Complete Video Poker Strategy Guide

Neon Video Poker Sign With Video Poker Screen in Background

Gamblers have a choice between playing games where they have no influence on the results and playing games where they directly influence the results. The way you influence the results of gambling games is by using strategy.

When you play slot machines or bingo, you can’t influence your results. It doesn’t matter what you do, you can’t use strategy to improve your chances to win.

Many casino games do offer the chance to use strategy to improve your results. This doesn’t mean that you can win in the long run, but it does mean that you can minimize your losses. The secret is to learn how to use the best strategy for each casino game.

The reasons to play video poker is because it is one of the easiest forms of gambling for using strategy. With dozens of different base games with each having multiple pay tables, at first glance video poker looks complicated when it comes to proper strategic play.

All of the game variation and pay table combinations are designed to keep you playing while disguising the best options. Most video poker players fall into this trap, but you don’t have to.

Everything you need to play video poker like a professional is included below in the ultimate video poker strategy shortcut guide.

This guide is designed to get you started as quickly as possible while still giving you the best strategies to use.

After completing this ultimate guide you can immediately start playing video poker using a strategy that cuts the house edge to under a half percent.

Once you learn everything in this guide, you can keep learning more about video poker games, pay tables, and strategy to find new opportunities if you want to squeeze the last few drops of the house edge out, but it’s going to be challenging.

The good news is if you use this ultimate video poker strategy guide you’re going to get better results than all but a few players. In addition, if you do want to keep learning and improving, you’re going to know what to look for and how to get started.

Video Poker Game Choices

Most video poker games are designed using five card draw. You start with a five card hand dealt from a 52 card deck, and then have the option to exchange any or all of your starting hand for new cards. After the exchange of cards you get paid if you have a hand that ranks high enough to show on the pay table.

Some video poker games use a joker and some use wild cards, but the main thing that makes one game different than another is the pay table.

The pay table also directly influences the house edge. The house edge is the money the casino keeps as a profit, and it’s usually expressed as a percentage.

A video poker machine with a 1% house edge keeps 1% of all of the money wagered on the machine in the long run. This means that if you make $10,000 worth of bets, the machine is going to keep $100. It doesn’t matter if you make 10,000 $1 bets or 100 $100 bets; the only things that matter are the total amount wagered and the house edge.

The amount the casino keeps for profit, or house edge, is a long term number. This means that in the short term the percentage goes up and down, but the longer you play and the more you bet, the closer your results are going to line up with the edge. In the long run, you can’t overcome the house edge, but you can influence it to keep it as small as possible.

If you want to play with the lowest house edge possible, you need to pick a good video poker variation, find the best pay table, and use the best possible strategy. You’re going to learn more about strategy in the next section, but first you need to learn how to pick the best game.

Video Poker Machine Screen

The best video poker machines are the ones with the best pay tables combined with the base game with the lowest possible house edge. You can find dozens of variations of base video poker games, and if you want t advance to a true professional level you need to learn more about most of them. But this guide is designed to get you started as fast as possible, so I’m focusing on the two most popular variations.

Deuces Wild and Jacks or Better are the two most common variations of video poker. The good news is that both of these games offer a low house edge if you play on machines with a good pay table.

Both of these variations use the basic five card draw structure and a 52 card deck. The only difference is that there are no wild cards in Jacks or Better, and all of the two’s are wild in Deuces Wild.

The house edge using proper strategy and a good pay table for each game are included below.

Jacks or Better using a pay table that pays nine for a full house and six for a flush is .46%. This is called a 9/6 machine, and the full pay table is 4,000 – 250 – 125 – 45 – 30 – 20 – 15 – 10 – 5 in the five coin column.

The Deuces Wild pay table you’re looking for is a NSUD pay table that has a pay line of 4,000 – 1,000 – 125 – 80 – 50 – 20 – 20 – 15 – 10 – 5 in the five coin column. This pay table offers a house edge of just over .27%.

You always need to bet the maximum five coins to keep the house edge as low as you can. You receive a bonus pay out amount for a five coin wager when you hit a natural royal flush.

Video Poker Strategy Explained

The way you play each hand influences the house edge. Every starting five card hand has a single best way to play to keep the house edge low. In order to achieve the house edge numbers listed in the last section, you must always make the best possible play.

How do you know what the best possible play is?

It can be difficult to know what the best plays are, but the good news is that computer programs have already done all of the hard work. You can use a strategy card or strategy chart that has the best plays listed in order.

Closeup of a Video Poker Machine Bill Acceptor

You can use advanced math concepts or computers to determine the best plays if you want to, but you can simply get a strategy chart and skip the hard work.

Here’s an example of a video poker strategy chart for Jacks or Better:

The way to use the Jacks or Better strategy chart is to start at the top and read down. The first line that includes a hand that you have is the one you use. Ignore all of the plays listed below the first line that describes your hand.

Video Poker Strategy Card

The Simple Plan

I promised you this was the ultimate video poker strategy shortcut guide, so here’s your simple plan to get started. All you have to do is follow these simple steps and you can start playing video poker using proper strategy and play with a low house edge.

Use the strategy chart I listed in the last section for Jacks or Better and always wager five coins to unlock the bonus for a royal flush. Find a Jack or Better machine that offers the 9/6 pay table I discussed in the first section.

You can find these machines in some land based casinos, but it’s easier to find them when you play online. Most online casinos offer 9/6 Jacks or Better machines.

That’s all there is to playing video poker with a low house edge. Find the right machine offering the right game and pay table, wager five coins, and always use the proper strategy.

If you want to keep learning, the next step is to learn about the best strategy for Deuces Wild. The reason I chose Jacks or Better for this guide is because the strategy is simpler than Deuces Wild strategy, and I wanted it to be as simple as possible to get started.

Conclusion

Video poker is an easy game to play at the best online casinos and it offers an easy way to play with a low house edge. Once you understand how to find machines offering a pay table with a low house edge, all you have to do is use the best strategy. Follow the simple video poker plan on this page and you can start playing in just a few minutes.

Can You Win Big Profits from Roulette Tournaments?

Mixed Image of Roulette Wheel and Stacks of Money

French roulette (1.35% house edge) and European roulette (2.70%) offer some of the best odds in gaming. Nevertheless, they still put you at a long-term disadvantage.

The odds are against you in traditional roulette. You must overcome the house advantage to win with this game.

Enter roulette tournaments. These events see you compete against fellow gamblers for cash prizes. They’re exciting because they give you a realistic chance at earning profits.

But can you win enough from tourneys to make them worth your time? You can find out below by reading about the various factors that determine your tournament winnings.

Why Roulette Tournaments Give You a Chance to Win Profits

You can earn money through roulette in any capacity. Even when playing against the casino, you have an opportunity to win profits.

However, you need luck to beat the house over any measurable amount of time. After all, they hold an advantage over you in every variation.

Below, you can see how much you’ll theoretically lose to the casino with each roulette game:

French Roulette

  • The French roulette house edge is 1.35%.
  • You bet $100 on this game.
  • 100 x 0.0135 = $1.35 in theoretical losses

European Roulette

  • The European roulette house edge is 2.70%.
  • You wager $100 on this game.
  • 100 x 0.027 = $2.70 in theoretical losses

Mini Roulette (w/ la partage rule)

  • The mini roulette house edge is 3.85%.
  • You bet $100 on this game.
  • 100 x 0.0385 = $3.85 in theoretical losses

American Roulette

  • The American roulette house edge is 5.26%.
  • You bet $100 on this game.
  • 100 x 0.0526 = $5.26 in theoretical losses

French roulette definitely gives you the strongest chance to win money. It features the la partage rule, which pays half back on even-money bets when the ball lands on zero.

Even still, though, you’re at a disadvantage. You’ll most likely lose money over time as you keep playing the casino again and again.

Tournaments change this dynamic by seeing you compete against other gamblers. You’re on equal footing with everybody else in a tourney.

Of course, equal footing alone doesn’t help you win profits. You also have to use strategy to gain separation from other players.

Closeup of Hands Grabbing Chips on Roulette Table

Roulette tournament strategy revolves around how you bet. You can boost your chances of winning by betting in a manner that helps you pull ahead of opponents at the right time.

Timing is key with your betting strategy. You want to top the leaderboard standings at the end of a round—not at the beginning or middle.

Assuming you can put everything together, then you can win in the long run with roulette tournaments.

Factors that Determine Your Tournament Winnings

As covered above, your betting tendencies play a large role in how well you do in tourneys. But several other factors also determine your profitability. Below, you can see the aspects that define how much you win.

Prize Pools

Most roulette tourneys aren’t very big in terms of prize money. They typically offer prize pools ranging from $100 to $1,000.

You can win decent money with the latter range. However, a top prize worth a few hundred dollars pales in comparison to the six and seven-figure payouts featured in poker tournaments.

You won’t win a fortune through a single roulette tourney. The only exceptions include special-and-rare events with prize pools worth $100,000 or more.

Quantity of Roulette Tournaments

You can find roulette events at both land-based and the best US online casinos. However, neither online nor brick-and-mortar casinos offer these tournaments in great frequency.

Instead, gambling venues feature more slots tourneys than anything. You’ll need to sift through numerous slots events before finding a roulette tournament or two.

You really must put forth effort into finding such tourneys. That said, low quantity presents a major problem regarding these events.

Entry Fees

Casinos usually offer roulette tourneys in the form of freerolls. A roulette freeroll doesn’t require you to pay an entry fee and offers real-money prizes.

The downside to free roulette tournaments is that they almost always feature small prize pools. The majority of these events only pay between $50 and $100.

Larger tourneys can charge entry fees. You might have to pay rake on top of the entry. Rake is an added fee that goes directly to the casino for hosting an event.

Here’s an example:

  • A roulette tournament offers a $10,000 guaranteed prize pool.
  • The entry fee is $100 + $10.
  • The $100 goes directly into the prize pool.
  • However, the $10 goes to the casino.
  • 10 / 110 = 0.091
  • 1% of your money is going to the casino

Not all big roulette tournaments force you to pay rake. After all, casinos sometimes run large rake-free tourneys as a promotion.

You definitely want to look for rake-free events and freerolls whenever possible. These tournaments ensure that all your money goes into the prize pool.

Overlay

An overlay refers to when the tournament entry fees are less than the guaranteed prize pool. Here’s an example:

  • You play in the aforementioned $10k guaranteed tournament.
  • 67 total players enter this event.
  • $110 x 67 = $7,370 (combined entry & rake)
  • 10,000 – 7,370 = $2,630 overlay

You gain theoretical value by playing in tournaments like this even when rake is involved. In the above example, the tourney is offering you a 26.3% edge (2,630 / 10,000).

You’ll theoretically win back $138.93 on your $110 entry. You may fail to win anything in this particular event, but you’ll earn long-term profits by continually finding overlays.

Volatility

You might be the greatest roulette tournament player in the world. However, you’ll still struggle to cash in the majority of these tourneys.

The prize pools typically only cover 5% to 10% of the field. Some tournaments even feature a winner-takes-all format.

The latter gives you a chance to win big (relative to your entry fee). However, it also severely decreases the chances that you’ll cash in a given event.

Your Skill Level

Roulette tournaments don’t involve quite the same amount of skill as a Texas hold’em or daily fantasy sports tourney. But they do give you some opportunity to separate yourself from the pack.

Again, you can develop a roulette betting strategy that helps you gain the chip lead by the end of a tournament/round. With enough experience and devotion, you’ll hold an edge on the average tournament participant.

It’s difficult to say exactly what kind of edge you’ll develop. But if you become an expert, then you might hold between a 5% and 10% advantage over the field.

What’s the Max You Can Win Through Roulette Tourneys?

Here’s a recap of the factors that affect your tournament winnings:

  • Prize pools – Not usually very large
  • Quantity of tournaments – Not many available
  • Entry fees (plus rake) – Usually free or rake-free
  • Overlays – Some overlays exist
  • Volatility – Very volatile
  • Your skill level – You can gain an edge, but not a very big one.

When weighing these factors, your chances of getting rich through tournaments is almost nonexistent. You don’t have much chance to make a living through these events either.

The gaming world just doesn’t feature enough big roulette events.

Contrast this scenario to the large number of large poker tournaments that are available.

Here’s an example to show how little you stand to win from roulette tourneys:

  • You hold a 5% long-term edge over the competition.
  • You play in 300 tournaments throughout the year (most are freerolls).
  • You pay $2,000 in total entry fees for non-freerolls ($6.67 per entry).
  • The average prize pool for each event is $200.
  • 300 x 200 = $60,000 in available prize money
  • 60,000 x 0.05 = $3,000 in winnings
  • 3,000 – 2,000 = $1,000 in profits

This example represents a near-perfect scenario. Even with a 5% edge and 300 worth of quality tournaments, you’ll only make $1,000 in profits.

How to Win More in Roulette Tournaments

Again, you’re not going to become a millionaire through roulette tourneys alone. But you may still want to play these events and chase profits. If so, the following tips will help boost your chances of making money.

Thoroughly Read the Rules Beforehand

You should adapt your strategy to the rules at hand. Therefore, you want to learn the roulette tournament rules before devising your plan.

Here’s an example:

  • A roulette tournament features a winner-takes-all format.
  • It lasts for 15 spins
  • 20 players enter the tournament.
  • You must bet very aggressively towards the end to top the leaderboard.

Your strategy for this tourney will differ from your plan for a multi-round tourney where multiple players cash.

Be Adept at Betting Strategy

You should constantly keep an eye on the leaderboard and determine when you must switch gears and bet more or less.

Online casinos make it easy for you to track leaderboards. Their software continually updates the standings and offers results in real-time.

Land-based events must stop from time to time so that leaderboard results can be figured out. In any case, you still need to check the standings whenever possible.

Closeup of Roulette Wheel

Assuming you’re behind as a round/tournament nears the end, you can make up ground through two ways:

  • Raise your bet sizes.
  • Make inside wager.

You can use a combination of these strategies to win more. Or, you can focus on one method over the other.

Raising your bets helps you better control volatility. You can still choose even-money wagers (e.g. red/black) and enjoy great odds. The only difference is that you’re risking more at once.

Inside wagers (e.g. straight up, split) offer you big payouts for a smaller bet. For example, you can wager $10 on a straight-up wager and win $350 (35:1).

These bet are perfect for playing conservatively in the beginning while still giving yourself a chance to win lots of chips.

Avoid Following Trends & Dealer Signatures

Some roulette strategies sound good in theory, but they don’t amount to much. Trend betting and dealer signatures both fall into this category.

The former refers to tracking past results and wagering accordingly. If you see “high” (high/low) win four times in a row, for example, then you might bet on “low” because it’s due.

A dealer signature refers to a dealer that spins the wheel in a predictable manner. For instance, they might consistently produce results within a 10-pocket range due to spinning the wheel with the same velocity.

Nobody has ever proven that trend betting or dealer signatures work. They won’t help you win tournaments nor overcome the house edge in standard games.

Reduce Your Entry Fees

You may consider paying to enter lucrative tourneys. However, you should look to cut down on entry fees to some extent.

Freerolls offer an excellent path towards playing roulette tournaments cheaply. You can also look for rake-free events to avoid paying extra money directly to the casino.

When you do need to pay rake, you should check and see if there’s an overlay. You’ll gain more overall value on your buy-in in this case.

Conclusion

Roulette is normally a house-banked game that gives casinos an advantage. However, you can swing the edge in your favor by competing against other gamblers in roulette tournaments.

Assuming you’re skilled enough at betting strategy, you’ll hold an edge over other gamblers. This scenario gives you a strong chance to win profits over time.

Unfortunately, the amount of profits that you can earn is limited. Not enough big roulette tournaments exist to provide a true chance at winning serious money.

You also have to account for the volatility. Even if you’re a great tourney player, you’ll still experience droughts due to the limited number of prizes.

In the end, you should only play in roulette tournaments because you find them enjoyable. They’re not good for trying to get rich.

However, tourneys do offer a different outlet for playing an exciting game. Going further, you may even win small profits if you’re good at switching up your betting strategies.

How Poker Makes You a Better Boss and Employee

Man in Suit Adjusting Tie With Poker Card Background

Success in poker requires a number of things. Sometimes, it requires luck. If you don’t get a good hand, it’s a lot harder to win than when you’re dealt a pocket pair. Of course, sometimes you’re dealt pocket aces and you still end up losing.

Such is life, but in a lot of very good ways, poker is nothing but life painted across a much smaller canvas.

Yes, that sounds a little philosophical, but it’s true. The things that make you good at poker (determination, focus, ability to absorb and analyze data) are the things that make you good at lots of things in life. There are very few situations in which a fast mind and the ability to reason quickly aren’t going to be helpful.

That’s why I believe playing poker can make you a better boss or employee and not just because I’m looking for an excuse to play more. Seriously, if you are a manager of people, the skills you learn at the poker table will make you a better leader.

Even if you don’t manage people, poker will teach you to be more successful, help you get better at what you do, and allow you to experiment at life in the friendly confines of a game you love.

Become a Better Boss: Reading People

A major part of being a manager, employer, or boss is the ability to read people. You have to know when they’re holding back, when they’re upset and not showing it, and when their confidence is based on facts vs. when it’s based on emotions.

This can help you become a better employee, too, but the skills will be on display every day as a boss.

It’s hard to practice these skills, though. You can’t just go to someone and say, “Pretend to not be sad at some point, but don’t tell me, and let me see if I can figure out if you’re sad or not.”

What you can do is play poker for real money. Yes, that seems like a jump, but poker is a game of finding information on your opponent and using that against them. This requires mastering the art of reading people. In fact, these kinds of activities are the root of a discipline called “emotional intelligence,” which trains you to be more in touch with emotions, both your own and others.

Man Wearing Sunglasses Sitting at Poker Table

Therefore, every time you size up the competition at the table, you’re giving yourself practice at reading emotional cues. Apply this same discipline at work (maybe without looking at everyone as competition from whom you are trying to take money) and you will find that you can tell when your employees are experiencing different emotional states.

How you act on that information is up to you (and hopefully varies from a normal poker game). It may be that your employees’ emotional states have nothing to do with you or work, but if you can tell they are going through something, then you are in a better position to help.

Become a Better Boss or Employee: Don’t Tilt

When you get into any competitive poker environment and master the basics of strategy and probabilities, the best piece of advice I can give you is don’t tilt.

If you’re not familiar with concepts like tilting, tilting is when your emotions are getting away from you. More importantly, don’t let your emotions control you.

I’ve seen otherwise wonderful bosses who cannot keep it together when the stress gets too much, when the deadlines mount or when their personal lives threaten to overwhelm them. Similarly, I’ve seen promising and even senior employees crush their careers because they can’t control their anger or just lose it once in a tough spot.

I know it sounds heartless and cruel, but at work, you can’t tilt.

You can’t tilt if you are a senior executive, a custodian, a cashier, or a writer. It’s rarely ever helpful to lose your stuff at home or on the job. It will get results, but they’re not going to be the results you want.

This is also true at a poker table. Imagine that you’re trying to decide if you’re all in. If you’re wrong, you’re out of the tournament. There’s big money on the line. You can’t tilt there either.

Therefore, the discipline and practice you put into not losing it on the poker table can teach you how to sense when you’re feeling emotions and how not to give into them.

Become a Better Employee: Learn Grit

Studies show that the most important quality for success in life is grit, that little extra bit that keeps someone from quitting and keeps them carrying on even when they so desperately want to quit.

You can’t learn grit from a book. You build it over time by being in situations where you have to use it. The more you show grit, the easier it is to use it the next time. While life can certainly throw a lot of situations at you where grit is going to come in handy, it’s kind of nice to be able to build your grit in a place where the stakes aren’t quite so real.

Dictionary Definition of the Word Grit

Enter poker. Sure, if you’re staring down a huge stack of chips worth a lot of money, it’s going to feel like the stakes are pretty real, but for the most part, the poker table’s not quite so life and death as life and death. Instead, as you play poker, you will encounter a lot of times where the only thing that stands between you and a bad night is your ability to keep playing.

Next time, when your job, a tilting employer, a nasty customer, etc. tries to hit you in the face, you can remember how it felt to keep on going at the table and use that.

Become a Better Employee: Process Data Better

Most jobs, especially in this day and age, are about absorbing and processing a lot of data. This is true if you’re a cashier learning a computer system, an analyst trying to make predictions about the market, or an accountant trying to balance a budget.

The more you start to play poker, you realize that it, too, is an exercise in collecting as much data as possible, then acting on that information as quickly as possible. The more poker you play, the more you start to think about your tendencies, what your opponent is doing, how they’re acting, the probability of winning with your hand, etc. That’s data and it’s all in your head instead of a computer.

Even worse, you have only a few seconds to process it and make a decision that could cost you hundreds (or more) dollars. If you can get good at it, imagine how much easier it will be to operate a machine at work or use a spreadsheet.

Become a Better Employee or Boss: Learn About Risk

The general thesis here is that poker teaches a lot about life. As you perform at the poker table, you start to build our own patterns and start unveiling things that perhaps you didn’t realize.

Now, there will always be people who are diabolic risk-takers at the poker table who wouldn’t risk a spare penny outside of the game. However, most people’s poker persona matches their non-poker persona.

If you always play tight at the table, keep that in mind at your job, because you’re probably playing tight there, too.

If you’re not, then would you rather be? There’s definitely no reason to be ashamed for playing tight, but you should know if you like risks or not and, if you don’t, then stop taking them.

On the other hand, if you’re a daredevil at the table, but find yourself stuck at your job, maybe you need to take more risks.  You’re clearly okay with them, so figure out why you feel powerful at the table and make your life more like that.

Who knows? If you’re willing to go all in when you know you have nothing because it seems like the right thing to do, maybe you’re ready to start your own business or at least look for something else out there.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, I’m not saying that poker will make you the best boss, employee, etc. On the other hand, it’s not going to hurt either.

Fundamentally, bringing your A-game to the poker table every time you play a hand uses many of the same skills that you need to be successful every day: grit, determination, focus, data analysis, reading people. Therefore, as you play poker, see if you don’t start to notice that you naturally do better at other pursuits.

Assess if you have greater emotional control or clarity in decision making. Both of those could come from poker.

More importantly, find out if your poker risk and your life risk are in sync. If not, maybe it’s time to consider a change for the better.

What Happens When a Card Counter Is Backed Off?

Man in Suit Holding Hand Palm out With a Background of Cards

Card counters aren’t welcome in casinos, at least not successful ones, anyway. You’ve likely heard that these advantage players get thrown out of gambling venues when they’re caught.

This is true to a certain degree. However, the problem with kicking every suspected card counter out is that some people might not actually be counting.

Seeing as how casinos don’t want to throw out potentially good customers, they simply back off certain players.

What exactly does being “backed off” mean, and what can you do to avoid it? You can find out, as I cover more on this topic, including the signs of an impending back-off and tips for preventing it.

What Is Getting Backed Off?

When the casino backs you off, they’ve identified that you’re an advantage player and want you to quit counting cards.

If you’re backed off, the pit boss will probably ask you to stop playing blackjack temporarily and chat with you on the side.

The pit boss won’t necessarily kick you out of the casino or even force you to quit playing blackjack. Instead, their goal is to simply ensure that you stop playing with an advantage.

Possible Scenarios When You’re Backed Off

Keep in mind, getting backed off doesn’t play out the same way in every situation or casino. Several possibilities can occur when the pit boss chats with you.

Potential scenarios include:

  • They might ask you not to come back to the casino.
  • The pit boss asks for your ID and permanently bans you from the establishment.
  • They permanently “trespass” you from the casino and all associated properties.
  • The pit boss asks you not to play blackjack but allows you to play other games (e.g. roulette, slots).
  • They let you keep playing blackjack under the condition that you don’t spread bets.

If a pit boss wants to throw you out, they’ll usually ask for your ID first. Contrary to public opinion, you’re not required to show casino employees your ID in every state.

They have a right to ask if they can see it. However, these aren’t officers of the law who can force you to produce an ID. Assuming you refuse to show identification, you’ll likely be asked to leave and never come back.

If you do show an ID, then the pit boss can enter your information into an advantage player database. You’ll also be banned from all associated properties and be charged with trespassing if you try to reenter.

Assuming you’re a losing card counter or a celebrity, the casino may simply invite you to play any game besides blackjack. The latter happened to Ben Affleck when he was counting cards.

If the pit boss is really nice, they’ll let you keep playing the game. However, they’ll force you to use the same bet size for the entire shoe. This simple action prevents you from taking advantage of favorable counts.

How to Tell If a Back-Off Is Coming

Each pit boss handles suspected card counters in their own way. Some come up to you, ask for your name, and say hello.

This simple method can either be construed as a simple greeting to a non-advantage player or scare away a counter. In any case, you can guarantee that they’ll be scrutinizing your play from then on.

Other pit bosses walk up to the table and watch your play closely. Their mere presence lets you know that they may suspect you’re a counter.

An Active Blackjack Table

They might even count cards as well to determine when you’re increasing bets. This way, they get a better idea on whether you’re raising bets when the shoe is rich in aces and 10s.

The pit boss could even approach you in the friendliest way possible, asking you to join the VIP program. In this case, they can let you know they’re watching without saying so and convince you to produce identification.

Tips to Avoid Getting Backed Off

You can’t change a pit boss’ perception of you once they start monitoring your play. Your best bet is to stay ahead of the game and avoid being looked at as a counter in the first place. Below, you can see some tips that’ll help you blend in and not look like a counter.

Tip #1: Don’t Spread Bets Wildly

You must spread your bets at some point to take advantage of favorable counts. However, you don’t want to go from $10 to $200 in an instant.

By starting with $10 bets, you’re essentially announcing that you’re a low roller. Jumping up to $200 later in a shoe seems like a stretch.

Most experienced card counters don’t go above a 1-15 spread (e.g. $10 to $150). You may even start with a smaller spread (e.g. $10 to $40) until you get the hang of things.

Tip #2: Get Out After a Few Shoes

One of the biggest card counting myths is that advantage players sit at tables for long hours. In reality, skilled gamblers hit a certain table or casino for a few shoes and then leave.

They don’t want to give the pit boss time to heavily vet their play. Even if they lose money during the shoe(s) they play, the player moves on.

Tip #3: Play at Various Casinos and During Different Shifts

You may have a favorite casino, but you don’t want to utilize this same venue for all your card counting efforts. Instead, you should switch locations frequently.

Ideally, you’ll count cards in Las Vegas. Sin City offers well over 100 casinos where you can count cards and (hopefully) fly under the radar.

But you can still count in other areas as long as you’re willing to travel. For example, you can find plenty of Midwestern casinos that are spaced out within 50 to 150 miles from each other.

You should also keep a journal of what shifts you’ve been counting during at each gambling establishment. Casinos have two or three different shifts that you can take advantage of to avoid becoming a familiar face.

Tip #4: Wear Disguises

Card counting isn’t all about wearing Groucho Marx glasses and other goofy disguises. However, you should at least consider changing up your appearance from time to time.

Dog Wearing Groucho Marx Disguise

Good ways to alter your appearance include growing a beard, growing your hair out, going cleanshaven, or wearing glasses.

The key is to make yourself look different without becoming a spectacle. For example, you don’t want to don a pink fro-hawk while playing.

Tip #5: Work in a Team

The team-based approach is nothing new to card counting. Blackjack teams have existed since Al Francesco invented them in the 1970s.

However, working with a team does improve the chances that you can spread bets without getting caught. As you may know, teams employ spotters to make minimum bets at tables and count cards.

Once a spotter gets a favorable count, they (secretly) signal the “Big Player.” The Big Player can then sit down and bet big immediately without drawing scrutiny for spreading wagers.

Casinos are still pretty adept at catching counting teams. However, they have a tougher time doing so versus spotting solo counters.

Are Back-Offs Inevitable for Card Counters?

Pit bosses are pretty good at their jobs. They know what signs to look for when it comes to card counting.

Of course, you can boost your chances of not getting caught by following the previously discussed tips. Nevertheless, you’re likely to get backed off at some point.

The thing is, pit bosses don’t have time to differentiate a good counter from a bad one. But they do know that somebody who’s spreading from $5 to $100 or higher is likely counting.

Given that you have to spread bets at some point, you always run the risk of getting caught. Assuming you count long enough, then you’ll be backed off one or more times. The key is what happens when you are backed off.

Are you invited to play anything other than blackjack? Did the pit boss demand your ID and kick you out when they didn’t receive it? Did you voluntarily offer your ID and get banned from all associated properties?

Depending upon the severity of the back-off, you may or may not want to revisit the same casino. Assuming you’re trespassed, then it’s wise to stay away from that particular casino.

Conclusion

It’s no secret that casinos don’t want action from card counters. But pit bosses all deal with this issue in different manners.

Some merely observe your play, others introduce themselves, and some are trigger-happy when trespassing you. You want to keep all signs of a back-off in mind just in case you want to leave beforehand.

Of course, being backed off isn’t the worst thing in the world. In some cases, you may simply be invited to play other games besides blackjack.

The worst that can happen involves you being trespassed from a casino and their associated properties. In this scenario, you’ll be arrested for visiting any of the casino corporation’s (e.g. MGM properties).

Luckily, you can take steps to avoid getting backed off in the first place. Maintaining a narrow bet spread, quitting after a few shoes, playing at different casinos, wearing disguises, and working in teams can all help.

You’re still going to get caught sometimes no matter how skilled you are. But the goal is to minimize these instances so you continue profiting from card counting as long as possible.

What’s the Best Gambling Game to Win Real Money?

Bag of Money in Front of Cards and Dice

If you’re new to gambling, you might be wondering what the best gambling game to play is if you want to win money.

I’d love to give a single, definitive answer. But the truth is, it depends on you, your temperament, your willingness to develop skills, and what’s available in your area.

In this guide to determining the best gambling games to play, I’ll offer multiple recommendations about which gambling games you should choose if you want to win money.

I will also offer some tips on how to beat the odds.

For a Small Winning Session, Try the Martingale System at a Roulette Table

You can’t win money using the Martingale System in the long run, but if you want a good shot at a quick, hit-and-run win, this is a surprisingly good strategy. In fact, if you keep your playing session to less than an hour, you have probably an 80% chance of walking away a small winner.

The other 20% of the time, though, you’ll lose enough to make up for all those winning sessions and then some. And there’s no way to predict when that one losing session will happen during five gambling sessions.

The Martingale system is easy to implement. Just choose one of the even money bets at the roulette table. You can bet on red (or black). You can also bet on high (or low) or odd (or even).

Each of those bets has a slightly less than 50% probability of winning, around 47%.

If you lose, double the size of your last bet. If you win on this subsequent bet, you’ll win back what you lost before, AND you’ll show a profit. If you lose twice in a row, double your bet again.

Eventually, you’ll hit a big losing streak because the odds are against you. But, most of the time, you’ll see a small profit in the short run.

If You Want to Win Money Long-Term, Try Blackjack

Blackjack is easy to play and has some of the best odds in the house. Most experts measure a casino game’s odds by the game’s house edge, the statistical amount of money the casino expects to win over time when you play that game. The house edge is based on the difference between the odds of winning and the payout odds for the game.

Closeup of Jack and Ace of Spades

The house edge is always expressed as a percentage. In roulette, the house edge is 5.26%, which means the casino expects to win $5.26 for every $100 the players bet over time.

Real money blackjack has a house edge of less than 1%. With the right rules in place, that number drops below 0.5%. There’s a catch, though.

Blackjack is a game of skill, and to achieve that low house edge, you must play according to basic strategy. That’s just a shorthand way of saying “the mathematically optimal decision in every situation.” It’s easier to memorize basic strategy than most people think.

Once you’ve accomplished that, you can learn how to count cards and play with an edge over the house. Most people don’t get rich counting cards, but it can happen. It requires effort, persistence, and smarts, though.

If You Want to Have Fun With a Great Chance of Winning, Try Craps

A lot of new gamblers are intimidated by craps, but that’s mostly because they just haven’t learned how to play yet. You can find several good tutorials about how to play craps online (including the one on this site).

What I want to talk about here is how to improve your chances of seeing some big winnings at the craps table.

This advice might be counterintuitive, but my suggestion is to avoid the bets with the biggest payouts and stick with the bets with a money payout that’s close to even.

Unlike most table games in the casino, the various craps bets don’t have the same house edge. The bets with the biggest payouts have the highest mathematical edge to the casino.

The exception is the odds bet. But even with the odds bet, the biggest payout is 2 to 1. The probability of winning the pass line (or the don’t pass) bet in craps is close to 50%.

Overhead View of Craps Table

The probability is lower for the odds bet, but the payoff is proportionate. In fact, the house edge for the odds bet in craps is exactly zero.

So, if you want to have some exciting fun with a great chance of walking away a winner, try the craps game. You’ll probably enjoy the camaraderie and esprit de corps at the craps table, too.

If You Want the Chance to Win a Lot of Money From a Single Bet, Try Slot Machines

Slot machines usually have the biggest payout when you’re betting, with the top jackpot on most games offering a 1,000 for 1 payoff. Progressive slots have even higher payouts.

The problem is that the odds of winning that payoff are usually small, and the house edge on every slot machine I’ve ever played was absurdly high.

If you’re going to play slots for real money and want the best chance of going home a winner, try the most boring slot machine games first. This means trying the games with three reels and a single payline. It also includes games with a flat-top jackpot.

For the most part, the most boring-looking slot machine games offer the best odds.

If you’re absolutely devoted to winning a life-changing jackpot, go ahead and play the progressive jackpot games.

Just rest assured that you’re probably going to lose a lot of money and never hit that jackpot. You might as well be playing the lottery, really.

If You Like Table Games and Want to Book a Big Win, Try Parlaying Your Bets

I read an article once where the author suggested that the odds of winning a lot of money are a lot bigger if you parlay your bets one after another when compared with just playing a slot machine game with a big jackpot.

Here’s an example of how that would work.

You go to the casino with the goal of winning $1,000. You sit down at the roulette table, and you bet $5 on black. You win. You let your winnings ride and bet $10 on black, and you win again.

How many bets would you need to win in a row to reach your $1,000 goal?

  1. $5
  2. $10
  3. $20
  4. $40
  5. $80
  6. $160
  7. $320
  8. $640
  9. $1280

You’d only need to win eight bets in a row to achieve your goal.

Yes, the probability of winning eight bets in a row is low, but you’re talking about turning $5 into $1,000. If anyone knew how to do that 50% of the time, we’d all be rich.

Learn How to Play Poker Like Texas Holdem

One of the great things about real money online poker, especially Texas holdem, is that it’s a game of skill. You’re not competing against a house with an immutable house edge. You’re competing against other players, most of whom are making constant mistakes.

To win at poker, all you must do is make fewer mistakes than your opponents.

This process starts, I think, with understanding Sklansky’s Fundamental Theorem of Poker, which states:

Every time you play a hand differently from the way you would have played it if you could see all your opponents’ cards, they gain; and every time you play your hand the same way you would have played it if you could see all their cards, they lose. Conversely, every time opponents play their hands differently from the way they would have if they could see all your cards, you gain; and every time they play their hands the same way they would have played if they could see all your cards, you lose.

You might think this means you should bluff with every weak hand, hoping your opponents will fold, but that’s folly.

Also, not only do you need to be good enough to beat the other players, you need to be good enough to beat the other players by a big enough margin that you can overcome the rake. That’s the 5% charge that the casino takes out of every pot.

Without the rake, poker would be a break-even game for the average player, as long as he stuck with playing with other average players.

Learn How to Bet on Sports Like a Professional

I’ve made my share of sports bets, but I’m not what you’d call an expert. Still, I do understand the most important aspect of betting on sports with a goal of winning, though…

Don’t bet on games where you’re a fan of either team.

The biggest mistake most people make in sports betting is having “skin in the game.” In other words, you won’t be able to accurately gauge your edge when betting on the Dallas Cowboys if you’re a big Cowboys fan.

But you can’t just be right 51% of the time and win big money betting on sports. Just like poker has a rake, sports betting has a vig, which basically represents the book’s edge against the player.

Usually, this works by asking the bettor to risk $110 to win $100 on a 50% proposition. The way it’s expressed varies from sport to sport and bet to bet, but the book always puts that little edge in there for itself.

For you to win, you need to be able to get the odds right more often than the sportsbook and win 53% (or more) of your bets.

Conclusion

Those are the best gambling games to play if you want to win money. If you just want to get into action and have money to burn, you can play whatever your heart desires.

But if your goal is to win, look closer at your goals and make appropriate decisions based on that.

4 Weird and Wild Ways People Have Been Banned from Las Vegas Casino Resorts

Picture of Man's Eyes and Forehead With the Words Banned Over Him

As the infamous Sin City tagline goes, “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”

And while that’s largely true for most of the 40 million annual visitors who flock to America’s casino capital each and every year, every so often something so strange happens in Las Vegas that prevents the culprit from ever coming back.

Within the local hospitality industry, casino resort operators like MGM, Caesars, and Stations have learned to let guests indulge their baser instincts for the most part.

For example, Las Vegas is the only city in the country where you can walk around a hotel absolutely annihilated from alcohol consumption.

Along similar lines, overly boisterous behavior that wouldn’t be tolerated anywhere else – yelling and shouting, partying all night, etc. – is perfectly acceptable so long as it remains within relatively loose limits.

You can even smoke cigarettes (and other substances for that matter) indoors, despite that practice being largely prohibited in every non-Las Vegas locale.

This town – at least in its tourist destinations along The Strip and Downtown Las Vegas anyway – was designed specifically to offer adults a perpetual playground all their own.

For all intents and purposes, unless you’re attempting to cheat the house, or otherwise committing a criminal act, it’s practically impossible to get yourself banned from a Las Vegas casino.

And that’s why I find myself so fascinated whenever a visitor manages to beat the odds and get “86’d” from a Las Vegas casino resort. The level of difficulty it takes to draw the ire of security staff and resort management sets quite a high bar, and yet, people still find a way to clear it and earn the dreaded property-wide ban.

As a Las Vegas local who loves the casino industry, both in my capacity as a gambler and a gambling industry writer, these stories never fail to capture my imagination. Maybe I’m just your classic “rubber-necker,” a passerby who can’t help but gawk whenever a truly bizarre scene happens to play out in my own backyard. In any event, I’ve spent plenty of time studying the oddest stories out there involving Las Vegas casino guests getting themselves kicked out for good.

On that note, I’d like to pass along four of my personal “favorites,” so strap in for a lowlight show for the ages with my list of weird and wild ways people have been banned from Las Vegas casino resorts.

1 – World Series of Poker (WSOP) Player Pulls Pants Down and Throws Their Shoe at a Dealer During the $10,000 Buy-In Main Event

For millions of recreational poker players out there, and even many professionals, competing in the $10,000 buy-in Main Event tournament at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) is a definitive bucket list goal.

The most prestigious tournament in all of poker for the last 50 years and counting, the WSOP Main Event is used to crown the World Champion of No Limit Hold’em. And along with the most coveted WSOP gold bracelet of them all, the Main Event champ takes home a staggering prize of $10 million.

Unlike other WSOP tournaments that have transitioned to the rebuy / reentry format, allowing players who get eliminated to buy back in for a limited amount of time, the Main Event remains a pure freezeout.

In other words, you get only the one starting stack of chips to work with, and once they’ve been depleted, your Main Event dreams end for another year.

Thus, you can imagine the excitement Pittsburgh poker enthusiast Ken Strauss probably felt as he took his seat at the WSOP Main Event this summer. A recreational player whose Hendon Mob page showed just a pair of cashes in sub-$100 buy-in events before 2019, Strauss did what poker fans everywhere plan to do one of these days – he saved up and paid five-figures to chase the largest life-changing score Las Vegas poker tables have to offer.

Unfortunately for him though, Strauss showed up for Day 1 of the Main Event apparently suffering from some sort of mental strain. It’s not my place to diagnose anybody else’s psychological or neurological state, so I won’t even attempt to do so, but let’s just say Strauss wasn’t right when he began his 2019 WSOP Main Event journey.

Early on Day 1 – when players are simply trying to play “tight” and survive while slowly building their chip stacks – Strauss did the unthinkable. Before his cards had even been dealt, Strauss announced himself “all-in blind”, meaning he would commit his entire chip stack preflop – without ever seeing his two-card starting hand.

Ken Strauss Sitting in Courtroom

That absurdly dangerous play alone would be enough to prompt an appointment with a shrink, but what happened next put Strauss on a short list of players to earn themselves an outright ban from the WSOP.

Here’s how the PokerNews live reporting blog covered the action that unfolded after Strauss went all-in blind:

“Patrick Eskandar was contemplating his decision holding 5-5, a favorite with information about the exposed hand, but he still had a limper to contend with.

‘I’m all-in blind! Look, I’m blind everybody,’ Strauss yelled while he covered his eyes and turned around. He then lowered his pants and mooned the table, yelling ‘I’m all-in blind!’ again.

Then, while Eskandar was still considering his decision, Strauss took off his shoes and threw them around, with one of them actually hitting Eskandar as he was in the tank.

The floor stepped in at that point. Strauss was escorted off the premises and his stack removed from the tournament.”

Yep, you read that correctly… Strauss dropped his drawers and let his freak flag fly, exposing his buttocks and genitalia to a jam-packed room filled with hundreds of fellow players. Not to be outdone, Strauss went on to take off his shoe and toss it toward the table, smacking the unsuspecting dealer in the shoulder to cap off the sorry spectacle.

And if you still can’t quite believe things happened how I’ve described them, just check out this smartphone video footage shot directly from the scene of the crime.

As you’ve gathered by now, Strauss’ decision to disrobe show his junk to the world constituted indecent exposure, while the shoe toss was effectively assault on casino staff.

Naturally, WSOP officials moved quickly to disqualify Strauss from the WSOP Main Event, while the Rio casino and parent company Caesars Entertainment levied a property ban that extends to all Caesars-owned casinos nationwide.

Undeterred, Strauss made his way to the MGM Resorts owned Luxor casino, where he climbed atop a craps table and exposed himself once again. This time, his antics resulted in a swift arrest by the Las Vegas police department to put a (temporary, stay tuned for more down below) end to Strauss reign of error.

2 – Comedian Doug Stanhope Gets Blacked Out Drunk, Causes Chaos, and Leaves One-Star Yelp Reviews of the Rio

Sticking with the Rio for now, the slightly Off-Strip casino was absolutely ripped by comedian Doug Stanhope, who used review sites like Yelp and Trip Advisor to tear the property a new one.

Here’s just a sample of what Stanhope – a third-rate standup comic who is “best” known for co-hosting “The Man Show” during that program’s final years – had to say about the Rio’s accommodations:

“The rumor is that this hotel is about to be torn down. Staying here will make an ardent atheist pray that this is true.

You can even see it in the eyes of the employees. As friendly as they are, you can tell that nobody wants to be here.

The Rio is like being in 1984. By that I mean it’s like you were still driving your 1986 Ford Tempo 33 years later, held together with gaffer’s tape and surgical mesh, riding on the rusted rims.”

That scathing review was posted in February of 2019, and by June, Stanhope took to Twitter to post a letter he received from Caesars Entertainment management. As he told the tale, Stanhope’s brutal review prompted Caesars to ban him not only from the Rio, but all Caesars owned properties across the country.

Initially, the story sounded like your classic case of executives responding way too sensitively to criticism from customers. Fans rallied to support Stanhope’s cause, citing free speech protections and pledging to boycott the Rio and Caesars until their man had his ban removed.

But in a twist that anybody with a brain could see coming from a mile away, it turned out that Stanhope’s punishment was rightfully deserved after all.

As he later revealed, Stanhope wasn’t banned by Caesars for speaking out about a bad trip, he simply got smashed during an all-night bender spent making a complete fool of himself.
But sufficed to say, smoking pot in his room, drinking to the point of blacking out and sleeping in the hotel hallway, stiffing a sushi bar for an expensive tab, THEN verbally and physically harassing Rio staff was enough to earn a ban.

3 – Woman Drives Her Winnebago through Casino Entrance After Being Asked to Leave

In a less convoluted – but no less crazy – Sin City story, a 50-year old woman named Jennifer Stitt found herself gambling at the North Las Vegas casino Cannery a few days before Halloween this year.

At some point in her session, Stitt drew the ire of security staff and was asked to leave the premises. Details on what led up to that encounter aren’t known as of yet, but what happened next is quite clear.

Stitt walked through the parking lot, started up her Winnebago recreational vehicle, and proceeded to plow through the front entrance of the Cannery at a high rate of speed. In the process, the aggrieved gambler collided directly with a custodian who found himself cleaning the glass doors at precisely the wrong time.

That 66-year old man suffered serious injuries and wound up hospitalized, but fortunately, his wounds weren’t life-threatening.

Stitt’s collision was hardly accidental either, as witnesses and surveillance cameras confirmed that she continued to floor the accelerator in an effort to break through the breezeway.

Asked about the potential for further mayhem had Stitt been able to maneuver the RV into the Cannery’s interior, police spokesman Eric Leavitt told local media outlets that Stitt could’ve easily inflicted additional violence had she not gotten stuck:

“She kept gassing it. A little bit farther and it would have been into the table games.”

Stitt was charged with attempted murder, among a litany of other crimes, and she has obviously been banned from the Cannery and all Boyd Gaming owned casinos.

4 – Ken Strauss Threatens to “Destroy” the Venetian Casino in Bizarre Breakdown

When the WSOP Main Event was interrupted by Ken Strauss’ mooning and shoe-throwing, most poker people assumed he must have lost a particularly bold prop bet.

Then, when he resurfaced hours later at the Luxor and exposed himself atop a craps table, the consensus began leaning toward mental illness and missed medication.

Eventually though, Strauss’ story transformed into something much more sinister, as the Pittsburgh poker player spiraled out of control in extremely scary ways. Over the course of a week shortly after his WSOP escapades, Strauss continually acted out and found himself banned from casinos like the Aria and Red Rock Resort.

In the latter case, he reportedly attempted to lure a young boy up to his room, drawing an immediate intervention from security staff and police. Upon his release for that alleged crime, Strauss went on a social media rant in which he made the following cryptic claims:

“Shootings are taking place all over Las Vegas. Please leave me alone @VenetianVegasI have no place to go currently. And all Casinos that have me banned will be destroyed effective immediately.”

Obviously, locals in Las Vegas don’t take kindly to threats of this nature in the wake of 2017’s mass shooting at Mandalay Bay. After tipsters directed his Twitter feed to the FBI and local authorities, Strauss was arrested and charged with “one count of making threats or conveying false information concerning acts of terrorism.”

Things only got worse from there, as Strauss refused to attend court hearings and was eventually deemed incompetent to stand trial.

Stauss’ case is especially tragic given the likelihood that he suffers from schizophrenia or another mental malady that has gone untreated.

Conclusion

There’s another famous saying about this town that declares “some people just can’t handle Vegas.” And while that’s undoubtedly true, the stories listed on this page don’t describe run of the mill inability to maintain one’s composure. When people decide – willingly or otherwise – to flout the law in a Las Vegas casino, property bans are the only course of action operators can take to protect the rest of us from harm’s way.

Pros and Cons of Megaways Slots

Megaways Logo In Front of Artistic Bricks

Megaways slots have become extremely popular within the past couple of years. First introduced by Big Time Gaming (BTG) in 2016, they’ve revolutionized the online gaming industry.

Megaways slot machines have reached the pinnacle of the industry by offering countless ways to win. They also boast other features that players love.

However, Megaways games aren’t entirely perfect. They have drawbacks to consider along with the advantages. That said, in this post, I’ll discuss the pros and cons of Megaways real money slots. You can review these different aspects to see if Megaways games are the right game for you.

How Do Megaways Slot Machines Work?

Before getting into the benefits and downsides of this type of game, I’m going to quickly cover the basics of these slots. Here are the defining elements of Megaways slots that I’ve evaluated:

  • Wins occur with matching symbols in adjacent reels.
  • Each reel holds a different amount of symbols in every round (e.g. 2 to 7)
  • More symbols in each reel gives you more ways to win
  • The max amount of winning ways are determined by multiplying the number of potential symbols in every reel
  • jots

  • A six-reel slot with up to seven symbols in each reel would offer the following: 7 x 7 x 7 x 7 x 7 x 7 = 117,649 ways

The key takeaway is that Megaways reels boast a different amount of symbols and winning combinations from round to round. You never know how many possibilities you’ll have to win with during a new spin.

Advantages of Megaways Slots

Some benefits of Megaways slot machines are obvious while others aren’t so clear. Here’s a full list of the perks that you can look forward to with these games.

Numerous Winning Possibilities

The most eye-catching aspect of Megaways slots is the sheer number of ways to win that they offer. Most BTG games feature up to 117,649 ways.

You won’t see this many winning possibilities the vast majority of the time. However, the simple fact that you can unlock this many potential combinations is exciting.

BTG has a patent for the Megaways engine. They license this format out to other online slots developers.

Some of these providers are pushing the boundaries of Megaways slot machines even further. Red Tiger Gaming, for example, offers up to 60,466,176 ways in their Laser Fruit slot.

Before BTG came along, nobody envisioned a game offering over 100,000 winning ways. Now, 117,649 ways seem small in comparison to what Laser Fruit features.

Fun Spin on Slots

Slot machines have existed in some form or another for well over 100 years. Due to this lengthy history, it sometimes feels like the inventive slots features and formats have been exhausted.

However, BTG has proven that this isn’t the case. Their Megaways format has reinvigorated the industry and brought something new to the table.

Screenshot of Megaways Slot Game

Of course, Megaways are now a few years old. But developers are finding new ways to present this engine and keep the excitement alive.

Frequent Wins

Considering the fact that some of these games boast more than 100,000 ways, you’re bound to pick up plenty of wins. You’ll find yourself collecting lots of prizes through Megaways slots.

Many of these payouts are small. After all, game developers can’t afford to deliver huge prizes in every other round and still offer 117, 649 ways. But you’ll likely still be satisfied with all the prizes you collect, both big and small.

More Excitement

The many winning possibilities offered through Megaways slot machines ramp up the excitement. You never know how many ways or features you can expect from spin to spin.

Assuming you’re a big fan of the unknown, then you’ll really appreciate the uncertainty of these slots. You’ll especially get excited when you’re able to unlock all the possible ways in a given game.

Drawbacks to Megaways Slots

These slot machines might be really popular among players right now. However, this popularity doesn’t mean that Megaways slots are entirely flawless.

Small Top Prizes

Megaways slot machines gain lots of attention for all of the winning combinations they offer. However, the number of ways a game offers doesn’t have a direct correlation with big jackpots.

Most Megaways games feature a top prize worth between 2,500x and 5,000x your stake. While these payouts aren’t bad in the grand scheme of things, they’re not quite what you’d expect from the most popular type of online slot game.

Now, these slots can offer bigger prizes when features are accounted for. For example, some of BTG’s slot machines deliver up to 100,000 coins during bonuses.

But the odds of you getting the right combination of bonuses to win 100k coins are very low. Furthermore, you can’t get rich off of these max payouts unless you make larger bets.

Confusing Gameplay

You may not even want to deal with Megaways slot machines upon your first time seeing one. These games feature a confusing mess of different reel heights.

For instance, you might see four symbols in the first row, three in the second, six in the third, and so on. Furthermore, you may also have difficulty understanding how these differing reel sizes combine to determine your winning possibilities.

Some providers even throw complicated features into the mix as well. For example, BTG’s Holy Diver features a complicated level-up structure that only adds to the confusion.

Only Available at Online Casinos

Many online slots innovations have made their way to land-based casinos and vice versa. The Megaways format, however, hasn’t graced brick and mortar casinos yet.

The key holdup is that BTG holds the patent to this engine. They’re not going to let any developer use their invention without paying up.

Megaways Slot Machine Screenshot

Online slots providers have already jumped aboard the trend of licensing Megaways. However, companies that provide land-based slot machines have yet to do so. As a result, you can’t currently enjoy this format in brick and mortar casinos just yet.

Not Available to All Countries

BTG and associated providers that license Megaways mostly serve European-facing online casinos. If you don’t live in Europe, then your odds of playing these games for real money will be lower.

You can still enjoy Megaways slot machines for free outside of Europe. Unfortunately, you won’t experience the true effect of cashing in when you do unlock all of the potential ways.

Should You Play Megaways Slot Machines?

You can see that Megaways slots feature both high and low points. The main benefits include being able to unlock a large number of winning combinations, experience more excitement, and collect frequent wins.

Downsides include small jackpots, limited availability, and confusing gameplay. It’s up to you to decide whether the pros outweigh the cons in this situation.

Even if you’re on the fence, though, I still recommend trying Megaways slots at least once. This way, you can feel and experience how these games operate and truly decide if you like them.

I personally feel that these slot machines are overrated. Of course, they can’t help but be overrated when considering the hysteria surrounding Megaways games.

Nevertheless, they serve as a nice alternative to traditional payline slots. If you’re tired of the standard drill of fixed paylines, then you’ll find Megaways slot machines to be a refreshing break.

You might even fall in love with these games if you enjoy the uncertainty regarding the number of winning possibilities in each round.

Conclusion

Megaways games aren’t typical slot machines. They don’t feature fixed paylines and deliver wins in predictable fashion. Instead, they inject more excitement into the equation by featuring reels that can change from spin to spin.

The first reel could hold three symbols in one round, for example, and seven the next. You obviously want as many symbols in each reel as possible to boost your available ways to win.

Uncertainty and numerous possibilities are two reasons why Megaways slots now sit at the top of the online gaming world. But these games could still stand to improve in certain areas.

They don’t offer huge payouts, easy gameplay, or widespread availability. Of these drawbacks, the low jackpots are particularly disappointing.

Nevertheless, Megaways slot machines boast enough advantages to make them worth playing. As long as you live in the right country, then you can enjoy these games for real money.

Even if you can’t play for real money, you can at least try free versions of Megaways slots just to see what all the hype is about.

Do You Need a Poker Face?

Pair of Eyes Behind a Pair of Cards

Poker, being a card game, doesn’t require you to do much with your body.

This means that, in a way, your weight, height, or age range doesn’t really matter. You’ll be welcome at any table, as long as you have the money (or someone else does).

That’s part of the reason why some people don’t take the idea of the proverbial poker face very seriously. But does having one actually help players hide their motives or bluffs?

My goal here is for us to take a closer look at this matter. After all, do you need a poker face or not?

1 – What’s in a Face?

Before saying anything else about how important a poker face may or may not be, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about its meaning.

A poker face, by definition, is that emotionless look you have regardless of the strength of your hand. Now, why would it be a good idea to appear devoid of emotions while playing poker?

The answer is simple! You want to avoid giving away any unintended signs or tells. Above all, you want to have control over how other players perceive you.

Closeup of a Pair of Kings

Of course, to have absolute control would be an unrealistic aspiration, unless you’re some sort of master hypnotist. If you aren’t, then other players will always be able to form their own impressions about you.

And that’s actually a great thing if you’re empathic enough to grasp what those impressions are. In fact, a big part of one’s evolution as a poker player requires the development of this skill.

(Being empathic, by the way, is about perceiving others’ emotions, not necessarily sympathizing with them.)

Once you get good at this, you can have a lot of fun playing with other people’s expectations about you, at least to a certain extent.

And a poker face is one of the many tools you have at your disposal to do that.

2 – Expanding the Picture

I think it’s here that things can get a little confusing, because it seems that some people tend to ignore the fact that your face is only one part of your body.

It may be the most important one (it certainly is in lots of social situations). But it should never be seen in isolation, at least this is what all experts on body language agree upon.

They all say that you should never make any assessments about someone based on a single sign. (A person may have folded his or her arms simply because it’s cold, for example.)

There’s no doubt that your facial signs can say much about you at a poker table. But not always for the reasons that most people think.

And, if you’re too hasty in your conclusions, you’ll get all mixed up later on, which can cost you a lot of money.

3 – Telling a Complete Story

The most reliable physical reactions are those that, as far as I know, can’t be faked.

These are great sources of information, and, in poker, we call them tells.

A tell is anything a poker player does that tells his or her opponents something about the strength of his or her hand.

The classic example here is the dilatation of pupils whenever someone’s interested in what he or she sees. This is one of those tells that can’t be faked.

As you might have guessed, being able to perceive someone’s pupils during a game isn’t always easy. But if you can, it’s probably easier to tell if your opponent is less likely to fold.

In any case, most of the tells you’ll see at a poker table aren’t so reliable without prior knowledge of the person behind them.

For example, what can you say about a player who is blinking more than usual? Or of a person pursing his or her lips? Or of someone staring straight at you?

The answer is always the same—it depends.

4 – When a Tell Is Not a Tell (Until It Is)

Poker player and author Mike Caro discerns between two types of tells in his classic book about it:

  • Tells from actors
  • Tells from non-actors

In poker, an “actor” is anyone who tries to disguise a weak hand by acting strong and vice-versa.

This would be the person who sighs after hitting a set on the flop. And who smiles when bluffing on the river. So, that’s already something for us to have in mind.

More than that, if you’re up against an amateur, I’d say this is one of the first things you have to pay attention to. Of course, it’d be naive to ignore the fact that other players also understand this distinction.

Consequently, if they aren’t “actors” themselves, they can sometimes “act as actors.” But those are a minority. In any case, you should pay attention to how your opponent behaves all the time. By this I mean, not only against you.

Paying attention to what is going on all the time is what enables you to have a broad perspective about someone. You won’t have a complete picture, mind you. (You’re not omniscient, are you?)

But you’ll be able to identify those reactions that seem out of place according to that picture in your mind. These are the moments where your instincts will tell you that something is off.

And you’d do well to obey those instincts most of the time, especially if you’re an experienced player.

5 – How Far Can a Face Go?

So, do you need a poker face or not? …Many times, the answer is no.

Not because it’s not important to disguise your hand. Of course it is. But because there are ways of giving and receiving information that go beyond your facial expressions.

In fact, they even go beyond your body language. (Or your verbal communication, for that matter.)

Closeup of a Poker Hand

Do you remember how I chose to define the term tells earlier in this text? If you don’t, here it is again: Tells are anything that reveals to other players something about your hand.

Most of the time, the most critical information comes from other things. Namely, the fundamentals of the game.

That’s why great real money online holdem players don’t take too long to become at least good live players, too. After playing so many hands online, they’re able to have a solid understanding of those fundamentals.

And there’s one in particular that deserves a special place in our discussion here—your betting patterns.

6 – Mixing the Colors of the Palette

Betting patterns are important regardless of the poker variant you choose, but even more so in a no-limit game.

In no-limit, you have the option of betting as much as you wish at any time. (If you have the chips, of course.) This makes it much easier for a savvy player to recognize how you feel about your hand.

That’s an even more dangerous situation if you’re playing Texas hold’em because other games benefit players who understand the pot odds better. That’s why pot-limit Omaha is much more prestigious than no-limit Omaha.

And other games played with no limits don’t offer lots of betting rounds. The only exception I know of is 2-7 Triple Draw.

It isn’t for nothing that people call no-limit Texas hold’em “the Cadillac of poker games.” And it’s no coincidence that poker has become more popular than ever because of this particular variant.

Do you see where I’m going with all this? Imagine a game in which you can bet as much as you can, and the game also has up to four betting rounds per hand. That’s a lot of information for a good player.

I hope I’ve been able to show you why your betting patterns are so important because your opponent may not always see how you placed a certain bet.

He or she may not even have noticed if your hands were shaking, or if you splashed your chips on the table. But they’ll always be able to know in which situations you bet and how much.

They’ll also know how frequently you tend to bet, call, raise, check-raise, or fold. This type of information is usually more than enough for a great player to beat a less skillful one.

Conclusion

So, let’s wrap up our conversation about your poker face (and your body language in general).

Can we say anything for sure about its importance? As you can see, this is not a matter of affirming that you need a poker face or not.

The thing is that, even when you have a great one, it won’t be of much use to you unless you have also worked on your fundamentals.

Until then, by all means, feel free to bring your sunglasses and scarf to the table. Just don’t count too much on them if you’re up against an opponent who knows what they’re d

Why a 1% Integrity Fee Is Ridiculous in US Sports Betting

3d Text 1% in Front of an Image of Money and a Sports Crowd

Prior to 2018, New Jersey crusaded to get a federal sports betting ban repealed. Garden State politicians felt that they should have the same right as Nevada to offer legal sportsbooks.

One hurdle standing in the way involved opposition from major sports leagues. Slowly, though, the MLB, NBA, and NHL offered their support.

This support was key to getting the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) repealed. However, sports leagues still want one thing in return: a 1% integrity fee.

1% doesn’t sound so bad. After all, legal sportsbooks stand to make billions, right!?

As you’ll read below, a 1% integrity fee would destroy the betting industry before it even takes flight.

What Is a Sports Betting Integrity Fee?

Professional sports leagues didn’t suddenly fall in love with gambling. They’ve always done their best to keep sports betting down for fear of another Chicago Black Sox Scandal.

Of course, such fears are largely unnecessary when considering the elevated pro salaries of today. Nevertheless, corruption always remains a remote possibility.

Leagues began endorsing sports betting over thoughts of how they could capitalize on the matter. Both the leagues and franchises figure to benefit greatly from partnerships with regulated sportsbooks. For example, the Philadelphia 76ers have a notable partnership with FOX Bet.

However, the NBA, NHL, and MLB want more than just sponsorship money. They also want a direct cut of sports betting revenue.

An integrity fee would deliver this cut. This fee refers to bookmakers paying professional sports leagues a percentage of their handle (more on this term later).

Australian and French pro leagues currently draw a small percentage of betting action in each respective country. American sports bodies are hoping for the same.

Each League Is Looking for 1% of Sports Betting Revenue

Sports leagues aren’t so wrong in their mission to get a piece of the betting pie. After all, their support helped get the Supreme Court to strike down PASPA.

The problem, though, is how much leagues are asking for. They want 1% of operators’ handle. This scenario would see legal sportsbooks collectively transfer 1% of their handle to each league separately.

For reasons that I’ll cover later, some sports governing bodies have reduced the asking price to 0.25% of handle. But if the MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, and NCAA each get a cut, that would still be 1.25% going to the leagues.

Who’s Asking for These Fees?

The MLB, NBA, and NHL have led the push for integrity fees. They’ll actively support sports betting legislation in any state that includes such payments.

The NFL and NCAA have never truly joined in the acceptance of sports gambling. Both organizations fought to keep PASPA in place.

NFL Player Running the Ball

Nevertheless, the NCAA and NHL will want their slice if every other major league gets sports betting integrity fees.

In the absence of integrity fees, leagues want payment from land-based sportsbooks or online sports betting sites that use official sports data. The latter term refers to outcomes, results, and statistics relevant to a specific sports league.

Bookmakers that use official data can update their odds and live bets faster. However, they by no means have to use the official variety.

Why Do Leagues Think They Deserve a Cut of Sportsbook Profits?

The NBA has been more actively seeking part of sports gambling revenue than any other league. According to NBA spokesman Mike Bass, professional leagues need this revenue to combat the risk of corruption.

“If sports betting is legalized federally or state by state, we will need to invest more in compliance and enforcement,” Bass explains. “[The NBA] believes it is reasonable for operators to pay each league 1% of the total amount bet on its games to help compensate for the risk and expense created and the commercial value our product provides them.”

Bass also noted that the integrity fee is similar to how other countries handle the matter. But the American Gaming Association (AGA) argues that the fees rip off both bookmakers and sports gamblers.

“Now, let’s get real about eliminating the illegal market, protecting consumers and determining the role of government,” says Geoff Freeman, President of the AGA. “A role that most certainly does not include transferring money from bettors to multi-billion dollar sports leagues.”

Freeman notes that a 1% integrity fee for each bookmaker would effectively destroy the industry.

After all, sportsbooks only realize around 5% revenue from their handle. They’d give away 100% of their profits by paying 1% of handle to each major pro sports league and the NCAA.

Sports Leagues Are Confusing Handle vs. Revenue

The terms handle and revenue have confounded politicians and media outlets alike ever since states began legalizing sports betting. The leagues also seem to be confused on the matter.

Here’s a quick definition of each:

  • Handle – The value of all bets that a sportsbook accepts for a particular match.
  • Revenue – The profits that a bookmaker earns through the wagers they accept.

Handle can refer to how much money is bet for a specific game, sport, or time period. For example, an operator could look at their handle for NFL games in March.

Regardless of how it’s measured, though, handle merely indicates all bets placed. This figure is much, much higher than the revenue that sportsbooks make.

Again, operators typically only earn around 5% in revenue off the handle. If a bookmaker handled $1 million in bets, for example, then they might earn $50,000 off this amount.

They make their money by collecting “juice” from the losing side of wagers. This juice commonly amounts to the losing side paying around 10% of their bet, or around 5% of the betting action on both sides.

View of a Sportsbook Betting Counter

1% of the handle, as an integrity fee proposes, would wipe out 20% of bookmakers’ revenue. As mentioned before, five leagues receiving this 1% fee would take 100% of the operators’ profits.

The latter would be making nothing off their efforts. In fact, they’d take on heavy losses when accounting for all of their expenses.

I don’t know if league executives truly didn’t understand this aspect when they began calling for 1% integrity fees. On the surface, though, they seem to have a severe misunderstanding of how betting handle and revenue compare.

The Leagues Will Never Get 1% of Handle

Sports leagues might as well ask bookmakers for a gazillion dollars. Their integrity fee plan is this ridiculous.

Support from leagues might have helped get PASPA repealed. However, this Supreme Court action may have happened regardless.

State governments don’t need league approval to regulate sports gambling. Likewise, bookmakers only need states’ approval to operate—not the leagues’ acceptance.

Perhaps, sports bodies will get something out of the deal in the end. But here are a few reasons why they may receive nothing without winning a legal battle:

  • 1% integrity fee is a stupid approach – Maybe leagues wanted to start high by each asking for 1% of total handle, but they’ve just made themselves look dumb.
  • States earn less – State governments can’t tax bookmakers as much if the leagues are taking a big cut.
  • Gamblers pay the cost – Bookmakers will feature worse odds and fewer bonuses if they have to cover more fees.
  • Leagues don’t have a great claim to the money – Sports bodies have argued that they must pour money into monitoring sports corruption. But these costs can’t honestly be worth 1% of handle for every state.
  • Sports leagues are being greedy – Leagues already benefit indirectly from betting, because the latter heightens interest in sports. They don’t need to receive gambling revenue on top of the matter.

Better Plays for Sports Leagues

Simply put the pro and collegiate sports governing bodies’ asking price is too high. A regulated betting industry can’t exist with each league receiving a 1% integrity fee.

The sports world should’ve started with the 0.25% fee that some leagues have come down to. Now, though, they’re not even getting respect for this asking price.

Maybe some states/bookmakers will choose to pay them for the use of official league data. But the leagues need to be reasonable with the price.

So far, they’ve been quite unreasonable. Therefore, I don’t expect them to wisen up when it comes to the official data.

Leagues are only on board with legislation that sees them get a cut. They may end up taking some states and/or operators to court if they don’t get their way.

Conclusion

Sportsbooks only get around 5% of the total handle. They need to factor expenses and taxes into these slim margins.

Sports leagues are now asking bookmakers to fork over even more money. Bookmakers aren’t going to willing comply with such demands.

State governments aren’t onboard with the idea either. After all, integrity fees would cut down on how much they can reasonably tax operators.

The leagues’ best play for profiting off sports gambling is charging for official league data. Even this route, though, has proven fruitless for them so far.

The Top 5 Greatest Gambling Movies of All Time

Words Top Five Next to Movie Reel With a Poker Themed Background Pattern

When it comes to films about gambling, there are almost too many to name. A lot of them are considered critically-acclaimed classics and are personally some of my favorite films.

Ranging from casino gambling, counting cards, and hustling, this particular genre covers a pretty broad range. If you grew up in Texas on a ranch and were raised by cowboys, it’s pretty inevitable that you’ll be sat down at the dinner table and taught the basics of poker at the very least.

Some of these films you might love or hate, but I’m going to list some of my personal favorites. In my opinion, here are the top five best gambling films of all time.

5 – Casino Royale (2006)

Some of you probably know who James Bond is thanks to owning a Nintendo 64 and wasting away every available hour playing GoldenEye.

My mom had to take mine away eventually because I wouldn’t put down the controller. I fell in love with James Bond, and at the time, Pierce Brosnan was the face of the license-to-kill 00 agent.

His movies were not my favorite, but I can thank him for at least planting the seed of interest in the whole 007 franchise.

Casino Royale is unlike any Bond film I had ever seen. Critics would go on to say that this was “the nearly perfect James Bond movie.”

The plot is great. Daniel Craig plays James Bond, and after receiving a license to kill, British Secret Service agent James Bond heads to Madagascar, where he learns about Le Chiffre, a man who finances terrorist organizations.

After find out that Le Chiffre plans to raise money in a high-stakes poker game, MI6 sends Bond to play against him, gambling that their newest “00” operative will destroy the entirety of this man’s organization.

The game is held at Casino Royale, Montenegro, and watching will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat. This is a film worth checking out if you haven’t seen it. It captures the essence of gambling by contrasting it with the dangers of how these men often gamble with their lives.

4 – Rounders (1998)

This film caught my attention due to the star-studded cast, including Matt Damon, John Malkovich, and Edward Norton.

The plot is fairly straight forward. There’s an underground high-stakes poker world that draws in the main characters with its potential for big money. What people are willing to put on the line—the cheating, the obsession with winning back what was lost, the lengths people are willing to go to in order to do that—is what makes this film stand out.

Rounders, I think, does a fantastic job at capturing this whole scene. John Dahl directed this exploration of New York private clubs devoted to high-stakes poker, with first-person narration from the film’s main character—law student Mike McDermott (Matt Damon).

Mike loses his entire savings of $30,000 to Russian club owner Teddy KGB (John Malkovich) in a hand of Texas holdem. Mike then turns away from cards, promising his girlfriend Jo that he will put all of his focus and attention toward his law school studies and their relationship.

Jo becomes concerned after Mike’s friend and former gambling buddy Worm (Edward Norton) is released from prison. It isn’t long at all before Worm lures Mike back into the poker rooms. Jo moves out, and Mike begins to lose interest in his studies and falls back into what he promised he would stay away from.

Worm has a huge prison debt, and a threatening character wants the money. Mike unfortunately falls into the trap of getting involved in Worm’s debts. There’s a $15,000 debt and a five-day deadline, so we watch Worm and Mike spiral into a sleepless, nonstop gambling binge.

It all ends with a confrontation with Teddy KGB (Malkovich), and for spoiler alert avoidance, I won’t go into how that all plays out. It’s definitely a flick I enjoy watching, and if you haven’t seen it, it’s well worth checking out.

3 – The Gambler (1974)

Here’s one my granddad showed me when I was pretty young. James Caan stares in this film, which they tried to remake in 2014 starring Mark Wahlberg. But as most remakes go, it wasn’t as good as the original.

In this film, we see Caan playing Axel Fred, a New York City English professor. Fred has a wealthy grandfather, a gorgeous girlfriend played by Lauren Hutton, and a loving mother who is a doctor.

From the outside looking in, it seems like Fred has it all. He has the perfect girl, he’s young, attractive, intelligent, and the world is at his feet.

Screenshot From the Movie The Gambler (1974)

The issue is that Axel Fred has a huge gambling problem. We see his life rapidly spiral out of control, consequence after consequence. As with most people that struggle with addiction, even in the face of losing things and putting his entire life in jeopardy, Fred still can’t stop gambling.

Because of debt, he borrows money from his mother, only to lose it all gambling. He’s obsessed with losing, with feeling risk, with placing himself in danger.

I appreciate the honest portrayal of this aspect of gambling. So many movies paint this positive picture around the casino-going lifestyle, so it’s refreshing to have a more honest portrayal. The acting is also superb.

2 – 21 (2008)

I really loved this movie, which is why it made it to the #2 spot on my short list here.

You see the same pattern that you see in a lot of gambling movies. A character is in debt, needs to pay bills, medical expenses, or whatever, and they resort to some form of gambling.

