts to protect future leader John Connor from the evil T-1000.

Not surprisingly, Microgaming produced a slot based on Terminator II vs. the first flick. Their five-reel, 243-ways game offers excellent character depictions and interesting bonuses.

The bonus round pumps the number of winning possibilities up to 1,024 ways. It also offers symbols that transform into higher pays.

9 – Iron Man

Iron Man kicked off Marvel Studios’ unparalleled success and helped spawn later hits, such as Captain America, Avengers, and Guardians of the Galaxy. This 2008 film release also revived Robert Downey Jr.’s career after his struggles with alcohol addiction.

Playtech quickly capitalized on the success of Iron Man by releasing a same-titled slot in 2009. This initial release led to two more online slots.

Iron Man Online Slots Screenshot

However, we include the first Iron Man slot because it’s the original and offers timeless gameplay. You can look forward to expanding wilds and a unique free spins bonus.

The free spins call on Iron Man to shoot down missiles and save the day. Every missile that Iron Man destroys turns into a win multiplier.

10 – Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider quickly became one of the biggest hit series for PlayStation. Paramount Pictures widely licensed the rights to this video game and made a blockbuster movie franchise starring Angelina Jolie.

In turn, Microgaming obtained the license to produce Tomb Raider slot. The biggest knock against this five-reel, 15-line game is that it doesn’t include Jolie’s likeness. What you get instead of a more-generic version of Lara Croft.

Nevertheless, Tomb Raider still offers high-quality animations and graphics. You might want to try Tomb Raider: Secret of the Sword for even more-enhanced graphics.

Conclusion

This list is dominated by Microgaming and Playtech games. It also leans towards real money online slots that were produced in the early and mid-2010s.

I promise you, though, that I’m not biased towards Microgaming, Playtech, nor a certain era. Instead, these aspects simply happen by coincidence when considering the best movie slots of all time.

However, great film-based games are still being produced today. The Expendables Megaways and Halloween slots are fine examples.

Perhaps, with more time, the current movie slots will become classics in their own right. They might even be able to unseat one or more games on this list.

7 Baseball Betting Tactics You Can Use Today

Baseball Placed on Top of Hundred Dollar Bills

Betting on baseball is no different than betting on football or basketball or any other sport. You look for lines that offer value based on your handicapping skills.

Over the entire history of baseball and betting on baseball, the starting pitcher for both teams has been the most important factor for handicapping.

Smart baseball bettors also consider how each team performs at home and on the road and look for players on a hot streak.

You should be using all of these things to handicap baseball already.

But if you want to be the best baseball bettor you can be, you need to dig deeper and use more information than average baseball bettors.

This is why I built the list of baseball betting tactics below. These seven things are often ignored by average baseball bettors.

Add these things to your current handicapping model and continue looking for additional things that most baseball bettors ignore.

1 – Bullpen Strength

More baseball bettors are using the strength of each team’s bullpen in their handicapping, but it’s still not used enough. The average number of innings pitched by the starting pitchers has been declining for decades, and it’s reached the point where I use the bullpen strength just as much as the starting pitchers in my handicapping.

The first time through the lineup, the starting pitcher has the best results on average. The second time through the lineup, the numbers get worse. Then a large drop-off happens on the third time through the lineup.

Baseball front offices and field personnel know this, so after the starting pitcher faces the lineup twice, the pitcher is usually on a short leash. The third time through the lineup starts in most games in the fourth or fifth inning.

While the pitchers that work the seventh through ninth inning are still important, it’s now more important than ever for teams to have pitchers who can work the fifth and sixth innings. This means that each team that hopes to compete over the course of the season needs five or six good relief pitchers instead of two or three.

MLB San Diego Padres Pitcher

On any given day during the long season, one or more relief pitchers aren’t available to pitch. This means that if a team wants to have five good pitchers available out of the bullpen, they need to have seven.

This might seem like common sense, but it’s rare for a baseball handicapper to consider the worst two or three pitchers in the bullpen. It used to be that the worst pitchers only appeared in mop-up duty, but the way baseball is played and managed today, it’s difficult to hide a bad pitcher.

Teams are using eight- and nine-man bullpens more often, and every pitcher is important. Some relief pitchers are specialists and brought in to face only a few batters. They’re just as important as the number-one set-up man and the closer.

Start using the strength of the bullpen, from top to bottom, every time you evaluate pitching staff.

2 – Park Factors

Some parks are hitter’s parks, and some are pitcher’s parks. Some parks are fairly neutral. This isn’t a big secret, yet most baseball handicappers ignore it when they evaluate games.

The team with the best pitching gets a boost in a pitcher’s park, and the team with the best hitters gets a boost in a hitter’s park. You need to use this information for every game you handicap.

But you also need to be careful not to use it as too much of a factor, especially when one team has a particularly strong offense or pitching staff. The best pitchers in the game are still going to perform well in a hitter’s park, and the best offenses are still going to perform well in a pitcher’s park.

It’s a fine line between putting too much weight on park factors and not using them enough, but ignoring them is costing you money.

3 – Defense

Every baseball bettor uses a different system and collection of data to handicap games. Some focus on offense first and pitching second, while others start with the pitching and then consider the offense. You need to always use both, but most handicappers ignore defense.

I always start with pitching when I handicap a baseball game, and defense has a great deal to do with the effectiveness of pitching.

The old-time belief is that a team that’s strong up the middle is better than one that isn’t. The middle includes the catcher, second baseman, shortstop, and center fielder. The importance of defense up the middle is still important today.

I cover the catcher in the next section, but for now, consider the best defensive middle infielders and center fielders in the game.

The best current example is Billy Hamilton. He doesn’t hit much, but when you consider defense, he saves his team several runs over the course of a season. He turns hits into outs almost every game because he gets to balls that most center fielders don’t.

The same thing is true for the best middle infielders in the game. Over the course of a season, the teams with great defensive players can save a run a game or more on average in comparison with weak defensive teams.

When you’re dealing with run lines, this is an important thing to understand. Most baseball bettors are lazy, so they bet moneylines because they believe that they don’t have to do a deep dive into defense to handicap games.

But this is a mistake because defense is important in every game, and ignoring it hurts your results whether you bet run lines or moneylines.

One thing that very few baseball bettors consider is how a great defense makes an average or poor pitcher look better. A great defense inflates the pitching numbers against poor teams, so a poor or average pitcher with a great defense looks better than they really are.

This is fine when you’re handicapping a team with a great defense against an average or worse team, but when a pitcher who isn’t very good faces a great hitting team, his defense can only do so much.

When you’re handicapping games with a great defense on one side and a great offense on the other, don’t overvalue the pitcher on the great defense side.

4 – Catchers

The truth is that there aren’t many good catchers in baseball, and there are even fewer great catchers. Catchers like Ivan Rodriguez and Johnny Bench only come along once every decade or two. This means that most teams have to choose between using a catcher that can hit but has poor defense and one that is strong defensively and doesn’t hit much.

When I handicap baseball games, I like teams with strong defensive catchers. They help pitchers in many ways and have a strong overall influence on the entire team defense.

MLB Los Angeles Angels Catcher

But one of the most important tricks I’ve learned over the years is to evaluate the backup catchers for each team. The difference between the starting and backup catcher is often large, so when the backup is playing, it can swing a game from not having any value to one that offers betting value.

Use a system to rate every catcher in the game and look for games where the number one catcher is not playing. This can give you an edge in these games and can be extremely beneficial to your baseball betting.

5 – WHIP

You can find all kinds of fancy new statistics and prediction models, but baseball still boils down to which teams don’t give up base runners and which teams get on base more. From a pitcher’s standpoint, base runners allowed is summed up using WHIP. WHIP is walks plus hits per innings pitched.

WHIP isn’t the end all be all statistic for pitchers, but it’s still the most important factor I look at in every game. I read all of the time how WHIP and OBP, which I cover in the next section, aren’t important, but if you want to be a winning baseball bettor, you need to start using these baseball betting tactics immediately.

6 – OBP

On the offensive side of the equation is OBP. OBP is on base percentage, and it tracks how often a hitter gets on base.

The fact is that the more runners a team puts on base, the better chance they have of scoring. The modern game seems to be focused on home runs, but the teams with the best offenses still usually have the best on base percentage.

It’s a common mistake to ignore OBP and WHIP when you handicap baseball games, no matter what the common belief is about their importance.

7 – Depth

In the section about catchers, you learned the importance of properly evaluating backup catchers. Catchers get more time off than other position players, but it’s also important to understand the drop-off between the normal starting players at other positions and their replacements.

This is a powerful tool for winning baseball bettors because very few players start every game.

It’s easy to understand the difference between the best players in the game and their backups, but the value is in understanding the difference between the average players and their replacements. I don’t use wins above replacement as much as some bettors, but this is one way to get an idea for most starting players and their backup.

This might seem like a small detail, but remember that you need to use every trick you can. Even a small edge can turn a loss into a win for a baseball gambler.

Conclusion

If you want to get an edge as a baseball bettor, you need to do things that most people don’t. This means you need to use more information than the average bettor. The seven things listed on this page are good things to start including as part of your baseball betting strategy.

What I Have Learned From Poker’s 1%

Pro Poker Player Next to 1% Text and Cards and Poker Chips

Poker’s 1%: The One Big Secret That Keeps Elite Players on Top is a book from noted poker authority Ed Miller. I’ve read 3 of his previous books:

  1. Small Stakes Holdem: Winning Big with Expert Play (which he co-wrote with David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth)
  2. Getting Started in Holdem
  3. No Limit Holdem: Theory and Practice (which he co-wrote with David Sklansky)

I also started, but never finished, another poker book by Ed Miller called The Course.

I like #1 on that list a lot, although #3 seemed harder than it needed to be. I liked what I read of The Course, too, so I thought it would be fun to try his latest book.

I haven’t finished Poker’s 1% yet, but I do have some observations about what I’ve learned so far.

The Premise of Poker’s 1%

Poker’s 1% coalesces around one idea that Miller claims is an open secret among top poker players. His stated goal writing the book is to present the main reason elite poker players ARE elite poker players.

But it’s not that simple.

Even after you learn this big secret, you’ll need to spend thousands of hours playing and thinking about the game before you become a professional poker player – if you even succeed at becoming one. I’m not convinced that reading this book and applying it is all you need to become an elite poker player.

I called a friend of mine to talk about this premise, too. He laughed about it and said that the average poker player doesn’t need to worry so much about what makes elite poker players elite. He compared it to wondering what the morning routine of a billionaire is.

If you’re not a billionaire, what difference does it make?

My friend has a point, but I still think there’s much to learn from Miller’s poker book.

Miller’s Goals for the Book

The author says he has 2 goals for the reader. The first is that he hopes the reader will become motivated to improve his poker game. He points out that if you have some innate talent as an athlete, you can become really fit – even if you can’t become an elite athlete.

The same, he suggests, holds true for the poker player. Not everyone can become a millionaire or a WSOP champion, but that doesn’t prevent you from becoming an expert. You just need to learn what you need to learn and then practice it.

His other goal is to get the reader thinking about and playing poker “the right way.” He thinks most poker players focus on the wrong stuff. Their thought processes are stunted.

Holdem Pocket Aces Next to a Stack of Poker Chips

His main idea, he says, will help you break out of your stunted thought processes.

Finally, he suggests that the big idea of the book is simple, but the application is complicated. You shouldn’t expect to ever perfect your application of this idea.

In other words, you should expect progress, not perfection.

He also suggests that if you apply the ideas in this book, you can dominate medium-stakes poker games.

Online, that means dominating no limit games with blinds of $1/$2 or $2/$4.

In live poker rooms, it means no limit games with blinds of $5/$10.

No Limit Holdem Isn’t a Slot Machine

The first assertion in the meat of the book is that you shouldn’t play no limit holdem like it’s a slot machine.

Then he follows that up with a picture of a video poker screen. I guess, in his mind, video poker is just a fancy kind of slot machine. I’m picky enough to quibble about this, but okay…

He points out that on a video poker game (which he continues to call a slot machine), the payout is fixed and based on how good your hand is. You get paid off at 6 for 1 for a flush, for example, and 9 for 1 on a full house.

He goes on to say that most poker players play the game as if it were a “slot machine.” They try to make a big hand and get paid off for it. They lack a plan for their hands on the different betting rounds.

The problem with this approach to the game is that you don’t always get paid off the same amount when you hit your hand. A lot of times, if you get a flush, you’ll win someone’s entire stack.

But more often than that, everyone will fold, and you won’t get paid off at all.

And sometimes you’ll lose to a bigger hand.

And if your goal for winning in no limit holdem is to make big hands and stack the other players, you face a big problem – the other players at the table have the same goal.

If you have the same strategy as everyone else at the table, you’re not going to win.

The Problem With Tight Aggressive Strategy

Even though most no limit players treat the game like a slot machine, there’s another approach to the game that’s common: tight aggressive.

Here’s how Miller explains this strategy:

  1. Only play good hands before the flop.
  2. Bet if someone checks.
  3. Fold if someone raises.

Betting when someone checks is an example of aggression. Only playing good hands and folding in the face of a raise are examples of tightness.

The thing about tight aggressive poker is that it’s a good enough strategy to win consistently at medium stakes no holdem poker.

You win a lot of small pots when you’re betting, and you still have a shot at picking up someone else’s stack when you get a huge hand.

A player who treats the game like a slot machine will often check when he misses the flop – which will happen most of the time. Betting into him forces him to fold.

But it’s easy to beat a tight aggressive player.

All you have to do is raise.

Remember, the strategy involves folding if someone raises into you.

Of course, you can’t raise every time – you should raise when a tight aggressive player is more likely to have bet with a low or medium value hand.

You’d think that the big secret of the book is to adjust your game based on whether your opponent is a slot machine player or a tight aggressive player.

But there’s more to it than that.

This has all been preamble.

The Big Secret – No Limit Holdem Is Just a Complicated Math Problem

You have lots of parts to this specific math problem though – how much money do the players have? How much can they bet? How many cards do they have, and how many possible combinations are there?

But you don’t have to solve the math problem with more than an approximation.

You just need to learn the basic frequencies involved in poker. Most players don’t think about frequencies at all; they’re focused on odds and outs, bets and bluffs, etc.

You have 3 things you can do when your opponent bets, and how often you do each is your frequency:

  1. You have a raising frequency.
  2. You also have a calling frequency.
  3. And you have a folding frequency.

You might fold 30% of the time, call 60% of the time, and raise 10% of the time.

Changing those frequencies changes how much your opponent wins or loses on average over time.

This doesn’t mean you’re supposed to start calling with lousy cards just to increase your calling frequency. You still need to pick and choose your hands.

Folding less often generally results in your opponent making less money.

Online Poker Screenshot

Most people playing real money poker don’t think about the game this way – they’re focused on how strong their hand is. They bet, fold, or raise based on how strong their hand is.

You might fold a specific hand 80% of the time on the river, but that might easily be too often to fold that hand.

In fact, your folding frequency is important because every time you fold, your opponent wins the pot.

A smart opponent will figure out where your folding frequency is too high, and he’ll bet into you more often just to pick up your money from those folds.

In most no limit games, players fold too often on the turn and the river.

Conclusion

So, here’s the big secret Miller alludes to in Poker’s 1%: The One Big Secret That Keeps Elite Players on Top:

The game isn’t about playing the other players. And it’s not about playing the cards. It’s not about trying to make big hands so you can stack your opponent.

It’s about figuring out the right frequencies in the right situations and playing according to those frequencies.

The rest of the book, I assume, covers how to get closer to the optimal frequencies, but I haven’t gotten that far yet.

When I do, I’ll write about it here.

7 Step Checklist for Travelling to Las Vegas

Man Checking off Checklist With Vegas Sign and City Background

A trip to Las Vegas is one thing that every gambler should do in their lifetime. It’s the gambling capital of the world for good reason, and it also offers some of the best dining and entertainment in the world. But you need to plan ahead if you want to maximize your enjoyment when you travel to Las Vegas.

Here’s a simple seven step checklist to help you plan your next trip to Las Vegas. Use it to make sure you don’t forget anything important and to be prepared when you get there. It even includes a section for first time Las Vegas visitors about the easiest way to get a cab.

1 – Prepare for the Desert

When you look at pictures and videos of Las Vegas all you see are casinos and the city. It’s easy to forget that Las Vegas is right in the middle of a desert. It gets extremely hot during the day and extremely cold at night.

When you spend most of your time in a climate controlled casino or restaurant you don’t think about the temperature outside. But if you take a walk on the strip or elsewhere outside you quickly realize how hot or cold it really is.

Desert Outside of Las Vegas

You need to pack sunscreen for day trips and a jacket or coat for after dark. When you’re out during the day in Las Vegas you never think about a coat, but if you’re going out after dark you probably need to take one.

You also need to make sure you drink plenty of water on your trip. You can get dehydrated, and if it gets bad enough you’re going to get sick. Getting sick is a sure way to ruin your entire trip to Las Vegas.

2 – Gambling or Entertainment or Both?

What’s the main purpose of your trip to Las Vegas? Are you going mainly to gamble or to enjoy some shows and the night life? Or do you want to make time to do both?

When I travel by myself I spend most of my time gambling in Vegas. So it’s easy to plan my trip. I stay in a hotel where I plan to spend most of my time gambling. But when my wife goes with me we always plan to see a couple shows and a nice meal or two.

It’s not important why you’re going to Las Vegas, but if you know ahead of time it helps you plan your trip efficiently.

3 – The Strip or Fremont Street?

I hear people talk about which is better, the strip or Fremont Street? My thought is always why not check out both? I spend most of my time in Las Vegas on the strip because this is where the poker rooms I like are located. But I also enjoy spending a little time on Fremont Street.

One problem with Las Vegas is that there is too much to do. You can fill an entire trip with gambling and entertainment without traveling more than a mile. One option is to plan more than one trip to Las Vegas. This year go to the strip and check out everything you want there, and next year stay on Fremont Street and spend your trip there.

4 – Don’t Party Too Hard

The night life in Las Vegas is alive and well. You can find plenty of places where you can drink and party all night if you’re into this type of thing. You can visit a new place every night, or multiple party spots in one night.

You need to keep a couple things in mind if you’re going to Las Vegas to party. It’s more expensive to party in Las Vegas than most places, so you can drop a lot of money fast if you’re not careful. This is okay if you budget for it, but it’s easy to spend way more than you planned.

The other thing you need to remember is that partying can be hard on your health. If you’re going to party in Las Vegas, make sure that you get enough rest. If you party all night, sleep all day to let your body rest.

And make sure you stay safe. Make a plan to get safely back to your hotel at the end of the night before you go out. You might not make the best decisions after drinking all night, so have a plan in place before you start and stay safe.

5 – Stick to Your Budget the Easy Way

One thing that’s easy to do when you travel to Las Vegas is go over your budget. You start gambling and are having so much fun that you don’t want to stop, so you pull some more money out and keep playing. Or you see a nice restaurant you want to try and end up dropping an extra $100 on food that you didn’t plan to spend.

All of this is fine, but you don’t want to spend too much more than you planned and end up short. Here’s a simple plan to help you stay within budget.

Divide your budget into two parts. Use one part for gambling and the other part for everything else, including souvenirs, eating, and entertainment. Then divide each budget equally by the number of days on your trip.

If you have money left over from either or both budgets at the end of a day you can divide it across your other days or keep it in your pocket to take home.

6 – How to Get a Cab

One of the main hassles when you’re in Las Vegas is getting around. You need to get transportation from the airport to your hotel, and if you’re traveling far during the day you want to get a ride. You don’t want to walk miles in the sun and heat of Las Vegas.

Getting a cab from the airport is easy. Just look at the maps posted in the airport for the taxi line. Get in line and there’s a never ending string of taxis waiting to pick travelers up.

Las Vegas Taxis in Traffic

It can be more challenging to get a cab elsewhere. Cabs aren’t allowed to stop on the strip except at the hotels and other businesses. So if you want a cab on the strip, go to nearest casino entrance. I always carry a few dollars for this. Go to an entrance and tell the casino employee there you need a cab and slip them a couple dollars. They’ll get you one.

It’s also a good idea to keep the number of a couple can companies in your phone so you can call one when you’re planning an outing. The other option is to use one of the limo services in Las Vegas. They aren’t that much more expensive than using a cab and they have smaller limos you can use to get around.

7 – Schedule Everything before Your Trip

Before you take your trip to Las Vegas, schedule everything you want to do while you’re there. Schedule all of your gambling time, every show you want to see, and your meals.

I always leave a couple blocks of downtime in case I need to get a little extra rest or find a new show or museum I want to visit. When you have everything on your trip scheduled you can relax and not worry about missing anything important.

Even if you prefer to let things happen and enjoy the flow most of the time instead of having every minute scheduled, have a rough schedule for your trip. You can always make adjustments to your schedule along the way.

Conclusion

Before you go on your next trip to Las Vegas, make sure you plan ahead so you don’t miss anything. Prepare for the desert the right way, plan all of your gambling and entertainment, and use a well thought out budget.

When you arrive in Las Vegas, enjoy the gambling and sites on the strip or downtown. Learn how to get a cab so you don’t waste valuable time during your visit.

This simple checklist is going to help you with all of these things and more. Start planning now to have a great trip to Las Vegas.

Why Are 80s Heavy Metal Band Slots So Popular?

Triple 7 Slots Graphic With Rock Themed Slots Background

The slots world is filled with many different types of games. But one of the most-intriguing genres to arise within the past few years includes rock slots.

These games don’t cover newer bands either, such as Maroon 5 or Arcade Fire. Instead, they mainly cover heavy metal bands from the 1980s.

Why, though, do slots developers focus on musicians from the decades ago? I’ll discuss several reasons why heavy metal slots have become so popular.

Rock Bands Make for Exciting Slots

The earliest slot machines ran on reels and had a basic design. People were fine with playing these games, because they just wanted the thrill of gambling for big prizes.

Slots players’ tastes have changed greatly in modern times, though. Gamblers are no longer satisfied with just spinning the reels and hoping for 10,000 credits, or so.

They want action, animations, and exciting features. Heavy metal bands provide the perfect setup for all of these elements. You’re much more likely to be entertained by Slash’s air guitar riffs than Bing Crosby singing Blue Skies.

These Games Reach the Right Age Demographic

The average online slots player is statistically in their forties. This same generation grew up with acts like Guns N’ Roses, Motorhead, and Twisted Sister.

Screenshot From Twisted Sister Online Slot

They learned how to rebel from these bands at a time when MTV was the most-taboo thing known to date.

Of course, the social taboos have changed greatly today. Teens can access much worse than MTV on their smartphones.

However, those who grew up in the 1980s remember the edgy bands of that time. They fully appreciate slots that capture these days and provide a heavy dose of nostalgia.

Timeless Hits Make for Timeless Games

Some of the biggest songs at this moment include:

  • Break My Heart by Dua Lipa
  • Savage (Remix) by Megan Thee Stallion (feat. Beyonce)
  • Watermelon Sugar by Harry Styles
  • Rain On Me by Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande

One or more of these same songs could become classics that are remembered for decades. For now, though, they’re not well known by enough generations to make for popular online slots themes.

Slots based on heavy metal bands, in contrast, have had more time for their biggest hits to ruminate. Many people—young and old—know one or more of the following songs:

  • Ace of Spades by Motorhead
  • Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne
  • Rock and Roll All Nite by KISS
  • Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N’ Roses
  • We’re Not Gonna Take It by Twisted Sister

Again, I’m not saying that today’s hits can’t become classics at some point. But the heavy metal songs from popular slots have been around much longer and been heard by a larger percentage of people.

Bands Can Cash In

Musicians like Ozzy Osbourne and Axl Rose aren’t exactly hurting for money. They have net worth’s of $200 million and $150 million, respectively.

But these rockers certainly don’t mind additional opportunities to make profits. Real money online slots from major developers like NetEnt or Play’n GO can provide such opportunities.

It also doesn’t hurt matters that these singers/bands are past their prime. They each have dedicated fan bases that still buy their music, but they don’t pick up many younger fans these days.

An online gaming partnership helps them find new supporters or at least reach their existing fan base in a new way.

What Are Some of the Best Heavy Metal Online Slots?

You can see that there are plenty of reasons why slots developers are creating games based on famous bands. Now, I’ll go over some of the most-popular slots in this genre.

Guns N’ Roses (NetEnt)

GNR kicked off NetEnt’s Rock Series in 2015. This five-reel, 25-line slot does a great job of bringing band members, such as Axl Rose and Slash, to the reels.

It also includes features that align with the group’s hit songs and albums. Appetite for Destruction wild symbols, Legend Spins, and Encore Free Spins included some of the themed bonuses.

You can also look forward to a “set list” that includes five hit GNR songs. Unlike with most rock slots, you have the ability to change songs at any time.

KISS (WMS)

Led by Gene Simmons, KISS became iconic thanks to their wild outfits, face paint, and hard sound. WMS’ KISS slot does a nice job of replicating many of these elements.

The layout is the first thing that sticks out about this slot. It offers a funky 100-line setup that breaks into 5×4 (20 lines) and 5×12 (80 lines) grids.

This game has expanded wild symbols that represent different band members. These wilds not only give you great glimpses of each member but also chances to win big.

Features include Rock n’ Records free spins, Band Prize, and the KISS! Alive bonus (pick’em feature). With free spins, you get to choose the multiplier and number of free games you want. Options range from 8 free spins with a 2x multiplier to 20 free spins with a 20x multiplier.

Motorhead (NetEnt)

Motorhead caps off NetEnt’s Rock Series by serving as the third game (after GNR and Jimi Hendrix) in the lineup. Like KISS, it offers a fairly unique setup with five reels and 76 paylines.

This game includes depictions of the late Lemmy Kilmister and other band members. It also offers the most-entertaining animations out of any game in this section.

Stage lights shine brightly on many winning combinations. Flames shoot up from the stage to celebrate the biggest wins.

Screenshot From Motorhead Online Slot

The Mystery Reel is one of the biggest features in this game. It ensures that at least one reel offers a stack of matching mystery symbols (can be anything except the scatter).

You trigger free spins with three or more scatter symbols. During free spins, Mystery Stacks can include wild symbols.

The Bomber bonus triggers randomly during the base game. It sees flames shoot up to deliver more mystery symbols.

Twisted Sister (Play’n GO)

Dee Snider and his Twisted Sister mates became famous for encouraging youths to defy authorities. Play’n GO brings many of these same elements into its Twisted Sister slot—right down to the Angry Dad who appeared in multiple videos.

A 6×6 grid slot with cluster pays, this game lets you form payouts across 36 available positions. You must land clusters of 5+ matching symbols to win.

Band member symbols help you form a Charge Meter. Once filled, this meter unleashes one of several random features onto the reels.

Twisted Sister also offers an Angry Dad Meter. This meter delivers the “We’re Not Gonna Take It” feature (win multiplier combined with 2×2 Mega Symbols) when filled.

Conclusion

The slots industry’s inclination towards heavy metal bands from the eighties seems odd. As you can see, though, there’s a method to the madness.

Heavy metal games are guaranteed to bring excitement. They include head-banging music, thrilling animations, and unique features.These slots also include timeless hits that countless people know. Welcome to the Jungle, Crazy Train, and We’re Not Gonna Take It are known by multiple generations.

The bands themselves also appreciate the chance to reach more fans through real money online casinos. They can earn a fair amount of money thanks to deals with prominent developers.

The explosion of rock-based slots may have come and gone by now. However, I wouldn’t rule out seeing similar games in the near future.

Beginner’s Guide to Playing NBA Fantasy Basketball

Man on Cell Phone With an NBA Stadium Background

If you have already played in fantasy leagues before, most likely NFL, then you probably already know a lot of the ins and outs.

But if you’ve always been a fan of basketball and sports betting, and this is your first foray into fantasy sports, let’s go over the basic concept.

You’ll draft, or select, a group of NBA players, and those players’ statistics will be matched against the stats of other fantasy owner’s teams of players. Fantasy basketball can be played on a daily, weekly, or seasonal basis.

How each statistic is scored varies from league to league and depends on the format you choose, or also can be decided by a league commissioner or a group of fantasy players.

So like other fantasy sports, it’s all about filling up the stats sheet. You want to pick players that consistently have high stats over a wide range of categories.

In a typical fantasy league, these will be the 9 categories of stats used for accumulating points:

  • Points
  • Field Goal %
  • Free Throw %
  • Rebounds
  • Blocks
  • Assists
  • Steals
  • Three-Pointers
  • Turnovers

Some leagues might also include offensive rebounds, 2pt field goal percentage, and 3pt field goal percentage. In addition, some leagues or formats might also discount categories like turnovers or field goal % altogether.

There are several different ways of competing and scoring fantasy basketball.

Types of NBA Fantasy Basketball Scoring Formats

Each scoring format will decide how player statistics are converted into fantasy points. There are three main scoring systems that fantasy owners can choose from:

Head-to-Head

Every week, one fantasy owner will be pitted against another owner and each fantasy owner’s teams’ stats will be calculated against the other to determine a winner. This is perhaps the most popular scoring format because every week a winner and loser are determined.

Since you know what players each owner has on their teams, this format also allows you to formulate weekly strategies about who to play on your roster. You will need to outscore your opponent in at least 5 of the 9 stat categories to win each week’s matchup.

Another particular aspect of Head-to-Head that adds an extra element of excitement is that most of these leagues will take the top winningest owners and then match them off in a series of playoff rounds before the beginning of the actual NBA playoffs.

Roto

The biggest difference between Roto and Head-to-Head is that stats are calculated over the course of the entire season instead of on a weekly basis.

Depending on the number of teams in your league, usually 10 or 12, each owner will receive a set number of points per category. These points correspond to the number of teams in each league. Accordingly, if a league has 10 teams, the team who has the most rebounds will be given 10 points while the team who has the least amount of rebounds will receive 1 point.

NBA Player in Physical Play

Success is typically tougher to achieve in Roto especially if there is one category where your team scores low. Whereas in Head-to-Head, you just have to be better in a majority of stats, against one other team on a weekly basis.

For beginners, I would recommend the Head-to-Head scoring option simply because of the week to week excitement it provides, and, unlike Roto, if your team happens to tank in one category you can still remain competitive.

Points Leagues

If you’ve already played fantasy football, this scoring system should be familiar to you.

Every statistical category is assigned points. A typical scoring system works something like this:

  • Points (1 point)
  • Field Goals Made (1 point)
  • Field Goals Attempted (-1 point)
  • Free Throws Made (1 point)
  • Free Throws Attempted (-1 point)
  • Rebounds (1 point)
  • Blocks (1 point)
  • Assists (1 point)
  • Steals(1 point)
  • Turnovers (-1 point)

It’s important to note that some points leagues will assign different point totals to categories than the ones above, or might not count some of the categories at all, turnovers for example.

Like Roto, the Points League format calculates and compiles points over the course of a season to determine a league winner.

Yahoo and ESPN, are the two most popular online Fantasy Basketball apps, and each one of these has default options that assign varying points totals to each category.

One advantage that each offer is that the “commissioner”(more on the specifics of this function later) of your league may have the option to customize how many points each category receives as well as discounting a category altogether.

One glaring disadvantage of Point League scoring is that it favors certain types of players over others.

You’ll score more points from a big power forward like the Cav’s Andre Drummond who can score 18 points and grab 15 rebounds even though he has a terrible free-throw %. While at the same time, you won’t get as many points from a more balanced player like the Hornet’s Nicolas Batum, who can put up nightly numbers like 9 points, 6 assists, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals.

“Commissioners” of NBA Fantasy Leagues

A commissioner, or “commish,” of a fantasy league will be one of the owners of your league that has the ability to determine the rules and scoring method of your league.

When using both Yahoo and ESPN, you or one of the other owners can only be the commissioner if you choose to participate in a private league. Otherwise, you will be competing based on a set of default rules and scoring formats designed by Yahoo and ESPN.

If you’re looking to play fantasy with a group of friends or colleagues, I would highly recommend setting up a private league with your own commissioner.

There will be a settings page in which you can select or deselect various rules. As the commish, you will be able to do things like adjust points, remove or add roster slots, set the weekly schedule (for playing Head-to-Head), and decide on the draft date and time.

A benefit of having a commissioner, or being one yourself, is that you decide how each statistic is to be scored and design a league system that you and your fellow owners believe to be the fairest. The level of control and involvement a commissioner has can be a blast, but it can also take up a lot of time.

So it’s great that at any time in the season, you can change the league settings in your app and assign someone else to be commissioner. You can even rotate the assignment throughout the season, so the responsibility is shared by all.

Drafting Players

Once you’ve established which league you’re going to participate in then you can start thinking about which players you might select and how you’re going to build your roster.

The scoring system that you will be playing under will determine what kind of players will be best to draft.

For example, if you’re in a Roto league, where all stat categories are weighted more or less equally, picking Andre Drummond, who has a terrible free-throw %, could totally bottom out that category for you.

But if you’re in a head-to-head league where it’s all about winning a majority of stat categories, you might want to go with Drummond, knowing that Drummond was the top rebounder in the NBA for the 2018-2019 season who also scored a respectable 17 points per game.

Or perhaps you’re in a league that doesn’t count free-throw % at all. Taking into account exactly how your roster will accumulate points will dictate which players you draft.

There are two primary methods for drafting players, the live standard draft and the auction draft:

Live Standard Draft

In a live standard draft, each team owner from your league will select picks in a live, round-robin online draft. After the first round of picks, the draft order is reversed. This kind of draft is also called a “snake” format.

So if you’re in a league with 12 teams, the team that has the 12th pick also has the 13th pick, and accordingly, the team with the 1st pick won’t get to pick again until the 24th and 25th selections. This ensures a certain amount of equity between the quality of players within the teams.

Auction Draft

Auction drafts also take place in real-time but in this format, every owner is given a certain amount of money for acquiring players. Owners are then randomly assigned spots from 1-12 where they will nominate players to be bid on. The owner who wins the bidding war wins the player.

This kind of draft is only recommended for more seasoned fantasy basketball participants, for knowing how much to spend and when to spend could make or break your entire fantasy season.

Filling Your Roster

Regardless of which kind of draft you are a part of, in order to make the most of your roster, you’re going to have to do so some research on a wide range of players.

Your roster will consist of 12 to 13 players just like an actual NBA team. You’re going to want to pick your starting lineup first and your utility players and bench last.

You can choose as many point guards or power forwards as you want, but at the end of the draft you must have at least one player at every position; point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center.

NBA Players in a Play

Before you draft your players, doing your research at ESPN.com, or at one of the other dozen or so basketball fantasy sites that offer player’s projected stats, is a must if you want to play competitively.

Having a list of players that are separated into columns by statistical category and listed in ranked descending order, will be essential for you to draft the best players possible.

Being able to delete or cross-off players as they’re drafted will enable you to see remaining players that will best fill your statistical needs.

Conclusion

If you’re already a fan of betting on the NBA, playing fantasy can enhance your knowledge of basketball in a big way.

There are a lot of variations for playing online fantasy basketball, but if I’ve left out any of the basics, let me know in the comments.

7 Tricks Professional Casino Gamblers Use

Man Floating a Playing Card in Between His Hands

So you want to be a professional gambler? Do you know what you need to do to get started?

You need a bankroll and you need to know which games to play and which ones to avoid. But you also need to know some of the tricks and secrets used by professional casino gamblers.

I’ve put together a list of seven tricks used by professional gamblers in casinos to help you get started. Some of these tricks are going to help you play with the lowest possible house edge, and other can help you completely eliminate the house edge and play for a profit.

1 – Video Poker Hustling

Video poker machines are not popular with most casino players, but professional gamblers know all about them. They know that video poker machines can offer a terrible house edge for players or one of the lowest edges in the casino. This is all based on video poker strategy, pay tables, and game variation.

The good news is that with just a little bit of study and practice, you can easily identify the machines with the lowest house edge, and easily use the best strategy to keep the house edge down.

When you combine a low house edge with comps, coupons, and/or bonuses, you can possibly play without an overall house edge.

Start studying video poker variations, pay tables, and strategy so you can start taking advantage of good opportunities like the pros do.

2 – Counting Cards at the Blackjack Table

The only thing most gamblers know about counting cards is from watching the movie Rain Man. But the way counting is portrayed in the movie isn’t how it really works. You don’t have to memorize every card that’s been played.

Many professional gamblers use card counting to play with an edge when they gamble. You can learn how to count cards and start using your new skill in the casino in a short time. If you work hard at it, you can learn how to count well enough to play in the casino in less than a week.

Even if you only work at it an hour a day you can be counting cards for an advantage in a month or less. Read a few articles about blackjack card counting to get started.

3 – Bonus Hustling

If you gamble online you’re probably familiar with bonus offers. Online casinos entice gamblers to sign up and make a deposit by offering bonuses on their deposits.

This is smart marketing because it gives gamblers more to play with and most gamblers lose anyway. But smart gamblers know how to take advantage of online bonus offers and use them to make a profit.

You have to read the terms and conditions of every bonus offer, because some of them are so restrictive that you can’t possibly make a profit. But some of them aren’t as restrictive, and offer an opportunity to make more than you lose.

4 – Comp, Contest, and Coupon Hustling

If you don’t like to gamble online, you won’t be able to take advantage of bonuses like I described in the last section. But you can take advantage of other ways to offset your losses.

When you gamble in a land based casino you can often find a comps program, coupons, and special contests that you can enter.

The comps program is usually as easy as signing up for free and getting a card. Once you get your card, just use it whenever you gamble. The casino tracks your play using your card and you earn free comps.

Stack of Casino Player's Cards

Look for coupons in local newspapers and online. You can also ask the player’s club desk if they have any coupons. Any time you can use a coupon it helps you have a better chance to win.

Many land based casinos run special promotions that offer a chance to win extra money and/or prizes. Some contests are free to enter and others require a set amount of game play. Look for casino promotions and contests everywhere you play.

When you find one, read all of the rules to find out how to qualify and what you can win.

5 – Poker Profits

Most casino gamblers don’t think about poker as a casino game, but smart gamblers know it’s one of the few games where you can win more than you lose using your skills.

Popular poker games like Texas holdem are available in most casinos, and if you build your skills you can win money playing. You need to learn how to play better than most of your opponents, but there’s plenty of poker strategy information available in books and articles online to help you get started.

Casinos that offer poker make money by taking a rake from most hands, but once you learn how to play well enough to overcome the rake you can make consistent profit at the poker tables.

You can also find private poker games that can be quite profitable when you can’t get to the poker room or casino. Once you learn how to play well, ask around to see if you can find some local games. Be careful about where you play, because in many areas private poker games are technically illegal.

6 – Progressive Calculations

Many different casino games have progressive jackpots, with the most common ones being slot machines. You probably also know that casino games, and especially slot machines, are designed to take your money.

But one thing that you might not know is that when a casino game has a progressive jackpot, the jackpot can climb so high that it eliminates the overall house edge. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, many professional gamblers take advantage of it and play for a chance at hitting the big jackpot.

Track the progressive jackpot where you play, and when one climbs to a larger than normal amount consider learning more about the game it’s attached to. Find out the normal house edge and see if there’s any information available about how high the jackpot has to climb to overcome the edge.

7 – Secretly Seeing Cards

This is one of the tricks that almost no one knows about. And it can be so profitable that even if you can only use it occasionally, you need to know about it.

Anytime you play a casino table game with face down cards, how much better would your chances of winning be if you knew the value of one or more face down cards?

Imagine if you’re playing blackjack and the dealer has an ace showing for his or her face up card. If you knew the face down card was a jack, you’d take the insurance every time. And if you knew the face down card was a four, you’d turn down the insurance every time.

But how can you possibly know the value of any face down cards in the casino?

Closeup of a Blackjack Table

Most of the time you don’t have any way to know, but occasionally professional casino gamblers are able to see them. Here’s how you can spot down card values sometimes.

Every dealer in the casino deals a unique way. Even if they’ve been trained by the same person, sometimes they deal slightly different than other dealers.

You need to watch the cards every time the dealer deals them. Sometime a dealer gets lax on their proper dealing procedure and shows the value of a card when they’re dealing. It helps when your face or eyes are closer to the table top level, but this is hard to do without being obvious.

The only way you can hope to see some down card values is to start looking for them. Keep a close eye on every deal and eventually you’re going to find a dealer who you want to follow around to see more cards from.

Conclusion

You can get started playing like a professional casino gambler today by using some or all of the tricks listed on this page. Whether your goal is to play close to break even or to beat the casinos at their own game, these secrets are going to help you reach your goals.

Once you learn these tricks, you can keep learning new casino gambling strategies by reading good books and articles that expand your knowledge. These aren’t the only tricks you can use to be a winning gambler, but they’re a good place to start.

5 Easy Ways to Manage Your Bankroll When You Gamble in Las Vegas Casinos

Roll of One Hundred Dollar Bills With a Las Vegas Background

Everybody who arrives in Las Vegas and is looking to explore the casino gambling scene has one idea in mind—win big and walk away with more money than you came with. Hitting a hot streak on the blackjack tables or winning big on a slot machine are only some of the visions that guide millions upon millions of gamblers to Sin City each and every year.

While enjoying a lucky run on the casino floor is certainly the most exciting way to win big in Las Vegas, it’s also the most difficult to accomplish. Simply put, casinos have stacked the proverbial deck against players. By using carefully calculated probabilities and payout odds to ensure a healthy house edge on every wager, casinos make it impossible for players to clear a profit over the long run.

The most effective method gamblers can use to even the score and escape Las Vegas with their bankroll intact involves sensible money management. Unless you’re prepared to apply a disciplined system while gambling, it’s easy to get in over your head.

All in all, Las Vegas casinos can be a cutthroat environment for folks who don’t employ a smart bankroll management strategy.

To help you avoid the fate that befalls a large segment of Las Vegas’ clientele base on a daily basis, check out the list below. You’ll find five easy ways to manage your bankroll responsibly when you visit Las Vegas for a gambling adventure. So, pick the one that works best for you and see if it helps the next time you’re here.

1 – Set Strict Daily Loss Limits and Stick to Them

The most effective way any gambler can govern the fate of their bankroll is through the use of loss limits.

Let’s say you’re in town for a three-day weekend and you’ve brought $1,000 to play around with in the pits. For many players, this entire bankroll would be brought down to the casino floor from the get-go. In the gambling community, players often talk about bringing enough “bullets,” or betting units, to bear in order to give themselves a fighting chance.

After all, with the odds being against you at all times, you should readily expect to lose that first $100 playing table games, machines, poker, or betting on sports. Thus, with a few extra bullets in the chamber, you can survive the early swings and fire a few more in hopes of balancing out the variance.

And indeed, coming to the casino with only a single bullet is usually a recipe for disaster. You need a little wiggle room with which to work, so giving yourself a few opportunities to rebuy and keep fighting just makes too much sense.

On the other hand, those who lack discipline can easily find themselves firing all of their bullets as a luckless streak piles up the losses.

To find the perfect happy medium between playing short, and exposing your entire bankroll, the sharpest bankroll management strategists out there advise gamblers to use loss limits.

Las Vegas Casino Slot Machines

In this case, with $1,000 to play with and three days of action awaiting, you could split things up into three $300 bullets—one for each day of play and an extra $100 for emergency purposes.

On your first day exploring Sin City’s casino wonderland, you must force yourself to forget about the other two bullets tucked away in your room’s safe. At this point, you simply have $300 to play with on this particular day, no more and no less.

This amount should be used to dictate your stakes, too. So, even if you feel like you should be playing for $10 per hand on the blackjack tables thanks to that $1,000 bankroll, knowing you really only have $300 today makes it much easier to dial things back to $5 wagers.

If you happen to go broke with your initial $300 bullet, the temptation to head back upstairs and grab reinforcements can often be overwhelming. And that’s where discipline and self-respect come into play…

Instead of sticking around the casino floor and torturing yourself, just get out and find other ways to have fun that don’t involve gambling. Thankfully, the modern Las Vegas is built to accommodate gamblers and non-gamblers alike, so you’ll find no shortage of ways to pass the time. Buffets, sports bars, in-house shows, or just taking a stroll down the fabulous Las Vegas Strip—do whatever tickles your fancy at the time.

Then, when you’ve had a good night’s sleep and are feeling refreshed, you’ll wake up to a second $300 bullet and all the hope that entails.

Winning shouldn’t affect this loss limit approach either. When you manage to beat the house and build your starting bankroll, let’s say to $1,500 after a $500 profit on day 1, you can easily recalibrate the formula going forward. For our sake, with two days left on the schedule and $1,500 in the bag, you can now up your bullet count to $700 + $700 + $100 in emergency funds.

2 – Set Strict Win Limits to Lock up Profits After a Lucky Run

Continuing the example from above, let’s say you’re having a blast and winning at the craps table.

You came to Las Vegas with $1,000 and on day 1 you’ve turned that initial $300 bullet into a pile of chips worth $800, good for a $500 profit. For the vast majority of gamblers, the path forward from here wouldn’t require much thought at all. The dice are rolling your way, things are going great, so they’ll keep playing and try to rack up an even larger win by night’s end.

Of course, in a highly volatile gambling game like craps, or any casino offering for that matter, continuing to place bets with your profits only favors the house. The odds are working for the casino, not you, and they’ll inevitably catch up as a short-term run extends into the long run.

I’ve seen this scenario play out more times than I can count. The hot player who can seemingly do no wrong confidently continues to play, only to see Lady Luck leave their side without a moment’s notice. Suddenly, the dice produce seven outs in rapid succession, eroding a once-flush stack until it contains nothing but crumbs.

In the end, these players not only lose their $500 profit, but their $300 starting bullet. And if they’re not in control by using loss limits, maybe even their entire bankroll could be out.

The best way to dodge that trap is by setting win limits that help you lock up profits in the short-term. I usually opt for a “triple up” win limit when I’m playing, so whenever my starting bullet has been multiplied by three, I consider the session a success and bank the win by cashing out.

You can feel free to adjust that formula as you see fit, but the goal with this tip remains the same. When you’ve already beat the odds by beating the house, don’t tempt fate by continuing to place bets that offer a negative expected return. Instead, happily cash out your chips and secure a sweet profit that can then be rolled over to increase your bullet sizing for the next day of play.

3 – Do Everything You Can to Avoid Going on Tilt

I’m sure you somewhat understand the pernicious plague of gambling tilt in-depth, but I recommend reading up on it to teach yourself a few great tips on maintaining emotional stability as a gambler.

With that said, I’ll keep this entry short and sweet…

As a gambler, you must realize that losses are par for the course. And not just run-of-the-mill losses like hitting on a 12 and catching a 10 to go bust, I’m talking about the brutal bad beats that seem to defy all statistical probability.

If you’ve ever drawn a pat 20 on the deal, only to watch the dealer miraculously improve their 9-3 (12) by drawing perfect to the 4 (16) and 5 (21), you know exactly how cruel casinos can be when the gambling gods aren’t on your side.

Las Vegas Casino Floor With Slots and Tables

Tough losses like this can cause even the most stoic among us to experience tilt, and when a gambler goes on tilt, all of their best laid plans go out the window right then and there. Suddenly, you’re betting bigger than your bankroll can bear, while making poor plays out of spite as you try to return the bad beat favor.

Don’t be “that guy or gal” who can’t seem to control themselves on the casino floor. Use the five tips I offer in the aforementioned page on tilt mitigation, and cool off to avoid losing your cool whenever the dealer delivers a cooler.

4 – Lower Your Standard Stakes to Stretch a Depleted Bankroll

Imagine you’re on day 3 of that three-day weekend and your first two bullets have been misfires.

That leaves you with a lone remaining $300 bullet (plus $100 in emergency funds just in case), and your back is up against the wall. Most players would simply stick to their script by betting at the same stakes as they have been all along.

But when you’re down to your final bullet, the best way to make it count is by dropping down in stakes to stretch your bankroll as far as it can go.

If you usually play $0.25 stakes video poker for a max bet of $1.25 per hand, that $300 bullet is only going to offer 240 hands of play. But by dialing it back to $0.05 stakes for a max bet of $0.25, you suddenly have 1,200 hands at your disposal.

This extends a lifeline of sorts, allowing you to weather the swings of random variance far more easily than you would when playing at your preferred stakes.

And naturally, if you’re able to build that last bullet into a larger bankroll, by all means, feel free to reset back to your normal stakes to repeat the process.

5 – Ditch the Fast-Paced Games of Chance for Easy Skill Games

Along the same lines, players who have burned through most of their bankroll bullets on the slots, roulette, baccarat, or any other game of chance should consider trying a skill-based game next.

Don’t get me wrong, I love chasing progressive jackpots on the Wheel of Fortune slot and spinning for 35 to 1 payouts on single-number roulette bets. Gambling is a gamble, after all, so nobody should force you to look down upon games that are reliant on random chance alone.

