How Super Bowl Betting Works

Vince Lombardi Super Bowl Trophy With Sportsbook Background

A few years ago, my favorite elderly aunt called me to ask me how betting on the Super Bowl works with an online sportsbook.

She’d gone to the betting site expecting to place a bet and only have to pay if she lost.

In other words, she was surprised that she had to make a deposit before being allowed to make a bet.

That seems naïve, but if you’re new to betting on sports – especially online – it’s an easy, understandable mistake to make.

For people who don’t already understand it, here’s how Super Bowl betting works:

A Bet on the Super Bowl Is Just a Bet on a Pro Football Game – You’re Usually Spread Betting

If you’re placing a bet on the Super Bowl, you’re just placing a bet on another pro football game. This doesn’t mean there aren’t differences. After all, the Super Bowl is the biggest pro game of the year.

It’s important to understand the basics of how a football bet works before you can bet on the Super Bowl.

Most people who bet on football “bet the spread.” This accounts for which team is the favorite and by how many points.

When you look at the list of possible bets available for the Super Bowl, you’ll see both teams’ names. One of those teams will have a negative number listed next to it. That team is the favorite.

If you bet on the favorite, you’ll subtract the number they’re favored by (the spread) before determining who won, at least for purposes of winning your bet.

If the Dallas Cowboys are a 1- point favorite over the Redskins, the listing will look like this:

Dallas Cowboys (-1) vs. Washington Redskins

If the Cowboys win 14 – 7, you’ll win your bet, because 14-1 is 13, which still wins against a point total of 7.

But if the Cowboys win 14 – 13, you have a tie when accounting for the spread. In that case, the result is a push, and you get no winnings.

And if the Redskins score more than the Cowboys, obviously, a bet on the Cowboys would lose.

The Over/Under Bet in the Super Bowl

The bet listing won’t just include the information above. There’s an additional piece of information following the game listing. It’s the over/under.

So, the listing would actually look like this:

Dallas Cowboys (-1) vs. Washington Redskins, O/U 55

The “55” in that example is the number of points that both teams are expected to score in aggregate.

You can bet that the total will be more than 55 by taking the over.

Or you can bet that the total will be less than 55 by taking the under.

And if the total is exactly 55, you’re in another push situation.

If the final score of the game has the Cowboys winning 28 to 7, the total score was 35 (28+7). A bet on the over would win, and a bet on the under would lose.

Over/under bets are also often called totals.

How the Vig Works When Placing a Super Bowl Bet

Most sportsbooks require you to risk $110 to win $100. They’ll usually list this as -110.

Some books require you to risk $120 to win $100, and others offer a lower vig and only charge $105 to win $100.

Since the point spread is supposed to give you a 50% probability of winning, it’s easy to see how the book makes a profit.

If half the bettors wager on one side, and the other half wagers on the other, the book uses the losers’ bets to pay off the winners.

NFL Redskin Player Getting Hyped

They get to keep the extra, though. They’re paying off $100 bets with the other side’s $110 bets.

The vig is comparable to the house edge in a casino game or the rake in a poker game. It’s how the business handling the gambling action makes its profit.

If you can find an individual to bet with who’ll do straight-up bets, you can avoid the vig entirely.

Also, don’t think you’re required to wager in increments of $110 just because that’s how it’s listed. It just represents the ratio.

You could bet $55 to win $50 and have the same ratio.

Live Betting During the Super Bowl

When you place a bet on a game that’s in progress, you’re “live betting.” The Super Bowl offers some of the best live betting action in sports. As the game progresses, the odds change, which means that the spreads and the totals get updated as the game goes on.

You can make all kinds of prop bets during live betting. A prop bet is a bet on a proposition, like who’s going to score next or what the next play is going to be.

Most of the time, you’ll track the live betting opportunities via a sportsbook app on your mobile phone.

Most sportsbooks also make new bets available at halftime, so you’ll have a whole new set of options to choose from while you’re grabbing some nachos and a beer.

You can bet on who’s going to win the 2nd half, for example, or you can bet on who’s going to score first.

More Super Bowl Prop Bets

I mentioned prop bets already, but those aren’t just available during live betting. You can place prop bets before the game, too.

A prop bet can literally be a bet on anything. Some books make 100+ different props available, too.

You could, for example, bet on something that might happen during the broadcast on television. You could bet on what’s going to happened during the halftime show.

A common available bet relates to how long the national anthem will go. You can often also bet on whether the singer will forget a word during the song.

You can probably find at least 10 different prop bets related to the national anthem during the Super Bowl.

How Can You Increase Your Probability of Winning Your Super Bowl Bets?

The first thing you can do to improve your odds of winning your Super Bowl bets is to stick with the basic bets and skip the prop bets. The odds are always lousy on the prop bets.

This means betting on the money line and betting on the over/under.

Some people might wonder if you can get an edge by looking at historic results and seeing whether the underdog or the favorite wins more often.

This won’t help.

NFL 49er Diving With the Ball

For one thing, the nature of pro football has changed over the last 5 decades. Those early results are skewed by the changes in the game.

For another thing, the winners are close to evenly split. About half the time, the underdog wins, and the other half of the time, the favorite wins.

You can find a historical recap of previous Super Bowls on ESPN.

You might think you could get some guidance related to the over/under by looking at historical results there, but again, you’ll find that the over wins about half the time and the under wins about half the time.

In fact, trying to predict what’s going to happen based on what’s happened historically is a fool’s errand anyway. It has no predictive value.

Super Bowl Futures

I want to point out one other way to bet on the Super Bowl, and you can place this kind of bet even before the 2 teams are known.

Super Bowl futures.

A future is a proposition bet on something far in the future. You can literally bet on which team will win the Super Bowl before the season even gets started.

The odds for these kinds of bets are different, because the odds of winning are much lower.

I looked today, and here are some examples of the odds that are set for Super Bowl futures bets right now:

  • Kansas City Chiefs 9/2
  • Baltimore Ravens 7/1
  • San Francisco 49ers 8/1
  • New Orleans Saints 12/1
  • New York Giants 80/1
  • New York Jets 100/1
  • Washington Redskins 200/1

These are ratios that indicate how much you’ll win if you place one of these bets.

For example, if you bet $200 on the Kansas City Chiefs today, and the Chiefs win the Super Bowl, you’ll win $900.

If you bet $100 on the Redskins to win the Super Bowl, you’ll win $20,000.

As you can see, every team is a longshot at this point, because you never know how the season’s going to play out.

But some teams have a much longer shot than others.

Conclusion

That’s how Super Bowl betting works.

It’s not much different from betting on any other kind of NFL game, although the futures and multiple available prop bets add some spice to Super Bowl betting that isn’t really there when just betting on games during the NFL season.

Is Tablet Gambling Dying?

Man in a Suit Playing on a Tablet With a Slots Theme Overlay

Tablets have been available since 2001. They stand out from smartphones due to their larger screen, and they boast more portability than computers.

That said, many people enjoy playing online casino games and poker through a tablet. They appreciate the relatively large screen and user-friendly interface.

However, tablet sales have dropped in recent years. As a result, fewer people are gambling through these devices today.

Does this mean that tablet gambling is dying a slow death? I’ll discuss this matter by covering recent tablet sales along with the pros and cons of using these devices.

Tablet Sales Have Fallen

Tablets have never been quite as popular as smartphones in terms of sales. However, they experienced a boom after Apple began making upgrades to iPads in the late 2000s and early 2010s.

In 2014, tablet sales peaked when 230 million total units were sold around the world. Ever since then, though, tablet sales have dropped.

Last year, tablet makers shipped a collective 144.1 million devices throughout the world. This figure is down by 16.9% compared to the 173.8 million tablets sold in 2018.

Tablets hit record sales in 2014. Considering the slow decline ever since, they’ll probably never reach this level of popularity again.

Meanwhile, smartphones continue seeing a steady rise in annual sales. 1.556 billion smartphones shipped throughout the world in 2019.

This figure amounts to a 1.3% increase from the 1.536 billion phones that were sold in 2018. Smartphones and tablets are going in different directions regarding sales.

Of course, tablets aren’t exactly dropping off the face of the earth. But numbers reveal that they’re undoubtedly less-popular gambling devices than there were 5-6 years ago.

Service Providers Continue Pushing Tablets

Tablets aren’t flying off the shelves like they once did. But service providers still push these devices and with mobile plans.

I recently purchased an iPhone at a Verizon store. The clerk convinced me to add an iPad to my plan for just $10 more per month.

As long as this scenario continues, tablets won’t exit the gambling world anytime soon. They still remain popular with a large number of people.

Pros of Tablet Gambling

Tablets hold certain advantages over smartphones and laptops when it comes to gaming. Here are their main benefits in comparison to a phone or PC/Mac.

Bigger Screen Than a Smartphone

Smartphone screens have gotten bigger in recent years. In fact, the largest smartphones now have comparable screens to the smaller tablets.

Cell Phone With a Pair of Sunglasses

On average, though, tablet screens are larger. They give you a wider view of the online casino game you’re playing.

Assuming you have bad eyesight or just like a larger layout, you’ll definitely appreciate gambling through a tablet.

More Portable Than a Laptop

Up until the mobile boom in the 2010s, laptops were the best option for gambling on the go. They typically featured screens ranging from 15 to 17 inches and are much more portable than a desktop computer.

Tablets are part of the reason why laptops feature declining sales with each passing year. They offer a bigger screen than smartphones and are much easier to transport than laptops.

You can easily fit one of these devices into a bag without worrying about the awkwardness that laptops present. Tablets also take up less space on counters and tables when you want a nice spot to put your game.

Nice for Sessions on the Go

You can easily enjoy online poker and casino games on the go these days. Both smartphones and tablets offer convenient options, like real money gambling apps, for playing games on vacation, during a work break, or in any other situation where you’re out of the house.

Tablets may not be as easy to transport as smartphones. However, they still offer plenty of portability in comparison to laptops and desktops.

Cons of Tablet Gambling

You can see that there are some very good reasons for gambling through a tablet. However, you should also consider the downside presented below.

Doesn’t Fit Into Your Pocket

Smartphone sell at 10x the rate of tablets, because they fit into your pocket. Regardless of a phone’s size, you can easily put these devices into jeans or shorts pockets.

This aspect is perfect if you don’t have a bag to put your device into. Furthermore, you don’t need to worry about carrying your smartphone all the time like with a tablet.

The latter, as mentioned before, is easier to transport than a PC or Mac. But the fact that it doesn’t go neatly into your pocket is a major downside.

Smaller Screen Than a Laptop

The average tablet screen measures 10 inches. While this screen size gives you a nice view of any casino game or poker table, it still doesn’t measure up to a PC or Mac.

You can buy relatively cheap laptops with 17-inch screens. Such a screen provides you an excellent view of games.

Laptops may not offer the same convenience as tablets. However, they’re still portable when you’re playing sessions at home.

Tweener Device

Professional basketball scouts refer to prospects whose skills and size lie in between two positions (e.g. shooting guard and small forward) as “tweeners.” This same term applies to tablets as well.

A tablet doesn’t offer the same convenience as a smartphone. It also doesn’t feature the same screen size or handy typing keys as a laptop or desktop.

This device still maintains advantages compared to other products. However, it’s still a tweener when compared to phones and computers.

Should You Bother Gambling on Tablets?

As previously discussed, tablet sales have decreased year-over-year since 2012. Its combination of portability and a fairly big screen doesn’t seem to resonate with people as much these days.

Therefore, you may have second thoughts about using tablets to gamble online. However, you should still consider the benefits of these devices before overlooking them.

Tablets don’t go into your pocket like a smartphone. But you also won’t have much trouble carrying these devices around or fitting them into a bag. You’ll definitely appreciate this factor when lugging a laptop around.

Person Using a Tablet and a PC in the Background

Of course, you can fit a smartphone into your pocket and pull it out whenever you feel like gambling. The downside, though, is that the average smartphone has a smaller screen than a tablet.

If you’re like me, you want to see bigger displays for certain games. A larger screen brings out more detail in a casino or online poker game.

On the other side of the coin, you also need to consider if a tablet is a luxury you can go without. After all, these devices cost extra and add more to your monthly mobile bill (if bundled).

Tablets can do everything that a smartphone can do. The key difference, though, that you’ll have more trouble transporting it than you will a phone.

Furthermore, you probably won’t carry a tablet around as much as you will a smartphone. The latter device wins gamblers over by default, because it’s always within arms’ reach.

Smartphones make the most sense when you’re looking to cut costs and rely on a single do-it-all device. But if you can afford the additional charges and want a different view of gambling games, then you might consider getting a tablet.

Conclusion

Tablet gambling isn’t necessarily dying. Last year saw over 144 million of these devices sold worldwide.

However, tablets could potentially go the way of the laptop. Their sales have dropped consistently since hitting a peak in 2014.

Smartphones, meanwhile, are still experiencing steady grow. Their much-higher sales mean that they’re the favored gambling device by default.

In summary, tablet gambling is more a luxury than a necessity. You may think about playing casino games or poker through a tablet if you have the extra money.

But smartphone gambling is more practical for the average person. After all, nearly half the world owns a phone.

Should You Fear Blackjack Continuous Shuffling Machines?

Blackjack Hand With Machinery in the Background

Blackjack is one of the oldest games in the casino. It has been around in some form or another since the early 1600s.

Centuries ago, nobody could fathom that machines would be shuffling blackjack games one day. However, this scenario has come to life in the form of continuous shuffling machines.

Casinos use continuous shuffling machines (CSMs) to take pressure off the dealer and help speed up games. But they also turn off a portion of their players when using these machines.

Certain gamblers have misconceptions about CSMs that include everything from rigged games to a much higher house edge.

Should you share the same concerns? I’ll clear up this matter by covering more on CSMs along with why they’re so misunderstood.

What Is a Blackjack CSM?

A continuous shuffling machine features an opening at the top where dealers can insert clumps of cards. It has numerous slots located inside of it that serve as card holders.

This machine shoots played cards into the slots in a random manner. Once it has finished putting all of the cards into random slots, the machine pushes the clump to the top.

Card Shuffling Machine

The dealer takes this card clump out of the machine and continues dealing. Therefore, they never need to completely stop play to shuffle a shoe (two or more decks).

Instead, they only briefly pause to grab played cards and insert them into the CSM. This process keeps games running more smoothly and without lengthy brakes.

Why Casinos Love Continuous Shuffling Machines

More and more casinos are adding CSMs to their tables. You can see the main reason why these machines are spreading throughout the blackjack world below.

Faster Games

Under normal circumstances, a dealer needs to stop a blackjack game and shuffle the cards. They typically do this after between 60% and 75% of the shoe has been dealt.

This stoppage can last for several minutes. The dealer must separate the pile into different clumps and riffle through each one.

The casino appreciates a well-shuffled and random blackjack game. But these stoppages also cost them money.

The house holds the edge over any recreational blackjack and wants faster games to capitalize on this advantage. A CSM allows casinos to deal around 20% more hands per hour.

More Profits

The exact amount that casino stand to make from faster blackjack tables varies based on different factors. A dealer’s speed and how many people are the table also play a role.

Simply put, though, gambling establishments want as many hands dealt as possible. They can win thousands of dollars more each day with continuous shuffling machines in the mix.

Here’s an example to illustrate how much casinos will earn with machine-dealt games:

Table without a CSM:

  • 3 people are playing.
  • 80 hands are dealt per hour.
  • The average bet size is $25.
  • 80 x 3 x 25 = $6,000 in betting action
  • The house edge is 1.5%.
  • 6,000 x 0.015 = $90 in winnings for the house

Table with a CSM:

  • 3 people are playing.
  • 100 hands are dealt per hour.
  • The average bet size is $25.
  • 100 x 3 x 25 = $7,500 in betting action
  • The house edge is 1.5%.
  • 7,500 x 0.015 = $112.50 in winnings for the house

Stops Card Counters

Casinos definitely don’t like card counters. A skilled counter gains an advantage over the house and makes guaranteed profits.

Professional players put a serious dent in casinos’ profits. However, continuous shuffling machines render card counting impossible.

Card counting needs deck penetration to make profits. Their positive count is much more accurate when 70% of the deck has been dealt versus just 20%.

Advantage gamblers look for tables where at least 75% of the shoe is dealt before the croupier shuffles.

The latter waits this long to shuffle, because they don’t want to stop the game frequently.

But the dealer doesn’t need to stop action to shuffle with CSMs involved. Instead, they can just grab a pile of cards every so often and throw them into the machine. As a result, card counters never get adequate deck penetration.

Common Misconceptions about CSMs

In their ideal world, gambling establishments would fill blackjack tables with continuous shuffling machines. They don’t do this everywhere, though, because not all of their customers approve.

Certain players absolutely refuse to play at tables with these machines. The same group often has the following common misconceptions about CSMs.

Raises House Edge

The average player will lose more money at tables with a continuous shuffling machine. Therefore, they may feel that these machines raise the house edge.

In actuality, a CSM lowers the house advantage by 0.014%. As a recreational player, you have a slightly better chance to win each hand at a machine-dealt table.

The reason why people lose more in these games, though, is due to the game speed. They see more hands per hour and are exposed more to the house advantage.

Earlier, I showed how a casino’s profits go up when a CSM is in play. The reverse is true for players, where they lose more money with machines involved.

Rigs Games for Casinos

It’s understandable that some gamblers mistakenly believe they face worse odds with continuous shuffling machines involved. The latter speeds up the action and causes more losses.

However, a much bigger misconception is that CSMs somehow rig the game. Those who believe this feel that the machine is somehow programmed to give the casino better odds of winning.

This same logic relates to slot machine myths. Many players believe that casinos can easily rig slot machines.

Gamblers have always had a mistrust of anything dealing with machines, because they can’t see the innerworkings like with a blackjack game

Casino stand to lose much more, including their license and hefty fines, if they were caught using a biased CSM (if such a thing even exists). Therefore, you don’t have to worry about casinos cheating.

Should You Play at Tables with CSMs?

Your individual preferences will determine whether you play at a blackjack table with a continuous shuffling machine.

You can see that there’s nothing to worry from a house edge or rigged-game perspective. Assuming you don’t mind the thought of a machine-based game, then you won’t mind playing at these tables.

However, you may also seek a more-classic blackjack feeling. A CSM doesn’t achieve this traditional aspect.

Closeup of Blackjack Table With a Card Shuffling Machine

Instead, it makes games feel more robotic. If you like the atmosphere almost as much as the action, you should definitely look for hand-shuffled games.

The increased losses might also turn you off from these tables. Again, the quicker game speed will lead to increased losses on average.

You can win more money by studying basic blackjack strategy. But you also must deal with the more-realistic fact that you’ll lose when considering the house edge.

What’s Your Alternative in Blackjack?

Continuous shuffling machines may be slowly invading the gambling world. However, you don’t have to settle for these games.

Plenty of casino destinations still feature tables where the dealer does all the shuffling. Atlantic City, Las Vegas, Laughlin, Reno, and Tunica are perfect examples.

Some international gambling destinations, on the other hand, feature CSMs at the vast majority of their tables. Macau and Monte Carlo are two of the most-notable casino hotspots that fall into this category.

You should definitely avoid these places when you’re trying to avoid continuous shuffling machines. The good news, though, is that the majority of the gambling world still offers plenty of hand-shuffled tables.

That said, I advise that you do research before playing blackjack in a prospective gambling destination. This research will ensure that you don’t visit a gambling hotspot and get a nasty surprise.

Conclusion

The point of this post isn’t to sell you on playing at tables with continuous shuffling machines. Instead, I merely want to show that CSMs aren’t as bad as some players think.

These machines don’t give the house a bigger advantage—they actually decrease it. They also don’t rig games to give casinos stronger odds.

You can expect a fair game with CSMs involved. However, you’ll also be more exposed to the house edge when considering that more hands will be dealt per hour.

Furthermore, you might like the feeling of being at a table where the machine shuffles cards. In this case, you should definitely seek out a traditional blackjack table.

7 Times Ordinary Gamblers Won Big in the Casino

Pile of Cash and Megabucks Logo With Casino Background

Many people have won big in casinos over the years. However, the same winners are often high rollers or advantage gamblers.

The average person doesn’t have the bankroll to play high stakes. They also don’t possess the skills to earn consistent money like the pros.

Nevertheless, ordinary people can still win big in casinos. Below, you can read about 7 everyday gamblers who toppled the house.

1 – Patricia Demauro

Patricia Demauro holds the record for the most craps rolls without sevening out. In 2009, she performed 154 straight rolls before finally rolling a seven.

No, Demauro isn’t a expert in playing craps who claims to hold the secret to dice control. Instead, she’s a novice gambler who rarely visits casinos.

On that fortunate day in 2009, she we went to the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa with her friend, John Capra. Demauro’s original plan was to play slots while Capra played poker, but she eventually got tired of spinning the reels.

Having only played craps once in her life, Demauro wanted Capra to show her the finer points of the game. Little did she know, she’d set a record-breaking streak in the process.

After Demauro took the dice, she proceeded to roll them again and again. A crowd gathered as she continued producing rolls without crapping out.

The odds of surviving 154 straight rolls without producing a seven are just 1 in 156 trillion. She achieved the impossible while earning herself several hundred thousand dollars in estimated winnings.

2 – Jon Heywood

John Heywood is a former British soldier who lays claim to one of the biggest real money online slots jackpots ever. He won £13.2 million pounds through Microgaming’s Mega Moolah slot in 2015.

At the time, Heywood had just finished a military tour in Afghanistan. Upon returning home, he worked a minimum-wage job and played online slots on the side.

The Brit didn’t have a very large bankroll to play with. In fact, he deposited just £30 before earning what was, at the time, a record-breaking payout.

Wagering just 25p per spin, John triggered Mega Moolah’s bonus round. Then, he defied the odds to earn the “Mega Jackpot” and etch his name in slots lore.

Screenshot of Mega Moolah Slot

Heywood initially thought that his payout was worth £10,000. However, he eventually came to realize that it was actually worth millions of pounds.

Rather than running out and looking for his dream home, Heywood waited until the money was officially his. He continued working has minimum-wage gig until Microgaming deposited the funds into his account.

Since the huge payout, Heywood has paid for his father’s extensive medical expenses and started a home renovation business.

3 – Cynthia Jay-Brennan

In 2000, Cynthia Jay-Brennan won the second-largest slots jackpot in history. She booked a $34.9 million win at the Desert Inn Casino.

A former Las Vegas cocktail waitress, Jay-Brennan was playing IGT’s famed Megabucks slot machine. She quickly landed three Megabucks symbols in the single payline and earned a life-changing amount.

Unfortunately, this payout would prove life-changing in more ways than one. A drunk driver rear-ended Jay-Brennan’s car when she and her sister were driving around Las Vegas.

Her sister died at the scene of the accident. Cynthia survived, but she was paralyzed from the neck down.

Clark Morse, the perpetrator, was a habitual drunk driver who had numerous DUIs on his record. He fled the scene only to be later found sleeping on his mother’s couch.

A Clark County Judge finally put Morse behind bars for life. However, justice didn’t come soon enough for the Jay-Brennans.

4 – Kevin Ripski

Caribbean stud may not be the first game gamblers think of when envisioning seven-figure wins. However, Kevin Ripski proved that this game too can offer serious money.

The Ontario, Canada native visited the Venetian Las Vegas in 2018. He began playing Caribbean stud and making $5 side bets in hopes of winning the Sands Millionaire Progressive jackpot.

Fortune smiled upon him as he received a royal flush. The natural royal netted the Canadian a $1,114,079 jackpot.

Ripski certainly doesn’t use the best strategy for the game. He plays “blind,” meaning he doesn’t look at his hand before betting.

“I let the dealer flip over my cards, so it’s a surprise at the end of the hand,” he said.

While Ripski doesn’t use optimal Caribbean stud strategy, he does the important thing by ensuring he qualifies for the jackpot.

“I always play the bonus bet for the very reason if you hit it and are not playing the bonus, you will regret it for the rest of your life.”

5 – Johanna Huendl

In 2002, Johanna Huendl was on her way to the breakfast buffet at Bally’s Casino Las Vegas. She suddenly got the whim to play a Megabucks machine before eating.

This whim would turn into a life-changing payout. Huendl hit the Megabucks jackpot and collected $22,621,230.

The Vienna, Austria native became motivated to play after seeing another person win a $3,000 payout. Soon thereafter, she’d celebrate a much-bigger prize.

Double Diamond Megabucks Slot Machine

“I looked away from the machine for a moment and when I looked back, the three Megabucks logos had lined up on the payline. I couldn’t believe my eyes!” Huendl exclaimed.

She initially thought that the payout was worth $2 million. Huendl was even more elated after seeing that it was actually worth $22.6 million.

She came to the United States via Austria as a young bride in 1956. The American planned to use a portion of the winnings to visit her native country.

6 – Soraya Lowell

Britain’s Soraya Lowell won a record-breaking bingo payout in 2008. Playing at the Club 3000 bingo hall in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, she scooped a £1,167,795 payout.

The mother-of-four attended the bingo hall with her neighbor, Agnes O’Neill. She shared the win with O’Neill due to a prearranged pact.

Despite keeping six figures, Lowell stayed at her minimum-wage cleaning job. She simply couldn’t decide what to do with the money and wanted to continue working.

“It’s easy to say what you’re going to do with the money before you win it. But in reality it’s very tough,” Soraya explained at the time.

“I haven’t got the slightest idea what to do with it. I had bought a car just before I won, so I don’t need a new one and I love my house and my neighbors so moving is out of the question.”

Lowell professed to loving her job and not being in a hurry to quit. She also noted that she really liked her coworkers.

Unfortunately, Soraya ran into trouble with tax collectors in 2012. Her local council took her to court over £13,214 in unpaid taxes.

She and her husband also faced bankruptcy after falling behind on their mortgage payments. They had to forfeit a £150,000 home to the Bank of Scotland.

O’Neill didn’t fare any better following her windfall. The 68-year-old passed away in her sleep just two months after collecting her share of the winnings.

7 – Elmer Sherwin

The odds of winning a seven-figure slots jackpot are extremely low to begin with. Therefore, Elmer Sherwin is a rare breed when considering that he won IGT’s Megabucks Jackpot twice.

He’s actually the only person in the game’s history to accomplish this feat. This fact makes sense when considering that the odds of hitting the Megabucks jackpot are just 1 in 50 million.

Sherwin had played casino games ever since he was old enough to enter a gambling establishment. However, he never won much until reaching his sixties.

Retired, he and his wife travelled the United States in a mobile home. They stopped in Las Vegas to visit family and play casino games in 1989.

During this stay, Sherwin began taking $100 a week to Vegas casinos. Despite having such a small weekly bankroll, Elmer struck gold when he hit a $21.2 million prize on Megabucks.

He already defied the 1 in 50 million odds of winning Megabucks top prize once. However, Sherwin did the unthinkable by hitting the big one again.

He collected a $4.6 million payout at Vegas’ Cannery Casino & Hotel in 2005. Elmer was motivated by history more than anything during the second run.

“I wasn’t after the money. I was after the prestige of hitting it twice,” he explained. “Cause I knew no one has done it. Lotteries and things, yeah, but not the Megabucks.”

Conclusion

Everybody dreams of going to the casino and winning a life-changing sum of money. However, the vast majority of players never see this dream come to fruition.

The seven gamblers discussed here achieved the near-impossible and got rich through gambling. Some even managed to hold onto their money afterward and live a life of luxury.

Of course, you should never walk into the casino expecting to leave a millionaire. But if you dream of getting rich through gambling, you can look to these stories for inspiration.

Leagues Versus Sportsbooks: Official League Data

Major US Sports League Logos With Sportsbook Background

Professional sports leagues long resisted sports gambling in the United States. However, certain leagues eventually softened their position when individual states began pushing for sports betting.

The MLB, NBA, and NHL even came to support New Jersey and other states in their quest to get PASPA repealed. The Supreme Court finally repealed PASPA in May 2018, thus lifting a federal ban on sports wagering.

But support from pro leagues doesn’t come without a price. Sports organizations now want a cut of bookmakers’ profits.

Their latest angle is to charge sportsbooks for using “official league data.” I’ll cover more on this term along with the battle between bookmakers and leagues over the matter.

Sports Leagues Initially Sought an Integrity Fee

The US sports gambling market is expected to be a huge boon. Projections show the market earning $5.7 billion by 2024.

Some states are already capitalizing on the opportunity. New Jersey bookmakers collectively pulled in $300 million in 2019.

Professional sports leagues are more welcoming of the betting industry now. Outside of the NFL and NCAA, leagues no longer fear gambling corruption like they once did.

But again, these same organizations want to profit from the wagering action too. Their initial angle was to receive an “integrity fee.”

An integrity fee amounts to bookmakers giving each major sports league a percentage of their profits. These payouts would help leagues monitor for corruption and prevent point-shaving scandals.

The NBA was especially enamored with the prospect of an integrity fees. They wanted to receive 1% of the total betting handle in each state.

Perhaps league officials were ignorant on how handle doesn’t represent sportsbooks’ revenue. Instead, it only refers to the total betting action that bookmakers handle.

Sportsbooks earn their profits by taking around a 10% cut (a.k.a. juice) from the losing side in each wager. The juice only represents around 5% of all betting action (winners & losers).

Assuming each major pro sports league (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL) and the NCAA took 1% of the handle, they’d quickly bankrupt sportsbooks. The latter would be giving away all of the juice they earn.

Sports leagues eventually realized how ridiculous this notion was and gave up on integrity fees. They’ve since shifted their focus towards getting paid for the use of official league data.

What Is Official League Data?

Official league data refers to all statistics, outcomes, results, and other data obtained by sports leagues and their approved partners.

Any company can compile stats and results related to a particular sports league or contest. However, not all such companies have obtained approval from the league(s) in question.

Official league data doesn’t concern standard moneyline, point spread, and totals (over/under) wagers placed before a contest begins. Instead, it only applies to live wagering and prop bets.

That said, certain states have specifically distinguished the two types of bets in their sports gambling laws. They include Tier 1 and Tier 2 wagers:

  • Tier 1 – A bet that revolves around the final score of a sporting event and is made before the match begins.
  • Tier 2 – Any wager that doesn’t fall into the Tier 1 category.

Illinois and Tennessee are the only states so far to make the distinction between Tier 1 and 2 wagers. They require bookmakers to use official league data when offering Tier 2 bets.

Sports Leagues Want Bookmakers to Use Official League Data for Everything

Tennessee and Illinois sportsbooks must agree to deals with sports leagues if they want to use official data. Lawmakers in both states want to ensure that bookmakers are basing live and prop bets on completely legitimate statistics.

However, these mandates don’t quite satisfy professional leagues. Sports organizations want bookmakers to use official data on both Tier 1 and Tier 2 wagers.

The leagues see an all-encompassing mandate as the best way to benefit financial from gambling. However, they may not see any benefits from most states.

Nevada, which was grandfathered into PASPA, has been offering sports betting for decades. They’ve never required sportsbooks to use official data in any capacity.

Plenty of other states are following Nevada’s lead. They don’t see the need to force their operators to use the league’s data.

What Does Official League Data Cost?

Sports organizations don’t have a set price for their data. Instead, they negotiate with sportsbooks for what they deem to be a reasonable price.

Both Illinois and Tennessee demand that such data be made available at “commercially reasonable terms.” Their sportsbooks can avoid using official league data if they prove that leagues are charging too much.

No bookmaker offering Tier 2 bets in either state has reportedly gotten out of paying for data. Therefore, the term commercially reasonable terms may hold little-to-no weight.

Leagues’ asking prices for official data isn’t available either. Rumors suggest that they may be asking for 0.25% of the handle on their individual league.

NBA Player and Defender

If true, a bookmaker that handles $100,000 worth of NBA bets in a day would need to pay $250 to the NBA. Assuming they earned $5,000 worth of juice, they’d be giving the league 5% of their basketball-related profits.

Such payments would add up over time. However, these rumored costs sound much more reasonable than the integrity fees worth 1% of the handle.

Does Official Data Offer Benefits Over Unofficial Data?

Sports organizations have yet to prove that official league data offers marked improvements over the unofficial variety.

The primary difference is that official data gets to bookmakers slightly faster. In most cases, it will show up a few seconds quicker than unofficial numbers.

Leagues claim that they’re able to provide faster data thanks to the time and financial investments they’ve put into collecting stats. As the MLB and NBA once argued, their official numbers provide the only way to guarantee a fair and accurate gambling market for fans.

Again, though, Nevada has run sports wagering for years without requiring authentic league data. So far, their markets haven’t come under any major scrutiny when doing so.

States that want the absolute most-accurate data regarding live wagering and/or prop betting may favor official numbers. But most states so far don’t see the value in making such requirements.

Do Any Betting Companies Actually Use Official Stats?

As explained above, official sports data hasn’t proven tremendously valuable. Nevertheless, some well-funded companies have chosen to use it across one or more sports.

These bookmakers must agree to partnerships with bookmakers in order to offer such data. Here are some of the companies that have agreed to such deals and are using official numbers:

  • Caesars – NFL
  • DraftKings – MLB, NFL
  • FanDuel – MLB, NBA, NHL
  • MGM Resorts – MLB, NBA, NHL
  • William Hill – NBA, NHL

These are essentially the biggest operators in the US market so far. They have funds to spare when it comes to paying leagues.

However, smaller operators will be much less likely to work out such deals unless legally obligated to do so.

Are Sports Leagues Fighting a Losing Battle?

The main argument for official league data is that it provides a fairer and more-accurate betting market. Leagues claim that their statistics and outcomes are the only reliable numbers.

Most lawmakers aren’t quite so convinced. Only two states have mandated that sportsbooks use official data for Tier 2 offerings (live and prop betting).

Politicians don’t seem in a hurry to force their operators into deals with pro sports leagues. They may see such mandates as ultimately hurting bookmakers.

Two NFL Panthers Players Celebrating

The latter aspect becomes a problem for state coffers. Sportsbooks that must share revenue with states may eventually struggle to cover taxes and licensing fees.

In the end, most don’t see a need for sports organizations to share in the betting pie. They already earn enough money through television deals and merchandising.

They’ve tried desperately to find a way that they can profit off sports gambling. The 1% integrity fee was a foolish way to go about the matter.

After the integrity fee failure, they’ve pivoted with a more-realistic idea. But leagues have yet to show that official league data offers the value they propose.

Conclusion

Many want to share in the inevitable rise of sports gambling in America. Leagues have proven no different by requesting integrity fees and, more recently, official data deals.

They claim that official stats, results, and outcomes will create a fair wagering market. As a result, leagues want to get paid for offering this data.

Tennessee and Illinois have seen value with official league data when it comes to prop bets and live wagering. But these mandates aren’t good enough for sports leagues—they want official numbers used in every type of bet.

No state appears ready to require league data to be used for all wagers. Most are simply following Nevada’s path and making no official league data mandates at all.

8 Things You Should Know About Gambling for Real Money on Cruise Ships

Cruise Ship With Casino Sign and Chips in Background

When it comes to cruising, gambling in the ship’s casino is one of the most popular activities. In fact, in the late evening it can be the most electric spot on the cruise ship.

In many ways the casinos on a cruise are very similar to what you’ll find on land, only on a smaller scale. If you’re someone who loves gaming, then you’ll feel right at home in a cruise ship casino.

That said, there are still a number of things you should know before gambling on a cruise. If you’ve never placed a bet on a ship, the tips and details below will make you a pro in no time and teach you everything you need to know before you try your luck.

1 – Which Cruise Ships Have Casinos?

If you’re wondering if there will be a casino on your ship, you can rest assured there will be. Mass market lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and the like always have casinos on the ship.

I want to mention one exception; Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America, a U.S.-flagged ship that sails Hawaii, is one of the few ships from a mass market cruise line without a casino.

The only major line I’ve heard of that doesn’t have gambling is Disney. Can’t really fault them, watching Donald Duck carve an ice sculpture with a chainsaw is likely a better way to spend an hour with your children.

You’ll find the casinos located in the middle of the ship, typically near the most highly-trafficked areas. So if your ship has a main promenade, the casino will be right near it.

This makes sense, putting the casino easily accessible means it’s easier for players to find and gamble.

2 – What Are Cruise Casinos Like?

In many ways cruise ship gambling is similar to what you’ll find in brick and mortar casinos. This also means that while they all have a familiar feel with flashing lights and ringing bells, each casino definitely sports its own personality.

Generally, the gaming floor is tiny by the standards of land-based casinos. On many ships, you’ll usually find closed-in areas with relatively low ceilings because decks above and below limit the ceiling height. The low ceilings and maze of games give the casinos an intimate feel. Yet, they are some of the biggest rooms on a cruise ship.

Some ships, most notably the newest ships in Norwegian’s fleet, have roomier, more open casinos. On those ships, the casino floor opens up to the rest of the ship, giving it a brighter feel.

As for the atmosphere, within seconds of walking into a cruise ship casino you’ll completely forget that you’re on the open seas. Given the casino size and number of passengers, evenings can get crowded pretty easily. That means the casino will feel high energy, with lots of people cheering, noise from machines, and an overall festive atmosphere.

3 – What Are Payouts Like in the Casino?

You already know that the odds are always in the house’s favor when it comes to casino gambling. That’s especially true on a cruise. To put it mildly, games on the ship don’t pay that well.

For example, the gold standard for video poker is a “9/6” machine, one that pays nine credits for a full house and six for a flush. This gives an expected payout of 99.5% if proper strategy is used over the long term. On ships you will often find “6/5” machines, meaning they offer a 94.9% payback.

Cruise Ship Casino Entrance

For blackjack you’ll often find tables that pay 6-to-5 on blackjack instead of the normal 3-to-2. If you play a higher-limit table, then you might still find 3-to-2 payouts.

Craps will have odds bets, but they will be restricted somewhat. The best you can hope for is 3X-4X-5X, but I’ve seen some ships with even lower bets available. They also have the “Big 6/8” bets at tables that have a higher house edge.

So go to the casino and have a blast, but if your only goal is to get the best payouts, then you are often better off with land-based casinos.

4 – What’s the Gambling Age on a Cruise Ship?

While there are some exceptions, the majority of places in the United States require you to be 21 to gamble in a casino.

On a cruise the minimum age to gamble is only 18 years old. If you’ve ever wanted to try your luck but aren’t old enough to head to Las Vegas, a cruise ship might be just the place for you.

5 – Casino Limits for Table Games and Slot Machines

If you’re a low-stakes gambler, then you’ll feel right at home on a cruise ship. Minimums among all games are low, making it relatively cheap and easy for any level of player to enjoy themselves.

Obviously, there are penny slots as you’ll find in any casino. For table games you will find minimums starting at around $5 for most games.

This makes sense considering the potential customer base on a cruise. With only a few thousand people on the ship the cruise needs to be sure to appeal to the most people possible. Of course they also are aware that they have a captive audience.

Having said that, I have seen table games starting to climb towards a $10 minimum rather than $5.

6 – What Casino Games Are Available on a Cruise?

Like playing real money slots? You’re covered. In fact, whatever your game, they have them all. Despite the small size of cruise ship casinos compared to brick and mortar, they offer a vast selection of games.

Texas Hold ‘Em poker is also popular, with tournaments and play throughout the cruise.

What’s a little surprising is that there are several games you won’t ever find on land that are on a cruise.

One is similar to a “skill crane” where you use a joystick to move a key to push down stacks of dollar bills. But perhaps the most popular are the coin pusher machines.

The coin pusher machines are exactly like you’d find in an arcade, but instead of tokens they use quarters. You can try your luck to push quarters over the edge, along with wads of cash that are also in the machines.

Many cruise lines are also now offering their own scratch-off tickets available for purchase, as well as big lotto-style drawings with jackpots worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

7 – When Are the Casinos Open?

As you might guess, there are a number of laws that oversee casino gambling, depending on the jurisdiction the ship is in. That’s why there’s a simple rule, the casino is open when the ship is at sea.

On the day that you board the casino will be closed. It will open up later that night after the ship has set sail.

During the days that the ship is docked the games are closed, but available once the ship exits the jurisdiction of the port country. So on days at sea, the casino will be open 24 hours a day.

Casino Royale Cruise Ship Casino

Note that if you want to play during off hours, like early in the morning on a day at sea, the table games may not be staffed. However, coin pushers and slot machines will still be available to play at your leisure.

8 – Keep Your Sea Legs

Which brings me to my next point. Fun, that’s what this experience should be all about. People’s definitions of fun can vary.

If you’re planning a trip with your friends or family without kids around, fun can often mean staying up late and partying, which means drinking. I recommend alternating nights to make life easier for you during the daytime.

If you’re planning a big night “out” at the casino, don’t spend the evening taking shots. Basically, just be a responsible adult, and you’ll be fine.

Treat your gambling funds as part of the trip’s expenses, no different from food and drinks, fine dining, and shopping with no expectation of returns.

Really, this should be pretty much the same mentality you have when managing your bankroll at any regular land-based. You should be playing with no more than you can stand to lose. Beware of the ATM.

Conclusion

If there is a casino game you’ve always wanted to play, but have been too intimidated to pull up a chair, then a cruise is perfect for you.

Not only is it less intimidating than a regular casino, but they even offer classes on table games for beginning players. You can come and learn how to play free of charge, for real money, so that when it’s time to play for real money you aren’t as intimidated.

In addition, the vibe at a cruise casino is simply more friendly. Remember that the dealers want to make sure you have an enjoyable time on the cruise and your other passengers are typically in a good mood. In addition, the stakes are typically low, so there’s usually not a ton of money at stake.

8 Sports Bets That Are Losers

Burning Hundred Dollar Bill With Sportsbook Background

Do you know a good sport bet when you see one? The truth is that even the best sports bettors in the world don’t know a good bet from a bad one until they evaluate the teams and players involved in the game.

Good sports bettors know what to look for and what to avoid, but they still have to evaluate all of the games before making a bet. And you need to learn how to do the same thing.

To help you get started, here are eight sports bets that you need to avoid.

1 – Always Betting on Favorites

When sportsbooks set the lines, in most games one team is a favorite and the other is the underdog. Favorites are favored to win for a reason. They’re usually better than the team that’s the underdog.

But on most bets, like point spreads, the underdog get points and the favorite gives points. The problem with this is that the favorite only has a single way to win the bet for you. The favorite has to win the game, and they have to win by more points than they give on the line.

On the other side, the underdog wins the bet for you if they win the game, or if they lose the game by fewer points than they receive on the line.

Once again, favorites are favored for a reason, so you have to be careful. But you should always look at the underdogs to see which ones have the best chance to win the bet for you. When you always bet on the favorites, you only have one way to win your bets.

2 – Betting on Your Favorite Teams

Betting on your favorite teams isn’t the same as betting on favorites like I covered in the last section. When you bet on your favorite team or teams, it’s exactly like it sounds. Instead of evaluating the games, you simply bet on your favorite team no matter what.

NCAA Football Players Running a Play

The problem with betting this way is that in the long run you’re going to be lucky to win half of your bets. And when you’re paying vig, you still lose more than you win when you lose half your wagers. You can learn more about how vig hurts you when you bet on sports on the final section on this page.

Instead of always betting on your favorite team or teams, stop betting on any game when your favorite team is playing in it. You can always find other games on the schedule, and your judgment won’t be clouded because of the teams you root for.

3 – Betting on Too Many Road Teams

Road teams in every sport face challenges that home teams don’t. This is one reason why more road teams are listed as underdogs than favorites most weeks.

I know I recommended that you don’t bet on too many favorites in an earlier section, but you also need to be careful about betting on too many road teams. I didn’t say that being a winning sports bettor was going to be easy.

You can bet on road teams from time to time, but make sure that you’re properly evaluating the games and finding real value.

One thing that I never do is bet on a road favorite. Most of the bets I make are on home teams, and I tend to bet on underdogs more than favorites. But road favorites have to overcome too many obstacles to make them good value in most cases.

4 – Betting Without Evaluating Games Properly

I mentioned this in the last section briefly, but the fact is that you should never bet on any game without doing a deep evaluation of both teams, including where the game is played, travel distances, weather of it’s being played outdoors, rest for each team and player, and everything else you can find that might influence the game.

Most sports bettors make the mistake of not evaluating games at all. And the ones that do usually just spend five or 10 minutes looking at a few things and end up hoping to win or to get lucky. This is why most sports bettors are losing money.

If you’re not spending at least 30 minutes on a game evaluating everything that might influence it, you’re not doing a proper job. Not only do you need to put in the time and work, but you also need to learn what evaluation techniques work and which ones don’t. Start learning more about evaluating teams and games today to improve your chances of winning.

5 – Betting on Teams Traveling Long Distances

I already covered the reason why it can be dangerous to bet on road teams in an earlier section. But you also need to understand that the distance teams have to travel directly influences their performance in games as well.

NFL Players Boarding a Jet Plane

Pay special attention to teams traveling from one coast to the other. This is true for all of the major sports, including NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, college basketball, and college football.

The sportsbooks know this is true as well, so they often adjust their lines to take it into account. But you need to be very careful of betting on a road team that has traveled across the country, no matter how good the line looks. In my experience, these teams are simply bad bets.

6 – Expecting Too Much from Rookies

Every sport has new players enter the league each season, and many of them get a great deal of coverage in the press. All of this coverage can make these rookies appear to be better than they are, and if you’re not careful you’re going to fall into a trap.

No matter what you read or see about young players in any sport, be careful not to give them too much credit. May times, the value is on the team facing a team with a rookie in an important position. Look for value on the teams facing a team with a rookie quarterback or pitcher starting.

7 – Putting Too Much Value on Coaching

Coaching is important in every sport, but you also need to remember the old saying about coaches not playing the game. The players have to play and perform, and the coaches only have a limited influence in games.

The coaches need to be able to prepare their teams and players to perform at their best, and coaches do have in game responsibilities. But the best coach still isn’t going to have much success when he or she is working with a bad team.

A bad coach can hurt a great team, but the odds are that the great team is still going to perform better than bad teams.

All of this means that you do need to evaluate the coaches in every game. This includes the assistant coaches. But you also need to make sure that you’re not giving the coaches too much credit in your evaluations. Find the proper medium for each sport. Coaches have different influence levels in each sport, and there’s a big difference between college sports and professional sports when it comes to the influence of coaching.

8 – Paying Too Much Vig

How do you bet when you bet on sports? Do you stop at the local sportsbook or call the local bookie? Do you bet with a friend or family member or someone you work with?

While it might seem like it’s the same thing, the truth is that there’s a big difference between betting with a sportsbook or bookie and betting with someone else.

The big difference is how much it costs you when you lose. When you bet with a friend or someone you work with and lose you lose the same amount you could win. But when you bet with a bookie or sportsbook and lose, you lose more than you could win. Often the extra charge is 10%.

If you look at this like a 10% fee when you lose, and you win half your games, it means you’re paying roughly 5% on every bet you make in the way of a fee.

Stop making too many bets where you’re charged vig. These bets make it harder to make a long term profit.

Conclusion

If you noticed a theme running through many of the topics on this page, you know that always doing anything when it comes to betting on sports is usually bad. Always betting on favorites or on your favorite team or on road teams is a bad idea.

You need to learn how to evaluate games and teams so you have a chance to make more winning bets than losing ones. Evaluate very game before you make a bet, and make sure you’re doing enough work and using enough time to do a proper job.

8 Stupid Gambling Strategies

Man Turning Out Pockets With a Dice and Casino Background

As long as gambling has been offered in one form or another, there have been stupid gambling strategies. And terrible gambling strategies are going to continue being used in the future.

The problem with stupid gambling strategies is they cost gamblers money. Most forms of gambling cost people money, but they don’t have to cost as much as most people pay.

Here’s a list of eight stupid gambling strategies that you need to stop using. You can find good strategies when you gamble, but the ones listed on this age are ones you must avoid.

1 – Doubling After Losses

This gambling strategy has been around so long that it has its own name. Called the Martingale strategy, you start with a small wager and double it every time you lose. When you make even money pay out wagers and use the Martingale system, when you win a bet you get a profit the same size as your original wager.

This doubling after losses system sounds really good, and you can make money using it for a while. But eventually you lose too many bets in a row and lose all of your money.

The odds of losing several bets in a row on even money bets are small, but the more bets you make the more likely it is that you’re going to have a long losing streak. You either lose all of your money or hit the maximum bet limits. This betting strategy always ends in a loss in the long run.

2 – Playing Keno

I’ve seen several different betting strategies for playing keno over the years, and there isn’t a single one of them that’s going to help you win more than you lose over time. Keno has an extremely high house edge that simply can’t be beat in the long run.

It used to be that you had to play keno at the keno desk or area in the casino, but now many casinos have introduced video keno machines. These machines work much like traditional keno, but instead of playing four to 12 games an hour, you can now play hundreds of keno games every hour.

While the house edge isn’t usually higher on a keno machine than in traditional keno, the problem is that you’re risking a lot more money because you’re playing so many more games. With a house edge of 20% and higher depending on the pay outs and how many numbers you pick, keno in any form is a terrible idea.

3 – Slot Machines Strategy

Do you know if there are any strategies you can use when you play slot machines? I’ve seen several different slots strategies over the years, but I’ve never seen one that works.

Slot machines are designed using computers to keep a percentage of money bet on them and give back a percentage of the money. Over the life of a slot machine it guarantees a profit for the casino, and nothing you do can change this.

Slots are big money makers for casinos because of this. I rarely play slots, and when I do it’s on a machine with a progressive jackpot. I like to be able to use strategy to give me a better chance to win, and there aren’t any strategies you can use when playing real money slots to lower the house edge.

4 – Any Lottery Strategy

The worst bet in the casino is usually keno. The house edge is almost always over 20%. You already learned about playing keno in an earlier section, but there’s an even worse game you can gamble on. The worst gambling option most players use is any kind of lottery.

The edge on lottery games is often 40 to 50% or higher. Yet millions of people buy lottery tickets every day. You can find plenty of strategies for playing the lottery for sale, but none of them help you win.

Lottery and Keno Cards

I understand why people play the lottery. I even buy a ticket from time to time. You bet a few dollars and have a chance to win millions; sometimes hundreds of millions. But lotteries are set up to guarantee a profit, and it eats up a lot of the money spent on tickets.

This means that almost every lottery player loses money in their life. The only ones that don’t lose money are the ones that are lucky enough to win a big lottery. And the odds of winning big are so small that they’re almost impossible to comprehend.

5 – Mimic the Blackjack Dealer

Blackjack dealers have a strict set of rules they must follow on every hand. The table rules dictate whether the dealer stands of hits on a soft 17, but beyond this, the dealer always does the same thing.

When the dealer has a hard 17 or higher, or a soft or hard 18 or higher, he or she stands. When the dealer has 16 or lower, he or she hits.

While this is a decent strategy for the dealer, and it works because it’s simple, it’s a terrible strategy for players. You can easily use the best blackjack strategy by using a strategy card. Pick one up in a casino gift shop.

6 – Making Side Bets

Many casino games offer side bets in addition to the base game. Some of these side bets are better than others, but almost all of them have at least one thing on common. They all have a higher house edge than the base game.

Side bets are designed to make the casino more money.

This isn’t really any different than other bets offered in the casino, but side bets are optional. The best strategy is to never make any side bets. The most common side bet in the casino doesn’t even look like a side bet.

You just learned about this side bet in the last section. The even money insurance bet is simply a side bet hidden in the regular game of blackjack.

7 – Not Using a Bankroll

While you can find strategies that say that you can use some sort of fancy money management to beta the casinos, the truth is that there aren’t any money management systems that win money over time. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use proper money management when you gamble.

The best way to start using proper money management when you gamble is to use a bankroll. Start by setting aside a dedicated amount that you only use for gambling. You can add money to it when you need to, but when you have a dedicated bankroll it’s easy to track your wins and losses.

When you use a bankroll, it also helps you budget for your casino visits and know when you need to stop playing.

8 – Any American Roulette Strategy

American roulette is the wheel with a double zero spot. American wheels have a total of 38 spots. The other common type of roulette wheel doesn’t have a double zero spot, and only has 37 spots.

Roulette Table With People Placing Bets

One of the most common strategies that players use when they play roulette is the double after losses strategy you learned about in the first section. But there are dozens of other strategies that I’ve seen over the years.

All roulette strategies have something in common. None of them actually help you win. Some of them work for a short time, but they all lose eventually.

The only strategy you can use when you play roulette to lower the house edge is to refuse to play on American roulette wheels. If you’re going to play roulette, only play on wheels that don’t have the double zero spot. You’re still going to lose in the long run, but at least you won’t lose as much as you’re going to lose if you play American roulette.

Conclusion

The worst thing you can do when you’re gambling is to use a bad strategy. Every time you use a stupid strategy it costs you money. Just because you use a stupid gambling strategy, it doesn’t mean that you’re stupid. It just means that you haven’t learned that it’s a bad strategy yet.

Now you know about the eight stupid strategies listed on this page, so you can avoid using them in the future. Find a few good strategies to start using when you gamble and you’re results will get better.

5 Slot Machine Game Contradictions

Baby Chicken and Egg in Front of Slot Reels

Why do people love paradoxes?

Think about it. A paradox poses a problem you cannot solve, or a puzzle with no solution. Imagine being required to define the value of Pi to the last decimal digit.

Pi is a well-known value in math. It is a mathematical constant, meaning no matter the context of the equation the value is always the same.

Take any circle of any size and measure its diameter (the distance between any two opposing points on the circle’s circumference). Now divide the circumference (the length of the outer edge of the circle) by the diameter. That is Pi.

You can represent Pi by an infinite number of fractions comprised of decimal numbers, but if you try to reduce those fractions to their decimal form you’ll never get an exact value.

That is a simple paradox of mathematics.

The most well-known paradox is the grandfather paradox, which asks what happens if you go back in time and shoot your grandfather before he became a parent.

If your grandfather dies before becoming a father you won’t be born and if you aren’t born then you can’t travel back through time and therefore you cannot shoot your grandfather.