That’s the case here, where we see Ben Campbell, a young and highly intelligent MIT student in Boston who’s chasing the American dream. Coming from a poor working-class background, Ben wants a scholarship to transfer to Harvard school of Medicine in hopes to become a doctor.

He quickly learns that he cannot afford the $300,000 necessary for the  four years of schooling.

One night, Ben is introduced by his unorthodox math professor Micky Rosa into a small and secretive club consisting of five other students. They are being trained by the professor to count cards in hopes of conquering the blackjack tables.

Intrigued by the idea of making quick and easy cash, Ben joins the club and embarks on weekend trips to Las Vegas. Using secret codes and hand signals, Ben is able to make hundreds of thousands of dollars, winning hand after hand at casino after casino.

Ben initially just wants to make enough to be able to pay his tuition, but as it goes with most, he quickly becomes addicted to winning. We see him progressively become corrupted by greed.

He puts his professor, as well as the rest of the group, at great risk when they all become a target for a brutal casino security enforcer by the name of Cole Williams. Williams has a personal vendetta toward their professor, so we watch a series of events undo everything the group has learned and earned.

This movie didn’t get the best reviews by critics, but I don’t care. I loved the film, and maybe it doesn’t deserve the #2 spot on the list, but that’s where I’m gonna leave it. If you haven’t seen it, the film is loosely inspired by the real-life MIT Blackjack Team. Watch and enjoy!

1 – Casino (1995)

This is not only the greatest gambling movie of all time, but this is easily in my top five for favorite movies of any genre across the board.

I fell in love with the Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro dynamic after seeing Goodfellas, but this movie was even better in my opinion. There are so many things that could be said about this film. Directed by Martin Scorsese, this movie is violent, vulgar, but absolutely beautiful all at the same time.

It does a masterful job of portraying the former corrupt workings of Las Vegas casinos. Taking place in 1975, we see the bookie and expert handicapper Sam Rothstein, known as “Ace” to his friends, going legitimate when the Chicago-based Italian Mafia hires him to operate the Tangiers Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

Despite Sam’s past, he applies for the gaming license, and we watch his ever-changing title become anything but operator of the casino. In amidst of all of the violent chaos, the license is lost. Sam’s best friend from childhood, Nicky Santoro, wants to join the ride and is hired by the Mafia to basically be Sam’s bodyguard.

Screenshot From the Movie Casino

Profits are made in the casino while profits are skimmed off the top by Mafia bosses. Ace has a massive headache throughout the whole movie having to deal with Nicky, who has his own agenda, wanting to become the head mob boss of Las Vegas.

Nicky is reckless, careless, vulgar, violent, and puts everything Sam has in jeopardy. In the film, we see Sam marry Ginger McKenna, a person he knew from the get-go was a hustler and an addict. He’s in denial about her throughout most of the film, always giving her the benefit of the doubt at his own expense.

I won’t go into any spoilers on this one, but this film is an epic worth seeing. Witness what happens when goodfellas from the mean streets meet their wildest dreams of achieving, wealth, power, and everything else that comes along with the lifestyle of the rich and famous.

Conclusion

That’s my list! While these gambling films tend to span from different types of games, I can guarantee that there’s plenty of casino action to witness and enjoy.

Are there any movies you think I left out that should be included here? Let me know in the comments!

How to Make Money Sports Betting

Money in Front of Sportsbook

If you want to know how to make money sports betting, you’re probably already a sports fan.

I have bad news for you – most sports fans lose money sports betting.

That’s because they have biases and prejudices toward and against teams that wouldn’t exist if they weren’t fans.

In other words, it’s hard to make money sports betting unless you’re objective about the teams’ odds.

But if you’re a fan who can set aside these notions, you can probably win money sports betting.

This post introduces some ideas you need familiarize yourself with to pull off this feat:

You Must Understand Some Math to Make Money Sports Betting

To break even as a sports bettor, you need to win 52.4% of your bets.

To win money as a sports bettor, you need to win MORE than 52.4% of your bets.

Some people might be confused by that, thinking that if they win 50% of their bets, they should break even.

And anything above a 50% win ratio should result in profits, right?

Wrong.

While it’s true that most bets have a 50% probability of winning based on the point spread, the bookmakers make you wager $110 to win $100. (You’ll sometimes run into books which want you to risk $120 to win $100, and you’ll also find some that want you to risk $105 to win $100.)

If you’re losing half the time, but you’re losing more money than you’re winning the other half of the time, you’re going to lose money in the long run.

Imagine if you place 2 bets, winning one and losing the other.

You win $100 on the bet you won, but you lose $110 on the bet you lose, which leads to a net loss of $10.

And that’s just the beginning of the math you need to understand to make money sports betting.

More about Sports Betting Math

Let’s look at a more detailed example, just to give you a clearer idea of what I’m talking about when I say you need to understand the math behind sports betting.

You go to your favorite bookmaker’s website, or visit the book at your favorite online casino, and you see the following posted:

Buffalo Bills -3
New Orleans Saints +3

The team with the – sign next to it is the favorite. To determine the winner of that bet, you subtract 3 from their score before comparing it with the other team’s score.

The team with the + sign next to it is the dog. You get to add 3 to the team’s final score for determining which team wins.

In either case, when it’s not listed, you’re expected to wager $110 to win $100.

Those point spreads are also called the lines.

Closeup of Sportsbook

The book creates the line so that they don’t get an overwhelming loss when the favorite beats the dog. If there weren’t a line, everyone would bet the favorite and win most of the time.

The point spread creates a situation where you (theoretically) have a 50% probability of winning.

The lines are set by the handicappers working for the bookmaker. And for the most part, they’re good at their job.

The lines aren’t always right, though, and when they’re wrong, you can profit.

How to Use Moving Lines to Track Sharp Action

A “sharp” is an educated, winning sports bettor. Sharps generally bet large enough amounts of money that bookmakers will adjust the point spreads (“lines”) to stimulate action on the other side. If you watch how the lines move, you can track the sharp action and make betting decisions based on what the sharps are doing.

One thing to look for is called “reverse line movement.” That’s just a fancy way of describing when the line moves away from the side with more money bet on it – the popular side.

That’s easy enough to do – find a line that moves from +7 to +6, for example, then look at how many people are betting that side of the match.

Now you know which side the book is trying to stimulate action for.

Combine this with shopping lines from one bookmaker to another, and you have a powerful tool for placing bets with a positive expectation.

Be a Contrarian

You can find plenty of websites that estimate what percentage of the action is on one side or the other of a sporting event. For example, you might find a football game where 70% of the public is betting on one side, and 30% of the public is betting on the other side.

If you bet with the 30% rather than with the 70%, you’re being a contrarian – you’re betting the other side of the event from what most people are.

The good news is that being a contrarian usually means betting the underdog. People generally prefer to bet on favorites than underdogs.

I like to root on underdogs, but as it turns out, betting on an underdog to cover results in a higher percentage of bets won than betting on the favorite.

It won’t result in a high enough percentage to make you profitable in the long run, though – you’ll still need to pick and choose.

But betting underdogs is a great starting point for a winning sports betting strategy.

Manage Your Bankroll Appropriately

You might have heard the expression “on any given Sunday.” This refers to the possibility of an upset in pro football – on any given Sunday, any team can win, regardless of what people might think.

This means that no matter how confident you are in your bets you still might lose.

And, in the short run, you might lose a higher percentage of bets than you expect.

What does this mean in terms of managing your bankroll?

It means that you shouldn’t have too much of your bankroll in action on any given bet.

For example, suppose you’ve found a bet that you’re confident has a 65% probability of being a winning bet. That’s a stellar percentage; if you won 65% of your bets in the long run, you’d be breathing rarefied air. You’d be the Warren Buffett of sports betting, in fact.

But if you have a bankroll of $10,000 and wager all of it on that one match, you have a 35% probability of losing your entire bankroll.

This means starting over and building a new bankroll, which takes time.

And when it comes to winning at sports betting, time is money.

You’ll see varying estimates of how much of your bankroll you should risk on any single bet.

Your tolerance for risk should determine your bet sizing, but 1% to 5% of your bankroll is a good guideline to follow.

If you have a low tolerance for risk, bet 1% of your bankroll on each bet. With a $10,000 bankroll, this means limiting the size of an individual bet to $100.

If your tolerance for risk is high, bet up to 5% of your bankroll on each bet. With that $10,000 bankroll, you’d limit the size of your bets to $500.

You can adjust those bet sizes based on your confidence level in your picks.

If you’re sure about a bet, you might wager $200 or $300 (2% or 3%) on it even if you’re risk averse.

Limiting the size of your bets prevents a series of upsets or a run of bad luck from running you out of the hobby.

Don’t Buy Picks

Here’s the problem with buying sports picks:

The people selling these picks are usually no better at picking winners than you are.

Companies that sell sports betting picks are called tout services. They have an interesting history.

I have a friend who worked for a tout service in Las Vegas back when they still used call centers and 900 numbers to sell their picks. He explained to me one of their strategies with their customers, which I’ll share with you below:

In a room full of touts over the phone, half the room would sell picks on one side of a game.

The other half would sell picks on the other side of the game.

This would result in half their customers winning each week, while half their customers would lose.

If any of the losers called to complain – and they often did – they’d give them a free pick on the Monday night football game.

People Gathered Around Sportsbook

And they’d follow the same strategy – give half the losers one side while giving the other half the other side.

Half their losers won their money back and became satisfied customers, buying more picks.

I also read a story in a book about gambling about a gentleman who started his own tout service via a 900 number, and he let his 5-year-old son make all his betting picks for him.

The kid got lucky and was right 60% of the time in his first season.

It was dumb luck, but if you’d used his service, you’d have showed a profit that season.

I saw a tout selling an entire season’s worth of picks for $3000.

What kind of winning percentage would you need to see to generate a positive ROI on that $3000?

That’s a sunk cost, so you’d need to win more than $3000 for that package to be a profitable deal.

You already need to win 52.4% of the time to break even, and you need to win 52.5% or more to be profitable.

If you make less than $3000 profit, you’re still losing money.

It’s hard to make money betting on sports when you have an upfront investment of $3000.

Conclusion

Yes, you can make money betting on sports. People do it every day.

But it takes a smart approach, preferably a contrarian one. You need to thoroughly understand the math and manage your bankroll appropriately.

Most importantly, you should avoid buying sports picks from experts who might not really even be experts.

Live Dealer Slots – What’s the Point?

Woman Overlooking Slots

The two main ways to play slot machines include land-based casinos and gaming sites. At a brick-and-mortar casino, you physically sit down to slots and spin the reels. You use a smartphone, tablet, or computer to play at online casinos.

These two options for playing slot machines are seemingly enough. You can opt for convenience with online slots or go for the experience and atmosphere of land-based casinos.

However, a third option has arisen in recent years. Live dealer slots combine elements of brick-and-mortar and online slots.

This form of gaming sees a dealer play the slot machine for you at a remote location. Confused about why this is even necessary?

If so, you can keep reading to find out more about live dealer slots and if they even need to exist.

What Is a Live Dealer Slot Machine?

When you envision live dealer slots, you may think of the “dealer” sitting in a typical casino and playing games for you. But they’re actually more involved.

The dealer in this situation is for entertainment purposes only. The slot machine is a spinning wheel that contains various prizes.

Closeup of Slots Machine

You select your betting options to begin each round. Once you’re satisfied, the dealer will spin the wheel to determine what, if any, prize you win.

The only current live dealer slot is Evolution Gaming’s Mermaid’s Fortune. This game sees the dealer wear a mermaid costume and the screen decorated like a Caribbean beach.

You can chat with the dealer (via a chat box). Meanwhile, the background features sand, ocean waters, palm trees, and a treasure chest.

What’s Special about Live Dealer Slots?

At first glance, live slot machines serve no purpose in the gaming world. Slots have never featured dealers and are self-explanatory.

Adding a croupier into the mix seems highly unnecessary. The detailed background — although nice — doesn’t offer anything that a land-based or online slot can’t.

However, this type of gaming does boast a couple of unique features:

  • Human interaction
  • A spinning wheel

Online casinos have long offered live dealer table games. This form of gambling is popular, because it allows you to chat with dealers without leaving the house.

Until Evolution Gaming’s invention, you couldn’t enjoy human interaction through an online slot. Now, you can communicate with the dealer while playing through your mobile device or PC.

The wheel also offers an interesting touch. Rather than spinning reels like in traditional slots, you play a Wheel-of-Fortune style game.

You may have spun wheels in slots bonus rounds. NetEnt’s Mega Fortune, for example, uses a spinning wheel to award progressive jackpots.

However, Mermaid’s Fortune is one of the few “slots” to use a wheel all of the time. You may appreciate this aspect if you’re looking for something totally different from standard slot machines.

Is It Really Worth Playing Live Dealer Slot Machines?

If you’re adventurous, I suggest trying a live dealer slot at least once. This type of gambling is quite different from what either land-based or online slots offer.

You’re not just mindlessly spinning the reels and awaiting the outcome with these games. Instead, you’re making bets, letting the dealer spin the wheel, and possibly carrying on a conversation.

Closeup of a Casino Dealer

You might also appreciate the live atmosphere and unique theme. For example, Mermaid’s Fortune features a woman dressed as a mermaid on the beach.

Assuming you do try a live dealer slot machine, then you don’t have to commit your entire bankroll to the matter. You can simply perform a few spins to see if you like the experience.

If you do, then you can mix live dealer slots with your normal favorites. Furthermore, you’ll be able to enjoy these games at any point through your smartphone or PC/Mac.

Live Dealer Table Games Have Proven Much More Popular

I’ve described how live slot machines are different from games found in both online and brick-and-mortar casinos. However, these differences have yet to attract gamblers.

Sure, some people currently play or have tried live slots. But this form of gambling is lightly played compared to other live dealer options.

Most gamblers would rather just pull up a cyber chair at a live dealer table. These games feature the same concept as the slots.

You get to play a classic table game, make bets, and chat with the dealer. The main difference, though, is that this format makes more sense with table games.

After all, croupiers have dealt baccarat, blackjack, and roulette for years. Live dealer table games simply let you experience the same style of gambling through a phone, tablet, or PC.

Table gaming is extremely popular at live casinos. Meanwhile, slot machines are a mere novelty that’s still relegated to one game.

Will Live Slots Ever Take Off?

I must give Evolution Gaming credit for the idea of live slot machines. These games put a truly unique spin on an old classic.

They offer interesting aspects in the form of a croupier and spinning wheel. Live slots aren’t a solo affair — they allow you to share the experience with a dealer.

It feels like there could be a niche for these games. But will there ever be a real need for them?

Right now, the answer is no. Mermaid’s Fortune has been available for several years and still fails to capture the general gambling world’s attention.

Closeup of Cards Game

Evolution Gaming must not be experiencing many financial benefits from this venture either. They haven’t produced a live dealer slot since debuting Mermaid’s Fortune.

Other developers aren’t following in Evolution’s footsteps either. Fellow live dealer gaming suppliers are holding steady with their table-game offerings.

Perhaps live online slot machines could still somehow take off in the coming years. However, I wouldn’t bet on it.

Conclusion

Slots play appears relegated to either land-based or online casinos for now. Live dealer slot machines, on the other hand, don’t have a real place in the gaming world.

They initially seem to boast merits in the form a wheel and dealer. However, the combination of an attractive mermaid combined with a spinning wheel isn’t driving gamblers to casinos.

No one problem jumps to the forefront regarding these games. However, I assume that the biggest dilemma involves how unnecessary this format is for slot machines.

Slots have never required a dealer to operate. Instead, you as a player can easily use these games with no assistance at all.

Of course, gaming sites dress these slot machines up with elaborate backgrounds. But you can look forward to better graphics and setups with any modern slot machine.

The concept behind live slots seems valid. They blend human interaction and a different format (the wheel) to create a unique type of slot machine.

However, these games aren’t truly necessary in the grand scheme of online gambling. Furthermore, studios like Evolution Gaming must require bigger bets and offer lower RTP to make up for dealer’s salaries and studio setups.

One more problem is that live dealer slots aren’t available to most of the gambling population. Evolution Gaming mainly concentrates on the European market.

If you do have access to Evolution Gaming casinos, I still recommend that you try live slot machines — in spite of the downsides. You may appreciate how unique they are compared to standard slots.

Just don’t expect a revolutionary form of gaming that’s going to blow you away. Instead, live dealer slots are just fun novelties worth playing every now and then.

6 Poker Leaks You Should Watch For

Water Spraying Over Playing Cards

Every professional poker player knows that their biggest challenges are not the cards they’re holding or the other players on the table. It’s far from it. Their real demons are the ones that come from within.

In other words, what stands between you and financial or professional success are the flaws in your technical, and possibly your mental, game. And these flaws are costing you money and keeping you from taking your skill to the next level.

Since poker is a highly complex game, and every poker player has their own individual strengths and weakness, I’ll focus on the six most common flaws that poke holes in your game and drain your resources, motivation, and self-esteem. Keep reading below to find out what may be holding you back.

1 – Tilt

At the very top of the list of demons that haunt players are concepts like tilt. In its most basic definition, tilt is when you let your emotions take over while your logical thinking and all your experience jump out the window.

This is a common leak and most players, even the successful ones, have experienced it at some low point in their career or another. And while some people often associate tilt with anger, this dangerous flaw can manifest itself in various ways. You could be sad, or scared, or distracted.

The common thread here is you’re not on top of your game. Emotions are running high and your mind is temporarily unavailable. These are the moments when you lost big hands and inflict long-lasting damage to your professional career. You go from playing your A-game to plodding through a C-game or worse in a short time.

How to Fix It

Tilt sneaks up on you and before you know it, it’s already calling the shots and urging you to chase improbable draws and accept challenges when the odds are stacked up against you.

So, the first thing you should do when you notice the signs is stop playing. Take a break and go out for a walk or even call it a night and cut your losses. This will save you a lot of money in the long run and prevent tilt from taking root in your A-game and infecting it like a virus.

If you can’t leave the table, for example, you’re playing a tournament and leaving means you’ll lose, you should put your emotions under check and tighten your game. Try to calm yourself down with deep breathing to get yourself out of that emotional impasse.

Away from the tables, you can benefit from yoga, meditation, and breathing techniques to help you become a more composed person. Gardening and fishing are famous for teaching you to be patient and live in the moment without letting expectations drive you to the edge.

2 – Losing Focus

You have probably seen this happen many times. You’re in the middle of the game and another player takes out their phone and starts tweeting. Or even makes a call.

It’s distracting. Not just to the other players, but to the player with the phone. Instead of studying the other competitors and looking for weaknesses and physical tells, they’re watching a YouTube video right in the middle of a poker game.

If you’re playing poker online, then you’re aware of the number of distractions vying for your attention. Chatting is by far the number one distraction that most players engage in. You might be playing on multiple tables and still have your Skype open while getting alerts from your Whatsapp group chat.

How to Fix It

When it comes to poker, multitasking is a recipe for disaster. A player who’s serious about their game and treats it as a profession needs to have all their focus on the table and the opponents.

So, start by closing all the chats, apps, and browser tabs, and focus on the game. When it’s poker time, make sure there’s nothing around you to get your attention. It might help to switch off your phone or at least put it on silent.

3 – Showing Weakness

In the wild, predators smell fear. It’s an actual thing, not a myth. At the tables, poker sharks smell fear, too. They don’t have a superpower or anything. It comes with spending a few thousand hours playing and observing players.

Weakness in poker manifests itself in many ways. You often fold when faced with an aggressive raise or a three-bet. You check the river after a three-barrel bluff. Or you stray off your patented style and start playing faster or slower than usual. You let your opponent get under your skin and you show it.

Professional players exploit these weaknesses. They can read you a mile away, and they will take the shirt off your back if you let them.

How to Fix It

First off, you need to put on your poker face before you sit at the tables. If your eyes betray you, wear dark sunglasses. And if your face reads like an open book, practice your emotionless look in front of a mirror.

If your weakness has more to do with your technique than your tells, then you need to study the game and learn how to project strength. C-betting is a winning strategy and so is moderate bluffing. Fear and poker don’t mix. So, leave your fear at the door.

4 – Underestimating Tells

It’s one thing to learn to hide your emotional turmoil, but it’s another thing to understand using tells to your advantage. That’s usually a breakthrough in your game, when you learn to exploit the fish at the table.

Poker experts have always maintained that what you’re holding should be the least of your worries. That’s because exploiting a weak player rarely has anything to do with the power of your hand.

Closeup of Hand of King and Ace of Hearts

And that’s what sets apart the winning 5% of poker players from the rest of the herd. If you want to win at the tables, you’ll need to watch the opponents for physical tells.

  • Freezing after betting
  • Cracked voice
  • Swallowing
  • Hiding their face
  • Shifty eyes
  • Checking hole cards
  • Sweating

How to Fix It

Keep your eyes on your opponents at all times. You’ll learn more from watching them play, process their hands, and make decisions. This helps you spot their flaws and use them to your advantage.

Even if you’re playing online as opposed to live poker, data is your best friend. Use statistics and game analysis to uncover the weak players. The tells here are more about strategy and technique than about physical signs. But they’re still effective weapons you need to add to your armory.

5 – Lack of Discipline

Some poker players, especially beginners, don’t know when to end a session. This is especially true if they’ve been on a hot streak all night and they just keep going.

Your body and mind have a limit. You can’t stay focused for long hours. After a while, you need to take a break, stretch your legs, and recharge.

If you keep going, you risk exhaustion and depleted energy. That’s when your mind threatens to shut down like a phone running out of juice, and your decisions become erratic.

How to Fix It

Treat your poker career as you would any other demanding profession. Understand your physical and mental limits, note them, and learn to work with them.

Some players quit a session after winning a number of buy-ins. Others leave the table after a few big losses. And some have a fixed number of hours or tables that they play which they try not to exceed.

6 – Obsessing Over Results

Your poker journey is a long one and it’s full of perils. One of those perils is the lack of tangible results to show for all the long hours of grinding. You work hard, you study, you analyze, you give it your all. Yet, you don’t have a single tournament title under your belt.

What gives?

This is all part of the game. Cold streaks and the steep learning curve are part of poker.

If you focus on the bottom line and bite your fingernails every time you look at the money graph, then you’re doing this poker thing all wrong.

Another sign of this leak has to do with poor bankroll management. You play high stakes well beyond your bankroll and your expertise levels. You run through a few busts per session without considering that you might be up against sharks at the table.

How to Fix It

To beat variance, you should focus on your play volume rather than on your bankroll. You need to focus on the process itself, not the results. If you feel your game strategy is lacking, take the time to join forums and post questions and hands to analyze.

It also pays to learn good bankroll management. The money you play with isn’t money you’re afraid to lose. It’s not your grocery money or even your tuition fees. Always play the stakes you can afford.

Conclusion

Whether you play live at the casino or you prefer online poker, the rules of the profession are invariably the same. Fitness, both mental and physical, is the key to a long poker career. But so is your strategy.

Once you’ve mastered the concepts of table image, position, stack size, and implied odds, it’s time to pay attention to the mistakes you make at the tables and how much money they cost you.

After you plug those leaks, only then will you be on your way to being a well-rounded player who can handle a few bumps on the road to poker stardom.

7 Things We All Hate About Casinos

Thumbs Down in Front of a Casino Sign

Ah, the glitz and the glamour… There’s plenty of excitement whenever time and money afford me the opportunity to travel to Sin City for a little R&R.

There’s whimsical melodies and multi-colored lights emitting from the slot machines, the thrill when one of the machines pays off big, and the hooting and hollering of the lucky.

Let’s not forget the elegant and sophisticated manner of the dealers, the colorful chips, the intensity at the roulette wheel, and the crowd gathered around the craps table where cheers, hoops, and hollers or exasperation, defeat, and disappointment pepper the tone.

Oh, and there’s the inebriated man in the corner talking to himself. A world within a world.

Las Vegas Casinos are not all wine and roses. There are a few aspects of casinos that irritate me to the point of wondering, “Is it me or does anyone else see what I’m seeing?” Learn about the seven things most people hate about casinos below.

1 – The Drinks Are Watered Down

Free drinks are provided in order to entice you to play as much and as long as possible. Also, having a buzz doesn’t hurt as further incentive to continue to spend freely and frequently. But still, the drinks are watered down.

And I know this because the people working the floor are all too familiar with who’s spending a substantial chunk of change and who’s plucking in a few nickels and dimes into the slot machines.

If I want a cocktail, then I’d better at least spend what said cocktail is worth.

Let’s face facts. They water down drinks, and the alcohol I manage to consume is not exactly “top shelf.” It’s not rubbing alcohol either, but it does seem to be somewhere in the middle of third-rate wine and gasoline.

Closeup of a Drink With Garnish

Also, it helps to produce a generous tip if I want that waitress to continue to come my way. And don’t even think about asking for a double. Not gonna happen, unless of course, I’m willing to pay for the beverage.

Now, if you’re paying, that’s a different story. Paying customers are king in the gambling world. If you’re pouring money into the slots, throwing Benjamins around at the tables, and tossing dice at craps like there’s no tomorrow, believe me, they’re going to be happy to send you some top-shelf stuff.

But, if I want a bottled water, well, that costs money. Kinda ironic, isn’t it? Could I simply request the cup of water that douses the cocktails and call it a day?

Well, the less I spend, the less I get. I totally get it.

2 – Comps Aren’t Great Unless You’re Really Spending Money

The insulting nature of the “comps” at a lot of places are a huge turn-off. Thanks for the free shirt that features your casino’s logo, I’m now your walking advertisement. That’s what I’ve always wanted to be, especially after I lost $5,698 but hey, it’s a free T-shirt letting everyone know where I went bankrupt.

How about a souvenir shirt for the family?

“My wife lost my 401k, and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.”

That being said, even the big comps (rooms and show tickets) aren’t going to the person who barely plays the slots or who is making dollar bets at the blackjack table.

Those prizes are going to people who spend so much cash that they practically own the place.

So, keep that in mind when you’re trying to get comps. You’re expected to be a serious high roller to get a good one.

3 – There Are No Clocks or Windows

This is because they don’t want me wondering, “Is it 3 PM or 6 AM? How long have I been playing? Wow, I’ve been here for 10 hours! I’ve used my debit card 72 times!”

Also, the lighting is geared to make me feel like I’m at home. Soft and low. But home is where there’s no one in the wings attempting to lift my wallet.

Playing in a casino is really more like playing in a dungeon… Is there even an exit?

Weaving my way through a myriad of slot machines and table games, I tend to get lost and can’t find my way back to where I began. That’s because they are quite literally building physical casinos to be mazes.

And the carpeting is so busy that I keep my gaze where it’s initially supposed to be, front and center.

Also, the music is generic. There’s never any pop culture crooners droning on while the bells and bursts of carnival-style music erupts all around. Again, the “time stands still” theory would be botched if Whitney belted out “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” and four hours later, I’m hearing her tunes again.

Yikes! Four hours passed, and I’m down $572 bucks! They ought to play the song, “Show Me the Way to Go Home.” But it’s not gonna happen.

4 – It’s Hard to Keep Count When Playing Blackjack

In fact, the fewer people at the table, the more intense I feel it becomes. Okay, hit me again if the house has 18, and I’m at 15? Er, ah, that’s gonna have to be a six or less, right? …But more than a three?

Then, the deer-in-the-headlights look tips the dealer off to my deplorable math skills. It helps to find a table where there are a number of players so that I have a bit of time to figure out what the heck I’m doing.

However, the best odds are with blackjack, poker, and even video poker. According to studies, the craps table offers a greater opportunity to make a few bucks rather than plucking money down in the slots.

The slots, as I see it, are designed to keep the elderly busy, while more active gamblers take on the “real” games at the tables… Or so I’ve been told.

Either way, with all the distractions, the traffic, and the sounds, it can be hard to keep up at the table.

5 – It’s Hard to Win Against Locals

Once in a while, you’ll come across someone who apparently has so much extended experience that the dealer not only knows him by name, but he is actually able to carry on a casual conversation.

The dealer might ask, “How’s that hernia?” “Did Bobby make the little league team?” “What’s the wife spending your winnings on today?”

Check, please! This may not be the table for you, and it’s clear as day.

6 – They Don’t Clean the Chips

Seriously. With visitors in the millions, what must be crawling around in bacteria form on said chips? From the dealer who’s trying to hack up a lung to the gambler with the propensity to place a few chips in her brassiere to “save them for later,” there is a veritable plague on every chip’s surface.

Then, you have those stellar members of society who opt to wear an adult diaper so they aren’t bothered by the inconvenience of a bathroom break. Don’t want to have to spare the time to do that when a winning streak may be imminent!

Bunch of Casino Chips

Note to self: Those same people also handle the chips. Don’t mind me, just gonna carry a pint of anti-bacterial sanitizer with me at all times.

The smoky atmosphere ain’t helping my health either. I realize there are ventilation systems in place to help absorb some of the secondhand smoke, but still. The air is significantly different once you step inside of a casino.

And sitting next to a smoker at the poker table just makes the experience that much more memorable.

7 – Big Brother Is Always Watching

You are being watched from a wide variety of angles. There’s cameras, undercover security, and casino managers roam constantly to keep a keen eye on everything, especially the big winners (otherwise referred to as “whales”).

Talk about your candid camera!

From the hallways to the bar, there’s more eyes on me than a three-month-old potato. I suppose it’s also for my own protection, as there is a veritable soup of disreputable individuals floating in the mix.

Don’t leave your property unattended.

8 – Getting Paid With a Voucher

In the old days, coins actually fell from the slot machine and you hoisted the loot up in a bucket or bag. Now, it’s a voucher, and that’s because studies have shown you’re more prone to slipping it back into another machine where you might just lose it all.

It’s too alluring when the sights and sounds beckon, “What? Going back to the room? Come play another spin!” …Well, okay, what’s one more round?

You’re going to have to face the fact the house always has the edge, or else the house would fail to stand. But then, what if you’ll be one of the lucky ones who beat the odds? That’s the mindset they hope you maintain, along with the 2,000 other suckers on their gaming floor.

Listen, I have nothing against casinos per se. Plenty of them are reputable and try their best to deal with all of the problems I’ve mentioned here, but there’s a reason I prefer playing at online casinos. It’s just so much better to be sitting at home, lazing around on my computer or phone, than dealing with the madness at the casinos.

So, what about you? What do you hate most about brick and mortar casinos? Let me know in the comments!

2 More Reasons Why Poker is Superior to Blackjack

Hand With Two Fingers up With Pair of Aces and Poker Chip Background

Poker and blackjack are a couple of popular games that you can find at almost every casino across the globe. You don’t even have to have ever gone to a casino to have heard of poker and blackjack. They both have a popular presence online for those that like to play online casino games.

It’s definitely a debate that could take us down several rabbit holes, but many players, including myself, would say that poker is a much better game to play than blackjack, especially when it comes to the winning potential that poker has over blackjack.

The truth is that while blackjack is popular (probably because it’s fairly simple and less intimidating to new players or players who are more introverted and don’t really like all the banter and talking that happens at a poker table), poker is hands down more profitable for anyone playing card games in a casino.

The reason for this is simple—when playing blackjack, it’s you against the casino, meaning it’s you against the house edge that the casino has over every single player that sits down to play at the slots, blackjack, and many other games that are designed by default to have the casino win.

Now that doesn’t mean that the casino wins every time. Rather, it means that the casino is going to win a percentage of your money back over the long run. This percentage can be as high as 20% at a game like keno, or it can be as small as a quarter of a percentage point, like you can find in some bets on the craps table.

The only real game that you can play at a casino where there is no house edge is poker. That’s because you’re playing against other people and not against the house.

Why would you want to spend all of your time playing against a system designed to make you lose when you can play against other people who might not be the smartest players? If you are a decent poker player, than you have much more of a chance walking away victorious than someone who spends all their time playing games against the house (which is the case for blackjack).

There is an exception when it comes to blackjack and the house edge, and that is if a player is a skilled card counter. If you can count cards, then that really is your only chance of going on a winning streak playing blackjack.

Unless of course the universe is just working in your favor and you happen to get that lucky. This scenario is very unlikely, but it does happen.

The problem with counting cards is that the casinos typically despise the players who do it. They keep an eye out via the security cameras for players who are winning at the blackjack table. If a player is in fact counting cards, then they run the risk of having to deal with the consequences.

The players who can get away with counting cards are usually very clever and know not to spend too much time sitting at the same table. They often will bounce from table to table, making it more difficult for the casino security to be able to keep track of their actions.

Closeup of a Hand by Poker Chips

With all of that being said, most people don’t sit around all day practicing card counting. All that being said, there are several reasons why poker is just a better game to play than blackjack.

There are many reasons why this is, so I will touch on a couple basic reasons why you should just stick to poker and not waste your time with blackjack.

1- Poker is Easier to Learn and Play

Poker is an easier game to play and learn over blackjack, and to be honest, most people have a pretty basic understanding of poker from movies and TV shows even if they’ve never actually played.

The rules are quite simple to learn. Heck, I learned how to play around 8 years old, and I remember it being just as easy, if not easier, than any other card game I had learned at that age.

So if an 8 year old can learn how to play, I am pretty sure anyone can. For an adult who is learning how to play poker, everything that they would need to know in order to be a decent poker player can be broken down into basic math.

There is a popular misconception that poker is a game of luck, much like how a slot machine works. This can cause people to approach the poker table with the same sort of mentality they would if they were going to play at the slot machine.

People end up throwing money away by just throwing chips in the pot and pretty much just hoping for the best.

A seasoned poker player knows that poker is a game of strategy and that certain plays are going to be more or less profitable. Essentially, they know when to hold ‘em, and they know when to fold ‘em.

If a skilled player is playing against opponents who have that luck-inspired mentality, then it’s a definite possibility that the skilled player will completely destroy the rest of the players.

In poker, you have to understand that every situation presents an opportunity that would be the most profitable for you. The key is to be able to make more decisions that are profitable versus making decisions that are going to cause you to lose money.

Every decision you make while playing poker is either going to be for profit or not. You can end up making hundreds of decisions while at the poker table, and a good player will be able to make as many of those decisions as they can correctly.

Closeup of Blackjack Table

Once you learn the simple rules and format of the game and can go out and practice, you will notice over time that more and more of your decisions are going to turn out correct. I know that might sound confusing considering you never really know the cards that your opponents are holding, but over time you can simply learn from their actions and behaviors and let them be an indicator of what ranked hand they might be holding.

Poker can be a much easier and more profitable game for a player once they get the hang of it.

2- Poker Has More Variety

If you compare the layout of poker and blackjack side by side, it wouldn’t take a rocket science to be able to determine the straightforward nature of blackjack. You get two cards, the dealer shows you one of theirs, and then you make the decision of what to do with your hand from there.

There is a little more to it, but no matter what blackjack table you decide to play at, it’s gonna be the same thing from table to table. Poker has a much larger array of options that are available across the poker tables at the casino. You could play 5 card draw, Texas Hold ’Em, or 7 card stud, just to name a few.

These games can have a limit or no limit. A player could play games for cash, single or multi-table tournaments, and a wide array of other playing options. There is also a wide array of buy-in levels found at each poker table in casinos nationwide.

Good poker players can play well in all different types of poker games.

If you are a beginner at poker, it’s smart to just stick with one style of poker and try to master just the one before you overwhelm yourself in learning all of the other forms of poker. Pick a game and a format and just spend as much time as possible getting the hang of it.

Most styles of poker are available online for free, so you can practice that way and not have to worry about losing any money. A downfall of playing online is not getting to see the other player’s facial expressions and behavior. Learning how to read people can be a very beneficial skill for a poker player.

Once you master one style of poker, then you can move on to the next. If you learn how to play 5 card draw and feel like you are ready to move on, learning Texas Hold ’Em would be an easy transition from 5 card draw.

There are so many other formats of poker that are available to learn compared to the simple and basic game of blackjack. This is a huge reason why I think poker is still just a better game all around.

Do you have other reasons why poker is better than blackjack? Feel free to let me know in the comment section below.

How to Win at Craps (Almost Every Time You Play)

Craps Dice on Top Dollar Bills

With only a little searching on the internet, you’ll find pages that claim to have “solved” craps.

You’ll also find sites promising to teach you how to win “consistently” at craps.

They claim that you can make profits on a regular basis by shooting dice and betting on other shooters.

This isn’t one of those pages.

That’s because I’m not a liar.

Here’s the truth about how to win at real money craps almost every time you play.

Winning Craps Systems

I can tell you where to find the winning craps systems. They’re right next to the unicorns in the zoo and the mermaids in the aquarium.

How do craps systems work?

They use a combination of bets that are meant to hedge against losses. They also usually involve raising and lowering the size of your bets based on what’s happened on previous rolls and previous bets.

Often, they try to capitalize on hot and cold streaks.

Here’s the problem:

All the bets on the craps table – with the exception of the odds bet – have a house edge. In effect, you could think of every craps bet as a negative number.

Some of those negative numbers are bigger than others, but they’re all negative.

And if you double or triple those bets because of something that happened on a previous bet, you still have a negative number.

And yes, you will see winning and losing streaks at the craps table.

The problem is that you have no way to predict when these winning and losing streaks will begin or end. They’re only available in hindsight.

The nature of gambling games – craps especially – is to be streaky.

But a streak can win or end at any time.

Here Are 10 Easy Steps to Beat Craps – Yeah, Right

I don’t have a problem with writers offering tips for how to beat craps. Heck, I offer tips for craps players in some of my posts, too. My problem is the overselling of these tips.

But heck, even that’s not too bad.

What’s really bad are people who take your money in exchange for some kind of unbeatable craps system. These craps systems are NOT unbeatable. In fact, in the long run, they can’t win.

Craps Dice Rolling Down a Craps Table

You can’t defeat the math at the craps table by combining various bets at the table. There are NO craps bets with a positive expectation. The closest you can get is a bet called the odds bet which has no house edge at all.

But just because that bet is a break-even bet doesn’t mean it can help you get an edge at the other bets. In fact, you’re not able to place an odds bet unless you’ve placed a pass bet first, which has a house edge.

But there’s one possible exception to this…

Taking the Odds Bet on Someone Else’s Bet

I read a book by Frank Scoblete where he suggested becoming the “odds man.” I haven’t tried this in a casino, so I don’t know if it’s a viable strategy or not. I do know that it won’t get you an edge over the casino.

Here’s how it works:

You find a craps player who’s betting the pass line or the don’t pass line – but who isn’t taking or placing odds.

You ask that player if you can make odds bets on his bets.

If the casino allows this, and if the other player allows this, you can place or take odds without having to make the negative expectation bet that precedes the odds bet.

But this still doesn’t give you an edge.

The odds bet is, in the long run, a break-even proposition.

There’s a big difference between breaking even and making a profit. Sure, in the short run, you might see a quick profit, but over enough time, this strategy is just a break-even strategy.

A break-even strategy is far better than a losing strategy. I suppose if you take advantage of some comp drinks, it might even be considered marginally profitable.

Why Does the House Have a Mathematical Edge in Craps?

The mathematical edge in craps resembles the mathematical edge for every other casino game. It’s just a function of offering bets that pay off at less than the odds of winning.

The easiest example to understand is the even money bet.

Most people realize that if you place an even money bet and have a 50% probability of winning that bet, you’ll break even in the long run. By definition, a 50% probability of winning means you’ll win as often as you lose.

And since even money means you’re betting the same amount you’ll win, you’ll eventually see results close to a net loss or win of $0, regardless of the size of your bets.

View of an Active Craps Table

But you don’t have a 50% probability of winning the even money bets in craps. The probability of winning an even money bet in craps is always slightly less than 50%.

In this case, the probability of winning the pass line bet is 49.3%, which is close to 50%, but it still gives the casino an edge. The casino will win this bet 50.7% of the time.

In the long run, you can’t win with those odds.

And that’s arguable the best bet at the table. (The probability of winning the don’t pass bet is higher by 5/100 of a percent, but that’s such a small number that it’s not especially interesting.

What if I Hedge My Bets?

Hedging your bets doesn’t work. The idea is that you bet on one outcome, but you also place a bet on another outcome that will compensate for when your initial bet loses.

This sounds good in theory, but it doesn’t work in the long run for one simple reason:

Your original bet AND your hedge both have a house edge.

In other words, you’re just adding one negative expectation bet with another hoping to get a positive expectation.

But that’s not how negative numbers work.

Add any set of negative numbers together, and you’ll get a negative sum.

Okay, But What if You Could Control the Outcome of the Die Rolls?

The biggest potential I see for beating craps is learning how to exert some control over the outcome of the die rolls. The idea is that by holding the dice in a specific position (“setting the dice”), and then by throwing the dice without a lot of force (“a controlled throw”), you can reduce the probability of losing by enough to shift the already low house edge in favor of the bettor.

If you could do this – throw the dice with skill – you will have turned the game of craps into a game at least partially of skill. Think of controlled dice throwing as an attempt to turn the game of craps into a game similar to darts.

Is this possible?

Frank Scoblete thinks so, but he suggests a lot of hare-brained strategies, so I don’t lend him much credence.

But I’ve also seen Michael Shackleford say that he’s seen some pretty impressive demonstrations, and I have a lot of respect for him.

Do I think it’s practical to become a controlled dice shooter?

Let’s talk about what that would involve in the next section.

What Would It Take to Become a Controlled Shooter?

I’ve seen being a controlled shooter called different things. Scoblete calls such shooters “rhythmic rollers.” I’ve also seen them called “dice setters.”

The verbs used to describe this approach varies, too. I’ve seen it called “controlled shooting” or “dice setting” more often than anything else.

The idea is to learn how to roll the dice well enough that you can reduce the odds of rolling a 7 by a significant enough margin that you flip the odds from favoring the house to where they favor the bettor. (This assumes that you’re betting the pass line, of course.)

The first thing you would need to do to learn how to set dice is to find an instructional video, a book, or a coach. Those aren’t hard to find, but I wouldn’t spend a lot of money on such a thing.

The next thing you’ll need is somewhere to practice. This includes having a realistic craps table with similar dimensions to what you’d find in an actual casino. It also includes having room for that craps table.

Then you need to practice what you’ve learned from the video, book, or coach on that table.

Finally, you’ll need to track your results. This is where the rubber hits the road. To be statistically sure of how well you’re affecting the odds, you’ll need at least 1000 trials.

And the more trials you record, the more accurate your accounting of your skill at dice throwing will be.

One more thing…

I suspect that dice control might be like other feats of athleticism or skill. Some people just might not have a knack for it. It’s possible that some people just might be able to learn how to do it, even if it is possible, and even if they do practice.

In short, I think dice control is an impractical (if not impossible) advantage play for the overwhelming number of gamblers.

95% of poker players lose money in the long run. This means that only 5% get an edge.

My guess is that a similar percentage of dice shooters have the knack for controlling the dice. It might even be a smaller number than that.

Conclusion

Craps is a great game, and I love it. And you can win a fortune playing craps in almost no time at all.

But the idea that you win at craps consistently or “almost every time you play” is ludicrous.

If the casinos thought you had a way to beat craps, they’d back you off the game – just like they do with card counters.

When’s the last time you saw the casino tell a craps player he’s too skilled?

Yeah, me neither.

Slot Machine Math and Casino Profits

Slot Machine With a Background of a Hall of Numbers

Slot machines – and, in fact, any gambling machine – pays back a percentage of bets in such a way that the casino generates a profit. That payback percentage varies from casino to casino and from machine to machine.

The attraction that slot games have is that they sometimes produce profits in the short term.

But in the long run, the math ensures that the casino will profit.

In this post, I look at some of the math behind how slot machines and payback percentages work.

It’s not complicated, but you should understand it before putting your money into one of these games.

Odds, Probability, and Slot Machines

The first thing you should understand is that the outcome of any given spin on a slot machine is random. It’s also an “independent event.” This means that what happened on the previous spin has no effect on the probability of getting a result on the next spin.

Probability is the branch of mathematics that measures how likely something is to happen. It’s also the word used to describe that measurement.

An event’s probability if always a number between 0 and 1. An event that can’t possibly happen has a probability of 0. An event that will happen every time has a probability of 100%. And when you add the probability of something happening with the probability of it not happening, the total is always 1.

You probably already know this, but any number between 0 and 1 can be expressed in multiple ways:

  • As a fraction
  • As a decimal
  • As a percentage

Something that will happen as often or not has a probability of 1/2, which can also be expressed as 0.5 or as 50%.

Most people understand exactly what that means, too – it means that this event will happen half the time.

A Row of Slot Machines

Another important thing to understand about probabilities is that when you’re trying to determine the probability that event A will happen AND event B will happen, you multiply.

Here’s an example:

If you have a standard deck of cards, you have a 50% probability of drawing a red card when you draw a random card from the deck.

If you want to calculate the probability of drawing 2 red cards in a row, you’re looking at the probability of getting a red card on the first draw AND getting a red card on the 2nd draw.

This means your probability is 50% X 50%, or 25%.

An Example of a Slot Machine Probability Problem

Suppose you have a slot machine with 10 symbols on it and 3 reels. Each symbol has an equal probability of coming up.

You want to calculate the probability of getting 3 cherries.

The probability of getting a cherry on reel #1 is 1/10. That’s the same for reel #2 and reel #3.

So 1/10 X 1/10 X 1/10 = 1/1000.

How the Payouts for the Prizes Determine the Profitability of the Machine

With 10 symbols on this slot machine, you have 1000s different possible outcomes.

When you add up the prize amounts for every possible winning outcome, you will inevitably come up with a number less than 1000, because that’s how the casino makes its profit.

You can see this by assuming that you make 1000 spins and get every possible combination. Add up how much money you put into those spins. Then look at how much money you’re left with.

The percentage is always less than 100%.

For example, if you add up all the potential prizes and get 900 coins on a slot machine with 1000 different outcomes, the payback percentage for that game is 90%.

The casino, on average, over time, makes 10% for every bet you place.

This number will go up and down over time because of the nature of random events.

But the Law of Large Numbers suggests that as you make more spins, the closer your actual results will get to the theoretical expectation.

And when you talk about the long run with gambling games, you’re usually talking about thousands of tens of thousands of spins.

With slot machines, you usually get into the long run faster than with other gambling games.

The average slots player makes 600 spins per hour, but I’ve clocked players who were making 900 spins per hour.

I average about 450 spins per hour, because I intentionally play slowly to keep my average loss per hour down.

Your Average Hourly Loss Rate

The casinos are interested in your average hourly loss rate. Luckily for them, it’s easy to calculate. All they need is the total amount of your hourly action on a machine and the payback percentage for that machine.

Your total hourly action is easy to calculate. It’s the number of bets you’re making per hour multiplied by the size of those bets.

For example, if you’re playing Megabucks slots, you’re making a $3 average bet. At 600 spins per hour, that’s $1800 per hour in action.

If the payback percentage for that machine is 85%, you’ll get back $1530, which means you’ll lose $270.

The more time you spend on the machine, the likelier the casino is to see you lose the expected amount. Also, over a large number of customers, the more time spent on the machines, the more money they make.

The Relationship between the House Edge and the Payback Percentage

When you talk about table games, you talk about the “house edge,” which is the amount of each bet that the casino expects to win from you over the long run. Payouts for table games are expressed in terms of odds, and the odds for table games are expressed as “x to y.”

For example, you might place a casino bet where the payout is 2 to 1. The 1 represents your bet, and the 2 represents the payout if you win.

If you lose, the 1 unit goes to the casino. If you win, you get the 1 unit back along with 2 units in winnings. The payout is 2 to 1.

Gambling machines, though, handle their payout odds differently. They pay out on an “x for y” basis.

Overhead View of Multiple Slot Machines

In this case, you lose your original bet no matter what the outcome is – you’re trading your bet for the payout instead of getting the payout and the bet back.

If you’re getting paid 2 to 1, you show a profit of 2 units.

If you’re getting paid 2 for 1, you only show a profit of 1 unit.

The unit you initially wagered is gone.

This is why payback percentage is the standard for gambling machines and house edge is the standard for table games.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

You could talk about the house edge on a slot machine, for example. And the same thing is true for gambling machine odds as is true of probability – when you add the payback percentage and the house edge together, the sum is always 100%.

The Problem with Gambling Machines and Math

The reason that gambling machines are so profitable for the casino is the same reason that it’s so damaging to your pocketbook:

You make more bets per hour playing slot machines or video poker than you would at any other casino game by a factor of at least 3.

If you’re playing real money blackjack with a fast dealer and no other players, you’re only getting 200 hands per hour.

Put another 2 players at the table with you, and the number of hands you get per hour drops dramatically – maybe to 60 bets per hour.

Anytime you reduce one of the factors in a multiplication problem by that big a factor, the other factors don’t matter as much.

For example, someone betting $3 per spin on a slot machine is putting $1800 per hour into action. Even if you find a rare unicorn of a slot machine with a 1% house edge, you’re still losing $18 per hour.

Contrast that with a blackjack player betting $5 per hand against the same 1% house edge. You’re looking at $1000 per hour in total action, so your expected loss per hour is only $10.

And guess what.

You won’t find a slot machine with a 1% house edge, but you can and will face a 1% house edge if you master basic strategy in blackjack.

Does the Math Mean I Shouldn’t Play Slot Machines?

If the only thing you’re interested in is minimizing how much money you’re going to lose at the casino, you shouldn’t play ANY of the casino games. That way you won’t lose any money at all, which is the definite minimum amount to lose in a casino.

After that, you have to start weighing in how much you enjoy the games.

The only logical way to think of a casino game is as an entertainment expense.

Do you really find slot machines 3, 4, or 5 times as entertaining as blackjack?

The answer might well be yes, and if that’s the case, great – spin those reels.

On the other hand, if the answer is no, you probably shouldn’t fool with the slot machines.

Conclusion

The gambling math behind slot machine odds and probability isn’t much different from the math of other casino games.

But you should have a basic understanding of what’s happening to your money when you gamble.

The only way to do that with slot machines is to understand the math behind the games’ proba

7 Online Gambling Ideas That Were Massive Failures

Laptop With Image of Cards and Chips Being Thrown Into a Garbage Can

The online gambling world has done a good job of making upgrades to keep up with everchanging technology. Slots, table games, and poker rooms now offer better graphics and features than ever before.

Innovative ideas are crucial to keeping online gambling fresh and popular with gamblers. Certain innovations, including 243 ways slots, live dealer gaming, and lottery-style poker, have been key to online betting’s success.

Of course, not all innovations can be winners. In fact, some are downright failures that have never lived up to the hype. Below, you can see seven of the biggest failed innovations in online gambling history.

1 – VR Gambling

Virtual reality got a big push from gaming developers a few years ago. First, SlotsMillion designed an entire VR gambling experience in 2015.

The SlotsMillion VR site boasts slot machines, a bar, and lounge furniture in an online casino that’s housed in a virtual skyscraper. You can walk up to the slots and play, grab a drink, or enjoy the view from the 80th floor.

In 2017, NetEnt jumped on the virtual reality trend by re-releasing new versions of Gonzo’s Quest and Jack and the Beanstalk. These slots let you have a first-person view when wearing a VR headset.

These games and the SlotsMillion VR gambling hub offered great promise when they were first released. But here we are, several years later, and nothing has happened with them.

Nobody is spending hours in a virtual skyscraper casino or excitedly spinning the reels on Gonzo’s Quest VR. Instead, everybody seems content with the gambling experience provided by their smartphone.

Of course, I may be premature in calling VR online gambling a massive failure. But this type of gaming still seems like it’s years from taking off.

2 – Webcam Poker

Part of live poker’s charm is reading your opponents and looking for physical tells. Of course, you can’t enjoy these same physical tells at an online poker room.

Webcam poker seemed to solve this problem. Launched by 888poker in 2011, webcam poker rooms allowed players to make themselves visible through a cam.

Closeup of a Webcam

Each player had a small window next to their name. Assuming their webcam was on, they could be seen by opponents. This concept sounded good in theory. Everybody would be able to see each other, despite playing online, and pick up tells.

The reality, though, is that most players didn’t turn their cams on. Most full-ring tables featured one to two players with cams on and six to seven without.

As a result, these tables never became very popular. 888 finally removed them from the lobby after a few years.

3 – Seven-Reel Slots

What’s better than five- and six-reel slot machines? How about seven-reel slots? WGS trialed several seven-reel games in the late 2000s, including Farming Futures, Gangster Heist, and The Seven-Reel Slot.

Before this, most slots only offered five reels. A few of the edgy games of the time boasted six reels. However, WGS became the first to introduce seven-reel games.

The problem with these slot machines is that they don’t really bring anything new to the table. They’re just basic slots that offer the same type of features and payouts as any other average slot.

Since the introduction of basic seven-reel games, 7×7 grid slot machines have become popular in some online casinos. These seven-reelers introduce more payout combinations and features than the early 7×3 slots that WGS put out. But they weren’t exactly the most innovative concept to happen in the slots world.

4 – Duplicate Poker

The biggest reason behind poker success when compared to other casino games is its skill aspect. This game gives you an opportunity to win long-term profits with enough skill.

Of course, games like Texas hold’em, Omaha, and Seven-Card Stud also feature a fair amount of luck. Your hole cards and the board cards are determined through random shuffles and deals.

Duplicate Poker sought to take the randomness out of the game altogether. It was originally conceived by Bruce Altshuler and Danny Kleinman as a land-based poker game in the 1990s.

This game features two or more tables with an equal amount of players at each. All tables are dealt the same cards in the same sequence as well.

Mirror Image of a Pair of Aces

For example, you might receive pocket jacks in the cut-off. Anybody else in the cut-off at another table will also get pocket jacks. Your goal is to make better decisions than your opponents using the same hand.

This game reached a popularity peak when DuplicatePoker.com launched in 2007. However, this site shut down just a year later.

The likely reason for its failure is that the average player doesn’t want to play a completely skill-based type of poker. Instead, they want some luck in the equation.

5 – Live Dealer Slots

Live dealer table games have been popular for over a decade. They feature lovely dealers and a chat box function that allows for interesting conversations.

Given that live table games work so well, Evolution Gaming thought that they’d give live dealer slot machines a try in 2010.

A live slot also features a human dealer and chat box. It even takes a departure from traditional slots by featuring a wheel instead of reels.

Playing slot machines can be a lonely affair. That said, live dealer slots overcome this downside by letting you chat with the dealer.

The problem, though, is that live slots feel unnecessary when compared to the table games or even standard online slots. You’re paying more money just to have somebody spin the wheel for you and chat once in a while.

Evolution Gaming has only produced one live slot called Mermaid’s Fortune. They assuredly won’t be making any more of these games years after their first release.

6 – Slots With 720 Ways

Ever since Aristocrat introduced multi-line slot machines in the 1990s, players have craved more ways to win. These cravings are a big reason why developers have had so much success with 243 ways slots.

Featuring five reels and three rows (5×3 grid), a 243 ways game doesn’t use standard paylines. Instead, it sees you form wins by getting matching symbols in adjacent reels.

The 243 winning possibilities come from multiplying the number of spaces in each reel: 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 = 243.

Given the popularity of 243 ways, other developers like IGT and NetEnt went the extra mile by rolling out 720 ways slot machines.

These five-reel games look quite different from 243 ways or any other type of slot. They feature a 3-4-5-4-3 setup and allow for payouts from left to right and right to left.

Most slots only allow winning combinations from left to right. The mixture of both ways pays and adjacent payouts creates 720 ways.

Strangely enough, gamblers have never embraced these games. Perhaps one reason why is that they look weird with their 3-4-5-4-3 grid. The “both ways pays” aspect is confusing for beginners as well.

7 – Showtime Hold’em

PokerStars has been a true innovator in online poker for years. But even they fail sometimes.

Case in point, they released a Showtime Hold’em variant that totally bombed. Stars even tried hyping up this game by forcing their online pros to play it through streamed Twitch sessions. Their blog also boasted of how Showtime would change the industry.

This variation worked like Texas hold’em for the most part. Its key difference, though, included letting players see folding cards.

Showtime Hold’em gave players more information and also let them see what cards opponents folded. The latter was interesting from a curiosity perspective.

In the end, though, players didn’t really care about seeing mucked cards. Showtime was pulled from PokerStars’ lobby after just a couple of months in action.

Conclusion

Game developers go out on a limb whenever they roll out a new style of gaming. Nothing is certain when they introduce a revolutionary feature or format.

The downside to this uncertainty is that some ideas completely nosedive. The seven failures covered here are among the biggest bombs in online gambling history.

Webcam poker and Showtime Hold’em are complete failures. Both have been pulled from their respective poker sites and will likely never be seen again.

Duplicate poker, live dealer slots, and seven-reel slots are all hanging on in some capacity. None of these ideas will ever be big, but they’ve at least survived to a degree.

720 ways slots are arguably the most successful idea on this list. They’re not very popular, but they at least draw some gamblers even today.

Virtual reality gambling has the biggest chance to succeed at some point in the future. But five years in the making, it still has yet to do anything significant.

These seven online gambling failures certainly won’t be the last ideas to tank. That said, this top seven list could look very different in another decade.

2 Reasons You Should Play Poker Over Blackjack

A Poker Hand Overlapping a Blackjack Hand With a Sparkling Background

Poker and blackjack both are two popular and sought after games that players can spend hours upon hours playing at casinos worldwide. Although both games are popular, there are reasons that make poker the top dog over blackjack.

There are some obvious reasons. With poker, a player isn’t playing against the house edge. The house edge is a system of rules that have been put in place that make the casino almost always have the advantage over players at casinos.

When playing blackjack, it’s just the player against the house. Unless you are a skilled card counter, which can arouse all sorts of risks for the player, then your chances of winning at blackjack are not going to be high.

With poker, you have the advantage of being able to play against other players with no house edge in place. This creates az lot more opportunities for winning streaks and for players getting to walk away from the table happy.

Poker Table Scene Zoomed Into Players Hands

Those are the obvious reasons, and then there are also some not-so-obvious reasons that make poker a better game. I am going to go over a couple of reasons why poker is better than blackjack.

1- In Poker, You Get to Pick Your Opponents

When a skilled blackjack player walks into a casino to play, they are going to browse the casino for tables that have good rules. In reality, especially nowadays, there are only going to be so many options for blackjack players.

What I mean when I say that is that the rules concerning how much a player wins with certain types of bets or plays makes a huge difference in the profitability of that game for the player. For example, if the house rule is that a blackjack (a face card and an ace) pays out 3 to 2, the odds of the player doing better over time are significantly better than if it pays out 6 to 5.

The reason for this is simple. If you are playing many hands over time, you’re going to win back a larger percentage of money for every blackjack you hit if you’re paying 3:2 blackjack. Basically, it’s all about playing the right table when it comes to blackjack and has nothing to do with the other people at the table.

If a player does happen to find a decent table, if they want to win, they are going to have to play consistently with good strategy and have the skills that can allow them to count cards. And that’s being able to do so without getting caught. Many casinos frown heavily on card counting and will ban you from their casino if they don’t like what they’re seeing, which is something you can’t do anything about.

For poker players, the rules of the poker tables are all very similar, but when it comes to the player’s opponents, they are always different, and this is where a poker player can get a huge advantage over a blackjack player.

If the poker player is skilled and knows what kind of traits to look for in other players, this can be extremely advantageous for the skilled player. If a skilled player spots a table and can tell the other players are stumbling drunk, the skilled player can join and typically completely dominate the poker table.

This is one of many examples, but an obvious one. Blackjack tables do not have this option. A poker player can walk into a room and spot two tables: a table with skilled players, and next to it, a table of not-so-skilled players. A skilled poker player will obviously sit with the not-so-skilled players, and then it’s all downhill from there (for the unskilled players!).

Alternatively, an unskilled player has the option to choose to sit with more skilled players for the sake of being able to help improve their game, which is an option that isn’t available for blackjack players because blackjack players are just playing against the house, which has a specific set of rules that govern how the dealer has to play.

When you play blackjack, the dealer is required to make certain plays depending on the cards that come up. They might be required to always hit at a 16 or higher, for example. In poker, there’s none of this nonsense. It’s all up to the players how they want to play (or are able to play).

Many people might ask the question: how does a person spot poor poker players? The answer is that you have to simply just pay attention, stay mindful, and be aware of every single person at the poker table that you are playing against.

If you have sat down at a poker table once or twice, it really isn’t all that difficult to tell the good from the poor. If you can’t seem to place your finger on an opponents skill level, just keep playing. The more you play, the more that you are going to inevitably learn.

If you are playing blackjack, again, none of these options are possible, making it difficult to feel like you really have a choice in who you are playing against. Of course with poker, if you only play at casinos and poker rooms, there still is the chance of having a limited selection in choosing your opponents.

There will always be good and bad tables, but keep in mind that there is a way to always have a good table. How can one achieve this miraculous event? Host a poker tournament, and while doing so, only invite players over that you know have a skill level less than yours!

2- Online Poker

So before I say anything else on this note, it is possible to play both blackjack and poker in US online casinos. Both are typically available, free of charge, where you can play for real money. They are as easy to access as typing in a URL on your web browser.

There is a major downfall however when it comes to trying to play blackjack online, and that is that the software used for online blackjack play prevents all players from being able to have the capacity to count cards.

For a skilled blackjack player, one that has the capacity to be able to hit a winning streak, more often than not their capacity to do so depends on how well they can count cards. So when playing online, unlike real blackjack at a casino, the computer will often times shuffle all the cards, or shoe, after every single hand. So trying to count cards online just becomes a waste of time.

Closeup of a Blackjack Hand and Casino Chip

How does card counting work in helping a player win? A good card counter will keep track of the ratio of high cards and low cards remaining in the shoe. Once the ratio of high cards to low cards gets so high, a player can actually play blackjack with a mathematical advantage against the house.

If the cards get shuffled, it completely eliminates the ability for a player to be able to do any of this. When it comes to playing poker online, it is no different really than playing at a casino or with friends. The deck of cards is shuffled after every single deal in real life as well as online, so your chances of winning or losing are the same online as they are at a casino.

You can also play poker for free online or by using free poker apps if you’re a beginner and are just wanting to improve your skills. If you do decide to try and play at a free money table, a free poker game online, just be aware that nearly every single player that you play against is absolutely terrible (or is playing like a crazy person).

I say this because if you are really trying to learn the game, playing with terrible players might not be the best option for you. You want to play with people that have a higher skill level if you want to get better, which means you need to play for money.

Another option to get better is to read books or watch instructional videos. There are plenty of free tutorial videos on YouTube that are actually very beneficial, even for a skilled player.

You can make more money playing poker online than you can blackjack. The downside for both games, if you decide to play online, is that you miss out on getting to see the facial reactions from the other players during a live poker situation.

Getting to understand facial recognition is a very, very valuable skill to have if you are wanting to become a more advanced poker player.

Do you have other reasons why poker is better than blackjack that I have missed? Or do you disagree and think blackjack is the better game of the two? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below!

How Do Roulette Probabilities Work?

A Hand With a Dice Cup and a Roulette Wheel Falling out of It

Real money roulette is one of the most popular games of chance, due to the fact that the odds are so much better in your favor than many other games at a casino. It’s a little overwhelming when there are so many different types of bets and the payouts differ depending on the probability of the bet you’ve placed.

In the following post, you will learn the basics of the different bets you can place, the payouts for each bet, and an overview of some strategies that are common to maximize the entertainment and chances of hitting it big at a roulette table.

American Roulette tables consist of 18 red numbers, 18 black numbers, a green 0, another green 00 space, and nine additional spaces that denote the less specific bets that are made (odds, evens, reds, blacks, etc).

Types of Bets

For this entry, we’ll cover the two most basic sets of roulette bets, known as outside bets and inside bets. There are also bets known as announced bets, which are more advanced and are uncommon in American Roulette. I won’t be covering those here.

An outside bet gives you the best odds, which also means the least payout. I would recommend that you get to know the table with these bets because you are more likely to win, even if you don’t win as much as you would with inside bets.

Outside Bets

There are five different common types of outside bets in real money roulette as follows: red or black, odd or even, 1 to 18 or 19 to 36, dozens, and columns. There’s also another, less common bet considered an outside bet called a snake bet.

With red or black, you place your bet on the corresponding space. The odds are not quite 50/50 due to the 0 and 00 spaces. Because you have 38 total numbers (1 through 36, 0, and 00) and 18 total numbers which are red or black, the odds are 18 out of 38,w hich equals 47.37%. Your payout for such a bet will be 1 to 1, which means if you bet $1 on red and a red number is the winner, you get your $1 back plus an additional $1.

Odd or even have the exact same odds and payouts, as do 1 to 18 and 19 to 36.

A Roulette Rake Moving Chips

When it comes to the dozens, you place your bet on the corresponding choice of first 12, second 12, or third 12. Now, your payout gets a little more lucrative if you win because your chances are substantially less (one-third less, to be precise). Your probability goes from 47.37% to 31.58% (12 out of 38). Your payout is now 2 to 1, meaning you’ll get a total of triple your bet were you to win this type of bet.

When placing a bet for a column, you place your chip in one of the spaces on the table that specify 2 to 1, depending on which column contains the number you believe will win. Columns have a similar relationship to dozens like red or black has to even or odds, meaning that your probability is 31.58% and your payout is again 2 to 1.

A snake bet is typically a bet on red numbers 1, 5, 9, 12, 14, 16, 19, 23, 27, 30, 32, and 34, creating the shape of a snake. Like the dozens and columns, this bet has a probability of 31.58%. In this bet, all of the numbers are covered by one chip, and the payout is 2 to 1.

Inside Bets

There are seven different common inside bets. These bets have a lower chance of payout, but that being the case, your payout will be higher. The types of inside bets we’ll cover here are straight, split, street, six line, corner, trio, and basket.

Straight and Split

A straight bet is one which only covers one number. In order to place this bet, you’ll place your chip inside the space with the corresponding number. The odds of this bet are 1 out of 38, or 2.63%. Your payout for this type of inside bet is 35 to 1, which means if you select the winning number, you will get your bet times 36.

A split bet is one in which you are betting on two different numbers which are adjacent on the table. This bet is made by placing your chip on the line that separates the adjacent numbers you’ve chosen. Your odds are better on a split bet by double, so your payout follows suit, being about half that of the single: 2 out of 38 equals 5.26% and your payout is 17 to 1.

Street and Six

A street bet is a bet on three consecutive numbers located on the same line. In order to place this bet, you would place your chip on the outer corner of the row you have chosen. Now, your odds are triple that of a straight bet, so again, your payout also follows suit, being about a third of the payout for a straight bet: 3 out of 38 equals 7.89% with a payout of 11 to 1.

The six line bet has a similar relationship to the street bet in the way that the straight bet has to a split bet. You place the bet on two adjacent lines. In order to place a six line bet, you’ll place your chip on the common outer corner of the two lines that you have chosen to bet on. Again, your odds are doubled, therefore, your payout is halved: 6 out of 38 equals 15.79% with a payout of 5 to 1.

Corner, Trio, and Basket

A corner bet is basically like splitting a split bet. This is a four-number bet which is placed by putting your chip on the common corner of the four numbers. This is also known as a square bet. Because the odds are doubled over a split bet, the payout also follows suit. Therefore, your probability is 4 out of 38, or equal to 10.53% with a payout of 8 to 1.

A trio bet is a three-number bet that includes the zeros. In order to place this bet, you’ll place your chip on the line shared by the zero box and the two other numbers. In this case, the probability lies at 3 out of 38, or 7.89% with a payout of 11 to 1.

Finally, a basket bet is a five-number bet which allows a player to bet on the zero, double zero, and 1, 2, and three. To place this bet, place the chip on the corner of the one and zero. Here the probability is 5 out of 38, or 13.16% with a payout of 6 to 1.

Strategies

There are many strategies for playing roulette, and as you play, you might as well develop your own unique system. It’s likely, though, that anything you find to work has been used many times by other players.

The first strategy I’ll cover here is called the Martingale Strategy. Basically, this strategy is used in all types of gambling and is summed up by the statement ,“I have to win sooner or later, right?” The simple answer to this is a case of, “Yes, if…” and the more complicated conclusion is ,“No, but…”

The strategy is very simple. A player doubles his bet if he loses in hopes of making up the loss. For example, if you place an initial bet of $10 and lose, betting $20 on the next bet will recoup your loss and give you the $10 win.

Some players will continue down the line. So, it could go like this: $10 loss, $20 loss, $40 loss, $80 loss, then a $160 win. After adding up the losses, you’ve lost $150, and won back the $160 final bet, netting you a total of $10.

The problem is that you can rack up a large amount of losses, and many casinos and tables have a maximum bet. So, if you get up to $640 without a single win and the maximum bet is $1,000, even a win on that bet will still have you down $270.

The next strategy you might like to try is the Paroli Strategy. It’s what’s known as a positive betting system. With this, your aim is to increase your bet after a win and keep increasing the bet as the wins increase.

Most players do this in increasing rounds of three. First, bet $10, then another $10, followed by a $20, followed by a $40. If all of these bets win, you’ll be at $80 up. Usually after a streak like this, you’d go back to your original $10 bet.

Always keep in mind that the house has an edge no matter which game you’re playing. The way these folks stay in business is by adhering to the science of numbers, which have no sympathy, and on a long enough timeline, do not vary.

Conclusion

Roulette is a great way to get started with table games and has great odds compared to games like slots. The payouts can be enormous, and it’s a simple way to get started with different strategies. There are also great places to play online.

Do you see any roulette strategies I missed? Let me know in the comments!

Are Online Betting Sites or Land-Based Sportsbooks Better?

Sportsbook Board Image Cut Into Closeup Image of Man Working on Laptop

Sports gamblers in the United States have more betting options than ever before. More states are legalizing gambling on sports, and even states that haven’t legalized sports betting yet have many online sportsbooks that are willing to take your bets.

Both online sportsbooks and land based sportsbooks have some advantages, so it’s not always easy to determine which the best is for you. Here’s a list of all of the advantages and disadvantages for each type of sportsbook so you can decide which is best for yourself.

Deposit Options and Moving Money

One of the most important considerations is how you get money into and out of the sportsbook. When you’re placing bets in a land based sportsbook you simply walk in with cash, pay for your bets, and then collect cash when you win.

When you’re placing wagers at an online sportsbook the situation is a little bit more complicated. Each online sportsbook has their own set of deposit and withdrawal options, but the fact is that you have to find something that’s safe and that works for you.

The best option is when you can sign up for an online e-wallet you can use to make deposits and get withdrawals. E-wallets work like PayPal, but PayPal doesn’t like to process gambling transactions. You can find other options, but if you’re located in the US it might be difficult.

Most online sportsbooks accept credit cards, and you can also find ones that accept bank wires. Some sports bettors use bank wires with land based books, so if this is the case for you then the process is pretty much the same.

Which Is Safer?

When you’re dealing with money you want to make sure you’re a safe as possible. I’ve read many articles about how unsafe online sportsbooks are and how much safer you are making bets in land based books and these articles are very misleading. The truth is that no matter where you make sports bets you have to take the proper steps to be as safe as you can.

People know that sports bettors carry cash often when they’re going to a land based book or coming out of one. So you can be a target when you place bets locally. And you can sign up for an account at a shady online sportsbook and lose your money.

But you can also do a little research and find a trusted online sportsbook with a long track record of taking care of their customers and be safe.

No matter which way you place bets, you need to do some research and use your common sense. I’ve placed bets at many different online sportsbooks and have never had one steal from me yet. But I always make sure I’m using a book that’s been around for a while and has a good reputation.

Better Lines

If you have the option to place bets in a land based sportsbook and an online sportsbook, one of the deciding factors can be the available betting lines. One of the best ways to improve your sports betting results is to find better lines.

I place bets online and locally, but most of my wagers are online. In my experience I can usually get better lines online than I can locally, but I’m not located in a place with many land based options. It’s also much easier and quicker to shop for lines online than to visit several different land based books.

I always recommend shopping for lines, so if you’re going to place bets online you should consider opening accounts in at least three or four different books. This lets you quickly shop for lines and place bets when you find a better line.

Travel and Time Considerations

This is common sense, but when you have to travel to a land based sportsbook it takes more time and money to do it than when you can simply log into an online sportsbook on your phone or computer.