With that said, if you’re struggling to maintain your bankroll playing non-skill games, shifting to a skill game like blackjack, table poker, or video poker is the best way to give yourself a fighting chance at a comeback.

Pick up a basic strategy chart at the gift shop, sharpen your skills with a few free practice hands online, then get to work in an arena where players can actually influence the outcome.

Conclusion

Casino gambling in Las Vegas isn’t for the faint of heart, and far too many visitors arrive here with no plan of action to speak of. They go for the gusto right out of the gate, betting big and betting often, only to wind up watching from the rail after their bankroll has been devoured.

By practicing these five savvy bankroll management strategies, however, you can level the playing field by taking ownership of the one thing that’s under your control in the casino.

7 Advantages of Playing Poker in a Casino

Large Casino Sign and Texas Holdem Hand

Gambling in a casino can be an overwhelming experience for a lot of people and can absolutely feel like it’s not worth the effort, but I promise you that there are many advantages to gambling in a casino that most people don’t even consider.

You have seven big advantages when you gamble in a casino as compared to gambling anywhere else. Here’s why you should give all the glitz and glam of the casino a shot and put aside your fears about how overwhelming or annoying the experience will be.

1 – Some Casino-Goers Are Drunk

Sure, this sounds terrible, but it’s absolutely a fact. When you gamble in a casino, pretty much everyone there is going to be drinking, and that means you have an advantage when you’re playing against other gamblers.

Does this mean that the staff are drinking and that your dealers are going to make mistakes? Absolutely not. The staff would probably get into loads of trouble if they started drinking on the job.

That means games that only have a dealer and don’t feature other players aren’t going to have this advantage. Instead, you want to focus on games where you’re playing with other people, like poker.

Playing poker against intoxicated people can get pretty annoying, and there’s certainly an element of ethics here that you’ll have to make peace with. But the reality is that you can make a lot of money off people who have made the poor decision to drink and play cards. So, if you stay sober in the casino (or heck, even sober-ish), you’re at an advantage.

2 – The Casino Is Open 24/7

Playing real money poker online is lots of fun and has many of its own advantages, but one of the big problems with online poker is that playing late just means you’re playing people who just woke up and are playing in the morning.

What that means is that the majority of the people you’re playing against are well-rested no matter what time of the day you’re playing. If you get on at 3 AM, you’re probably playing people in another part of the world who are ready to take your money.

At a casino, the experience is a lot different.

A Live Poker Game Table

Now, sure, you’re going to run into shift workers at the casino who actually are well rested at 3 AM and used to being up really early or really late. But the majority of people are going to be tired.

Again, just like the advantage of playing with a few drunks, playing against tired people gives you an advantage as long as you are okay with the ethical implications of this and have gotten enough sleep yourself!

3 – Casinos Often Have Players Clubs

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that the online casinos are doing their very best to catch up with VIP Programs, but the fact of the matter remains that physical casinos are really, really good about having lots and lots of rewards systems available for the average player.

These rewards programs are often called players clubs and are designed to keep you playing. You get bonuses and rewards as you continue to play and spend money.

Sure, there are some websites that do this, but not all of them do. Casinos have hopped on this bandwagon for decades and have perfected the art of giving you just enough rewards to make it worth your while (while not breaking their own bank).

If you take the time to sign up for a player’s club, you’re going to be pulling in some sweet rewards in no time that you wouldn’t be able to get at a physical casino.

4 – You Can See the Other Player’s Tells

One of the biggest drawbacks of playing online is that you can’t see the other players. Poker, especially, has long been known as a game of psychology more than luck. If you can figure out what other players are thinking based on their speech and body language, then you’re in a better position to win money off of them.

That being said, I think this even applies at games where some level of skill is involved against the dealer, like blackjack. But not everyone would agree with me there.

As far as poker is concerned, playing online makes it significantly harder to figure out what the other players are holding in their hands.

Does one player scratch his nose when he gets a bad hand? Does another player adjust her glasses when she gets a good hand? Does one guy start talking a bunch of trash when he’s bluffing? Does the stoic girl with the great poker face have a little twitch whenever she has a pocket pair?

There’s no way in the world you’ll get to learn these tells when you’re playing online. But when you’re playing in a casino, you have the chance to figure out what the other players are thinking more accurately than if you are playing online.

5 – You Can More Easily Set Other Players on Tilt

Being online is sometimes no substitute for the real thing, and one of the biggest advantages to playing poker in a casino is that you can much more easily set other players on tilt and take advantage of throwing them off their game.

Why is this the case? Because you can use your words much more accurately and abrasively when you’re playing poker in person than when you’re playing online.

Sure, some online poker sites allow you to chat with the other players and try to set them off their game, but those players can literally obscure the chat and ignore everything you say.

A lot of online poker sites allows you to turn the chat off. But for others, all you have to do is open another browser window and put it in front of the chat box.

That’s just not possible when it comes to playing poker in real life. You can say just about anything you want, and nobody will be able to do anything about it (unless you start getting really mean or crazy, which I absolutely don’t recommend).

Most people can be triggered in some way or another to freak out a little and get angry or anxious if you say or do the right thing. If you’re playing online, it’s much, much harder to set someone on tilt and then clean up at the card table.

6 – You Can Control Yourself More Easily

When you’re sitting at a computer and gambling, you can pretty much set up your laptop in your bed and play all day long if you want to.

While this can be a great thing for some people, it’s not great for everyone. Going to the casino costs money and time, and it usually means you have to walk away from your family for several hours. this means that you can’t just get up and play with the kids for an hour then go back to gambling. You go, you usually have to drive, then you have to come home.

This can be hugely beneficial to people who gamble a lot and can accidently play for too long if they’re not paying attention. I’m not saying this is going to cure a gambling addict, but very few people actually become addicted to gambling.

For most people, it’s just a matter of control. But playing poker online makes things a lot harder to control. It’s just too convenient for some people, and it can get out of hand without meaning to.

If you go to the casino in person, you’ll have to go home at some point. You’ll have to make the most of your trip, and you’ll just be less likely to gamble for day after day during all your free time.

7 – You Won’t Play Against the Best Poker Players in the World

One big problem a lot of people don’t realize that online poker has is that many of the best players in the world love it. And if you’re playing against them online, you often won’t even know it!

Professional Poker Player at a Table

When you play at a casino in person, trust me when I say that it will be really clear if one of the superstars of poker walks into the room and sits at your table. Everyone will probably leave!

Many of these players make the majority of their money each year at real money online casinos, and it’s not like the website is going to tell you that you’re sitting at the table with someone who is about to clean your clock.

Playing in a casino avoids all this hassle and ensures you’re playing at the very least with people who are just good in your region.

Any Advantages I Missed?

Entire books have been written about the game of poker and the way to win it all, so I’m sure there are some advantages that I’ve missed. Anything you want to add?

Let me know in the comments!

What Role Do Coupons Play in a Savvy Gambler’s Life?

Excited Gambler Next to Image of Casino Players Cards

Gaming is a harsh mistress, but coupons can level the playing field. Coupons play a huge role in the life of the savvy gambler. If you play regularly and are looking for a way to even the odds and reduce the non-gaming costs that come along with the gambling lifestyle, while comps can certainly be helpful, coupons can be far more powerful.

Here’s the truth about coupons… Their entire purpose (from the casino’s point of view) is to get you in the door and keep you playing at their casino. Because of this, they’re limited. Getting value out of all available coupons for an entire city takes discipline and a willingness to do a little digging. You’ll have to put in a little extra effort to get your freebies and use them.

Las Vegas is the reigning king of the gaming universe, and as such, it has some of the most extensive, robust coupon programs around. Let’s dive into what Las Vegas offers the savvy gambler in terms of coupons and how you can take advantage to get the most out of the Sin City.

1 – Players Clubs

Most casinos have what’s called a “players club.” Think of this much like a rewards program for any other business (because that’s what it is). The goal of any rewards program is simple. Give someone who is buying in volume a bit of a discount (usually in the form of something free), and they’ll feel more loyal to your company and keep buying.

Casinos do the same thing.

Players clubs are essentially a source of never-ending gaming coupons.

While the out-of-towners who wander in drunk and in party mode are going to empty their pockets quickly and leave far too early, it’s the regular players—especially locals—who are keeping the lights on. Players clubs cater to this type of player—the person who views this as a hobby, not a curiosity.

Players clubs rewards work similarly to many rewards programs you’re probably familiar with. What makes players clubs so valuable is that, in many cases, you get a sign-up bonus. Just like, for example, an American Airlines credit card might give you 50,000 miles after signing up, a players club will give you a set number of rewards points just for creating an account.

Once you’ve signed up, you more or less get points for every game you play, whether you’re at a table or at a slot machine. As these points accumulate over time, you can use them for all kinds of rewards, from rates on rooms (or even free rooms), food, shows, and more.

Something that most people don’t think about when it comes to players clubs is the fact that they make you seem like a much more serious player in the eyes of the folks who can give out casino comps (the pit bosses). It’s not going to win them over by itself, but if you’re playing a lot, coming in regularly, spending decent money, and you’re a dedicated member of their players club, they’ll be more likely to reward your request for a comp in a way that makes everybody happy.

Players clubs can be found at most major casinos and every players club will have a sign-up bonus of some sort, and every players club is going to give you its own unique rewards. The real value here is in going around town, signing up for all the players clubs, and using that sign-up bonus as fast as you can.

2 – LVA Membership

Las Vegas Advisor gives out some incredible coupons each year when you become a member and sign up for their Member Rewards Book. From buffets and dining, to gaming bonuses, entertainment, rides and attractions, and even spas, this thing has it all.

The sign-up fee is negligible (less than $40), an amount you’ll earn back quickly if you’re taking regular advantage of what the membership has to offer.

The true value to the membership comes not in the free food and entertainment, but in the gaming bonuses. You’ll find two major types of gaming bonuses in your membership, free play and match play. These bonuses often require that you join the players club offering the coupon, but not always.

Screenshot of Las Vegas Advisor Website

The difference between the two is straight forward. Free play allows you to play designated games or slots for free for a set amount. You may need to earn a certain number of points on the casino’s players club reward system within a set period of time to redeem the coupon, or you may not.

Match play works in a similar fashion. You may or may not need to join the players club to use it. You present the coupon on any table game where you’ve bet a certain amount (depending on the coupon) and if you win, you get paid back double. The big drawback of match play is that the coupon is used up whether you win or lose.

3 – More Than Just Gaming

Though I’ve focused mostly on gaming rewards up to this point, don’t forget that most casinos exist in a destination. Las Vegas is fun for the whole family, and the whole family generally can’t spend all day gaming.

Vegas understands this. That’s why you see so much else everywhere you go. There’s shopping, dining, high-level entertainment, outdoor events, spa packages, and so much more. Vegas is an experience; they don’t mind if you don’t spend your money at the tables as long as you spend your money somewhere.

And just like every tourist town in the world, the prices are jacked up sky high for most entertainment. Fortunately, there are tons of coupons available to the savvy player who’s brought along the family and wants to save on entertainment expenses.

Screenshot of Vegas4locals Website

Your first stop should be vegas4locals.com if you’re not a local. They have coupons for shows, dining and nightlife, tours and attractions, hotels, shopping, spas, and even weddings.

What’s really great about vegas4locals.com is their target—it’s not you. It’s the person who lives in Vegas and is tired of paying tourist rates for stuff they buy all the time. Living in Vegas is expensive. The last thing you want to do is pay Vegas prices year-round. Use the same tools the locals use to save money on the non-gaming expenses of your trip, and you’ll go home with a little more money than you’d planned.

4 – Las Vegas Fun Books

Just like all casinos have their own players clubs, they also all have their own “fun books.” A fun book is often included with a players club membership, but not always. You may need to ask the players club agent for it if you don’t get one when you sign up. You likely will also get a fun book if you’re staying in one of the big casinos. If you don’t, you’ll want to flag down a concierge and ask.

Your fun book is just another coupon book, but you’re likely to get some more free play coupons out of it for the individual hotel, and you’re also likely to get deeper discounts on restaurants and shows specific to that hotel. These things are so valuable that you’ll often find people handing them out along the Strip (and hoping for a tip in exchange).

Technically, you can get your fun books online if you really feel like you need them now, but it’s not really worth the cost. Just grab them when you get there and as you move around from one casino to the other.

5 – Discount Cards

While coupons are great, one of the big drawbacks is the need to constantly get them out, search for the right coupon, and hand it over. They’re also pretty random. You might save some money here and there, but not in a regulated way. You’ll have to put in a bit more effort to use them.

Discount cards are a little different. There are a number of discount cards available for the savvy gamer who is willing to pay a little up front to earn their money back.

Because they’re charging for these things, most of the sellers understand that there has to be a higher value than what you’re getting at a players club or through your fun book.

What that means is that you’re going to be able to use your discount card all over the place. They also tend to be targeted toward certain types of activities. For example, there are some discount cards you can use at virtually every restaurant at the Strip. There are others that are meant to be used only at rides and attractions and allow you to skip the line and get in quicker.

If you’ve got the whole family on board for the adventure, consider buying a discount card (to save on food, if nothing else). You’ll be glad you did.

Conclusion

Las Vegas will never be free, but it doesn’t have to break your bank every time you go. Spend the extra time getting to know the coupons available to you. Whether you’re going by yourself or with a small group of friends and gaming is the main goal, or whether you’ve got the whole family in tow and you’re going to be eating a lot and seeing a lot of attractions, there are coupons for everyone and a way to ensure you can still go home with a little cash in your pocket.

The Best Eats off the Boardwalk in Atlantic City

Gourmet Dish With Atlantic City Background

Along the eastern shores of the United States is a jewel by the name of Atlantic City. And this jewel has, in some ways, started to show her age a little, even though many interested parties are looking to restore her shine.

Still, the food in the city is still as great today as it ever was. In some ways, the food in Atlantic City is even better.

Of course, being that so much money is concentrated along the coastline, the boardwalk, and in the boardwalk casinos, it’s safe to say some of the best eats can be found there. However, that’s not the full story of Atlantic City.

There are plenty of places you need to try in Atlantic City that don’t take up residence along the boardwalk. They’re delicious and can be easier on the wallet while they’re pleasing the taste buds. It was hard to narrow the list down to 10, but here’s our list.

How We Defined “off the Boardwalk”

As a quick note, it’s important to define “off the Boardwalk,” especially when considering restaurants in Atlantic City. For all its popularity, Atlantic City isn’t exactly huge. It’s kind of a long, vague crab-shaped city that doesn’t pack a bunch of room between ocean and western border.

With that in mind, I did try to find locations that were at least a long city block away from the coast. I figure that most of the places along the coast are getting all the press, especially since they tend to be attached to casinos, so I picked places that would require the heart to pump a little bit if you walked there.

I think you’ll be happy with the results and find a place you’ve never heard of or been to before.

10 – Bobby Flay Steak

That place won’t be Bobby Flay Steak, but I had to include it, anyway. More than likely, you’ve heard of celebrity chef/TV star Bobby Flay from his work on Entourage or the Food Network. You’ve probably heard that he has a few restaurants, too.

Flay’s restaurants don’t always receive the highest marks, but Bobby Flay Steak in the Borgata Hotel and Casino (which is off the Boardwalk) breaks the mold and offers modern, luxurious dining in Atlantic City. When you go, get a steak and try the tuna tartare and mashed potatoes. These items get high marks.

9 – White House Sub Shop

Part of the joy of this list is finding places to eat outside the glitz of the casino. Thus, I present to you White House Sub Shop, an unassuming diner on Arctic Avenue that serves sandwiches as long as your arm, and it’s so tasty that you have to go back.

Or maybe you’ll be so full that you never leave? Get a footlong when you go so that you have leftovers and definitely try the cheesesteak when you’re there.

8 – Yardy Real Jamaican Food

While there may not be an association between Jamaican food and New Jersey in the popular imagination, Yardy Real Jamaican Food offers delicious cuisine to visitors at decent prices.

Dish From Yardy Real Jamaican Food in Atlantic City

When you go, try the curried chicken, jerk chicken, and their different choices of soups. Or you can decide you’re not messing around and go straight for the oxtails. If that doesn’t sound good, this eatery also offers a variety of fresh seafood for those wanting something lighter.

7 – Gilchrist Restaurant

Located in Gardner’s Basin, near the Atlantic City Aquarium, Gilchrist is a breakfast and lunch spot adored by locals. Their menu includes eggs, breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, and even scrapple, a divisive meat dish much loved by its fans.

The pancakes are a clear favorite. Also, Gilchrist features vegetarian options for those wanting to stay healthy on vacation. Ask your server for more details.

6 – Lillie’s Asian Cuisine

Lillie’s Asian Cuisine is located in the Golden Nugget Casino, Hotel, and Marina a little over a mile and a half from the Boardwalk. They offer a pan-Asian menu that seamlessly blends Chinese and Japanese cuisines with other Asian influences (notably Thai since, well, you just HAVE to try the pad thai).

Locals love the noodle and stir fry dishes. However, the thing that gets the highest marks from visitors to Lilllie’s is the sushi. It’s no wonder being that close to the ocean that Lillie’s can get some good fish and then turn that into various different sushi rolls.

In addition to it’s pan-Asian food, Lillie’s Asian Cuisine serves a number of Asian-inspired cocktails and has quite a collection of sake. If that weren’t enough, Lillie’s will also serve you dessert in case you weren’t full enough.

5 – Pancho’s Mexican Taqueria

Pancho’s is woefully unpretentious and looks like any other neighborhood eatery. It’s not some flashy restaurant inside of a casino or operated by a celebrity chef.

Fortunately, we don’t let that stop us from grubbing on some genuinely delicious food. This establishment is exactly what you want it to be, a friendly, unassuming food spot that you know is going to serve absolutely amazing dishes from the moment you enter. The tortillas are housemade, the menu’s quite large for a taqueria in New Jersey, and the ingredients are wholesome.

Tacos From Pancho's Mexican Taqueria in Atlantic City

What’s even better is that everything is made from scratch. This can cause the food preparation to be slow, but ultimately, it’s worth it in the end.

When you go, try the al pastor tacos with some extra tortillas on the side!

4 – The Iron Room

Of all the places on the list, the Iron Room comes the closest to breaking the “off the Boardwalk rule.” It’s not on the boardwalk, but it’s definitely not very far. Still, it’s worth trying after its grand re-opening in October 2019.

Once reopened, the Iron Room will serve breakfast from 7 AM to 4 PM so that I can get my avocado toast fix or salmon bagel until just about dinner time.

Even better, on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and some Tuesdays, after 4PM, the Iron Room becomes the place to go for wine, charcuterie, and small plates in Atlantic City. I can’t wait to order the steak tartare, guanciale, and maybe a few types of cheese to go with it.

3 – Café 2825

One of the highest-rated restaurants in Atlantic City, Café 2825 is everything that’s right about Italian dining. This “transplant from Brooklyn” serves up plates that are pleasing to the eyes and delightful to the palate, and the service is exceptional.

The restaurant is charming, small (only 14 tables, so make reservations), but highly authentic. So authentic, in fact, they even go back to Brooklyn every week to get ingredients.

When you go, try the calamari or whole stuffed artichoke to start, 2825 Salad for your salad, and the carbonara pasta for your meal. All are sure to please.

2 – Dock’s Oyster House

When you’re in a coastal town, you have to eat seafood even if you’re off the Boardwalk, right? That’s where Dock’s Oyster House comes into play. Dock’s manages to mix upscale dining with a homey, inviting feel that welcomes whoever walks through the door.

The mirrored bar is long and filled with enough types of liquor that you probably can’t stump the bartenders too easily. Most importantly, though, they serve fresh oysters, lobsters, ceviche, snapper crudo, and cooked fish, too.

For those who want something a little more landlocked, there’s also filet, New York sirloin, and rack of lamb.

In other words, if you want to eat it, they probably have it, and it’s going to be really, really good.

1 – Kelsey’s

Kelsey’s is a soul food restaurant in Atlantic City that has just built a reputation for delivering exceptional cuisine. A finalist for the best buffets in all of Atlantic City because of its Sunday brunch, there’s really never any bad time to eat at Kelsey’s.

Food and Chef at Kelsey's Restaurant in Atlantic City

Among the favorites are Kelsey’s shrimp and grits, chicken, and mac and cheese. Oh, the mac and cheese is always on point and is the type of dish you dream about forever after you’ve had it.

If you can, go for brunch. If not, stop in at off-peak times to avoid the AC crowd. Or go whenever! You may have to wait, but you won’t be sorry.

Conclusion

One thing’s for sure, Atlantic City is full of fantastic places to eat. Many of these places are along the water, or in casinos on the water, but that doesn’t tell the full story of Atlantic City food.

Whether you’re looking for classic Italian, steak, fresh seafood, or something a little different, fried snacks or huge sandwiches, there’s a place in Atlantic City for you. All you need to do is be willing to walk a little. Atlantic City is not that large, so the emphasis is on “a little.”

You can also get on a rideshare or catch a cab. Next thing you know, you will be feasting on food unlike anywhere else and loving every single bite.

The 9 Biggest Attractions in Macau (Besides Casinos)

Macau Logo With Historic Landmarks Background

Similar to Hong Kong, Macau is a region as part of the People’s Republic of China and has a rich colonial history. As a former colony of Portugal (until 1999), Macau has a multicultural heritage that is evident in its traditions, its architecture, and of course, in its world-famous casinos.

But beyond its amazing casinos, Macau has dozens of incredible and fascinating tourist attractions that are worth a visit by themselves. Here are just a few that are must-sees when taking a break from gaming.

1– A-Ma Temple

No trip to Macau would be complete without a trip to the purported namesake of the city, A-Ma Temple. It is likely the oldest temple in the city (built in the 1400s) and is dedicated to Mazu, a goddess for whom the city itself may be named.

This Buddhist temple is a UNESCO world heritage site and has impressive and gorgeous artwork, statues, and architecture. You’ll also find statues of the goddess Mazu herself. The temple is fairly quiet and peaceful. If you find yourself a little burned out from the hustle and bustle of the casinos, this can be a welcome distraction and a place to get yourself re-centered before returning to the games.

Learn more about the temple here.

2 – The Ruins of St. Paul’s

No trip to Macau would be complete without visiting what is arguably their most iconic landmark, the Ruins of St. Paul’s. Although all that is left of this incredible Jesuit church is the facade, this landmark is still known as one of the Seven Wonders of Portuguese Origin in the World. In fact, back in 2005, it was officially listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Ruins of St. Paul in Macau

Built in the 1600s, the structure served as a major religious center, many referring to it as the “Vatican of the Far East.” It was destroyed in the 1800s by a typhoon and never rebuilt. It stands now as a major tourist attraction, with steel stairs leading to the top. You can get a great view of the city when you climb (St. Paul’s is located on a hill), and you might even consider participating in the tradition of throwing coins off the top for good luck.

Learn more about the ruins here.

3 – Fortaleza do Monte

If you’ve already made it out to the Ruins of St. Paul’s, you’ll probably want to skip right over to Fortaleza do Monte. This fort was built in the 1600s and served as the seat of Portugal’s military might in the area for over a century, eventually becoming the governor’s residence.

While the Ruins of St. Paul’s are certainly iconic, seeing them takes little time and is over fairly quickly, but the Fortaleza do Monte houses the Macau Museum, home to detailed explanations of the history of the city, the colonization of the Macanese by various conquerors, and how the city has come to be one of the world’s richest and most well known gaming cities ever.

Learn more about the fort here.

4 – Maritime Museum and Fisherman’s Wharf

If you’re turning your sightseeing excursion into an all-day affair, consider next visiting the Maritime Museum and Fisherman’s Wharf. Because of Macau’s history as one of the major trade cities in the region, the sea and the harbor are a deep and important component of the city’s history.

The beautiful Maritime Museum looks like an old-timey sailing ship and is home to dozens of displays and collections that explore the storied history of maritime travel and commerce over the centuries of Macau’s existence.

One of the more interesting exhibits centers on the development of ancient instruments used by mariners to explore the oceans and predict the weather while on long sailing voyages.

Maritime Museum in Macau

Once you’re done perusing history and are feeling hungry, walk down to the Fisherman’s Wharf, where you’ll find tons of restaurants serving fresh seafood. There’s plenty of shopping to be done here, and the theme-park atmosphere of the place is complemented by numerous rides that are fun for all ages.

Learn more about the Fisherman’s Wharf here.

5 – AJ Hackett Macau Tower

Although you may not know AJ Hackett by name, you certainly know bungee jumping—a sport he practically invented and that has reached perfection in his namesake tower. The Macau Tower is massive (well over 300 meters) and is home to some of the world’s most fun (or maybe most frightening?) bungee jumps.

Not for the faint of heart, this tower includes far more than just scenic views. There’s a skywalk, tandem sky-jumping, tower climbing, and of course bungee jumping. All of these activities take place hundreds of meters in the air.

If you’ve got a stomach of iron and want to boast that you’ve done the craziest bungee jump in the world, this is the place to go. But if you’re a bit more grounded in your thinking and prefer your thrills to take place at the tables, it’s still worth going to the top to take a look at the scenery. The views are as out of this world as the people who run the place.

Learn more about the tower here.

6 – The House of Dancing Water

Nothing in the world can really stand up to some of the insane entertainment that you’ll find in Macau, and The House of Dancing Water is no exception. This 90-minute show takes place in a massive, custom-built theatre that can go from flooded with water to completely dry in minutes as the stage transforms between acts.

The multimillion-gallon pool includes a series of specialized lifts that allow performers to leap and dive into the water. You’ll find acrobats, dancers, and even motorcyclists in the show.

If you’ve ever wondered what Cirque Du Soleil would look like with an unlimited budget and an edge of insanity—underwater—this is it. It’s a must-see show for anyone visiting Macau.

Learn more about the world’s largest water show here.

7 – Taipa Village

If the idea of jumping from insane heights or watching acrobats swim through giant pools is a little too much excitement for you, especially after spending a few days playing table games or slots, then consider taking a stroll to Taipa Village.

What makes Taipa Village so unique is that, unlike A-Ma Temple, this village is still very much alive and thriving in the present day. You’ll find plenty of places to eat and drink right alongside an amalgamation of Portuguse- and Chinese-influenced architecture.

Taipa Village is close to the strip and boasts a variety of gorgeous colonial-era churches and temples. You’ll also find plenty of museums, art galleries, and souvenir shops. If you’re thinking about bringing some knick-nacks home but want to avoid the often-cheap stuff found in casino gift shops, this is the perfect place to stroll down to and pick up something authentic.

Taipa Village in Macau

Of all the places to visit in Taipa Village, Taipa House Museum should be top of your list. The gorgeous lime green and cream houses used to be home to the Portuguese governor (and anyone else serving under him). It’s filled now will a wide variety of artifacts and exhibits exploring the colonization of the Macanese people, exploring what life was like for the colonists.

Learn more about the Taipa House Museum here.

8 – Grand Resort Deck

Okay, this is technically part of a casino, but I thought I’d include it because not everyone wants to walk around all day after the exhaustion of gaming for multiple days in a row. Some of us like to relax, take it easy, grab a drink, and sit around the pool all day, especially if you’re visiting during the summer heat.

The Grand Resort Deck is a massive expanse of water attractions and pools for water lovers of all ages, shapes, and sizes. Whether you want to lay out by the pool and read a good book, surf the artificial white water rapids, fly down the waterslides, surf the Skytop Wave Pool, let the kids splash around in the kid’s aquatic zone, or chill all day in one of the beach lagoons, this is the place for laid-back fun.

Learn more about the Grand Resort Deck here.

9 – The Giant Panda Pavilion

No visit to Macau would be complete without a visit to the Giant Panda Pavilion. This sprawling enclosure is designed to mimic the natural habitats of these lazy, fun-loving creatures. Though you’ll certainly be able to get an up-close and personal view of these magnificent pandas, the pavilion also includes a variety of other animal species, including gorillas and flamingos.

A Large Group of Pandas

The pavilion itself is also a beautiful nature park in its own right, housing many trees and plants that can soothe your nerves after a day at the table. Your small admission fee goes toward preserving the pavilion and providing for the continuation of the rare giant pandas.

Learn more about the Giant Panda Pavilion here.

Conclusion

Macau is a thriving city with more attractions per square foot that just about anywhere on Earth. While the land-based casinos do tend to be the top attraction, there’s plenty to do for the entire family. The rich cultural heritage, the incredible sites, and the world-class shows and attractions make Macau a destination that everyone should visit at some point in their lives.

Have you visited Macau before? Tell us about your favorite attraction and why you loved it so much.

3 Betting Strategies You Can Use When You Can’t Handicap Games

Man Celebrating Holding Cash Mixed With Image of Athletes

The best way to be a winning sports bettor is to learn how to handicap upcoming events. But sometimes you don’t have time to handicap games, or maybe you’re not much of a sports bettor but want to put some money on a game you’re getting ready to watch.

I’ve put together a few betting strategies that you can use if you’re not a handicapper or when you don’t have time to evaluate a game properly. These strategies won’t win much money in the long run, but they’ll help you make competitive bets when you don’t have a better way to pick games.

When you’re picking games to bet on without handicapping them properly, you should always bet small amounts. You’re probably going to win close to 50% of the time when picking games with the advice in the first two sections below. The vig you pay when you lose will be a long-term loss.

1 – Pick an Underdog

If you’re getting ready to watch a game and want to place a few dollars on it, bet on the underdog. The great thing about betting on an underdog is the points. Even if the team you bet on loses, you still have a chance to win if they cover the spread. This works in the NFL, NBA, NCAA football, and NCAA basketball.

If you’re betting on MLB or the NHL, bet on the team that receives runs or goals. This isn’t the same as betting on the underdog in football and basketball, but the goal is to get points, runs, or goals. If your team wins the contest outright, you win. If they lose, you can still win when they cover.

NCAA Basketball Players During Drive

It’s also more fun to root for the underdog for most fans. Any time a big underdog goes toe-to-toe with a goliath team, it makes for a good story.

Picking an underdog and getting points also has some basis in good handicapping. The public tends to bet more on popular teams and winning teams, so they can push the line in your favor when you’re betting on an underdog. While you can’t always bet on underdogs and win in the long run, I always look at the underdogs first when I’m looking for games to handicap.

2 – Pick a Home Team

Home teams do better than road teams in every sport. The home field advantage doesn’t mean that poor home teams beat good road teams often, but if a weak team is going to upset a good team it almost always happens at home.

When you’re betting without handicapping games, it’s even better when you can find a home team that’s an underdog. This way you can benefit from receiving points and home field advantage.

This isn’t an overall winning strategy if you always bet on home underdogs, but it will help you win roughly half your bets.

3 – Bet the Big Favorite Moneyline

Betting the moneyline on big favorites is a dangerous game to play. You have to bet a large amount in comparison to what you can win. On the plus side, you rarely lose one of these bets. The problem is that when you lose one of them, you lose a large amount of money.

Here’s an example of betting the moneyline on a big favorite.

I was looking at the NCAA football moneylines recently and saw a team listed at -2200. This means you have to bet $2,200 for the chance to win $100. Or you bet $22 to win $1. This particular team should win the game with no problem, but they’re playing on the road. I decided not to bet on them because they don’t have the home field advantage. If they were playing at home, I’d consider betting on them.

In the example above, the heavy favorite needs to win this game at least 22 out of 23 times to make the bet profitable. Is it likely that they win the game this often if it were played over and over? Yes, it is. But is this a guaranteed outcome? Of course not. In gambling, there are no sure outcomes.

NCAAF Closeup Running Play

While you can bet on any heavy favorite on the moneyline, I prefer to do it on home teams most of the time. I’ve seen too many road favorites have their worst games of the year and lose a game they should win.

On the other side of the moneyline, if you’d like to take a small risk on a long shot with a chance to win big, put a few dollars down on the heavy underdog on the moneyline. You won’t win often, but when you do, you’re going to enjoy a nice payday.

Look for underdogs that are listed at +1000 or higher and put a $10 bet down. +1000 means that if you risk $100, you win $1,000. If you bet $10 and your team wins, you get $100. The bigger the plus number, the more you can win.

Just remember when you’re betting the moneyline that you don’t get any points. The moneyline is only a bet on which team wins the game. If you make a spread bet on an underdog and they perform better than expected and still lose, you’re probably going to win the bet because you received points. But when you bet the underdog on the moneyline, it doesn’t matter if a 30-point underdog only loses by three, you still lose the bet.

Conclusion

You should always try to take time to handicap any game you want to bet on. This is the best way to find value and give yourself a chance to win in the long run. But you can use the three strategies listed on this page if you don’t have time to handicap games or don’t know how.

The first two strategies are going to win close to half the time, and the third strategy is going to win most of the time. But you’re still likely to lose a little more than you win the long run. If this is acceptable to you, and you just enjoy having a few bucks on the games you want to watch, that’s fine. But if you want a real chance to win in the long run, you need to learn how to handicap games the right way.

Baseball Betting Lines and Odds Explained

MLB Players Making a Play at Home With a Sportsbook Background

While football is currently one of the most ubiquitous American sports, baseball continues to be a huge part of American culture as well.

Despite football’s superior popularity, baseball has more of a historical significance to America. Baseball is thought to be a spin-off of English games like Rounders and Cricket and variations of those games, that were set to become baseball, were being played by the time of the American Revolution.

In 1845, the New York Knickerbocker Baseball Club was formed in New York City. Alexander Joy Cartwright, who worked as a bank clerk and volunteered as a firefighter, helped set up the basic rules that would eventually turn into the game of baseball that we know and love today.

Football on the other hand also originates from traditional British games like soccer and rugby, and like baseball, it has evolved into a different sport than its predecessors.

Football incorporated aspects distinctly separate from those found in soccer and rugby. Differences like blocking, down and distance rules, and line of scrimmage rules all served to separate football from its past and redefine it as an American sport.

Due to the differences in gameplay between football and baseball, much of their betting terminology is presented differently by both in-person and online sportsbooks.

Whether you are a seasoned football bettor looking to branch out, or a baseball fan who has never bet before but wants to spice up his relationship with the game, learning about baseball odds and lines is a necessity.

Moneylines

Before learning any other type of baseball bets, you should learn how moneyline wagering works.

Moneyline wagering is one of the simplest forms of baseball bets and also the most intuitive for any novice gambler to understand. The only barrier will likely be learning about odds and how the payouts can differ between favorites and underdogs.

The most basic part of a moneyline bet is predicting which team will win. Let’s say the Giants are playing the Dodgers in a classic California showdown. The two bitter rivals are facing off, and the Dodger’s ace, Kershaw, is taking the mound against the shimmying Johnny Cueto.

Kershaw’s a tremendous pitcher on a hall of fame track, while Cueto has struggled with injuries and effectiveness ever since signing his huge free-agent deal with the Giants.

You’re sure Kershaw will lead the Dodgers to victory— their hitting and fielding is superior to the Giants as well so it should be a cinch for them to take the Giants down. Placing a bet on the Dodgers to beat the Giants is an example of a moneyline bet.

Unfortunately, it’s not so simple. When you place a bet with a sportsbook, you have to factor in the odds they give you.

MLB Player Christian Yelich at Bat

The stake is the money you put down on the bet. So if you said, “5 bucks on the Dodgers.”, your stake would be $5. How much that bet will payout though, depends on the odds the sportsbook gives you, which is where it gets tricky.

Odds can be positive or negative. Negative odds indicate the favorite and positive odds indicate the underdog.

Bookmakers adjust baseball betting odds so they can make sure they profit off any bet and stay in business. Part of gambling is understanding that books are in it for the profit.

Here’s an example moneyline bet using moneyline, or American-style odds:

  • Dodgers (-150)
  • Giants (+130)

Here, the Dodgers are the heavy favorite while the Giants are the underdog.

So it’s great that you predicted the Dodgers to win. The sportsbook agrees with you though, which makes it harder for you to make money off of the bet, and here’s why.

The Dodgers line of -150 means that you’d have to bet $150 to win $100, while the Giants line of +130 means that you can bet $100 and win $130.

As you can see, there’s less reward to bet on the favorite than there is to bet on the underdog. The heavier the favorite is, the further away the sportsbook will move the odds from 100.

Many bettors prefer to bet on underdogs because you can get a bigger payout with a smaller stake. Learning about how payouts are affected by the sportsbook’s odds is the key to successful moneyline betting.

Run Lines

Run line wagering is baseball’s version of spread betting.

Spread betting is a popular form of football betting and gives you a number the team is expected to win by.

For example, a football game may have a spread of 6.5, where the New York Jets are the favorite and the Tennessee Titans are the underdog.

The Jets must win by at least 7 for a bet on them to payout. If they win by fewer than 7 points, or lose, then you lose the bet on them as well.

A bet on the Titans will payout if they win or if they lose by 7 points or fewer.

Run line betting in baseball is similar to betting on the spread in football. The difference though is that baseball is a much lower scoring game than football, so the numbers need to be adjusted accordingly.

Run line betting uses the same odds as moneyline betting. The key thing to know is run line betting will have one more number than moneyline betting: the run line.

Let’s use an example similar to the one above but with the run line included:

  • Dodgers (+160) -1.5
  • Giants (-140) +1.5

Everything is calculated the same in this bet as in a moneyline bet except now the favorite and underdog are reversed.

Now, you’d have to bet $140 on the Giants to take home $100 and $100 on the Dodgers to take home $160.

MLB Phillies Player

Additionally, you now have to consider the run line when you make this bet. The run line is the final number of the line and is set to 1.5.

With the run line included, the Dodgers now have to win by 2 runs for your bet on them to payout. The Giants can lose by 1 run or win for a bet on the Giants to payout.

Betting on the run line is a useful way to bet if your team is the favorite. If you hate the Giants with a passion but also don’t want to make an underdog bet, you can make a run line bet on the Dodgers instead that will pay out $160 for every $100.

You can also make bets like these if you’re confident the game will be a blowout. If you’re so sure that Kershaw is about to pitch a swell game, or that Cueto is going to get beat by the great Dodger’s offense, a run line bet is a great way to increase your payout when you bet on the Dodgers to win.

Don’t forget this caveat though. If you’re betting on a run line, the game must go the complete 9 innings (or 8.5 innings if the home team wins). If the game is postponed or called early due to rain, the bet will be refunded.

Listed Pitchers

The starting pitcher of the day is a huge factor in a baseball bet, so sportsbooks offer betting options in the event that a starting pitcher changes before game time.

  • You can make a bet on one team against another, regardless of the starting pitcher. Odds can be adjusted by the book if the starting pitcher changes before the game starts.
  • One specified pitcher. You can wager on one of the starting pitchers. If the pitcher you bet on doesn’t start that day, the bet is declared “no action” and refunded.
  • Both specified pitchers. Lastly, you can bet on both starting pitchers. If either of the pitchers fails to make the start, the bet is refunded.

Any starting pitching change before the game begins can result in the odds being adjusted for moneyline or run line bets.

One more caveat: once a pitcher throws 1 pitch, they’re declared the starting pitcher for the day.

One interesting wrinkle to consider with the rule just listed is the usage of the “opener”.

Openers Vs. Starting Pitchers

In 2018, the Rays began a mini-revolution in baseball pitching strategy when they started employing openers to start games.

An opener is a pitcher who will start the game, but only pitch 1 to 2 innings. The opener will then be replaced by the team’s conventional starting pitcher.

The Rays used this strategy to give less effective starting pitchers an advantage by requiring them to only pitch to the opposing team’s batting order twice. Research has shown that pitchers perform worse when facing batters the third time through the order.

An aspiring baseball bettor can take advantage of this strategy though. The sportsbook will register the opener as the starting pitcher since they threw the first pitch. The real starting pitcher in an opener-started game will be the second pitcher though.

You can place a bet while considering the second pitcher to be the true starter. Using this pitcher evaluation strategy is a great way to make a value bet in a game started by an opener.

Conclusion

Do you prefer moneyline bets or run line bets? Let us know in the comments.

Gambling on the Touchdown Side Bet When You Play Roulette in Las Vegas

Las Vegas Sign and Roulette Wheel

Over the last three decades, the variety of offerings found on Las Vegas casino floors has grown by leaps and bounds, and it’s all thanks to the rise of table game side bets.

Beginning in the 1990s, the casino game design industry started turning its collective eye toward a new way to spice up the table game pit—side bets. Rather than devising a completely new game, these designers realized that recreational gamblers would be more comfortable with optional wagers attached to games they already know and love.

Blackjack became the first proving ground for side bets, with clever additions like the Lucky Ladies, providing premium payouts on various 20 value hands, and Perfect Pairs, rewarding players for matching one or both of their hole cards with the dealer’s up card.

Table games which utilize cards seem to be the best avenue for side bet integration. But, over the years, roulette operators have dabbled with a few interesting twists on the classic wheel-spinning gamble.

This page is devoted to one of the more unique and entertaining wagers I’ve ever encountered, Touchdown Roulette.

Introduction to the Touchdown Roulette Side Bet

The first installation of the Touchdown Roulette side bet, which was produced by game design firm Interblock, took place in 2013 at the Borgata casino in Atlantic City.

At the time, Interblock’s director of sales Danny Ouellette issued a statement celebrating the company’s first successful placement of Touchdown Roulette

“The first installation of Touchdown Roulette at Borgata is an exciting one for us as this launches a great bonus feature that the customers as well as operators are sure to love.”

As for the higher-ups at the Borgata, Vice President of Slot Operations Tim Burke praised Interblock for developing an intriguing addition to roulette’s basic gameplay:

“We are thrilled to be the first property to add Touchdown Roulette to its gaming floor.

Borgata is consistently at the forefront of new and innovative initiatives and, through working alongside Interblock and the Division of Gaming Enforcement; we are pleased to offer our customers yet another new and creative gaming feature.”

As the side bet’s title suggests, Touchdown Roulette takes its theme from the gridiron of American football. I’ll explain the intricacies of Touchdown Roulette’s gameplay in the next section. But, as you probably suspect by now, the goal is to spin your “team” down the field to score a touchdown.

Using a state-of-the-art specialized display screen attached to a dealer-less electronic roulette table, Interblock designed Touchdown Roulette to be a full-fledged side game which supplements standard roulette spinning. Up above the wheel, you’ll see a virtual football game unfold on the large high-definition screen, with the red and black teams each trying to gain yards and go for the goal line based on a four-spin session.

How to Land a Winner on the Touchdown Roulette Side Bet

After sitting down at one of Interblock’s special automated double-zero wheel roulette machines, you’ll have the option to place an optional wager of between $1 and $5 on the Touchdown Roulette game.

From there, your hoping to see the silver ball bounce and tumble its way to one of the wheel’s green spaces (“0” and “00”). Any red or black number (1-36) that isn’t 0 or 00 will cause the Touchdown Roulette bet to be a loser, but hitting a green space activates the football-based side session.

Once the Touchdown Roulette game has been activated, you’ll be prompted to choose either the Red or Black team. When you’ve tagged your chosen team color, the rest of the game plays out onscreen during the course of the next four spins.

Touchdown Roulette Machines

With a pending Touchdown Roulette bet in play, you aren’t required to place base game wagers on these subsequent four spins, so you can sit back and focus on the football fun. Furthermore, whenever a player at the machine is engaged in a four-spin side game session, you’ll have to wait until it concludes before placing your own bet on Touchdown Roulette.

After you’ve decided to back the red or black team, the result of the next spin will cause one of the teams to move the ball forward on the digital football field. All games of Touchdown Roulette begin with the ball placed on the 50-yard line, so the objective is to gain as many yards of forward progress as you can within the span of four spins.

On the left-hand side of the field you’ll see a red football helmet symbolizing the red team’s end zone, while the black team’s end zone is to the right-hand side of the screen. Here’s how the yardage gaining system works when you play Touchdown Roulette…

Touchdown Roulette Yardage System:

Color/Number Combo Forward Yards Gained
Red 1 through 10 3 Yards Toward Red End Zone
Black 1 through 10 3 Yards Toward Black End Zone
Red 11 through 20 5 Yards Toward Red End Zone
Black 11 through 20 5 Yards Toward Black End Zone
Red 21 through 30 10 Yards Toward Red End Zone
Black 21 through 30 10 Yards Toward Black End Zone
Red 31 through 36 15 Yards Toward Red End Zone
Black 31 through 36 15 Yards Toward Black End Zone

As you can see, the wheel offers five chances (Red 1-3-5-7-9 and Black 2-4-6-8-10) for each team to move the ball three yards forward, five chances for each team to progress five yards up the field, and five more chances to gain 10 yards.

But when the ball finds one of five spaces (per color) numbered between 31 and 36, the associated team will gain a whopping 15 yards.

Obviously, you won’t be reaching the end zone after every four-spin football game, as most of the possible outcome combinations don’t add up to 50 yards. And because the ball moves in either direction based on the colors that show up, you’ll usually wind up in a back and forth battle for field position just like an actual football game.

Because scoring a touchdown by crossing the goal line is quite rare, Touchdown Roulette’s winning team is determined by where the ball winds up after four spins’ worth of movement.

When the ball is located closer to the red team’s end zone, red bettors will win a payout based on exactly how far they moved the ball forward. And when the ball ends up closer to the black team’s goal line, bettors who backed the black side score a payout.

Should the ball find its way back to the 50-yard line starting point after four spins, the game ends in a tie and both teams receive a payout.

As for those payouts’ value, check out the two primary pay tables below to see what Touchdown Roulette players have on the line.

Touchdown Roulette Pay Tables:

Yard Line Table #1 Table #2
Touchdown 500 to 1 1000 to 1
1 to 10 250 to 1 200 to 1
11 to 20 75 to 1 75 to 1
21 to 30 50 to 1 50 to 1
31 to 40 25 to 1 25 to 1
41 to 49 10 to 1 10 to 1
50 5 to 1 5 to 1
Lose the Football Game 1 to 1 1 to 1

Yep, you read those pay tables correctly! Touchdown Roulette offers “jackpot” payouts of 500 to 1 or 1,000 to 1 AND you can’t lose your bet once the football side game is triggered.

Even when you play your way to a loss on the field, you’ll still earn an even money payout of 1 to 1 on your money. Manage to stalemate with a 50-yard tie and the payout for both teams stands at 5 to 1. From there, the payouts escalate from 10 to 1 to 200 or 250 to 1, depending on the pay table, when you move the ball forward but fall short of a touchdown.

To visualize how this process would play out on the screen, let’s run through a quick example game of Touchdown Roulette.

After landing a green 0 or 00 space to trigger the football side game, you choose the red team and hope for the best. On the first spin of the four-spin session, with the football placed at the 50-yard line, the silver ball finds red 14 to give you a 10-yard forward play. The football now sits on the 40-yard line closest to your red end zone, so you’re in good shape.

The next spin, however, produces black 8 to give the other team a three-yard forward play. That means the football moves three yards closer to the black end zone, sliding “backward” from your perspective to the 43-yard line.

Touchdown Roulette Machines

On the third spin, you spike gin and hit a red 36 for a sweet 15-yard forward pickup. This play pushes the football from the 43-yard line to the 28-yard line closest to your red end zone. If the game were to end here, this football placement would result in a 50 to 1 payout (on either pay table).

For the fourth and final spin, however, the silver ball lands in black 2 to give the black team another three-yard gain. This pushes the football backward to the 31-yard line, so using the pay tables shown above, you just earned a 25 to 1 payout.

For bettors who opt for the minimum of $1 that equates to a $25 reward, while $5 maximum bettors collect $125 on the Touchdown Roulette gamble.

Probabilities and House Edge Rates for the Touchdown Roulette Side Bet

Speaking of gambling, you’re probably wondering how the probabilities behind Touchdown Roulette really shake out.

Well, as the table below makes clear, it all comes down to triggering the football side game by landing a 0 or 00 green space.

Touchdown Roulette Side Bet Probabilities, Expected Returns, and House Edge Rates:

Football Outcome Probability Expected Return
Touchdown 0.006 Percent 0.063381
1 Through 10 Yard Line 0.041 Percent 0.082241
11 Through 20 Yard Line 0.181 Percent 0.135622
21 Through 30 Yard Line 0.477 Percent 0.238650
31 Through 40 Yard Line 0.873 Percent 0.218217
41 Through 49 Yard Line 0.924 Percent 0.092416
50 Yard Line for Tie 0.258 Percent 0.012896
Lose the Football Game 2.502 Percent 0.025026
No 0 or 00 to Trigger Game 94.743 Percent -0.947368
Total 1.000 Percent -0.078919
House Edge 7.89 Percent

So, here’s why Touchdown Roulette presents players with a double-edged sword of sorts. After you place the side bet, you’ll see the silver ball land in a red or black space, causing you to lose the wager straight away on almost 95% of spins. That means you’ll only get to play the football side game roughly 1 in every 20 spins.