Science fiction writers find ways to cheat the grandfather paradox. They spawn parallel universes, divergent timelines, reveal that the grandfather adopted children, etc. There is always a cheat to every paradox.

The trick to understanding paradoxes is the way they are presented.

Here are five crazy paradoxes about slot machine games. If you’re looking for easy bar bets to play against your friends or strangers, ask them to explain these paradoxes.

1 – Casinos Don’t Know Which Slot Machine Games are Profitable

Casinos make most of their money from slot machine games. They track every penny that players put into these machines. They track all the payouts.

How can casinos not know which slot machine games are profitable?

This paradox arises from the way slot machine games are rated. Every game has a theoretical return to player. That is the expected percentage of all wagers played on the game that will be repaid to players over time.

If the RTP is 96% then the game should retain about 4% of player wagers over time.

How much time is required for the casino to reach that 4% figure?

An infinite amount of time.

Slot machine games produce random results. Every spin changes how much the game is ahead or behind all of the players who have used it since the game was first turned on. The question of when the game becomes profitable can only be answered after the final wager is made.

Row of Wheel Based Slot Machines

But that could be many years after the game is first turned on and casinos don’t track lifetime wins and losses on their slot games.

It would be a simple thing for slot game developers to track lifetime earnings. Assuming that data isn’t lost to accidents, a casino would always know if a game is ahead. But they don’t do this.

Casino accounting practices require them to measure their gross revenue against their expenses on a monthly basis. Revenue is tracked on a per-game basis so the casinos know which slot machine games took in more revenue than they paid out during a given month but because the games are in continuous play this is just an arbitrary calculation.

No casino will ever know which of its slot games is really profitable. But they’ll keep raking in billions of dollars in profits on slot machine games every year.

2 – Size of Wager Doesn’t Matter

Everyone knows that how much you bet on a game makes a big difference, especially if the jackpot is only paid on a Max Bet.

So how is it that the amount of the wager doesn’t matter?

Before you start arguing the math, reduce the question to its simplest terms.

For the casino it comes down to how much money the slot machine game keeps. They don’t care if their $10,000 monthly gross profit comes from $1 wagers or $10 wagers on the same machine.

Any player could make more money on a minimum wager than on a maximum wager. That is because of the random nature of the game.

You’re more likely to win more money from making larger wagers but it’s not guaranteed.

It’s the unpredictable nature of the game that makes it so paradoxical. If you’re going to play the slots the best advice is to make max bets. But you might lose $500 when doing that and the guy who comes along behind you could come out $500 ahead while making minimum bets.

That just doesn’t seem fair, does it?

3 – Most Slot Machine Games Have No Slots

Why are they called “slot” machine games?

According to game historians the name refers to the coin slots that accept and dispense coins.

Online games don’t have any slots and modern slot game cabinets don’t have coin slots.

If you ask your friends to find the slots on a slot game they’ll almost always point to the reels. And on video slot games there are no reels, since everything is virtual.

You can still find and play vintage slot machine games with real slots and real reels, so this paradox only applies to non-vintage games.

The day of the “slot” game is over. Now they’re just video games that look and feel like vintage slot games.

Except many modern “slot” games look and feel nothing like vintage slot games. They have animations, unnecessary features, full soundtracks, and more.

They’re just not slot machine games.

So why do we still call them slot machine games?

4 – Bonus Rounds are Not Free

Slot game players love their bonus rounds. When bonus rounds were first introduced people loved the “free” money they could win on these extra spins.

But the money isn’t free. The spins aren’t free.

To be truly free money you’d have to be able to press Spin and get a prize. The only way to get a bonus spin is to make a wager.

If that seems like a petty word game, consider this: the bonus spin payoffs are calculated into the game’s theoretical return to player.

That means you’re less likely to get your money back if you have a run of bad luck and don’t win any bonus rounds or spins.

Since casino games pay prizes from the wagers other players lose, that means you’re paying for someone else’s bonus round prizes when you don’t get any bonus rounds yourself.

So these rounds are not free. They’re part of normal play and they figure into the calculations of the games’ returns.

And that means your basic spin is more expensive than it appears.

Do you still love those bonus games now?

5 – Do Online Slot Machine Games Exist?

I’ve already established that casinos don’t know when their slot machines really become profitable.

I’ve also shown that there are no slots in online slot machine games.

But when you start playing a real money online slots, you’re just running a program on a gaming server somewhere. That gaming server could run 100 copies of the program at the same time or only 10 copies.

The online casino could track profitability for each gaming session and each iteration of a game, but can it track the profitability over the lifetime of a “game”?

Every day is a new day for the gaming server, except that it runs continuously. There is no start and end time for the gaming server’s software.

Pillar of Slot Machines

So the question is, are you playing an individual game or are you playing against a really complicated multi-player environment?

How can we call it a slot game if there is only the server?

How can we call it a server game if each player is gambling on a different screen according to the rules of a specific type of game?

No one made a dictionary to explain all this. If you play a slot game in a land-based casino you’re playing a copy of the program on a standalone gaming cabinet. Theoretically no one else is playing the same game with you.

But if you play the same game online you’re sharing a gaming server with dozens or hundreds of other people, and they may be playing the same game or different games.

So what is the slot game?

Conclusion

In some ways paradoxes are just word games. The paradox is created in part by the semantics. It’s hard to find a truly illogical paradox because, like Pi, you can usually just change one of the conditions of your question and you no longer have a paradox.

When you look at the questions about profitability you have to wonder who came up with the rules of accounting. Okay, that was a guy in Italy who lived a few hundred years ago but he had no idea that slot machine games would one day exist.

You may not care how insane slot machine games have become because you just enjoy pressing Spin and seeing your balance go up. But if you stop and think about it, you probably haven’t played a real slot machine game in years.

And despite all your losses on these games the casinos have yet to figure out if they’ve actually come out ahead on any game.

10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Casino Games (But Probably Should)

Mixed Image of Roulette Wheel Cards and Cash

Casino games are what make the casinos’ worlds go round.

They also make the casino gamblers’ world go round, too.

But you’d be surprised at how little the average gambler knows or understands about how casino games work.

The purpose of this post is to explain some of the most important things you don’t know about casino games.

After all, if you’re going to play these games, you should know at least something about how they work and what that means for you and your money.

1- All Casino Games Have a Mathematical House Advantage

Every casino game has a statistical advantage built into the rules that favors the house, not the gambler.

This statistical advantage is called “the house edge,” and it’s always represented as a percentage.

The house edge is the percentage of each bet on that game that you’ll lose over a statistically significant number of bets.

In other words, if you place enough bets, the average amount you lose per bet will resemble the house edge.

The more bets you make, the closer your actual average will eventually get to the expected average.

Here’s an example:

The house edge on an average blackjack game – assuming you play with perfect basic strategy – is usually about 0.5%.

This means that over thousands of hands, you’ll lose 0.5% of every bet – on average.

If you’re betting $100 per hand, your expected loss per hand is $0.50.

2- A Lower House Edge Is Better, BUT It Doesn’t Necessarily Improve Your Probability of Winning

You’ll see novice gambling writers claim that a lower house edge means you have a higher probability of winning.

This isn’t the case, though – the probability of winning is a factor in determining the house edge, but it’s not the sole factor.

The other factor is just as important, and that’s the payout for the bet.

Here’s an example:

Suppose you had a slot machine with 10 symbols on each of 3 reels, and you have an equal probability of hitting any of those symbols.

Let’s also assume that this specific slot machine only has one winning combination – 3 cherries in a row.

Closeup of a Craps Game

The probability of getting those 3 cherries is 1/10 X 1/10 X 1/10, or 1/1000.

That’s the same as having odds of 999 to 1 of winning.

Now let’s assume that the jackpot for that combination is 995 coins.

The payback percentage for this slot machine game is 99.5%, which means that the house edge is just 0.5%.

But your odds of winning a spin on that slot machine are still just 1 in 1000, even though the house edge on this game is lower than any slot machine you’ll ever run into.

3- Most Casino Games Have No Skill Element at All

One way to categorize and compare casino games is by how much skill is involved. I can think of 3 categories right away:

  1. Casino games where you have no meaningful decisions to make
  2. Casino games where the bet you choose matters
  3. Casino games where you make decisions that affect the outcome

An example of a casino game with no meaningful decisions to make is European roulette. Every bet on a European roulette game has the same house edge – 2.70%.

An example of a casino game where the bet you choose matters is craps. You can choose the pass line bet, which has a house edge of 1.41%, or you can choose multiple prop bets where the house edge is well over 16%.

Finally, an example of a casino game where your decisions affect the outcome is real money blackjack. If you hit when you have a total of 20, you’re probably going to bust. The decisions about how to play your hands matter.

But most casino games fall into the first category.

4- You Can Measure a Casino Game’s Odds With “Volatility”

Volatility just refers to the swings up and down in your wins and losses. With a game like the slot machine example I referred to in #2, you’re dealing with a low house edge but a lot of volatility.

You’ll rarely win, but when you do, you’ll win a lot.

And on those rare occasions when you win twice in a row, you’ll really stack up the dough.

But with a game like roulette where you can bet on black, the volatility is low. You have a 47.37% probability of winning an even-money blackjack bet.

In the long run, the casino still wins, but it still takes longer because you’re winning a large percentage of the time.

With slot machines, the hit ratio – the percentage of spins that result in a payoff – is usually between 30% and 40%.

5- Slot Machines Are Basically Just Fancy “Skinner Boxes”

BF Skinner was a famous behavioral scientist who did studies on how motivated rats were to pull a lever on a box. The reward for pulling the lever was a piece of cheese.

In one group of rats, they got cheese every time they pulled the lever.

In another group, they got nothing every time they pulled the lever.

Not surprisingly, the group that got cheese was far more likely to pull the lever on the Skinner box.

But then he tried something different.

He added a random element to a third group. Sometimes they got a piece of cheese when they pulled the lever, but sometimes they didn’t.

Skinner learned that the rats who didn’t know if they were getting cheese or not were MORE motivated to pull the lever than the rats who KNEW they were going to get cheese.

Slot machines work on the same principle.

Gamblers are motivated to keep pulling the lever because they don’t know if they’re going to get a winning combination or not.

6- Skilled Blackjack Players Can Beat the House

In Vegas Vacation, there’s a funny scene where Clark Griswold is explaining to his Cousin Eddie that blackjack is the only game in the casino where a skilled player can beat the house.

The implication is that if you use basic strategy, you’ll have a mathematical edge over the house.

This is not correct.

Even if you play every hand perfectly, the casino still has an edge over the player in blackjack.

It’s just a small edge.

But there are additional tricks a skilled blackjack player can take to get an edge over the casino, like counting cards.

But just knowing how to play each hand isn’t enough to get a mathematical edge.

7- The Slots Clubs Isn’t a No-Brainer

Every time you read an article about casino gambling, the writer insists with almost religious fervor that you should always belong to the players club and always play with your card inserted.

I understand their point. If you can get a percentage of your losses back in the form of rebates and freebies, you should.

But consider this:

What do you give up by signing up for the players club?

Don’t you have to give the casino your name, address, phone number, and email address? And what is the casino going to do with that information?

If you guessed that they’re going to send you advertising, you’re right.

Slot Machines With Players Card Desk in Background

Getting constant advertising might be fun for some people, but I’ll pass.

Also, if you have impulse control problems, getting ads from a casino is probably the worst thing that can happen.

After all, problem gamblers shouldn’t be getting come-hither ads from casinos. But don’t skip the players club because you suspect it will decrease your chance of winning. The casinos have no incentive to decrease your probability of winning.

In fact, they have an incentive to keep you playing more often.

That’s because the statistical advantage works because of the Law of Large Numbers.

The more you play, the closer you’re going to get to the statistical losing average they expect.

8- Craps Is a Way Better Game than Most Gamblers Realize

A lot of new casino gamblers avoid craps because they think it’s too complicated.

The truth is that craps is easy to learn and easy to understand, especially if you stick with the simplest bets at the table.

And those bets, coincidentally, are the bets with the lowest house edge.

Craps offers more fun and entertainment value than almost any other game in the casino, and the house edge of 1.41% or 1.36% on the simplest bets are a bargain compared to other games.

9- You’re Not an Idiot for Enjoying Roulette

Some gamblers write about roulette gamblers as if they’re the lowest of the low.

But the truth is, you’ll lose less money on average at the roulette table than you will playing slot machines.

Not only is the house edge higher on most slot machines, but the amount of money you’re putting into action per hour is a staggering difference.

The average slots player might make 500 spins per hour. At $3 per spin – which is a good average – you’re looking at putting $1500 per hour into action.

If you find a loose slot machine, one with a house edge of 6%, for example, your expected loss per hour is $90.

Contrast that with a roulette table. The house edge is 5.26%. but the number of bets you’re placing per hour is probably closer to 50 – maybe even less if the table has a lot of players.

Let’s say you’re betting $10 per spin instead of $3 per spin.

You’re putting $500 into action per hour.

With a house edge of 5.26%, the expected hourly loss is only slightly higher than $25, which is a much lower cost of entertainment than playing the slots.

AND, you don’t have to stress out about making decisions at the roulette table.

All the best are basically the same, mathematically.

10- Casino Games Are Both Better and Worse Than the Lottery

States with a lot of casinos don’t often have lotteries, but some people live on the border between 2 states. For example, I live in Texas, and we have a popular lottery but no casinos.

The casinos in Oklahoma, though, are just a short drive from here.

The house edge on lottery games is huge – 40% to 60%, depending on the game. Even the worst bets in the casino usually have a house edge that’s just a fraction of that – 15% with the bad bets.

The house edge on the good bets, as we discussed, might be as low as 0.5%. But remember – the house edge isn’t the only factor determining how much you lose.

Most people spend less than $20 a week playing the lottery.

With a house edge of 50%, that’s an expected loss of $10 per week.

Go to a casino, though, and you’re almost guaranteed to bet more than $20 within your first hour.

Remember that roulette example from #9.

That’s a slow game with a low minimum bet, but you’re still putting $500 into action there in an hour.

Even though the house edge is 10% of that for the lottery, you’ll lose 2 to 3 times more money playing roulette.

Conclusion

Casinos and online casino games are a lot of fun, but it’s just like any other consumer business – it’s up to you to become an informed consumer.

This is your money we’re talking about. It’s up to you to make sure you gamble wisely.

And some familiarity with how it all works is a prerequisite for that.

Don’t Look Like a Fool – Top 10 Casino Etiquette Tips

Joker Playing Card With Casino Design Background

Many casinos are historic establishments and as such, come with their own set of rules and regulations. While these will be second nature to regular attendees, for newcomers, they can initially seem daunting.

If you were introduced to casino games from the comfort of your home or office, you might not know the subtle dos and don’ts of betting in a land-based casino.

After the rules themselves, you’ll need to learn a few basic rules on etiquette to avoid wide-eyed glares from the dealer, and glances from your fellow players.

Ensure that your debut in the world of gambling is a resonating success by following this overview of casino etiquette. Here are a few simple tips for making your first casino trip a little smoother.

1 – Put the Tech Away

In a world in which smartphones rarely leave their owners’ hands, casinos play by more old-fashioned rules. It’s considered extremely disrespectful to be glued to your electronic gadgets when at the table, not to mention that it’s likely to have a detrimental effect on your game.

Take a brief vacation from modern technology and keep your focus on the matter at hand, your wallet will thank you for it.

Not only is talking on your mobile distracting to players trying to concentrate on their wager, it’s rude. In most cases, anyway, the croupier will ask you to turn your phone off while you’re playing, or to step away from the table so you can take your call.

Most, if not all, casinos in the world don’t appreciate customers taking photos of the gaming floor.

So, if you want to capture that Vegas moment of bustling roulette tables and banks of slots, buy a postcard unless you want a stern warning from casino security.

2 – Learn the Hand Signals

When playing blackjack, it’s not enough to know the verbal commands; you’ll need to supplement these with hand signals. Most of these are relatively rudimentary, but vary depending on whether the cards have been dealt face up or face down.

When the cards are face up, you tap the table for “hit” and wave your hand over the table for “stick.” For “double,” place your matching bet next to your original bet and hold up one finger; for “split” use the same action with two fingers.

Blackjack Hand on a Blackjack Table

If the cards are face down, use your cards to scrape the table for “hit” and slide your cards underneath your bet for “stick.” Laying your cards face up on the table and placing an additional bet next to your original one indicates “double;” placing the bet next to one of the cards instead indicates “split.”

3 – Dress the Part

While most major casinos in Las Vegas operate a relaxed policy of dress, many others don’t. Depending on where you are, you may have to wear a collared shirt and nice slacks, and wearing sneakers might mean you’re going to have a long trip back home to change.

Check with the casino before heading out to make sure you’re not under-dressed. And of course, for men and women, it’s fair to say going topless is largely frowned upon.

4 – Mind Your Liquor

James Bond might knock back martinis at a poker table with debonair nonchalance, but unless you’ve also got the alcohol tolerance of a fictional super-spy, it’s best to pace yourself.

While there’s a long standing myth that casino employees will encourage customers to drink and so gamble more recklessly, most reputable establishments prefer customers to stay sober enough to handle the rollercoaster ride of jackpots and losses. Sipping a few cocktails can enhance your experience; but if you’re out to guzzle pints, head for the pub instead.

Casinos are playgrounds where the adults can chill out and have a good time while gambling. But don’t let the booze get the better of you and make for a terrible night for everyone at the  table.

5 – Cash in, Cash Out

Buying your chips is probably the easiest mistake casino newcomers make when sitting down at a table game.

For starters, make sure you’re aware of the minimum and maximum bets of each table as they will differ. These are clearly displayed on boards, so don’t sit down at a roulette table and hand over $5, only to realize the minimum bet is $10.

To buy chips, never hand the dealer cash; lay it on the table in front of you as you sit down.

The croupier will catch sight of this and change your money into chips, announcing the amount as he does so.

Because roulette chips are specially colored, you’ll need to cash out before you leave the table. Indicate to the croupier that you want to leave by waiting for the end of a spin when they’re less distracted and he will change your roulette chips for generic casino cash chips. The same goes for blackjack or craps.

6 – Respect the Dealer

If a roulette croupier says, “no more bets”, he means it. If you’re unsure about the passage of play, take one of the casino’s fresher classes first, or watch the action for a while before joining in. It’s a good rule of thumb to listen to the dealer as they are directing the passage of play.

Yes, they work there and yes, they are professionals, but no dealer in the world wants to take responsibility for a player’s luck.

Consider your request from their perspective: it may sound harmless enough to ask what their recommendation would be with your hand, but if you follow their tip and lose, the dealer has no way to predict whether you’ll take it calmly and rationally, or become belligerent.

Two notable exceptions are Pai Gow and Pai Gow Poker, in which it’s common practice to check in with the dealer on the “House Way.”

7 – Handling Chips

At a roulette table, the dealer will give you a different color of chips to everyone else. This is to differentiate your chips from everyone else’s.

Remember your color and learn where the chips have to be placed correctly for a bet. Don’t be afraid to ask the dealer for help if you need; this way you won’t end up forfeiting bets by placing chips in the wrong place.

Chips Bet on a Roulette Table

Never move, or remove, chips during a spin of the roulette or hand of blackjack, and don’t ever lay a finger on another players’ chips.

The croupier will place winning chips on top of your bets on the table and leave them. It’s your job then to remove the chips if you want or let it ride for the next bet.

8 – Be A Gracious Loser

While it’s perfectly reasonable to feel aggravated after a heavy loss or run of bad luck, it’s also an inevitable part of life as a gambler. Accusations of a rigged game or cheating dealer are extremely unlikely to be accurate, and no amount of grumbling will alter the result.

Even non-verbal reactions such as throwing away the cards or storming away from the table will show you up as a bad sport and an unwelcome guest at anythe casino. Thank and tip the dealer, excuse yourself from the table, and burn up your frustration on a long walk instead.

Casino games should be friendly and entertaining, both for you and the other players at the table. Don’t fly into a rage when you lose and start blaming the dealer or arguing with other players. Handling a gambling downswing should be handled outside the casino, not at the table.

9 – Learn to Tip

Unless you’re in a country where dealers can’t be tipped, it’s expected that you leave a small gratuity for the dealer when you get up to leave a table. It doesn’t have to be huge and don’t feel pressured to donate a big portion of your stack if you’ve had a good win. Only $1 on every small win or $5/10 when you leave the table will suffice.

Use your discretion to establish the exact amount, but always tip your dealers, waiting staff and parking attendant. Most of the casino staff will earn minimum wage and rely on tips to bolster their meager earnings.

Be courteous and professional with all the staff and do be generous if you’re winning. Even if you’re losing, it’s not your dealer’s fault. If they’ve made an effort to bolster your mood and improve your experience, the best way to thank them is with a reasonable tip.

10 – Know the Rules

Every player remembers their first time in a casino and should be correspondingly sympathetic towards novices, but a little knowledge goes a long way. While slots are fairly self-explanatory, it’s best to avoid the Craps table unless you’re confident that you understand the rules of the game.

While some players may take pity on a novice and offer help if asked, you shouldn’t be reliant on this scenario.

If you want to hone your skills before joining a real game, many casinos offer free lessons in the daytime.

Alternatively, you’ll find plenty of online resources offering step-by-step coaching through the more complex games. By the time you sit at the table, you should be prepared to play with the training wheels off.

Conclusion

Follow these simple but important etiquette tips to avoid making a fool of yourself at the casino. Remember, casino gambling is first and foremost entertainment.

You certainly wouldn’t get sloshed at a broadway musical and stub the valet because you didn’t enjoy the show. You should demonstrate the same courtesy and decorum in the casinos.

Wayne Newton: 6 Facts About This Las Vegas Icon

Wayne Newton With a Las Vegas Strip Background

Wayne Newton was Mr. Las Vegas before Vegas was cool. Even today, when almost every big-name star has done a residency at a hotel or concert hall on the Strip, Wayne Newton is still king of the crowds, having performed to over 40 million people, according to his website.

But how did he get so big in Sin City? Here are 6 facts you may not know about the somewhat mysterious star.

1 – Child Prodigy

At the preschool age of only 4, Newton had already chosen a life onstage as his career path, and he set about learning to play piano, guitar, and steel guitar by ear.

Unbelievably, by the age of 6, he was performing on a radio show every morning before going off to elementary school.

On weekends he and his brother performed at movie theaters and in Opry roadshows.

In his junior year of high school, the Newton brothers caught the attention of a Las Vegas booking agent who booked them for two weeks at a hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. Those two weeks turned into five years of grinding out six shows a day, six days a week.

The toll on Wayne’s voice forced him to learn new instruments just to get some vocal relief, Newton says on his site. He eventually learned to play 13 instruments.

2 – Hit Maker

Try and name a song on the U.S. charts with a German title, besides “Der Kommissar” and “99 Luftballons”.

While you’re thinking it over, add Wayne Newton’s “Danke Schoen”, German for “thank you” to the list. As a slightly chubby 21-year-old singing soprano, Newton had an unlikely hit with this sentinel lounge tune in 1963.

Young Wayne Newton Performing With a Band

In fact, that wasn’t his only odd chart maker. In 1972, he scored again with “Daddy, Don’t You Walk So Fast,” in which a little girl begs her daddy not to leave the family home.

As noted in the documentary “Radio Revolution: The Rise and Fall of the Big 8,” Canadian music director Rosalie Trombley of influential station CKLW added the record to her playlist to embarrass her ex-husband who hadn’t been coming by to see their kids.

It zoomed up the Canadian charts and then spilled into the United States, where it eventually sold a million copies. By this point, Newton’s vocal register had dropped a few notches and he was sporting some stylish sideburns.

3 – Hard Money

So, here’s the million-dollar question: How does Wayne Newton consistently draw such large crowds to Las Vegas despite only having a handful of hits? Let’s quote from this 1980 Washington Post article that wondered the same thing:

“He bites into ‘I Can See Clearly Now’ in his bronchial Brenda Lee tenor, eye-contact spraying around the room. He grins, he winks, he glides, he spins, working harder than a man changing a tire in the rain.

“He slams into his second number. Other performers make it look easy, but Wayne Newton wants to sweat, straining at the long holds in ‘Staying Alive’ from ‘Saturday Night Fever.”

It’s started, the patented Wayne Newton push-me-pull-you routine, praising and scolding the crowd toward frenzy, meanwhile disarming any possible resistance to Wayne Newton.”

Now in his 70s, Newton’s voice is not what it used to be, but he’s still giving great entertainment value, singing, playing multiple instruments, telling jokes, showing old TV clips and reminiscing about his experiences with Hollywood and Nashville luminaries alike.

He’s such a Vegas fixture that the road leading to Terminal 1 at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas is named “Wayne Newton Boulevard.”

4 – Order In the Court

In 1980, NBC News reported that Newton had ties to the Mafia. At the time, Newton was part owner of the Aladdin hotel, which gave rise to other news reports that he was a “frontman” for the mob. Newton sued NBC for defamation and won.

An appeals court said that although the report was inaccurate, there was no malice and so Newton couldn’t collect any damages as a public figure, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

That wasn’t the only lawsuit Newton was involved with. In 2005, he filed court documents disputing claims that he and his wife Kathleen McCrone owed the IRS $1.8 million in taxes and penalties.

And in 2019, he was sued by a woman who claimed his pet monkey bit her daughter during a visit at his former mansion. In a complaint filed this week, Clark County resident Krystal Warner said she visited the Las Vegas entertainer’s former home, known as Casa de Shenandoah, in April 2018.

After Warner was asked and agreed to take a picture with “Boo,” the monkey, she was “viciously attacked” and bitten, according to the complaint.

The suit names Newton, the unidentified handler, and the property as defendants, claiming they “had a duty to exercise due care and keep the dangerous monkey restrained and confined. … Defendants knew, or should have known, that the monkey had a propensity for viciousness and/or a propensity to bite and/or attack.”

He added that “the length of time that has passed between the alleged incident and the filing of the lawsuit cast doubt as to the merit of the claim” and that the suit would be “appropriately addressed.”

In August, another woman filed suit on behalf of her daughter, who said she was attacked by a monkey at Newton’s home in October 2017.

In court papers, Newton has denied those allegations.

5 – A Love for Horses

More than 60 Arabian horses live on Newton’s working ranch. Wayne, who oversees the breeding program, says his ranch has produced more than 96 world champs. Visitors can watch the horses let loose in one of the three arenas on the property or swimming in one of the on-site pools. “I have two loves in life: horses and music,” Newton says.

Next to music, Newton loves nothing more than Arabian horses. In fact, he owns around 45 of them and is considered one of the world’s top breeders of Arabians. Many of his horses have won equestrian competitions, too.

In 2019, when Newton heard that Lady Gaga’s beloved horse Arabella had died, he realized her bloodline came from a horse he’d owned, and he offered Gaga to come to his ranch to see if she wanted a replacement.

“Horses have always been there for me, through all of the ups and downs,” Newton told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “When I need to have peace and sanity, I go to my stables.”

6 – Shenandoah

Casa de Shenandoah, the 36-acre estate once owned by “Mr. Las Vegas,” entertainer Wayne Newton and his wife Kathleen, was put on display in 2015 for public tours. By all accounts, it was a popular, successful, and profitable tourist attraction.

But in May 2018, less than three years after the tours started, Casa de Shenandoah was closed to the public. The reason given at the time was the need for “extensive maintenance, repairs, and renovation.”

Then, a couple of months later, on July 10, 2018, it was announced that the estate would be returned to a private residence, ending the tours for good. No reason was given.

Older Wayne Newton Playing Guitar in a Show

By that time, however, the Newtons no longer owned the estate, which had been purchased for $18-plus million by a Texas businessman, Lacy Harber, who started the tours to pay the bills on the historic landmark. But the Newton family still ran the tours, apparently, up until July 2017, when Wayne was bitten by a spider and had to be hospitalized in critical condition.

The Newtons haven’t lived at the Casa ranch since 2013. They now live about a mile down the road.

At some point, Harber put the ranch, plus the property that housed the gift shop and theater across the street, up for sale. It all sold to a Portland, Oregon-based real estate investment group, Harsch Investment Properties, a couple of months ago for $10-plus million. No announcement has been made so far about what Harsch might plan for the property.

Conclusion

Recognized worldwide as the “King of Las Vegas,” Newton has entertained audiences with his repertoire of signature songs to more than 40 million fans and has performed over 30,000 live shows on the Las Vegas Strip alone.

Entertainer, actor, singer, and humanitarian, Newton is the USO’s Celebrity Circle Chairman and, through many years, has hosted countless shows for U.S. troops in war zones overseas.

Mr. Newton has been performing in Vegas for over 60 years and while nothing lasts forever, here’s to wishing you another 60, Wayne.

5 Tips for Betting on Sports You Don’t Really Know

Silhouette of Confused Man With Sportsbook and Money Background

Bad losing streaks, frustration, over-analyzation – there are plenty of reasons that might have you thinking twice about betting on your favorite sports. It seems counterintuitive, but sometimes you can be too close to a sport to look at it objectively.

Other times, you just want a change of pace! It’s completely normal to get burnt out if you’ve been betting on the same handful of leagues for months. Luckily, there are plenty of options out there to explore.

In this article, I’ll lay out the tips you need to know for betting on sports that you might not be familiar with in the past.

1 – Research with a Purpose

If I just say that research is an important part of the process, that’s not very good advice. Nearly endless information is available on any sport, so it’s important to spend your time wisely and only seek out the numbers and trends you need to know.

The fact that you’re deciding to bet on a sport you don’t know probably means that you’re mostly in it for the money – whether that’s quick money now, or developing a long-term strategy for the future. Now that you’ve established the goal (making money through betting), you can research the things you need to know.

It’s always nice to have an idea about how the sport functions, but learning the rules, techniques, and strategies isn’t going to help you develop a good betting strategy. My suggestion would be to focus your research solely on the gambling side of the game, and see what the experts are saying.

Bettors who gamble on the top sports in the U.S. likely know that taking favorites in the majority of their bets isn’t a smart thing to do.

However, people still do it anyway because they “know” the teams, and thus (falsely) believe they have a better chance to predict the outcome.

Essentially, people bet against the information they know to be true, because they rely on their hunches rather than the data. If for no other reason, this makes betting on sports you don’t know very appealing. You don’t know the game, teams, or players, so you aren’t going to mistakenly think you do.

Obviously betting on sports is more complicated than just following what the data says, but it’s a great place to start. If you’re up for the challenge, ignore researching the game itself, and learn how the betting side works beforehand.

2 – Find a Good Sportsbook

Once you step outside the realm of major sports, finding a good online sportsbook can be somewhat of a challenge. With that being said, it’s also one of the most important components of an effective gambling strategy.

The reason why this factor is magnified in lesser-known sports is because the odds on the games or events aren’t going to be as consistent as with, say, the NFL or NBA. Bets that receive less action tend to vary widely, and it’s important to find the best odds for your specific play.

Overhead View of a Crowded Sportsbook

For example, if you want to choose an underdog on a certain bet, they might be listed at +150 on one site, and +165 on another. It might not seem like a huge difference, but if you could buy something for $20 or $17, you’re going to take the better deal every time.

Another reason it’s important to keep your options open in terms of sportsbook selection is so you can take advantage of offers and bonuses. Most betting sites offer incentives to keep you betting on their platform. These can be presented as deposit matches, free entry into tournaments, and in some cases, you’ll even receive house money to use towards your bets.

It’s important to utilize these offers because they can help ease the burden of few tough losses while you’re still trying to get your strategy down. Don’t worry if they seem too good to be true – they’re really just there to keep you coming back!

3 – Stick to the Betting Basics

Regardless of what you’re betting on, there are a few betting fundamentals that you should always stick to, no matter what. While I could go on about all of them in great detail, here are the ones which are most important to remember:

Bankroll Management

Keeping track of your money is the key to a good long-term plan. Managing your bankroll means never betting more than 2% to 10% on any single play. Once you have your bankroll determined, it’s crucial that you make it last as long as possible. If you do find yourself up quite a bit, keep some of the money for yourself like cashing out returns on a stock.

Don’t Chase Losses

This one is the most obvious, but chasing losses has led to more financial issues for gamblers than any other single mistake.

You’re going to lose bets, regardless of whether you’re gambling on the NFL or a foreign billiards match.

The worst thing you can do is double, triple, and quadruple down on your next plays in hopes that you can win it all back.

More often than not, you’re going to find yourself in a deep hole that you might have trouble returning from.

Quit While You’re Ahead

When I say “quit” I don’t mean stop betting overall, but rather for a short period of time like a day or week. If you’re lucky enough to have a stretch where you’re winning a high percentage of bets and taking in a lot of money, don’t get greedy.

Remember, small wins add up over time. It’s not worth it to risk all of your daily or weekly winnings in hopes of hitting it big. Be happy that you’ve made some money, and stash it away for when you really need it.

4 – Try Fake Plays before Jumping In

You don’t often think of the term “betting practice” in the realm of sports gambling, but that’s exactly what I’m suggesting here. When you start betting on a sport you don’t know, you might want to consider trying a paper betting strategy before putting in your real money.

Choose a sportsbook you feel comfortable with and fill out the bet slip, but don’t submit it. Follow along with the event, and see if you would have won with the play you had on the bet slip. After doing this a handful of times, you’ll have a much better grasp on how the process works when it comes to betting on that particular sport.

Sportsbook Screens and Betting Stations

I understand that it can be challenging to win bets that you didn’t actually play, and think about what could have been. However, it’s nice to know that if you lose due to inexperience, you won’t be kicking yourself for betting on something you’re entirely unfamiliar with.

Once you feel confident with how the games and associated betting processes function, you’re ready to start betting real money.

5 – Don’t Over Think It

Sports bettors are notorious for trying to, for lack of a better word, get “cute” with their plays. Cross-sport parlays, huge favorite moneyline bets, and all sorts of strange prop bets are just something that happen when you start getting really comfortable with gambling.

While the advice of “stick to simple bets” is a good tip even when talking about something you know, it’s even more important to follow that advice when you don’t know much about a sport.

Perhaps down the road you’ll learn some special tricks that can help make your strategy more profitable, but when you first start betting on a game, go with the easiest possible plays you can make. Trust me, your bankroll will thank you.

Conclusion

Some sports bettors scoff at the idea of betting on a sport they don’t know anything about, but if you try it, you’d be surprised at how successful you can be with limited knowledge. At the very least, you’ll avoid the ‘paralysis by analysis’ that has plagued sports bettors since the beginning of time.

10 Casino Games You Should Never Play

Man With Hands Out With Wheel of Fortune Wheel Background

A night at the casino can be an expensive but fun way to spend an evening.

Or it can be a total waste of money.

A professional shark, or even just an experienced visitor, probably knows what casino games are all about.

But a novice can easily be overwhelmed by decisions and get caught in some common traps. Casinos are businesses, after all, and their primary goal is to separate you from your spending money.

That can be fine.

If you’re just there to take in the atmosphere and feel like James Bond, then set a solid budget and play whatever game you most enjoy.

But if you want to improve your odds of getting one over on the house, here are 10 casino games you should never play:

1- Bingo

Here are 2 major reasons to avoid spending your time and money on bingo when you visit a casino:

  1. Your odds of winning extremely low – if the house isn’t full, there’s no guarantee ANYONE will win, let alone you specifically. And you don’t even have any control over the outcome. Plenty of superstitions explain how to improve your odds of winning. But at the end of the day, bingo is all luck. Low odds and zero player input? No thanks!
  2. For most people, bingo isn’t very exciting. You should primarily play casino games to have fun. Some gamblers enjoy an occasional trip to the bingo hall, but most gamblers should give bingo a miss.

2- Keno

Keno is, in concept, somewhere between bingo and a lottery.

Pick your numbers, wait for the winning digits to be announced, and see if you won anything.

The reasons for avoiding keno are much like the reasons you should avoid bingo:

  1. Low odds of winning
  2. Lack of entertainment value

But I’ll mention some distinctions.

Keno’s house edge is notoriously high. It’s harder to win any money playing keno.

You do have some meaningful decisions to make in keno, though:

You can choose to shoot for lower more reliable payoffs.

And while it’s not the game for everyone, there’s enough going on mathematically and superstitiously that some gamblers enjoy a round of this old Chinese game.

But most casino gamblers casino find better value elsewhere.

3- Double Zero Roulette

Also called American roulette, this variant has two ‘zero’ spaces on the wheel.

Single zero wheels, called European roulette wheels, are fairer roulette games offered at the average casino.

The house edge relatively low on European roulette compared to American roulette.

So, what’s the difference between these games?

Simple: The house wins most bets on zeros.

Long Closeup View of Roulette Wheel and Table

With two zero spaces on the wheel rather than one, the house’s odds double.

This might seem like a small thing, but statistically it adds up.

Roulette is an iconic game and worth at least a look for a first timer, but you should avoid the double zero trap and stick to European style games when you can find them.

4- Casino War

No, you did not read that wrong:

Though it’s more associated with bored kids killing time on a campout because they don’t know how to play any better games, there really are casinos that offer betting on the card game War.

No, it really isn’t any more exciting than you remember.

No, it really isn’t worth your time or your money.

If you’re unusually fond of the game because of nostalgia try it once and then move on.

5- Esports Betting

Most people are probably familiar with the basics of classic major American sports like baseball, football, and basketball.

While US sports gambling can be complex and isn’t something a novice should drop a lot of money on, it can be easy enough to have fun placing one or two simple wagers while watching a game in the casino bar.

But some venues – especially online — have started offering bets on esports – that is, bets on competitive video game playing.

In theory this is just like regular sports gambling.

But in practice, that’s a risky way of thinking.

Most people are familiar with regular sports – far more so than they are with competitive gaming.

Even if you personally know Street Fighter from BlazBlue or play League of Legends in your spare time, there’s still a big knowledge requirement to meet before you should start betting on these games.

6- Wheel of Fortune

You’ll see this game called a number of names.

But all of them involve a big wheel being spun and betting on the outcome.

In keeping with what you may be noticing is a common theme here, the game has little player input and offers bad odds on even the lowest payouts.

And the odds drop heavily if you try for big money. On top of that, the game isn’t much fun.

It’s telling that these games are apparently disappearing, driven by falling player interest.

Follow their lead on Wheel of Fortune, or Big Six, or whatever they’re calling it these days.

7- Craps

Shooting craps can be a fun time and is an iconic gambling house mainstay.

But there’s one factor that lands it on this list:

Betting on craps is more complicated and more intense than it first appears.

You can place several types of bets:

From come or don’t come bets and pass or don’t pass bets, to place bets, to free odds bets, to hardway bets and more, there’s a lot to know.

Closeup of a Craps Table

Making it worse is that the craps table itself, where all these wagers are made and placed, is a nightmare for a beginner to understand.

And even though craps is a social game, the crowd at a craps table isn’t always welcoming to novices.

It can be worth your time and money to play, but make sure you learn how the game works before showing off your Sky Masterson impression.

8- Slots

The image of a desperate gambler, hunched over a one-armed-bandit, praying for a huge win that will likely never come, is drilled firmly into the popular consciousness.

But it bears repeating:

Like several other games here, slot machines are a trap of bad odds and little or no player input.

If you want to try slots once, that’s fine; pull the handle, watch the slots spin, enjoy the lights and music for a minute, scratch that item off your bucket list, and then go find something more rewarding to spend your time and money on.

9- Poker

Poker can be a great time with friends or family, but there are major differences between your weekly game with coworkers over beer and pizza and a serious poker game in a casino.

The buy-ins and the stakes are often higher, and you probably won’t know the people at your table.

Some of them will probably be new, and some of them may be ruthless sharks.

You should, at least, know the rules for the game you’re sitting down to in a casino poker game.

10- Any Game You’re Not Having Fun With

Unless you’re a professional gambler, the real point of a trip to the casino is to have fun.

For most people, the fantasy of hitting it big at roulette or cards or dice is just that:

A fantasy, and one that the people who run casinos cheerfully exploit to separate marks from money.

So, don’t worry about making money; worry about spending it in a way you enjoy.

Blackjack is one of the fairest games available in the casino, but if you don’t enjoy it, play something else.

You may be absolutely garbage at craps, but if it’s a game you love playing, play it.

Once you’ve set your limit for the evening, all you should be worrying about is safely having a good time.

Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

Conclusion

Consider other things, too, of course:

If you don’t know a game, any game, no matter how simple it looks, you shouldn’t drop your paycheck on it.

You may have noticed that this list focuses on games widely available in American casinos; if you’re in another country, be prepared to encounter games or rule sets that you aren’t familiar with, and play it smart.

That’s my list of games you shouldn’t play in a casino.

Agree?

Disagree?

Let me know in the comments.

Finally, please remember:

Gambling, practiced responsibly and in moderation, can be a fun pastime or hobby.

The most important thing to remember is to stick to a budget and not allow yourself to go over it, no matter how tempting it is.

The longer you spend trying to make back what you’ve lost, the more you’re likely to lose.

Accept that going home with a lighter wallet is usually the price of a fun time, and you’ll be healthier and happier.

The 2 Best Las Vegas Hotels Without Casinos

Cross Out Sign Over a Pair of Dice With Las Vegas Background

When I was a kid, Las Vegas was not a place where families would plan their summer vacations. Las Vegas, even ten or twenty years ago, was a hotspot for casino and show-goers as well as a place that men and women both often would enjoy their bachelor parties—it wasn’t exactly family friendly. Thankfully, there are now plenty of Las Vegas hotels without casinos attached that families can spend their time in if they want to enjoy Vegas.

Although Las Vegas is still a place for bachelor parties (as well as a place for casino and show goers), it doesn’t have that “anti-family” vibe that it used to have.

Nowadays, Las Vegas is a place for families with children just as much as it is for partiers and gamblers.

There are more and more exciting events and attractions that parents can take their kids to added on the strip each year. In 2020, you’ll find more family resorts in Las Vegas than ever before. If you are thinking of places to take the family to for your next family vacation, don’t let the idea of heading to Las Vegas slip through the cracks!

When trying to choose the right place for everyone to crash after a busy (yet fun and exciting) day, you might want to look into a few resort or hotel options that don’t include a casino. Here are two of the best Las Vegas hotels without casinos.

1- Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas

Casinos can definitely be a problem for families who are visiting Las Vegas and just want to focus on the kids for the trip. Maybe you are a family that brought young children to Las Vegas. The thought of staying at a hotel or resort that has smoking inside due to the 24-hour, round-the-clock operating casino is probably not the greatest idea.

Thankfully, Las Vegas does have a number of high-quality hotels that don’t have a casino and are perfect for families (or just visitors who are sensitive to cigarette smoke or simply don’t want to inhale secondhand smoke for hours at a time during their trip).

The Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas is an absolutely fantastic friendly friendly resort that keeps the kids away from the casino nightlife and loudness while still being close enough to actual casinos (in case Mom or Dad wants to sneak off after the kiddos fall asleep to play a little poker or blackjack).

You can find the Four Seasons Hotel sitting on top of Mandalay Bay Resort, occupying the top 5 floor floors of the resort. This gives the Four Seasons the feeling of being far away from the craziness and nightlife of Vegas.

The kids will be able to sleep fine without hearing crazy yelling or drama from people who have had too much to drink at the casino, but you’ll still be right in the heart of Vegas and within walking distance of all the casinos that the adults might actually want to visit (and within walking distance of all the attractions of Las Vegas that the kids want to see, not to mention all the great shopping that’s available for people of all ages).

Four Seasons Las Vegas Pool

You will be even more thrilled when you hear that the entrance to the Four Seasons Hotel uses doors that are actually totally separate from the entrance to Mandalay Bay. No stumbling into all those partiers that Las Vegas is famous for while carting the kids to and fro across the city!

Being on the top 5 floors, it is obvious I suppose that the entrance and lobby to the Four Seasons is different to that of Mandalay Bay. But even still, it is nice that while staying here, you will have the seclusion of not having to deal with all of the traffic from the guests coming in and out of Mandalay Bay. Even your average patrons who aren’t drunk can be a little overwhelming when there’s thousands of them to deal with.

Mandalay Bay is a 43 story luxurious resort and casino that is extremely famous and popular on the Las Vegas Strip. Mandalay Bay is owned by MGM Resorts International, while the Four Seasons Hotel is independently owned and operated inside Mandalay Bay tower.

Another great benefit that most families will appreciate is that even though you have a more private stay at the Four Seasons, you are not going to have to travel far to find fantastic food or entertainment.

The Four Seasons and Mandalay Bay are just south of (and an easy walking distance from) all of the entertainment and incredible food. The amenities featured at the Four Seasons are on a level that tops what you are going to experience at even one of your nicest local hotels. That is to be expected with any hotel that is 5 star and considered a AAA Diamond hotel.

You can let Mom slip away for the evening and enjoy a relaxing night at the decadent spa featured at the Four Seasons while enjoying marble bathrooms and hotel rooms that are each inspired by the art of a wide variety of famous and successful artists throughout the ages.

Where the Four Seasons really catches people’s attention is the level of customer service that you are going to find from every single employee inside of the resort. They take customer service to a level that you’re just not going to find anywhere else.

Known as the Four Season’s “anticipatory service,” the staff can literally almost anticipate every single need that could be had from any guest. You’ll be headed home from your stay wondering if all of the employees had some kind of psychic power. How exciting is that? I’m not kidding about this. This is a well-known bit of information about this hotel that is going to blow your mind and make you feel like some kid of movie star, the kind of person who has personal servants always attuned to their every need.

That should say a lot about the level of customer service that you’re going to be dealing with at the Four Seasons hotel. One of the greatest features for a family that is out on vacation is that the parents don’t have to typically stress about cooking dinner, unless of course you decided to take everyone out on a camping trip in the middle of the woods.

Not having to cook is a great stress relief, and what better way to enjoy that more than getting to eat at Charlie Palmer Steakhouse, featured inside the Four Seasons. The steakhouse gets fantastic reviews. I know that one of the most exciting meals for a lot of families while on vacation is breakfast—Veranda’s breakfast buffet at Four Seasons will never disappoint. There are many varied and delicious options for everyone, making not having to cook even more of a treat.

2- Palms Place Hotel and Spa

Another popular option for people who are wanting a luxurious experience in Las Vegas that allows their night to end away from a casino is the Palms Place Hotel and Spa. Three towers are present inside the large Palms Casino Resort complex, one of those towers being the Palms Place Hotel and Spa.

If you’re looking to save money while on your trip in Las Vegas, then choosing Palms Place is definitely going to be one of the more affordable options for you. It seems like the closer you are, or if you are staying on the strip, then the more you are going to end up paying per night at whichever hotel you choose.

Palms Place Las Vegas Pool

Part of the reason that Palms Place is more affordable is its off-the-strip location. Don’t let that be a deterrent for you if you were hoping to spend a lot of time on the strip.

Palms Place Hotel and Spa offers a free shuttle that can get you to and from the strip. Be aware that the shuttle will stop operating usually after 9PM. That might be an inconvenience for someone who plans on gambling at one of the many casinos that are featured on the Vegas strip until the wee hours of the night.

Many families that stay at Palms Place love having the distance from the loud and energetic Vegas strip, especially if they brought young children with them. Taking kids to shows and amusement parks and shopping can add up fast when it comes to trying to stick to a budget. Kids definitely are not cheap. Palms Place is an even better idea in this regard due to how much money can be saved from having a hotel a little bit further away from the Vegas strip.

Do you know of other hotels without casinos that are popular in Las Vegas? Let me know in the comments.

4 Horse Specialty Bets to Check Out

Closeup of Jockey and Horse With a Sportsbook Background

History of Horse Racing from China to England

Horse racing has a long history and is of the most ancient of human past times. We’ve used horses for transportation and labor for centuries, and horse racing has long been a source of entertainment around the world.

In the beginning, horse racing was just a simple competition of stamina and speed, and really not a lot has changed since. Despite all the electronic monitoring, televisions, and broadcasts of horse racing now, it’s still a simple contest to see which horse is the fastest.

China, Persia, and Arabia were some of the first countries to highly develop the art of horseback riding. It’s likely that once they developed horseback riding, horse racing came soon after. Much of horse racing is lost to history so we don’t know for sure which countries first had horse racing.

Image of Multiple Horses Racing

Arabian and Turk horses contributed to early European horse racing. Europeans used these imported horses to start racing during the early crusade period. These horses became popular to race with and the popularity of horse racing began to spread around the world.

King Charles ll began organizing horse races more during the 17th century. He began giving out awards for horse races and started coming up with different measurements and dimensions to make sure the races were judged consistently.

The English Classic races helped bring in the modern age of horse racing. Dashes for 3-year-olds carrying level weights became the classic English Pattern of horse racing. Different classics based on the 3-year-old horse races in England then began to spread all over the world.

4 Types of Horse Races

The prevalence of horse racing around the world has begotten many different varieties of horse races as different cultures came up with different ways to measure the strength, speed, and stamina of a horse.

Here are some of the different types of horse races:

  1. Flat Racing deals with thoroughbred horses and is run on a flat level surface. Flat races can run from 1 to 3 miles. The 1 miles deal more with speed while the 3 miles races require more stamina out of the horse
  2. Conditions and Handicap racing involve the different physical conditions of the horse before the race begins. Some of the horse’s physsical qualties that were considered included in the horse’s age, breed type, and sex. The handicap races help even out the playing field to make betting on the race easier.
  3. Jump racing puts obstacles around the track that horses have to hurdle. Overseas jump racing is known as the National Hunt and horses will have to avoid ditches as well as jumping over obstacles. These races require very athletic horses and include a lot of suspenseful moments.
  4. Endurance racing is what it sounds like. Most of these races can require a long time to complete and therefore require the horse to have a lot of stamina so it can finish the race in good enough condition to win.

How to Pick a Horse

If you’re interested in betting on horse races, you’ll need to learn how to pick which horse you think will win. There’s a lot more to picking out a horse to win than just looking at which horse is bigger or more muscular. Knowing what to look for in a horse will give you a big gambling edge.

Reading the racing form is when you look at a horse’s past performance to see how well it’s done in previous races. This can involve a lot of variables and can be a great tool for helping you figure out which horse has the best shot of winning.

Here are some examples of how to read an entry on a racing form:

  • Horses it’s raced against. If it’s a rookie horse, this won’t help you as much as you won’t have a big racing history to check. You can also see if a horse has raced against a specific horse that it’s racing against in the future. This will give you a good idea of its chances.
  • Recent victories. If the horse has had a good year, then it’s probably a good bet to win. If the horse is consistently winning a lot of races leading up to the race you’re betting on, it is probably in good condition and well tested.
  • Injury history. See if the horse has ever had injuries. If you check out all the details of the horse you’re betting on, you’ll see if there’s something underneath the hood that could be bothering the horse and make him a worse bet.

Types of Horse Tracks

Another great factor to focus on when horse race betting is the horse track. A lot of bettors may just look at the odds to decide which horse they’re going to bet on and never consider the track. Looking at the track and knowing which horses do well on what surfaces can give you a big advantage over other bettors.

In the US, there are 3 different types of horse tracks: Dirt, turf, and synthetic. You’ll see these types of tracks across the US and each one can have a different effect on how well the horses race.

Dirt is the fastest surface that horses race on. Horses will end up with much faster times when they’re on a dirt surface. Turf is the slowest one so horses will be slower out of the gate.

4 Types of Horse Specialty Bets

Here are the 4 types of horse specialty bets you can make:

1. Straight Bets

There are 3 types of straight bets: win, place, and show. They are pretty simple to understand and if you’re just getting into horse racing, they’re great bets to start with.

A win bet means the horse has to come in first place of the race. A place bet means the horse can come in first or second. A show bet means the horse can come in first, second, or third. A win bet will pay out more than a show bet because it’s a bigger risk so calculate the risk when you decide which bet to make.

2. Horizontal Exotic Bets

Parlay bets are a big part of horse racing and are also known as combination bets. A parlay bet involves multiple bets at once and the only way to win a parlay bet is to win all the different bets that form the parlay.

Parlay bets are much riskier than single bets because the likelihood of them winning is much lower but they also pay out a lot more. They’re also very complex statistically because you can combine several bets into 1 and the outcomes increase exponentially.

Far View of Horse Racers

Horizontal exotic bets are another form of parlay bets. In them, you must predict the winner of several horse races in a row. If you thought it was tough to predict the winner of one horse race, imagine predicting the winner of 5 in a row.

You can change your bet on however many races you want to — the more races you bet on in a horizontal parlay bet, the more the risk will increase so carefully decide how to place your wager.

3. Vertical Exotic Bets

Vertical exotic bets are very similar to horizontal bets but there’s a twist. Vertical bets involve predicting the order in which horses will finish in one race. Vertical means the order of horses in a single race, while horizontal means the first place horse across multiple races.

Vertical bets can also be modified based on how many horses you bet on. You can bet on who comes in first and second. This will be the safest form of a vertical bet, but you can also bet on how the horses will finish 1-4. The risk increases the more horses you bet on, but so do the rewards.

4. Pick 3

Pick 3 is a unique wager that exists in horse racing that doesn’t exist in other types of sports betting. While it’s not really a new bet in itself, it’s a specific way that parlay bets operate in horse racing so it’s important to understand the difference between a pick 3 bet and a conventional parlay bet.

A regular parlay bet will require you to bet the minimum for every part of the parlay but a pick 3 bet will let you bet on every part of the parlay while only requiring a bet for an individual part of the parlay. That’s a little confusing so let’s look at an example.

In a regular parlay bet, if the bet minimum was $2, you’d have to bet $8 to make a 4 part parlay bet. In a pick 3 bet with the same minimum, you only have to bet $2. $2 is the minimum for a single part of the parlay bet so it’s all you have to bet in a pick 3 to still wager on the entire parlay bet.

Conclusion

What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

How to Be a Happier Gambler

Woman With Colorful Nails and Flowers in Hair With 100 Dollar Bill

Happiness looks different for everyone. For you, maybe it’s being at the blackjack table, drink in hand. Or having the financial security to go all in without the slightest hesitation. Or the freedom to pursue your lifelong dream of winning a WSOP Bracelet.