When I’m busy I place my bets online, but when I’m not busy I don’t mind going to a land based sportsbook to place bets. I like the atmosphere in most land based books and enjoy talking about sports with other gamblers.

Closeup of Hands on Car Steering Wheel

A land based sportsbook with a good setup is also a nice place to watch a game that you have money on. Land based sportsbooks seem to be going the other way though, with fewer of them offering a good place to watch games. Instead, the ones attached to casinos are trying to drive bettors out of the book and into the casino where they’re tempted to lose more money on the casino games.

Bonuses

Other than finding better lines, the best reason to consider placing bets at online sportsbooks is to get a bonus. You can get a deposit bonus at many online casinos and sportsbooks, but you can’t get a bonus when you bet in land based books.

Bonuses help offset the vig you have to pay on losing wagers, so they offer a good way to limit your losses or maximize your wins. Some online sportsbooks offer free bets or cash back on losses as part of a sign up bonus or instead of a sign up bonus. All types of online sportsbook bonuses can help you offset your losses and the price of the vig.

Perks

The casino industry learned a long time ago that if they offered regular gambler perks in the form of comps for their play that it created more profit for the casino. Perks keep gamblers playing longer and give them the illusion that they’re getting something for free. This is why most casinos have some sort of comps or perks program.

You don’t see as many perk and comps programs offered by sportsbooks, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look for them.

I’ve found more perks offered by online sportsbooks than land based ones, but this might be because of where I live.

Something that some sportsbooks do offer from time to time is promotions. You can find promotions that offer free bets or reduced vig if you keep your eyes open. Any promotion you find can help offset the cost of making bets, so sign up for mailing lists everywhere you place bets if they have one.

Socialization

Some people avoid people as much as possible, while others enjoy getting out and socializing and meeting new people. If you want to avoid dealing with people, online sportsbooks are your best option. But if you enjoy socializing you should visit as many land based sportsbooks as you can.

People Celebrating at a Sports Bar

The way you place best in both online and land based sportsbooks is basically the same, and you can often find similar odds and lines online and off, so the big differences come down to other things like the ones listed on this page and how much you like to socialize.

Why Not Use Both?

The great news is that you don’t have to choose between placing bets in and based sportsbooks and placing them online. This isn’t an either/or situation. You can have accounts at online sportsbooks and place bets in land based sportsbooks.

I place bets in land based sportsbooks and have accounts at several online sportsbooks. I base where I choose to place bets almost exclusively on where I can get the best lines, because I know this is the only way I can win in the long run.

If you’re hesitant to try an online sportsbook, do a little research to find the most reputable ones available. You can find information and reviews about trusted sportsbooks on this site. Before you sign up for any online sportsbook, check out the deposit and withdrawal options to make sure you have a convenient way to move your money.

Also, make sure you take advantage of as many bonuses as you can. Always read the terms of bonuses before you make a deposit so you understand what you have to do before you can make a withdrawal.

Conclusion

Are land based sportsbooks better than online sportsbooks, or is it the other way around? Only you can decide which option meets your needs. Use the plusses and minuses listed on this page to make up your mind.

Of course, the best option might be to make your wagers online and in land based sportsbooks. When you use both options you can enjoy the benefits of each. This also lets you access the best odds and lines and receive deposit bonuses for your online bets.

Online sportsbooks are just as safe as land based books as long as you take the time to find ones that have a history of honesty.

The Downfall of PokerStars – No Longer the No. 1 Poker Site

Poker Stars Logo With a Red Arrow Pointing Down

For years, PokerStars has been known as the world’s largest real money online poker site. However, they’ve been slipping down the traffic rankings for years.

Their main site, PokerStars.net, has fallen behind IDNPoker in the traffic rankings. The latter currently commands 7,000 cash game players per hour. Stars still draws a respectable 6,100 cash players an hour. But they’re clearly in second place regarding traffic.

It’s important to understand that PokerStars’ player base is segregated across different markets. Therefore, they actually draw around 1,500 more grinders than IDNPoker when accounting for their worldwide market.

Even still, the fact that Stars’ main domain has fallen behind another operation is almost unfathomable. This is the same behemoth that, just a few years ago, was drawing over 20,000 cash players per hour and crushing every other site.

What exactly has caused Stars to fall this far? Will the freefall continue? You can find out by reading about the rise of PokerStars, their selfish corporate decisions, and where this site is headed.

Humble Beginnings for PokerStars

Stars was one of the first operators in the online poker space. Isai Scheinberg, an Israeli programmer for IBM Canada, began creating the software for PokerStars in the late 1990s.

He formed Rational Enterprises and moved his operation to Costa Rica. PokerStars would launch a short while later in December 2001.

At this point, Stars was just one of several options in the online poker world. It would take a backseat to PartyPoker, which was the market’s first real giant. PokerStars experienced its first real rise in the summer of 2003. They’d given away WSOP Main Event prize packages earlier in the year.

Chris Moneymaker, a Tennessee accountant and amateur player, was one of the Main Event satellite winners in 2003. He earned his $10k seat via a $39 PokerStars satellite.

Moneymaker would go on to win the Main Event and a $2.5 million prize. Stars marketed the hell out of Moneymaker’s victory and drew countless amateurs to the site.

Stars would still sit behind PartyPoker in terms of traffic. However, they were quickly making a move upward at this point.

How PokerStars Became the Player’s Choice

By the beginning of 2006, Scheinberg was quite pleased at his poker site’s quick growth. He commissioned London’s NM Rothschild bank to explore the possibility of selling the company.

Just five years after launch, PokerStars was already worth around $2 billion. William Hill and the Rank Group showed interest in purchasing the site.

Stars was leaning more towards floating on the London Stock Exchange. PartyPoker had floated for over $8.4 billion on the London Stock Exchange the year prior.

However, PokerStars’ aspirations of going public were thwarted in late 2006. The US passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).

This legislation makes it illegal for gambling businesses to take payments in states that prohibited online gambling. It didn’t technically outlaw online poker, but the UIGEA did make it much harder for sites to accept deposits.

The law would be a blessing in disguise of sorts for Stars. Having gone public in London, PartyPoker exited the US market due to their status as a public company.

PokerStars, meanwhile, was still owned by the Scheinbergs. They chose to remain in the US and take advantage of the wide-open market. Stars soon became the largest poker site in the world. The next several years would mark rapid growth and records.

Closeup of Chips and a Poker Hand

Speaking of the latter, they held the two biggest poker tournaments ever in 2009 (149,196 players) and 2011 (200,000 players).

They also pushed the limits for tourney prize pools with their World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) and Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP).

Stars separated themselves in terms of promotions and VIP rewards, too. They regularly gave away big tournament prize packages, staged inventive leaderboard races, and offered some of the top rakeback deals.

Coming out of Black Friday on Top

PokerStars experienced major success due to their willingness to serve the US market following Black Friday. But they, along with several other prominent sites, worked with shady payment processors and banks to make this happen.

Judgement day would come on April 15, 2015, otherwise known as Black Friday. The US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York indicted Isai Scheinberg, along with several figureheads at other top online poker rooms.

The end result is that PokerStars agreed to leave the US market and pay a $731 million fine. In exchange, they admitted no wrongdoing for serving US customers through illicit means.

The US exit hurt the site’s bottom line. Nevertheless, they were able to remain solvent and highly successful, something the bankrupt UB Poker, Absolute Poker, and Full Tilt Poker (later purchased by Stars) couldn’t do.

PokerStars Meets Wall Street

Stars continued to draw millions of players across the globe after Black Friday. However, PokerStars was having trouble gaining acceptance in certain regulated markets (notably New Jersey) due to the Scheinbergs’ ownership.

Isai mulled over selling the site because of his indictment and unsettled case. On June 12, 2014, he found a buyer in Amaya Inc. Backed by some of the biggest banks and Wall Street investors, Amaya purchased PokerStars for a record $4.9 billion.

Headed by the dashing David Baazov, Amaya promised to take PokerStars to new heights. The company envisioned making PokerStars into an online gambling giant that offered casino games and sports betting along with poker.

Amaya furthered their path towards internet gaming dominance by launching PokerStars Casino in 2015. Later the same year, they debuted BetStars.

Unbeknownst to PokerStars customers at the time, these two moves would mark Amaya’s relinquishing commitment to poker players.

VIP Changes and Increased Rake Alienate Players

PokerStars rode the online poker industry to the top. But under Amaya, they didn’t plan to continue banking on one game alone. The internet poker industry had been in a slow decline ever since Black Friday. The company felt that they needed to diversify and get away from their reliance on poker.

In doing so, they vowed to do whatever it took to increase profits, even if this meant hurting the very customers who fueled their rise.

By late 2015, PokerStars announced changes to their VIP program for the following year. The jest of the moves included high-volume grinders losing some of their rewards and low-volume players picking up a few additional rewards.

Stars got rid of the Supernova Elite (top VIP) level and capped the amount of rakeback that players could earn at 30% (down from 45%). They argued that these moves would let them redistribute more rewards to recreational players.

The net effect was an overall reduction of VIP benefits. Although recreational players received more rewards, this wasn’t enough to counteract the massive loss of perks in the top loyalty levels.

Cards and Chips on a Laptop Keyboard

Baazov would suffer through insider trading accusations in 2016. He’d eventually step down as CEO of Amaya. But the parent company, which later rebranded to The Stars Group, held the same vision. They emphasized profits and making changes wherever necessary.

PokerStars once again altered the VIP program in 2017. They slashed rewards for volume grinders and instituted more random rewards. The site once again cried that these moves were to benefit recreational players and reduce the incentive for mass multi-tabling regulations.

However, it should also be noted that PokerStars made multiple rake increases during the same time period. In the end, Stars turned off some professional and recreational players amid all of these changes.

Where Will PokerStars Rank in the Future?

I want to emphasize that The Stars Group isn’t necessarily wrong for focusing on all their gambling verticals. After all, the company has seen its profits increase ever since shifting more attention to casino gaming and sports betting.

However, PokerStars has definitely taken a large step back.

Their traffic has more than halved within the past few years. Part of this is due to the declining online poker industry. But another aspect is the way that Stars has treated its poker players.

Their VIP program changes and increased rake prove that PokerStars isn’t the player’s platform any longer. Instead, this site is just another moneymaking vehicle for The Stars Group.

As for the future, The Stars Group will likely keep bolstering their casino and sportsbook. They should also come out more profitable as a result.

But PokerStars will continue losing traffic. Technically, they’re still the world’s largest online poker site when considering all of their domains.

They’ll likely keep losing ground, though, and eventually give way to IDNPoker in total traffic. One day, PokerStars may even fall behind other sites as well.

Conclusion

PokerStars still holds a prominent place in the online poker industry. They’re also arguably the most important site in the game’s history.

They awarded the prize package that helped Chris Moneymaker win the 2003 WSOP Main Event. Stars cleverly marketed him to the public and increased overall interest in poker. They also forged ahead after the UIGEA and offered the biggest online poker tournaments in history.

However, PokerStars’ vision has changed lately under The Stars Group (formerly Amaya). They offer fewer all-around VIP rewards and have raised rake to boost company profits.

The Stars Group can’t be blamed entirely for seeking profits above all else. They are, after all, a business first. But many long-time customers feel abandoned due to the changes. Some of the same customers left the site for player-friendly online poker rooms.

Stars won’t be gaining market share back anytime soon. They’re stuck in a tough spot due to the industry’s decline and The Stars Group’s new vision.

Eventually, they may just be one of the top choices for online poker players. This is a far cry from when they were clearly the biggest and best poker site available.

Poker Basics for Beginners

The Words Poker Basics Over a Faded Image of Cards and Chips

Poker can be a challenging game to play. It requires focus, confidence, and the ability to read people, but it can be overwhelming for new players—you’ll have a lot more fun playing if you know the ins and outs of how to play poker and nail down the basics.

Because there are so many different forms of poker, I’m only going to cover the absolute basics, but I’m also going to give you tips that will just help you become a better player generally and not quit before you get a chance to experience this awesome game in depth.

Follow these tips, and you’ll be able to compete at the poker table in no time (without burning out).

Now whether you win money playing poker or not is up to you—you get out what you put in—so if you really want to win a lot of money in poker and compete with the big boys, you have to put in a lot of time and effort (beyond just learning the basics).

If you’re still reading, I’m willing to bet that you’re serious about learning this incredible game, so keep in mind that while some of these tips will only be usable in in-person poker games, some of these tips will be usable against machines or in-person—either one.

1- Learn The Hand Rankings

Poker hand rankings indicate which possible poker hands have the most value, and to do that, you’ll need to understand how the cards themselves are ranked.

Here’s that ranking from lowest to highest:

  1. Two
  2. Three
  3. Four
  4. Five
  5. Six
  6. Seven
  7. Eight
  8. Nine
  9. Ten
  10. Jack
  11. Queen
  12. King
  13. Ace

Cards also come in different suits:

  • Hearts
  • Clubs
  • Diamonds
  • Spades

Hands are created out of combinations of cards and suits. Here they are in order from least valuable to most valuable:

  1. High card (the highest card in your hand)
  2. Pair (two 2s, two aces, two kings etc)
  3. Two pair (a pair of 2s and a pair of 4s for example)
  4. Three of a kind (three 7s, three kings)
  5. Straight (five cards in a sequence regardless of suit, so 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 10, jack, king, queen, ace)
  6. Flush (five cards in the same suit regardless of sequence, so 2, 7, 10, ace, 3 of hearts for example)
  7. Full house (a pair and a three of a kind, so 2 kings and 3 aces)
  8. Four of a kind (four aces, four 3s etc)
  9. Straight flush (five cards in the same sequence and suit, so 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 all hearts)
  10. Five of a kind (five aces, five jacks—this usually requires your deck to have a joker in it—the joker is a wild card and can be any card you choose)

Whoever has the best hand wins.

You need to have these hands memorized if you’re playing poker so that you’ll know how you’re actually faring as you play, but don’t worry—it’s easier to memorize than you think.

Pairs are the least valuable thing. Another thing to remember is that a pair of 2’s is less valuable than a pair of 3’s. The pairs move up in value as the numbers get bigger. The most valuable pair you can hold is a pair of aces. So a pair of aces will beat any other pair. But a pair of aces will lose to three of a kind, even if the three of a kind is all 2’s.

Closeup of a Poker Hand on a Wooden Table

Generally, the more cards that match in a hand, the more valuable that hand will be. So if only 2 cards match in a hand, it’s not very valuable. But if all 5 cards in a hand match, for example in a royal flush (10, jack, king, queen, ace, all the same suit), it’s very valuable. So remember that the fuller your hand is, the more value it will probably has.

Also remember that the higher number each of your cards is, the more value it will have. Ideally, you will have a hand of higher value cards that is full. Having 4 kings is a great hand. A straight flush from 10 to ace is also a great hand. But a pair of twos won’t win you many games.

You’ll find it easier to memorize the poker hand rankings once you’re playing. Try to remember the methods I’ve told you for remembering the rankings and you’ll catch on faster.

2- Start with Small Amounts of Money

I know we all see the superstars of Poker on TV playing high stakes with millions of dollars at stake—most players want to jump right in and be a superstar of Poker immediately. Unfortunately, we can’t all do that. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t have a million dollars to lose.

Try to resist the temptation to start playing poker gambling for high stakes off the bat. You’ll win more money if you gambe for extremely high stakes, but you’ll also lose more money. There’s no reason to rush into playing the game.

Take your time learning the ins and outs of poker before you start betting high stakes. You’ll have time to win lots of money later.

Part of this reason I suggest starting off with low amounts of money has to do with tip #1. Tip #1 suggest learning all the possible combinations of hands before you begin playing. Playing with low stakes helps you accomplish tips #1 and #2 at the same time. I also feel it’s easier to learn the layout of all the poker hands in real games. It’s more fun to actually play poker than it is to memorize a bunch of spreadsheets.

If you spend time playing low stakes games, you’ll find you’ve learned all the poker hands and which ones are more valuable quickly and easily. Then, once you’ve learned them all, you’ll be able to move up to higher stakes games.

Another reason to start with low stakes games is that it’ll simply be less stressful. If you’re playing for small amounts of money, you won’t be as concerned about losing than if you are playing for $10 or $100 hands. Play with low stakes until you become more comfortable with the game.

3- Stay in Good Shape and Rest Well

Poker is a mental game, so if your mental state is bad when you’re playing it, your game will suffer. Take care of yourself when you play poker so you can put your best self on the table.

Humans can only take so much turmoil—if you’re drinking or tired, you’ll make mistakes that could cost you a lot of money.

People also can get stuck in patterns. If you make it a habit to play poker on weekends after a long work week, you’ll get used to playing poker tired. If you’re always drinking before or while playing poker, you won’t be the best poker player you can be. If you want to make money playing poker, you need to take resting seriously.

Closeup of Head of Sleeping Man

Make a ritual out of how you play poker. Play it on the same day every week, and make sure you get lots of rest beforehand. Eat healthy every day, and your body will be in better condition, allowing you to play at a higher level. Even working out regularly can keep you mentally fit and make you a more competitive poker player.

You may think it’s silly to stress how important this is, but it has a real impact on your game. Why take all the time to study poker and become professional if you’re not going to put your body in the best position to play the game?

4- Learn Odds

Odds are that you already know what poker odds are (see what I did there). But you need to learn as much about poker odds as possible if you want to make a lot of money playing poker.

Let’s start with pot odds. Pot odds are a concept that helps you understand if it’s worth your time to continue with your hand.

In most poker games, there’s a pot (the chips that everyone has bet so far) and a series of cards that are drawn during each round of betting. Not all poker games have this, but many do. When you get your initial cards, you may not yet have a good hand, but you may be able to create a good hand with the cards that are coming.

When you don’t quite have the hand you want, you need to calculate the odds that you’ll get the hand you want.

This list shows common Texas Hold Em Hands and how many cards you need to improve your hand. Here are a few different types of incomplete hands:

  • Gut-shot (you need one card to create a straight, but you’re missing a card in the middle. Your hand might be 2, 3, 5, 6)—4 outs (an “out” is the card you need to get to complete your hand)
  • Open-ended straight draw (you need one card to create a straight, but you’re missing a card on the outside. Your hand might be 2, 3, 4, 5)—8 outs
  • Flush draw (you need one card to create a flush, but you’re missing a card of the right suit. You might have 4 hearts in your hand)—9 outs
  • Flush draw & gut-shot (you need one card to create a flush or a straight, but you’re missing a card in the middle and a card of the right suit. Your hand might be 2, 3, 5, 6 all spades)—12 outs
  • Straight flush draw (you need one card to create a straight or a flush, but you’re missing a card in on the outside of the straight, and you’re missing a card of the right suit. Your hand might be 2, 3, 4, 5 all clubs)—15 outs

Multiply the outs by two to find your odds of hitting the hand by the next card and multiply them by 4 to find the odds of getting the cards in the next two hands.

This tip is also related to tip # 2. If you start with low money, you’ll have a lot of chances to learn exactly how odds work without losing a lot of money. Play at low stakes until you fully understand odds.

Conclusion

Poker can be a challenging-yet-fun game to play. If you’re spending some time in Las Vegas, Oklahoma, Atlantic City, or any other place where gambling is legal, you’ll probably want to play poker. You can even play poker online—you just don’t want to be the one losing money at the table.

If you play with low stakes, learn hand rankings, stay in good shape, and learn the outs, you’ll be on your way to making lots of money playing poker.

What tips do you have for a new poker player? Let us know in the comments!

7 Wrong Ideas Most People Have About Gambling

Inquisitive Woman Next to a Stack of Dice With the Venetian Canal Shoppes in the Background

Millions of people gamble every year. And the industry is frequently covered by new media, documentaries, and Hollywood’s finest moviemakers.

Although the film industry perpetuates many myths about gambling, audiences realize the stories and games are contrived or dramatized to be entertaining. Few people really bet on seven in craps and poker games never end with a royal flush, full house, and four of a kind, chasing a multimillion-dollar pot.

And even though we see through the hype and gimmicks through the eyes of veteran audiences, people still believe some wrong but appealing ideas associated with gaming. Here are seven things about gambling nearly everyone gets wrong.

1 – Gambling Has Never Been Completely Illegal in the United States

I’ve read many gambling history articles that talk about the legalization of gambling in the late 20th century. For some reason, writers imply that gambling was illegal across the whole country at one time.

As is so typical of popular ideas, the truth is a little more complicated than the assumption.

Considering that parimutuel betting was always legal in some states in any given year, Americans have always had at least one form of legal gambling they could indulge in.

2 – Many Churches Approve of One Type of Gambling

If there’s one thing my religious Aunt Tina likes to rave on about, it’s the sinfulness of gambling. To give her credit, she assumes anyone who gambles must also be involved in an assortment of sins and self-destructive practices.

There’s a family rumor that every Saturday, her husband would put on a dealer’s green eyeshades, light up a cigar in some stories, get a bottle of whiskey out, and call his friends over for a game of poker. Poor Tom then had to confess his sins in church the next day.

You may not be familiar with the game of beano, but it arrived in the United States in 1929. The game spread across the country like wildfire, through carnivals and other possibly “sinful” exhibitions.

A Bunch of Beano Playing Sheets

Thanks to the efforts of toy salesman Edwin S. Lowe and Columbia University math professor Carl Leffler, the game became known as bingo. Soon after, a Catholic priest in Pennsylvania began using bingo to raise money for his church.

As states were outlawing many types of gambling across the country in the 1930s, many of them were careful to ignore bingo. The churches kept gambling going even when everything else was forbidden.

3 – The House Edge Is Worse Than You Think

I’ve said before that there is a “hidden” house edge in every gambling game. Blackjack experts often write about how the house edge is only about 0.5% if you use basic strategy.

And yet, most casinos rake in your money from blackjack tables. Blackjack is profitable for casinos for two major reasons.

First, most real money blackjack players are not experts. They make mistakes. According to a professional dealer named Kenneth Kurtz in an answer he wrote on Quora, “The biggest mistake a novice in [blackjack] makes is not playing the dealers hand instead of just their own.” What he meant was that inexperienced players only believe basic strategy is about what is in their hand.

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Basic blackjack strategy requires that you look at the dealer’s up card, so you know how to decide what to do next.

Second, even experienced players can make mistakes. Casinos ply us with alcohol, making it harder to track time, and they use a generally ambient environment to lull us into complacency. When you start to relax and loosen your situational awareness, you become more careless.

States like New Jersey and Nevada require commercial casinos to file monthly income reports. When you look at the ratio of retained wagers to wagers made on these reports, most of the time, the difference goes far beyond expectations based on standard house edge calculations.

Casinos rake in billions every year because people don’t pay close attention to how much money they lose. This is why I always say we’re paying for entertainment. Too many of us refuse to leave a casino when we have money in our hands.

4 – Government Lotteries Are Not as Profitable as You Think

Somewhere in recent history, the general public in America embraced the idea that state-run lotteries paid about 80% of their sales to education budget. I remember hearing people say this many times throughout the years.

I don’t know where the 80% figure came from but it’s far from the truth.

In 2017, CNN ran a story that broke down how much money the states really keep from their lottery games in general terms. I’ve read other articles that provide different breakdowns of the percentages, so it’s good to remember that the numbers in each analysis come from slightly different factors.

The CNN article says about 63% of ticket sales are paid back to customers as prizes. This is an overall average for every game CNN analyzed. There may be some variations between states and games.

Although people assume the states’ cut is transferred to their education budgets, billions of dollars come out of these retained earnings to cover administrative and marketing costs. And small allocations are often given to gambling addiction programs, as well as other special allocations mandated by state legislatures.

The businesses that sell lottery tickets also receive commission payments. So, while lottery games may be the only kind of tax people love to pay, they don’t generate quite as much revenue for state governments as people assume.

5 – Venice Was Not the Birthplace of Modern Casinos

There are two kinds of gambling historians, those who say the first casino opened in Venice and those who study history.

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The history of the word casino is interesting, but all one really needs to know is that gambling houses existed all across Europe well before Venice began reusing old palaces for casinos in the 1600s.

The Roman Empire had secret gambling houses that catered to soldiers even when gambling was illegal.

Venice’s place in the lore of gambling history is assured thanks to Wikipedia and the internet. Tour guides will be boasting about Casino di Venezia for centuries to come, but gambling never went out of style after the fall of the Roman Empire. There were always special places where people would meet to eat, drink, and merrily toss their fortunes away on dice games.

Fans of Venetian lore can find solace in the fact that casino is a fine Italian word. It literally means “the little house,” although to 21st century Italians it may refer to something else—it’s a slang term for brothels.

6 – The Sandwich Was NOT Invented by the Earl

Almost everyone has heard the story about how John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, invented the culinary practice of serving his meats on bread.

That’s not quite how it happened. Historians agree that Montagu was the reason why the famous food style came to be so named but the English had been slapping meat and cheese between slices of bread for centuries. Until the late 1700s, they called this delicacy by such names as “bread and cheese” or “bread and meat.”

Large Sandwich on a Cutting Board With a Knife

The story of Montagu asking his cook to devise a way for him to eat while gaming is considered a rumor at best. It has been attributed to a Frenchman who toured England and whose opinion of English cuisine was far from flattering.

Some historians mention the fact that the Earl had also traveled through the Middle East, where people often served meats inside breads called “pitas.” It could be, they surmise, these easily handled foods that inspired the Earl to adapt an old English custom to his gaming needs.

7 – Modern Casinos Did Not Hire the First World-Famous Chefs

To read a typical gambling history guide, you’d think everything interesting about casinos today was invented or improvised from about 1980 onward. American casinos grew out of dark times and needed considerable improvement.

The shift to family-friendly resorts started in the 1980s and led to fine hotel rooms, grand restaurants, and menus prepared by some of the most successful chefs in the world. But nearly all of these innovations have been attempted before.

The one true American innovation in casino design is the addition of luxury hotels and theme attractions. But everything else has been done before, chiefly in Europe.

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The first truly modern casino—as far as offering a safe, civil environment, and fine cuisine—was probably Crockford’s, a gentleman’s club that opened on St. James Street in London on January 2nd, 1828.

Named for its proprietor, William Crockford, the club immediately outclassed all its rivals in design, elegance, service, and clientele. Crockford started out as a fishmonger, but he was good at gambling. Across 30 years of consorting with thieves, con artists, and gamblers who had no idea they were being cheated, Crockford accumulated a fortune, vast knowledge of the gambling world, and a long list of aristocrats whom he came to know very well.

Crockford realized that gaming halls could easily make a profit by running honest games, something unheard of in his generation. He also realized that he could attract the wealthiest men in England to his gaming hall if he offered them the same safe, luxurious environments they enjoyed in their own homes.

Whereas English gaming halls served typical English cuisine (usually summed up as “everything boiled on cabbage”), Crockford hired famed French chef Eustache Ude to serve the finest French dishes to England’s elite as they discussed politics, business, and sports. The gambling was almost an afterthought.

Crockford was so successful that he extracted tens of millions of pounds of wealth from England’s aristocracy, bankrupting a number of families. And he did it by running honest games.

Conclusion

Gambling lore is filled with many interesting tales of treachery and ingenuity. Even if half of them are true, they still hide a few myths. And there’s something alluring about gambling’s seedier side.

You may not be able to win any bar bets about the origin of sandwiches, but now you know a few secrets about gambling that most other people are still not privy to.

Sports Betting Mistakes You Need to Stop Making

Stop Sign With a Hand in Front of a Wide Angle Sportsbook Photo

Every sports bettor makes mistakes, but the most successful ones learn from them. Many beginning sports betting mistakes can be avoided if you know about them, but sometimes you don’t know what to look for.

Here are sports betting mistakes that I’ve made in the past. I’m including them here so you can avoid making many of the same mistakes I made.

Using a Simple System

A sports betting system is something that you plug information into that helps you become a more effective handicapper. Sometimes this is also called a betting model. A system for sports betting isn’t the same as most gambling systems, like those advertised for roulette and other games that can’t be beat.

When you develop a sports betting system or model you’re using statistics and trends to see if you can find a game or games that offer value on one side of the line or the other. Not every game offers value, but a good system or model helps you find the ones that do.

Systems range from extremely simple to overly complicated.

an example of a simple system is betting on home underdogs. A complicated system or model might have hundreds of different steps and/or formulas.

I’m a big believer is sports betting systems and models, but most handicappers that start trying to use one make a big mistake. Every sports bettor wants to find a simple model or system that cranks out profitable bets, but simple systems don’t work.

The reason why simple systems don’t work is because the sportsbooks are smart and they know about every simple system imaginable. You should work on your own system, but don’t believe that you’re going to find a simple one that works. Put in the time to develop an advanced system by testing as many variables as you can.

Throwing Darts

Most sports bettors make their betting decisions on what I call the throwing darts method. They bet on their favorite team no matter what the line is, or they get a gut feeling and place a bet because of it. They don’t even attempt to handicap games and look for value.

Closeup of Three Darts in a Dartboard

You don’t have any chance to make money in the long run picking games this way. You might as well put all of the teams playing on a dart board and throw a dart to pick a team to bet on. You’re going to win roughly 50% of the time doing this, which means you still lose money because of the vig you pay when you lose bets.

Spend some time trying to handicap games and keep working on your skills until you learn how to find value.

Ignoring Important Statistics

Once you start trying to handicap games, the place to start is by using statistics. It’s almost impossible to develop a model or system that only relies on statistics that produces a profit, but it’s still the best way to start.

But you need to avoid the mistake that most sports bettors make. They take a look at the popular statistics and try to pick winner using them. A baseball bettor looks at batting average, home runs, and ERA and makes a bet. A football bettor looks at which team has the better record and maybe which team has the better quarterback.

It’s ok to start with these things, but you need to dig deeper if you want to have a realistic chance to beat the sportsbooks. Look at every stat you can find and then see how you can use them to make better betting decisions. As you get experience handicapping games you’re going to find the important statistics and figure out which ones you can ignore.

Using the Wrong Statistics

Using the wrong statistics is just as bad as ignoring the important statistics. Each sport has a set of important statistics and a set of statistics that aren’t important. Sometimes statistics can even be misleading.

In baseball one of the statistics that’s completely worthless is wins and losses for pitchers.

Saves can also be a misleading statistic. In football, total points scored and allowed can be quite misleading. In basketball, average points scored and allowed can be misleading.

If you want to find the correct statistics you need to dig down and see why teams win and lose and how they score points or runs. You need to learn as much as you can about the sport you’re betting on so you can ignore the wrong stats and use the correct ones.

Ignoring Coaches

Coaches and managers have a big influence on their teams and players. Yet most sports bettors ignore managers and coaches and their track records and how they influence games. You should know every manager or coach in the sport you bet on and know as much about them as possible.

This includes head coaches and assistant coaches. In baseball you need to know about the managers, hitting coaches, and pitching coaches. In football you need to know about the head coaches and the offensive and defensive coordinators.

Football Assistant Coach With Arms Raised

You need to learn how each coach or manager runs the team and what tendencies they have. Does the football coach go for it often on fourth down and short or does he always play a conservative field position game? Does the manager have a quick hook or does he let his starting pitcher work through rough innings?

The coordinators on football teams have a great deal to do with the performance of their units; often more than the head coach. If you don’t know anything about the coaches and assistants of your favorite betting sports it’s time to start compiling data now.

Ignoring the Eye Test

I use statistics a great deal when I handicap games, but they’re only part of the equation. Some of the top bettors in the world might be able to use a 100% statistical model to win games, but I have to evaluate teams and players by watching them to win.

It takes a great deal of time to watch every game in a season, but if you want to be a winning handicapper you need to watch as many games as you can. I record many games and fast forward through the commercials and dead time, or I watch them online and do the same thing.

Feel free to try to develop a system or model based 100% on statistics, but you’re going to have a better chance of succeeding by combining statistical evaluation with the eye test.

Not Shopping the Lines

This is by far the biggest mistake I see sports bettors of every experience level make. The days of only being able to place bets at one place are gone. You don’t have to take the line at your favorite sportsbook because you don’t have any other options.

It depends on where you live, but many places have multiple local options for sports bettors. And you can find dozens of reputable online sportsbooks that take bets. You need to get in the habit of shopping for lines every time you want to make a wager.

Sometimes I handicap games and then look at lines, and sometimes I look at lines to see if any of them look like they might offer value and then handicap the games. It doesn’t matter which way you decide to go, because you shouldn’t make any bets that don’t show value when you compare your handicapping results with the available lines.

Here’s why shopping for lines is so important.

Over the course of a season or year the difference between showing a profit and losing money can come down to just a few games.

By shopping for the best lines you can win a few more games every season or year, even if you’re not a great handicapper.

If you’re already a winning sports bettor, shopping for lines can make you even more profitable. If you’re a losing bettor, line shopping might be able to make you a break even or profitable bettor. Start shopping for lines for every bet you make.

Conclusion

Don’t worry if you’re making any of the mistakes listed above. Simply stop making them now and look for other mistakes you’re making. No one starts as a profitable sports bettor. Keep working on your handicapping skills and learn from every mistake you make. This is how you become a winning long term sports bettor and handicapper.

Why You Should Avoid Slot Machines (And Why You’ll Probably Play Anyway)

Man Hiding His Eyes From a Row of Slot Machines

Real money slot machines are big earners in the casino industry. When you walk into a casino, it’s hard to ignore how many of these machines take up most of the gaming floor. Do you ever wonder why that is?

There are many reasons, but it mostly boils down to the simple fact that it’s much easier to control the payout (and the perception of that pay) of a machine than it is the tables.

That being said, there are a number of specific reasons why you should avoid slot machines.

1 – All the Myths About Slot Machines Are Myths

You’ve heard them all before, from amateurs and old timers alike. The 20-something card wiz tells you to play that machine because it hasn’t paid out a jackpot in years. The grubby 70-year-old Las Vegas native with three-day stubble tells you to avoid the computerized slots because the reel slots are mechanical and can’t be messed with. Your uncle’s cousin’s goddaughter’s former landlady knew a pit boss who once told her that the best machines are the ones at the end of the row.

It’s all nonsense, but it’s part of what casinos are selling you—an experience. Part of the draw, the mystique, heck, the fun of playing slots is the enigma and mystery surrounding them. It’s the idea that maybe, just maybe, you could hit that big jackpot that would change your life.

Slot machines are impenetrable. It’s just you and the computer.

The truth about all those myths is that they ignore the fundamental laws underlying the existence of all casinos. Math is king, and the math has been worked out long in advance to ensure the house wins in the end.

For most casinos, the majority of their profit is coming from the machines. Not the table games, the machines. Table games allow humans to use their brains to take intelligent risks and even count cards. The machine’s impenetrability stops all that. You can’t outthink them because they’re truly randomized by a number generator.

To put simply what’s going on in these really complex machines, you have to understand how random number generators work. Essentially, they’re little microchips in the slot machines that are constantly generating random outcomes. When someone plays, the microchip communicates whatever number it happens to be on to the machine.

There’s no way to affect this chip. There’s no way to hack it. You can’t try to figure out the algorithm and use it to your advantage. It’s not possible. That number is random, and more importantly, these chips are designed to pay out at a set percentage, over time, no matter what. And that time period is very long.

What does that mean? Well, it means that hot and cold machines don’t exist. A machine doesn’t have to “make up” for the jackpot today, tomorrow, or even this month. Losses and wins can rack up over such a long period of time that one jackpot here and there is essentially meaningless.

2 – You’ll Never Guess When They Raise the Price

There’s another series of myths out there about slot machines, but it’s not the players who believe them. It used to be the casino owners.

Because it’s possible to change the payout frequency of a machine, it is indeed possible to create a “tight” machine and a “loose” machine. It’s also the case that casinos used to put loose machines in strategic areas to try to entice people to play because they suffered from the delusion that certain savvy players could sense when a casino’s machines were too tight and move on to a different casino.

This was a real fear for casino owners. If word got around that their slots where too tight, they’d lose out on big revenue—remember, slots are the big money earners.

Casino Sign That Reads Loose Slots

That was then. This is now. There are people with degrees that you and I can’t even pronounce who study the insane math behind slot machines, and they’re all friends with more people with unpronounceable degrees who study human behavior in casinos. They’ve worked together for decades to try to figure out what influences gambling behavior, and they’ve learned something over the years.

Even savvy gamblers can’t tell when a machine is tight or loose. It’s all in their head.

And that’s bad news for you… What this means, essentially, is that slot machines can’t be manipulated (up to their legal limit) to pay out more or less. It’s completely in the hands of the casino. But whatever they choose to do, you’ll never guess it no matter how good you think you are.

So, that slot machine you’re convinced is looser than the others? It’s not. The machine in the back corner that a man with shades and a bad toupee told you is his go-to lucky machine? It’s not any different from the others. And when the casinos decide to make every machine a bit tighter? You’ll have no clue (and neither will anyone else).

3 – The Odds Are Against You

When it comes to slots, the advantage of the casino is measured in years. It may take a very long time for it to become clear that a machine is profitable. Casinos don’t mind of course, but you do.

Although, keep in mind, not all games are created equal. Most people don’t want to play the boring old machines with little flash or pizazz, they want to play the progressives, the ones that pay out big. Who hasn’t had a fantasy of dropping a dollar into a machine and becoming rich beyond their wildest dreams?

The problem with the progressives (and the reason casinos love them so much and have invested so much money into making them loud and visible) is that, to be able to afford those large jackpots and still maintain their set payout rates, they actually have a much lower chance of paying out in general.

This is a double problem for you when you consider the “casinos win over time” issue. The cost of playing for the casino is whatever their payout rate is, but the cost for you to play could be very different.

For example, when you put in a dollar, the casino has to pay back some percentage of that dollar over time. Because that time period is very long, it will likely be paid out to someone else. You’re not the one who’s going to get the payout because you can’t sit in front of a machine for months.

Megabucks Slot Machine Progressive Sign

So, you might pay a dollar to play, lose that dollar, and be done. And you’ll end up being the loser that pays other people’s jackpots.

This is one of the big reasons that you hear over and over how important it is to quit while you’re ahead. It’s because the odds are stacked against you. The casino is going to do everything in its power to get you to keep playing because it knows it will get its money back in the long run.

If you get a big payout on a machine, you should probably walk away afterward.

Another big way the casinos get their money back is through slots with multiple paylines. The psychology of these machines is impressive when you think about it.

For most slots, the best strategy is to cover all paylines with the minimum bet. You want to do this for the same reason I mentioned above, the machines are designed to pay out over the long term but you can lose a lot more in the short term before there’s a payout.

Playing the maximum is going to get you in trouble. You’ll end up losing more on each play, which the machine is happy to gobble up.

4 – You’ll Play Anyway Because It’s Easy

Here’s the rub in all of this: You’re going to play slots anyway. You may not want to. You may think you’ll avoid it. But sooner or later, you’re going to play.

The main reason is because they’re so easy. Slot machines are generally everywhere and are far more common than tables. In most places where gambling is legal, you’ll find slot machines crammed into places where you’d never expect them—restaurants, gas stations, you name it. They can be played in an instant and have a low entry fee of just a few bucks.

Playing the tables is different. It’s an experience. You sit down planning to be there for a while.

You’re usually spending more each time, but you’re prepared for that too. You’re chatting with the other players, the game takes time to play, and you have to choose to be in it. At the tables, you choose to be social and be around people to participate.

With slots, on the other hand, you can play while searching the internet on your phone if you’re so inclined. You don’t have to pay much attention at all. You might be on a call at a gas station and drop a few bucks in for fun.

And if you lose? You’ll probably just walk away. It’s uncommon for people to sit at a slot machine for long periods of time because it’s just plain boring. Tables have action and drama. They have interesting characters, stimulating conversations, high-stakes betting, and moments of hope and despair.

Slots don’t, which means you’ll probably give up long before you even get a payout.

Conclusion

There’s nothing wrong with playing slots if you truly enjoy them, just be realistic about what you’re getting into. Slots aren’t known for their payout rates—they’re known as moneymakers.

If you are honestly enjoying yourself at the slot machines though, have at it! But if your ultimate goal is to walk away from a night at the casino with some money in your pocket, then you’re better off playing a table game.

Are Stolen Bases Important in Baseball Handicapping?

Baseball Player Sliding in to Second Base With a Yes No Checkbox Over His Head

Baseball handicappers have more information available today than they’ve ever had in the past. You have advanced statistics and metrics like WAR and zone defense, and every traditional statistic imaginable is available with a quick internet search.

Home runs are up and stolen bases are down. Teams are being built to focus on the long ball seemingly more than ever, and you see fewer stolen base threats than in past decades. All of this leads some baseball handicappers to ignore stolen bases. I’ll be discussing more about this below.

Ignoring Stolen Bases

Time is important to baseball handicappers just like everyone else in the world. If you have to spend an extra five minutes looking at stolen base statistics for every game in the schedule, it adds up quickly. This makes it easy for most handicappers to decide to skip stolen bases.

The average sports bettor might consider the top five or 10 stolen base threats in the league and ignore everyone else.

Here’s the problem with doing what average sports bettors do—the average sports bettor loses money, and if your goal is to be a winning sports bettor, you simply can’t afford to do what average bettors do.

I’m a firm believer that you can be a winning baseball handicapper, and the way to do it is to outwork lazy and average bettors. This means that stolen bases are important. A stolen base in an important game situation can swing the outcome of the entire game.

You need to include stolen bases when you’re handicapping baseball games, but you need to make sure you’re considering everything about them to get the most benefit of the extra time. If you read further on, you’ll find some things about stolen bases that most handicappers ignore.

Rule of Thumb

The general rule of thumb is that a player needs to be successful on at least two-thirds of their stolen base attempts to be effective. In other words, he needs to be successful 66.7% of the time to have a positive influence on his team’s chances of scoring an extra run.

While this makes quite a bit of sense based on the fact that a runner on second base is more likely to score than one on first, a player that gives up an out in one out of every three stolen base attempts isn’t what I’m looking for in most cases.

Though I don’t have statistical data to back this up, I use 70% as the cutoff when I handicap baseball games. I’ve developed my baseball handicapping system over many years, and 70% works best for my system. It might not be the best number for your system, but if you don’t use stolen bases now, I suggest starting at 70%.

Everyone bets on baseball games differently, but I want to share how I use the 70% success mark to help you decide how to use stolen bases in your system.

The first thing I look at is how often a player attempts a stolen base. A player that only attempts one stolen base every 10 to 20 games doesn’t influence my handicapping.

In other words, a player that attempts less than 16 to 20 stolen bases a season is usually ignored.

Once I identify players who’re likely to attempt stolen bases, I divide them into two groups.

  1. The first group includes players who attempt some stolen bases in important situations. But the players in this group generally don’t run a lot.
  2. The second group includes the players that attempt to steal bases far more often.

The truth is that the line between the two groups is something I’ve developed a feel for over the years, so I can’t tell you exactly where the line is. As a general rule, if a guy steals 30 bases or more per year, I include him in the top group.

I look at the players in the top group and see who attempts stolen bases the most and if they’re successful 70% of the time or more. If they’re successful on less than 65% of their attempts, they have a negative influence. Everyone between 65% and 70% is ignored because the influence is close to neutral.

The only exception is a top end stolen base threat like Billy Hamilton. He is a truly disruptive force when he reaches base, so I handicap his team a little different than most. The truth is that he doesn’t get on base enough, so he doesn’t change as many games as other players. And there are very few players that fall into this category of base stealers.

Pitchers

Once I identify the players I need to handicap based on stolen bases, I make adjustments based on two things. The ability of the opposing team’s pitchers and catchers to limit the effectiveness of stolen bases is important.

Each pitcher has a unique skill level of holding runners close to first and limiting their jump. Some pitchers are very good at this, while some are terrible at it. One of the worst is Jon Lester. He simply doesn’t throw over to first and gives an edge to good stolen base players.

The top end base stealers are still going to run, even when the pitcher does a good job. But their success rate is usually lower against the best pitchers when it comes to holding runners. On the other hand, the worst pitchers make average base stealers look like all-stars.

MLB Pitcher Throwing a Pitch

The severity of the adjustment you need to make is based on how far from average the pitcher is on either side of the equation.

This might seem like a great deal of work based on everything you’ve learned so far. But, once you do the initial work getting your stolen base system incorporated with your baseball handicapping system, you’re going to find that most games are neutral.

Average stolen base players combined with average pitchers and catchers can mostly be ignored in your handicapping. The key is identifying the outliers and adjusting your handicapping when you find them. Speaking of catchers, they play an important role just like pitchers. Learn why in the next section.

Catchers

The main statistic to consider when handicapping catchers in the stolen base department is their caught stealing percentage, but it’s not the only thing to consider. You also need to look at how many total stolen base attempts are made against them in comparison to other catchers.

A catcher that fewer players attempt to steal on is often more valuable than one with a higher caught stealing percentage. The truly great defensive catchers combine a high caught stealing percentage with a low attempts rate.

MLB Catcher Throwing the Ball

When you compare catchers, make sure you’re making a true comparison. The easiest way to do this is to divide stolen base attempts by the innings they catch. This creates a percentage that gives you a true comparison from catcher to catcher.

You also need to consider the pitcher that the catcher is working with in each game. The best defensive catcher in the world struggles to catch base stealers when the pitcher can’t hold them close to first and limit their jump.

Team Play

Stolen bases are individual statistics, but you also need to consider the tendency of each team overall in the stolen base department. Some teams simply don’t steal many bases because they’re built on power or have a management philosophy that doesn’t believe in giving outs away on stolen base attempts.

One important thing to remember is, even on a team with a management philosophy against stolen bases, a single player may still be a stolen base threat.

You don’t see as many true speed threats in baseball like it was 20 or 30 years ago, but there are still a few guys that can change a game with their speed on the base paths.

Conclusion

The bottom line is, if you want to be the best baseball handicapper possible, you have to consider every detail and statistic that you can. Yes, this includes stolen bases.

You need to look at the players on each team that could potentially change the game by stealing bases, but you also need to consider the ability of the pitchers and catchers to limit stolen base opportunities.

Stolen bases aren’t as important as they were at one time in MLB, but they still have a place in handicapping games.

7 Common Misconceptions About Online Casinos

Laptop With the Word Misconception Written Across the Screen

Real money online casinos have long been the subject of many misconceptions. People spread rumors about anything and everything, and believe me when I say that online casinos are no exception. Many of them are outright false and have no basis in reality.

While there are plenty of myths and legends about online casinos, much of this can be attributed to mistrust of internet culture. When the internet was first starting out, many people mistrusted it because it was new. Surprise, surprise, people are usually skeptical of new things.

Many of these myths have already been corrected. With that being said, many of these misconceptions about casinos still unfortunately exist.

Today, I’ll show you seven misconceptions about online casinos to help you sort through all the fake information about casinos. You’ll learn what’s real and what’s not, what you should take seriously and what you shouldn’t.

Misconception #1 – Games Are Rigged

Let’s get this one out of the way first. This is the most common assumption about online casinos: Users assume that because the casino is based online that it’s somehow not as valid as a real casino. People think that just because they are physically in a building that is a casino, they are less likely to be scammed. And these same people believe that playing games online means they’ll be scammed. This is all patently false.

Online casinos are actually safer than physical casinos in many ways. For one thing, you don’t have people plying you with free drinks to try to get you to make mistakes.

Online casinos use the same games and play styles as real casinos, using software to simulate playing a game. You can play against a computer or other online players. And because it’s taking place online, those real players can’t cheat you through sly conversation or clever card tricks.

Random Colorful Numbers Against a Black Background

Online casinos also use RNGs—random number generators. RNGs ensure the online casino is providing a fair experience for all players. RNGs generates a random number to determine what card you’ll draw or how the slot machine will work, which is much safer than a deck of physical cards that can be messed with or manipulated.

Misconception #2 – Gambling Sites Aren’t Secure

Many people assume gambling sites aren’t secure compared to their real-world counterparts. I think this is probably because many people don’t trust something if they can’t see it. People are more likely to trust something they can touch and feel than something like the internet, which is more intangible.

But just because the internet is an abstract idea, that doesn’t mean online casinos are unsafe. Online casinos are as safe and secure as any in-person casinos (more so in some ways). Believe me when I say that companies that operate online casinos have proper encryption. They want to protect themselves as much as you do!

Online casinos are also certified by the government of whatever country they’re based in. The government of the country the online casino is from is responsible for making sure the casino is safe and fair to all users. Online casinos have strict regulations that guarantee they are safe and secure for their users.

Online casinos that do engage in negative behavior are few and far between. These are known as rogue casinos. These casinos are reported by users and reported on casino forums to protect the community. If an online casino is reported by enough users, it’ll become blacklisted. Blacklisted casinos tend to get shut down pretty quickly.

Encryption, government, and users reporting issues all help make online casinos safe places to gamble. Online casinos are as safe to gamble in as any other alternative.

Misconception #3 – Kids Can Play in Online Casinos

This is completely false. Kids are not allowed to gamble at online casinos. This is exactly the same as the law preventing kids from gambling in physical casinos. If you’re under 18 years old, you’re not allowed to gamble in physical or online casinos.

You might be thinking, “Sure, but the kids just lie online!” They can try, but security procedures are more robust than that.

i
Online casinos require ID checks once a player wants to deposit or withdraw money.

People under 18 will not be able to gamble in online casinos because they won’t have a valid ID to present.

Misconception #4 – You Can Only Win During Certain Hours

This is one of those weird rumors spreading on the internet that no one seems to be able to squash, that players can only win money in online casinos during certain hours of the day. Who knows how this rumor got started, but I can tell you that it’s completely false.

Maybe a gambler was frustrated that they were on a cold streak? Maybe someone just wanted to be a top-level troll in the community? Like most rumors, the origins are unknown, but there’s no truth to this one.

Unless a game is specifically set up this way, the claim is untrue (and I seriously doubt any are). Any game you play in an online casino will have clear rules indicating how money can be won.

Games in online casinos are not governed by peak hours. Many brick and mortar casinos do have peak hour rules that affect how much money can be won, just not whether you can win at all. And these rules are clear to everyone, they’re not a secret. Maybe this is why people think online casinos have a secret scam going on.

Online casinos simply don’t operate the same as brick and mortar casinos, and a big part of that includes the RNGs I mentioned earlier in this post. The chances of winning are purely random in online games. The number generated by the RNG is the only factor in determining whether you win.

Misconception #5 – Autoplay Is Rigged

Many online casinos have an autoplay feature, an incredible feature that you sure won’t find in any physical casino. This feature allows players to walk away and do other things while continuing to play. Many of us have busy lives and would love to save some time while we’re playing.

Now, a lot of people assume that because they aren’t present while the autoplay is turned on that the online casino will try to rip them off. This simply isn’t true.

Stylized Image of Circuit Board and Lock

There are many regulating bodies throughout the world that prevent online casinos from ripping off their players. Many countries’ governments have agencies where illegal gambling can be reported. Resources like this prevent online casinos from operating illegally and pulling stunts like this.

You can rest assured that you are just as likely to win while playing autoplay as you are sitting and playing the games yourself.

Misconception #6 – Bonuses Can’t Win

One of the major marketing methods of online casinos is to give big bonuses to players. These bonuses give players the chance to win some money with the free money the casino provides.

Part of the reason the casino provides these bonuses is to give players an incentive to try out their casino.

Casinos want you to play and spend a lot of time at their casino, so they’re willing to give you some money to start out. They hope you will enjoy playing so much that you continue to play, that they become your online casino of choice.

Consumers are cynical of this practice unfortunately, and assume that because the bonus money is free, there’s no way they can win with it. It makes sense from a certain perspective I suppose, if you truly believe there’s no such thing as a free lunch. But the reality is that you can win real money with these bonuses, and if you know what you’re doing and get a little lucky, that money might be significant).

The bonuses work the same as any other payment you use in an online casino. The casino doesn’t know if you’re playing with a bonus or if you’re playing with real money. The game is played with an RNG either way, so the results have nothing to do with where the money came from.

This misconception is another example of players assuming something is too good to be true. Just because they give you the bonus doesn’t mean there’s no way you can win with the bonus. You’re just as likely to win with the bonus as you are with any other money.

Misconception #7 – Online Slots Are Boring

Many people think slots are going to be boring compared to other options offered by online casinos, like poker or blackjack.

However, even though slots don’t have other players involved, they certainly aren’t boring. Slots can be as fun as anything else you play in an online casino, especially given how advanced real money online slots and their graphics have become over the years.

Many slot games are now being targeted toward millennial audiences because the designers know how much that audience likes video games. So, they design their games to be as similar to video games as they can, which is to say, they are more interactive than you might think. It’s a misconception to think that slots are only for older audiences or that slots are more boring than other casino games. Slots can be just as fun as anything else in an online casino.

Conclusion

There are a ton of misconceptions about online gaming, partly because of the nature of the internet. Information moves fast, and people make snap judgments without knowing all the information beforehand.

Just remember that regulatory agencies, governments, and watchdog groups help legitimize online casinos. These misconceptions aren’t based in reality.

What common misconceptions about online casinos have you heard that we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments!

4 Resources Every Spanish 21 Player Should Know About

Spanish 21 Text in Front of Blackjack Table With Players

If you consider yourself a bona fide real money blackjack specialist, but you’ve never played Spanish 21 before, boy, are you missing out.

This relatively new addition to the blackjack family tree branched off in 1995, when Masque Publishing decided to take its shot at the hybrid table game fad.

These days, Spanish 21 is largely relegated to the best US online casinos, but you can still find it kicking around at the Venetian and Palazzo casino resorts in Las Vegas. Smaller regional casinos across the country, especially in the Pacific Northwest, also spread Spanish 21 tables alongside their traditional blackjack games.

1 – Full Basic Strategy Chart Outlining Optimal Play for All Possible Scenarios

One of the saddest sights you’ll see in the table game pit is a blackjack player trying to use their basic strategy skills in Spanish 21.

When they see a pair of sixes to start against the dealer’s three, these players will split ‘em up, as per blackjack basic strategy. Little do they know, however, that Spanish 21 basic strategy says to take a hit with 6-6 against a dealer’s three.

Same goes for something like a 17 versus the dealer’s seven, which is a clear hit in regular blackjack. In this game though, the book advises sharp players to stand.

Little wrinkles like this aren’t readily apparent, leaving even blackjack experts to flail around like tourists trying table games for the first time.

Closeup of a Blackjack Hand

If you want to add Spanish 21 basic strategy to your gambling repertoire, look no further. To begin, just remember that many plays are no-brainers that don’t require any thinking at all.

When you have a hard total of 8 or lower, just take your free hit and proceed from there, as you’ll never run the risk of going bust. And with a hard 17 or higher, simply stand and avoid the 69% chance of busting that a hit will incur.

Those are the easiest plays anybody can make, so you’ll need to study the tables below to master more complicated Spanish 21 spots.

TOTAL CORRECT PLAYS
Hard 9 Double against dealer’s 6. Hit against everything else.
Hard 10 Double against 2-7. Hit against 8 or higher.
Hard 11 Double against 2-8. Hit against 9 or higher.
Hard 12 Hit against any dealer total.
Hard 13 Stand against 6 (except with 4+ cards). Hit against all other totals.
Hard 14 Stand against 4-6 (except with 4+ cards). Hit against all other totals.
Hard 15 Stand against 2-6 (except with 4+ cards against 2-5). Hit against all other totals.
Hard 16 Surrender to Ace. Stand against 2-6 (except w/ 4+ cards vs. 2-4). Hit vs. all others
Hard 17 Surrender to Ace. Stand against all others.
TOTAL CORRECT PLAYS
Soft 13 or 14 Hit against any dealer total
Soft 15 Double against 6 (except with 4+ cards). Hit against all other totals.
Soft 16 Double against 5-6 (except with 4+ cards). Hit against all other totals.
Soft 17 Double against 4-6 (except with 4+ cards). Hit against all other totals.
Soft 18 Double vs 4-6 (except with 4+ cards). Stand against 2-3 and 7-8. Hit against 9-A.
Soft 19 Stand against all totals.
TOTAL CORRECT PLAYS
2-2 or 3-3 Split against dealer’s 8. Hit against 9-A.
4-4 Hit against all totals.
5-5 Same strategy as hard 10.
6-6 Split against 4-6. Hit against all other totals.
7-7 Split against 2-7. Hit against all other totals.
8-8 Surrender to Ace. Split against all other totals.
9-9 Split against 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, or 9. Stand against 2, 7, 10 and Ace.

2 – Primer on Why You Shouldn’t Place Match the Dealer Side Bets

Every so often, you’ll see a Spanish 21 player shout for joy as they collect a “jackpot” payout of between 4:1 and 18:1.

Or should I say, not very often… Spanish 21 offers an optional side bet called “Match the Dealer,” which pays out whenever one or both of your starting cards matches the dealer’s up card.

Closeup of a Blackjack Dealers Hands

The best scenario is two suited matches, or something like the 8 of clubs + 8 of clubs for you against the dealer’s 8 of clubs. That’s clearly a longshot, but even a single eight (suits don’t matter here) matched with the dealer’s eight pays out at 4:1.

But, as you can see below, that minimum payout of 4:1 only comes around roughly 1 in 10 hands.

Spanish 21 Match the Dealer Hands and Payouts

MATCH PAYOUT PROBABILITY
Two suited matches 18 to 1 0.02%
One suited and one non-suited match 18 to 1 0.21%
One suited match 9 to 1 0.37%
Two non-suited matches 8 to 1 3.22%
One non-suited match 4 to 1 11.58%
No Matches Loss 84.59%

Conversely, a whopping 85% of hands will result in a loss when playing Match the Dealer.

All told, this side bet carries a house edge of 3.05%, which is simply too high to chase when Spanish 21’s primary game is already so great.

3 – Online Casino Guide to Find the Best Spanish 21 Tables

Nowadays, Spanish 21 is largely relegated to the realm of online casinos.

That’s good news for fans though, as the best online casino platforms make sure to include Spanish 21 as a staple of their table games menu.

4 – The Pro’s Guide to Spanish 21 and Australian Pontoon (2008) by Katarina Walker

When the game first hit casino floors, most gamblers assumed Spanish 21 was nothing more than a gimmick game like Triple Zero Roulette—something designed to separate suckers from their bankroll while smart players wisely avoided the additional action.

This misconception lingered until 2008, when advantage play specialist and casino game strategy writer Katrina Walker published The Pro’s Guide to Spanish 21 and Australian Pontoon.

Walker herself posted insights to a popular online blackjack forum while explaining exactly why Spanish 21 is more beatable than standard blackjack.

While everybody else was focused on the removal of four 10s, Walker astutely realized that four Aces remaining alive in a 48-card deck is really the crucial factor for skilled players to focus on.

And it’s no coincidence that Walker’s book was published just before the big casinos suddenly stopped spreading Spanish 21 as often, or at all. She really did crack the code for this game, so grab a copy of The Pro’s Guide to Spanish 21 and Australian Pontoon and add this masterpiece to your gambling bookshelf.

Conclusion

Spanish 21 isn’t for everybody, but if you enjoy blackjack with a twist, it just might be the perfect game. Bonus payouts, automatic winners which should be pushes, and the freedom to make creative double down and split plays combine to make Spanish 21 a true player’s game.

Anyone can fly blind at the tables and find a few winners. But, armed with the four resources listed above, you’ll be target shooting accurately in one of gambling’s most player-friendly affairs.

7 Forms of Gambling That Give You the Best Chance to Win Big

Silhouette of a Face Next to Cards Chips and Dice

One of the most appealing aspects of gambling is that it provides the opportunity to win big. You can earn millions of dollars through certain games.

Of course, you have to choose the right forms of gambling to play for fortunes. The following seven games give you the strongest chance of getting rich.

1 – Lottery

No type of gambling has created more millionaires than the lottery. Mega Millions, Powerball, EuroMillions, and SuperEnalotto are particularly notable for how many people they’ve made wealthy.

Powerball has paid out the two biggest jackpots in lottery history. It delivered a $1.57 billion payout in January 2013 and a $758.7 million prize in August 2017.

Mega Millions has also paid some notable windfalls, too. It delivered a $656 million payout in March 2012 and a $648 million prize in December 2013.

Power Ball and Mega Millions Lottery Tickets

One reason why lotteries are able to build such massive prizes is their user-friendly nature. You need only pay for a ticket(s) and pick your numbers to play.

Actually, you don’t even need to choose your numbers. Instead, you can opt for the quick-pick option and have the machine generate numbers for you.

The lottery requires no skill to play and features life-changing payouts. The only drawback is that lottery payout percentages are awful.

On average, you’ll only win back $0.50 for every dollar wagered. As long as you’re fine with this, though, then you can still look forward to some excitement through lotteries.

2 – Slot Machines

Slots are similar to lotteries in that they’ve created plenty of millionaires. In particular, Las Vegas’ Megabucks, Microgaming’s Mega Moolah (online), and NetEnt’s Mega Fortune (online) have made lots of people rich.

Megabucks holds the record for the largest slots jackpot ever. In 2003, an anonymous software engineer won $39.7 million through this game at Las Vegas’ Excalibur casino.

Mega Moolah lays claim to the biggest online slots jackpot at $21.5 million. It delivered this massive payout to an anonymous mobile slots player who bet $0.75 on their winning spin.

Slot machines require you to insert money and spin the reels for prizes. You can increase your bet size in hopes of winning larger payouts.

Much like the lottery, slots don’t require any true strategy. The main strategy is to look for games with high return to player (RTP) and properly manage your bankroll.

Most online slots offer around 96% RTP. Slot machines in land-based casinos only pay between 90% and 95% on average.

3 – Poker

Poker is one of only two games on this list that can offer long-term profits. By improving your skills, you subsequently boost your chances of winning over the long haul.

But as much skill as this game involves, it also features a ticket to riches in poker tournaments. Some tourneys have multimillion-dollar prize pools and offer seven-figure payouts at the top.

The World Series of Poker Main Event is a perfect example of such a tournament. It has offered a $1 million prize or larger to the champion every year since 2019.

Pros have dominated the Main Event in recent years. But amateurs sometimes get lucky and take down this prestigious tourney.

Chris Moneymaker is the most famous example. After winning his $10k Main Event seat online, the accountant and amateur player won the 2003 WSOP ME and $2.5 million.

Jamie Gold is another example of the dozen-plus amateurs who’ve triumphed in this tournament. The Hollywood talent agent won the 2006 WSOP ME and $12 million.

High-stakes cash games offer another route towards winning big in poker. However, you must be quite skilled to grind your way up the ladder and into these games.

4 – Daily Fantasy Sports

Although not as popular as it was several years ago, daily fantasy sports (DFS) still delivers some big prizes.

Case in point, DraftKings holds a $10m NFL Millionaire Maker contest that pays the winner $2 million. Not far behind, FanDuel offers a $6m NFL Sunday Million that delivers $1 million to the champ.

In January 2016, Aaron “aejones” Jones won a record $5 million payout in DraftKings’ Fantasy Football World Championship. Of course, this prize came at the height of fantasy sports mania.

Aside from the huge events, DFS is a skill-based game. It’s also similar to poker tournaments in terms of structure and prize money.

Your knowledge of professional athletes’ values will help you maximize your lineups. You can also submit multiple entries into guaranteed prize pool tournaments to increase your chances of winning.

The only problem is that DFS pros do most of the winning. However, you can still take a shot at the huge tourneys even if you’re not the most skilled at daily fantasy.

5 – Bingo

Bingo is the most underrated gambling game that can make you rich. One reason for this is the typical setting, which, in America, often involves a church basement.

In reality, commercial bingo is big business. Connecticut’s Foxwoods Resort Casino has been so successful with the game that they’ve built a 3,600-seat bingo hall.

Closeup of Bingo Balls

The largest bingo operations are able to offer massive prizes that might shock you. In some cases, players can even become millionaires with the right games.

John Orchard is the biggest bingo winner of all time. The Brit scooped a £5.9 million payout at an online bingo site in December 2012.

Orchard was a 60-year-old job center worker prior to his massive jackpot. After winning a multimillion-pound prize on a 30p bet, he was finally able to retire.

Most bingo prizes aren’t quite as large as Orchard’s windfall. However, his story shows what’s possible with the biggest games.

6 – Progressive Blackjack

Blackjack is one of the more strategic games in the casino. It gives you a solid chance to beat the house with correct strategy.

However, blackjack can also offer progressive jackpots. Such games deliver the progressive prize if you get the right combination of cards.

You can also look forward to smaller side payouts. Here’s a common setup for progressive blackjack payouts:

  • Four suited aces – Jackpot
  • Three suited aces – 5,000x the side bet
  • Four aces (mixed suits) – 2,500x
  • Three aces – 250x
  • Two suited aces – 100x
  • Two aces – 50x
  • One ace – 5x

You must make a $1 side bet to qualify for the jackpot in most cases. This is a small price to pay when considering that certain prizes can be worth more than $250,000.

As for the jackpot, you need to be dealt four suited aces in consecutive order. If your first two cards are suited aces, then you’d want to keep hitting in pursuit of the top prize.

7 – Caribbean Stud

Caribbean Stud Poker is another card game that can offer large jackpots. In fact, this game is well-known for its progressive payouts.

Beginning with the basics, Caribbean Stud involves trying to get a better poker hand than the dealer. Assuming you make the separate $1 side bet, you’re also hoping to qualify for the jackpot.

Each round begins with you receiving five face-down cards. The dealer also receives five cards, including four face down and one up card.

You can fold and surrender your ante bet at this point, or you can double your ante wager. From here, a series of things can happen based on your hand and the dealer’s hand.

What’s more important to our discussion is what happens with the side bet. You win 100% of the jackpot with a royal flush. Meanwhile, you collect 10% of the jackpot with a straight flush.

Some progressive jackpots are worth over $200,000. That said, you’ll find the $1 side wager worth making.

Conclusion

You may not enter every gambling session with dreams of being a millionaire. But you’ll certainly appreciate having the opportunity to get rich when the mood strikes.

Several games offer payouts worth six or seven figures. The lottery trumps everything else in terms of pure windfalls.

One Powerball payout broke the $1.5 billion barrier. Several other lottery prizes have been worth well over $500 million.

Real money slot games also offer impressive payouts. Megabucks once paid nearly $40 million, while Mega Moolah delivered a $21.5 million prize.

Poker features huge payouts through tournaments. The WSOP Main Event commonly delivers prizes worth millions of dollars every year.

DFS is somewhat similar to poker in terms of its skill and tourney formats. Daily fantasy features plenty of multimillion-dollar payouts during the NFL season.

Bingo is the most-surprising inclusion on this list. It too can drum up seven-figure payouts, including the £5.9 million prize that John Orchard collected in 2012.

Blackjack and Caribbean stud don’t feature $1 million jackpots. However, their top prizes can reach six figures.

As you can see, the gambling world offers plenty of variety when it comes to chasing jackpots. Therefore, you can pick and choose your favorite games when trying to win big.

Understanding and Profiting From Baseball Run Lines

Baseball Player Running With Finger Pointed to Sky Next to Cascade of Money

Baseball run lines are confusing to many sports bettors. Unlike the NFL and NCAA football lines, baseball run lines don’t just give one team points and take the same number of points from the other team at the same bet cost.

At first glance, baseball run lines look like a combination of moneyline bets and spread bets. But this isn’t really what they are.

On this page, you’re going to learn exactly what a baseball moneyline bet is, how to avoid mistakes, and a few strategies that you can start using to make profitable run line wagers. Once you learn how run lines work in baseball, you’re going to easily understand puck lines in hockey, because they work the same way.

What Are Run Lines?

I’m going to use two examples of actual baseball betting lines to help you understand how run lines work. You can also get an idea of how the moneyline is related to the run line by studying these examples.

The first game in the examples is Atlanta at San Francisco. Here are the moneylines and the run lines for the game.

  Moneyline Run Line
Atlanta Braves -123 -1.5 (+135)
San Francisco Giants +113 +1.5 (-155)

The second game in the examples is Cincinnati at Milwaukee. Here are the moneylines and the run lines for the game.

Moneyline Run Line
Cincinnati Reds +125 +1.5 (-165)
Milwaukee Brewers -135 -1.5 (+145)

The away team is usually listed first, and the home team is usually listed second.

A moneyline wager is simply a bet on the team that’s going to win. When the number is a plus, you win that much when you bet $100. When the number is a minus, you have to bet that much to win $100. The plus and minus numbers on the run line after the -1.5 and +1.5 are the same.

The confusion for many bettors is the plus and minus 1.5 numbers. Each team on the baseball run line either gets 1.5 runs or gives 1.5 runs.

In the Atlanta at San Francisco game, Atlanta gives 1.5 runs and San Francisco receives 1.5 runs. This means that is you bet on Atlanta on the run line they have to win by two or more runs for you to win. If you bet on San Francisco on the run line, you win if they win the game or if they lose by one.

The plus or minus number that’s listed after the 1.5 lines works just like a normal moneyline wager. In the Atlanta vs. San Francisco game, if you bet the run line on Atlanta, you win $135 on a $100 wager. A run line wager on San Francisco cost $155 to win $100.

Notice that the moneyline favorite gives runs on the run line and the moneyline underdog gets runs on the run line. Also notice that the plus and minus numbers following the run lines are the opposite sign or the traditional moneyline.

On the second game above, Milwaukee is favored, so they have a -135 moneyline number, meaning you have to bet $135 to win $100. But if you bet on Milwaukee on the run line, you give Cincinnati +1.5 runs, but you win $145 on a bet of $100. This is the common way that run lines work.

Run Line Profit Strategies

One of the most profitable baseball betting strategies that I use is based on the historical fact that home teams are rarely swept in a series. When the home team is the underdog, I bet on the home team in the first game of the series and take the +1.5 runs on the run line.

When I lose on the first game, I bet on them again in the second game. I bet enough to cover the first game loss and enough to show a profit. I do the same thing on the third game if the home team loses the first two games.

The combination of the extra 1.5 runs per game and the rarity of home teams getting swept creates a profitable long-term baseball betting strategy.

Baseball Pitcher Throwing Pitch From the Mound

Another profitable strategy is betting the run line on the underdog getting +1.5 on games with a tight moneyline. A tight moneyline means the sportsbooks believe the game could go either way. When a game is close, the +1.5 is a powerful advantage.

In the Atlanta against San Francisco example above the moneyline is tight at -123 and +113, so I’d bet on San Francisco. This game has the added bonus of San Francisco being the home team and the underdog, so it’s a game I’d bet on.

Tight moneylines are ones that are close to 100 or -110. The bigger the spread between the two moneylines, the looser the line for this purpose. Use the moneyline numbers, not the + and – numbers on the run lines to determine how tight the line is.

Here’s an example of a good game to bet on based on a tight moneyline.

  • Colorado Rockies: (-105)
  • Pittsburgh Pirates: (-105)

The line shows that the two teams have the same chance to win, so I look at the run lines to see which team gets the extra runs. In this case, Pittsburgh is listed at +1.5 (-185). In addition, Pittsburgh is the home team, so this is a game I’d definitely consider betting.

Baseball Handicapping

Every winning baseball bettor needs to develop strong handicapping skills. Once you learn how to successfully handicap baseball games, you can use your skills to make both moneyline and run line bets on the same game sometimes.

Games that you predict to be close based on your handicapping can offer value on both sides. On the other hand, games that you handicap to be more lopsided can offer value on both bets on the same side.

Baseball Laying in the Dirt at Home Base

In the Cincinnati at Milwaukee game in the last section, I handicapped the game to be close. Milwaukee has a small edge, but based on my calculations, there’s a good possibility they’ll only win by one run. This is a game that offers a possibility of betting both sides, with the moneyline on one side and the run line on the other.

Make a bet of $200 to win $148 on Milwaukee on the moneyline. Also, make a bet of $165 to win $100 on Cincinnati on the run line. There are three possible outcomes.

  • Milwaukee wins by two or more runs: Win $148 on the moneyline and lose $165 on the run line. This results in a total loss of $17.
  • Milwaukee wins by one run: Win $148 on the moneyline and $100 on the run line. This result is a total win of $248.
  • Cincinnati wins: Lose $200 on the moneyline and win $100 on the run line. This results in a total loss of $100.