Obviously a 5% side game rate isn’t very attractive, so the designers of Touchdown Roulette ensured that players who finally get there are rewarded for their patience. The average win once you reach the football game comes to $16 for every $1 wagered, which is quite lucrative all things considered.

Traps to Watch out for When Playing the Touchdown Roulette Side Bet

When it’s all said and done, Touchdown Roulette offers players a house edge rate of 7.89%.

When compared to the 5.26% house edge found on standard double-zero roulette bets, playing Touchdown Roulette at all presents the most dangerous trap. That 7.89% house edge is exactly the same as you’d incur on a Triple Zero Roulette wheel, which should give you an idea of how unfavorable this side bet is for players.

On the other hand, you won’t have an opportunity to win premium payouts ranging from 50 to 1 all the way up to 1,000 to 1 unless you hit the field and give Touchdown Roulette a try.

Conclusion

As a football fan who loves to splash chips around and court Lady Luck while spinning the wheel, Touchdown Roulette was a sight for eyes the first time I saw the machine.

Sure, you’ll wind up losing the original wager more often than not, but if you’re a 0 and 00 bettor by nature, trying to tackle that juicy pay table on offer from Touchdown Roulette is far from a Hail Mary play.

You’ll definitely have fun once the football side game gets underway, so get out to the South Point, Bellagio, or MGM Grand in Las Vegas to give this creative side bet a shot.

Where Are the Best Blackjack Games in Reno?

Reno Sign and Blackjack Hands

Reno may not be the first place you think of when it comes to blackjack. Instead, you may envision yourself playing blackjack in posh Las Vegas or Atlantic City resorts.

If so, you’ll also be missing out on some of the best blackjack action known to man. Reno offers incredibly friendly rules at certain casinos that greatly reduce the house edge.

What are the casinos in question, though? You can find out by reading more on what makes for quality games and where to find the best Reno blackjack casinos.

What Makes For a Good Blackjack Game?

Your preference of blackjack games can vary based on what exactly you’re looking for. Here are key factors that you might consider:

  • Atmosphere
  • Rules
  • Stakes

Reno isn’t known for glitz and glamour. Therefore, you won’t get the Bellagio or Wynn feeling when you’re playing here.

However, the stakes and rules are what separate Reno blackjack from the pack. You’ll find a number of $5 and $10 tables throughout the city.

$10 blackjack is more common in Reno. However, it offers a larger percentage of $5 tables than you’ll see in Vegas or Atlantic City.

The rules are exceptional in the Biggest Little City in the World. Reno is one of the few places where you can still play single-deck games with 3:2 natural blackjack payouts.

Most gambling destinations either feature eight-deck games or single-deck tables with 6:5 blackjack payouts. The latter rule increases the house edge by 1.4% when compared to 3:2 payouts.

The Typical Reno Blackjack Game

As mentioned above, Reno offers some of the friendliest blackjack rules anywhere. Here are the common rules throughout the city:

  • One deck
  • 3:2 natural payouts
  • Dealer hits a soft 17
  • Only double on 10-11
  • No DAS
  • No re-splitting aces
  • No surrender

These rules lead to a 0.45% house edge in a standard, hand-shuffled game. Outside of Macau and a few Vegas casinos, you can’t do any better than this in land-based casinos.

Keep in mind that this is just the average game in Reno! A few casinos offer even better rules and lower house advantages.

Of course, you should never blindly assume that every Reno gambling venue has great games. Some casinos actually have much worse rules that are more on par with a Vegas Strip establishment.
Silver Legacy Resort and Casino in Reno

What Reno Blackjack Casinos Should You Choose?

With 20 casinos, the Reno-Sparks area is one of the biggest gambling destinations in the United States. Therefore, you can’t walk into just any casino and expect an easy chance to win.

You instead want to target the casinos with the best rules. Below, you’ll find the best Reno has to offer regarding blackjack rules at the time of this post (some casinos have different sets of rules):

Rules for Rail City

  • One deck
  • 3:2 natural payouts
  • Dealer hits a soft 17
  • Double down on any 2 cards
  • Double down after splitting (DAS) allowed
  • No re-splitting aces
  • No surrender
  • House edge = 0.19%

Rules for Alamo, Sands Regency, Western Village

  • One deck
  • 3:2 natural payouts
  • Dealer hits a soft 17
  • Double down on any 2 cards
  • No DAS
  • No re-splitting aces
  • Late surrender
  • House edge = 0.28%

Rules for Boomtown

  • One deck
  • 3:2 natural payouts
  • Dealer hits a soft 17
  • Double down on any 2 cards
  • No DAS
  • No re-splitting aces
  • No surrender
  • House edge = 0.32%

Rules for Atlantis, Bonanza, Cal-Neva, Circus Circus, Diamond’s, El Dorado, Grand Sierra, Harrah’s, Nugget, Peppermill, Sienna, Silver Legacy

  • One deck
  • 3:2 natural payouts
  • Dealer hits a soft 17
  • Only double on 10-11
  • No DAS
  • No re-splitting aces
  • No surrender
  • House edge = 0.45%

Rules for Cal-Neva, El Dorado, Grand Sierra, Nugget, Peppermill, Sienna, Silver Legacy

  • Two decks
  • 3:2 natural payouts
  • Dealer hits a soft 17
  • Double down on any 2 cards
  • No DAS
  • No re-splitting aces
  • No surrender
  • House edge = 0.55%

Several games on this list offer house advantages ranging from 0.19% to 0.32%. These options are about as good as it gets anywhere in the world.

Most Reno casinos feature a table with either a 0.45% or 0.55% house edge. These blackjack games are still better than over 95% of what else is out there.

You can’t go wrong at most of Reno casinos. But Rail City, Alamo, Boomtown, Sands Regency, and Western Village offer the best blackjack odds.

Can You Count Cards in Reno?

What if you could combine card counting with some of the top blackjack rules anywhere? You’d be in for quite a score!

But before you jump in the car and start heading to Reno, you should know a few things about the city’s blackjack scene.

This town presents somewhat of a dichotomy regarding card counting. The pit bosses are friendlier than what you’ll find in Vegas, but they also back you off faster.

A back-off either refers to when the pit boss restricts your betting limits or forces you to quit playing blackjack. Restricting your bets serves to prevent you from capitalizing on positive counts.

Reno already features the best blackjack rules across the board. They don’t want to also give you an opportunity to count cards on top of everything.

I’m not saying that you can’t make money when counting in Reno. Some casinos are relatively lax before they take action against suspected advantage players.

However, you won’t be able to spread your bets as large when counting in Reno. Assuming you normally spread from the table minimum to 10x this amount (i.e. 1-10 spread) in Vegas, you’ll need to consider a 1-6 or even 1-4 spread here.

Pit bosses are much more concerned when they see you spreading at 1-8 or anything higher. If you’re going to count here, then you definitely want to be more conservative.

Is Reno Ultimately Worth Visiting for the Blackjack Experience?

Reno is definitely a nice place to visit as a serious blackjack player. It offers plenty of tables and excellent rules.

You’ll benefit heavily from the latter if you’re a serious amateur player. Most of the time, you’ll only face around a 0.5% house edge or lower.

You’re practically flipping a coin with the casino house edge at this point. Compare this situation to the average casino elsewhere.

Many casinos either feature eight decks or only pay 6:5 on natural blackjacks. They also include other unfavorable rules that push their advantage up over 1.5%.

A 1.5% house advantage isn’t terrible when compared to other casino games. However, it’s not quite on par with Reno blackjack tables.

The other side of the situation is the resort aspect. While this city has some quality resorts, it doesn’t have the same glamorous casino-hotels available on the Vegas Strip.

If you’re more concerned about the surrounding atmosphere than beating the game, then Reno isn’t for you. It’s a laidback spot that focuses on comps and favorable casino odds above all.

Tips for Improving Your Blackjack Winnings in Reno

You’ve seen that Reno has incredible blackjack games. Of course, you also need the skills to achieve the lowest-possible house advantage. Here are some tips to help you pull this off.

Study a Strategy Chart

Without proper strategy knowledge, you don’t have a shot in the dark of enjoying a 0.45% house edge or anything remotely similar. Luckily, blackjack strategy isn’t that difficult to master.

You can quickly start on this matter by getting a blackjack strategy chart. A simple Google (Images) search will result in many options.

These charts show what decisions you should make based on your score and the dealer’s upcard. I recommend memorizing as much as you can before playing.

After all, dealers and players don’t like you slowing down the action to review your chart every five seconds.

Exterior of El Dorado Casino in Reno

Make Sure You’re Properly Bankrolled

Blackjack has low volatility compared to slot machines and a few other games. You win approximately 42% of your hands, plus extra for natural payouts and successfully doubling down.

Nevertheless, you can go on some cold streaks and quickly burn through your bankroll. You want to be properly bankrolled to ensure that you can survive these rough patches.

I suggest having at least 20 units for the average stakes you play. Assuming you bet $10 per hand, then you’ll want $200 or more per outing.

Look for the Best Rules

You can refer to the advice covered here on which casinos have the best rules. Again, these rules are accurate at the time of this writing.

You may ultimately decide that you don’t like one or more of the casinos with the friendliest rules. But with several options to choose from, you should eventually find something good.

Conclusion

Reno will never win the title for being the glitziest gambling hotspot. However, it does deserve recognition for being one of the best places to play blackjack for real money.

The Biggest Little City is a throwback to the days when many casinos offered great rules. Now, most gambling establishments feature poor blackjack odds.

You don’t have to settle for such casinos when you’re in Reno, though. Instead, you can look forward to a wide selection of games with house edges ranging from 0.19% to 0.55%.

Will Billy Walters Bet on Sports Now That He’s out of Prison?

Image of Gambler Billy Walters  and a Sportsbook

Billy Walters is the most-successful sports bettor of all time. He’s won bets as large as $3.5 million and experienced a 30-year winning streak.

However, Walters committed insider trading and went to prison for a few years. But he’s now in home confinement and eligible to wager on sports.

Will Walters resume his legendary betting career now that he’s back at home? I’ll discuss more on this gambling icon along with if he’ll continue dominating sportsbooks.

Who Is Billy Walters?

Billy Walters made his name in the gambling world by crushing Las Vegas. However, the grew up far from the bright lights of Sin City.

Walters was born in the small town of Munfordville, Kentucky. His father, an auto mechanic, died when he was just 18 months old.

Walters’ mother was an alcoholic who left the family shortly after the death of her husband. Billy and his two sisters were raised by their grandmother.

His grandma couldn’t provide indoor plumbing or running water. However, she did show Billy how to work hard through her multiple cleaning jobs.

Walters began hustling like his grandma at age seven. He received a $40 bank loan (via his grandmother) and began mowing people’s lawns for money.

By age nine, he was working a paper route. At 13, he held a morning job at a bakery and an evening gig at a gas station.

Profile Picture of Gambler Billy Walters

Walters began selling cars in Louisville in his early adult years. He worked harder than any local salesman, sending out mailers and cold calling customers.

This hard work paid off as Walters sold over 30 cars per month and made more $50,000 each year (approx. $400,000 today).

By 1967, Billy became the sales manager of a dealership. He used this experience to launch his own dealership in 1972.

Around the same time, he also became enamored with sports betting. Walters gambled with local Kentuckians and even ran his own bookmaking service.

The latter business earned him a misdemeanor charge, which was later expunged. However, the arrest convinced Walters that he needed to move to Las Vegas and in 1981 and take up sports gambling full time.

Why Is Billy Walters Such a Big Deal in Sports Betting?

Walters wasted little time becoming a success in the gambling world. Shortly after moving to Vegas, he joined the “Computer Group.”

The Computer Group was the first betting syndicate to rely on computer analysis to beat the bookies. They compiled numerous statistics and crunched data using the latest PCs.

With the help of his colleagues, Walters went on to win betting profits in 38 out of 39 years. He booked a profit for 30 straight years before the insider-trader conviction.

This feat is quite impressive when considering that Billy was once a terrible sports gambler. He lost over $50,000 wagering on sports by the time he was 22 years old.

Besides his consistency, Walters has collected some of the biggest wins in sports betting history. Here are some of his most-notable feats:

  • Won $3.5 million betting on Super Bowl XLIV (picked the underdog New Orleans Saints)
  • Won $2.2 million wagering on the USC football team beating the University of Michigan (Jan. 2007).
  • Earned as much as $60 million in a single year of betting.

Walters’ gambling acumen goes beyond just sports. He and the Computer Team also hit Atlantic City for nearly $4 million while playing roulette.

The group observed and recorded roulette spins at the Atlantic Club casino. They discovered that one of the wheels was biased and favored certain pockets.

Walters and his teammates proceeded to win over $3.8 million from the Atlantic Club. This mark beat Richard Jarecki’s $1.28 million win at Italy’s Remo Casino for the biggest roulette win ever.

Billy is also an astute poker player. He won the 1986 Super Bowl of Poker (Lake Tahoe) and a $175,000 prize.

Insider Trading Conviction & Prison Time

Billy Walters has not only experienced lots of success with gambling but also through business as well. Sports Illustrated estimates that he has somewhere in the neighborhood of a $500 million net worth.

Unfortunately, Walters got a little too greedy. He engaged in insider trading by getting exclusive information from Dean Foods Chairman Thomas C. Davis.

Walters relied on a prepaid cell phone for conversations with Davis and used the code words “Dallas Cowboys” to discuss Dean Foods shares.

Thanks to Davis’ advice, he made $32 million in profits from 2008 to 2014. Billy also avoided an $11 million loss at one point when Dean Foods stock took a nosedive.

Famed golfer Phil Mickelson also became part of the case. Mickelson “traded in Dean Foods shares and once owed $2 million in gambling debts [to Walters].”

He made around $1 million in profits through Dean Foods trades. Mickelson later forfeited these profits through a civil suit and avoided jail time.

Walters, however, wasn’t so lucky after fighting insider-trading charges and losing his case. In April 2017, he received a five-year prison sentence and a $10 million fine.

Billy served three out of the five years at Federal Prison Camp in Pensacola, Florida. His legal team tried to appeal the charges and lost the appeal in December 2018.

Billy Walters Is Now Serving a Home Confinement Sentence

Walters was scheduled to serve his entire five-year sentence in Pensacola. In April 2020, a judge agreed and allowed Billy to serve the remainder of his sentence at his home in Carlsbad, California.

Walters is still technically in incarceration until January 10, 2022. However, he now enjoys more freedoms from home, including the ability to gamble on sports and engage in other business activities.

Will Walters Resume Betting on Sports?

As covered before, Billy Walters is the most-successful sports bettor ever. He’s won millions of dollars by wagering on everything from the NFL to NBA.

He didn’t have an opportunity to gamble on sports while in Federal Prison Camp. However, Walters now has more luxuries in home confinement.

Billy has the option to continue building his legacy in sports gambling. The only question is if he sees any need to continue placing sports bets.

Walters built his initial fortune by wagering on sports. He claims to have won as much as $60 million in a “good year.”

Image of a Busy Sportsbook

Of course, he’s also one of the most-infamous bettors in Vegas history. Walters had to use “runners” to place his bets because sportsbooks wouldn’t take his action.

He also had trouble placing online wagers as well. Online sportsbooks grew wise to Billy’s accounts and also refused to accept his bets.

Therefore, Walters would need to continue resorting to incredible lengths when placing the six- and seven-figure wagers that he’s accustomed too.

The other thing worth nothing here is that he doesn’t exactly need the money either. Walters owns several car dealerships, a golf course on the Vegas Strip, and various real-estate holdings.

He could never place another sports bet and be just fine. Furthermore, he’s 73 years old and may no longer have the passion for gambling on sports.

As time goes by, more legendary stories involving Walters’ betting heroics may come out. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s ultimately done with sports wagering—at least the big bets anyways.

Conclusion

Billy Walters is already etched in history as the best sports bettor ever. Although no exact information exists, he’s likely won over nine figures through gambling.

Walters had to stop betting, though, when he went to prison in April 2017. He’s in home confinement now and has the opportunity to bet again if he so chooses.

Billy may not be in any rush to bet back to gambling, though. He’s already a highly successful businessman thanks to his car dealerships and real estate. Therefore, he may just retire from sports betting and focus on his business endeavors.

The World’s 7 Biggest Casinos

Image of Earth With Casino Interiors Background

When heading to a casino, it’s fair to assume the people who laid out the floor plan want you to get lost and lose track of time. In short, they want you in there for as long as humanly possible to make sure they get every dime they can out of you.

Being over half a million square feet, the biggest casino doesn’t really need to set us in mazes like the smaller guys do. It’s easy to get lost in a place like that even if it’s completely empty. That being said, there’s something grand about the whole experience. These casinos are big, and the biggest casinos in the world are positively mind-boggling.

You can spend some dough, get a drink, eat a meal, rent a room, charge your phone, and of course, easily find an ATM. That, my friends, will not be difficult.

Keep reading below to find out more about seven of the world’s biggest casinos.

1 – WinStar World Casino

At the top of the list we have WinStar World Casino in Oklahoma. This enormous casino tops the charts with about 600,000 square feet of gaming space. I can tell you from experience, it’s quite a workout to see merely 10% of this place.

In addition to 7,000+ gaming machines, this giant building features around 100 table games, a non-smoking poker room, and a bingo hall that can accommodate 800 players.

As you explore the different areas of this King of Casinos, you’ll notice that it’s appropriately called the “world” casino due to the fact that the nine gaming plazas are themed in the style of famous cities, including Paris, Vienna, London, New York, and Rome, to name a few.

They proudly advertise to their guests the ability to go around the world in nine plazas.

When you go throughout the expansive property, you’re certain to get hungry. When your appetite is calling louder than the one-armed bandit, it won’t be difficult to satisfy almost any craving you’re having. From fine dining at Kirby’s Prime Steakhouse to casual fare at Toby Keith’s, you can also find an IHOP and Panda Express in between your gaming sessions.

Although they don’t serve free alcohol, there are plenty of bars and lounges for you to stop and grab your favorite cocktail. Though some people are displeased about this, I can tell you it’s a nice change of pace for me. Free drinks increase the likelihood of breaking my budget and hitting the ATM multiple times.

2 – Venetian Macau

Just a tad smaller at 546,000 square feet is the Venetian Macau in Macau, a region in the south of China. The hotel and casino boasts 39 stories. With 10.5 million square feet of overall space, it’s reportedly the 7th largest building in the world by floor area.

It has four themed gambling areas, 6,000+ slots, and 800 gaming tables. The resort is styled after Venice’s winding canals and replica landmarks to give a unique experience to patrons as they will surely be overwhelmed by retail, dining, and convention spaces. Its events area can host up to 15,000 guests.

Exterior of the Venetian Macau Resort and Casino

If you happen to visit the Venetian, check out the electronic table games that are the same as what you’ll see at the normal table games. The only difference is that the dealer doesn’t have to be concerned with taking your bets. Each table still has a dealer, but all they’re responsible for is ensuring that the games are run according to protocol. If you read the post about notorious cheaters, this has to be a relief for a dealer who fears the method of past posting invented by Mumbles in the early 1950s.

The resort features luxury suites, cuisine from across the globe, and more than a whopping 325 retail stores at Shoppes at Venetian. If that doesn’t strike your fancy, there are also mini-golf courses and gondola rides.

The property’s guest rooms were recently renovated in 2017, and all rooms now offer flat-screen TVs, a wardrobe, a seating area with a sofa, and a private bathroom with bathtub. Amenities include slippers, hairdryer, bathrobe, and a mini bar.

3 – City of Dreams Casino

Located directly opposite the Venetian is the City of Dreams Casino and Resort, also in Macau. This slightly smaller giant has 420,000 square feet of gaming space. The layout is like a sci-fi-inspired habitat from the future, providing illuminated, bold, and modern landscapes to create an adults’ playground with VIP lounges and experiences, as well as themed gaming areas.

There are 450 gaming tables and over 1,500 machines, but that doesn’t have to be your only focus. If you want to get guaranteed bang for your buck, there are four hotels, four spas, 175,000 square feet of retail space, and tons of boutique shopping.

All of that exploring is sure to get your hunger started. There are over 30 restaurants and bars, but that’s just the beginning of the allure of this area.

You won’t have time for boredom with an aquarium, bubble fountain, dancing water theater, art exhibits, and a nightclub. And of course, the second biggest casino in the world isn’t very far from this third-biggest casino in the world.

4 – Foxwoods Casino

Now, we’re back in the United States at the Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Ledyard, CT. This bad boy has 340,000 square feet of gaming space available. This casino is owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and actually contains 6 different casinos.

It has over 250 tables as well as more than 3,400 slot machines, so it won’t be difficult to lose yourself in the bright lights and big wins. Of course, there’s a resort hotel, tons of dining to choose from, and plenty of shopping to keep you occupied.

Exterior of Foxwood Resort and Casino

In addition to the usual fare, check out the plethora of activities available to choose from. There’s a spa, golf packages, an arcade, bowling lanes, high flyer ziplines, hologate virtual reality, monza world class karting, Pequot Museum, Pequot Trails, ready glaze fire, spellbound escape rooms, XD Dark Rides, and something that really caught my eye—they offer a topgolf swing suite, which is a golf simulator bay equipped with booth seating, HDTVs, slot machines, and food and beverages.

It features 80 golf courses from all over the world as well as additional games, including Topgolf Signature Golf Games, baseball, Zombie Dodgeball, hockey, football, classic carnival games, and soccer for all skill levels.

5 – Wynn Macau Casino

Let’s head back to Macau, China for #5, the Wynn Macau Casino. At 273,000 square feet, this monster also has an art gallery, pool, spa, 4 fine dining restaurants, and around 29 designer shops.

In addition to the typical scenery you’d see at a big gaming center, what really makes this place stand out are the visual art shows and mesmerizing installations, including color-changing “Tree of Prosperity,” a rotating “Dragon of Fortune,” a “Performance Lake” with a light, music, and fire show, and a fluorescent “Moon Jelly Aquarium.”

It opened to the public in 2006 and completed an expansion in December 2007. In 2009, Wynn Macau became one of only five hotels in Asia to receive the Forbes Five Star Award. Its second tower, appropriately named Encore, opened on April 21, 2010.

6 – Ponte 16 Casino

Staying in Macau, seems to be a theme here, and the sixth on our list is no exception. Existing in Macau’s inner harbor area, the Ponte 16 Casino and Resort has 270,000 square feet of gaming space.

Exterior of Ponte 16 Resort and Casino

This luxurious property is Macau’s only French-style five-star hotel. It features two VIP halls, 307 slot machines, and 109 gaming tables. The available games include mini baccarat, American Roulette, sic bo, Face Down Mid Baccarat, Face Up Blackjack, Three-Card Baccarat, Fan Tan, and pai gow.

In addition to an assortment of dining options, it offers an Angry Birds Play Center, Gift Gallery, the 16 Foot Massage, and the opportunity for anyone to show off their talents in the Outdoor Venue with street performance.

7 – Rio Casino Resort

If you guessed the seventh and last casino we’ve been brought to here is in China, you’d be wrong. The Rio Casino Resort is located in Klerksdorp, South Africa, and measures in at 266,330 square feet. The inspiration for this property is of course the carnival atmosphere of the Brazilian city which its name bears.

There are 24-hour slots to enjoy, with 247 machines, and 12 overall table games, as well as regular poker tournaments. It was opened in May 2002 as the Tusk Rio Casino Resort, before changing owners in August 2006, at which point it adopted its current name.

It offers a Salon Prive for high rollers, a hotel, a kids’ arcade gaming center, a creche, two restaurants, and a bar to make this resort well-rounded, having something for everyone in the family.

Conclusion

It’s a little surprising that no Vegas properties are on this list, but keep in mind the real estate on the Strip doesn’t really allow for such monstrosities.

Though it’s great to have the option to go to a massive casino, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. Have you visited one or more of these casinos listed? Let me know in the comments!

You Too Can Design a Poker Bot and Get Banned From Poker Sites

Poker Chips and a Circular AI Image

To become a great online poker player, you must dedicate countless hours towards studying strategy and fixing leaks… Or you can design a poker bot.

Bots have become an increasingly common part of the online poker landscape. They’ve actually had some success in recent years, too.

In 2015, a bot ring won over $1.5 million on $0.50/$1 and $1/$2 PLO cash tables. The accounts associated with the ring were eventually banned, but they showed exactly what one could do with AI.

With that said, you may be interested in what a bot can do for you. The good news is that you can build your own poker bot without a computer programming degree.

But you also have to account for the chance that you’ll be banned and have your funds confiscated. Provided you’re okay with this, you can find out more on designing and employing a bot below.

How to Create a Poker Bot

Programming seems like a foreign language when you first begin looking it over. However, you can eventually learn more on programming through articles and YouTube.

You can also find niche resources that explain the basics of creating a bot. This post, for example, discusses how to develop a bot using Python.

This process begins with laying the foundation for the environment (poker table) that the AI will operate in. You also need to enter commands that serve as the “players” participating in the game.

The linked post above uses the following commands to determine players:

  • import pypokerengine
  • from consoleplayer import ConsolePlayer
  • from fishplayer import FishPlayer
  • from randomplayer import RandomPlayer

The next step is to enter code that creates a poker cash game or tournament. You then let the game play out and judge the success of your bot.

Of course, your AI won’t perform very well if it doesn’t feature any advanced programming. You need to add code that allows for evaluating hand strength and bet sizing.

Once you input this code, your bot should perform better than when it can’t evaluate hands and makes random decisions as a result.

Odds are, you won’t develop stellar poker AI without experience, practice, and lots of learning. But you can create a basic bot fairly quickly and eventually work towards a smarter program later on.

Buy an Existing Bot If You Don’t Want to Build One

The thought of learning programming and working your way up to a winning poker bot may not sound appealing. Luckily, you don’t have to go this route if you don’t feel like it.

You also have the option of purchasing a complete bot. Several websites specialize in developing AI that competes in ring games and tournaments. You can even find bots that are developed specifically for certain forms of poker. 6-max, multi-table tournament, and PLO cash are a few examples of these niches.

Poker Hand and Chips

The only catch is that you’ll need to pay plenty of money for these programs. For example, you might spend $300 to obtain a 6-max cash bot.

Some companies only give you a one-year license on their AI. Therefore, you must pay several hundred dollars to license a bot each year.

The upside, though, is that more expensive AI performs better than free poker bots. Expensive programs are likely to be better than any AI you design as well, at least in the beginning anyway.

Advantages to Using Poker Bots

You may be apprehensive about putting the time or money into a poker bot. However, you might be more interested in the matter after reading the following advantages.

Win Long-Term Profits

A well-programmed bot can generate lots of cash. You may earn six or even seven figures by employing a series of successful AI programs.

Again, the bot ring that was busted on PokerStars earned $1.5 million. Incredibly, these profits all came in low-stakes cash games.

You may not ultimately get rich with these programs. However, you can at least earn steady profits under the right circumstances.

You Don’t Even Need to Be Good to Win at Poker

The average online poker player gets to where they are by dedicating lots of time towards learning strategy and post-session analysis.

Assuming you have no interest in pouring serious effort into poker, you can still win with bots. You just need to be good at programming and understanding what commands will help your AI succeed.

Of course, this process is easier said than done. However, bots give you another path towards beating the game.

Play 24/7

Real money online poker might be a relaxing and entertaining experience for the average recreational player. However, it involves intense concentration and discipline if you expect to win.

Putting this much thought into poker will leave you drained mentally and physically. You may only be able to last three to five hours at this pace.

AIs don’t have to worry about the same problem. It can play exactly how it’s programmed to without breaks or sleep.

Haul in Loyalty Rewards

The obvious advantage to a winning poker bot playing 24/7 is that it can generate more profits. A secondary benefit is that it will accumulate more rewards.

A poker bot that’s on the tables for hours every day is bound to generate lots of VIP perks, regardless of the limits. It will only earn more loyalty benefits for you as it moves up the VIP ladder.

Never Tilt

Tilt is one of the toughest parts about being a human poker player. It refers to a highly emotional state where you’re more likely to make bad decisions.

Tilt can arise from a bad beat or just a prolonged losing session. While experiencing tilt, you may impulsively call and raise in situations where you know doing so is a bad idea.

Herein lies another problem that bots don’t deal with. They’re emotionless computer programs that don’t worry about previous plays and what’s currently going on in their lives.

One Major Downside to Poker Bots: They’re Banned!

You can see that poker bots offer plenty of advantages over relying on your own skills. The problem, though, is that they’re against the terms and conditions of every online poker room.

Poker sites don’t allow bots for obvious reasons. They don’t want to subject their customers to emotionless AI that’s capable of winning money.

Online Poker Screenshot

The issue for internet poker rooms, though, is that they have difficulties catching AI. They especially struggle to spot these programs if they don’t have a properly trained security team.

Nevertheless, poker sites are on the lookout for bots. They’ll ban associated accounts that are suspected of using these programs.

Poker rooms look for multiple signs when rooting out AI:

  • Same decisions in certain spots
  • Same bet sizes in specific situations
  • Playing 24/7
  • Doesn’t respond to chat
  • Enters games with a specific number of players
  • Sits out of the same games immediately when a certain number of people aren’t playing

Catching AI isn’t an exact science. However, poker operators are getting better at spotting the signs and acting accordingly.

Conclusion

Developing a poker bot isn’t an insurmountable task. You can create one with nothing more than basic programming knowledge.

Again, you’ll find plenty of articles and YouTube tutorials that explain programming. Specific resources are even dedicated entirely towards creating bots.

Nevertheless, programming poker AI takes time, especially winning programs. You may just decide to purchase a program.

You’ll need to shell out hundreds of dollars for quality AI. You’re also taking a chance that the bot isn’t even good enough to beat the game.

This brings me to one final point in that not every poker bot is a winner. You can dedicate time and money towards these programs and still lose.

Compounding the problem is that you’ll be banned from poker sites if you’re caught. Imagine developing or buying losing AI that also gets you kicked off a site!

That said, using poker bots isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme. Some people profit greatly off these programs, But the majority lose money and even have their accounts banned.

What Everyone Should Know About the History of Las Vegas

Book With Las Vegas on the Cover With City Background

Although we think of Las Vegas as a desert city, its name reveals something interesting about its history. Spanish for “the fertile plains,” Las Vegas received its modern name from a Spanish explorer merchant named Antonio Armijo in 1829.

The area was claimed by Spain, then Mexico, but it had been part of the Paiute homeland for over a thousand years.

The Early Years of US History in Las Vegas

American soldier and explorer John Charles Frémont led an expedition for President John Tyler to Las Vegas in 1844 to help prepare for the impending war with Mexico. The Nevada area was ceded to the United States in the aftermath of the war.

Frémont’s clandestine pre-war fort at Las Vegas Springs became a small but important trading post after the US Army abandoned the fort. Even after an attempt to establish a community in the valley in 1855 by a group of Mormon settlers, the area remained without permanent white settlers until 1865.

Octavius Gass reoccupied the fort and negotiated a peaceful transfer of ownership of the land from the Paiutes. The population had been declining and the region became less habitable over the years. The Paiutes left the area to be resettled elsewhere by the United States government.

Gass reclaimed the old Mormon fields, where a functional irrigation system made it possible to grow crops. He renamed the area “Las Vegas Rancho” and grew wine grapes. Gass’ ranch flourished and increased in size, but he eventually took a loan against the property from Archibald Stewart.

Stewart’s wife Helen became the first Las Vegas postmaster. Stewart himself took ownership of the land after Gass defaulted, allegedly with help from a Mormon syndicate. The Stewart family retained ownership until they sold the land to the San Pedro, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake Railroad in 1902.

Large-Scale Settlement and the Early 20th Century

Thanks to the completion of the railroad, line settlers were able to move to the Las Vegas valley starting in the late 1800s. Mormons returned to the area and established many farms. They used wells and irrigation systems to supply water to their crops.

With help from Utah Senator Thomas Kearns, Montana Senator William Andrews Clark had championed the legislation that ensured the rail line was built from Utah to Nevada, eventually providing Mormon settlers with easy access to the area. They named the region Clark County in honor of the Montana senator.

The Mormons’ wells allowed the community to grow, and Las Vegas became an important stop for settlers on the way to California. Early settlers arrived by wagon, but the railroad was finished in 1905.

Early 1900s Las Vegas

Clark also built a railroad from Las Vegas to Bullfrog, thus, making Las Vegas an important regional hub. The city was established in 1905 with the auction of 110 acres of land to new settlers. Clark County was established in 1909 and the city was incorporated in 1911.

Through all these years, Nevada and Las Vegas had allowed gambling. Although it wasn’t a major part of the area’s agricultural economy, gambling made Nevada distinguishable when it became the last state to make gambling illegal in 1910.

Nevada’s anti-gambling law was so strict it even forbade flipping a coin for a cheap wager.

Things turned bad for Las Vegas starting in 1917, when the US entered the First World War. The government diverted resources away from Nevada, and both the city and Clark’s railroad company declared bankruptcy. Clark sold his company to the Union Pacific Railroad.

Las Vegas Turns Around in the 1930s

The roaring ‘20s passed by and Las Vegas struggled to survive. By the time it was the Great Depression in 1929, there wasn’t much of an economy left in the region to even collapse with the rest of the country.

President Herbert Hoover signed the appropriation bill for what would become Boulder Dam in July 1930, ensuring new economic activity would flow into the region despite the country’s impoverished state. After work began on the dam in 1931, Las Vegas experienced a population boom, growing 500% almost immediately.

Because most of the residents were men, East Coast Mafia members were drawn to the city by local business owners. They brought in showgirls and built the first casinos in the city.

The mob influence convinced the federal government to establish Boulder City for dam workers.

Seeing the appeal of gambling and its potential for generating new tax revenues, the state of Nevada legalized local gambling again in 1931. Clark County licensed the Northern Club casino in 1931 and other casinos followed very quickly. Fremont Street became the heart of Las Vegas’ nascent gambling economy.

But the federal government forbade its employees from gambling. By 1934, city leaders—who were desperate for the money the workers in Boulder City could spend in Las Vegas—tried to shut down the casinos. Things improved when the dam was completed in 1935 and Las Vegas became the first customer for all the fresh water and electricity that the dam produced.

It was at this time that Fremont Street began to light up with electronic signs. At the same time as the construction crews began leaving the area, Lake Mead—the reservoir created by the dam—became an instant tourist attraction, breathing new life into the local economy.

By 1940, two major highways had been built all the way into Las Vegas, and the city’s first licensed radio station (KENO) began operation.

World War II and the Post-War Boom Years

While the United States was still officially neutral in 1941, the U.S. Army established a gunnery school in Las Vegas that eventually became Nellis Air Force Base. After the US, entered the war, the Army forced Las Vegas to make prostitution illegal.

The first modern casino, El Rancho Vegas, opened on the stretch of road that would eventually become known as the Las Vegas Strip in 1941. Hotel Last Frontier followed in 1942. More casinos were built along Fremont Street during the war.

Bugsy Siegel arrived in Las Vegas in 1946. He and Meyer Lansky began channeling money through Mormon banks to finance the construction of the Flamingo that year.

Despite the Flamingo’s lack of success and the murder of Bugsy Siegel, mob money flowed into Las Vegas throughout the late 1940s and 1950s. The Bank of Las Vegas became involved in their finance schemes and helped to build historic casinos like Binions Horseshoe, the Fremont, the Riviera, the Sahara, the Sands, and the Tropicana among others.

Las Vegas Flamingo in the 1950s

The casinos offered gourmet buffet food as well as gambling, and they began hiring major entertainers from Hollywood to come in and do shows. Despite attempts to end Nevada’s legal gambling by the federal government, the city’s casinos and tourism drew gamblers away from illegal gambling in Galveston, TX, and Hot Springs, AK, as well as other illegal gambling venues across the country.

Nuclear testing began in Nevada in 1951. Throughout the 1950s, the city capitalized on public interest in the Atomic Age. As more government employees moved into the area, the city continued to expand, opening a university, a public auditorium, and other facilities as well as McCarran Field.

Desegregation began in the local casinos because the Mafia saw opportunity in serving the gambling interests of both black and white Americans. Their first attempt, the Moulin Rouge, failed. But eventually, Frank Sinatra and his fellow Rat Packers pressured local hotels into allowing Sammy Davis Jr. to stay in their rooms.

The 1960s and the Decline of Mob Influence

Howard Hughes moved to Las Vegas in 1966, and he began buying local hotels and other properties. As ownership of various businesses transferred to his legitimate hands, the mob became less influential in local politics.

Local newspaper editor Hank Greenspun began exposing corrupt politicians’ connections to the crime world, ending various powerful men’s careers and helping to clean up the city.

In one last desperate move, mobsters prevented Las Vegas from annexing the Strip by forming an unincorporated town they called Paradise. Under Nevada law, an incorporated city could not annex an unincorporated city.

As the ‘60s roared on and the Civil Rights movement swept across the nation, the NAACP persuaded Las Vegas to end segregation in the casinos.

By the 1980s, the city was fully desegregated and the mafia had been gradually reduced to a minority interest in the city’s economy. Major corporations bought the casinos and other previously mob-dominated businesses, easing them out of the picture.

Modern Casino Resorts Change Las Vegas Forever

Steve Wynn turned the casino world upside down by building The Mirage in 1989. This was the first mega-resort and it proved that gambling could be integrated into a family-friendly vacation experience. Wynn popularized trips to Las Vegas by giving away free room nights.

The Mirage was financed by junk bonds (cheap, high interest-bearing bonds) from Wall Street, thus, ushering in another era of risky financial investments.

The Mirage Las Vegas

Starting in the 1990s, other mega-resorts were built in Las Vegas, gradually replacing many of the older casinos. The influx of family-friendly gambling resorts helped boost the city’s economy and grow its population. Things slowed down with the Great Recession of 2008, and significant environmental damage had been identified in the area. Too many people were taking up too much water from Lake Mead.

Las Vegas’ growth was fueled by easy access over roads, rail, and air transport, and what seemed like unlimited quantities of water. But as global temperatures continue to rise, Nevada’s deserts are becoming drier and drier. And it probably doesn’t help that the megaresorts favor water-demanding palm trees over local trees that are more drought-resistant.

Conclusion

In a little over 100 years, Las Vegas has grown from a small farming community to a major city in the United States. And today, it’s one of the most famous cities in the world. It has been featured in numerous movies and television shows and is a firmly established icon in pop culture.

Ironically, the city owes about as much gratitude to the mob for its explosive growth as it does to the US government. Las Vegas would not be the city is today if the government and the mafia decided not to make huge investments in the region’s resources and economy.

9 Reasons Why You Bust Your Gambling Bankroll in 1 Hour

Roll of Money and Casino Chips on Fire

Do you ever feel like casinos are ripping you off? And sometimes, this feeling is especially prevalent when you lose $200, or so, within less than an hour.

Casinos are only supposed to carry between a 1% and 5% house edge with most games. But you definitely feel like their edge is 50% when your money vanishes so quickly.

I can say with complete confidence that you’re not losing due to crooked casinos. Instead, you’re making one or more big mistakes that cause you to quickly bust out.

That said, you can read about the following nine reasons why your bankroll is disappearing insanely fast in the casino.

1 – You Don’t Account for Volatility

Assuming you consider return to player (RTP) before playing casino games, then you’re already ahead of many gamblers.

RTP is a great factor to focus on, because it relates directly to your long-term chances of winning. The key word here, though, is “long term.”

Assuming that you lose your bankroll too quickly, then you might need to consider the short term. Volatility is a good measure of whether you can win now rather than later.

This term refers to how likely your short-term results are to match the RTP. If there’s not much variation, like with blackjack, then you have a stronger chance of achieving the RTP of your chosen game.

High volatility, on the other hand, suggests that your results could be all over the board. You may win big during one session, then lose all your money within 10 minutes the next time out.

2 – You Play Slot Machines

Slot machines are definitely the most volatile games in the casino. Volatile slots don’t pay very frequently due to their large prizes.

Assuming these games delivered frequent payouts, then casinos and developers would lose serious money whenever a player hit the jackpot.

A Row of Reeled Slot Machines

A slot machine with 97% RTP looks excellent on the surface. But if it has a huge jackpot and high volatility, then it could quickly take your money.

You can still find certain slot machines that aren’t so volatile. By and large, though, you should stick with these games if you don’t want to lose quickly.

3 – Your Slots Bets Are Too High

You’ll only compound potential bankroll problems by introducing large bets into the equation. If you wager $1 or more per spin, then you’ll need big payouts to sustain your bankroll.

Here’s an example to illustrate this point.

  • You bet $1 per spin
  • You perform 700 spins per hour
  • 700 x 1 = $700 wagered in total
  • The house edge is 5%
  • 700 x 0.05 = $35 in hourly losses

Unfortunately, some slot machines force you to place big wagers. This thought is especially true in land-based casinos. You may be required to play as many as 300 lines for one penny apiece ($3 total).

But you don’t have to settle for these types of games. You can either continue hunting a given land-based casino or just play online slots.

The latter offers flexible betting options that usually let you wager anywhere from $0.20 to $100 per spin.

4 – You Fake It ‘Til You Make It With Skill-Based Games

Skill-based gaming is an exciting alternative to traditional house-banked casino games. After all, it gives you the opportunity to win long-term profits.

Popular skill-based forms of gambling include daily fantasy sports (DFS), esports betting, poker (e.g. Texas hold’em), and sports betting.

You’ve probably noticed the profile of a successful pro from one or more of these games. For example, poker pros are often depicted as serious and aggressive.

Therefore, you may immediately copy them by betting big and trying to intimidate opponents. The only problem is that you don’t have the experience or skill to back up your blind aggression.

Faking it ‘til you make it with these forms of gambling leads to wagering way too much. Assuming you’re inexperienced, then you’ll lose money faster than when playing a typical house-banked game.

5 – You Think That Comps Are Actually Worth the Extra Play

Comps are always nice to receive no matter if you’re playing slot machines or table games. You can get free buffet passes, drinks, limo rides, and hotel stays at land-based venues. Meanwhile, you’ll be privy to deposit bonuses, comp points, and free spins at online casinos.

These rewards incentivize you to continue gambling. However, you are more likely to bust your bankroll by gambling big and/or extending your playing volume just to pick up these rewards.

Comps are never worth anywhere close to what you stand to lose. These casino “freebies” aren’t free at all when breaking down the math.

Here’s an example.

  • You play a blackjack game with a 1.5% house edge
  • You gamble $10,000 over the course of your session
  • 10,000 x 0.015 = $150 in theoretical losses
  • Comp rate is 0.05%
  • 10,000 x 0.0005 = $5 in comps
  • 150 / 5 = 30
  • Your theoretical losses are worth 30x the rewards in this instance.

Despite the grim math, you can still look forward to comps as a fun part of casino gaming. However, you should never put your bankroll on the line just to earn more of them.

6 – You’re Always Focused on Big Jackpots

Going back to volatility, games with the largest jackpots are less likely to offer short-term winnings. Again, they’d force the house to lose lots of money if they both paid frequently and offered big jackpots.

Of course, you might still be lured by six- and seven-figure prizes. They allow you to get rich much faster than grinding your way up the stakes.

The problem, though, is that you also deal with far more volatility in these instances. Your odds of losing your bankroll again and again are much greater than winning a jackpot.

If you still want to chase big progressive prizes, then you should consider only dedicating a small portion of your play to such games. This way, you can still go for huge prizes without losing everything too quickly.

7 – You Like to Try Risky and Downright Stupid Strategies

Perhaps you’re not adept at strategy for most casino games and other forms of gambling. But even in this case, you probably realize that conservative approaches are best until you eventually become a better gambler.

Nevertheless, some strategies call on you to forgo all logic and chase the biggest prizes. While these approaches might offer plenty of thrills, they usually end in disaster.

Here are a few of the worst extreme casino strategies.

  • Going all in on every poker hand (I’ve seen too many online players do this)
  • Making huge sports bets when you have a good “feeling” about a certain games
  • Only chasing royal flushes in video poker
  • Using your entire poker bankroll for a single tournament buy-in (e.g. $10k for WSOP Main Event)

Each of these plans can pay off big if they work. However, they’re statistically far more likely to fail and cost you all your money.

8 – You Gamble With People Wealthier Than You

Gambling is always more fun when you do it with your closest buddies. Playing casino games with friends brings a social element into the fold.

Hopefully, though, your friend circle isn’t full of people who can comfortably place wagers that are far more than you can afford.

You may be quite disciplined at bankroll management under normal circumstances, but you’ll probably gamble above your means when you’re around wealthier peers.

You’re even more likely to fall into this trap when the alcohol starts flowing. That said, you should gamble with a different group of friends or at least limit your number of drinks.

9 – You Use the Martingale

The Martingale is one of the simplest and most popular betting systems in any type of gambling. It calls on you to double bets following every loss. Once you finally net a win, you return to the original wager.

Here’s an example of the Martingale in play.

  • You bet $10 on a roulette spin and lose (bankroll at -$10)
  • You bet $20 on a roulette spin and lose (bankroll at -$30)
  • You bet $40 on a roulette spin and lose (bankroll at -$70)
  • You bet $80 on a roulette spin and lose (bankroll at -$150)
  • You win $160 on a roulette spin (bankroll at +$10)

The amazing thing in this example is that you collect $10 despite only winning one out of five wagers. You may think that the Martingale is a godsend as a result.

It theoretically could deliver profits in every session. However, the problem with it is twofold.

  1. You’d need an infinite bankroll to guarantee that you’d never lose everything with the Martingale.
  2. Casino tables have betting limits to reduce this system’s effectiveness.

You can still experience plenty of short-term success with the Martingale. However, you should never view it as a path towards riches.

Conclusion

If you’ve gambled for any measurable amount of time, you’ve probably lost your funds within 30 to 60 minutes a time or two. You likely felt robbed in the aftermath as well.

Luckily, you don’t have to settle for short and uninspiring gambling sessions. You can stretch your gambling dollar much further just by focusing on simple concepts.

First off, you shouldn’t be playing volatile games if you’re all about playing longer. Slot machines and any other jackpot game/bet (i.e. Caribbean Stud side bet) don’t offer much value in the short run.

An Ornate Roulette Wheel

You also want to avoid mimicking the pros in skill-based games. Unless you’re a DFS or sports betting expert, for example, then you shouldn’t try betting or playing like a professional gambler.

Another pitfall to avoid includes overvaluing comps. VIP rewards are certainly nice, but they never offer enough value to warrant chasing them.

You may be tempted to try a wild strategy or popular betting system from time to time. If you go this route, though, then you should be willing to lose everything.

In summary, you should look over the nine topics covered here if you’re tired of busting out too quickly. You’ll stand a better chance of extending your play and even winning money with the right mindset.

Reviewing the Best Casino Perks Programs

VIP Card With Sushi and Nightclub Background

For the casual gambler, a casino perk program is a great way to save a few dollars for a buffet dinner or gain the right to throw away another piece of junk mail. For the veteran gambler or the savvy traveler, a casino perk program is a magnificent way to save some money while getting down to gambling.

Just about every casino out there offers some type of loyalty or perk program that will offer you discounts, rewards, coupons, etc. purely for signing up. Of course, the more you spend, gamble, or lose, the better the rewards and perks you’re likely to obtain.

Of course, not all perk programs are created equal. That’s why we decided to take a look at six different programs across the country to see what offers they might give. These offers are subject to change, but they give you an idea of what to expect when you sign up.

They can also be used as a guide for figuring out what to expect when you sign up for programs at casinos of roughly equivalent size. With that said, no matter when you gamble, sign up for their perk program. It only takes a few minutes and you’re going to get something that will save you money.

In the end, it’s always worth it.

M life Rewards

Of all the casino rewards programs, M life is arguably the most comprehensive, far reaching, and generous program amongst any perks program in the world. M life is the rewards program associated with the MGM Grand chain of hotels and, as such, has a reach as far and wide as MGM movies.

Why is it so comprehensive? First, the M life program travels with you.

You want to stay in Las Vegas? Stay at the Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Delano, Circus Circus, etc. Is Atlantic City your destination? Stay at the Borgata. Not in the US? Party at the MGM Grand Macau or Cotai.

All of these hotels use the M life Rewards program, which means if you’re wherever the big hotels are, you can start earning rewards using M life.

M Life Rewards Cards

What kind of rewards are available via M life? Well, the more you spend on hotels, dining, or gambling, the more points you get. Points can be spent on table games, slots, video poker, spa treatments, hotels, etc.

Also, M life has tiers. The more you spend, the higher your tier. The higher the tier, the more bonus points you receive and the more free stuff you get like complementary parking, priority check-in, and even free cruises for platinum members.

If you want to earn points even faster, there is an M life credit card so you can earn points for every dollar you spend.