Regardless of your version of true happiness, having a happier, more satisfied gambling life is within reach. A few tweaks to your regular habits can help you get there.

Habits Matter

If you’ve ever attempted to break a bad habit, you know all too well how ingrained they are.

Well, good gambling habits are just as deeply ingrained. Why not work on making positive habits part of your routine as a gambler?

Here’s a sample of some daily, monthly, and yearly habits to help get you started on the road of happiness. Keep in mind that everyone’s version of happiness is a little different, and so is their path to achieving it.

If any of these create added stress or just don’t fit your style, ditch them. With a little time and practice, you’ll figure out what does and doesn’t work for you as a gambler

Say “Cheese”

You tend to smile when you’re happy. But it’s actually a two-way street.

We smile because we’re happy, and smiling causes the brain to release dopamine, which makes us happier.

That doesn’t mean you have to go around with a fake smile plastered on your face all the time. But the next time you find yourself feeling low, crack a smile and see what happens.

Who doesn’t love the guy or gal across the table with a huge smile through it all?

Smile at the dealers. Smile at the cocktail servers. Smile at your fellow gamblers. Heck, even smile at the pit boss.

Get Fit

Exercise isn’t just for your body. Regular exercise can help to reduce stress, feelings of anxiety, and symptoms of depression while boosting self-esteem and happiness.

Even a small amount of physical activity can make a difference. You don’t have to train for a triathlon or scale a mountain to see a change.

Man and Woman Jogging on a Bridge

The trick is not to overexert. If you suddenly throw yourself into a strenuous routine, you’ll probably just end up burnt out.

Consider these exercise starters:

  • Take a walk around the block every night after dinner.
  • Sign up for a beginner’s class in yoga or tai chi.
  • Start your day with 5 minutes of stretching.

Remind yourself of any fun activities you once enjoyed, but that have fallen by the wayside. Or activities you always wanted to try, such as golf, bowling, or dancing.

Mr. Sandman

No matter how much modern society steers us toward less sleep, we know that adequate sleep is vital to good health, brain function, and emotional well-being.

Most adults need about 7 or 8 hours of sleep each night. If you find yourself fighting the urge to nap during the day or just feel like you’re in a fog, your body may be telling you it needs more rest.

It’s especially easy to get caught up in the energy of the casino and neglect yourself on trips. Pay close attention to the time and get your rest.

Here are a few tips to help you build a better sleep routine:

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends.
  • Keep your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet.
  • Invest in some good bedding.
  • If you have to take a nap, try to limit it to 20 minutes.

If you consistently have problems sleeping, talk to your doctor. You may have a sleep disorder requiring treatment.

Be Grateful

Simply being grateful can give your attitude a boost, among other benefits. For example, a recent two-part study found that practicing gratitude can have a significant impact on feelings of hope and happiness.

Start each day by acknowledging one thing you’re grateful for. You can do this while you’re having your morning coffee or taking the elevator down from your room.

As you go about your day, try to keep an eye out for pleasant things going on around you. It may be something huge like hitting an online slots jackpot.

But they can also be little things, such as a casino employee offering you show tickets. Maybe even just the warmth of the sun on your skin as you lay by the pool.

With a little practice, you may even become more aware of all the positive things around you.

Give a Compliment

Research shows that performing acts of kindness can help you feel more satisfied.

Giving a sincere compliment is a quick, easy way to brighten someone’s day while giving your own happiness a boost.

Catch the person’s eye and say it with a smile so they know you mean it. You might be surprised by how good it makes you feel.

If you want to offer someone a compliment on their physical appearance, make sure to do it in a respectful way.

Take a Breath

You’re tense, your shoulders are tight, and you feel as though you just might “lose it.” We all know that feeling.

Instinct may tell you to take a long, deep breath to calm yourself down.

Turns out, that instinct is a good one. According to Harvard Health, deep breathing exercises help

reduce stress.

The next time you feel stressed or at your wit’s end, work through these steps:

  1. Close your eyes. Try to envision a happy memory or beautiful place.
  2. Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose.
  3. Slowly breathe out through your mouth or nose.
  4. Repeat this process several times, until you start to feel yourself calm down.

If you’re having a hard time taking slow, deliberate breaths, try counting to 5 in your head with each inhale and exhale.

This exercise has been a sure-fire way to keep me from going on tilt more than once.

Embrace the Suck

A positive attitude is generally a good thing, but bad things happen to everyone. It’s just part of life and certainly a part of gambling.

If you get some bad luck, make a mistake, or just feel like you’re in a funk, don’t try to pretend you’re happy.

Acknowledge the feeling of unhappiness, letting yourself experience it for a moment. Then, shift your focus toward what made you feel this way and what it might take to recover.

Would a deep breathing exercise help? A long walk outside? Talking it over with someone?

Let the moment pass and take care of yourself. Remember, no one’s happy all the time.

Face Stress Head-On

Life is full of stressors, and it’s impossible to avoid all of them.

Luckily, you don’t have to. A noted Stanford psychologist, says that stress isn’t always harmful, and we can even change our attitudes about stress.

For those stressors you can’t avoid, remind yourself that everyone has stress. There’s no reason to think it’s all on you. And chances are, you’re stronger than you think you are.

Instead of letting yourself get overwhelmed, try to tackle the stressor head-on. This might mean initiating an inner dialogue or putting in some extra work, but the sooner you tackle it, the sooner the pit in your stomach will start to shrink.

Can You Hear Me Now

Unplug. Really.

Turn off all the electronics and put those earbuds away for at least one hour once a session. They’ll still be there for you later. If you still want them, that is.

If you haven’t unplugged in a while, you might be surprised at the difference it makes. Let your mind wander free for a change. Observe. Meditate. Take a walk and pay attention to your surroundings. Be sociable. Or be alone. Just be.

Sound too daunting? Try doing a shorter amount of time in more regular intervals.

Zen Master

There are many methods of meditation to explore. They can involve movement, focus, spirituality, or a combination of all three.

Meditation doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as sitting quietly with your own thoughts for 5 minutes. Even the deep breathing exercises mentioned earlier can serve as a form of meditation.

Woman Meditating Next to a Lake

Incorporate meditation into your gambling routine and see your winnings increase.

Treat Yo Self

No one to go out with? Well, what rule says you can’t go out alone?

Go to your favorite restaurant, take in a Vegas show, or go on that trip you’ve always dreamed of. You’ll likely be happier playing slots in Macau, if that’s on your bucket list.

Even if you’re a social butterfly, spending some deliberate time alone can help you reconnect with the games and places that truly make you happy.

Revisit Your Goals

People change, so think about where you’re heading and consider if that’s still where you want to go. There’s no shame in changing your game.

Becoming a professional poker player may not have the same ring to it than it did before being married with kids. It’s okay to embrace what makes you happiest today and work your gambling goals around that.

Let go of any goals that no longer serve you, even if they sound nice on paper.

Conclusion

You will be well-served to remember that gambling is a form of entertainment. Are you laying your bet for entertainment sake or to pay your light bill?

If it is the latter, I would encourage you to stop and possibly take a break from gambling.

It is almost impossible to not get caught up in the moment. Especially, when the competitive juices begin to flow. Just don’t go chasing bad money with good money.

I have one final piece of advice on how to be a happier gambler: For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.

Gamble on.

9 NCAA Football Betting Facts You Need to Know to Win

NCAA Football Players During a Play

Betting on NCAA football is different than any other sport. While it’s still football, much like in the NFL, the fact is that players have a set number of years they can play and there are many different levels of play in different conferences.

This is all good news, because it gives you opportunities to find and capitalize on value. Here are nine facts about betting on college football that you can use to improve your results. This list includes one of the secrets I’ve used to profit on college football games for years. The secret is about conferences, and it’s going to be one of the most important things you can use to make more money.

1 – Stars Matter

When I say that stars matter, it means two different things. The best players in college football are stars, and each team has some players that are better than others. You have to evaluate the stars on each team and judge how much they influence the performance of their teams and the outcomes of games.

But you also have to track the recruiting rankings for each team in NCAA football.

Recruits are ranked using a star system, with the top players ranked at five stars, followed by the next group of players getting four stars, etc.

Look at the number of five star, four star, and three star recruits every team gets every year. Keep track of these rankings year to year. Each player has five years to play four years, so you need to track the recruiting rankings for each team on a five year rolling system.

Track the recruits for each team as they come into the program and leave the program. This is going to give you a leg up when you’re betting on NCAA football. The teams with the most talent tend to win more often than teams with lesser talent.

2 – Historical Data Is Garbage

I don’t know how many times I’ve read how one team has covered the spread in 14 out of their last 16 games, or something similar. Every time I see something like this I roll my eyes and wonder who the suckers are that are buying whatever these people are trying to sell.

The fact is that anything that happened last season doesn’t have much, if anything, to do with what’s happening this season. And anything that happened before last season is a complete waste of time.

You need to know who the best coaches are and which teams do the best job recruiting, but the only thing that really matters is how each team is performing, or going to perform, this season and in the next game.

3 – Each Conference Is Different

You probably understand that the SEC is a different animal than the MAC, but the fact is that every NCAA football conference is different. And this can give you an advantage.

Teams play out of conference games early in the season, and then start playing games within the conference. The production outside the conference doesn’t always predict the results in the conference.

And inside each conference, teams have different talent levels and production. One of the best things you can do is pick one or two conferences and become an expert on every team in the conference or conferences.

Wide View of NCAA Football Field

This way you can do a better job evaluating teams and games once they get into conference play. Be careful about reading too much into non conference games, because the talent level is usually quite different.

Not long ago Cincinnati played Ohio State early in the season and Cincinnati looked terrible. But once they got into conference play it was clear they were a top team in the conference. If you placed too much faith in the early season game it leads to mistakes in conference play.

4 – Evaluate Equal Talent

One of the toughest things to do as a college football bettor is to evaluate teams that don’t have the same talent level. This is why it’s so important to track the recruiting rankings for each team, and why you have to be careful when you evaluate non conference games.

The problem is that teams with equal talent levels don’t play against each other often. So you have to learn how to predict how each team is going to perform when teams with equal talent play.

Teams with equal talent do meet in conference play sometimes, but where you see it most often is in bowl games. When you look at the talent level and the differences in each conference, it helps you evaluate games better.

5 – Coaching Matters More Than in the NFL

The most important thing that college coaches do is recruiting. I’ve already discussed the importance of recruiting, so in this section you’re going to learn about in game coaching and results.

Some college coaches are better at getting more out of their players than others, and some do a better job making pre game and in game decisions. This is usually evident in the results, but don’t forget about evaluating talent levels.

Identify the coaches that are able to get their teams to consistently get their teams to play above their talent level. This is particularly valuable when teams get into conference play.

6 – Defensive Position Evaluation

When you evaluate teams in college football, you need to evaluate each defense as a whole and by position. You don’t have to break it down into 11 positions, but you do need to look at the defense in three groups.

You need to evaluate defensive line play, linebacker play, and defensive back play. One area where college teams struggle is in pass protection, so teams with good defensive backs tend to be at the top of the standings.

Defensive line play is important because it helps control the run game and can help the defensive backs by putting pressure on the passing game. Linebackers are involved in both the running and passing game and one of the keys to look for is the speed at the linebacker position.

7 – Offensive Position Evaluation

When you’re evaluating the offense for each team you need to look at the passing game, run game, and offensive line play. The passing game starts with a close look at quarterback play, but includes the ability of the offensive line to protect the quarterback, and all of the skill position players.

NCAA Football Quarterback Throwing the Ball

You also need to look at the offensive scheme the team uses. Is it a scheme that is good at getting mismatches in the passing game, or does it rely on superior talent to beat team? A team that relies on talent is in danger when they face a team with equal or better talent.

In the running game, you need to know how well the offensive line creates holes, and how well the running backs find the holes. You also need to know how much the quarterback is involved in the running game.

8 – Quarterback Tendencies

When you evaluate quarterback play, you need to learn what their tendencies are. The main tendencies to look for are how much they run, especially how often they end up running on pass plays, and which receivers they look to when they’re in trouble or need an important completion.

The only way to learn some tendencies is to watch them play as much as possible. This is one reason why I recommend focusing on one or two conferences. You need to watch games so you can build a knowledge base to help you make good betting decisions.

9 – The Best Betting Line

If you take my advice and concentrate of one or two conferences, you have a choice. You can focus on the big conferences that everyone else concentrates on, or you can follow one or two smaller conferences.

The advantage of concentrating on smaller conferences is the lines aren’t as tight on these games. And the lines can vary from sportsbook to sportsbook, so you have a better chance to shop for lines and find good value.

It doesn’t matter which conferences you focus on; you need to shop the lines on every game before you make a bet. This can be the difference between winning and losing several games over the course of the season.

Conclusion

NCAA football is one of the best options for sports bettors. You have many different conferences and there are dozens of games every week. And it’s easy to find recruiting rankings to build your database to help you evaluate game.

Online sportsbooks don’t always set tight lines on games in smaller conferences, so you have an opportunity to find value every week. You can safely ignore historical data, because every season has new players.

Use the nine facts about betting on NCAA football games on this page to win more games. As you learn how to use what you just learned, develop a college football betting system to help you make smart betting decisions faster.

Do Odds, Probability, and Chances Always Mean the Same Thing?

Hand Flipping a Coin With a Roulette Table Background

It depends on who you ask. Remember that because no matter how well someone explains odds and probabilities, it always depends on who you ask.

Another way to put this question into context is to look at the context of what people tell you.

If you consult a thesaurus the chances are pretty good that it will list odds and probability as synonyms. The same is true for chances and probabilities.

So, yes, it is fair and accurate to say that odds, probability, and chances all refer to the same thing. But only in certain contexts.

Even gambling games may use the words slightly differently. I wouldn’t stake any bar bets on the explanations that follow because you’re more likely to start a brawl than win a bet.

Remember that no matter how right you think you someone else will be just as right as you.

1 – There are Probable Odds and Payout Odds

I’ve rarely heard anyone say “probable odds” but usually when someone asks “what are the odds” they mean “what are the probabilities (or chances).”

On the other hand, I like to use the game of roulette to illustrate the difference between payout odds and probability. In single-zero roulette you have a 1-in-37 chance of picking the right number where the ball lands on its next ride on the wheel.

And yet the best payout odds are 35-to-1. Either the casino can’t do math properly or the game ensures that – over time – the house retains some small percentage of the players’ wagers. And that’s how the house edge works in every gambling game.

2 – Probability Is A Distribution, not A Prediction

Gambling books and articles quote statistics about the probabilities of games such as poker. The better books and articles include the standard disclaimer that the probabilities don’t guarantee anything. It’s a lot like reading a stock market prospectus disclaimer: “past performance doesn’t guarantee future results.”

Where do these probability estimates come from?

In some cases it’s a simple matter of calculating the probability distribution. There are 52 cards in a standard deck and only one Jack of Diamonds. The chance or probability or odds of drawing the Jack of Diamonds from any standard 52-card deck is 1-in-52.

If you want to make money from a gambling game then offer payout odds of 50-to-1 that the next card will be whatever the player guesses. You’ll get rich before long if you aren’t arrested.

The more complicated the game the harder it becomes to calculated the probabilities. So some people have turned to using computer simulations to estimate the probabilities. So they’ll run millions or billions of simulations and compute the average result.

Does it matter if a computed probability is based on simulations or precise calculations?

Probably not in most cases. Neither type of probability distribution guarantees you success – so they’re not predictions.

3 – Is Random Chance the Same as A Probability?

A probability distribution is a computed value or set of values. It’s based either on the rules or conditions of a game or a set of scores.

But random chance is by very definition unpredictable. Some people say random chance is an act of nature (or an act of God). You can’t predict random chance.

Probability theory cannot predict the future but it points you to where random chance is most likely to produce the result you want.

When people say “this system has a 98% accuracy rate” they mean that it has failed 2% of the time in measured results. Random chance could lead to failures in the next 10 trials.

Is that luck or something else?

Closeup of Roulette Wheel and Chips

Random chance is always with us and it may be based on something mundane like the wear and tear on physical parts in an engine. But how much wear and tear the engine experiences depends on unpredictable things, like how much dirt gets into the engine, how often the engine is overheated, and more.

Probability theory cannot point you in the right direction when a lot of outside factors influence random chance. Any system with an expected 98% failure rate may experience 100% failure in conditions no one tested for.

In gambling, random chance leads to a roulette wheel landing on red 32 times in a row (in 1943) and on the number ten 6 times in a row (in 1959). These are both highly probable events but thanks to random chance they can happen.

In this example random chance is not the same as a probability.

4 – We Estimate the Likelihood of Random Events Happening

We use probability to estimate how likely an unpredictable event is to happen. A probability distribution is measured in the infinite range of values between 0 (no chance whatsoever the event will happen) and 1 (it will always happen every time).

There is nothing to gamble on if all the players know in advance that an event will (probability of 1) or will not (probability of 0) happen.

If everyone is ignorant of whether an event will happen – as is the case in honest gambling games – then what everyone wants is a best guess at what is most likely to happen.

The payout odds are set based on the estimate of what is most likely to happen – the calculated probability. And this is probably why so many people use odds and probability to refer to the same thing. They are closely connected to each other and we are accustomated to using either word to refer to the reward or the risk.

5 – The Words Can Be Ranked by Use

Although odds is used to refer to both the payout and the expectation for the outcome of a wager, neither chance nor probability are. It follows that odds is the most flexible or ambiguous of these words.

The odds of something happening are the same as the probability that it will happen.

When people speak of the chance of something happening they mean the expected probability that it will happen. But when speaking of chance in itself they mean an unpredictable thing.

Red Dice Bouncing on Casino Table

Of the three words probability seems to have the least use, but sometimes people speak of an indefinite probability when they really mean an unpredictable probability. That is similar to chance.

Chance may be personified. “We’ll leave that to chance” has been used in literature and drama. This may be an echo of when people preyed to gods of chance.

The only common variation on probability is its plural form, probabilities, when people say “think of the probabilities” – implying there are several possible outcomes.

6 – Probability and Chance are Sometimes Connected with Possibility

If there is a chance or probability of something happen then that means there is a possibility. The possibility is a thing itself.

It’s tempting to say possibilities don’t pay so this word would never be confused with payout odds. But then when thinking of future potential gain people sometimes say, “think of the possibilities”. These could be probable outcomes or potential gains and rewards.

And yet gambling probability tables never mention possibilities. Both chance and possibility set less precise expectations. When people discuss probabilities they expect to see numbers.

Of all these words probability is used to set a precision of expectation no matter how unreliable that may be. And probability is also used to compare the likelihood of two or more possible outcomes. Odds is more often used to compare the value of payouts.

7 – Most People Provide Sufficient Context

Honestly, I’ve never seen anyone use odds in two different ways in the same conversation without explaining the difference between the expectation of a probable outcome and the precise payment for a possible outcome.

While these words may seem confusing given the different ways they are all used, it’s generally easy to understand what they refer to.

If you are confused about anything it is about where and when it is appropriate to use each word. It’s almost always okay to use them how you wish as long as you provide clear supporting context about what you are referring to.

Conclusion

People ask how these words are used because they are used so loosely. Writers who talk about casino odds and probabilities know what they have in mind. I’ve rarely read a book or article that didn’t provide clear context.

I think the confusion people feel arises from the myriad ways writers use the words, even though the readers probably understand what each writer means. If you are asking whether there is a right or correct use for each word, that answer is it depends.

Best Playing Cards for Poker

Hand Holding a Full House With Casino Chip Background

At any casino you go to, one thing you will notice about the cards at the poker table is that they’re not the kind that you would find at the dollar store.

Casinos print their logo on some of the highest quality playing cards available. There are many reasons for this. The most obvious is that they look amazing. Having nice looking cards at the poker table can help keep players at the table for hours on end, believe it or not.

Another reason is that having quality cards makes it easier for the dealer to shuffle. I don’t know if you have ever tried to shuffle a cheap deck of cards—it’s like trying to shuffle together pieces of printer paper. It’s an unpleasant experience.

If you’re wanting to host a poker game this weekend in your garage then I suggest investing in a decent deck of playing cards. They’re inexpensive and well worth the extra couple of dollars.

There are some pricey decks of playing cards out there, but you can get the cards that you would find while gambling at the Texas Hold Em’ table at just about any Target, Walgreens, or WalMart in the United States.

Black and White Photo of Playing Cards

You shouldn’t worry too much about spending money on cards, to be honest, because you can get high-quality cards for a price that makes sense for any budget. Plus, it’s not like you throw the cards away after the game is over. Higher quality cards are going to last longer, so you’ll be able to use them over and over for poker games that you host at home.

If you don’t think it makes much of a difference to the people you’re playing cards with, I can promise you that you’re wrong. People will notice if you have cards that look and feel nice. Even if you’re just playing with friends and not playing for money, they’ll be happy that they have the look and feel of a professional poker tournament’s cards.

You’ll also find that high-quality cards are good to have around the house for other reasons. If you have small children, the cards are going to be harder to destroy, but they’ll also work well for magic tricks. If you want to have some fun and wow your kids, you’ll be able to do some simple magic tricks more easily and more effectively with a high-quality deck of cards.

There are some decks that you’ll only find online, but purchasing a deck online is not necessary if you’re planning a poker tournament. I’ll go over some of the best decks of playing cards that you can use for any style of poker game.

KEM Playing Cards

I am putting KEM on the list not because they’re my personal favorite, but because they seem to be a go to brand that many casinos around the world use at their poker tables. KEM playing cards have been around for a long time.

First manufactured in 1935, KEM playing cards are different than most decks of cards I would put on this list. The reason for this is that KEM cards are made entirely out of cellulose and acetate and are completely waterproof.

The United States Playing Card Company, the company that manufacturers most decks of playing cards here in the United States, bought KEM playing cards in 2004. If you were to ever compete in the World Series of Poker, then KEM playing cards would be the deck that you would be using at the poker table.

KEM has been the official deck of cards for the World Series of Poker since 2007. If you’ve ever watched the World Series of Poker, you’ve almost certainly seen these cards, though you may not have realized it and may not have been able to tell the quality of the cards from looking at your TV.

Like most decks of playing cards, KEMs come in various colors. These cards are not too thick, but thicker than your normal set of playing cards. What a lot of people like about this deck is that they’re not too slippery.

I personally love cards that are slick and fan like butter, but that can be an annoyance for a lot of people at the poker table.

I think one of the reasons a lot of players like this trait is that when the deck is set on the table, the top cards don’t slip off the deck and fall onto the table.

Another trait that KEM playing cards is known for is having exceptional durability. They’re probably the most durable deck of cards on this list. This is one of the biggest reasons casinos love this deck so much. They can use these cards for poker games over and over and not have to replace them too frequently.

One thing about land based casinos is that they’re all about their money, meaning if there is an area where they can save, then that is a bonus.

Bicycle Playing Cards

Unless you live under a rock, you have most likely heard of one of the most popular brands of playing cards in the United States: Bicycle playing cards.

Since 1885, the Bicycle brand of playing cards has been manufactufactured by the United States Playing Cards Company. The United States Playing Cards Company makes more brands of playing cards than I even care to mention.

If you purchase a deck of playing cards, look for a seal on the deck that has to be cut in order to open the cards. You won’t be able to miss the United States Playing Cards seal, and that is usually a pretty good indicator that the cards that you have are going to be a pretty decent deck.

If you have purchased a deck of Bicycle cards, after you take off the clear plastic, the seal is going to be the very first thing you notice. It’s a little frustrating trying to get them open, and many people will accidentally tear their card box while trying to open the seal.

Try to use a letter opener, or even a kitchen knife (if you’re being very careful). There’s nothing more frustrating than buying a brand new deck of Bicycle playing cards and then tearing the box after trying to get it open.

Once this immaculate deck of cards is finally open, you’re in for one of my personal favorite experiences—holding a brand new deck of Bikes in your hands. If it’s your first time, then be warned that the cards are going to be pretty slippery fresh out of the box.

For some poker players, this aspect of the cards can be a little frustrating, especially if they’re wanting to play poker with the cards fresh out of the box. If you set the deck on the table, you will just want to be mindful of how you handle them, while still being a little gentle.

Picture of Vintage Playing Cards

The top cards of the deck can have a tendency to slip off of the deck, and it might reveal cards that you want to keep hidden. As I mentioned, the United States Playing Card Company prints and manufacturers many different brands of playing cards. The brand “Bicycle” is actually their signature brand of playing cards.

At the end of the 19th century, when the company was still a baby, the name Bicycle was chosen for the brand name of the playing cards due to the popularity of the actual bicycle during this time period. Bicycle cards come with 54 playing cards per deck, and each deck normally has red or blue backs.

Over the years, Bicycle has added numerous designs to their inventory, from black, pink, dragon backs, arch angels, green backs that are recycled, and dozens more unique and cool designs. The two extra cards in the deck are two jokers, which is standard with most decks.

Fun fact—a deck of cards that has the two jokers with the rest of the 52 cards is known as a french deck.

Like just about every other deck of playing cards, you can typically find the logo of the brand of cards on the Ace of Spades. The current logo on the Bicycle has been the way it is now for as far back as I can remember, but it has changed dramatically throughout its history.

Not too long ago, Bicycle released a 125-year anniversary deck, and I got one. It was really cool to see how much the design for the face cards (jack, queen, king) and the Ace of spades has changed.

Have some more brands of playing cards that you think reign supreme above the rest? Let me know your favorites for poker in the comment section below.

Don’t Play Just Any Online Blackjack Game

Blackjack on Laptop
Online blackjack usually gives you a strong chance to win. I emphasize usually, though, because the odds can change as you move from one gaming site to the next.

Internet blackjack house edges range from 0.3% to 1.2%. This 0.9% difference may not seem like a huge deal, but it becomes more noticeable in the long run.

Here’s an example:

  • You bet $10,000 on two different online blackjack games.
  • The first one features a 0.3% house advantage.
  • 10,000 x 0.003 = $30 in theoretical losses
  • The other one offers a 1.2% house advantage.
  • 10,000 x 0.012 = $120 in theoretical losses

You stand to lose four times as much with the second game. Therefore, you should take the rules and house edge into consideration before picking a cyber table.

I’m going to cover more on internet blackjack rules along with how you find the best real money online blackjack games.

Blackjack Rules Change the House Edge

Blackjack offers dozens of rules that can affect the odds. Most online operators feature a combination of rules that keeps the house advantage somewhere between 0.4% and 0.8%.

You’ll do well to know the most-important rules with regard to the house edge. These rules include:

  • Natural blackjack payouts – A 3-to-2 payout lowers the house advantage by 1.39% in comparison to a 6-to-5 payout.
  • Number of decks – Single-deck blackjack reduces the house edge by 0.59% when compared to the eight-deck version.
  • Double down on any total – The option to double down on any two cards reduces the house advantage by 0.25% versus being restricted to doubling down on 9 through 11.
  • Dealer stands on soft 17 – The dealer standing on this hand (A-6) lowers the house advantage by 0.2% compared to the dealer hitting.
  • Double down after spitting (DAS) – This option reduces the house edge by 0.17%.
  • Re-splitting aces – This option lowers the house advantage by 0.08%.
  • Late surrender – A rare rule, late surrender reduces the house edge by 0.07%.

You won’t find all the best rules in one place. Otherwise, gaming sites would be giving you the advantage over them.

However, you should ensure that a given online table boasts several favorable rules that’ll lower the house edge.

How Can You Find Online Blackjack Rules?

Unfortunately, casinos don’t use blinking cursors to indicate which of their games feature player-friendly rules. You must figure this out on your own by researching games and/or looking at help screens.

Online blackjack games hold a decided edge over land-based tables with regard to information. You can simply choose the help screen to view a wealth of info about the game.

Rules are typically included within the help screen’s contents. This section allows you to see exactly what rules are being used in the given variation.

Land-based casinos only print two rules on the table felt: natural blackjack payouts and if the dealer hits/stands on soft 17.

You must watch the game to see what other rules are afoot. After all, brick-and-mortar casinos can’t exactly offer a help screen that shows the rules.

What Are the Best Online Blackjack Games?

Assuming you want to cut right the chase, then you can simply look up which online blackjack games are best. As seen here, the top online variations in terms of house edge include:

To find these games, you can look for any casino that uses the relevant software provider. Betsoft, Microgaming, and Playtech products are available at many online casinos around the industry.

Hopefully, you have access to one or more of these providers. If not, though, you can research other software providers that feature low blackjack house edges.

Learn Strategy to Optimize Your Chances of Winning

Playing blackjack games with favorable odds can only take you so far. You must also exercise good strategy to improve your chances as well.

Blackjack strategy seems like a confusing mess at first. You must know how to handle over 250 different situations to play optimally.

However, you can cut down on this confusion with a blackjack strategy chart. These charts are simple tools that show you exactly what to do in each situation.

The online game doesn’t require you to move with any haste. Instead, you can take your time when referring to your strategy chart for each move.

Eventually, you’ll memorize most/all of the optimal decisions and not need your chart as much. But you should definitely use one in the beginning until you get the hang of strategy.

Bonuses & Comps Play a Part in Your Winnings

You should always worry about the blackjack rules and strategy above all. Favorable rules and optimal strategy are the best paths towards making money with this game.

However, comps also add some value to your bottom line. You want to look for casinos that include blackjack in their promotions and VIP program.

This thought seemingly goes without saying. However, you’d be surprised at how many online casinos don’t reward blackjack players.

Some operators exclude this game from meeting bonus wagering requirements. In these cases, you won’t be able to earn online blackjack bonuses.

Others exclude blackjack from both bonus offers and VIP rewards. You definitely want to avoid any such internet casinos.

Blackjack deposit bonuses at online casinos are usually more valuable than loyalty benefits. Here’s a comparison to explain:

Online Casino Bonus Offer

  • You qualify for a $100 blackjack bonus.
  • Wagering requirements are 100x.
  • 100 x 100 = $10,000
  • You must wager $10,000 to get $100 in bonus cash

Loyalty Rewards

  • A casino offers a 0.05% comp rate on blackjack bets.
  • 100 (bonus) / 0.0005 = 200,000
  • You’d need to wager $200,000 to get equal value from the comps.

Online blackjack wagering requirements can be higher than 100x. But even at 200x, you’re getting more value from the bonuses.

Regardless, both online casino bonus offers and VIP rewards can pad your bankroll. That said, you should look into these rewards whenever you play online blackjack.

Conclusion

Internet blackjack rules vary from software provider to provider. Some operators are generous with their odds, while others are stingy and try to push their house edge further.

Assuming you’re playing classic blackjack and not an obscure variation, then it makes no sense to accept worse rules.

You should look for ideal rules whenever possible. Online games feature help screens that show what rules are available in each situation.

You can check out these screens to get an idea on how many player-friendly rules are present. If you don’t see many beneficial rules, then you should move on.

Simple Google searches can bring up the best blackjack games in general. This type of research prevents you from having to visit dozens of casinos and pour through countless help screens to find the top variations.

You shouldn’t just rely on quality rules and low house advantages alone, though. You also want to study strategy, or just find a chart, so that you know the proper moves to make in each situation.

Bonuses and comps are the final piece of the puzzle. Rewards and bonuses will increase your winnings and give you a stronger chance of profiting from favorable games.

An Easy Way to Determine Volatility with Slot Machines

Row of Slot Machines and Slot Machine IconYour chances of winning with slot machines vary from one game to the next. You may first look to a game’s return to player (RTP) to determine your odds. RTP shows how much you can expect to win from a game in the long run. If a slot features 97% RTP, then it’ll theoretically pay back $97 for every $100 wagered.

Many online slots providers offer payout percentages for their games. You can usually find this info in the help screen or simply google it. Volatility is another important factor towards determining your winnings. It measures how closely short-term results line up with the RTP.

Unfortunately, volatility isn’t easily accessible. Most games don’t offer a volatility rating like they do payout percentages. Luckily, you can figure how volatile a slot is through one simple way. I’ll discuss this method along with other ways that you can measure your short-term odds of winning.

Why Is Volatility Important to Your Slots Results?

Slot machines offer a wide range of payouts. They deliver small prizes, jackpots, and bonuses. You earn more money for landing combinations with high odds. A prize that only hits 1 in every 500,000 spins will pay far more than a prize that’s delivered 1 in each 1,000 rounds. The former type of payouts are what make slot machines exciting. However, they also increase the volatility.

Closeup of a Row of Slot Machines

The house must retain its edge with each slot to make profits. Therefore, they can only program big payouts to hit every so often. Meanwhile, they program smaller prizes to be delivered more frequently. Low payouts help pad your bankroll as you chase bigger wins. In summary, larger payouts make slot machines more unpredictable. Low-paying prizes, on the other hand, decrease the volatility and see you win more often.

You should consider volatility whenever choosing a slot machine. Assuming you have a large bankroll, then you may not be too affected by short-term unpredictability. If you’re hoping to stretch out a small bankroll, then you should look for less-volatile slots. These will bring more payouts and keep you in the game longer.

Jackpots Tell Everything

You might already know what kind of volatility you’re comfortable with. But how do you determine the predictability of a slot machine? In the best-case scenario, you’ll choose a game that offers a volatility rating. Some slot machines feature this rating in the help screen.

For example, you might see a game’s volatility rated at 3 out of 5 stars. This figure means that the game falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Again, though, most slots don’t offer this information.

You’ll need to do some thinking in the absence of a volatility rating. A quick shortcut involves merely looking at a game’s jackpot. Simply put, a large jackpot indicates a very unpredictable and volatile slot machine.

Here’s a comparison to illustrate this point:

Slot #1

  • A slot machine offers a $3,000 progressive jackpot.
  • Based on the top prize, this game’s volatility is likely very low.

Slot #2

  • A slot boasts a $2 million progressive jackpot.
  • This huge top prize indicates a highly volatile game.

Remember, this method is rather rudimentary. However, the jackpot can still provide quick information on a slot machine’s proposed volatility. You should focus on the seeded amount when dealing with progressive jackpots. After all, the seed amount represents what providers must pour into the game.

Two games could feature identical $100,000 jackpots. But if one is seeded at $10,000 and another at $5,000, then the latter will probably be less volatile. After all, the provider doesn’t need to put as much money into the game in this case.

Other Factors that Determine Volatility

You can only learn so much by looking at the jackpot alone. Therefore, you should consider the following factors to get a truly accurate determination of volatility.

Size of Other Payouts

The jackpot isn’t the only payout that can be large. Some slot machines feature several large prizes beyond the jackpot. I consider any payout worth 500 coins or more to be big. Assuming a game boasts 3-4 or more prizes like this, and then it’s quite volatile. In contrast, games that don’t feature many, or any, payouts worth 500 coins will pay more consistently. They don’t have large prizes that they must make up for by putting you through numerous losing streaks.

Bonus Rounds

Most slot machines offer bonuses, including free spins, pick’em rounds, re-spins, and second-screen rounds. These bonuses are meant to increase entertainment value by introducing different gameplay. However, they can also feature big prizes. In some cases, the top bonus payout is larger than the jackpot. Such bonus prizes ramp up a slot machine’s volatility.

Random Features

In addition to bonuses, slots can also offer random features, including extra wild symbols, additional scatters, and expanding wilds. For instance, a slot might randomly throw more wild symbols onto the reels. Or, it could turn a regular symbol into an expanding wild. Such features help turn losses into wins and wins into even bigger prizes. However, these random payouts also take away from the regular wins.

Cascading Reels

This feature refers to when symbols from winning combinations disappear. Icons from above fall into their places and potentially create more wins. Cascading reels give you an opportunity to net more payouts in a single round. However, they’re yet another feature that boosts the volatility level. After all, cascading reels give you the opportunity to net lots of payouts in a single spin. You’ll go through plenty of rounds where you don’t win anything with these games.

Number of Winning Ways

Many modern slots offer countless ways to win. Some games now boast hundreds of thousands or even millions of winning ways. These Megaways slots feature reels that hold a varying amount of symbols. Certain games allow reels to hold up to 12 icons. This format is further enhanced by the lack of paylines. With Megaways, you form wins by landing symbols in adjacent reels. I’ve seen online slot machines that offer between 117,649 and 60,446,176 ways. This sheer number of winning possibilities is definitely exciting. However, the fact that you can unlock so many ways also makes the payouts less consistent.

Should You Play Volatile Slot Machines?

The key theme here is that volatile slots boast big jackpots and/or other features. These games are more exciting than less-volatile games, but they also don’t pay as frequently. You must weigh how you feel about waiting on payouts versus chasing big jackpots and bonus prizes. If the latter excites you most, then you shouldn’t have any trouble dealing with volatility.

Casino Slot Machine Reels

However, you’ll likely experience frustrating times where you quickly lose your bankroll. These situations are often the result of volatile slot machines. Assuming you want to maximize your entertainment time while playing slots, then you should opt for more-consistent games. Sure, playing for 1,000-coin jackpots and only being able to unlock one bonus feature isn’t quite as thrilling. But you’ll win a higher volume of payouts on less-volatile slot machines.

Conclusion

If you’ve ever wondered why you go through extreme hot and cold streaks with slots, then you can look to volatility. Volatility determines how much you can expect to win in the short run. You can choose less-volatile games to boost the number of payouts you win in the immediate future.

Unfortunately, the same slots don’t offer big jackpots, Megaways, and multiple bonuses. You must take a greater risk when choosing slot machines that offer the latter. Everything comes down to your personal preferences. Are you hoping to stretch your bankroll, or spin for the largest jackpots and bonuses?

One problem is that not all games offer a volatility rating. You’re left guessing how consistently a slot pays in the majority of cases. The simplest way to determine volatility is by looking at the jackpot size. Assuming a game features a huge jackpot, then it’ll pay infrequently.

You can’t rely on jackpot size alone, though. Some slots are really volatile, because they offer large bonus prizes, Megaways, random features, and/or cascading reels. That said, you should take these other factors into consideration to get a more-accurate depiction on a game’s volatility.

3 More Absolutely Awful Gambling Movies

Image From Behind of a Man Watching a Movie

Whether you’re on Netflix, Hulu, or just go to the movies sometimes, you won’t have to look hard to find a film that revolves around gambling. Some of these films are Oscar winners while others are regularly counted among the top 100 best films of all time.

Whether you’re into gambling or casinos or not, this particular genre of film has won popularity among all sorts of people, and not just in America, but around the world. While there are a lot of gambling films out there that are spoken highly of among critics, too many are just examples of people trying to jump on the bandwagon and ride the coattails of other great works to success.

The problem is usually exactly what you expect to find with bad films—the actors aren’t the right actors for the film (or are just plain bad), the script is written poorly, and the director really didn’t know what they were doing.

Or who knows, maybe everything was great until the editors took over, and they’re the ones to blame.

It probably comes as no surprise to you to learn that jumping on the bandwagon doesn’t always work. Despite the world’s obsession with gambling movies, there are more than a few that just plain suck.

I’m going to go over three of what audience and critics call the worst gambling movies of all time, though to be honest, there are probably plenty other gambling films out there that are even worse and never made it past the review stage.

1- Deal

This movie is definitely worth being on this list. To say that Deal is not a really good movie is probably being way too nice. IMDb rated Deal at a weak 5.4/10 stars.

The acting is subpar, and the script itself is just lacking. Tommy Vinson (Burt Reynolds), a former cardshark, had given up poker years ago after his marriage was put on the line and his wife threatened to leave him. After meeting Alex Stillman (Bret Harrison), Tommy inevitably gets back into the game.

Alex, a former law school graduate, is discontent working at his father’s firm as a junior clerk while also showing signs of being a great, pro-tournament-level poker player. Alex is still a rookie, up-and-coming poker player who has a lot of growing to do. Tommy offers to be Alex’s coach and proposes a deal: he will pay entry fees for poker tournaments as long as Alex follows Tommy’s instructions exactly.

Alex teaches Tommy all kinds of tricks, including how to cheat, and all is well until it isn’t.

Before I go into why this movie stinks, let me just note that Deal received a whopping 3%. Burt Reynolds has been called the greatest hollywood actor of the 70s and 80s, but he left the audience in the 2000s with a performance that was forgettable.

Screenshot From the Movie Deal

From the New York Times: “Reynolds doesn’t convey any of the lightning bolt insouciance that made him arguably the greatest movie star of the 70s and 80s (really) but rather just stands there.”

From ReelViews, “The film has more of a checklist of cliches than an actual script and, when it comes to the cast, director Gil Cates Jr. is scraping the bottom of the barrel.” One credit went on to compare Deal to an episode of the Teletubbies, with Teletubbies coming out on top.

Deal just kind of feels like a mess. It’s actually really sad when you think about it. You have one of the greatest actors ever just flopping in his old age. It makes you wonder if he was just the kind of person who was only able to play a defined ranged and couldn’t work his way out of that, or if it was just a bad script and bad directing. Who knows, but it’s definitely not a film I would recommend wasting your time on.

When you have epic films out there like Casino or Ocean’s Eleven or 21, there’s no point in watching something like this.

2- Lucky You

Moving on with our list of best gambling movies of all time, next we have a film starring Drew Barrymore and Eric Bana called Lucky You. Chuck Heever (Eric Bana), a main character of the film, is someone that goes all out in the world of high-stakes poker. However, that is not the case when it comes to other areas of his life.

He seems to be rigid and closed off in his personal relationships, avoiding emotional commitments or long-term expectations. Chuck wants to play in the 2003 World Series of Poker and win over a singer from Bakersfield named Billie Offer (Drew Barrymore) but first has to deal with a significant obstacle: his huge resentment towards his father, L.C. Cheever.

Cheever is a gambling legend and walked out on Chuck and his Mother at a young age. The movie incorporates a kind of father-and-son rivalry. We watch the 2 through the film as they prepare for a final showdown at the poker table. Chuck learns valuable lessons about life through the game of poker, and vice versa.

Screenshot From the Movie Lucky You

The movie tries to sell the idea that the way a player plays at the card table is a lot like how they live their life. After watching the film, I feel like a huge thing the film lacked was passion and energy. A lot of the audience and critic reviews claim that the film was probably 2 hours longer than it needed to be—saying that all we needed was fifteen minutes—and the rest was just a long, drawn out bore.

From the Arizona Republic, “This movie has so little to it that you begin to understand why they packed it with so much poker: They had to put something on the screen. But even die-hard Hold ‘Em fans will leave wishing for more.”

That was something I noticed—well it’s impossible not to. Way too much time is spent just watching the characters play poker, and nothing else is really happening. I forgot at some times what was really going on due to being so bored during some of the drawn out scenes.

I wasn’t surprised when I went back to rottentomatoes and saw the generous 38%. We’ve definitely got another film that’s not gonna make it on the top 5 best casino movies lists.

3- 3000 Miles to Graceland

The plot for 3000 Miles to Graceland takes place in Las Vegas during International Elvis Week. The strip is completely packed by a herd of men who are dressed up as a wannabe version of “The King.” Amongst all of the sideburns and jumpsuits, five of the impersonators are toting heavy weaponry in their guitar cases.

In 3000 Miles to Graceland, we meet Thomas J Murphy (Kevin Costner) and Michael Zane (Kurt Russel) , two criminal-minded tough guys that lead a gang of five, using the Elvis Impersonation as a cover to commit robbery—their agenda is to completely gut the Riviera Casino.

When I say gut, I mean that term in a literal way. These guys don’t just use the weapons to scare, but instead, left a pretty big body count once they were able to leave the Riviera with $3.2 million.

After losing guys during the heist, the main characters decide to split the winnings and start laundering the money. This powerhouse cast includes 2 of the best (and my personal favorite) actors of all time: Kurt Russel and Kevin Costner.

I’ll also give credit to whoever made the trailer for this film. I saw it in a theater, and I remember saying out loud that I was going to see it. The sad reality is that this film received 14% on rotten tomatoes. I think so much of this is due to the over-the-top filler that takes up so much of it.

Screenshot From 3000 Miles to Graceland

There are a lot of loud gunshots, a lot of blood, a lot of death, so much of this stuff to the point that you start forgetting what the movie is really about. Reading the top critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, a bulk of the negativity aligns perfectly with what I am saying—too much filler.

Ultimately I think this movie ended up being one of those films where 2 big actions stars got to have a lot of fun with a terrific budget, but ultimately ended up putting out a dud because either the script just didn’t have what it takes to push the story to anything interesting beyond bloodshed or that the editing couldn’t capture the fun that was being had by these 2 guys.

Don’t get me wrong—I think the premise was a great idea, especially given how interesting the trailer was. I found it so enticing and was ready for a great action flick, but it just got bogged down in the unnecessary gore.

If you’re trying to find a great newer movie about gambling, this is one to skip.

Conclusion

I’m sure you can think of a ton more awful gambling movies that should go on this list. If there’s anything I left out, let me know in the comments.

5 Reasons Why You Should Always Raise Preflop with Pocket Aces in No Limit Texas Holdem

Pair of Aces in a Shuttle Launch Theme

As a no limit Texas holdem player, nothing beats looking down and squeezing your hole cards to reveal the prettiest sight in all of poker – pocket Aces.

Affectionately known as “pocket rockets,” “American Airlines,” or simply “the blades,” pocket Aces is the best possible starting hand one can hold in Texas holdem. And when you finally sneak a peek and see those double “As” staring you in the face, even a seasoned poker pro will feel their heart skip a beat and their hair stand on end.

But as poker legend Doyle Brunson once wisely observed, there’s a particularly tricky aspect to playing pocket Aces. According to old “Texas Dolly,” pocket Aces offer players a stark “boom or bust” scenario:

“The fact is, with a pair of Aces … One of two things will usually happen.

Either (1) you’ll win a small pot, or (2) you’ll lose a big pot.”

That’s an oversimplification of course, but you get the point – pocket Aces often compel you to put a chunk of chips into the pot, but they can easily be ran down by inferior starting hands.

Therefore, the problem for players sitting on a pair of Aces preflop boils down to protecting the premium holdem hand’s inherent equity. Unless you can thin the field by applying preflop pressure, folks taking a flop with smaller pocket pairs or suited connectors have a good chance of connecting with the board to beat you by the river.

For this reason, poker strategists have long advised players to take an aggressive tack when they’re lucky enough to score a ride on the rockets. By playing your huge hand “fast” – another word for raising early and often – the objective is to protect your pocket Aces from potential harm and secure the small pots Brunson alluded to in the process.

On the other hand, some savvy poker people believe that “slow playing” pocket Aces – or taking a passive line of flat calling and checking to trap – is the best way to earn maximum returns on your monster holding. By adopting this approach, players who have a higher tolerance for risk are balancing the threat of losing a few pots along the way against the potential for winning an opponent’s entire stack when they fall for the trap.

If you hang around a Las Vegas poker room for a while, you’ll inevitably hear players stake their claim on one side of this debate or the other. Each camp will have their reasons at the ready, regaling you with bad beat stories when their slow-played pocket Aces were cracks, tales of triumph when fast-played blades brought back a huge score – and vice-versa.

And that’s really the beauty of analyzing no limit Texas holdem strategy. Depending on a whole host of variables – stack sizes, table position, how many chips are in the pot, and an opponent’s playing style just to name a few – the “correct” answer can vary wildly from hand to hand.

Poker Game on a Wooden Table

Nonetheless, you’ll inevitably hear poker enthusiasts talk about their strategic insights using rules based on absolutes and extremes. And naturally, many of the most oft cited rules when it comes to no limit Texas holdem concerns the “right” way to play pocket Aces:

“If you ALWAYS raise with your rockets, you never have to kick yourself for allowing rags to reach the flop and deliver a bad beat.”

“I NEVER let my opponents into the pot without paying a hefty price preflop when I have Aces in the hole.”

“Anyone who doesn’t believe in ALWAYS raising their pocket Aces is either a fish or too rich to care about losing big pots.”

On that note, I’d like to dive deeper into the details on both sides of this age-old poker debate. This page will discuss five reasons why players should always* raise when they catch pocket Aces, and I’ll follow up with a companion piece with five more reasons why you should never* play the A-A aggressively preflop.

*Obviously, rules advising anyone to “never” or “always” adopt a certain strategy are defective by nature. no limit Texas holdem strategies should be flexible and fluid based on variables unique to that particular hand and situation. But the five reasons found below do explore reasons into why playing pocket Aces aggressively preflop is preferable to a slow-play approach.

1 – You Only Catch Pocket Aces Once Every 220 Hands on Average – So You Better Make Them Count

The statistical probability of landing pocket Aces – or any pocket pair for that matter – stand at 1 in 220.

That means you have odds of less than one-half of one percent to look down and find the game’s best starting hand. And those are just the inherent probabilities mind you.

When the role of random variance is added in, you can easily sit and grind through 300, 400, or even more hands before finally hitting paydirt with pocket Aces.

Knowing all this, why would anyone waste such a rare opportunity to win the pot by messing around with a slow-playing centered strategy?

Well, one of the main reasons is actually based on those longshot odds. Just picture yourself patiently waiting for your perfect spot, waking up with pocket Aces, and making a basic raise – only to see every opponent fold their mediocre hands without a second thought.

Sure, you get to scoop the blinds (and antes in a tournament), but those chips are a mere pittance when compared to the towering stacks you planned to pillage. Fear of “scaring” the fish away when you’re armed with pocket Aces is a prime reason why many players prefer slow-playing the hand over raising preflop.

But as the 10-time World Series of Poker (WSOP) gold bracelet winning Brunson made clear, winning a small pot is vastly preferable to losing a big one. And as you’ll learn in the next section, losing with pocket Aces is much more likely than most players would imagine.

2 – Pocket Aces Aren’t Really As Strong As They Seem Once Community Cards Hit the Board

Whenever somebody suffers the cruel indignity of losing a big hand with pocket Aces, the situation is immediately dubbed a bad beat.

But for every miraculous two-outer on the river to give a smaller pocket pair a life-saving set, you’ll see plenty of A-A losses that can be attributed to basic poker probabilities.

One of my favorite tools to play around with when I’m interested in exploring poker hand equities is a holdem odds calculator. This invaluable resource lets users set up specific hand vs. hand scenarios to see exactly where various holdings stand statistically against one another.

And as you’ll see when you start experimenting with holdem odds calculations, pocket Aces are much more vulnerable than they appear – especially when your opponents are playing small pocket pairs.

For example, let’s take the classic “cooler” situation which pits pocket Aces against pocket Kings, which just so happens to rank as the second-best starting hand in Texas holdem.

Assuming both players hold the same suits, A-A vs. K-K lends the rockets an 82.36 percent chance to win by the river, the “cowboys” 17.09 percent equity, and a 0.54 percent longshot that they’ll wind up chopping the pot in a tie.

Now then, 82 percent equity in any hand is a great spot to put yourself in, but you’ll still lose with Aces vs. Kings roughly 1 in every 5 times these huge hands collide. And because a pocket pair’s rank doesn’t really matter when it comes to flopping a set – even three deuces is enough to topple two Aces – this 82 percent win rate holds true whenever you have rockets against a smaller pocket pair.

Closeup of Stack of Poker Chips

The odds are a little better when your opponent holds “big slick,” or the Ace-King hand that so many poker players love to squeeze. Per the holdem Odds Calculator, pocket Aces will beat A-K suited 87.23 percent of the time, while losing at a 11.51 percent clip. Still though, knowing you’ll lose a little more than 1 in 10 tries with A-A vs. an utterly dominated A-K is a sobering thought to say the least.

We’re talking about reasons to raise preflop to protect pocket Aces, and raising will seldom force top-tier hands like K-K and A-K out of the pot. With that in mind, let’s see how a few less powerful hands play out against the best possible starting hand.

An old maxim of poker wisdom says that J-10 suited is the best hand to hold if you have to take on pocket Aces. And indeed, the sweetest suited connector in the deck will wind up overcoming A-A on 21.55 percent of random deals.

The odds are actually even better for 8-7 suited (22.87 percent), 7-6 suited (22.87 percent), 10-9 suited (22.61 percent), and 9-8 suited (22.47 percent), proving the immense potential held by these eminently playable hands.

Here’s the thing though… most players will happily fold their mid-range suited connectors, but only when faced with a hefty preflop raise. Without that pressure play in your arsenal, you can expect to suffer a “bad beat” a little more than 1 in every 5 tries with pocket Aces.

3 – If You Want to Win a Big Pot, You’ve Got to Build it Early By Raising Preflop

This tip is deceptively simple, but it bears repeating because so many players mistakenly believe they can pump up the pot on later streets rather than preflop.

Take that A-A vs. A-K situation that seems to crop up so often in a heated no limit Texas holdem game as the perfect example. When you’re opponent has big slick, they’ll be happy to call of a big raise before the flop based on A-K’s ostensible potential to flop top-pair and top-kicker.

But with two of the Aces they need already gone, and only three Kings in the deck to work with, it’s far more likely that they’ll miss the flop and wind up with nothing but two high cards. When this occurs, most players will simply accept their fate and fold to your single continuation bet on the flop.

By slow-playing your pocket Aces early on, and letting somebody with a big Ace see a bad flop on the cheap, you’re only denying yourself equity in the long run.

Conversely, by putting the pedal to the metel preflop and raising big – even going all-in if the stack to blind ratios support it – you’ll find yourself playing the best possible hand against dominated opponents with significant pots on the line.

If you’re going to lose 1 in every 5 times with pocket Aces anyhow, the goal should be to make the most of those winners by maximizing the pot size early and often.

4 – Raising on Pocket Aces Can Actually Serve to Disguise the Strength of Your Hand

Remember when I mentioned how rough it is to watch the whole table fold around right after you squeeze pocket Aces?

Well, this all too common phenomenon has prompted many recreational poker players to adopt the slow-play strategy as a countermeasure. As their reasoning goes, pocket Aces is such a strong holding that it can afford to let a few raggedy hands see the flop – THEN they can punish the fish who connect with inferior pairs and drawing hands.