On two of the three possibilities, you lose money. But when you win both sides, you hit a big win. If you add the losses of $17 and $100, it’s less than half of the amount you win when you hit both sides. This means you only have to win both sides one out of five times to show a profit as long as Cincinnati doesn’t win more than two times out of five.

This is complicated, and you shouldn’t try to bet on both sides of a game until you master the art of baseball handicapping. But the profits can be high once you do.

Conclusion

For many years, I ignored the run lines in baseball and only bet on the moneylines. As my handicapping skills improved, I started taking advantage of run lines more. Now that you know exactly how baseball run lines work, you can start looking for value.

You can get started using the baseball run line strategies I included in the last section. Build out your go-to strategies from there and you can start making a profit on your baseball betting activities.

Michael Board – Ex Blackjack Pro Who Teaches High Rollers How to Win

Blackjack Hand in Front of a Wall of Numbers

Blackjack card counting is a frequent topic in the gaming world. It’s one of the few ways to beat the house and win serious gambling profits.

But what happens to card counters when they drop out of the game? Michael Board, a former blackjack pro, recently gave detailed insight into the matter.

Once a very successful blackjack player, Board has taught others how to beat the casino too, including high rollers in Hong Kong. You can find out more on Board’s lucrative blackjack coaching gig below along with his interesting backstory.

Who Is Michael Board?

Board didn’t grow up playing cards and hanging out in smoky casinos in his youth. Instead, he mostly concentrated on distance running.

He spent summers with his uncle, who was a marathoner. Board honed his running abilities early on with his uncle and eventually started competing.

Upon graduating high school, the Indiana native joined the North Central College (Illinois) distance team. He won a couple of national championships during this and was invited to join US distance-running team.

By the time he was 24, Michael ran a 4:02 mile and placed himself in elite company. After graduating college in the late 1990s, he moved to New Mexico and trained at high altitudes with other serious runners.

Around this time period, some competitive runners began using erythropoietin (EPO) to boost their red blood cell count. Board didn’t do drugs, so he stopped running in the early 2000s.

With his running career over, Michael struggled to figure out his next move. Eventually, his path would lead him to blackjack.

Why Did Board Get Into Blackjack?

Board had never been much of a gambler throughout his early life. However, this changed when a friend suggested that they try to beat blackjack.

As Michael told the South China Morning Post (SCMP), he and his friend bought 20 books on blackjack strategy. The resources back then weren’t quite as comprehensive as what’s available today.

Nevertheless, the pair figured out how to count cards within a couple of months. His friend started as a solo counter and quickly turned his meager bankroll into a significant amount.

Board and his buddy started playing together from this point on. They eventually went on a hot run and earned a fortune.

Closeup of Hands Shuffling Playing Cards

“For a year, my buddy and I were on a really good streak, playing eight to 10 hours a day,” he said. “We only played when we knew we had a mathematical advantage.”

The key to Board’s success wasn’t just expert counting. He and his friend were also very cautious about not getting caught, too.

“We never stayed in the casinos where we played,” Board explained. “We would stay at Caesars (Palace) and play everywhere else. We would have a friend get a room and pay and we’d stay there, so our names weren’t on anything.”

The most impressive aspect of Board’s blackjack run is where he ended versus his starting point. He and his friend increased their bankroll by 400x, starting with a few grand and ending up with around $800,000.

Why Did Board Stop Playing Blackjack Professionally?

If you’ve ever seen the movie 21, you realize that the MIT Blackjack Team didn’t quit because they got tired or bored. They stopped because they were being thrown out of casinos left and right.

Board had a similar experience. Everything was going great for him and his buddy, until the next moment, they were suddenly being kicked out of their favorite Vegas hotspots.

“One day we got thrown out of the Bellagio,” recalled Board. “We went down the street to The Mirage and played there for about an hour and suddenly, someone came and said we had to go.”

This bizarre chain of events only got worse, as Board’s team kept getting booted everywhere they stopped.

At the time, Griffin Investigations was doing private-eye work for casinos. They identified the MIT Blackjack team through Harvard and MIT yearbook photos.

Griffin Investigations (now defunct) also got to Board and many other card counters during this period. Almost every casino in the world had their names and photographs.

Board and his buddy initially thought that they’d be okay to play at international destinations. However, they were wrong on this account. When they played in Macau, Singapore, and Europe, they were met with refusal. Facial recognition helped them get recognized and they were thrown out immediately. It was clear that Board and his buddy wouldn’t be welcome anywhere for much longer.

“I got thrown out of the Wynn Macau,” Board said. “I don’t think it’s gambling when they can pick and choose who they let play.”

Hong Kong High Rollers Hire Board as a Blackjack Teacher

Board and his friend finally decided to give up on blackjack after getting blacklisted at too many casinos. His buddy took up poker while he went on a different path.

Board contacted casinos about an interesting proposition. They could hire him to teach their staff members about what to look for in card counters.

He had plenty of success with his new gig, which he started by teaching staff members at various Florida casinos. They’d not only pay him to give their dealers advice, but also let him keep whatever he made from counting.

Blackjack Hand With Casino Chips on Top

Eventually, Michael made a full-time living by sharing his knowledge in casinos around the globe. He even met his wife during a consulting gig at a Spanish casino. But he grew disenchanted with this line of work after two years and decided to get out.

“I didn’t like what the casinos did to me and a lot of people,” he said. “It’s not gambling when they say only losers can play and if you beat us, we’ll kick you out.”

Board tried going back to the players’ side by teaching small gamblers how to count cards. However, this avenue didn’t provide nearly enough money.

One job that did pay well, though, included teaching high rollers how to count. Random executives began calling Board in hopes that he would serve as their coach.

Michael found such gigs to be both easy and lucrative. Some of his students bet $20,000 per hand and were willing to pay handsomely for a good teacher.

“I’ve taught a couple of prominent Hong Kong people, one has a very significant family office,” he explained. “It’s a discipline thing – I could teach my eight-year-old daughter to do it.”

While speaking of the high rollers he taught, Board also offered some general advice to aspiring card counters. Board believes that, in order to succeed, you must remove your emotions when it comes dealing with money.

Discipline is absolutely essential when you’re a card counter. And every decision must be made with logic and rational thinking at the forefront.

What Is Michael Board Doing Today?

After playing and teaching real money blackjack for well over a decade, Michael got tired of the grind. His profession also clashed with his half-Indian wife’s culture.

At North Central College, he’d earned a degree in finance. So, he chose to go back to school and get his Master’s degree in finance.

He started out working for Credit Suisse. His job description included handling investments (e.g. derivatives, equities) for large families.

These days, Board manages money for a major Wall Street firm. He feels that this gig really suits his skills, because he’s learned plenty of risk assessment through blackjack.

Michael would prefer to continue teaching high rollers. However, he’s also happy to hold down a good day job.

“My family are happy that I’ve got a finance job and put on a shirt and tie, but this is much more fun,” he said.

“I wish I could do it every day but the pool of people that are capable of betting that way is small – I’ll get a random call from somebody in Hong Kong or Singapore.”

Conclusion

Thousands of people have counted cards professionally over the years. However, few find continued success in the game once their playing careers are over.

Michael Board is one of the rare exceptions. He’s spilled card counting secrets to corporate casinos, taught Hong Kong whales, and helped average gamblers.

Board had an odd journey toward becoming a blackjack authority. He started out as a promising distance runner who nearly broke four minutes in the mile.

After deciding that he wouldn’t take EPO to reach the next level, Michael was stuck in career limbo. He found his calling, though, when a friend suggested that they count cards together.

The pair proceeded to run a couple thousand dollars up to $800,000. They were too successful for their own good, though, and were kicked out of casinos across the globe.

Griffin Investigations tabbed them as counters and plastered their faces across casino databases all over the world.

With his playing days finished, Board began teaching casinos how to catch card counters. He eventually felt wrong about this line of work and began instructing small gamblers.

However, the latter didn’t pay very well. Michael found far more success in teaching the whale clients that called him. Even today, Board continues attracting high-roller students. He also maintains a well-paying job in the finance industry.

Pros and Cons of Playing Poker vs. Sports Betting

A Hand Holding Playing Cards and Closeup of a Football Player

Stand back and survey even an average land based casino and you’ll see there are a lot of things to do. You can get a good meal, do a little shopping, see a show, and you can definitely do some gambling. In some places, your casino will even let you bet on sports.

All of these activities are fun. However, if there’s anything I’ve learned in this life, it’s that neither time nor money is infinite. Therefore, if you’re a big sports bettor and a big poker player, you’re going to have to make a decision… Where are you going to spend most of your time?

Of course, you can always do both, but would you have more fun doing one over the other? It’s a highly personal decision, but I can help answer that question by showing that both poker and sports betting have their pros and cons. I’ll look at each and help you decide what is your ideal activity, and I’ll give you plenty of reasons to keep doing both.

Really, there’s no wrong way to spend time at a casino as long as you’re having fun. I just want you to spend as much time as possible doing what you’ll like best.

Pros of Playing Poker: It’s Fun

At the end of the day, no matter what you do at a casino, there’s really only one reason to do it—you’re having fun. If you’re not having fun playing poker, then why do it?

Sure, there’s money in playing the game, but unless you’re a professional poker player trying to keep up her bankroll, there are other good ways to make money (like sports betting or even playing slots).

Let’s hope that issue has been put aside, though, and we can assume that you love or strongly like playing one of the variants of the game: Holdem, Draw, Stud, etc. That’s great.

Overall, the best pro for poker is that you’re doing something you love. Of course, this fun can take on different forms. You may be the solo player who keeps her earbuds in all the time, is constantly calculating the odds, stays hyper-focused, and never table talks.

If that’s fun for you, poker is your game. If you’re the type of poker player that loves to be amongst fellow fans of the game, likes to tell crazy stories, etc., that’s good, too, because poker allows for that. It’s an activity that supports both introverts and extroverts, planners, and improvisers. What more could you ask for?

Pros of Playing Poker: Immediate Results

Another pro of playing poker is that, for the most part, you get immediate results. Sure, you may be playing head-to-head against one other person and neither of you are getting decent cards, but for the most part, you play poker because every few minutes, there’s another hand to play.

This keeps the excitement up, the dopamine flowing, and it generally keeps players’ interest going for a long time. Those are all great advantages, and you’ll never get bored.

Pros of Playing Poker: Tournaments Can Last a While

If you’re looking for a single activity to do for an entire night (or day or whatever), then poker tournaments are for you. For the price of a single buy in (and potentially some re-buys if the tournament allows that sort of thing), you can sit for hours and play poker as long as your chips last.

Two Poker Players at a Table With Dealer

You’re not always going to have long tournaments, but you should expect to play for a while without needing to spend more money.

Pros of Playing Poker: You Control the Risk

Another nice thing about the game of poker is that you control your risk and reward. If you don’t want to play with card sharks, don’t enter a no-limit, thousand-dollar entry fee tournament. Play pot limit games with small blinds.

As your skill level or risk tolerance increases, you can play in bigger tournaments with higher blinds. That risks more money, but it also means you can win more, too. Still, that’s all up to you!

Cons of Playing Poker

The biggest con of playing poker is probably just that you’re playing poker.

In all seriousness, playing poker is a bit of discipline in and of itself. The game has a terminology all of its own. There are unwritten rules and customs that one should follow.

Not to mention, there’s a lot of blogs and books on poker strategy, reading tells, improving, etc. That means that it’s a little hard to just pick up and start playing poker and have an expectation that you’re going to do well.

If you’re not sure which is worth more, a flush or a full house, your strategy will suffer at the table and the chances of you winning money decrease dramatically. If you’re just at the table to play and have fun, that’s fine. But without a little practice and dedication, having fun is likely all you will be doing until you can up your game.

Ultimately, if you’re not confident in your poker skills, you’re likely to make more money doing something else. Please don’t let that deter you from playing poker. But you might want to download a free poker app and play for a while before you risk your own cash.

Pros of Sports Betting: Fun

Now, that we have looked at the pros and cons of poker, let’s look at the pros and cons of sports betting. To do that, we start with the same first pro as poker—betting on sports is a lot of fun.

Of all the ideas I will advance tonight, this is the easiest to test. Go find a coworker, bet a Coke on some game, and then watch the game. Tell me you don’t get a little more emotional about the outcome… And that’s just for a Coke!

Now, imagine slapping a few hundred bucks down on a game, and tell me that doesn’t get your heart racing.

Also, whether you’re a solo bettor or a socialite, sports betting can be your thing. You can find a quiet sportsbook and sit all alone or you can find a sportsbook that’s more like a sports bar and watch the game with a bunch of friends you haven’t made yet.

Pros of Sports Betting: Great for Sports Fans

If you’re the guy who wants to watch North Carolina A&T vs. Norfolk State at midnight because, hey, it’s sports and it’s on TV, then why aren’t you betting on sports?

A Sportsbook with Multiple Monitors Showing Games

Seriously, the best part of sports betting is that you have an excuse to watch sports, to be around other sports fans, to read about it on the news, etc. It’s not a waste of time in that case because you’re doing research so you can bet better for the next game.

Such is the magic of sports betting.

Pros of Sports Betting: You Control the Heat

Sports betting is another of those activities where you control the risk by choosing how much you’re going to bet on a given line or whether you’re going to bet at all. If a game doesn’t feel right to you, don’t bet on it.

If you’re sure about something, bet a little bit more. It’s all about you, how good you feel about your bet, and what you’re willing to risk.

Cons of Sports Betting

Sports betting also has a barrier to entry, especially if you want to be really successful at it. This type of casino activity has language, terminology, and a set of rules all to itself that you should understand before you start betting.

Even worse, the things that make you a great sports fan (determination, passion, loyalty) are often the things that make you a poor sports bettor. When you’re close to a team, it’s hard to see that team’s flaws (or in some cases, their strengths) and it’s easy to overexaggerate or severely underestimate either one.

With sports betting, you’re looking for holes in the market. You want to find places where the bookies just didn’t get it right so that you can bet on those games and get your payday. That can take some work to do properly and when there’s cold, hard cash on the line, you don’t want too much of a learning curve.

Your saving grace is that you control the risk. Start small, and you can easily grow from there!

Conclusion

No matter what you like to do at a casino, whether that’s play poker or bet on sports, go for it, as long as you have fun. There’s no wrong way to do either because they both offer their different experiences.

If you want immediate payoffs, play poker. If you’re okay with watching teams play for which you have more than rooting interest, that’s good, too.

Of course, at the end of the day, you can always do both. Swing by the sportsbook on your way to the poker tables. Lay down a couple of bets on some teams you like, then buy into a tournament. That way, you get the best of both worlds.

9 Bets Where Gamblers Should’ve Had Their Heads Examined

Man With Crazy Eyes Looking Over Money

Many people like gambling to a healthy degree. They may play slot machines, poker, or blackjack within reason.

But some gamblers go to the extreme and make bets that a sane person wouldn’t. I’m not even talking about compulsive gambling here, but rather wagers that are absolutely nuts.

This being said, I’m going to cover 9 people who placed crazy bets that brought their sanity into question. From $100k breast implants to tasing one’s wife, these wagers should never be repeated!

1 – Ashley Revell Bets His Life on Roulette

Ashley Revell is a British man who became famous for selling all of his worldly possessions and putting the money into a single roulette wager.

Revell’s roulette adventure began when he was drinking with his friends at a pub. They discussed how cool it would be to risk everything they had on one spin of the wheel.

Of course, most of them forgot about it the next day. Revell, on the other hand, still felt like going through with the idea.

He came up with a plan to sell off his possessions and visit Las Vegas to make the bet. The fire sale, which involved selling off a car, home, and Rolex, netted him $135,000.

Revell just needed a taker for his bet. After all, not every casino is willing to handle a wager as large as $135k. Vegas’ Plaza Hotel agreed to take the action.

Television producers caught wind of the story and thought that it would make for excellent entertainment. E! filmed a special on Revell called THS Investigates: Vegas Winners & Losers, while Sky One produced a mini-series called Double or Nothing.

With the cameras trained on him, Revell laid out his $135k in chips on red (red/black bet). The ball nestled into the red 7 pocket and saved Revell from looking like a complete idiot on television.

He got lucky enough to beat the odds and walk away from the bet with a small fortune. However, the result doesn’t take away from the act that this was a terrible idea to begin with.

2 – Poker Player Gets Breast Implants for $100k

Brian Zembic is a magician and high-stakes gambler. Regarding the latter, he plays everything from poker to backgammon.

Zembic is also one of the most-prolific prop bettors of all time. He’s made a lot of different wagers, including living in a bathroom for $7,000 (buyout price) and playing Doyle Brunson in ping pong for $15,000.

By far the craziest wager that he ever placed involved getting breast implants. His friend, “Jobo,” bet him $100,000 that he wouldn’t get and keep c-cup implants for at least one year.

Zembic initially tried to put the bet off. He avoided getting the implants for several months in 1996. However, he quickly sought out the surgery after losing big through the stock market.

He managed to find a plastic surgeon who also happened to be an avid backgammon player. Zembic beat the doctor out of $4,500 and got his implants for free.

He only had to keep the boobs for one year to earn the $100,000. However, Zembic loved his implants so much that he kept them for two decades.

In 2017, his teenage daughter asked him to get the implants removed. He obliged and is finally back to a normal chest size.

3 – Bears Fan Tasers Wife After Winning Bet

Many sports fans are passionate about their favorite teams. But married couple John and Nicole Grant took their love of sports to a new level in 2013.

John was a Chicago Bears fan and Nicole was a Green Bay Packers fan. Given the longtime Bears-Packers rivalry, the Grants had a natural disdain for each other’s favorite team.

Both had been drinking heavily and made a bet whereby the winner would taser the other. Nicole’s team lost, meaning she was on the receiving end of the stun-gun.

Apparently, Nicole didn’t think that her husband was actually serious about tasering her. She reportedly called the police from a bowling alley after being shocked three times.

Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers Logos With Lightning in Background

Authorities showed up and questioned the couple. Nicole wasn’t seriously hurt, but John was stilled charged with disorderly conduct and possession of an electronic weapon.

He was facing up to six years in prison and a $10,000 fine. However, he ended up paying a $250 fine and avoiding jail time.

Despite the incident, the Grants still enjoy watching the Bears-Packers rivalry together. John’s Bears lost the following year. Lucky for him, he only had to wear a Green Bay jersey after losing a bet.

4 – Student Gambles His Student Loan on a “Sure Thing”

During the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations, Angola took a 4-0 lead over Mail in the first round. Angola’s victory seemed secure given that they scored their fourth goal at the 78th minute (out of 90).

A gambler by the handle “Big Matt” decided that this was a can’t lose opportunity. He made a live wager that Angola would hold onto their lead.

Big Matt bet £4,400 — his student loan — just to win £44. Taking 1/100 odds was an incredible risk to take for such a small amount.

Regardless, this seems like a safe bet under normal circumstances. The odds of a team roaring back to score four goals in such a short amount of time are small.

But Mali did the unthinkable and netted four straight goals with time running out. Manucho, a former Manchester United striker, got the fourth goal to end the match in a 4-4 tie.

Big Matt later kicked himself for the decision on a forum. He also admitted that he’d have to drop out of college after the blunder.

5 – Jake Cody Gambles His Poker Tournament Win on Roulette

Jake Cody is a successful poker player with over $4.5 million in tournament winnings. He’s made a living by gambling in situations where he has an edge.

However, he decided to buck this trend after winning the 2018 partypoker UK Championships £2,200 High Roller.

Cody received $60,000 for his victory. He should’ve padded his bankroll with this prize. Instead, he chose to wager it all on a single roulette spin at Nottingham’s Dusk Till Dawn.

The idea initially started out as a joke. Somebody told Cody that he should bet the full amount on roulette.

Roulette Wheel

He laughed at the idea and carried on with his celebration. However, random people began coming up to Cody and asking him when the bet would take place.

The poker pro eventually gave in and decided to place his $60k payout on black. Rob Yong, owner of Dusk Till Dawn, decided to play dealer and spin the wheel for this historic occasion.

The room erupted in celebration after the ball landed in a black pocket. Cody doubled his payout to $120,000, while his win went viral.

But even he admitted how silly it was to bet his hard-earned poker prize all at once. The WSOP champ said that he’ll stick to poker rather than relying on insane luck again.

6 – Man Changes His Name to Feature 99 Characters

A New Zealand man made a bet with friends that he’d change his name to “Full Metal Havok More Sexy N Intelligent Than Spock And All The Superheroes Combined With Frostnova” if he lost.

The reason for the mouthful of a name is that it barely fits into the country’s legal requirements. The New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs Births, Deaths and Marriages allows for up to 100 characters in a name.

Friends picked out the crazy title for the man from Normanby, Dunedin. He applied for a name change after losing in 2010.

He paid the fee and waited to hear if it was approved. However, Mr. Frostnova only found out that it had been approved five years later. He learned of the successful name change after his passport expired.

7 – Russian Man Bets and Loses Wife in Poker Game

People make all kinds of crazy bets in poker games. Exhibit A: Zembic and his breast implants.

However, implants even seem like a light wager in comparison to risking your wife in a game. This is exactly what Andrei Karpov did during a home game in Murmansk, Russia.

Karpov was losing badly in poker and eventually bet his wife, Tatiana. He continued losing and agreed to relinquish his better half.

Tatiana had no idea that she had been bet and won at a poker table. She was finally filled in when Sergey Brodov, the winner, showed up to scoop the pot.

Tatiana described the incident as “humiliating” and she was “utterly shamed.” But she quickly grew fond of Brodov and divorced Karpov to marry him.

“But as soon as my ex-husband did that, I knew I had to leave him,” said Tatiana. “Sergey was a very handsome, charming man, and I am very happy with him, even if he did ‘win’ me in a poker game.”

8 – Antonio Esfandiari Agrees to Lunge Everywhere for 24 Hours

Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari is one of the most-successful poker players of all time. However, he made an all-time blunder at the 2016 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA).

Everything started with a prop bet that he made with millionaire and philanthropist Bill Perkins. Esfandari was supposed to lunge everywhere he went at the PCA for 48 hours.

If successful, he stood to win $50,000. The money wasn’t a significant amount to either Esfandiari or Perkins.

Nevertheless, The Magician took the wager very seriously. When his legs begin to give out on him during the bet, he resorted to peeing in a water bottle that he held underneath the poker table.

Other players figured out what he was doing and complained to the PCA staff. Esfandiari was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

He also apologized to the poker community and donated the $50k that he earned from the bet to charity.

9 – FedEx Founder Gambles Company’s Remaining Funds in Blackjack

Today, FedEx is an international shipping giant that’s valued at over $55 billion. But the company was on the verge of bankruptcy in its early days.

Frederick W. Smith founded the company in 1971. He used a $4 million inheritance and $91 million in venture capital.

Despite the large starting amount, FedEx was struggling badly. He had just $5,000 left in operating money at one point.

Feeling hopeless, Smith took the money to Las Vegas and played blackjack. He got lucky and won an extra $27,000.

This might not sound like much to such a large company. However, it was enough to fuel the jets for a week.

In the meantime, Smith was able to raise more capital and keep the company afloat. FedEx turned its first profit in 1976, and the rest is history.

Conclusion

People can get crazy when it comes to gambling. The nine wagers covered above are all evidence of this point.

Revell and Big Matt were wild enough to bet everything they had. Revell’s misguided wager panned out when he won a roulette spin worth $135k.

Big Matt, however, went down in flames when he risked his £4,400 student loan on what seemed like a sure thing.

Brian Zembic and Full Metal Havok More Sexy N Intelligent Than Spock And All The Superheroes Combined With Frostnova win the award for headline-grabbing bets.

Zembic won $100k after getting and keeping c-cup breast implants. Mr. Frostnova had to change his name to 99 characters after losing a wager.

Sometimes insane bets can end in heartbreak. A Russian man found this out the hard way after losing his wife in a poker game. She later divorced him and married the winner.

Somehow, John Grant stayed married after tasing his wife following a Bears Packers bet. But he did receive a $250 fine for the incident.

The bets covered here are only the headline makers. I’m sure that there are plenty of other crazy wagers being made around the world. That said, you can expect to see other ridiculous bets in the future.

Blackjack vs. Video Poker – Which Skill-Based Game Is Better?

Blackjack Hand and Video Poker Machine With VS in the Middle

Blackjack and video poker are two casino games that share a few similarities. They’re among the most popular casino games. They both involve lots of strategy, and they offer really low house edges under the right circumstances.

Blackjack and video poker have each been among the most played casino games for decades. Fans of these games love using in-depth strategy to improve their odds of winning.

Assuming you use perfect strategy on the right blackjack or video poker variation, you’ll be facing less than a 0.5% house edge. These odds are quite good considering that the average casino game features over a 2% house advantage.

The merits behind both video poker and blackjack are easy to see. But which of these is the better skill-based game? I’ll answer this question by discussing the basics of each game along with their pros and cons.

Basics of Blackjack

Real money blackjack gives you more options than most card games. After receiving your initial two cards, you can either hit or stand.

You also have the ability to double down (rules permitting), split a pair (e.g. two 9s), or surrender (rare rule). Your goal is to beat the dealer’s hand without going over a score of 21.

Assuming your first two cards equal 21 (a.k.a. “natural”), you receive either a 3:2 or 6:5 payout on your original bet. The amount depends upon the table rules.

The only way you won’t receive an enhanced payout is if the dealer also has a natural. Your bet will be a push in this instance.

Learning Blackjack Strategy

Blackjack seems fairly complicated at first glance. The strategy can also be difficult to learn when considering the multiple options facing you at each stage.

Luckily, many blackjack strategy resources are available. You can consult articles, books, strategy charts, and trainers.

Unless you’re counting cards, I don’t suggest spending much time with articles or books. These resources are inefficient for studying basic strategy.

A strategy chart is the simplest and most effective tool for learning the basics. You can simply Google “blackjack strategy chart” and quickly find one.

A Hand of Blackjack

These charts lay out exactly which moves you should make in each situation. If you have 14 and the dealer’s upcard is 8, for example, then the chart will suggest that you hit.

A trainer is a program that offers suggestions while you play blackjack. Much like charts, you can easily find free programs just by Googling “blackjack trainer.”

The trainer will point out when you make strategic mistakes while playing. If you don’t split aces, for instance, the program will alert you to this gaffe.

Trainers aren’t totally necessary if you’re just playing online blackjack. However, they’re great for naturally learning blackjack strategy before heading to a land-based casino.

Pros of Blackjack

Blackjack isn’t the most popular casino card game without reason. It offers several notable benefits, including the following.

Strategy Is Easy to Learn

Again, blackjack strategy appears complex in the beginning. Each decision presents you with multiple choices.

Do you hit or stand with 12 versus the dealer’s up card of seven? Should you double down on 10 when the dealer shows nine?

Fortunately, you won’t experience much difficulty learning strategy with the right tools. Charts and trainers are both easy ways to master this game.

Strategy charts are especially helpful when you’re playing online blackjack and have time to learn. Trainers are great for when you’ll be playing land-based blackjack and can’t refer to a chart for every decision.

Low Volatility

Blackjack doesn’t quite give you a 50% chance of winning hands. You actually only have around a 42% chance to win each round.

However, splitting, double downs, and natural payouts raise your odds tremendously. The dealer, on the other hand, can’t split, double down, or earn natural payouts.

With the right strategy and game, you’ll only be facing around a 0.5% house edge. Taking everything into account, you won’t face much volatility with this game.

Profitable Advantage Play Method

You may feel like a blackjack master after thoroughly learning basic strategy. But you can take things even further by studying card counting, too.

Contrary to popular belief, card counting doesn’t require an MIT degree to learn. You can quickly pick up how to count cards within minutes.

The key obstacle is being able to count well enough to keep up with the dealer amid casino distractions. You also need a large bankroll (e.g. $10,000 or more) to survive the variance.

Card counting is easy in theory but far more difficult in person. Nevertheless, it’s worthwhile if you love blackjack and want to gain an edge.

Cons of Blackjack

While blackjack may be one of the greatest casino games ever, it definitely has some flaws. Here are the serious downsides to consider with this game.

House Edge Varies Widely Between Games

I’ve mentioned multiple times that the blackjack house edge can be around 0.5%. However, you shouldn’t take for granted that the house advantage will be this low.

First off, the rules change from table to table. One game may feature a 0.5% house advantage, while the next can offer a 2% house edge.

You need to learn the different rules that can alter the odds before playing. Natural payouts have the biggest impact. A 3:2 payoff lowers the house advantage by 1.4% compared to a 6:5 payout.

Your skills also weigh into the matter. If you’re a bad player, then you may be facing a 3% house advantage or higher.

High Bets in Land-Based Casinos

Online casinos are typically the best places to play blackjack. They feature the lowest house edge, on average, and also accept small minimum bets ($1 in most cases).

Brick and mortar casinos are a different story. They must pay dealers to run games and cover higher utility bills.

Therefore, land-based casinos can’t afford to accept $1 wagers. They normally require a $10 minimum bet. If you find anything lower than this, you’re probably sitting at a table with bad rules.

Few Chances to Win Big

Blackjack games do offer progressive jackpots and side bets. However, the average game doesn’t feature these extra frills.

You’re not going to bet $5 on a hand and walk away a millionaire. After all, blackjack isn’t like slot machines or poker tournaments.

The main way to win big with blackjack is to bet big. Odds are, though, you don’t have $10,000 to bet per hand.

Basics of Video Poker

Video poker comes in a large number of variations. But at its core, this game is simply just Draw Poker. You receive a five-card hand to start each round. You must decide which cards you want to keep and discard.

For every card you discard, you must draw a card to replace it. Here’s an example:

  • You’re dealt: Ac-10h-As-4h-7c
  • You keep Ac-As.
  • You must draw three cards to replace 10h-4h-7c.

Your hand will be complete after the draw round. You’ll receive a payout if your hand qualifies for one.

Qualifying payouts differ based on which variation you’re playing. Jacks or Better pays for as little as a pair of jacks, for example, while Deuces Wild requires you to hold a three of a kind.

Your payouts will also be affected by how much you’re betting per round. Standard variations let you wager between one and five coins per hand. You should wager five coins in order to achieve top return to player (RTP) for any game you’re playing.

Learning Video Poker Strategy

Video poker strategy centers on knowing which cards to keep in each situation. You also have to account for which variation you’re playing, too. For instance, Jacks or Better strategy differs from Deuces Wild video poker strategy.

If you’re looking for a place to begin with strategy, then Jacks or Better (JoB) is a good choice. JoB forms the basis for all other variations.

A great deal of strategy charts exist for JoB across the internet due to its popularity. That said, you should have little trouble getting started with this game.

Video Poker Machine

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to find charts for every variation. In these cases, you’ll have to use video poker trainers. Free trainers cover some of the more popular games. However, you’ll have to buy a training program (typically around $50) for other variants.

Video poker trainers are just like those available for blackjack. You play the game and receive suggestions on right or wrong decisions from the trainer.

Pros of Video Poker

Video poker offers a unique combination of large prizes and high payback. You can read about these advantages and more below.

Features Big Payouts

One big benefit that video poker has over blackjack is its top payout. This game pays 4,000 coins for a royal flush on a five-coin bet.

Assuming each coin is worth $0.25, you’ll be risking $1.25 per hand. You’d turn this small amount into $1,000 with a royal flush.

You can also look forward to other solid prizes with a five-coin wager. A straight flush (250 coins), four of a kind (125), and full house (45) also deliver large payouts.

Some Games Offer Over 100% RTP

Video poker is much like blackjack in that it gives you an opportunity to gain an edge. Certain variations offer over 100% RTP to skilled players.

Deuces Wild, for instance, pays back 100.76%. Double Bonus (100.17% RTP) and Double Double Bonus (100.07%) also pay well.

Even if you don’t find one of these games, you can still look forward to high payback with 9/6 Jacks or Better (99.54% RTP).

Simple Rules

Video poker isn’t a difficult game to play. In fact, you can quickly dive into video poker without having ever played.

All you need to do is select your discards and draw. As long as you’re not overly concerned with strategy, then you’ll find this game very easy.

Cons of Video Poker

While video poker may offer you a great chance to win, it also requires you to work hard. You should really consider the following downsides before committing to this work.

Strategy Is Difficult to Learn

Unless you find a chart for your chosen variation, you’re going to have a tough time with video poker strategy. Training yourself to make correct plays takes lots of time and effort.

You may find this undertaking to be worth the effort if you love video poker. But if you’re just approaching video poker from a casual perspective, then you may want to consider the slightly easier blackjack.

Strategy for Each Variation Can Be Hard to Find

As if video poker strategy isn’t already difficult enough, it’s not always readily available for each variation. This is especially the case for full-pay versions of Deuces Wild and Bonus Poker.

9/6 Jacks or Better and 8/5 Bonus Poker are the only variants that are featured in charts and trainers galore. You’ll have to spend extra time searching for strategy on most games outside of this scope.

At worst, you’ll need to put $50 or so into buying a trainer. You really want to be serious about the game before dumping money into learning strategy.

High Paying Variations Are Rare

Want to play full-pay Deuces Wild and make solid profits? If so, then you’d better head to Las Vegas, because you won’t find it elsewhere.

The highest-paying variations are tough to find. Downtown Vegas casinos are the only place to spot variants that offer positive-expected value (+EV).

You can find plenty of online video poker games that deliver over 99.5% RTP. You won’t have as much luck, though, in land-based casino destinations other than Vegas.

Conclusion

Which Game Is Better – Blackjack or Video Poker?

You can see that both blackjack and video poker have their high and low points. So, which game reigns supreme when accounting for the pros and cons?

Blackjack. It offers more accessible strategy, easier strategy, and low volatility. You can win frequently in blackjack without racking your brain to do so.

Of course, I’m just offering my personal opinion after looking closely at the matter. You may have a different take based on your personal preferences.

Video poker has its good points, too. You can look forward to large payouts, +EV games, and simplistic play.

However, my biggest issue with video poker is the strategy. You’ll have a tough time finding and learning the strategy for most games.

Both video poker and blackjack have unique benefits. But I feel that blackjack has stronger advantages that appeal to myself and the average player.

What Talking Becomes a Sin at a Poker Table

Close-Up of a Woman's Face With Her Finger Over Her Lips

A lot of what makes poker such a fascinating game is that it allows a player to influence the course of a hand just by saying something.

Because of that, when you play poker, it’s expected that you know how to talk to other players.

Still, there are moments when words are not only not advisable, but even unacceptable. That’s when talking becomes a sin at poker.

In this post, I’ll be going over the subject of speaking at the poker table.

When Is It Appropriate to Talk at the Poker Table?

First, let’s start by making clear why, and when, you should talk at a poker table.

There are at least two reasons to do this. The first reason is to extract information from the other players.

Your opponent may fall prey to a slip of the tongue, for example. And that single comment may be all you need to make a decision.

Another reason to talk is to balance your table image, as we’ll see.

The Importance of Talking When Playing Tight

If you’re playing tight, being too quiet might prevent you from getting some action when you hit a great hand.

Sometimes, this will happen even if you’re being aggressive pre-flop and c-betting frequently.

A good solution for this is to be a little more communicative than most others at your table. This is something that Mike Caro once said.

The logic here is simple. If you talk a lot, you give the impression that you’re giving a lot of action, too.

Of course, you must also beware of not talking too much. Being annoying would be even worse than not saying anything at all. But we’ll get into that later in this article.

The Importance of Talking When Playing Loose-Aggressive

If you’re playing loose-aggressive, your actions may cause some discomfort at the table. Hence, talking may prevent others from resenting what you do.

That’s another thing that Mike Caro said. Published on the old Poker1 site, here’s a quote from the first paragraph of an article of his called “Poker Word Is Talk.”

Whenever I’m seated at a poker table, one of my main missions is to make my opponents feel comfortable with me. I believe the more they enjoy my presence, the more money I’ll make.

An exception for this rule is if you want to be the “villain” of the table, so to speak. But, if you do, you’d better have some stomach for it. Not everyone can be Tony G.

Poker Player Tony G Smiling at Camera

In fact, I bet that not even Tony G behaves like Tony G when there are no cameras around.

So, unless you know what you’re doing, it’s better to take it easy with any kind of trash talk, especially if you’re more of a cash game player than a tournament player.

What Is a Sin at the Poker Table?

Okay, now, we can start paying more attention to the premise of this article. You might have thought I was exaggerating when I said that talking at poker can become a sin.

I can’t blame you if you thought this. I’m just gonna ask you to stay with me for the next lines, and you’ll understand what I meant by that.

There are at least two ways to understand the word “sin.” The most common is that which you will find in most dictionaries.

It usually has something do with offending a particular deity by not doing what that deity specifically demands from you.

Here’s how the Cambridge Dictionary defines this word: “the offence of breaking, or the breaking of, a religious or moral law.”

This sounds good. However, some Bible scholars have also pointed out the following:

The Greek word for “sin” is hamartia, an archery term for “missing the mark.”

Doesn’t this make things a little more interesting than the other definition?

I think so. Because if forces a person to answer an important question before anything else.

The question is, “Why am I even seated at this poker table in the first place?”

What Is Your Goal as a Poker Player?

Asking what someone’s goal is in poker might even be offensive to some people.

“What do you mean, what’s my goal? Of course it’s to make money!”

Good for you. Because, for many others, this is not necessarily the case. Sure, nobody enjoys losing money, at least nobody that I know of. But some players’ main goal is to socialize.

It doesn’t matter so much to them if they have some losing sessions here and there. Their goals include feeling like part of an “in-crowd.” Maybe poker is not as cool as it was 10 years ago, but it’s still quite fashionable to be seen at a poker table.

Poker Player Deborah Wall

Others are in it more for the challenge that it brings. They do want to win, but it’s often enough that they have done their best and have learned something (regardless of the result).

And let’s not forget that some play for the thrill. As a consequence, these people sometimes treat poker as if it were a game of chance.

So, as you can see, “missing the mark” means different things for different people. Still, there’s a goal that should be shared by everyone who likes poker, to keep the integrity of the game.

And, to do so, everyone must know how to behave properly at a table.

The Etiquette of Poker

How many times have you seen a player talking about a hand they’re not involved in? Many times, they may not even be aware that this is a sin.

For example, when playing Omaha, the flop may bring three cards of the same suit. It’s here that someone might feel compelled to say, “Someone must have a flush!”

If another player reprehends them for saying that, the answer will be something like, “But isn’t that obvious?”

Maybe. But it’s none of your business… Of course, if you’re playing that hand, this is actually your business.

But even then, you don’t have the right to say much unless you’re on a heads-up situation. And you can’t just say anything you want. You can’t, for example, explicitly give away the content of your hand.

I know this last comment sounds crazy, and it should have been unnecessary. But if you’ve watched poker on TV, you might have seen that happen at least more than once.

The reasons for doing it are what I’ll analyze in our next section. Before finishing this brief discussion about poker etiquette, I’d like to offer a tip, though.

If you don’t know whether you can or cannot say something during a hand, just be quiet. You can always clarify your doubts once that hand is over.

The Most Human of All Needs

The rest of this article only applies if your main objective at poker is to make money. Or, to put it in more technical terms, to maximize your gains and minimize your losses.

If that’s your case, it’ll be easy for you to remember things you said during a hand that were counterproductive to your main goal.

Unfortunately, many times, this realization only comes after you leave the table. And you may even ask yourself, “Why did I say that?”

If you’re human, 99% of the time, the answer will be that you were seeking validation.

This is what Dale Carnegie (paraphrasing John Dewey) calls “the desire to be important” in his classic book How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Of course, Carnegie is aware of other human desires as well (food, sleep, sex, etc.). And he also mentions them in his book.

But the desire to feel important deserves a special place. For a start, because it’s characteristically human (most animals seem okay if their other needs are met).

Another reason is that, as Carnegie says, such desire is “seldom gratified.” And when it’s not gratified properly, guess what happens? It degenerates into desperate actions in search for external validation, like the example we provided above.

Conclusion

What other explanation would you give to a person who complains to others about a bad run of cards? And what other explanation can you give to a person who says, “I knew it!” after a showdown?

I wish I could say that there’s an easy fix to this type of behavior. But, if there is, I don’t know about it.

What I am aware of is, first of all, the need to be honest with oneself. And, once you recognize this, you need to address your insatiable need to feel important.

The safest way to do that is by experiencing different kinds of contemplative practices. You can try one of many different forms of meditation, for example.

What do all these techniques have in common? Silence.

The good thing is that, whatever route you take, you don’t need to worry about losing your edge as a player.

How Does a Roulette Tournament Work?

A Gold Trophy in Front of a Roulette Wheel and Confetti

Casino tournaments exist across a variety of games. Blackjack, poker, and slots are by far the most popular games when it comes to tourneys.

Roulette? Not so much. Although it’s a beloved casino game, roulette isn’t really that popular in the tournament arena. But as you’ll find out here, roulette tournaments can be quite enjoyable. You just need to know how they work to experience this excitement.

That said, I’ll cover roulette tourney rules, where you can play these events, and if they’re ultimately worth the effort.

Standard Roulette Tournament Rules

The basic components of a roulette tourney are as follows:

  • You pay a buy-in (e.g. $10).
  • You’re given a set amount of chips (e.g. $1,000 in chips).
  • You play for a specific amount of time (e.g. 1 hour).
  • You keep playing until the time limit or your chips run out.
  • The goal is to accumulate more chips than the other players.
  • The top players share the prize money.

Starting with the first point, you normally have to pay an entry fee to compete. Some roulette tournaments are free to enter (a.k.a. freerolls). By and large, though, you must front a buy-in. Luckily, these entry fees don’t cost too much money.

Once you buy into an event, you’ll be given a chip stack. You can bet these chips in a variety of ways, but you may want to play conservatively in the beginning.

Many roulette tourneys impose minimum and maximum bets. You must ensure that your wagers are within these limits.

Roulette Wheel With Stacks of Chips in Front

Most events are split up into different rounds. Players are gradually eliminated after each round until one table is left.

The leaderboard tracks the chip leaders. Some tourneys feature a winner takes all format, while others see a number of players receive payouts.

Those who qualify for prize money are paid accordingly. Here’s an example of a roulette tournament prize pool:

  • $10,000 prize pool
  • 1st place = $4,000
  • 2nd place = $2,500
  • 3rd place = $1,500
  • 4th place = $500
  • 5th through 10th place = $250

Play in Land-Based or Online Roulette Tournaments

Roulette tourneys are available in both brick and mortar and online casinos. The latter makes for a convenient setting to enjoy these events.

Some of the best US casinos can easily manage roulette tournaments through their software. They offer a leaderboard that provides updated results every second.

You can use these leaderboards to dictate your strategy. For example, you may start off playing conservatively with outside bets. If you fall behind, though, you can switch to inside wagers or increase the size of your outside bets to catch up.

Online roulette tournaments also offer the advantage of quickly delivering payments after an event. You don’t have to wait for organizers to count chips and make payouts accordingly once the tourney concludes.

Land-based tournaments may not offer the same convenience as online tourneys. However, they do boast an exciting atmosphere.

You can look forward to handling your chips, seeing your bets play out in person, and reveling in the boisterous atmosphere.

Brick and mortar tournaments also feature a fun social setting. You and your friends can experience the excitement of roulette tourneys together.

Roulette Freerolls and Buy-In Tourneys

Both online and land-based casinos offer free roulette tournaments. Commonly dubbed “roulette freerolls,” these events don’t charge a buy-in and offer real money prize pools.

You can check an online casino’s tournament schedule to see if they stage roulette freerolls. Some gaming sites hold these events on a weekly basis.

Land-based casinos often send out tourney invites to players. They may offer a roulette freeroll tournament in order to draw gamblers to their casino.

The prize pools for these events aren’t typically huge. After all, most casinos can’t afford to give away $100,000 or more in free money. But freerolls are still worth considering if you’re trying to build a bankroll.

You can find plenty of buy-in tournaments throughout the industry. You don’t normally have to spend much to compete in these events.

For example, a tournament might charge a $5 buy-in and offer a $1,000 prize pool. This structure creates excitement by affording you the chance to go after payouts that are much larger than your entry fee.

Pros of Roulette Tournaments

Roulette tourneys offer a number of advantages over traditional casino gambling. You can see the biggest perks of these tournaments below.

No House Edge

Regular casino gaming sees you compete against the house. The casino has a built-in advantage in these situations.

Here are the different house edges for each variation:

  • French Roulette = 1.35% house edge
  • European Roulette = 2.70% house edge
  • American Roulette = 5.26% house edge

French and European Roulette aren’t bad deals in the grand scheme of things. However, they still give the casino a slight advantage.

The great thing about roulette tournaments is that you don’t have to worry about a house edge. Instead, you’re competing against other players.

You and everybody else are on equal footing when an event begins. Assuming you’re skillful with your betting strategy, you can earn long-term profits in these tourneys.

Try Something New

Roulette is one of the most exciting games in the casino. Nevertheless, you may be tired of playing the house-banked version.

The tournament format gives you something new to look forward to. You can play against other gamblers, use different strategies, and advance through the rounds.

The nice thing about all of this is that you’re still playing the same great game. You just get to enjoy roulette in a different capacity.

Make a Large Variety of Bets

One distinct advantage that roulette has over every other type of casino tournament (except maybe craps) is its betting variety. You can place a number of inside and outside wagers.

The latter category is great for a conservative strategy to open a tournament. Bets like red/black, high/low, and odd/even carry low odds and pay at 1:1.

Wagers on single numbers, splits, and streets offer 35:1, 17:1, and 11:1 payouts, respectively. These bets are all good for catching up in a hurry if you fall behind.

Win Big With a Small Entry

As mentioned before, you don’t usually have to spend much to play in a roulette tournament. You can enter many of these events for between $1 and $10.

Meanwhile, you get to compete for a prize pool that’s much larger than your original buy-in. For instance, you might spend $5 to play for $5,000.

You can also win big with standard roulette games just by placing inside wagers. However, tourneys give you a chance to use strategy en route to playing for large prizes.

Get a Lot of Play out of Your Buy-In

Under normal circumstances, $1 to $5 doesn’t go very far in roulette. These amounts are often the size of a typical wager.

But the same amounts can stretch much further in a tournament. You’ll pay a small entry fee and receive a large chip stack for use in tourneys.

Assuming you advance really far, then you’ll get a lot of play out of your entry. Even if you don’t go very far, you’ll still be able to enjoy yourself for a decent amount of time in these events.

Cons of Roulette Tournaments

So far, I’ve only covered the positive aspects of roulette tourneys. But as you’ll see below, these tournaments feature some downsides to consider as well.

You Must Understand and Follow the Rules

If you’re perfectly satisfied with standard roulette, then you may not want to play tourneys. After all, you’ll need to learn how these events work beforehand.

For the most part, roulette tournaments don’t feature very complicated rules. However, they do require some knowledge before you’re truly ready to take flight.

You need to know the minimum and maximum bets, length of rounds, cut-off for each round, and more. If you’re not in the mood to learn something new, then you don’t want to attempt a roulette tourney.

Roulette Tournaments Are Volatile

You can control your volatility to some degree with roulette. Outside bets allow you to lower volatility, and inside wagers let you chase larger payouts.

Roulette tourneys allow you to place the same type of wagers. However, you can’t control the volatility associated with earning prize money.

Most events only pay the top 10% to 20% of the field. More times than not, you won’t win any money.

Of course, you can improve your chances with a superior roulette betting strategy to the average opponent. But you still won’t win cash on a consistent basis.

Entries Can Be Costly

I’ve mentioned multiple times that buy-ins are normally low in relation to the prize pool. However, some roulette tournament entry fees can be fairly high.

This is especially true if you compete in a marquee event with a six-figure prize pool. For example, a $50,000 guaranteed tourney might require a $500 buy-in.

You’re still spending a small amount to compete for a huge prize pool in this case. Odds are, though, that you don’t have $500 to throw at a single, volatile roulette tournament.

Conclusion

Should you play in roulette tourneys?

Whether you do or don’t think roulette tournaments are worth your time is obviously a personal decision. However, I strongly believe they are worthwhile after weighing the pros and cons.

First off, roulette tourneys don’t feature a house edge. Instead, you’re facing other players without a built-in house advantage involved.

Roulette tournaments also give you an opportunity to try something new. Assuming you’re bored of standard roulette, then you can spice up the action with a tourney or two.

Roulette Table With Stacks of Chips on Top

You also get to make a variety of bets under the same buy-in. If you’ve ever wanted to risk $500 on a single-number bet, then you can do so in a tourney without actually having to put up $500.

You have the chance to win lots of money for a small entry fee, too. You may be able to risk as little as $1 to play for $1,000 or more. Of course, you should keep the drawbacks to roulette tournaments in mind as well. These events often come with rules that are slightly different from the house-banked version.

You shouldn’t have too much difficulty understanding the rules. However, you might also see them as an inconvenience if you’re just looking to kick back and make some bets.

Roulette tournaments can also be quite volatile. With 20% or less of the field getting paid, you’re going to lose far more than you’ll win, regardless of your skill level.

Finally, you may need to pay much more to compete for the biggest prize pools. Special events might even require up to a $1,000 buy-in.

Again, I see the pros of roulette tourneys outweighing the cons. Even if you’re on the fence, you might give an online roulette tournament a try just to see if they’re for you.

How Does a No Deposit Bonus Work?

One Hundred Dollar Bills and Red Bonus Banner

Most online casinos offer bonuses to attract you and other gamblers to their sites. Many of these offers require that you deposit money before qualifying for the bonus.

For example, a casino might feature a 100% match bonus worth up to $500. They’ll stipulate that you must deposit at least $20 to take advantage of this deal. But not all online casino bonuses force you to deposit.

No deposit bonuses give you an opportunity to win money without funding your account.

Obviously, this is an attractive prospect. However, you’ll want to know how these offers work before pursuing them.

That said, I’ll cover the different types of no deposit bonuses (NDBs), how to get them, and what you must know to cash in on no deposit bonuses.

How Do You Qualify for a No Deposit Bonus?

All no deposit bonuses are awarded in the same manner. You need to successfully register for an account and claim the offer.

If you’ve ever played at an online casino before, then you’ll be well aware of the registration process. Most gaming sites feature the same process and require the same information.

Here’s some common info that you must enter when registering:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Date of birth
  • Email
  • Phone number
  • Address
  • Bonus code (often needed for NDBs)

Once you finish completing the registration form, you submit it for approval. You should receive this approval and qualify for your bonus immediately.

The next step is to visit your account and claim the offer. You typically only have a few days to claim a no deposit bonus, so you should compete this step quickly.

After claiming the offer, you must meet terms and conditions to earn your bonus funds. I’ll cover more on terms and conditions later.

Types of No Deposit Bonuses and Examples

No deposit offers come in three main forms:

  • Cash
  • Free spins
  • Free play

Each type of deal gives you a shot at winning free money. But as you’ll see below, they all deliver this money through different means.

No Deposit Cash Bonuses

NDBs are most commonly available in cash form. With these deals, a casino gives you a lump sum of money to play with.

For instance, you might receive a $10 no deposit bonus after registering for an account. You use these funds to meet wagering requirements (a.k.a. playthrough) and, hopefully, withdraw your bonus and winnings afterward.

Here’s an example:

  • You receive a $20 no deposit bonus.
  • Wagering requirements are 40x the bonus.
  • 20 x 40 = $800 must be wagered.
  • You have $30 after meeting playthrough.
  • You can cash out the $30, provided you’ve met other terms and conditions.

Some gamblers commonly assume they’re playing for the original cash value. In the example above, they’d expect exactly $20 after satisfying terms and conditions.

The reality, though, is that cash NDBs can either deliver more or less than the starting value. Everything depends upon how much money is left over after meeting terms and conditions.

No Deposit Free Spins

NDB free spins see you play real-money slots without spending anything. You use the spins to generate winnings that can be withdrawn upon satisfying terms and conditions.

Spin and Win Wheel

Here’s an example:

  • You receive 20 no deposit free spins.
  • You win $15 through the spins.
  • Playthrough is 30x.
  • 30 x 15 = $450 must be wagered.
  • You have $5 left after meeting playthrough.

As you can see, the leftover winnings are what you use to satisfy wagering requirements. If you have any money left after meeting playthrough, then you’ll be able to withdraw the funds once all other Terms and conditions are met.

No Deposit Free Play

Free play refers to when casinos give you a certain amount of free funds along with a time limit. For instance, you might receive $500 in free play with a one-hour limit.

You use the given funds to generate as much money as possible within the hour. Once the time is up, you must meet other terms and conditions to cash out the winnings.

Here’s an example:

  • You’re given $1,000 in free play.
  • The time limit is one hour.
  • You generate $125 in winnings.
  • Wagering requirements are 40x.
  • 40 x 125 = $6,000.

You can cash out what’s left over from the $125 after satisfying playthrough and other terms and conditions.

Terms and Conditions on No Deposit Offers

NDBs are far from a guaranteed source of money. Instead, you need to meet all terms and conditions before withdrawing anything from these deals. You can read about the most common terms associated with these offers below.

Wagering Requirements

Playthrough is the amount you must wager before being eligible to cash out your bonus. Wagering requirements are listed as a multiple of the bonus.

Your goal is to find no deposit bonuses with the lowest playthrough. You’ll have a chance to cash out money from an offer when you can wager less.

For example, a $10 no deposit bonus with 35x wagering requirements is better than a deal with 60x playthrough. Some casinos actually do feature 60x wagering requirements or more to severely reduce the chances of them having to pay up.

Game Restrictions

Your first thought regarding NDBs might be to play whatever game offers the highest return to player (RTP). You’ll likely reduce your losses in this case and improve your chances of earning money from a no deposit deal.

Of course, casinos are wise to this strategy. They reduce contributions towards wagering requirements for certain games.

In some cases, they entirely restrict specific games from contributing anything towards playthrough. Games that are either restricted or carry reduced wagering requirements often feature the highest RTP at a casino.

For example, an online blackjack game with 99.5% RTP might only contribute 10% towards wagering requirements. Meanwhile, an online slot with 96% RTP will contribute the full 100%.

Timeframe on Wagering Requirements

Gaming sites don’t give you an eternity to satisfy playthrough. Instead, they require you to meet this term within a specific amount of time. Common time ranges include anywhere from 30 to 180 days.

You probably won’t need two months to satisfy wagering requirements. However, you should still seek deals that give you more time to meet this term.

Minimum and Maximum Withdrawals

You might assume that you’re able to cash out anything left over from a no deposit bonus, even if it’s just a few dollars.

However, casinos require minimum cashouts regardless of if you’re dealing with an NDB or not. You must have at least enough funds to meet the minimum withdrawal before getting your money.

Most gaming sites won’t process a cashout unless you have at least $10. Assuming you only have $3 left from an NDB offer, you’ll need to keep playing with the $3 until you can meet the minimum withdrawal.

On the other side, you can only earn so much from these deals. Casinos don’t want to award you an NDB only to watch you hit a massive jackpot.

Max winnings on no deposit bonuses often range from $50 to $200. Higher maximums allow you to better capitalize on hot streaks with NDBs.

Maximum Bets

One common strategy for earning casino bonuses is to place huge wagers. With this strategy, you quickly satisfy playthrough and determine if you can collect anything from a no deposit bonus.

But gaming sites want you to use NDBs to try their games and decide if you want to make a deposit. Therefore, they cap the amount that you can bet with an active bonus.

For example, you might not be allowed to wager over $100. If you go over this amount, then you’ll forfeit your no deposit deal.

Required Deposit

Many online casinos also force you to deposit before withdrawing your money. They do this to ensure that you pick out a banking option and can become comfortable with moving money on and off the site.

Deposit Key on a Laptop

You may ultimately never play for real money at the respective casino. But the chances of you doing so increase when you’re forced to deposit and cash out.

Of course, you may need to fund your account anyway to meet the minimum withdrawal amount. If you’ve only gained $5 from your no deposit bonus and the minimum cashout is $20, for example, then you’ll need to deposit at least $15 to get your winnings.

Disqualified from Deposit Welcome Bonus

Some casinos force you into making a difficult decision, either go for a no deposit bonus or the regular welcome bonus.

As for the latter, gaming sites offer lucrative bonus deals to new players. For instance, you might be eligible for a 100% match bonus worth up to $1,000.

Such deals are great if you have a large bankroll and want to chase a sizable bonus. But you won’t have this opportunity if the terms and conditions stipulate that you can only go for the NDB or deposit welcome deal.

Conclusion

No deposit bonuses can be confusing at first. They come in different types and feature several terms and conditions.

However, you can quickly understand how they work when breaking them down by type. No deposit cash, free spins, and free play all work differently.

With cash NDBs, you receive a specific amount of money (e.g. $10). You then use these funds to meet terms and conditions and potentially withdraw what’s left over plus winnings.

Free spins let you play real-money slots without risking anything. You can cash out your winnings after satisfying terms and conditions. Free play awards funds that must be wagered within a certain amount of time (e.g. $1,000 in one hour). You use free play to win money that’s subject to terms and conditions.

Speaking of which, you should carefully read over the terms before going after an NDB. After all, you don’t want to miss out on free money because you place too big of a wager or play a restricted game.

The terms and conditions are set up to give casinos an advantage with these bonuses. You may feel disappointed after failing to earn money from several NDBs. However, these deals are still worth considering if you like casino gaming and want a chance at free money.

5 NFL Betting Systems You Should Use

NFL Betting Systems
The NFL is the league Americans bet on more than any other. It’s also the league that even the most experienced sharps find the hardest to win.

Because of the relatively few number of games played each week, sportsbooks have the time to focus on each individual matchup to make sure there are no easy wins. Even the somewhat misunderstood strategy of “fading the public” doesn’t always hold up when betting on the NFL because the oddsmakers are so diligent in setting lines so that money is nearly equal on each side.

With all of that being said, it’s still possible to turn a profit betting on the NFL if you’re willing to follow systems that have had success over time. In many ways, most sports fans are too emotionally attached to the league to bet rationally, but the numbers never lie.

In this article, I’ll dive into a few betting systems that have resulted in winning seasons for the sports bettors who don’t stray from the strategies that have resulted in successful seasons. Try implementing a few for yourself or check out this 7 step guide for how to bet on football and see if you can add a little extra to your bankroll come playoff time.

1 – Road Dogs (Under .500)

Life can be unpredictable, but there are a few constants that have withstood the test of time: death, taxes, and sports bettors undervaluing teams that are on the road, under .500 and an underdog.

You might be thinking that choosing a home favorite over a team that has a record under .500 is one of the more safe (spoiler alert, there’s no such thing as a “safe” bet) plays. But in reality, the public’s bias often results in inflated spreads that make the underdog a smarter bet.

Titans

Since 2005, road underdogs with a losing record have covered the spread at a shocking 55.5% clip from 2005 to 2019. Logically, it can be difficult to bet on a bad team, but sportsbooks are aware of how bettors typically think in how they approach their plays.

Generally speaking, home field advantage is overvalued. It’s a well-known fact that oddsmakers give the home team a 3-point boost that wouldn’t exist on a neutral field, but even a field goal might be overestimating the true impact. Additionally, public action tends to lean towards the favorite, meaning oddsmakers will further inflate the spread in an effort to even up the money.

Use public bias to your advantage by taking road underdogs who have a losing record. It might be hard to pull the trigger at first, but you’ll thank yourself when all your friends are riding the seemingly-obvious play and coming up a little short.

2 – Non-Playoff vs Playoff Teams in Week 1

Early in the season, it can be difficult to judge how good a team really is compared to the year before. Naturally, most bettors rely on last year’s opinion even when betting on the current year’s game.

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In Week 1, non-playoff teams cover the spread at an amazing 65% rate when facing off against a team who made the playoffs the year prior.

Because there’s a huge lack of information in Week 1, it can be challenging for oddsmakers to put out spreads that accurately reflect the team’s current talent. This gives the public a tremendous amount of “power” over what the eventual spread will be.

Week 1 is notorious for having spreads that are larger than they should be, as the sportsbooks are looking to even up some of the money instead of having the vast majority on the favorite only.

While fading the public is overly-simplistic when the public has such a strong influence on the spread, it’s best to step away from the bias.

3 – Rebound Games

It’s typically a good idea to focus on quantifiable numbers and data when deciding which way to bet, but unlike wagering at the roulette or craps table, there’s always a human element at play when it comes to betting on sports.

Teams who have suffered a big loss in the previous week typically rebound and outperform the public’s perception. It’s important to consider that the public is likely to draw on the most recent information (meaning the previous week) to make their betting decision.

NFL Blowout

When a team loses a game by more than 21 points, they cover the spread the following week at a 59% rate since 2005. Recency bias is a strong motivator for bettors, and it’s no more prevalent than in the NFL. It makes sense; with a week between games, everyone is susceptible to overanalyzing a single performance. Don’t fall for this trap that presents itself as inflated spreads. If you feel like the sportsbooks are daring you to pick a favorite, go the other way.

Since you’re part of the general public, you might understand how it can be tough to place your hard-earned cash on a team coming off a convincing loss. This is a good time to point out that becoming an effective sports gambler requires you to think contrary to the “easy” play.

4 – Run to Victory

If you ask people who have a significant amount of football knowledge, they’ll tell you that controlling the run game is crucial to winning. Winning the time of possession battle is an important, but often-overlooked stat that has a strong correlation towards winning. Not to mention, rushing efficiency can have major implications for which team will cover the spread.

Running the Ball

From 2000 to 2018, an NFL team that rushes for 30-plus yards more than their opponent covers the spread at an almost unbelievable 75% rate. The difficulty with applying this statistic to your betting strategy is that you can’t rely (necessarily) on past data, but rather, you must predict how the rushing yards will play out for each team.

With that being said, there are always games that appear to heavily favor one team when comparing rushing offense to the opponent’s rushing defense.

For example, if one team has a top-five rushing offense and is going up against a bottom-five rushing defense, the likelihood that you can predict the rushing outcome is high.

Keep in mind that this particular system doesn’t have anything to do with who will win the game outright. This means that it’s very possible to overlook the impact of the 30-plus rushing advantage unless you’re invested in the spread.

Remember, even though a team might lose a game, if they’re able to play keep-away and commit to the run, at the very least they’re preventing the other team from scoring…and most importantly, covering.

5 – Bet Against the Best

Contrarian betting is typically a smart move, and this is especially true late in the season. Each year, there are a handful of teams who find themselves with an 8-2 record or better coming into late November and beyond.

Patrick Mahomes

These teams are so highly regarded by the general sports-watching public that spreads on their games are often way higher than they “should” be. The numbers support the concept that fading the best teams in the league is a smart move, as hard as it may be to pull the trigger against a top-tier team.

From 2003 to 2018, teams that have a winning percentage of .800 or better after Week 12 have a 43.6% win rate against the spread. This means that the underdogs in these situations are a particularly profitable play.

It’s tough to go against the best in the game, but history shows that it pays to take the underdog.

Conclusion

I’ve mentioned it several times throughout the article, but as sports fans, the NFL over-analysis that takes place each week makes it hard for gamblers to see things rationally.

Stick to these systems that have a proven record of success and you’ll thank yourself come playoff time.

How Do I Pick a Good Slot Machine?

Slot Machines and Slots Logo
Slot machines generate more profit for a casino than the other casino games by a wide margin. And what’s good for the casino’s bottom line is NOT what’s good for your bottom line.

I sometimes recommend avoiding slot machines altogether and just sticking with table games, because the amount of money you’re mathematically expected to lose is dramatically lower when playing table games.

But some people love taking a shot at a big jackpot. For players who want to risk a small amount for a potentially life-changing jackpot, I offer the following tips for how to pick a good slot machine.

Try to Find a High-Denomination Slot Machine You Can Afford

Don’t be fooled by the ubiquitous nature of penny slots. Since those games usually require you to bet on multiple lines at one time, you’re often betting far more than just a penny per spin. In fact, it’s impossible to bet a penny per spin on such a game.

Slot Machines

Often, even on a penny slot machine, you’re risking $1.00 or more to spin. On the other hand, if you were just playing a dollar slot machine to begin with, you’d be playing a game with a lower house edge.

If you spend some time looking at the payback percentage surveys for Las Vegas casinos, one thing will become clear quickly…

The lower denomination machines have a much lower payback percentage than the higher dollar machines.

I’m NOT, however, suggesting you gamble a lot per spin. You should bet as little as possible while still keeping the game interesting for yourself.

In the long run, the more you bet per spin combined with how long you play is going to determine how much you’re going to lose—not IF you’re going to lose, but HOW MUCH.

That’s an important thing to remember about all casino gambling games. No matter which ones you choose, you’ll lose more the longer you play.

Think Old School

The newer the slot machine game is, the more bells and whistles it has. And those bells and whistles all have a cost in the form of a lower payback percentage.

Here’s an example:

On an old-school slot machine with three mechanical-looking reels, you win if you line up three symbols across the center line. That’s simple enough.

But on a modern slot machine with five virtual reels and visible lines five above and five below, some of the symbols trigger bonus games.

Those bonus games are fun and generate winnings, but they don’t come up often. When they do, they don’t pay out as much as you’d think.

When you include wild symbols, multiple paylines, and the bonus games, the payback percentage for a game like this is often much lower than it would be on an old-fashioned, “electro-mechanical” slot machine game.

Boring is good. And winning small is always more exciting than not winning at all.

Choose Flat Top Machines Over Progressive Slot Machines

Most people are at least a little bit familiar with the concept of a progressive slot machine jackpot. That’s a game with the ticker that tracks how big the jackpot has gotten. The jackpot grows as players make bets on the machine (or its sister machines).

Progressive Slot Machines

Eventually, if the progressive jackpot gets big enough, the game’s payback percentage will inevitably be above 100%. But the problem here is twofold.

For one thing, the probability of winning a progressive jackpot, especially a big one, is so low that it makes the expected value of that game irrelevant. If you’re more likely to be struck by lightning than you are to win a prize, that prize might as well not exist.

For another, that jackpot keeps growing because the machine (or machines) take a tiny percentage of each bet to “fuel” that jackpot. This comes directly from the payback percentage for the game. Where else could it come from?

A flat top machine, on the other hand, has a flat top prize. It doesn’t change. It’s usually 1,000 for 1 or 2,000 for 1. You’ll win more money more often on a flat top machine than you will on a progressive slot machine.

Play Online Slot Machine Games Carefully

Different casinos have different average payback percentages for their slot machine games. The casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, for example, are more competitive than the slot machines in the local tavern or gas station.

Slots on a Laptop

But the most competitive casinos of all time are the ones targeting an internet audience. They can afford to be competitive, too, because they have a worldwide audience to compete for. Even people who are unable to travel, for whatever reason, can play online slot machines.

The problem with online slot machines, though, is that some online casinos are slower to pay out than others. And some internet casinos, especially if they’re based in another country, might not pay out at all.

Spend a little time on some online gambling forums and notice how many complaints have to do with players who are mad that they can’t get their winnings back from the online casino.

You should stick with online casinos that are recommended by legitimate online gambling portals (like this one).

Look for sites that aren’t overtly pushing sales when you’re trying to find a recommendation. Website owners can make a small fortune in a short amount of time referring customers to online casinos. This makes it hard to find an unbiased source of reviews.

The Players Club Card Won’t Affect Your Chances of Winning

The players club card is a card you sign up for at the casino that you insert into the machine while you play. It tracks how much you’re betting over time and pays you loyalty rewards in the form of rebates and comps as a tiny percentage of that.

For example, a players club card set to pay back 0.2% of your action can generate significant amounts of “freebies” during a weekend spent gambling.

Let’s say you spend eight hours playing slots at the casino over a weekend, and you’re betting $3 per spin. If you’re an average gambler, you’ll make 600 spins per hour, which equates to $1,800 in action per hour.

You earn rewards at the rate of 0.2% X $1800, or $3.60 per hour. Over the weekend, you get $28.80 in total casino comps.

The casino, of course, expects to win far more than $28.80 over that amount of action. But even if you’re winning, the casino doesn’t care, because it makes its money on the aggregate action of thousands of players over hundreds of hours.

You’ll see a lot of gambling bloggers offer the standard advice of always using the players club card. This isn’t terrible advice. From a purely mathematical perspective, you might as well get your 0.2%.

But I like to account for more nuance than that. Think about the casinos’ goals in offering that card. Isn’t their goal to get you to gamble more?

When you sign up for the players club card, the casino takes your name, address, phone number, and email address. They use this contact information to market to you.

Players Club Card

Let’s say you lose an average of $300 on a trip to the casino playing slots. Also, let’s assume you go to the casino four times a year, for a total loss of $1,200.

You can get back about $120 in the comps from the card. But if the advertising from the casino convinces you to make one extra trip to the casino a year, the loss for the year jumps to $1,500.

The casino spent $120, but they made $180 profit on it. And advertising is more effective with some people than others.

I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether the rebates are worth getting the advertising.

Consider the Boulder Strip for Land-Based Slots

The best payback percentages in a Las Vegas casino are on the machines at the Boulder Strip, which average around 96% if you play nickel, quarter, or dollar slots.

Contrast that with the average 90% to 92% return on the casinos on the main Las Vegas Strip, and you’ll see a huge difference.

Let’s take our average gambler who spends eight hours gambling over a weekend. This gambler puts $1800 x 8 hours into action on a weekend, which is $14,400.

If you lose 4% of that, you’re looking at a loss of $576.

On the other hand, if you lose 9% of that, which is what you’d probably lose on the Strip, your losses for the week would look more like $1,296.

Of course, those losses are averages over the long run, but you get averages like that by paying out winners less often and having losing results more often. You also do it by offering smaller prizes on the occasional wins.

Stay Away From Slots Based on Famous Intellectual Properties

You’ll see all kinds of brands used by slot machine manufacturers. These can involve TV shows, celebrities, or other products. Businessmen like to call this kind of thing “synergy.” The brand gets exposure in the casino, and the game gets played more often by fans of the brand.

Some of the newest examples of this include Sex and the City slots (based on the HBO TV show), Adam Levine slots, and Wheel of Fortune slots.

The manufacturer pays a licensing fee to use the intellectual property. For example, someone out there owns the rights to the old TV show Hee Haw. If you want to create a slot machine based on that property, you have to pay the owner. Where do you think they get the money to pay for that license?

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If you guessed that it comes almost directly from the payback percentage of the game, give yourself a gold star!

When possible, play slot machines that aren’t tied to an existing intellectual property or celebrity. This means skipping the Dolly Parton and Elvis slots and playing more obscure games like Burning Bar slots or Double Diamond Deluxe slots.

I can’t guarantee a higher payback percentage on such games, but chances are, you’ll do better on the games that don’t involve a licensed property.

Conclusion

What makes a good slot machine “good?”

The main thing, for most of us, is the payback percentage. That’s the mathematically expected return you’ll see from the game over time.

You can’t predict anything remotely close to the actual payback percentage of a slot machine game, but I’ve offered some good rules of thumb for how to find games with a higher payback percentage.

Honestly, though, you’re still mathematically better off playing table games. But these are some great tips to keep in mind when you’re really looking to pick a good slot machine.

The Best Ways to Get More Comps at the Casino

Group of People Playing Craps at the Casino, Loyalty Card
Most people have figured out by now that best casinos in the US will give you “free” stuff if you come into their property and gamble. Free stuff is usually called “comps.”

It’s not really free, though, because the casino expects you to lose money over time. You might not lose money yourself, but the mathematical expectation is that the action from all its players will result in winnings for the casino and losses for the player.

Smart gamblers figure out ways to get more comps at the casino than they might otherwise. Consider this a guide to being a smart casino gambler and getting more comps.

1 – Join the Players Club

You can enjoy free drinks at most casinos without being a member of the players club, but that’s pretty much the only comp you’re eligible for if you’re not a member of the players club.

Joining is easy. You can ask anyone at the casino where the players club desk is. When you find it, you’ll present your ID and fill out a membership application.

If you happen to be in Las Vegas, know that all the popular casinos have some sort of players club. Be sure to compare the top Las Vegas loyalty programs to see what your favorite casino has to offer.

They’ll give you a card to insert into the slot machines and other gambling machines when you play. It will track how much money you’ve gambled during your time at the casino. Most casinos award freebies at a rate of about 0.2% of your total action.