Total Rewards

Total Rewards is another rewards program that covers a lot of different casinos, though they are only located in the continental United States. There aren’t quiet as many options for Total Rewards as in M life, but the hotels do include places like Caesars Palace, Rio Hotels and Suites, Nobu Hotel, etc.

Total Rewards does have one advantage, however. While it lacks an international footprint, it does offer a lot more casino options outside major gambling centers. For instance, you can find locations in Southern and Northern California, New Mexico, Kansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, etc. Therefore, you can be adding on to your Total Rewards points outside of the major gambling areas.

Caesars Total Rewards Logo

Sadly, we all don’t live in Las Vegas or AC, so it’s nice to know we can be building up points in places that may be a little closer to home.

Like M life, Total Rewards has tiered benefits. At the lowest tier (Gold), members can get access to coupons and free vouchers, discounts at hotel buffet restaurants, etc. Higher tiers gain more access to special dinners, events, VIP hotlines, priority check in, etc. Seven Stars® members can also get free cruises, which is nice, too.

Fan Club

The Fan Club is very similar to Total Rewards in that it offers a great mix of local places to gamble and earn points with a few destination casinos thrown in for good measure. If you want Las Vegas hotels, you can use Fan Club at Eldorado, Circus Circus, and Silver Legacy. In Atlantic City, you can use this perks program at the Tropicana.

You can also find locations in Missouri, Tahoe, Greenville, MS, Black Hawk, CO, and other cities as well.

This gives you an even better chance of earning points no matter where you live. That makes this program one of the best for non-Vegas residents.

The giveaways are also nice, as you get the standard perks from other programs and, on certain days, free gift giveaways, which is not something you see with other programs.

Identity Membership and Rewards

Identity is the rewards club of the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas casino. It’s definitely smaller in scope than some of the other casino rewards programs, but it makes up for it with its offerings and the transparency it gives to members.

If you want to know how to earn points in this program, it’s easy to figure out. Just go to the site and you can see how many points you receive for each dollar, then you can see how you redeem those points. It’s a nice touch.

With that said, you earn points through the standard means: spending money at spas, hotels, restaurants and stores, playing slots (with extra points for those at higher tiers), and playing poker.

Points can then be redeemed for credits at hotels, spas, restaurants, shops, slots, or video poker. Also, higher tiers get you additional benefits like two-for-one tickets and buffets, valet parking, airline transportation, etc.

Also, you can convert your points into Marriott Bonvoy points and use them to stay in other hotels, which is a nice perk.

The real advantage of Identity, though, is that the points accumulate quickly, especially if you can get to Sterling Tier, where you start earning double points on slots. That will only boost your point accumulation if you’re a slots player.

Affinity Gaming’s A-Play Club

Affinity Gaming is a series of casinos throughout the Midwest (including Missouri, Iowa, Colorado) and some smaller casinos in Nevada. A-Play is a smaller program, but it’s kind of the tiny lion that roars.

It offers a tiered reward structure, like the other programs, starting with a Red Card and ending in Platinum tier.

The nice thing about the A-Play Club is that they are transparent as well in how they give out points for activities (in this case, they all revolve around playing, not buying things). With that said, higher tier members get access to room discounts, event invites, point multipliers, VIP lines, waived fees, etc.

If you’re a fan of smaller casinos or aren’t in the Nevada area, this is a program you should strongly consider.

WinStar’s Club Passport

The WinStar is the largest casino in the United States (and just happens to be located in Oklahoma). They’re large enough that they offer Club Passport, a program that rewards you for playing and for winning.

Points are earned through play and can result in entries into special giveaways, backstage access to events, discounts on hotel rooms, golfing and meals at the Gran Via Buffet, and other benefits.  You also can get free bonus play by signing up.

This program may be limited in scope, but if you ever plan to gamble in Oklahoma, this program offers tremendous benefits.

Exterior View of Winstar World Casino

Conclusion

As you can see, nearly every casino out there either offers their own rewards program or is tied into the perks program of their corporate parent. What’s even more important is that none of the programs above cost any money to join, but all of them can save you money.

Really, the key to determining which is the right program for you is knowing where and how you gamble.

If you travel a lot and can’t commit to spending a lot of money at one casino, something like the Identity Program or Club Passport might not be for you because they focus on a small number of properties. Also, if you plan to gamble away from Las Vegas, M life may not be the best the option for you.

If you have a computer with autofill or about 10 minutes to spare, you can sign up for all of these programs and start earning casino comps.

Then, it really becomes a matter of deciding whether you will take advantage of the rewards program that’s offering the best deal that week or if you want to try to increase your tier. Either way, you really can’t lose. You’re going to save money and have a good time, and that’s what really matters.

7 Step Checklist for Traveling to Atlantic City

Atlantic City Beach With Checklist Graphic

Atlantic City is still one of the top gambling destinations in the world. You can find a wide range of casinos, poker rooms, and sportsbooks offering every popular casino game. You can play slots, video poker, craps, roulette, and poker, and bet on all of your favorite sporting events in Atlantic City.

But don’t get so excited about your upcoming trip that you forget what you need. Here’s a seven step checklist to make sure you enjoy your trip to Atlantic City. Everything that you can plan for ahead of time saves you time and money, so you can spend more time gambling and having fun when you arrive.

1 – Always Take a Coat or Jacket

Most travelers know that if they travel to Atlantic City in the winter that it’s going to be cold, but they might not think about how cold it can get at night in the fall and spring. Even in the summer it can be cool after dark with the wind coming in off the ocean.

You might plan to spend all of your time inside when you travel to Atlantic City, but it’s best to be prepared. You might decide to take a stroll on the boardwalk in the evening and a jacket or coat might come in handy.

If you’re concerned about a jacket taking up extra space in your luggage, here’s a trick I use when I travel. I have a light jacket that I take most times I travel. It’s made of some material that doesn’t really wrinkle, so it always looks about the same no matter what I do with it.

Atlantic City Beach During Winter

I carry it to the airport with me, and put it on when I’m getting ready to get on the plane. Because I’m wearing it no one ever asks me to stow it in the overhead compartments. Once I get to my seat I take it off, fold it, and use it as a pillow. This way I always have a jacket with me if I need it when I’m away from home. I leave it in my hotel room on my trip unless I need it.

2 – Taking Money

You need to consider two things about taking money to Atlantic City. The first thing is how much you need to take. You need to determine how much money you need to gamble and eat, and how much you need for other entertainment expenses. I discuss this in more detail in the next section.

The other thing you need to consider is how you’re going to take the money. If you’re a high roller you might want to consider wring most of your money to a casino so you can safely access it when you arrive.

I prefer to use cash when I gamble, so I always carry it with me. When I’m going through airport security I either keep the cash in my pockets or hold it in my hand when I’m going through the metal detector.

3 – Your Daily Budget

Here’s a simple budget plan that I use every time I travel to Atlantic City or other gambling destinations. You can use it just like I do, or you can adjust it to fit your needs. The main reason why I use a budget is to make sure that I don’t run short on money. Knowing that I have everything covered gives me peace of mind on my trip.

I have three different budgets when I travel to gamble. The first one is the money I’m taking to gamble with. The second is money I’m going to use for food and entertainment. The third one is my emergency fund. I build in an extra cushion in the first two funds, and I have a backup in place for the emergency fund.

I refer to use cash when I travel except to pay for my hotel and flight. I use cash for everything else so I can keep accurate track of what I spend.

Rubber Banded Wad of Cash

Here’s an example of using a budget:

I’m taking a trip for four days. I want to have $1,000 for gambling, $400 for eating and entertainment, and an emergency fund. I build a cushion in, so I take $1,200 for gambling, $500 for eating and entertainment, and an extra $500 for an emergency.

I won’t touch the emergency money unless I have a true emergency. I act like it doesn’t exist. I also take a couple credit cards that I can use in an emergency.

I break my gambling budget and eating and entertainment budget down by the day. So I have $250 a day for gambling and $100 a day for entertainment and eating. I will use the extra $200 in my gambling fund and extra $100 in my eating fund if I need to, but I don’t include the extra in my daily budget.

4 – Where to Eat

I like to eat, but I don’t plan my trips around where I’m going to eat because I can find something decent just about anywhere. If my wife is with me we plan one meal at a nice restaurant, and eat our other meals at the buffet or less expensive place.

Figure out where you want to eat before your trip so you can get an idea of how much money you need. This helps you budget and you can relax because you know you already have a plan.

5 – What Are You Playing?

Do you know what games you’re going to be playing while you’re in Atlantic City? Most gamblers have an idea of what they want to play, but they rarely plan their trip with this in mind.

I usually play poker more than anything else when I travel for gambling, so I always stay in the casinos where I plan to play the most, or close to it. If I’ve never been to the location before, I look up the best poker rooms online and get feedback from other players so I know where I want to play.

I also play a little blackjack and video poker from time to time, so I brush up on the best rules and pay tables before I travel, and always take strategy cards so I’m always prepared. I also read things that other players post about where the best blackjack tables and video poker pay tables are located.

Spend a little time researching the games you want to play before your trip. This can save you quite a bit of time once you arrive at your destination.

6 – Schedule Some Downtime

A mistake that many travelers make when they schedule everything they want to do on their trip is fill every minute. While this is ok if this is what you really want, I’ve found that it’s nice to have a little bit of down time scheduled.

Scheduling some down time is good for two reasons. One reason is because sometimes you simply need to take some time to relax and unwind. If you need to relax for a while and don’t have any downtime scheduled you can get stressed out. But if you schedule some downtime and don’t need it you don’t have to use it.

The other reason why I schedule some downtime when I travel is because there’s often something that I see that I want to do and I want to have extra time to do it if I choose. I always schedule everything I want to do on my trips, but I always leave some open time.

This actually helps me relax because I know that I have some extra time to fit in things that I see or learn about on the trip.

7 – Gambling Online in Atlantic City

The state of New Jersey has some of the most relaxed laws concerning online gambling in the nation. You can play at licensed online casinos, poker rooms, and sportsbooks while you’re in the state. You aren’t required to be a resident of New Jersey; just located in the state when you gamble.

Most gambler travel to Atlantic City to play in the land based casinos and poker rooms, or place bets in the new sportsbooks. But you might want to check out some of the online options as well.

Many online casinos offer some games with better odds than land based casinos, and they also offer bonuses for real money play. I always travel with my laptop so it’s easy to check out the online gambling options. But you can also use your Android or Apple smart phone to check out the online action in New Jersey.

Conclusion

Atlantic City is on the beach, but the weather isn’t always the same as on beaches south of New Jersey. You can take your swim suit, but don’t forget to pack a jacket in case it gets cold during your visit. Make sure you know how much money you need and follow a budget to make sure you don’t run out.

Spend a little time planning your trip to make sure you get to do everything you want, and check out the real money online gambling options when you’re in New Jersey. Just use this seven step checklist and you’re going to be well prepared for your trip and have a great time.

Do Casinos Kick You out for Winning Too Much?

Cartoon of Man Kicking Another Out With Casino Sign Background

Casinos have an air of mystery about them which inspires fear, awe, and amazement. It’s no wonder that so many spy thrillers and crime movies feature casinos.

When I was growing up one of my favorite movies was Casablanca starring Humphrey Bogart. He played an American ex-pat living in the Moroccan city of Casablanca during World War II. Bogart’s character Rick owned a night club which had a hidden casino in the back room.

The movie plays up some of the most popular fears people have about casinos—a roulette game is rigged, the local police are on the take, and the casino throws out a patron who wins too much.

James Bond may be the only major movie character to ever walk into a casino that isn’t run by the mob, cheating its patrons, or throwing people out. So, it makes sense that people wonder what casinos will put up with and how much. We see evidence in movies and television that something isn’t right with casinos.

So, here comes the ultimate question, do casinos care if you win?

Why Would Casinos Want to Kick out Winners?

This urban legend is rooted in the belief that casinos are so greedy they will do whatever they have to in order to make money. It’s true, there are crooked casinos all over the world. These are the underground joints that operate outside the law.

Illegal casinos are more likely to target vulnerable people who are easily addicted to gambling. But even among such low-end business strategies, the casinos need one thing that every helps every business— word-of-mouth advertising.

Winners spread the good news. And people who see other gamblers win feel hopeful and want to keep playing, sometimes they end up wagering more.

The games are already designed to be profitable. Casinos don’t need to cheat its players. While cheating happens in illegal casinos, the gambling companies that operate inside the law have no need to cheat.

Every honest winner is free advertising for a casino. Hence, there is no reason to ask a winner to leave.

But Casinos Ban Known Successful Card Counters

It’s fair to say that casinos only want to entertain people who play fairly by the casino’s standards. They don’t mind if you count cards because most card counters are not very successful.

The people who find themselves banned are so consistently good at beating the games that the casinos feel the need to take action.

If you can consistently win money making $500 bets, then what’s to stop you from moving up into the ranks of the high rollers? Casinos count on a statistical percentage of players losing their money. While card counting isn’t illegal, when done right, it changes the house’s business model.

The casino won’t ask you to repay any money if you aren’t cheating, but they err on the side of caution when deciding whether to allow you to play their games.

Casinos Often Memorialize Big Winners

I’ve walked into many casinos where large photos of big winners were prominently displayed near the entrances. Casinos treat these jackpot winners as badges of honor.

It’s hard to understand why people are afraid casinos will ask them to leave. Everything the casino does is designed to bring you through the door and keep you there.

They create an inviting atmosphere, offer casino comps such as free food and drinks, and don’t complain when you make a mess. Most people should feel more welcome at a casino than at their fussy grandmothers’ homes.

Woman Holding Up Oversized Check From Jackpot Win

Casinos celebrate winners. They promote the idea of winning. People like to joke about contributing to the house edge, but everyone wants to win when they gamble.

That desire to win is the feeling every casino appeals to. They leverage jackpots to create a happy, positive image for themselves.

You’re Winning Other Players’ Money, Not the House’s Money

The way casino games work, the house is only risking its own money early in a game’s life cycle. When a casino begins offering a new game, they must cover any player wins until they have accumulated enough wins against players to cover the costs of paying new winners.

From that point on, most games remain profitable enough that the casinos can hold back money for themselves. They pay staff and support costs out of those retained winnings and whatever is left over becomes their profits.

If the house is retaining 20% to 40% of player wagers every month, they have no reason to complain or feel worried about who wins big prizes. Every time you and I congratulate someone else for winning in a casino, we’re celebrating the fact we probably just paid them a lot of money.

The casino is the middleman. The money flows through the casino’s fingers, and some of it slips into the casino’s pocket. The casino is a paid financial observer in the universe of gambling transactions.

Players and Casinos Sometimes Disagree on Who Won

Every year, I read new stories about players arguing with casinos over major prizes. These stories are a bit sad, but they’re to be expected.

In 2017, Katrina Bookman thought she had won a huge jackpot, but the casino said the game malfunctioned. News media favored the casino’s argument because the game in question, a slot machine named the Sphinx, only advertised a maximum jackpot of $6,500.

Bookman’s game erroneously awarded her nearly $43 million.

I’ve never played an electronic game in a casino that didn’t have a warning sticker reading, “malfunctions void all pays.” Malfunction warnings are there for a reason. These machines can and sometimes do make mistakes.

The malfunction clauses also protect casinos against fraudulent claims by cheaters. Many people have forced slot machine games to malfunction, hoping for payoffs. Those who are caught doing this are prosecuted and spend time in jail.

And you can believe that casinos ban known cheaters from their premises.

Man in Suit Pulling Ace Card From His Sleeve

I’ve also seen disagreements among players and online casinos where the players claim they won prizes the casinos refused to pay. This is a murkier area because not every online casino is honest.

Even a dishonest casino should rather have happy players than angry people denouncing them, but the long and growing lists of bad online casinos say that some operators really do prefer to cheat their players.

And yet some of these disputes stem from players’ own attempts to get around the rules. I’ve seen people lose prizes because they used someone else’s credit card to make deposits, refused to provide proper identification, or bypassed online casino’s country-blocking measures.

We naturally want to support other players with complaints, but sometimes, the players really are in the wrong. Casinos may ban those players if they don’t compromise on their complaints or comply with house rules.

Conclusion

Assuming you only play at legal, licensed casinos that comply with the law, you have no reason to expect to be asked to leave or refused service because you win money. Your wins are the best advertising the casino can get. Paying winners don’t cost casinos nearly as much money as most people believe.

By creating safe environments for entertainment, casinos invest in long-term relationships with their communities. They would quickly go out of business if everyone believed you cannot win at the casino. No one would want to play their games.

The occasional disputes between players and casinos surely strengthen the belief that casinos don’t want you to win. But I think film and TV shows that portray casinos as gangster-run businesses intent only on bilking their customers of all their money contribute to this urban myth too.

A good casino doesn’t need to separate the winners from the losers. Every player has the same chance to win as soon as they walk in the door.

If the casinos banned winners, they would gradually winnow down their clientele until no one was left.

Most people eventually win something at the casino. You won’t be able to support yourself on your winnings, but you’ll have a nice story to tell friends and family. And that’s what the casino wants you to do.

The more people hear about big winners at any casino, the more people will head to that casino to try their own luck.

Winners help casinos bring in more customers. I’m sure casinos care about the positive effects of paying winners. I’ve never been asked to leave because I won a few thousand dollars.

There is no limit to how much you can win at a casino.

10 Minute Gambling Expert (The Most Important Information in the Least Time)

Clock Image With Text 10 Minute Expert

Most people, when they gamble, are gambling with a mathematical disadvantage. The odds are against them in the long run. Where that disadvantage comes from varies based on your gambling activity of choice.

And if you’re playing casino games, the disadvantage comes from the difference between the payout odds and the odds of winning the game. For example, in roulette, a bet on black pays off at even money, but you have a slightly lower than 50% probability of winning.

Expert gamblers, though, only place bets when they have a mathematical advantage. The techniques they use to get that mathematical edge are called advantage gambling techniques.

Some of them are harder than others, but most of these advantage gambling techniques are within the realm of possibility for the person of average intelligence who’s willing to put in the effort to learn them.

Here are my favorite expert gambling techniques worth trying.

Expert Poker Play

Possibly the easiest way to get an edge when gambling is to play poker at an expert level. Everyone knows that poker is a game of skill.

Here’s how expert players get an edge:

They only put money in the pot when they have a mathematical edge.

Think about it this way. If you played in a poker game with no rake, like a home game, with eight other players, you’d break even in the long run if all the players were of the same skill level as you.

But if you played in a game where you’re twice as skilled as all those other eight players, you’d show a long-term profit.

Card Counting in Blackjack

Generally, blackjack has a house edge of about 2.5%—at least the way most people play. If you learn and master basic strategy, though, you can cut that edge to between 0.5% and 1%.

Basic strategy is just the mathematically correct play in every possible blackjack situation.

But if the house still has an edge, even if it’s much lower than usual, you don’t have an edge. It’s only advantage gambling if you have an advantage over the other party, whether it’s the casino or the other player or whatever.

The most common way to get an edge over the casino is by counting cards in blackjack. The unique qualities of blackjack are what make it a game where you can gamble like an expert.

Here Are 2 Reasons Paying Attention Pays:

  1. You get paid off at 3 to 2 any time you get a two-card hand totaling 21
  2. The composition of the deck changes as the cards get dealt

Think about this:

The only way to get a blackjack, a two-card hand totaling 21, is to get an ace and a 10. If you took all the other cards out of the deck besides the aces and 10s, you’d wind up with a situation where you’re more likely to get a natural.

As hands of blackjack get played, these lower cards sometimes outnumber the higher cards disproportionately, and vice versa.

Hole Carding

Another way to get an edge at blackjack is to see what the dealer’s hole card is. The dealer’s hole card is the face-down card.

If you’re using a mirror or some kind of device to spot that card, you’re cheating, and there’s a difference between cheating and advantage play.

But if the dealer is accidentally exposing her hole card, and you’re smart enough to spot that card and take advantage of it, then you’re just using the best available information to get an edge over the casino.

Hole carding is commonly used in blackjack, but it can also be used to get an edge at some other casino card games. Three Card Poker and Caribbean Stud Poker are also games where you can get an edge via hole carding.

Shuffle Tracking in Blackjack

Shuffle tracking is a technique where you track specific cards or runs of cards through the shuffling process. It’s mostly used in blackjack, although shuffle tracking also has applications in other casino card games.

It’s easier to use shuffle tracking in games with simple shuffling procedures. This makes shuffle tracking more effective in a game with 6 or 8 decks being dealt from a shoe. Ironically, when counting cards, you prefer fewer decks.

Closeup of Hands Shuffling a Deck of Cards

But shuffle tracking is also a way to enhance your existing card counting strategy. It’s also often used as a team technique. One player keeps count of a section of the deck, or a “zone.”

When you find a zone which has an advantage for the player—it’s rich in aces and 10s—you can change the size of your bets when cards are about to be dealt from that zone.

Expert Video Poker Play

One of the cool things about video poker is that you can calculate the expected return for a game based on the pay table.

This is what separates video poker from slot machines. You know the probability of getting a specific card in video poker, which is something you don’t know when you’re looking at symbols on a slot machine game.

This isn’t something the average person can do with a pencil and paper, though. Luckily, you don’t have to. Computer programmers and video poker experts have done the math for you already.

And even though there are dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of variations of video poker available, the number of pay tables are limited. The best pay tables, combined with the mathematically best decisions, combine to create a game with an expected return of over 100%.

By identifying and finding those games and playing them with perfect video poker strategy, you’re giving yourself an edge over the house.

Another technique for getting an edge over the casino is to find a game with a close to 100% payback percentage and only play when the rewards program is offering bigger payouts than normal. This additional 0.4% or so in rebates can turn a game with a 99.7% payback percentage into a game with an effective payback percentage of 100.4%.

The edges you get when playing video poker as an expert are generally too small for you to make a living at it.

Casinos and slot machine manufacturers can do the math on video poker pay tables, too, so they’re less likely to manufacture and install games where they don’t have an edge.

Progressive Jackpots

Some video poker games feature a progressive jackpot. Since the payback percentage for a video poker game (or a slot machine game) is a function of the payouts combined with the probability of achieving those payouts, you can calculate the size of the progressive jackpot needed to make a video poker game into a positive expectation game.

For example, if you’re playing 9/6 Jacks or Better, you’re playing a game with a 99.54% payback percentage. But if the jackpot for a royal flush grows over time, that number rises.

The payout for a royal flush is normally 800 for 1.

Once it grows to 976 for 1, the game becomes an even money proposition.

As the payout grows even larger, the game becomes a better deal for the player.

The breakeven points change as the rest of the pay table changes, too.

Most progressive Jacks or Better games have 8/5 pay tables instead of 9/6 pay tables. You need a much higher payout for that top jackpot to hit that break-even point—1733 for 1 instead of 976 for 1.

Dice Control

You probably already know that the house edge in craps is really low. When you combine the odds bet, the house edge gets smaller still. You wouldn’t need to be too accurate in terms of influencing the outcomes of the dice rolls to change the odds from being in the casino’s favor to being in your favor.

The problem is that I’ve seen no credible evidence that people can really use dice control in a casino setting. The casinos don’t seem too worried that their countermeasures in craps are being overcome by dice setting experts.

Closeup of Red Dice

Compare their reaction (no reaction at all) to dice control with their reaction to counting cards.

Still, if you want to try this, you might be able to make some money at it. You’ll need to watch some videos and spend hours practicing in your basement or your garage.

Keep in mind that you’ll need a lot of trials before you can be confident that you’re actually succeeding, too. You also need to have ice water running through your veins.

Shooting dice in your basement with perfect control isn’t like shooting dice with perfect control in a casino. In the casino, you have a ton of distractions.

Conclusion

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably noticed that even though these gambling techniques can get you a mathematical edge, none of them are easy.

Most of them are pretty tough, in fact.

But if you have the desire and the willingness to put in the work, you can certainly become an expert at gambling. I think your best option is to become a professional poker player, but you might have a different attitude and temperament than I have.

Which advantage gambling techniques looked easier and which looked hardest to you? Are you planning to try any of these for yourself?

Gamble on.

When Did Las Vegas Resort Fees Start?

Open Wallet Full of 20 Dollar Bills With Las Vegas Resort Background

Resort fees feel like they’ve always been a part of Las Vegas. After all, they’re present at most casino resorts throughout Sin City.

Once upon a time, though, these fees didn’t exist. Vegas resorts only got greedy after seeing the rest of the hospitality industry tack on these fees.

I’m going to cover exactly when Las Vegas decided to begin charging resort fees. I’ll also discuss if the situation is likely to get better or worse in the coming years.

History of Resort Fees

As you may know, resort fees refer to charges that hotels level after the stay. They don’t appear on your booking fee but rather when you go to check out.

You used to not need to worry about these additional costs. Instead, casinos were upfront with every fee through the initial booking fee.

In 1997, however, hotels in tourism hot spots like L.A. and New York began adding “surcharges.” They used surcharges to make booking costs appear cheaper and still get paid for offering amenities.

Initially, these bogus charges were reserved for fancy hotels that offered lavish swimming pools and fitness centers. However, more hotels began adding surcharges.

The hospitality industry eventually realized that they weren’t winning customers over with additional costs. So, surcharges disappeared in the early 2000s.

Other industries, though, including car rentals and airlines, began requiring extra fees. Subsequently, hotels became emboldened again and rolled out “resort fees” in place of the extinct surcharges.

By the mid-2000s, more tourism destinations were experimenting with charging for amenities during checkout. Eventually, resort fees became commonplace throughout many popular cities.

Why Did Hotels Begin Charging These Fees?

Hotels argue that they require resort fees to pay for the amenities they offer. While this is true to a degree, they’re actually trying to disguise the true price of their services.

Resorts would rather guests think that they’re paying $150 for a room than $200. They see this guise as a necessary evil when considering other competitors are doing the same.

Unlike with surcharges, hotels have successfully gotten away with resort fees. Casinos from Paris to Vegas now require such charges.

You won’t find a single hotel room on the Las Vegas Strip that doesn’t come with resort fees. Even some budget motels throughout Sin City have gotten into the act.

Vegas is far from the only famous spot that charges resort fees. L.A. Miami, New York, and San Francisco are examples of other cities that largely require these charges.

When Did Las Vegas Join the Act?

As mentioned before, Sin City didn’t start the trend of charging resort fees. However, it has become the poster child for this ugly movement in hospitality.

Station Casinos was the first Vegas casino corporation to roll out extra charges beyond booking. Dubbed “fuel surcharges,” these fees covered phone service (landline), the swimming pool, gym access, and more.

The Hilton, Starwood, and Wyndham chains also joined in this matter. By 2004, though, all of these chains faced a class-action lawsuit for their surcharges.

JW Marriot Las Vegas Pool

A judge ruled against the casinos due to the hidden nature of the fees. Hilton, Starwood, Station, and Wyndham had to collectively send almost 1 million comp coupons to guests who stayed with them between 2001 and 2004.

This lawsuit didn’t necessarily scare casinos off from tacking on additional charges, though. Instead, other Vegas resorts joined the act while trying to be a little more forthcoming.

Sin City as a whole saw fewer visitors by the late 2000s. This point marked the Great American Recession—a time when the average consumer began cutting out expensive Vegas trips.

Casinos turned to resort fees as a clever way to make more money. Rather than giving guests the option to pay for a pool pass or Wi-Fi, they began forcing these services upon customers.

By 2013, every company that owned hotel properties on the Vegas Strip required resort fees. This situation has now become the status quo.

Why Vegas Resort Fees Are Loathed

Nobody likes paying more for a hotel room. However, Vegas visitors hate resort fees for the specific reasons covered below.

Hidden Charges

Casinos want to appear to charge a lower rate than their competitors. As a result, they offer the booking fee upfront and the resort charge afterward.

The latter’s cost varies based on the casino. On average, though, resort fees add around 20-25% to the final bill.

Vegas veterans are well-versed with paying resort charges. However, new visitors may be shocked when another $30 to $50 shows up on their bill.

Unfortunately, casinos have learned a lot since the days when resorts got hit with class-action lawsuits. They now thoroughly cover resort fees in the terms and conditions.

They Are Mandatory

Land-based casinos don’t care whether or not you lift weights at their gym or use one of their conference rooms. They’re going to charge you for these services regardless.

You may go through your bill at the end and see that you’ve been charged for a fax machine. The latter is ridiculous when considering that most people don’t send faxes today.

Nevertheless, casinos like charging for anything that you might use. You’re fully expected to pay these fees too.

They Are On the Rise

I mentioned earlier that every Vegas Strip resort tacks on resort fees. However, other parts of the city are slowly getting into the mix too.

Downtown, Henderson, Summerlin, and the Boulder Strip are seeing more hotels go the resort-fee route.

Luckily, you can still find some resorts that are void of these charges. But don’t be surprised if, eventually, all of Sin City hits you with fees at checkout.

Do You Have to Pay Resort Fees?

Many countries have laws against requiring additional fees after booking. Unfortunately, the US isn’t one of these countries.

No law prohibits a Las Vegas casino from charging resort fees. As long as a resort lays out all potential costs in the terms and conditions, then they’re not doing anything illegal.

Wynn Las Vegas Workout Room

Therefore, you have to pay any additional costs within reason. You can’t just tell a resort that you didn’t know there would be extra charges included either.

They expect you to pay full price regardless of if you knew the deal going in. Assuming you still resist, they’ll merely point to their carefully crafted T&Cs.

Why These Fees Are Here to Stay

Many people insist that Sin City visitors “vote with their feet” and refuse to stay anywhere with resort fees. However, this same crowd will soon find that they have very few other options.

The original motivation for most of Vegas charging resort fees was the 2007-09 recession. Hotels needed a way to squeeze more revenue out of existing customers.

MGM, for example, could increase resort fees by $5 per guests and make an extra $50 million annually.

Casinos will still rely on the same argument that they need to get paid for their amenities. They supply the Wi-Fi, coffee machines, and pool, so they want extra from guests.

Furthermore, resort charges save casinos money on what they pay third-party booking sites. Vegas hotels pay commissions to Expedia, Travelocity, etc.

However, they only need to cover commissions on the booking costs. Resort fee are a clever way to reduce the size of these commissions.

Conclusion

Las Vegas was once thoroughly transparent with its hotel booking charges. You paid for what you saw.

However, Sin City has totally gone the way of resort fees. Vegas resorts began requiring fees after the fact in the early 2000s.

This movement increased in the late 2000s following the recession. Today, most Las Vegas hotels require resort fees.

The reality is that resort fees aren’t going away anytime soon and the costs are likely to increase even further over the next few years.

How Do Gambling Junkets Work?

Picture of a Beach Mixed With a Picture of a High Roller Gambler

Have you ever found yourself daydreaming about the life of a high-roller?

Having your every want attended to hand and foot while lounging in the cabana pool side or getting that ticket for the hottest Vegas show is not often for the proletariat.

Enter the junket trip.

These all-inclusive casino trips will have you rubbing elbows with the rich and famous, if you’re into that sort of thing. Junkets combine your accommodations, food, airfare and a casino trip in a convenient package.

Sounds expensive?

Not exactly or at all.

In fact, these junkets are often inexpensive or flat out free.

What’s the catch, right?

Well, there isn’t one exactly. The single requirement is that you gamble.

Imagine setting sail on a cruise where you spend the morning at the blackjack or roulette tables and the evening enjoying the sun set over the open ocean. Think of the possibilities a family trip to Las Vegas provides. What memories would the family make on such a trip? Lavish hotels, fine dining and playing your top casino games is what these junkets are all about.

If you have friends or family that don’t enjoy casino gaming, no problem. They can venture to the spa to be pampered or lounge by the pool enjoying drinks and the scenery.

These amazing adventures are similar to your average travel tour service in some respects. You’ll just be going with a particular casino as the main attraction rather than a particular region’s cuisine or heritage.

These package deals will include your transportation costs to get to your destination, accommodation at luxurious resorts, dining in some of the greatest eateries available and any other overhead that could possibly be associated with your stay.

The only stipulation being that you promise to either gamble for a predetermined amount of time or spend a specific dollar amount gambling.

Recent Resurgence

Casino junkets are not some new age idea. In fact, junkets have been around since 1950s. Early on these trips were organized for the sole purpose of attracting gamblers and tourists alike to Las Vegas Casinos. The popularity of these trips soared for decades.

However, their shine began to dull and they were out of the limelight for a period. Recently though we began to see the popularity of junkets come back. Any avid gambler or even moderate gambler looking for a fun all inclusive trip which to be spoiled should consider the junket.

I am certain you have many questions and I’m going to provide answers to some of these now.

Who Can Book?

In general, casino junkets are geared toward would-be vacationers that love gambling, gamble often and know how to play casino games. That hasn’t always been the case. The early days of junkets were solely comped trips reserved only for VIPs, whales and others who spent a lot of time and as importantly money in the casinos.

The casinos would extend the invite and entice the players with posh amenities and staff at their beckon call. Of course, there was an understanding that once the guest arrived all gambling would be done at that casino. Junkets operate in much that same manner today, but you don’t have to spend the kids college fund in hopes of catching an invite. Nope, you know who the real VIP is and you can book your own junket in accordance.

The Linq Las Vegas Shops

Be aware that the travel agencies that offer these junkets have different criteria.  Many do accept players of all types. However, others only allow qualified players that meet their own standards. Also, age restrictions are often placed because some casinos won’t allow players under 21. Additionally, and this is important to understand, you are typically required to gamble between 4 and 6 hours a day. So, you must be able to have a bankroll heavy enough to support that requirement for the stay.

What this says is that junkets are not for every aspiring gambler on the block. Rather, the junkets are geared to avid players who are able and willing to drop a large amount of money testing fate on the casino floor. Players that meet this qualifier typically get the entire trip for free. Other players ante up for the trip, but at a greatly discounted rate compared to what this brand of high society travel would cost at face value.

How to Become a Qualified Player

Obviously, now that you know qualified players get to lap it up in luxury for no out-of-pocket costs, you want to become one of those qualified. A qualified player is, according to junket operators, a person who has achieved a specific level of casino play.

What level a player stands at in the eyes of the junket company is based on two factors. How much time has a player spent gambling and what is the size of their average bet.

Each company sets their own requirements and if you are attempting to qualify it would probably be in your best interest to contact these companies directly. Bear in mind there are different levels of qualified players. Some may receive a completely free trip while others may qualify for only certain perks.

What Expenses a Junket Covers

Depending on whether you are qualified or not and at what level determine the covered expenses. As I’ve said, qualified players won’t spend a dime on the trip. That includes transportation and flights, luggage and hotel accommodation.

Some operators have really lavished the players with casino comps including food, beverages, golf, skiing, spa time, gym use, VIP pool access and any form of entertainment the resort offers.

If you don’t  qualify, there’s still good news. While you will have to fork over cash for some costs, you are going to be taking your trip for substantially less than it would cost if not for the casino being such a great host.

What About Taxes?

Certain state and casino regulations mandate certain fees that gamblers must pay. Players are taxed directly and junket operators are prohibited from covering them. You can ask the junket operator in advance if these fees will be incurred.

What Types of Junkets Are Available to U.S. Gamblers?

Gamblers in the United States are able to access a variety of junket trips. The length of the junket is really at your discretion, ranging from weekend trips to stays of several weeks. There is no short supply of possible destinations, including Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Miami, to name a few.

How you arrive at your destination is just as varied as your destination. You may find yourself tarveling thru the air, on land or even by sea. Which one of the options applies to you depends on your desired destination and qualification.

How Do You Book a Junket Tour?

Before you can book your junket tour you’ll need to select the junket operator. I have found that because of the countless outfits offering these trips, it can be difficult to pick the right one. I suggest starting with only the operators that have destinations that you are excited to visit. This should at least narrow down the vastness of options.

View of Atlantic City and Beach

Perhaps you want to channel your inner Bruce Springsteen and visit Atlantic City. Possibly the glitz and glamour of Sin City draw you in like a moth to a flame. Or the high energy action of the casino floor enough to get your attention. You certainly have a multitude of choices.

Next, contact the particular operator you’ve chosen to find out about their conditions and pricing. Make sure to discover their criteria for being a qualified player, what amount of time or money you’re required to spend gambling, and the scope of their all-inclusive packages.  I wouldn’t want to be hit with any unexpected charges.

Most operators will not publish this information on their website or in print media, which means you need to reach out to them by phone or email.

Top Destinations

Junket operators offer some type of trip to just about any destination where gambling is legal. The top 5 aren’t surprising: Atlantic City, Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, Mississippi and The Carribean. All these venues are renowned for their breathtaking architecture, wonderful selection of games or amazing locale.

Conclusion

Remember you’ll be enjoying some local flair while on your vacation. So, don’t forget to pack accordingly and please don’t forget the camera. Booking a junket trip for your next family vacation is sure to come up Aces.

The One Time You Can Count Cards With a Continuous Shuffling Machine

Hand Holding a Deck of Cards With a Card Shuffling Machine Background

Card counting is already a tough endeavor. However, it becomes impossible when continuous shuffling machines (CSMs) are involved.

CSMs help casinos in a variety of ways (covered later). One advantage that a shuffling machine provides is the ability to hinder card counters.

A CSM is supposed to stop any possibility of counting cards. But one instance exists where you can make profits when a continuous shuffling machine is present. I’m going to discuss this case below and what your chances are of actually beating a CSM.

What Are the Main Purposes of Continuous Shuffling Machines?

The gaming world didn’t invent CSMs with the idea of stopping advantage players in mind. Instead, these machines speed up games and improve casino profits.

Under normal circumstances, the dealer must halt a game and shuffle the shoe. However, a continuous shuffling machine prevents the croupier from having to do so.

A dealer simply takes a clump of dealt cards and inserts them into the machine. In turn, the machine shuffles the cards randomly and pushes them back to the top.

The croupier can take the clump of cards and begin dealing them. They never need to stop the game for shuffling purposes as a result.

CSMs speed up play by an estimated 20%. Therefore, a table that normally sees 100 hands dealt per hour would actually see 120 hands.

Here’s a look at how this impacts casino profits:

Scenario #1

  • 4 players are at a table.
  • The average gambler’s bet size is $10.
  • 100 hands are dealt per hour.
  • 4 x 10 x 100 = $4,000 wagered per hour
  • The casino holds a 1.5% advantage over each player.
  • 4,000 x 0.015 = $60 in hourly casino profits

Scenario #2

  • 4 players are at a table.
  • The average player’s bet size is $10.
  • 120 hands are dealt per hour
  • 4 x 10 x 120 = $4,800 wagered per hour
  • The casino holds a 1.5% advantage over each gambler.
  • 4,000 x 0.015 = $72 in hourly profits

An extra $12 isn’t much to the house. However, an additional $12 multiplied over an entire day across multiple tables does benefit the casino’s bottom line.

First and foremost, CSMs boost the house’s winnings over the average recreational player. Hampering card counters is only an added bonus.

Why CSMs Normally Kill Any Prospects of Counting Cards

A card counter needs deck penetration to consistently win. Deck penetration refers to how far the dealer goes into a shoe before shuffling.

More penetration is good from an advantage player’s perspective. It gives them more confidence when raising bets later in a shoe.

For evidence, consider the following two situations:

Example #1

  • A player has a +3 count.
  • The table features an 8-deck shoe.
  • Only 2 out of 8 decks have been dealt.

Example #2

  • The player again has a +3 count.
  • The table features an 8-deck shoe.
  • 6 out of 8 decks have been dealt.

The counter has a theoretical advantage in the first example. Therefore, they may still decide to raise their bets and capitalize on the favorable count.

But they’re also looking at only 25% deck penetration (2/8 decks). Their +3 count is shaky as a result and doesn’t offer much guarantee on profits.

The second example presents a much-better situation with 75% penetration (6/8 decks). The player can have much more confidence in their count thanks to only 25% of the deck remaining.

Closeup of Dealer Dealing Blackjack

Unfortunately, the second scenario almost never happens with a CSM involved. These machines allow almost 0% deck penetration.

A dealer never has to stop the game with CSMs. They need only waste a few seconds to grab card clumps and insert them into the machine.

Why Don’t Dealers Just Shuffle More?

Perhaps you’re wondering why croupiers don’t just shuffle more frequently. After all, frequent shuffles would accomplish the same goal as a CSM—without the need for a fancy machine.

However, stopping the game more often causes casinos to lose serious profits. The house wants to see as many hands as possible so it wins more from recreational players.

This is the main reason why some dealers allow adequate deck penetration in the first place. They simply don’t want to halt the action several times an hour to keep shuffling.

You Can Beat CSMs on One Rare Occasion

You normally have no chance to beat blackjack with a CSM present. These machines constantly shuffle cards and prevent you from successfully counting cards.

However, one rare event can help you win profits off the casino. You’ll still be able to count cards if the dealer forgets to insert card clumps into the machine.

In this case, the croupier is allowing deck penetration. You, meanwhile, can keep counting cards like normal and capitalizing later in the shoe.

The hope is that you’re privy to at least 75% deck penetration before the dealer realizes their mistake. This kind of penetration gives you a realistic—although not guaranteed—chance to make money.

What Are the Chances of This Occurrence Happening?

Blackjack dealers receive extensive training. Part of this training includes remembering to insert cards into a CSM (if applicable).

A dealer is highly unlikely to forget to put card clumps into the machine. Assuming they do, this slip-up will be a rare occurrence.

It’s not completely unfathomable that, after a long shift, a croupier would occasionally forget to insert cards into a CSM for a while.

However, you just won’t see this event very often. The average dealer is a trained employee who’s rarely—if ever—going to surrender this kind of advantage to counters.

How Many Casinos Use Continuous Shuffling Machines?

No exact data exists on how many casinos nor gambling tables worldwide employ CSMs. However, plenty of gaming establishments use these machines in some capacity.

Many casinos enjoy the advantage that they get from delivering more hands to players. They also appreciate not having to watch for card counters.

However, not all gaming venues use continuous shuffling machines. The main reason why is that they realize many amateur players don’t like nor trust CSMs.

Pile of Playing Cards

Contrary to what some gamblers think, a shuffling machine doesn’t rig the game for casinos. But just the myth alone keeps players away from machine-shuffled tables.

In reality, CSMs just cause more hands to be dealt. This increased hand rate is what makes the typical player to lose more money—not a rigged machine.

Another reason why casinos forego using CSMs is that they don’t want to ruin the classic feeling. Many gamblers enjoy a hand-shuffled game because it feels more authentic.

Taking everything into account, some casinos will always offer traditional blackjack games. The latter give you an actual chance to win profits.

More Realistic Ways to Beat Blackjack

You can see that relying on a dealer to forget loading the CSM isn’t a feasible strategy. That said, you might consider trying the following routes for a more-realistic chance at winning money.

Choose Tables Without CSMs

Some gambling establishments resist the urge to use continuous shuffling machines. These same casinos provide an opportunity to win through advantage play.

You can perform simple research to find relevant casinos. Check out forums and updated articles to see which venues don’t employ CSMs.

Atlantic City, Las Vegas, and Reno are three primary spots with traditional blackjack. Vegas is especially worth a visit for CSM-less blackjack.

In contrast, certain gambling destinations use shuffling machines across all of their casinos. Macau and Monte Carlo are two of the worst offenders in this regard.

Search for Casinos/Cities That Don’t Bring the Heat

Gaming hot spots differ on how likely they are to bring the heat (a.k.a. closely scrutinize) against advantage players.

Reno, for example, watches closely for card counters. This Western Nevada city offers such favorable blackjack rules that it doesn’t want pros gaining an even bigger edge.

Atlantic City and Vegas, on the other hand, are typically more lenient towards suspected counters. They’ll wait longer to kick a potential counter off the tables.

Of course, any casino can use different policies than those around it. Generally speaking, though, you can get away with higher bet spreads in Vegas and Atlantic City.

Master Shuffle Tracking

One telltale sign of card counting involves increasing one’s bet towards the end of a shoe. Again, raising wagers with more deck penetration increases the odds of consistent profits.

Pit bosses look for players who suddenly spread their bet from $10 to $100, or higher, later in the shoe. Ace sequencing, however, helps you avoid tipping off pit bosses.

This advantage gambling method begins with card counting. You count cards until the dealer stops to shuffle.

At this point, you know which part of the shoe has the favorable and negative count. Here’s an example on using this information:

  • The dealer shuffles after 75% penetration.
  • Your count is -2.
  • This means that the other 25% of the deck offers a +2 count.

Knowing this info, you can visually track the card clumps from the favorable part of the shoe. Assuming you’re able to successfully track the clumps, you’ll know exactly when they come out of the deck.

The advantage here is that you don’t necessarily wait until later in a shoe to bet big. Instead, you place larger wagers whenever the clumps come out—thus making it appear that you’re randomly raising bets.

Conclusion

Continuous shuffling machines don’t offer any leeway to card counters. As long as the dealer loads the CSM consistently, you can’t gain a long-term advantage.

You’re at the mercy of an inept dealer who forgets to put cards into the CSM. This doesn’t happen often, meaning you stand almost no chance of beating a machine-shuffled table.

Luckily, enough casinos offer hand-shuffled games that you still have a chance to win. You just need to perform research beforehand and choose the right cities and casinos.

7 Tricks Professional NCAA Football Gamblers Use

NCAAF Quarterback Throwing Ball

I’m going to share the top secrets used by college football gamblers to make profitable wagers. These aren’t something that many professional gamblers share with others, but today is your lucky day.

Here’s a list of seven tricks that professional college football gamblers use every week. Once you learn what these tricks are and how to use them, you’re going to quickly see an increase in your profits.

And just as importantly as picking winning bets, you’re going to be able to avoid the trap bets that cost so many NCAA football gamblers money.

1 – Tracking Recruiting Results

If you want to know which college football teams are going to have the best seasons, look at the recruiting rankings for each team over the past four years. The teams with the best recruiting rankings are the teams that have the best seasons.

This might not be especially helpful when you’re betting on the teams that consistently place in the top 20 in the country, because most people already know who the best teams are.

One way to get an edge is betting on NCAA football teams that aren’t in the top 20. You should look at the recent recruiting rankings for every team in each league and rank the teams from top to bottom.

When you do this, you can clearly see that recruiting is just as important in the NCAA football leagues that aren’t as popular as the SEC and Big 10. You can use this information to make profitable bets every season, just like the top NCAA football gamblers do.

2 – Seeing Trap Games

Every college football season there are teams that lose games that no one saw coming. An average team plays out of their mind and a good team plays poorly, and it creates a perfect situation and a giant gets knocked off.

One of the keys to being a winning college football gambler is to see possible trap games and avoid them. Sometimes being a winning football gambler is as much about avoiding bad bets as it is about finding profitable ones.

Here are some things to look for to help you identify trap games.

NCAAF Lineman

When a team is playing a big game in two weeks, they often overlook their current opponent. This is also true for a team coming off a big game.

The other important thing to look for is when a good team is playing on the road. Good teams rarely lose at home, so trap games are almost always on the road.

When you identify college football games that might be trap games, simply don’t bet on them. It’s less costly to avoid a game and be wrong than to bet on one and be wrong. You can find many other games on the schedule every week that aren’t trap games to place wagers on.

3 – Finding Moneyline Value

Most NCAA football gamblers look for moneylines on games that appear to be sure things. These are games when the top teams like Clemson, Alabama, and Ohio State play against weak opponents.

But smart college football gamblers know that the price they have to pay to bet on these teams is usually too high. Instead, they look for moneylines that offer value. Often these bets are on teams that aren’t favored to win, or on teams that aren’t favored to win by much.

It’s dangerous when you bet the moneyline on a college team that’s heavily favored to win. You can lose a large amount that eliminated week’s worth of profits if a single game goes the wrong way.

Instead of looking for a sure thing, which never exists in sports betting, look for games and lines that offer value. Winning college football gamblers make bets on games and lines that offer value. They know they won’t be right every time they bet, but they also know that if they find and bet on value that in the long run they’re going to make money.

4 – Avoid Big Spread Games

You just learned about the danger of betting the moneyline on games with a big favorite. There’s just as much danger in betting on games with a big point spread.

The danger is in how unpredictable games with a big point spread are. Sometimes the favorite completely thrashes their opponent and wins by even more than the big spread. But sometimes they start playing their backups and the underdog is able to come in under the point spread.

It’s fairly easy to pick Alabama or Clemson to win over a weak team, but it’s almost impossible to predict how much they’re going to win by.

I find that games with point spreads of 10 or less are much easier to predict and profit from. The lower the point spread, the easier it is to find value and make long term profits.

The main point is that any betting situation that’s unpredictable is bad for your profits. It’s often like flipping a coin. And smart college football gamblers find value instead of flipping coins.