Of course, the holdem Odds Calculator has already revealed that thinking to be erroneous, as many marginal hands still have a decent shot to win out over the rocket ships.

Even so, the fact that most small stakes players prefer limping in or flat calling to trap with their A-A makes raising an effectively deceptive alternative. When your opponents are expecting you to play passively preflop with monsters, while raising to bluffing on your mediocre hands, putting in a sizable raise early on can trick them into thinking you don’t have the goods.

5 – Nothing Stings Worse Than Watching Your Pocket Aces Get Cracked by Rags

Finally, anybody who has ever played no limit Texas holdem knows the deep pain associated with losing on pocket Aces.

You wait and you wait, then you finally catch the killer hand everybody hopes for, only to see some bozo beat you with a perfect flop or miracle river card. Along with the loss of your stack, a bad beat delivered to your pocket Aces can feel like you’ve lost so much more. Mere moments ago, you had visions of stacking the table chip leader and going on a major heater, and yet here you are now rebuying into the game with the last of your bankroll.

If that fate doesn’t sound up your alley, raising and playing aggressively preflop with your A-A is by far the best preventative measure. It won’t work all the time, but you’ll definitely find yourself winning more small- and medium-sized pots while avoiding the catastrophic losses that pocket Aces can endure on a bad beat.

Conclusion

Whether you’re just learning the game, or you’ve played no limit Texas holdem since the halcyon days of the “Poker Boom,” catching pocket Aces is a thrilling experience every single time. You’ll immediately start sizing up opponents and their stacks, your mouth watering at the idea of devouring all those chips when you flip over the dreaded A-A. But you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men, so this dream scenario can easily turn into a nightmare if you’re too passive preflop.

Now that you know about five reasons to always raise preflop with pocket Aces, be sure to check out the second part of this series on why you should never play the blades aggressively.

9 NFL Betting Facts You Need to Know to Win

NFL Player Jerick McKinnon With Sportsbook Background

Most sports bettors I know started their gambling career betting on the NFL. To be honest, the NFL is the toughest sport to make money on, but that doesn’t stop most gamblers from trying their luck.

If you want to make money betting on the NFL you need to know why it’s the toughest sport to bet on, and how to overcome this and find good value every week.

The nine facts about the National Football League on this page are going to help you learn why it’s tough, but also how you can make a profit anyway.

1 – Quarterback Play Evaluations

Most NFL bettors know the quarterbacks are important, but they still struggle to evaluate them correctly. They look at yards passing and touchdowns, but they rarely look at how efficient each quarterback is, and how they play within the offensive system.

Look at how effective each quarterback is on each down, and in the red zone. Look at completion percentage in different situations, particularly on third down.

Also track how many interceptions each quarterback throws per attempt. This is a better way to judge efficiency than just looking at overall interceptions. This is a good tactic when you’re looking at any statistic in the NFL to look at them on an even playing field.

2 – NFL Lines Are Tight

The lines on NFL games offered by the sportsbooks are tighter than any other sport. This is because the books know they get most of their action on NFL games, and there are a limited number of games every week.

The sportsbooks spend more time on setting lines per game in the NFL than any other sport. When the sportsbooks set tight lines, they make more money.

They also do a better job balancing their handle on both sides of the games.

Does this mean that you can’t make a profit betting on the NFL?

You can make money betting on the NFL, because some sharp gamblers do. But you need to make sure that you get your ducks in a row. You can’t take any shortcuts, and you have to learn how to evaluate games at a very deep level.

The facts listed on this page are going to help you, but don’t stop here. You have to dig deeper and work harder than the sportsbooks to find value. Being a winning NFL gambler isn’t compatible with being lazy.

3 – Special Teams Are Important in Close Games

Special teams, including kickers, punters, coverage, and return teams, are far more important than most NFL gamblers think. In fact, most gamblers simply ignore them.

It’s difficult to put an exact percentage on the importance of special teams, but I use roughly a 20% rating for special teams, and 40% on each the defense and offense.

Field position plays an important role in the NFL, and the special teams have a lot to do with field position. The offense and defense also influence field position, but if you ignore special teams you’re making a mistake. And mistakes cost you money.

4 – Don’t Underestimate Turnovers

Turnovers are the most important plays in every football game. A turnover denies the offense a chance to score, and provides an additional opportunity for the other team to score.

NFL Player Running the Ball

You have to know how likely each team is to turn the ball over, and how likely each team is to force a turnover. You start with looking at the turnover differential for each team, but you need to dig deeper.

Look at the situation that resulted in each turnover. Not every turnover is equal. An interception in garbage time is different than one in the first quarter. Teams have to take chances when they’re far behind, so they turn the ball over more.

5 – Offensive Efficiency

I mentioned efficiency in the section about quarterbacks. Efficiency is a way to compare different offenses.

The important thing to do is compare every team on the same thing in the same way. Instead of looking at total yards, look at yards per attempt. Do this for passing yards and rushing yards. How many yards per play does each offense average?

Look at the completion percentage on passing plays. And look at all of these things by quarter, at home, and on the road. And you also need to take a close look at how each offense performs in the red zone.

6 – Defensive Efficiency

You just learned about offensive efficiency. You need to track all of the same things for the defense. In addition, how often does the defense pressure the quarterback, and how often do they get a sack.

Remember to compute these numbers based on a level playing field. Divide the total numbers by the plays they’re on the field.

Once you determine a ranking for each offense and defense based on efficiency, the question is how do you compare an offense and defense that rank close to each other.

For example, how will the top ranked offense perform against the top tanked defense?

The issue is there’s not an easy answer to this question, and it’s something you have to figure this out if you want to win consistently. Two teams that are truly evenly matched usually mean the offense has a small edge. The defense has to react, which gives the offense a small edge. But you have to be careful, because rarely are two teams truly equally matched.

7 – Time of Possession

One quick way to judge the efficiency of each offense and defense in the NFL is to look at the time of possession. This isn’t the be all end all stat, but it does give you a rough idea.

Most winning teams win the time of possession battle. Using time of possession with average starting field position gives you a good place to start every game evaluation. You have to use other factors, like the ones listed on this page, but these two things go a long way towards effective handicapping.

8 – Lines Can’t Be Ignored

I mentioned in an earlier section that most sports bettor ignore special teams in the NFL. Most of them also ignore the offensive and defensive lines. But these two areas are just as important as any other area on the field.

You need to form somewhat of a ranking of each offensive and defensive line in the league. The best offensive lines help their team gain more yards on the ground, and protect the quarterback so they have time to find open receivers.

NFL Players Running Onto Field

On the other side, the best defensive lines limit the running game and sack the opposing quarterback more. They also force the opposing quarterback to work faster, which leads to more mistakes.

As you build your list from bets to worst, take a close look at how each line performs against other lines that are similarly ranked. This is especially helpful when you’re looking at playoff games and have an entire season of data to work with.

9 – NFL Head Coaches Don’t Care

NFL head coaches will cost you money if you bet on the NFL. This is because the coaches have a different goal than you do as a sports bettor.

The coach stays employed and keeps getting paid by winning games. It doesn’t matter if the coach wins by an average of two or 12, as long s he wins he stays employed.

On the other hand, your goal is to find lines that offer value, and place bets that end up paying out at the end of the game. You can see where this is a problem for you.

If you’re betting on the underdog, this isn’t usually an issue. The underdog is trying to win just as much as the favorite. But when you bet on the favorite, you need to win by a certain number of points if you’re giving points.

The best way to avoid this problem is to bet on underdogs using the point spread, and bet on favorites using the moneyline.

Just never make the mistake of thinking that your goals and the head coach’s goals are the same, because they simply don’t care about your goals.

Conclusion

Betting on the NFL is tough, but you can still make money if you know the right things. Now that you know why the lines are tight in the NFL, and how you can overcome this and evaluate games for value and profits, you just need to start using your new knowledge.

Start every NFL game by evaluating the quarterbacks, and don’t forget about things that most gamblers ignore like special teams and the defensive and offensive lines. Keep learning more by adjusting your evaluation system and you’re going to quickly learn how to find value and profits.

Why Has Keno Become an “Old Person’s” Game?

Keno Cards With Casino Lights Background

Keno has been available in casinos for decades. It’s practically an institution in the gambling world due to its history.

Many people still enjoy this lottery-style game today. However, I can’t help but notice that keno is increasingly becoming an old person’s game.

Based on observation, I’d guess that the average keno parlor visitor is in their sixties. This game is similar to bingo with its older player base.

Why is the average keno player getting older and older? I’ll discuss several reasons why parlors don’t draw many young gamblers.

No Skill Involved

The obvious reason why the keno crowd is aging is because younger players aren’t joining the fold. Millennials in particular don’t embracing the same types of gambling that older generations enjoy.

Instead, millennials are more interested in skill-based gambling, such as poker, esports betting, and sports betting.

Keno is nearly the opposite of a skillful game. It requires you to guess which numbered balls will be randomly drawn from an air machine.

Here are common keno rules:

  • You can put between 1 and 15 numbers on your card.
  • You choose from 1-80 when selecting each number.
  • The more numbers you pick, the higher the payouts you win.

The only true skill in keno is figuring out how many balls you should select to improve your odds (Pick 5 & better are often best). You can also research different casinos to see which ones feature the highest return to player (RTP).

This limited skill doesn’t impress a generation that’s grown up with Texas hold’em and sports betting. Most millennials don’t want to play a different version of the lottery — they want more control over their results.

Not Featured at Online Casinos

Online casino gaming sites push slots and live dealer games more than anything. Virtual table games and scratch cards are their next priorities.

Keno falls near the bottom of the totem pole.

Most likely, you’ll find online keno in a “specialty games” or “other category” at an internet casino.

Some gaming sites do offer multiple versions of this game. For example, you might find different skins for each keno variation.

By and large, though, online casinos don’t see keno as one of their big moneymakers. Therefore, you’ll need to do some browsing to find it.

Extremely Slow Gameplay in Land Based Casinos

Keno is one of the slowest games in brick-and-mortar casinos. Parlors typically only complete between four and six contests per hour.

This relaxed pace is attributed to the playing process. First, the casino must wait until enough players have filled out cards before holding a drawing.

Then, they must announce that the drawing is taking place and release each ball through the air tube. Winning tickets must be collected afterward and prize money delivered accordingly.

View of a Keno Lounge

Keno gameplay isn’t quite as smooth as blackjack, for instance. The latter boasts a speedy dealer who can quickly deal hands, determine wins/losses, and collect losing chips.

Keno requires a more-comprehensive effort when considering everything that goes into drawings and determining winners.

Terrible Keno RTP

Those who play keno today grew up in an era when gambling strategy resources weren’t as widespread.

Sure, books were available in Vegas airports and large chains. However, the widespread availability of online strategy resources that we enjoy today didn’t exist in the mid-1990s and beforehand.

Many older gamblers are willing to overlook keno’s awful RTP as a result. Speaking of which, most keno games only offer between 70% and 90% RTP.

The Pick 1 and Pick 2 options are the worst. They usually pay back less than 80% in most casinos. But the rest of the Picks aren’t much better.

Younger gamblers are used to googling RTPs on whatever casino games they’re thinking of trying. They’re horrified when they see 75% RTP for keno.

Putting this into perspective, land-based slot machines — which can quickly drain your bankroll — generally offer between 88% and 95% RTP.

Compounding the problem is that you can’t do much to change these odds either. Keno strategy doesn’t go much further than choosing Pick 5 and above and researching casinos with the best payback.

Keno Hasn’t Evolved with Modern Gaming

Some casino games have survived for centuries with little-to-no innovation. Blackjack and roulette are among the few entries in this small class.

Most forms of gambling either must evolve or be rendered obsolete. Keno is in danger of falling into the latter category at some point.

This game’s setup doesn’t lend itself to innovation. After all, providers can’t add fancy graphics and animations to land-based keno like they can with slots.

Internet gaming developers have tried giving online keno a fresh look with “crazy” or “party” variations that boast bright and/or abstract background colors. At the end of the day, though, these are just keno games with funky colors.

Perhaps a provider will take on the difficult task of modernizing keno one day. But as it looks now, the game doesn’t have much room for innovation.

Old Person Stigma Is Already Prevalent

It may be too late for keno to change its current perception. Older people already populate parlors throughout the US.

These same gamblers aren’t going to suddenly ignore one of their favorite games. Likewise, millennials won’t pile into keno parlors anytime soon.

Keno isn’t quite at bingo level yet in terms of the old-person vibe. After all, the latter is commonly viewed as a game played by old ladies during church fundraisers (at least in the US anyways).

However, keno could soon venture into bingo territory in the near future. Its player base only continues to grow older by the year.

Keno Is Becoming a Nostalgic Choice

Coin-operated slot machines have long been phased out by most casinos. Ticket-in, ticket-out (TITO) slots are much more prevalent today due to multiple advantages.

Nevertheless, a few Vegas casinos still keep coin-based slot machines on their floors. The idea is to capture the older crowd that wants to relive Sin City trips from the eighties and beforehand.

Keno could very well become the next coin-operated slot. It’s featured in fewer land-based and online casinos these days than ever before.

I could easily see this game’s popularity revolving around nostalgia at some point. Much like those who pump quarters into the few remaining vintage slots, keno parlors will eventually become limited antiques.

Conclusion

Bingo still holds the top spot as the ultimate old people’s game in America. However, keno is giving bingo a run for its money.

This game doesn’t have key elements that are attractive to younger gamblers, such as skill and high RTP. The main skill involved is choosing an appropriate amount of numbers that’ll raise payback.

You can at least exercise research skills to improve your keno odds. However, you can’t use the same stimulating strategy that’s available in games like Texas hold’em.

Unfortunately, you still won’t face great odds even when you choose Pick 5 or higher. Many keno games offer just 90% RTP or lower.

Closeup of a Digital Keno Board

Even if you’re willing to put up with limited strategy and bad payback, brick-and-mortar keno can feel like watching paint dry. Some parlors offer as little as one game every 15 minutes.

Keno also suffers from limited availability in online casinos. Many young gamblers prefer betting through their smartphones and tablets. They can easily overlook keno when considering that it’s shoved in specialty sections.

Internet casinos don’t feel that this game offers enough to modern gamblers. They’d rather showcase the latest slots or live dealer gaming than a fast-aging game.

Even if you’re able to see past all the factors that date keno, you can’t overlook the crowd that fills parlors. You’ll find a bunch of sixty and seventy somethings populating these areas.

My prediction is that keno has 5-10 more years where it’ll be a relevant casino game. After this, it’ll likely go the way of coin-operated slot machines and become a rare vintage offering in downtown Vegas.

In Defense of Prop Bets: 5 Reasons to Give Them a Try

Bag of Money With Sportsbook Background

For most sports bettors, the introduction to the crazy world of prop bets happened during, or leading up to a Super Bowl. Learning you could bet on the length of the National Anthem, the number of times the broadcasters mentioned a certain topic, and of course, which quarterback would throw for the most touchdowns, opened up a new world of opportunities.

Then, you realized that these bets might not just be the best thing for your bankroll. Even after coming to that realization, I refuse to give up prop bets altogether. In this article, I’ll lay out my top reasons why these bets can be part of an effective betting strategy.

1 – They’re Entertaining

I’m fully aware that betting solely for the entertainment value is not going to end well. If simply adding some excitement to a sporting event was the main objective, most bettors would be wagering primarily on the longshots.

With that being said, most bettors aren’t only in it for the money either. Pro gamblers, or sharps, might take a more analytical approach to what many would consider a hobby. For the vast majority of sports gamblers, the perfect betting strategy makes money, and provides additional entertainment to the games.

I’ve become a fan of prop bets, especially in the NFL, because they’ll keep you locked in throughout the game. For example, if you bet on whether or not the third-option receiver on a team will end up with 40 yards or more, one play can give you the win. On the other hand, if you bet on a team to cover by 10 points and they’re losing in the fourth quarter, hope is mostly lost.

NFL Player Catching a Pass

In events like the Super Bowl, props are entertaining because they give every single aspect of the game an opportunity to be a betting win. Things like the coin toss, commercials, and halftime show all have components that you can bet on.

I’ll get into the more rational reasons that prop bets can be part of a successful betting gameplan, but for me personally, entertainment still tops the list.

2 – Prop Betting Offers Unique Value

When you look at the point spreads on most games, if you’re a fan of the sport, you can predict what the number will be with good accuracy. Similarly, sportsbooks will almost always be within a point of one another when setting lines. Prop bets, on the other hand, have a much wider range of potential odds across various platforms. To me, this means there’s added value if you can find a bet at the right number.

As I mentioned in the first reason, I like prop bets because a single play can be the determining factor of whether or not a bet hits. I don’t care how many analytical data systems are in place, predicting how likely it is for a third string running back to score a touchdown is not a black and white equation.

For that reason, I find that some prop bets, especially longshots, are worth taking a flyer on.

If you can find odds of +200 or more on something that wouldn’t surprise you if it happened, it’s worth the risk.

The bottom line is that any time it is difficult or complicated to place odds on a certain event taking place; the public is typically going to have more of an advantage over the sportsbooks than they would otherwise. This doesn’t always mean you’re going to win the bet, but it does mean you have a slight advantage, which is rare when it comes to gambling on sports.

3 – Many Available Options

This will vary from sportsbook to sportsbook, but even on the most limited platforms, you’ll find dozens of prop bet offerings for just about any major sporting event.

Have a feeling that a certain backup point guard is going to have an above-average scoring night based on a matchup problem? You can bet on that! Think the wind is going to cause two or more missed field goals in an NCAA football game? Seek and you shall find.

While you might be limited to your choices in terms of betting on the overall outcome of the game, you can avoid this problem by utilizing prop bets. Even if you can’t get a read on how the two teams will match up against each other, you can often break down the matchups into contests between individual players, which are easy to study and predict.

My advice for selecting the right plays is to look for more obscure options. The reason is that sportsbooks will have more trouble putting an accurate price on the bet, and when that happens, gamblers usually benefit.

4 – Prop Bets Help Simplify the Game

As mentioned in the previous section, it can be challenging to know how teams will match up against each other. With so many variables and so many players involved, predicting outcomes is challenging. Prop bets allow you to break down the game and focus on a specific area where you can more easily research and gather data.

For example, I like to bet the over/under on how many rushing yards a particular NFL running back will get in a game. There exists a very black and white checklist of criteria that can be used to help you make an educated decision. First, I’ll examine the health of the running back and the offensive line. Next, I’ll look at the health of the defensive line. After that, I’ll look at the defense’s rushing stats and compare that to the offense. Finally, I’ll take into account the weather and make a decision.

View of Sportsbook Betting Window and Lines

Obviously there is no perfect system, and if I’m lucky I can win 60% of these types of bets. However, if I pick and choose the games that give me the best odds, that 60% can go a long way in contributing to a profitable betting system.

My advice would be to find a certain aspect of a sport (passing yards, rushing yards, sacks, etc.) and follow it for a couple of weeks. Chances are that if you follow it closely, you’re going to have a major advantage over the public.

5 – Sports Betting Public Bias

When looking at odds on a bet of any type, it’s important to recognize that the public has tremendous influence over what the eventual numbers will be. For example, if 70% of the money comes in on the Patriots at -6, you can bet (not literally) that the line will grow (-6.5, then -7, etc.) until the money begins to even out.

The reason for this is simple to understand. Sportsbooks don’t want to bet their profits on the outcome of the game one way or another. In a perfect world, 50% of the money would be on either side of the bet, the losing bets would cover the winners’ payouts, and the house would take home the juice.

When it comes to prop bets, the fact that they receive less action means that the public’s bias will move the lines even more and set you up to take advantage.

Because the majority of the people making prop bets do so without properly researching first, the public money often falls into the trap that sportsbooks set.

For this reason, fading the public is even more of an advisable strategy on prop bets than it would be on typical bets. If you’re looking at a prop bet and it seems “too easy,” go the other way and you’ll be shocked at how much success you’ll have using this strategy.

Conclusion – Try Prop Betting Today

Even with all this praise for prop bets, it’s still important that I mention it’s not the best idea to make your whole strategy revolve around them. Although they can result in some nice wins, they’re more inconsistent over time.

With that being said, next time you log into your preferred sportsbook, look over the prop bet options they’re offering. If you find one that looks particularly enticing and has good value, try your hand and see if you can capitalize.

How Far Is Las Vegas from Los Angeles? (Driving Time)

Image of Route 66 Interstate With Casino Background

Are you from SoCal and considering a weekend getaway to Vegas?

After a rough week, there’s nothing like packing your bags, channeling your inner Clark Griswold or Dr. Gonzo, and heading to Sin City for the glitz and glamour under the lights on The Strip.

I personally love a road trip and what could be better than blazing a trail through the desert. Burning over the frying pan asphalt on your way to wealth and riches. Perhaps the riches don’t come, but the amazing cuisine and beautiful sights will more than make up for that.

Visiting Las Vegas is a treat, but why wait to get the experience started?

Kick the Tires and Light the Fires

If you’re lucky enough to live driving distance from the city, or just prefer wheels over other modes of transportation, taking a road trip to Vegas is an exciting way to get your trip started. In just a matter of hours, you can drive through miles of interesting road trip stops before winding up in Sin City.

The Los Angeles to Las Vegas drive is one filled with an abundance of desert landscapes, fantastic “out of the way”  eating spots, and kitschy art.

According to statistics compiled annually by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, around 27% of tourists who visit Las Vegas are from Southern California. If you’re considering making the drive, I’ll go over some basics and add a few nuggets of blissful gold to make the trip great.

Are You Gonna Go My Way

Depending on which route you decide to take while driving to Vegas from LA, expect to spend somewhere between 4 and 5 hours on the road.

Without factoring in traffic, taking I-15 N is the shortest and more popular drive, clocking in at about 4 hours and 15 minutes of road time over the course of 270 miles.

On this route, you’ll experience the iconic and eye-popping drive between Victorville and Barstow. So, make sure to take the time and snap some pics.

You’ll be staring at the wide-open vastness and simplistic beauty of the sun quenched desert for over half the trip, basically Barstow to vegas.

On average, nearly 36,000 people daily drive through the California/Nevada state line at the I-15 Primm exit. You should take note, it’s more likely than not that you’ll hit some traffic on your road trip.

Exit Sign For Town of Calico

Friday is the busiest time for people to begin the Los Angeles to Las Vegas road trip, and running into that traffic can easily add an extra hour or more to your drive time.

Be especially careful on holidays or when there’s a big Las Vegas event as well, as you may see your hours on the road hitting double digits. If possible, try to leave on a less-popular day. Monday through Wednesday will probably be your best bet.

Alternatively, those looking for even more nature on the road trip may opt for the slightly longer scenic route of I-10 E. This route is approximately 325 miles from the heart of LA, and without traffic will take around 5 1/2 hours.

Along the Way

Depending on when you’re traveling you may get to your destination faster due to lighter traffic. The truth is Las Vegas isn’t far from Los Angeles at all. In the grand scheme of things, the 2 cities are rather close.

The drive from palm-clad Los Angeles to the lights of Las Vegas Casinos is a must for those exploring the West Coast of the USA. You can reach Sin City in as little as four hours, but why rush your road trip when there are so many incredible places to see along the way?

  • Calico Ghost Town For a memorable sightseeing stop between LA and Las Vegas, step back in time to the Old West at Calico Ghost Town. Founded in 1881 during California’s silver strike, Calico was home to 500 mines and became a major producer of silver ore. The miners packed up, loaded their mules and moved on around 12 years later when silver lost its value. Today it’s been transformed into a fantastically authentic tourist attraction.
  • Front of the Pioneer Saloon

  • Pioneer Saloon – To relax after your long drive and get in the mood for thrills and spills in Sin City, why not call by one of the oldest bars in the Nevada Desert, situated just 15 minutes off the freeway? Frequented by a bevy of A-listers such as Clark Gable back in the golden age of Hollywood, Pioneer Saloon is a great spot for food and drink before making your way to the strip.
  • Peggy Sue’s ’50s Diner – Looking for a pit stop around the halfway point of your journey? Peggy Sue’s is your answer. It’s a classic diner packed full of kitsch memorabilia from the golden age of Americana and serves up a healthy helping of traditional mouth-watering comfort food.

Of course, there are dozens of other “can’t miss” stops on the trip, but you just can’t hit them all. Which brings me to another side quest that is an absolute must.

Get Your Kicks on Route 66

Making the drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas without spending some time on Route 66 is decidedly un-American. America’s most famous stretch of road, is not too far off your normal course and offers plenty.

Take the section from Victorville to Barstow to glimpse retro diners, vintage gas stations, antique shops, burger joints and even an ostrich farm.

Ever wanted to visit a forest of bottle trees? Who hasn’t? If you drive between Victorville and Barstow, you’re in the perfect place to see one of the kookiest attractions on Route 66.

Absolutely one of the coolest little bits of Americana, Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch is basically a huge open-air art exhibition, brought to life as the sun shines through the many shades of colored glass. It’s open from dawn to dusk and if you’re lucky, you may get to meet Elmer himself.

Near Highway 15, you’ll pass one of the few Route 66 museums that’s actually situated on the road itself.

Hoozdo Hahoodzo

That eye-catching subtitle is brought to you by the fine people of the Navajo (not an official endorsement), their words for what we call Arizona. As in Phoenix, Arizona, not to be confused with the actor.

You don’t have to live in Hollywood to make the drive to Sin City. In fact, Phoenix is nearly as close at only 300 miles.

To the uninitiated, the 4 ½ hour drive from Phoenix to Las Vegas along U.S. Highway 93 can look like nothing more than a vast expanse of open desert fringed with low, brown mountains.

The straight shot of 297 miles is the best way to travel between the two cities, whether you want to get to Sin City as quickly as possible or explore the history of the Old West.

Alternatively, if you’re looking to experience more of the Arizona landscape, road trippers can add iconic spots such as the red rocks of Sedona and the natural wonder that is the Grand Canyon by taking the I-17 N.

Sedona Red Rocks

As with L.A. to Vegas, the weekends are the most popular, and therefore most heavily trafficked, days to drive. Bake in some extra drive time if you plan on traveling during the holidays or when there are big Las Vegas events, as you may see your hours on the road begin to increase.

You may decide to add a stop in Sedona, but expect your drive time to increase to 6.5 hours, and adding a scenic stop at the Grand Canyon will clock you in at nearly 10.5 hours. This road trip is a wonderful one to take if you are planning on stretching it out over the course of several days so you can enjoy Mother Nature in all her glory.

Conclusion

As you can see, there’s beauty waiting to be discovered on the outcast stretch of road between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

It can be a splendid opportunity to do some bargain hunting for local art or just channeling your inner photog; there are few sights more magical than seeing the desert sunset against the horizon.

Or you can simply make quick stops for fuel and find a sense of peace in the desolate landscape of the desert.

Regardless of your preferred style of overland adventure, you’re sure to make some great memories along the road.

As you’ve seen, it’s not far from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. So, enjoy the ride.

Don’t forget extra water and if you hear the driver yell, “We can’t stop here. This is bat country.” They will likely be just fine, but you may want to take the helm.

3 Facts About Parlay Bets You Need to Know

3 Checkmarks in Front of Parlay Ticket and Casino Background

Parlay bets go by many names and have many possible combinations you can make. They’re a complex form of betting and have many outcomes. They’re also a risky bet to make, but the good news is you can vary the risk based on how complicated you make the parlay bets.

A parlay bet is kind of like ordering a combo meal. You can add fries, burgers, shakes, and onion rings all to one meal. A normal moneyline bet is one where you just get one thing, like fries, at a restaurant. If you want a complete meal, a parlay bet is the way to go.

Parlay, accumulator, combo bet or multi are all different names for parlay bet. A parlay bet is a bet that combines many single bets into one larger bet. There are 2 factors that make a parlay bet:

  • Multiple bets combined together. For a parlay bet to exist, you have to make multiple bets in one bet.
  • The bets must all win. The only way to win a parlay bet though is for all your single bets to win. That’s why it’s such a risky bet—so many things have to go right for you to win a parlay bet.
The good thing about winning a parlay bet is you can get a much bigger payout if you do win.

Just like with anything else involving gambling, the amount of winnings go up more the more risk you involve. If you want to risk a lot with a parlay bet, you can be paid generously.

There are 3 possible outcomes to a parlay bet:

  • The bet can win. That means you get all the winnings back, including your stake. This is the highest reward option but requires a lot to go right in your bet.
  • The bet can push. If any single bet in a parlay bet ties (maybe a moneyline bet on a soccer match ties), then the parlay bet pushes. As a result, the parlay reverts to a lower number of teams.
  • The bet can lose. The last option is the worst. The parlay will lose if any one part of the parlay bet loses.

1- How to Place a Parlay Bet

Placing a parlay bet is similar to how you’d place any other bet. Fill out the card with the outcomes you expect and take it to the oddsmaker. There are several different places where you can make parlay bets:

  • Sportsbook—sportsbooks are common places to make many kinds of bets. They’re typically inside casinos and offer a wide variety of bets in a fun atmosphere. You’ll be able to place a bet at a counter and watch the event unfold on their big-screen TVs.
  • Betting websites—many betting websites also offer parlay bets. Research the website you decide to bet on before you place any bets. Make sure the website accepts your payment method, is reputable, and offers the types of bets (including parlay) that you’re interested in.
  • Mobile sports betting apps—many sports betting apps also offer parlay bets. Just like with the website, you’ll need to research a few things about the app before you place any bets. Betting apps offer lots of conveniences because you can place them anywhere from your phone.

Consider the odds of the event you’re betting on before you place the parlay bet as well.
Parlay bets are offered on many types of sports, so you need to make sure you know a few things before you place a parlay bet.
Wide View of a Sportsbook

  • Understand the sport you’re betting on. If you’re betting on football, make sure you know the rules of the game well so you can make an informed bet.
  • Know how the teams match up. In addition to understanding the sport, you need to know the teams of the sport as well. Some teams match up well against each other and some teams will have weaknesses.
  • Know the conditions. Know the field conditions of whatever bet you’re placing as well. While some games may take place indoors, many sports are played outdoors and climate factors like rain or wind can greatly influence the outcome.

Decide what kind of parlay bet to make. Lastly, you’ll need to decide the kind of parlay bet you want to make. Once you understand the different types of parlay bets, you’ll feel comfortable placing them.

Once you’ve decided where to bet, who to bet on, and what kind of bet you want to make, you’ll be ready to start making some parlay bets.

2- Varieties of Parlay Bets

There are 2 main types of parlay bets we’ll focus on today.

The Teaser

A teaser is a traditional type of parlay bet. The bettor can place a parlay bet on multiple teams or totals. One important thing to remember is no moneyline bets will be allowed on a teaser.

Moneyline bets are the simplest kind of bet you can make. You simply predict which side or team will win. An example of a moneyline bet is as follows:

New York Yankees +110

Boston Red Sox -105

In this example, the team with the positive number is the underdog. The team with a negative number is the favorite.

If you place a $100 bet on the Yankees, you will get $110 in profit if you win the bet. You also get the money you put down as well if your team wins. So, the $100 bet you placed on the Yankees would give you $210 back, the $110 in profit as well as the $100 in winnings.

If you place a $105 bet on the Red Sox, you can win $100. So your total payout would be the winnings, $100 plus the stake, $105, or $205.

As you can see, you have to put more money on the favorite to get the same amount of money back. People prefer to vote on the underdog because there’s a chance to get more money back that way.

Even though moneyline bets are not allowed in teaser bets, many other types of bets are.

Handful of Parlay Bet Tickets

The main type of bet you’ll see in parlay bets are point spread bets. In a teaser, you can adjust the point spread of the bets you make to change the cushion. You can give yourself more of a cushion by adjusting the point spreads.

Many bettors like teaser bets because you can reduce the risk by changing the point spread. The more you reduce the risk, the less you can win. Bettors see teasers as a safer bet because they can be a tailored parlay bet where you change the amount to your choosing.

You can also choose how many teams you want to involve in a teaser. The more teams you choose, the more money you’ll be able to win. In some teasers, you can choose anywhere from 2–15 teams, with the most risk being involved in a 15 team teaser.

Moving the Spread

Moving the spread is a complicated concept that needs to be explained. It’s essential for understanding teaser bets that you understand how the spread works and how moving it works.

Spread are used to even the playing field with bets. If bets didn’t have spreads, everyone would just bet on the favorite every time and win money that way. Spreads work by adding another dimension to betting and making the process more complex.

A spread may look like this:

Yankees +3

RedSox -3

Spreads can be confusing because the team with the negative number is the favorite.

In this example, the spread is saying the Red Sox are expected to win by 3 runs. The 2 numbers are just 2 different ways of saying the same spread.

If you bet on the Red Sox in this bet, the Red Sox must win the game by more than 3 runs for you to win the bet. If the Red Sox win by less than 3, you lose the bet. So a spread changes the terms of the bet. Now the bet you’re making is, “The Red Sox will win by more than 3 runs.”

Moving the spread means you change the number from +3 to +1. Then, you can bet on the Red Sox to win by only more than 1 run. While this seems great and seems like a way to give you an easier bet to win, it’s not that simple.

The bet pays out less if you move the spread down, but more if you move the spread up. Moving the spread is a great way to reduce or increase risk depending on the outcome you expect.

3- Round Robin Parlay Bets

Round robins are another type of parlay bet. In them, you can make multiple bets at once.

The bettor selects 3-8 teams when they make a round-robin bet. Once you choose the number of teams you want to be involved in your round-robin bet, you’ll choose how many teams you want to tie together in the bet.

The more teams you tie together, the more risky the parlay will be. Remember, for a parlay to win, all the parts of the parlay have to win.

The combination of all the individual parlays made on the round-robin will be the final ticket. There can be up to 56 parlays made on a single ticket so round robins can be very complex. The payout for all the parlay bets combined is the same as if they were made individually.

Conclusion

What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

9 MLB Betting Facts You Need to Know to Win

MLB Player Bryce Harper Swinging at Ball

Major League Baseball is a great place to find good betting value. With teams playing 162 games every season, there are always lines and games that offer value for smart handicappers. But you need to learn how to identify the important stats and use them to find value.

The best place to start is with the nine facts you need to know about MLB on this page. These facts are going to help you evaluate every game in the best possible way. This is going to lead to more profits over the course of the season.

1 – Starting Pitching Still Leads

Winning sports bettors have to learn how to adjust their evaluations and handicapping methods over time to continue winning. Things don’t seem to change much from year to year, but over decades a lot can change.

One thing that hasn’t changed in the 30 plus years I’ve been betting on baseball is that starting pitchers are still the most important position to evaluate. Every MLB game I evaluate starts with a deep look at the starting pitchers.

The only thing that’s changed over the years about evaluating starting pitchers is they throw fewer innings per start on average than they did 10, 20, or 30 years ago. But starters still throw more innings than the bullpen.

2 – Relief Pitching Is Catching Up

I mentioned in the last section that starting pitchers are throwing fewer innings than they used to. This means that relief pitchers are throwing more innings than ever before. They still aren’t throwing as many as the starter, but it’s getting closer every season.

The issue is that every game has one starting pitcher on each side, but it also has a dozen or more relief pitchers combined.

It can be challenging to know which relief pitchers are likely to pitch, because there are so many factors that you don’t know.

You need to evaluate each team’s bullpen as a whole, and then try to figure which pitchers are going to come into the game in certain situations. Start by finding out which relief pitchers are not available, and by learning which pitcher fills each role in the bullpen.

The pitchers filling the long roles are usually the weakest on the team, so take a close look at these pitchers, especially when the starter doesn’t usually pitch deep into games.

3 – Plenty of Games So Don’t Push

One mistake that many sports bettors make is trying to force value on a game. Instead of being patient and finding true value, they want more action so they manufacture value so they can make a bet.

MLB has a 162 game schedule for each team, so there are always plenty of games on the schedule. You don’t ever have to push value where there isn’t any. You can afford to not make a bet on a game where you can’t find any real value, because there are dozens more games each week.

MLB Player Rounding the Bases

Speaking of value; another mistake most MLB gamblers make is they never even look at games from a value standpoint. Value is when you find lines offered by the sportsbooks that make betting on one side or the other profitable.

4 – Learn How to Use Run Lines

Baseball lines are the same as the ones you find in football and basketball in some cases, but you’re also going to find a special type of line called a run line. A run line looks like a point spread wager, but instead of paying a standard vig, like 11 to 10, the vig varies based on the teams in the game.

A standard run line has one team getting 1 ½ runs and the other team giving 1 ½ runs. You occasionally see a run line at a different level, but 1 ½ is by far the most common.

I almost always bet on the team getting the runs, but only when the bet offers true value. I never bet on a team just because they get runs. When a team gets runs you have to pay a higher price, so you have to take this into account when you’re evaluating the game.

5 – Always Evaluate Home Road Splits

Overall stats are what most people follow in baseball, but the overall stats don’t really mean anything. You’re looking for value in a particular game. And in each game there’s one home team and one road team.

This means that you need to look at the stats and performance on the road for the visiting team, and at home for the home team.

Home teams tend to perform better than road teams, but you can’t know exactly how much the difference is if you don’t look at the relevant splits.

6 – Always Evaluate Left Right Splits

The same thing is true for left and right splits. It’s extremely rare for a hitter to perform the same against both left and right handed pitching. And the same is true for pitchers facing hitters.

You have to forget about overall stats, and focus on the left and right splits for both hitters and pitchers.

The next thing you need to follow closely is how each manager uses his players according to splits. Most teams have at least one or two positions that work like a platoon, and some managers use an even heavier platoon rotation.

You also need to see how each manager uses his bullpen based on left right splits. The new relief pitcher rules put into place in 2020 changed this some, but there are still specialist relievers and there always will be.

7 – Home Runs Are Important, But Not Too Important

Home runs are exciting, and there’s no argument that they’re an important part of evaluating MLB games. But don’t make the mistake of valuing them more than they are really worth.

Baseball teams score runs in a wide variety of ways, and you need to evaluate them all. Each possible outcome of an at bat is worth a certain amount in relation to the other possible outcomes. You should develop a rough system for the value of each outcome.

MLB Player Francisco Lindor Running the Bases

A home run is worth more than a triple. A triple is worth more than a double, but not much more. And this continues all the way down to a triple play, which is the worst possible outcome for the offense in an at bat.

On the other side, the value for the pitcher and defense goes the other way. Learn how to value home runs in comparison to other outcomes, and work on getting the value ratio correct for every outcome. This is going to help you evaluate games more profitably.

8 – Defense Is More Important Than Most People Think

All of the highlights tend to focus on offensive plays, but smart baseball gamblers know that defense often wins or loses games. You can’t afford to focus 100% on offense if you want to win.

You need to consider two things when looking at defense. The first thing is the range of the players, particularly in the middle infield and outfield positions. The second thing you need to consider is how well each defensive player does on the balls he gets to.

Then you need to evaluate catchers based on how well the pitching staff does with them behind the plate, and their ability to deal with stolen base attempts.

9 – Be Careful of Advanced New Age Stats

Many sports bettors have started using the new advanced stats like WAR, which stand for wins above replacement, when evaluating MLB games. While I always recommend using any stat that helps you win more bets, you have to be careful every time you introduce a new one.

The biggest problem I see is gamblers using stats that they don’t completely understand.

If you don’t know exactly how a statistic is derived and exactly what it means, you shouldn’t use it.

I like the direction some of the new age defensive stats are going, but none of them are perfect. You can use advanced stats like WAR if you can figure out how to make them work for you. But most winning baseball bettors are already using statistics in a way that takes the same things into account that WAR and other metrics use.

Conclusion

Every time you evaluate a MLB game it needs to start with a deep look at the pitching. Start with the starting pitchers, and then evaluate everything you can about the bullpen. Then learn how to evaluate offense and defense, using the relative value of everything that can happen during an at bat.

Using the nine MLB facts on this page, you can develop a complete evaluation and handicapping strategy that you can use on every game. This is going to make your results consistent, and you can quickly see if your system is working; or if it needs more work.

How Do Professional Casino Gamblers Make Money?

Image of Man in Suit With Split Casino Background Image

So, what exactly is a professional gambler?

A professional gambler is a person who lives from gambling and spends most of his time at the casinos. Professional gamblers are actually earning their paychecks by making the right bets when they play at the live casino tables.

In this article, I will go over some general misconceptions about casino gaming as well as go over a few real-world examples, gathered from several friends of mine who are professional Advantage Players. We won’t give out real names or when these “adventures” occurred, but rest assured this is about as truthful as an accounting of what real-world play is like.

The gambler lifestyle has been portrayed by Hollywood, and more so, by commercials for casinos, to be a glamorous one. Men are always dressed sharply and women are in their best gowns and, both seem to be having a wonderful time. They are winning money, eating at 5-star restaurants and drinking the best champagne.

This is all done to entice the average person to come to the casinos and gamble, but more importantly to lose the maximum amount of money they can. The reality of the casino gaming world is very different.

What Makes a Pro

The term “professional gambler” is sometimes used interchangeably for both people who earn part-time and full-time income through gambling.

But I keep a much tighter definition of a professional gambler.

Real pros not only make a profit through gambling, but enough to pay all of their living expenses. This includes housing, utilities, car payment, insurance, food, clothing and anything else deemed necessary.

A semi-pro is somebody who makes enough to supplement their income but doesn’t earn a full-time living through gambling.

Sometimes when players don’t have good results they question their skills. The reality is Advantage Gaming is a gloomy business when you’re on a losing streak.

But, when you are on the positive side of the spectrum it’s like taking candy from a jar labeled “free candy”. The hard truth is that the mentality of a professional casino player is equal to a manic depressive.

The gambling world doesn’t offer an abundance of opportunities to make a living, but there are a few different games where you can earn some nice profits. If you play smart and stick to the plan.

Game On

Let’s take a brief look at the most common games that you can make long term profits with and I’ll then go into each with more detail:

  • Blackjack
  • Daily fantasy sports (DFS)
  • Poker
  • Sports betting

Blackjack sees you try to win money directly from the house.

Casinos do everything in their power to hinder successful card counters. This includes using continuously shuffling machines, multi-deck shoes, and vigilant security measures.

Anybody who’s caught counting cards is often kicked out of the casino and banned. This is why it’s so important for card counters to blend in with normal players.

Closeup of Hands Dealing Cards

DFS and poker both see you compete against your fellow man. The house merely takes a small cut of tournament fees or cash game pots for poker.

Sportsbooks create lines in an effort to get equal betting action on both sides. The sportsbooks make their money by taking 10% juice from the losing group.

Every form of advantage betting has its pros and cons, but the key is that each of these activities offers the chance to make a healthy income.

Counting on It

People have been making a living through card counting since the early 1960s, and despite all the obstacles that casinos have put in players’ way, it remains possible to earn a living with card counting today.

You need a sizable bankroll in order to properly spread your bets and survive variance. The recommended minimum you should aim for is $20,000, but it’s better to have closer to $40,000.

How much you make depends upon several factors, including the following:

  • Skill level – Successful counters have between a 0.5% and 1.5% edge on casinos.
  • Hands per hour – 50 to 200 depending upon dealer speed & table size.
  • Bet spreading – Difference between your lowest and highest bet.
  • Deck penetration – The further into the shoe you get, the more confidence you can bet with.
  • Counting system – Some systems are more accurate than others.
  • Game rules – You want the best rules possible in order to lower the standard house edge.
  • Tips – $5 per hour for the dealer is standard.

The final step is to figure out how many hours you’ll play and convert this into an annual salary.

The key is keeping an accurate count amidst casino distractions and blending in with normal players.

Fantasy

DFS is the newest game that offers skilled gamblers an opportunity to make money.

Daily fantasy sees you pay an entry fee to enter contests and compete against other players. The goal is to create lineups that score the most points and rank the highest in tournaments.

Daily fantasy sports experienced a big boom in 2015, thanks to clever marketing campaigns that make it seem like any sports fan can win.

The truth, though, is that only a small percentage of those who play actually win. A study from 2015 showed that 1.3% of daily fantasy baseball players collect 91% of the winnings.

Saahil Sud, profiled in a WBUR piece, said he made over $3 million in profits in a single year. Former poker-pro Aaron Jones switched over to DFS and won a DraftKings contest worth $5 million in early 2016.

Of course, the average professional DFS player doesn’t earn quite this much. To determine a standard DFS salary, let’s consider the following factors:

  • Entries per day— Most DFS pros enter several hundred contests every day.
  • Stakes – Typical entry fees range anywhere from $1 up to $1,000.
  • Fees— DFS sites tack on a 10% fee to each buy-in, which is where their profits come from.
  • Skill level— Some pros have a bigger edge than others.

Of course, DFS is filled with variables, which is why it’s key to have a large enough bankroll to survive the ups and downs.

Poker

Poker has long been one of the most viable options for becoming a professional gambler. The reason why is because you’re competing against other opponents instead of the house.

It’s tougher to make a living in poker these days because the strategy is more prevalent. Real money online poker gives players a chance to rapidly accelerate their learning curve by seeing more hands per hour.

Closeup of Man Sifting Through Deck of Cards

You can still become a profitable player with enough hard work and experience though. In fact, some pros still make six or seven-figure annual incomes with the game.

However, the vast majority of pros these days earn between $40,000 and $100,000 per year.

Poker is unique in that there are essentially two types of professionals: tournament and cash game pros.

Let’s look at the different considerations for cash vs. tournament play:

Cash Games

  • Profit measured in big blinds (BB) made per hour.
  • House takes 5% rake from cash game pots for running games.
  • More control over annual salary than tournaments.

Tournaments

  • Profit measured by rate of return (ROI) on buy-ins.
  • House adds 10% fee to buy ins (e.g. $10 + $1 fee).
  • Only the top 10-15% of the field makes money.
  • Tournaments have more variance than cash games.

A cash player must figure out what stakes they must play to make a comfortable living based on BB earned per hour.

A tournament pro must decide what buy-in level they must choose to make a high enough ROI to live comfortably.

One more consideration here is whether you’ll dedicate the bulk of your time towards live or online poker.

Online cash games and tourneys offer more volume because you can play multiple tables. Plus hands and tournaments go much faster, giving you an opportunity to boost your hourly wages.

Nevertheless, many players find that their win rate is higher in live games. The most lucrative tournaments are found in land-based casinos, too, such as the World Series of Poker events.

Sports Betting

The good thing about sports betting is that you don’t need to have a massive win rate just to book profits.

Sportsbooks only take 10% juice from the losing side. This differs from DFS and poker tournaments where you must pay an extra 10% fee regardless of whether you’re a winner or loser.

The juice can be lowered or adjusted based on where the sportsbook is trying to push action, but 10% is generally the amount you’ll see taken from the losing side.

Professional sports bettors typically win anywhere from 53% to 55% of the time.

Pro sports bettors must be very keen at handling their bankroll since they’re dealing with such small profit margins. They also need to make larger wagers than “Gary the CPA from Ohio” to increase potential profits.

Some sports bettors have made millions of dollars with this model. But the average bettors are looking at more modest salaries ranging from $50,000 to $150,000 annually.

Conclusion

Being a pro gambler has some obvious benefits, including flexible hours, being your own boss, and the ability to increase your income.

Some gamblers, such as Saahil Sud and Bob Voulgaris, have even gotten rich with their skills. Of course, you may be perfectly happy making mid-5-figures, as long as you get to enjoy the aforementioned benefits, but there are also some downsides to be aware of. These include risk, highs and lows, no sick days, and the potential to lose everything.

The potential rewards can be great in the case of card counting, DFS, poker, and sports betting, but you also have to be disciplined and good at handling risk.

Card Sharks Versus Card Sharp (Can the Casino Tell the Difference?)

Image of Cards Underwater With Sharks

Long has the debate raged over whether a card cheat is properly termed a card sharp or a card shark.

Sharks, after all, are known for mercilessly attacking their prey, which would seem in this linguistic battle to favor the card shark camp, since those who manipulate the cards with the express intent of cheating others have no more conscience or concern for their victims than do their finned counterparts.

Yet card sharp also has in its favor that it seems to conjure up mental images of the poker cheats of the Old West, sharp-featured men with cards up their sleeves. Which, therefore, is it?

Both terms still mean someone skilled in cheating at cards, although in recent years card shark has also come to acquire the less odious definition of someone skilled at the play of cards.

Were that not so, one would have to question the naming of the 1978 TV game show Card Sharks, on which contestants tried to guess whether the next card in a sequence was higher or lower than its predecessor.

What’s in a Name

As to whether card sharp or card shark entered the English language first, the answer is far from straightforward. A print sighting of card sharp dates to 1884 and one of card sharper to 1859, while the first print sighting of card shark takes us back only to 1942.

You might think this evidence which would seem to settle matters. However, both sharper and shark (in the sense of one who cheats) antedate all of the above, sharper to 1681 and shark to 1599, evidence which could be seen as giving the nod to shark.

By the way, the “shark” in question has nothing to do with carnivorous fish; it instead likely entered the English language via the German schurke, a word that in the 16th century had the meaning of a cheat or swindler.

Closeup of Man Shuffling Cards

If you thought the answer might be found via looking at the words sharp and shark absent the word card, that pursuit also leads down a blind alley, because some definitions of both those words contain elements of cheating or connivance.

As for the word shark, in addition to encompassing the species of flesh-eating fish it identifies, it has over time come to serve as a label for certain dislikable characters: those who prey greedily upon others and those who by virtue of superior skill outmaneuver less capable opponents.

Common compound nouns have been formed from ‘shark’ that address both meanings, such as loan shark in the “prey greedily” category and pool shark in the “superior skill” category.

Background Noise

Card Sharks features two players who face off in a head-to-head elimination game with the goal of one player making it to the grand prize winning deck.

This show from legendary Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions features two contestants trying to predict answers to survey questions for the opportunity to play a game with oversized playing cards for a chance to win cash.

Each contestant has to decide if the odds are worth the risk of losing it all and making it to the big game. Ultimately, players can either take their earned cash and quit or continue betting with the hope of reaching the top for a chance to take home a major cash prize. Community star and funnyman Joel McHale hosts.

Typo?

‘Card-sharp’, sometimes written ‘cardsharp’, might be thought to be a misspelling of ‘card-shark’. The latter is the more commonly used of the two synonymous phrases, especially outside the UK, which is one of the few countries to prefer ‘card-sharp’.

It is sometimes suggested that one term derived from the other. There’s no clear evidence to support that view, although if it is the case then it must have gone from ‘sharp’ to ‘shark’ as ‘card-sharp’ appears to be the older term.

Such tricksters were also known as ‘broadsmen’ or ‘spielers’ and ‘card-sharping’ was also called ‘Greekery’ – a derogatory term that probably wouldn’t get past the political-correctness lobby these days.

The reason for thinking that ‘card-sharp’ and card-shark’ may be independent coinages is the existence of the two much earlier words ‘sharping’ and ‘sharking’. These terms for deceitfulness have been adopted into other phrases, for example ‘sharp practice’ and ‘loan shark’.

Tricksters were called both ‘sharps’ and ‘sharks’ well before the 19th century, which makes the separate coinages entirely plausible.

Whatever you think about how and when the terms were coined there can be little doubt about where. Both ‘card-sharp’ and ‘card-shark’ appear in print in the United States many times before they are seen in publications elsewhere, a sure sign of country of origin.

The first such devious card players were called ‘card-sharpers’ rather than ‘card-sharps’, although the dates of the earliest known citations of the two terms are close enough together to raise doubts as to which came first. ‘Card-sharpers’ was recorded by George Augustus Sala, in his Twice round the clock, or the hours of the day and night in London, 1859:

“German swindlers and card-sharpers.”

As mentioned above, the earliest known citations of ‘card-sharp’ and ‘card-shark’ come from the United States.

Brits vs Yanks

It seems overly generous to have two almost identical terms for the same thing and in time no doubt one will do to the other, probably ‘card-shark’ to ‘card-sharp’, what grey squirrels have done to red squirrels. Until then, it’s the dealer’s choice.

The former is generally the accepted term across the United States and Canada. They do both share the same general definitions: (1) a professional card player, (2) a person who is skilled in card games, and (3) a person who is skilled in cheating at card games.

For the British version of card shark vs card sharp, the implication is that the player is up to some form of shadiness or cheating. In American English, a card shark is simply someone who spends most of their time playing cards. Also, a player who demonstrates an extremely adept skill at cards.

German Confusion

If you look at the history of poker, you’ll see that the use of the term “card sharp” dates way back to the era of Wild West saloons and small town card rooms found all across America in the 1880’s. Long before PokerStars was just a twinkle in its daddy’s eye.

By the 1940’s the term had evolved into card shark. Both phrases do make perfect sense in their own ways. “Sharping” is from the early 19th century and is used to describe the act of “swindling” or stealing. Not just applied to gambling but also a variety of other activities. For example, a con man posing as a bona fide preacher in the Old West would be known as a “gospel sharp”.

In this sense, the word sharp has its origins in the German word “schurke”, meaning rogue or rascal. To that end, a card sharp could very well be a card shark.

In Application

Cardsharps who cheat or perform tricks use skilled methods to maintain control of the order of the cards or sometimes to control just a specific card. Many of these methods employ sleight of hand.

Essential skills are false shuffles and false cuts that appear to mix the deck but actually leave the cards in the same order. Some of the more advanced techniques include culling or manipulating cards to the top or bottom of the deck, and stacking or positioning desired cards in position to be dealt.

Closeup of Hand Holding 10 of Diamonds Card

Dealing the cards can also be manipulated. Once a desired card or cards are located they can be controlled and dealt as the cheater wishes.

This is called a false dealing, if a card is dealt from the bottom it is called bottom dealing and if it is second from the top it is called second dealing.

Also, two cards could be dealt as one or the second card from the bottom could be dealt, hence the Greek deal and double deals.

Finally, dealing may be done from the middle of the deck, known as the middle deal or center deal, but is almost always performed as a display of skill rather than actual cheating.