Here’s how that works:
If you play slots at 600 spins per hour and bet $3 per spin, you’ve put $1800 per hour into action. You get $3.60 worth of comps based on that.

Of course, if you understand that most slot machines have a house edge of at least 5%, your expected loss is $90 per hour, making the slots club hugely profitable for the casino.

But don’t forget that you get the comp points whether you win or lose. They’re based on your action not your losses. Even if you win, you’re entitled to your comps.

You also present this card at the tables when you’re playing table games. The pit boss will evaluate how much you’re betting on average and award you comps based on that estimated action.

The easiest way to get more comps is to just join the players club and use the card every time you gamble. And if you lose your card, just ask for a replacement.

2 – Look for Player Club Promotions

Most casinos offer time periods where they award double or triple points for your play. This is usually during hours where they don’t see a lot of action. If you make sure to play during those hours, you’ll see more comps faster.

In the example in the last point, where you’re a slots player betting $3 per spin, you’re looking at getting $7 or $10 per hour in freebies instead of just $3 or $4 in freebies.

Casino Slot Machines, Special Offer Text

You can find other promotions that entitle you to more freebies. The casinos advertise these by sending you emails and snail mail flyers. Look for them and take advantage of them.

If your goal is to get more comps at the casino, paying attention to the promotions is crucial.

3 – Think About Playing Games With a Lower House Edge

This won’t directly affect how many comps you get. Though, it will affect how much money you’re going to lose in an attempt to get those casino comps.

Remember how I mentioned the expected loss on that slot machine? Let’s assume you put that money through a video poker machine instead. Let’s also assume that the video poker machine has a house edge of 0.5% instead of 5%.

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Instead of an expected loss of $90/hour, you’re looking at an expected loss of $9/hour. And if you’re getting $3 or $4 per hour back in comps, you’re getting a lot of entertainment at a reasonable price.

The trick with this is twofold:

  1. You need to be able to recognize the video poker games offering the best pay tables.
  2. You need to be able to play those video poker games with close to optimal strategy.

Some frugal gamblers even find situations where their expected value per hour on the video poker games is positive rather than negative.

4 – Try to Optimize Your Play at the Tables

Suppose you’re playing blackjack instead. The house edge, if you’re playing the right games, with basic strategy is only 0.5%, so 0.2% in rebates is a big deal. But you can do even better than that.

When you’re playing table games, the casinos aren’t tracking your action dollar for dollar like they are when you’re playing gambling machines. They’re estimating the number of hours you’re playing and how much you’re betting per hand.

If you can get them to estimate that you’re betting more per hand, you’ll get rewards based on their estimate rather than your actual action. If you can also play fewer hands per hour, you can get even more rewards for less play.

Casino Dealer at Casino Blackjack Table

How do you do that? If you’re playing a table game, vary the size of your bets. Ask the dealer and pit boss what they have you rated at per bet. If you’re betting more than that on average, ask them to consider revising your rating.

For example, if you’re playing real money blackjack for $10 per hand, try placing occasional $20 and $40 bets. Your goal is to convince the pit boss that you’re playing for an average of $20 per hand instead of an average of $10 per hand.

You should also take occasional breaks and sit out some occasional hands to reduce the amount of action you’re giving at the table.

5 – Speak up and Ask for Free Stuff

One of the best tips, and one of the easiest, is to speak up and ask for comps. The trick is to be charming and demanding at the same time. Pissed off casino employees are less likely to give you something for free.

This works best for the low-level comps, and it also helps if you look like you have some money to blow. You don’t necessarily have to blow it, but you MUST look like you have it to blow.

I had some big fun going back and forth with the cardroom manager at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino several years ago. I was trying to convince him that the casino should buy us all hot dogs from Pink’s. It didn’t work, by the way.

Want to know why? It’s simple! We were playing at the lowest stakes tables in the room. The rake on those games isn’t high enough to warrant freebies.

He did tell us if we started playing for higher stakes that he’d buy us all hot dogs. That’s not true at all casinos, though. I also used to play poker during the day shift at Excalibur Hotel & Casino. It was mostly low rollers and older men playing.

But we got a free lunch every day, and it was always excellent. In fact, that was some of the best clam chowder I’ve ever had.

6 – Read These Books

Anyone who’s committed to getting the most comps possible from the casino should invest in and read the following two books:

  • Comp City by Max Rubin
  • The Frugal Gambler by Jean Scott

Two Poker Cards, Frugal Gambler by Jean Scott, Comp City by Max Rubin
Comp City mostly covers how to use a combination of basic strategy in blackjack with some techniques for slowing down your rate of play to get more comps than the casino would expect to give you for the amount you’ll lose. Rubin’s big idea is for you to become a “comp wizard.”

The Frugal Gambler, on the other hand, focuses on using coupons, video poker, and the players club to gamble for free and enjoy vacations that don’t cost a lot of money.

Comp City is aimed at a higher-end audience, while The Frugal Gambler is focused more on low rollers. But you should read both of them.

Conclusion

I want to close this post with a single caveat… Don’t believe that the free stuff in Vegas or another casino destination is really free. These comps are just a small rebate on your expected losses.

Sure, on the occasional visit to Vegas, you’ll beat the odds. But in the long run, the casinos will always make a profit on any comps they award you.

8 Sports Betting Myths and Truths

Aerial View of BlueJays Baseball Field, True or False Text, Money
When it involves gambling, something inherently based on chance, you can bet there will be some people who think they’ve figured out a system that allows them to gain an advantage. Combine this with the fact that sports gambling has been going strong for more than 2,000 years and it’s easy to see how some myths develop over the years.

With all of that being said, some of those old theories passed down from years gone by actually do carry a good deal of truth. The trick is separating the wise tales from the wise advice.

Ever notice how casinos and sportsbooks always seem to be profitable? That should be a good indication that bettors haven’t yet cracked the code that tips the scales in their favor. In this article, I’ll outline seven commonly believed myths and explain why they don’t hold up.

1 – You’re Betting Against the Sportbooks

You might think that the ideal situation for a sportsbook would be to have the majority of money on one side then have that side lose. While that may be the best outcome, books design their lines and spreads so the money is split evenly on either side. That way, if 50% of the bettors win, they’ll profit on the “juice” without risking losing any money.

The lesson to be learned here is that sportsbooks do their best to ensure they’ll make money… And they usually do.

That’s why it’s a good idea to go against the public. Oftentimes, books will play on the public’s misconceptions or emotions in order to create a scenario where the majority of the money is on the less likely of the two outcomes.

Never be afraid to shop around to look for the best moneyline options. Before choosing a sportsbook to settle on, learn how to choose a US online sportsbook to ensure you’re making the best desition.

2 – You Can’t Win Betting on Favorites (In the Long Run)

The value is in betting on the underdogs, right? This might be true, but that doesn’t mean betting on favorites is a waste of money. It might be hard to rationalize throwing down $100 to win $20, but picking and choosing games with near-certain outcomes does have benefits.

Side View of Soccer Field at Night

The key to betting on the moneyline in games with heavy favorites is to use the strategy sparingly. It only takes one loss to erase several wins if you’re wagering a significant amount for a smaller payout.

3 – Experts Guarantee Success

Gambling is inherently risky, and nobody has the answers that make winning a sure thing. While you may be enticed by an “expert” who claims to have won 60% of their bets over the past year, remember that they’re probably leaving out the part about losing heavily the year before.

It’s true that those who have made a career out of sports gambling have probably devised systems that give them a greater probability of being profitable, but there’s no guaranteed method for betting.

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If you can get free advice, it’s worth considering. But don’t go shelling out big bucks to an anonymous online bettor who claims to have the secrets to winning big.

It’s tempting to seek out an oracle who essentially tells you exactly which bets to place when they promise success, but proceed with caution. Remember, if they’re able to convince 1,000 people to pay $5 per month in exchange for their advice, there’s significantly less risk because they’re making money either way.

If you see an online expert touting high win percentages, just be sure to do your research before you hand over your money.

4 – The NFL Is the Best Sport to Bet

Before I get into it, don’t shoot the messenger. I love betting on the NFL as much as any other red-blooded American, but it’s time to set the record straight.

In a sport with such a high volume of bets, sportsbooks pay close attention when setting spreads and moneylines. This is usually not a good thing for bettors who make their money by finding little advantages. Simply put, NFL oddsmaking is about as mistake-free as it gets.

Wilson NCAA Basketball Ball

Because there are so few games each week, sportsbooks can dedicate tremendous time and resources to each one. In other sports like college basketball and March Madness, or even baseball (where there are 10x more games played), you might be able to find a slight advantage.

Let’s be honest, you’re not going to stop betting on the NFL and neither will I, but the return on your bets might be a little higher elsewhere.

5 – Teasers Are Novelty Sports Bets

Teaser bets, those bets where you “buy” points, are often looked at as an amateur move that won’t pay off in the long run. While it’s certainly true that you might be sacrificing money by giving yourself some cushion that may be unnecessary, it can be helpful if you know when to use the strategy.

For example, moving the spread in a football game from +4 to +5 might not be worth the money, but moving it from +6.5 to +7.5 might be worth every penny due to the probability of the game ending in a one-touchdown difference.

Generally speaking, teasers won’t be the difference between a win and a loss in the majority of your bets, but in occasions where a point or two significantly changes the outlook, it’s a good idea to consider.

6 – Stick to One Type of Sports Bet

This one is tricky, because there’s some validity to the idea. It’s smart to find out where you have the most success then try to master the art of that type of bet. However, it’s even more important to gain an understanding of the sport itself and make your decisions based on what you know.

Additionally, sticking to one type of bet puts you at a disadvantage because you might have a better feeling about a different bet you don’t normally utilize.

Crowded Football Stadium, XFL Logo

For example, you might not know who to pick in an XFL 2020 game based on the spread, but you know it’s going to be a windy day, so maybe your money is better used on betting the under. Prop bets aren’t just for fun, they can pay out big time if you choose the right one.

If you’re looking to place bets for the XFL 2020 season, be sure to wager only on the safest XFL betting sites.

7 – “Due” for a Win

If you take nothing else away from this article, just remember to stay away from the gambler’s fallacy. Seriously, as much as your brain might tell you a favorite (or underdog) is “due” to cover, it’s completely incorrect to think this way.

For those who are unfamiliar with the gambler’s fallacy, it when a bettor thinks that since one event hasn’t happened in multiple trials, it’s more likely to come up. For example, if you flip a coin and it has turned up heads four times in a row, one might think it’s more likely to come up tails on the next toss.

Prior trials have absolutely no impact on one at hand. Similarly, don’t try to spread out your bets between favorites and underdogs just for the sake of having even money on both. Never bet a certain way simply because you bet a different way on the game before and you want to “mix it up.”

8 – It’s All About the Players

This one might not be so much of a myth as it is just general advice. While we might be quick to examine the players competing on the field (which makes sense), bettors often forget about coaching.

Redskins NFL

Coaching matchup histories aren’t as visible as previous player matchups, but they can be just as important. In today’s NFL especially, almost every head coach has learned under another current head coach. This fact alone means matchups won’t always be equal, as some coaches might have a better idea of another’s game plan.

Do your research and find out if there’s any information to be gained (that the general public might miss) by examining coaching matchups.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, we’re all just trying to gain an advantage or find a strategy that works. The sad reality of the situation is that it can do more harm than good to put your trust in a theory that isn’t accurate. Like you’ve probably been told at some point, there are no shortcuts on the ladder to success.

Slot Machine Mentality Is Killing Your Gambling Results

Slot Machines in Casino
You don’t have to be a slot machine player for slot machine mentality to hurt your gambling results. In fact, playing slots is one of the few games you can play where slot machine mentality doesn’t hurt your results.

Don’t worry if you don’t know what slot machine mentality is. I’m getting ready to tell you all about it, and teach you how to stop letting it kill your gambling results.

What Is Slot Machine Mentality?

When you play slot machines, you put your money in, spin the reels, and hope to hit a big win. You can’t use any strategy to change the outcome. This leaves you with nothing more than hope, and hope isn’t a sound strategy.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with playing slot machines. Sometimes, I take a few spins chasing progressive jackpot slots or when I have a few minutes to kill in the casino. But I know that playing slot machines is a true gamble, and I also know that I’m giving the casino a huge edge when I play.

The problem is that many gamblers play every game like a slot machine. They put their money down and take their chances, hoping to get lucky.

At the poker table, I see players go all in on a flush draw or with ace-king, hoping to get lucky.

At the craps table, I see gamblers betting on hard numbers and other inside bets that have a high house edge, hoping to get lucky and hit one of these terrible odds wagers. Video poker players ignore basic strategy and try to hit a royal flush on every hand, even if they have a much better chance to complete a lower paying winning hand.

This is what I call slot machine mentality. It’s fine to have slot machine mentality when you’re playing slots, but when you play other games, you need to stop acting like you’re playing slot machines.

Better Gambling Options in the Casino

The casino is filled with better options for gamblers than slot machines. But these games are only better options when you play with proper strategy. Here are some better options than slot machines. Each one includes a few basic tips to help you play them without resorting to slot machine mentality.

Blackjack

Blackjack is one of the best games available in the casino if you’re willing to learn a little bit of strategy. With decent rules and a good approach, you can play with a house edge of less than .5%. A half percent house edge is lower than what you get on most slot machines.

Blackjack Cards and Casino Chips on Casino Blackjack Table

The problem is that, if you don’t use the correct strategy, the edge can go up to 3% or higher depending on how you play. The good news is that it’s easy to use proper blackjack strategy. All you have to do is get a blackjack strategy card, follow the plays on the strategy card 100% of the time, and never take insurance or any side bets.

Many blackjack players go with their gut feelings when they play and raise their bets chasing their losses. Every time you make a play based on your gut instead of using the correct strategy, you’re playing real money blackjack just like a slot machine.

Video Poker

Video poker is a machine based game, like slots, but it’s designed so you can use strategy to alter your results. Online video poker machines are also available with varying pay tables, which also change the house edge.

When you learn the best pay tables and use the best strategy, popular video poker games like Deuces Wild and Jacks or Better offer a house edge just as good, or better, than blackjack. And just like blackjack, you can get strategy cards that lay out all of the best plays.

The highest payout hand on most video poker machines is a natural royal flush.

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Some players always draw to a royal flush and ignore lesser paying hands in hopes of hitting a big win. Remember, any strategy that requires hope isn’t really a strategy.

Stick with the plays on your strategy card and find video poker games with good pay tables. This eliminates hope and lets you play with a low house edge.

Baccarat

One thing that draws many players to slot machines is how easy they are to play. Slot machines are easier to play than blackjack and video poker, but you pay for the ease of play with a higher house edge. This is where baccarat comes into play.

Gambling on baccarat is just as easy to play as slot machines, and it has a much lower house edge. You don’t even need to worry about strategy, except to make sure to bet on the right spot every hand. The banker bet is always the best bet at the baccarat table, and it offers a house edge just over 1%.

Roulette

Roulette doesn’t involve any strategy at all, because all of the bets on most wheels have the same house edge. The only exception is the basket bet on a roulette wheel with a double zero space. The basket bet is a bet on the zero, double zero, one, two, and three. The house edge is higher on the basket bet on a double zero wheel than any of the other bets.

Casino Roulette Wheel

You should never play roulette with a wheel with a double zero space. Stick with a wheel with only a single zero space and it doesn’t matter what bet you make. The house edge is higher than good blackjack games and baccarat, but it’s still much lower than the majority of slot machines.

Craps

Craps is definitely more complicated to play than slot machines. But if you stick to the best bets, it’s still pretty simple. You should start with a pass line bet. When a point is set, play the odds bet on the point. This creates an overall house edge of only 1.41%. Craps has the added advantage of playing slower than most games, so you don’t risk as much every hour that you’re playing.

A bet on the don’t pass line is slightly better than the pass line, but most players stick with the pass line because that’s what most other gamblers use.

If you bet on the don’t pass line, you need to make the odds bet when a point is set as well.

The combination of a low house edge and slow play makes US real money craps a much better choice than slot machines for most gamblers. Don’t be intimidated by all the action at the craps table. Stick with the simple bets I explained above and ignore everything else.

Poker

Poker is the best option if you’re willing to learn a lot about strategy. The reason why poker is the best option is because, instead of playing against the casino and the house edge, you’re competing against the other players.

This means that if you’re able to master poker strategy, you can win more than you lose. The only chance you have to win more than you lose playing slot machines is hoping to hit a big jackpot. Good poker players can grind out profits on a consistent basis.

A Non-Casino Option

The only reason to play slot machines is to chase big jackpots. If you play slots long enough and aren’t lucky enough to win a big jackpot, you’re guaranteed to lose. I think most gamblers agree that winning a slots jackpot over a million would be life-changing. But big jackpots aren’t hit often, and most slot machine players go their entire lives and never hit one.

Variety of Lottery Tickets Displayed

Instead of playing slot machines, consider playing the lottery. The house edge is even higher than slot machines, and the odds of winning a jackpot are extremely small, but instead of winning a million or two, you have the chance to win tens of millions or hundreds of millions.

The other upside to playing the lottery instead of slot machines is that you can play for a few dollars. The two biggest lotteries in the United States can be played for $2 each and have two drawings a week. This means that for $8 a week, you can buy a ticket for each of them for each draw.

Playing the lottery is still hoping to win, which makes it fit in the same category as slot machines. But at least the slots mentality of the lottery gives you a small chance to win even more money than you can playing slots.

Conclusion

The only games where it’s safe to use slot machine mentality are slot machines, keno, bingo, and the lottery. If you’re playing any other gambling game, you need to stop using slot machine mentality immediately. Learn how to use the best strategy for all of the other games in the casino, and forget about the one strategy that doesn’t work—hope.

Can You Be a Sports Fan and a Winning Sports Bettor?

Soccer Sports Fans Cheering, Soccer Field Stadium
It’s been said that emotion is the enemy of rational thinking. Therein lies the great dilemma for those who gamble on sports: Avid sports bettors are often (not always, but often) fervent sports fans with allegiances and rooting interests across the board.

Good advice for any bettor would be to stay away from games featuring their favorite teams or athletes and stick to the ones where the only outcome they care about is one they chose in their bet. Unfortunately, it isn’t always that easy.

Betting on your favorite US sports team only because they’re your favorite is known as using home team bias in sports betting. There are pros and cons to using this betting strategy, so read more into it before choosing your favorite team to bet on.

Beware the “Heart-Bet”

Note: If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a “heart-bet” is a wager placed on a team when, despite your instincts, you can’t pick against them due to your fandom. It’s not an official term, but that’s what I grew up calling it, and I think it conveys the point.

I spent countless Sundays in the living room with my best friend’s father, who would gamble on all the NFL games each weekend. I can count the times he bet against our beloved Bengals on two hands.

Besides a few times when Cincinnati was a double-digit favorite and could win while still allowing the opponent to cover the spread, I don’t think he ever went against the hometown team. I don’t have the numbers on-hand, but suffice it to say I don’t think he’d want to know how much he lost betting on the Bengals.

“I took them in a heart-bet.” This phrase (substitute heart-bet for another term with the same meaning) continues to get gamblers in trouble.

So why does it continue to happen? Is there anything you can do about it? Let’s dive into both of those questions.

It stands to reason that you’ll likely be watching your favorite teams play, and as a gambler, you like to play the games you watch. As a fan, emotions cloud judgment, and even when you feel like your team is going to lose, it’s still hard to log on any of the best US gambling sites to bet against them.

How do you make a smart bet without feeling like you’re letting the team down? As a Cincinnati sports fan (read: as a fan of some of the saddest teams in the last 20 years), I’ve found myself in this predicament more times than I’d wish on anyone. The good news is I’ve come up with a few solutions.

Forget the Score

When attempting to separate yourself as a fan and a gambler, always remember that the final score isn’t the only way to get some action in on your team’s game. I’ve never understood the theory of betting against your favorite team and justifying it by saying, “Well, if we win, I’m happy. If we lose, I win money.” Some people might call that a win-win, I’d call it a lose-lose.

Basketball Game Scoreboard

One of the best methods for avoiding the conflict of interest is choosing a type of bet that won’t force you to root for the other team or cause you to make an emotionally-charged (wrong) decision. Betting the over/under is a simple play that allows you to pull for your team, but not necessarily need them to win the game or cover the spread for you to win your bet.

If that’s not your thing, give prop bets a try. Don’t think your team is going to cover? Maybe you’d be more comfortable betting real money that your quarterback will throw for a touchdown in the first half.

If prop bets don’t seem to be your thing, be sure to explore the betting options you may not know about. Familiarize yourself with the different wager types and go from there.

Bet the Sportsbook (Or Against the Public)

Fan, which, in case you haven’t listened to Colin Cowherd in the past decade, is short for fanatic. Fanatic inherently implies making decisions based on feelings, wishes, and hopes. As a sports fan, I can struggle to recognize my biases and frequently must question my motivations for a particular bet.

Do I really think the Rockets are going to cover, or am I just sick of seeing the Warriors win? The remedy to these thoughts and feelings can be found in the most unemotional of all words in the English language: math.

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To be clear, you should be utilizing some strategy in all your bets. Just choosing based on your sports knowledge alone isn’t going to get you the long-term results you want.

There are complicated formulas and drawn out concepts that can help you make more informed decisions, but there are some basics to stick to that you can rely on when your heart and your head disagree.

One strategy I’ve found particularly useful isn’t necessarily focused on math itself, but still takes numbers into account. Pay attention to the lines leading up to a game. As the book adjusts the spread or over/under, recognize what they’re trying to say. When in doubt, the most important number might be the public sentiment.

“Fading the public,” or betting against the public’s money, is a betting gambling strategy that holds up surprisingly well throughout a season. If you’re having trouble choosing a game and your affinity to a team or player is getting in the way, betting against the public is an excellent way to take the decision-making process out of your hands.

Sit It Out

Nobody wants to hear this, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least bring it up: Sometimes it is best just to sit out a game when your favorite team is playing. Ultimately, sports fandom should be about cheering for your team, and real money sports betting should be making money. Mixing the two is when things get dicey. As they say, don’t mix business with pleasure.

Guy Holding Remote Watching Sports on TV

There are endless games to bet on in a given year, and there can be real benefits to letting a few go when you don’t feel your judgment is impartial and unemotional. After all, if you’re a fan of a team and you’re betting on them cover the spread every single game without thinking about it, that’s about as irrational as it gets.

Conclusion

It may be true that sports competitions are games, and gambling on sports is a game, but the same approach can’t be taken for both. You can be a sports fan and a successful bettor, but it takes a little more discipline than one might anticipate. Remember that your heart and your head are going to tell you different things – the key is recognizing when your judgment is being clouded by the jersey on your back and the posters on your wall.

The next time you place a bet on a team simply because you want your betting interest and your fandom to align, accept the consequences, and acknowledge that it was ultimately an emotional decision. But to answer the question, “Can you be a sports fan and a winning sports bettor?” I’d say… of course you can. In fact, it’s the only way.

Slot Machine Features That Are Complete Failures

Row of Slot Machines in Casino
Slot machines once relied on the pure essence of gambling to fuel their popularity. Despite being basic three-reel games, they still drew hordes of players.

However, gaming technology has changed greatly in recent decades. Players are no longer satisfied with the mere thrill of gambling.

They want features and lots of them. US slot machines games that offer multiple bonuses are more likely to be popular than a basic game with no extra frills.

Some very interesting features and formats have arose out of this era. Megaways and cascading reels (a.k.a. avalanche) are two of the most notable developments to arise within the past decade.

Cascading reels and the Megaways format are so popular that they’re becoming common today. But for every Megaways and avalanche, there are features that just don’t catch on.

Certain innovations simply aren’t good enough to draw the average player’s attention. Below, you can see 7 such features that are total failures.

1 – 720 Ways

In 2009, Microgaming introduced a revolutionary format called 243 Ways. This setup defied conventional slots, which, until this point, had always featured paylines.

A 243 Ways game doesn’t have lines. It makes payouts when matching symbols line up in adjacent reels. As the name implies, you have 243 ways to win with these games. The sheer amount of payout possibilities has attracted gamblers to this format for years.

Some developers thought that if players liked 243 chances to win, then they’d love 720 ways. Thus, the latter was born.

The 720 Ways slot differs from 243 Ways games in the following manners:

  • It has five reels and a funky 3-4-5-4-3 setup.
  • In contrast, 243 Ways slots have five reels, with each reel being three spaces high (5×3 grid).
  • A 720 Ways game pays from left to right (starts on reel 1) and right to left (starts on reel 5).
  • A 243 Ways slot, on the other hand, only pay from left to right.

The exciting thing about 720 Ways games is that they almost triple the winning possibilities from their predecessor. The downside, though, is that they’re downright weird and confusing.

A 243 Ways game still looks like a regular slot machine. The 720 Ways slot looks like some Frankenstein hybrid. Gamblers have never taken to the latter concept as a result.

2 – Seven-Reel Slots

Slots formats have begun changing dramatically in recent years. Some games feature as many as eight reels stacked eight spaces high (8×8).

However, a large gap exists between now and when developers began attempting large reel setups. WGS Technology was the first online gaming developer to try this feat.

They rolled out seven-reelers like Farming Fortunes and the 7-Reel Slot (yes, it’s really called this) to much acclaim. These games featured a conventional format (7×3), only with more reels than usual.

Slot Machine Player with Fists Up

The problem with seven-reel slots is that they don’t bring anything new to the table. They aren’t good-looking games or loaded with features.

These slot machines were also really basic from a format standpoint. Farming Futures, for example, only has nine paylines.

WGS just relied on the novelty that these games offered seven reels, instead of the typical three or five. Players never bought it.

Seven-reel slots have since become popular in the form of cluster pays games. Such slot machines often have a 7×7 grid with cluster pays (payouts form anywhere when touching). However, these games also bring more to the table than the original seven-reelers.

3 – Spiral Win Mechanism

NetEnt is arguably the most successful slots developer over the past several years. Their innovation is a big reason behind their success.

Case in point, they invented cascading reels. But even NetEnt has the occasional miss.

In 2017, they released a unique slot called Finn and the Swirly Spin. This game introduced a spiral reel mechanism.

Here’s how it works:

  • Symbols come onto the reels from the bottom left-hand corner.
  • They move around the outer rim of the reels.
  • Eventually, icons make their way to the center of the reels.
  • Symbols exit through a keyhole in the center space.
  • Wins are formed in clusters.

Some have found this format to be interesting. However, many have also complained about the confusing spiral pattern.

Finn and the Swirly Spin has largely been a success. But I suspect that this has more to do with the interesting character and stellar background graphics than anything.

NetEnt isn’t giving up on the spiral win mechanism. They’ve released a sequel called Finn’s Golden Tavern. This game brings back the spiral reel format. However, it has less features than the previous game to help cut down on the confusion.

Maybe the spiral pattern can still catch on. But it probably won’t happen outside of NetEnt, given that other developers aren’t rushing to steal this idea.

4 – Skill-Based Bonuses

The failed innovations that I’ve covered so far have taken place in real money online gambling. Of course, the land-based gambling industry also has its share of follies.

Skill-based slot machines are one of its greatest failures to date. These games were conceived to attract millennials. But they’re not drawing young adults nor traditionalists. Before I get to the reasoning, let me unpack how a skill-based slot works:

  • These games are like standard slot machines.
  • However, they have bonuses that require skill.
  • For example, you might have to shoot Wild West outlaws in first-person shooter mode.
  • The more outlaws you hit, the more money you win.

These bonus rounds sound great in theory. They combine video games with slot machines to create a more interactive experience.

Two Casino Slot Machines

However, developers have failed to find the right combination to draw gamblers. Perhaps one problem is that their slot machines are based on old arcade games.

Centipede and Space Invaders, both produced around four decades ago, are two of the most ballyhooed skill-based slots. Neither has developed much popularity in their few years of existence.

The problem with skill-based games is that slots enthusiasts normally prefer a simplistic experience. Millennials, on the other hand, have grown up with sophisticated technology and aren’t moved by old arcade games.

5 – Generic Betting Strategies

Elk Studios is behind plenty of hit online slots. Ecuador Gold, Electric Sam, and Taco Brothers Saving Christmas are some of their biggest hits.

However, one area where Elk Studios has fallen vastly short is with their “betting strategies.”

This term refers to several predefined betting patterns that are available in Elk’s slots.

Each strategy automatically guides your bets when activated. You can turn your chosen strategy on and off at any given time.

Here’s an example of how the “Jumper” works:

  • You increase your bet level after every winning round.
  • The increase stops once you reach four levels above base level (e.g. 10x the base level).
  • Your bet level resets to the base amount following any loss.

The idea of “betting strategies” sounds cool in theory. Rather than just making random wagers, you use a predefined gambling system.

But this concept doesn’t have much practicality in the modern gaming world. Slots are already risky enough. Few want to throw a volatile betting system into the mix as well.

6 – Colossal Reels

WMS has produced a series of slot machines with “colossal reels.” Available in online and land-based casinos, these games are notable for their, well, colossal reels.

Here’s how they work:

  • Two sets of reels.
  • The set on the left-hand side features a 5×4 grid.
  • The set on the right-hand side offers a 5×12 grid.
  • Both sets combine for 100 paylines.

These slot machines have a couple of things going for them. First off, the 100 lines offer lots of chances to win.

Neptune's Quest Slot Machine, Colossal Reels

Being able to form wins on two different sets of reels is also entertaining. You may even feel like you’re playing two slot machines at once.

Colossal reels have been successful within the WMS family of games. However, they haven’t interested any other developers. Like 720 Ways slots, colossal reels are ugly. The two mismatched sets of reels can also make for a confusing experience.

7 – Synced Reels

Synced reels refer to a format where two or more reels contain identical symbols. This feature can lead to more prizes thanks to how so many identical icons are sitting next to each other.

Here’s an example:

  • You’re playing a 5×3 game.
  • You spin the reels.
  • Reel 2 and 3 flash to indicate that they’re synced.
  • A diamond symbol fills up both reels (six spaces total).

You can see the possibilities available with such slots. After all, you’re getting the exact same icon in the initial synced reels.

What’s more exciting is that the synced feature can expand to all five reels. You’ll really be in for a huge payout at this point.

Despite the originality here, synced reels have never caught on. They’re still confined to the NetEnt library several years after being introduced.

Conclusion

Developers will never stop thinking up features. After all, new bonuses and formats keep things exciting and help the slots industry retain and draw players.

However, some features are just flat-out bombs. Usual reasons for failure include ugly formats, confusion, and the novelty effect. 720 Ways and colossal reels have both struggled due to their looks. Neither of these formats are aesthetically pleasing and can quickly turn off players.

Seven-reel slot machines and betting strategies fall under the novelty categories. Neither offers enough to players beyond being unique. At least in the case of betting strategies, they’re just failed add-ons to otherwise successful games.

The spiral win format has proven confusing for many players. It’s still prevalent due to the “Finn” series, but it probably won’t spread beyond NetEnt games.

Skill-based bonuses were rolled out in the mid-2010s as the solution for grabbing millennials’ attention. So far, they’ve failed in their mission. Synced reels are an original feature from NetEnt that I thought were destined for success. However, this feature has failed to gain any traction so far.

The features covered here will likely never take off the way their developers intended. Instead, they’ll simply serve as reminders that not all slots innovations are winners.

Things You Can’t Afford to Lose When You Visit Las Vegas

Welcome to Las Vegas Sign, Woman With Her Hand on Head, Sad
When most of those 40 million annual visitors to Las Vegas arrive at their destination, their minds are understandably focused on money.

Between ever rising room rates, “resort fees” that add up in a hurry, and overpriced food and drinks on The Strip, spending a trip in Sin City can quickly become expensive. And that doesn’t even cover the money you’ll likely spend gambling down on the casino floor.

People come to Las Vegas hoping to win big and walk away with a jackpot, but over the long run, the odds ensure that the house always holds an inherent edge over its players. Short-term winners abound, don’t get me wrong there, as every single day produces a slew of scores that can legitimately be deemed life changing.

With that said, the outcome for most gamblers in Las Vegas winds up being a loss. It could be a few bucks on the penny slots, a few hundred at the poker table, or a few thousand trying to count cards while playing blackjack – but financial losses are inevitable when the long run taken into account.

That’s all well and good in my book too, because gambling in Las Vegas isn’t about profit margins and bottom lines – it’s all about having fun, baby!

Entertainment is the name of the game here, and unless you’re risking money you can’t afford to lose, you should be able to enjoy a session on the gaming floor whether you win or not.

After all, when you spend $300 taking the family to catch a ballgame, you don’t leave the stadium feeling disappointment that your wallet is a little lighter. That money was spent wisely, producing a few hours of diversion, a few exciting moments on the field, and memories to last a lifetime when the stars align.

The same ethos should hold true when gambling in Las Vegas, so I always advise my friends and family who visit my hometown to consider every wager lost as merely the price of admission. You’ve got to pay to play, as the saying goes, and even if the dealer winds up outdueling you in the race to 21, kicking back at a Las Vegas blackjack table is an experience you just can’t find anywhere else.

Indeed, money should never be something you miss dearly while you gamble here – as a rule of thumb, only play with disposable income you can afford to lose – visitors to Las Vegas often find themselves losing in other ways.

On that note, check out the list below to learn about five things nobody can afford to lose when visiting Las Vegas.

1 – Your Wallet or Purse (IDs and Credit Cards)

Trying to navigate the mazelike bureaucracy of Las Vegas’ highly corporatized modern environment with your wallet or purse in hand is already tough enough.

Your identification will be inspected when you check in to your room. You’ll need a credit card to make the security deposit required for entry into said room. Bank branches are few and far between, so better have that debit card at the ready when you need a quick cash infusion.

And without a player’s card from any top Las Vegas loyalty programs, you’ll miss out on valuable comps, discounts, and other perks.

So just try to imagine making your way in and out of Las Vegas lodgings without your wallet or purse…

That’s the gambler’s nightmare come true right there, and while you might imagine most people would guard these precious resources like their first-born child, dozens of people lose their wallet or purse in Sin City on a daily basis.

Woman Opening Up Purse

This can happen through basic absentmindedness, with all of the tourist attractions and bright lights causing just enough distraction to leave your valuables behind. Negligence also plays a significant role, as a steady stream of alcohol and other substances can cause blackouts and the like.

Then there’s the looming threat of theft, thanks to a network of skilled pickpockets who prowl The Strip in search of suckers to hustle.

All in all, the chances of losing one’s wallet or purse are actually quite a bit higher than most people might imagine. And that’s why you should take every effort to prevent this regrettable situation from ruining your time in Las Vegas.

Carry your wallet in your front pocket, and don’t put anything in your purse that you don’t mind losing, to dissuade the thieves. Start a mantra of constant reminders before and after you make any major movements, with everyone present asking aloud “do you still have your stuff?”

Whatever it takes to avoid the ignominious fate of endured by the poor fools who find themselves stuck in Sin City with no ID or credit cards to speak of.

2 – Your Phone

I’m old enough to remember long days spent strolling Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas without a cell phone to speak of.

Back then, we used the hotel’s in-room phone to make plans with one another, or maybe a pay phone when you were street side and needed to talk.

Those days are long gone though, so 2019 and beyond is defined by remaining constantly tethered to your cell phone or mobile device.

I’m not immune to the technological wonder of constant mobile communication by any means, so I always bring my phone and portable charger along when I’m touring the town. Fairly recently, however, I had an experience I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

After smashing the slots at the newly rebranded Sahara casino (formerly the SLS), I was pleased as punch with my good fortune. While mentally counting my winnings, and planning how to spend them, I must have left my iPhone at the slot machine bank. It only took a few minutes to do an about face and commence the search, but in that short span somebody snatched the brand new device.

What followed was a steady stream of inconveniences and misery…

I had planned to meet up with my wife and her sister for a round of drinks at the Cosmopolitan Hotel & Casino. She usually goes shopping while I gamble before we play phone tag to coordinate where and when we’ll get together. Thus, it was no surprise when I couldn’t find her at our favorite Cosmo watering hole.

Normally, I’d just whip out my phone and fire off a quick text to find out where she happened to be. But this night was far from normal, so I suddenly found myself stranded in a technological “no man’s land.”

After wandering around in vain hoping to bump into them, I quickly realized that would be like finding a needle in a haystack. Shifting gears, I asked the friendly bartender to let me make a quick phone call to find my wife.

And that’s when panic set it…

Woman Taking a Picture With Cell Phone

As it turns out, years and years spent clicking a single button to place phone calls has wreaked havoc on my memorization skills. For the life of me, I just couldn’t cobble together the seven-digit code that stood between myself and a great night with my family. The bartender tried to help, even advising me to use the front desk’s paging service to do one of those “Mary, your party is waiting for you here” announcements you sometimes hear over the din of slots and chips.

That seemed like a bridge too far at the time, so I politely declined his offer, but I was still stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Eventually, I decided against striking out on a one-man search party, reasoning that she would show up at our bar at one point or another looking for me.

That gamble wound up paying off in an hour or so, but that hour was spent stewing over my self-inflicted wound.

I’m a legit local too, so I know my way around and would’ve been fine getting back home safe and sound. But I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose my phone as a tourist in Las Vegas, as parting ways with the only lifeline truly capable of keeping us all connected would be a disaster.

Do everything you can to avoid this deceptively easy to fall into trap. You can wear one of those phone cases that attaches to your belt, or if you can stomach the dismissive smiles of strangers, deploy a Bluetooth device that slides in your ear.

Or better yet, just scan your surroundings and check your pockets whenever you leave one area and head to another.

3 – Your Way

Along similar lines, losing your phone in Las Vegas means suddenly finding yourself without Google Maps or Siri to guide your way.

Thankfully, the famous stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard known as The Strip doesn’t present a major challenge for folks who get lost. You can always see the next casino resort towering overhead, so getting from Point A to Point B is simply a matter of looking up and walking forward.

Las Vegas Strip Casinos, Hand Holding Compass

Same goes for my favorite haunts along Fremont Street, which is essentially just a few blocks of closely clustered classic casinos.

Of course, there’s much more to this town than the gambling districts. Miles and mile of crisscrossing streets cover the desert floor for as far as the eye can see, and unless you know the lay of the land like a local, getting lost in Las Vegas can be a harrowing experience for visitors.

I always tell my pals who are new around here to invest in a traditional map. Grab one of the foldable maps you find in convenience stores and stash it in your go-bag for emergency purposes.

Should you lose your phone, or lose service, or find your battery has died, the map will help you orient yourself the old-fashioned way.

4 – Your Cool

Losing money is never fun, especially when the dealer and the cards seem to be conspiring against you to deliver cruel bad beats.

But you know what hurts more than a lost bet? Losing your temper on the casino floor.

Resort operators tend to extend a long leash to players who put money into the casino’s coffers.

You’ll see people berate the dealer for messing up, or simply for winning the hand. Others smash the slot machine buttons in frustration when yet another $100 bill has evaporated into the ether.

And when alcohol is involved, even the most well-mannered of guests can find themselves howling at the moon when Lady Luck turns their back.

Don’t be “that guy or gal” though, and do everything you can to keep your emotions in check. Sure, you can let it be known that your pissed off after losing, there’s no shame in that.

But when those justifiable emotions lead you into destructive behavior like yelling at casino staff or damaging equipment, you might just find yourself “86’d” from the premises courtesy of a property-wide ban.

5 – Your Dignity

Casinos in Las Vegas have a way of getting the better of gamblers who don’t know when to quit.

I would never make light of problem gambling and the scourge of addiction, so this entry is meant in all seriousness. If you have issues with maintaining discipline, and you’re gambling with money you can’t afford to lose, you owe it to yourself to take a long, hard look in the mirror.

Hands Holding Casino Chips Over Craps Table

When gambling becomes a means to an end, or a compulsion that you can’t seem to control, the best course of action is to explore programs like Gambler’s Anonymous (GA) that specialize in treating addictive behavior.

And as a last resort, casinos offer self-exclusion programs whereby problem gamblers who have hit rock bottom can ask to have their action refused.

However you choose to handle your personal situation, I hope this advice serves any reader in need well down the road.

Conclusion

Losing and Las Vegas go hand in hand, but only when you’re playing games of chance that favor the house. As far as your personal belongings and feelings go, you have every advantage at your disposal to prevent the sort of losses described here. On that note, good luck in your future endeavors gambling Las Vegas, and I hope you manage to avoid losing in any respect.

How to Become an Expert at Casino Gambling

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

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

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

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

Blackjack, on the other hand, is another story.

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

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

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

The Difference Between Table Games and Gambling Machines

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

  1. Gambling machines
  2. Table games

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

  1. Blackjack
  2. Craps
  3. Roulette

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

  1. Slot machines
  2. Video poker

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

Understand What the Casino House Edge Is and Why It Matters

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

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

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

Wynn Casino in Las Vegas, Pile of Money

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

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

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

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

How Odds Work Differently on Gambling Machines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Understanding the Concept of Average Hourly Loss

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

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

Casino Roulette Wheel with Casino Chips on the Side

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

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

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

Here’s an example:

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

Slot Machines Will Eat Up Your Bankroll Fast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learning How to Play Real Money Casino Games

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

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

Group of People and Casino Dealer Playing Craps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

4 Steps on How to Bet on NCAA College Basketball and March Madness

NCAA Logo, Basketball, Pile of Money, Checklist
Gambling on college basketball is largely overlooked before the tournament rolls around, good thing it is March and March Madness 2020 is right around the corner. With an endless amount of games and relatively low action on most, the league presents a unique opportunity to make money if you know what you’re doing.

It’s no surprise that college basketball, isn’t as popular as betting on college football. Basketball experiences the highest roster turnover rate, the start of the season is right when the playoff push is happening in football, and each year, it seems like the same 10 teams are at the top.

Although college basketball will never catch the public’s attention (or betting action) in the same way the NFL or college football does, there’s a great deal of untapped potential for the average bettor.

For example, with March Madness 2020 soon approaching, bettors have begun mapping out their bets. If you plan on betting on this year’s season, be sure to check out our tips on how to bet on March Madness.


March Madness Betting

The key to making good decisions is having good information, and that starts with knowing what to look for when evaluating a play. It’s crucial to know which aspects of a game have a real impact on the outcome and which components of a matchup you should be careful not to overvalue.

After all, sportsbooks have their formula for determining where a line will start, and what factors contribute to the odds. Most likely, you don’t have such technology at your disposal, so it’s imperative to come up with a system of your own.

Each bettor’s list will vary slightly, but in this article I’ll lay out the top considerations to examine before betting on March Madness 2020 or any NCAA basketball game.

1 – Schedule (Especially ATS)

Regardless of the sport you’re betting on, a look back at each team’s schedule should be the first step in making your decision. A wealth of information is available, and more often than not, you’ll learn that you really didn’t know as much as you thought about the two teams competing.

Assuming you’re betting on teams that have some sort of reputation in college basketball, it’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming they’re at the same level year in and year out. A quick glance back at the schedule can show where a team’s weaknesses lie.

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It might be the case that much more data is available later in the season when it comes to looking at the schedule, but you’ll also probably know more about the team.

In the early going, with a roster that probably has only one or two (if that) starters from the previous year, it becomes increasingly important to see how a team is performing in the current season.

Even college basketball’s “blue bloods” undergo a bit of a learning phase during the first month or two of the season. You might be surprised to learn a top-ranked team has had some wins that weren’t so convincing.

Another reason it’s important to look at the schedule by team is due to the deceptiveness of the overall record. You might notice, for example, Kansas is 11-0 heading into December. Although they might be undefeated, a closer look at their schedule might show you that they’re actually 3-8 against the spread even with several double-digit wins.

The schedule doesn’t tell you everything you need to know, but you can learn a great deal of information that can be useful when betting on March Madness 2020.

2 – Team Motivation in the NCAA

Numbers and data always provide valuable insight, but players (especially 18 to 20-year-olds) are human beings who play differently based on motivation. It might not be clear in every instance, but many times, one team has a clear edge in motivation over their opponent. When you get to the March Madness tournament, everyone should be motivated so this really only counts for regular season NCAA college basketball games.

Let me be clear, motivation itself is usually not a reason to choose one team over another, but in the event that you’re stuck between your two options, it can be a great thing to consider. It’s also important to remember that if you aren’t able to guess with reasonable certainty who has the upper hand in motivation, it’s probably less reliable to use it as a determining factor.

Some things to look for that might indicate a team will be giving extra effort include playoff implications, rivalry games, performance in the previous game, and the result the last time the two teams played.

March Madness Basketball Tournament

Late in the season, teams on the bubble of making the NCAA March Madness tournament realize they don’t only need to win games, but they need to look impressive doing it. This might be a case where it’s smart to take the favorite who has a real interest in piling on the points to help their tournament chances.

On the other hand, rivalry games can be a good time to choose the underdog. As a sports fan, you’re probably already aware, but in big rivalries, the games are often close regardless of the talent level between the two teams. If an underdog is receiving a high number of points, it’s worth taking the risk.

Some bettors use the home team bias strategy when it comes to wagering. While it works for some, I would be wary about always betting on your favorite team solely because they are your favorite.

The last motivation piece I’ll touch on has to do with the result of the game that the two teams last played. For example, if the lesser of the two teams won the first game, expect the favorite to cover this time. A certain pride element exists when upsets happen, and the better team typically does everything in their power to ensure it doesn’t happen again the next time around.

3 – The Next NCAA Game

This one could technically be put in the “schedule” section, but it refers to the future rather than the past. Also, it could fall under the umbrella of “motivation,” so it seemed like the right move to have it as its own category.

Most sports fans, and especially sports gamblers, are familiar with the concept of a “trap” game. A trap game is the contest that gets overlooked when a good team is playing another good team in the following game.

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When it comes to March Madness, an example of a trap game would be an early tournament matchup where a higher-seeded team could take a lower-seeded team too lightly and get bounced out of the tournament.

It probably won’t be so significant that they’ll lose outright, but this is another instance where choosing the underdog should be beneficial.

While we expect pro athletes to be able to focus on the game at hand, college athletes have proven to be more likely to overlook a weaker opponent when a big game is looming. Beware when taking favorites if the team has the following game circled on its calendar.

4 – College Basketball Rosters

As I mentioned previously, and as you’re probably aware, rosters experience a great deal of turnover when it comes to the top teams in the country. Any time a team has multiple starters either graduating or leaving for the NBA, you can expect team chemistry to be impacted in the early going. After March Madness, you can expect the same thing to happen.

Early in the season, be sure to take a look at a team’s roster to see how many starters they’re returning from the previous year. Even the best programs in the country have a tendency to start slow, as new players learn how to play with one another. By the time March Madness rolls around, they should have all this figured out.

Live Duke NCAA Basketball Game

To take it a step further, most mid-major teams don’t lose players to the draft, and the turnover in the starting lineup usually isn’t nearly as significant. This can lead to much closer games than the betting public expects.

Conclusion

When it comes to betting on sports, there’s a great deal of money to be made where others are looking away. If you put in the necessary time to research the criteria laid out above, you can end up with a few extra dollars in your bankroll by the time the tournament rolls around.

Just be sure to avoid the common basketball betting mistakes many bettors make. Avoiding these mistakes will take your March Madness bets further and hopefully, will earn you a big betting win.

The Legendary Rosebud Craps Team – Real or Fake?

Casino Craps Table, Two White Casino Dice
Craps isn’t exactly a game that’s known for producing a wealth of professional gamblers. Unlike blackjack or poker, it doesn’t lend itself to skill-based play.

Nevertheless, some real money gambling experts contend that you can beat craps through dice control (a.k.a. controlled shooting). Dice control refers to gripping and tossing the dice in a deliberate manner so as to produce desired results.

The Rosebud craps team is allegedly the first collection of players to master this technique. They supposedly beat Vegas and Atlantic City casinos for steady profits throughout the 1990s and early 2000s.

However, both the origins and accomplishments of the Rosebud team remain shrouded in mystery. That said, I’m going to discuss whether or not this team beat craps, or even existed for that matter.

Origins of the Rosebud Craps Team

Gambling author Jerry L. Patterson established himself as one of the first prominent craps experts. He published books and articles on the subject.

In the 1990s, Patterson developed his own controlled shooting system called the “Patterson Rhythm Roll” (a.k.a. PARR). Eager to show off the PARR and make money off his idea, the author held a craps workshop in Vegas.

79 people attended his first PARR workshop. Among those in attendance was a man named Chris Pawlicki.

Now known as “Sharpshooter,” Pawlicki was a mechanical engineer in Detroit.

However, he had ambitions of eventually becoming a real money professional gambler.

He felt that Patterson’s workshop could really help his game. Pawlicki stood out as a serious and diligent student.

Patterson approached him about collaborating more on dice control. The two created the “Perfect Pitch Delivery system” and the “PARR Dice Control Course” together.

Pawlicki turned these efforts into a book called Get the Edge at Craps. At over 300+ pages, this work is considered one of the most extensive discussions on dice control anywhere.

Aside from their writing endeavors, Patterson and Pawlicki allegedly formed a successful controlled shooting team. Little is known about their true success rate or how long they lasted.

Profiled in Breaking Vegas Documentary

The main source of information regarding the Rosebud craps team is the History Channel series Breaking Vegas. An episode dubbed “Breaking Vegas: The Dominator” discusses Pawlicki, Patterson, and the Rosebud team in depth.

The episode’s focus was on the team of Frank Scoblete and Dominic “The Dominator” LoRiggio. However, it also contained plenty of content on Rosebud and LoRiggio’s time with them.

Pawlicki was said to have spent three years studying the mechanics of dice in motion. He used his engineering background to come up with successful dice-tossing techniques.

Crowd Gathered Around Casino Craps Table Game

Sharpshooter then began offering dice control courses. He taught the courses on a craps table in his garage and charged almost $600 per student.

The doc claims that LoRiggio was one of Pawlicki’s early students. LoRiggio showed enough promise to eventually be invited onto the Rosebud team.

By the fall of 1999, Pawlicki, LoRiggio, and Patterson hit Atlantic City for their first venture as a full team. LoRiggio got off to a rocky start in his first outing but settled in and began making money for the squad.

LoRiggio’s Personality Doesn’t Match With the Rest of Rosebud

“Breaking Vegas: The Dominator” portrayed Pawlicki and Patterson as laidback guys. LoRiggio, meanwhile, was the polar opposite.

He liked to bet big and celebrate even bigger when he was on a hot streak. Pawlick had to take him aside at one point and reiterate the team rules.

Here’s a summary of Rosebud’s guidelines:

  • No getting rich quick.
  • Make small, conservative bets (nothing over $10).
  • No excessive celebrations.
  • Don’t offend table crews.

The Dominator claimed that he would tone things down so that he could stick with the team. The trio then began hitting various US gambling hotspots, including casinos in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and Reno.

They’d often take a combined $10,000 bankroll with them to each destination. Pawlicki noted that they’d typically end the weekend with a $5,000 profit (split three ways).

However, LoRiggio still wasn’t happy with the conservative bet sizes and moderate profits. He also wanted to let his emotions out when he felt like doing so.

LoRiggio Meets Scoblete and Leaves

The Dominator was already feeling stifled by the Rosebud team’s conservative approach. LoRiggio was pondering his future with the team at this point. Coincidentally, he also happened to meet Scoblete around the same time. The documentary stated that Scoblete dropped in on a Rosebud practice session.

He and LoRiggio hit it off pretty quickly. Scoblete, who’s also a good shooter in his own right, doesn’t have a problem with showboating or gambling big.

By the fall of 2001, just two years after joining Rosebud, LoRiggio was playing real money craps on the side with Scoblete. Eventually, the two decided that The Dominator had to do what he was planning to all along—leave Rosebud.

Casino Craps Table, Two People Shaking Hands

He informed the team about his decision. Pawlicki and Patterson weren’t happy, but they accepted his choice. The move turned out to be a good one for LoRiggio. He and Scoblete teamed up to make a fortune through dice control.

Their style was totally different from Rosebud. They were willing to bet big and throw verbal jabs at stickmen when necessary. They earned six figures in profits in less than six months. Scoblete and LoRiggio were able to amass a bankroll worth over $100,000.

However, their success was not without consequences. They had to deal with more harassment from table crews. But they were still able to play and win the way they wanted to.

What Were Rosebud’s Accomplishments?

Little is known about what happened to Rosebud after the falling out with LoRiggio. They presumably went on to have continued success with their small-betting strategy.

Whatever the case may be, they did well up until their split with The Dominator. The team was able to generate solid profits by wagering between $5 and $10 in each round.

Of course, the problem with this strategy is that it doesn’t bring in a fortune. Rosebud players likely didn’t make much more than $1,000 apiece for an entire weekend of playing.

But their focus wasn’t to make tens of thousands of dollars each week. They instead wanted sustainable profits over a long time period.

Much of this goal relied on keeping their bet sizes low and celebrations under wraps. They appeared to do well at this based on the documentary’s reenactments.

Above all, Rosebud is best known as the first craps dice control team. If another squad existed before them, then it’s undocumented.

Did the Rosebud Craps Team Really Exist?

Everything I’ve covered so far assumes that the content in “Breaking Vegas: The Dominator” is correct. But what if the doc and/or its participants aren’t being entirely truthful?

First off, the producers of “Breaking Vegas: The Dominator” were merely going off stories told by the players. Controlled shooting, though, is a debatable technique in itself.

Some question whether or not dice control works. They point to the fact that casinos don’t throw dice setters out the same way they do card counters.

Furthermore, Pawlicki, Scoblete, and LoRiggio have all made money off of controlled shooting courses. What if they’re all in on this together and concocted the stories for Breaking Vegas to advertise themselves?

Next, another special called “The World’s Greatest Gambling Scams: The Dominator and the Golden Touch” contradicts Breaking Vegas.

Treasure Island Casino in Las Vegas

In this special, Scoblete discusses how he met LoRiggio at Treasure Island casino in 2002. He was researching a book called The Craps Underground and interviewed The Dominator as part of it.

The two eventually agreed to visit the tables to see if one another was a good as advertised. They walked away being impressed with each other.

Scoblete and LoRiggio formed a team afterward and supposedly made a lot of money together. However, nothing is mentioned about LoRiggio being part of Rosebud beforehand.

Furthermore, the timelines don’t match up here. Breaking Vegas notes that LoRiggio and Scoblete met in Rosebud’s practice garage in the fall of 2001. However, Scoblete discusses how he first met The Dominator at Treasure Island in 2002.

Conclusion

Craps has never been considered a great game for professional players. In fact, many question whether or not dice control is even real.

The same people may also question the validity of the Rosebud craps team. If controlled shooting doesn’t work, then Rosebud couldn’t have been making consistent profits.

Another issue is the sources of information. First off, several people who’ve made money off the dice control concept are the narrators.

LoRiggio, Pawlick, and Scoblete have also written books and taught courses on dice control. Scoblete and LoRiggio have been particularly successful with their Golden Touch brand.

All three appeared in the documentary episode titled “Breaking Vegas: The Dominator.” Speaking of which, the doc itself is a bit sketchy. Either Scoblete or Breaking Vegas has the timeline and story wrong on when the Golden Touch team formed. My guess is that it’s the latter.

Also, the documentary was created for entertainment purposes and parts of it seem highly embellished. At one point, the actor portraying Scoblete threatens a stickman’s life.

In summary, whether the Rosebud craps team did or didn’t exist is debatable. It’s feasible that Patterson, Pawlicki, and LoRiggio did try to manipulate the dice and win money.

How successful they were is the big question. After all, Rosebud hasn’t gone down in gambling lore like, say, the MIT blackjack team.

How to Win Big at Soft Sportsbooks in the US Without Getting Banned

Inside a Casino Sportsbook, Pile of Money
You may have heard that sportsbooks ban winners. This widespread belief isn’t always true across the board.

However, it does hold a lot of truth at “softbooks.” What exactly are softbooks and why are they so fast to ban winners?

With the 2020 XFL season in full swing, it’s important for all bettors to understand the way all bookies work. If you’re looking to bet on the XFL, be sure to always only use the safest XFL betting sites.

Now, I’m going to discuss the basics of these types of sportsbooks below. I’ll also cover how you can win at them without being banned.

What Is a Softbook?

A softbook (a.k.a. squarebook) aims to serve recreational bettors. They like the recreational crowd because it poses no threat to their profits.

Squarebooks, however, don’t like serving real money professional bettors, which are often referred to as “sharps.” I’ll get into the details later on why these bookmakers dislike pros.

Another characteristic of softbooks is that they feature softer lines than many other bookmakers, hence the name. These operations don’t make the market; they just react to how “sharpbooks” move odds.

Regarding the latter, sharpbooks set the trends in terms of how lines move. They’re more than happy to cater to professional bettors.

These bookmakers actually use sharp money to help shape their odds. As a result, they’re able to offer the most efficient lines in the market.

As you can see, squarebooks are on the opposite end of the spectrum from sharp bookmakers. They only like amateur customers and will use any means necessary to protect their business model.

Advantages of Softbooks

The primary benefit to gambling at squarebooks is the friendly lines. You can find more value within these bookmakers’ odds.

Again, squarebooks don’t dictate the market. They wait to see how the sharpbook handicappers move lines, then act accordingly.

Of course, soft bookmakers can be slow to adjust their odds. They’re merely watching what other sportsbooks do and aren’t always able to move their lines quickly.

Football Field End Zone View, Sportsbook Moneylines

Another advantage to squarebooks is that they offer more bonuses on average. Considering that they primarily serve recreational gamblers, they use bonuses to entice their customer base.

You can often get free bets and possibly deposit bonuses at online softbooks. For example, you might receive a $25 free bet after making your first deposit. Assuming you lose the first wager, you’ll have an opportunity to win these losses back.

How Soft Bookmakers Typically Treat Winners

Squarebooks don’t treat most winners very well. This is exactly why they have the reputation for banning all winners. The reality, though, is that the sportsbooks don’t ban everybody just for being successful. But they do take action against consistent winners who cut into their profits.

The most basic thing that softbooks do to discourage winners involves imposing strict betting limits. Even with liquid markets like the NFL or NBA, squarebooks may only allow up to a $1,000 or $2,000 max wager.

Considering that some sharpbooks allow up to $100,000 bets or more on liquid markets, these stakes are extremely low.

Softbooks will also limit max bets for individual gamblers when they feel it’s necessary. If they see that somebody is consistently winning $1k wagers, they might limit their max bet size to $200 or less.

Another measure that softbooks take against successful gamblers involves restricting their markets. Assuming somebody wins regularly at soccer betting, then they might be restricted from placing wagers on related leagues.

A softbook’s last resort is to ban anyone who keeps winning big. Such action can give a bookmaker a bad name, but it’s also a simple solution.

Why Don’t Softbooks Welcome Most Winners

The main reason why squarebooks don’t like successful bettors is that they want to limit their exposure. Assuming these bookmakers had both soft lines and incredibly high betting limits, then they’d get crushed.

Most softbooks don’t have the liquidity to handle big wagers from the pros. Therefore, they do everything in their power to ward off sharps.

It’s important to distinguish that there are different types of winners, too. Squarebooks generally don’t have a problem with people who win at small stakes. They’re not going to freak out over somebody who’s winning $25 wagers.

They do, however, get worried about big winners and those who engage in certain types of real money betting. Regarding the latter, arbitrage betting (arbing) and steam chasing can both hurt squarebooks.

Arbing is the process of wagering on every outcome of the same match at different sportsbooks. This process requires bookmakers to differ enough on the odds to work.

XFL DC Defenders Logo, Houston Roughnecks Logo

Here’s an example:

  • Houston Roughnecks +235
  • DC Defenders -215
  • You bet $100 on the Roughnecks.
  • You need to wager $228.67 on the Roughnecks to maximize your arb.
  • Your profit will be $6.33

A steam move is when a group of professional bettors (syndicate) quickly place wagers on the same outcome at different sportsbooks. The “steam” aspect comes in when operators quickly move their lines to limit exposure to more pros.

Steam chasers don’t have the skills of sharps. However, they can take advantage of the pros’ knowledge by acting on the odds before they’re moved.

Most bookmakers will move their lines in time to avoid being taken advantage of by steam chasers. But there’s always the potential for a few stragglers.

Even at the best sportsbooks in the US this happens. For example, this is commonly done at the Westgate and MGM Grand sportsbooks in Las Vegas.

Arbitrage gamblers and steam chasers can win consistent profits. But the problem is that they’re not using any skills beyond a certain betting technique to win. Therefore, sportsbooks feel entitled to limit or ban the accounts of arbers and steam chasers.

What Can You Do to Keep Winning at Softbooks?

You can see that winning at squarebooks isn’t an easy matter. Bookmakers are on top of their game when it comes to banning certain types of winners.

However, you can still be successful at soft bookmakers with the right techniques. Here are some tips for how you can evade their detection while still collecting profits.

Make Smaller Bets

One of the biggest things that squarebooks hate is a consistent winner who places max wagers. After all, such bettors are truly capitalizing on their success.

Bookmakers dislike this, because they’re the ones footing the bill. They don’t mind a small stakes winner here and there, but they don’t want gamblers winning lots of $1k and $2k wagers.

Mix Up Your Betting Action

Successful bettors often go to the well too many times. They may wager on obscure markets (e.g. curling, darts) over and over again, where they can gain a bigger advantage.

Sportsbook, Man Holding Out Dollar Bills

Likewise, these winners will place the same type of bets (e.g. moneylines, point spreads). Any sportsbook that checks such accounts will be more apt to ban them for winning consistently in specific markets and/or with certain wagers.

You can avoid this problem, though, by mixing up your wagers a little. You can try different markets at lower stakes and also take parlays (disadvantageous bets) every now and then.

Don’t Chase Steam or Arb

Chasing steam and arbing are two of the surest ways to get banned from a softbook. Both of these methods can lead to guaranteed wins without requiring notable handicapping skills.

Sportsbooks see the point of betting as trying to out-handicap them. They don’t accept arbing and steam chasing as legitimate ways to win.

Bookmakers haven’t invented a foolproof method for catching such gamblers. But they can look at bet sizes, markets, and more to figure out if you fall into one of these categories.

Avoid Depositing and Withdrawing Too Often

The chances of you making a good living at squarebooks are very low. The conservative betting limits alone will prevent you from earning a fortune.

But you can still supplement your income, or even make a small-time living through softbooks. In either case, you’ll feel the temptation to move lots of money.

However, you should resist these temptations. Sportsbooks that see a lot of deposits and withdrawals will likely peg you as a serious real money advantage gambler.

Conclusion

All sportsbooks are in the business to make a profit. But they can differ on how they go about accomplishing this goal.

Squarebooks want to serve recreational gamblers while avoiding sharps, arbers, and steam chasers. Of course, they can’t identify the latter categories immediately.

Instead, they must use various methods to detect sharps, steam chasers, and arbers. They look for telltale signs, such as consistent wins, max bets, and wagering on obscure markets.

You can avoid being limited or banned by softbooks just by knowing what they dislike. Assuming you’re a successful bettor, you can make moderate bets, wager on a larger variety of markets, and occasionally mix in a parlay or two.

You may even be able to get away with arbing or steam chasing with the right knowledge. Of course, these discussions are for a different time.

The key is that you’re aware of why softbooks ban winners and how you can avoid getting the boot yourself. If you stay under the radar, then you have a better chance to win without being limited or outright banned.brade

Pros and Cons of Poker Study Groups

Study Group Surrounding Laptop, Poker Cards Spread Out
Studying poker strategy and reviewing hands on your own can be boring. You may eventually be unmotivated to improve your skills as a result.

Enter poker study groups, which give you an opportunity to work with fellow players to boost your skill level. By studying with others, you stand a better chance of sticking to strategy and winning more money.

These groups seem like a cure-all to becoming a stronger poker player. However, you also need to consider the downsides as well.

I’m going to discuss more on poker study groups along with their pros and cons. I’ll also offer advice on whether you should seriously consider joining one of these study circles.

How Does a Poker Study Group Work?

A poker study group involves multiple players working together to help each other improve. Members can discuss books, mull over strategy concepts, sweat each other’s sessions, provide motivation, and more.

No limits exist when it comes to poker study groups. However, the person in charge usually lays down guidelines as to what will be covered.

For example, the leader may suggest that hand analysis, sweating sessions, and book discussions take precedent.

In addition to laying down what will be discussed, the leader will also help dictate the schedule and methods of communication.

Regarding the latter, Skype sessions, Facebook messenger, and Discords are popular places to meet virtually.

These are all perfectly fine ways to communicate online. However, they also require each member to be on their phone or computer at a given time.

This is easier said than done when considering that everybody in the group will have different schedules. The collective must agree on meeting times so that nobody is left out.

Requirements to Join a Study Group

The great thing about poker study groups is that they’re free to join. However, those in charge don’t just let anybody into the fold.

Another leader duty is to enforce requirements for members. These requirements serve two purposes:

  • Recruiting relevant players
  • Screening out non-serious members

As for the first point, mid-stakes cash players don’t want to discuss multi-table tournaments. Likewise, they don’t wish to cover basic strategy for micro-stakes beginners.

Two Guys Sitting at a Table, Recruitment, Interview

Membership guidelines are key to ensuring only relevant people join. Only then will everybody be contributing and benefiting from the discussions.

No serious study group wants unmotivated members involved. Requirements also help to ensure that such players are barred from participating.

Pros of Poker Study Groups

You don’t necessarily have to join a study circle just to become a better player. However, you might certainly think about the matter after reading the following benefits.

Great Way to Improve Your Game

Study groups have become more popular within the past few years for one reason—they work.

I’m not saying that every single group ever formed will be a winner. By and large, though, all participants have a stronger chance of improving than when working by themselves.

What’s great is that setting up or joining a poker strategy group isn’t a monumental task. You should be able to get started within a relatively short amount of time.

More Accountability for Learning Strategy

You may have the desire to get better as a poker player. But will you force yourself to make the time?

Finding time is perhaps the biggest issue when trying to get better. A study circle forces you to get involved on some level.

The best groups have strict schedules on when they meet. Therefore, you need to be on time and know your strategy in order to contribute.

Gain Access to New Concepts and Viewpoints

Another problem with learning strategy solo is that you only have one viewpoint. Your opinion won’t always be the correct one in every situation either.

You’ll especially have a difficult time during post-session poker analysis. Sometimes, it’s hard to be your own critic.

Different opinions are yet another major benefit of poker study groups. You’ll receive different viewpoints on hands and other strategy concepts.

Much like your own opinions, these views aren’t always going to be right. However, a collection of opinions is often better than a single person’s thoughts.

Make Poker Friends

You’ve likely gotten into poker so that you can make money or at least be entertained. This experience is even more fun, though, when you have a few poker buddies.

Group of Friends in Living Room, Poker Cards Spread

Making friends at cash tables and in live tournaments can be difficult, especially if you’re not a live regular. Study groups, however, make the matter easier.

Assuming you and the other members meet consistently, then you’ll develop relationships with them. Even though these friendships may only be online, you’ll at least feel closer to the game.

Cons of Poker Study Groups

You might be eager to go with a study group after seeing the benefits. But you should also consider the downsides before jumping headfirst.

Barriers to Entry

The vast majority of study groups have guidelines and requirements. They don’t want just anybody joining their inner circle.

If you take the game seriously and continue playing, then you’ll eventually be accepted into one of these groups. Unfortunately, though, you might also experience some rejections along the way.

Hopefully, you can get over any such rejections and keep trying. But you may feel down if you’re turned away from too many groups.

The alternative is that you can always form your own study band. But the downside here is that you must do more work in order to recruit members and run the discussions.

Groupthink Can Arise

Earlier, I mentioned that poker study groups can lead to making friends. But the problem with these friendships is that they can also result in “groupthink.”

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The term refers to when a collection of people share the same opinions without critically looking into the matter.

Those involved in such situations are more concerned with getting along than finding the best solutions.

Playing US poker is no different in this regard. Friends, or at least friendly acquaintances, may agree with one another just to avoid conflict.

The best study groups are able to offer constructive criticism to each other without getting angry or, even worse, disbanding.

Some Groups Don’t Last Long

Poker study circles aren’t built to last. Some of these groups don’t even last for a month before they dissolve.

Here’s a typical scenario when a study group formed:

  • An enthusiastic leader makes an announcement that they’re looking to form a study circle.
  • A seemingly perfect collection of individuals come together.
  • Certain members start becoming unreliable and missing agreed-upon meetings.
  • Soon, only half of the members are actually contributing anything meaningful.
  • Eventually, only the leader and a couple others are actually doing anything in the group.
  • They also give up their efforts upon realizing nobody else is on board.

The hope is that you can keep a study group going for years. The reality, though, is that you’ll have a difficult time making this happen.

Certain Members Won’t Contribute Much

Virtually everybody who starts or joins one of these groups does so with the intention of becoming a better player. But over time, some players lose their passion for the game or their group.

Hand Grabbing Poker Cards Off Table, Guy With Hand on Head on Couch

The same people will eventually stop contributing much. They should theoretically be cut loose at this point, but they’re sometimes able to hang around in the groups for a long time.

The leader needs to be willing to cut non-contributing members. Otherwise, the overall morale of the participants go down.

Is a Study Group the Answer to Boosting Your Poker Skills?

You can see that poker study groups aren’t a guaranteed path towards dominating the game. In fact, they feature a number of drawbacks that can make them a waste of time.

Overall, though, you stand to benefit by trying a study group at least once. The best aspects in my opinion include the accountability and different viewpoints.

You’ll have a tough time sticking to poker strategy by yourself on a consistent basis. It’s just not fun to review hands, read books, and learn ICM by yourself.

Taking this journey with several other players makes the matter easier. You can all hold each other accountable for making it to online meetings and contributing.

Varying viewpoints help you see different spots and strategy concepts in a new light. This is preferable to only seeing the poker world through your own lens.

At the end of the day, you are the only gambling with real money. It’s up to you to learn through different methods to really understand the game and what kind of player you really are.

Conclusion

Poker study groups can be incredibly effective when done right. The key phrase is “when done right,” because these groups aren’t perfect by design.

If you’re the leader, you have to set some hard requirements in the beginning. You don’t necessarily need the world’s best players in your group to succeed. But you do want dedicated individuals who care about improving.

Having these types of members takes some pressure off you. As a result, you don’t have to worry as much about guiding everybody and potentially kicking out non-contributors.

But even with the right mix, you still have to work to ensure everything stays on track. Two big things you want to avoid include groupthink and fizzling out. Some groups tend to agree with each other just to avoid conflict. This scenario doesn’t help anybody involved.

Additionally, study circles can eventually dissipate, as members grow less passionate. You can help prevent this by make sure that schedules are met and players stay engaged.

The ultimate goal is for all members to improve greatly at the game. To do this, you need to take care of all the details along the way.

Top 3 Mistakes Every US Sports Bettor Makes

Football Player Running With Ball, Dollar Bills
Sports betting is a tough business. Predicting how teams and players are going to perform is far from an exact science. All you can do is try to make accurate predictions and learn from your mistakes.

Learning to be a good handicapper is the most important thing you can do. This covers up most of the other mistakes you’re going to make. But this isn’t the only thing you need to do. Every mistake you can correct or avoid helps your bottom line as a sports bettor. Here are three mistakes every sports bettor makes, with some strategies to help you avoid them.

1 – You Don’t Handicap Games Properly

The biggest mistake sports bettors make is they don’t handicap games properly. The fact is that handicapping is hard. It’s also hard work, which is where most sports bettors fall short. If you aren’t willing to invest a great deal of time and effort into handicapping, your chances of becoming a winning sports bettor is slim.

The first thing to do is take an honest look at how much time you spend handicapping games you bet on. If you’re making betting decisions in 15 minutes or less and don’t already have a good system in place, you’re wasting your time. Without a good system or investing more time in research, you might as well flip a coin to decide which team to bet on.

I want to point out that there’s no shame if you just want to bet on a few games for fun, as long as you’re not fooling yourself into thinking you actually have a long term edge.

You can win around half of your spread bets no matter which teams you pick. This makes your only long term cost the vig you pay on your losses.