5 – Exploiting Bad Secondary Teams

NCAA football overall has terrible defensive backs. A team is lucky if they have a single corner that can effectively cover a decent receiver. Most teams don’t have anyone in the secondary that can cover good receivers.

You need to know which NCAA football teams have the best secondary players, and which teams have the worst. This is going to help you evaluate games, especially when these teams face teams with a good passing attack.

The fact is that great passing teams almost always can perform well, even against good defensive teams. And the gap is even more pronounced when a good passing team plays a team with a weak secondary.

Learn how to evaluate defensive backs and you’re going to improve your profits quickly. And don’t make the mistake of basing all of your evaluations on statistics. You have to watch as many defensive backs as possible to see how good or bad they really are.

6 – Ranking Coaches

College football coaches usually don’t get enough credit. In the NFL, the difference between most coaches is small. This is because there aren’t very many of them.

In college football, some coaches are simply superior to others. They get the best recruits and they get more out of their players on the field. And some college football coaches are able to get more out of their players so they actually outperform teams with better recruits.

NCAAF Offense Lining p for a Play

You need to start ranking coaches in each conference based on how much they get out of their players, how they perform as coaches in games, and how they recruit.

When you know which coaches get the most out of their players and which ones rely more on talent than coaching, you can use this information every time you evaluate a game.

7 – Quarterbacks Who Can Run

One of the things that influence college football more than the NFL is the ability of a quarterback to run the ball. A few NFL quarterbacks run the ball, but the life of a running quarterback in the NFL is often short because they take too much punishment.

College football coaches don’t worry as much about running their quarterback because they only have him for a few years.

A college quarterback who can run puts an extra level of pressure on the defense. When the defense gets a good pass rush and the quarterback is able to escape and turn a negative play into a positive play, it can crush a defense.

When two teams are closely matched, usually the best bet is on the team with the quarterback who’s a better runner. A college quarterback can win a game with his legs.

Conclusion

If you want to instantly improve your college football gambling results, all you have to do is start using the seven tricks on this page. Some of them are easier to use than others, but they’re all worth the time and effort when it means more profits.

Learn how to identify and avoid trap games and stop making mistakes and you’re going to quickly improve your results. And if you do a good job ranking recruiting classes, coaches, and secondary performances you can turn a losing record into a winning one.

5 Ways to Keep Your Home Poker Game Safe Like They Do in Las Vegas

Closeup of a Man Grabbing Poker Chip With a Shield Overlay

I’ve played poker in the home game setting hundreds of times in my life, both as a host and as a guest. And it took years for the inevitable to happen—I was cheated.

There’s no need to get into the messy details, but attending a new game based on advice from an acquaintance didn’t work out so well. This regrettable situation involved nothing more complicated than collusion and signaling, with a group subtly providing one another with information about their hole cards.

As the game progressed, I began to feel slightly suspicious given my unusually low win rate. At the time, I wrote it off as loser’s regret, coupled with good old-fashioned paranoia. But at all junctures in the game, it just felt as though my opponents were reading me every time.

And that’s because they did, as I later learned from a fellow poker player who caught the cheaters in the act. He paid closer attention, and after noticing the host repeatedly fingering his knuckles after squeezing his hole cards, my pal called the guy out for signaling.

After that, I decided to play a little poker in Las Vegas. I wanted to remind myself what poker in a safe, secure, and honest venue felt like, so Sin City was the natural choice. Say what you will about Las Vegas poker players, but casino card rooms in the world’s gambling capital make every effort to protect the integrity of their games.

Upon returning home from a profitable and cheat-free session of $2/$5 No Limit Texas Hold’em, I decided to use the experience as inspiration for this blog post. After all of this, I still love home poker games, both playing in them and hosting a weekly poker night with my friends and family.

Knowing how the poker rooms in Las Vegas regulate every aspect of the game to prevent cheating, I’m happy to pass along a few tricks of the trade you can use to safeguard your own at-home poker game.

1 – Never Forget to Cut the Cards After Every Shuffle

One of the oldest poker maxims in existence advises would be for players to “trust everyone, but ALWAYS cut the cards.”

And truer words have never been spoken, as the most commonly encountered form of cheating involves nothing more than a little dexterity with the deck in hand. So-called “mechanics” are capable of riffling and shuffling a deck of cards in such a way that it seems random to the naked eye. But in reality, mechanics can stack the deck to give themselves or a partner great cards like clockwork.

In the cult-classic poker flick “Rounders” (1998), the protagonists alternate between honest play and mechanic tricks. Eventually, their decision to cheat a group of policemen gets them in deep trouble, after an astute observer notices one dealing from the bottom of the deck.

You can watch that sorry scene play out here:

The cops allow “Worm” to sit down, shuffle the deck, and begin dealing without ever cutting the cards. Like magic, “Worm” delivers his partner-in-crime (Mike McDermott) one of the most powerful hands in all of Seven Card Stud—“rolled up” kings for three of a kind.

Mike McD is savvy enough to fold the highly suspicious hand, knowing you can only sheer a sheep so much before you draw blood.

But a degenerate to his core, Worm can’t help himself, so he continues to “base deal” by giving Mike premium cards from the bottom of the deck. The scheme is eventually called out and the duo are pummeled as punishment.

That scene is obviously dramatized for audiences, but you’d be shocked to learn just how common stacked decks really are in the non-casino setting.

The funny thing is though, this scam simply can’t work when a strict “cut the cards” policy is in place. One extremely easy fix is all it takes to eliminate the threat of mechanics wielding stacked decks on the sly.

2 – Use a Cut Card to Conceal the Deck’s Bottom Card

You can always cut the cards in casual fashion by separating the deck into halves and reversing their position, but there’s a better way to do the job.

Have you ever wondered why casino card dealers use a rectangular piece of plastic to slice the deck in half when they cut? Well, this “cut card” is an essential piece of casino equipment used to further protect the game from cheaters.

In this case, the cut card’s real purpose isn’t to divide the deck, it’s to cover up the bottom card before the dealer lifts the deck from the felt.

Without a cut card, the dealer would need to use their palm to completely cover the bottom card, but this is nearly impossible every time out. Between checking their own hole cards, grabbing chips, and lifting the deck up to four times (on the deal, to deliver the flop, turn, and river), even a trained dealer would have trouble using their hand to protect the bottom card from being exposed.

Busy Home Poker Game

And the threat of exposure is paramount here, because eagle-eyed cheats will be happy to spy on weak dealers in hopes of learning an item of information known only to them.

It may not seem like a big deal, but just ask yourself how you’d play a flush draw knowing one of the nine spades left in the deck is surely never coming? Spotting an ace on the bottom of the deck makes playing pocket kings on an ace-high flop much easier. No matter which card they happen to see, bottom card spotters can use that info to gain an unfair advantage over their opponents.

By using a cut card in your home game, you’ll have one less thing to worry about when it comes to potential cheating.

3 – Purchase an Automatic Card-Shuffling Machine

Taking things to the next level, you can remove all doubt about the integrity of the deck by adding an automatic card shuffling machine to your home poker game mix.

These machines vary in price based on the make and model. But for the price you’d pay to make a bad call with a flush draw, you can easily have a shuffling machine shipped to your door within a day or two.

The beauty of automatic card shufflers is that they serve a dual purpose. Along with eradicating the threat of mechanics stacking the deck, a quality shuffler can easily add dozens of hands per hour to your normal pace of play.

Why wait for that agonizingly slow player who seems to shuffle like they have two left hands, when you can have a fresh deck ready and waiting ahead of every new hand?

4 – Install a Security Camera Overhead

The most prominent sign that a Las Vegas casino is protecting its card games is the presence of overhead cameras.

The famous “eye in the sky” sees all, which provides a powerful form of discouragement for aspiring cheats. Even if they know exactly how to get one over on their opponents, poker cheaters seldom try to work their dark magic knowing several high-resolution cameras are watching their every move.

Installing a camera for your home game might seem like a bridge too far, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. And the best part is, you don’t even have to use a real working camera. Simply adding a “dummy” camera that looks like the real deal provides enough of a deterrent that any potential cheaters will clam up at the sight of a lens staring straight at them.

5 – Look, Listen, and Observe

While preventative measures and technological tools are always a welcome way to prevent cheating in poker, nothing beats the basic act of paying attention.

Had I thought to watch for signaling in the game that took me, I would’ve easily noticed the scheme playing out right in front of my eyes. Unfortunately, I was too trusting on that evening, so I never even bothered to scan the table for suspicious behavior.

Three Cowboys Playing Poker

You don’t have to fall victim to that fate, however, so long as you stay vigilant and watch out for anything that doesn’t feel right. Players shooting one another strange looks, “soft-playing” certain opponents to avoid taking their chips, or handling their cards and chips in unusual fashion are all red flags to watch for.

With that said, these behaviors don’t always mean you’re being cheated, so be careful to avoid a “boy who cried wolf” scenario. Pay close attention, make mental notes about what you’re seeing, and when you’ve gathered enough evidence, only then should you lodge a serious accusation like cheating.

Conclusion

Home games are meant to be casual affairs, a respite from the real world where you get to let loose and compete against friend and foe. Unfortunately, wherever money changes hands, poker cheats will try to game the system in their advantage.

Poker and cheating have always gone hand in hand, and that’s just the sad truth of the matter. But with these five useful tips at your disposal, your home game should be honest on the block going forward.

5 Reasons Why You Must Learn How to Bet on Sports

Sports Betting Board and TV Monitors Mixed Image

Casinos are filled with gamblers and poker rooms are filled with poker players, but many of them would be better off if they gave up what they’re doing and started betting sports.

This isn’t because betting on sports is easier. But it can be more profitable. Casinos are designed to take money from gamblers and poker rooms make money by taking rake from each hand.

A few poker players can beat the rake, but most of them lose. And almost every casino gambler loses. But smart sports bettors can win.

Find out more about how you can be a winning sports gambler by reading the five reasons why every gambler should learn how to bet on sports.

1 – Thousands of Betting Opportunities

When you learn how to bet on sporting events, there are literally thousands of betting opportunities every year. You can bet on any game played in the popular sports leagues, as well as other events played all around the world.

Every single day of the year there are things you can bet on. And on many days there are dozens of betting options.

The major sports have hundreds or thousands of games on the schedule very year, and when you add in college sports there are thousands more betting opportunities.

And if you want to have the chance to bet on even more games, take a look at the soccer leagues that are run all around the world. Soccer is called football in most countries outside the United States.

All of the betting opportunities aren’t just good for variety either. They can be profitable for sports bettors. The next two sections each explain a different reason why thousands of games can be turned into long term profits.

2 – The Ability to Specialize

In order to completely understand why thousands of betting opportunities give you a chance to make a profit, you need to have a rough understanding of how sportsbooks work.

Sportsbooks are in business to make money. They make money by offering betting lines and collecting an extra fee on bets that gamblers lose. While it doesn’t happen with every line they offer, the sportsbooks lock in a profit when they have the same amount of money bet on each side of a game.

This leads the sportsbooks to set their lines based on how much money, or handle, they can get on each aide of a line. This isn’t always an accurate prediction of what’s going to happen in a game.

NCAAF Players Standing by Coach

The sportsbooks have to set lines on all or most of the games on the schedule. They set lines for all of the games in popular sports leagues, and on many other games as well.

Why is all of this important?

It’s important because you can specialize in one area and have a good chance to predict the outcomes of upcoming games better than the sportsbook set the lines.

With all of the information and statistics available today, you can become an expert in the area where you specialize. This is going to require a great deal of work, but it’s something that you can do.

Not only do you have the ability to specialize, but you need to specialize. Most gamblers don’t specialize in any area, and most of them lose consistently. Stop doing what losing gamblers do. Pick an area of sports betting to specialize in and become an expert. This is going to help you learn how to handicap games in your area of specialization and win more bets.

3 – Betting Line Inconsistencies

You learned earlier that sportsbooks set lines on a large number of games. The big sportsbooks all set their own lines, and many smaller sportsbooks steal their lines from other books.

When you check lines from several different sportsbooks you almost always see that they’re the same or close. But even lines that are the close but not the same can offer the opportunity to make a profit.

This is why you always need to look at the available lines at as many different sportsbooks as possible. Every game that you handicap or evaluate and decide that you might bet on can only be profitable when you find a betting line that offers value.

And when you find two or more different lines, it can give you even more value.

If you evaluate a football game and determine the home team should win by 11 points, you don’t know if you can make a bet that offers value until you look at the lines. If all of the sportsbooks offer lines at 11, or 10 ½ or 11 ½, there isn’t any value.

But if you find a line at – 9 at one sportsbook and – 8 ½ at another, you make a bet at the one at – 8 ½ and you win if the home team wins by 9 or more.

Always look for lines that vary from one sportsbook to another for value and profits.

4 – You Can Win in the Long Run

Everything that you’ve learned up to this point is important, because these are the things that allow some smart gamblers to make long term profits betting on sports.

All of the games on the schedule create opportunities. The sportsbooks can’t always set perfect lines, and when you specialize you can learn how to do a better job predicting games than the books.

Evaluating sporting events is also called handicapping. Handicapping simply means looking at everything you need to evaluate a game to predict which team is going to win and by how much.

Handicapping a game doesn’t tell you if you can make a profitable wager or not. It just makes a prediction.

The truth is that it’s difficult to make accurate predictions, but with enough work and practice some people can do it.

You only find out if you can make a profitable wager when you compare your predictions to the lines that are available. This is how good handicappers make a long term profit.

And you can learn how to do it also.

It starts with specializing like you learned in an earlier section. Practice your handicapping skills in your specialized area, and then find as many lines as you can. Start betting small while you build your skills and keep learning. With enough practice you can make long term profits betting on sporting events.

5 – Almost Unlimited Bet Sizing Options

The last thing that you need to know about betting on sports is that you can start with a budget of almost any size. Many online sportsbooks take bets as low as $1 or less, and land based sportsbooks sometimes take bets as high as $1,000,000 or more.

And this doesn’t even cover the fact that you can bet with friends, family, and people you work with or know for any stakes you can agree on.

If you want to bet $10 on a game involving your favorite team, you can find a place to make the bet. Or if you want to bet $100,000 on the Super Bowl, you can find a sportsbook willing to take your action.

NCAAB Player Driving the Ball

This might not seem like a big deal, but one of the main problems casinos face is they have to set table minimum bet amounts on their games so they can afford to keep the tables in play. If a casino has a table minimum bet of $20, you need a larger bankroll if you want to play for long.

But you can bet on sports without needing hundreds or thousands to get started. And if you learn how to handicap games well enough to make a long term profit, you can make bigger bets as your results improve.

Start out making small bets, and then increase your bet size as you get better at predicting results. And if you hit a rough patch, reduce your bet amounts until you get back on track. Sports betting is one of the few ways you can gamble using whatever bankroll and betting level that you want.

Conclusion

With thousands of games available to bet on every year, sports’ betting offers the best opportunity for smart gamblers to win. The sportsbooks can’t possibly set a perfect line for every game on the schedule, so you can specialize in a small betting area and find lines that offer value and profit.

Learn how to evaluate and handicap games, start betting small, and ramp up your bets as you learn how to win consistently. Betting on sports is an opportunity that you can’t find in many other forms of gambling. Take advantage of it today.

I Played Free Slots Online for an Hour (Here’s What I Learned)

Laptop Displaying Selection of Online Slots

I was very surprised when my editor challenged me to spend 1 hour playing free slots online and write about what I learned.

I fancy myself a blackjack connoisseur, a card shark. Of course, these are grand delusions of my own mind.

I certainly have never claimed to be an online slots pro. Well, maybe after a few drinks.

In any regard, I have certainly watched the boom of online slots from the sidelines. It was time for me to take off my comfortable warm-up suit and get in the game.

There are two reasons that free online slots are hugely popular. First, these are extremely entertaining games. Gone are the days of lining up bars and 7’s. Today these slots are full of pop and excitement, you’ll find interactive bonus games and colorful themes.

Secondly, you can actually win real money by playing free online casino slots, without having to risk any of your own cash. This is a dream for most slots players. Just imagine, you are able to enjoy spin after spins upon spin without risking any of your own funds.

Today, I’ll go over free online slots that are legally available in most states. While offshore casino sites are unregulated and risky, there are solid regulated alternatives available.

These include sweepstakes casinos and, in a smaller group of states, regulated online casino apps.

First, let’s take a look at the different ways to get free cash to take a shot at winning money playing free slot games.

All About the Bonuses

Online casinos offer bonuses that let prospective players check out their slots and casino table games.

You can take advantage of these to start off your slots bankroll with no money down. Free bonuses are smaller than those offered with a deposit.

You might need to take advantage of more than one before you hit big. After the different types of bonuses are covered, I will discuss the all-important terms and conditions to look out for.

Free Slots Bonus Offers to Look out For:
  • No-deposit bonuses: These range between $10 at the lower end and around $30 at the higher end. You’ll be given a bonus simply for registering, as long as you meet the location and age requirements. These bonuses come with wagering/play requirements before your profits can be withdrawn.
  • Free spins bonuses: These offers differ from cash bonuses in that you are given a set number of slot spins instead of money. They often specify which game or games you can play. The usual range is 10 to 20 spins, though some offers go much higher. Again, you’ll need to wager your winnings a specified number of times before withdrawing.
  • Contests/promotions: Many casinos run promotions on social media, for example giving you drawing entries in return for sharing or interacting. You can win bonuses and free spins this way in the hope of running them up with a lucky streak on a slot. Promotions are sometimes seasonal and also come around when new slot games are released.

If you are a regular real-money player at online casinos, you can add loyalty rewards to the list of how to get free slot play.

Understand the Games Terms

While I was deciding where to spend my hour mindlessly tapping away on my mouse pad, I found myself in the discussion pages.

Oh boy, do real money online slots players have their hot opinions on how and when they should receive their bonuses.

Personally, I was pleased to see such passion from these veteran online slots players. I have intense tendencies. So, people showing such fervor was my first true sign that maybe I was on to something good.

El Royale Online Casino Slots Game

When you compare slot bonuses, the devil is always in the details. All casinos will have terms and conditions to protect them from player abuse or fraud.

As long as you are aware of the rules, you won’t accidentally invalidate your free spins or cash bonus, for example by letting it expire.

Here are the free slots bonus terms to look out for:

  • Expiration date: Free play bonuses are often short-term. Some need to be used within seven days of registering, while others will be available for 30 days.
  • Wagering/play-through requirements: Bonuses will specify the number of times you need to wager the money you win before it can be withdrawn. The best casinos ask for 1x to 5x your bonus amount — while some go as high as 50x.
  • Capped winnings: A common term is to cap the total winnings you can withdraw via a no-deposit bonus. Some casinos might restrict you to $100 maximum wins, while others will leave this uncapped.
  • Designated games: Some bonuses allow you to play on any slot you want at the online casino, while others specify. Take care of terms stating that your bonus can be voided if you play the wrong game or slot.
  • Deposit to withdraw: Some casinos contain clauses in their free bonuses that state you need to deposit before any winnings can be withdrawn. If you are not prepared to do this, then these bonuses are best avoided.
  • Jackpot wins: Some free slot bonuses allow you to win progressive jackpots, while others do not. If you want to take a shot at a life-changing progressive, always check the terms first.

You should get in the habit of scanning the terms and conditions for any casino bonuses you accept.

Not all casinos have bad/predatory terms, and by making yourself familiar with the Ts and Cs, you can learn to tell apart the good bonuses and the tricky ones.

Free Online Slots at Regulated Casinos

There are currently two states with regulated and legal online casinos. New Jersey has offered licensed casinos since 2013, with Pennsylvania joining more recently. With many more states passing regulations, this list should be growing exponentially very soon.

Pennsylvania and New Jersey online casinos can only be used from within state lines. Geolocation technology ensures that you are physically inside the state before you can play.

There are a lot of brands competing for your play in both states. So, when your state finally opens up to regulated gambling, you will have a multitude of choices.

Free Online Slots at Sweepstakes Casinos

Sweepstakes casinos are a popular way of enjoying free slot machines and taking advantage of no-deposit bonuses from almost every state.

These casinos work using sweepstakes game laws, which are under state jurisdiction. From the perspective of the player, the games act in the same way as any slot. You can win big jackpots, and get a choice of playing for fun (gold coins) or using “Sweeps Cash,” which can be redeemed for dollars and withdrawn.

El Royale Online Slots Game

Brands include Chumba Casino and LuckyLand Slots. Each has a selection of colorful and entertaining slot games, in addition to a handful of table games and keno titles.

They stay legal by giving you sweepstakes entries for free. You don’t have to pay to play. Instead, you get free “Sweeps Cash” when you buy the (entertainment only) gold coins. There are other ways to get free Sweeps Cash:

  • Sign up: Chumba Casino gives you $2 worth of Sweeps Coins simply for registering.
  • Send a letter: Posting your account information to a registered address also gets you free Sweeps Cash.
  • Social media contests: Share posts, enter drawings contests, and look out for special codes to claim free play.
  • Buy gold coins: This gets you Sweeps Cash in direct proportion to the amount spent on gold coins. You can buy them with your credit card.

Examples of Free Online Slots at Sweepstakes Casinos

These sites are growing in popularity, though the games are not as well-known as the casino slots from big names like IGT, Bally and Aristocrat.

What you’ll find is many titles are just as exciting and addictive as their big-name counterparts. Many of them are close copies of famous slots, without ever quite crossing that line of copyright infringement.

Here are some examples:

  • Kitty Glamour
  • Stampede Fury
  • Long Zhi Bao Lang
  • King of the Gods
  • Triple Double Golden Stars

Conclusion

There are new slot games being added to the thousands already online all the time. You can get familiar with these games by playing them in demo mode before you use your bonus cash. Slots were once divided into three-reel games, which mimicked the old mechanical machines, and video slots with five reels.

These days, this distinction only scratches the surface of the differences. Three-reel or traditional slots now include multiple win-lines, wild and scatter symbols and bonus games such as wheel spins or picks bonuses.

Having not been exactly thrilled with the gauntlet thrown by my editor, I was able to thoroughly enjoy my hour (or two) playing for free online. By doing a little bit of research and trying a few different sites, I felt comfortable settling in and helping Dorothy and Toto traverse the Yellow Brick Road, spin by spin.

12 Different Kinds of Bingo Games

Bingo Sign Over Bowl of Bingo Balls

Bingo might be one of the most common gambling games in the world. It’s certainly the most accepted form of gambling.

What other gambling game do you know of that’s played regularly at church events and in elementary school?

And, as with most gambling games, bingo games come in multiple categorizations.

Here are 12 different kinds of bingo games you might encounter in your gambling journey:

1- Traditional American Bingo With 75 Balls

I live in the United States, so the bingo game I’m most familiar with is traditional American bingo.

A traditional American bingo card is a grid with 5 rows and 5 columns. The columns are labeled B – I – N – G – O. Each column has 5 numbers in it, from 1 through 75. The first column has 5 numbers from between 1 and 15, the second columns has 5 numbers from between 16 and 30, and so on.

When a player gets 5 numbers in a row – horizontally, vertically, or diagonally – she yells out bingo and wins the prize pool.

2- UK Bingo (Housie) With 90 Balls

Bingo is also a big deal in the United Kingdom, but instead of using 75 numbers, UK bingo uses 90 numbers. Bingo cards in the UK are called “tickets,” and they have 27 spaces instead of 25. The squares are arranged in 9 columns of 3 rows.

A row of numbers in UK bingo has 5 numbers and 4 blank spots.

A column of numbers in UK bingo has up to 3 numbers.

The numbers in the first column are 1 through 10, and the numbers in the second column are 11 through 20, and so on.

Electronic Bingo Board

They print these tickets in 6-ticket strips so that they can get every number between 1 and 90 on the tickets.

The winning combinations are different, too. You can win by getting all 4 corners, a horizontal line, 2 lines, or a full house.

3- Online Bingo With 80 Balls

80-ball bingo was created specifically for online bingo play. This bingo card is arranged in a 4 X 4 grid and has 16 numbers total on it. The first column has 4 numbers between 1 and 20, the second column has 4 numbers between 21 and 40, and so on.

Your goal is to get a winning pattern, which varies according to the game you’re playing.

4- Speed Bingo With 30 Balls

Like 80-ball bingo, speed bingo is more common online than in live bingo halls. You only have 30 balls, so the game goes a lot faster.

A bingo card in this variation is organized into a 3X3 grid, so there are a total of 9 numbers on the card.

It should be obvious why speed bingo plays so fast.

Traditionally, speed bingo only has a single winner per game, too, making the stakes higher. (In many other bingo games, the prize sometimes gets split between multiple winners.)

5- Blackout Bingo

Blackout bingo is traditionally played as a variation on the traditional United States version of bingo. Instead of trying to get 5 in a row, your goal is get all 25 spots on your bingo card filled in before your opponents do.

A variation of blackjack out bingo is called 4X4 block, in which case you’re trying to black out any 4 X 4 block on the bingo card. It doesn’t matter which 4X4 block you fill in.

In fact, most people, when they think of “different bingo games,” they mean different bingo patterns. Blackout bingo is just the most common of this kind of variation.

6- Fixed Jackpot Bingo

Another way to categorize bingo games is by the type of jackpot the game offers. A fixed jackpot bingo game is comparable to a flat top slot machine game – you have a jackpot of a specific amount that’s decided before you start playing the game.

Here’s an example:

You buy a bingo ticket to a game in a traditional bingo hall for $1. The prize for that game is $200, regardless of how many people are playing.

That’s a fixed jackpot bingo game.

7- Progressive Jackpot Bingo Games

Obviously, a progressive jackpot bingo game compares with a progressive jackpot slot machine game. The word “progressive” just refers to how the size of the jackpot grows – progressively.

A better comparison, though, is a Powerball lottery. The jackpot in a Powerball lottery rolls over from one week to the next until the lottery is won.

Once someone wins the jackpot, the amount starts over at its traditional beginning prize amount.

The winning conditions for a progressive jackpot bingo game are traditionally tougher than the winning conditions for a standard game – it’s rare to win a progressive jackpot in a bingo game just by getting 5 numbers in a row.

8- Bingo Tournaments

A bingo tournament consists of a series of bingo games, and you get points for each game that you win. You’re competing against other players, which is traditional with any kind of tournament. In fact, in most bingo games, you ARE competing with other players anyway.

It’s the series of bingo games in a row and the scoring of points that make a bingo tournament different.

It’s not uncommon to have free or for cash bingo tournaments on the internet. Sometimes the free bingo tournaments are played just for bragging rights, but, in other cases, you might have a cash prize.

Such bingo tournaments are called freerolls.

9- Bingo Slot Machines

In the United States, at many tribal casinos, traditional slot machines aren’t allowed. The results on the slot machines in those casinos must follow the same algorithm as a bingo game.

In these casinos, the slot machines look and sound like traditional slot machines, but they’re actually getting their results from a single central random number generator that’s running ongoing bingo games in the background.

If you look closely at such machines, you’ll see that in addition to the spinning reels, there’s usually an electronic display of a bingo card.

That’s what determines what you win.

The symbols on the reels just mirror what’s happening with the bingo game.

10- Online Casino Bingo

Many real money online casinos offer bingo games that aren’t multiplayer bingo games at all. They just look like multiplayer bingo games. They have more in common with keno or lottery games, though.

For example, one prominent casino/sportsbook offers a game called Amazonia Bingo – it has a theme of an Amazon Rainforest, but it also has bonus games where you look for wildlife.

You don’t compete with or interact with other players in such an online casino bingo game.

11- Novelty Bingo Games

I go to a support group for people with substance abuse problems. When you see the4 same people repeatedly at such a meeting, you get used to them saying some of the same things repeatedly.

Table Spread of Bingo Cards

Not long ago, a friend of mine suggested we create support group bingo cards. Every time Misty says, “I’ve been dealing with some serious stuff lately,” you’d get to mark that off on your card. (This is something she says at every meeting.

Many novelty bingo games are like this – it could be a game where you watch a television show and mark off a space when something specific happens during the show.

The various kinds of novelty bingo games available with this kind of theme are staggering. They’re as wild as your imagination and sense of humor.

12- Road Trip Bingo

When I used to take my kids on road trips, we’d sometimes play road trip bingo. I’d create bingo cards with the names of states on the squares, and the kids would look out for license plates from those states. This is also called license plate bingo.

The kids loved it, and it kept them from being bored and whiney on those long road trips.

Conclusion

I’ve listed 12 different kinds of bingo games in this post, but I’ve barely scratched the surface. For example, you might consider every kind of bingo with a different winning pattern a separate game in its own right.

And, of course, the various brands of bingo slot machines might also be considered their own bingo games, too.

The variety of online bingo games available is staggering, too.

It’s hard to get bored with bingo when there’s so much variety and opportunities to become a better bingo player.

You NEED to Know These 4 Types of Baseball Bets

Large Picture of Baseball With a Baseball Field Background

It’s sometimes hard not to fall asleep watching a baseball game at home while sinking into the cushions of a comfy couch.

But what if you wanted to spice up your baseball experience.

You could head down to your local sportsbook to make a prop bet. Or you can use an online sportsbook to place a moneyline bet on the Yankees to give the Red Sox a good ol’ beatdown.

Placing a baseball wager is a great way to add excitement to watching a baseball game, especially in June when your favorite team might be long out of the race or your team is trapped in the midst of the dog days of summer.

Or perhaps you’re watching the world series but don’t really have a dog in the fight? You may enjoy placing a moneyline bet, so you can cheer for whoever plays against the Cardinals. Who wouldn’t want to see the Cards humiliated on sports biggest stage?

Over-under bets are another great bet to get your juices flowing.  If you know a big ace is pitching for a mediocre team, like Corey Kluber pitching for the Rangers, you might get a good bet in by taking the under and hoping the ace can lead his team to a victory.

If you’ve never made a baseball bet before, or if you’re not really sure of the difference between a moneyline bet and an over/under, here are some explanations that might help.

Prop Yourself up With Prop Bets

If you just want to look at one specific part of a ballgame, or if you want to have a good laugh, you can try out a prop bet for size.

Prop bets are specialty bets based on an event that can happen in a baseball game. There’s a ludicrous amount of possibilities in every game, from triple plays to catcher’s interference to a 6-5-4-2-3-1 double play rundown, and prop bets run the gamut of options.

Sportsbooks will offer prop bets like these:

Total Hits+Runs+RBIs by Khris Davis (OAK):

  • Over 2.5 Hits+Runs+RBIs (+110)
  • Under 2.5 Hits+Runs+RBIs (-125)

They offer these bets based on their own subjective analysis of how likely Khris Davis is to have a big night at the dish.

Prop bets are great because you can make a bet on any specific player you may like. If you’re pulling for Khris Davis, or maybe if you want to see the opposing pitcher get crushed, you’ll have a lot more fun watching every second of Davis’ at-bats.

Davis had a down year last year on his way to a .220 batting average. He hit only 23 dingers after hitting 40 or more in the 3 seasons before 2019. Even though he had a down year last year, he’s still a power threat playing on a competitive Oakland team.

While season totals are important, they don’t help as much for individual game prop bets. The baseball season is long at 162 games and even the best hitters will go 0 for 4 at the plate on certain nights.

MLB Diamondbacks Player Ketel Marte

It’s really hard to predict a single game outcome so prop bets should mostly be made for fun or if you have a really good feeling about a particular player. Be careful with your bankroll and save it for other bet types or just bet small amounts on prop bets to enhance your watching experience.

Look Ahead With Futures Wagers

Even with all the uncertainty that baseball presents over the course of one game, let alone a whole season, futures wagers are available year-round and let you try peering into the crystal ball of the baseball season.

Futures odds are continually given on online sportsbooks and can be made about almost any event in a baseball season.

An example futures bet you can make is which player will hit the first home run of the 2020 season.
The odds for 3 players are given below:

  • Mike Trout – +800
  • Pete Alonso – +850
  • Joey Gallo – +1000

While some may expect Trout to have the best odds to hit the first home run, there are other factors at play than just being the best in the game, which he is.

While Mike Trout is a phenomenal player, the face of baseball, and has already cemented a Hall of Fame case before turning 30, he’s not the most prolific home run hitter in the game.

That’s not to say he’s not a great power hitter. He is. But Trout is more of a complete package than just a pure power hitter as he plays a competent defensive center field, has a career 0.419 OBP, and has stolen 30 bases or more in three separate seasons.

Many players throughout the league knock out home runs at a higher rate and you’d be surprised at who may be expected to hit a home run before him in the regular season.

Pete Alonso had a 13.1 PA/HR in his fantastic 2019 rookie season where he took the league by storm and earned the nickname, “Polar Bear” for his efforts.

Alonso wasn’t the only player to beat Trout on a stat basis as Christian Yellich had 13.2 PA/HR in his fantastic 2019 season that was tragically cut short by a foul ball to the knee.

Both players barely edged out Trout, as Trout had a PA/HR rate of 13.3, just behind the two. Miguel Sano however, had the best rate of the 4 players of 12.9 PA/HR. Miguel Sano may not be quite the overall player that Trout is, but he definitely hits home runs at a furious clip.

Two MLB Blue Jays Players on Field

Considering the wager is only who will hit the first home run of the 2019 season, and not who’s the most complete player, Sano is the better bet here. He hits home runs on a more consistent basis than Trout, and although it’s a long shot, either way, Sano has a better PA/HR rate.

This is a bet that’s fun to make, but it’s not one I would bet a big chunk of my bankroll on due to how many players could easily hit the first home run out of nowhere.

Cash in With Moneyline Bets

Ok, so next let’s talk about moneyline bets. They’re the most obvious bet you can make and probably the one every layman thinks of first when they think of sports betting. Moneyline bets are just bets on who you think is gonna win.

There’s a little more nuance to it though, as books will sometimes favor one team over the other.

Some moneyline bets have equal juice on both sides and give the same payout if either team wins. It’s usually because the teams are pretty evenly matched.

Even juice for both sides happens more often than not in baseball. With odds being more or less even, you just need to bet on the team you think will win without worrying about odds. Evaluate the pitchers’ tendencies for each team and their fly ball rates.

Fly ball pitchers will get crushed in some parks, so research park effects to see how the home field plays for them. Look at hitting lineups too to see if a particular lineup is well suited to take on the day’s starting pitcher.

Some popular teams like the Red Sox or Yankees will have high juice pretty often because the Yankees always get lots of bets placed on them at the books.

When odds start approaching +200 or +300 for a team like the Yankees or Red Sox, it’s hardly worth it to bet on them at all. You’ll only get a $100 payout if you put down $300 and it’s not accurate to say the Yankees are that much of a mortal lock to win any game.

Make a Beeline to Runline Wagers

Run lines are a great way to get a little more out of betting on a prohibitive favorite like the Yankees.

Run lines will let you even the odds on a heavy favorite by changing the bet’s terms. Instead of simply wagering on them to win, now you’ll bet that the Yankees will win by 2 runs. The run line will be set at 1.5, and if the Yankees lose or only win by one run, you’ll still lose the bet.

If you’re frustrated because you want to bet on the Yankees but the books have them as such heavy favorites that it’s not worth it to you, making a run line bet instead is a way to get more money back.

Conclusion

What kind of wagers do you make when betting on baseball? Let us know in the comments.

What Everyone Should Know When Visiting Atlantic City

Woman Pulling a Suitcase With an Atlantic City Background

1 – The Best Time to Visit is March Through August

Because New Jersey is in the north the weather turns cool in the Fall and stays that way until Spring. Visitors best enjoy Atlantic City’s beautiful beaches and outdoor views when the weather is warm and friendly.

Of course the summer months are the busiest time of the year because all the kids are out of school and families plan their vacations around summer months.

City travel guides usually recommend that people who want to avoid the crowds visit earlier in the year, during the March through May early season.

If you’re looking for discounts on hotels and airfares then wait until after Labor Day. September is still a warm month and you’ll miss a lot of the crowds.

2 – There are 9 Casinos to Explore in Atlantic City

While It’s true there were once many more casinos in New Jersey’s gambling Mecca you’ll still find more choices than in most cities that host gambling resorts.

These are the casinos you can still visit:

If you play blackjack know that the casinos cannot ask advantage players to leave if they are caught counting cards. So they use 8-deck autoshuffling shoes. Card counting doesn’t work there. But they may offer better rules than Las Vegas to attract players who favor basic strategy.

Most of the roulette tables are single zero games – which is better than you’ll find in the majority of Las Vegas casinos.

The Borgata owns the largest of Atlantic City’s poker rooms but the Golden Nugget still offers 10 tables if you’re looking for a game.

Don’t expect to gamble online (legally) with the New Jersey casinos. Only state residents are allowed to play at the legal online casinos.

As in Vegas, it’s customary to tip anyone who provides you with personal service including baggage handlers, bar tenders, dealers, drivers, and restaurant and cocktail serves. Tips are usually in the $1-$3 range or no more than 10-20% gratuities.

3 – How to Reach Atlantic City by Land and Air

Philadelphia is just over 60 miles east of Atlantic City and it has the nearest large airport.

Travelers who want to fly directly to Atlantic City International Airport will have to book tickets on Spirit Airlines or charter a plane.

Spirit Airlines flies to most major eastern US cities and many cities in the Caribbean and South America. The majority of Spirit Airlines’ flights require a connection but they offer direct flights to and from Atlanta, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Nashville, New Orleans, Orlando, Philadelphia, and Tampa.

You’ll want to check online flight booking services to find the best route for you to reach Atlantic City by air.

Busy Boardwalk in Atlantic City

If you’re traveling by road then Interstate 76 enters Philadelphia from the west and Interstate 95 is the north-south corridor. Most drivers take state highway 42, the Atlantic City Expressway, from Philadelphia to Atlantic City. I-76 leads right to the expressway.

Travelers staying in Philadelphia can pay about $10 for a 90-minute train ride to Atlantic City. Free shuttles pick up train passengers and ferry them to and from the casinos.

Greyhound offers bus service from New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.

Locals tell people that parking can be expensive in Atlantic City. They recommend commuting by train if you stay in Philadelphia. The trip is scenic.

If you take a bus instead, print the ticket and take to customer service at the first casino you visit. Some of the coach companies have special arrangements with casinos. You may qualify for a voucher for slot games.

4 – Average Temperatures and Weather in Atlantic City

If you visit during the Spring expect temperatures to be in the 50s through 60s. That’s a little cool for swimming but there are still some warm, sunny days.

June is the driest month during the tourist season. September and October are also usually fairly dry. Other months average between 3 and 4 inches of rain.

5 – Peak Tourist Season Occurs in July and August

In other words, these are the months when the hotels are most expensive. If you must visit during either month you’ll find that prices are usually highest in August.

June and September are moderately priced compared to the peak months but still more expensive than the March through May Spring season.

6 – There Are Shows in Atlantic City

Although it’s smaller than most cities in America, Atlantic City boasts some high quality entertainment for a community of its size.

Selections are modest and some shows are seasonal.

Some of the famous acts you should look for include Julio Iglesias, Kool & the Gang, Rick Springfield and Richard Marx, Taylor Dayne, touring comedians, and various local artists.

7 – Plan Ahead

There are dozens of ways to save money and enhance you trip to Atlantic City. If you’re planning to go clubbing then register for their guest lists online in advance. You may save a lot of money on cover charges that way.

Did you know Atlantic City has great surfing waves for the east coast?

Groups may save money by renting a limo rather than taking taxi cabs.

Atlantic City casinos still have indoor smoking areas. If you prefer to avoid the smoke be prepared to ask directions for the non-smoking play areas.

In addition to gaming you’ll find shopping opportunities, including a Tangier Outlet Mall. While Atlantic City may not be legendary for its shopping choices it’s not a typical small town.

Hotel in Atlantic City

Family-friendly entertainment includes the art museum, Atlantic City Aquarium, Playground Pier and the Boardwalk, the beaches, Absecon Lighthouse, and local shows. The Atlantic City Ballet performs the Nutcracker every December so you’ll usually even find something in the off-season.

Among the more bizarre things to beware of are the seagulls. These aggressive birds are not shy about seizing food from your hand or that you drop. While things aren’t like an Alfred Hitchcock movie, keep an eye out for things falling from the sky and dress appropriately.

You should also expect to see pan handlers and other people plying their trades on the streets. It’s best to avoid them. Travelers report some of them can be quite rude but most visitors to Atlantic City report a safe, enjoyable experience.

Conclusion

There aren’t many small cities in the USA that draw such large crowds of visitors. Atlantic City history is unique because it was built for tourism almost from the start. You’ll hear a few stories while you’re there, to be sure.

The city attracts conventions, gambling tournaments, and other major events. Don’t expect a big city experience in a small town. Instead, expect an unusual small town experience in one of America’s oldest tourist destinations.

Travel and hospitality have defined Atlantic City for nearly 200 years. It’s worth visiting at least once. And if you take your kids you can introduce them to the city that inspired the board game of Monopoly.

How Do Betting Limits Affect Blackjack Rules in Las Vegas Casinos?

Blackjack Hand With a Daytime Vegas Background

Most blackjack players who’ve played for any length of time understand that rules for the game vary from casino to casino. In fact, they vary from one table to another.

The obvious example is the size of the payout for a blackjack (a 2-card total of 21).

The standard for decades is for a blackjack to pay off at 3 to 2 odds.

But recently, many casinos started offering blackjack games that pay off at 6 to 5 odds.

What does this do to the house edge?

It increases the house’s advantage by 1.5%.

That might not sound like much, but a basic strategy player at a standard blackjack player faces a house edge of only 0.5%.

This means that the house’s mathematical edge quadruples because of what seems like one small rules change.

In this post, I look at some of the rules changes and what stakes they happen at.

6/5 Blackjack Versus 3/2 Blackjack

Some casinos offer 6/5 blackjack at their lower stakes tables while offering the standard 3/2 payouts at their higher stakes tables.

Let’s take a hypothetical Las Vegas casino and look at what happens to their profits when they implement this rules change at lower stakes.

They might offer the standard 3/2 payout on their $25 minimum tables. An average blackjack player might play 80 hands per hour at such a table, putting $2000 per hour into action.

Closeup of Blackjack Player Handling Chips

Assuming perfect strategy on the part of that player, you’re looking at a house edge of only 0.5%, which means that a player at this table will lose an average of $10 per hour at this table. A table full of these players might generate $60 per hour for the casino.

The players at the $5 table are only putting $400 per hour into action.

But with the 6/5 payout in effect, the house edge increases from 0.5% to 2%.

This means that the players at this table are losing $8 per hour – almost as much as the players gambling 5 times as much per hand at the other table.

Casinos want to encourage action at the higher stakes tables because they make more money from gamblers who are betting more per hand.

But the payout for a blackjack isn’t the only rule a casino might change.

Hitting and Standing on a Soft 17

Everyone knows that the dealer has to hit any total of 16 or less.

What many gamblers don’t realize is that the rules for hitting or standing on a soft 17 vary based on the casino and the limits.

It’s better for the player if the dealer has to stand on all totals of 17 – even soft totals of 17.

But in lower stakes games, the dealer hits a soft 17.

What does this do to the house edge?

It increases it by 0.2% — which sounds like a minor increase, but it’s a bigger increase than you might think.

Suppose a casino has a game where the minimum bet is $50, and the dealer has to stand on all 17s. The house edge for such a game might be 0.5%.

At 80 hands per hour, the gambler is putting $4000 per hour into action. The expected loss per hour for that player is $20.

That same casino might have a game with a minimum bet of $25, but the dealer hits a soft 17. This increases the house edge from 0.5% to 0.7%.

The gamblers at this table are putting $2000 per hour into action, but now they’re losing $14 per hour instead of the $10 per hour you’d expect.

The casino STILL makes more money from the higher limit table, but by just changing one small rule, they come closer to getting the same kind of hourly win rate.

The Worst Blackjack Rules in Las Vegas Are at the Strip Casinos

80% of the casinos on the Las Vegas Strip are owned by the same 4 companies. They all have similar blackjack rules – and those rules aren’t as favorable to the players as you’d hope.

Your best bet as a blackjack player is to just avoid the blackjack games on the Strip altogether. You can find better games elsewhere in the city.

For one thing, it’s almost impossible to find blackjack for less than $10 per hand on the Strip.

If you venture out to some of the off-Strip casinos, you can find plenty of casinos offering $5 blackjack. You can even find some older casinos catering to locals with $3 blackjack games.

You’d think that such casinos would offer terrible rules for players, but you’d be surprised.

For example, I’ve read reports about the $3 games at Arizona Charlies. You can double down on any total there, and you can even double down after splitting. Good luck finding those generous rules at one of the Strip casinos.

You can also play $5 blackjack at Arizona Charlies from a 2-deck shoe, which is practically unheard of elsewhere in Vegas. And, if you didn’t already know it, the more decks you have in use, the higher the house edge becomes.

Single deck blackjack has the lowest house edge, everything else being equal.

You can find $5 blackjack at a host of locals casinos, especially in Downtown. Some of the casinos offering $5 blackjack include Boulder Station, El Cortez, and the Orleans.

In fact, any of the Stations casinos offer good rules for low stakes blackjack players.

If You ARE Going to Play Blackjack on the Strip

Treasure Island is your best bet for $10 blackjack on the Strip, but those tables are usually crowded, and there aren’t many of them. The game does have good rules, though – you can even find a game there sometimes that’s dealt from just 2 decks.

But, if you’re going to play blackjack on the Strip, you’re probably going to need to wager $25 prer hand or more. Any of the MGM properties are good for this level of play.

These include Circus Circus, Excalibur, Luxor, Mirage, Monte Carlo, and New York New York,

Comparing Rules Variations in Blackjack

For the most part, the rules variations in blackjack involve giving the player more options or fewer options. In any given blackjack situation, having more options is better than having fewer options.

For example, in some casinos, you can only double down on a 9, 10, or 11.

In other casinos, you’re allowed to double down on any total.

In some casinos, you’re allowed to double down after splitting.

In others, you can’t double down after splitting.

These are all examples of how having more flexibility in your choices increases or decreases the house edge.

You always want to decrease the house edge when you can.

And don’t make the mistake of thinking the 0.1% or 0.2% doesn’t matter.

When you’re dealing with something like the house edge, every tenth of a percent matters.

What if You Want to Count Cards?

If you want to count cards, one of the first things you want to do is find a casino that isn’t using a continuous shuffling machine. You can’t get an edge counting cards if the discards get shuffled back into the deck immediately.

Card counting works because some higher value cards are no longer in the deck, or some lower value cards are no longer in the deck. When the composition of the deck becomes favorable to the player instead of to the house, the card counter raises the size of his bets.

You can’t do that if you’re getting cards from a freshly shuffled deck every hand.

Closeup of a Blackjack Hand

Also, the fewer decks being used, the better it is for the card counter. Every card dealt from a single deck affects the house edge.

But the value of each card is diluted in a pack of cards made up of multiple decks.

Here’s an example:

If 4 aces have been dealt out of a single deck blackjack game, it’s now impossible to get dealt a blackjack before the cards are shuffled again. This is advantageous for the casino, and the card counter knows it and lowers his bet accordingly.

But if you’re playing in an 8-deck game, you have 32 aces in the deck total. The elimination of 4 of those aces doesn’t make nearly as much of a difference.

Conclusion

Tiny differences in the rules have a major effect on the math involved when playing real money blackjack. Generally, you’ll find more flexibility in the games with lower stakes.

You’ll have a hard time finding a combination of low stakes and good rules variations on the Strip in Las Vegas, especially. Try to stick with the casinos Downtown or on Boulder Highway if you’re a low roller looking for a game with good odds.

What Is Bar Top Video Poker? (And How Does It Work?)

Royal Flush With a Video Poker Pay Table Background

Video poker is an alternative to slot machines that offers better odds and a strategic element that slots lack. It’s superior to slots in almost every way.

The big difference between slots and video poker is the payback percentage. This is the statistic that measures how favorable a casino game’s odds are to the casino.

The higher the payback percentage is, the better the game is for the player.

For example, a game with a 99.5% payback percentage pays back – statistically, in the long run, and on average — $99.50 for every $100 you bet.

The odds for video poker are based on the odds you’d see with a standard 52-card deck of cards, so you have some knowledge of a payback percentage for the game.

You have no way of estimating the payback percentage for a slot machine game other than clocking how often the symbols appear.

Most slot machine games have a payback percentage of less than 94%, and in a lousy location – like a bar, for example – the payback percentages are even lower.

But video poker games – especially bartop video poker games often offer a higher payback percentage.

What’s a bartop video poker game?

It’s just a version of video poker that’s embedded into the top of a bar instead of being in a free-standing machine that looks like a slot machine cabinet.

And sometimes bartop video poker games offer better odds than you’ll find in the rest of the casino.

Las Vegas Bartop Video Poker

Most of the bars in Las Vegas offer bartop video poker, but you’re almost certain to find bartop video poker in a bar that’s located in a Strip casino.