Conclusion

Today both terms still have a slight implication of cheating. But not in the sense of sleight of hand or the hiding of cards. Or even card counting.

The very mention of an apex predator can instantly lead one to see an expert of cards pitted against and taking advantage of a lesser, more novice foe. In the same manner, pool sharks and pool hustlers are just using their advanced skill level to win, but only after hiding their playing powers. Are you an apex predator?

The Importance of Discerning Between 2 Types of Tilt at Poker

Glass of Milk Spilling Next to King of Hearts Card

Poker is one of the most emotionally demanding games you can think of. So much so that one of the words you’ll hear most often is tilt.

Being on tilt, roughly speaking, is when you allow bad feelings to dictate your behavior.

Everyone’s been there. But not everyone’s aware that there are at least two reasons for this to happen. And knowing the difference between the two may change the way you approach your next poker session.

1 – Waiting for the Sun to Shine

Let’s start by refining our understanding of what it means to be on tilt.

As I’ve suggested, this is when you let your emotions hurt your game. This is often an insidious process, which can manifest itself in different ways.

But, if we pay enough attention, we’ll be able to identify some common behavior patterns.

The most obvious form of tilt is when you start entering pots with marginal hands more often, in the hope of hitting a monster on later rounds of betting.

Not all players on tilt may do this. But all of them become more subject to some kind of speculative play. In short, they disregard most of what they once learned about the fundamentals (hand selection, pot odds, position, etc.).

Sometimes, it’s great. Nothing in poker is bad per se. After all, you have to know how to change gears and how to manipulate your table image.

And speculative plays can help you with that. Against skilled opponents, you won’t go too far if your game is too predictable. But when those plays aren’t done in the proper state of mind, this means that you’re simply relying on luck.

Knowing one’s own state of mind is, in itself, a full-time job, because it requires constant attention. But it’s easy to put into words how a person is feeling when he/she is on tilt.

In fact, we can summarize it with a single word—frustration.

2 – The Pain of Letting Go

Frustration is an interesting word. According to the 3rd edition of the Longman Active Study Dictionary, here’s how it’s defined:

[…] the feeling of being impatient or angry because you cannot do what you want to do[.]

I don’t need to tell you what it means to be impatient or angry, do I? Any human being knows those feelings all too well.

Closeup of Hand Reaching for Poker Chips

Still, it requires a good deal of self-awareness to identify certain emotions as soon as they show up during a poker session. And it requires an even greater deal of self-regulation to not let them interfere with your game.

Self-awareness and self-regulation are emotional intelligence skills. As such, they deserve an article of their own. For now, let’s continue analyzing our definition of the word frustration.

Once again, according to Longman (and most dictionaries, by the way), it’s a feeling that comes “because you cannot do what you want to do.”

And it’s here that I ask you, do you know what you want to do when you play poker?

3 – The Most Common Reason Why Players Go on Tilt

I suspect that, for most poker players, the question “What do you want to do?” isn’t even the most relevant because they’re way too concerned about what they want to have.

That is, they’re all about the results… I’m not here to say you shouldn’t be results-oriented. After all, this is a common trait among successful people.

But these people have also learned that your results should come in direct proportion to what you do and also, your level of being, if you want to sustain your success.

This sounds obvious, right? But how many players fail to notice this?

Poker is demanding not only because of its individualistic nature but also because of the luck factor. This makes it all too easy to blame the deck when things don’t go your way, especially when playing no-limit. Here, you can lose a lot (or all) of your chips in one hand.

When that happens because of a bad beat, that’s enough for many players to start playing much worse. And that’s how most of them go on tilt.

There’s a fine line between being focused on results and being attached to them. And we all tend to cross that line more often than we’d like to admit.

But we must know that attachment is exactly what makes it difficult to have the necessary emotional stability to play poker.

At the felt, anything can happen in the short run. Unfortunately, it seems that most players only learn this at a cognitive level (if that).

What do those players need to develop, then?

First of all, a desire to play well. Second, the habit of seeing their results from a larger perspective. Bear in mind, though, that none of that will necessarily save you from going on tilt.

There’s another reason why this happens to poker players.

4 – Aiming Higher

When you decide to get serious about improving your game, it’s common to develop a series of habits.

You start reading books, joining forums, and watching tutorials about poker. You keep track of how long you spend at each session (both online and offline). You spend hours analyzing different hands you’ve played searching for what could’ve been done differently.

Then, you pay attention to your nutrition, sleep, exercise routine, and so on. You even experiment with different kinds of meditation, visualizations, and affirmations.

Home Poker Table Setup

In short, you do everything you can think of to give yourself even the slightest edge at a poker table. And you definitely should. But, as great as those habits are, they may present a certain danger.

The danger is not in any of those practices themselves, but in how you relate to them. Because, if you do “everything right”, you might expect to play as close to perfect as humanly possible.

And when you’re not able to do this, you’re bound to get frustrated.

5 – When It Seems That There’s Nothing More to Polish

Poker player and author Mike Caro calls this second type of tilt the “scratched-car syndrome.”

He named it as such because of something that happened to a neighbor of his a long time ago. His neighbor just bought a new car, of which he seemed to be very proud of. And he polished it frequently. That is, until a scratch appeared on it.

After that incident, the man felt it wasn’t worth it anymore to do anything about his once precious car. As Caro observes, such is the case for those poker players who come into a table expecting to play great all the time.

All it takes is a costly misjudgment—a bad call on the river, for example—for them to feel like their whole session was ruined. Although the circumstances behind this type of tilt are different from the other, the underlying reason is the same.

Both types of players get frustrated because of some kind of attachment. In our first case, as we’ve seen, that attachment is mainly to amassing chips. In this second case, players tend to be attached mainly to their self-image as poker players.

These would do well to ponder on the following advice from Caro:

[…] You are where you are and the past is the past. Are-are, past-past. Try to play perfectly, but expect to fail.

6 – A Third Type of Tilt

I know, I said I’d talk about only two types of tilt, but there’s another one which deserves at least a brief mention here.

Sometimes, you go on tilt not because of a bad run of cards, a hand poorly played, or anything else that’s part of the game.

Sometimes, you just can’t get some personal problems out of your head.

Maybe your mother is sick. Or you’ve argued with your spouse. Or you’ve had an altercation with another player about something unrelated to poker.

Whatever the case may be, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to focus on that game you happen to be in. I say it’s unlikely because some players are actually able to do it. Somehow, they’re able to detach from anything else that may be bothering them outside the felt.

If that’s you, I salute you. If that’s not your case, maybe it’s better to skip that particular poker session. Or, at the very least, try to make use of some techniques that involve some kind of relaxation.

Conclusion

None of us are immune to going on tilt when playing poker. This can happen even to top pros (as you may have seen on TV).

The secret, if there is one, is to learn how to bounce back quicker each time it happens. And the first step towards this goal is to learn to develop an accepting attitude.

Tilt, as we’ve seen, comes from frustration. And frustration comes from one thing, and one thing only—a lack of acceptance.

So, as long as you can stop wanting things to be different from the way they are, you’ll be a winner. That’s a tricky feat, because you do want to improve and develop. But you don’t want to be attached to neither the cards nor to your performance when playing poker.

6 Pros and Cons of Online Casinos

Tablet With an Online Casino With Casino Backgound

The casino was once a place that was felt like a mini-vacation. The excitement of walking out a big winner, the unfailingly-interesting people watching, and the bright flashing lights all contributed to the experience of gambling.

Today, the casinos still hold their appeal as a getaway, but for those who are solely focused on gambling, there’s another viable option: online casinos.

As technology continues to get more advanced, online gaming sites are becoming more secure and easy-to-use than ever before. In this article, I’ll lay out a few of the pros and cons of utilizing online casinos.

1 – Pro: Easy Access

Unless you live in a metropolitan area, there’s a good chance that the nearest casino isn’t right down the street. After adding up the time it takes to get to and from the establishment, not to mention parking and finding the casino floor, going to gamble isn’t a quick activity.

Online casinos bring the games right to you, and it only takes seconds to upload money, find the game of your choice, and start betting.

For those who prefer to wager their hard-earned money from the comfort of the couch, it’s hard to beat this betting experience.

2 – Con: Easy Access

I know, this was a pro just a second ago, but hear me out. For some individuals, easy access to gaming isn’t the best situation. Big losses can be followed up by reckless bets that can put players even further in the hole.

Additionally, the availability of online casinos can mean that it’s harder to walk away when you’re up. Because you can log on and off at your discretion, it might seem like you have more control over how often you play, but that’s not necessarily the case.

My advice? Set time limits. For example, if you’re utilizing online blackjack tables, put a timer on and don’t let yourself play once time is up. That way if you’re down, you won’t continue to lose money and if you’re up you can finish your round in the green.

Because you don’t have the added pressure of thinking “well, who knows when I’ll come back to the casino, better take more risks,” you can use the access to your advantage. However, if you aren’t careful it can become a real problem that has the potential to cause lasting negative financial effects.

3 – Pro: More Game Options

If you’re in a big city, you might be able to drive to a half dozen casinos in under a half hour. For the majority of the country, there are usually only one or two…if that. What does that mean? You’re limited to the games that are on the floor, and there’s not much else you can do about it.

El Royale Online Slot Games

When you enter the world of online casinos, you’ll find that there are tons of attractive options on various sites. Don’t like the returns on site A’s slots? Site D has exactly what you’re looking for! Want to try a version of roulette with a lower house edge? Seek and you shall find!

Of all the benefits that online casinos have for players, the wide range of game offerings has to be at the top of the list. If you can’t find the game you want, you aren’t looking hard enough or it simply doesn’t exist.

4 – Con: Potential for Scams and Vulnerability

Let me preface this section by saying that as long as you’re vigilant and mindful of the potential for scams, you can usually avoid being a victim by doing just a few minutes of research.

It doesn’t happen often, but some shady online operations have scammed their gamers out of money. Typically these are new sites that have only been “in business” for a short period of time, don’t have any sort of reputation developed, and don’t offer security protocols that you’ll find in other places.

The important thing is that you simply verify before putting any money or sensitive information on an online casino site. Do a background check – there are sites that are solely dedicated to verifying the reliability and security of some sites.

In addition to the site itself being up to criminal activity, it’s important to make sure that there are security protocols in place to help keep your money secure. If you’re making online deposits and keeping money on your account, make sure you can trust that the site has your protection in mind.

To reiterate, security and safety isn’t a problem if you do some research. Just be sure that you aren’t putting money on a site blindly. Now is also a good time to throw out the reminder that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

5 – Pro: Bonuses

When you have hundreds of options at your fingertips, online casinos need to try a little harder to earn your business than the place downtown. This effort typically takes place in the form of bonuses.

Each site will have their own unique offerings, but typically these perks will include things like initial deposit matches, free entry into tournaments, and the list goes on. One could argue that bonuses alone make it a better move from a financial standpoint to utilize online casinos instead of their brick and mortar counterparts.

Screenshot of Wild Casino

Now, as we saw in the last “con” section, there can be some vulnerabilities with online gaming sites…are bonuses a trap? The short answer: they’re not!

If a site wants to earn your business for an ongoing activity like gambling, they’re highly incentivized to gain your loyalty. If that means giving away a few freebies along the way to keep you playing, that’s worth it to them.

Next time you’re considering signing up for an online casino, do a little research and try to pin down the best bonus offerings. Taking advantage of these perks are a great way to pad your bankroll without having to risk any additional money.

6 – Con: Cash out Complications

At a physical casino, cashing out is a very simple and straightforward process. Though the methods may differ depending on where you’re playing, one thing remains the same – if you want to leave with your winnings, you can do so. Unfortunately, the same can’t always be said for online casinos.

It varies from site to site so I can’t speak to all of them, but the majority of online casinos won’t let you cash out in real time.

Whether it’s a monthly deposit or check or requiring you to have a certain dollar amount, the process isn’t always as simple as it should be.

In addition to the general complication factor that you might run into depending on which site you’re utilizing, there’s also the issue of (sometimes) hidden fees and charges. For example, if you’re cashing out more than $100, you may have to pay a 1% transaction fee to the site.

While it’s easy to complain about fees or charges, it’s important to keep in mind that online casinos aren’t making any money from drinks, food, or hotel rooms. Operating costs are certainly lower, but it’s understandable why some charges are required.

Just like bonuses and incentives, fees can vary greatly from site to site. If these are a concern, do your research and find which platforms have the lowest fees for transactions.

Conclusion

Going to the casino and observing the surroundings can be worth the price of admission (or worth the price of losing a few dollars). With that being said, sometimes it really is just all about the money.

Online casinos also provide a great opportunity for players to learn more about how the games work without the added pressure of strangers watching.

If you haven’t given online casinos a try, it’s certainly worth checking out a few. Each day there is real money being made by those who take advantage of all the options available. If you play your digital cards right, you could also be getting in on some of the action.

When You Should Read the Dealer Card – and When Not

Open Book on a Table With Blackjack Hand and Casino Background

Blackjack combines random chance with a low house edge and player skill. Players love the game because it is both challenging and – if you wish – relatively low risk.

Some people can play blackjack for hours. For some the game is a chance to be social. For some the game is an intellectual challenge.

No matter your style of play or why you’re at the table, you only have 1 opponent: the dealer.

A common mistake I myself used to make was believing that other players’ choices affected my own chances of winning or losing. The number of cards left to play dwindles regardless of where you sit at the table. If you’re counting cards then you just count what has been played.

When it’s your turn you need to focus on what is in the dealer’s hand. The up card should play a bigger role in your next decision than how many face cards you’ve counted since the last shuffle.

If you want to win blackjack more often than anyone else then get a job as a dealer. Blackjack dealers are there to handle the cards and enforce the rules. They don’t have to worry about strategy because the rules decide their strategy.

Before starting any blackjack game you need to know two things: what the table rules are and how many decks are in the shoe.

If you count cards you should also know what counter measures the casino is using.

The tips that follow assume you’re playing a table with 4 to 8 decks in the shoe. The goal here is to simplify your decision-making, so it’s easier to see which strategy you want to use.

You should be able to apply these principles to any variation on blackjack. The less time you spend second-guessing yourself the better. Learn from your mistakes and take advantage of online blackjack games to practice simplified strategy.

Here is what you need to know about reading the dealer’s up card.

1 – It’s Your Entire Hand Versus 1 Card

Always count your points first. If you’re holding 18 or higher you’re done. Stand.

Less experienced blackjack players don’t understand why they shouldn’t split 10s. They see two 10 cards, not 20 points.

See the points first and the cards second.

All you’ll ever see in most versions of blackjack is the dealer’s up card. Look at your hand first and recognize either the pair you’re holding or the total points you’re holding.

In most versions of blackjack if you’re holding 4 through 8 points you always hit regardless of what the dealer’s up card is. After you hit you’re dealing with a soft count, never a hard count.

When thinking about strategy it’s easy to confuse the rules for soft or hard 13 but they do make a difference. And the dealer’s up card affects that decision, too.

2 – Assume Nothing about the Dealer’s Chances

You may have a strategy card you rely on, or you may have memorized every strategy play in the book. Either way you feel confident you know what to do in every situation.

By all means play basic strategy but remember that you’re pitting your probabilities against the casino’s probabilities. The probabilities always favor the casino.

Closeup of Blackjack Table and Dealer's Hand

They won’t play a losing game. You have two things going for you: skill and luck. The casino has three things going for it: the game rules, the final play, and the probabilities.

Put another way, you’re pitting strategy against rules in a game of luck. The rules have the advantage over blackjack strategy. The game is exciting because the rules give the house such a small advantage players have a real chance of coming out ahead.

Regardless of what the dealer’s up card is you don’t know what she’ll turn up when play returns to her. Frankly, if every player busts it doesn’t matter what comes next – unless you’re playing No Bust Blackjack, which is not a very common variant.

Perfect strategy only prevents you from busting when you stand. If you take a card it could be the wrong card.

And by the same token, standing doesn’t guarantee you’ll win. That’s the nature of gambling.

3 – Read the Dealer Card as High or Low

If the dealer up card is 2 through 7 it’s low. If it’s 8 through ace it’s high. Some people split the range differently but you’ll see why I do it this way as you read on.

Adjust the simplification strategy to suit your preferences but at least understand why I prefer it this way.

When you look at strategy charts one pattern should stand out quickly. You’re going to hit more often when the dealer card is 8 through ace.

That doesn’t mean you always hit on a high dealer card, but if the dealer is showing at least an 8 you’ll have an easier time remembering when you should not hit.

Assuming you are playing 4-8 decks in a shoe, the strategy is very consistent.

If your hard point count is at least 13 and the dealer’s up card is less than 7, you should stand.

If your soft point count you’ll need to put a little more thought into what to do. You’ll always hit if your soft point count is less than 18. But on some of these plays you’ll want to double.

Knowing you need to hit is the simple part of the strategy. Master the strategies for doubling instead of trying to memorize every possible variant on hitting.

4 – One Split Decision Ignores the Dealer Card

When you’re dealt two cards you’ll want to think about what you should do. That’s usually based on what the dealer’s up card is in addition to what your pair is.

One rare exception to this rule is to always split aces. No need to think about it.

5 – The Next Easiest Rules to Remember for Splits

You’ll always split 8s if the dealer stands on soft 17 but you won’t split 8s if (the dealer hits on soft 17 and holds an ace). I put parentheses around that to make it clear the second decision depends on two conditions.

Technically, when the dealer hits on soft 17 the recommendation is to surrender 8s against an ace if you can, otherwise fight the uphill battle and split.

Closeup of Blue Blackjack Table

If you’re dealt two 8s you need to remember what the table rules are and pay attention to the dealer’s up card. That’s not a complicated decision but in the heat of the moment some people split 8s on a dealer ace where she hits on soft 17.

That’s not the end of the world. You might come out ahead anyway but the odds of that happening are not as good as when the dealer stands on soft 17.

6 – When Not to Split: High Card vs Low Pairs

Regardless of when the dealer stands or hits on soft 17, you should never split when:

  • The dealer’s up card is 8 or higher
  • You’re holding a pair of 7s or lower

In other words, it’s easy to see splitting is a bad choice if the dealer’s card is high and your pair cards are low.

If thinking in negatives is hard for you then always hit according to the above rules.

7 – When to Split: Low Card vs High Pairs

If the dealer’s card is less than 7 and your pair cards are at least 7s, you should always split.

Just as there are other times to hit when you’ve got low pair cards against a high dealer card, there are times to split when you have a low pair against a low dealer card.

If you think of strategies falling into four quadrant then the dealer’s up card puts you into 2 of those quadrants and your points or pairs put you into 1 of those 2 quadrants.

Each quadrant has a few exceptions except when your hand totals 18 points or higher.

Conclusion

Reading the dealer’s up card helps you decide what kind of strategy you need. If you’re lucky your decision is quick and simple.

Some players struggle to master strategy because they’re thinking that every situation is unique. In reality many different situations have the same resolution.

Differences in table rules confuse some people and it’s a good idea to practice playing multiple real money blackjack games so you become comfortable switching between the different rule variations. Just as you should teach yourself to look at your own cards first you should look at the table rules before you start playing.

Never ignore the table rules even if their variations are subtle because they are what the house leverages against you. Most of the time when players think the dealer has made a mistake it’s really the players who assumed they were playing by a different set of rules.

How Colorado Legalized Gambling

Colorado Rocky Mountains With Casino Background

Recently, the state of Colorado decided to legalize gambling.  In other words, the Colorado legislature passed HB19-1327 which set up a state referendum to legalize gambling and the measure then passed.  In 2020, Colorado will be another state in which you can get high and gamble–legally–in the same state.

While this prospect is certainly exciting for Colorado gamblers (and those who live within driving distance of Colorado casinos), the passing of legalized gambling will have effects throughout the state in terms of more tourism dollars and more taxes.

To that end, it’s interesting to look at how the idea to legalize gambling in Colorado started, who sponsored the bill and how it eventually became law.  Hopefully, this article will either get you excited to visit Colorado (which has interesting non-gambling things to do, or so I’ve been told) or get gambling legalized in your state.

The Genesis of Legalized Gambling in Colorado

The start of legalized gambling in Colorado began in May of 2018 when the Supreme Court declared a Federal-level ban on sports betting was unconstitutional.  Given the FBI’s role in shutting down other forms of gambling, this decision was both surprising and timely.

Amongst proponents of legalized gambling, the laws the Federal government use to stop gambling are antiquated and rely on a provision in RICO laws that specifically deals with technologies like telephones.  Proponents have always said that the Internet, which stopped using modems long ago, should not be governed by RICO laws and internet gambling and sports betting should be legal.  That’s the timely part.

View of Colorado Casinos

The Federal ban’s removal is also surprising given the large number of anti-gambling movements (which tend to be conservative) and the power they’ve often held in the gambling debate.

Still, after the measure gained the support of Democratic majority leader Alec Garnett, the measure to legalize sports betting eventually passed.  The benefit, according to the bill, will be to funnel millions of dollars to help update the state’s outdated water infrastructure.

What the Bill Means for Colorado

The passage of legalized gambling in Colorado is not a broad mandate for all types of legal gaming.  The scope of legalization applies only to sports betting.  This, sadly, doesn’t open the way for Colorado Internet gambling or gambling parlors in every location.

The bill also sets up statewide taxing on sports betting income.  The state is allowed to take ten percent of all winnings in taxes, which is lower than a lot of states where closer to a one-third of revenue is taken in taxes.  (Frankly, one cannot help but wonder if the state’s liberal marijuana policies and the taxes from that aren’t working in the sports books’ favor.)

The strangest part of the bill, though, is the target for the sportsbook revenue (which is estimated to be around two million dollars annually.)  In 2015, Governor John Hickenlooper designed a water plan for Colorado, a state facing chronic water shortages.  However, the plan faced deep fiscal shortages that the passage of legalized sports betting will help to correct.

Who Sponsored the First Bill

That’s perhaps the most interesting (and if you are worried about the state of modern politics, best) part of this entire arrangement.  HB19-1327 is the original bill that was passed in Colorado.

It names four sponsors: Representatives Alec Garnett and Patrick Neville and Senators Kerry Donovan and John Cooke.

If you’re not a denizen of the state of Colorado (and frankly, even if you are), I don’t expect that to mean anything to you.  So, let’s dive into it a little bit more.

As mentioned above, Garnett is the House Major Leader and is a Democrat.  Neville, is the Colorado House Minority Leader and is a Republican.  Similarly, Donovan is a Democrat and is the Majority Whip in the Colorado State Senate.  Finally, Cooke is the Assistant Minority Leader which makes him a Republican.

In other words, this bill’s bipartisan support couldn’t get much stronger.  The number one Democrat and Republican in the House and two higher ups in the Senate, one from each party, all put their name on this bill.

While it might be cynical to say that it took something like real money gambling (and a whole lot of tax revenue) to bring both parties to the table, it is clear that the broad support in both parties did help smooth along the passage of the bill.

Politics Around Voting on the Bill

With that said, even with broad bipartisan support, getting it passed was far from a slam dunk.  The first opposition came from the bill itself.  Opponents of legalized sports betting felt the ballot initiative was poorly worded and made promises about millions of dollars that it couldn’t, necessarily, back up.

Second, the additional politics around the bill made for strange bed fellows.  In this case, Gary Wockner, an environmentalist, and Jeff Hunt, a conservative Christian found themselves on the same side of the issue.

Wockner, never a fan of Governer Hickenlooper’s original water plan, felt that passage of this bill would just fund something he would rather see done away with.  In the end, he ended up leading the charge against the bill that would ultimately prove unsuccessful.

Hunt, on the other hand, opposed sports betting on purely moral grounds.  His Christian Centennial Institute’s position is that gambling is immoral and should not be allowed on that basis.  (With that said, one wonders how the Christian Centennial Institute felt about the legalization of marijuana.)

Monarch Casino in Colorado

At some level, Hunt’s not entirely wrong.  Gambling does have it shady side, it’s addictive, and has led to turmoil in the past.  To that end, Hunt also brought out the often-used argument that gambling affects the poor more than those who have money.

It’s an interesting argument and one that’s far beyond the scope of this article.  It’s definitely worth researching whether it is true for any demographic in a particular area.  For instance, did gambling overwhelmingly negatively affect the poor in neighboring states like Kansas?

Either way, despite the best efforts of Hunt and Wockner, proponents of the bill managed to raise a couple of million dollars to support it.  Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, most of this money came from the gaming industry.  Also, proponents of the bill were smart enough to couch most of their political ads around helping the water system and left gambling (and its moral implications out of it.)

While perhaps not a clean win, in politics things rarely are and now Colorado will support betting on sports.

What Legalized Gambling Means for the Future of Colorado?

It’s impossible to know for sure what the effects of this legislation will have on the state of Colorado.  What we do know is that the state is setting itself up to be a tourist destination for reasons that have nothing to do with blue skies and majestic mountains.

Still, if I were a betting man, I would say the state water plan is going to be receiving its millions in funding for a long time to come.  If nothing else, getting water to Coloradoans is not a horrible outcome.

The state is already known for its legal marijuana. Now, it could be well known for its gambling.

It already has a prominent professional sports team in the big sports (yes, even the Broncos) and it’s not too hard to think that people from all across the country will start to fly into Colorado for a weekend of mountain climbing, recreational marijuana use, and placing bets.

In other words, Colorado could become Las Vegas’s summer retreat.  Seriously, why go to the desert in 120 degree heat when you can head to Colorado and be a lot cooler?

I’m not saying that will happen for sure, but it’s definitely a possibility.

Conclusion

The case of legalized sports betting in Colorado is an interesting case study, especially if you live in a state where you cannot currently place a wager.

A lot of things had to go right for this bill to pass.  First, the fact that it got broad bipartisan support in both the House and Senate was enough to virtually guarantee that the bill would pass.

Even still, proponents of legalized gambling had to work their magic.  It costs millions of dollars to get the bill passed and that money was spent on some fairly political ads.  Even more importantly, the existing gambling infrastructure (local casinos and sites like DraftKings.com) supported legalized sports betting and worked to make it happen.

In the end, though, Colorado got the right to bet.

If you want to bet in your home state, hopefully this gives you some hope.  Your state may not be as wild as Colorado politically, but there does seem to be a desire to legalize gaming and collect that beautiful tax revenue.

7 Factors That Were Supposed to Usher In the Next Poker Boom

Closeup of Hand Holding Pair of Aces Over a Snuffed Candle

The poker boom represented a time of bliss for pros and amateurs alike. Spanning from 2003 to 2006, the boom saw live and online poker explode in terms of players, tournament prize pools, and news coverage.

Not surprisingly, many players hoped and prayed for a second upsurge. They grabbed hold of any bit of hope that they thought could result in another rapid growth period.

Below, you can see the 7 biggest factors that were supposed to cause another boom. None of these aspects have come to fruition and caused a poker goldrush to date.

1 – Regulation

Poker experienced its biggest rise when the internet game operated in a grey area. Most governments completely ignored online poker up until the mid-2000s.

This lack of government regulation allowed the game to thrive.

Sites like Partypoker, PokerStars, Absolute Poker, UltimateBet, and Full Tilt made fortunes by serving the global market.

However, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and Black Friday (U.S. v. Scheinberg) put a damper on this unchecked market.

Happening in 2006 and 2011, respectively, these US legal actions convinced payment processors to quit serving Americans and even led to the downfall of certain sites.

Ever since, the US and other countries have begun regulating online poker. Nations like the UK, Denmark, France, Italy, and Spain offer broad legislation that covers their national playing pools.

America, however, has yet to legalize the game on a federal level. Instead, only a handful of states (e.g. New Jersey, Pennsylvania) have legalized and regulated online poker.

Given that the US was key to the original poker boom, this broken-up market has really hurt the internet game’s development. Regulation has also been too slow to provide any substantial growth or benefits from legal online poker.

The rest of America is served by smaller grey-market sites that don’t generate a fraction of the traffic that Partypoker, Stars, and Full Tilt drew at their heights.

2 – Barack Obama

Barack Obama was inaugurated as the US President in 2008. Players had high hopes that the poker-loving President would undo all the harm caused by the UIGEA.

As a senator in Illinois, Obama regularly hosted a home game. The Democrat also expressed hope that Congress would repeal the UIGEA and regulate online poker on a federal level.

However, Republicans controlled Congress at the time and had no intentions of lightening up on internet gambling. The Obama administration didn’t really have the power nor political motivation to wage a war for the game.

During Obama’s time in office, Preet Bharara, US District Attorney for the Southern District of New York, initiated Black Friday.

Bharara didn’t seek permission from the Obama-appointed Attorney General Eric Holder at the time. This is just one more sign that Barack didn’t have any real control over online poker’s fate.

3 – China and India

With close to 2.8 billion people between them, China and India represent 35% of the world’s population. It only stands to reason that they could collectively usher in their own poker boom.

Many have been waiting for poker to take off in either country. India is experiencing its own boom today. Adda52 has been particularly popular among Indian players.

However, India’s poker boom isn’t having much of a global effect. It’s instead confined to the country’s borders.

China, meanwhile, still has extremely restrictive gambling laws in place. It also exhibits quite a bit of control over its citizens.

India and China could still cause a mini-poker boom. As for now, though, they’ve yet to bring these dreams to fruition.

4 – Rounders Sequel

Released in 1998, Rounders has become a cult classic that’s still popular among poker players today. It was especially impactful shortly after it was released and has inspired notable pros to take up the game.

2003 WSOP Main Event champ Chris Moneymaker cites Rounders as one of the key reasons why he began playing. Coincidentally, Moneymaker is considered the biggest sparkplug for the poker boom.

Screenshot From the Movie Rounders

Rumors have been floated about a potential Rounders sequel for years. Co-star Ed Norton mentioned the possibility during a 2014 appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman.

Co-writer Brian Koppelman also mentioned the possibility in 2019 by tweeting, “It’s never too late [for a Rounders sequel].”

But more than two decades later, Rounders 2 isn’t in production or even scheduled with a major studio. Assuming it is made, the sequel would face a near-impossible task of living up to the first movie.

5 – PokerStars’ Return to US

After paying a $731 million fine to the US Department Justice following Black Friday, PokerStars avoided having to admit to money laundering charges. This agreement helped them remain eligible for return to the US online poker market.

Stars legally made their way back into America in 2016. They gained licensing through the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.

Some viewed this NJ foothold as a launching point for PokerStars expanding across the country. The enthusiasm was well warranted given that Stars still dominated the online poker market at the time.

Four years later, PokerStars has only managed to expand to Pennsylvania. They’re also much more committed to casino gaming and sports betting (through Fox Sports deal) than poker these days.

Perhaps Stars may dedicate more effort towards the game that made them famous if regulation opens up. For now, though, they’re capitalizing on casino and sports gambling.

6 – Michael Phelps

In the fall of 2008, Michael Phelps was fresh off another dominating Olympic performance. He captured eight gold medals and set multiple records in Beijing.

Phelps mania was at an all time high. So, the poker world jumped when they read news of “The Baltimore Bullet” hanging out in poker rooms.

Friends with pro player Jeff Gross, Phelps began dedicating more time to his poker hobby in 2008. He piqued more interest after finishing ninth place ($5,213) in a Caesars Palace Classic tournament.

Michael Phelps in Pool With Arms Raised Over Head

Given Phelps’ status, some wondered if he could be the marquee attraction that would inspire millions of people to take up the game. Many speculated on what sites might sponsor Phelps.

In the end, though, he was just enjoying his time away from the pool. Michael Phelps eventually returned to competitive swimming and won four golds and two silvers at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Now retired from swimming, Phelps still enjoys playing poker from time to time. But he shows no interest in being the bannerman for the game.

7 – Return of TV Poker

A reverberation from Black Friday, popular poker TV shows went off the air in the early 2010s. High Stakes Poker, Poker After Dark, and PokerStars Big Game were the most-notable shows to disappear.

The sites and companies that sponsored these programs pulled their advertising after Black Friday. Poker TV remained largely in limbo until Poker After Dark (2017-19) and Poker Night in America (2017 onwards) returned.

These shows offered the promise of bringing poker to the masses again. Each show featured prominent players just as programs before it had done.

Poker After Dark went off air in 2019. PNIA continues to run and offers entertaining action. But as a whole, the poker TV scene isn’t quite what it used to be.

Conclusion

As it were, the poker boom is a one-time event that’ll never be replicated. Another mini boom could potentially happen but nothing like what occurred during the mid-2000s.

A perfect mixture of factors came together to rapidly increase the popularity of online poker and the game as a whole.

The internet game was new, Moneymaker showed that any amateur could win, and TV shows began interesting casual viewers.

Online poker is far from new today. The game is also tougher due to the average player’s skill level being much higher today.

The good news is that live tournaments are more popular than ever. The World Series of Poker keeps setting attendance records year after year.

Countries and states are also sharing their online player pools in some cases. The more linked player pools there are, the bigger cash games and tournaments can grow.

Nevertheless, a second poker boom just doesn’t seem in the cards. After believing in one or more of the previously discussed 7 factors, many people have given up on the notion of boom #2.

11 Sports Betting Strategies So Simple Anyone Can Use Them

King Chess Piece With Football and Baseball Scenes Behind

Betting on sports can require a lot of work if you want to make money. But there are some easy ways to get started and to pick games without spending too much time on handicapping. These strategies don’t always turn into long term profits, but they give you a chance to win close to half of the time.

Here’s a list of 11 simple sports betting strategies that you can use. None of them require too much time, and you can use them while you’re learning how to evaluate games. Try a couple of them out today to get started betting on sporting events.

1 – Take the Points

If you don’t know anything about betting on sports and want a quick way to make your first bet, here’s a simple bet that gives you a decent chance to win. You need to understand that this simple way to pick teams to bet on isn’t going to help you win in the long run. But it does give you a roughly 50% chance to win.

Look at all of the games on the schedule and look at the point spreads offered by the sportsbook. You’re going to see some teams have a negative number and some teams have a plus or positive number. The teams that have a plus or positive number are getting the number of points following the plus sign.

Pick one of the teams getting points and place a small bet on them. Don’t assume that getting more points is better. In football and basketball, look for a team that’s getting between three and eight points. It’s even better if they’re playing at home, but this isn’t a requirement.

2 – Moneyline Favorite Options

Another easy way to make abet without evaluating the games and teams that gives you a good chance to win is betting on a favorite with a moneyline wager. The favorite on the moneyline is the team with a negative or minus number.

The minus number is how much you have to bet to win $100. But you don’t have to bet that much. You can bet a fraction of the listed number.

Multiple Screens at a Sportsbook

If the number is – 220 you can bet $22 to win $10. If your team wins you get back your $22 plus the $10 win.

Pick a team that’s favored on the moneyline at – 250 or less. Just like taking the points in the first section, make a small wager. This strategy is also better if you pick a home team, but it’s not required. And this strategy isn’t going to be a long term winning strategy, but you should win more than half of your bets.

3 – Find the Middle

This is a simple strategy that I use all of the time. Look at the point spread numbers at several different sportsbooks for lines that don’t match. When you find two lines on the same game that have a gap between them, bet on both sides of the game. When the final score lands in the middle you win both bets.

Here’s how middle betting works:

You find a line on an NBA game with the home team favored by 2 ½ at one book and 3 ½ at another book. You bet on the home team and give 2 ½ at one book and bet on the road team and get 3 ½ at the other book.

You bet $11 to win $10 on both bets. If the home team wins by three you win both bets, getting back your $11 and a win of $10 on both sides. With any other final score you win one side and lose the other, for a total loss of $1.

When you bet on a middle, you only have to win both sides one out of 20 times to make a profit.

4 – Bet the Streak

If a team is on a winning streak, bet on them on the moneyline. When a team is on a losing streak, make a bet on their opponent on the moneyline. You’re betting on the current streak to continue when you bet this way.

Look for teams on a streak in every sport to make these bets. It’s best to find a moneyline that isn’t too high if you can, but hot teams have a better chance to win and cold teams have a strong chance to lose.

5 – Find Zero Cost Betting Opportunities

Your biggest cost making bets on sports is something called the vig. This is the difference between what you have to risk and what you can win. When you make a point spread bet you usually have to risk 10% more than you can win. In an earlier example you bet $11 to win $10.

If you place bets without this extra cost you don’t have to win as often to come out ahead.

The easiest way to make zero cost wagers is to bet with friends or family. Find someone you know willing to bet on the other side of games you want to bet on and make bets without vig.

6 – Paper Bet First

Instead of jumping right in and making real money wagers and risking your money, start making bets on paper to see how you do. Start with an imaginary bankroll of $1,000 and write down every bet you want to make.

Track your progress with your imaginary bankroll. Do this for as long as it takes to learn how to make a profit betting on paper. Then start making small real money wagers to see if you can continue winning.

7 – Make $1 Bets

Most land based sportsbooks have a minimum bet amount that’s much higher than $1. But many online sportsbooks allow bets as small as $1.

Sign up for a few online sportsbooks to get started. This way you have more than one place to get lines, and you can start making sports bets with a small bankroll. Make $1 wagers until you learn how to win consistently, and then start betting more.

8 – Use Doubling – But Be Careful

One method some gamblers use to make profits is to double their bets after they lose. They keep doing this until they win a game. If you do this the right way you make enough when you win a game to cover your losses from earlier games.

Wide View of Large Sportsbook

This strategy can work, but if you get unlucky and lose several games in a row you can run out of money. If you try this doubling method, try to stick with home teams when you choose your bets. They have a better chance to win in most cases.

9 – Bet on Unpopular Teams

Popular teams tend to get more bets on them from the public. This often pushes the line against the most popular teams.

The good thing about this is it often means when you bet on the team facing the popular teams you get a good line. This is a good strategy to use all of the time when you’re looking for an easy way to pick games to bet on.

Every sport has popular teams and less popular teams. Make a list of these teams in each sport to find betting opportunities.

10 – Find Different Lines

You should always check the lines at several sportsbooks before you place bets. Most of the time the lines are the same from one sportsbook to another, but sometimes you find lines that are different.

An extra half point or point can make the difference between making a winning and losing wager.

When you always find the best line for the team you want to bet on it helps you win a few more games every season or year. This helps you have a better chance to make a profit as a sports bettor.

11 – When All Else Fails Take the Home Underdog

The simplest way to make bets without evaluating games that give you a chance to win is to bet on the point spread and take home teams that are underdogs. This strategy is going to come close to breaking even over time.

Simply look at the point spread and find teams playing at home that get points and bet on them.

Conclusion

Now you know 11 different ways to pick games to bet on. None of these strategies is likely to make a long term profit, but they all give you a chance to come close to breaking even.

These strategies aren’t designed to be used forever. Use them while you’re learning how to properly evaluate sporting events so you can start making more on your bets than you lose. Once you learn how to win consistently, you can still use some of these strategies in combination with ones you develop on your own.

7 Strategies to Use When Gambling in Casinos

Mix of Casino Cards Dice and Slots

The art and science of gambling don’t differ very much. Art is more about the style of game play and science is more about the mechanics.

When you break casino games down into their basic rules a few common factors stand out. They’re all designed to give the house an edge in the long run. They all pay back less than players wager overall.

And the riskier your betting becomes the less likely you’ll win.

With these thoughts in mind, here are 7 proven ways to gamble strategically in any casino.

1 – Separate the Wheat from the Chaff

Everyone grows bored with their favorite game. There come times during long evenings when we need breaks.

If craps is your game but you want to spend time socializing with friends or family on the slot machines, change your betting habits.

Instead of going for the max just make minimum bets while you chat. You may hit the jackpot and wish you had bet max, but if slots are your game then strategy is more wishful thinking than reality.

This strategy sets boundaries. Don’t wander off into the casino to explore games with your main game stake.

If you want enough money that you don’t mind frittering away a couple hundred dollars then play a few games you don’t know well.

Otherwise limit your aggressive betting to the game you prefer most. That is the one you’re more likely to learn inside out. That is the game you care the most about.

2 – Play 2 Games at Once

This borrows a page from the book of slot gaming but it’s a strategy for games like craps and roulette.

The idea is to divide your stake into two wallets. The first wallet is for basic game strategy. Bet the max for your budget on outside bets in roulette. Bet your personal max on Pass or Don’t Pass and Come or Don’t Come.

The second wallet is for the riskier bets. In roulette these are the inside bets like street bets (3 numbers in the same row), split bets, or corner bets.

Riskier bets pay higher odds but have less chance of success. Those higher payout odds give you a little bit of wiggle room for spreading your coverage but you need to do the math.

The duo game strategy keeps you in play without risking all your money on a single betting system. It’s a diversity strategy.

3 – Step Down Your Bets

Regardless of what game you play, there is always a range of allowed bets. You have the most flexibility on table games but even slot machines usually have at least 3 wager levels.

This strategy is based on the assumption that making a few large bets is better for you than making a lot of small bets.

Large bets multiply whatever prizes you win and if your goal is to win, say, $1000 you’ll get there sooner with large bets than with small bets. The advantage of making large bets is all in the goal you set. You must stop playing to realize that advantage.

Casinos count on you to keep playing. If you do that with large bets then you’re nullifying your advantage. If you don’t have a specific goal in mind then you’ll keep trying to win more.

Wide View of Casino Floor and Players

And that is where the casino has you. The longer you play the more you’ll lose than win regardless of how much you bet per game.

And this is why the Step Down strategy helps some players. You gradually wean yourself off the large bet. When you’ve finally made the table minimum bet you should walk away.

This strategy doesn’t guarantee you anything except that you’ll eventually stop making bets. Stopping is the hardest part of gambling.

Players who win big on their early bets will save more money by stepping down the wager amounts on each successive game. You’ll still win some nice prizes along the way but this strategy protects you against long streaks of bad luck.

4 – Only Play Low Volatility Games

Gamblers often use variance and volatility interchangeably, although most writers distinguish between the two words in some way.

A simple way of describing variance is to say that it covers the full range of scores a game can produce. A simple way of describing volatility is to say that it represents how often positive (winning) scores in a game occur (within a given timeframe according to some writers).

Sports and casino writers have borrowed these words from the world of statistics and probability.

A low volatility game is expected to pay prizes more often than a high volatility game in an average gaming session.

A low variance game is expected to pay fewer large prizes than a high variance game in an average gaming session.

The ideal game has low volatility and high variance. You’re not likely to find such a game.

Gambling experts usually say slot games have higher variances than card games like baccarat, blackjack, and poker. Players can affect the volatility of blackjack and poker through the decisions they make, but that flexibility is limited by the basic probabilities of both games.

You can vary how much you bet in any game. Hence, if you want to make larger wagers you’re better off playing low volatility games because your wagers will provide a better return in the long run.

5 – Get all the Free Practice Time You Need

Before we had free online gambling and gambling game CDs the only ways to practice for the casino were to find neighborhood games or spend a lot of time in casinos.

These were expensive ways to practice gambling.

Whether your game is craps or roulette, the more you practice and study the game the better you become at playing it. Although gambling is based on unknown outcomes these are still games. They have rules.

Learn the rules of the game inside and out. Play it until you can do it in your sleep.

When you’re standing at the tables in the casino the excitement may overcome a minimal preparedness.

You want your instincts to take over as soon as you start playing the game. Ask for the chips you need and start laying the bets you want to play.

If you see a new game you’d like to try wait until you can play the game for free. It’s not like the games are going away any time soon. Time is on your side when you use it properly.

6 – Switch to Tournament Play

If you’re good enough to win then you’re good enough to compete in tournaments. Tournament play is a new level of challenge. You’ll find some people reaching for the stars too soon but you’ll meet a lot of players with knowledge and experience.

Start with smaller, less well-publicized tournaments. The idea is to build up your experience and your competitive strategies. When you have a strong track record start looking for sponsors.

The smart thing about sponsored play is that you’re no longer risking only your money. With enough sponsors you won’t risk any money.

The downside to sponsored gambling is you must your backers on a percentage basis. If they fund 100% of your gaming then you must negotiate terms that allow you to keep some of your winnings.

7 – Always Play the Lowest House Odds

In blackjack you should never make a decision without looking at the dealer’s up card. And in every other kind of game where player decisions affect the outcome of the game, you should always look at the consequences of what you’re doing.

The casino is counting on you to improve its chances of winning by making mistakes. Even though experts say you shouldn’t play the slots, most people do. So if you’re going to play the slots you should only play games with the highest return to player.

Closeup of Roulette Wheel

I won’t play a game that doesn’t tell me what the RTP is. And I don’t settle for a machine that only says “this game has a 1 in 4.5 chance of paying a prize”. I want to know if that is a 92% RTP “1 in 4.5 chance” or a 97% RTP “1 In 4.5 chance”.

In blackjack you improve the house’s edge by taking side bets, splitting when you shouldn’t, and doubling down when the dealer has a face up card. I know some people double down if they have 11 against a face card but that’s still taking on extra risk.

Keep your bets simple in roulette and craps. The higher payout odds bets are exciting because they are less likely to go your way. Victory is so much sweeter when it’s harder fought, but leave the hard-won battles to games of skill.

And throwing the dice across a table is not a skill in my book.

Conclusion

There are strategies for nearly every type of casino game. Learning the best strategies for those games is the most important step to take in your gaming career.

But take a step back and look at the bigger picture. There are so many lessons to be learned that help you with all games. Gambling may be all about taking risks but choose your risks carefully.

You can’t guarantee when you’ll win but we can guarantee the casino wins more often than anyone else in the game. They don’t need our help with that.

Make good choices and enjoy the sweet success of living wisely.

6 Blackjack Myths Every Player Should Know

Blackjack Hand in Between Two Chinese Dragons

Let me start off by saying that one of the myths will not be that blackjack is a good game to play. In fact, it’s true that blackjack has some of the most favorable odds for gamblers on the casino floor.

With that being said, it’s important to note that although the odds are better than other games, it certainly doesn’t mean you have an advantage over the house – and it’s not 50/50 either.

Separating fact from fiction can help you make more educated plays and walk away with a bigger win, or at least a smaller loss. In this article, I’ll address the myths that are keeping you from getting the most out of blackjack.

1 – Myth: Card Counting Is Against the Rules

If you’ve seen enough movies with pit bosses giving shooting glances to the person who keeps winning in blackjack, you’ll justifiably assume that card counting is legal. This actually isn’t the case, but that doesn’t mean you should go showing off your skills if you do figure out how to do it.

The bottom line is nobody can regulate what goes on in your head. However, there are some tell-tale signs that someone is using the card counting technique to help their chances. Most casinos actually employ former card counters to help identify when someone at their table is using the misunderstood practice.

You can’t get arrested for counting cards, but you can certainly get thrown out of the casino. You can argue all you want with pit bosses or other staff, but you aren’t going to win.

If you take the time to learn how to card count (it’s easier than you think), just be sure that casino workers don’t catch you putting your skills to the test. Even though there aren’t any technical rules against it, no casino is going to want to sit back and watch you make money by using controversial methods.

As a side note while I’m on the subject, don’t forget that you can’t use card-counting techniques in online casinos as the deck is shuffled after each hand.

2 – Myth: You Can Be Due for a Win

This theory has been misunderstood for so long that there’s even a name for it, The Gambler’s Fallacy.

It can be a comforting thought to think that, with a 2% house edge, if you play 100 hands, you’ll win 48% of the time. Keeping this in mind, it stands to reason that if you’ve lost five straight hands, you’re more likely to win the next one. The probability has to even up at some point, right?

The real truth is that no matter what, under all circumstances, the previous hands have no impact on the next few hands. Even though you feel like it has to even up at some point to get to the 48% chance you have of winning, that percentage is based on a single trial only.

Closeup of a Purple Blackjack Table

Think of it this way…if you flipped a coin and it came up heads four times in a row, is it more likely to come up tails on the next flip? The answer is no, and if you don’t believe that, you can get in real trouble gambling.

No matter the game, always remember that previous trials do not impact future trials, no matter how logical it might seem in your head.

3 – Myth: The Goal Is to Get As Close to 21 As Possible

Yes, getting to 21 or very close to it is obviously a great way to put together many winning hands. With that being said, your goal is to beat the dealer, not get to 21. That means it takes careful consideration to avoid making unnecessarily risky plays in an attempt to get your number as high as possible.

So many inexperienced blackjack players have a tendency to think that they need a very high number to beat the dealer and win the hand. The reality is that you can win a good amount of the time with a 16. The lesson to be learned is that getting greedy will often set you back.

Whereas in other casino games it pays to take on a little extra risk in hopes of a bigger reward, in blackjack, you’re better risking staying then risking on an extra hit.

4 – Myth: A Table with Bad or Inexperienced Players Hurts Your Chances

This one actually could have some truth to it, but it doesn’t have to be true if you’re able to overcome.

To state the obvious, if you’re at table with the town drunk and his or her three closest (and loudest, most obnoxious) friends, you can become distracted. These distractions can actually hurt your chances of winning.

The good news? If you’re able to stay focused on what you’re doing and tune out the rest of the noise, you should be just fine.

Even when players are trying to learn the game and betting out of turn, making completely irrational moves, or asking for the dealer’s advice, your performance won’t be impacted unless you let it get to you.

Although they can’t do anything to mathematically hurt your odds of winning money, if you’re easily distracted, it may be best to stick to tables with more experienced players. It’s all about your personal preference and finding a playing environment that’s most comfortable for you will typically lead to better results.

5 – Myth: The Dealer, More Often Than Not, Has a 10 in the Hole

This one is another widely believed misconception when it comes to the most basic blackjack strategy. The false belief is that because there are more 10-point cards in the deck, there is a high probability of a 10 being the hole card. However, this assumption can lead to some bad decisions.

The reality is that the dealer has only about a 30% chance of holding a 10-card, which means that the odds are heavily on the opposite side. Now, that 30% chance is still high, relatively speaking, so it isn’t without some merit to hold this assumption, false as it may be.

While believing in the 10-in-the-hole theory has reasoning behind it, it’s just not enough mathematically to feel good making this assumption.

6 – Myth: Taking Insurance Is Smart

If you’re newer to the game, the concept of taking insurance on a hand might be unfamiliar. Here’s how it works: Insurance is an additional side bet that dealers offer when their up card is an ace. Once offered this option, a player can be half of their original wager, and if the dealer has blackjack, the player’s insurance bet will pay out 2 to 1.

Closeup of Red Blackjack Table

All you really need to know about this scenario is that if it were truly that beneficial to the player, it wouldn’t be offered by the house, plain and simple.

The reason some players think that you should insure a bad hand is because they think there’s a higher chance the dealer has a face card. Other players believe that they should always take even money on a blackjack. Finally, others wrongly believe that if they get a 20 in their hand after the deal, they should protect it with insurance. To make things simple – it’s all wrong.

You have plenty of things to think about when you’re gambling, whether you’re real money playing blackjack or another game at the table. Save yourself some mental energy by remembering this easy-to-follow rule: don’t ever take insurance, and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

Conclusion

Despite these myths that have been laid out above, blackjack truly is a game that gives players favorable odds and a good opportunity to make a profit. Just be sure to follow the basic strategic rules, watch your bankroll, and don’t fall for any of these misconceptions that might be floating around the table.

Virginia Licensing Fees Could Torpedo Sports Betting Before It Gets Started

State of Virginia Made out of Money With Sportsbook Background

Virginia is currently in the process of becoming the next state to launch a legal sports betting market. Its lawmakers passed sports gambling legislation in March 2020.

The legislature is currently working out the details on how the market will operate. So far, everything is moving towards the state taking bets within the next several months.

However, a new proposal from the governor now threatens to derail this market before it even gets started. I’ll cover the proposal in question below along with what could ultimately happen with Virginia sports gambling.

New Proposal Threatens Virginia Sports Betting

Again, the Virginia legislator has already approved sports gambling. It has sent the bill to Gov. Ralph Northam for suggestions.

Northam just recently sent back his proposed amendments. Most of his suggestions seem entirely reasonable.

However, one of his proposals is absolutely terrible. It would cause some operators to pay millions of dollars in licensing fees before they even get off the ground.

Northam wants future sportsbooks to cover a $50,000 fee for background checks regarding any principal. This request doesn’t appear so crazy on the surface.

However, a deeper look at the definition of “principle” cast serious doubt on Northam’s idea. Here’s how his office defines the word:

“Principal” means any individual who solely or together with his immediate family members (i) owns or controls, directly or indirectly, five percent or more of the pecuniary interest in any entity that is a permit holder or (ii) has the power to vote or cause the vote of five percent or more of the voting securities or other ownership interests of such entity.

“Principal” includes any individual who is employed in a managerial capacity for a sports betting platform on behalf of a permit holder.

Why Is This Proposal So Crazy?

State lawmakers have already required that Virginia sportsbooks pay $250,000 for a three-year licensing fee. They need to pay another $200,000 whenever they want to renew this three-year agreement.

These fees already seem big enough when considering that sportsbooks only make around 5% off every bet they take. Furthermore, Virginia isn’t the largest state in America with its 8.5 million residents.

Forcing operators to pay $50,000 for background checks regarding every single member of management is ludicrous.

Bookmakers could end up paying seven figures by the time they’re finished being investigated.

After all, larger operators have dozens of employees who may qualify as principles under the definition of this proposal.

Of course, Pennsylvania has set the standard for insane licensing fees. They require bookmakers to pay $10 million to obtain a betting license.

Again, Pennsylvania is also one and a half times the size of Virginia and already has a thriving gambling industry. The Mother of All States, besides Virginia online casinos, has very little regulated gambling in comparison.

Northam’s Request Is Almost As Crazy As Sports Integrity Fees

A few years ago, the National Basketball League (NBA) joined the push to get a federal ban on sports betting removed.

However, the NBA didn’t join this campaign because it loves the idea of legal sports gambling. Instead, the league wanted a big cut of the profits.

Commissioner Adam Silver asked that any sportsbook running NBA lines pay a 1% integrity fee. This 1% would have come out of the handle—not profit —that bookmakers take.

Handle refers to all of the wagers that sportsbook collect. Meanwhile, they earn around an average of a 5% profit on their handle.