To make a long-term profit betting on spread games, you have to win around 53% of the time. This won’t create a huge profit, but it’s better than losing in the long run.

Can you win 53 out every 100 games you bet on? Statistically speaking, with normal variance, if you bet on enough games, you’re eventually going to have a group of 100 games where you win 53 of them. This isn’t what I’m talking about. You need to consistently win 53 out of 100 bets.

The way to do this is to learn how to accurately predict performances and find betting lines that offer value. You have options for placing US sports bets that range from a local sportsbook or bookie to placing bets with an online sportsbook.

This means you can, and should, shop for the best lines on any game you’re considering betting on. Some games have the same line across most sportsbooks, but some games have different lines. You’re not going to find lines that are three points off, but it’s not uncommon to find a point difference, which can make a huge difference in the long run to your results.

Here’s an example of line shopping:

The first step in improving your sports betting results is learning how to improve your handicapping skills.

2 – You Pay Too Much Vig

If you made bets without vig and won half your games, you’d break even. It’s not difficult to win half your games, so if you can find a way to reduce your vig, you can improve your results without making any other changes. The normal way to place sports bets is to bet with a sportsbook where you usually pay a 10% premium to place wagers.

You normally have to bet 11 to win 10, 22 to win 20, 55 to win 50, etc. When you win, you get back your bet plus the win, but when you lose you lose your bet including the 10% premium.

Inside a Casino Sportsbook

You can use two different strategies to find reduced vig. The first one is looking for sportsbooks charging less than the traditional 10%. Some sportsbooks charge less on a regular basis, and others run promotions with reduced vig from time to time. Any time you can place a bet with reduced vig, it improves your overall results.

So look around for different sportsbooks. If you need help on what to look for, we’ve listed 6 things to look for in an online sportsbook.

The other option is to find ways to make wagers without any vig. This is more challenging, but most gamblers do have some options to do this. The easiest way to make bets with no vig is to bet with other sports bettors and skip the sportsbook and bookie. Betting like this comes with some concerns, but this is something you need to explore.

3 – You Bet on Your Favorite Teams

Every sports bettor has to make a decision. You need to decide if you want to bet for fun or try to win. Most sports bettors claim they want to win and have fun, but winning sports bettors don’t put down bets for fun.

I’m not going to judge you if you want to bet on sports for fun. The choice is entirely yours.

If you want to place a bet on your favorite team or teams for fun, have a great time. But don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re doing everything you can to win.

You can be a winning sports bettor and have favorite teams. But you can’t bet on your favorite teams unless they offer value. Handicapping a game involving your favorite team is challenging. It’s difficult to accurately handicap a team you like because fans tend to overvalue their favorite teams and players.

Every fan does this, so it’s nothing to be ashamed of. But your best option is to avoid betting on games involving your favorite team.

This doesn’t make sense to many sports bettors, because a big fan should know more about his or her team than most other people. Knowing more about a team should give you an edge, but in most cases, it doesn’t.

When you’re rooting for a favorite team, it’s easy to get rose-colored glasses, which leads to overvaluing their abilities. I simply don’t bet on games involving my favorite teams.

Guy Sitting on Bus Wearing a Chicago Cubs Baseball Jersey

Another way to avoid making mistakes betting on your favorite teams is to have a dedicated bankroll for your sports bets, and any bet you make on one of your favorite teams comes out of your personal money instead of your bankroll. This way, you can concentrate on winning with your sports bankroll and still occasionally place bets on your favorite teams.

You should always have a dedicated bankroll as a sports bettor. It helps you track your progress and helps you decide how much to bet on each game. In a perfect world you’d have a bankroll big enough to make the maximum bet on every game you find value on when you handicap it.

But you don’t live in a perfect world, and most bettors don’t have a bankroll in the millions. As a simple rule of thumb, I recommend never betting more than 1% of your total bankroll on a single game. You can move this percentage up to 2% or 3% as you master your handicapping skills and improve your results, but you need to protect your bankroll as much as possible.

Conclusion

The best way to improve your sports betting results is to improve your handicapping skills. Once you learn how to be an effective handicapper, you should shop for the best lines and look for ways to make wagers with lower vig. If you want to bet on your favorite teams, use money that’s not earmarked for your sports betting bankroll.

4 Ways to Play Baccarat Like a Professional

Baccarat Logo, Dealer and Player Touching Cards and Chips on Baccarat Table
Baccarat is one of the easiest casino games you can play and it has a house edge lower than most other games, including slot machines, craps, roulette, and almost every table game other than blackjack.

But you can’t just sit down and start playing if you want to play like a professional gambler. If you don’t play the right way, you give the casino a higher edge than you need to. If you want to play baccarat like a pro, keep reading to learn four things you need to do.

After you learn more about the four ways to play baccarat like a pro, you may want start playing online right away. Our website has great recommendations on the best US casino sites.

1 – Pick the Right Baccarat Table

Most casino players who play baccarat are actually playing mini baccarat or midi baccarat. These two variations are basically the same game. In mini and midi baccarat, you play at a table roughly the same size as a blackjack table and the casino provides a dealer who takes care of everything, much like when you play blackjack or other table games.

Mini and midi baccarat is easy to play, because all you have to do is choose which of the three available wagers to make and how much you want to risk. The dealer takes care of everything else.

Traditional baccarat is played on a larger table, and in most games, the opportunity to deal is passed around the table. The casino still has personnel running the table, but the players each have more opportunities to be involved in the game.

At the end of the day, all three baccarat versions are the same as far as your chance to win.

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The house edge is the same on all of the betting options and the basic rules are the same. If you play baccarat online, there’s no difference between the three variations.

Why does it matter what variation you pick to play in the casino?

The best table for you depends on your overall goals and how much you bet on average. Because all baccarat tables have a built in house edge, the more you play the faster you lose. This means that the slowest table is usually the best table, because you don’t play as many hands per hour as you do when you play at a fast table.

The slowest baccarat tables are usually the traditional tables. The problem is that most traditional baccarat tables are in high limit rooms or areas, and they have higher betting minimums and limits than the midi and mini baccarat tables.

Split Image of Two Different Baccarat Tables at the Casino

Traditional baccarat is slower than mini and midi baccarat because the players take turns in the dealing process. This adds a little extra time on each hand. But this is only valuable to you if you already play for higher stakes. It’s not worth it to bet more just to play at a slower table.

Here’s an example using both a traditional baccarat table and a mini baccarat table.

For this example, the minimum bet at the mini baccarat tables is $10 and the minimum at the traditional table is $20. At the mini baccarat table, you play 80 hands every hour and you play 60 hands an hour at the traditional table.

The casino house edge on the banker bet is 1.06%, so you can determine the average loss every hour based on the amount you bet and the number of hands you play every hour. To determine the average hourly loss, you multiply the amount you bet on each hand times the number of hands you play per hour times the house edge.

Mini baccarat table: $10 x 80 x 1.06% = $8.48

Traditional baccarat table: $20 x 60 x 1.06% = $12.72

Even though you play fewer hands every hour at the traditional baccarat table, you still lose more every hour because of the higher average wager amount.

2 – Bet the Banker

Each of the three types of baccarat tables listed in the last section offer the same three betting options. You can bet on a tie, the player hand, or the dealer hand. When you make a wager on the dealer hand, you pay a 5% commission when you win.

The house edge is different for each of the three wager options, with the tie bet being the worst and the banker bet being the lowest.

The house edge on the tie bet is over 14% in most casinos, which makes it one of the worst bets offered.

A bet on the player hand holds a house edge of 1.24%. As you learned in the previous section, the banker bet has the lowest house edge of 1.06%. The 1.06% is the edge after the casino takes their 5% commission, so it’s the only bet you should ever make playing baccarat.

3 – Know the Expectation of Baccarat

As you learned in the last section, the house edge for the banker bet is 1.06%. But do you understand what this means when it comes to your expected results at the baccarat table?

The first thing that it means is in the long run, you’re going to lose more than you win unless you can change the game in some way. In the next section, you’re going to learn a few things you can do to alter your results a little bit, but there’s really not a good way to eliminate the overall edge the casino holds in baccarat.

A house edge of 1.06% is lower than most games offered in the casino, so it’s a good choice when you want a simple game that you can play to stretch your money and manage your bankroll. But it’s still not a game you can win. Here’s how to use the house edge to determine what you can expect in real numbers playing baccarat.

The house edge is the average percentage of every bet that the casino keeps for revenue. It’s based on the overall amount wagered at the game over a long period of time. In the short term, the actual results fluctuate, but over a large sample size, the numbers get closer and closer to the expectation.

If you wager $100,000 on the banker bet playing baccarat, over time, your expected loss is $1,060. To determine your expected loss, multiply the house edge of 1.06% times the total amount you risk.

The actual results for any hand or playing session don’t change the expectation. When you play a single hand of baccarat, you either win or lose. If you bet $20 on the banker, you either lose the entire $20 or you win and get back your $20 and a win of $19.

Casino Baccarat Table with Casino Chips, Hundred Dollar Bill

The reason you only get back $19 on a $20 bet is because of the 5% commission on the banker wager. But the 1.06% house edge already has the commission figured in, so it doesn’t change the edge.

Your expected loss on a $20 wager is just over 21 cents. The actual number is 21.2 cents, or .212.

Both the long term example using $100,000 and the single hand example are somewhat useful, but I find it’s more helpful to look at your expected loss per hour playing baccarat. You can plug in the actual amount you bet and the number of hands you play every hour to get the expected loss number for the way you play once you see the formula in action.

If you bet $20 per hand and play 50 hands every hour, here’s how to determine your expected loss every hour.

$20 per hand times 50 hands every hour is $1,000. $1,000 times the house edge of 1.06% is $10.60. On average, you’re going to lose $10.60 every hour you play. This is a realistic representation of playing baccarat live.

If you play baccarat online, you can play many more hands per hour. It’s possible to play 400 or more hands per hour online, but you control how fast the game plays online, so I’m going to use 200 hands per hour in an example.

200 hands per hour at $10 per hand is a total of $2,000 wagered. $2,000 times the house edge of 1.06% is $21.20. You can expect to lose $21.20 per hour on average in this scenario.

4 – Comps and Online Bonuses

The only thing you can do to keep the house edge as low as possible playing baccarat is to always bet on the banker hand. But there are two other things you can do to help offset your losses. Anything you can do to offset your losses basically works the same as reducing the house edge.

The first thing you can do is find online casino bonuses for online baccarat play. All of the online casinos listed on this site offer bonuses, and this site never recommends a casino where I wouldn’t play with my own money.

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You need to read the terms on every bonus offer to make sure it can be used to play baccarat. Some online casino bonuses are only for slot machines.

When you find a good baccarat bonus, it increases your bankroll, which lets you play longer and have a better chance to hit a winning streak.

When you play baccarat in a land-based casino, you need to sign up for the player’s club. As a member of the player’s club you earn comps for your baccarat play. The level and value of comps you receive depend on how much you gamble and at what stakes. But even if you only earn a free meal from time to time, it saves you money.

Conclusion

If you want to play baccarat like a pro, you need to make sure you’re playing at the right table. Only bet on the banker hand and understand your expected results before you play. The final tip is to find a good online bonus and/or sign up for the player’s club and earn comps.

The 7 Best Casinos for Slots in Las Vegas

Casino Slot Machines, Welcome to Las Vegas Sign
You have a lot to look forward to in Las Vegas—bright lights, constant partying, and endless opportunities. You also face an ocean of slot machines in every casino on the Strip and anywhere else in the city.

In fact, you’ll find over 200,000 slot machines in Las Vegas alone. And not all of these slot games are the same. Some casinos offer better rewards through their players’ programs, for example. Others have looser slots (games with a higher RTP).

Here’s my list of the seven best casinos for slots in Las Vegas.

1 – Aria

Aria Resort & Casino is one of the most luxurious properties on the Las Vegas Strip, and it also has one of the biggest slot machine areas anywhere in the city.

On top of that, they have the biggest and best high roller slot machine parlor in the entire state. It even has its own name, Spin.

People like me think of $100 per spin slots as being high limit games, but in Vegas, everything’s bigger and better. In Spin, some of the slot machine cost $5000 per spin.

It’s an architectural marvel, too. Famed New York architect Peter Marino designed Spin, which has more amenities than some casinos. This includes a staff of butlers to cater to your needs while you play. The cashier’s cage is separate from the gaming, and the bathrooms are all private.

Have you ever seen a full-service dining room inside the slot machine area? And Aria doesn’t just cater to high rollers. The casino has over 2,000 slot machine games available, including popular titles like Wheel of Fortune and The Walking Dead. They also frequently host slot machine tournaments.

2 – Bellagio

A lot of people think of the Bellagio as the best place on the Las Vegas Strip to play poker, and they are right about this, of course.

But Bellagio is also one of the best spots on the Vegas Strip to find slot machine tournaments and a wide variety of slots games to choose from. Including video poker games and slot machines, Bellagio has over 2,300 different gambling machines to choose from.

Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas

And they’re available in multiple denominations, catering to both low rollers and high rollers alike.

Many of Bellagio’s slot machines feature progressive jackpots where you can win $1 million or more on a single spin of the reels. No one offers better live entertainment or dining either.

Also, since Aria and the Bellagio are both owned by MGM, membership at the slots club there means that you automatically have a membership in M life Rewards loyalty program, which is the players club at the following casinos:

  • Aria
  • Bellagio
  • Delano Las Vegas
  • Excalibur
  • Luxor
  • Mandalay Bay
  • MGM Grand
  • The Mirage
  • Park MGM
  • New York-New York
  • Vdara

3 – The Venetian

The Venetian is famous for a lot of things, and one of those things is the varied selection of gambling machines available there. The casino has two floors worth of machines to choose from, and they have a great loyalty program.

The Venetian also makes it a point of keeping the latest games on the floor, and they’ve done an excellent job of making sure they have newer games than some of their competitors. If you’re looking for games like the new Ghost Busters slots or the Game of Thrones slots, this is the place.

Like Aria, the Venetian caters to high rollers.

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They offer an area called “The High-Limit Slots Salon,” which is a quieter and less crowded area for customers comfortable with betting up to $5000 per spin playing the slots.

If you’re a customer here, you can even request your own brands of machine, and the casino will do its best to accommodate.

They offer butler service and a lounge where you can relax when you’re taking a break from the slots games.

If you’re a Gold or Platinum member of the Grazie loyalty program here, you get free transportation to and from McCarran Airport.

4 – The Golden Nugget

So far, this list has focused on slot machine games that cater to high rollers on the Strip. But not all the best slot machines are found on the famed Las Vegas Boulevard.

In fact, the payback percentages for machines in other parts of the city are usually superior to the glitzier properties on the Strip. And what better “other part of the city” is there than downtown?

The Golden Nugget Casino in Downtown Las Vegas

The gaming floor at the Golden Nugget is huge, with over 1,000 gambling machines to choose from. They have some of the most varied games in the city, too. They carry the famous games like Wheel of Fortune, but they also have a bigger variety of “Buffalo” slots than almost any other casino.

They feature multiple progressive jackpot slots casinos, too. I’m one of those slot machine players who loves a good steak, so the presence of Vic and Anthony’s is a great reason to play here, too. It’s one of the 10 best steakhouses in the entire country.

5 – Sam’s Town

One thing you should be aware of about Las Vegas slots is that the payback percentage is lower on the Strip than elsewhere. The best places to play are older casinos that are a little off the beaten path.

Sam’s Town fits the bill nicely. What it lacks in luxury, Sam’s Town makes up for with high payout slot machine games.

One thing that Sam’s Town offers that isn’t available at other Las Vegas casinos is an online listing of the slot machine games they have available. You can search their database by denomination, type of game, or keyword in the game title.

Be warned, though, Sam’s Town is not your traditional Vegas experience. It’s older and a bit cheesier. It’s probably a more appropriate casino to stay at if you’re older or maybe if you have young children.

As far as the better payback percentages go, that’s worth a visit.

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Just keep in mind that no matter how high the payback percentage is at a specific casino, the various slot machines on the floor have different payback percentages from one another.

The payback percentage for a casino is the AVERAGE of the slots on the floor. You might play a game with a 75% payback percentage, while your mom might be playing on an identical machine next to it with a 95% payback percentage.

And since the house has the edge, if you play either game long enough, you’ll eventually lose all your money.

6 – Excalibur

If you’re more interested in payback percentage than glitz and glamour, you should look at some of the older properties on the Strip. Circus Circus and Excalibur both count, but Excalibur’s more recent renovations make it somewhat more palatable to the modern gambler.

Excalibur is old enough and low rent enough that they can afford to offer some of the best payback percentages on the Strip. And if you’re not a high roller, you should consider trying the slots here.

They have plenty of penny slots, and even their most expensive game tops out at $100 per spin—a far cry from the $5000 max at some of the other casinos in this group on the Strip.

That’s right. Excalibur is also owned by MGM, so you get to participate in the same huge slot club as most of the other casinos on this list.

7 – Downtown Vegas in General

Rather than close out this list with another casino recommendation, I want to recommend the Downtown Vegas area over the Strip for its selection of unusual slot machine games in various areas.

Night View of the Excalibur Casino in Las Vegas

For example, the biggest slot machine in the world is the SlotZilla zip line. And when I say “big,” I’m being literal. It’s 128 feet tall. You zip down Fremont Street Experience on one of two lines, and the game has a huge video screen with reels and an animated arm to pull.

You can also view antique slot machines at the Main Street. They’re beautiful and well worth seeing. You’ll find them near the registration desk.

Many of the Downtown Las Vegas casinos offer huge, oversized slot machines. One place to find them is on the second level of The D. You’ll have to take the escalator to see this one. Also, you get to play for real coins here, which is a nice change of pace for old-timers who remember being able to cash out with a huge bucket full of coins.

You’ll also find a huge slot machine in The Golden Nugget.

Conclusion

Those are my picks for the seven best casinos for slots in Las Vegas. Do you disagree with my choices?

7 Best Shows to Watch in Las Vegas

Cirque du Soleil Las Vegas Show, Top 7 Logo
Variety shows are not a thing of the past. What Americans came to know as variety shows began in the late 1800s with British and American stage shows called “music halls” in the United Kingdom and “vaudeville” in the United States.

These show formats were adapted to movies, radio, and television starting in the 1930s. The last major variety shows were broadcast in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Thanks to Las Vegas, people can still enjoy the live variety show format. Of course, they’re a lot bigger and better than ever, and they only slightly resemble their vaudeville and music hall ancestors in production and format.

Las Vegas offers so many shows that it’s impossible to take them all in, and if you’ve never been to Las Vegas before, choosing can be overwhelming.

Although some shows are seasonal while others run for many years, how do you narrow the list down to the seven “best” choices?

It’s not easy, and I am sure people have other ideas. But I looked at reviews and the general uniqueness of these shows among dozens. These shows are too good to miss! Check out the seven best Las Vegas shows below.

1 – Beatleshow at Planet Hollywood

There have been several Beatles tribute shows since the band broke up in the early 1970s. Even today, the Beatles are considered one of the most influential musical groups of the modern era. The evolution of their music, from simple party songs in the early 1960s to groundbreaking experimental progressive rock music, launched an entire generation of musical experimentation.

Books, movies, and TV shows have been made about the Beatles. You’ll find thousands of videos of them on YouTube and other streaming services. The legacy of the Beatles is unmatched by any other musical group.

Frank Sinatra covered the classic Beatles song “Something,” written by George Harrison, and Sinatra told audiences it was “one of the best love songs written in 50 or 100 years.”

Fans all over the globe rave about the Beatleshow at Planet Hollywood. The performers look and sound like the boys from the 1960s.

Venue:
Performances daily at 5:30 PM in the Saxe Theater inside the Miracle Mile Shops.

Address:
3663 S Las Vegas Blvd,
Suite 454A,
Las Vegas, NV 89109-1950

2 – Mystère by Cirque du Soleil at Treasure Island

It’s hard to describe a Cirque du Soleil show in just a few words. These shows combine music, artistic design, acrobatic movements, and sophisticated dance choreography to create an amazing display of strength, balance, coordination, and artistic expression.

Treasure Island Las Vegas Casino with Mystere Banner

The performers transition through different movements and themes. There’s so much going on that you don’t know whether to watch the stage where dancers might be flipping or whirling or to look up and watch a solo artist perform with a metal cube or a team of trapeze artists dance through the air.

My first thought when watching a performance was that Cirque du Soleil is where Olympic athletes go when they’re done with competitive sports. Skills required to perform in a show like this are world-class.

Audience reactions are mixed, and the show’s format is confusing. I won’t try to explain it, but if you plan to see two or more Cirque performances, you should head over to the Treasure Island to see this one first.

Venue: Cirque du Soleil performs daily at Treasure Island Hotel in Las Vegas.

Address:
3300 S Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89109

3 – O by Circue du Soleil at Bellagio

Cirque du Soleil shows are all about fantasy. The best description I can think of about “O” is that it is a water ballet turned into a mime opera. From synchronized water sprite dancing to gracefully floating horses, you never know what to expect to appear on stage next at this show, hosted by the Bellagio Hotel & Casino.

There are acrobats and musicians and artists who scamper around the auditorium. There are sights that simply cannot be described.

The stage effects are magnificent, easily giving the impression that the emcee is a powerful magician who leads the audience through an enchanted journey.

If anything, the engineering is almost as much a star of the show as any of the performers. But there’s the wide range of musical styles and dancing, too. It’s hard not to rave about this show.

Venue: Cirque du Soleil’s O is performed daily at 7 PM at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino.

Address:
3600 S Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89109

4 – Le Reve – The Dream at the Wynn

Le Reve – The Dream is also a water show that mixes music, acrobatics, and dance to tell a cinematic story in 3D. It’s not a Cirque du Soleil production but compares well with the Cirque du Soleil tradition.

The theater inside the Wynn provides stadium seating completely around the tank and there seem to be no bad seats in the house. Acrobats come down in a circle, so everyone gets a good look at a part of the show.

Le Reve by Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas

If I had to distinguish between this production and the Cirque du Soleil performances, I guess I would say Le Reve is more Americanized and Cirque du Soleil has a more European feel. I’m not sure that’s a fair description to any of these shows and their performers.

The stage engineering is every bit as impressive as in the Circue du Soleil shows, but the show is more about the performances than the set in Le Reve – The Dream. The finale is amazing, as it should be.

Venue: Le Reve – The Dream opens twice daily at the Wynn Las Vegas, at 7 PM and 9 PM.

Address
3131 S Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89198

5 – The Mob Dinner Club

This show may not be for everyone, but if you’re interested in American Mafia history and culture, and everyone knows Las Vegas has a historical connection to the mob, you need to take in this show. The star attraction is restaurant owner Sal Polisi, a real-life former New York mobster.

You’ll spend an intimate five hours with Sal, as he cooks dinner and shares stories about his life as a Mafia associate.

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Patrons are expected to wear dressy clothing, so a sports jacket and slacks for men is probably a tad on the downside.

It’s all part of the mob mystique, of course. The club has a Facebook page where you can see pictures and read about news related to the mob (like upcoming books and TV specials).

The cuisine is Italian food in case you’re not sure. People say it’s to die for.

Address:
6007 Dean Martin Dr
Las Vegas, NV 89118

6 – Tournament of Kings at the Excalibur

If you’re a fan of the Heath Ledger movie A Knight’s Tale, you’ll probably enjoy this show. All that’s missing is Heath and Paul Bettany.

Patrons are treated to the full pageantry of an anachronistic medieval jousting tournament and other deeds of derring-do and dastardly dissonance. The show is loud, full of horses and jesters, and quite
dirty, as in, the horses are galloping across a dirt-covered floor.

Excalibur Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Tournament of Kings

Audiences are thrilled by the spectacle of it all. The performers ham it up for cheers and jeers while knights battle on horseback and foot. If you’re thinking modern pro wrestling has met up with King Arthur’s court at Camelot, that about sums it up.

The show’s soundtrack has a brash cinematic feel to it, and the stunts are reminiscent of every movie from Robin Hood to James Bond. Even though it’s all carefully staged, it’s obvious the performers are working up a sweat.

This show is a treat for the whole family, and you don’t have to worry about dressing up when heading over to the Excalibur Hotel & Casino.
Venue:
Tournament of Kings is performed six days a week at the Excalibur Hotel and Casino.

Address:
3850 S Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89109

7 – V – The Ultimate Variety Show at Planet Hollywood

If there is a show that retains something of the old vaudeville spirit it is probably this one.

Audiences are treated to a succession of musicians, acrobats, clowns, and magicians in a more intimate setting than the elaborately engineered shows like Cirque du Soleil and Le Reve.

If vaudeville had survived as more than a parody of itself on various TV shows, V is probably what it would look like today.

Venue: Shows are performed daily at V Theater at Planet Hollywood inside the Miracle Mile Shops.

Address:
3663 S Las Vegas Blvd.
#360G,
Las Vegas, NV 89109

Conclusion

Having read this far, you’ll notice I didn’t write much about food. There are so many good restaurants in Las Vegas that if you see a show only for the food, then you should skip the show.

Every one of these shows is either accompanied by a meal or located close to a respectable restaurant. For a family night out or a date night, you won’t have to travel very far to eat and be entertained.

What You Need to Know Before Putting Money Into a Slot Machine

Casino Slot Machines, Dollar Bill, Yellow Caution Sign
Since slot machines make up the overwhelming amount of most casinos’ revenue, it’s a safe bet to say that you’re probably going to play them if you visit any top real money casinos.

When you walk in, you’ll probably notice how much of the casino is actually taken up by these ringing and spinning machines.

But you shouldn’t play slot machines at all until you know what you’re getting into. This post provides you with everything you need to know before putting your money into a slot machine.

You Can Play Free Slot Machines and Save a LOT of Money

I don’t know how you’re going to feel about this, but you might want to take a look at the variety of free slot machines available online. Sure, it’s difficult and borderline impossible to win money at these games.

But if you’re on a budget, or care a lot about your bankroll, playing free slots might be a good place to start.

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The way most of these games work is, they provide you with a certain amount of play money to use on the game. Any money you win or lose is just play money.

Think of it like playing poker for pennies or for toothpicks. It’s just a way to keep score.

If you’re someone who plays slots and loses an average of just $50 per week, you’re blowing $2600 a year on slot machines. You might be better off putting that money into a bank account and playing free slots instead.

Most Modern Slot Machines Are “Video” Slots

I don’t think you should play any kind of game without understanding the rules.

Everyone knows that a slot machine has spinning reels with symbols on them, and the goal is to line up symbols across a pay line. Early slot machines used springs and gears to randomize the spinning of these reels.

Modern slot machines, though, use a computer program called a random number generator to provide results. Many of these games don’t even have physical reels anymore; they just have videos of reels on a computer monitor or TV screen.

Casino Video Slot Machine

But even the games which still have physical reels use that same random number generator to determine their results.

It’s important that you understand this, because it makes it almost impossible to estimate your payback percentage or likelihood of winning when you don’t know what the probability of hitting a specific symbol is.

Some symbols come up once every 10 spins, on average. Others might only come up once every 30 or even every 100 spins, which leads me to my next topic…

The Payout Percentage and the Pay Table

The pay table is the guide to how much each set of matched symbols pays off at.

For example, if you get sevens across all three reels, you might win 100 to 1 on your money, or if you get three Megabucks symbols in a row, you might win $10 million.

The payout percentage for the game is a function of the probability of winning a prize compared to the prize amount. Over time, you should get payouts that are commensurate with the payout percentage.

Here’s an example: If you played a simple slot machine game with 1000 possible outcomes, and only one of those outcomes paid out at 1000 to 1, you’d have a game with a payout percentage of 100%.

You’d lose most of the time, but if you played long enough, you’d most likely break even. But that you had 1100 possible outcomes, and only one of those outcomes paid off at 1000 to 1, the payout percentage would be significantly lower than 100%.

In fact, it would be 1000/1100, or 91%. On average, you’d win 91 cents for every dollar you wagered on the game.

Since a game that only pays off once in every 1000 spins, you wind up with slot machine games where the prizes are smaller but more frequent. You still have a jackpot, but you also have all these other smaller prizes.

But the payout percentage for the game is still less than 100%. Which means that over time, if you keep playing, you’ll eventually lose all your money.

Are Slot Machines Legal Where You Live?

If you’re playing in a land-based casino with a sign that’s visible from the street, slot machines are probably legal there. Yes, underground, illegal casinos exist in the United States, but they’re not well-publicized.

Most states, though, have strict laws regarding who can own slot machines and which kinds of slot machines you can own.

Court Gavel, United States Map

In states that allow ownership of slot machines, you can usually count on them being illegal if they’re not antiques, unless you’re operating a legal, licensed casino. But what counts as an “antique” slot machine varies from state to state.

The states have these laws in place to prevent places like bars and gas stations from offering illegal gambling. But if you live in Texas, you probably already know that many businesses ignore such laws.

How Likely Are You to Become Addicted to Slot Machines?

You’re probably more likely to become addicted to slot machines than you think. No, you’re not ingesting a substance that interferes with your ability to think clearly. But you are engaging in an activity that causes significant changes in your brain chemistry.

The release of dopamine in the brain happens when you trigger a win, or even a “near-miss,” on a slot machine.

In fact, on many multi-payline, multi-reel slot machine games, a winning spin can actually result in a net loss for the player. The brain responds the same way.

How does that happen? Well, imagine that you’re playing on a game with 15 paylines, and you bet $1 on each payline, putting $15 into action.

You get a winning combination on two of those paylines, and one of those pays off at 2 to 1, and the other pays off at 3 to 1. You win $5, but you’d put $15 into action, so you actually lose $10.

But your brain responses as if you just had a win. Slot machine manufacturers have also used the concept of a near-miss to reinforce your desire to keep playing. Gambling addiction is a big problem in some people’s lives.

Enjoy slot machines if you wish, but when it stops being fun, stop playing. If you can’t stop playing, even though you’re no longer having fun, you may have a problem and should seek professional help.

Online Slot Machines Are Similar to Land-Based Casino Slots

The mechanisms behind online slot machines and the mechanisms behind land-based casinos are the same. All the results are determined by the same kind of computer program – a random number generator.

Casino Slot Machine, Online Slot Machine Reels

How does a random number generator work? It’s not that hard to understand. A random number generator cycles through hundreds or thousands of numbers per second. When you hit the “spin” button on a slot machine, it stops on whatever number it’s “thinking of” at that instant.

You have no way of watching or following this cycle to predict when the game is ready to pay off either. You don’t have to worry about online casinos or land-based casinos cheating at slot machines. They have literally no incentive to do so.

The games are designed so that the casino has a mathematical edge that can’t be overcome unless you cheat in some extraordinary way.

Consider Video Poker or Table Games Instead

I discussed payout percentage earlier, but I want to compare that to the house edge. That’s the amount of each bet that the casino expects to keep based on the math behind the game. If you subtract the payback percentage of a game from 100%, you get the house edge for the game.

Why does the house edge matter? If you multiply the house edge by the amount you wager per hour, you’ll get an estimate of how much money you’re expected to lose.

The average slot machine player makes 600 spins per hour. If you’re betting $3 per spin, you’re putting $1800 per hour into action.

An average slot machine might have a payout percentage of 91%, which means the house edge is 9%. $1800 x 9% is the same thing as $162. That’s a lot of money to lose in an hour.

Here’s the good news! Video poker games generally have a much lower edge. The house edge varies from one game to another, but you’ll rarely find a video poker game with a house edge much higher than 4%.

This means your expected loss on that same amount of action is only $72. If you do your homework, you can find video poker games where the house edge is only 0.5%, which reduces your average loss per hour to $9 per hour.

Table games are great, too. Much of the time, you can find a game with a house edge of between 1% and 2%. But you’ll also make far fewer bets per hour at a table game. If you assume an average of 50 bets per hour at a table, even if you’re betting $10 per game, you’re only putting $500 per hour into action.

This means your average hourly loss on table games is between $5 and $10. And you’ll have just as much fun as you would playing slots.

Conclusion

Slot machines can be fun, but I don’t recommend making them the center of your gambling activity. Try to find games where you face a lower house edge and place fewer bets per hour.

If you just enjoy the sights and sounds of such games, try some of the free slots games you can play online. A few free spins might earn you some coin.

Playing table games or video poker are great ways to employ an actual strategy while gambling online. If slots aren’t your thing, then these alternatives might do the trick!

7-Step Guide to Betting on Football

Football Player Diving on the Field, Pile of Money
Few things in history have managed to gain the country’s collective attention like high-level football. We watch it, we live by it, we yell about it… And we bet on it in record numbers.

According to ESPN, more than $90 billion is wagered annually between college and the NFL. That number alone is roughly eight times the size of the NFL’s annual revenue. With the reintroduction of the XFL, football betting profits are only set to increase.

Before you place any wagers at the sportsbook, be sure to familiarize yourself with what types of bets you can place. There are some US sports bets that you might not know about.

With such a staggering volume of money changing hands, there are sure to be winners and losers throughout the season. In addition to the basic betting strategies, here’s how you can find yourself on the right side of the equation at season’s end.

1 – Look to the Future

During training camp, every fan has hope that the upcoming season will finally be their team’s year. Bettors who choose to play the futures game take hope to another level by putting money on the final results.

One of the most popular futures options in college and pro football is the end of season over/under win totals. It’s as easy as it sounds and keeps things interesting throughout the year.

In addition, you can raise your risk (and potential reward) by betting on who will win each conference, make it to the Super Bowl or XFL Championship, and some books even offer a play for betting on who will be the league’s MVP.

2 – Track Line Movements

Oddsmakers aren’t trying to predict the score of the games, nor are they trying to make any major commentary on the contest. All they’re trying to do is set things up so that 50% of the money will be on the favorite and the other half on the underdog. The juice (the extra 10% paid out in a loss) is where they’ll make their money.

A line movement can be an indication of where you might want to place your wager. For example, if lines are moving toward the favorite, you might find greater value in the underdog.

One important tip to keep in mind is to try finding a book that will give you the option to view the opening odds. Tracking the movement over the final day or two before a game isn’t nearly as valuable as being able to view the spread’s fluctuation over the course of a week or more.

3 – Go Line Shopping

There’s no shortage of great betting sites to use when it comes to sports gambling. While the sites might have the same games, the lines and spreads may vary from site to site. If you’ve already decided which team you want to bet on, try looking around in a few different places to find the numbers that are more favorable for your play.

Welcome to Las Vegas Sign, Sportsbook Moneylines

If you’re visiting Las Vegas and looking to place bets, consider visiting both the Caesars Palace and the Westgate casino’s sportsbook.

While it may seem like a half a point or the difference between +120 or +130 isn’t huge, it all adds up over the course of a season. After all, how frustrated would you be if you lose by half a point because you didn’t notice that three other books offered you a better play?

If you are looking to bet on the XFL this season, we recommend you check out one of the top 5 safest XFL betting sites for 2020.

4 – Check the ATS Records

If you’re a football fan, you probably know each team’s record (roughly) throughout the course of the season. However, even the most dedicated fans usually don’t know what each team’s record is against the spread (ATS).

Besides knowing the overall record in season, which is very helpful, you can also pick up on trends under current coaches, quarterbacks, etc. For example, the Rams are 7-2-1 against the spread after their last 10 bye weeks, while other teams might struggle coming off the bye.

You may expect most teams to be between 40% to 60% against the spread due to the nature of what the spread attempts do (even things out), but some teams can have a 75% or higher rate of covering the spread in a given season. Whether you bet on the trends or not, it’s important to get context behind the numbers.

5 – Don’t Play Hurt

Death, taxes, and star players getting injured in the NFL or XFL are just a few things we can always count on happening. Because so many injuries occur on a near-weekly basis, it can be easy to gloss over a crucial player who’s going to be out on a given week.

NFL Eagles Game, Football Tackle

Don’t just focus all of your attention of the quarterback or other skill positions. Lineman, especially the left tackle, can have a major impact on a game. Additionally, an injured defensive back or two can mean the potential for a slightly higher scoring game.

A quick look through the injury report before you place your bet might help you find that little piece of information you need to make a decision.

6 – Be Wary of Divisional Matchups

This trend is not unique to football, but it’s always important to consider. Divisional matchups should be treated differently than other games. When teams play each other twice a year, every year, they tend to pick up on each other’s strengths and weaknesses and game plan accordingly.

If you’re looking to make a play on an underdog, divisional games are typically a better-than-average bet. Historically, divisional games are more closely contested and low-scoring. Additionally, an underdog at home in a divisional game has an increased chance of covering the spread.

7 – Review the Different Football Betting Options

Much like a quarterback changing the play at the line of scrimmage, it’s okay to call an audible before you submit your bet. While the standard plays may include betting on the spread, moneyline, or over/under, there are some moves you can make to create more favorable conditions.

i
Note: Any time you bet on “alternate” options, you’re accepting that you must risk more money for a lower payout.

Besides the standard lines that usually result in a near-even payout, many books offer alternate lines. For example, you might bet on the DC Defenders at -4 (-110), but you could bet on them at -1.5 (-175). You’ll have more security in your bet, but your payout isn’t going to be close to your original wager.

Another bet to consider is finding a moneyline where you feel the underdog might have a chance to win outright. In the NFL or XFL, nothing is guaranteed, and you can find great value in picking an underdog to win straight up.

Obviously, parlays are a very attractive option because of the high payouts. Just don’t forget that they’re also extremely difficult to win. It’s a tough pill to swallow if you ruin four wins because of just one loss. Don’t get greedy out there.

Conclusion

Turning NFL Sunday or an XFL gameday into a payday isn’t easy, but if you employ the right betting strategies you can start the week with a few more dollars in your pocket. No matter the types of bets you’re using, always remember that it’s important to stick to your bankroll and don’t try to recover losses by betting more!

Will Virtual Reality Destroy Land-Based Casinos?

Casino Slots and Table Games, Guy Wearing VR Headset
For centuries, land-based casinos in the US were the only way to enjoy casino games. However, online gaming has become a more convenient alternative. But brick and mortar casinos still have one big advantage over their online counterparts—the experience.

In land-based establishments, you can actually sit at a table, hold cards, and chat with dealers. No form of gaming has ever replaced these experiences.

Live dealer casinos bring you closer to what brick and mortar venues offer. Live gaming, which features human dealers and real tables, streams action directly from a land based studio or casino.

However, not even live casinos are able to completely replace the feeling of actually being at a gambling venue. What can replicate this experience?

Virtual reality may be the next big step in the evolution of online gaming. VR can eliminate the screen that stands between you and a casino floor.

Assuming virtual reality gambling takes off, it may even replace brick and mortar casinos. I’m going to discuss whether this is a realistic possibility along with more on the current state of live gaming.

Where Is Live Dealer Gaming at Today?

Live dealer casinos are as lifelike as you can get when gambling through a smartphone, tablet, or computer. Again, these sites offer most of the same elements that a land-based casino does.

The croupier deals real cards on a standard casino table.

You can even converse with the dealer via a chat box. You simply type whatever question or comment you have into the box. The dealer can respond verbally whenever they have a chance.

The studios add a lot to the experience as well, with their high-quality streams, professional lighting, and their selection of different dealers.

One more great thing about live casinos is the game variety. Once relegated to classics like blackjack and roulette, live gambling has expanded to offer a larger range of table games. You can even look forward to more obscure offerings, such as Dream Catcher and Dragon Tiger.

What’s Currently Holding Live Casinos Back?

Live dealer sites have had plenty of success within the past decade. Many players appreciate having a chance to enjoy land-based casino games from the comfort of their living room.

However, live casinos don’t fully match the real-life gambling experience. The screen is the biggest thing holding you back from feeling like you’re truly sitting in a brick and mortar casino.

Live Online Casino Dealer on Computer Screen

Instead, you may simply feel like you’re Facetiming the casino and placing bets on the side. Looking at the table and cards through your phone or PC doesn’t offer complete realism.

Live gaming is definitely more realistic than virtual table games. The latter features a software-generated dealer, table, and cards.

But live casinos still have a screen separating you from the action. As long as this remains in effect, then live sites will never be totally perfect.

How Can Virtual Reality Upgrade Live Dealer Casinos?

Virtual reality is getting a second life after being dormant for the better part of two decades. Major tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Sony have made serious investments into this area.

Suddenly, VR is a hot topic again. The entertainment industry figures to benefit significantly if virtual reality finally becomes big among consumers.

The problem, though, is that VR still hasn’t gained widespread adoption. Certain people are buying headsets, but the masses aren’t.

Nevertheless, online gaming figures to benefit greatly if virtual reality reaches its potential. After all, VR can make you feel closer to the action than standard live dealer online casinos.

Virtual reality poker games have already been rolled out. They make it seem as if you’re really at the table by showing your hands, cards, and close proximity to opponents.

It’s only a matter of time before casino table games go VR as well. Baccarat, blackjack, and roulette are natural fits for this technology.

Will VR Help Live Dealer Gaming Catch Up to Land-Based Casinos?

VR has the potential to bring internet gaming closer to you than ever before. But will it truly catch online casinos up to the land-based experience?

Probably not. First off, virtual reality still has a long ways to go before hitting mainstream adoption. Even with tech giants pouring money into the industry, VR headsets aren’t flying off the shelves.

Around 20 million headsets sold in 2018. This figure might sound impressive, but it doesn’t come close to the 1.5 billion smartphones that were sold in the same year.

Even console gaming Is outselling VR by a wide margin. Over 70 million PlayStation 4s were sold last year, and this is just one type of console.

Sales and lack of adoption aren’t the only reasons why VR online gambling will struggle to replace land-based casinos. Here are a few other reasons to consider.

Virtual Reality Still Isn’t Amazing

Poor performance is one big aspect that previously held VR back. This technology received a big push in the 1980s, only to falter when it left users with headaches and disappointment.

Virtual reality is back again in the consumer market and better than ever. However, it’s still far from what many people expect.

Woman Wearing Virtual Reality Headset, Casino Slot Reels

The point of VR is to offer a more lifelike experience than what’s available through a screen. But recent virtual reality casino games don’t exactly live up to this vision.

For example, NetEnt’s Gonzo’s Quest has been re-released as a VR slot. Originally launched in 2010, this game is one of NetEnt’s greatest hits of all time.

The virtual reality version of Gonzo’s Quest doesn’t feel any better than the original. In fact, it seems worse from a visual perspective.

This game does allow you to look around the screen and get a closer view of the reels. However, the closeup graphics feel like a bad video game.

Not Much VR Gambling Available Right Now

You don’t have to look far for land-based gambling options these days. Many states and countries now feature at least one casino.

Virtual reality gaming is a different story. Few companies have taken the plunge into creating VR-based casinos and games.

SlotsMillion was the first casino to offer a virtual reality version. Their VR casino is housed in a skyscraper and is complete with slot machines, a bar, and lounger furniture.

PokerStars has beta tested a virtual reality poker room. The beta test occurred a while ago and little information has been offered on it since.

NetEnt is one of the few US casino gaming developers that’s gotten into the VR space. Aside from Gonzo’s Quest, they’ve also released a new version of Jack and the Beanstalk.

As you can see, the pickings are slim for virtual reality gambling. This tech hardly appears revolutionary thus far when so few games exist.

Most Gamblers Are Still Satisfied With Smartphone and PC Gaming

As they say, if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it. Real money online gambling is still highly popular around the world and may not need fixed just yet.

Live dealer casinos play a sizable role in this popularity. Many gamblers are still perfectly fine with pulling up a virtual seat at their favorite live dealer’s table.

Three Red Dice on Casino Table, Woman Looking at Smartphone

They’re already prepared for an experience that’s somewhat realistic, albeit not perfect. These players are okay with the screen impediment as long as they can see real cards and chat with dealers.

Few gamblers feel the need to abandon smartphones, tablets, and PCs or Macs in favor of a headset. The latter adds more cost and comes with a learning curve.

One day, players may see a VR headset as a necessity for enjoying their favorite table games. But that day isn’t now.

Conclusion

Nothing looks to supplant brick and mortar casinos in the foreseeable future. Current technology can’t replace the feeling of physically sitting at tables and slot machines.

Live dealer gaming is the closest thing to land-based casinos now. But it still has limitations when considering that it forces you to view everything through a screen.

Virtual reality has the potential to eliminate the screen view and bring you even closer to the tables and slots. The key word, though, is “potential.”

Even with the current revival of VR, this technology isn’t absolutely perfect. Recent efforts by NetEnt, PokerStars, and SlotsMillion haven’t really resulted in much for the industry.

Another problem is that this tech isn’t adopted yet. The sales of smartphones and gaming consoles are dwarfing those of VR headsets. Nobody is going to ditch land-based casinos for the virtual reality experience when they don’t even own a headset.

One more dilemma facing VR gambling is the satisfaction rate with current technology and internet gaming. Most people are content with playing casino games through their smartphone or computer. They don’t feel any desperation to run out and buy a VR set just to gamble with it.

Long story short, virtual reality gaming may still become big in the future. However, it may take a while for it to ever replicate what land-based casinos offer.

Things Only Las Vegas Residents Know About Local Sportsbooks

Welcome to Las Vegas Sign, Basketball, Football, Soccer, Volleyball, Money Bills Wallpaper
Sports betting in the US began sweeping the nation after 2018’s Supreme Court ruling overturned a federal ban on the industry outside of the Silver State. But sportsbooks in other states still can’t hold a candle to the betting shops found in Las Vegas.

Sin City has been the beating heart of America’s sportsbook scene since 1949, and Las Vegas is home to the world’s largest sportsbook facility, the aptly named SuperBook located within the Westgate Resort and Casino. In addition, many of the world’s most prominent bookmakers call Las Vegas home.

Unfortunately, with all of that variety on hand, most tourists who head to town hoping to cash in on their favorite team wind up making a few mistakes along the way.

If you’re planning a trip to Las Vegas anytime soon, the following guide offers up six tips about the city’s sportsbooks that only local residents know.

1 – Shopping Around for the Best Odds, Lines, and Point Spreads Is Essential

One of the most common mistakes made by non-locals when betting on sports concerns the odds, lines, and spreads posted from sportsbook to sportsbook.

Let’s say you’re staying at the MGM Grand on the Strip, but your wanderings have brought you to Caesars Palace an hour or so before a big game.

You check in with the Caesars sportsbook to find the Dallas Cowboys listed as -185 moneyline favorites hosting the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football. The Cowboys are also listed as -3.5 faves, so you go ahead and fire off a wager on both the moneyline and the spread.

When you get back to the MGM Grand, however, passing through that venue’s sportsbook provides a shock. Here, a Dallas moneyline wager offers improved odds of -170, while the point spread sits at a much more comfortable -3.

You’ve already placed your bets back at Caesars Palace, so these much more attractive odds can do nothing more for you than rub a rookie mistake in your face.

Later on that night, as the Cowboys finish off a thrilling 27-24 victory in overtime, you celebrate wildly until a cruel realization sets in. That $185 ticket you hold on the moneyline is good for a nice $100 profit, but you also bet $100 on the -3.5 point spread. A game-winning field goal isn’t enough to cover that number, so you wind up losing that second point spread bet by a half-point, a margin known as “the hook” in sports betting parlance.

Had you simply known to check a reputable US sports betting site, where up to the minute odds, lines, and spreads are listed for every conceivable sport, you would’ve spotted those improved odds offered by MGM Resorts and pounced on them instead.

Here’s how the math breaks down on this particular sports betting blunder:

Caesars Palace

  • $185 on (-185) moneyline = +$100
  • $100 on (-3.5) point spread = -$100
  • $285 in total wagers = $0

MGM Grand

  • $170 on (-170) moneyline = +$100
  • $100 on (-3) point spread = +$90
  • $270 in total wagers = +$190



Yep, you read that correctly… By neglecting to “shop” around for the best odds, you just cost yourself $190 in potential profit. If you don’t make this mistake on your next sports betting excursion to Sin City, be sure to keep yourself up to date on the various operators found from the Strip to Downtown and everywhere in between.

Shopping around also gives you an idea of types of bets are up for grabs. You’d be surprised at what available US sport betting options you may not know about.

2 – Navigating Sportsbook Operators Is Easier Than It Seems

You’ll find 28 casino resorts along the Strip alone, not to mention dozens more in the outlying areas like Downtown, North Las Vegas, the Boulder Strip, Henderson, and Summerlin.

Las Vegas Strip Night View, People Gathered at Sportbooks

Knowing this, it can definitely seem like a daunting task to keep track of which sportsbooks are run by which operator.  And with each operator setting their own odds, lines, and point spreads with exacting precision, examples like the Dallas Cowboys debacle described earlier are all too common.

For that reason, Las Vegas locals who love betting on sports like to list the casinos in Las Vegas not by region, but rather by bet shop operator. Below, you’ll find a comprehensive listing of the major sportsbook operators, including independents that only serve a single casino, so you can start shopping for lines like a true local.

Las Vegas Casino Sportsbooks by Operator

Independent Sportsbooks

  • Westgate SuperBook
  • South Point
  • Treasure Island
  • Wynn Las Vegas
  • Encore Las Vegas

MGM Resorts International

  • Aria
  • Bellagio
  • Circus Circus
  • Excalibur
  • Luxor
  • Mandalay Bay
  • MGM Grand
  • Park MGM
  • The Mirage
  • New York-New York

Caesars Entertainment

  • Bally’s
  • Caesars Palace
  • Cromwell
  • Flamingo
  • Harrah’s
  • The Linq
  • Planet Hollywood
  • Paris
  • Rio

Station Casinos

  • Red Rock Resort
  • Green Valley Ranch
  • Palace Station
  • Santa Fe Station
  • Texas Station
  • Boulder Station
  • Fiestas

CG Technology

  • The Cosmopolitan
  • Hard Rock
  • M Resort
  • The Palazzo
  • Palms
  • Silverton
  • Tropicana
  • The Venetian

Boyd Gaming

  • Aliante
  • Cannery
  • Eastside Cannery
  • Eldorado
  • Gold Coast
  • Jokers Wild
  • The Orleans
  • Sam’s Town
  • Suncoast

William Hill Betting Kiosks

Las Vegas

  • Binion’s Gambling Hall and Hotel
  • Casino Royale
  • Downtown Grand Casino
  • Ellis Island Casino
  • Four Queens
  • Hooters Casino
  • Max Casino at the Westin
  • Plaza Hotel and Casino
  • Silver Sevens Hotel and Casino
  • SLS Hotel and Casino
  • The D
  • Tuscany
  • Golden Gate Hotel and Casino
  • Alamo Casino
  • Lucky Club
  • Siegel Slots
  • Silver Nugget

Henderson

  • Casino Valle Verde
  • Club Fortune Casino
  • Emerald Island Casino
  • Longhorn Casino
  • Railroad Pass Hotel and Casino
  • Skyline Casino

3 – A Decent Bet and a Small Tip Will Earn You Complimentary Drink Tickets

Want to know the secret to drinking for free in a Las Vegas casino, all without ever spinning the slots or touching a table game?

Well, all it takes is a reasonably large wager coupled with the willingness to tip your ticket writer.

As you know well by now, Las Vegas sportsbooks vary in their policies based on the operator, but they all have one thing in common—complimentary drink tickets passed out to bettors in the know. For the most part, you’ll find a system in place that loosely follows the model below:

Las Vegas Sports Betting Tiers for Comped Drinks

Bet Size Comped Drinks
$1 – $100 1
$101 – $200 2
$201 – $300 3
$300 and up 5

These aren’t hard and fast guidelines by any means, so expect a fair amount of divergence from operator to operator, and even from ticket writer to ticket writer.

Catch a sportsbook employee on a bad day and you might get stiffed on your drink tickets, despite a copious tip slid in their direction. On the other hand, when the ticket writer is in a good mood, a tiny $10 bet might earn you a handful of drink tickets, tips notwithstanding.

Speaking of tips, they’re the price of admission paid to (usually) collecting a complimentary drink or two when you place a bet. I like to go with a $1 per $50 wagered ratio when tipping ticket writers, but you can modify that as you see fit. Just be sure to slide them a buck or two, and if they don’t budge, ask if they have any drink tickets.

These comped drink tickets are only good until midnight on that same day though, so be sure to hit the sportsbook bar in a timely fashion to enjoy a beer or cocktail on the house.

4 – You Can Always Place a Wager Using a Mobile App Anywhere In-State

Remember that scenario from the first entry, in which an unlucky bettor gets shafted because they’re stuck at Caesars Palace when MGM Resorts has the better odds on the board?

Well, that headache could’ve easily been avoided if the bettor had the MGM Resorts mobile sports betting app downloaded to their favorite device. Most tourists are well aware that casinos offer in-house bet shops, but many aren’t familiar with the online and mobile options.

After signing up at the cage with your favorite sportsbook operator, then downloading the app to your smartphone, you’ll be all set to place wagers on the go. You can find a detailed breakdown of the major operators and their mobile offerings in the table below:

Breakdown of Las Vegas Online/Mobile Sportsbook Apps

Operator iOS Android 1st Deposit Min. Reload Min. Bet Comps
William Hill Yes Yes $100 $5 $2 $1/$600
Wynn Yes Yes $100 $50 $5 None
CG Tech Yes Yes $100 $100 $2 None
Station Yes Yes $100 $50 $2 $1/$500
Boyd Gaming Yes Yes $100 $100 $2 None
South Point Yes Yes $100 $50 $2 None
MGM Resorts Yes Yes $100 $50 $1 None

The best part about using online mobile betting apps is that they extend your field of access to the entire Silver State. In other words, you might be stuck in traffic on the Nevada side of the Hoover Dam, but so long as you’re within state lines, you can place wagers as you please.

As always, be sure to shop around for the best odds, lines, and point spreads, as the numbers will vary based on each app’s affiliated operator.

5 – Mistakes Made by the Ticket Writer Are Always “Action” Unless Corrected Immediately

Circling back to the example wager from earlier, imagine yourself celebrating big winners on Dallas (-3) and the -170 moneyline as you head to the cage to collect your winnings.

Only then do you make a disastrous discovery… As it turns out, your betting slip actually says (1H) alongside the aforementioned odds. That provision refers to the first half of the game, meaning your wagers are judged based on the score at halftime.

In this case, the Cowboys were losing 17-14 at the half, which leaves both of your wagers completely worthless. You can complain to the ticket writer, and even the sportsbook manager, all you want, but they’ll never issue a refund on a bet accepted as action.

Because the sportsbooks in Las Vegas use a numbered system to list their offerings, many rookie bettors make the same basic mistake. They see Dallas vs. Green Bay and don’t think twice, calling out the first number listed to the ticket writer when placing their bet.

But with different listings for full game and first half bets, many a tourist has experienced the exact same scenario described above. Other cases involving erroneous tickets can involve backing the wrong team, or taking an over/under bet when you’re really trying to bet on the outcome.

To protect yourself, always make your intentions clear to the ticket writer as you’re placing the bet.

From there, take a second or two to scan the ticket and check for mistakes. Even when a ticket is already printed up, you still have a short window to address any errors. If they pressed the wrong button, or misheard your request, any competent ticket writer will be happy to void the bet and replace your slip with a corrected version.

That window is short though, so don’t expect to come back after the game is already underway to change your wager. Once you walk away from the window, most Las Vegas sportsbooks will consider the wager to be action whether the ticket is correct or not.

6 – Sportsbooks Reserve the Right to Ban “Sharp” Money

Most sportsbooks in Las Vegas are happy to accept action on every conceivable wager. That’s because the “vig” they charge, combined with precisely set lines that split the betting evenly on both sides, ensures they’ll make out with a profit on most games.

Inside the MGM Sportsbook, Banned Red Logo

But when a bettor proves themselves to be particular adept at punishing the book, bet shops have no problem refusing their action altogether. So-called “sharps” or “wise guys,” terms used to describe professional sports handicappers, are increasingly finding their action refused by major operators.

You can read up on the touchy subject here in this fascinating profile on banned bettors published last year by ABC News.

Fortunately, it takes major money movement against the house to even broach the possibility of limited betting or outright bans, so 99% of the public will never have to worry about this one.

Conclusion

Sports betting in Las Vegas is a time-honored tradition dating back 70 years and counting. Every year, millions of sports fans make the sojourn to Sin City specifically to bet on their favorite football team to win the Super Bowl, or a beloved baseball team to top its season-long win over/under total.

Most of these visitors are betting purely for the sake of entertainment, so they don’t really think about things from a local’s perspective. But doing so is the best way to avoid unforced errors. Hopefully, the guide found here leaves you better prepared to tackle the Las Vegas sportsbook scene like a real local down the road.

What Does “Responsible Gambling” Mean?

Roulette Wheel, Three Casino Dice, Two of Diamonds Poker Card
Should teenagers gamble? Should senior citizens? What about someone with an income beneath the poverty line? By definition, teenagers shouldn’t gamble. They don’t have the mental faculties or maturity necessary to gamble responsibly.

Some senior citizens shouldn’t gamble, but most find a way regardless. It really depends on their mental and emotional wellbeing.

Most people really ought to consider their individual circumstances and answer this question for themselves, but I do have some advice and suggestions about what to think about when making that decision. Not everyone should gamble, but everyone who does should gamble responsibly.

This post compares and contrasts several types of responsible and irresponsible gambling behaviors. The goal is to provide you with the proper tools to judge how well your gambling behavior measures up.

If you find yourself struggling to take a break from gambling, consider reaching out to gambling addiction resources. It’s okay to ask for help.

Responsible Gamblers Only Gamble With Money They Can Afford to Lose

I’ll propose that the most important criterion for judging responsible gambling concerns money. If you can’t afford to lose it, you shouldn’t bet it.

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What does this mean in real life? What behaviors exemplify gambling with money you can afford to lose versus gambling with money you need for something else?

An example of a responsible gambler might look like this:

Joe saves 10% of his pay every week through the end of the year to build a bankroll. Since he earns $30,000 a year, he has a bankroll of $3000 to start his poker career with.

He uses that money to play poker, and he sets aside any money he wins from playing poker to increase the size of his bankroll. After another year, he saved $3000 more from his job, AND he’s won another $6000 playing cards.

He now has a bankroll of $12,000, which means he can play poker for higher stakes than he used to. This increases his earn rate, too. Eventually, Joe earns $30,000 a year from his poker career, and his bankroll grows to $50,000. He quits his job to play poker professionally.

This not only exemplifies responsible gambling, it demonstrates the kind of time and discipline required to gamble as an advantage gambler.

But Joe’s brother, Bobby, makes the same amount of money, but instead of waiting to build his bankroll, he starts playing blackjack (a negative expectation game) with $120 per week. At the end of the year, he tallies up his losses to find that he’s down $120 for the year.

Casino Blackjack Table, Money Coming Out of Wallet

Bobby gambles less responsibly than his brother Joe, but as long as the bills get paid, you can’t really fault him or claim a lack of responsibility on his part.

Sure, he loses money, but his bills get paid. He handles his and his family’s needs in a timely manner.

Finally, it might help to look at the youngest brother, Billy. He gambles on slot machines once a month, but the amount he gambles changes based on his mood and how much he drinks.

Some weeks, he wins a little money, but he always loses those winnings and then some. He even once hit a $1000 jackpot, but only after losing $2000 total in the six months prior to that win.

And he pays his rent late almost every month. He could live in a nicer apartment if he’d bite the bullet long enough to start paying his rent on time. Eventually, he loses so much money that he has to take in a roommate.

Those three examples show a descending order of responsibility. Joe demonstrates the most responsible behavior, although Bobby doesn’t behave terribly. Billy borders on irresponsible, but some gamblers demonstrate even worse behavior.

How Do You Define Problem Gambling and How Does It Relate to Responsible Gambling?

Responsible gamblers have fun and recognize gambling as an entertainment expense. They recognize the risks involved. They also understand that most gamblers lose most of the time, regardless of whether they buy lottery tickets, playing slot machines, or betting on boxing matches.

Responsible gamblers also take pains to protect themselves and their families from the ravages from problem gambling.

Problem gamblers THINK about gambling differently from their responsible cousins. They usually think that if they play long enough, they will surely hit a jackpot. Problem gamblers hide their gambling from their friends and relatives, and they jeopardize relationships without much thought.

They also let their gambling activities start to take a toll on their health, both physically and financially.

Whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap of thinking gambling will make you money. Bingo halls, bookmakers, casinos, the lottery, and poker rooms build their businesses on winning more money in the long run than they pay out.

Over any significant length of time, the vast majority of gamblers lose more money than they win. Sure, a tiny percentage of gamblers win big money. But they can do that because of all the other gamblers who lose money.

The idea that you will eventually win a big jackpot and catch up on all your previous losses poisons your mind and devastates your financial health. With that being said, remember to always manage your bankroll properly.

Responsible Gamblers Follow Some Simple, Common Sense Rules

Don’t conclude from this that I oppose gambling. I support gambling, but I only support responsible gambling. And as luck would have it, responsible gamblers have several behaviors in common.

#1 – Responsible Gamblers Never Gamble Money They Can’t Afford to Lose

You might find this glaringly obvious, but problem gamblers never seem to prevent themselves from betting money they need for something else.

What does it mean to use money you can afford to lose? If I found burning money satisfying and entertaining, could I afford to burn that amount of money for sheer entertainment purposes?

Hand Reaching Into Empty Jean Pockets

No matter how you gamble, in the long run, you’ll lose more money than you win. The companies taking or facilitating your bets set the system up that way.

For a gambler to win $1000 on a slot machine, other gamblers need to lose $1100 on that slot machine. For a poker player to win $1000 at poker, the other players must lose that money, along with an additional amount that the house takes from each pot, the rake. (Most cardrooms take 5% of every pot to pay for hosting the table. This replaces the house edge in real money casino gambling.)

For a sports bettor to win $1000 on a sports bet, someone somewhere must be losing $1100 to pay for it. Most gamblers, because of the nature of the business, fall on the losing side of that equation.

#2 – Responsible Gamblers Don’t Chase Losses

What do I mean by “chase losses?”

You chase losses when you keep gambling after losing. You play with the intention of winning back what you’ve lost. Many gamblers fall for something called the gambler’s fallacy—the belief that eventually, the luck must even out over time. If you’ve lost several times in a row, winning must become more likely, right? Wrong.

The odds don’t change based on previous events. If the ball lands on red in roulette 99 times in a row, the probability that it will land on red the 100th time remains 47.37%. Every spin of the roulette wheel happens independently of the previous spins.

#3 – Responsible Gamblers Set Gambling Loss Limits and Time Limits

Casinos do their best to make this a chore. The lack of clocks in a casino makes it hard to know how long you’ve been gambling. Without predefined limits, you’ll lose more money than you can afford to even than you expect.

Responsible gamblers also avoid gambling in a depressed or angry state of mind.

Responsible gamblers set a goal of making intelligent, prudent decisions. Doing that requires a clear head and a reasonable state of mind. They also avoid alcohol while playing because overconsumption of alcohol can lead to bad decisions.

Finally, a responsible gambler understands the importance of balancing gambling with other activities. They eat out at restaurants, see shows, and have an entire life outside of gambling. They pursue other hobbies besides just gambling.

Conclusion

I hope to encourage my readers to gamble responsibly. Knowing what responsible gambling looks like might pose a conundrum to some folks, which is why I’ve listed so many examples of good and bad gambling behavior.

Don’t let anyone tell you whether or not you should gamble. That decision belongs to you. But do gamble as responsibly as you can.

Las Vegas Strip Casinos With the Tightest Slots

Hand Pushing Buttons on Gambling Machine, Las Vegas Strip
By now, most of the gamblers who visit Las Vegas every year know the Strip is a tourist trap of sorts. Sure, you’ll enjoy world-class dining options and an endless array of entertainment, but casinos there are notorious for goosing up their own house edge.

The traditional 3:2 payout for landing a natural 21 in blackjack is watered down to a 6:5 rate, more than tripling the house’s inherent edge in that classic card game. Roulette players will almost never find single-zero European wheels.

As for the slots, players have long reported that machines found along Las Vegas Boulevard are typically “tighter” than elsewhere in Sin City. The idea of tight and loose machines is actually a myth, but tight and loose casinos are quite real.

With that in mind, I put together a list of the seven worst casinos for tight slot machines on the Las Vegas Strip, which you can read down below.

If you’re planning on gambling outside The Strip, no worries! I also hit the worst tight slots off the Las Vegas Strip, so be sure to check out it to give you an idea of all your options.

A Quick Look at the Numbers

How do we know these are the tightest slots casinos on the Strip? Well, thanks to the payback percentage surveys conducted by the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) every year, you’ll see that our recommendations are based off of fact.

Las Vegas Slot Machine Payback Percentage Rates (by Coin Denomination and Region)

1¢ Slot Machines

Region Average Payback
The Strip 88.38%
Downtown 89.15%
Boulder Strip 90.38%
North Las Vegas 90.88%

5¢ Slot Machines

Region Average Payback
The Strip 91.64%
Downtown 93.40%
North Las Vegas 95.29%
Boulder Strip 96.21%

25¢ Slot Machines

Region Average Payback
The Strip 89.35%
Downtown 94.25%
North Las Vegas 96.41%
Boulder Strip 96.13%

$1 Slot Machines

Region Average Payback
The Strip 92.43%
Downtown 94.63%
North Las Vegas 95.39%
Boulder Strip 96.13%

$1 Megabucks Machines

Region Average Payback
The Strip 87.83%
North Las Vegas 55.52%
Downtown 89.07%
Boulder Strip 91.35%

All Slot Machines

Region Average Payback
The Strip 91.47%
Downtown 92.67%
Boulder Strip 94.34%
North Las Vegas 93.53%

Below, you’ll find the seven worst places on the Strip where tight slots are the norm, based on each venue’s overall average payback percentage rate.

1 – The Venetian

Owned and operated by billionaire ghoul and anti-online gambling pariah Sheldon Adelson, the Venetian is the centerpiece of his Las Vegas Sands Corp.

And while Sands isn’t as invasive as fellow casino corporations MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment, which collectively own most of the properties along the Strip, Adelson’s greed still seeps through into every aspect of the Venetian. That includes the slot parlors, where players are up against the steepest climb anywhere on the Strip by virtue of an atrocious 86.66% average payback rate.

For comparison’s sake, that figure is nearly 5% worse than the Strip’s overall average of is 91.47%. And remember, the average is already lower than everywhere else in Las Vegas. So, unless you’re playing slots at McCarran Airport (85.02%), you simply can’t find a worse place to play slots anywhere in Sin City than the Venetian.

2 – Bellagio Hotel and Casino

Like the Venetian, the Bellagio disguises its intentions by using ornate marble floors, vaulted ceilings, art exhibits, and gold plating to make visitors feel in awe of their good fortune.

And while staying at the Bellagio is certainly a true luxury experience, gambling here is a losing bet based on the slot selection’s 87.42% payback average. Don’t be fooled by the expansive offerings, which include more than 2,300 machines for one of the Strip’s largest slot lineups.

The Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas

Quantity doesn’t beat quality in this case, so while you’ll likely find all of your favorite games here, the Bellagio carefully balances them with tight machines to ensure its property-wide payback rate is as low as possible.

This is likely because the Bellagio’s corporate overlords at MGM Resorts have studied the numbers in and out, so they know their average guest has enough expendable income to weather the storm. In other words, if you’re wealthy enough to afford a week at the Bellagio, maybe you just won’t notice that the slots there are among the tightest in town.

3 – Mandalay Bay

Another property owned by MGM Resorts, the Mandalay Bay is a curious inclusion on this list. Other than the gold-plated windows that give off a distinctive vibe, the Mandalay Bay isn’t exactly on par with the Venetian or the Bellagio in terms of luxury accommodations.

Even so, this eminently average casino still tries to gouge customers with a low 88.87% payback rate on slots.

You might save a few bucks trading out your Bellagio reservations for a Mandalay Bay stay, but the slot gameplay here is still just as awful.

4 – Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel and Casino

The flagship property of Caesars Entertainment is, obviously, Caesars Palace. It’s one of the original monuments of Las Vegas excess found on the Strip.

And sure enough, Caesars Palace is home to the award-winning, world-class Bacchanal Buffet, a thriving poker room, and top-notch amenities across the board.

Outside the Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel and Casino

If it wasn’t for that pesky 89.05% average payback rate on slot play, I’d probably stay here every time I head out to the desert for a little fun. Unfortunately, that payback rate is far too low to be considered competitive, so do yourself a favor and consider Caesars Palace the perfect place to shop, eat, and catch a show—but never to spin the slots.

5 – The Mirage

I used to love the Mirage back in the 1990s, when famed tiger tamers Siegfried and Roy wowed audiences nightly and the poker room was home to World Champion pros.

Things have changed though, as they always do. Today, the MGM Resorts-owned Mirage is widely considered to be “middle of the road” fare for casinos on the Strip. Everything at the Mirage is just “meh,” right down to the 89.30%  average payback rate for slot players.

6 – Treasure Island

Another holdover from the ‘90s glory days, Treasure Island (or “TI” after a disastrous rebranding effort) was sold by MGM Resorts to billionaire Phil Ruffin in 2008.

And like any billionaire worth his salt, Ruffin quickly set to work stripping his new acquisition for parts, swapping out loose slots for tight machines that combine for an 89.32% average payback.

Today, the Treasure Island experience can best be described as a bargain basement affair, with Ruffin showing no qualms about underserving his customers to better serve himself.

7 – Harrah’s Las Vegas Hotel and Casino

Last but not least, Harrah’s is one of the “middle of the road” offerings under the Caesars Entertainment corporate umbrella.

Outside Entrance and Marquee to Harrah's Hotel and Casino Las Vegas

Everything here is fine, no better and no worse, which seems to be what Harrah’s is all about.

I might pass through while looking for a decent meal, or maybe some shopping with the wife, but I wouldn’t be caught dead competing against Harrah’s low 89.325 average payback for slots.

Conclusion

The Strip deserves its title as the world’s gambling capital, and without it, Las Vegas would still be a dusty outpost seldom visited by outsiders. Neon lights, superstar entertainers, and unique tourist destinations combine to make strolling down Las Vegas Boulevard a once-in-a-lifetime experience for newcomers.

On the other hand, corporatization has turned the Strip into a money pit for budget-minded visitors and sharp gamblers alike. When you know the score regarding payback percentage comparisons, playing slots at the well-known casino resorts listed above simply doesn’t make financial sense.

Can You Find Slots With 99% RTP?

Casino Slot Machine Reels
Slot machines aren’t typically known as high-paying games even at the best casinos in the US. In fact, some of them have a downright awful return to player (RTP).

However, some slots do offer solid payout percentages. Some can even compete with baccarat and blackjack by featuring really high payback.

But do any slots offer 99% RTP like blackjack and baccarat can? I’ll cover what, if any, slot machines can deliver this kind of payout percentage along with more on RTP in general.

Why Is RTP in Slots so Important?

Return to player indicates how much a slot machine pays over the duration of its lifetime. Simply put, high RTP gives you a better chance of winning profits.

Here’s a comparison to illustrate this point:

  • You bet $20,000 on two different slot machines.
  • The first slot has 98% RTP.
  • 20,000 x 0.98 = $19,600 in theoretical winnings.
  • The second slot has 95% RTP.
  • 20,000 x 0.95 = $19,000 in theoretical winnings.
  • You’ll win $600 more with the first game.

Of course, slots payback doesn’t work out this neatly. These games only realize their designated payout percentage after countless spins.

Nevertheless, RTP is still a useful figure that helps you win more in the long run. Your chances of coming out a winner improve as you keep seeking slots with healthy payback.

Do Any Slots Offer 99% RTP?

Certain slot machines do feature 99% payback and above. You can find such games in both land-based and online casinos.

Row of Casino Slot Machines

However, these slots are few and far in between. You’ll have to work to find games that offer such generous payout percentages.

How can you go about rooting out the few slot machines that deliver 99% RTP or better? The method depends upon whether you’re in an online or brick and mortar casino.

Finding the Best Paying Online Slots

Internet slots offer an easier path towards finding payout percentages. You can simply google the game in question with “RTP” behind it to find the payback.

The only problem, though, is that you’re searching for needles in haystacks when going this route. You’ll be better off simply looking for articles that point out the highest-paying slots.