The pay tables vary wildly from casino to casino, though.

For example, I’ve seen reports that the bar top video poker games at the Mirage have some of the worst pay tables in the business. They’re also notoriously stingy with their free drinks for players – most casinos allow you to order almost anything you want, but the comped drinks at the Mirage come from a limited number of choices available to comped drinkers.

The Bellagio, on the other hand, has a great reputation for good pay tables on their bar top video poker games. The only drawback to these games is that they’re not as good for the low roller. The minimum bet on these games is usually $1, which means you’re probably going to need to bet $5 per hand.

You can also find good bar top video poker games at the Cosmopolitan and Harrahs.

The bars in the sports books in most of the Las Vegas casinos also often offer great video poker games with excellent comps rates.

How Does a Pay Table Work on a Bar Top Video Poker Game?

The pay tables are the most important things about bar top video poker games, and they work the same way for bartop games as they do the standalone video poker games in the casino.

The pay table is just a list of the possible final hands you can have along with how much each hand pays off. These are roughly in the same order as a standard poker hand would work.

The top prize for almost all video poker games, bartop or not, is reserved for the royal flush.

Depending on the game, the lowest paying hand might be a pair of jacks or higher. Since it pays off at even money, it’s more of a break-even outcome.

Also, it’s important to keep in mind that payouts for table games bets express their odds as x to y, but gambling machines pay off at x FOR y odds.

Bar Top Video Poker Machine

That’s a huge difference.

When you play a table game and make a bet, you get your original bet back if you win.

When you play a gambling machine – like a bartop video poker game – you lose the original bet even if you win – it’s deducted from your winnings.

Here’s an example:

You bet $5 on a hand of blackjack and win. You get to keep your $5 and you win $5. This means you’ve made a profit of $5. The payout odds on this hand are 1 to 1.

But you’re playing Jacks or Better video poker on a bartop game somewhere in Vegas, and you bet $5 on a hand. You get a pair of jacks, but your original $5 was forfeit when you pressed the “deal” button. Since this hand pays off at 1 for 1, you get your $5 back, but that doesn’t represent a profit.

The Pay Table on a Bar Top Video Poker Determines the Payback Percentage

The payback percentage isn’t something just randomly arrived at. It’s a statistical prediction based on the probability of getting each hand and what the payoff is for that hand.

If some hands pay off more on one pay table than another, they affect the payback percentage.

The classic example, and a bartop classic, is Jacks or Better. The traditionally best pay table is called a 9/6 Jacks or Better game. It’s also sometimes called a “full pay” Jacks or Better game.

This game has a payback percentage of 99.54%.

The 9 and the 6 refer to the payouts for the full house and the flush, respectively. A full house pays off at 9 for 1, and a flush pays off at 6 for 1.

A casino or saloon that wants a bigger edge over the player only adjusts the payout for those 2 hands. For example, a more common pay table on a Jacks or Better game is 8 for 1 for a full house and 5 for 1 for a flush.

This is called an 8/5 Jacks or Better game, and the payback percentage for this game is only 97.30%.

This doesn’t sound like a big difference, but let’s look at what it does to your hourly expected return rate.

The average video poker player might get in 500 hands per hour. If you’re playing a dollar machine, you’re probably betting $5 per hand, or $2500 per hour.

On a full pay, 9/6 Jacks or Better game, you’ll get an average of 99.54% of that $2500 back per hour, or $2488.50.

That’s an average loss of just $11.50.

Take the same action and apply it to the 97.3% payback percentage for the 8/5 game, and you’re looking at getting back $2432.50, which equates to a loss of $67.50 per hour.

Whenever possible, find the best pay tables for the bar top video poker games you’re trying to play.

And avoid the really bad pay tables.

Bar Top Video Poker Strategy

The payback percentages I’ve mentioned so far in this post assume that you’re making the mathematically optimal decisions for each hand. And each hand has 32 different ways you can play it, so video poker strategy might be more complicated than you expect.

Regardless of which video poker variation you’re trying, the correct strategy for it has almost certainly been created by someone. These strategies are usually presented in the form of a list of potential hands in order of desirability.

To use one of these strategy tables at a bar top video poker, compare the hand you’ve been dealt with the hands on the strategy table, starting at the top.

Bar Top Multigame Screen

When you come to a listing on the strategy table that matches what’s in your hand, stop and discard the other cards.

Using the appropriate video poker strategy won’t give you an edge over the casino – not even at bartop video poker games – but it will ensure that you’re seeing the best possible payback percentage for the game.

If you ignore the appropriate strategy, you’ll probably be giving an additional 2% to 4% back to the casino.

And, as we saw when we looked at the difference between 9/6 Jacks or Better and 8/5 Jacks or Better, a couple of percentage points can have a massive effect on your loss rate per hour over time.

Can You Play Bartop Video Poker Games Online?

Since bartop video poker games are the same games as the standalone video poker games in a casino, the video poker games played online are roughly equivalent to what you’d expect.

In other words, there are no bartop-specific versions of video poker that aren’t available online.

The games are all just video poker games.

The only difference is the presentation.

Conclusion

You can have a lot of fun playing bartop video poker, and it’s cheap entertainment. The trick is to find a casino and/or bar that has bar top video poker games with respectable pay tables.

Then it’s just a matter of using the appropriate strategy for that game with that paytable.

Aruze Gaming’s Shoot to Win Craps and Virtual Roulette

Aruze Gambling Logo With Roulette and Craps Background

This weekend I visited the Winstar Casino in Oklahoma (mostly to hit the buffet), and I discovered 2 casino table games I’d never played before – Shoot to Win Craps and Virtual Roulette. Both games are produced by Aruze Gaming.

I had some fun playing both games, especially since the minimum bets were so low. Below I explain all the pertinent details for each game, and I also provide some notes about my results on both games.

Virtual Roulette

Virtual Roulette is an example of something called an “electronic table game.” In other words, it recreates the traditional table games, but instead of using physical machinery – like a spinning wheel and a metal ball – it generates results with a random number generator program.

The most interesting thing about the Virtual Roulette game that I played was the video display. I’ve played plenty of 2-dimensional roulette simulations on the internet. They’re old hat. I’ve even seen some online games that were supposedly 3-dimensional.

But I’ve ever seen anything like this virtual roulette wheel.

8 roulette players sit in a circle around a virtual roulette wheel – one that looks astoundingly reel.

Virtual roulette uses a high-definition projector along with a round, bowl-shaped monitor to create a holographic roulette wheel that’s almost indistinguishable from the real thing.

As the player, you also have a monitor in front of you that you can use to place bets. One of the aspects of the game that was interesting to me was betting limits. You could bet as little as $1 or as much as $4000.

If you’ve read much about the Martingale System for playing roulette, you probably already know that having a big gap between the minimum and maximum bet makes the Martingale more effective (even though it’s still a losing system in the long run.)

The computer monitors above the wheel display statistics about the previous 200 results. It includes what percentage of those results were red or black, for example, and it displays which numbers have hit the most often and least often.

Roulette systems players are bound to love this aspect of the game, even though the Gambler’s Fallacy is a mathematical truism that applies here as well as with mechanical roulette games.

When you’re dealing with independent random events, the results of the previous events have no bearing on the results of the next event. In other words, even if the ball has landed on red 8 times in a row, it’s just as likely to land on red on the next spin as ever – it’s still 47.37%.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve noticed that I’ve mentioned 3 sets of computer screens on this game, and you might be puzzled about how that works.

Aruze Gaming's Virtual Roulette

You have a monitor in front of you which displays the betting surface that you’d normally see at a roulette table. It’s a touchscreen, so you place your bets by inserting money into the game and placing your bets by touching the appropriate spot on the screen. I had some trouble making single-number bets, though – most of the time, when I tried, the touchscreen thought I was trying to make a split bet (a bet on 2 numbers). I eventually got the hang of it. Bigger screens might alleviate this problem, but I’m sure Aruze Gaming tested these games before manufacturing them, too.

The monitors displaying all the statistical information are in front of you and above the round monitor that makes up the actual wheel itself.

One fun thing about this game is that you get to “shoot the ball” yourself – this rotates around the table. To shoot the ball, you just move your finger on the touchscreen in front of you.

Another fun thing about Virtual Roulette is the progressive jackpot. This is a side bet and has no effect on the main game or the main action.

I used the Martingale System while I was playing, and I started with a $5 bet. I lost 4 times in a row before winning, so I almost lost my bankroll:

  • Spin #1 – I lost $5
  • Spin #2 – I lost $10
  • Spin #3 – I lost $20.
  • Spin #4 – I lost $40.


On my 5th spin, I bet $80 and won, which won back the $75 I’d lost so far along with another $5.

This was just in time, as I’d only brought $200 to play with, and I wouldn’t have been able to place the next bet in the series.

So, I won $5 playing Virtual Roulette.

Shoot to Win Craps

I was more excited to play Shoot to Win Craps, because it gave me the opportunity to explain how craps works to my date before taking her to the real craps table. Like Virtual Roulette, Shoot to Win Craps involves sitting around the game proper, but in Shoot to Win Craps, you actually have dice in an upside-down glass jar of sorts. They’re big dice, so it’s easy to see the results after each roll of the dice.

Also, like Virtual Roulette, the minimum bet is just $1, and the game also offers an optional side bet on a progressive jackpot. The maximum bet was $4000. I’m sure the minimum and maximum bets are flexible and can be changed by the casino operator in charge of the game.

If you’re familiar with how to play craps, you know that casinos limit the size of the “odds bet.” This is always expressed as a multiple of the pass (or don’t pass) bet that you’ve made.

On the version of Shoot to Win Craps that I played, the limit was 2X.

Aruze Gaming's Shoot to Win Craps

I’m a proud low roller, so I was betting $1 at a time on the pass line. I was also making a lot of come bets. I maxed out the odds bet on those at $2.

The interface was intuitive and took no time at all to learn how to use, although, if you’re not familiar with the game already, it might take you a little longer to get the hang of it.

The dice in the game were far larger than the dice you’d find at a regular craps table, and they didn’t seem to “roll” as much on some of the rolls. I can’t imagine that they weren’t providing truly random results, because I can’t hallucinate a way that you could rig a pair of dice and keep your license.

But I suppose it’s possible that the probabilities were somehow different from what you’d expect from a pair of 6-sided dice.

I bought in to Shoot to Win Craps with about $25, and I finished with $19, so I lost $6 total.

But I played for almost an hour on that money, so I felt like I got excellent value for my gambling dollar.

Conclusion

I know that Aruze Gaming has multiple other games in the casino, because I saw those games. They were located near the Shoot to Win Craps and Virtual Roulette games. The Wheel of Prosperity slot machine game was especially prominent in that area of the casino, in fact.

According to their website, Aruze Gaming also has electronic versions of baccarat, blackjack, “Lucky Big Wheel,” and Sic Bo.

I didn’t see any of those games, but if they were made with the same craftsmanship as Shoot to Win Craps and Virtual Roulette, I’m sure they’ll be a big success.

I’d almost rather play these versions of the games than the “real” versions.

The Pros and Cons of Atlantic City

Atlantic City Sign With City Backdrop

Atlantic City is a resort city on New Jersey’s Atlantic coast known for its casinos, famous boardwalk, and vast beaches, making it a sought after vacation spot.

I know if I were going to invest in a week of seeing shows and gambling, or whatever else goes on in towns like this (taking safety into consideration), I’d much rather be walking distance from the beach instead of the middle of the desert. Now don’t get me wrong—Vegas is a great place with lots of fun things to do—but sun and sand is just more fun when there’s a beach involved too.

The casinos stand alongside the boardwalk, which stretches for 4 miles alongside the Jersey Shore. Fun fact—Atlantic City has actually been the home of the Miss America Pageant since 1921.

Let’s jump right into the pros and cons of the famous tourist destination, Atlantic City.

Pro—The Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa

The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa is a hotel, casino, and spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey owned and operated by MGM Resorts International.

The Borgata is the largest casino in New Jersey, featuring 2,798 rooms. The hotel features 2 main towers: the Main Tower and the Water Club. There are several venues that can hold large events, like concerts or mixed martial arts tournaments. This includes the Borgata event center, festival park, and music box.

Borgata Hotel and Casino

When it comes to the quality of the hotel and casino itself, a lot of people speak very highly. For instance, on Trip Advisor, a previous guest said, “This was my second time staying overnight. This was even a better visit than the first time. The Borgata is very generous with their players. We don’t gamble heavy, but we do our share. We were given a comped room Saturday and Sunday. We were given bonus slot dollars, 2 tickets to the fabulous comedy show, and a chance for 2 at their $10,000 Bingo. We swam and relaxed in the very relaxing Water Club pool.”

You can read the full review here.

For the sake of contrast, another previous client says, “I’ve been coming to Borgata for my AC trips exclusively since 2002. I’d be better served playing penny slots with $100 than dropping $1,000 on a roulette wheel. Time to find a new home. Terrible table game ratings. AVOID!”

I guess you can’t please all the people all the time.

That being said, over 3,000 people on trip advisor rated it “excellent,” which says a lot. Only 200–300 had negative things to say.

The Dark Side of Atlantic City

So I am just going to jump right into what a lot of locals and tourists would call the worst part or ugly truth of Atlantic City.

From a 2018 article, in a 28 day time period in the same area, Pacific and Tennessee Ave, there were over 35 drug or alcohol charges.

Traveling down Pacific Ave at night can be pretty dangerous. First, the road has terrible lighting, making locals or tourists more susceptible crime. This is quite literally gang territory.

If you’re driving on Tennessee or Pacific Ave and you get stopped at a red light, you’ll likely have someone come up to your car and offer to wash your windows or sell you something.

You’ll also run into all sorts of weird hustles. Some people on different forums refer to Atlantic City, especially when you get out of the casino area, as a freak show.

In Forbes best places for business and careers, Atlantic City was dead last on the list at #200. Six years in a row, Atlantic City has come in last place.

In the same article I mentioned from last year, in the tourist district of Atlantic City, in just 28 days there were over 50 assaults. Not all of them on tourists, but still. There are also over 160 sex offenders living in Atlantic City, not to mention a pretty decently sized theft problem.

Theft is common, mostly at night, so you should never wander too far off the beaten path.

All of this is happening for a reason—Atlantic City never really recovered from the Great Recession. What you’ll find there now is that Atlantic City is in a state of decline similar to St. Louis or Detroit, and it may never recover.

This explains all the crime of course, but Atlantic City has another problem that these other cities don’t have—the water. Because of where Atlantic City is built and the type of land it’s built on, the city is literally experiencing structural issues due to climate change.

Right now, they’re just experiencing something called “nuisance flooding,” which is a funny way of saying some of the garages fill up with water from time to time and flood your car, but it’s only projected to get worse over the years. In fact, because of the location of Atlantic City and other local factors, Atlantic City is going to get hit a lot harder by climate change than even nearby New York.

All that means the issues I just mentioned are going to get worse over time. As buildings start being abandoned and people move away to places with more land than water, crime is going to get worse as the people who can’t afford to move away get stuck dealing with a city slowly being swallowed by the sea.

I guess you can at least take comfort in the fact that this is still about a decade away, but with climate change worsening, it may happen sooner than you think.

The Beach

Many people don’t travel to Atlantic City to gamble—they come to enjoy the vast beaches with soft sand where they can spread out and not deal with huge crowds (like you’ll find at many other beaches).

Not only is the sand is soft compared to most beaches, but you’ll also find that the beaches are kept relatively clean, especially compared to beaches in other parts of the country, like California.

Wide View of Atlantic City Beach

Most of the beaches have on-site facilities that include showers, restrooms, changing rooms, and life guards. A lot of people like to bring their kids to the beach in Atlantic City not only because of the things I have mentioned so far, but also because of the safe and gentle wave size.

You are not usually going to see anything crazy at a beach like this—just boogie boarding and body surfing.

All in all, the beaches give Atlantic City a nice contrast to all the crime and issues the rest of the city suffers from.

Of course, the beach isn’t the only great part of Atlantic City—there’s also the boardwalk.

The Boardwalk

Fun little fact—The boardwalk of Atlantic City was not named after the wooden boards used to construct it. The walkway was built and designed in the 1870s by a man named Alexander Boardman, giving birth to the name “boardwalk.”

Every travel destination site I’ve visited so far has nothing but positive reviews for this Atlantic City staple. The boardwalk runs 4 miles along the coast line. The beaches are well kept and nice, so getting to stroll down the wooden path and hear the gentle waves sounds amazing.

Plus, there’s the food—lots of food. Many famous Atlantic City bars run alongside the boardwalk, and the whole thing kind of gives off an air of nostalgia for many people. This is probably because of its popularity amongst children. There are a lot of fun souvenir shops and places to get treats, and the boardwalk also branches off to the Steel and Central Piers where you’ll find carnival rides for the kids.

The only con that’s worth mentioning is that some small areas of the boardwalk have gotten a little run down, and there’s also a possibility that you might see a homeless person that’s begging for your pocket change.

Thankfully, you’ll find nothing threatening or dangerous at the boardwalk.

Casinos

Much like Las Vegas, casinos and Atlantic City go hand in hand. You’ll find all of your typical casino games in the casinos of Atlantic City. Some of the most popular casinos are at Caesars Atlantic City, the Borgata (mentioned earlier), and Bally’s and Resorts.

Bally’s and Caesars were strategically placed right off of the boardwalk in central Atlantic City, so you can walk the boardwalk, have a few drinks, loosen up, and have super easy access to two of the most popular casinos in town.

The most common complaint I’ve found amongst reviews is the smell of cigarette smoke, even in the sections that are nonsmoking. If you decide to walk to the Borgata from the boardwalk, you will have an opportunity to experience some of Atlantic City’s most fine dining eateries.

Conclusion

Just like most cities in the United States, Atlantic City has its benefits and its drawbacks. There are a lot of reasons to love this city, and a lot of reasons to hate it, but I think that for the gambling aficionado, it’s definitely worth at least one visit. Just like you would in any tourist destination, you should keep a close eye on your valuables, consider bringing a money belt, avoid going out at night, and stick to the most crowded areas.

Anything I’ve missed in my list that you think should be included? Let me know in the comments!

7 Reasons Not to Play Electronic Casino Table Games

Slot Machine Image Over a Roulette Table

For decades, table games always featured tangible tables with one or more dealers. However, casinos have introduced electronic table games in recent years.

The most common type includes a stadium-style setup. Up to a dozen gamblers or more sit in front of electronic monitors while a single human dealer handles the game.

Some electronic table games run through machines. These are basically like slot machines with an emphasis on a certain table game. Electronic table gaming makes sense in theory. They allow you to make smaller wagers and gamble in solitude.

Nevertheless, these games aren’t the best choice for gamblers. Below, you’ll see seven reasons why electronic “tables” should be scrapped.

1 – You’re Playing Table Games With Less of a Social Element

One of the primary reasons why table gambling has been popular in casinos for centuries is the social element. You can chat with other players and the dealer while playing.

Craps especially takes the social aspect to a high degree. Many craps players bet with the shooter through pass line and come wagers. As a result, they cheer and jeer together, following wins and losses.

Blackjack also features lots of comradery. Gamblers celebrate together when the dealer’s hand busts out by going over 21.

Closeup of Roulette Wheel and Table

Electronic games rob you of most of these social elements. You’ll find it more awkward to celebrate with your buddies in a stadium-style setup. Furthermore, stadiums space you out from fellow gamblers and the dealer. You won’t be able to make small talk in these situations.

Machine-based electronic games are even worse from a social standpoint. You likely won’t have anybody around to chat with.

2 – The House Edge Is the Same

Casinos like electronic gaming because they save money by not having to pay dealers. You might think that they’d pass on some of these savings onto the gambler, but they don’t. Their electronic games usually feature the same house advantage as the table-based counterparts.

American Roulette, for example, will offer the same 5.26% house edge on both machines and tables. Likewise, the baccarat banker hand features a 1.06% house advantage on tables and machines.

One bonus to playing electronic versions is that the minimum bets are normally smaller. For instance, you might only have to wager $5 per hand in stadium blackjack versus between $10 or $25, but you’re not gaining any value per dollar wagered if the house edges are the same.

3 – You Could Lose More Money

Even if you’re making smaller minimum bets on electronic table games, you might still lose more money in the long run.

After all, electronic games play faster than the table versions. This factor is especially true when it comes to machine-based versions.

Here’s an example to illustrate this point.

  • You play on a blackjack machine.
  • The house edge is 1%.
  • You bet $5 per hand.
  • You play 300 hands per hour.
  • 300 x 5 = $1,500 in total wagers
  • 1,500 x 0.01 = $15 in hourly theoretical losses
  • You play at a table.
  • You bet $20 per hand.
  • The table sees 60 hands per hour.
  • 60 x 20 = $1,200 in total wagers
  • 1,200 x 0.01 = $12 in hourly theoretical losses

Despite betting four times as much at the table, you face lower theoretical losses due to the slower playing speed.

Of course, you can always slow your play rate on the machines. But this method feels unnatural and may dull the entertainment value of electronic games.

4 – Some Versions Are Too Much Like Slot Machines

If you’ve ever been in a casino, then you’ve likely played a slot machine. Slots feature their own distinctive playing style that includes both advantages and drawbacks.

Slots let you play in solitude and control the game pace. The latter is great for when you don’t like being rushed by dealers. However, slot machines also don’t offer much of a social element. Unless you have a friend playing on the next machine, you won’t get much social interaction with slots.

Assuming you feel a certain way about slot machines, then your feelings won’t change much with electronic gaming. The main difference between slots and electronic gaming is simply the games.

5 – You Can Just Play at Online Casinos

If you’re going to play electronic casino games, why not just gamble online instead? Internet gaming sites let you enjoy the same style of play without going anywhere.

Furthermore, you can look forward to lower house edges with online casino games. Some online real money blackjack games, for example, feature house advantages lower than 0.5%.

As covered before, electronic table games feature the same house edges as their table-based counterparts in many cases.

Now, stadium-based table gaming does present a slightly different format than online gambling. You can sit next to other players and see a dealer in the center of the machines.

However, you may still find that stadiums don’t differ enough from internet gaming to be worth the effort.

6 – You Must Travel to Play

What sounds more reasonable?

  • Traveling to a land-based casino to play a table game that can’t be replicated online or through a machine
  • Traveling to a land-based casino to play an electronic game that can easily be mimicked online

The first point perfectly represents why some gamblers visit land-based establishments in the first place. They want a unique experience that can’t be found beyond a brick and mortar casino.

The second point falls back on the fifth topic covered in this post. Why not just gamble online if you’re only interested in the solitude of electronic gaming?

You may have personal reasons for still visiting a land-based casino to gamble electronically. For example, your friends might be playing table games, and you still don’t feel comfortable with the rules and etiquette.

By and large, though, you’ll find that traveling to a brick and mortar venue just to sit on a blackjack machine isn’t worth it.

7 – You Can Play Live Dealer Games

Live dealer gaming does a great job of blending the best of land-based and electronic gambling. It streams action from a brick and mortar casino to your smartphone, tablet, or computer.

You can enjoy a number of live casino games, including baccarat, blackjack, roulette, three-card poker, sic bo, and Ultimate Texas Hold’em.

Wide View of Poker Hand and Table

You also have the option to communicate with the dealer via a chat box. This aspect introduces a social element to live dealer gambling.

If you’re going to play table games away from the tables, live dealer casinos make more sense. They still let you enjoy table gaming in relative solitude. But they also bring social aspects into the fold that aren’t normally present.

Conclusion

Casinos offer electronic table games for a reason—people play them. You may be interested in these options if you’re looking to enjoy table gambling without actually sitting at a table. The electronic versions feature solitude, lower minimum bets, and the chance to control the game speed.

However, the downsides definitely outweigh the benefits. The biggest drawback is that electronic gaming takes away much of the social experience.

Rather than sitting right in front of a dealer and alongside other players, you’ll either be at a machine or casino stadium. You also won’t enjoy lower house edges either. In most cases, electronic versions feature the same house advantages as standard table games.

In the end, you may question the validity of gambling on machines and stadium setups when you can just visit online casinos. The latter offers the same type of gambling but with lower house edges and a wider game selection.

Live dealer gaming lets you play online and still enjoy some social interaction. It’s a great alternative if you love table games yet don’t have the time or money to visit a land-based casino.

Electronic table games still have their place in casinos. However, they shouldn’t occupy a very big place due to their notable downsides.

What Does Responsible Gambling Look Like?

Man Holding a Royal Flush of Hearts

You hear a lot about responsible gambling, or “responsible gaming,” as the industry likes to call it.

But what is responsible gambling?

What effect does gambling have on individuals, families, and society as a whole?

And how can gamblers cooperate with the industry to ensure that responsible gambling is encourage and promoted.

This post offers some suggestions for both the industry and the individual.

The Rise of New Types of Gambling

It’s not like responsible gambling is a new idea, but the casino industry hasn’t changed much until about 20 years ago. At that time, new types of gambling started proliferating at a faster rate. For one thing, internet gambling became a thing. For another, tribal casino growth started skyrocketing in the United States, increasing the availability of casino gambling throughout the USA.

Legislators and industry execs are now starting to contemplate being more proactive in encouraging responsible gambling. After all, if the casinos turn every customer into a gambling addict who destroys his family finances, their businesses won’t last forever. Eventually, they will face a backlash.

The answer is for casinos and legislators to work together to create best practices and processes that discourage irresponsible gambling while not hurting business.

What Is Responsible Gambling, Though?

Responsible gambling is one of those things that’s probably easiest to define by looking at its opposite – problem gambling.

What do problem gamblers do?

They gamble with money they can’t afford to lose. They gamble without joy. They gamble compulsively.

Responsible gamblers, on the other hand, have their bills caught up and money set aside for entertainment. They only gamble with that money. They quit when they’re no longer having fun or when they’re getting tired.

Responsible gamblers are operating from a choice or a decision.

Problem gamblers seem to have lost the ability to choose whether to gamble and how much to gamble.

To Some Extent, Casinos Encourage Irresponsible Gambling

Casinos don’t directly go to players and say, “Hey. Let’s take out a 2nd mortgage on your home so you can come gamble.”

But historically, they have created games – especially slot machines – which intentionally push the addiction buttons in gamblers’ brains.

In fact, the science behind slot machines, their payback percentages, and their hit ratios could almost be considered insidious. The thought process behind creating these slot machine games reminds me of the thought process tobacco executives must have engaged in over the years as they added chemicals to cigarettes to keep them burning even when they weren’t being puffed on. (Cigars go out when you’re not smoking them, but cigarettes keep burning – that’s so they can sell more product.)

But casinos are growing increasingly aware that they need to account for their business practices so they don’t ruin lives.

Casinos Are Not Much Different From Other American Businesses

I drew a comparison between cigarette companies and the casino industry, but I could have easily drawn multiple other comparisons.

For example, fast food has created increasingly addictive foods at increasingly attractive prices, all in the name of increased profits. They add sugar, salt, and fat to foods in copious amounts because such flavors create an addictive response in their customers – driving more business.

They’ve also made buying their products faster and more convenient than ever before.

Television is another example. The price of television sets has dropped dramatically over the course of my life, and the quality of the programming has improved. At the end of the day, though, this has all been in service of our corporate overlords. They want to see my attention to their advertisers.

And it’s a profitable business.

Closeup of Man Touching a Deck of Cards

I’ll provide one final example – social media, especially Facebook.

Have you noticed that the default move for refreshing your screen on Facebook is the same as pulling a lever on a slot machine?

The idea is that you don’t know what kind of reward you’re going to get.

The idea of “likes” is also another tool to get you addicted to the social media platform.

And to what purpose?

Again, it’s all so they can sell your attention to advertisers.

Will the Gambling Industry Do Anything to Promote Responsible Gambling?

One recent effort by the industry has been for various industry associations to join forces with universities and responsible gambling advocates to study which best practices actually help achieve the goal of responsible gambling.

This led to the formation of the Responsible Gaming Collaborative.

Who participates in this effort?

Universities like Harvard and Yale are involved, as well as the American Gaming Association. They also have representatives from medical schools and other gambling industry organizations. They’ve tried to be comprehensive and solicit participation from people in the tribal casino industry, the horse racing industry, and the lottery industry.

Their goal is to create legal frameworks and operating policies that actually work to promote and encourage responsible gambling.

Their starting point is to create an exhaustive overview of what policies are now in place at various gambling businesses. The idea is to pinpoint which policies work and which ones don’t.

How Important Is This?

Time will tell, but I’m optimistic.

Here’s why:

The idea is to focus like a laser on where government money is being spent effectively and where government oversight is working. The idea is to prevent damage to individuals and society from the negative effects that gambling can foster.

In other words, they just want to figure out which strategies for preventing gambling problems actually work, as opposed to those that don’t.

Right now, the gambling industry spends $300 million a year to encourage responsible gambling. That might seem like a small amount when compared to the size of the industry itself, which is a $70+ billion industry worldwide, but it’s still not exactly small change.

And right now, there are no measures in place to measure the effectiveness of that spend. There are no consistent accountability measures to speak of when looking at that spend.

In fact, most experts agree that problem gambling hasn’t gotten the research it deserves.

And since sports betting has just become legal in multiple states, and it’s expected to become legal in still more states, such research is more important now than ever before.

How Big a Problem Is Problem Gambling?

Problem gambling is probably a bigger problem than most people think.

And blaming the sick person is almost certainly the wrong approach. Vilifying problem gamblers or categorizing them as weak people with low character, does little to help improve society. It’s also not fair or accurate.

It doesn’t seem to matter what the gambling activity is – problem gamblers will have problems with it. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about the lottery, slot machines, or sports betting. These activities all have the potential to ruin people’s lives.

Problem gamblers come from all walks of life, too, although some demographics are more prone than others. Senior citizens, for example, often develop problems. But college students, minorities, and the military also develop problems.

How many people in the United States have a gambling problem?

It’s estimated that it’s about 2.5 million, and only 15% of those people seek treatment of some kind.

And until now, public policy has focused largely on looking into what can be done for problem gamblers who seek treatment. Little attention has been paid to prevention efforts.

What Do Responsible Gamblers Do that Compulsive Gamblers Don’t Do, and Vice Versa?

Gamblers Anonymous has list of 20 questions to ask yourself about your gambling habits. These can give you a good idea of what the difference between responsible gambling and compulsive gambling is.

The first question on their list is whether you’ve lost time from work or school because you were gambling. Responsible gamblers don’t set aside their major responsibilities to gamble.

The 2nd question has to do with whether your gambling has made your home life unhappy. I’m not a compulsive gambler, but I am a recovering alcoholic. And I can promise you, my home life was unhappy as a result of my drinking.

Does gambling affect your reputation?

Dice on a Chessboard

That usually doesn’t happen unless you have a problem.

Responsible gamblers don’t feel remorseful after gambling. Responsible gamblers also don’t gamble to try to pay debts or solve their financial problems.

People who lose efficiency at work or lack ambition because of their gambling might have a problem, too.

No one should gamble until they’re broke. That’s an obvious sign of a problem.

You shouldn’t sell your belongings to have money to gamble with.

Basically, if you have any kinds of life problems related to your gambling, you might be a problem gambler.

By definition, if you don’t have problems related to your gambling, you’re not a problem gambler.

My advice?

Stick with a budget and have other hobbies. Don’t gamble money you need for other things. If you develop any kind of problem related to your gambling, it’s time to quit – immediately. Don’t wait until the problem gets big.

Conclusion

Responsible gambling is better than problem gambling. Casinos should do more to promote responsible gambling because it’s the right thing to do. You’re always going to deal with businesses which don’t much care and just want to make as much money as possible.

But a large percentage of businesses want to make a buck ethically, too. Some of these industry associations are making efforts.

We’ll see how well those efforts bear fruit in the coming years.

7 Reasons Why Megaways Slots Are Taking Over Gaming

Slot Machines and Cartoon Money

Online slots come in all different varieties. Certain games have six reels, some feature 243 ways, and some have second-screen bonuses.

The popularity among various types of real money online slots is well dispersed. Or perhaps, I should say was well dispersed.

Megaways slots have thundered into the gaming scene and taken over. New Megaways games are coming out on a regular basis and proving extremely popular among gamblers.

What makes these games so superior to other slots? Below, you can read about the seven biggest reasons why Megaways slot machines are on fire right now.

1 – More Ways to Win Than Ever Before

These slots truly live up to the name by offering countless ways to win. Some of them feature up to 117,649 ways or more.

The amount of winning possibilities is determined by the maximum number of symbols each reel can hold. For example, a slot might offer up to seven symbols in each reel.

Here’s an example on how this leads to the number of available ways:

  • Six-reel slot with up to seven symbols in each reel
  • 7 x 7 x 7 x 7 x 7 x 7 = 117,649
  • This game offers up to 117,649 ways

Here’s another example using a game with fewer potential symbols:

  • Six-reel slot with up to five symbols in each reel
  • 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 = 15,625
  • This game offers up to 15,625 ways

Even with 15,625 ways, you can look forward to an incredible number of potential wins. These numerous possibilities lead to lots of payouts in any given round.

2 – Megaways Slots Offer a Truly Different Experience

Other styles of slots feature a static number of winning possibilities. For example, a five-reel slot with 30 paylines will never give you more than 30 chances to win.

But the Megaways engine varies the amount of opportunities you have to win in each spin. One round may offer 5,040 ways, while the next could feature 41,160 possibilities.

Everything depends upon how many symbols are in each given reel. Your hope is that all of the reels contain a large amount of symbols.

Here’s an example:

  • Reel 1 holds five symbols
  • Reel 2 holds six
  • Reel 3 holds seven
  • Reel 4 holds four
  • Reel 5 holds seven
  • Reel 6 holds five
  • 5 x 6 x 7 x 4 x 7 x 5 = 29,400 ways

You’ll get burned when all the reels are only holding two to three symbols. But the times where each reel contains six to seven icons makes these games worthwhile in the end.

3 – Lots of Action

Megaways games already draw numerous players due to their quirky format and countless winning possibilities alone.

Slot Machine

However, these slots don’t stop here. Many offer other features, including cascading reels (a.k.a. avalanche), free spins, and random wilds.

The avalanche effect is especially notable here. It removes symbols from winning combinations and gives you a chance at more prizes in the same round.

When you combine cascading reels with Megaways, you can form all sorts of payouts in any given spin. Avalanche may even be used as the feature that unlocks more ways.

For example, certain online slots make the reels grow with each avalanche win. If you string together several cascading payouts in a row, then you’ll boost the reels to maximum capacity.

4 – Plenty of Design Possibilities

So far, I’ve only mentioned six-reel Megaways slots, because the six-reel version is currently the most common. But Megaways has the potential for even more design possibilities.

Here are some different options:

  • 5 reels with up to six symbols in each reel
  • 5 reels with up to seven symbols in each reel
  • 6 reels with up to six symbols in each reel
  • 6 reels with up to eight symbols in each reel
  • 7 reels with up to five symbols in each reel
  • 7 reels with up to seven symbols in each reel

Whether or not any of these designs come to fruition remains to be seen. However, the point is that developers aren’t limited when dealing with Megaways.

They can produce these slots in a variety of manners. The industry will probably see plenty of other Megaways styles beyond 6×5 (15,625 ways) and 6×7 (117,649 ways) in the future.

5 – Many Developers Are Putting Their Stamp on Megaways

More and more slots providers are jumping into the Megaways space. And some of them are putting their own unique twist on this genre.

Big Time Gaming (BTG) kicked off this frenzy when they invented, patented, and released the Megaways engine. Most of their slots feature the aforementioned 6×7 format and up to 117,649 ways.

BTG has since been licensing this engine out to other developers. The latter have some creative control over how they use Megaways.

Red Tiger Gaming, for example, has produced a slot in Laser Fruit that offers up to 60,466,176 ways. You achieve this massive number of winning possibilities through the bonus round.

Many other developers are currently paying to use Megaways as well. That said, more and more innovation should keep improving this niche.

6 – The Pursuit of Unlocking Numerous Ways

A basic slot lets you pursue different wins and bonuses. Your ultimate goal is to win the biggest payouts and most lucrative bonuses possible.

Megaways slot machines add an additional layer to this pursuit of the best prizes. Not only are you hoping to get big wins but also unlock more ways in each round.

You’ll feel disappointed if you only have 64 ways (six reels all w/ two symbols) in a 6×7 game. However, you’ll be elated when you unlock all 117,649 possible combinations.

Of course, more ways has the added benefit of giving you additional chances at winning. You’ll probably net big prizes as a result when lots of ways are active.

7 – Play Megaways Slots for Cheap

You may think that slots with anywhere from 15,625 to 60,466,176 will be really expensive to play. After all, expensive spin costs became an issue when 720 ways slots were introduced in the mid-2010s.

The reality, though, is that these games don’t cost any more than the average online slot. They typically charge around $0.20 per spin.

Of course, the vast majority of your winning ways are going to be losers at this rate. A developer can’t afford to offer you 117,649 ways at just $0.20 and let you win all the time.

But slot machines are about random chance anyway. Your tiny spin cost provides the potential to rack up lots of prizes in any given round.

Conclusion

The primary reason why Megaways slots grab so much attention is the many possibilities they offer. You’ll rarely have tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of ways to win. However, just the fact that you could unlock this many ways is exciting.

The unique experience is another driver behind Megaways’ success. With their varying reels, these games introduce mystery into every spin. You never know how many chances you’ll have to win from round to round.

Action is yet another big reason why these games are hot. Everything from cascading reels to free spins enhance your gaming experience. You don’t even have to spend much to enjoy these perks either. Megaways games usually don’t cost much more than $0.20 per spin.

As you can see, several factors help make these slot machines hotter than any other type today. The question is, though, how long will Megaways slots rule over the gaming world?

The online gambling industry sees trends come and come. However, few trends have ever been as powerful as the one that Megaways have created.

In fact, trend may be the wrong word here. Megaways slot machines have been around since 2016 and are only increasing in popularity more recently.

These games will no doubt have staying power even when they’re not fashionable. Megaways may even be like cascading reels where they find their way into a broad range of slots for years to come.

As for now, many gamblers are still just finding out about Megaways several years after this format was released. That said, this engine still carries a new feeling that serves it well.

7 Tricks Professional National Football League Gamblers Use

NFL Running Back With a Sportsbook Background

If you bet on sports the odds are that you bet on NFL games. It’s by far the most popular betting league in the United States, and it’s what brings most gamblers into sports betting.

Because the NFL is popular with gamblers, the sportsbooks spend a great deal of time setting profitable lines. This means that the NFL is one of the hardest sports to bet on profitably.

While it’s never going to be easy to be a winning NFL gambler; if you know how to use the same tricks that the professionals use it’s going to improve your results.

Here’s a list of seven tricks that most professional NFL gamblers use that you can start using today.

1 – Turnovers and Forcing Turnovers

The most important plays in the NFL aren’t touchdowns. Fans watch games and see scoring plays and assume that scoring is the most important thing that can happen because the team that scores the most points wins the game.

Pro NFL gamblers know that teams with the largest turnover differential are the ones that are the best to bet on.

Every time there’s a turnover it influences the outcome of the game. A team that doesn’t turn the ball over and forces turnovers has a better chance to win.

On the other hand, a team that turns the ball over and doesn’t force turnovers doesn’t have a good chance two win.

This might seem too simple to be valuable, but most football gamblers ignore these simple facts. If you want to evaluate games in the NFL like the pros, start tracking turnovers more closely and using them every time you look at a game and betting line.

2 – 3 and Outs

Closely following turnovers in importance are the teams with defenses that have a high percentage of three and out series. A defense that forces the other team to punt after three downs helps their team win in a few different ways.

The first thing it does is keep the defense fresher late in the game when they might need to make a big stop. In turn, this helps wear down the opposing defense because they have to get back on the field quickly and battle the offense again.

The other important thing this type of defense does is help their team win the field position battle. As you’re going to learn in the next section, the team that wins the field position battle tends to win more games than they lose.

3 – Field Position on Both Sides

Do you know which NFL offense has the best average starting field position? Do you know which NFL defense has the worst average starting field position?

You need to know where every team in the NFL ranks for starting field position on offense and defense.

These rankings are so important that it’s almost impossible to win on a consistent basis if you don’t know them and use them. The team that wins the field position battle wins a very high percentage of games.

NFL Players During a Running Play

Many different things go into field position, including the strength of the offense, the strength of the defense, the kicking game, and coverage teams. But all of these things can be evaluated together using average starting field position.

You must use starting field position for every team on both sides of the ball every single time you evaluate a game and betting lines. Until you start using this, the odds of long term profits are probably close to zero.

4 – Quarterback Evaluation Tricks

Every NFL game you evaluate has to start with the quarterbacks on each team. This position is so important that you’re not going to win consistently until you learn how to evaluate quarterback play effectively.

You start with the main stats, but you have to go much deeper than this to win games. You need to break down every quarterback in as many ways as possible. This includes performance in each quarter, in each half, when under pressure, on each down, at different down and distances, when trailing, when leading, and anything else you can think of.

You also need to know if the quarterback is a threat to run, and how good they are when they do run.

No stone can be left unturned when it comes to evaluating quarterback play. If you’re not an expert on quarterback play you’re simply not going to win many NFL bets.

5 – Every Other Position Is Equal

If you didn’t know that quarterbacks are the most important position when evaluating NFL games before reading this page, you do now. But there’s something just as important that you need to know about the other positions on the team.

Every other starting position is equally important in the NFL. The starting left guard and number one wide receiver are equally important. And the starting left defensive end and the strong safety are equally important.

It’s easy to value skill position players more than lineman, but the truth is that NFL coaches know where the weakest players are and they take advantage of them. You can’t afford to value any position over another in the NFL other than the quarterback.

The most ignored positions by losing NFL gamblers are the offensive and defensive lines.

It’s challenging to evaluate line play because there aren’t easy stats you can use like for skill position players. But this isn’t an excuse you can use.

If you want to make more profit gambling on the NFL you have to start evaluating every position on the field equally.

6 – Properly Valuing NFL Coaches and Their Influence on Games

How much influence does coaching have on results in the NFL? You can argue that coaching has little to do with results because the players are the ones that perform on the field. Or you can argue that coaches have a big influence because they prepare the players, game plan each game, and call plays during the game.

The truth is that both sides of the argument need to be considered. But another truth is that some coaches, both head coaches and assistant coaches like coordinators, are better than others. They’re better at preparing their players and getting the most out of their players on game day.

Winning NFL gamblers know which coaches are the best and which ones don’t have as much influence on games. You need to start building a ranking system for coaches and coaching staffs you use when evaluating games.

This helps you evaluate games in the current season and also helps you predict how coaching changes influence games in upcoming seasons.

7 – Beware Totals Lines

Let me start this section by stating that some professional NFL gamblers use totals for profit. But you need to be extremely careful of betting on totals until you build a long history of profitable point spread and moneyline wagers.

Totals are also called over under wagers, and you bet that the total number of points scored in the game is going to be over or under the total listed by the sportsbook. This seems simple, but totals are hard to predict.

NFL Steelers Player After a Play

Here’s what happens with most NFL gamblers.

They see a game on the schedule between two teams that score in the bottom half of the league. The gambler makes a false assumption that the under has to be a value bet.

The same thing happens when two teams in the top half of the league in scoring face off. The average NFL gambler assumes that the over must have value.

As it turns out, both of these assumption is wrong. The truth is that with the information I just gave you it’s impossible to assign value to one side or the other of the total. But this is where most gamblers stop.

Sportsbooks know that most gamblers think this way, so when they set their totals lines they take advantage of the average gambler. This means that totals tend to offer no value or have value on the opposite side of what makes sense to most NFL gamblers.

Conclusion

If you’re gambling on National Football League games, you have to start using the tricks that the professional bettors use listed on this page. If you’re not using these tricks the odds of you making a long term profit are almost nonexistent.

Use the tricks listed on this page every time you evaluate an NFL game. Not only is using these tricks going to help you avoid the same mistakes that most NFL bettors make; they’re also going to help you learn how to gamble with a long term profit.

What Every Blackjack Player Needs to Know About Basic Strategy

Blackjack Hand on a Purple Table

Let’s be honest. You’ll probably never make it as a card counter.

If you’re serious about winning more when you play blackjack, then I encourage you to utilize the following Best Blackjack Strategies I’m about to share with you.

Note: The following strategies can be used in all games unless stated otherwise. The strategies discussed below also assume you are a recreational player, and not a card counter.

Still, blackjack offers relatively good odds for players who understand a few simple rules.

I tapped into my inner circle to find out how rookies can win at the table.

Training Wheels

The cards, the cash, the cocktails. As a game, blackjack just looks cool. In casino movies from “Rain Man” to “21” to “Vegas Vacation,” Blackjack plays a major role and is one of those iconic casino games everyone wants to give a shot.

If you’re new to the game or a casino veteran in need of a refresher, here’s what every blackjack player needs to know about basic strategy. Hopefully your luck is a bit better than Clark Griswold’s.

The goal of blackjack is for a player’s hand of cards to add up to as close to 21 as possible without going over, known as busting. Numbered cards count as their number; that’s simple enough. Aces can be played as 1 or 11, and face cards count as 10.

To start a game, each player is dealt 2 cards, usually face up, from a shoe usually with four, six, or eight decks. You can find single- and double-deck blackjack at higher stakes. The dealer also is dealt 2 cards with only one of those face-up. The dealer has a major advantage in getting to act last.

A player dealt an ace and a 10 or face card hits a “natural” 21, also known as blackjack. The player is paid immediately in most circumstances at 3-to-2 (bet $200 and win $300), although more casinos have gone to the inferior 6-to-5 payout (bet $500 to win $600).

If the dealer is also dealt a blackjack, however, the hand is a push. No win, no loss.

Blackjack strategy is pretty simple: If your hand is closer to 21 than the dealer’s, then you win. Also, if the dealer happens to bust (go over 21), you win. It sounds easy, but there are more caveats and things to remember.

Hit Me

The worst hands you will get at blackjack are hard 12 through 17. The reason is that no matter what the dealer’s upcard happens to be, you stand to lose more hands than you will win in the long run.

One exception: in a soft 17 game with two or more decks, a 17 vs. a 6 is a slight winner. In other words, virtually all these hands are overall losers for blackjack players.

Surprised?

Here’s one more grave statistic. You are going to be dealt one of these losers about 4 out of every 10 hands.

Closeup of Two Blackjack Hands

So what’s a blackjack player to do when 40% of the time you are going to get a 12 through 17 whether you like it or not?

Since you can’t change the cards that you are dealt, the best you can do is follow the basic playing strategy for hard and soft hands. You’ll still take your lumps but you’ll lose less money in the long run when you follow the basic strategy than if you depend upon divine intervention, or worse, play by the seat of your pants.

Maybe you’ve seen someone playing blackjack in a movie say “hit me.” That means you’re taking another card in the quest to get the elusive 21. A tap of the finger or hand also works, and the dealer will deal you another card.

When to Stand

You “stand” when you don’t want any more cards. Usually this happens when you hit a 17 or higher and sometimes even lower depending on the dealer’s card.

A simple waving of the hand as if saying “no” will do the trick. The dealer will then go on to the next player.

Soft 17

If you have a “soft 17,” that means you have an ace and 6. Because an ace counts as 1 or 11, this hand can be either 7 or 17 and a player isn’t hurt by taking a hit as a 10 won’t bust this hand.

Dealers must draw until reaching 17 or higher, but usually must hit a soft 17. Staying on all 17s works in the player’s favor. Different casinos have different rules dictating the dealer’s move on soft 17.

Don’t Take Insurance

A bet players can make when the dealer’s upcard is an ace. The player can usually bet half of his bet and “insure” some of his bet against a Blackjack. This is a sucker bet and a loser in the long run.

Splitting Hands

The casino rules for pair splitting are pretty straightforward. When you are dealt two cards of the same value, you may split them into two separate hands.

For example, if you bet $5 and receive a pair of 2s, you have a single hand totaling 4. You could play the hand as a 4 and draw additional cards or you could split the 2s into two hands.

You activate the pair splitting option by placing another equal bet next to the original bet on the layout. If your original bet was $5, then you would place another red chip on the layout. Do not place your chips on top of the original wager. Simply place it next to your original bet.

Closeup of Dealer Chip Tray on a Blackjack Table

By doing this, you are signaling the dealer that you want to split your 2s, and play two hands. One hand has a $5 bet and contains a 2, ditto for the second hand. You must play out your first hand (to your right) before you are permitted to play out the second hand.

Got two 10s?

Never split, that 20 already has a high likelihood of being a winner.

Two fives?

Another hand that’s a keeper. That 10 has a nice likelihood to get another high card, hopefully, an ace and the win.