Fans Cheering at a Sportsbook

Basically, NBA officials wanted all sportsbooks to give 20% of their profits to a single league. The NBA eventually realized how nutty their integrity fee sounded and stop pushing for it.

Gov. Ralph Northam’s stipulation that each Virginia operator pay a $50,000 fee for principal background checks is almost as crazy as Integrity fees.

I emphasize the word almost, because at least this fee only happens one time upfront. Still, the cost of these background checks is a huge barrier to entry.

In no world does a background check for a single person cost this amount of money. A $50k cost for principle checks would just be an example of this state getting extremely greedy.

Sports Gamblers Would Bear the Brunt of Fees

Sportsbooks that pay seven figures to obtain licensing in a state with 8.5 million people couldn’t expect to make a profit anytime soon. Therefore, they’d likely look to increase their profit rates.

Their customers are the ones who would suffer in this case. First off, Virginia sports bettors would likely face higher juice than the average state.

Most bookmakers take around 10% juice from the losing side in a wager. They might up this amount to 12% juice, on average, to help recoup some of their licensing fee costs.

Offering smaller bonuses is an even more-common route for recouping such expenses. Virginia bookmakers might only feature a $25 free bet or $50 deposit bonus as a result.

New Jersey sportsbooks, on the other hand, are offering overly generous bonuses that include up to $500 free bets and $250 deposit bonuses. Then again, these operators are only paying a $100,000 initial licensing fee.

Long story short, sportsbooks won’t be the only ones paying for these overly extensive background checks. Gamblers will also bear the brunt of the costs.

Would Any Sportsbook Actually Want to Operate in Virginia?

New Jersey has proven themselves to be model market for both land-based and online sports betting. They offer a wide number of bookmakers, fair odds, and big bonuses.

But then again, the Garden State charges its operators reasonable licensing fees and taxes. So, they’ve had no trouble attracting sportsbooks.

Pennsylvania, on the other hand, has screened out many potential operators with its $10 million licensing fee. It hasn’t helped matters by also demanding a 36% tax rate.

Sportsbooks may still find ways to make money in this market when considering Pennsylvania’s size and propensity towards gambling. However, fewer bookmakers are going to take this chance.

Virginia may very well suffer the same fate if they include Northam’s proposal in the final bill. Many sportsbooks will see the $50,000 fee for background checks on each principal and turn the other way.

Much like Pennsylvania, they’re going to still draw operators. However, they also risk driving away many bookmakers by requiring higher upfront costs.

What’s the Likely Scenario for Virginia Sports Betting?

The current Virginia sports gambling bill allows for up to 18 land-based licensed sportsbooks. Up to 12 of these same licensees can also operate an online sportsbook.

The tax rate is set at a reasonable 15%. However, this tax rate threatens to be overshadowed by the extreme licensing fees.

Northam and the legislature will need to compromise on the background check aspect. If they don’t, then operators could definitely stay away from this market.

Mandalay Bay Sportsbook

Of course, Gov. Northam merely threw out suggestions. He hasn’t publicly declared that these amendments must be included for him to sign off on the bill.

Old Dominion knows that it stands to make a fair amount off sports betting—like many other states. Therefore, the governor and legislature need to create an attractive market.

They’ve already done this to some degree by making concessions for professional sports franchises to offer in-stadium gambling. The Washington Redskins, Nationals, and Wizards will no doubt be interested in this aspect.

However, Virginia needs to ensure that they appeal to the majority of sportsbook operators too. A lower barrier to entry will go a long way to making this happen.

Conclusion

Virginia is on the cusp of offering legal sports betting. However, the legislature needs to look over Gov. Northam’s proposals and get back to him.

The $50,000 background check cost for each principal is a scary proposition. The largest operators may need to pay millions of dollars for all of their principals to get checked out.

Such sportsbooks may just avoid this market. Therefore, Northam and the legislature may need to work more closely on this matter.

Assuming Virginia can come up with a more reasonable proposal for operators, then they stand to have a pretty lucrative betting market.

9 NBA Betting Facts You Need to Know to Win

NBA Player James Harden With Sportsbook Background

If you’re betting on NBA games now, are you using a system that helps you evaluate every game the same way? Or are you relying on luck and hope to help you win?

You need to develop an NBA evaluation system so you can track your results and learn what’s working and what’s not helping you win.

Here are nine facts about the NBA that every sports bettor needs to know. Use these nine facts to help you build your profitable NBA betting system.

1 – The NBA Is Nothing like College Basketball

The first fact you need to know is the NBA is nothing like NCAA basketball. If you bet on college basketball, you need to be careful when you evaluate NBA games, because you can’t handicap them the exact same way.

A few college teams come close to NBA style play, but as a whole the game is simply different. The other major difference is the talent level. Even though it might seem like the NBA has many players who aren’t very good, the fact is that almost every NBA player was a star on his team in college.

2 – Beware Totals

Totals, or the over under, are tough to make a profit on in the NBA. The sportsbooks base the totals on a formula that includes the average points that each team scores, but the actual scores from game to game vary a great deal.

I recommend sticking with point spread bets and moneyline bets when betting on the NBA until you develop a winning system. And when you do start looking at totals, the value is usually on the opposite side of where you think it is, if there’s any value to be found.

What I mean is that the value on a game with two top scoring NBA teams is usually on the under, not the over. And the truth is that there simply isn’t enough value on either side of the total to make a bet on most games.

3 – Some Stats Are More Important

Like every major sport, the NBA produces and almost endless string of statistics. You need to use NBA stats when you evaluate games, but you need to learn which ones are important and which ones aren’t as useful.

Two NBA Players

Points are always going to be important, so you’re always going to use them. Other stats that are important include turnovers, offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, and time of possession.

Stats that aren’t as important include assists and blocks. You still need to use these statistics, but they shouldn’t make you adjust your evaluations as much as the more important stats.

4 – Who Is Next Up?

Over the course of the NBA season and playoffs, many games are played without the normal starting five players on a team, and/or with a key bench player out for the game. One area where you can get an edge is by learning which players are going to fill the roles of the starters or key players that are out, and how the replacement will perform.

Rarely will a backup perform as well as the starter, but some backups can fill in and help the team not miss a beat.

When you track all of the stats per minute, like I talk about in a section lower on this page, it helps you get an idea of how a player will perform with more minute. But this isn’t perfect. It’s impossible to predict the performance exactly, but I usually run the numbers with expanded minutes and then reduce them by around 10%.

5 – Schedule and Travel

The NBA schedule is unique when compared to the NFL and MLB. NFL teams play once a week and MLB teams play series. In the NBA sometimes teams play a game then get a day or two off, and other times they play games two days in a row.

If you track the performance for NBA teams, it’s clear that they don’t play as well on the back of a back to back schedule. But some teams do better in the second game than others.

You also have to look at every team based on how they play at home and on the road. Some teams dominate at home and are terrible on the road. Other teams don’t have a big drop off on the road.

6 – True Scoring Efficiency

One of the keys to effectively evaluating NBA games is determining the true scoring efficiency for each team. Because teams can score on three point shots, two point shots, and on free throws, it’s challenging to get an accurate view of how efficient they are.

The first thing to do is look at how many points each teams score per minute. You need to look at this and every stat overall, at home, and on the road. Then divide the total points by time or possession.

Then look at the points scored on three point shots and on two point shots. Divide each of these numbers by the number of attempts. Finally, look at how many free throws each team shoots and makes per minute and game.

This might seem like overkill, but you need to find every small edge you can. When you track all of these numbers for each team, it can help you find an edge where no one else is looking.

7 – Everything per Minute

One of the biggest mistakes gamblers make when betting on sports is looking at stats without breaking them down in a way that gives them an accurate comparison, and the NBA is no different.

Divide every NBA stat by the number of minutes to get a true comparison number.

Here’s an example of rebounds:

A player averages 10 rebounds per game and plays an average of 28 minutes per game. Divide 10 by 28 to get an average rebounds per minute of .3571.

When you use stats this way you can quickly see which player or team does a better job. Use this for every statistic that you look at, including:

  • Total rebounds
  • Offensive rebounds
  • Defensive rebounds
  • Assists
  • Points
  • Turnovers
  • Steals
  • Blocks
  • Home splits
  • Road splits

8 – Betting the Second Half

One of the most profitable ways to bet on NBA games used to be betting on the second half. If you watch many NBA games you know that in many games one team gets a big lead, and then the other team chips away at the lead and often gets back in the game.

NBA Player Stephen Curry

When a team had a big lead at the half, the smart money was on the other team in the second half. Eventually the sportsbooks figured this out and adjusted the lines in these games. But you can still find value betting on the second half.

Now the value is often on the team with the big lead, because sometimes the sportsbooks adjust the second half line too far. Start looking at the second half lines and see what happens. You can learn how to spot value if you track this long enough.

9 – NBA Coaching Is Overrated

The influence coaches have on teams and players in the NBA is difficult to evaluate. You simply don’t see all of the ways a coach is involved. But every game still comes down to the players on the floor. And it’s evident on some teams that the players do more to run the team than the coaches.

When I evaluate NBA games I rarely even consider the coaching. A few coaches are able to win year in and year out, but how much does this have to do with having good players and how much of it has to do with the system?

If you do a good job evaluating games using statistics and what you see in games, this is going to cover any influence the coaches have. If you do this and then make adjustments based on the coaching you’re going to make some mistakes.

Conclusion

Now that you know more about which NBA stats are important and which ones don’t help you evaluate games as much, it’s time to get started. Evaluate every game the same way, and keep working on improving your system.

Over time you’re going to build a winning model that you can use to save time and make more winning NBA bets. Be careful of betting totals when you get started, because they’re challenging to win consistently.

Remember that the NBA is quite a bit different than betting on college basketball. And don’t overvalue the coaching influence in the NBA.

The Case for Playing Volatile Slot Machines

Picture of Distorted Wheel of Fortune Progressive Slots

Slot machines definitely don’t offer the same win frequency as casino games like baccarat or blackjack. Instead, they see you lose far more often than almost any other casino game in existence.

Slots are extremely volatile, because they have such a varying degree of payouts. They can pay you as little as $0.10 on a $1 bet, for example, or millions of dollars in certain cases.

Seeing as how slots hit frequency is low anyways, many advise that you don’t play the more-volatile slots. However, I’ll discuss some reasons for why you should buck this advice and play them even more.

What Is a Volatile Slot Machine?

Before I get into the reasons for playing volatile slot machines, I’d like to discuss more on this term. Volatility refers to how closely short-term results relate to a statistical mean.

People use volatility interchangeably with variance. But the latter deals with the correlation of results to a statistical mean without time parameters involved.

Therefore, volatility is more relevant to slot machines. After all, you probably don’t care about slots win frequency over the span of years.

Highly volatile slot machines feature wild variations in results when compared to the statistical average. Here’s an example of a volatile game:

  • A slot offers a $1 million progressive jackpot.
  • It also features free spins, random wild symbols, and win multipliers.
  • The win frequency is only 18%.

No exact definition exists for a volatile slot machine. However, many real money online slots developers give their games a volatility rating ranging from 1-5 or 1-10. You can rely on these ratings when trying to determine how often you’ll win.

Why Should You Play Volatile Slots?

You may be slightly scared of volatile slot machines, because you never know when your next win is coming. Nevertheless, you should still consider playing these games for the following reasons.

Chase the Biggest Payouts

The online gaming industry offers some huge progressive jackpots. Certain slots, including Microgaming’s Mega Moolah, consistently offers jackpot worth millions of dollars.

However, the same games feature insane volatility. They can’t pay as often, because the developer must recoup some of their costs for seeding such a large jackpot.

Chances are, you aren’t going to win a multimillion-dollar payout. But if you still want to dream big, you should play volatile progressive games.

Enjoy the Most Features

You don’t have to try hard to find slot machines with low volatility. Plenty of online and land-based casinos offer three-reel games with little to no features.

Basic three-reel machines were once the norm in gaming. However, the slots world has advanced far beyond what were available decades ago.

Today’s slot machines are bursting with features, ranging from random wilds to unlimited win multipliers. These bonuses give you an opportunity to collect big payouts on any spin.
bonus
But they also greatly increase the volatility of a slot. You usually have to sacrifice high win frequency to enjoy the biggest and best features.

Play Quick Sessions

Perhaps you’re somebody who doesn’t like spinning the reels for hours. Instead, you just want to play a quick 10- or 20-minute session and take your chances at large prizes.

Volatile slot machines give you this very opportunity. They have the type of features and jackpots that can quickly deliver notable payouts.

These games can also eat away at your bankroll faster. But you may not care about this if you like quick action.

Downsides to Playing Volatile Slot Machines

You can see that there are compelling reasons to try volatile games. However, you definitely want to consider the following points before jumping on slot machines with exciting features and massive jackpots.

Bigger Drain on Bankroll

The main reason why some people advise against playing volatile slots is because of what they do to your bankroll. These games can quickly take your money either through extremely low win frequency or losses disguised as wins (LDWs).

Low win frequency consumes your money faster for obvious reasons. If you’re barely winning any payouts, you’ll have a much tougher time sustaining your bankroll until a good prize comes along.

An LDW refers to when you win an amount that’s worth less than your original bet. A $0.30 win on a $2 bet isn’t really a win at all.

Nevertheless, casinos do a good job at masking LDWs through entertaining animations and loud sound effects. Volatile slots are notorious for either LDWs or low win frequency.

More Losing Sessions

The hope behind volatile slots is that you’ll trigger lots of features or a big jackpot. Of course, these occurrences don’t happen on a regular basis.

Part of the excitement behind these types of games is that you never know what will happen. The most-likely scenario, though, is that you’re going to experience losing session after losing session.

The reason for the high volatility of slots is that casinos can’t afford to pay you consistently. They’d quickly go broke by paying you at a 45% rate along with offering multiple features and large jackpots.

As long as you’re willing to accept the high degree of losing sessions, then you shouldn’t be scared of volatile games. But if you hate leaving the casino a loser time and time again, you’ll want to reconsider playing such slots.

Less Overall Entertainment

Many players use slot machines as a way to escape reality and have fun. They may not necessarily expect to win big or even end up with a profit at all.

Assuming you fall into this category, you certainly want to be wary of volatile games. They can take your bankroll in quick fashion.

You don’t optimize your entertainment time by choosing volatile slot machines. Instead, these games are best when you want the chance at massive payouts in multiple bonuses.

When to Consider Less Volatile Slots

Despite their drawbacks, volatile slots are all the rage in casinos today. But you may want to consider safer slot machines (i.e. those with small jackpots and fewer features) for one or more of the following reasons.

You Have a Small Bankroll

Not everybody has $500 or more to blow on casino games. Some players are dealing with a bankroll worth between $20 and $100. The same gamblers may be shocked when their $20 vanishes in a few minutes.

If you’re dealing with a small bankroll, you probably don’t want it to disappear within a 10-minute span. Instead, you might be looking to gamble for at least 30-60 minutes.

Slot machines don’t seem like the best option for making this goal happen. But low-volatility games at least give you a better chance at stretching your bankroll further.

Social Gambling Experience

Land-based casino trips don’t have to be all about the gambling. You may visit a casino with one or more friends as a social excursion.

These outings allow you to enjoy everything from blackjack to slot machines with buddies. In the latter case, you’ll want your money lasting longer to avoid having to watch your friend play the rest of the time.

Choosing slots with zero bonuses and/or smaller jackpots help out in this regard. You may be able to play next to your friends(s) for hours with just a $100 bankroll.

You Enjoy Frequent Wins More Than Big Payouts

Baccarat, blackjack, roulette, and certain craps bets offer the best routes to winning consistently in casinos. However, you don’t have to relegate yourself to the tables just to win more often.

Slots with high win frequency can also do the trick. This is especially true when they don’t deliver an abundance of LDWs.

The same slot machines actually list their win frequency in the pay table. You can use this information in combination with the volatility rating to judge how often you’ll win.

Conclusion

Slot machines have progressively gotten more volatile over the years. This trend shows that players highly value large jackpots and features over consistent winnings.

You may not necessarily be thrilled with the current situation. But if you want to win big and unlock lots of bonuses, then you must consider playing a volatile slot machine.

The fact of the matter is that casinos can’t give you the best of both worlds with numerous bonuses plus high win frequency. You must sacrifice consistent winnings in order to enjoy explosive features and life-changing prizes.

Perhaps you won’t always be in the mood to make this sacrifice. However, you should consider playing volatile slot machines whenever you’re looking for a more-exciting gaming experience.

What I Learned from Becoming a Gambling Blogger

Laptop Phone and Writing Book With Las Vegas Strip in Background

About 5 years ago, a close friend of mine approached me about contributing content for his gambling blog. My friend and I met in college and became fast friends when we realized we both had a love for poker and craft beer.

When friend X asked me to write my thoughts and experience down on gambling, I was flattered and a little scared.

Let’s look at what this road looks like and where I am now.

I Love Gambling, Betting, and Casinos

I saw my first James Bond movie when I was six with my grandfather.

There’s a famous scene where 007 is in a tux next to a beautiful woman playing a table game. He’s sipping on a martini (shaken not stirred of course).

The woman blows on his dice (totally not kosher in an age of Coronavirus), and he throws them on the craps table.

At that moment, I knew I wanted to be Bond, James Bond.

This didn’t happen, though.

I’m not oozing cool, nor am I a secret agent. I’m a high school math teacher living in Middle America. I have a mortgage, a master’s degree in abstract mathematics, and a family.

I don’t drive a fast sportscar — I drive a late model Subaru.

My love for Bond movies has translated into a love for everything gambling.

I love to gamble in casinos, sportsbooks, online, and in my friend’s basement. The first time I walked into a casino, I was in love. I was terrified of not being as cool as I wished I could be.

View of a Casino Floor

I was 22.

I’d played poker and blackjack in college.

I’d bought squares for the Super Bowl.

I played fantasy football.

I was sure I would nail the casino level gambling.

But I was wrong.

I share a lot in my blog posts about beginner mistakes because I’ve made so many of them.

I love the excitement of being around fellow gamblers and the shared energy of a table game. I love playing slots next to the old ladies. I love sportsbooks and their sporting event-driven mentality. I love taking some time to brush up on my table game skills against a stranger halfway around the world in an online casino.

I had my niches that I was good at and areas of the gambling community and industry I knew nothing about. I get to learn it all and tell you about it.

This has grown from a hobby to a real business endeavor for me.

Bold Blogging Goals

When my friend, let’s call him John, asked me if I wanted to write for his blog, I thought I would tell the world about how great of a gambler I am.

Like my first casino experience, my goals were much loftier than I could achieve.

My first blog was a mess.

I’m a mathematician. I was too wordy and did not convey my thoughts or gambling experience in a relatable style.

I used big words, and my experience was not as broad as I had convinced myself. I only considered table games and slots. I’d never even considered keno a real gambling game worth playing.

I had a lot to learn.

My approach to gambling has always been from a mathematical viewpoint. Gambling in my eyes was always about the odds and statistics.

People (my wife for example) are not always math whizzes. I had to learn how to explain how to play a Double Bonus video poker game to someone who might not be good at math or might just plain hate math.

I have improved my own gaming abilities by having to learn to view gambling from different points of view. Before I started writing about gambling, I had never played online casinos. I thought they lacked the in-person excitement I always expected.

I did not consider that everyone doesn’t live in a state that has legalized gambling or had never visited Sin City. I have opened my eyes to other people’s experiences and lifestyles.

John sent back my first blog with more red lines that not. My explanations and writing didn’t seem to connect with the reader. We went through 3 edits. It was not the great ego boost I thought I had signed up for.

Writing for the gambling community, be it for veteran gamblers or newcomers, has brought me a better understanding of humans and a level of humility I thought I would never achieve.

Thank you.

Gaming Blogging — Yin and Yang

In my years as a blogger for gambling, I’ve discovered some dark sides and beautiful sides to this industry. I’ve learned about problem gambling and seen the generosity of the gambling community.

Problem gambling has become one of the causes that I care deeply about. It breaks my heart to see a hobby take over someone’s entire life and destroy it. What is so beautiful about this community is the support for people who struggle with addictive gambling.

Never Have I Ever

Things I thought I would never see or do in my life because of gambling blogging:

  1. Slot machines with pee bottles next to them
  2. Gamble in Paris
  3. Travel the World
  4. Turn my hobby into a side job
  5. Get to use my master’s degree to make some real money ( I am a teacher so you do the math)
  6. Be able to play with veterans and newbies alike
  7. Learn more about humans than I ever thought possible
  8. See sportsbooks blossom across the USA
  9. Tell the internet my opinions on a variety of betting games
  10. Like keno…

That last one is one I thought I would never say; let alone write on the internet.

I’d never played keno until I started writing professionally about gambling. I always passed the keno lounges in casinos and paid them no attention.

So much smoke, so much foreign weirdness I didn’t understand.

Keno is what I play (without fail) almost every trip when I need a break from the table games or (TBH) my travel companions.

It’s so strange but familiar at the same time.

If you haven’t played, give it go.

Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Math, Math, Math

When I told my parents and my friends that I wanted to get my master’s degree in mathematics, they looked at me like I was insane. I probably was looking back at my student loan amounts to pay for this endeavor.

I’ve always seen math like musicians can see music in their head. I have tied to explain this phenomenon to my wife — but to no avail.

She’s a fellow teacher, but she’s an honors English teacher. We don’t speak the same language when it comes to our careers.

View of Poker Machines and Spin Wheel

I digress.

When I started applying to grad schools, everyone I knew asked the same questions,” What are you going to do with a master’s in math?”.

I had no answer other than “I love math”.

I ended up being a high school math teacher and am now the head of my department.

My math love affair is how I also fell in love with gambling. Without getting too complicated, math rarely lies to you. There’s always one right answer when it comes to statistics and that is what (to me) gambling boils down to.

As I’ve mentioned, I started playing basement poker in college. From there it has grown into a healthy (arguably time-consuming) hobby.

I will take or place a bet on about anything.

I have a bet with my editor John about how many words I can write about my math abilities in this very blog.

I think I’m winning, but I have the house edge (wink wink).

Friends in All Places

Since I have started being an active part of the online and land-based casino community, I have made more friends than I had in 15 years.

I am the textbook math nerd.

I’m lucky my now=wife sad yes to our first date. I’m socially awkward, not a looker, and I get in my head way too easily. It has always been tough for me to have a manage a wide group of friends — until I met all of you.

I have blackjack friends, bingo friends, roulette friends, sports friends, and fantasy football friends.

I have made more true connections in writing for the gambling community than I could have ever imagined.

My daughter’s godfather is someone I met through gambling. Sounds shady, but our families are close, and our kids play on play dates almost weekly. I wouldn’t have met him without the gambling community.

Thank you.

Conclusion

I don’t really know how to close this blog. I hope you have a better idea of who I am as a writer and a player. I hope you feel the same about our shared passion. I usually wrap up with a synopsis of what I have gone over. This is different. This is personal. This is me.

I am thankful for your input on the comments. As always, please leave a comment below. Happy gambling and making connections in this community.

What Is Mega Blackjack?

Blackjack Hand With Casino Chips and Explosion in Background

The gambling world is filled with blackjack variations. Blackjack Switch, Spanish 21, and Super Fun 21 are just some of the available variations.

Of course, you’ve probably heard of these games at some point or another. They’re common at online casinos and even available in some land-based establishments.

Have you heard of Mega blackjack, though? If not, then you’re definitely not alone.

Mega Blackjack is much more obscure in the gambling industry. But as I’ll cover below, it’s a fun game that’s worth a try.

Brief History of Mega Blackjack

Mega Blackjack definitely doesn’t rank as high as Spanish 21 or Blackjack Switch in terms of popularity. But there’s good reason for this — the Mega variation has only been around for a few years.

AGS launched Mega Blackjack in Nevada in 2017. They debuted their variation at Las Vegas’ Monte Carlo Casino.

They’ve had success with this game and continue offering it at various casinos across the United States.

As for AGS, they’re a game developer that first started out in the Class II Native American market. They’ve since expanded beyond just providing Class II games and now provide a variety of table games and Class III (e.g. slots) machines.

Mega Blackjack Rules

If you’ve played classic real money blackjack before, you shouldn’t have much trouble adjusting to the Mega version. It follows standard rules for the most part.

However, Mega Blackjack does have some unique rules that you should know beforehand. Here are both the standard and more-unique points of the game:

  • 6 decks
  • Dealer hits a soft 17.
  • Dealer peeks for a natural blackjack with an ace or 10 upcard.
  • Double down after splitting (DAS) is allowed.
  • Players can re-split up to four hands.
  • Gamblers can resplit aces.
  • No surrender is available.
  • Normal winning hands pay 1:1.
  • A natural blackjack normally pays 3:1 (casinos can adjust these payouts).
  • A winning suited A-K natural blackjack pays 5:1.
  • If the dealer busts with 4+ cards, then the player pushes.
  • Players receive a 3:2 payout for drawing to 21 (includes splits & double downs).
  • These games can feature the “Buster Blackjack” side bet (wager on how many cards the dealer needs to bust).

Rules such as six decks, dealers hitting a soft 17, and DAS are quite common throughout gaming. Mega Blackjack differs, though, through a few specific rules.

Blackjack Table From Players View

First off, a natural pays 3:1 under normal circumstances. It pays even more for a suited A-K natural at 5:1. Most blackjack variations only pay either 3:2 or 6:5 for a natural.

The other big change involves specific dealer bust outs. You automatically win in this circumstance no matter what in other blackjack games. However, the Mega version sees you push when the croupier busts with four or more cards.

How to Play Mega Blackjack

Other than its unique rules, Mega Blackjack plays just like classic 21. You place your bet before a hand like normal and have the same available actions (hit, stand, double down, and split).

The Buster Blackjack bet presents one slight nuance. You have the option to make this side wager along with your regular bet before a hand.

As covered earlier, natural blackjacks pay differently in this game. You also push when the dealer busts out with 4+ cards.

But these rules don’t affect the actual process of playing Mega Blackjack. If you’ve played any other variation before, you should be perfectly comfortable with this one.

Mega Blackjack Strategy

The strategy for Mega Blackjack doesn’t differ tremendously when compared to other games. It does, however, contain some minor discrepancies.

The good news is that you can easily find strategy charts that cover this game. A simple search for a “Mega Blackjack strategy chart” will provide all the strategy you need.

I suggest going over your chart before hitting the casino. After all, you don’t want the dealer and/or other players getting mad because you keep referring to this resource on every hand.

Mega Blackjack House Edge

Mega blackjack is an appealing game when you want a new variation to play. After all, it features large natural blackjack payouts and a fun side bet.

You’ll also be pleased to know that it has a lower house edge than the average blackjack game. Its house edge ranges from 0.82% to 1.32% based on the specific rules in place.

The number of decks in play and whether the dealer hits or stands on a soft 17 (they normally hit) can influence the house advantage. But even with a 1.32% house advantage, Mega Blackjack gives you a stronger chance to win than the average table.

Many blackjack games in land-based casinos feature between a 1.5% and 2% house advantage. These same tables usually only pay 6:5 for a natural (raises house edge by 1.4% versus 3:2 payouts).

An 1.32%, or even 0.82%, house edge isn’t the absolute best that you’ll find in gambling. But it’s pretty good on a broader spectrum.

Pros of Playing Mega Blackjack

This game offers a few notable advantages over classic 21 and other variations. Below, you can see the biggest benefits of Mega Blackjack.

Relatively Low House Edge

Again, the Mega Blackjack house edge ranges from 0.82% to 1.32%. Obviously you want the former figure, but you can’t go wrong either way.

By comparison, French roulette gives you the strongest chance to win out of any roulette variation with a 1.35% house edge.

You do need to use optimal strategy to achieve the lowest house advantage. Luckily, you won’t have much difficulty in finding a strategy chart for this game.

Large Natural Payouts

Natural blackjacks are always exciting, because they typically offer you either a 3:2 or 6:5 pay out. Both of these payoffs are bigger than the 1:1 standard for winning hands.

But Mega Blackjack gives you even more reason to get excited. It offers 3:1 for a regular natural or even 5:1 for a suited AK natural. These payouts spice up the action and give you a chance to turn a $10 bet, for example, into a $30 or $50 win.

Something Fresh

Blackjack doesn’t really need any more variations. After all, it currently features more than a dozen different games.

But if you’re somebody who likes variety in your blackjack experience, then you’ll really appreciate another quality game.

Mega Blackjack isn’t just another variation either. It has unique rules that make it stand out from the pack.

Cons of Playing Mega Blackjack

You may be interested in trying this game based on what’s been covered so far. However, I urge you to consider the possible downsides before running out and looking for it.

More Variance

Blackjack will never be as volatile as slot machines in any form. But Mega Blackjack does involve more variance than the average blackjack variant.

On the plus side, it sees you win large natural payouts. The downside, though, is that the dealer pushes when busting with 4+ cards.

The latter occurrence happens around 1 out of every 9 hands. You’re robbed of a guaranteed payout each time it happens.

The fewer regular payouts counteract the enhanced 3:1 and 5:1 natural payouts to some degree.

Closeup of Blackjack Hand

New Strategy

If you’re all about increasing your chances of winning, then you no doubt study strategy when playing a new blackjack game. Of course, you must learn new strategy for Mega Blackjack.

The charts for this game are readily available on different websites. But as mentioned before, casinos and players frown on you checking a chart for every decision.

You may ultimately embrace learning new strategy. On the other hand, you might not enjoy mastering another chart if you’re already well-versed with classic 21.

Not Widely Available

Odds are, you won’t walk into your local casino and find Mega Blackjack. You also won’t find it at online casinos either (at least not now anyways).

This game is only a few years old and still slowly spreading throughout casinos. It’s available in Las Vegas and some other casinos but still isn’t heavily prevalent throughout gambling.

Conclusion

Mega Blackjack presents a fun take on a classic game. It amps up the excitement by delivering larger natural blackjack payouts.

The downside to these bigger payouts is that you push when the dealer busts out in certain circumstances. But you still get fair odds with this game in comparison to other blackjack variations.

The big matter involves actually finding Mega Blackjack. If you can find this game, you should certainly consider playing a few hands or more.

Where to Get the Latest Atlantic City Casino News

Newspaper and Glasses With Atlantic City in Background

New Jersey has a deep and rich history of gambling centered around Atlantic City and its historic Boardwalk on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. The resort city has endured countless legal and economic shifts as a major tourist location, and is again finally on the upswing.

You’ve spent months planning your Atlantic City trip down to the finest detail. You’ve scoured over blogs, kept up with the latest weather forecasts and tried to stay in the loop on the best offers in town to ensure the best outcome possible for your stay.

Sometimes, you may just want to keep tabs on the latest news at your favorite casino or be up to date on the latest casino news from home. Sure, you can just google Atlantic City or casino news and read through articles that may or may not be catered to your interests.

Even if you find an article specifically about where you’re interested it may be weeks or months old. And in the constantly changing Atlantic City casino landscape, yesterday might as well be last year.

What if I told you there are places for you to receive the hottest Atlantic City casino news catered to you and even delivered directly in your inbox? That’s right, I’ll give you a few of the top places for you to get the latest Atlantic City casino news.

After all, who couldn’t use a little heads up on all things Atlantic City casinos before their trip? Hopefully, these sites will help to make your next adventure as enjoyable and even profitable as possible.

The Press of Atlantic City

The Press of Atlantic City is the fourth-largest daily newspaper in New Jersey. Originally based in Pleasantville, it is the primary newspaper for southeastern New Jersey and the Jersey Shore.

The newspaper’s designated market runs from Waretown in southern Ocean County down to Cape May . It also reaches west to Cumberland County. The paper has a combined print and digital daily circulation of 72,846 and a Sunday circulation of 95,626.

The Press closed its printing facility in Pleasantville in 2014, at which time it outsourced printing to a facility in Freehold. That printing plant closed in 2017, with most of the New Jersey printing and production operations consolidated in Gannett’s Rockaway plant.

Interior of Bally's Casino in Atlantic City

Coverage focuses mostly on local and regional news, with limited state, national and international news appearing on the Nation & World page in the Money section. The Press also publishes numerous other products, including At The Shore, the area’s entertainment guide.

The paper launched  a paid content site, and was the first daily newspaper in New Jersey to request payment for access to its digital content. It is also available in a replica e-edition that allows viewers to see the entire paper digitally as it appears each day in print, along with page-turning technology and links.

All of this combines to offer you a great place to stay up to date on the latest Atlantic City casino news without ever leaving the couch.

At the Shore

At the shore is your one stop shop for all things related to entertainment and tourism in Atlantic City. Bringing you the best and latest news about the Arts, Casinos, Dining, Entertainment, Events, Fishing, Golf, Movies, Nature, and NightLife.

Your guide to having fun in South Jersey, At the Shore provides deep insights into the Atlantic City casino industry on a weekly basis.

You can check it out for yourself at AtTheShoreOnline.com, or find At The Shore on newsstands every Thursday.

Atlantic City Weekly

Atlantic City Weekly has been the dining, entertainment, nightlife, and community news source for the Atlantic City area for 40 years.

Established in 1974, this award-winning publication remains the region’s most widely read guide to South Jersey/Atlantic City nightlife.

Published every Thursday, the Atlantic City Weekly print edition covers entertainment, casinos, dining, movies, gambling, local news, local events, and much more. Online, AtlanticCityWeekly.com brings you all that and more 7 days a week.

By offering fresh content on a daily basis, you are sure to be kept current on the latest casino news coming out of Atlantic City.

True Jersey

NJ.com is the top provider of local news in New Jersey. NJ.com drives daily conversations and engages millions of people through quality journalism on NJ.com social channels and in newsletters and print publications, including The Star-Ledger, The Express-Times and other daily and weekly newspapers.

NJ.com has the knowledge, experience, and resources to create innovative and effective cross-channel marketing solutions. They offer firsthand data collected from more than 170 million devices owned by consumers of the 12 affiliated websites across the United States.

Having such a large network of news sites to pool from works as a huge advantage for you. You can be sure to always have the latest Atlantic City casino news dropped straight into your inbox.

Additionally, having multiple sources pooling their content will give you multiple views on the same topic. Providing the balance you need to draw your own informed conclusions.

Hey Google

Most people receive Google Alerts in email. With one or two alerts that track rarely used keywords, you might receive an occasional alert. But try to track several popular topics and alerts can fill your email quickly. That’s when Inbox by Gmail comes to the rescue.

Instead of showing each email separately, Inbox by Gmail gathers your alerts into a bundle. Alerts can flood your inbox, but they’ll all be put in the bundle until you choose to review or archive them.

Atlantic City Boardwalk

Alerts won’t overwhelm other emails. Not interested in the alerts? Mark the entire bundle done and move on to other things.

Want even more control? Create different bundles for different alerts and customize notifications for each bundle.

Google now enables Inbox by Gmail by default for schools and nonprofits, as well as for personal Gmail accounts. To try Inbox, go to inbox.google.com or install the Inbox Android or iOS app on your mobile device.

Improve your search criteria to improve your alert results. Don’t just search for keywords. Instead, refine your Alert results by:

  • Adding quotes to search for a specific phrase. For example, “Atlantic City Casinos” finds mentions of the AC casinos. Without quotes, pages that include any combination of the three words, Atlantic,casinos, and City, display.
  • Placing a hyphen in front of a term to exclude results with that term. For example, -“Atlantic City Craps” excludes results that include the phrase.
  • Limiting your search to a single domain with the site: term. For example: site:nj.com will monitor results only from the NJ.com site.

Of course, a few people, mostly geeks and news hounds, receive Google Alerts in an RSS reader. For example, Google Alerts sends an alert to my RSS reader when a new page with my name appears.

Since I use an RSS reader and my alerts aren’t time sensitive, this setup works for me. But most of you will likely prefer Google Alerts sent to Inbox by Gmail and packaged in a bundle.

Google Alerts fill a wide variety of needs personally. I’ve set alerts to track companies, products, and topics. One alert notifies me of any news related to “Atlantic City casinos” while another tracks “online poker.”

It is incredibly easy to set up and it pays tremendous dividends for minimal investment of time. Set a Google Alert and receive it in Inbox, and you’ll never miss news you should know.

Finally

You have hundreds of options to choose from for your Atlantic City casino news. It can be incredibly difficult to narrow it down to 1 or 2 sites with so many viable choices. Even if you find a site that seems to have all the news you crave, how can you be sure of the site’s legitimacy?

I do want to make clear that the potential choices I’ve covered on this list are in no way listed best to worst. I merely wanted to help gamblers learn more about Atlantic City or for those looking to plan a trip. We also recommend you check out our posts on Atlantic City casino news and make sure to check back in for the latest updates coming out of Atlantic City.

Casino gambling is supposed to be highly entertaining. So, I suggest you make the most of the sites providing all of this news for free. Having a head free of fear and uncertainty may just be the break you need.

8 MLB Bets That Are Losers

Man Covering Eyes With Baseball Stadium Background

Major League Baseball is my favorite sports as a bettor. Every day of the season offers opportunities to find value, and once you set up your statistical model, you can quickly identify the best games to handicap.

One of the easiest ways to narrow down the games on the schedule is to learn which games to avoid. The strategies on this page about betting on MLB are a good place to start.

Use this list of eight betting strategies that are losers to avoid making mistakes. Once you eliminate these bets, you can quickly find bets that offer value on MLB games.

1 – Betting on Rookie Pitchers

Name the last rookie pitcher that performed like a top 10 pitcher in the league. What about performing like a top 20 pitcher, or a top 40?

I’m sure most fans can name one or two, but when you look at the percentage of rookie pitchers that pitch well enough to be in the top 50, it’s very small. It’s so small that you’re better off simply never betting on a rookie pitcher in MLB.

Rookie pitchers are too unpredictable to make it safe to bet on them.

They tend to use too many pitches to get outs, and they make mistakes in big situations too often. When rookies use too many pitches to get outs, their pitch count goes up quickly. And they’re all on pitch counts.

This leads to rookies not working deep into games, which puts added stress on the bullpen. You can bet on rookie pitchers when you find value, but make sure that it’s significant value, because you never know when a rookie is going to cost you money.

2 – Betting Against Home Teams in a Series

Home teams always have some advantages, but the obviously don’t always win. Some home teams are clearly fighting an uphill battle. When the best team in the league is playing at the worst team in the league, the road team is good enough to overcome the disadvantage of playing on the road more often than not.

But one thing you need to start tracking is how often home teams in MLB get swept. You’re going to find that this almost never happens. Even when bad teams are playing at home against good teams, the home team rarely gets swept.

I don’t bet on many road teams during the MLB season, but I do bet on the ones that offer clear value. But I never bet on road teams assuming a sweep.

MLB Behind the Plate View

You can use this information a couple different ways. You can look at each series to see which game the home team is most likely to win, and look for value and profit on that game.

The other way is to look at series where the home team has lost the first two games. The home team is often a good value in the third game of the series when they lost the first two games.

3 – Giving Runs to the Home Team on the Run Line

When you bet on the run line in MLB you either get 1 ½ runs or give 1 ½ runs. This creates a unique handicapping situation, and many MLB bettors lose money on the run lines.

One of the worst mistakes you can make when betting on MLB run lines is to bet on a road team that gives runs to the home team. When I bet on MLB run lines, I only bet on teams that show value getting runs or on a home team giving runs. I never bet on the road team and give runs.

When you bet on the MLB run lines you also have to consider what the cost of the bet does to the value. The varying cost of making the bet is what makes run line betting challenging. If you’re not good at evaluating games for run line wagers, stick with moneyline bets on MLB games.

4 – Betting Against the MLB Winning Streak

This might seem like it contradicts the advice in the second section about betting against home teams in a series. If the road team is on a winning streak, if you bet on the home team in the last game of the series then you’re going against one or the other of the two sections.

The solution to this is simple. First, this rarely happens. But when it does, I simply don’t bet on the game.

A winning streak in MLB in my opinion is at least four games.

You can set your own number, but I’ve found four games to be a good break off point for streaks in MLB. The only time I alter this is when a team sweeps a four game series. Then I set the streak number at five.

When I’m evaluating a MLB game with one team on a winning streak, I only bet the game if I find value on the team on a winning streak. You won’t always find value on this side, and when you don’t you should avoid betting the game.

5 – Betting Against the MLB Losing Streak

MLB teams also have losing streaks. And just like winning streaks, it can be hard to break the momentum.

When a MLB team is on a losing streak, it doesn’t seem like anything they do works out. Every decision the manager makes doesn’t work out, and players start to press, which leads to more mistakes.

When you’re handicapping a MLB game with a team on a losing streak, only bet the game if you find value on the other team. Even if it looks like there’s value on the team on the losing streak, avoid betting on them.

One thing that you might want to start tracking is how teams on losing streaks do in the game following breaking the streak. When a losing streak team wins a game, it should take some of the pressure off. But does this translate into a better chance of winning the next game?

6 – Betting on Underdog Visiting MLB Teams

I don’t bet on many underdogs in MLB. And I don’t bet on many road teams either. When the two things are combined, you can count the number of road underdogs I bet on during the MLB season on your fingers.

Winning MLB gamblers focus on finding the games that offer the best value, not on finding as many games to bet on as possible. This means that you don’t have to press to find value. Instead, look for the best game or two on the schedule each day that offers value and make money on quality over quantity.

7 – The Wrong Side of High OBP Against High Walks

Some pitching staffs, and pitchers as individuals, issue a high number of walks. Some pitchers are able to offset this by striking out a high percentage of hitters, but walks are always bad.

Some teams have a higher on base percentage than others. When a team with a high OBP is facing a pitcher or staff that issues a high percentage of walks, you should never bet on the team that walks too many hitters.

MLB Wrigley Stadium Entrance

This combination drives the pitch count up, which usually means the bullpen is in the game early. It also makes it easier for the high OBP team to score runs early. Betting on the wrong side of this equation is going to be costly.

8 – The Moneyline Trap

The most popular way to bet on MLB is on the moneyline. But this doesn’t mean it’s the most profitable way to bet. If you can learn how to evaluate games using the run line you have a better chance of turning a long term MLB profit.

The other option for betting on MLB is totals, but I don’t recommend starting with them. After you learn how to make profits on the moneyline and run lines you can start looking at totals.

If you’re not careful it’s easy to fall into the moneyline trap when betting on MLB games. The trap is that it’s often easy to pick the winning team, but the price you have to pay to bet on a heavy MLB favorite is often too high to have value.

The best MLB teams still lose somewhere around a third of their games. This means that there’s never a sure thing in MLB. A team that wins 66.7% of their games finishes the season 108 – 54. Most good teams only win 90 to 95 games. A team with 90 wins loses 72 games.

Make sure you evaluate value in MLB including the cost of making a moneyline wager. The cost is usually too high for long term profits.

Conclusion

Betting on rookies is always dangerous, and MLB pitchers are no different. It’s often best to skip the games with rookie pitchers to concentrate on the other games on the schedule.

It’s also hard to make profits consistently betting on road teams. It can be done, but why fight an uphill battle every day of the season?

Avoid these traps and the others listed on this page and your MLB profits are going to quickly improve.

Poker Odds for Beginners

Four Aces Cards and Casino Chip Background

I’m sure if you’re someone who has never played the classic game seen in most gangster films known as poker, or much less someone who has never heard of the game, learning how to play poker can be somewhat overwhelming.

Learning the game is one thing, but then getting to understanding the odds in poker (something necessary to understand for the sake of winning) can seem even more overwhelming.

So, in the most basic and simple-to-understand way, I am going to quickly delve into some of the basics regarding poker odds

Calculating Poker Odds

Learning to calculate poker odds is absolutely, without a doubt, something that’s crucial to success at poker. And to be honest, as someone with poker playing experience, I can tell you that this stuff can sound a little confusing when reading an explanation of poker odds and how to calculate them.

I’ll sometimes use one of the most popular poker games – Texas Hold ‘Em, as a reference when explaining this. Having a reference like this that is basic will make trying to understand a little less difficult.

So why are poker odds so important? Knowing poker odds is important because it gives you an idea when you are playing a hand if you are going to win or lose.

To illustrate, let’s say you and another player are flipping a quarter and he gives you 1:1 odds that the next flip will land on heads. You already know that it will land on heads 50% of the time, and it’ll land on tails the rest of the other 50% of the time.

In this case, you would call the presentation that the other player is giving you an even event, because neither player has a statistical advantage.

A different example: you’re playing and your opponent offers you 2:1 odds that the next coin flip will be heads. Would this be a bet that you should take? Absolutely. Because the chances of heads or tails coming up are still 1:1, while he’s paying you at the 2:1 rate.

Your opponent is hoping to ride his luck and stay on this winning streak, but if you both continue to play, it’s inevitable that he is going to lose and make a poor decision out of over confidence.

These examples are a very basic way at explaining a pattern that happens during Texas Hold ‘Em very often. Calculating hand odds are your chances of making a winning hand during a game of Texas Hold ‘Em poker.

For example, if in your hand there are two hearts, and there are also two hearts on the table, or the flop, your odds for making a flush are about 2 to 1. This means that for approximately every 3 times you play this hand, you can expect to hit your flush one of those times.

Two Men at a Poker Tournament Table

If your hand odds were 3 to 1, then you would expect to hit your hand 1 out of every 4 times. I know this is confusing, so I’am going to use another example that uses Texas Hold ‘Em as a reference.

This is will be helpful when trying to decide how much to bet, or if you should even bet at all.

For example, if there’s $80 in the pot and your opponent bets $20, that makes a total of $100 in the pot. That $100 is the pay out that you would receive if you win and are willing to risk $20 to call the bet.

Pot odds are about risk and reward. In this case, you’re having to risk $20 to win $100, so your pot odds are 100-to-20, or 5-to-1.

That’s a common scenario. This is important for a player when deciding to place a bet or fold. You take the amount of the bet plus what is already in the pot to calculate the reward, the bet you need to call represents the risk, and so if a player adds $20 in the pot, calling would be adding $20 to the pot when your turn comes just to be able to stay in the game.

The pot odds “being given” to call is that reward-to-risk ratio. Of course, you can also talk about pot odds after a player raises. Say you decide not just to call that $20 bet described above, but to raise to $80. That would mean your opponent has to call $60 to have a chance at winning what is now $180 in the middle, 180-to-60 or 3-to-1 pot odds.

Probability and Betting Odds

Betting provides the player with the chance to predict the outcome of a certain event, like who is going to win the round and who has the cards with the highest value.

If your prediction is correct, then you win. In a given event, there are always a certain number of possible outcomes. I’ll use dice rolling as an example.

When a player rolls a die, there are always going to be 6 possible outcomes. So if a player bets that the die will roll a 3, there is a 16.67% chance that the player will win.

So all betting odds really do is show how likely it is for a certain event to happen. I know it seems repetitive, but I needed a lot of repetition with different examples to have a more clear understanding of betting odds.

Whenever you see 2 numbers separated by a slash, like 10/1, this is known as fractional odds. This is an important concept to understand and another very helpful example. From this, you can calculate how likely it is for a given event to occur by using a simple calculation.

Probability (%) = B / (A+B).

  • 7/1 can be calculated as  1 / (7 + 1) = 0.125—There’s a 12.5% chance that the event will happen.
  • 4/1 can be calculated as 1 / (4 + 1) = 0.20—There’s a 20% chance that the event will happen.
  • 1/1 can be calculated as 1 / (1 + 1) = 0.50—There’s a 50% chance that the event will happen.
  • 1/4 can be calculated as 4 / (4 + 1) = 0.80—There’s a 80% chance that the event will happen.

When Should I Call?

The difference between raising and calling can be thought of as being aggressive or cautious. The act of raising shows confidence and strength against opponents. If you are confident enough and show no signs of bluffing, raising can be used to scare off players during one-on-one situations.

Knowing when to raise is a key skill to learn and be able to properly execute during a game of poker.

Let’s look at an example. You’re at the poker table, and there are odds of 4/1 to win the hand. Deciding whether or not we should call our opponent’s bet really comes down to the amount of money that’s in the pot.

Closeup of Cards Spread Out on a Poker Table

That doesn’t mean if the pot is crazy full of cash that you should just go for it. What matters is the ratio of money that you could win compared to the size of your opponents bet.

So let’s say there’s $90 in the pot, and your opponent bets $10. With simple math, we know that makes $100 total in the middle of the table. You need to match you opponents bet in order to see the next card, so we can say that it will cost $10 to see if the next card will be the one that you’re going to need to win.

In any poker game, to stay in the game, you have to keep up with the amount of money that is being added to the pot by each player. Any time a player raises the bet, you have to match that bet if you want to stay in the game.

Always know that even if you make that call to stay in the game, there’s always a chance that you are going to lose. So going back to the calculated odds example of 4/1, most experts in poker would say that you will lose four times for every time you win.

So it’s important that a player is given the chance to win four times as much as their bet is, so in the long run the player can eventually break even.

Counting Your Outs

So the last key piece of information I will go over is counting your outs. Before you can begin to calculate your poker odds you need to know your “outs.” You’ll also need to understand poker hand rankings forwards and backwards before any of this will fully make sense.

An out is a card that will give you a playable hand. For example, if you are on a flush draw with 4 hearts in your hand, then there will be 9 hearts (outs) remaining in the deck to give you a flush. Remember there are 13 cards in a suit, so this is easily worked out; 13 – 4 = 9.

Be careful not to count outs that will give your opponents a better hand. When counting outs, you will need to first make a guess, hoping it’s a good guess, about what cards your opponent is playing.

The cards that your opponent is holding will greatly impact the number of outs you may or may not have.

Conclusion

This stuff really doesn’t start making sense until you sit down and start playing. It takes a lot of practice to be able to know the probability of what players have in their hands, when you should call, when you should keep betting.

Do you have any tips on poker odds that I left out? Let me know in the comments.

5 NHL Playoff Betting Strategies

NHL PLayer Sidney Crosby

If you’ve never really given hockey a chance, whether as a fan or as a bettor, the playoffs are the perfect place to start.

For those who enjoy the type of betting that baseball provides, learning how to capitalize on the NHL should come naturally. If you’re the type of bettor who typically sticks to baseball and football, don’t worry, betting on hockey isn’t too difficult to learn. In fact, you just might be able to stay away from some unintended biases.

In this article, I’ll lay out what the top considerations should be when betting on the NHL playoffs that can help you have a little extra in your bankroll come June.

1 – Follow the Losing Team

Once you get to the playoffs, it’s safe to assume that all teams are a bit more equal in talent. One way to interpret this fact is that it’s less likely for teams to lose several games in a row. This particular tip involves not only this philosophy, but also has a bit of a “fade the public” angle as well.

The concept follows that when a team wins, the public gets an inherently biased opinion of the winning team. They feel as if they’ve proved they’re a better team and will bet accordingly. As nearly all sports gamblers know, when the public is leaning one way, it can be advantageous to go the other way.

This theory has some real thought and consideration behind it. For one, it’s true that good teams are less likely to lose two in a row. Additionally, the motivation factor can kick in, as there’s no substitute for fighting to stay in the playoffs.

While it’s an easy way to come to a conclusion if you’re looking to make a hasty bet, it’s probably not the best method to use. If you’re going to bet on a team simply because they lost the previous game, make sure that the odds are heavily in your favor.

If you’re the type that feels like you need some sort of actual numerical evidence in place to make a bet (never a bad philosophy), there’s one piece of data that supports betting on a team that just lost.

Although it isn’t a very common occurrence, sometimes a team will win by three or more goals in a playoff game. In the following game, the team that lost by three or more has an outstanding record of 56-38 from 2015 to 2019.

Again, the public is likely to overreact if a team gets beat badly, and this can present a great opportunity to take advantage of the value that will be presented.

2 – Look for Potential Sweeps

This tip revolves around somewhat of the same rationale as the previous one. Most notably, it takes into account how unlikely it is for one good team to completely dominate another good team, especially when a chance at the Stanley Cup is on the line.

The big difference in the sweep scenario is that there’s a little bit more hard evidence to suggest the data is on your side. For example, since 2005, if a team is down 3-0 in the series, they have gone on to win game four 55.5% of the time. The actual record of the team down 3-0 is 25-20.

NHL Player Elias Petterrson

This data gets even more convincing when you factor in the location of Game 4. Teams who are down 3-0 and are playing Game 4 at home have won at a 58.8% clip.

One attractive aspect of placing a bet on a team that is playing to avoid a sweep is that you’re likely going to get good odds on the moneyline. It stands to reason that sportsbooks will make the team that’s down 3-0 the underdog, which elevates the value of taking them on the moneyline.

3 – Goaltending

The most important position, especially in the playoffs when every goal is critical, is goaltender. To make a comparison, think of an MLB team who is able to start the same ace pitcher each game. It’s going to make a major difference. (Okay, it’s not 100% the same, but let it go for this analogy.)

Having a good goalie doesn’t just help a team on the defensive end, but it also allows them to take more risks offensively, which can lead to more scoring. In short, it’s really important for a team to feel like they can trust their goaltender.

When it comes to evaluating the goalie matchup, there are a range of factors to consider before determining which team has the edge.

Factors to Evaluating the Goaltending Matchup

  • Experience – The playoffs are high-stakes and the opponents are always good. These are two major differences from the regular season. It’s important to note that there’s no substitute for experience. If all else seems equal between the goaltenders, the one with more experience should be considered to have the edge.
  • Hot or cold – It’s hard to fully explain why, but goaltenders can go through streaks of significant better or worse play. If you’re able to find a matchup where a goalie has been extremely hot as of late, ride the streak and bet on them until they lose.

One way to really take advantage of a high-value bet is to find underdogs with a hot goalie. Any time you can spot a game with an underdog and a goalie riding a streak of good performances, jump all over the odds on the moneyline.

4 – Look at the Advanced Metrics

In today’s world of sports betting, more numbers and data are available than ever before. It can seem a bit overwhelming, and sometimes useless, but if you look at the right metrics, you can use it to your advantage.