I consulted a couple of articles to find the following online games:

  • Goblin’s Cave (Playtech) = 99.3% RTP
  • Ocean Princess (Playtech) = 99.1% RTP
  • Ugga Buuga (Playtech) = 99.1% RTP
  • Mega Joker Jackpot (NetEnt) = 99.0% RTP
  • Monopoly Big Event = 99.0% RTP
  • Nemo’s Voyage (WMS) = 99.0% RTP
  • Ooh Aah Dracula (Barcrest) = 99.0% RTP
  • Tropic Reels (Playtech) = 99.0% RTP

This is just a small percentage of the thousands of online slots in existence. But you can see that there are at least several games with really high payback.

Finding the Highest Paying Land Based Slot Machines

Unfortunately, you can’t find exact payout percentages for slot machines in land-based casinos. The reason why revolves around the relationship between casinos and developers.

Slots providers let brick and mortar venues choose from different pay schedules. For example, they might allow a casino to pick 93.5%, 94%, or 94.5% RTP for The Voice slot.

This situation presents a problem, because it doesn’t allow for uniform payout percentages. Developers can’t publish payback for their slots online, since they can’t guarantee the same RTP everywhere.

Casino Slot Machine Floor

The best you can do involves using techniques that can give you vague ideas on payout percentages. These methods involve:

  • Looking for signs listed over a bank of slot machines
  • Checking out state gaming reports on slots payout percentages

Regarding the first point, you’ll sometimes see signs hanging over groups of slots that read, “Pays up to 99%.” You can thus identify where a high-paying slot is in this situation.

The problem, though, is that you don’t have any way of knowing which machine features this incredibly high payback. By gaming laws, only one machine in the group has to offer 99% RTP.

You simply need to sit down to random machines and begin spinning the reels to enjoy the 99% payback. Sadly, you’ll never actually know which of the games is offering you this extremely high payout percentage.

State gaming reports provide figures on how much each coin denomination pays. For example, the Nevada Gaming Commission report shows that the average nickel slot delivers 94.48% RTP.

You won’t find figures in any state report that show where slots with 99% payback are. However, you can at least figure out which type of games feature the highest payout percentages.

In turn, you can seek out the coin denominations that pay the best. With any luck, you may sit down to a game with 99% RTP.

Any Downsides to 99% RTP Slots?

The advantages to playing the highest paying slot machine are obvious—you have a stronger chance of winning money.

It may not seem like there are any drawbacks to consider in this situation. However, you should be aware of a major concern involving online casino bonuses in the US.

If you’ve played at internet casinos before, then you’ve seen the generous bonus offers at these sites. You can earn thousands of dollars with some of these deals!

However, such offers come with terms and conditions.

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One of the key terms involves meeting wagering requirements before withdrawing bonus funds.

Here’s an example on how wagering requirements work:

  • You qualify for a $100 bonus.
  • Wagering requirements are 35x the bonus.
  • 100 x 35 = $3,500 must be wagered.

Some level of strategy exists when earning these bonuses. The highest-paying games improve your chances of collecting the funds without losing money.

Slots with 99% payback are natural fits for this strategy. However, casinos are well aware of such strategies.

They lower how much certain games contribute towards wagering requirements. By doing so, casinos reduce the incentive to use baccarat or a high-paying slot to satisfy wagering requirements.

Oftentimes, you stand to lose more when chasing a bonus with the best-paying slots when reduced contributions are accounted for.

Here’s a comparison:

  • You play a slot with 99% RTP.
  • It only contributes 20% towards wagering requirements.
  • You must wager $10,000 to unlock a bonus.
  • (10,000 / 0.2) x 0.01 (house edge) = $500 in theoretical losses.
  • You play a slot with 96% RTP.
  • This game contributes 100%.
  • (10,000 / 1) x 0.04 = $400 in theoretical losses.
  • You lose $100 less when chasing the bonus with a 96% payback slot.

Assuming you don’t care about bonuses, then the best-paying games are still your top option. However, you should definitely take the terms and conditions into account if you do go after bonuses.

Don’t Overlook Volatility

One more concern regarding these games with 99% RTP is a tendency to overlook the volatility variance in slots. The latter refers to how consistently a game pays. Sometimes, a slot with 99% payback feels like it only features 60% RTP if it doesn’t offer many short-term wins. Such games are considered highly volatile.

You still stand to win more money in the long run with a higher-paying slot. But you must be aware of volatility if you care about short-term winnings.

Earning a lot of money from session to session helps you better sustain your bankroll. Meanwhile, you’ll have more difficulty holding onto your funds with a volatile game.

What indications give away the volatility of a slot? Some games actually feature a volatility rating. In this case, you don’t need to do any guesswork.

Casino Slot Machine Pay Table and Jackpot

Unfortunately, most slots don’t boast these ratings. Therefore, you need to guess the volatility by looking at the jackpot size, number of bonuses, and amount of small prizes.

A bigger jackpot usually indicates a more volatile game. Likewise, more bonuses suggest the same. A low amount of small prizes (e.g. 10 coins or below) is also a tip-off to more volatility.

You want to avoid these types of slots if you’re trying to stretch out a small bankroll. This is true even when dealing with a game that offers over 99% RTP.

Conclusion

Many slots players see RTP as a very important factor. After all, they want the best chance to win money in the long run. The best way to realize this goal is to pick slots with 99% payback or better. The catch is that these slots are limited in number.

I’ve covered some online slots that feature at least 99% RTP. You can consult Google to try and find more such games. Certain slot machines in land-based casinos also feature 99% payback. The dilemma here, though, is that you’ll be hard-pressed to figure out which machines deliver this incredible value.

99% RTP might seem like all upside. However, the drawback is that any game with this high of payback will be nicked in the bonus category.

The best-paying slots don’t contribute as much towards wagering requirements. You’re typically better off playing a game with normal RTP that contributes the full amount towards wagering requirements.

Outside of bonus situations, slots with 99% RTP are definitely worth pursuing. These games give you the strongest chance to win over time.

5 USA Sports Betting Tips for Beginners

Football Game, NFL Moneylines, Pile of Money
When it comes to wagering on sports, the future has arrived.  New laws and attitudes about gambling have made the hobby more accessible and accepted than ever before. Gone are the days of dealing with shady figures and defensiveness from professional sports leagues when the topic is brought up.

The rise of fantasy football and US sports betting apps have brought even the most fringe sports fans into the world of sports gambling. Some of the biggest sport shows on TV discuss lines, spreads, and odds in great detail.

But if you’re completely new to sports betting, you’ll be surprised at some facts you may not know about betting and how it works.

Although whether you’re a casual sports fan who’s just looking to make a few extra bucks during the weekend, or a hardcore, analytical individual who thinks the right system could be extremely profitable, these sports betting tips are what you need to know to get started.

1 – Create a Betting Bankroll

Your bankroll is crucial because it’s the key to keeping track of the money coming in and going out. Your bankroll should keep you in check and help you avoid spiraling out of control, or making bets that can really hurt your bottom line long-term.

Creating a bankroll isn’t difficult. Set aside an amount of money you can afford to lose (this is important) and don’t add more to it without serious consideration. Next, determine a percentage, or a percentage range, of that overall amount that you’ll bet on each game.

For example, your strategy could be to bet between 2% and 4% of your overall bankroll on any one game.

The key to being a profitable sports bettor is to keep track of the numbers and manage your bankroll. Without an adequate tracking strategy, you put yourself at risk of suffering big losses. If you’re just starting out, develop this habit from the jump and you’ll be better off for it.

2 – Learn the Different Types of Sports Bets

When you really get down to it, there are nearly endless types of bets you can place on sports. There are even secret US sports bets that many bettors don’t know about unless they’ve done their research. However, when you’re just starting out, it’s best to focus on the more popular bets and get a good handle on how it all works.

I’ll lay out the three most common that can be utilized effectively on just about any team sporting event.

Moneyline Bets

The moneyline is what you bet on when you’re choosing a team to win the game outright. You’ll see it listed beside the team as a (+) or (-) number. For example, in a game between the Colts and Packers, you might see “Colts +200” and “Packers -160.” This means that if you bet $100 on the Colts (the underdog) and win, you’d come away with $200.

Indianapolis Colts Football Team

On the other side, it would take a $160 bet on the Packers (the favorite) to win $100.  Note that you don’t need to bet $100, but that’s the scale. For example, you could bet $10 to win $20 or $16 to win $10.

Spread Bets

Betting on the spread is a favorite of gamblers because it makes every game interesting. An example of a spread might be Eagles vs. Cowboys, with Eagles at -3.5 which would make them the favorite. On the other side, the Cowboys would be the underdog at +3.5.

If you bet on the Eagles, they must win by more than 3.5 in order for you to win your bet. If you bet on the Cowboys, you’d need them to lose by less than 3.5 and you’d come out on top.

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Newer bettors often ask why the half-point thing exists. It’s simple really, it prevents ties from happening.

When there’s no half-point involved, it’s possible to tie in what’s known as a “push.” For example, if the Eagles are -4 and end up winning by 4 exactly, nobody wins and you get your money back.

Over/Under Bets

Don’t really know who has the advantage in a game but have a feeling it’s going to be a high-scoring affair? Throw down your bet on the over! The over/under is probably the most simple bet in the game. The book will provide a number, and you decide if you think the combined final score will be over or under that number.

You might notice that in most of your bets it isn’t a perfect 1:1 risk to reward ratio. Typically, sportsbooks will make each “evenly-matched” bet, such as the spread or the over/under, a -110 proposition. That extra 10 is known as the “juice.” Essentially, it’s how the books make money if there’s 50% of the money on either side. There’s all kinds of betting math to understand, but you’ll pick up on it as you become more familiar.

3 – Find a Good SportsBook (But Don’t Get Too Loyal)

One of the best things about the increasingly relaxed laws regarding sports gambling is that several online sportsbooks are competing for your business. If you shop around for some deals that online books offer, you can find some that are worth exploring.

For example, several online books offer a matching bonus such as a free $100 when you load up $150 onto your account. It’s easy to think these offers are scams, but they’re genuine attempts to win your loyalty.

This is where another important tip comes in. Don’t become overly loyal to one particular sportsbook. On any given bet you’re looking to make, there’s a good chance you can find an offer on another site that gives you slightly better odds or a higher payout for your money.

Westgate Casino in Las Vegas, Caesars Palace Casino in Las Vegas

This applies to regular sportsbooks, too. Say you’re visiting the Las Vegas’ Westgate sportsbook, you may be drawn in because it’s the largest sportsbook in the world. This shouldn’t stop you from shopping around the books over at Caesar’s Palace Casino.

They’re both great sportsbook options and could be offering bettors different moneylines.

So while it’s easier to just stick with one site where you feel comfortable, if you’re looking to make money and not just bet for entertainment, choosing the right book or books is very important.

4 – Don’t Chase Your Sports Betting Losses

This goes hand-in-hand with effective bankroll management. When you inevitably lose one or more bets, you want to make up your money as quickly as possible. In fact, you might even try to make up from two $20 losses by betting $40 on the next game. Don’t do this.

You’re going to have stretches where it feels like you’re losing the majority of your games. On the flip side, you will have stretches where you get hot and win a few in a row. The key to sports betting is to never get so deep in a hole that you put yourself in serious financial jeopardy.

It’s hard to do, but focus on making up losses by going slow and steady, not by taking a major risk. Effective sports betting is a long-term game and avoiding big losses is the best way to stick around until you’re safely in the green.

5 – Don’t Bet Blind

If you think sports betting is simply a game of chance, you’re not looking at it correctly. Having some degree of knowledge of a particular sport is hugely advantageous.

Don’t go around throwing your hard-earned money down on any sporting event that will accept a bet. It doesn’t matter if you like betting on the NFL, college basketball, or any other sport.

Just make sure that you’ve done some type of research before placing a bet. Remember, you don’t have to bet every game and sometimes, the best option is sitting it out.

Conclusion

Sports betting, for most, is a fun hobby that can put a few extra dollars in your pocket while increasing your enjoyment of watching the games. Before you dive headfirst into the action, take some time and get familiar with the options available to you.

As you get comfortable, you can experiment with all the other betting options like parlays and teasers, but as a beginner, it’s good to stick to the basics. As with any good vice, everything in moderation. Good luck!

Deuces Wild Video Poker Strategy Tips

Two Casino Video Poker Machines, Deuces Wild Video Poker Logo
One of my favorite video poker games is Deuces Wild. The strategy and tips on this page should help you get the best possible payback percentage from this game.

If you’re not familiar with Deuces Wild, it’s just like Jacks or Better video poker, but with one major difference. All of the twos in the deck are wild cards. That means they can substitute for any card you need to make a better hand.

Keep in mind that, in video poker, you don’t have to declare what hand you wind up with. The machine automatically credits you with the best possible poker hand according to the pay table it’s using.

Here are some Deuces Wild video poker strategy tips you can use moving forward.

1 – Understand What You’re Getting Into

One of the aspects of Deuces Wild that I don’t like is the variation in pay tables. In Jacks or Better, you can mostly just look at the payouts for the full house and the flush and have a good idea of what kind of payback percentage you’re facing.

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But with Deuces Wild, they change quite a few more payouts for a few more hands. Your goal should be to find the best possible pay table.

To keep things simple, the pay table for a Deuces Wild video poker game is usually abbreviated to look like this:

1-2-3-4-4-10-16-25-200-800

Those are the payouts for the following hands in the following order:

  • Three of a kind
  • Straight
  • Flush
  • Full house
  • Four of a kind
  • Straight flush
  • Five of a kind
  • Wild royal flush
  • Four deuces
  • Natural royal flush

For example, a three of a kind on this game pays off at 1 for 1. A straight pays off at 2 for 1. A flush pays off at 3 for 1, and so on.

If you’re familiar with video poker and slot games in the US already, you already know that the payout for a gambling machine is handled on an X for Y basis, not an X to Y basis.

That’s one of the big differences between video poker games and table games. An even money payout on a gambling machine is like a push on a table game. An even money payout on a table game results in a one-unit profit.

2 – Learn the Best Deuces Wild Pay Tables

The pay table I listed in the first section is for a variation of Deuces Wild called “Not So Ugly Deuces Wild.” It’s not a full pay game, which means it doesn’t have the best possible payout. Good luck finding full pay Deuces Wild anymore!

But the payback percentage for NSUD is still better than almost any other game in the casino. The payback percentage for NSUD is 99.8%, but that assumes optimal play on the part of the player.

People Gambling Casino Video Poker Machines, Video Poker Pay Table

If you make bad decisions, the payback percentage for that game is dramatically lower. The pay table for a full pay game, which is a game where the player actually has an edge over the casino, looks like this:

1-2-2-3-5-9-15-25-200-800

That 5 for 1 payoff for the four of a kind makes all the difference. You’d think that it wouldn’t have that big an effect, but when you’re dealing with a game where there are four wild cards, the four of a kind comes up a lot more frequently than in other video poker games.

The payback percentage for a game with that pay table is 100.76%, which means you have a significant edge over the house. Another of the best pay tables for Deuces Wild is this one:

1-2-2-3-4-8-15-25-500-800

Notice that 500 for 1 payout for the four deuces. That’s a big deal. The payback percentage for this version is 100.15%, which is also a significant edge for the player. That game is also often called “Loose Deuces Wild.”

3 – Understand Why Your Decisions Are Important

Some people don’t believe that their playing decisions in video poker matter much. After all, you have no meaningful decisions to make on a slot machine. Since a video poker machine looks almost exactly like a slot machine, why would your decisions matter?

But think about this… Suppose you’re nuts, and every time you’re dealt a natural royal flush, you decide to discard everything except the ace.

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Can you see how that would affect your payback percentage for the game?

Even if you’re the type of person who would make the mistake of holding onto a pair when you had four to a royal flush, it’s easy to see how that would affect your payback percentage.

After all, by holding the pair, you’re hoping to get a threeof a kind or better. That’s only an even money payout. By holding the four to a royal flush, you have a lower probability of getting a winning hand, but when you do, you get a whopping 800 for 1 payout.

It’s easy to see how that difference in decisions can result in a lower payback percentage for the player, too, right?

4 – Making the Right Choices in Deuces Wild Video Poker

Most video poker writers present video poker strategy in a table format, with a list of hands in descending value. That’s a legitimate way of presenting such a strategy.

These strategies, by the way, always sacrifice a certain amount of optimal play for usability. A strategy table for Deuces Wild that was 100% correct would be too long and unwieldy to use, at least if you wanted to get in more than a few hands per hour.

They still manage to get within 0.1% or 0.2% of what’s optimal.

I don’t like presenting such tables, though. Most of my readers are recreational players who aren’t fighting for every tenth of a percent.

Casino Deuces Wild Video Poker Machine, Yellow Caution Symbol

For them, I’m going to offer a couple of tips about making the right strategy decisions in Deuces Wild. The first and most important of these should be easy to remember.

NEVER discard any deuces.

It doesn’t matter what other cards are in the hand or which other cards you’re going to discard or keep.

You ALWAYS hold any deuces that you get.

It’s so important that I’m going to repeat it again.

ALWAYS keep your deuces.

5 – Bet the Maximum of Five Coins

This is actually just as important as never discarding deuces. Most video poker games allow you to bet between one and five coins per hand. You should always bet the maximum of five coins.

The pay tables that I listed above show the payouts on a “for one” basis. That’s not how they’re presented on the machines themselves, though.

They just multiply those numbers by the number of coins you’re playing, so that you can see the actual size of the win for each hand.

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That’s okay, as long as you remember that the only hand where the payout changes based on the number of coins you play is the natural royal flush.

If you play four coins or fewer per hand, the payout for that hand is only 200 for 1. But if you play five coins per hand, the payout for a royal flush is 800 for 1.

Sure, a royal flush only comes around once every 40,000 hands, but those extra 600 coins still account for 2% or more of the machine’s overall payback percentage.

In other words, if you play with optimal strategy and only wager one coin, two coins, three coins, or four coins, a game with a 100.15% payback percentage turns into a game with about a 98% payback percentage.

6 – Know the Differences in Payback Percentage

When you play video poker, you should have some awareness of how much you expect to lose on average. It’s an easy calculation to make.

You just multiply how much you’re wagering per hand by the number of hands you’re playing per hour. You multiply that by the payback percentage to get the amount you get back. The difference is your average loss per hour.

Video Poker Machine Displaying Jackpot, Neon Percent Symbol

An average video poker player plays 600 hands per hour. Assuming you’re playing on a quarter machine, you’re betting $1.25 per hand (5 coins at 25 cents each). That’s $750 per hour in action.

If you’re playing on a game with a 100.15% payback percentage, you’re getting back $751.13 back per hour on average. This means you’re winning an average of $1.13 per hour.

On a NSUD machine, with its 99.8% payback percentage, you’re getting back $748.50 per hour on average. That’s an hourly loss of $1.50.

Small differences in payback percentage can make a big difference in how much it costs to play a Deuces Wild video poker game.

Conclusion

The two main things to remember about playing Deuces Wild video poker are these:

  1. Always bet five coins per hand.
  2. Always keep any deuces you get.

Of course, it’s good to be able to distinguish between pay tables, but if you only remember those two strategy tips, you’ll be ahead of 80% of the video poker players in the casino.

Using Home Team Bias in Sports Betting

Los Angeles Lakers Fans, LeBron James Los Angeles Lakers
Betting on US sports is a tough way to make money. This is especially true when you make traditional wagers through sportsbooks that charge vig. But even if you place many bets with other gamblers and avoid the vig, it’s still tough to win more than half your bets.

In order to become a winning sports bettor, you have to find and use every advantage you can. Even small advantages can add up to increased profits over the course of a season or year. And if you’re not sure whether or not you can really win big placing sports bets, check out these unbelievable sports betting wins. This could be you if you put in the work!

One of the things that every sports bettor needs to be aware of is bias. Many different types of bias exist, and many people don’t even know they have a bias. Common types of biases in sports betting include home team bias and popular team bias.

A bias is the tendency to overvalue a team because of something that either isn’t important, or isn’t as important as it appears to be. Anything that biases your bets can be costly.

The good news is that, once you learn how to identify your biases and the biases of other bettors and sportsbooks, you can start using biases to make better betting decisions.

What Is Home Team Bias?

Home team bias is the tendency of sports bettors to overvalue the home team in a match or game. In every sport, the home team has an advantage if all other things are equal. Home teams simply win more often than road teams. The problem is that this fact doesn’t mean that home team picks are more valuable than road teams.

The sportsbooks setting the lines are well aware of the home field advantage and they take this into account when they set the lines.

Does this mean you shouldn’t evaluate home field advantage when you handicap games?

Of course, it doesn’t mean this.

You need to consider and evaluate each and every thing that can help you handicap games in a way where you can find lines that offer value.

In the next section, I’m going to show you some specific ways to use home team bias to find and exploit profitable situations.

But before you move to the next section, the first thing you need to do is determine if you’re a victim of home team bias.

How to Look for Home Team Bias

The easiest way to look for home team bias is to track all of your bets. This isn’t a fast method if you haven’t been tracking your wagers. But if you can look at all of your bets for at least the last year, you can start seeing trends.

Look at every game where you bet on the home team. Consider the percentage of your total wagers that were made on the home team in comparison to the road team, and evaluate your returns or profits on all games where you bet on the home team.

Now, compare your profits when betting on the home team against your profits when you bet on the road team. Do you see any trends? Hopefully, your numbers are close to the same. If your profits are close to the same for home and away wagers, it means that you probably aren’t letting home team bias lead you to bad decisions.

But what if your numbers tell a different story?

What to Do If You’re Losing Profit

The answer seems simple, but like most things involved with USA sports betting, the truth is far from simple. The easy answer is that you should stop betting so much on home teams. But you have to think about this at a deeper level.

The problem isn’t betting on US home teams. The problem is betting on too many home teams that don’t cover the spread. The answer more than likely is to adjust your handicapping formula slightly against the home team from what you’re doing now.

Your past results can help you determine how big this adjustment needs to be. Everyone handicaps games differently, but here’s a simple example of how an adjustment might work.

NFL Jets Football Stadium

If you handicap games and make your bets based on a projected final score, you can make an adjustment to the final score that you usually come up with based on an average of how far off your past results are from your handicapping.

If you bet on football and average all of your past results and find that you’re off 1.5 points, you simply make a 1.5-point adjustment moving forward without making any additional changes.

In theory, this sounds simple. But the truth is that winning handicappers constantly evaluate their results and make adjustments. It’s difficult to leave everything the same. You’re also in danger of overcorrecting and creating a loss of profits on the other side.

The real key here is to track all of your results and constantly evaluate them to look for biases and trends and to learn how to become a better sports bettor every day.

Profiting From Home Team Bias

You can’t profit from your home team bias. All you can do is try to learn how to overcome your bias. I covered how to do this in the last section. But you can learn how to profit from other people’s home team bias. That’s what this section is about.

The way that I’ve profited the most from other people’s home team bias is by making bets directly with other sports bettors. This works just as well with bettors who have a strong home team bias as ones who have a strong favorite team bias.

I find people who overvalue home teams and/or who’re big fans of particular teams. This is especially powerful when you can find bettors who seem to be in love with a local team.

Diehard fans are the best, because they can’t properly handicap games their favorite team is involved in.

When I identify these types of sports bettors, I look for games where I handicap the road team or the opponent of the person’s favorite team as favored to be profitable. Then I try to take things a step beyond and offer a line moved slightly in my favor over the consensus lines at the sportsbooks.

I don’t always get a bet made with an adjusted line, but I do often. It’s challenging to find bettors that have such a strong home team bias that they accept adjusted lines, but there are some of them out there.

Some fans are so blinded by their love for their favorite team that they make poor betting decisions week after week.

The other way you can profit from home team bias is when the public bets so heavily on the home team in a game at the sportsbook that the line moves. Sportsbooks move lines for other reasons also, but when the public bets heavily on one side, sometimes, the books move the lines to try to get a more equal handle on both sides of a contest.

So, don’t be surprised if you see some lines move around from time to time. Especially in larger sportsbooks, such as the one at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Because the sportsbook takes in plenty of wagers, bettors will often see this happen here.

Atlanta Braves MLB Stadium

Over the 30+ years I’ve been betting on US sports, my handicapping skills have slowly improved. My process has changed quite a bit also, and now, I make more bets on road teams and underdogs than ever before. I’m not trying to say that overall there’s more value on road teams and underdogs, but it’s easier for me using my skill set to find value in these situations.

I recently made a bet on a MLB game that looked like a terrible bet on the surface. Atlanta was home to Cincinnati and the Braves were favored to win the game. I made a bet with a half run kicker that the Reds would be leading after five innings. In other words, if the Reds were up or the game was tied, I won the bet. If I’d made this bet with a sportsbook, I might have been able to get a better run adjustment, but I’d have also been charged vig.

I made the bet with a big Braves fan and won the bet. But I knew a couple things that made it a profitable-looking opportunity for me.

The Reds had one of their best starting pitchers on the mound, the Braves had one of their weaker starters on the mound, and the Reds bullpen is really struggling.

I didn’t handicap the Reds as the favorite to win the game, but I felt they had a better than 50% chance to be tied or leading after five innings.

This is just one example of using home team or favorite team bias to make profitable wagers. If my handicapping was correct, and it’s impossible to determine if it was based on a single outcome, the bet was profitable in the long run. Any time you can make a bet that pays even money and has a better than 50% chance of succeeding, it’s a profitable wager.

Conclusion

Now that you know what home team bias is, the most important step is to determine if you’re falling victim to it. Once you eliminate it from your handicapping, the next step is to learn how to profit from other people’s bias. When you learn how to do this, you can quickly increase your US sports betting profits.

How to Form a Poker Study Group

Pile of Poker Cards, Group of Friends Gathered Around Computer
Most players treat improving their poker skills as a solo affair. The average player dedicates a few hours each week towards learning new strategic concepts and reviewing their own poker sessions.

A dedicated individual can boost their skills greatly through these efforts. However, many will find it difficult to stay consistent when working alone.

Poker study groups can remedy this problem. By discussing strategy with other players, you can accelerate your improvement.

The only problem is that you may have no idea where to begin in this matter. That said, we’ll cover more on poker study groups along with how you can form your own.

What Is a Poker Study Group?

A poker study group is a collection of players who work together to improve their games. Members can exchange ideas, discuss hands, and try to motivate each other.

Such groups aren’t generic in nature.

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For example, you can’t just create a group with high-stakes players, one mid-stakes grinder, and two micro-stakes amateurs.

Instead, study groups are typically focused on niche. Here’s an example on possible parameters for membership requirements:

  • Multi-table tournament player
  • Medium stakes
  • 2+ years of experience
  • Fair level of strategy knowledge

Once a group comes together, they’ll usually decide what areas they want to collectively focus on. Here are some possibilities:

  • Analyzing hands
  • Book discussions
  • Goals
  • Hand analysis
  • Mental side/tilt
  • Sweating each other’s sessions

These are just some generic examples of what a study group may concentrate on. But you can see that most of these groups are focused and determined on getting better.

Benefits of Study Groups

The most obvious benefit to joining a study group is that you can improve your game. When discussing different matters with other players, you can quickly accelerate your learning curve by gaining access to new ideas.

For example, you may be reviewing one of your previous hands and still aren’t sure about what to do in this specific situation. But one of the players in your study group may have a better perspective on how to handle it.

Likewise, you can play the instructor role yourself by giving advice to others in your group. You’ll improve just by thinking about different hands/situations and offering tips to other players.

Three People Sitting Pointing Towards Laptop Screen

Accountability is another advantage to joining/starting one of these circles. As a member, you’re expected to contribute your knowledge to others.

You’re more likely to keep up with studying strategy so that you can bring something to the table. After all, you don’t want to be the person who’s just leeching off everybody else’s ideas.

Finally, you can also look forward to making poker friends through these groups. The key goal of this game is to make money, but having a few friends who share your interests on the side isn’t a bad thing.

Should You Join or Create a Group?

You don’t actually have to create a poker study group from scratch. Instead, you can find plenty of existing groups already.

The easiest way to get started is by presenting your qualifications to a group and asking to join. Assuming they approve, you can get started with learning or discussing strategy right away without the need to find members.

However, joining a poker study circle is easier said than done. Certain groups have really specific qualifications that you may fail to meet, even if you believe otherwise.

One more matter to consider is how dedicated you’ll be if you merely jump into somebody else’s group. Given that you have no responsibility to run the study sessions, then you may be more tempted to drop out at a later date.

In contrast, you’ll be more motivated to keep a study group going if you create it. Furthermore, you’ll feel more engaged since you’re spearheading the collective.

The key challenge, though, is finding enough motivated players to join you on your strategy journey.

Assuming you already have some poker friends who are adept at the game, then forming the foundation will be a lot easier. However, odds are that you’re one of the many people who need to recruit like-minded players online.

Ways to Create a Poker Study Group

As mentioned above, you may have some difficulty in putting a study group together. But you can use the following tips to band together some good poker minds.

Make an Announcement on a Forum

The most common way to kick off your study group is by making a forum thread. You can visit a site like Two Plus Two or CardsChat and post in the relevant section.

When creating your post, you want to be very specific about exactly what you’re looking for. Mention the stakes, poker format, and topics that you’ll be discussing.

With any luck, several players will be interested in joining. You’ll then be tasked with deciding if every interested candidate can bring value to the group.

You may also want to provide the link to a discord where you’ll be meeting. You can simply paste this link underneath your group requirements.

Create an Open Study Group on a Forum

You don’t have to go off-forum in order to discuss poker strategy with a group. Instead, you can make the discussion open and publicly available to anybody who wants to contribute.

With this process, you simply need to follow the steps covered in the above tip. The only difference is that you won’t create a discord just for your study group.

The benefit to this route is that you don’t have to work as hard to find specific members. However, the downside is that you might not get as motivated or talented of individuals with an open discussion.

Meet With Poker Buddies in Person

The ideal scenario is that you already know a few players who enjoy playing poker in the US you can study with. Assuming you’ve been around the game for a long time, you might have developed relationships with other players who compete in roughly the same format and stakes.

Two People Fist Pumping, Three Poker Cards Floating

In this case, you can actually meet with your buddies in person. As long as you’re all from the same city, this situation will be even easier.

Of course, you may decide to discuss strategy online instead. This option will especially be attractive if one or more members live in a different city.

Create a Facebook Group

One more route for setting up your poker study group involves creating a Facebook group. Most people today have Facebook, so finding relevant group members shouldn’t be overly difficult.

You can again make a forum post that discusses your group and goals. Or, you can always post on a poker-related Facebook page.

Whatever the case may be, you simply need to get the word out about your Facebook group. The more eyes that see your post, the more likely you are to find quality contributors.

How Should a Poker Study Group Be Run?

No perfect blueprint exists for how you should run a poker study group. However, you at least need some plan in mind for how the studying will go.

The first matter involves deciding how everybody will communicate. Forums, Facebook messenger, Skype, and Discord can all work.

The only problem with these options is that they rely on everybody to be present to get the full effect. Given that you’re all likely to have different schedules, you must agree upon times to (virtually) meet.

Assuming you ignore the schedules of different members, they’re going to eventually fall out of interest with your group.

Consistent scheduling is key to preventing this from happening and keeping everybody engaged.

You also need to ensure that your study sessions don’t devolve into one specific type of studying. For example, some groups don’t focus enough on discussing other strategy concepts.

You want to be upfront that your group will be covering a number of topics. If you want to also discuss poker strategy books and goals, then make sure that this is apparent right away.

Keep Your Study Group Going

Poker study groups don’t last forever. They typically dissipate after several months, if that.

You shouldn’t expect your group to be immortal, but you can at least keep it going for years with the proper effort.

The biggest thing you can do is to continue making sure that your group is active. As long as you remain motivated and continue pushing others, then the collective is more likely to keep learning.

Three Guys Discussing, Holding Laptop

You should push other players to make it to the discussions on time and contribute. Hopefully, you won’t need to push too hard.

Assuming one or more members continually miss sessions, you may decide to kick them out. Doing so ensures that only committed members remain part of the circle.

Will a Poker Study Group Help You Become Far Better?

A poker study group isn’t a foolproof method of becoming a highly successful poker pro. However, you can definitely improve your chances of being good if you stick to solo sessions.

The members can push each other to remain committed and become stronger players. As the group leader, you especially play a huge role in making this happen.

Again, you can always join somebody else’s group. If you’re highly motivated, you’ll get more out of a collective that you lead.

Of course, poker study groups are only as good as the people involved. Without proper scheduling or guidelines, your chances of learning meaningful strategy are slimmer.

Don’t allow your study group to become a free-for-all with no structure. You should instead make sure that your group has relevant members, a consistent schedule, and strict guidelines.

You’ll indeed become a really good poker player if you keep your group running for years and contributing quality advice to each other.

Conclusion

The biggest decision that you’ll have with regard to poker study groups involves whether you’ll join or create one. I suggest the latter if you truly want to maximize your time from the experience.

By creating a group, you can dictate the studying topics and direction. You’ll also have authority to boot a member who isn’t contributing.

Of course, the point of forming these study circles isn’t to gain power. Instead, your goal should be to maximize the value that everybody gets from the strategy discussions.

This process begins by ensuring that only dedicated players join in the first place. You can put requirements on group membership to screen out half-hearted prospects.

As for forming the group, you can make an announcement through a forum post or meet with people that you know in person. The latter doesn’t happen very often, so you’ll most likely be recruiting members online.

From here, you can decide on a schedule and how to communicate. Facebook messenger, forums, Discords, and Skype will all do. You also want to push everybody to keep the group going. After all, you’ll get more long-term benefits if everybody remains engaged.

The Best Free Activities in Las Vegas

Las Vegas Strip Casinos, Caesars Palace, Free Sticker
Las Vegas has a lot of great, and some not-so-great, attractions. But you can bet that the “Sin City” offers more than just a few free attractions for tourists and residents alike.

Keep in mind that while we’re only going to explore the seven best free things to do in Las Vegas that we think are worth your time. If these aren’t your cup of tea, there are tons more fun, free things to do in the “Neon Capital of the World.”

Just walking through the city and checking out the lights is a fantastic and relaxing way to spend an evening if you’ve been gaming for a few days. Check out some of our favorite free activities in Las Vegas below.

1 – Many Cities in One

Every casino in Vegas has its own theme and, over the decades, they’ve grown to become almost fully-functioning replicas of some of the greatest cities in the world.

Most people don’t have the funds to visit a roaring volcano, gorgeous European fountains, or the canals of Venice all in one day. But in Vegas, you can see all three of these amazing places for free.

When you visit the Streetmosphere at the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian (which are generally open all day long), you can experience a realistic street atmosphere almost identical to the famous city.

Gondolas are available for a small fee, but simply walking around and seeing all the costumed performers costs you nothing but time. You’ll also find a variety of live shows taking place from dawn to dusk, including the Living Statues performers (which the kids love). The Grand Canal Shoppes open at 10 AM on most days.

In the evening, visit the Volcano at Mirage. This incredible realistic volcano is perched above a gorgeous lagoon filled by waterfalls. You’ll feel transported to an earlier time with the music and special effects.

You’ll hear the recorded sounds of real volcanoes erupting while huge explosions boom to a soundtrack from The Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart and Zakir Hussain. The Volcano can be seen daily at 8, 9, and 10 PM.

Once you’ve finished your island adventure and have reached deep down to your ancestral roots, move on to the incredible, refined, and beyond-iconic Fountains of Bellagio. The contrast between the two transports you from the far past into the beauty of the modern era.

Feel the romance of water, music, and a light show that weaves complex interplays of water into choreographed light and sound for an experience that’s both soothing and mesmerizing. Schedules vary, but you can usually see the fountain in the evening.

2 – Las Vegas Is a Circus

No casino captures the heart of Vegas quite like Circus Circus. This staple of Vegas is filled with madness, mystery, and fun at all hours of the day, but the free circus acts are a draw like nothing else.

Outside to the Circus Circus Casino in Las Vegas

What makes the free circus acts so amazing? Circus Circus contains the world’s largest permanent circus in the world. While many circuses are known for traveling the globe and changing performers and acts, Circus Circus attracts the most talented performers in the world who appreciate the steady work and love performing for audiences who get to visit for free.

Gaze in awe at the daily daring performances on the center stage of Carnival Midway. Performances usually take place each day and generally begin around 11:30 AM.

Make sure you check them out! No visit to Vegas is complete without a little clowning around.

3 – Learn the History of Las Vegas’ Past

For better or for worse, Vegas was once associated strongly with organized crime. Modern Las Vegas is a safe, beautiful, well-protected city. Organized crime has long since been run out on a rail, but for history buffs or lovers of mob movies (or even just fans of Casino or The Sopranos), exploring the streets of Downtown Las Vegas is something that can’t be missed.

Even if you’re not interested in the mob itself, learning the origins of the city and the hard work that has been done to transform it into the beautiful, law-abiding city it is now presents a wonderful, solemn counterpoint to the neon and flashing lights that can become overwhelming at times.

Explore the site of Union Station, where Sin City first began. Walk through some of Vegas’ oldest casinos and neighborhoods. Check out the El Cortez, which used to be run by one of the most feared gangsters—Bugsy Siegel.

Stop by the Fremont Street and watch the city come alive. Stroll through the Arts District and browse the antiques and collectible items. There are plenty of unofficial historic sites that are free to visit and are great spots to kill time while visiting Las Vegas.

4 – It’s Not Vegas Without Elvis

Another enduring symbol of the Sin City is “The King” himself—Elvis Presley. Though Elvis passed away many years ago (or did he?), Elvis impersonation is as much a part of Vegas as apple pie is American.

Elvis Presley, Welcome to Las Vegas Neon Sign

Of all the Elvis impersonators in Vegas (and there are far more than you might imagine), Big Elvis has long been crowned the one true King. He’s a staple of Harrah’s Las Vegas and can be found performing for free at the Harrah’s Las Vegas Piano Bar, where you’ll also find the incredible Dueling Pianos performance by identical twins Kim and Tamara Pinegar, classic karaoke, and the Saxman Duo.

5 – The Famous Las Vegas Sign

No trip to Vegas would be complete without a visit to the sign read around the world, the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada” sign. The sign was designed and constructed in the late 1950s and has been a symbol of every Vegas-themed movie and TV show ever since.

Back in the late 2000s, the decades-old sign finally got the recognition it deserved when it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. It even has its own parking lot now, but the city has grown so much during the decades following the erection of the sign that hotels now surround it.

If you leave Vegas without getting your picture in front of the sign, just be prepared to have family, friends, and everyone in between asking you what the heck you were thinking.

6 – It’s Not All About the City

While most people think of Las Vegas as a focal point of light, sound, and (a little) sin in the middle of a boring desert, the surrounding landscape is actually much more beautiful (and worth visiting) than you might think.

If you’ve spent multiple days gaming and need a little break, some fresh air, a lot of exercise, and the famous Nevada sun (wear sunscreen!), then check out Red Rock Canyon.

Guy With Backpack On Overlooking Nevada Desert, Red Rock Canyon

This gorgeous natural landscape has dozens of trails for the hikers in your party, but it also has an incredible scenic drive with plenty of points where you can stop and walk around a bit (if a 10-mile hike just isn’t on the agenda after a night on the neon town).

Just keep in mind that a small fee is required to get into the park. But if you came to Vegas, $15 for a whole day of hiking and driving is probably going to be the cheapest day of your trip. If you’re not satisfied with that, there are some areas near the canyon which you can enjoy for free, like the Red Spring Boardwalk.

The Clark County Wetlands Park is also a fun and free area to explore. It’s the largest park in the county and features miles of native plants. The park is located at the beginning of the Las Vegas Wash. There are plenty of walking paths for everyone in your party to enjoy. It’s also a great place to walk, run, and get some exercise in.

Just try not to visit in the peak of the summer heat. Temperatures are almost always in the hundreds and it can make hiking and walking dangerous if you aren’t prepared.

7 – Free Gaming Lessons

Do you find yourself stuck on slot machines because you’re too self-conscious or new to gaming to walk up to a table and start playing? The big US casinos hate that. They want you to play, and they’ll teach you for free!

Remember, at the end of the day, a casino is a business. If their customers are too frightened of breaking a rule they don’t know about or looking foolish, they lose out big time.

Almost all the major US casinos will be more than happy to give you free lessons on all the major games.

Depending on what your interest is, you might need to ask the staff to get personalized lessons, or you might be able to join a small crowd and learn with other newbies. Everyone in Las Vegas truly just wants you to have a good time, spend a little money (and a little more), then go home with some stories, some experiences, and the urge to come back some day and do it all over again.

Conclusion

You can probably guess that there’s more than SEVEN free things to do in Las Vegas (if you break even at Blackjack, you technically played for free), but nobody goes to Vegas thinking they’ll breeze through without spending a dime.

That being said, Vegas has a lot more to it than just casinos and free street performers. Learn more about visiting Sin City from our guide to Las Vegas, which can be found here.

7 Biggest Mistakes Gamblers Make With No Deposit Bonuses

Casino Gambling Floor, Bonus Icon
No deposit bonuses are among the most popular offers in online casino gambling. These deals are attractive because they don’t require a deposit.

Instead, you just register for an account and claim your offer. Afterward, you have an opportunity to earn free money.

Casinos and free money usually aren’t synonymous terms. But no deposit bonuses make for the possibility of winning for free. Unfortunately, many gamblers mess up these deals. They violate the terms and conditions and either fail to earn any money or even get banned from the casino.

Failing to collect on a good deal is bad enough. Matters only get worse when you’re banned on top of things. Obviously, you don’t want either of these scenarios to happen. That said, you should avoid the following seven no deposit bonus mistakes.

1 – Failing to Understand How No Deposit Bonuses Work

The most common mistake regarding these offers is simply not understanding how they work. Here are some misconceptions that novice gamblers have about these deals:

  • The funds are immediately available for play
  • The funds can be cashed out immediately
  • No deposit bonuses work like deposit bonuses

Starting with the first point, casinos don’t just put the no deposit funds into your account right away.

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You must first visit your account area and claim the bonus. Only then can you truly begin using the offer.

Second, the funds can’t be withdrawn until terms and conditions have been satisfied. Otherwise, you and every other player could just cash out the bonus without playing.

Lastly, a no deposit offer only allows you to generate winnings that can later be withdrawn. You can’t, however, cash out the bonus itself like with a deposit bonus.

2 – Not Reading the Terms and Conditions

You may feel compelled to skip reading the terms and conditions behind bonuses. After all, terms and conditions pages are long and boring.

But you’re very likely to screw up your no deposit deal by ignoring them. It only takes one violation to lose out.

Pointing to Laptop Computer Screen

The terms and conditions discuss all of the rules regarding a no deposit bonus, from the rollover (a.k.a. wagering requirements) to when you must claim the offer. Here are common terms behind these deals:

  • You must successfully register for an account to qualify.
  • The bonus must be claimed before it’s active.
  • You can only withdraw winnings from the offer.
  • Playthrough (e.g. 40x the bonus) must be met before cashing out winnings.
  • Wagering requirements must be satisfied within a specific timeframe.
  • Certain games are restricted from meeting playthrough.
  • Some games may qualify for playthrough, but at a reduced amount (e.g. 20%).

You can use the above terms and conditions as a guideline. However, you should definitely read the specific terms at any new casino that you join.

3 – Cashing out Too Early

Again, you don’t have to make a deposit to claim one of these bonuses. You merely have to complete registration.

Of course, you can deposit at a later time.

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When doing so, you may feel entitled to withdraw money at any time. But don’t!

Cashing out before meeting wagering requirements causes you to lose out on no deposit winnings.

Here’s an example:

  • You qualify for a $10 no deposit bonus.
  • Wagering requirements are 45x the bonus.
  • 45 x 10 = $450 must be wagered.
  • You win $15 with the bonus.
  • You cash out after only having bet $250.
  • The $15 in winnings are now nullified.

Always keep an eye on your account section to see how close you are to earning bonus funds. You don’t, however, just want to assume that you can withdraw at any time.

4 – Playing Restricted Games

One of the key points that you want to look for in the terms and conditions is restricted games. Some table games, as well as slot machine games, may be entirely excluded from qualifying for playthrough.

Others may contribute to playthrough, but they only offer a certain percentage. For example, blackjack variations might only contribute 20% toward satisfying wagering requirements.

Laptop on Table Displaying Slot Machine Game

Generally speaking, casinos put these restrictions on games with high return to player (RTP). They may, for instance, reduce the playthrough contributions for a slot with 98% RTP.

You definitely need to know when these restrictions are in place. Otherwise, you could play a certain game and later find out that you’re not fully meeting wagering requirements.

5 – Placing Too Large of Bets

Many gamblers have tried to earn their no deposit funds as quickly as possible through big bets. They think they’re gaming the system when, in reality, they’re just blowing their chances.

Casinos are completely aware of players who try reducing volatility on bonuses with huge wagers. They put limits on max bets as a result.

For example, a gaming site may only allow players to bet up to $100 when a bonus is active. Assuming you were to go over this limit, then you’d forfeit your no deposit opportunity.

Even if a casino doesn’t instate limits, you don’t necessarily benefit from huge wagers. You might just blow your entire bonus in one fell swoop instead.

6 – Going for Two Bonuses at Once

Another big mistake that players make involves trying to earn two bonuses at once. Here’s how this scenario commonly plays out:

  • You register for an account and receive a $20 no deposit bonus.
  • You see a 100% match bonus worth up to $1,000.
  • You place a $100 deposit and claim the second offer.
  • However, you’ve yet to meet wagering requirements on the no deposit deal.
  • You’re now in violation of the casino’s terms.

The penalties for engaging in the above scenario can differ depending upon the casino. One may disqualify you from the second offer, while another could nullify both deals.

Woman Holding Cell Phone and Using Computer

Sometimes, you may get away with going after two bonuses simultaneously. But the casino can still take the funds out of your account later if they discover the terms and conditions violation.

Long story short, you don’t want to claim multiple bonuses at the same time. The risks outweigh the potential rewards.

7 – Going for the Same Offer Multiple Times

No deposit bonuses are meant to be onetime deals. Casinos don’t offer these bonuses to give you multiple chances to earn free money.

The majority of gaming sites take care of this problem automatically. Their software is set to prevent you from claiming a no deposit offer two or more times.

However, glitches can happen that allow you to get a no deposit bonus on multiple occasions. When this happens, your bonus funds will assuredly be confiscated. You’ll also be deemed a bonus abuser and banned from the casino.

If you have any notion of registering multiple accounts and getting more no deposit bonuses, then you should drop this thought. Casinos almost always find multi-accounters and ban them.

Conclusion

The stipulations surrounding no deposit bonuses are sometimes thought of as unfair. However, casinos aren’t evil for expecting players to follow their rules.

They feature terms and conditions pages for a reason. Gaming sites need to be profitable in order to remain open. They can’t accomplish this goal by allowing players to take advantage of them through bonus deals.

I’m not saying you can’t still make money from a no deposit offer. But you have no chance of doing so if you make any aforementioned mistakes.

Most misconceptions can be cleared up just by reading the terms and conditions. Any reputable casino will clearly list what is and isn’t allowed regarding their no deposit bonuses.

Reading terms and conditions definitely isn’t fun. However, you only have yourself to blame if you violate a term by not understanding the bonus rules.

Of course, some of the lower-tier casinos may not have clear terms and conditions. You should avoid playing at any gaming site that features undecipherable terms. Such casinos may rip you off, even after you’ve legitimately earned a bonus.

Beyond these circumstances, the onus is on you to figure out the rules behind a no deposit bonus. You should carefully go through the terms and conditions and make sure that you understand everything before using a no deposit bonus.

7 Worst Off-Strip Casinos for Tight Slot Machines in Las Vegas

Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas, Slot Machine Reels
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that slot machines on The Strip are “tighter” than the alternatives found outside of the Las Vegas Boulevard bubble.

And no, I’m not talking about individual machines set up to pay out less frequently by the casino overlords above. That notion of “tight” and “loose” slot gameplay has always been a myth passed around by uninformed gamblers.

Instead, I’m referring to the way casino operators with properties on The Strip carefully curate their slot machine selection.

Let’s say Slot X offers a 95.50 percent payback rate, which you might know as the return to player (RTP) rate, while Slot Y and Slot Z offer paybacks at 93.25 percent and 91.10 percent, respectively. In this example, a casino on The Strip will have no problem whatsoever ordering hundreds of Slot Y and Slot Z, while only spreading a dozen or so of the Slot X machines.

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In doing so, a casino can easily ensure that its property-wide average for slot payback is reduced. And in turn, this choice to include a higher ratio of tighter slots thereby increases the house’s overall edge on its slot offerings.

The big corporate casinos on The Strip can get away with offering lower average payback rates because they have a captive audience of sorts. Over 40 million tourists visit Las Vegas every year, and when they get there, the vast majority will never leave The Strip. Knowing this, corporations like MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, and Las Vegas Sands Corp. show no compunction about sticking it to their slot players with tighter machines.

On the other side of the spectrum, all of those casinos located far from the action on Las Vegas Boulevard have no choice. In order to attract customers and retain the loyalty of local regulars, off-Strip casinos must compete by taking the opposite tack. Mid-major operators like Station Casinos, Boyd Gaming, and others stay afloat by choosing a higher ratio of loose slots to balance out a handful of tight machines.

This strategy creates a higher overall payback percentage on average when you play slots in an Off Strip casino. As you can see below, using data compiled by the annual Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) survey of Las Vegas slot payback rates by region, playing away from The Strip always provides a more player-friendly experience:

Las Vegas Slot Machine Payback Percentage Rates (by Coin Denomination and Region)

1¢ Slot Machines

Region Average Payback
The Strip 88.38%
Downtown 89.15%
Boulder Strip 90.38%
North Las Vegas 90.88%

5¢ Slot Machines

Region Average Payback
The Strip 91.64%
Downtown 93.40%
North Las Vegas 95.29%
Boulder Strip 96.21%

25¢ Slot Machines

Region Average Payback
The Strip 89.35%
Downtown 94.25%
North Las Vegas 96.41%
Boulder Strip 96.13%

$1 Slot Machines

Region Average Payback
The Strip 92.43%
Downtown 94.63%
North Las Vegas 95.39%
Boulder Strip 96.13%

$1 Megabucks Machines

Region Average Payback
The Strip 87.83%
North Las Vegas 88.52%
Downtown 89.07%
Boulder Strip 91.35%

All Slot Machines

Region Average Payback
The Strip 91.47%
Downtown 92.67%
Boulder Strip 94.34%
North Las Vegas 93.53%

Nonetheless, not all off-Strip slot parlors are built the same way…

It got me thinking about all of the off-Strip properties that try to have it both ways, by marketing themselves as the “home of loose slots” even though their machines are tighter than the baseline average for their region.

With that in mind, the list below serves as a warning for slot players, so do your best to avoid the seven worst off-Strip casinos where tight slots reign supreme.

1 – McCarran International Airport

For millions of visitors to Sin City, the first sin they’ll commit is parting ways with even a single penny playing slots at McCarran International Airport.

In case you’re close enough to drive to Las Vegas, and thus haven’t had the “pleasure” of seeing the airport up close and personal, the place is lined with slot machines in a scene straight out of a typical casino. At first glance, these slots can seem like a cool novelty, a welcome mat greeting new arrivals and letting them know they’re in for a little something different.

And on the other side of the coin, when you’re heading home and want to take one last crack at landing that elusive jackpot score, a few spins on the airport slots can’t hurt, right?

Well, you should definitely consider the 85.02 percent average payback rate found on McCarran slots to be painful…

That’s the lowest payback percentage of any slot machine provider in all of Las Vegas.

When compared to other off-Strip locales, the airport puts players at a disadvantage equal to 8 percent off their average payback. And even when sized up against The Strip, airport slots are 6 percent worse overall.

You’re already going to face the indignities of modern air travel when passing through McCarran, so stay smart and don’t add industry-worst slot payback to the pain.

2 – Rio All Suites Hotel & Casino

Best known as the site of the annual World Series of Poker (WSOP), the Rio All Suites Hotel & Casino is a place where life-changing fortunes are won dozens of times over every summer.

Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas

Unfortunately for gamblers who prefer the slots over Texas Hold’em, however, the Rio is relentlessly bad for reel spinners. Likely owing to its parent company Caesars Entertainment struggling through bankruptcy, management has made sure the Rio’s slot selection spits out an average payback rate of only 88.72 percent.

To get a sense of just how bad that payback rate really is, consider this – only the Venetian (86.66 percent) and the Bellagio (87.42 percent) are worse for slot players, and those casinos are on The Strip. In terms of proper casinos found away from Las Vegas Boulevard, you simply can’t do any worse than the Rio if the slots are your game of choice.

3 – Fremont Hotel & Casino

A member of the Boyd Gaming family found in Downtown Las Vegas, the Fremont has been an iconic fixture along Fremont Street since Sinatra and the “Rat Pack” were strutting their stuff.

Sin City has changed a ton over that time, and most of the action has moved to The Strip, but Fremont is still considered to be a home away from home for many locals and longtime visitors. Even so, Fremont’s slot selection still manages to offer the worst payback average of any casino in the Downtown district at 90.37 percent. To wit, the average for all Downtown casinos stands at 92.67 percent, so you’re shaving more than 2 percent off your overall payback rate by spinning at Fremont.

4 – Main Street Station Casino Brewery Hotel

Folks who call Las Vegas home love the Station Casinos brand, which encompasses several reasonably priced venues found all over the city.

Main Street Station Casino in Downtown Las Vegas

Main Street Station is typical of the Station Casinos concept, combining affordable fare with the best odds on table games and video poker. Unfortunately for slot players, Main Street Station found a way to mess up a good thing, as it’s the worst of all Station casinos in terms of slot payback with a 90.56 percent average rate.

5 – Silverton Casino Hotel

One of the rare independent casinos still going strong in Sin City, the Silverton is a holdover from a bygone era of Las Vegas lore.

Even though its relatively new, having opened its doors in 1994, the Silverton looks and feels like it belongs in the 1970s in Nevada’s other gambling locale of Lake Tahoe. The vibe is rustic and intimate, and you’ll easily save a pretty penny eschewing The Strip to stay here.

On the flip side, however, those savings will be eaten up quickly playing slots at the Silverton, thanks to a lower than average 90.57 percent payback rate.

6 – Golden Gate Casino Hotel

The Golden Gate Casino first opened its gaming floor all the way back in 1906, making it the oldest casino in all of Las Vegas – and anywhere in America for that matter.

Golden Gate Casino in Downtown Las Vegas

Golden Gate is a fixture on Fremont Street, surviving for more than a century while rivals came and went with the desert winds.

But while the $0.99 shrimp cocktails and classic coin-in pull-lever slot machines offer a certain sense of nostalgia, Golden Gate’s slot menu gooses its owner’s bottom line with a regrettable 90.64 percent payback rate on slots.

7 – Golden Nugget Las Vegas Hotel & Casino

Personally speaking, I still love to take a stroll through the Golden Nugget’s iconic gaming floor whenever I’m in the Downtown district.

Everywhere you look is shining gold, and unlike many other casinos on Fremont Street, the Golden Nugget somehow manages to feel new again despite its age.

But that age is apparent in the 90.85 percent payback rate faced by slot players, a figure which likely hasn’t changed a tick from the days when gamblers simply didn’t know any better.

So, while I still enjoy visiting the old gal from time to time, playing slots at the Golden Nugget will always be a nonstarter in my book.

Conclusion

Visiting an off-Strip casino to score improved odds and an increased chance of winning has become a rite of passage for sharp gamblers. Many take pride in avoiding the money pit of Las Vegas Boulevard, choosing to preserve their bankroll by staying at a more budget-conscious casino instead.

And while that’s all well and good, it can be all too easy to find yourself spinning slots in an off-Strip casino that still doesn’t serve its players honorably. To help you avoid that fate, this list should serve as a guide to all of the off-Strip casinos that just aren’t worth a slot player’s time.

Elmer Sherwin Beats Odds to Win the Megabucks Slot Jackpot Twice

Megabucks Slot Machine Reel, Stacks of Money Wallpaper
For gamblers who love spinning the slots, no machine holds a greater allure than Megabucks.

A product of casino game manufacturer International Game Technology (IGT), the Megabucks slot was introduced back in 1986. The game itself is relatively simple when compared to modern video slots, as Megabucks offers just three reels and a single payline to work with.

But that payline is sweeter than any other slot in the world, thanks to a massive progressive jackpot of $10 million. As the world’s first wide area progressive slot network, Megabucks machines all over Nevada are linked together to create the enormous eight-figure jackpot.

And at $3 per spin, players grinding Megabucks machines in Lake Tahoe, Reno, and Las Vegas casinos, and just overall across the Silver State can easily cause the jackpot to build into the $20 to $40 million range.

The odds of landing just one “Megabucks Eagle” symbol needed to claim that ridiculous reward stand at 1 in 368. Thus, finding three of the key symbols lined up perfectly on the reels requires beating odds of 1 in 49,836,032 or (1/368)3.

With such astronomical odds against the player, years can go by without anybody winning the Megabucks jackpot.

To get an idea of how unlikely a Megabucks jackpot payout really is, and how lucrative they can be for the lucky winners, checkout the slot’s performance over the last decade:

Megabucks Jackpot History (2010 – 2019)

Date Casino City/State Jackpot Amount
04/14/19 Sunset Station Casino Las Vegas, Nevada $13,154,723.42
05/05/18 Paris Hotel and Casino Las Vegas, Nevada $11,183,715.84
09/16/17 Fiesta Henderson Las Vegas, Nevada $10,192,522.80
08/08/17 Fremont Casino Las Vegas, Nevada $11,809,407.24
03/22/16 Gold Dust West Elko, Nevada $12,515,708.83
03/14/15 Westgate Hotel and Casino Las Vegas, Nevada $10,744,293.40
11/30/14 Rampart Casino Las Vegas, Nevada $14,282,544.21
12/05/13 MGM Grand Casino Las Vegas, Nevada $10,337,637.92
11/04/13 MGM Grand Casino Las Vegas, Nevada $12,463,147.70
04/10/13 Bonanza Casino Reno, Nevada $11,798,514.65
12/14/12 M Resort Las Vegas, Nevada $17,329,817.67
06/15/11 Grand Sierra Resort Reno, Nevada $10,379,294.92
04/22/11 Aria Hotel and Casino Las Vegas, Nevada $10,636,897.78
01/21/11 Aria Hotel and Casino Las Vegas, Nevada $12,769,933.87
02/21/10 Reno Airport Reno, Nevada $10,422,754.08

Yep, you read that right. Over the course of nearly 10 years, only 14 Megabucks jackpots have ever been hit, which is why the story of Elmer Sherwin is so wildly unbelievable…

At the age of 76, the retired Sherwin landed a $4.6 million jackpot from Megabucks back in 1989. (The $10 million seed amount started in 2005.) That alone made Sherwin one of the gambling industry’s rarities, a slot player who overcame the odds to win what was the largest jackpot in Las Vegas history at the time.

But 16 years later, Sherwin etched his name into the pantheon of gambling gods by winning a second Megabucks jackpot, this time for a whopping $21.1 million. Let’s take a look at the true Las Vegas legend of Elmer Sherwin’s double dip on the Megabucks machine.

Sherwin Wins Seven Figures on the Mirage’s Opening Day

The day was November 22, 1989 and Las Vegas locals were celebrating the grand opening of the Mirage, the city’s latest casino built along the Strip.

One of those locals was Elmer Sherwin, who visited the glittering new venue along with his ex-wife Florence. At the time, Megabucks machines offered a progressive jackpot that seeded at $1 million and climbed from there, so Sherwin and his fellow slot spinners were chasing a $4.6 million grand prize.

After about 90 minutes of play, during which Sherwin spent $80 of his own money before borrowing $20 more from Florence, the reels whirled and clicked into place just perfectly. With three of the coveted “Megabucks Eagle” symbols lined up along the payline, Sherwin turned his $3 wager into a $4,653,697.80 score.

Following the amazing jackpot win only nine hours into the Mirage’s opening night, Las Vegas locals and visitors alike began sharing a superstition about the Megabucks machine.

According to the myth, IGT programs its Megabucks machines to pay out at a higher rate when a casino first opens, hoping to hook players into coming back for more.

But Boris Hallerbach—who works as a product manager for MegaJackpots, a division of IGT—told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2009, that’s just not how random number generators (RNGs) really work:

“Unfortunately, no. I hate to be the spoiler. There is no correlation between Megabucks hitting and the opening of a casino.”

Indeed, as the aforementioned report makes clear, none of the dozen casinos to open their doors since Sherwin’s big win have produced a Megabucks jackpot on opening day.

As a retiree, and a single one to boot, Sherwin had all the time and money he’d ever need to travel the world. But as he told local media outlets at the time, Sherwin’s experience serving in World War II had already taken him abroad, so he was content to stick around Sin City to try for a seemingly impossible feat—a second jackpot spin on Megabucks.

It would take him 16 years, but Sherwin would do just that in 2005, during a trip to the Cannery Casino and Hotel.

Lightning Strikes Twice for a Las Vegas Legend

At 92 years young, Sherwin found himself spinning away on a Megabucks machine inside the off-Strip casino known as Cannery.

Woman Pushing Slot Machine Buttons, Cannery Las Vegas Casino

He was chasing his “white whale” of sorts, hoping to become the first ever two-time Megabucks winner. But while Captain Ahab infamously went down with the ship chasing his own Moby Dick, Sherwin managed to capture one of the most elusive beasts in casino gambling history.

Once again, the reels revolved around and around, before settling in an arrangement instantly familiar to Sherwin—three “Megabucks Eagle” symbols in a row. Just like that, the veteran and proud patriarch laid claim to a staggering jackpot payout of $21,147,947.

In a press release issued by IGT, Sherwin celebrated his crowning achievement after becoming the undisputed king of Megabucks slot jackpots:

“I’m glad I finally hit; I’ve been trying to do it again. I’m gonna try for a third win on Megabucks, but I may try the Wheel of Fortune slot, too.”

When the news broke, Las Vegas Advisor publisher Anthony Curtis told local media outlets that the chances of a repeat win on Megabucks bordered on the immeasurable:

“It’s absurd. The odds of winning are on the order of billions if not trillions to one. It’s crazy.”

I’m no math whiz by any means, but when you multiply the 1 in 49,836,032 odds on hitting one Megabucks jackpot by 49,836,032, the answer basically broke my calculator—1 in 2,483,630,085,505,024.

That’s a probability of 1 in 2.4 quadrillion, odds which are simply unfathomable to most people. After pocketing another life-changing jackpot, Sherwin paid it forward by making contributions to charities assisting New Orleans after the city was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Sherwin continued playing slot machines in Las Vegas for the next two years, before passing away at the age of 94.

Conclusion

Millions of players will spin the Megabucks slot machine regularly for their entire lives without ever landing the topline jackpot. Only 22 jackpots have been awarded since the $10 million seed began in 2005.

With that in mind, trying to wrap your mind around Sherwin’s second jackpot score is essentially impossible. Las Vegas is a city built on legends, but none can compare with the epic Megabucks run enjoyed by the singularly unique Elmer Sherwin.

How to Get Into a Nightclub in Las Vegas

Crowd Dancing Inside Club
As the saying goes, “whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” Given some of the crazy stuff that can go down in Sin City, it’s probably a good thing there’s a whole city dedicated to not saying exactly what you did there. Las Vegas offers a number of ways to get into more than a little bit of trouble.

One of the more popular ways of having a little too much fun is at some of the crazy nightclubs, bars, and venues across the city. There’s always a party going on somewhere, some celebrity is constantly celebrating their birthday. If none of that is happening for some reason, you don’t really need an event to have a good time in Vegas.

However, you’re not going to join the party, meet a celebrity, or go dancing if you can’t get into the venue. Fortunately, there are ways you can get into even the most exclusive night clubs as long as you know who to know, what to do, and have a few people in your crew to help you out.

1 – Make Every Night Ladies’ Night

Guys, it’s a cold, hard fact that there aren’t nearly as many people who want to see us as want to see ladies in the club. In fact, it’s pretty much generally accepted that no matter where you go, a high number of women draw in larger crowds and, on average, tend to get those crowds to spend money on showy gestures and bottle service.

Because of this, if you want to get into some of the hottest clubs in Sin City, the best way to do it is to bring a lot of ladies with you.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be a lot of ladies. As long as every guy is paired up with a girl, that should be enough, though a higher ratio of girls to guys is always better.

This advice is true whether you have a reservation or not. If you already have your name on the guest list, it’s still good to bring a lot of girls. It will prevent you from finding your name has been removed from the list. Also, a high number of girls is just the thing to get you into a club if you don’t already have your name on the list.

2 – Look the Part

As one site put it, Las Vegas is the city where you can be whatever you want to be. So, you might as well be a wildly successful man or woman about town looking to spend some cash and party like there’s no tomorrow. Even better, that same site pretty much says that clubs in Vegas will figure out what you are by the way you dress.

Guy Wearing Suit Adjusting His Watch

If you show up to the club in a nice suit/dress, expensive shoes, and a fashionable hairstyle, guess what? There’s a lot better chance people are going to think you’re someone and let you into the club. Keep in mind that everyone knows this trick, so take the extra effort to really up your appearance game and watch as doors open for you.

Also, this is also true for the ladies in your party. In Vegas, a group of well-dressed women are a lot more likely to get into the club than a group of well-dressed dudes.

3 – Why, Yes, I Do Work for Microsoft

If you’ve been to Vegas before, you may have noticed that there are a few conventions going on. Big-name corporations encourage tens of thousands of people to arrive on the sweltering sands of Sin City to have fun at night and try to stay awake during production demonstrations the next day.

These same corporations, and the vendors who tend them, also pay big dollars to host exclusive parties all across the Strip. Even better, some of these parties have after parties with exclusive guest lists and fanciful ways to show you have earned entry.

If you want to party in some of these locales, then you could do worse than talking to some of the convention goers. At best, a lot of the folks will happily part with their badges, business card invites, and special bracelets, since the club scene isn’t their thing. At worst, a group will go and have a few extra invites for you and your small party.

Don’t be a jerk about it, but don’t be afraid to make a few friends. Some of them will have the way into the club.

4 – Ask Someone

Sometimes, the best way to get into a club is just to ask. This may sound strange, but most clubs aren’t looking to keep you out. They want you to show up with your friends and drop some cash. Therefore, if you want to score an invite, talk to a club promoter in advance of when you want to hit the clubs.

Group of Friends Talking Looking at Cell Phone

When you talk to the promoter, try to have a good reason why they should let you in. Try to have a special occasion in mind that you could celebrate. Also, come off as respectful and professional when you talk to them because there are a lot of people who want to get in.

5 – Sign up for a Guest List

There are a lot of nightlife destinations that have guest lists you can sign up for ahead of time. This option is likely to result in the fewest number of tickets, but at the very least, you’re likely to get in. The good news is that a lot of guest lists are available online. All you need to do is go online and sign up.

Even better, there are services you can register for that will get your name on their guest list. If you sign up for these services, make sure you arrive before your slotted time and follow rule #2. Also, be ready to buy a couple bottles, but at least you’ll be in the club.

6 – Try to Pick a Less Popular Night

No matter what strategy you take to get into the club, don’t be surprised if it’s a lot harder to get into the club on a Friday or Saturday night than it is on some random Wednesday. As with most things, it’s easier to get into a club on nights when there’s not a huge demand.

7 – Buy a Meal

A lot of nightclubs have a restaurant attached to them, like the famous Hakkasan night club at the MGM Grand.

Outside Entrance to Hakkasan Inside MGM Grand Las Vegas

Hakkasan has a Cantonese restaurant (called Hakkasan Restaurant) right next to it that has direct club access for those who eat there. Again, it’s not going to be a cheap meal, but it will get you dancing the night away a whole lot faster.

8 – If All Else Fails, Sidle Up

As much as I hate to say it, a lot of people have stories of when they met celebrity X who was going to some party. After meeting up, they struck up a conversation and said celebrity invited your friend and thus, your friend ended up partying for free at some exclusive club you didn’t know existed.

Sadly, these stories are true.

As a last case resort, if you really want to get into an exclusive club, look for people who are going and see if you can join their party.

This is another time when you want to be nice (and it will probably cost you a couple bottles of alcohol), but it’s a great way to meet new people, make some memories, and get into a club you wouldn’t normally get into to.

It’s also not a very foolproof plan, as it relies on a lot of chance. Also, your best chance to actually meet these people are when you’re in line. However, it does happen. Just make sure you look like money and have a good guy-girl ratio, and you’re all set.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, there are several different ways you might find yourself dancing the night away at some exclusive club. Your best bet is to ask one of the services to get your name on the list, but that doesn’t always work. In that case, you have to network, make friends, and get ready to buy a lot of very expensive alcohol.

In the end, though, it might just be worth it. A good Las Vegas clubbing story is worth a few bottle services and standing for a few minutes in the guest list line in uncomfortable shoes. Such is the cost of making memories that happen in Vegas and stay in Vegas.

5 Secret Sports Betting Options You Might Not Know About

Live Yankees MLB Game
Most sports gamblers are familiar with basic betting strategies. They’re aware of the boom or bust potential of a parlay, the risks and rewards of playing the moneyline, and understand never to chase a loss with a bigger bet. Who would do that? Ironically, that’s a common mistake rookie sports bettors make.

While these approaches to gambling hold up over time, there are a few lesser-known moves that bettors can make to increase winnings over time if executed properly. I’ll explain five betting moves you can try out next time you need a win.

1 – Tease It

The teaser bet is a bit like the cousin of the parlay. The only difference is that you get some choice in picking the lines and the payouts. Similar to a parlay bet, you need multiple games to execute a teaser.

In the simplest terms, it works like this—you choose two or more games to bet on and adjust the spread or line to give yourself some cushion.

That sounds like it should make winning easy, but as always, there’s a catch.

As you give yourself a better chance to win (give away less points if betting a favorite, get more points if betting the underdog), your overall payout decreases accordingly. Just like a parlay, you must pick each game correctly in order to win.

Experts have conflicting opinions on the success rate of teaser bets, or whether the cushion is worth sacrificing a higher payout, but it’s a good trick to have in the bag when you’re looking to mix things up.

2 – Use a Prop Bet

I tend to think of betting on games as a marathon. You place your wager, and wait three hours to see if you’ll come away with a win. Prop bets are the remedy for those who prefer a less patient approach.

Proposition bets are made on in-game occurrences, and although they’re considered a novelty by some, they pay just as well as a bet made throughout an entire game. There are innumerable amounts of prop bets offered on various sports betting sites and offerings can vary from one book to the next.

Lakers Basetkball LeBron James, Pile of Money

Some examples of prop bets might be the number of points scored by LeBron James in the first quarter of a game or the total number of touchdowns that will be scored in the second half of an NFL game. Some of the bigger sporting events like the Super Bowl offer a line for the coin toss, length of the national anthem, and even what the announcers will say during the broadcast.

3 – Handicapped Sports Betting

You’ve heard of handicaps in golf, but the concept is also useful in the world of sports betting. This type of bet is known more commonly as the “spread” in sports where large point differentials can be expected.

Handicap bets become an asset to gamblers when applied to sports such as baseball or soccer where the most common type of bet is simply on the moneyline, i.e. who will win outright.

An example of a handicap at use can be seen in what is referred to as the “run line” in baseball. In baseball, the handicap is consistently set at 1.5, but can be increased or decreased in what is known as an “alternative handicap.”

The handicap can be manipulated to give yourself better odds at winning (resulting in a lower payout) or bettors can risk it by lowering the odds of winning but also giving themselves a shot at a high payout. Each sport has their own specific guidelines with handicapping, so be sure to do your research before risking your hard-earned money!

4 – Predict the Future

A futures bet is an intriguing play for bettors who feel like trying their hand at predicting the outcome of a series or season. Typically, futures bets offer high payouts for lower bets, but obviously they’re far more difficult to predict.