Double down

When a casino allows you the option to double down, it means you can double the amount of your initial bet in return for receiving one, and only one, drawcard.

Most casinos allow you to double down on any two-card hand, whereas some restrict doubling to specific starting hands, e.g., doubling is allowed only on hard 10 and 11.

The best player-friendly doubling rules are when you can double down on any two cards.

The two variables that determine whether or not you should double down are the total of the cards in your hand and the dealer’s upcard. As a general rule, the hands you are most likely to double are hard 8, 9, 10, and 11, and the soft 13 (A-2) through 18 (A-7) hands.

Players are allowed to (and should) double their bets on certain hands for an extra score.

The catch to doubling down is the player will only receive one card, so if you pull a 3, and have 13, you’re done. Consider carefully before making this move.

It’s important to know the best strategy when it comes to splitting and doubling down

Play basic strategy

Memorizing the right way to hit, stand, split and double down your hand is a must if you want to win long term. You can cut the house edge from 1 to 2 percent to 0.5 percent by following a few simple rules.

A good base looks like this:

  • Stand when your hand is 12-16 when the dealer has 2-6.
  • Hit when your hand is 12-16 when the dealer has 7-Ace
  • Always split Aces and 8s
  • Double 11 versus the dealer’s 2-10
  • Hit or double Aces-6

Pro tip: Purchase a basic strategy card in the gift shop so you don’t have to memorize all this.

To win at blackjack, you need to get closer to 21 than the dealer, without going over. That sounds simple, but a key to blackjack for beginners is understanding the odds and basic strategy of when to draw another card (hit) and when to stop (stay).

This blog will cover what every blackjack player needs to know about basic strategy. So, you’ll get the basic rules, strategy, and lingo so you can feel comfortable playing real money blackjack online or in a brick-and-mortar casino.

Conclusion

Blackjack is one of the best games in the casino for a player, but it’s important to learn basic strategy if you want to take it seriously and have the best odds of winning. With numerous cards valued at a 10 or 11 (10, jack, queen, king, ace), there are a variety of things to consider when it comes to hitting, standing, doubling down, or splitting.

There are numerous resources to check out and learn the best strategy when playing blackjack, and it’s highly recommended. Applying the strategy perfectly can reduce that house edge down to as low as .05 percent.

There’s also one more thing to remember: Unlike the movies, players are not allowed to touch the cards. Simple hand movements are the norm in most games. Gamble on.

Infinity Reels Slots – Are They The Next Big Thing?

Infinity Symbol With Slot Machine Background

A major innovation occurs in the slots world once every few years. Cascading reels, cluster pays, and Megaways include some revolutionary features that have taken the gaming world by storm.

Megaways are currently the most-popular innovation. Many developers are licensing this engine from Big Time Gaming and applying it to their own slots.

Infinity reels could be on their way to becoming the next Megaways. You can read more about infinity reels below along with why they might eventually become gaming’s next big thing.

What Are Infinity Reels?

For the longest time, slots reels didn’t grow or expand in any way. A five-reel, 25-line slot, for example, didn’t suddenly grow to offer 100,000 lines.

However, the gaming industry has experienced plenty of innovations over the past decade or so. Megaways and cluster pays include two of the most-important developments in this span.

A Megaways game sees each reel hold a random number of symbols. For example, every reel might be capable of holding 2-7 symbols.

At maximum capacity, such a game would offer 117,649 ways to win. You arrive at this massive number of winning possibilities by multiplying the symbols in each reel (7x7x7x7x7x7).

Cluster-pays games usually take place on a large grid. For example, such a slot might offer six reels and six rows (6×6 grid).

El Dorado Infinity Reels Slots Game

Some of these games also include a mechanism that causes the grid’s size to increase. For instance, the grid might grow from 6×6 to 6×10 after so many consecutive wins.

Infinity reels represent the next step in this evolution. Rather than seeing the grid grow vertically, they add more reels moving right.

ReelPlay’s El Dorado Infinity Reels, for example, adds one reel to the right under the following circumstances:

  • You get a win cluster of 5+ matching symbols.
  • Or, you extend a current winning cluster.
  • In both cases, at least one matching symbol must appear in the rightmost reel.

This feature derives its name from the fact that you can theoretically unlock unlimited reels. Reels continue adding to the grid until your current winning streak stops.

What’s Great About Infinity Reels?

Infinity reels have already proven popular for a few reasons. You can see the main perks to these games below.

Unique & Interesting Format

A growing slots grid is nothing new to gaming. Megaways and cluster pays have already introduced the expansion concept.

However, infinity reels present this idea in a different way. You continue adding extra reels by forming/extending winning combinations.

These games keep pushing the screen to the right during a lengthy win. More reels add to the right as your winning cluster continues growing.

Unlimited Amount of Reels

The odds are against you scoring a seemingly infinite amount of reels. However, the possibility at least exists to some extent.

ReelPlay and NetEnt (maker of “Infinireels” slots) don’t cap the amount of available reels in these games. Instead, they theoretically give you the chance to add countless reels.

Of course, you must get lucky to add any more than 10 reels in a single round. But you can always dream about doing so and winning big.

Win Multipliers

You don’t solely need to rely on extra reels to collect massive payouts. Instead, you can also look forward to bonuses that increase the win potential too.

El Dorado features a win multiplier during its bonus rounds that doesn’t reset in between spins. This multiplier gives you the ability to greatly increase payouts.

NetEnt’s Gods of Gold Infinireels offers guaranteed wins during free spins. These guaranteed wins get you started off on the right track towards extending the reels.

Huge Potential Prizes

Both El Dorado and Gods of Gold offer the potential for huge payouts. The former gives you a chance to win up to 6,250x your stake. Assuming you’re betting $10, for example, you could collect up to a $62,500 prize.

Gods of Gold offers as much as a 25,000x win (or possibly larger). The same $10 wager could net you up to $250,000.

Again, the odds of you winning the biggest payouts aren’t great. However, you have to love the fact that a massive prize could be just around the corner.

What Sucks About Infinity Reels?

These slots are certainly inventive and offer a breath of fresh air to gamblers. As you’ll see below, though, they’re not totally perfect.

Small Starting Grid

The limitless potential to extend the grid isn’t without drawbacks. Every round begins with a really small grid.

Gods of Gold starts you off with a 3×4 setup. El Dorado sees you begin with an even tinier 3×3 grid.

These grids are more akin to what classic slots offer. You only get to enjoy the larger grids as your winning combination(s) build.

The majority of the time, though, you won’t land these big combos. So, you’ll be dealing with a 3×3 or 3×4 grid (based on the game) on many spins.

High Volatility

Volatility can be both good and bad. Highly volatile slots deliver large prizes and plenty of features.

However, these games also keep you guessing on when your next win is coming. You may grow frustrated when losing spin after spin—all while waiting forever on the big payout.

You can expect lots of volatility with infinity reels games. The drawback to having the chance at so many reels is that you’ll also suffer plenty of losses too.

Confusing Setup

You need to be somewhat adventurous to try infinity reels slots. After all, these games work much differently than standard games.

Regarding the latter, you don’t need to worry about any funky setups with payline slots. You merely have to land matching symbols in active lines.

Infinity reels, on the other hand, include different variables for how the grid grows. You not only need matching clusters to extend reels, but also one matching symbol in the rightmost reel.

Eventually, you shouldn’t have any trouble understanding infinity reels. But this engine is fairly confusing in the beginning.

Is This Innovation Bound to Explode?

Overall, I believe that there’s more to like than dislike regarding infinity reels. This mechanism brings something revolutionary to slots and offers differences when compared to Megaways.

Assuming you’ve ever felt constricted in the confines of a payline slot, you’ll love what infinity games bring to the table. They don’t limit you to five, six, or even seven reels.

You could potentially rip off 30+ reels during a really good round. Such a streak will no doubt result in a nice payout.

Speaking of which, these slots also offer the potential to win big. The existing infinity reels games boast maximum payouts worth 6,250x and 25,000x.

Giza Infinity Reels Slots Game

These prizes may not equal multimillion-dollar progressive jackpots. But they give you the chance to win five or six figures on a single spin with a large bet size included.

More importantly, you’ll enjoy lots of action on every spin. Each round brings the potential for numerous reels, win multipliers, free spins, and other features.

Of course, you can’t overlook the downsides to infinity slots. These games feature high volatility, small starting grids, and confusing rules.

Nothing guarantees that you’ll like infinity reels when considering these drawbacks. In fact, the downsides could completely turn you off.

Again, though, I see more to like about these games than anything. Therefore, I definitely see infinity reels becoming a groundbreaking feature.

Conclusion

ReelPlay introduced infinity reels in early 2020 through El Dorado. NetEnt followed up shortly thereafter with Gods of Gold Infinireels.

That said, this concept hasn’t existed for a great deal of time. But it has become popular in its brief existence.

Many players have rushed to try this engine. More infinity reels slots could bring an even higher demand for this mechanism.

Of course, the jury is still out on exactly how successful infinity reels will be. But I definitely foresee them growing in the real money online slots world over the next few years.

4 Secrets to Great Baseball Betting

MLB White Sox Tim Anderson With Sportsbook Background

Baseball, despite originating in the U.S., has spread to Japan and many countries throughout Central and South America. And, historically, has been one of the most popular sports to bet on.

Many bettors make wagers on baseball based on team standings. Many people will determine who to bet on solely based on the records of both American League and National League teams.

This is a poor strategy because there are so many other factors that affect the outcome of a baseball game other than a team’s win-loss record. Baseball is a long, grueling 162 game season, and even the best teams rarely win more than 100 games.

In any game of baseball, the underdog may be down but they’re not out till the last inning ends. Even a team that ends the season with only 60 wins has a decent chance to beat a juggernaut team like the Yankees on any given night.

Intelligent bettors will consider many more factors than just wins and losses when making baseball bets, such as stats like batting average, earned-run average(ERA), and home runs. These are definitely steps in the right direction towards making smarter wagers on baseball but you can do more.

If you want to get a leg up on betting on baseball, here are some well-known, and not so well-known, strategies for being successful at betting on MLB games.

1- Learn How to Predict the Weather

Eight of the 30 teams in Major League Baseball have either retractable roofs or domed stadiums so they will not be influenced by the wind and rain as much as open-air stadiums. The following stadiums have domed or retractable roofs:

  • Chase Field
  • Globe Life Field
  • Marlins Park
  • Miller Park
  • Minute Maid Park
  • Rogers Centre
  • T-Mobile Park
  • Tropicana Field

Of the 8 stadiums above, only Tropicana field has a domed stadium. The other 7 have retractable roofs that will be closed in the event of inclement weather like rain or heavy winds.

Globe Life Field, Minute Maid Park, Marlins Park, and Chase Field all tend to have their stadium’s roof closed for the majority of the year due to the oppressive summer heats in southern states.

The 3 stadiums above that will have their roofs open more often are T-Mobile Park, Rogers Centre, and Miller Park, so when placing bets on games that take place here, we should consider the day’s weather forecast as the wind could have an impact.

A totals bet is a wager on the combined runs scored between two teams. The wind’s effect on runs comes from the wind knocking fly balls down or giving them more loft— the wind will turn some fly balls into home runs affecting the odds on your totals bet.

Past statistics tell us that if the wind is blowing in towards home plate at more than 5 mph, the under wins about 55% of the time.

MLB Catcher Making a Play

This wind strength can drastically affect a fly ball that’s soaring towards the warning track and can stop a would-be home run in its tracks.

If more home runs turn into fly balls, the game is more likely to end up with a total lower than the one the oddsmakers have determined.

This logic works both ways though. Wind blowing out towards the outfield at 8 MPH or more results in the over winning about 53% of the time.

Bookmakers may not have time to adjust the over and the under for local wind conditions of every game they set odds for.  If you take the time to research the game’s weather forecast, you can be more precise about predicting the runs scored in a game.

2- Get to Know the Umpires

Like the weather, umpires have a big influence on the outcome of games. Every year, umpires make thousands of incorrect calls that have big impacts on individual players’ statistics and more importantly, the games you’re betting on.

A famous example of a blown call occurred on June 2, 2010. On that fateful day, Armando Galarraga was closing in on a perfect game. He was down to the last out of an amazing pitching performance he’d remember for the rest of his life.

Then, Jason Donald hit a grounder to first baseman Miguel Cabrera who flipped the ball to the pitcher. Galarraga clearly stepped on the base before Donald did, but the umpire, Jim Joyce, called him safe. The umpire was profusely apologetic after the game for depriving the young pitcher of a shot at history.

This shows just how prone to errors umpires can be. Umpires are human like the rest of us and even though they do their best to avoid mistakes, they still do. A more common example that baseball fans see every day is umpires calling balls and strikes incorrectly.

Some umpires are known for having a tight strike zone, meaning they call a lot of close pitches balls, while other umpires are known for having a loose strike zone, meaning they tend to call more strikes. Either type of missed call can shift the odds of the game and give a team the edge.

While umpires do their best to be fair, some umpires, unfortunately, favor the home team. Umpires may be swayed by the jeers and taunts of a home field crowd and start calling more strikes and balls in their favor, frustrating the visiting team as they see their chance at victory slip away.

Visiting teams can be more likely to lose with an unfair umpire behind the plate.  The home team wins 60% of the time when umpire, Lance Barksdale, calls ball and strikes, so anytime you see him umping a game you may want to lean towards betting on the home team.

Try to learn the habits and tendencies of umps around the league to gain an advantage when making bets. The more umpires you learn the habits of, the more of an edge you’ll have when making moneyline bets.

3- Favor the Less Popular Teams

Many teams are expected to win every year and sportsbooks are guaranteed to have a lot of bettors gravitate towards them. Teams like the Yankees and Red Sox consistently compete and as a result draw lots of wagers.

The New York Yankees play in a big market and often have one of the highest payrolls in the league. The Yankees had an astounding payroll of $244,583,988 in 2020 and were able to sign all the top free agents and take on bloated contracts like Giancarlo Stanton’s huge extension.

Betting on less popular teams can be a sound strategy because no one sees their success coming. The Tampa Bay Ray’s average attendance of 14,552 was the second-lowest of all MLB teams in 2019,  due to the cavernous ballpark they play in and the poor location of the team.

Red Sox Celebrating in Their Dugout

Despite their poor attendance and unpopularity, the Rays finished the season with 96 wins and were one of the most successful teams in the American League. The Rays advanced all the way to the division series where they lost a 5 game series 3-2 to the Astros.

The Rays are a great example of a small, under-market team that excels despite their lack of shortcomings, but few fans will bet on a team like the Rays because they don’t expect a team with such a poor following to be so competitive.

The lack of popularity makes the Rays a sneaky bet to keep in your back pocket. In fact, the Rays finished the 2019 season with 12 more wins than the Boston Red Sox, who are known to be a big market bully that many bettors favor.

Another asset of small-market teams like the Rays is their accomplished front office staff. Erik Neander, the current general manager of the Tampa Bay Rays, spent time honing his craft at Baseball Info Solutions. Cunning management makes the Rays a good bet to overperform against teams from bigger markets and a smart team to bet on for moneyline bets.

4- Avoid Betting It All on Parlays

While they’re risky, parlays are popular bets in soccer and horse racing and also available in baseball. Parlays allow bettors to stack multiple bets in a row for a chance at massive payouts.

Many bettors are unfortunately drawn to parlays by the reward of a huge payout coming from a small stake. People think it’s a quick way to get rich but the reality is that parlay bets are riskier than single bets and rarely pan out.

Parlay bets add much more risk than is necessary. The more games you add to a parlay, the more risk you incur. Parlays are a great way to let your bankroll quickly get away from you.

Avoid parlay bets and keep your bankroll at a comfortable level by betting 5% or less of it per play. You won’t have as many opportunities for a ludicrously big payout, but a conservative betting style will pay off in the long run.

Conclusion

What helps you predict who’s going to win a baseball game? Let us know in the comments.

How Do Odds Work?

NFL Player Saquon Barkley and Sportsbook Image

Did you know there is a 2% probability that Dwayne Johnson will win the next U.S. Presidential Election in 2020, according to one of the well-known betting websites?

So, what this means is that you can get 50/1 odds on “The Rock” for POTUS.

If you plan to begin betting, be it online casino games, sports betting, or any other type, it’s imperative to comprehend the odds. It would be at best in poor judgment to consider placing bets without having a firm grip on the main types of betting odds and the ability to read and interpret the various associated odds.

The three main types of betting odds are fractional odds, decimal odds, and Moneyline odds.

These are simply different ways of presenting the same thing and hold no difference regarding the payouts. This means that a chance, percentage probability, of an event occurring can be converted and presented in any of the aforementioned styles of odds.

How Fractional Odds Work

Fractional odds (aka British odds, UK odds, or traditional odds) are most common among British and Irish bookmakers. These are usually written with a “slash” or a “hyphen,” i.e. 6/1 or 6-1, and announced as “six-to-one.” Fractional odds are used by some of the world’s largest bookmakers, making them the most used odds across the globe.

A fractional listing of 6/1 odds would mean that you win $6 against every $1 you wager, in addition to receiving your dollar back, i.e. $1, the amount you initially bet. To put it simply, this is the ratio of the amount of profit won to the original wager, which means that you will receive your stake in addition to the profit, resulting in the sum of both for a win. Therefore, if you stake $20 at 6/1, you get a total return of $140 ($120 profit + $20 stake).

Essentially, the total (potential) return on a stake can be stated as:

Total Return = [Stake x (Numerator/Denominator)] + Stake

where numerator/denominator is the fractional odd, e.g. 28/6.

For instance, one of the major sports betting websites listed the following fractional odds for futures betting on the team to win the 2019 World Series. Below is a selection of the three teams that had the lowest odds.

  • Houston Astros: 10/11
  • Los Angeles Dodgers: 9/4
  • Chicago Cubs: 7/1

It can quickly be determined that the Houston Astros were the favorites while the odds on Los Angeles and Chicago winning are longer. That is, one wins only $10 against every $11 wagered on Houston to be the champions. Meanwhile, one wins $9 against each $4 (i.e. 3.25 times) put at stake for Los Angeles to win, which is a bit less probable. For Chicago, one wins $7 against each $1 bet.

In the above example, if you bet $100 on the Astros to win, you could make a $90.91 profit [$100 x (10/11)], and could get back your initial stake of $100, resulting in a total return of $190.91. However, if you wager $100 on L.A. to win, you could receive a profit of $225 [$100 x (9/4)], in addition to the $100 initial stake leading to a total payout of $325. The potential profit for a Chicago win would be even higher, as you could make a profit of $700 [$100 x (7/1)]. With the initial stake of $100 then returned, it would make for a total payout of $800.

How Decimal Odds Work

Decimal odds (aka European odds, digital odds, or continental odds) are most popular in continental Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. These are a bit easier to understand and work with. The favorites and underdogs can be noticed right away by looking at the numbers.

Sports Betting Room With Couches

The decimal odds number represents the amount one wins for every $1 wagered. For decimal odds, the number represents the total return, rather than the profit. In other words, your stake is already included in the decimal number, taking the math out of it for you, which makes its total return calculation more simple.

The total return on a wager can be calculated as:

Total Return = Stake x Decimal Odd Number

For instance, one of the most popular online betting sites prices several candidates to win the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. Here, we list the decimal odds for the top three candidates and the biggest long shot among the candidates listed by the bookmaker as of December 2019.

  • Donald Trump: 3.00
  • Joe Biden: 11.00
  • Elizabeth Warren: 13.00

And American media personality and sports businessman that just won’t go away LaVar Ball: 251.00

These numbers merely represent the amount one could win against each $1 put at stake. Therefore, if one bets $100 on Donald Trump to be re-elected as President, this person could make a total return of $300 ($100 x 3.00). This amount includes the initial stake of $100, giving a net profit of $200.

Similarly, a bettor could make a total return of $1,100 ($100 x 11.00) if they successfully bet $100 on Joe Biden or $1,300 ($100 x 13.00) if a bettor gambles on Elizabeth Warren. Subtracting $100 from these returns gives the bettor the net profit won.

Reviewing the prices that the bookmaker has set for each candidate, it can be determined that according to the bookmaker, the probability of Donald Trump (the favorite) winning the election is higher than that for any other candidate. The higher the total payout (i.e. the higher the decimal odd), the less likely (and riskier) it is for the listed candidate to win.

How American/Moneyline Odds Work

American odds, sometimes called Moneyline odds or US odds, are popular in the United States. The odds for favorites are accompanied by a minus (-) sign, indicating the amount you need to stake to win $100.

Meanwhile, the odds for underdogs are accompanied by a positive (+) sign, indicating the amount won for every $100 staked. In both cases, you will get your initial bet back, in addition to the amount won. The difference between the odds for the favorite and the underdog widens as the probability of winning for the favorite increases.

Sportsbook Betting Stations

Let’s understand this better by looking at the following example:

One of the popular betting websites priced the NCAA “Sweet 16” men’s basketball game between Duke and Virginia Tech, with the following Moneyline odds.

  • Virginia Tech: +585
  • Duke: -760

The bookmaker has offered odds of +585 for Virginia, which indicates that the bookmaker has placed a much lower probability (about 15%) on Virginia Tech winning the game. One needs to risk $100 on VT to make a potential win of $585. However, if Syracuse can pull out the win, one gets back their initial stake of $100, in addition to the $585 won, giving a total payout of $685.

If you were to bet Duke, who is obviously the favorite, which has a higher implied probability of winning the game according to the bookmaker, one would need to bet $760 to win $100. If Duke is victorious, one wins $100 with a total payout of $860 (initial stake $760 + profit won $100).

In this matchup, there is a big difference between the two odds, indicating a much higher probability of Duke winning the game and advancing to the next round of the NCAA Tournament.

Things to Remember

  • The 3 main types of betting odds are fractional odds, decimal odds, and American or Moneyline odds. These are simply different ways of presenting the same thing and hold no difference in terms of payouts.
  • Fractional odds are the ratio of the amount (profit) won to the stake; Decimal odds represent the amount one wins for every $1 wagered; and American odds, depending on the negative or positive sign, either indicate the amount one needs to wager to win $100 or the amount one would win for every $100 staked.

Conclusion

If you are planning to enter the betting or the gambling world, you absolutely must be able to understand and interpret all types of odds at a glance. After you have mastered the three popular types of odds (fractional, decimal and American), you can move towards a more detailed read on this topic and find out how the house always wins.

The conversion between the different formats of odds, the conversion of odds into implied probabilities, and the differences between the true chances of an outcome as well as the odds are key aspects to understand.

Sports gambling is immensely popular across the globe and continues to earn more and more market share annually. As a result it has become much more convenient for gamblers to lay their bets. The United States sports betting market is poised to launch like a rocket in the coming years.

Understanding how odds work will help you to mitigate your risks and enable you to clearly know your potential winnings. Gamble on.

Can You Beat a Robot at the Game of Poker? Carnegie Mellon and Facebook Say No

Simple Robot Image With Poker Themed Background

The latest sign that Skynet is about to come online and the robots are about to take over comes to us not via the military or healthcare.  No, this time, the robots have come for our poker.

For a while now, data analytics (i.e. computers) have been crunching numbers about poker.  From computer analytics, we’ve found the optimum way to play poker in one-on-one situations, we have game theory, and we have more tools to analyze our competition.

Then the folks at Carnegie Mellon came along and built an AI that, apparently, can’t be beat.  In a scenario harkening back to when Gary Kasparov lost to Deep Blue, there is now an AI out there who can play unbeatable poker.  Even worse, a poker AI has also been deployed in the most nefarious poker den in the world – Facebook – and is racking up the wins.

How did his AI come to be?  What does this mean for the world of poker?  Only time will tell, but I can at least peer into the future and make some educated guesses.

Say Hello to Pluribus

When Skynet comes online, its name will be Pluribus.

Okay, that’s really just hype, but the name of Carnegie Mellon’s robot (built on top of Facebook AI) is in fact Pluribus.  It was invented by Angel Jordan, Professor of Computer Science,  Tuomas Sandholm and Noam Brown, a Ph.D student at Carnegie Mellon who also works on Facebook AI.

All jokes about computers taking over the world aside, Sandholm and Brown put together an incredibly intricate computer.  Pluribus is one of the first AIs that were able to win in multiplayer games.

Up until this point, a lot of the computer-based poker AIs were only rated to play in one-versus-one games.  Playing head-to-head, while never easy, is a simpler problem to solve for a computer because there are a lot fewer variables to consider and calculate.

This includes Libratus, another Sandholm AI, who was able to defeat multiple real money poker players in two-player games.

Poker Hand and Scattered Chips

Pluribus, on the other hand played thousands of matches against five other opponents and was able to consistently beat the professionals.   Even more importantly, the competition Pluribus was up against was nothing to sneeze at.  In one case, Pluribus played and beat thirteen players who made over one million dollars (playing in games of six.)

The thing that’s really amazing, though, is how efficient Pluribus was.  According to Carnegie Mellon’s website, Libratus needed 1,400 cores (about 350 processors similar to the ones in a personal computer) and over fifteen million core hours to win.  And that was for one-on-one play.

Pluribus needed only 28 hours (roughly 7 processors) and needed only 12,400 core hours to win.  That’s a dramatic increase in efficiency, especially given how many more variables it needed to compute.

How Pluribus Wins

I could geek out on the computer science behind Pluribus’ wins, but I won’t.

The important thing to keep in mind is that when Pluribus started playing, it was playing at six tables at once.  It’s started with six copies of itself with a strategy for the first round.

After, it started to use what it found to train itself to play better.  Each subsequent round, it then uses information from previous games to improve its play.  It also means that, at the end of the hands, there could be six different versions of the algorithms which the team could then merge to define an even more complete betting strategy.

What is perhaps the most fascinating about the Pluribus play is that fact it uses “limited-lookahead” search to play out entire games.

That’s pretty much what humans do. 

Think about when you’re at the table.  You think to yourself “If I bet X, then that opponent will do Y and then that person will do Z and then I’ll respond with A.”  Pluribus can do all of that.

Essentially, the key to Pluribus winning so much was that it could play the current hand and make decisions by playing out what was likely to happen in the future hands.  Carnegie Mellon’s site was careful to note that Pluribus couldn’t simulate the whole game (too many variables), but that it could simulate what would happen next.

More than likely, Pluribus would be able to simulate several different outcomes very quickly before deciding on the proper next move.  For instance, Pluribus could simulate what would happen if it checks, folds, bets a large amount, bets a small amount, etc. and then make a decision based off of simulated games.

That’s pretty cool.

Being Unpredictable Is Also Cool

Did I mention that Pluribus is also designed to be unpredictable?

Sandholm and Brown realized that Pluribus could reasonably fall into the trap of doing the same thing.  It’s a computer, after all, and most AI will decide on a strategy as being “optimum” and keep doing that.

Not Pluribus.  Pluribus could not only simulate what the best move in situation was, it was also aware of what it was likely to do in any given situation.  It would then think about what it was likely to do and then had an algorithm so that it could decide to do something else.

This kept the other players guessing as to Pluribus’ real strategy.

It also presented a level of unpredictability that even a human could never reach.  At the end of the day, humans are creatures of habit who do what they know.  They have tendencies.

Pluribus is keenly aware of its own tendencies and can act against them sheerly for the purposes of deception.

That’s pretty cool.

Why Pluribus’ Wins Matter

First, in some ways, Pluribus represents the ultimate in poker opponent.  (I now sound like the scientist villain in every doomsday science fiction movie.)  Still, Pluribus is able to calculate numerous what-if scenarios.  It knows its own tendencies and can build smoke screens around that.

Even worse, Pluribus never suffers from tilt.  It will dispassionately evaluate bluffs and bets and react accordingly.

Also, Pluribus uses strategies that humans rarely do.  First, according to poker professional Darren Elias, one reason Pluribus was successful was because it could actually mix strategies.  Humans try to mix strategies, but like I said, we fall into patterns.

Poker Chips and Cash on a Home Poker Table

The computer doesn’t because it can recognize its own patterns and counteract them.

Even more strangely, Pluribus used strategies humans generally consider weak.  According to Carnegie Mellon’s website, one of these was the “donk” bet in which a player ends a round with a call and then starts the next round with a bet.

It’s an odd bet and should rarely be the proper tactic.  In a lot of cases, it’s better to value bet or get some money from the other players with a small bet.

However, according to Carnegie Mellon, Pluribus was a lot more likely to donk bet than any of the humans it defeated.  If for no other reason, this experiment become a lot more interesting because it may teach us humans new ways to play.

Next Steps

For now, no one really has to worry about Pluribus taking over.  Both Sandholm and Brown can take the code and do with as they please, though both have agreed to not use the code for defense purposes.

So, that means no Skynet, at least the Terminator 2: Judgement Day version.

However, this is hardly the last step in poker AI.  I, personally, would like to see AI use Google’s already existing technology to recognize body movements and nonverbal communication to begin recognizing bluffs and tells.

I wouldn’t want to play against that bot, but it would be an incredibly interesting experiment to observe.

Also, I think every serious poker professional should study what Pluribus did.  It’s time to revisit the effectiveness of donk better.  It’s time for the humans to see what the robot did and improve our overall game.

I don’t say that because I am afraid of robots.  I just don’t want to see a lot of learning go to waste and I personally believe poker players can take good poker strategy by seeing what the robot did to win.

Then some players need to use that new strategy to replay Pluribus and figure out how it answers.  Then those players can continue to evolve what they do and so on.

Conclusion

Hopefully all the Terminator jokes weren’t taken seriously.  A dedicated poker AI is not going to take over the world and, as long as no one can turn it into a bot on a poker site, isn’t even going to damage our wallet.

With that said, that doesn’t mean that the AI isn’t incredibly cool on its own.  The science that went into its decision making is something that humans can learn from (playing all the what-if scenarios) and the strategies it used are things players should consider to make their own games better when playing poker.

Did Ken Uston Ruin Atlantic City Blackjack Games?

Blackjack Hands With an Atlantic City Sky View

Atlantic City is different from any other major gambling destination in the world. It’s the only place that prohibits casinos from discriminating against skilled players.

Therefore, Atlantic City must be the mecca of card counting, right? You can count cards at a table without fearing the pit boss tapping you on the shoulder.

We have Ken Uston to thank for these perfect conditions. Actually, the card counting conditions in AC aren’t so great because of Uston.

You can read more on his story below along with if he’s truly responsible for destroying Atlantic City blackjack games years later.

Who Is Ken Uston?

Born in 1935, Ken Uston was a (video) gamer, early PC expert, author, and advantage gambler. He became the most famous for the latter.

Uston got into card counting in the 1970s. He linked up with Al Francesco, a blackjack legend who developed the “big player” concept.

But while Francesco developed it, Uston popularized it. He wrote The Big Player: How a Team of Blackjack Players Made a Million Dollars.

This book immortalized Uston in the blackjack world and made him seem like one of the world’s foremost experts.

Blackjack Player Ken Uston

Francesco would later say that Uston didn’t really make a lot of money for his particular team. The latter, though, would eventually start his own team and become a great player in his own right.

Aside from The Big Player, Uston showed his expertise in other areas by writing Mastering PAC-MAN (1981), Score! Beating the Top 16 Video Games (1982), and Ken Uston’s Guide to Home Computers (1983). This limited selection of his works show just how well-rounded of an individual he was away from the gambling tables.

In 1987, Uston passed away in his Parisian apartment at the age of 52. The listed cause of death was heart failure.

Uston’s Blackjack Career

Ken Uston met Al Francesco while playing poker. He got an inside look at Francesco’s immense blackjack knowledge during this chat.

Upon hearing about the Big Player technique, Uston was immediately hooked. He joined Francesco’s card counting team shortly thereafter.

Uston was just a “spotter” for Francesco’s team. His job was to count cards and signal the big player when the deck was hot.

Spotters are an important part of any big player team. They play at minimum stakes and determine when the deck is highly positive.

The big player, meanwhile, can come in and start placing large bets right away. Therefore, they appear to be a high roller rather than a card counter who’s spreading bets wildly.

However, spotters don’t actually bring in the winnings for the team. Francesco’s notion that Uston didn’t make much money for the team came from this dynamic.

Eventually, Uston would attain big player status on Francesco’s team. After some level of success, he chose to start his own team with members like Darryl Purpose.

The team made a great deal of money playing in Las Vegas casinos. Eventually, though, they were banned from Vegas casinos and moved to Atlantic City.

Ken didn’t help his cause by releasing The Big Player. Not only was his face on the cover, but he also provided the casino with further tidbits that they weren’t already familiar with regarding team play.

Uston and His Team Take on Atlantic City

In 1976, New Jersey voters approved a referendum to allow casino gambling in Atlantic City. These new casinos attracted advantage gamblers looking for a new target.

Uston and his team were among those to shift their operation to New Jersey. Part of this move was due to the opportunity, while the other was out of necessity after being banned elsewhere.

The team lasted about a year, or so, before they received bans from Atlantic City casinos. Resorts International 86’ing the team was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Ken filed a lawsuit against Resorts International in January 1979. In the case of Uston vs. Resorts International Hotel Inc., the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that AC casinos aren’t allowed to ban card counting.

This judgement, which still stands today, initially seemed like a victory for card counters everywhere. However, Atlantic City gambling venues weren’t about to start paying advantage players’ way.

They responded by adding decks, letting dealers hit on a soft 17, and moving the cut card up in the shoe. Local card counters soon found themselves dealing with tougher conditions than at Vegas casinos.

Uston’s team broke up after this ordeal. He went back to counting cards in Vegas casinos while using various disguises.

Fellow blackjack legend Arnold Snyder recalled how Uston once disguised himself as a Hoover Dam worker. He fooled the casino into letting him spread bets from the table minimum to the table maximum.

The Aftermath of Uston’s Fight Against Atlantic City Casinos

Atlantic City gaming establishments may have been new when Uston took Resorts International to court. However, they weren’t naïve.

Casinos quickly adjusted to having to accommodate all blackjack players—from the person splitting 10s to the advantage pro who incorporates shuffle tracking.

The rules changed not long after Uston won his court battle. This legal victory wasn’t really a win for advantage gamblers or amateurs (based on increased house edge).

Multiple decks were the first change to come. Rather than dealing the more-favorable single- or double-deck games, AC casinos rolled out six- and eight-deck tables.

The house increases by 0.58% from a single to eight-deck game. This lone rule change gave Atlantic City a much bigger advantage than before.

Casinos also began having dealers hit on a soft 17, rather than stand. This rule discrepancy boosts the house advantage by 0.2%.

The biggest death knell to counters was the casinos that placed the cut card earlier. Dealers shuffling the shoe earlier prevent adequate deck penetration.

Long story short, the Atlantic City blackjack scene sucked for both counters and amateurs alike after Uston v. Resorts International.

Should Card Counters Hate Uston?

Ken Uston’s legal win may have hastened the bad conditions that are still present in AC blackjack today. However, these changes were coming anyways.

You can’t find any gambling destinations today that make it easy for gamblers to count cards. Las Vegas, at least much of it anyways, is notorious for having poor blackjack rules.

Many Vegas games only pay you 6:5 on natural blackjacks. This payout increases the house advantage by 1.39% compared to 3:2 payoffs.

Blackjack Dealer Dealing a Hand

Sin City isn’t the only place that has terrible rules. Everywhere from Biloxi to Reno has changed the game to thwart counters.

East Coast card counters and anybody who moved there in the late 1970s most likely did hate Uston. After all, he forced Atlantic City’s hand earlier than many gaming destinations around the world.

But it’s not like his legal battle did anything that wasn’t coming already. Vegas had been, for years, altering rules to their benefits before AC gambling even become legal.

Does Card Counting Still Work in Atlantic City Casinos?

Rather than hating Ken Uston, today’s advantage players should thank him to some degree. Atlantic City still features beatable conditions in certain cases—and you can’t get thrown out!

You can find AC tables that offer profitable counting opportunities. You can also look to use more-advanced methods, such as hole carding and shuffling tracking in some instances.

Of course, Atlantic City is still no card counter’s paradise. The rules are, on average, a little worse than what you’ll see in other gambling hubs.

Furthermore, pit bosses can still bring heat by closely watching games, chatting with you, or even citing some minor infraction you’ve done.

The key, though, is that you can’t be 86’d for counting cards. Assuming you’re able to exploit a casino for winnings, then you can keep doing so until the conditions change.

Conclusion

Ken Uston became one of the most-famous people to play blackjack due to his skill, authorship, and legal fight with Resorts International.

The latter changed Atlantic City into a strange place that can’t legally boot card counters. Here, casinos must welcome advantage gamblers by law.

AC casinos are just like anywhere else, though, in that they alter rules to stop counters. Most notably, they can tell dealers to shuffle the shoe earlier and stop deck penetration.

Nevertheless, this city still offers susceptible tables in some cases. You can take advantage of them without being kicked to the curb too.

How to Tackle the Addiction Argument in Gambling

Handcuffed Hands With Casino Chip and Roulette Background

Discussions about the possibility of legalizing gambling in any country are always a matter of controversy.

Not from an economic standpoint, of course. The increase in revenue that casinos have brought to different regions is undeniable. But, to those who are against any type of gambling, its disruptive effects are also undeniable.

According to these people, we should prohibit gambling because it’s addictive.

This argument has become so commonplace that most people don’t even question it anymore. But to what extent is it true?

1 – Neuroscience 101

I’m not suggesting that some forms of gambling aren’t designed to be addictive.

For decades now, scientists have been showing that this is also a matter of neurochemistry.

As you may know, there’s something called the reward system in your brain.

It motivates you to seek food, sex, and other pleasurable things.

This system depends largely on the release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. And it turns out that some people show a reduced response to dopamine.

Which makes it harder for them to resist their impulses and delay gratification.

I’m oversimplifying the whole thing, and I’m far from being an expert in neuroscience. But there’s at least one thing I can say for sure.

That thing is: our current knowledge of neurochemistry isn’t enough to understand the pitfalls of gambling.

And, in fact, a big part of the problem is in the very choice of words used to describe it.

2 – Our Inner and Outer Talks

It’s one thing to say that some forms of gambling are more conducive to addiction than others.

It’s another thing to say that gambling is addictive.

If this seems to you like a semantic issue of no great consequence, you’d better learn something about your subconscious mind.

Those who study NLP know this well.

When we start sentences with “I am…”, “I’m not…”, “This is…” or “This isn’t…”, whatever comes next is interpreted as a fact by our subconscious. And it tends to act accordingly.

This doesn’t mean that everything you assert will materialize itself.

Because, usually, you also send other messages to yourself that often contradict what you said before. And you may do this consciously or unconsciously.

That’s why, for a person to get rich, it’s not enough to use affirmations such as “I am rich”.

The problem isn’t with the affirmation per se. The thing is that a person must bring him/herself into alignment with what he/she says. And that’s difficult to do with statements that don’t find much evidence in one’s environment.

Unless you have a strong purpose behind what you say. But, when we talk about things there are often repeated by almost everyone, the opposite happens.

That is, it becomes difficult not to believe in that thing.

You’ve probably already heard that a lie that is repeated often is accepted as a truth.

That’s what we witness every time someone says that something is addictive and no one questions this.

Well, almost no one.

3 – Of Rats and Men

In the late 70s, psychologist Bruce Alexander (together with some colleagues) made an interesting experiment.

He wanted to see how rats would behave when presented with the opportunity of consuming as much morphine as they wanted.

Such an experiment, by itself, wouldn’t have been different from previous ones if it wasn’t for one thing.

This time, not all rats were isolated in cages.

Some were put in a colony of 16 to 20 rats, called “Rat Park”. And the difference between these two groups was tremendous.

Two Rats Close to Each Other

The first group, as expected, became addicted to morphine.

Those in the colony, on the other hand, consumed it much more sporadically.

Not only that, but when those from the first group were moved to “Rat Park”, their behavior changed.

To the point that they weren’t dependent on morphine anymore.

Why? According to Alexander, because now they had more interesting things to do.

Such as hooking up and hanging out with new friends.

This theory has recently been endorsed by British journalist Johann Hari.

He’s traveled to different countries around the world to find out what has worked when dealing with heroin addiction. And policies that worked all had one thing in common.

They all tackled the social factors that could lead a person to become addicted.

Chief among them was a lack of meaningful connections.

That’s what led Hari to say: “The opposite of addiction is connection”.

Does it mean we should disregard all the neuroscience behind it?

On the contrary. It’s well known the role that other neurotransmitters play in our behavior.

One of them is oxytocin, which helps ups to foster deeper connections with each other.

So, there’s no doubt that neuroscience is being of great help to us in understanding this issue.

But, if we also don’t anthropologize and sociologize addiction, we’ll be making a huge mistake.

4 – Take Your Pick

Here’s another curious thing about the whole addiction argument.

Apparently, those who oppose gambling due to its addictive nature fail to notice all other things people become dependent on. And most of those aren’t illegal.

I’m gonna mention a couple of them in the next lines.

The first one is social media.

At this point, it’s become omnipresent in many people’s lives. And the damages that it causes to one’s mental health is becoming more and more a subject of study.

Especially when considering people under 30.

These are called the Generation Z (aka younger millennials).

As we know, each generation brings its own set of challenges to society as a whole.

Many people from the Generation Z have used smartphones since they were children. And they suffer from a higher incidence of anxiety, depression, and suicide.

All of those are issues that seem to be more prevalent among heavy social media users.

This makes me question how long it’ll be acceptable for 5-year-olds to have smartphones.

Now, here’s another common addiction in Western societies: flour.

William Davis, author of Wheat Belly, has heard many people tell him that “Bread is my crack”.

According to him, this is because of a protein called gliadin.

Whatever the case may be, most people who eat flour products regularly would be able to relate to that previous quote.

It’s no wonder that more and more experts have been warning us about the dangers of the standard American diet.

Still, I haven’t seen anyone trying to prohibit the selling of bread, pasta, etc.

And thank goodness for that. Because it’d only make things worse.

5 – Why Prohibiting Gambling Is a Bad Idea

Psychologist Robert Cialdini is the author of a classic book called Influence, first published in 1984.

The book is all about heuristics, that is, decisions we make based on a few key pieces of information. And Cialdini talks about how those mental shortcuts are used in efforts of persuasion.

According to him, we can categorize all heuristics under 6 basic principles.

One of those is the principle of scarcity.

As you can verify for yourself, anything that’s scarce is automatically perceived as more valuable and attractive by us.

Even if it wasn’t that valuable at first.

Oftentimes, when something’s at our disposal any time we wish, we won’t even pay much attention to it. But then, all it takes is the suggestion of it being taken away from us for a change of attitude to occur.

Suddenly, we can’t imagine ourselves living without that thing anymore. And it turns out that one of the most efficient ways to make something appear to be scarce is to prohibit it.

Knowing this allows us to better understand an ironic paradox.

Those who are the most ardent opponents of gambling often end up becoming its bigger proponents.

Red Dice in Dramatic Lighting

They fail to notice that the worst thing they do is to be so passionately against it.

The more they emphasize how dangerous, stupid and immoral gambling is, the more attractive it becomes to others. And those other people will often take trips to different countries just to enjoy such guilty pleasures. But what would happen if there were a casino just a few kilometers away from them?

It’s possible that they wouldn’t even bother going there more than once a month.

This reminds me of a famous quote from Shakespeare’s play Hamlet.

It’s when the title character says that the country of Denmark would be one of the worst prisons for him.

His friend Rosencrantz doesn’t agree with that, though.

To which Hamlet replies: “Why, then, ’tis none to you; for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

It wouldn’t be a total absurd to adopt this rationale to gambling.

Because gambling in itself may not be addictive, but prohibiting it makes it so.

Conclusion

Okay, maybe that last sentence was me going too far into anthropologizing and sociologizing (and psychologizing) gambling addiction. And, in doing that, I’d be making the same mistake of those who are too much in love with neuroscience.

But, think about it. What does prohibition foster more than anything else?

Isolation.

And this is exactly what we don’t want to do when dealing with any type of addictive behavior.

Whatever our opinions about it may be.

6 Truths Every Gambler Should Know

King and Queen Playing Cards Standing in a Casino

When it comes to gambling, there are some universal truths that players should be aware of before they step foot into the casino or register for an online casino account.

The reason for this necessity is pretty straightforward. A lot of people are just unaware of the reality of gambling, and those people won’t see the same winnings that advantage players do.

So, here are facts you should know about gambling. It just might save you a lot of grief if you keep these in mind.

1 – Slots Are the Worst Way to Spend Your Money

It’s commonly known in the gambling industry that while the tables pay for extras, it’s the slots that keep the lights on.

The reality of slots is that they can be very precisely tuned to ensure an extra low rate of return. Slots have always been the big money makers for casinos because of this fact. When you drop money into slots, you’re almost always throwing it away in the long run, even if you have a “strategy.”

And I place “strategy” in quotation marks because slots are hardly a skill-based game. Their extremely low odds are compounded by the fact that many people believe they can tell which slot machines are “tight” and which slot machines are “loose.”

News flash—there’s no such thing.

Casinos don’t put tight or loose machines in strategic areas. Why? Because the machines aren’t spitting out coins like they used to. You’re getting a voucher or something similar that encourages you to keep playing.

Now, casinos may have done it in the past, but as things changed, so did the concept of placing “better-paying” slots in different areas. This leads me to my next point.

2 – There’s No Such Thing as a Hot or Cold Streak

This is one that so many gamblers swear by and are mostly wrong about. Whole books have been written about this problem; in fact, there’s an entire branch of mathematics dedicated to its study.

Yep, it’s called statistics.

Statistics show that “hot” and “cold” streaks are nothing more than completely random sequences of events that our human minds have arbitrarily given meaning to.

All these games are completely random, and I do mean completely. There are no patterns for you to see. You’re not a genius who can sense when a machine is going to pay more or less. You’re either lucky, or you’re not.

Row of Slot Machines

This is particularly true of slot machines. The way these machines work is based on a chip inside the machine (that cannot be manipulated by you in any way) that has, among other things, an RNG inside (a random number generator). The RNG is literally producing random numbers at a set rate. Sometimes, those numbers are winning numbers, and other times, they’re not.

What you have to understand about RNGs is that they’re usually set to produce a certain percentage of wins and losses over a very large timescale (like months to years). You can sit in front of the same machine for a week straight and never hit a big win, yet over time that machine would produce the expected amount of money on average.

What’s worse than this? The fact that all the games are stacked against you anyway.

3 – The House Edge Goes From Bad to Worse

If you’ve never heard this term before, the house edge is basically how much of an advantage the house has over the player in every single game.

Now, this varies from game to game, but it’s pretty much all bad.

Blackjack is a great example. When you play blackjack, the dealer doesn’t have to reveal their hand until the player does. Why does that matter? Because if the dealer has a losing hand, and you lose first, the dealer wins even though their hand was bad.

The house edge might be somewhere around 8%, which is then mitigated by a variety of factors (for instance, if you hit blackjack, you get paid back 3:2 in a lot of cases).

If you have a strategy and choose the right place to play, you can knock the house edge all the way down to about 0.5%, which still means that the house is going to win more money than it loses over time.

What does this look like? Let’s assume a house edge of 1%. If you bet an average of $60 an hour, you should lose on average about $1 every hour. That doesn’t sound too bad, right? Well this is making a lot of assumptions. You might lose a lot more and have to play for days or weeks for that average to really appear.

Other games are much worse. Keno is notoriously bad, but pretty much all the games are deliberately stacked against you. That’s how casinos keep making money.

Here’s what you really need to understand: Gambling is good entertainment, but it’s not something you should completely rely on to pay the bills (even the small ones).

4 – Chances of Winning the Lottery Are Worse Than You Think

So, let’s say you’ve got your head on straight. You usually stay out of the casinos, you gamble online every once in a while, but you also like to play the lottery.

If you thought the odds on casino games were bad, you’ve got another thing coming when it comes to the lottery.

The odds on the lottery are pretty much astronomical. You have a better chance of getting eaten alive by a shark during a car crash while being struck by lightning. It’s just not going to happen.

They call the lottery “a tax on the poor” for good reason. Remember, a tax is something you pay and never see again. The odds of winning are so small that they might as well be nonexistent.

You can buy tens of thousands of tickets every year throughout your lifespan and still never win.

Now, one guy did figure out that if you had enough money to buy every single possible combination you would come out on top. But you need a few million in your pocket to pull that trick off.

You’re much better off spending your money on literally anything else than the lottery. It’s about the biggest waste of money there is.

5 – There’s a Benefit to Playing Casino Games Slowly

This one makes sense when you think about it. The concept is actually similar to drinking alcohol in some ways. We all know the guy who goes to the bar that drinks too fast and ends up getting a little hammered.

The same can pretty much be said for gambling. If you’re going into a casino and blowing all your money in the first five minutes on a handful of games, you’re going to be broke before you know it and more likely to go to the ATM to try to get more money out.