In a lower-scoring sport like hockey, there are several numbers to look at that go beyond just goals scored or goals allowed. For example, statistics are now available that allow you to see a team’s “quality” of shots taken and shots given up. These can help you determine if a final score is reliable, or if it’s more the result of a few lucky bounces.

NHL Player Skating on the Ice

In addition, each player on a team should have numbers that are specific to their individual performance and impact they have on the outcome of a game. This can help you evaluate the importance of an injury that takes a player out of a game or series completely, or limits their effectiveness.

I won’t list out all of the advanced metrics you can use to help make sense of a matchup because the list is extensive. With that being said, if you’re serious about making money betting on hockey, I’d recommend getting familiar with the more notable pieces of data.

5 – Consider All Plays

The most common type of bet on a hockey game is the moneyline, but that isn’t the only option.

If you don’t feel like the value presented on the moneyline is up to your standards, take a look at the puck line. The puck line functions just like a spread, taking a team to win or lose by a certain margin. Obviously, there is an increased risk with this type of play, but the way the odds will shift can be extremely enticing.

The puck line isn’t the only alternative to the standard moneyline bet on the final score. Try out betting on individual periods to break the game down into smaller segments. You might be surprised to find that some teams actually perform wildly differently throughout the course of a game.

Conclusion

Regardless of your experience level in betting hockey, I can’t recommend betting on the NHL Playoffs enough. The excitement of the game has a real chance to win you over as a fan, and if you do your research and avoid mistakes, it could also win you some money.

2 Productivity Tools for Online Poker Players

Fan of Playing Cards With Tools in Background

Most people nowadays depend on the internet to work (at least to a certain extent). Still, only a few of those people seem to be present to the need of being mindful of the time they spend online.

That’s curious, because everyone knows how easy it is to lose track of time when you’re surfing the web or playing with some app.

Online poker players are not immune to this syndrome. Especially because many of them don’t even know what it’s like to live in a world without the internet. That’s why, to minimize the harms of spending too many hours online, willpower is not enough.

Often, you need some kind of external help too.

Recognizing the State We’re In

Are things that serious? In one word, yes. Particularly in the world of social media, which is where many people spend most of their time online.

One guy who’s been doing a great job in warning us about this issue is Tristan Harris. You can say that he knows what he’s talking about, since he used to be the design ethicist at Google. (Honestly, I was surprised to know there was such a job as a design ethicist. But let’s keep going.)

According to Harris, social media websites and apps have been using a variety of tactics to keep users engaged. And the designers behind those services have learned quite a lot from… slot machines.

Here, our specialist is cultural anthropologist Natasha Dow Schüll, author of a book called Addiction by Design. She was the first interviewee of the podcast Your Undivided Attention, hosted by Harris and Aza Raskin.

In that interview, Natasha reveals how casinos manage to make slot machines so entrancing. It’s a combination of four components: solitude; fast feedback; random rewards; and continuity with no resolution.

Row of Slot Machines

It was only natural that Natasha’s research would call Harris’ attention. After all, many websites and apps operate under the same principles. Take, for example, the logic behind newsfeed updates. Sometimes they bring you interesting stuff; others, nothing at all.

That’s the principle of random rewards in operation. If you always knew what you’d get with every scroll down, these updates wouldn’t be so interesting in the first place.

Speaking of which, what’s the movement your thumb makes when you’re checking newsfeeds on your smartphone? That’s right. You scroll it down the screen.

Isn’t that also very similar to pulling the lever on older slot machines? Indeed, it’s ironic that one of the hosts of Your Undivided Attention, Aza Raskin, is actually the guy who invented the infinite scroll.

It’s understandable that he didn’t know the monster it’d turn out to be. And his is the best definition I’ve ever heard of what happens when you’re caught at the mercy of those scrolls. It’s a feeling of “full but empty depletion”.

What to Do About It

It’s not uncommon for professional poker players to have computers only to play poker. That’s, by far, your best strategy.

But maybe it’s a possibility that’s beyond your means at the moment. Still, there’s nothing preventing you from at least making use of certain productivity tools.

They will serve you 2 basic purposes. One is that they’ll raise your level of awareness in regards to how you spend your time. That’s a great thing in itself. But that’s not enough, because you’ll also need to exercise some form of self-regulation.

And that’s why you must also set some restrictions for yourself.

Choose Your Weapons

When it comes to online productivity tools, there are quite a few options out there. I encourage you to do some searches and see which tools work best for you.

For one reason, because most of them are free. Also, because I admit that I myself haven’t tested all the options I’ve come across.

Still, I’m confident that the tools I do use could make a difference in most people’s lives.

Especially my 2 favorite ones.

Productivity Tool #1: RescueTime

RescueTime is amazing.

Its main function is to keep track of everything you do on your computer (and also on your smartphone) while online. (And also offline, if you choose RescueTime Premium.)

From there, it categorizes each activity, and all of them combined give you your productivity score for a certain period of time. So, as you can see, it’s a great way for you to raise your level of awareness.

And it’s likely that, at first, you’ll be shocked at how much time you spent on social media on a given day. For me, though, the greatest benefit of using RescueTime has come from its continuous use.

Image of Social Media Icons on a Phone

Especially the e-mail reports they send me with my weekly productivity score. That weekly analysis is so precious because it has allowed me to see for myself something that different financial experts like to say.

It’s about what it’s often called one’s internal financial thermostat. The idea itself is nothing new. But I suppose that the guy who first coined this term was T. Harv Eker, in his book Secrets of the Millionaire Mind.

What Eker and other financial experts say is that you always manage to earn more or less the same amount of money over a month, a year, etc. And that will happen regardless of the current state of the economy in your locality, or your industry.

Because it’s all about how much money you allow yourself to make and to keep. But why am I talking about finances in the first place? Well, as you might’ve guessed by now, the same thing happens to your productivity.

You do have a productivity thermostat, whether you’re aware of it or not. And our tool #1 here can be your ally on the journey towards raising it.

RescueTime does that, as I’ve said, mostly by raising your level of awareness. In fact, it also allows you to block certain websites for a period of time. But only as a paid feature.

Which brings me to the second tool I’d like to recommend.

Productivity Tool #2: StayFocusd

Once you know how you spend your time online, it’s time to know what to do about it.

And it’s here that blocking websites may become a necessary measure. (Especially in the beginning.) But that would be an oversimplification of what StayFocusd allows you to do.

Yes, one of the functions of this Google Chrome extension is to block all/some websites for a certain period of time. (This is what they call the “Nuclear” option.) But its most important function is a little more subtle.

StayFocusd allows you to predetermine how long per day it’d be acceptable for you to be on the websites on your Blocked Sites list.

It’s only after reaching that limit that those websites get blocked. And even then, you also have an interesting option: you can unblock certain pages.

For example, maybe there’s a particular video on YouTube which would be helpful for you. In this case, it would make sense to make an exception for that video’s page.

Of course, for this to work, you must be honest with yourself. The question then becomes: Is it really worth it to make that exception?

As you see, StayFocusd offers you a lot of flexibility. But this will only be useful if you’re wise about it. In any case, you can take baby steps if you wish. You may gradually decrease your daily quota of maximum time allowed on blocked sites.

That may be painful at first. But I assure you it will do wonders for your productivity thermostat in the long run.

Bonus Tool: DF Tube

The 2 tools I’ve mentioned are by far the most relevant I’ve seen.

But there’s another I’d like to suggest, which is specifically designed for YouTube. Its name is DF Tube, aka Distraction Free for YouTube.

It serves 1 basic function: to disable pretty much everything there. Except, of course, that video you happen to be watching. Because, even if you use StayFocusd to only allow a certain page on YouTube, there’s still a lot there to catch your attention.

You have the comments, the recommended videos… To sum up, everything that makes YouTube a social media website. But, if you’re serious about your productivity, those types of features must be seen at least with a certain dose of reservation.

Let’s face it. All you need to do on YouTube is to watch that particular video you intended to. Anything else can be disabled with a single click. And, most of the time, it should.

Conclusion

As I said earlier, there are many other productivity tools you can find online. But the most important thing to have in mind is your approach towards them.

It’s cool to rely on their most extreme functions if you want to reach a short-term goal that is challenging. But, the way I see it, you should also have the goal of improving your productivity thermostat over time.

That’s how difficult things become easier for you. And that’s how you earn the right to be called something more than a recreational poker player.

Why Mobile Gambling Growth Is Poised to Get Even Bigger

Colors Bursting out of a Smartphone With Roulette and Casino Chip Background

Personal computers and Macs once dominated the online gambling world. However, smartphones and tablets have become the tool of choice for internet gamblers today.

Mobile devices represent the most-convenient way to enjoy online games, poker, and sports betting. Furthermore, they now offer a very user-friendly experience.

You may be surprised to know, though, that mobile gambling is set to get even bigger in the near future. I’ll begin this discussion by going over how mobile gaming got to this point and what will make it even more popular.

The Humble History of Mobile Gambling

Up until the mid-2000s, people could only use their PC or Mac to gamble online. However, the increasing use of cellphones at this point gave players another option.

Of course, the average person was still happy to use their laptop or desktop over a mobile phone back then. Computers still offered a far superior gambling experience in these days.

Improving phone technology eventually made mobile gambling more appealing. But the phones of yesteryear still didn’t offer the type of casino/poker graphics or utility as PCs.

The now-defunct BlackBerry was the gold standard for mobile devices in the mid-2000s. The problem, though, is that it was geared towards businesses and not consumers.

Larger online casinos, poker sites, and sportsbooks offered BlackBerry apps. However, they didn’t get the same huge mobile crowd that’s present nowadays.

When Did Mobile Gambling Become Popular?

In 2007, Apple launched the first iPhone. This moment was revolutionary not only for mobile gambling’s future, but also for internet usage abroad.

By this point, consumers didn’t realize how user-friendly a smartphone could be. They also couldn’t have predicted just how much smartphones would impact their lives.

IPhone passed BlackBerry’s sales within just a few years of being launched. Apple’s regular release of updated iPhones helped their devices stay relevant and surpass BlackBerries in every way.

Android devices, including the Samsung Galaxy, have collectively become even more popular than Apple’s iOS-based devices. Now, Android and iOS (Apple) devices comprise nearly 100% of the mobile gambling market.

They give people the ability to wager with crystal-clear graphics. Smartphones also provide capabilities that impact people’s lives far beyond just gambling.

Smartphone Owners Will Increase Greatly in the Coming Years

The vast majority of people now gamble through their Android, iPhone, or iPad versus a Mac/PC. Again, they appreciate the convenience that mobile devices offer over computers.

But as popular as mobile gaming is now, it’s only going to get even bigger within the next few years. Data from Newzoo shows that the number of smartphone users will surpass 3.8 billion by 2021.

The amount of smartphone users hit 3 billion in 2018. According to Newzoo statistics, this number is increasing at a rate of approximately 270 million people each year.

Closeup of Woman Using a Smartphone

Even when 3.8 billion people have a smartphone, though, this statistic leaves out another 4 billion. This leaves plenty of room for growth in the future.

Another interesting stat from Newzoo shows that gamblers comprised 76% ($69.9 billion) of the $92.1 billion dollars spent on gambling apps in 2018. The research firm predicts that this number will increase to $106.4 billion by 2021.

Other Reasons Why Smartphone Gambling Will Grow

The number of new phone owners by 2021 provides major reason to be optimistic about mobile gambling in the future. Here are more reasons why this sector figures to get even bigger within the coming years.

Sites Will Continue Focusing More on Mobile Players

Gambling sites didn’t have much reason to focus on mobile players up until 2010. The iPhone was still in its early years at this point, and the Blackberry was mostly a business device.

That said, gambling sites have only been catering to mobile players for the past decade. Now that the majority of people wager through their smartphones and tablets, sites will only increase their focus on mobile players.

They won’t completely forget Mac and PC users, but they fully realize that the biggest piece of the pie lies in the mobile department.

Nearly Half the World Still Doesn’t Have a Smartphone

At the time of this writing, approximately 3.5 billion people own a smartphone. This amount doesn’t even represent half of the world!

Newzoo forecasts that 3.8 billion people will have a smartphone by the end of next year. This figure still leaves half the world without a phone.

That said, the number of smartphone owners will see a steady rise into the foreseeable future. Online gambling will definitely benefit from this increase.

Mobile Gaming Capabilities Will Only Improve

Internet casinos, poker rooms, and betting sites have done an excellent job of adapting to the mobile world. They’ve improved graphics and website navigation for smartphone and tablet users.

Again, though, they’ve only been focusing on this crowd for a decade. The gambling industry will continue improving its mobile experience to appease the greatest crowd.

You can expect a fine-tuned smartphone gambling experience that will fully optimize casino/poker graphics and the sports betting experience

PC Market Keeps Declining

Computers still have a place in the world of modern technology. However, their appeal has dropped greatly over the past several years.

Most people now carry out most of their online functions through a smartphone. Some of the same crowd saves money by not buying a PC.

Of course, a computer offers a bigger screen for gambling purposes. But the average person is willing to sacrifice screen size for a more-convenient, all-in-one device.

How to Enjoy Smartphone Gambling to the Fullest

If you’re an online gambler, the chances are great that you’re already betting through a smartphone or tablet. But you can take your experience even further with the following tips.

Look for Gambling Sites with Lots of Variety

The internet gambling world features thousands of sites. You’ll find countless casinos, sportsbooks, and poker rooms across the net.

But not all of these sites offer a great degree of variety. Some only feature the basics in comparison to the industry.

For example, an online casino that only has around 100 slots and a dozen table games is nothing special. But you can find the best online casinos that feature well over 1,000 slots and 100+ table games (including live dealer games).

This type of variety ensures that you don’t waste time when registering and depositing with such a gambling site. In fact, you may never need to leave a site like this!

Choose an Operator with Simple Navigation

Most mobile gambling sites ensure that their navigation is simple and self-explanatory. After all, they don’t want you bouncing off the homepage right away

Unfortunately, not every operator follows this near-universal rule. Some include too many promotions on their front page and/or an exotic navigation process that provides more confusion than anything.

Person Playing Roulette on a Smartphone

I recommend spending at least five minutes on any gambling site you’re considering. This small time investment foreshadows how easily you’ll find your way around.

Get a Bonus

If you’re going to gamble online, you might as well get a bonus in the process. Luckily, the vast majority of sites offer some sort of welcome bonus.

For example, many mobile sportsbooks give you a free bet. This deal provides you a chance to win back losses when/if you lose your first wager.

Casino and poker sites offer deposit bonuses. A deposit bonus matches a percentage of your deposit amount (e.g. 100% up to $500).

Of course, you shouldn’t just stop at the welcome offer. You also want a gaming site that features regular promotions and gives you more chances to earn free cash.

Buy the Latest Smartphone

I’m not trying to push you to run out and spend $700 on an iPhone 11.  If you have the money, though, you can upgrade your gambling experience along with your phone.

An updated iPhone or Samsung Galaxy brings more to the table in terms of gaming graphics and everyday use. That said, you’ll not only be improving you’re gambling sessions but also everything else you do.

Conclusion

Mobile gambling may already seem big enough when considering that people collectively bet nearly $70 billion annually a year on this industry. However, it’s only going to grow as more people across the world get smartphones.

As mentioned earlier, Newzoo predicts that $106 billion will be wagered through mobile gambling sites by the end of 2021.

I have no idea exactly how this staggering growth will impact the mobile gambling world. My guess, though, is that you can continue looking forward to great bonuses and an even larger variety of casino games and sports betting markets.

Card Counting Basics for Beginners

Blackjack Hand With Money and Numbers in Background

Before we get down and dirty, you should know that it’s not recommended that you count cards. Though it’s not illegal, it can get you in a world of trouble at major casinos and if you’re thinking of counting in a friendly game, then you’re not really playing with friends, are you?

Now that’s out of the way, and we can get to the fun stuff. After watching Rainman as a child, I became fascinated with card counting. It seems like magic when it’s possible to predict what card will come up next in an exciting game of chance like blackjack.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need unusual mental abilities to count cards. There is no memorization or tracking of cards. The strategies we’re going to cover here apply to blackjack, though it’s possible to count in other card games as well. It’s imperative that you first learn blackjack strategy.

House Edge

The house edge is inevitable. This term is used to describe the mathematical advantage that a game has over you as you play, ensuring a statistical return to the venue over time.

Unless you’ve got a group of good Samaritans opening a casino with the desire to give a fortune over to players and be bankrupt in a matter of minutes after opening, the investors are going to look at the brass tacks before allowing a game to be run in their operation.

The house edge for blackjack varies based on the variant you’re playing. A single deck classic blackjack game that allows you to double down when holding value of 9-11 and forces the dealer to stand on a soft 17 will give you the lowest house edge (down to .13% when playing with perfect strategy—meaning the house gets a minute $.13 return on a wager of $100).

Counting cards significantly reduces the house edge, regardless of the variant being played.

Tens to Triumph

The most common variants of counting cards in blackjack are based on the statistical evidence that high cards give a better edge to the player than the dealer, while low cards benefit the dealer and hurt the player.

A denser concentration of high cards is beneficial because: it increases your chances of hitting a natural blackjack (player payout 3:2), doubling down on additional hands can increase expected profit (dealers can’t double), it provides additional splitting opportunities for the player (no dealer splits), and a high enough concentration of 10’s can make insurance bets more profitable (increasing probability of dealer blackjack).

Closeup of Multiple Blackjack Hands

On the other side of the coin, low cards benefit the dealer because according to blackjack rules, a dealer must hit stiff hands (12-16) and low cards are safer in these common hands. The most common card to come up is the 10 (there are a total of 16 cards valued at ten in a deck of 52-30. 77% of the cards laid down are 10’s), so if the dealer has a stiff hand & gets a 10, they will bust, making this card essential to track when counting.

Brass Tacks

Instead of memorizing and tracking each card you see, you’re merely assigning a point value to each card you see that estimates the card’s value, and then track the sum of the values. This is called keeping a running count.

The designers of the systems have done the leg work, and all you have to do is keep track of the running count, betting when the count is up to a certain value.

The basic systems assign positive, negative, or zero values to each card value available. As each card comes up, you adjust the count based on the value assigned to that card. Low cards increase the count as they increase the percentage of high cards remaining in the set of cards, and high cards decrease the value for the opposite reason.

The goal here is to assign point values to roughly correlate to a card’s Effect of Removal (EOR). The EOR is the estimated effect of removing a given card from play, and the resulting impact on the house advantage.

Gauging the effect of the cards removed from the deck (dealt) helps the player assess the current house advantage of the game based on the cards remaining. To increase efficiency, larger ratios between point values are used to create better correlation to the effect of removal.

These systems use more and different numbers and are placed into classes (such as level 1, 2, and 3), with the higher ranked levels being more complicated, thus assisting in more accurate predictions of what card value is likely to appear next.

Count Levels

Level 1 counts never increase or decrease the running count by more than a single, predetermined value. Level 2 counts increase or decrease the running count by two different predetermined values, and level 3 counts increase or decrease the running count by three different predetermined values.

The multilevel counts (2 and 3) make finer distinctions between card values to gain greater play accuracy. Instead of assigning the single plus 1, minus 1, or zero (such as Hi Lo listed below), the multilevel may also assign plus 2 and minus 2 (making it a level 2 count).

A level three count may assign a plus 1, minus 1, and zero, as well as a plus .5, minus .5, AND plus 1.5, minus 1.5. As you can see this stands to make things exponentially more complicated.

While you may get a better read on the next likely card to be dealt, you will be playing much slower until you can get the hang of the system. The additional information may detract from your ability to play quickly and accurately. Some card counters will fare better by playing a simple count quickly (more hands per hour) than by playing a complex count slowly. Practice makes perfect.

Hi Lo

Hi Lo is a level 1 count. The Hi-Lo system subtracts one for each 10, ace, or face card that comes up, and adds one for any card 2-6; 7-9 are assigned a value of zero, thereby causing the count to remain the same. While this seems simple enough, it can be a little mind boggling to process.

Begin your running count when a new deck is used. Your running count will begin at zero. As you get more accustomed to counting you will need to incorporate the true count. The true count is calculated by taking the running count and dividing it by the number of decks remaining to play. As an example, if the running count is plus 6 and 3 decks remain, your true count will be plus 2.

An estimation will work as you become acclimated to calculating your true count. It is imperative for you to utilize these steps in order to get the best outcome, however the true count only needs to be calculated in borderline cases. Usually the right play will be obvious.

Blackjack Table and View of Casino

The greater the true count, the higher you should bet. This is the point where card counting strays from the cold hard facts and you need to implement a little finesse. Books exist with rigid rules, but casino managers have read these books and this behavior sets off red flags. As you become more experienced, you’ll develop your own style, so use it when the heat is up.

Developing a limited bet spread is helpful keeping the heat down. This is a ratio of maximum bet to minimum bet. Only increase bets after a win, only decreasing after a loss, and staying the same after a push will make play look more natural, affecting profitability; keep in mind though that your profitability will go down to 0% if you throw up too many red flags and get the boot from the casino. Play it smart and play it cool.

Rather than using basic strategy, some hands will require you to play according to the True Count we discussed and a table of index numbers.

Practice, Practice, Practice

In order to calculate how many decks remain so that you can get your true count, you’ll need to get to know what a stack of 6 decks looks like, then as it begins to dwindle to 5, then 4, then 3, knowing by sight is important to calculate your true count. This is crucial. I would practice first by watching the movie 21. It’s pretty enjoyable, and after reading this post, you’ll be able to gather some ideas on how to hone your skills.

Conclusion

Don’t worry about why it works. Give it a shot with a deck you have at home. So that you can get the hang of it, try laying down fifteen cards and then see what your count is. If it’s a high count, that means the deck is HOT and you can predict a card value of ten or an ace is likely to come up. Oppositely, if the count is low, you can assume you’re going to get a lower valued card.

Have some expertise to add or a suggestion for something you’d like to see here? Please comment below and let us know. Play it cool with finesse, sharks and whales. Good luck!

7 Awful Poker Movies Everybody Wishes They Could Unsee

Woman Covering Her Eyes Poker With Poker Table Background

Over two decades after its release, Rounders is still the paradigm of poker movies. Thanks to a star-studded cast (Matt Damon, Edward Norton, John Malkovich) and gritty story, this film about underground poker still resonates with players today.

Unfortunately, not every poker movie can be Rounders. In fact, not a single one has even come close to this 1998 film.

Some of these movies are just downright bad too. The post-poker boom era (2007 & beyond) especially brought a slew of awful poker films.

My apologies if you’ve seen any of the following seven movies. Assuming you’ve been lucky enough not to see any of them, then steer clear!

1 – Deal (2008)

Deal is about a law student named Alex Stillman (Bret Harrison) who moonlights as an amateur poker player. After a runner-up finish in a televised online tournament, Stillman catches the eye of retired pro Tommy Vinson (Burt Reynolds).

What ensues is a cliché story about a grizzled vet teaching the young pup how to become a champ. Vinson is of course forced to teach the kid, rather than playing himself, because he’s vowed never to play poker again after almost losing everything.

This movie falls into the same trap as the majority of poker films in focusing too much on physical tells. It also features an awkward plot involving Stillman’s pursuit of Michelle, a prostitute (revealed later) who’s played by real-life poker enthusiast Shannon Elizabeth.

Screenshot From the Movie Deal (2008)

Stillman and Vinson meet heads up (surprise, surprise) to decide a World Poker Tour event. The latter is a typical Hollywood ending that highlights this film’s overly predictable nature.

2 – Runner Runner (2013)

Runner Runner seemingly had potential when considering that it was developed by Rounders writers David Levien and Brian Koppelman. However, it’s anything but Rounders.

Justin Timberlake stars as Richie Furst, a former Wall Streeter who’s trying to earn tuition money for a Princeton master’s degree.

He ends up losing all of his money through an online poker cheating plot that would make Russ Hamilton proud. Furst travels to Costa Rica to confront internet gambling mogul Ivan Block (Ben Affleck), who owns the site in question.

Richie presents hard evidence in the form of statistics and Block is convinced enough to fire those who orchestrated the cheating plot.

Okay setup so far. However, the movie begins devolving as soon as Block offers to pay Furst millions to work for him in Costa Rica. This leads to a lame thriller plotline that overshadows any remnants of the beginning poker scenes.

Basically, this movie is merely about adding a complex cat-and-mouse story — where Furst and Block each attempt to get one another busted — to real-life disasters in UB and Absolute Poker.

3 – The Grand (2007)

On the surface, The Grand seems like it would be a great film. The cast alone (Dennis Farina, Woody Harrelson, Cheryl Hines, Ray Romano) suggest that there’s some quality acting afoot.

This movie also sees former poker pro Phil Gordon provide commentary on poker fundamentals.

Harrelson reprises a Kinpin-esque role as Jack Faro, a recovering drug addict who enters a big poker tournament.

Faro needs to win the $10 million top prize to keep his family’s struggling casino afloat. He competes against a bunch of other players who satellited into the event in hopes of becoming the next Chris Moneymaker.

The biggest problem with The Grand is that the actors ab lib too many scenes. Eventually, the movie feels like a glorified improv class.

Of course, the actors didn’t have much choice when considering that director Zak Penn (X-Men: The Last Stand) failed to provide a detailed script.

Perhaps Penn learned a lesson for his future X-Men hit: get a script that actually has lines.

4 – All-In (2006)

This poker movie takes a different approach by featuring a female lead. Dominique Swain stars as “Ace”…okay, you can probably already tell from this tidbit alone that All-In is bad.

Boasting the most-unimaginative poker nickname ever, Alicia “Ace” Anderson is a medical student who plays poker to cover her tuition. Her father (Michael Madsen) taught her the game as a child. What ensues is a series of Ace’s follies and triumphs in trying to cover her massive school debts.

All-In features too much of an E.R. vibe for a poker film. Outside of Swain, the cast is mostly horrible and makes this movie feel like a teen drama.

5 – Lucky You (2007)

Lucky You is one of many poker flicks about a tortured soul with a complicated past who needs a big win.

Huck Cheever (Eric Bana) is the tortured soul in this case. He’s a talented young poker player who must overcome his estranged father, L.C. Cheever (Robert Duvall), in the WSOP Main Event.

Huck also gets romantically involved with singer Billie Offer (Drew Barrymore). This love story takes a weird twist when Huck steals money out of her purse while she’s sleeping to cover his Main Event entry.

Screenshot From the Movie Lucky You (2007).

In the end, both the romantic tale and WSOP plotline blend into another poker cliché. Furthermore, Bana is too listless in the lead role to make anybody care about his past or present.

6 – Casino Royale (2006)

Casino Royale isn’t technically a poker film. However, this James Bond movie attempted to ride the poker boom with a $10 million entry Texas hold’em tournament.

The jest is that Bond (Daniel Craig) must win the tourney to keep Le Chiffre, an evil accountant of all things, from winning the $100 million prize. The highlight, or lowlight if you will, is a final hand that boasts a flush, two full houses, and a straight flush.

If you’re going to do a final hand, you might as well make it so ridiculously impossible that even general audiences can tell it’s Hollywood fakery.

7 – High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story (2003)

The late Stu Ungar is arguably the greatest poker player of all time. Sadly, his memory isn’t honored through High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story.

The biopic begins with Ungar (Michael Imperioli) telling his story on the day he died. Flashbacks ensue to his gambling career, including gin tournaments, poker games, and sports betting.

High Roller goes through the highs (winning three WSOP Main Events) and lows (divorce, cocaine abuse) of his life.

In the end, we get too much generic drama and not enough about the genius gambler himself. Mix in plenty of poor acting and you have yet another dud poker film.

Conclusion

In the 20+ years since Rounders, Hollywood has managed to ruin most poker films. They especially had a tainted run in the mid and late 2000s just after the poker boom.

Why is it that Tinseltown just can’t seem to get poker right? Will anybody ever make another decent movie that offers a realistic portrayal of poker, rather than straight flushes and father-vs-son battles in the WSOP Main Event?

These questions don’t seem to have answers right now. Maybe a studio will eventually take up the cause and make a winning poker film.

However, the game isn’t as hot as it was during the boom years. So, studios have cooled off rom making these types of movies.

I can’t say I’m disappointed after going through this list. I’d rather re-watch Rounders another 20 times than see another one of these monstrosities released.

What Are Reel Adventure Slots?

Slots Logo Image With Slots Background

Innovation keeps online slots fresh and relevant. Developers try new ideas and features to find the next big thing that players like.

Big Time Gaming (BTG) has done a better job at innovating than any developer in recent years. They’ve produced the Megaways engine and continue to reap the rewards of this invention.

In addition to Megaways, BTG has also produced the Reel Adventure concept. The latter combines Megaways slots with storytelling elements to create a truly revolutionary slots concept.

If you’ve never heard of Reel Adventure, then you can find out more about it here. You’ll also learn about the pros and cons to this idea and if it has a bright future in slots.

How Do Reel Adventure Slots Work?

A Reel Adventure slot features a small window underneath the reels. This window shows an adventure unfold when you play the game.

As you pick up wins, your adventurer will advance and collect items. These items help you level up and have chances at better prizes.

Once you collect enough items, you’ll have one of two options:

  • Take the currently offered bonus and go back to the beginning of Level 1 afterward.
  • Forgo the bonus and advance to the next level.

These choices force you to decide between taking short-term winnings or playing for bigger prizes down the line. Assuming you choose the latter, then you’re dealing with more volatility by waiting on bigger bonuses.

Most importantly, Reel Adventure slots include a story aspect that just isn’t available in most regular slot machines. The closest concept we’ve seen to BTG’s Reel Adventure is Rival Gaming’s I-Slots.

These games also tell a story as you keep playing a slot and triggering bonuses. However, I-Slots don’t include as dynamic of animations as the Reel Adventure mechanism.

Holy Diver – The Only Example of a Reel Adventure Slot

The biggest downside to Reel Adventure games is that they don’t exist in great quantity. In fact, BTG’s Holy Diver is the only such game.

Released in 2019, Holy Diver is a six-reel Megaways slot that offers between 64 and 117,649 ways. The vast difference occurs because each reel can hold between two and seven symbols.

The more symbols there are in each reel, the more ways you have to win. If all six reels are holding seven symbols, then you’ll unlock the maximum of 117,649 ways.

Megaways slots like these are nothing new. BTG has been producing these types of games for several years now.

Online Slot Machine Capture

The unique aspect is its Reel Adventure engine. The screen underneath the reels shows a knight advancing down roads and through dungeons as you play.

Every time you spin the reels, the knight moves down the path towards treasure chests. He collects gems and triggers random features by opening the chests.

You can level up after collecting enough gems. Again, you can either choose a bonus at the end of a stage or continue towards the next level.

Here are the different number of ways that you can unlock through the bonuses in each level:

  • Level 1 – Up to 117,649 ways
  • Level 2 – Up to 396,900 ways (2x multiplier)
  • Level 3 – Up to 586,971 ways (3x multiplier)

You might wish to get as many bonuses as possible by always accepting the feature at the end of Level 1. Or, you can hold out and go for bigger prizes in Level 2 or Level 3.

Will More Reel Adventure Slots Become Available?

Big Time Gaming hasn’t released any information about upcoming Reel Adventure games at the time of this post. Therefore, I can’t definitively say whether they will or won’t produce more of these slots.

But Holy Diver has been a hit ever since its release. Both critics and players enjoy its detailed adventure themes and many other features.

The one thing holding Holy Diver back is that it’s confusing in the beginning. It features a complex help screen that requires some time to understand.

As long as you can get past this, though, then you should enjoy Holy Diver and the Reel Adventure engine.

My guess is that BTG is either working on another Reel Adventure slot or has plans to do so. This concept is the perfect way to take their Megaways format even further.

Pros of Reel Adventure Slot Machines

Holy Diver may be the only available Reel Adventure game. But it has already showcased several benefits that these types of slots can deliver.

Something New for the Slots World

You may be tired of seeing cascading reels, 243 ways, and even Megaways again and again in the gaming world. Reel Adventure offers something fresh that hasn’t been worn out in the slots industry yet.

These games offer even more entertainment beyond the reels. You get to watch an adventure unfold as you play a slot and collect certain items.

In Holy Diver, for example, your knight begins on country roads. He gradually advances into dark dungeons, where he fights deadly warlocks.

Online Slot Machine Capture

I can only imagine that Big Time Gaming will have some other great stories in the works if they continue producing these slots.

Detailed Storyline

Most slot machines have a theme that vaguely tells a story. For example, you might play a fairytale game with symbols that convey a prince trying to rescue a princess.

But few slots actually go through the motions of showing how the story plays out. Instead, you’re left to put the pieces together yourself.

Reel Adventure doesn’t leave anything up to the imagination. Instead, it physically tells the tale as you keep playing.

Offers Lots of Features

This format doesn’t just rely on a good story. It also delivers just as many features as any other type of online slot machines.

For instance, Holy Diver turns regular symbols into wilds, offers stacked wilds, features up to a 7x win multiplier, and delivers free spins. This game also has the Megaways format and gives you the option to level up.

Cons of Reel Adventure Slot Machines

You can see that the Reel Adventure concept offers something totally new that’s not available in other slots. But like any groundbreaking idea, it also carries notable concerns.

Adds More Complexity to Slots

Most slot machines are simple affairs. You adjust your betting options and spin the reels with little time spent learning a game beforehand.

Reel Adventure slots aren’t like this. Instead, you need to invest some time into learning how the features work.

Of course, you can always play without studying the features. However, you’ll also be puzzled as to what’s happening.

You May Spend Lots of Time on the Help Screen

Odds are, you won’t pick up the intricacies of a Reel Adventure slot right away. Personally, I spent over 15-20 minutes figuring out how everything with Holy Diver works.

The challenge is in scrolling through over a dozen pages and determining how leveling up and the various features work. I doubt that future games like this will be any easier to understand.

You Must Wait on Better Bonuses

The downside to pursuing the next level is that you leave bonuses on the table. You increase the volatility every time that you cast off a bonus and advance to the following stage.

Of course, your patience can pay off as you move up and unlock more ways to win. But you’ll find yourself wishing at times that you could simultaneously get free spins and advance a level.

Conclusion

Reel Adventure slots aren’t the first breed to offer a story as you play. However, they’re the first class of slots to combine a detailed story, Megaways, and plenty of features.

BTG may be on to their next hit concept with Reel Adventure. They show what this engine can do through Holy Diver slot.

Holy Diver takes you on an epic quest that involves finding treasure and saving the world from evil warlocks. Along the way, you’ll pick up various bonuses and have the chance to move up levels.

Reel Adventure brings something truly new to the gaming industry. It also presents slots storytelling like never before.

Before you jump at the chance to play these games, you also need to consider the potential downsides.

Reel Adventure increases the complexity of slots, requires you to spend more time with help screens, and causes you to wait on better bonuses.

Even still, the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to giving these slots a chance. This being the case, you should consider giving Holy Diver and any future Reel Adventure games at least one try.

How Many Casinos Are in the World? (Over 9284, by the way.)

Image of the Earth With Dice and Casino Chips Faded in Background

Casinos are one of the most exciting and mystical forms of entertainment around. Players flock to them all around the globe. From the luxurious spa filled resorts of Europe to the smoke filled rows of slot machines in North Carolina. Gamblers roll in by the bus load with cash in hand in hopes of winning big.

Gambling is big business internationally. Almost every country in the world has casinos. With the exception of China, most of the countries without casinos are either predominantly Muslim or are remote island nations without the ability to attract many tourists. The U.S. alone has more casinos within its borders and on Indian reservations than the next ten countries combined.

Of the five most populated countries – China, India, United States, Indonesia, and Brazil – only the U.S. and India have licensed casinos, and there are only a few in India. Obviously, China is a major feeder market for other Asian gambling jurisdictions including the special administrative region of Macau, the Philippines, and South Korea.

Indians with discretionary income take to the internet to gamble, and many Indonesians travel to nearby casinos like Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands in Singapore; Resorts World Genting in Malaysia, or to Entertainment City in Parañaque, Metro Manila where they will find a sort of mini-Macau.

The 5th most populous country in the world, Brazil, seems to be on the verge of passing casino legislation. If it does, expect to see big international players like Las Vegas Sands Corp, MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, Wynn Resorts and even possibly a few big names from Macau throw their hats into the ring for integrated casino resort licenses there.

Who wouldn’t want to add world class casino gambling to their Rio de Janeiro vacation?

Let’s examine region by region how many casinos dot the landscape.

Africa (253)

As the world’s second largest continent, in terms of both landmass and population, assessing the state of gambling in Africa on the whole is a huge undertaking.

After all, the area is home to no less than 54 individual sovereign nations, each operating under its own unique system of governance and rule of law. Among them, countries like Libya and South Africa are about as different as any two places on the planet.

Climate, culture, cuisine, and indeed, the law has developed distinctive qualities in each and every one of Africa’s disparate collection of countries.

Below are a list of countries in Africa with casinos:

  • Algeria (3)
  • Angola (3)
  • Benin (1)
  • Botswana (10)
  • Cameroon (2)
  • Democratic Republic of Congo (2)
  • Djibouti (2)
  • Egypt (26)
  • Equatorial Guinea (8)
  • Gabon (1)
  • Gambia (1)
  • Ghana (7)
  • Ivory Coast (1)
  • Kenya (14)
  • Lesotho (1)
  • Liberia (2)
  • Madagascar (2)
  • Malawi (3)
  • Mali (1)
  • Mauritius (27)
  • Morocco (7)
  • Mozambique (2)
  • Namibia (3)
  • Nigeria (2)
  • Rwanda (1)
  • Sao Tome and Principe (1)
  • Senegal (5)
  • Seychelles (6)
  • South Africa (83)
  • Swaziland (4)
  • Tanzania (4)
  • Tunisia (3)
  • Uganda (4)
  • Zambia (2)
  • Zimbabwe (9)

Asia (328)

Inhabitants of Asia account for more than 60% of the worldwide population so it is predictable that it is currently the largest gambling market in the world. Many gambling games that originated in Asia are now played worldwide.

China is home to a range of different forms of betting such as lotteries, sports markets and slot machines. Some of the forms of betting available are actually illegal with non-approved sites, such as poker, various casino games and sports betting.

Wide Shot of Casinos in Macau

It is no surprise that Asia is the biggest gambling market in the world given the size of the continent, however the laws in regards to gambling do vary from country to country. At present in some countries it is entirely legal to gamble, others ban it entirely.

Whereas it is just heavily regulated in places, such as India, which is seeing a massive growth in online gambling at present, even though gambling is very restricted throughout the country.

Perhaps the most shocking to me were the inclusion of North Korea and Iraq as Asian countries that do have at least 1 casino.

Here’s your breakdown of casinos in Asia:

  • Armenia (5)
  • Bahrain (1)
  • Cambodia (31)
  • China (3)
  • Hong Kong (10)
  • India (23)
  • Iraq (1)
  • Israel (6)
  • Japan (25)
  • Kazakhstan (13)
  • Laos (3)
  • Lebanon (2)
  • Macau (49)
  • Malaysia (5)
  • Myanmar (5)
  • Nepal (12)
  • North Korea (2)
  • Philippines (70)
  • Saudi Arabia (1)
  • Singapore (4)
  • South Korea (23)
  • Sri Lanka (8)
  • Thailand (2)
  • Turkey (9)
  • Turkmenistan (2)
  • United Arab Emirates (4)
  • Vietnam (9)

Europe (3785)

Travelling to Europe is a rite of passage for people from all over the world. The continent consists of 50 countries, each with a rich heritage, national history, and unique relationship to the world of gambling.

From gaming hotspots like Monaco and the French Riviera to lesser known markets like Croatia and Poland, the entirety of Europe is a perfect travel destination for gamblers.

European hospitality sets the standard by which the rest of the world’s tourist trade is judged. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on hotel stays in places like France, England, or Italy. Of course, you may spend that much, especially if you’re interested in opulent amenities at the region’s best casino properties.

The following European countries offer casino gambling:

  • Åland Islands (2)
  • Albania (1)
  • Austria (41)
  • Belarus (39)
  • Belgium (180)
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina (26)
  • Bulgaria (88)
  • Croatia (113)
  • Cyprus (29)
  • Czech Republic (304)
  • Denmark (19)
  • Estonia (56)
  • Finland (128)
  • France (461)
  • Georgia (14)
  • Germany (432)
  • Gibraltar (1)
  • Greece (11)
  • Hungary (11)
  • Ireland (80)
  • Isle of Man (1)
  • Italy (22)
  • Kosovo (1)
  • Latvia (106)
  • Lithuania (130)
  • Luxembourg (1)
  • Macedonia (57)
  • Malta (5)
  • Moldova (4)
  • Monaco (10)
  • Montenegro (5)
  • Netherlands (152)
  • Norway (2)
  • Poland (49)
  • Portugal (11)
  • Romania (50)
  • Russia (92)
  • Serbia (40)
  • Slovakia (42)
  • Slovenia (40)
  • Spain (85)
  • Sweden (50)
  • Switzerland (32)
  • United Kingdom (762)

Caribbean (192)

Whether you have a passion for poker, soft spot for the slots or like the rush of the roulette wheel, you’ll find a winning gaming getaway in the Caribbean.

With beautiful white sand beaches and crystal clear water the Caribbean is already a top shelf  travel destination. The close proximity to the U.S. coupled with all of the other amazing features makes this a hotbed for some great casino action.

These are the island nations that offer casino gambling:

  • Antigua and Barbuda (1)
  • Aruba (12)
  • Bahamas (3)
  • Barbados (11)
  • Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (2)
  • Curaçao (11)
  • Dominican Republic (31)
  • Guadeloupe (3)
  • Jamaica (64)
  • Martinique (3)
  • Puerto Rico (17)
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis (4)
  • Saint Lucia (1)
  • Sint Maarten (13)
  • Trinidad and Tobago (11)
  • Turks and Caicos Islands (1)
  • United States Virgin Islands (4)

Central and South America (568)

I love to bet when I travel overseas. Getting the chance to travel to exotic destinations, relax by a pool or a beach, play against fresh and unlikely competitors sounds like my idyllic vacation trip.

Right now, my eyes are set on Latin America for my next gambling frontier. I cannot wait until I get to visit one or more of the swanky casinos that are at my disposal.

Why Latin America of all places? For starters, the gambling industry in South America has grown at a constant pace and it has become one of the most dazzling gaming destinations for all the travelers that like to have a tropical spin on their casino ventures.

So, without further ado I present where you can settle in to a table:

  • Argentina (172)
  • Belize (6)
  • Brazil (4)
  • Chile (30)
  • Colombia (105)
  • Costa Rica (46)
  • El Salvador (2)
  • Guatemala (5)
  • Guyana (1)
  • Honduras (3)
  • Nicaragua (19)
  • Panama (49)
  • Paraguay (9)
  • Peru (59)
  • Suriname (6)
  • Uruguay (35)
  • Venezuela (17)

Oceania (753)

Australia is a huge country, home to both massive urban centers and remote populations. From beaches to mountains with just about every climate and geography in between, Australia is the sixth largest country in the world, some 4.5 million square miles of diverse landscape and culture.

Exterior of the Crown Melbourne Hotel and Casino

People visit Australia for different reasons. You could make an entire tour of cultural landmarks, another for native sites of interest, and another for diving and watersports.

Gambling is a cultural phenomenon in the Commonwealth. From the rabid popularity of poker machines (slot machines) to dozens of tiny poker rooms, card rooms, and mini casinos in pubs and nightclubs, to the wide availability of Australia’s extremely-popular lottery games, gambling is an integral part of Aussie culture.

While Australia is not the only nation in Oceania that offers casino gambling, it’s clearly the leader:

  • Australia (667)
  • New Caledonia (2)
  • New Zealand (70)
  • Northern Mariana Islands (1)
  • Papua New Guinea (1)
  • Réunion (4)
  • Samoa (2)
  • Solomon Islands (2)
  • Vanuatu (4)

North America (3451)

North America is home to many wonderful casinos. From the beautiful beaches of Mexico to the unique desert landscape of Las Vegas to the lush forests of Canada. Gamblers in North America love their casinos and the wonderful amenities they offer.

Here’s the breakdown of casinos by country:

  • Canada (197)
  • Mexico (365)
  • United States (2889)

Conclusion

You are probably not surprised how popular casinos have become around the world. How close was your guess of how many casinos in the world to the 9,330 covered here?

Casinos have been around for centuries and it’s clear that they will be around for centuries to come. How many of the over 9,000 do you plan to visit?

NFL Grouping Betting System Pros and Cons

NFL Players

I recently read a book titled Secrets of Professional Sports Betting by Michael Kochan. It’s an old book as far as sports betting books go, published in 2008. Most strategies found in older sports betting books don’t work anymore, because the good ones get used by too many people and the sportsbooks make adjustments.

This makes reading old sports betting books questionable in terms of wasting time, but every once in a while I find something I can use when I handicap games. The NFL grouping system caught my eye and I’m going to start using parts of it.

The NFL Grouping System

Here’s how the NFL grouping system works. You divide the NFL teams into four different groups. I explain each of the groups below in more detail. The key to the system is accurately placing teams in groups. As you’re going to see, this can be somewhat challenging.

Once you place teams in groups, Kochan recommends looking for teams playing each other from the same group. You’re looking for two teams that are both in the average group or two teams that are both in the good but not elite group. You ignore games with two elite teams or two terrible teams, and every game between two teams from different groups.

By looking at games with teams from the middle two groups, you’re betting on teams that are fairly evenly matched. The secret of the system at this point is looking for underdogs getting somewhere around seven points. Seven is an important number when you’re betting on football because a touchdown is worth seven with a successful extra point.

The theory is that if you can get six to eight points on one side of a game between two teams from the same group that you have a decent chance to cover. Two teams from the same group should play each other closely most of the time, and it’s not a big upset when the underdog wins.

Picture of an NFL End Zone Play

When you get close to a touchdown in points you also win the bet when the game is close and the underdog loses. On the surface, this seems like a fairly good betting system for the NFL.

The reason why the system ignores teams in the elite and terrible categories is because they’re too unpredictable. Terrible teams are the worst when it comes to predictability, because their performance varies so much from week to week. One week they play just well enough to lose and the next they get blown out.

The same is true for elite teams. One week they play just well enough to win, and the next week they blow someone out. The point is that elite and terrible teams don’t often offer good value lines because of their unpredictability.

Elite Teams

Elite teams are one that should win 12 or more games. These teams are true Super Bowl contenders and are favored in almost every game. They usually have strong quarterback play and a defense that’s good enough to give their quarterback a chance to win every week.

These teams also usually have a good coach and the entire team seems to be on the same page. Elite teams figure out a way to win close games, and don’t ever give up. Sometimes an 11 win team might sneak into this category, but losing five games during the season usually doesn’t scream elite.

Good Teams That Aren’t Elite

Good teams that aren’t elite should win 10 or 11 games during the season, but a nine win team with a tough schedule might also be included in this group. Good teams beat the teams that they’re supposed to. A good team should always beat a terrible team, and will usually lose a close game to an elite team.

When two good teams play each other, the game is usually close, with the home team holding a slight edge.

Average Team

An average team usually wins six to nine games during the season. Average teams are usually either improving, which means they’re getting better for the next season, or they’re a former good team that’s headed down.

A team that wins six games probably belongs in this group if they’re improving for the next season, but a six win team on the decline might belong in the terrible category.

The average record in an NFL season is eight and eight, so teams that win seven, eight, or nine games are average.

Just like good but not elite teams, when two teams from the average group play each other the game is usually close with the home team having a slight edge.

Terrible Teams

Terrible teams are ones that should win five or fewer games during the season. They might be starting a rookie quarterback or a veteran that’s simply not very good. The defense is usually a wreck and the coaching is either inexperienced or simply not good.

These teams are more likely to give up when they get down by a large number of points and often have internal discord that spills out into the media.

Pros of the NFL Grouping System

The main pro of betting on the NFL is that it’s simple. Once you have the teams in the groups, you only look at the games with two teams from the same group, and only if they’re in the good or average groups.

Then you look for games that have a spread where the underdog is getting six to eight points and then bet on the underdog. This sounds simple, but the truth is that you have to do a little more handicapping than this to make this a long term winning system.

I find many of these games don’t offer value on the underdog because of quarterback play on each side of the game and home field advantage. The underdog is usually the road team, and while some road dogs offer value, it’s not as clear cut as this system makes it out to be.

To be fair, the author isn’t making any claims that you should blindly follow the system. He says he looks at these games, not that he bets every one of them. And this is how you need to use this system as well. Use it as a starting point, and use your handicapping skills to pick the best games to bet on.

Cons of the NFL Grouping System

The main problem with the NFL grouping system is the placement of teams in the four categories is somewhat subjective. Do you put a six win team in the terrible group or in the average group? Is the 11 win team in the good or elite group?

You also have to evaluate your groups every week of the season. No one knows for sure which teams are going to be in each group before the season. You can usually make a good guess about the top and bottom teams, but it’s still a guess based on past performance.

It’s also important to adjust the groups based on injuries. An elite team that loses their starting quarterback is no longer elite, but do they fall into the good group or average group? Is a team that’s on a strong run for real or are they going to let down? A team on a losing streak is either worse than you might have predicted or they’re getting ready to break out.

Picture of NFL Player

Another con of the NFL grouping system is that many weeks there aren’t many games to consider. Once you narrow down the games using this system and then handicap the games, you might find that there aren’t any games offering value. Or you might only find one or two games that offer value.

Should You Use the NFL Grouping System?

For a fairly simple NFL betting system, the grouping method has some things to like. I don’t recommend using it as your only system, but if you use it as part of a larger system it can help you make some good bets.

You still have to handicap the games that look promising, but any system that helps you eliminate bad games is worth considering because it saves you time. Any time you can save time you can invest it in more profitable opportunities.

I’m planning to use this system in combination with the way I handicap looking for underdogs that offer value. Before I read about this system I hadn’t thought about eliminating games with elite and terrible teams the same way I do now.

Conclusion

Overall, I like the NFL grouping system. It’s not a perfect system, but the truth is that a perfect system doesn’t exist. If you can get your groups right, this system does a good job of narrowing your profitable betting opportunities down. This is valuable, because it gives you more time to spend handicapping promising games.

4 Horrible Mistakes You’re Making at the Poker Table

Man Holding Hands Over Face With Poker Cards and Laptop Backgound

Poker is probably the most well-known card game after blackjack. It’s so well known that it appears over and over in movies and TV. Its pop culture status is unlikely to be diminished any time soon (especially now that poker tournaments have been televised for decades), which means that new players are always going to catch the poker bug and make their way to the tables.

Keep in mind though that you can play poker online as well. You don’t always have to play in person. I think this is one of the biggest mistakes that a lot of new poker players make. They go right for the tables and don’t even consider spending some time online first honing their skills.

Apart from this, there are a few other mistakes that poker players make. And it’s not just beginners. Some experience gamblers do it, too. Keep reading below for the four common mistakes you may be making at the poker table.

1 – You’re Practicing at the Tables Instead of Online

When you play online, you have a huge number of advantages over playing in person.

First, you don’t have all the distractions of a casino. Casinos have lights and sounds, they have people shoving free drinks in your hand, and they have other players who are trying their best to beat you. There are other patrons talking too much, trying to throw you off your game, actively being hostile or rude, or try more subtle actions, like staring you down during a hand. To top it off, casinos are designed to keep you confused about what time it is and where you even are in the casino itself.

All of this combines to overwhelm new players who may even still struggle to remember which hands are which. What I think is most important when it comes to poker is getting the basics down to the point that you feel confident in each play. You don’t have to think about how your hand ranks, and you don’t have to try to remember the rules of betting. You flow through it like a professional and know instantly how you stand when the cards are dealt.

So, this is probably one of the biggest mistakes you’re making at the poker table, going to the poker table in the first place instead of playing online. I highly recommend you play online first and hone your skills. And who knows? You might find out that you prefer playing online to playing in person!

2 – You Allow Your Emotions to Get the Best of You

This is different for everyone, as not everyone is emotional. Some people can be pretty laid back, which would be excellent for a poker player. But getting emotional is something that you see more often when money is at stake. In fact, a lot of people don’t realize just how emotional they can really be if they’ve never been in a situation as stressful as gambling.

Remember, when you sit down in a casino, you can lose a lot of money quickly, even on small bets. For most people, $100 is a lot of money. It’s not something to sniff at. But even playing $20 hands, you can lose $100 in 20 minutes at the poker table.

One concept to poker is that some people is that their emotions get the best of them. I think it’s pretty common for people to imagine the guy who slams his fist on the table, his face red with anger, but there are other emotions that are equally damaging.

Closeup of Poker Chips and Table

One thing about playing poker in person that specifically makes it harder than playing online is that people can see you. The other players are able to watch you carefully and read your emotions. If you’re not an angry player but are instead a fearful or anxious player, they’re going to catch on to your tells if a bad hand is written all over your face.

Alternatively, if you find your anxiety running high because you’re losing, you might end up giving more away, too. And the worst part is, you might not even realize you’re doing it.

Even players who get happy at the table can get in trouble. I actually see this regularly. Someone who is winning and having a great time gets sloppy. They start overplaying their hands because they’ve become cocky. Their happiness disappears pretty quickly when they make a bad play.

Ultimately, emotions are going to get you into a lot of trouble at the poker table, no matter how good or bad they are. Do your best to keep your emotions completely out of the game, and you’ll have a much better chance of walking away with money in your pocket.

Or just play online and avoid the problem to some extent. Sure, you can still get angry and make bad plays, but it’s going to be a lot harder for the other players to figure out what’s going on with you.

3 – You’re betting too much or not enough

Another great reason to play poker online is that you can play for free or play for very low amounts. What makes this such a great resource to the new player is that they can learn how much or how little they should be betting on each hand for a relatively low cost (if not for free).

What you regularly see newbies do at the poker table is. They don’t have a proper understanding of how bets affect the other players. If you get a great hand and make a huge bet right away, sometimes you’ll get people to call. But most of the time, everyone will fold. Learning how to slow play a hand is a skill that takes time to learn, and you’ll probably end up winning tiny pots with that flush you drew for a while before you figure out exactly how to play it.