Most futures bets are made before the season. However, many sportsbooks will accept this type of bet, albeit with less favorable payouts, as the season progresses. Examples of futures bets include choosing the winner of the AFC East before the season begins, picking the winner of the NBA playoffs right after the regular season concludes, or even simply picking the winner of the Stanley Cup before the start of Game 1.

NHL Live Hockey Game

Another common futures bet is choosing the winner of a golf or tennis tournament prior to the event’s start. Don’t confuse futures bets with simply betting on a game in the future. For example, betting on a week 10 matchup between the Rams and Steelers doesn’t give you any better odds, as the game itself is already a guarantee.

As you would probably assume, futures bets are difficult to win. Although the payoffs for predicting, for example, the Super Champion before the season begins are pretty significant.

5 – What If?

An “if” bet is a lesser-known type of wager that can allow for some forgiveness. At first, it may feel like a parlay as you choose multiple games. However, unlike a traditional parlay, you can still take home money even if you don’t pick correctly in each game.

Whether or not you win, and how much you win, is based on the order of the games.

To be clear, the actual time the game begins is not the order I’m referring to, but rather, the order in which you place the games on your betting card. If that sounds confusing, allow me to explain further.

Let’s try out an example. When betting on three games you choose an order of Team A, Team C, and Team B to win. If Team A wins, you’ll receive your winnings, and the initial bet you made will now be rolled to Team C. If Team C loses, you’ll still keep your winnings from the first game, but the bet is over.

If Team C wins, congrats! You get your winnings from the first two games, and the same amount is now placed on Team B. If Team B wins, you take it all. If Team B loses, you’ll still keep your winnings from the first to games. It takes a little brainwork to figure it out, but this type of bet can provide some insurance if you’re in the mood for a parlay.

Conclusion

Much like switching from one card game to another, it’s important to keep in mind that no betting strategy guarantees better odds. These different strategies are simply options to keep in mind when it feels like your old strategies are getting stale or when you’re just looking for a new way to wager.

Next time you find yourself on a losing streak, don’t keep throwing up more money in the same way hoping to recoup your losses. Try out these methods and see if you can find one that works for you!

The 4 Best Off-Strip Casinos in Las Vegas for Non-Gamblers

Red Rock Casino, M Resort, The Orleans, South Point
Las Vegas’ tourism authority loves to boast about the 40 million annual visitors who flock to the casino gambling capital of the world.

But while a fair majority of those folks come for the unlimited selection of table games, slot machines, poker, and sports betting, many visitors to Las Vegas don’t gamble at all. Aside from the conventioneers just in town on business, a good chunk of the non-gambling population in Sin City is simply along for the ride.

Fortunately for people who don’t gamble, but still want to see the sights and sounds of Las Vegas, the city’s casinos have largely blossomed from hardcore gambling halls to full-fledged family-friendly resorts.

Most people find themselves on the famous Strip when they see Sin City for the first time, and while Las Vegas Boulevard’s iconic properties are definitely must-see destinations, once you’ve “been there and done that,” the area can get old in a hurry.

Below, you’ll find everything non-gamblers need to know about the four best family-friendly “off-Strip” casinos in all of Las Vegas.

1 – Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa

If you love the Strip’s ability to inspire awe, through architectural flourishes and top-tier amenities, but you don’t like the idea of paying excessive premiums, you’ll fall in love with Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa.

Red Rock Hotel

Located about 25 minutes northwest of the Strip in the affluent suburb of Summerlin, Red Rock Resort is the crown jewel of the Station Casinos empire. Everything about the place just screams extravagance and luxury, but not in the haughty fashion that can be so off-putting in the Strip’s most sought-after properties.

There are family-friendly options for non-gamblers abound, including a huge 72-lane bowling alley, a 16-screen IMAX movie theater, and more than three acres of swimming pool space.

Kids will also get a kick out of Cyber Quest, a full-scale arcade complex boasting all of the latest video games, virtual reality (VR) experiences, and other technological wonders.

But the real draw for non-gamblers offered by Red Rock Resort can be found roughly 10 minutes away at the picturesque Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The rugged, yet gorgeous, terrain found at Red Rock Canyon is defined by crimson spires, desert hiking trails, and some of the most serene natural views found anywhere in the Silver State.

Red Rock Resort takes pride in connecting guests directly to the adjacent Red Rock Canyon, so you can sign up for morning horseback rides, guided hikes, or even kayak or rafting excursions that take you straight to the Hoover Dam.

Throw in a wide array of restaurants spanning the spectrum from affordable fare to 5-star dining, not to mention a full-scale shopping mall right across the street, and Red Rock Resort will keep you entertained for days before you ever notice the casino.

Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa Contact Information:

2 – M Resort Spa Casino

If you start out in the heart of the Strip then head southbound on Las Vegas Boulevard for 20 minutes, you’ll see a glimmering monument arise from the desert sands.

M Resort Las Vegas

But this beautiful building encased in blue glass is no mirage, it’s M Resort, which has been dubbed the “one of the finest hotels in the world” by Forbes Travel Guide in every year since it opened in 2009.

One of the more unique family-friendly entertainment offerings designed for non-gamblers staying at M Resort is the Top Golf Swing Suite, an indoor arena which combines the links with cutting-edge VR technology. Using a large screen that simulates some of the world’s most famous golf courses, players take turns driving, pitching, and putting their way to glory in a series of immersive VR golf challenges.

While the teens are busy channeling Tiger Woods at the Top Golf Swing Suite, parents can head over to the Day Dream Pool Club. This 12,000-square foot swimming pool is for adults-only, with an ice-railed swim-up bar to keep your cold drinks cool, live DJs mixing the hottest hits, and an infinity edge design that feels like you’re floating away from it all forever.

After burning a bunch of calories doing your backstroke, a great way to refuel is by visiting the M Resort’s world-renowned Studio B Buffet. The Bloody Mary bar awaits for breakfast, mimosas are on tap for brunch, and over 300 dishes are served up by award-winning chefs.

M Resort Spa Casino Contact Information

Five-Star Family Friendly Yelp Review:

“The hotel and casino are beautiful and so much calmer and easier than any other hotel I’ve stayed in while visiting Vegas.

Every single staff member we interacted with was friendly, and engaging. The valet was quick, restaurants easy to get into and had great food. Everyone went out of their way to make our stay enjoyable. I visited Spa Mio and had great service.

The spa is gorgeous and relaxing. The pool is beautiful and it wasn’t crowded. Even the hotel gym is great!”

– Stephanie H., Los Angeles, California

3 – The Orleans Hotel and Casino

To reach the Orleans Hotel and Casino, you’ll ditch the Strip on Tropicana, going westbound for 10 minutes or so, then hook a right on Arville Street.

The Orleans Las Vegas

A member of the Boyd Gaming family, the Orleans is a no-frills off-Strip casino that still manages to feel warm and inviting to gamblers and non-gamblers alike.

While the games player in the house heads off to find blackjack or baccarat tables, you can take in a flick at the 18-screen movie theater or shoot for a perfect 300 game at the 52-lane bowling alley awarded “Best Bowling in Las Vegas” status by the local paper year in and year out.

And for the young ones, and the young at heart, the Orleans sports the Time Out Arcade, which is jam-packed with classic video games and the latest releases.

The Orleans Arena is an amenity that few other Las Vegas casinos can claim, with capacity for 9,500 guests and a schedule featuring over 200 live events every year. I’m talking everything from concerts by country music stars Carrie Underwood and Blake Shelton, the Shrine Circus and its high-flying show, Disney Live, and even NCAA basketball.

Orleans Hotel and Casino Contact Information

4 – South Point Hotel Casino and Spa

Taking a trip southbound down Las Vegas Boulevard for 15 minutes will take you to the South Point Hotel Casino and Spa, but at first glance, you’ll swear you’re still on the Strip.

South Point Las Vegas

This place is massive, with a 24-story hotel tower and nearly 100,000 square feet of floor space. Like any great Off-Strip casino resort, the South Point is home to a modern movie theater, a sprawling bowling alley where sanctioned tournaments are held, and the Costa del Sur spa.

And just like the Orleans, the South Point has an adjoining arena to hold concerts, car shows, and a regular assortment of rodeos.

South Point Hotel Casino and Spa Contact Information

Five-Star Family Friendly Yelp Review:

“My wife, teen kids, and I love staying at South Point Hotel, Casino. This hotel has excellent restaurants, a movie theater, bowling alley, pool, pretty much everything we need for an affordable getaway from our everyday, busy life.”

– David T., Torrance, California

Conclusion

Staying in an off-Strip casino resort is one of the best ways to save a few bucks when visiting Las Vegas. With that said, the off-Strip joints are generally known for focusing on the casino aspect of their operation, rewarding loyal locals with wider variety, better odds, and stellar service.

Thankfully, as the four casinos listed above prove, off-Strip venues can still provide the same level of balanced, family-friendly entertainment that has transformed Sin City into a destination for folks of all ages and inclinations.

6 Things to Look For in an Online Sportsbook

Person Using Laptop Computer, Football Game, Money
As sports gambling becomes increasingly accepted both legally and throughout society in general, sportsbooks are popping up all over the internet hoping to cash in on some of the action. With more legal places to make bets than ever before, there’s no question that it’s a good time to be a sports bettor.

Choosing which sites you’ll place your bets with can be a daunting task. In fact, all the choices usually result in bettors simply picking one site and sticking with it for each of their plays. While there’s always comfort in familiarity, if you’re serious about winning money, you need to be mixing it up.

I’ll lay out what you should be looking for in a sportsbook, and explain why there are tremendous advantages to switching things up on a regular basis.

1 – Initial Promotional Offerings

Sportsbooks, like any other business, want to win your loyalty as soon as you enter the market. In an effort to stand out, many sites will offer amazing promotional deals, or “bonuses” to get you in their doors. For example, many sites will match your initial deposit, sometimes up to $1,000!

While you probably follow the philosophy of “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is,” these offers are the real deal. Most of the promos are only available on your first deposit, so this is why it’s crucial to spread your bets around.

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If you don’t want to have a bankroll going on several different sites at once, simply put a plan in place that allows you to get the most out of initial offers without forgetting about the money you’ve already deposited.

Try utilizing one site per month and cashing out at the end of the month.

Taking advantage of free money is always a good move, and while you might dismiss these offers, you’re leaving valuable dollars on the table. Gambling is hard enough as it is, don’t pass up something that can help make it a little bit easier.

2 – Different Betting Options

You might think that all sites offer the same betting options, but in reality, they vary greatly across platforms. Some online books provide a wide array of futures bets, prop bets, and live betting options. Other books specialize in competitive moneylines in a more traditional setup.

For example, some online books that specialize in football betting offer more unique and varied prop bets that you won’t be able to find on other sites. Other books offer an easy way to place futures bets such as eventual champions of a certain league, division winners, etc. before the season begins.

Professional Baseball Game, Baseball Field

Not only do different sites offer different bets within a single game, but you’ll also find different lines and spreads across the board. It’s absolutely essential to look around to find the site that gives you the best chance to win.

An example of this could be a +4.5 spread being +5 on another site. If you’re betting on the underdog, that extra half point is basically a free bonus that gives you a little better shot to cover. Once you’ve decided on the game you want to play, do everything in your power to stack the odds in your favor. That means line shopping for the best price out there.

3 – Payout Options, Speed, and Rates

Not all online sportsbooks pay you the same way. Some sites require for payment to be completed by sending a physical check to your home, while others might allow you to complete the transactions digitally.

While the method of payment likely won’t have an impact on your payday, some people have strong preferences towards one method over another. Additionally, some sites might give you the option to get paid out in whichever way you prefer.

Now, for the component of payouts that directly impacts your bottom line—fees.

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Most sportsbooks do charge a slight fee for utilizing their services.

In most cases, it isn’t a significant amount of money, but why pay more when you have other options available?

Finally, some sportsbooks payout much quicker than others. If getting paid immediately (or close to it) is important for you, make sure you aren’t betting with a site that takes weeks to send over a check in the mail.

4 – Reputation and Longevity

Any time a company is handling your hard-earned money, it’s best to verify before handing anything over. Plenty of information is available on the reputation of various betting sites, so always be sure to do your research beforehand.

Now, back to the “if it’s too good to be true…” thing. Non-reputable sportsbooks have been known to pop up from time to time and will take advantage of bettors who use their site to bet on games. If something seems off, take the time to look up some more information.

A key thing to look for when finding trustworthy betting sites is an online betting license. This guarantees the sportsbook is operating legally and ensures they will have to stick to a set of rules to remain in operation.

Horse Racing, Using Laptop Computer

With that being said, just having a license isn’t always enough. Some jurisdictions hand out licenses to whichever organization pays the fee, but other jurisdictions can be stricter about who receives the license. When in doubt, look up the details to avoid becoming victim to a sketchy online site.

Things can get trickier still when dealing with new sites. While I wouldn’t say it’s good to automatically rule out sites that are just getting started, it should serve as a reminder that you need to look into the qualifications. If you’re considering depositing or betting with a large amount of money, perhaps it’s best to stay away from the new guys until they’ve had a chance to solidify their reputation.

On the flip side, just being in business a long time isn’t enough to validate a site. The good news is that some of the online books that have been in existence for many years will have many user reviews that can help you decide if that particular site is right for you.

5 – Customer Service

I know, customer service isn’t a sexy thing to look for, especially in the world of online gambling, especially in sports. Most people like to avoid the topic altogether simply because any time customer service gets involved, it’s likely going to be a headache.

Just like any product or service you use, things don’t always work out according to plan. Systems malfunction, mistakes are made, and someone has to be there to fix it. By choosing to use a site that has a great reputation in terms of customer service, you know you won’t be stuck calling over and over to fix a problem or answer an important question.

Much like the other criteria for choosing a betting site, there’s plenty of data available on the customer service provided at various sites across the internet. My advice? Choose a site that, at the very least, doesn’t have a reputation for being frustrating to work with.

6 – Security

This one is pretty straightforward, but it’s also the most important.

Make sure to look over the security systems in place that protect you and your money from ending up in someone else’s hands.

Plenty of information should be available regarding encryption when it comes to dealing with your deposits and payouts.

It shouldn’t take too long to verify a site’s security features, but don’t overlook it.

Conclusion

It’s a great time to be a sports gambler with the range of options available online today. With some conscientious research, you can find a handful of sites that you’re comfortable with and select them on a case-by-case basis according to their odds.

Start looking through some of the most popular and most safe sports betting sites today and enjoy the action!

Top 3 Mistakes Every Craps Player Makes

Group of People Playing Craps at the Casino
Craps is one of the most popular games in the casino. This doesn’t mean that more people play craps than other games; it means that everyone around a normal craps table seems like they’re having more fun than at other games.

If this is your first time playing craps, it might look complicated. The craps table has many available bets and the people at the table use funny names for things. But you don’t have to worry about anything. Once you finish with this article you’re going to know how to make the best bets and how to avoid the top mistakes that craps players make. And don’t worry about the funny name; you’re going to learn them from other players every time you play craps.

1 – You Don’t Take Full Odds

After the come out roll, there’s a bet that some craps players don’t know about. The reason some craps players don’t know about this special bet is because there isn’t a spot on the felt that shows the bet. This special bet is called an odds bet, and it’s important because it’s one of the few fair bets available in the casino. I say it’s a fair bet because the odds bets pay out makes them have a zero house edge.

The most common odds bet is a pass line odds bet. Before you can make an odds bet you have to make either a pass line or don’t pass line wager. Once a point is set, you can back up your bet with an odds bet.

The size of the odds bet is determined by the casino, and the way to place an odds bet is to slide the amount you want to bet behind your pass line or don’t pass line wager once a point is set and say odds.

A common odds bet set up is called 3 – 4 – 5, and many casinos use this. This means you can place an odds bet up to three times your original bet size when the point is a four or 10, four times your original bet if the point is a five or nine, and five times your original wager amount if the point is a six or eight. When you make a bet on the pass line and a point is set on four, five, six, eight, nine, or 10, you can place an odds bet. You win the odds wager if the point is rolled before a seven.

Craps Table Game Layout, Two Red Casino Dice

If the point is a four or 10, the odds bet pays 2 to 1. When the point is a five or nine, the odds bet pays 3 to 2. When the point is a six or an eight, the odds bet pays 6 to 5. The reason why so many craps tables use a 3 – 4 – 5 odds bet structure is because it simplifies the payout amounts. When you make a maximum odds bet using the 3 – 4 – 5 structure, all winning odds bets pay six times the original pass line bet amount.

Some casinos accept higher odds bets, with some taking up to 100 times the size of your original wager or higher. The reason why you want to take the maximum odds is because when you make a zero house edge wager it effectively lowers the overall house edge for the game.

All of the other bets at the craps table have a casino house edge, but when you make a full odds wager it increases the amount you have in play, with a larger amount wagered with no house edge. The casino still has an overall edge, but taking max odds lowers the true edge against you.

The don’t pass line and pass line bets have the lowest house edges at the craps table. The house edge of the don’t pass line is 1.36%, and the house edge on the pass line is 1.41%. These are the only two bets you should ever make at the craps table other than the odds wagers.

You can’t place an odds bet without placing a pass line or don’t pass line wager. This way the casino guarantees that they always have an edge. The best way to play craps is to make the table minimum wager on the pass or don’t pass line and back it with full odds. This keeps the house edge as low as possible.

2 – You Make Inside Bets

In the last section I covered the best bets to make when you play craps. The odds bets have a zero house edge, and the pass line and don’t pass line wagers have a house edge of 1.41% and 1.36%. All of the other bets at the craps table should be avoided. The other bets run from worse to absolutely terrible.

The place six place eight bet has a house edge of 1.52%, which isn’t much worse than the pass and don’t pass wagers, but it’s still worse. Things quickly go downhill from there. The place five and place nine bet has a house edge of 4%. The field bet is at 5.56%, and the place four and place 10 comes in at 6.67%.

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The hard six, hard eight, big six, and big eight wagers have a house edge of 9.09%. All other bets range from 11.11% to 16.67%.

When I play craps I see players making all kinds of bets. The craps table is a fun environment, and many players use a system that hedges bets or follows some method that doesn’t make any sense to me. I’ve had other players try to explain their complicated systems to me, but at the end of the day any bets you make other than the pass line or don’t pass line backed by full odds is a mistake. Every time you make a bet other than these you’re losing more money than you need to, so stop making them.

3 – You Play Online

Playing casino games online offers many advantages. You don’t have to travel to a land based casino, find a place to park, and fight the crowds of other gamblers. Sometimes you can even get a nice deposit bonus when you play craps online. But most craps players shouldn’t play online craps.

The reason why you shouldn’t play online craps doesn’t have anything to do with the safety of online play. You should only gamble online where you feel safe, so this shouldn’t stand in the way of online craps play. I’ve gambled at dozens of safe online casinos, and you can too.

Every game offered by the casinos is designed to win more than it loses. This includes craps, as you can see from the house edge examples I included above. With a house edge, the casino knows it makes money when players gamble on craps. The more you gamble, the more you lose on average.

This is where playing online for real money into play. When you play craps in a land based casino the number of rolls you can bet on every hour is limited based on how fast the casino personnel keep the game going and how fast players roll.

When you play craps online you can play almost as fast as you can press a button. Using some rough numbers, consider how this changes how much you can expect to lose playing craps in a land based casino and an online casino.

Online Craps Game, Guy Using Laptop at Coffee Shop

You make a pass line bet of $20, and can play 100 rolls every. When you play online, you might be able to make 400 or more rolls per hour. I realize that you’re not going to be making 100 and 400 come out rolls every hour, but the important ratio you need to understand here is that you can make four times as many rolls or more playing online craps.

Using round numbers, say you make 25 come out rolls and the rolls to resolve them every hour in a land based casino. This means that you make 100 come out rolls and resolve them online. Betting $20 on ever come out roll is a total of $500 in a land based casino and $2,000 online.

With a bet on the pass line with a house edge of 1.41% you can expect to lose, on average, $7.05 every hour in the land based casino.

But when you make the same bets at an online craps table you can expect to lose $28.20 every hour of play. This is a huge difference, and this is why you shouldn’t play craps online.

Of course, you have control over how fast you play online craps. If you’re disciplined enough, you can even take fewer rolls playing online than you have to make in a land based casino. But few online players are disciplined enough to take fewer rolls.

If you decide to play online craps for real money, make sure you play at a slow pace. Try not to make more rolls than you see at a live craps table so you don’t lose more than normal.

Conclusion

The craps odds wager is the best in the casino. Any time you can make a bet with a zero house edge in a casino, you should jump on the chance. Stick with the pass or don’t pass line bets and back them with the full available odds and you keep the house edge as low as you can playing craps. The last thing to watch for is how many rolls you take every hour if you play online craps.

What Should You Look for in a Gambling Information Site?

Two Women Looking Over Laptop Computer Displaying Online Casino Game
If you’ve spent any time at all researching gambling on the internet, you’ve noticed that there’s a seemingly endless number of websites offering gambling information.

You’ve probably also noticed that most of them offer aggressive, colorful advertising for online casinos, poker rooms, and sportsbooks.

What should you expect from a gambling information site? What makes one gambling info website better than another? How do you know whether you can trust a site’s recommendations or reviews?

After all, it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to realize that real money online gambling webmasters have a lot of incentive to refer players to certain gambling companies.

This post offers some things to look for when you’re deciding whether a gambling information site is legitimate or not. Not every site will feature all of these aspects, and just because a site is missing something on this list doesn’t mean it’s not reputable.

Use this as a rough guide for comparing one portal to another.

1 – A Robust About Page

I have a friend who used to edit a couple of volunteer-staffed website directories. Before search engines became so robust, humans had to list websites in various categories, and users would surf through those categories to find information.

Yahoo got its start as a directory. One of the directories where my friend worked refused to list any site that didn’t include two ways to contact the site owner.

I think that might be a lot to ask of a gambling information portal, but I think an About Us page is a minimum expectation anyone should have from a site.

Anyone operating a website offering information to gamblers should publish a page that gives you at least a general idea of who runs the website and what the site’s goals are.

2 – How-To Pages

“How-to” pages include guides on how to play the games the information site is about. For example, if you’re visiting a site that purports to offer blackjack information, it should have a prominent page about how to play blackjack.

It should also include pages about how to play blackjack variations of the game, like Spanish 21 or Super Fun 21.

Guy with Hands Up Using Laptop Computer, Poker Card

Some sites specialize in casino games of all kinds. In that case, you should be able to find a page about how to play any of the major casino games like blackjack, craps, roulette, slot machines, and video poker.

These sites should also offer how-to information around strategy, odds, and tactics. The idea behind a gambling information site should be to aid the customer in getting the most for his money.

You can’t do that if you don’t explain the details behind the games’ odds and the best strategies for trying to win. All of the above also applies to sites focused on poker and sports betting, too.

3 – Updates on the Site’s Content

Some websites are intentionally designed to be static sites. They publish information that’s meant to be evergreen, and their pages are never updated.

I think you should expect more from a gambling information site than that. You should have an idea of how often a site gets updated.

Most legitimate sites have a blog section somewhere on the site. Or they’ll have a page devoted to updates where they’ll explain which pages they’ve updated and what they’ve done to them.

Imagine a site that offers reviews of online casinos, for example. Suppose that this site never updates its content. How do you know that the reviews of the casinos are still valid?

Gambling companies change hands all the time. Even blackjack strategy changes over time to account for changes in game conditions.

4 – Questions and Answers Section

Anyone reading a website is looking for answers to their questions. I think any page worth reading, especially a static page that purports to be a comprehensive look at a subject, should have a question-and-answer section.

Guy Using Cell Phone with Laptop Next to Him, Question Marks

Honestly, this is the easiest way for an online gambling webmaster to get ideas for content to update their site with. If you spend a little time in some gambling forums or just searching a major search engine, you’ll find lists of questions on specific subjects.

Not every site should be penalized with your disdain if it doesn’t include questions and answers, but if you’re trying to decide between a site that has a frequently asked questions page and one that doesn’t, go with the site that does, all other things being equal, anyway.

5 – Recommendations on Games or Casinos

You’ll have no problem finding a gambling information site that offers recommended places to spend your money. You’ll occasionally find a webmaster who’s so sold on a specific property that he only promotes it and nothing else.

But a webmaster should participate in the web. And it’s called a web because it’s a web of links.

What I’m getting at is that webmasters should link to other useful resources, not just to the businesses they’re taking advertising dollars from. It’s usually easy to spot the difference in these kinds of recommendations, too.

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Keep in mind, though, that some sites only offer recommendations to other information sites owned by the same company.

That’s a bummer, but that’s the nature of the business. Since most search engines recommend sites in part by how much link popularity they have, aggressive marketers in some industries will be stingy when linking to other resources.

I don’t believe surfers should reward that kind of behavior on the part of a webmaster when they realize that’s what’s happening. You might feel differently.

6 – Trustworthy Reviews

Every gambling information site I’ve ever visited offered at least one review of an online casino, an internet cardroom, or an offshore sportsbook. Some sites consist of nothing but reviews of these sites.

The problem with most of these sites is that they’re not offering real reviews. These so-called reviews are just thinly-disguised advertisement pages. They’re sales letters, not reviews.

How can you tell the difference? For the most part, you should assume that any review of an online casino is biased toward that casino. That’s the nature of the internet today. The question is HOW biased the review is.

Variety of Online Casino Games, Computer Keyboard

Does the review use a lot of marketing language to describe the casino and its games? If it does, then it’s just an advertising piece, and you should move on.

On the other hand, sites that list the various pros and cons of a site has more integrity. If the negatives on a casino seem serious, then you might be reading one of the most legitimate reviews on the internet.

If you can find an online casino review that uses the first person singular instead of the royal “we,” you might have found a real person with a real opinion writing about a property.

But once a review starts saying stuff like, “We thought the bonuses were amazing,” you’re starting to slip into advertising territory. These are all just rough guidelines to think about.

There’s no perfect way to differentiate legitimate online casino reviews from pure advertising.

7 – Search Box

The best information sites have a means of finding information you want on a site. Often, this is a search box where you can type in a phrase and find the appropriate pages on the site covering that topic.

That’s unusual, though, especially for online gambling information sites. A good solution is for a site to offer a site map. A site map is just an organized list of the pages on that site.

A good website has a good, simple, useful navigation structure, but a site map provides a broader overview of a website’s pages than the navigation usually does.

Conclusion

When it comes to gambling information websites, buyer beware.

Of course, most of these sites don’t offer anything for sale directly from their sites other than advertising. They’re not selling the advertising to their readers, though, they’re selling that advertising to the casinos, poker rooms, and sportsbooks who want to sign up their users.

This tends to color the editorial policy for such sites. The degree to which this happens depends on the integrity of the operator of the information site. I’ve met webmasters in the industry who cared about nothing but getting the most money from the highest bidder.

I’ve also met webmasters who refused to promote any site that didn’t live up to a strict code of ethics.

Use your own best judgment when deciding which gambling information sites to trust, but be aware of what to look for.

7 Steps to Playing Blackjack With Just $10

Blackjack Table, Blackjack Cards, Ten Dollar Bill
Blackjack has the reputation for being an expensive game. This perception is only furthered by $25 minimum bets featured at many land-based casinos.

However, you can actually play blackjack rather cheaply. In fact, you can enjoy this casino classic for as little as $10.

And no, I’m not talking about betting the entire $10 on a single hand. You honestly have the ability to last for a while on this small budget.

But how can you play for the cost of a fast food meal? Here are seven tips that’ll allow you to enjoy blackjack as frugally as possible.

1 – Commit to Playing Online Blackjack

The first thing you must do to enjoy cheap blackjack is focus on online casinos. Online blackjack is by far cheaper than playing at tables in land-based establishments.

Brick and mortar casinos are all about the experience and atmosphere. They feature real tables, human dealers, and cards you can touch. However, these casinos also need to front more costs to make all of this happen. They pay dealers minimum wage and cover high utility costs.

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Land-based venues can’t afford to run $3 blackjack beyond a limited promotion. Instead, they require anywhere from $5 to $25 minimum bets to generate profits from their tables.

Online casinos and software providers also need to cover bills as well. But they don’t have to pay dealers or massive utilities for brick and mortar locations. The providers that online casinos license their software from can thus afford to offer bargain blackjack. The industry standard is a $1 minimum bet.

At this rate, you’ll have 10 units with a $10 bankroll. Assuming you don’t have terrible luck in the beginning, you can last for a decent amount of time with this sum. But you can find even cheaper games in some instances. Certain casinos and software providers offer tables with just a $0.10 minimum wager.

You’ll have 100 units in this instance with only $10. By comparison, you’d need $2,500 to have 100 units on a $25 land-based table. Yet another great thing about online blackjack is that you aren’t forced to bet anything to play. Instead, you can just fire a game up and enjoy free hands.

In most cases, you’ll have to register at the casino before playing for free. But it’s quick and fast.

2 – Look for Games With a Low House Edge

Land-based casinos used to be filled with single-deck games that offered low house edges. This situation began to change, though, when blackjack card counters arrived on the scene in the 1960s.

Cards and Casino Chips on Blackjack Table

Vegas and other major gambling destinations have since changed rules to minimize counters’ edges. Unfortunately, regular players have suffered as a result.

Here are some of the unfavorable blackjack rules that have entered casinos within the last half century:

  • 6:5 natural blackjack payouts — Raises house edge by 1.4% when compared to 3:2 payouts
  • Six or eight decks — Increases house advantage by either 0.48% (six decks) or 0.50% (eight decks), versus single-deck blackjack
  • Dealer hits on a soft 17 — Raises house advantage by 0.20% when compared to the dealer standing in this situation
  • No doubling down after splitting — Increases house edge by 0.13%, versus being able to double down in this scenario

Many land-based casinos today feature some or even all of these rules. Others try to trick players by offering single-deck tables with 6:5 natural payouts, which is still a terrible game.

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Online casinos offer the best way to avoid these unfavorable rules. You’re already ahead of the game by playing online.

However, you can further grind down the house edge by finding the best online blackjack games. The software providers that offer blackjack can differ slightly on rules.

You should always check out the info/rules screen before playing a new game. This section should show the rules for the particular game you’re dealing with.

If you’d like a shortcut towards finding the top online blackjack games, then here’s a small list:

  • Microgaming single-deck blackjack — 0.31% house edge
  • Betsoft single-deck blackjack — 0.35% house edge
  • Playtech single-deck blackjack — 0.38% house edge

Blackjack tables with lower house advantages give you a stronger chance to win. In turn, you’ll have a better opportunity at making your $10 last.

3 – Learn Blackjack Strategy

Finding games with low house edges is great. But you can’t fully take advantage of these situations without the proper strategy.

After all, blackjack is one of the most strategic casino games. Without proper strategy knowledge, you’ll give up ground to the house.

Luckily, blackjack strategy is easier to learn than most people realize. Here are simple steps you can take to master the game:

  1. Google the term “blackjack strategy chart”
  2. Look through Google Images
  3. Choose a chart that best reflects the game you’re playing (e.g. downtown Vegas rules)
  4. Refer to the chart for each decision
  5. Make the appropriate decision based on the chart’s advice

Below is a great example of a standard blackjack strategy chart:

Blackjack Strategy Chart
Eventually, you won’t have to lean on the strategy chart so often. But you should definitely use one early on to help memorize how to properly handle each situation.

Trainers offer another easy way to learn blackjack strategy. You may actually prefer these online programs when considering that they’re more interactive.

A trainer sees you play online blackjack like normal. It points out when you make correct and incorrect strategy decisions along the way.

Unlike some gambling training programs, blackjack trainers don’t cost anything to use. You can easily find free trainers through a basic Google search.

4 – Don’t Play Multiple Hands

Given the low minimum bets in online blackjack, you may be tempted to play multiple hands at once. However, this practice can drain your $10 bankroll much faster.

You don’t have double the chances to win when playing two hands simultaneously. Instead, you have double the chances to lose, given the house edge. You should definitely avoid any multi-hand blackjack variations. These fun novelties are just casino traps in disguise.

Additionally, you want to avoid opening multiple blackjack tables. Online blackjack moves fast enough to the point where you don’t need two or more tables going.

5 – Take Advantage of Blackjack Bonuses and VIP Rewards

Blackjack bonuses and loyalty rewards are overrated by the average gambler. But they still offer enough value to where they can boost your chances of surviving on $10.

Most online casinos automatically enroll you in their VIP program after your first deposit. From here, every blackjack hand that you play will count towards rewards.

Deposit bonuses aren’t automatically given loyalty benefits. Instead, you need to seek out these deals by looking at a casino’s promotions section.

These bonuses are certainly worth finding, because they can offer nice sums of cash. In some cases, you can earn hundreds of dollars through these offers.

The key word here is “earn.” You need to meet terms and conditions in order to withdraw such bonuses. The most crucial of these terms is wagering requirements (a.k.a. rollover). Wagering requirements refer to how much you must bet before cashing out.

Here’s an example:

  • A casino is offering a 100% match blackjack bonus worth up to $100.
  • You deposit $10, thus qualifying for a $10 bonus.
  • Rollover on this offer is 200x.
  • 200 x 10 = $2,000 must be wagered.

Keep in mind that blackjack bonuses carry higher wagering requirements than slots offers. Nevertheless, they’re still worth going after in hopes of boosting your meager $10 bankroll.

6 – Avoid the Temptation to Increase Your Bets

You may start to win some hands and begin building on your original $10. Furthermore, you might be tempted to increase your wagers to take advantage of a hot streak.

But even if your bankroll grows to between $20 and $100, you should still play conservatively. After all, these amounts aren’t exactly going to make you rich.

Hand Reaching to Place Casino Chip on Table

If you do want to up your bets, then you should start small. Assuming you begin with $0.10 wagers, go up to $1. Likewise, you could increase a $1 original starting bet to $2.

The only time you should significantly raise your wagers with a small bankroll is if you don’t care about how long you’ll last. Perhaps you just want to win a lot of money and don’t care about losing in five minutes or less. Outside of this, though, I recommend sticking to low bets.

7 – Don’t Expect to Get Rich

Occasionally, you’ll hear incredible stories of gamblers running up a small sum of money to an exorbitant amount. Archie Karas is the best example of this scenario. The Greek-born gambler once turned $50 into a $40 million fortune.

Of course, the odds of such a run happening to the average person are next to zero. You can always dream, but $10 most likely isn’t going to get you very far.

The best approach is to simply play for entertainment with such a tiny bankroll. As outlined in this post, you should get plenty of enjoyment out of a small amount.

The big thing, though, is to avoid being disappointed if things don’t work out. Even if you have bad luck and quickly lose, then at least you’re only down $10.

Conclusion

Blackjack doesn’t have to be an expensive game. This is especially true if you play at online casinos. Gaming sites and their software providers don’t have massive expenses like land-based casinos do. They can afford to offer more favorable blackjack games as a result.

You can take advantage of both low stakes and small house edges with the online version. Betting $1 per hand on a game with under a 0.5% house advantage gives you a strong chance of lasting.

But you can’t capitalize on the low house advantage without knowing proper strategy. You should find a strategy chart and/or use a trainer to boost your odds of winning.

Sometimes, surviving in gambling is all about avoiding temptations. In blackjack, these temptations come from wanting to increase bets and play multiple hands (online). You especially can’t do either of these things when you’re playing with just $10.

One more thing worth recapping is VIP rewards. You can increase your chances of lasting even more by earning loyalty benefits and deposit bonuses.

Even if you follow everything on this list, you still might end up losing your $10 rather quickly. But these tips give you a much better chance of playing blackjack for cheap and possibly even making profits.

The Coolest Casinos on the Las Vegas Strip to Open in the Last 25 Years

Casinos on the Las Vegas Strip
In 2019, more than 3 million visitors flocked to Las Vegas every single month. All told, the gambling capital of the world had 40 million tourists touch down last year, per the latest data compiled by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA).

And among the masses of gamblers arriving in Nevada from every corner of the globe, the vast majority stayed somewhere on the world-famous “Strip.”

In the 21st century, five glorious monuments to glitz and glamour were added to Sin City’s skyline with the opening of the Wynn, Palazzo, Encore, Aria, and Cosmopolitan.

Over the next few years, gamblers will also see a pair of newcomers join the fray, with Resorts World scheduled to open in 2021, and The Drew slotted for 2022.

The Strip’s status as the world’s undisputed casino capital of the world is clear, but even regular visitors don’t see everything that’s worth seeing. To help make your next trip to the Las Vegas Strip a highlight reel of the area’s best attractions, dining, entertainment, and of course, gambling, check out my personal list of the six coolest Las Vegas casinos to open in the last 25 years.

1 – Aria

One of the most breathtaking sights on the Strip has to be the Aria Resort & Casino, what with its absolutely stunning architectural flourishes.

Aria Las Vegas

Seriously, if you have the opportunity to visit the Aria, the tribute to adventurous design will leave you in awe.

The building has gold-flecked towers in the heart and they lean and undulate like all those folks streaming up and down the Strip in the early morning hours.

They’re called Veer Towers, and while you can’t stay there without signing a residential lease, just walking by down below and gazing up at a building that seems to be waving in the wind gets me every time.

As for the Aria itself, this glass and steel casino resort straight out of futurist flick is the centerpiece attraction of the Aria campus—a mixed-use urban complex spanning nearly 17 million square feet across a 76-acres footprint. It also includes the high-rise luxury hotel Vdara. But, since opening in 2009, Aria has been where the gamblers in the know go to enjoy everything modern Las Vegas has to offer.

Aria encompasses 4 million square feet, with a 600-foot hotel tower holding 4,004 guest rooms, more than a dozen restaurants, and 10 bars/nightclubs.

The accommodations at Aria are AAA 5-Diamond rated, thanks in large part to ultra-chic amenities, like the 215,000-square-foot pool area, 80,000 square-foot salon and spa, massive convention centers, and an 1,800 square-foot theater.

Don’t forget about the gambling though, as Aria’s 150,000 square-foot casino is widely regarded as a unicorn of sorts, combining the hand-catered customer service of an off-Strip joint with luxury and beauty that can only be found on the Strip.

Players here have turned Aria poker into a bona fide brand, with World Poker Tour (WPT) tournaments, the PokerGo studio, and one of the city’s nicest poker rooms.

And if slots and table games are your thing, look for the latest machines, favorable table game odds and limits, and a full-scale sportsbook where bettors sweat their action in style.

2 – Park MGM

Formerly known as the Monte Carlo after opening in 1996, this 360-foot tall hotel tower and 102,000-square-foot casino was rebranded as Park MGM in 2018.

But this wasn’t a matter of simply removing the old Monte Carlo signage and slapping up a new logo, as operator MGM Resorts went all-in on a full renovation and remodel project valued at $500 million. Today, visitors to Park MGM will find a fully-modernized casino resort planned around the idea of an urban nature preserve.

Las Vegas Park MGM Building

Instead of the often claustrophobic feel of the old-school casinos, Park MGM takes its cue from the nearby The Park, an outdoor promenade designed to evoke Central Park West and other urban hotspots. Everything here is open-air and expansive, allowing patrons to stroll down sidewalks while they explore boutiques and bakeries on their way to the blackjack table.

By co-opting the old Monte Carlo’s gaming floor, and outfitting it with the latest table game equipment and machines, Park MGM boasts 1,400 slot installations, 60 table games, and a 15- table poker room.

And when you’re done mixing it up in the pit, why not walk a few minutes to adjacent T-Mobile Arena to watch the Vegas Golden Knights compete on the ice in NHL action?

Park MGM bills itself as the “newest casino on The Strip,” so if you haven’t been in a while, make sure to pay a visit and see this innovative new way of creating a comfortable casino climate in person.

3 – Wynn and Encore

After the rousing success of his self-named casino resort in 2005, mogul Steve Wynn doubled down by opening its twin sister Encore right next door three years later.

Wynn and Encore Las Vegas

Together, the Wynn and Encore pairing form a formidable duo for mega-casino chains like MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment to contend with. Between the Wynn and Encore combined, these two sleek 614-foot hotel towers house 4,750 guest rooms, making the complex the seventh largest hotel venue on the planet.

For folks who appreciate the finer things in life, Wynn and Encore rank among the most decorated casino resorts anywhere in the world. I’m talking AAA 5-Diamond, Mobil 5-Star, Forbes 5-Star, Zagat Survey Top US Hotel, and oh, a Michelin 5-Star rating to boot.

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As a unit, Wynn and Encore have combined to earn more honors than any other casino, bar none.

In case you couldn’t tell by now, the Wynn and Encore have separated themselves from the rest, even outclassing the Strip’s more well-known luxury resorts.

Decadence is the name of the game here, from operatic in-house shows like Le Rêve to the legendary musician Diana Ross, to the mesmerizing Lake of Dreams outside, and even the opulent casino itself.

Between the two sites, Wynn and Encore share 189,000 and 80,000 square feet of gorgeously appointed casino space, respectively.

4 – Bellagio

Trending toward the older side of the spectrum with an opening date of 1998, the Bellagio Hotel & Casino nonetheless holds up when compared to its younger rivals.

Bellagio

The dancing fountains outside are still considered to be a must-see Strip experience, while the interior’s Italian Renaissance décor manages to inspire awe and wonder even after repeat visits. Personally speaking, I’m partial to taking slow walks underneath the Fiori di Como, a 2,000 square-foot handblown glass art exhibit created by world-renowned sculptor Dale Chihuly.

Even after a bad beat in Bellagio’s world-famous poker facility, where legends like Doyle Brunson, Gus Hansen, and Phil Ivey meet daily in Bobby’s Room to play the highest-stakes games in the country, I feel just fine gazing up at that breathtaking rainbow of glass.

5 – Venetian and Palazzo

Another pair of sister casinos, Venetian (1999) and Palazzo (2007) immerse guests in Old World Venice.

This place is practically built for romance, with the Venetian’s famous gondola ride featuring tour guides who serenade you and your paramour as you float down bright blue canal waterways.




Speaking of the canal, don’t forget to stop by the Grand Canal Shoppes to find a full-scale high-end shopping mall tucked neatly within the combined property of the Venetian and Palazzo.

6 – Cosmopolitan

Three years after opening in 2010, the Cosmopolitan casino resort was named “Best Hotel in the World” by Gogobot.

Cosmopolitan Las Vegas

That honor was followed in 2015 when the Condé Nast Traveler magazine’s Gold List included the “Cosmo” as one of its “Top Hotels in the World.”

If you want to see what all the fuss is about at the Cosmopolitan, check out our review of their operation and learn more about its rewards programs, accommodations, restaurants, and stores.

Conclusion

The Strip will always be a true icon of Americana, a testament to this country’s unbridled willingness to put everything on the line. Before the first enterprising casino entrepreneurs realized their vision, imagining a thriving cityscape being built in the harsh Mojave Desert was the ultimate pipe dream.

Today, however, millions of visitors from all corners of the globe save up just to make their annual sojourn to Sin City’s fabulous Las Vegas Boulevard, one of those rare places where the bold still make their fortune.

Why It’s Not the Dealer’s Fault You Lost at Blackjack

Casino Dealer Looking Over Casino Chips, Blackjack Cards Spread
I was talking to someone recently about their trip to the casino. He plays blackjack, and though he isn’t an advantage player, he plays close to perfect strategy and usually plays in games with decent rules.

Over the years, he’s lost money overall, but he has quite a few winning trips. This is pretty much what you expect from a blackjack player playing with decent rules and a basic understanding of strategy.

But every time I talk to him, he goes on and on about the dealers. He talks about dealers being hot and cold, as if they were responsible for his wins and losses.

This belief has no basis in fact. I gave up trying to help him understand why the dealer doesn’t have anything to do with short-term results. He never seems interested in improving; he only wants to complain.

But in hopes of helping others who play blackjack understand why dealers aren’t hot or cold and why the dealer doesn’t have anything to do with your results, I decided to write a page explaining why your loss in the casino isn’t the dealer’s fault.

Probability

The main reason the dealer doesn’t have anything to do with your results is probability. I’m not going to do a deep dive into probability here, but I’m going to show you why your results aren’t the dealer’s fault using simple examples.

When you shuffle a deck of 52 playing cards like the ones used at blackjack tables, each card in the deck has an equal chance of being in every spot in the deck. The ace of clubs has the same chance of being on top of the deck as it has of being sixth from the top or on the bottom of the deck.

This doesn’t really change as you add more decks.

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The odds or chances of a particular card being anywhere in the shoe are the same as every other card. This means the dealer doesn’t have anything to do with the distribution of cards.

Your chances to win are the same no matter who deals the cards. Let’s say you’re playing a blackjack game with an eight-deck shoe and the dealer is changed 25% through the shoe. You lose the next hand. How can the dealer have any influence on this outcome?

The exact same cards are in the shoe in the exact same spots, so the dealer doesn’t influence the outcome in any way. This is the same faulty logic that players use when they complain about the third base player taking the dealer’s bust card.

Sometimes, blackjack players grumble when the last player to act takes another card, and it’s a card that would’ve made the dealer bust. Probability shows that the card the player draws has an equal chance of being any of the 13 ranks, just like the next card has an equal probability.

These same players seem to ignore the times when the third base player draws a card and the dealer busts on the next card. They should be tipping the third base player when this happens if they truly believe that he or she can influence the possibility of busting the dealer.

Beyond Probability

If you take this a step beyond probability, let me explain why the dealer has nothing to do with your results based on something else. Casinos are money- and profit-producing machines. The big casinos have profit down to a science. They know how much they expect to make from every square foot of gambling space and from each blackjack game.

The casinos also track just about everything you can imagine. They track the profitability of their games by dealer. When a dealer consistently produces results outside of the expected results, the casinos take action.

Blackjack Dealer Standing by Blackjack Table

If a blackjack game isn’t showing the correct profit percentage, the casino starts by looking at the players. They see if they can identify card counters that might be hurting their profit. Then, they look at the dealer to see if they’re doing something to negatively influence the game. If a dealer is hurting the profit, the casino quickly finds something else for the dealer to do or fires them.

While this is a little bit of a long-winded way to get to the point, the fact is that if there was such a thing as hot and cold dealers, the casino would always have cold dealers at their tables. This is a simple business and profit decision, and profit is what drives every single decision the casinos make.

Just an Excuse

This might be difficult to read for some blackjack players, but when you blame anyone other than yourself for your results, it’s just an excuse. The truth is that you have a great deal of control over your results at the blackjack tables.

You have the choice of whether you learn about good and bad rules and which tables you play at. You have a choice whether or not to use the best possible strategy to lower the house edge. You have the choice whether or not to learn how to count cards to gain an edge over the casino.

The easy way out is to blame the dealer for your results. But one thing you need to understand is that, until you stop making excuses for your blackjack results and take responsibility to improve, your results aren’t going to change.

Stop making excuses and start changing your results. Learn how to find blackjack tables with good rules and learn how to use blackjack strategy. Once you learn these two things, look into counting cards in blackjack. It’s not easy, but it does work.

A Few Possible Exceptions

You’re not going to run into these exceptions in a casino often, but I felt the need to include them here so you can watch for them. The two times when a blackjack dealer can alter your chance of winning are when they’re cheating and when they flash the value of face down cards.

The first possible exception, cheating, is rare, and if the dealer is particularly good at it, you might never catch them. In a game dealt from a shoe, a dealer can rarely cheat. But in a handheld game, a skilled card mechanic can deal from the bottom of the deck.

When a dealer has a poor dealing technique, they can occasionally flash the value of a face down card. If you see the value of the dealer’s face down card, it can help you make better playing decisions and decrease the casino house edge.

The only way to have a chance to see hole cards is to pay attention. Watch the cards as the dealer passes them out.

Entrance to Casino, Casino Neon Sign

Both of these situations are rare, but you still need to be aware of them and watch for them every time you play. You’re much more likely to be cheated when you play outside of a casino, because casinos don’t need to cheat to make profit.

The easiest way for the house to cheat is to use a loaded shoe. This is a shoe that’s stacked in a particular way to increase the house edge. While this isn’t a page about how to cheat, I want to show you how easy this is.

A normal distribution of a shoe has an equal number of ranked cards throughout the shoe. This means that on average, in every 52-card slug of the shoe, there are four aces, four kings, etc. This creates a house edge based on the rules the house uses.

The fact is that aces and high cards are favorable for the player and low cards are favorable for the dealer. If the house normally deals 75% of a shoe before shuffling, they can increase their edge by simply placing a higher percentage than normal of aces and high cards in the 25% of the shoe that doesn’t get dealt.

You can learn more about the effects of card removal in the book Beat the Dealer by Edward Thorp.

The best way to avoid being cheated this way is to closely watch the cards being shuffled and placed into the shoe. Make sure the shoe never leaves your sight. This isn’t the only way to cheat, so you always have to watch what’s going on.

Conclusion

If you want to blame the dealer for your blackjack results it’s okay. But this doesn’t improve your chances to win. Based on the mathematical facts of probability, the dealer doesn’t have anything to do with your results. The sooner you accept this and start using probability to your advantage, the sooner you can start seeing improved blackjack results.

Who, Why, and How Much to Tip When Visiting Las Vegas

Tip Money Jar, Welcome to Las Vegas Neon Sign
Whether you’re crushing the house or losing your shirt, every trip to Las Vegas becomes an exercise in money management. If you come to the world’s casino gambling capital regularly, you’ll no doubt experience both sides of the coin. Some trips will flow smoothly, and others feel like you’ve fallen off of a cliff.

But along with gambling, daily expenses like rideshare fares, dining out, and enjoying amenities away from the casino floor can also add up in a hurry for Las Vegas visitors. And all too often, an avalanche of unexpected spending can cause even the most generous gambler to consider tipping to be a bridge too far.

I’m here to tell you that tipping should be standard when you visit Sin City. As the ultimate service industry locale, Las Vegas is home to an army of low-paid workers who put food on the table by earning tips.

It’s the same situation for all the service workers you’ll encounter during a trip to Las Vegas, so don’t be stingy by skipping out on tips. Even the minimum threshold of $1 is enough to turn an encounter with a guest from a sunk cost into a small profit, so tipping should be considered par for the course when you’re enjoying a casino resort’s many offerings.

With that in mind, I’d like to offer up my own personal guide to who, why, and how much you should tip various casino employees when you come to Las Vegas.

Table Game Dealers

First things first, you can’t place a bet on any of the following games without a dealer to supervise the game:

Well, you technically can by using modern automated machines. But those are an affront to Las Vegas gambling as it was meant to be, a social experience defined by banter with the dealer.

A good dealer can act like a salve during a losing session, making bad beats smart just a bit less thanks to their conversation and demeanor. These guys and gals have seen it all, so striking up a conversation with an experienced Las Vegas casino dealer can often provide a wealth of entertainment in the form of storytelling and small talk.

And even if you prefer to stay silent on your gambling grind, a quality dealer is essential to enjoying the overall experience.

When your blackjack dealer doesn’t waste time in between hands, you’ll be able to put more hands in the books per hour, thereby realizing your equity as a basic strategy player.

Roulette dealers who know how to make session feel more streamlined and pleasant. Same goes for the stickmen and box men working a craps table, where it takes a highly coordinated team effort to control the chaotic gameplay.

Dealers Want You to Win

A dealer doesn’t benefit from their players losing. Those losses head straight into the coffers of the casino’s corporate overlord, all while the dealer is toiling away for a low wage.

The average Las Vegas table game dealer wants nothing more than their players to win big. Winners typically tip much more, and much more often, than their counterparts who can’t seem to beat the game.

Common practice for longtime gamblers who know the score is to set aside a firm amount with which to tip the dealer after any session on the tables.

Casino Dealer Standing by Table Game

Let’s say you have $100 ready to roll as you hit the blackjack table. In this case, I’d recommend sliding a single $5 chip off to the side before you start betting. If things go well and you’re continually scooping up more chips, feel free to add to your “tip jar” in $5 increments. When you’re all finished and ready to cash out after a nice night, you might have $15 or $20 off to the side waiting to be delivered the dealer’s way.

And when things go south and that initial stake is swept up by the house, you’ll still have that $5 chip on hand to toss the dealer’s direction.

Additionally, many Las Vegas casino dealers prefer their players to tip in the form of a wager. This is a gamble on their part, as they might wind up with nothing to show for their hard work, but putting a bet down in the dealer’s name is always a welcome alternative to not tipping.

On a final note, always remember to tip your dealer should their shift end before you’re done playing. Then, when a new dealer arrives to take their place, you can repeat the process described above to ensure they’ll have a tip waiting at the end of their own shift.

Poker Dealers

The poker room is its own little world separate from the casino floor, so it’s not surprising to learn that tipping here works a little differently.

In the average Las Vegas cash poker game, players tend to slide the dealer a $1 chip after every hand won. You might be playing $1/$3 limit Texas Hold’em, or a bigger $2/$5 Pot Limit Omaha table, but when the hand is over, you’ll almost always see the winner “toke” the dealer with a dollar or two.

I try to base my poker tipping on the size of the pot, so any win of $100 or less will earn the dealer $1, while a $100 to $200 pot is good for $2 and so on up the ladder.

Of course, tipping the dealer when you play poker isn’t mandatory by any means, so you can feel free to use discretion in this regard. If they’re slow, mistake-prone, or rude, there’s no shame in dragging the pot while keeping every last chip for yourself.

With that said, most poker dealers do their jobs well, so don’t be afraid to “splash the pot” with a chip or two for the people who make the game happen.

Cocktail Servers

This one’s the easiest of all, so I’ll keep it quick… ALWAYS tip your cocktail server. These workers are among the busiest in any casino, constantly walking from the bar area to the casino floor, and back again, to make sure players always have a drink in hand.

Remember, these drinks will be complimentary, so you won’t be spending a penny for your Jack and Coke or pint of Bud Light. Scoring a drink completely free of charge is one of those special perks that makes gambling in Las Vegas so special, so it’s imperative to pay it forward by tipping your server at least $1 for every drink delivered.

Retail Outlet Cashiers

A trickier subject to tackle concerns tipping retail cashiers and other workers who run the casino’s non-gambling amenities.

You’d be surprised to see how many people who would ordinarily toss their Starbucks barista the change simply skip this step when staying in a casino resort.

Casino Gift Shop Merchandise

Whether it’s the gift shop where you grab a tacky T-shirt, the deli where you pick up a quick bite for breakfast, or higher end establishments specializing in electronics and what have you, these employees deserve to be tipped just like anybody else.

When in doubt, simply saying “keep the change” after you pay is a great policy in this regard.

Housekeepers

There’s a special place in hell for folks who forget to tip their housekeepers and maids.

Well, that may be going a little too far, but I feel extremely passionate about this aspect of the hospitality industry, especially when it comes to resorts in Las Vegas . Housekeepers are often viewed as a nuisance, especially when they knock in the early morning hours, but their services are essential to your casino resort experience.

Coming back to your freshly made up room after a long day spent enjoying Las Vegas is quite the treat, one only made possible by diligent housekeepers who clean, organize, and spruce things up on a daily basis.

If you plan to have the housekeeper tend to your room every morning while you’re gambling, just leave a little envelope and a $5 bill to show your appreciation.

And if you won’t be using the service until after you’ve checked out, multiply $5 by the number of nights stayed to leave a collective tip for the staff.

Porters, Bellmen, and Valet Drivers

The first employees you’ll encounter when you get to a Las Vegas casino resort are the valet drivers who will park your car, and the porters and bellmen tasked with bringing your luggage.

Valet Driver Walking Around Parking Lot

In each case, these workers brave 100+ degree heat nearly year-round, all while performing a vital service for guests.

You don’t have to use either service, of course, but when you do, be sure to slide at least $5 in their palm to show your appreciation.

Conclusion

Tipping in Las Vegas can often feel like a sucker punch, simply because the odds dictate that you’ll likely lose money gambling along the way. I completely understand that sense of frustration, but you should always remember this maxim: The employees don’t earn a dime from your losing wagers.

These men and women are the lifeblood of Las Vegas’ casino gambling and hospitality industry, so they should be tipped accordingly as you can afford. And hey, tipping generously is always a great way to earn a little good luck going forward.

The Best Off-Strip Casinos to Play Loose Slots in Las Vegas

Casino Loose Slots Neon Sign
For slot machine enthusiasts, there’s no place on Earth quite like fabulous Las Vegas. Most of the 40 million tourists who flock there each and every year stay on the Strip, where corporate operators like MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment run mega-casino resorts.

But during its heyday, all the action was confined to Downtown Las Vegas, where iconic casinos like the El Cortez and Golden Gate lined fabulous Fremont Street. Over time, Las Vegas’ outlying areas—including the suburbs of Summerlin and Henderson, the “Boulder Strip,” and North Las Vegas—attracted mid-market operators like Station Casinos and Boyd Gaming.

If slots are your game of choice, ditching the Strip is best. This page presents the seven best off-Strip casinos in Las Vegas for slot players based on the venue’s average payback percentage.

A Quick Look at Las Vegas Slot Payback Percentages

According to the latest Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) survey of Las Vegas casino operators and their respective slot machine payback percentages, which are commonly referred to as return to player (RTP) rates, the Strip is home to the “tightest” slots in town.

Las Vegas Slot Machine Payback Percentage Rates (by Region)

Region Average Payback
The Strip 91.47%
Downtown 92.67%
Boulder Strip 94.34%
North Las Vegas 93.53%

The NGCB also provides data on regional slot machine payback averages broken down by the player’s preferred coin denomination.

Las Vegas Slot Machine Payback Percentage Rates (by Coin Denomination and Region)

1¢ Slot Machines

Region Average Payback
The Strip 88.38%
Downtown 89.15%
Boulder Strip 90.38%
North Las Vegas 90.88%

5¢ Slot Machines

Region Average Payback
The Strip 91.64%
Downtown 93.40%
North Las Vegas 95.29%
Boulder Strip 96.21%

25¢ Slot Machines

Region Average Payback
The Strip 89.35%
Downtown 94.25%
North Las Vegas 96.41%
Boulder Strip 96.13%

$1 Slot Machines

Region Average Payback
The Strip 92.43%
Downtown 94.63%
North Las Vegas 95.39%
Boulder Strip 96.13%

$1 Megabucks Machines

Region Average Payback
The Strip 87.83%
North Las Vegas 88.52%
Downtown 89.07%
Boulder Strip 91.35%

As you can see, the data reveals the Strip to be the worst place in Las Vegas to find “loose” slots, or machines which offer a higher than average payback percentage.

If you don’t mind ditching the fountain shows and $14 cocktails behind for a better bargain, taking your slot machine bankroll to an off-Strip casino offers the best bang for your gambling buck. Keep reading for the seven best off-Strip casinos to play loose slots in Las Vegas.

1 – Palms Casino Resort

The best slot machine selection in Las Vegas can be found at the Palms Casino Resort, home to more than 1,500 machines which combine for an average payback rate of 93.42%.

Given the 91.47% and 92.67% payback rates found on the Strip and Downtown, respectively, spinning slots at the Palms immediately provides an improvement of over 1% over the long run.

And fortunately for the folks who still like hitting the Strip for shopping or a show, the Palms is located just minutes from all the action.

Just head to Caesars Palace and turn westbound onto Flamingo Road, cross over the Interstate 15 bridge, and drive for another minute or so before looking to your left for the ultra-modern Palms tower.

You can’t miss it either, what with a recent remodeling project by new owner Station Casinos giving rise to a “floor to roof” video panel that advertises all of the Palms’ latest entertainment offerings in style.

Locals love the Palms for combining the look and feel of casinos on the Strip with perks like 3:2 blackjack, single-zero roulette, and of course, the loosest slots in Las Vegas.

You’ll find all of the greatest slots here too, including Megabucks and its $10 million starting progressive jackpot award, Wheel of Fortune with its unique prize wheel waiting up top, and every major new release from designers like Aristocrat, Scientific Games, and International Game Technology (IGT).

2 – Gold Coast Hotel and Casino

If the loud music and pool parties that make the Palms so attractive for younger gamblers just aren’t your thing, don’t fret, because the nearby Gold Coast boasts a completely different vibe.

Located directly across Flamingo from the Palms, Gold Coast is a classic “old school” off-Strip casino. The same staff members have worked here for decades, so they know their regulars by name and treat them like royalty.

The odds are always the best available on table games and video poker, and the slot machine menu running 1,900+ machines strong sports a 92.84% average payback rate.

One of the iconic venues operated by Boyd Gaming, the Gold Coast supplements its casino with a massive bowling alley upstairs, and comfort food like Subway and TGI Fridays.

Gold Coast Las Vegas Casino

While the amenities lean towards the quaint and casual side, the Gold Coast offers one of the more modern slot machine menus in Las Vegas. Using the website’s convenient slot search tool, you can easily pull up complete listings for either reel-based or video slots that can be further sorted by coin denomination.

The reel-based lineup includes staples like 88 Fortunes, Blazing 7’s Progressive, Double Diamond, Megabucks, and Super Times Pay.

And over in the video slot section, you’ll find popular titles like 50 Dragons, Aztec Temple, Buffalo, Geisha, Mr. Cashman, Sex and the City, and White Orchid.

When you use the search tool, don’t forget to click the little “MAP” tab to the right of every game’s entry. This will pull up a color-coded map of the Gold Coast showing the section where your favorite slot machine games can be located.

3 – Ellis Island Hotel, Casino, and Brewery

You’ll only find a couple hundred slot machine installations at the independently owned Ellis Island Hotel, Casino and Brewery, but it’s the last part there that makes this place something special.

Well, all the cold suds you can drink and a 92.56% average slot payback rate, that is…

Located on Koval Lane, just east of Las Vegas Boulevard on Flamingo, Ellis Island is a tiny brewery and restaurant that happens to offer casino-style gaming in limited form.

The bulk of Ellis Island’s selection is devoted to slots and other machines, but you’ll also find a few blackjack, craps, and roulette tables, too.

It’s the slots that bring sharp spinners here though, as the overall payback percentage is better than any of the glitzier and more glamorous casinos towering overhead on the Strip. And whether you win or lose, you can always tip back a brew or two straight from the source.

4 – El Cortez Hotel and Casino

If you appreciate a sense of history to go along with your gambling, paying a pilgrimage to El Cortez downtown is a true “bucket list” item on the agenda.

After first opening its doors in 1941, El Cortez hasn’t closed them for 77 years and counting, making it the longest continuously operating casino in Las Vegas.

El Cortez Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas

The joint was owned by legendary mobsters Bugsy Siegel, Meyer Lansky, Gus Greenbaum, and Moe Sedway in the early days, and with its exterior signage unchanged all this time, El Cortez is home to an unmistakable air of nostalgia writ large.

Fittingly, you can find over 200 coin-operated three-reel slots that still use nickels and quarters to grease the reels. That lineup is supplemented by hundreds of modern video slots as well, a combination providing the best of both worlds for players. And so does the 92.56% average payback rate, which makes El Cortez the loosest slot parlor found along famous Fremont Street.

5 – The Orleans Hotel and Casino

Another member of the Boyd Gaming family, the Orleans Hotel & Casino is like a slightly more hip, Mardi Gras-themed version of the Gold Coast.

To get there, take Tropicana Avenue westbound from the Strip, then hook a right on Arville Street. When you do, you’ll see the standard, mid-size off-Strip casino design, along with an attached arena where concerts, rodeos, and other events are held regularly.

In the casino, hundreds of slot machines ranging from traditional to modern will be running to the tune of 92.56% payback.

6 – Fiesta Rancho Hotel and Casino

The wilds of North Las Vegas are home to the best penny slot machines in Sin City at an average payback rate of 90.88%.

And of all the North Las Vegas casinos to choose from, the best of the bunch is Fiesta Rancho, which combines class-leading penny slots with higher denominations for a 92.53% overall payback average.

Getting here is a bit of a trek. Take the I-15 North to Highway 95, head west, then hit the 95 northbound for a while. But trust us, this Station Casino property is worth the extra mile.

Per the Las Vegas Review-Journal annual rankings, Fiesta Rancho regularly earns the “Best-Paying Slots” and “Best Slot Club” awards as judged by local players.

7 – Arizona Charlie’s (Decatur and Boulder)

The two Arizona Charlie’s casino locations in Las Vegas can be found on Decatur Boulevard and Boulder Highway.

Arizona Charlie's Casino in Las Vegas

Both offer a generous 92.50% payback rate on average for slot players, along with a long lineup of new games, including the exciting titles found below:

  • $1 Wheel of Fortune
  • Bally Quick Hits
  • Buffalo Legends
  • Buffalo Golds
  • Buffalo Grands
  • Dollar Mega Bucks
  • Downton Abbey
  • Elvira
  • Good Fortune
  • Konami Selexion
  • Lightning Link
  • Lock It Link
  • New Generation Megabucks
  • Space Invaders
  • Wacky Races
  • Walking Dead II
  • World of Wonka

Conclusion

Venturing away from Las Vegas Boulevard to score improved odds has been a time-honored tradition among savvy gamblers for decades now. Forced to compete with their corporate counterparts on the Strip just to survive, off-Strip gambling halls like the seven listed above do everything in their power to attract customers.

That means selecting slot machines that offer generous payback percentages across the board, while still providing the best in modern slot game design.

How Atlantic City Is Different From Las Vegas

Atlantic City Casinos, Las Vegas Strip Casinos
Situated in New Jersey, Atlantic City is part of one of the original 13 states in the Union. That’s only the beginning of the two cities’ many distinctions.

It’s unfair to compare two cities and say one is better than the other. Residents of the supposed better city may not appreciate unrealistic expectations and residents of the supposed worse city may feel slighted.

It’s also about perspective. All the shark tanks in Nevada won’t give you an oceanside resort experience the way Atlantic City can.

I’ll look at some of the negative experiences for both cities below but both cities have their strengths. And both cities have interesting unique histories.

1 – New Jersey Is Nothing Like Nevada

The most obvious difference everyone mentions when comparing these two cities is the environment. Nevada is mostly desert and New Jersey sits on the north Atlantic coast. One environment is wet and the other is dry.

But there are other differences.

New Jersey is not surrounded by other states the way Nevada is. In fact, New Jersey sits off a major route (Interstate 95) whereas Nevada is the nexus of major routes. In the east most travelers bypass New Jersey but in the west a lot of people must pass through Nevada.

New Jersey covers a fraction of the area that Nevada does but New Jersey has more than twice as many people as Nevada. On the other hand Las Vegas has more than 16 times as many people as Atlantic City.

Although tourism is important to Atlantic City it’s not the state’s main industry. Nevada, on the other hand, thrives on tourism and more specifically, the casinos in Las Vegas are widely recognized by many. Ironically Atlantic City was established for tourism but Las Vegas was established for other reasons.

Two states could not be more dissimilar than New Jersey and Nevada. And yet both states are famous for being gambling or tourist destinations.

2 – Atlantic City Has Only 9 Casinos

Gamblers can easily find dozens of casinos in the northeastern United States but there are only 10 casinos left in Atlantic City. There were never very many to begin with but some spectacular failures have left Atlantic City’s gambling and tourism industries in decline.

Las Vegas has nearly 30 casinos within its city limits and there are dozens more in nearby cities.

3 – Most “Las Vegas Casinos” are in Paradise

Travelers don’t care but most of them don’t realize that Paradise is a separate city from Las Vegas. The two cities abut each other.

Aerial View of Las Vegas Strip, Las Vegas Casinos

Paradise is the smaller city by population but it’s still several times larger than Atlantic City. And unlike Las Vegas Atlantic City doesn’t have a close gambling neighbor city.

If there is a gambler’s paradise it is almost certainly Paradise, NV.

4 – Atlantic City Has Reinvented Itself Several Times

Las Vegas’ history is full of changes but the city has thrived because it was built in an important location. The name is Spanish for “the meadows” and several attempts were made to establish a community in the area during the 1800s.

Once Las Vegas was fully established the city grew steadily over time. It helped a great deal when the government built Hoover Dam and created Lake Mead.

By contrast Atlantic City was built on old farmland and originally envisioned as a health resort. But the town languished for many years. A rail line running east from Philadelphia helped Atlantic City establish itself as a tourist destination but the great storms of the Atlantic Ocean wreaked havoc with the Boardwalk.

And unfortunately for Atlantic City the entertainment industry never recovered after the First World War.

Americans who once flocked to the east coast turned their sights inland. Many headed west or sought escape in New York and Philadelphia’s night clubs. Even Prohibition didn’t bring tourists back to the Boardwalk.

Las Vegas was luckier. When the U.S. government chose southeast Nevada to build Hoover dam thousands of workers descended upon Las Vegas. Although the government decided to construct a small city closer to the dam site it would be several years before Boulder City was in full operation. Las Vegas benefited from the influx.

Atlantic City struggled economically for several decades until the 1970s. When it became apparent that real money gambling would spread across the nation via Native American reservations Atlantic City residents lobbied for their own gambling industry.

The casinos helped the center enter a new era of development but they were unable to create a Mecca-like reputation for New Jersey the way casinos had for Nevada. When the Great Recession hit the gambling industry was hit hard across the country and Atlantic City went into decline again.

In recent years Atlantic City has sought to attract new industries, investing in a massive healthcare complex. If people won’t flock to the city for fun maybe they will come for their health.

5 – Both Cities Provide Access to Other Entertainment

Las Vegas is located close to the Grand Canyon. Tourists enjoy many different types of daytrips outside the Las Vegas-Paradise metro area. The desert itself attracts many visitors.

Two Dolphins Jumping Into Ocean

Because Atlantic City sits on an island off the Jersey coast it has easy access to the sea. Visitors can rent charter boats and board cruise ships. Dolphin watching is popular among visitors to Atlantic.

Las Vegas may have one advantage over Atlantic City and that is the weather. Atlantic City tourism is a summer industry because the oceanfront is very cold during the winter. Las Vegas also experiences a peak season in the summer but people visit there all year round.

6 – Atlantic City Struggles with a Negative Visitor Perception

It may not be an entirely unearned negative reputation. Any city that loses a significant portion of its economy loses tax revenue. That means maintenance and urban improvement suffer. Atlantic City has worked hard to overcome these setbacks.

Even so some tourists complain that Atlantic City looks dirtier and more rundown than Las Vegas. Eastern cities in general have struggled with a stereotype that paints them as slum-laden, crime-infested reputation. The movies play up to that stereotype.

Maybe the reason why Atlantic City is viewed more negatively is that you’re most likely to hear complaints about Las Vegas from its residents, whereas Atlantic City is usually rated poorly by visitors. Two different perspectives are responsible for the reputations of these cities.

But Las Vegas residents often talk about alternatives to spending time on the Strip.

It’s easier to get somewhere in Nevada because you can go in any direction from Vegas. Atlantic City residents can spend time on the water but to go very far they must first drive east to Philadelphia.

They’re just two very different cities. Some tourists compare Atlantic City to Vegas without looking at the other things people can do in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Vegas residents take the gambling for granted and Atlantic City visitors don’t look beyond the city limits for what else is nearby.

There is clearly more money available to the Las Vegas economy and that inflow of capital gives the community and advantage in development and services.

7 – Both Cities Have Histories of Mob Activity

Las Vegas celebrates its history with organized crime. Atlantic City is not quite so proud of what went down before.

You may not realize this, but Atlantic City is where America’s first national crime syndicate was formed. Gang leaders from across the country convened for four days in May 1929 to settle their differences and work out the rules for how they would run the country’s illegal businesses.

Vintage Photo of Mob Gangsters

Prohibition was coming to an end and the gangs would soon be put out of the beer business by licensed breweries. They realized they needed to change their business models, and they were tired of fighting with each other.

Of course anyone who has studied crime history knows that some of the mob began investing in gambling operations and eventually a lot of that money poured into Las Vegas.

What may be of greater interest to crime historians is that Atlantic City’s casinos were never owned by the mob. Las Vegas was infamous for its mob-casino connections until Howard Hughes arrived in the 1960s and began buying up real estate.

Gambling is now big business in both cities and it’s held accountable by publicly traded corporations operating within the law.

Conclusion

Atlantic City and Las Vegas may not be official sister cities but they could be. They share similar economic and historical patterns. And like it or not they are connected through their historical connections with organized crime.

Las Vegas may have won the casino wars but Atlantic City will always have a place in the annals of gambling history. And hopefully it will have a bright, interesting future in whatever