Four of a Kind With Kings

Why would you go to the ATM? Essentially because you haven’t played for long enough to get it out of your system. You haven’t actually been able to enjoy the process. Like many things in life, slowing down a little bit is going to do you a lot of favors in the long run.

Think of it like this—if you’re playing $5 hands every minute, you’ll spend $100 in 20 minutes. That seems like a lot, right? Now, if you slow it down even a little, that same $100 could last you an hour. An hour of gambling can be a fun, relaxing distraction.

But 20 minutes? Not so much.

6 – Yes, You Should Join the Players Club

This last one is something that not everyone thinks about. If you already know that you’re going to be gambling quite a bit, you might as well get some freebies out of it!

Players clubs are rewards programs that are available at most large casinos. They give you points for pretty much every game you play, and those points can be used for a lot more than just gambling. You can get discounts on show tickets (or even free show tickets), free drinks, and even a free room if you’ve spent enough money and get lucky.

The best part about players clubs is that, because all the major casinos have them, they all want you to join their club. So, they all give you casino comps when you join to incentivize you to stick around.

That means you can walk from one casino to the next on the Strip and gather up your free rewards and walk away with some pretty nifty stuff while still doing the same amount of gambling you were going to do anyway.

The same applies for online casinos, too. Most sites have players clubs that even reward you with free airfare, cruises, and more!

Conclusion

If you’re going to spend a lot of your time gambling at the best online casinos, at the very least you should do it the smart way. Follow the rules above, be aware of the truths about gambling and how all of this works, and you can look at it as an entertainment expense instead of your chance to win it big.

Is there anything I left off the list? Let me know in the comments!

Las Vegas vs Atlantic City Blackjack

Blackjack Hand With a Las Vegas and Atlantic City Background

Many towns and states across America offer blackjack. However, few blackjack destinations are more notable than Atlantic City and Las Vegas.

These two iconic gambling towns both have plenty of tables for you to enjoy. But how do they compare to each other in terms of blackjack?

I’m going to cover how Vegas and Atlantic City differ from each other regarding blackjack rules, casinos, card counting, and blackjack variations.

Slight Rule Variations

At first glance, Las Vegas and Atlantic City feature nearly identical rules. However, they do have slight discrepancies in this category.

I’ll start by going over the common Vegas Strip game:

  • 4 decks
  • Natural blackjack pays 6:5; but it can also pay 3:2
  • Dealer stands on soft 17
  • Dealer peaks for a natural with a 10 or ace upcard
  • You can double down on any two cards
  • You can double down after splitting (DAS)
  • Split your hand up to three times (4 total hands)
  • Split aces once
  • You only receive one card after splitting aces

Again, Atlantic City rules are almost exactly the same as what’s featured on the Vegas Strip (and beyond). However, AC does have the following rule exceptions:

  • 8 decks
  • Late surrender

Both games can give you a solid chance to win. The main question involves if you’re being paid 3:2 or 6:5 on blackjacks.

A 3:2 payout lowers the house edge by 1.39% in comparison to 6:5. Given that this rule varies in both Sin City and AC, I see no major differences in the rules between the two.

Verdict: Atlantic City and Vegas tie on the standard rules

Vegas Features Far More Casinos

The Vegas Strip game is merely a standard set of rules found at many casinos throughout Sin City. However, it by no means encompasses the entire town.

Certain casinos located downtown and on the Boulder Strip feature some of the world’s best blackjack rules. They offer single-deck tables with 3:2 natural payouts and other player-friendly rules.

Such games are only possible due to Las Vegas’ immense selection of casinos. Sin City features 136 gambling venues at the time of this writing.

You may find Vegas Strip rules at the majority of the town’s casinos. However, you can also locate a few exceptions that offer blackjack house edges lower than 0.5%.

Overhead View of a Blackjack Game

Atlantic City features nine casinos—10 when counting Bally’s and Wild Wild West as separate entities. Each of these establishments is a large resort that caters to many tourists.

In contrast, some of Vegas’ 136 casinos are smaller venues that serve locals. In short, Atlantic City feels bigger than just 10 casinos.

The problem, though, is that AC doesn’t have the top-to-bottom variety in terms of blackjack. Most of its casinos feature standard Atlantic City rules.

This town doesn’t have the small locals establishments that offer incredible blackjack rules. You’ll miss this variety if you’re looking for the absolute-best chance to win.

Verdict: Vegas offers numerous blackjack casinos

Atlantic City Can’t Ban Card Counters

Casinos have never welcomed card counters with open arms. Almost every gambling jurisdiction lets casinos kick out advantage players.

Atlantic City is the one gaming destination, though, that doesn’t allow casinos to do this. Based on a ruling in Uston v. Resorts International, AC casinos can’t discriminate against skilled gamblers.

Of course, this law doesn’t prevent gambling establishments from changing the rules (i.e. 8 decks & 6:5 payouts) or asking the dealer to shuffle more often (reduces deck penetration). In theory, though, it makes Atlantic City the perfect card counting destination under the right rules.

Las Vegas has always allowed casinos to throw out and ban advantage players. Casinos have the same right as any other Vegas-based business in this regard.

You can still find great tables to count cards at thanks to the sheer variety alone. But you will be booted if you’re caught.

Verdict: Atlantic City is, theoretically, the best destination for counting cards

Sin City Offers Some of the Best Blackjack Games Anywhere

Again, the average game between Las Vegas and Atlantic City isn’t much different regarding rules. However, Vegas has the rarest-and-best games.

El Cortez is a perfect example. Located in downtown, it features a single deck, 3:2 payouts, and other favorable rules that create a 0.34% house edge.

You can’t do any better than this at online casinos! Other venues, such as Silverton, have similar rules and house advantages ranging between 0.4% and 0.5%.

Atlantic City features the occasional table with a 0.5% house edge. But you normally need to wager $50 or more to play in these games.

The average table features eight decks and other house-friendly rules. And while these games don’t differ much from the Vegas Strip, they can’t compete with the Sin City locals casinos.

Verdict: Las Vegas features the best blackjack odds

Vegas Also Has More Blackjack Variations

Las Vegas is king when it comes to different variations of blackjack. It features Blackjack Switch, Double Attack, double deck, pontoon, progressive, single deck, Spanish 21, and Vegas Strip rules.

These are only the variations that I’ve personally found. Therefore, Vegas probably offers nearly a dozen more variants beyond what’s mentioned here.

Atlantic City mostly sticks to the rules covered before. You’re looking at standard six- or eight-deck tables with either 3:2 or 6:5 payouts and (possibly) late surrender.

I’ve seen Blackjack Switch, Double Attack, and double deck games featured here. By and large, though, AC is sorely lacking when it comes to variations.

Verdict: Sin City easily wins in this category

The Average Atlantic City Casino Is Classier

Sin City offers the finest penthouses, hottest nightclubs, best restaurants, and most-impressive amenities out of any gambling destination.

However, it also has plenty of low-rent dives that look like they haven’t been updated since the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign was put up. In short, you get the best of the best and lowest of the low here.

Atlantic City’s top resorts may not trump the Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, and Venetian. However, its resorts are more even across the board.

You don’t need to worry about roach motels during AC blackjack trips. Instead, all of these casinos serve tourists and try to remain in tip-top shape. You’ll appreciate this opulence when you’re away from the blackjack tables.

Verdict: All Atlantic City casinos offer solid amenities beyond blackjack

Overall Verdict on Vegas vs. Atlantic City Blackjack

Before starting this post, I fully knew that Las Vegas was going to take the crown for the top blackjack destination.

It has far more casinos and tables than Atlantic City. Sin City also features blackjack house edges ranging from 0.34% to 0.5% at certain establishments.

The average Atlantic City casino compares well with the average Vegas joint in terms of rules. AC, however, doesn’t offer the aforementioned locals casinos with amazing blackjack odds.

Player Holding Their Chips on a Blackjack Table

But Atlantic City also has its positives regarding blackjack. First off, you’ll be playing in style no matter where you go. This town doesn’t have any true dive casinos like Vegas does.

It also prevents gambling establishments from banning you just because you’re counting cards. AC is the only major gaming destination with this card-counter-friendly law in place.

Looking at everything as a whole, I have to give Las Vegas the edge when it comes to playing blackjack. However, I’m more impressed with Atlantic City’s blackjack scene than I expected to be.

Conclusion

Las Vegas boasts the best blackjack action anywhere. It showcases more variations and tables than Atlantic City or any other town for that matter.

If you’re serious about finding the most-favorable blackjack odds, then you should visit Sin City. Vegas has the most to offer blackjack enthusiasts.

However, Atlantic City makes for a nice alternative if you can’t make it to Sin City. This East Coast gambling hub offers plenty of tables and decent rules.

Assuming you’re into advantage play, then you’ll also appreciate the fact that AC casinos can’t ban you for counting cards.

Best Ideas for Playing Casino Slot Games

Light Bulb in Front of Slot Machine Reel

If you’re going to play slot machine games you might as well have fun doing so. I look at playing the slots as being like paying to see a movie. A really expensive movie in a crowded theater 100 miles from home.

Slot gaming may be the most popular form of casino gambling but it’s less likely to produce the kinds of results people hope for. I’ve won some jackpots over the years but none to write home about.

Popular tips for playing the slots include ideas like play machines in open areas because they might be more loose and stop playing when you’ve lost half your money. These strategies cater to your fears.

People are afraid they’ll play the wrong slot machine or that they’ll play too long.

But how long is too long if you’re winning?

You only play too long if you keep losing. And since you can’t legally force the game to make you a winner you always have the option of changing games or not playing any longer. Research shows that slot gamers are more likely to become addicted if they lose themselves in the game experience.

What that means is that maintaining situational awareness is key to successful slot gaming. And by “successful” I only mean you play the games on your terms, not the casino’s.

They want you to keep playing. You want to keep playing only if you win. The best we can hope for is a compromise between an enjoyable evening that doesn’t cost much and keeping the casino in business.

With that goal in mind, here are the best strategies I’ve found for playing slot machine games.

1 – Only Play as Much as You’re Willing to Lose

One bit of advice I’ve read – and shared – across the years is to stop playing the game when you’ve lost half your money.

But why should we budget $100 for a game if we only intend to play it for $50?

The idea behind this stop-loss strategy is to treat the wins and losses on the slot games like price fluctuations in the stock market. That is exactly how someone explained the idea to me the first time I heard it.

Row of Slots Games

If you buy a share stock at $100 you want to set a stop-loss sell order at, say, $80 to protect most of your capital. Instead of riding the storm out you dump the stock, letting some other investor eat the continuing losing value, and then get back in when the stock turns around.

But we can’t play slot machine games that way. You’ll never know when you can get back into the game because every new spin is a whole new game.

On the other hand, if you’re willing to lose $50 before you abandon a slot machine game then just put $50 in the machine. Don’t deposit your entire bankroll. You’ll have to cash out your tickets a few times during the night but you’ll never lose more than $50 a game if you don’t want to.

2 – Only Play A Game That Pays You on the Next Spin

Some people drop a max bet into a slot machine game and move on if it takes their money. The idea behind this tactic is that a game is more likely to keep paying you if it pays on the first spi.

Admittedly that is completely illogical. Every game is a new game. The random number generator that controls the results could be right on the cusp of a long losing streak for players when you push Spin the first time. You’ll win a nice prize and then the machine takes your money.

So treat every spin as the first spin.

What’s the difference between putting $5 in one machine and $5 in the machine next to it?

The idea in this strategy is to only play a machine as long as it keeps paying you. Abandon the game as soon as it takes your bet.

This is a fast-paced, haphazard strategy that works best for people who are bored, almost ready to leave, or who need to kill some time.

There is no way to guarantee that you’ll win the next spin.

3 – Use the Buddy System

Instead of playing the same slot machines side by side, play 1 machine with a partner.

One of you can take a break, go play the tables, get something to eat, or otherwise relax and break the monotony of pushing the Spin button all night long.

I’ve used this system with my wife a few times. She picks the slot machine and I check on her every hour. She takes a break while I keep the machine “warm”.

When she comes back I’ll cash in her tickets and adjust her gambling fund. If we’re winning, of course.

This is a hard system to follow because everyone wants to be in the game at some point in the evening. And if you’re in a crowded casino on a Friday or Saturday night you may not have a place to sit beside your partner.

The buddy systems well because it helps both players stay alert. You check each other’s progress frequently and you’re only managing one bankroll. This is a good strategy for a date night but friends will most likely want to play their own games.

4 – Only Play Max Bets

Some people are afraid to push that Max Bet button. Now if you’re down to your last $15 you may think you want to keep playing but in reality you have almost as little chance of winning a decent prize in fifteen $1 spins as in three $5 spins.

The mathematical difference between 15 and 5 spins on a machine that may only pay a big win is less than 1%. Most prizes that slot machines pay are pretty small with respect to their largest possible prizes.

What the Max Bet button gets you a larger multiple. The prize you win could be 2X your bet, 5X, 25X, 100X, or more. If you only bet a dollar then you’ll win anywhere from $2 to $200 in a typical game.

Closeup of a Row of Slot Machines

That same spin can pay you anywhere from $30 to $1500 on five-dollar bet.

The variation between prize amounts is directly proportionate to how much you wager. This is common knowledge but it’s easy to stop feeling the power of the multiplier when you’re almost out of money.

The biggest prize goes to the boldest player. You shouldn’t be playing slots hoping for a lot of small wins. These games are designed to slowly or rapidly siphon away players’ money over time.

5 – Write a Game Off If It Takes Your Money

Budgeting is the number 1 piece of advice for gamblers who play slot machine games. From watch how much you lose per hour to cut your losses short, slot strategy articles focus on the money.

A real strategy focuses on game play. Slot machine games may not require any skill to play but they still require a decision by the player to push another button.

Metaphorically playing the slots is a lot like surfing a giant wave. You’ll never have the skill you need to always catch the big waves and ride them as far as you can go. You’re just lucky to get a good ride every now and then.

Your strategic judgment tells you when to stop winning or losing money. If you’ve divided your bankroll into tickets that total how much you’re willing to lose on a slot game resist the urge to put another ticket into the machine.

The game doesn’t owe you anything. You’re falling for the classic sunk cost gambling fallacy, thinking you’ve lost too much money to stop playing now.

If all you’ve done on a game is lose then walk away. There are hundreds of other machines you can try.

Conclusion

The best way to play the slots is to keep your eye on the real prize: having fun. The bonus games are fun, the ambient sounds are fun, and the graphics are fun. Enjoy what you’re paying for and don’t think about how much of your monthly budget you can pay out of your winnings.

If it were that easy to win slot machine games the casinos wouldn’t stock hundreds or thousands of them. They’d find some other way to keep players entertained and losing money.

Your time in the casino should be relaxing, not stressful. The games you play should be amusing, interesting, or somehow entertaining. It helps to have someone to talk to and share those occasional wins with.

If you’re looking for the best strategy to use for playing real money slots, no one has found anything better. At least, nothing legal comes to mind.

Is Laptop Gambling Dying?

Laptop With a Heart Rate Monitor Background

When online gambling first came about in the mid-1990s, bettors could only use a desktop or laptop computer. Of these two options, laptops would come to dominate internet gambling due to its portability and convenience.

However, laptops have much more competition today. Smartphones and tablets serve as more-convenient options for players on the go.

Laptop PCs and Macs, meanwhile, don’t command the same usage they once did. In fact, one might even consider them to be dying in the gambling world.

I’m going to briefly cover laptops’ rise among players along with if they have any future in gambling.

Brief History of Laptops

Laptops have been around much longer than most people realize. The concept for portable computers first came about in the early 1970s.

The IBM 5100 became the first commercially available portable computer in 1975. This rudimentary device didn’t shake up the PC world, but it did lay the foundation for bigger things to come.

IBM 5100 Portable Computer

The Epson HX-20 became the first official “laptop” computer in 1981. This Seiko Epson-produced device offered a rechargeable battery and small printer.

The Osborne 1 launched within the same year. Although it weighed 24.5 pounds and had no battery, it did feature two floppy drives and a fairly advanced screen.

More laptops and innovations would come about in the 1980s. Intel’s i386SL, for example, introduced functions that minimized battery usage.

The 1990s saw laptop PCs become much more competitive with desktops. Although still more expensive than desktop units at the time, these portable computers offered more convenience.

They would also develop features that put them more in line with a desktop’s hardware. Apple, which started releasing laptops in the early 1990s, was at the forefront of this movement.

Why Laptops Become Popular Among Gamblers

The laptop computer maintains obvious advantages over a desktop. It’s lighter, easier to carry, and features its own screen (rather than being connected to one).

But these computers still needed to connect to landline internet throughout most of the 1990s. Therefore, many gamblers didn’t see a definitive reason to choose laptops over desktops at the time.

They simply wanted a reasonably priced computer to play online casino games and/or poker with. Many laptops still cost over $1,000 at that point.

The advent of Wi-Fi in 1998 became a big turning point for laptop gambling. Wi-Fi allowed coffee shops and other businesses to offer customers free internet. It also gave people the ability to freely access the web in their homes without the use of landlines.

A laptop’s portability suddenly became more in demand. Gamblers could take their computer to another room or even to a coffee shop and play games online.

Wi-Fi would continue spreading throughout homes and businesses in the early and mid-2000s. More and more people saw the need for a laptop as a result.

These computers also became more affordable by the mid-2000s. One could now purchase a standard laptop for between $500 and $600.

Available Wi-Fi and cheaper laptops made for a powerful combination. Soon, many people were gambling on their portable devices versus clunkier desktop computers.

Numbers Show Laptop Computers Fading

Laptops definitely aren’t disappearing anytime soon. Over 166 million of these devices sold in 2019.

But this figure is a far cry from almost a decade ago. Laptops hit their peak in 2011 after 209 million units moved off the shelves.

Of course, desktops and tablets have also seen slow growth in recent years. Desktop sales dropped from 155 million units in 2011 to just 88.4 million in 2019.

Tablet sales hit a peak of 230.1 million units sold in 2014. However, only 136.8 million tablets moved last year.

As you can see, laptops are now outselling tablets again by a comfortable margin. They’re also slamming desktops in terms of sales.

Smartphones are the big elephant in the room, though. They’ve gone from selling 472 million units in 2011 to 1.517 billion in 2019.

Of course, smartphone growth has leveled off since 2017. Forecasts show that sales will increase slightly—although nothing near the 300% growth seen over the past decade.

The key, though, is that smartphone sales are at least level in recent years. Laptop computers, on the other hand, are slowly fading along with tablets and desktops.

Can Laptop Gambling Compete with Smartphones?

No survey is needed to show that smartphone gambling is undoubtedly most popular among all devices. With over 1.5 billion units sold annually, smartphones are far more accessible to the average gambler than anything else.

The reasons why smartphone gambling dominates are obvious. For starters, a phone is small enough to fit in one’s pocket.

One doesn’t need to worry about lugging around a laptop or tablet when gambling. They can simply pull out their phone when the mood strikes for mobile online casino games such as blackjack, slots, poker, or anything else.

More importantly, the average person spends far more time on their smartphone than a laptop. Phones have become a jack of all trades for surfing the web, checking email, texting, social media, and more.

Woman Using a Laptop and Her Cell Phone

Of course, smartphones aren’t perfect when it comes to gambling. They feature a relatively small screen in comparison to laptops.

The standard phone screen has grown within the last few years. But it still doesn’t equal the 15- or 17-inch display on the average laptop.

Those who want to see more details in their gaming experience will at least consider a laptop PC or Mac. They’ll especially be open to a portable PC/Mac if they mainly gamble at home.

Bettors who use their laptop for word processing and other purposes will also think about gambling on a portable computer. Much like those who use smartphones for multiple functions, this crowd can gamble and create documents with the same device.

What’s the Future of Laptop Gambling?

Numbers reveal that 166 million laptops were sold in 2019. This figure is around 9x smaller than the 1.517 billion smartphones that moved in stores.

Additionally, laptop sales continue steadily declining. You can clearly see that far more people own and, as a result, gamble on phones these days.

But this isn’t to say that laptop gaming will completely die out. These computers still offer certain advantages over a smartphone.

Number one, they boast a larger screen. The average smartphone offers around a 6-inch screen. Laptops, meanwhile, typically feature between a 15- and 17-inch screen.

Some people also rely on computers more than smartphones. They especially do so when their job demands more typing and/or spreadsheets, for example.

None of these reasons suggest that laptops will overtake phones in the gambling world. However, they do show that the laptop still has a place at the table. In fact, it proves the second-most popular device throughout the world.

Tables vastly outsold laptop PCs/Macs in the mid-2010s. However, the tide has changed and laptops are certainly more popular now.

That said, you can expect laptops to serve as the secondary gambling device to smartphones in future years.

Conclusion

Laptop computers once dominated online gambling. Gamblers became motivated to use laptops once Wi-Fi and cheaper devices became available.

However, these portable computers have since been overtaken by smartphones. The latter outsells laptops by 1.35 billion units each year.

Nevertheless, laptop PCs and Macs still holds a prominent place in gambling. Those who want a large screen combined with some level of portability opt for laptops.

As of 2019, laptop computers are still outselling tablets and desktops by a wide margin. They remain a runner-up to smartphones when it comes to gambling and many other activities.

In summary, laptop gambling hasn’t completely died. It’s just not as popular as it used to be thanks to the rise of smartphone gambling.

5 Tips for Las Vegas Blackjack Beginners

5 Blackjack Tips Text With Jack Card Image in Background

The first time you take your seat at a blackjack table in Las Vegas, it can be a little overwhelming. Between the quick pace of play, the seemingly experienced players around you, and the temptation to bet a little too much can all contribute to feeling a little lost.

The good news? Blackjack is one of the easier games to learn…at least on a level that will allow you to blend in with the rest of the Vegas gamblers at your table. In this article, I’ll provide some tips to that can have you feeling more confident next time you walk in the casino.

1 – Manage Your Bankroll

Your bankroll is more than just the amount of money you walk in with. It should be made up of a specific money set aside for the explicit purpose of betting. Another number, aside from the overall amount of money you’ve set aside, you need to consider is a percentage. As in, a percentage of your bankroll you’re willing to put on any bet.

The reason for determining a percentage of your blackjack bankroll you’re willing to bet on any one play is that it will prevent you from taking a crushing loss that forces you to walk away empty-handed. If you want to go even a step further, figure out a percentage-range that you can bet within based on your risk tolerance.

Most experts would recommend keeping any one bet below 10% of your overall bankroll. Depending on your total pool of money, you can find out the right number for your situation.

2 – Learn the “Rules”

I put rules in quotes because I’m not talking about the literal rules of the game, but rather the commonly-known “do’s” and “don’ts” – the rules of thumb if you will.

Because there are so many to learn and memorize here’s a list of a few that you can commit to memory quickly and easily.

5s or 6s

Keep in mind that while this is a rule, there are always exceptions to the rule. Effective gambling, especially in cards, means playing the percentages and accepting that the right move doesn’t always result in a win.

When a dealer is showing a 5 or 6, they’re more likely to make a good hand than they are to bust. If you find yourself with a 7, don’t try to double it because you think you have the advantage over the dealer.

Play the Hand, Not the Money

Even if you’re making your biggest bet of the day, don’t throw your strategy (or your common sense) out. For example, if you have 14, don’t decide you’re going to stand because you’re afraid of busting and losing your big bet.

Closeup of a Blackjack Game

Don’t Take Insurance

Regardless of how much you’re betting on the hand or what cards you have, insurance is never a good idea. Just 4 of 13 cards will result in the dealer getting a blackjack under the ace. This is roughly a 30% chance of hitting blackjack, whereas you’ll only get paid 50% (not 70%) for your insurance. Unless you’re counting cards and know the exact times to do it, insurance isn’t the way to go.

Comp Considerations

If you’re new to the casino altogether, you might not be aware, but casinos do reward frequent players. Often times, the rewards are based off the time you’re at the table. If you want to rack up more favor with the casino but don’t want to take the risks of a high roller, play at a crowded table. You’ll be able to play for a longer period of time without risking more money.

3 – Play Online First

Nobody likes walking into a scenario where you’re the least-experienced person at the table. One way to ease the anxiety is by learning blackjack by playing online.

Plenty of gaming options exist for players of all levels, but the most important thing is that you’re finding a game feels comfortable for you. For example, you probably don’t want to go into your first few hands at a site that requires high minimum bets.

Make no mistake about it, blackjack in person is certainly different than playing online. Unfortunately, there’s no substitute for the real thing, but online practice can be extremely beneficial.

Not only will you learn a little more about how the game works, but you’ll be much more comfortable upon taking your seat the casino.

4 – Know When to Split

If you don’t already know, when you’re dealt two cards of the same number, you have option to split them and play as two hands or keep it as one. Here’s a list of when to split, and when not to split:

Hand of two 10s: Don’t Split

If you’re dealt two cards that give you 20, one short of the perfect 21, don’t mess it up by trying to split them up. The only possible way you can lose if you’re holding a 20 is if the dealer hits 21…a statistically unlikely proposition.

Hand of two Aces: DO Split

If you’re dealt two aces, it’s a good idea to split them up. It increases your chances of not just hitting a 21, but at least landing more favorable numbers.

Hand of two 5s: Do Not Split (but do double down)

If you get a pair of 5s, don’t split them. Instead, keep them and double down (double your bet). It’s better to have an okay hand that you can win with than two that are unlikely to win.

5 – Mind Your Manners

As an adult, you shouldn’t really need an incentive to be on your best behavior, but the casino will give you a few reasons anyway (mostly in terms of comps).  Here’s a list of casino etiquette basics that you should keep in mind when you’re at the blackjack table:

Respect the Dealer

It doesn’t matter if you’re losing every hand – it’s not the dealer’s fault. The dealer doesn’t have any control over the wins and losses, and most of the time they want you to win so you’ll give them a bigger tip.

Speaking of tips – always make sure you leave a few chips for the dealer when you walk away. You’ll receive your share of funny looks from the other participants if you stiff the dealer upon departure.

Don’t Hand Money to the Dealer

This one might be tough for beginners who simply aren’t aware of the casino’s security protocols. When you sit down and give your cash to the dealer in exchange for chips, lay your money on the table. That way the casino’s cameras can monitor the amount of money being exchanged.

Closeup of Blackjack Hand on Pink Table

Keep Cards on the Table (and use one hand)

Chances are you aren’t looking to cheat the casino out of money, but rules are rules. Never take your cards off the surface of the table and don’t handle them with two hands. Both of these rules are simply designed to keep anyone from switching cards.

Know When You Can Touch Your Chips

Once the cards are dealt and all bets are locked in, don’t touch your chips until the hand is over. If you lose, the dealer will handle taking your chips. If you win, feel free to take them yourself. These rules are in place to make sure players don’t attempt to change their bets during the hand.

Use the Dealer as a Resource

This one might surprise you, but the dealer is usually more than happy to help give you some advice! As previously mentioned, the more you win, the more you’ll (theoretically) tip. It might seem as if you’re on different teams, but that’s really not the case.

Conclusion

Blackjack is a casino staple in terms of table games, and actually provides decent odds if you know what you’re doing. Take these tips, try out real money blackjack online, or take your skills into the Las Vegas casinos and see if you can leave with some money in your pocket!

5 Interesting Facts About the History of Gambling In Las Vegas

Split Image of Old Vegas and New Vegas With Casino Chips in Front

Considered to be the gambling metropolis of the world, Las Vegas has a rich history which includes entertainment, vice, and mob ties.

The first casinos were established by the laundering of drug money and racketeering. With its full on embrace of not just gambling but also prostitution, Las Vegas became the perfect environment for East Coast organized crime to thrive in.

Even in the early 1900s, Las Vegas was known as a place to go to get a quick divorce and an even quicker marriage.

Interested in learning more about the history of gambling in Las Vegas? Well, here are 5 interesting facts about the history of gambling in Las Vegas.

1- Las Vegas Was Named by a Spanish Merchant

In the early 19th century, a Spanish merchant named Antonio Armijo was leading a trade caravan. This trade caravan consisted of around 60 men. They stumbled upon the Las Vegas Valley and it seemed to be the perfect place to resupply on their way to California.

This trade caravan named this area of land “Las Vegas”. In Spanish, Las Vegas means “Fertile Plains” or “The Meadows”. At this point, the Las Vegas Valley was a part of Mexico.

In 1844 there was the possibility of war between the United States and Mexico. At this point, U.S. President John Tyler organized a group of spies and scientists to be led by John C. Fremont. This group was a part of the United States Army Corp.

This group made camp and established a fort at Las Vegas Springs. War with Mexico ended up breaking out, and the Las Vegas territory then became a part of the United States of America.

In 1855, a group of Mormon missionaries from Utah led by William Bringhurst traveled to the Las Vegas Valley. While there, these Mormon missionaries built an adobe fort. They watered their crops with flood irrigation.

Two years later, the fort was abandoned by the Mormons and they returned to Utah. This was due to the summer heat and tensions between Mormon leaders at the fort.

This area would not really see any activity until 1864. At that time, The U.S. Government used the fort to throw off a group of Confederate spies by saying they had overtaken the fort and renamed it Fort Baker.

2- The Building of the Hoover Dam Influenced Las Vegas Culture

Work on what would become the Hoover Dam started in 1931. This huge construction venture increased the population from around 5,000 to 25,000 people. Since the majority of these new people were men, this created the demand for some high end entertainment.

Nevada legalized gambling at the local level in 1931. The Northern Club received the first ever gambling license in the state of Nevada. The Las Vegas Club and the Hotel Apache were soon to follow. These gambling establishments were on Fremont Street in Las Vegas.

Not only was Fremont Street the very first to be paved in Las Vegas, but it also had the first traffic light in the city. This marked the beginning of what was to become the gambling metropolis of the globe.

Aerial View of Hoover Dam

The Hoover Dam was completed in 1935. Southern Nevada Power was the very first utility company that supplied power from the Hoover Dam. Can you guess who was the first customer? That’s right, Las Vegas.

With electricity now powering the city of Las Vegas, Fremont Street then became referred to as “Glitter Gulch.” Even though at this point there was a decrease in construction workers at the Hoover Dam, there was now a new type of crowd populating the area.

Hoover Dam thus became a popular tourist spot. This created a demand for high end hotels, therefore contributing to the development of Las Vegas.

Route 95 extended into Las Vegas in 1940. This meant that there were now 2 major access roads in the city of Las Vegas. Las Vegas’ first radio station, KENO, appeared during this time as well.

This is where casinos and showgirl theatres got their booming start. This was developed by both Mafia lords and business owners that were local to the Las Vegas area.

3- The Bank of Las Vegas Was the First Bank to Loan Money to a Casino

With the legalization of gambling in the state of Nevada came the first funding for Las Vegas casinos. The Bank of Las Vegas was the very first bank to lend money to a casino.

Around the same time, the Teamsters State Pension Fund started lending money to those who owned and developed casinos in Las Vegas. Allen Dorfman, who was a good friend of Jimmy Hoffa, was in charge of the Teamsters State Pension.

The funding provided by the Teamsters State Pension led to the opening of such places as the Sands, the Sahara, the New Frontier, the Riviera, and the Showboat among many others.

By 1954 it was a well known fact that people with criminal backgrounds were running things in Las Vegas. However, this didn’t dissuade people from going to Las Vegas and spending their money.

Around this time 8 million people were coming to Las Vegas on a yearly basis and putting around $200 million dollars into casinos.

Gambling now was not the only thing that attracted people to Las Vegas. Las Vegas was quickly becoming the entertainment hub of North America. Stars such as Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin were performing in awesome intimate venues.

4- Atomic Testing Became a Tourist Attraction in the Early 1950’s

Yes, you read that right. Atomic testing became a tourist attraction in the early 1950s for Las Vegas. Even with the known dangers of radiation, Las Vegas capitalized on this atomic testing to entice more tourists.

There were drinks known as “atomic cocktails.” These were offered at the Sky Room, which was a restaurant at the Desert Inn. While sipping your “atomic cocktails” you could sit and enjoy the view of mushroom clouds.

By the mid 1950s Las Vegas was growing in new ways. In 1957, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas was established. And 2 years later the Las Vegas Convention Center finished construction.

The convention center helped to legitimize Vegas and the influx to the city’s revenue didn’t hurt either.

5- Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack Help With Desegregation in Las Vegas

Much like any other place in the United States before the civil rights movement, Las Vegas was very segregated. Any clubs that served non-white patrons were on the west side of town.

At this time, employment at white-owned clubs was pretty limited for non-white employees. The only exception to this, would have been if you were a minority entertainer like Sammy Davis Jr.

Eventually the organized criminals that were running establishments in Las Vegas saw a monetary opportunity in desegregation. They thought if they could desegregate their establishments, that they could ultimately put all the non-white club owners out of business.

Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack Portrait

These criminal masterminds wanted to replicate the desegregated type of establishments that existed in Harlem, New York in the 1920s and the 1930s.

In 1955, Will Max Schwartz opened the Moulin Rouge. Not only was it a racially integrated casino, but it was extremely luxurious and high class. Even though this casino didn’t last, it had started a change in the racial atmosphere of Las Vegas.

Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack are credited for being advocates of desegregation. Apparently when the Rat Pack was scheduled to perform at the Sands, Sinatra refused to perform unless a room for Sammy Davis Jr. was provided by the hotel.

Frank Sinatra reportedly did the same thing at many other venues.

Eventually the civil rights movement of the 1960’s led to desegregation taking effect in Las Vegas, just like the rest of the country.

Conclusion

Finally, the organized crime and Rat Pack era came to an end by the mid to late 1980s. At this time, baby boomer entrepreneurs took over. This is what started the mega resort era of Las Vegas as we know it today.

It is no doubt that Las Vegas is still known for its vices, but it continues to be a hotspot for tourists, gamblers, and people living double lives.

You can still get married and divorced extremely quickly and catch some of the best entertainers in the entire world. So, with Las Vegas, some things truly never change.

Did you enjoy this article? Let me know in the comments.

Gambling Explained – How Casino Games Work

Royal Flush Hand With Slot Machine Wires in Background

I’ve had a fascination with gambling and more precisely casino gambling since I watched the mobster movie Casino as a teenager.

While there were definitely some aspects of the movie I wanted NO part of, other parts stirred something in my imagination.

After all, owning a casino is basically a license to print money. Right?

So, by that logic everyone in the casino, dressed to the 9s, bourbon in hand and a mountain of chips in front of them, must be the pinnacle of opulence.

It was about 2 hours into my first casino trip, I had this crushing realization of how woefully unprepared I was.

How in the world could this happen?

It happened because I had no clue as to what I was doing or how the games even worked.

I never want a first timer or any novice gambler to have the experience I had 2 decades ago. So, I’m here to help.

To understand how casino games work, we have to know the different types of games.

There are more or less 3 categories of casino games. Go into just about any casino and you’ll find table games, electronic gaming machines, and random number ticket games.

Table Games

Table games are where the action is at any casino. Dealers paying out bets, players bustling around, dice bouncing, and cards being dealt. Spend any time on a casino floor with some high stakes table games and it will be an experience you’re sure to remember.

1 – Baccarat

Baccarat is perhaps the lesser known or understood table game of the 4 mainstays in most casinos. Once you grasp how hand values are formulated, you will find the enigma of Baccarat strategy has been lifted. Baccarat then becomes one of the most transparent casino games around.

I’ll give you a little head start, “Baccarat” is derived from old European dialects and means “zero”. So, just think of baccarat as playing “zero”.

We call it zero because face cards and the 10s which are typically valued at 10 become worth 0 in Baccarat. Meanwhile, number cards are worth face value and Aces are worth 1.

For baccarat, the objective is to predict if the banker or player will have a higher score. You may also bet for a tie if both hands finish with the same total tie bets win.

2 – Roulette

Roulette is perhaps the most recognizable and straightforward casino table game. Roulette comes to us from the French word for “little wheel”.

There are a plethora of bets available for the player to make, so many in fact hundreds of articles have been written solely on that topic. So, let’s stick to basic game play.

Roulette begins with players making bets. The dealer then throws the ball into the Roulette wheel and players may continue making bets. While the ball is still in motion the dealer announces “no more bets” and betting is over. After the ball comes to rest, winning bets are placed and the next round begins.

3 – Craps

Ooohhh craps.

If you’re looking for a fun time and some true comradery hit the craps table. Standing around the table, slinging around high-fives, laying bets and throwing dice combine to assemble my favorite casino nights.

Craps may be the most complex table game at the casino, but it doesn’t have to be scary. Let’s cover some basics and you’ll be right at home rubbing elbows with the avid players.

To pass or not to pass?

Long View of a Blue Craps Table

Ignore the side bets for the moment and focus on the main game. This is the “Pass Line” or “Don’t Pass” line. Pass Line bets are on the shooter to win.

So, if the shooter rolls a 7 or 11 the bet wins. However, if the come out roll is a 2, 3, or 12 the bet loses. If the come out is any other number that becomes the point. The shooter is then trying to hit that point before rolling a 7. If the player rolls a 7 before hitting the point they “seven out” and the bet loses.

A “Don’t Pass” bet essentially works juxtaposed to a “Pass Line” bet. Again, the “Don’t Pass” bet is a bet against the shooter.

“Don’t Pass” bets win if the come out roll is 2 or 3 and the bet is pushed if 12 is rolled. A come out of 7 or 11 is a loser. If any other number is rolled it, establishes the point and if a 7 is rolled before the point is hit the bet pays

This is an abridged overview, but it gives you a basis on how craps works. You’ll surely pick up the rest at the table.

Whatever you do remember this; never say the word seven at the table. And when you are throwing the dice please make sure the dice hit the back wall.

4 – Blackjack

Blackjack is my go-to casino game. You don’t have to be as uniquely intelligent as Raymond Babbit to thoroughly enjoy yourself.

Blackjack gained its soaring popularity in part by being incredibly easy to learn. The experienced and novice gambler alike can’t seem to get enough of the fast-paced action of real money blackjack.

The object of the game is to reach 21, without going over, before the dealer hits 17. If you don’t bust,and your total is higher than the dealer’s you win. Hitting 21 or blackjack usually means even bigger winnings.

Electronic Gaming Machines

Now, there seems to be a stigma regarding these casino games. I must admit that when someone mentions slots to me, I envision grandma with a cigarette hanging loosely from her lips and an oxygen tank strapped to the back of her mobility scooter.

This is an unfair characterization that likely stems from too much time looking at memes on Facebook. In fact, the first time I remember leaving a casino with house money was a birthday night of years back spent at the penny slots.

There is no question that slots have a special place in casino gaming. Simple to play, smaller minimum bets, bright flashing lights and loud noises draw in the masses.

Slot Machine Bonus Wheel

Did you know that while slots absolutely take a lion’s share of the EGM pie, they don’t have a monopoly?

Playing video poker wasn’t just for passing hours in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. In fact, video poker started making its way into casinos back in the 1970s.

Modeled after 5 card draw the object is easy. Build your best poker hand by holding your best hand from the deal and drawing in hopes of completing your hand.

Unlike poker at a table, you aren’t competing with an opponent. You are simply trying to build the best hand possible. Usually a pair of jacks or better will pay and the better your hand the higher the payout.

Random Number Ticket Games

Keno is by far the most popular game in this genre. Rumor has it the game saved an ancient city during war time and that keno helped fund the Great Wall of China. If you can count to 80, congratulations — you already know everything you need for Keno.

Each casino has their own pay tables and variations of rules. The standard seems to be 80 numbers on the board. You then select 20 numbers from those 80. The more numbers you match, the higher the payout.

If you’ve ever played Powerball or your state’s lottery, you’ll immediately recognize how to play Keno

Conclusion

I hope you’ve gained some understanding of how casino games work. Casino gambling may seem overwhelming, but as you see, it doesn’t have to be.

The most important thing is to remember to have fun. Don’t take yourself too seriously. I have found time and again that any casino personnel are always happy to show a newbie the ropes. These days most casinos even offer “classes” on popular games for beginners.

How nice of the casino to show patrons how to win their money.

Other players can also be a wealth of great information. It usually isn’t too hard to spot the rookie at a table and most are glad to offer a lending hand. Be aware that this will not work at the poker table. I repeat you are on your own there.

When it comes to the casino games we reviewed, it’s us against them.

And them has been rarely defeated for a very long time.

Android vs iOS Slots – What’s the Difference?

iPhone 11 and Samsung Galaxy S20 With Online Slots Background

IOS (Apple) and Android (Google) launched just about a year apart in June 2007 and Sept. 2008, respectively. Ever since, the two mobile operating systems have been in a perpetual war of conquest.

This battle has extended to the online gaming world. Mobile slots players collectively use both systems when enjoying games on their smartphones and tablets.

You wouldn’t know the differences between the two at first glance. After all, both iOS (iPhone & iPad) and Android devices perfectly display the modern slots of today.

However, they do feature a few differences that are worth noting. I’ll cover these discrepancies along with if they impact which type of device you should choose.

Downloading Slots Apps

The most-notable difference between iOS and Android slots comes when downloading online casino apps.

Apple and Google Play feature different policies on mobile gaming. You should know these policies before putting either type of app on your smartphone or tablet.

Android Mobile Slots Apps

The Google Play Store has traditionally been more reserved towards gambling. Google Play doesn’t usually allow developers to put real-money gaming apps in their store.

They do feature some exceptions, including France, Ireland, and UK-focused casinos. By and large, though, most countries won’t enjoy access to real-money slots apps—including the US.

Assuming you’re from one of the many restricted countries, then you can only get “freemium” slots apps in Google Play.

Many casinos feature Android apps on their website. These gaming sites design their own products that can be downloaded and played on Android devices.

You should scour any mobile casino that you’re interested in to find such apps. Relevant operators will provide a clear indication on what you select to begin the download process.

iOS Mobile Slots Apps

Apple is more progressive than Google towards real-money gambling. The App Store has long allowed casinos to offer apps to iPhone and iPad users within most countries.

However, they’ve recently thrown gaming providers a curveball. Apple now demands that operators develop apps in the iOS native programming language.

Online gaming companies can produce HTML apps much more cheaply. Therefore, many casinos have simply chosen to ignore the App Store altogether (see browser-based section later).

El Royale Online Casino Slots

Luckily, those that already had preexisting iOS apps are allowed to remain in the App Store. Because of this caveat, you’ll still find plenty of iPhone slots apps.

Some mobile operators are willing to comply with Apple’s demands and use the native programming language. So, you can look forward to new iPhone casino apps in the App Store as well.

Instant Play Smartphone Slots

Not all online casinos feature apps. Of course, they still must cater to Android and/or iOS players to stay relevant in this mobile-heavy age.

Such gaming sites feature browser-based (a.k.a. instant play) slots. You can read about the slight differences between Android and iOS in this category below.

Android Browser Based Casinos

Android has cornered around 75% of the mobile market versus 25% for iOS. This fact isn’t surprisingly when considered that Android is available on a broader range of devices.

Also not surprising: some casinos are more worried about optimizing their sites for Android users than they are iOS customers.

I mentioned earlier how you normally can’t tell a difference between iOS and Android slots. But if an operator chooses to go all out for one or the other, they’re going to optimize for Android most of the time.

iOS Browser Based Casinos

IOS may be a distant second to Android in the battle for mobile supremacy. However, it’s still far and above the almost nonexistent other options, such as KaiOS, Samsung, and Windows.

Therefore, many app-less casinos ensure that their platforms are available on both Android and iOS devices. You should be able to access most of these sites through an iPhone.

Accessibility of Casinos

Apple produces some of the highest-quality products in the mobile industry. Many gamblers wait with heavy anticipation as the next iPhone or iPad is unveiled.

That said, you can always expect high-performance and secure smartphones and tablets from this Silicon Valley giant.

The problem, though, is the price. The iPhone 12—the latest available right now—retails for $699. Although in line with the iPhone 11, this price tag prices out many people around the globe.

Android is found on far more devices. Google doesn’t confine its operating system to a single phone and tablet like Apple.

They instead allow a broad range of companies to use Android. The result is a broader price range that people from many walks of life can afford.

Android & iOS Casino Bonuses

I’ve honestly never seen a true difference between iOS and Android casino bonuses. For example, I don’t see gaming sites distinguish a “no deposit bonus for iPhone players only.”

While I’m on the subject, though, I’ll go over the different offers you can find available when using either Android or iOS.

No Deposit Bonus

This offer becomes available when you register at a new mobile casino. The operator might give you a $10 no deposit bonus upon successfully registering for an account.

You don’t get to cash out the $10 bonus right away. Instead, you keep what’s left over (e.g. $7), plus potential winnings, after satisfying terms and conditions.

The most-important term is wagering requirements. The latter refers to a multiple of the bonus (e.g. 40x) that must be wagered before you cash out.

Free Spins

Free spins slot bonuses let you play real-money slots without having to risk your own bankroll. Rather, the casino supplies you with a number of free spins after you register and/or make your first deposit.

You use these spins to accumulate winnings that can be withdrawn. Once again, though, you need to meet terms and conditions before cashing anything out.

Deposit Bonus

This slots offer is exactly how the name sounds: you deposit and qualify for a bonus. The casino will match your deposit by a certain percentage (often 100%).

Here’s an example:

  • The casino offers a 100% match deposit bonus.
  • You deposit $50.
  • You’re now eligible for a $50 bonus.

A deposit bonus differs from the no deposit variety by letting you withdraw the amount in a lumpsum. So, you could cash out the entire $50 once you’ve satisfied wagering requirements and other terms.

Welcome Bonus

A slots welcome bonus indicates the first bonus offer that casinos provide after your initial deposit. These deals can either cover your first deposit or a series of deposits.

Here’s an example of the latter:

  • Welcome bonus worth up to $2,000.
  • First deposit: 100% match bonus worth up to $1,000 + 50 free spins.
  • Second deposit: 75% match bonus worth up to $500 + 25 free spins.
  • Third deposit: 50% match bonus worth up to $500 + 25 free spins.

As you can see, a welcome offer can include both a match bonus and free spins. Like with any other deal, you need to meet T&Cs before getting your real money online bonus.

Bitcoin Bonus

More and more online casinos are accepting Bitcoin (BTC) as a deposit method. Likewise, they’re also featuring bonuses dealing with this popular cryptocurrency.

For example, you might receive a 100% match slots bonus up to 0.1 BTC. The latter may not sound like much, but it’s actually worth around $900 at the time of this writing.

If you’re comfortable dealing with cryptocurrencies, then you’ll find many Bitcoin mobile bonuses to be just as good as regular smartphone deals.

What Wins – iOS or Android Slots?

Both Android and iOS slots have their strengths. You can play real-money Android slots on a more-affordable device.

Furthermore, you’ll also have access to more browser-based sites. This aspect is perfect if you don’t like taking up space on your phone with an app.

Online Slot Game From Vegas Casino Online

IOS slots, meanwhile, run on two of the best mobile products in the biz. IPhone and iPad consistently rate towards the top of their respective categories.

Furthermore, iPhone slots apps are available in a wider range of countries. Even with the recent native programming requirements, the App Store offers more real-money gambling products.

Conclusion

In the end, I can’t definitively say if Android or iOS slots are better. Each operating system rates well in different areas.

You really need to consider what you value most with a mobile slots experience. Are you seeking easy-to-find apps and/or a superior product, like the iPhone or iPad?

Or, are you looking for a cheaper Android-based device that can access plenty of apps and browser-based casinos?

Whatever the case, you’re in for a fun gaming experience no matter which route you go. Androids, iPhones, and iPads all feature quality graphics and animations when you’re playing mobile casino games.

Top Fried Snacks in Atlantic City

Fried Twinkies With a View of Atlantic City Boardwalk

Atlantic City has done a lot to reinvent itself in recent years.  Their casinos are once again a major draw, as are its famous beaches, boardwalk, and many amazing restaurants.

In fact, in the nicest way possible, it seems like Atlantic City is doing its best to follow Las Vegas’ blueprint for becoming a destination not only for gambling but also general tourism.  With that said, Atlantic City is not exactly like Las Vegas. It doesn’t have quite the same reputation for “Las Vegas style” food: bigger, fancier, but still gourmet.

But Atlantic City will get there and it will get there soon.

In the meantime, like we said, there are plenty of great places to eat a meal or get a snack in AC.  Among the food items for you to find and love are amazing fried foods.

Sure, it may seem strange to highlight fried foods, but cooking something in fat just makes it taste better.  Plus, people go to Atlantic City for vacation and when you’re on vacation, all those extra calories don’t count, right?

That’s why I want to help you learn a little more about Atlantic City for the next time you visit.

Funnel Cakes

One of the things that makes a trip to Atlantic City unique is that they offer some really great reasons to stay inside (casinos) and one very big draw that gets people outsi