That being said, over-betting is not always a terrible thing. It’s sometimes the case that a big bet makes sense because someone else has a big hand too. Yours just happens to be bigger. But how do you know? How can you figure out when you should bet big and when you should play it slow?

The answer is to take your time and learn, and you really only get that from enough experience and practice. You have to play a lot and be willing to lose some hands here and there. So, you need to get used to the idea that you’re going to bet too much for a while and that you’re definitely going to lose money as you gain more experience.

By the same token, you’ll find that new players bet too much when they have a really bad hand. They often don’t even realize how bad their hand is because they haven’t spent time learning the hands and understanding how good or bad those hands really are.

In turn, they make huge bets that drive people out of the pot. This sounds good at first, but savvy players will figure out pretty quickly when you’re betting too much and don’t understand the value of your hand. They’ll think you’re bluffing at first, but gradually, they’ll figure out that you just don’t know what you’re doing and take advantage.

Las Vegas Casino Floor

The other issue you see new players running into a lot is betting too little. They don’t really understand how they can make money off the other players with their hand, so they end up making bets that just don’t win them the money they need to make it through the bad hands.

When you play like this, you often end up losing the game because you’re not pulling in the big pots you need when you have great hands. Instead, your good hands are offset by all the money you lose with your bad hands.

Betting is bet too much or too little, more art than science, and how you bet should change with each group of players you play with. You’ll find that you develop strategies over time. But you need that time in the first place to learn how you play and understand what you like to do and what you don’t like to do in terms of betting. Not everyone feels comfortable making big bets or bluffing, for example, so you need to come up with a strategy that works for you.

Try playing online for a while to figure out a strategy that helps you feel comfortable at the tables before you go to a real casino.

4 – Focusing on Your Cards Too Much

I mentioned this a bit in the last section, but I think it’s so important that I want to repeat it: You really need to focus on the players and not on your cards. I have seen people win huge pots when both players only had a pair, and I have seen people with four of a kind lose to someone who was bluffing with a high card.

Poker can sometimes be more about psychology than it is about the cards themselves. If you want a game of pure luck, go play roulette. If you want a game that’s more about the players, a game of mind versus mind, then poker is your game. That means you learn how the other players play, try to figure out their tells, their strategy, and also figure out how you can disrupt that strategy to your advantage.

Conclusion

Poker is a fantastic game for most new players because of how fun it can be and because of its relative simplicity. But it can also be taxing when you don’t know what you’re doing.

You can run out of money fast if you’re not careful, so take your time and learn what you can do to avoid these common mistakes.

Is there anything I missed in this list?

Let me know in the comments below.

Where Is the Las Vegas Strip?

Magnifying Glass With Las Vegas Strip in Background

When most people think of Las Vegas they immediately think of the famous Las Vegas Strip. The Strip is quintessential Las Vegas, stuffed with its luxurious casino hotels.

In addition to the gambling floors, the vast hotel complexes house a variety of opulent shops, restaurants (ranging from chain diners to fine dining), and performance halls for the iconic musician, legendary comedians and circus-style acts. Attractions like the soaring choreographed Fountains of Bellagio and the High Roller observation wheel certainly draw mesmerized crowds.

For all of its notoriety, I’m surprised how often I’m asked “Where is the Las Vegas Strip?”. Most often I’m asked by a friend or acquaintance in anticipation of an upcoming trip. However, that’s not always the  case.

So, I’m going to break this down assuming some readers may have just reanimated after being frozen in ice for the last 10,000 years or so, then inexplicably learned to read and presumably speak English and now must make a trek to the Las Vegas Strip post haste.

State of Mind

Las Vegas is a city near the southern tip of Nevada. Located in the Western United States, Nevada is the 7th largest state in the union.

In spite of having a relatively large area Nevada is somewhat sparsely populated, ranking 32nd in the United States.

If you assumed that Las Vegas is the most populated city in Nevada, you’d be correct.

Nevada is often referred to as the Silver State because of the importance the silver boom played in the state’s early settlement.

The U.S. annexed the area now known as Nevada in 1848 after its victory in the Spanish-American War and 16 years later Nevada would become the 36th state.

Nevada is known for its libertarian laws. In 1940, with a population of around 110,000 people, Nevada was by far the least-populated state, with less than half the population of the next least-populated state.

However, legalized gambling and liberal laws regarding marriage transformed Nevada into a major tourist destination in the 20th century. Nevada is also the only U.S. state where prostitution is legal, though it is illegal in its most populated areas.

Year after year the tourism industry is Nevada’s biggest employer. Nearly 300,000 jobs in Nevada exist thanks directly to tourism. Mining continues to be a substantial contributor to the economy and Nevada is the fourth-largest gold producer in the world.

Nevada has much more than Las Vegas to offer travelers. The Hoover Dam, Lake Tahoe, Valley of Fire State Park and Burning Man come to mind, just to name a few.

Go Towards the Light

Las Vegas bills itself as The Entertainment Capital of the World, but it gets its name from the Spanish words for “The Meadows. Las Vegas certainly makes it difficult to argue with the title it has claimed for itself.

Las Vegas was founded as a city in 1905 when 110 acres of land adjacent to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks were auctioned in what would become the downtown area.

In 1911, Las Vegas was incorporated as a city. Las Vegas is located in Clark County, in a basin on the floor of the Mojave Desert and is flanked by beautiful mountain ranges on all sides.

Much of the landscape is rocky and arid, full of flora and fauna you’d expect in a desert region. Like many desert regions, it is subject to extreme flash flooding.

The mountain peaks surrounding Las Vegas reach elevations of over 10,000 feet and act as barriers to the strong flow of moist air from the surrounding area. The elevation is approximately 2,030 ft above sea level. And according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 135.86 square miles.

Nevada is the third most seismically active state in the U.S. It has been estimated by the United States Geological Survey that over the next 50 years, there is a 10–20% chance of a Magnitude 6.0 or larger earthquake occurring within 30 miles of Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas metro area known as the Las Vegas Valley is comprised of Las Vegas proper and 11 smaller communities. The Las Vegas Strip is a stretch of South Las Vegas Boulevard in Clark County that is known for its concentration of luxurious resort hotels and casinos.

Welcome to the Fabulous Las Vegas Strip

The Strip, slightly over 4 miles long, sits directly south of the Las Vegas city limits in the areas of Winchester and Paradise but is often referred to as being in Las Vegas.

Historically, area casinos that were not downtown sat outside the city limits on Las Vegas Boulevard. In 1959, the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign was erected and sits roughly 4-5 miles outside the city limits. The sign is currently located in the median just south of Russell Road, across from the location where the Klondike stood before being demolished.

In its purest sense, “the Strip” refers only to the stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard that is roughly between Sahara Avenue and Russel Road, making for 4 miles of glitz and glamour under the neon lights. 

However, “the Strip” is often used to refer not only to the road but also to the multiple casinos and resorts that litter the road, and even to those properties that are near but not on the road.

Phrases such as Strip Area or Resort District are sometimes used to indicate a larger geographical area, including properties a mile or more away from Las Vegas Boulevard, such as the Rio, Palms, and Hard Rock resorts.

Welcome to Las Vegas Sign

The Sahara is widely considered the Strip’s northern curtain, though travel guides typically broaden it to the Stratosphere a half-mile to the north.

Mandalay Bay, directly north of Russell Road, is the southernmost resort considered to be on the Strip. The “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign is often considered part of the Strip, although it sits another half-mile south of the Mandalay Bay and Russell Road.

Due to the number and breadth of the Vegas resorts, the resort corridor can be rather wide. Interstate 15 runs roughly parallel and 0.5 to 0.8 miles to the west of Las Vegas Boulevard for the entire length of the Strip.

Paradise Road runs to the east in an akin fashion and ends at St. Louis Avenue. The eastern side of the Strip is bordered by McCarran International Airport south of Tropicana Avenue.

North of this area, the resort corridor may be treated as extending as far east as Paradise Road, although some consider Koval Lane as a less inclusive boundary.

Interstate 15 is sometimes considered the western edge of the resort district from Interstate 215 to Spring Mountain Road. North of this point, Industrial Road serves as the western border.

Newer casinos and resorts such as South Point and M Resort are on Las Vegas Boulevard South as distant as 8 miles south of the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. Marketing for these casinos and hotels usually states that they are on southern Las Vegas Boulevard and not “Strip” properties.

Continuing Evolution

Over the last 20 years, there have been some big changes to the strip.

With the opening of Bellagio, Venetian, Palazzo, Wynn and Encore resorts, the strip gravitated towards the luxurious high-end segment through most of the 2000s. Meanwhile, older resorts introduced major expansions and total renovations, including complete rebrandings.

Fine dining, boutique retail, posh spas, and lively nightclubs progressively became more available to visitors. High-end residential condo units also began to pop up along the strip.

In early 2004, MGM Mirage announced plans for City Center, a 66-acre, $7 billion multi-use project on the site of the Boardwalk hotel and adjoining land. It consists of a hotel, casino, condo, retail, art, business and other uses on the site.

Picture of Las Vegas Strip

City Center is currently the biggest complex of its kind in the world. Groundbreaking started in April 2006, with most elements of the project opened in late 2009.

Also in 2006, the Las Vegas Strip lost its longtime tenure as the world’s highest-grossing gambling center, falling to second place behind Macau.

In 2012, the High Roller Ferris wheel and a retail center called The Linq Promenade broke ground in an attempt to diversify attractions beyond that of casino resorts.

Renovations and rebrandings continued to transform the Strip in 2014.

Conclusion

You’ll spot it from far away if you were clever enough to ask for a window seat on the plane. Spend time in Sin City – an oasis of glittering lights in the desert, home of the Strip and the drive-in wedding chapel, playground of the Mob, and a visual spectacle complete with its own Eiffel Tower, Egyptian pyramids, and Venetian canals.

Welcome to Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Strip’s nightlife is legendary, whether you’re moving to the rhythm of DJ-spun beats on a dance floor lined with gold or standing on an open-air terrace, drink in hand, taking in the sweeping views of neon-lit resorts and casinos below.

This is the Las Vegas Strip, baby.

9 Blackjack Facts You Need to Know to Win

Blackjack Hand With Colorful Mosaic Background

Every blackjack player needs to know certain facts about the game. When you know these facts it helps you find the best tables, and play every hand the best possible way. This all leads to a lower house edge and a better chance to win.

Here are nine facts that every blackjack player needs to know. Take a few minutes to make sure you’re doing everything you can to help you win when you play blackjack.

1 – Every Table Isn’t the Same

The most important fact you need to know about playing blackjack is that every blackjack table isn’t the same. The base game is the same on every blackjack table, but there are rules variations that you need to know about.

At the base level, blackjack is about winning by either having a higher total than the dealer without getting 22 or higher, or having any total under 22 while the dealer busts. But the rules on the table influence your chance of doing one of these things, which in turn make the house edge higher or lower.

Closeup of a Blackjack Table

The first tip you need to know is you should not play on any blackjack table that pays less than 3 to 2 for a natural 21. Once you learn how to find the tables with the best blackjack rules you’re chance of winning goes up.

2 – The Perfect Play Every Time

Most blackjack players don’t know this fact, but there’s a single best way to play every hand at the table. This is summarized on a blackjack strategy card. If you don’t know what blackjack strategy is, pick up a strategy card or print a strategy chart from the internet.

When you sue a strategy card, you play with the lowest house edge that you can. You learned about playing at tables with good rules in the first section, and using a strategy card makes sure you’re doing everything you can to keep the edge low.

3 – Insurance Problems

Insurance is a common side bet offered when the dealer has the possibility of having a natural blackjack. It’s made to look like a good way to break even when the dealer has a blackjack, but the fact is that it’s just another way for the casino to make the house edge higher.

When the dealer has a blackjack, the insurance bet makes you break even, but most of the time the dealer doesn’t have a blackjack. This means you lose the insurance bet and still have to play out your hand.

Don’t ever take the insurance bet offered at the blackjack table.

4 – Other Side Bets

This section is short, because there’s not much you need to know. But that doesn’t mean it’s not important.

You learned about insurance in the last section, and it’s the most common side bet at blackjack tables. Some blackjack games offer other side bets as well. You should never make any side bets when you play blackjack.

Side bets are designed to make the edge higher, so never make one.

5 – Offset the Edge

Most of the time when you play real money blackjack the casino has an edge. This means that you’re going to lose more than you win. But you can do a few things to change this, which you’re going to learn about later on this page.

In this section I want to teach you about a couple different ways you can offset the house edge easily. The first way to offset the house edge is to sign up for the players club so you earn comps when you play blackjack.

Every time you play blackjack somewhere new, see if the casino has a players club for comps.

The other easy way to offset the house edge is to use a bonus when you play online. Make sure the bonus is one you can use for blackjack, and then simply sign up, make a deposit, and use the bonus to make your bankroll bigger.

6 – Free Practice Is Available

Most blackjack players think they have to play for real money on a land based casino or at an online casino to practice strategy and how to play. But you can practice for free as long as you like if you know how to do it.

The easiest way to practice blackjack for free is to sign up for a free account at one of the online casinos listed on this site. Click on one of the reviews on this listed, follow the link to the online casino, enter a little bit of information, and you can start playing right away.

Another option is to find a free blackjack game son your phone or mobile device. You can find many different options, but the best one is to use the mobile app from one of the online casinos. This way you can play for free, and you can easily switch over to real money play when you’re ready.

7 – You Can Win More Than You Lose

If you know and use the proper strategies when you play blackjack, you can win more than you lose in the long run. Everything that you’ve learned so far on this page is important, but it won’t turn the edge in your favor.

The thing you need to learn how to do is count cards. This doesn’t mean that you have to remember every card that’s been played. It just means that you have to keep track of the ratio of low and high cards that have been played. This tells you the ratio of low and high cards remaining in the shoe or deck.

Pick up a book about one of the popular card counting systems, like hi lo or Red 7. The book explains how card counting works, how to practice so you can do it well, and how to use it to make money playing blackjack.

8 – Watch the Dealer

As a blackjack player you should watch the dealer’s hands on every deal. You need to do this for two reasons. The first reason is to make sure that they don’t make any mistakes. But the second reason is even more important.

Some dealers aren’t trained properly, or they handle the cards incorrectly. When this happens, sometime the dealer flashes the value of the card they place it face down for their hole card.

It takes a sharp eye, proper seat placement, and practice, but sometime you can see the value of the down card when it’s dealt. This gives you a big advantage when you have to make decisions on how to play your hand.

9 – Watch the Shuffle

One way to make more money when you play blackjack that almost no one knows about is called shuffle tracking. It’s not well known because you have to use it in a hand shuffles game, it’s extremely hard to do, and some dealers do a good enough job shuffling that it’s not effective.

But winning blackjack players look for every possible edge, and if you can use shuffle tracking every once in a while it helps you win more.

Casino Cards Laid Decoratively on a Blackjack Table

The idea behind shuffle tracking is that high cards are better for you than the dealer. When you know high cards are coming out of the deck or shoe soon, you can make a higher bet because you’re more likely to have an edge.

When cards are put in the discard tray, you watch for small slugs of cards that have a high percentage of aces and 10 point cards. Watch this small slug closely as the cards are being shuffled to see where it ends up.

When this small slug is being ready to be dealt, you can profit from this information. Start watching for these things in every hand shuffled blackjack game you play.

Conclusion

These nine blackjack facts are going to help you win more often. And if you use them all, you can even win more playing blackjack than you lose.

Start with the best rules, and get a strategy chart. These two things are going to improve your blackjack results faster than anything. Now you know the facts about insurance and other side bets, so you can stop losing money on these types of bets.

Once you start using these strategies, take a look at advanced blackjack strategies like counting cards, looking for hole cards, and watching the shuffle. This is how some blackjack players can make more than they lose.

5 Ways Discipline Makes You a Better Gambler

Hand Holding a Camera Lens at Casino Slot Machines

Gamblers are always looking for ways to improve their results, but most of them never think about how discipline can help them. Discipline is one of the most important things a gambler can have to improve their chance to win.

Here are five ways that discipline can help every gambler. Once you learn more about why you need to be disciplined when you gamble, start working on being more disciplined. Your results are going to prove that the effort and time you invest in your discipline now are going to pay dividends for the rest of your life.

1 – It Helps You Follow a Strict Budget

One of the most important things you need as a gambler is discipline with your budget and bankroll. It doesn’t matter if you’re an advantage gambler or just gamble for fun; if you don’t have discipline you’re going to burn through your bankroll too fast.

Every gambler needs to have a dedicated bankroll that they only use for gambling. And you also need to set a budget for every gambling session. But it’s not enough to have a dedicated bankroll and use a budget. You have to be disciplined enough to use them.

If you struggle with discipline with your budget, here are a couple tricks you can use to help. The first thing you can do is if you gamble with online casinos is to just deposit what you plan to use as a budget for the current session. If you run out of money before you want to stop playing, it’s too bad. Don’t make another deposit until your next playing session.

When you gamble in a land based casino or poker room, only take an amount of money equal to your session budget. If you don’t have more money with you there’s no way to use more than you planned.

Use tricks like these to help you build your discipline. Keep working on it until you have enough discipline to carry as much money as you want and never go over your budget.

2 – Discipline Helps You Identify and Only Play the Best Games

Advantage gamblers never play or gamble on anything where they can’t get an edge. This is why you don’t see them playing roulette, baccarat, slots, and most table games. They know that the only way they can keep their edge is by being disciplined enough not to place bad bets.

Even if you never plan to be an advantage player, you still need to take the time to learn which gambling activities offer the best odds and learn the strategies you need to use to play with a low house edge. This requires discipline, because it’s easy to just keep doing what you’re doing.

Closeup of a Craps Table and Dealer Hands

Being lazy is what makes most gamblers lose as much as they do. It takes discipline to do what you have to do to improve your chance to win. Start learning more about the games with the best odds and become disciplined enough to never play the ones with bad odds.

3 – It Keeps You in Top Mental Shape

If you think about it, gambling is almost 100% mental. You use your brain to make decisions, and there are very few things about gambling that are mechanical. This means that if you want to make the best decisions when you gamble you need to stay in top mental shape.

It requires a great deal of discipline to stay in good mental shape. Too many people do things that are designed to do the opposite of staying in good mental shape. They watch television for hours every day and look at pictures of cats on Facebook for hours at a time. They do everything they can to avoid staying sharp.

If you want to improve your mental sharpness, read something. Get your mind working and start thinking about how you’re going to become a better gambler.

Exercise your mind just like you need to exercise your body.

Make sure your mind is sharp every time you gamble. Making mistakes can cost you a great deal of money. When you feel that your mind isn’t sharp, stop gambling until you can get it back in top shape.

When my mind isn’t sharp when I’m gambling, I stop and take a walk outside. The fresh air and time away from the table help me a lot. It requires discipline to work on keeping your mind in top shape, and to stop gambling when it gets cloudy until you get back on track.

4 – It Keeps You Focused on the Task at Hand

Casinos are filled with distractions. You have to deal with noise and other people, and you can easily be distracted. When you get distracted the chance of making a mistake goes up quite a bit. And when you’re distracted and start making mistakes when you gamble, it costs you money.

If you can’t focus 100% on whatever you’re doing when you gamble, you shouldn’t be playing. It can be hard to block out all of the noise and other distractions, but with practice and discipline you can learn how to do it.

If you simply can’t train yourself to avoid distractions, you need to be disciplined enough to only play the games that don’t require focus. You can play baccarat without much focus, because all you have to do is place a bet on every hand.

You can play slots without needing to be focused, but they have a high house edge in comparison to most other gambling activities.

Another option if you struggle with focus is to bet on sports. You can take your time evaluating games, so if you lose focus sometimes you can come back to it later.

5 – Discipline Helps You Walk Away When You Need To

If you want to know the number one reason why discipline is important for every gambler here it is. You have to know when you need to walk away from the table or slot machine, and you have to physically get up and do it.

Some of the other things you learned on this page can help with this, but you still need discipline.

It doesn’t help to use a budget if you just hit the ATM and keep playing when your budget is gone.

It also doesn’t help your bankroll when you make bets that are too big, or refuse to use a budget.

You have to become disciplined enough to stop gambling when you need to. This doesn’t mean you’re weak or that you have a problem. Discipline is the opposite of being weak. When you’re disciplined to do what you need to do, it means you’re strong.

How to Improve Your Discipline

You’ve already learned some ways to help you become more disciplined on this page. You’ve also learned why being disciplined as a gambler is so important. Now I’m going to share a few more ways you can work on becoming more disciplined.

The first thing you can do is decide to become more disciplined. I know this might sound silly, but the truth is that you’re not going to become more disciplined until you decide to do it. The next step is to make a 100% commitment to becoming more disciplined. Make a commitment and never walk back on the commitment no matter what happens.

Image of Statue in Hotel Casino Lobby

Another step you can take to improve your discipline is to focus on it as much as possible. Think about discipline the first thing in the morning and when you go t bed at night. Think about discipline as many times during the day as you can. The more you focus on discipline the more disciplined you’re going to be.

The last tactic I want to share with you about discipline is something you can use if you’re really struggling. Instead of trying to become more disciplined 24 hours a day, start with 15 or 30 minutes. Start by staying disciplined for a short period of time at first, and then keep expanding the time and build up to longer periods of discipline.

Conclusion

A little bit of discipline goes a long way when it comes to responsible gambling. You just learned five reasons why discipline is important for gamblers. Now it’s time to put these benefits into action when you gamble.

Start working on your gambling discipline today. It helps you with your gambling budget and bankroll, how to identify and play the best games, and has many mental benefits. Discipline also helps you stay focused and walk away when you need to.

In addition to helping you with gambling, discipline offers many benefits in other areas of your life as well. You might be surprised at how much discipline helps you in other areas once you start using it while you gamble.

7 Step Checklist for Betting on NBA Games

NBA Player Images Mixed With Sportsbook Betting Board

One of the best ways to improve your profitability when you’re betting on NBA games is to use a checklist. Becoming a winning NBA gambler requires a few steps, and one of the steps is using the same system every time you evaluate a game.

Figure out what works and what doesn’t work, and keep a record of your best evaluation strategies. As you build your checklists and system, you’re going to keep improving your results.

Here’s a simple seven step checklist you can use to evaluate NBA games. Once you learn how this checklist can help you win more money, expand it to include other things that work for you.

1 – Totals Strategy

Most NBA gamblers make bets on the moneyline and the point spread. But smart NBA gamblers always look at the totals listed for value too.

The total or totals line is the combined score of both teams in the game. You can bet that the combined score will be higher or lower than the total listed.

Start with what each team is averaging on the season. Look at how many points the home team is averaging at home, and how many points the road team is averaging on the road. But don’t stop there.

The next thing to consider is what other factors might come into play for this particular game. Are one or more players out or banged up? How are both teams performing over the last two or three games? Is one team more tired than the other?

Keep digging until you find every possible reason to adjust the total score you expect from the game. Sometimes what you find is going to agree with the posted line, but sometimes you’re going to find value where others have missed it.

2 – Moneyline Dangers

Many inexperienced basketball bettors make mistakes like placing moneyline wagers because they look easy. After all, all they need to do is pick the team that wins, so they just pick a heavily favored team.

The problem with this is the steep price they have to pay to bet on a heavy favorite. When you bet on a heavy NBA favorite, you only have to lose occasionally to eliminate all of your profits from previous wins.

Until you learn how to effectively handicap NBA moneyline bets, follow this simple plan. Don’t bet on any moneyline favorite that costs more than -190. Focus on finding value on favorites that are listed under -190 and on underdogs.

I know it’s tempting to place a bet on a heavy favorite listed at -300 or another steep price, because you don’t see how they can lose. And the truth is that you’re going to win most of the time when you make one of these bets. But they cost you too much when you lose to have much value in most cases.

NBA Player LeBron James During a Play

Most of the moneyline bets in the NBA that I make are on underdogs. When you bet on the underdog on the NBA moneyline you risk less than you can win. This means that you don’t have to be right half the time to make a long term profit.

3 – Ignore Positions

When I started betting on NBA games, each player had a position and teams used the classic lineup of point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center. But the modern NBA has become a league where positions are rarely important.

The NBA has a few dominant centers, but teams have learned how to combat strong post play. The best centers are taking three point shots and have learned how to pass out of double teams and clogged paint from collapsing defenders.

You also have nontraditional players bringing the ball up the course and running the offense. All of this means that positions aren’t important in the NBA. Instead of worrying about positions, look at how each team matches up on a player to player basis.

How does each team guard the best players on the opposing team, and how does each team attack on offense? These things are much more important than traditional positions.

4 – Total Player Evaluation

When you evaluate NBA players, it’s important to look beyond how much they score. You need to evaluate the entire player, including offense and defense.

NBA fans are focused on three point shooting and scoring, but smart NBA gamblers look at rebounds on both ends of the court, turnovers, points per possession, and everything else you can think of.

In the NBA, there are two areas where you need to concentrate that most gamblers ignore. These two areas are offensive rebounding and the ratio of turnovers. You need to track these two things by player and team.

Both of these areas show which players and teams create more scoring opportunities. Every time a team gets a turnover or an offensive rebound they have another chance to score. Every time a team gives up an offensive rebound or turns the ball over, they give the opposing team an opportunity to score.

Start evaluating the complete package when you’re looking at NBA players and teams. This is the only way you can find true value on NBA betting lines.

5 – Do Coaches Matter?

This is a hard question to answer. It seems like some coaches make a big difference in the NBA, but is this because they’re great coaches, or because they happen to have a set of great players?

On many teams, it seems like the star players are running the team instead of the coaches.

If a star is big enough, he can even get a coach fired. This might lead you to believe that NBA coaches don’t matter.

On the other hand, if you look at a coach like Gregg Popovich, it’s almost impossible to say that coaching doesn’t matter. The only losing season one of his teams has in the NBA was his first year as a head coach in the 1996 – 1997 season. Every season since then his team has had a winning record, including five NBA championships.

Coaching does matter in the NBA, but don’t overvalue it. The players still have to win and lose games, but the best head caches help their team win.

6 – Average Possessions

One of the key stats I track for each team is how many possessions they average in each game they play. This might not seem like an important statistic, but when you compare the data for each team you can learn a great deal.

And when you combine how many possessions a team gets each game with other things discussed above and the topic of the next section it can help you identify value when you’re looking at the lines. This is especially helpful when you’re looking at totals.

Two NBA Players in a Post up Play

Track each team’s average number of possessions for all of their games, their home games, their away games, and over the last three, five, and 10 games. This gives you a picture of how they do on the road and at home, and if they’re trending up or down.

When you’re looking at the total line for a game, when both teams are averaging a high number of possessions the over might be the best bet. On the other hand, when both teams are averaging a low number of possessions, the under might be a good bet.

7 – Points per Possession

Points per possession is a simple statistic to determine or look up. Just divide the total points scored by a team by their total number of possessions. You should track points per possession for each team overall, on the road, at home, and in their recent games.

One of the most important reasons why you need to know how many points per possession each team averages is because you can use it to predict how many points the team is going to score based on how many possessions they should get in a game.

Some teams limit the number of possessions they give their opponents better than others. When a team is facing a team that limits their opponent’s possessions, you can use points per possession to predict a score that’s lower than normal. The opposite is also true.

Conclusion

Every time you evaluate an NBA game you’re looking for value. Value comes from finding a line that offers a realistic opportunity to make a profit on one side or the other.

Start every evaluation by looking at the totals line. Be careful of the moneyline, because it’s one of the biggest mistakes for most gamblers.

When you evaluate teams, don’t forget about the importance of individual players. Traditional positions don’t matter as much as they used to, so your best strategy is to evaluate each player in depth while ignoring his position.

Are Gamblers Becoming More Skilled? The Numbers from Vegas Say No.

Silhouette of Woman Juggling in Front of Money Dice and Las Vegas

Casinos have always held the edge over gamblers. They design their games in a manner that gives them a slight or, in some cases, large advantage.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that the house wins in most instances. What is surprising, though, is that gamblers aren’t closing the gap and winning more often.

I’ll explain why this is surprising below along with statistics that reveal how players aren’t any better at beating casinos than they were decades ago.

Why Gamblers Should Be More Skilled

Up until 20 years ago, you had to visit bookstores and/or subscribe to magazines to obtain gambling knowledge. Books and magazines were by far your best path to becoming a more-successful player.

Of course, the problem here is that you had to physically drive to a store and spend money on these resources.

Alternatively, you could have subscribed to a gambling-related magazine. However, this subscription would have cost you $10 per month or more.

The internet is the big game-changer with regard to gambling strategy these days. Although the internet existed two decades ago, it didn’t have nearly the amount of information it contains today.

You can quickly learn how to become an expert blackjack player or minimize the roulette house advantage to its lowest point. All you need is 5-10 minutes’ worth of online research to accomplish these feats.

You even have the ability to become an advantage gambler with little time wasted nowadays. You could learn a card counting system and then use online counting trainers to hone your skills.

I shouldn’t say that these resources come absolutely free. You’ll need a computer/smartphone and Wi-Fi connection beforehand.

However, you can use your smartphone and Wi-Fi connection for far more things beyond just gambling. The same can’t be said about the “How to Master Blackjack” book you might have bought 15-20 years ago.

Simply put, the widespread availability of strategy should make today’s gamblers much better than those in the past. Players can easily study a game with just a simple internet search.

What the Vegas Numbers Show on Gamblers’ Winnings

Anybody can go online and learn in minutes what took past gamblers hours to master. Therefore, you’d think that players today would be crushing casino games.

Statistics from the University of Nevada Las Vegas Center for Gaming for Research show otherwise. UNLV’s Center for Gaming Research has compiled statistics dating back to 2000 on the house’s win rate

The Bellagio and Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino

These numbers don’t show that the casino is losing more. In fact, they reveal that gambling establishments are actually taking more money from players.

Here’s a breakdown on some figures from their research:

All Casino Games

  • Casino win rate from all games in 2000 was 6.76%.
  • Casino win rate from all games in 2019 was 8.32%.
  • +1.56 change

Blackjack

  • Casino win rate from blackjack in 2000 was 12.56%.
  • Casino win rate from blackjack in 2019 was 14.12%.
  • +1.56 change

Craps

  • Casino win rate from craps in 2000 was 13.53%.
  • Casino win rate from craps in 2019 was 16.03%.
  • +2.50 change

Poker (House Banked)

  • Casino win rate from all games in 2000 was -0.28%.
  • Casino win rate from all games in 2019 was 19.27%.
  • +19.55 change

Slot Machines

  • Casino win rate from slot machines in 2000 was 5.23%.
  • Casino win rate from slot machines in 2019 was 6.90%.
  • +1.67 change

I should point out that not all of the factors accounting for the house’s increasing win rate are related to gamblers’ skill levels. However, the simple fact that casinos are winning more shows that the average player isn’t becoming any better.

Reasons Why Players Are Losing More

Casinos’ improving win rates goes beyond just players being lazy. As you’ll see below, though, the latter does play a part in how much Vegas is winning these days.

Many Gamblers Aren’t Taking Advantage of Available Resources

You’d think that with how easy it is to find gambling strategy today, players would be honing their video poker skills before hitting the casino. This just doesn’t seem to be the case, though.

I don’t know the habits of every single person who walks into a casino. However, I do know enough gamblers to realize that not everybody takes the time to learn games ahead of time.

Some people don’t think that strategy is worth the time. Others feel that they’ll be overwhelmed with something like basic blackjack strategy.

Another crowd simply feels that spending time learning gambling tips will take away from the enjoyment. People are free to play casino games how they want, but they’re also missing out on extra winnings by ignoring strategy.

They Still Rely on Luck

Even if you’re a skilled gambler, you need some small degree of luck to win. The only time that this statement isn’t true is when you’re an advantage player (e.g. card counter) who makes money in the long run.

Considering that luck is still a big part of gambling, many people just rely on this aspect to the fullest. They feel that they can only play and hope that Lady Luck smiles on them.

Of course, one doesn’t need to rely as heavily on good fortune if they can reduce the house edge through strategy. Nevertheless, many gamblers still think that they need a mystical force to intervene for them to win.

Casinos Have Increased Their Edge

Las Vegas used to be more generous with its rules and give players better odds. For example, they commonly featured single-deck blackjack games with around a 0.5% house edge.

These near coin-flip situations are becoming less and less common in Sin City and elsewhere.

Casinos focus more on their all-around resort offerings these days and don’t rely on gambling as much for profits.

They feel perfectly comfortable giving players worse odds. After all, those who still want to gamble live will do so regardless.

Of course, the same casinos also risk alienating serious players who know the rules and odds. But they seem perfectly comfortable with this for now.

Casinos Are Even Better at Marketing Today

The gambling industry doesn’t just rely on its advantage alone to win money. It also uses clever marketing to draw you back into the casino.

If you haven’t been to Las Vegas in six months, for example, you might suddenly receive an email for a free buffet.

This buffet pass has nothing to do with gambling. But if it gets you in the door, you’re more likely to play casino games afterward.

Some corporations are even using RFID technology (through casino chips) to track your betting habits and better tailor promotions towards you.

What You Casino Do to Win More with Casino Games

You don’t have to settle for being a statistic and lose big like many other gamblers. Instead, you can boost your chances of earning money with the following tips.

Play Games with the Lowest House Edges

Casinos offer a wide variety of games across the board. You can spin the slots reels, play Baccarat hands, try for Caribbean stud jackpots, and much more.

While this variety is great from an entertainment perspective, it doesn’t help your bottom line. Assuming you spread your play across the wrong games, you’ll end up facing house edges ranging from 10% (certain slot machines) to 30% (keno).

Image of a Busy Casino Floor

In contrast, baccarat, blackjack, craps, European roulette, French roulette, and video poker offer some of the best odds in gambling.

Study Strategy

My main point throughout this post has been that many gamblers aren’t using easily accessible resources. You can go against the grain by using the countless strategy material that are available.

If you want to learn basic blackjack strategy, for example, you can simply google the term “blackjack strategy chart.” This search will bring up countless charts that show correct moves in every situation.

Or, you could go online and lookup “video poker strategy” and find both charts and trainers. The latter refer to online programs that point out when you do and don’t make correct decisions.

Account for Variance

With reference to gambling, variance indicates how frequently casino games pay out in the short-term. Slot machines have high variance, because they don’t deliver many short-term payouts. Baccarat, on the other hand, has low variance, because it sees you win around 50% of the time.

Understanding this term alone will improve your profits. Return to player (RTP) is a more-relevant concept when trying to figure out how much you can win in the long term.

If you’re dealing with a small bankroll, though, you definitely want to know the variance behind each game. You can target low-variance games to win more often and sustain your bankroll.

Have a Bankroll Management Plan

Bankroll management plays two key roles in your gambling success:

  • It allows you to keep playing.
  • It prevents you from risking money that you can’t afford to lose.

Both of these concepts make bankroll management a worthy cause. What’s more is that you don’t even need to spend much time mapping out a bankroll plan.

You simply need to set aside an amount of money that you’re willing to lose. From here, you can set a stop-loss limit to ensure that you don’t lose your entire roll in one sitting.

Here’s an example of executing bankroll management:

  • You start by going through your bills and expenses.
  • You determine that you can afford to lose $500.
  • You set a stop-loss limit of $100 for each session.
  • You’ll quit playing for the day any time that you hit $100 in losses.

Conclusion

Gambling is all about entertainment. Some people just don’t find it entertaining to look up strategy before playing.

These cases aren’t a big deal if the same people are perfectly fine with facing bigger losses. But anybody who wants more control over wins and losses should definitely learn the strategy and odds.

Fortunately, the internet has made learning gambling strategy much easier. Contrary to past gamblers, you don’t need to visit bookstores or get magazines to learn.

Instead, you can quickly study strategy for any game with a simple online search or two. As a result, you’ll avoid being one of the many gamblers who keeps losing more to Vegas, online casinos, and other destinations.

Why the NFL Home Underdog Strategy Doesn’t Work

NFL Logo With Two Separate Images of NFL Players Behind

I remember years ago when I first heard about the home underdog betting strategy. I thought it was the best thing ever. It was simple and made perfect sense.

The problem was I didn’t have any idea at the time how sportsbooks operated or made money. I simply assumed that I could use this simple system to rake in profits for years to come.

As you might have guessed, the reality was far from what I thought. I was betting on every home underdog on the NFL schedule and slowly losing my bankroll. I won some games and lost others, but overall my bankroll was moving in the wrong direction.

Here’s an explanation of what the home underdog strategy is, and why it doesn’t work.

The Home Underdog Strategy

One of the most well known NFL betting strategies is the home underdog strategy. The system is simple. You bet on any team that’s playing at home and is an underdog. Everyone knows that home teams have an advantage, so this system kind of makes sense.

The truth is that for a couple years in the past you could’ve made a profit with the home underdog system. But those days are long gone.

The strategy became so popular that it started costing the sportsbooks money.

Once the sportsbooks figured out why they were losing money, they started adjusting their lines in these games to eliminate the hole. If they set a line at the road team at -6 in the past, they set the line at -3 or -4 instead. The books kept working on the lines until they figured out the best line adjustment to eliminate the advantage for bettors.

This is what eventually happens to every popular betting system that works. The sportsbooks are in business to make as much money as possible, and everything they do is based on this fact. The books also have smart people setting lines who adjust to what the public does so they can maximize profits by manipulating lines.

Can You Use It Anyway?

This might seem like an odd question, especially after you just learned why the home underdog strategy doesn’t work. But can you use the home underdog strategy to help you become a winning sports bettor?

You can’t just blindly place bets on every home underdog and show a profit, but you can use it to help you find profitable bets. This strategy was used in the NFL, but I use it to look for profitable bets in college and professional football and basketball, and in professional baseball.

The first games I look at are the ones where the home team is an underdog. Sometimes underdogs win games outright, and sometimes they play well enough to cover the spread. Teams also play better at home than on the road, so if an underdog is going to step up it’s likely to be at home.

NFL Player Ben Roethlisberger During a Passing Play

The problem is that everyone, including the sportsbooks knows these things. But this is just where I start. When I find these games I use my systems and models to handicap the games. I try to determine and expected final score and then compare this score to the available lines.

Then I only make a bet if my handicapping shows value on betting on the home underdog. If there’s no value, I don’t make the bet.

Most bets I make are on underdogs, but you have to learn how to identify value. You can’t blindly do anything in sports betting and hope to make a profit. I use the underdogs as a place to start my handicapping, and then look for value. Don’t make the mistake of trying to force value on a game. Some of the most profitable bets are the ones you don’t make.

Better Options

If you want to find a betting system or strategy that works, you need to develop it yourself. I explain why in the next section, but I can’t give you a system that’s going to win in the long run, and no one else can either. Your only hope for a long term winning sports betting system is developing one yourself.

The best way to develop a long term winning system is to start with one variable and test it. Then add a second variable and test it. Keep adding variables and testing them. Keep the things that work and eliminate the things that don’t.

Here’s an example starting with the home underdog strategy:

Your first variable is home underdogs. You test the strategy and find that it isn’t a profitable strategy anymore. But what if you only bet on home underdogs following a loss, or only after a win? After testing both of these variables, you find another variable to test.

At the same time, maybe you run a separate test that starts with betting on home favorites. The next variable could be betting on home favorites in a dome, or when the temperature is less than 32 degrees.

The possible variables are almost unlimited. This is why it’s so hard to develop a winning system. One of the biggest mistakes sports bettors make is trying to test multiple variables at one time. When you test more than one variable at a time, you never know which variable does what.

The good news is that you can use the power of computers to run dozens or hundreds of tests on different models at the same time. You can learn how to use spreadsheet programs and/or learn how to develop computer programs to test your variables.

NFL Player Diving Into Endzone

I test my models using past results, and then when I find a model that looks promising I start testing it on upcoming games. When you develop and test multiple models and variables at the same time using computers you always have something to work on and it increases your chance of developing a winning system.

Start by making a list of possible variables to test. Don’t stop making your first list until you have at least 100 variables. This gives you a place to start. As you learn how to build and test models, keep adding new variables to your list.

Remember that some variables won’t work, so you discard them as you learn more. But don’t forget about them, because a variable that doesn’t work with one system might work in a combination with another variable, or group of variables, that you haven’t tried yet.

When you finally find a system or model that works, congratulations. But don’t stop at this point. Continue testing your model and developing new ones. Your system might work for awhile and stop producing a profit. Sportsbooks evolve and learn how to set more profitable lines, so you might need to adjust your system over time.

Popular Sports Betting System Problems

The problem with any sports betting system that becomes popular is if it works, the sportsbooks know about it and are going to make adjustments so it doesn’t work in the future. Even worse, if the system doesn’t work, the sportsbooks know about this too, and they aren’t going to make adjustments and you’re going to keep losing.

You can learn a great deal about betting on sports by reading good books and good online articles. But you’re not going to find a solid system by reading that can beat the sportsbooks in the long run. Everyone wants a magic system, but you’re not going to find one in a book or articles or in a course someone sells you.

The only way to get a winning sports betting system is to develop it yourself. This takes a great deal of work and time, because it’s not easy to be a winning sports bettor.

And when you do develop a winning system, you need to keep it a secret. You shouldn’t ever tell anyone about your system. You shouldn’t even admit that you have a system. If your winning system gets out, the sportsbooks are eventually going to figure out how to make it useless.

You also need to ignore any system that sounds simple. Betting on home underdogs is a simple system. The sportsbooks know about every possible simple system. I’m not saying that you have to use advanced calculus to design a winning sports betting system, but it does need to be something the sportsbooks don’t know about if you want to win in the long run.

Conclusion

You can’t use the home underdog strategy to consistently win your sports bets. But you can use it as the basis of your own handicapping strategy and system. Learn how to develop and test your own sports betting systems so you have a real chance to make a long term profit. The only way to develop a wining system is to test as many variables as you can, one at a time.

The Easiest Way to Learn How to Play Casino Games (Part 1)

Silhouette of Woman Looking at Slot Machines and Casino Table Games

Gambling at casinos, playing cards, throwing dice — no matter the game you need to know how to play. If you have no idea where or how to learn to play casino games, allow me to help.

It can be overwhelming to learn what and how to play casino games. I’ve made it easy for you to learn. The first time I went to a casino in my early 20’s, I was lost and made mistakes.

I want you to have a better experience.

I have split this blog into 2 parts so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. I want you to have the most information to have the most enjoyable casino game playing experience.

Let’s begin.

What You Need to Know Before You Walk in a Casino

You did it. You booked your first trip to a casino resort. You’re looking at flights and rental cars. Then it hits you. You’ve only played a couple of casual games of poker in your friend’s basement. Let’s be honest. You’re not very good and you went more for the company.

You just realized that your big dreams of hitting the big jackpot (table or slot machine) is not very smart. You really have no idea how to gamble in a casino. Gambling can be fun, but it helps tremendously if you know a few things before you step foot in a casino.

The House (Casino) Always Has an Advantage

The house advantage (also known as the house edge) means the statistical math is always on their side. The casinos are looking for players just like you to win at any game. Having this knowledge going into to casino is going to give you the upper hand over someone who has not done their research. If you know that the casino will have the mathematical edge, you will not be disappointed when you lose money.

Gambling Is a Game of Luck and a Little Bit of Skill

Since you don’t have the advantage of the house edge, you need luck to win money, almost all the time. There are slight things you can do to minimize the house edge by playing wisely. This extends your playing time in a game. Luck is going to be your biggest advantage and there is not a lot you can do about that. Play for fun and don’t get wrapped up in the things you can’t control.

Set Your Spending Limit

This is a trick I stick to, even as a seasoned casino gambler. Withdraw the cash amount you are comfortable playing with before you even step foot on the casino floor.

I would suggest making the withdraw from your own bank to avoid the exorbitant fees at the casino ATMs.

We’ll talk about the in- house ATMs in a minute.

When you start to gamble on the casino floor be prepared to lose the money you have in your pocket. I know when that money is gone, I am done for the day. I will not be going to the ATM that is most likely spitting distance from where I’m sitting on the casino floor.

View of a Casino Table Games Pit

The casinos know that winning is a chance for the players. They have designed their ATM locations to be wherever you need them to be. This is a trap to get as much money a possible from you.

It is okay to go back to our hotel room with a loss.

That’s part of the intrigue of gambling in casinos. Not everyone can be a winner but everyone can have fun.

Stay Away from Casino Floor ATMs

As I’ve already mentioned, don’t go back to the casino ATM after you have spent your set gambling bank. This is how the casinos get you in a frenzy to spend more money to make up for your losses. Statistically it’s not going to happen. These ATMs are placed on the floor within your sight so that you don’t question if you should spend more. This is how some people fall into problem gambling.

Winning Streaks Are Not the Norm

If you find yourself winning hand after hand, enjoy it.

But be warned, do not take this as the norm for gambling in casinos.

You should really enjoy the winning streak because your winning streak will come to end, and you will be left pondering where all your money went,

Join a Player Rewards Program

You have a customer card for your regular grocery store (usually tied to your phone number) that you use to receive special coupons and discounts at the store. This is a great business model, and the casinos have copied it, or maybe the grocery stores copied them. We may never know the answer to that mystery.

Anyway, players rewards programs are offered at almost any casino you want to play at. Do your research into the casino(s) you plan on gambling at. Find out what the requirements are to join. Read player forums on other’s experiences. These rewards programs offer great discounts and even free dinners because the casinos want you to spend money. The more you spend, the more freebies they give you.

So Many Games, Which One Should You Play?

There are so many choices when it comes to choosing a casino game to gamble at.

The main question is “What kind of adventure do you want to have?”.

Certain games are more fun to play while others have better odds for the player.

Are you looking to win money?

What is your skill level?

Are you looking to unwind with a few free drinks?

So many questions but I will guide you in the right direction.

Group of Video Poker Machines

If you’re wanting to win some money to keep your playing going, you need some basic skill level and have played before. These games have better odds for the gambler who know their way around a casino or play recreationally quite a bit. This set of games won’t leave you broke, and having to explain to you SO (significant other) where the money for the car payment went.

  1. Video Poker (Try to find Double Bonus or Double Double Bonus)
  2. Craps (some bets)
  3. Blackjack (single deck if you can find it)

Research this blog and player forums on how to master these games. If you take some time to read up you should be able to play pretty decent. No promises.

Looking for something fun and easy to learn (you have zero experience or are not interested in hitting the big jackpot, not that you won’t?

Try these 3 games to really enjoy your casino gambling experience in a low stress:

  1. Slots (make sure and read the fine print on the side or bottom of the top panel to better understand the rules)
  2. Roulette
  3. Keno

Want to know a cool thing about playing slots?

When you’re sitting at a machine you can score free drinks from the multitude of cocktail servers walking around the casino floor.

Be careful when mixing gambling (your money) and heavy drinking. This is not a famously successful pairing.

Please tip the servers. Most their take-home pay comes from gamblers tipping them.

Roulette has two styles, American and European. Again, do you research. Everyone has a preference, but this is a fun and exciting game that will be a can’t miss experience to play.

Keno.

What is it?

It’s a gambling game brought to us from Asia. It is a combination of betting and the lottery.  You choose a set of numbers then place a bet. It’s weird and so enjoyable to gamble in casinos in this fashion. It is a great game to play if you want to relax, people watch and/ or have a drink. I like to take a break from the high stakes games and play Keno. Give it a try.

Conclusion

I hope you found this to be a good start on the easiest way to learn how to play casino games. I would love to hear any beginner tips or questions you may have, please feel free to leave a comment below.

If you would like to continue reading, check out part 2 here. Happy gambling.

Is It Worth Playing for Big Slots Jackpots When You Have an Edge?

Slots Machine Image Mixed With Hundred Dollar Bills Image

If you chase big slots jackpots, odds are that you’re doing so in hopes of getting rich. However, you can also gain another benefit by playing progressive slots: positive expected value (+EV).

Assuming a progressive jackpot grows large enough, then the accompanying slot will offer a profitable situation.

Casino games with +EV are rare. Certain video poker variations, blackjack (card counting), and Texas hold’em are among the few games that can deliver long-term profits.

You may already know about these opportunities. But you might not be so in tune with the idea of playing progressive slots for +EV. The only problem is that slots profits are entirely theoretical. You actually need to win the jackpot at some point, or at least a number of other large prizes, to realize profits.

Is it still worth playing these games for +EV when the opportunity presents itself? I’ll answer this question by looking at the main factors to consider regarding progressive slots.

You Can Gain a Theoretical Edge With Progressive Jackpots

Again, you can look forward to positive expected value when a progressive slots jackpot grows large enough. In turn, you theoretically profit from every wager you make with such a game.

Here’s an example:

  • You’re playing a slot with 96% base RTP.
  • The jackpot grows from a $10,000 starting value to $1 million.
  • The game is now offering 105% RTP.
  • You wager $1 per spin.
  • 1 x 0.05 = $0.05
  • You’re theoretically earning $0.05 per spin.

In this situation, you want to make lots of wagers and/or increase your bet size to capitalize on your advantage. Your profits will theoretically grow as the jackpot keeps growing.

Of course, “theoretical” is the key word here. You actually have to get sizable wins (especially the jackpot) to turn theory into reality.

Slot machines are among the most volatile games in the casino. They’re very fickle about when they deliver large prizes or any payouts at all.

You can have up to a 20% edge with these games and still lose money. That said, you have to be careful when pouring money into these machines even when you believe you’re holding an edge.

Become an Advantage Gambler Without Getting Kicked Out

One huge perk to concentrating your advantage play on slot machines is that you won’t be thrown out of the casino.

You’ve likely seen movies where card counters are harassed by pit bosses and security. The reason for this scenario is that card counters take money directly from the house.

With progressive jackpots, the game provider usually seeds the initial jackpot. They and the casino share the profits in this scenario.

Closeup of Progressive Slot Machines

Both the provider and casino don’t care who wins a jackpot and by what means. They’ll earn profits from their house edge regardless.

The gamblers are the ones who supply the extra funds to pump up the jackpot and potentially create a +EV situation.

You can play such slot machines as long as you want without being tossed. After all, it’s not the casino’s money you’re chasing but rather the previous gamblers’ funds.

Your Odds of Winning Are Very Low

You have the ability to win profits through any slot just by getting lucky. Therefore, you don’t need a progressive slot with a big jackpot to win.

However, you benefit by playing slots with bloated jackpots because you can earn theoretical profits. The main problem, though, is that you might never hit the jackpot and accomplish this goal.

Every progressive slot machine is programmed to give the house an edge at first. Some of these games offer base RTP as low as 88%.

The growing jackpot is what eventually creates a +EV scenario. When a giant progressive payout is added to the base RTP, a slot can deliver theoretical profits.

Unfortunately, your chances of hitting a big jackpot are really low. For example, Las Vegas’ Megabucks, which commonly features $10 million+ jackpots, only gives you around 1 in 50 million odds of winning.

Of course, not all slots offer jackpots this big or with this long of odds. But you’re still facing odds in the millions with any sizable progressive payout.

How Do You Know When You Have the Edge?

Besides your extremely low odds of hitting a jackpot, the other big problem with advantage progressive slots play is that you never truly know when you have the edge.

You can actually calculate your odds of winning a progressive jackpot with a table game like blackjack or Caribbean Stud. The reason why is because you have access to the odds of making each hand.

In contrast, you have no idea what your odds are of earning each payout with a slot machine. Manufacturers don’t voluntarily give out this information.

The providers likely have this info on hand. However, they don’t want to share it and convince gamblers like yourself to wait until the jackpot is closer to break-even value.

As a result, you can only guess as to when you have the advantage based on a jackpot’s size. Assuming a payout rises from $100,000 to $10 million (100x increase), then you can reasonably assume that game is offering +EV. Unfortunately, you won’t even know for sure in this instance.

Does +EV Mean Anything With Progressive Slots?

The two main factors that diminish the value of advantage progressive slots play include:

  • Low odds of winning the jackpot and realizing true profits
  • You don’t know when you actually have an edge

This type of advantage gambling involves infinite uncertainty compared to card counting. With the latter, you can reasonably assume that you’ll win profits at some point with a large bankroll and enough skill.

Progressive slots, on the other hand, offer no guarantee. You may have to spin the reels millions and millions of times before realizing +EV.

Here’s an example:

  • You’re playing a progressive slot with 95% base RTP.
  • The jackpot has reached $5 million, and the game is now offering +EV.
  • This jackpot has 1 in 10 million odds of hitting.
  • You perform 800 spins per hour.
  • 10,000,000 / 800 = 12,500 hours

You’ll theoretically have to play for 12,500 hours before winning the jackpot. Considering that there are 8,760 hours in a year, you’d need to play for 1.43 years continuously to win.

Closeup of Row of Slot Machines

Maybe you wouldn’t mind waiting this long to win if you were a vampire. But chances are that you don’t have the money nor time to wait this long on an advantage.

Furthermore, you can’t even be certain that you’ll win the top prize after 10 million spins. You may have to perform two or three times this amount of spins before cashing in.

Therefore, advantage progressive slots play isn’t worthwhile from a logical perspective. But it can be worth the effort if you’re already going to play these games anyway.

You may already enjoy spinning reels for huge jackpots. In this case, you should definitely pursue any potential +EV opportunity.

Conclusion

The world of advantage gambling is a fascinating subject. It’s just not so fascinating with regard to slot machines. Progressive slots give you an edge when their jackpots reach a certain point. You’ll theoretically profit on every wager at this point.

Unfortunately, progressive slot machines are theoretical when it comes to +EV. Too much payback is wrapped up in the jackpot to guarantee you any sort of profits.

If you’re dealing with a jackpot that’s seeded at $100,000 or higher, your odds of winning will be in the millions. As explained before, you’d need to play for months or even years to realistically collect such a prize.

Such an effort would require significant time and money. If you’re playing progressive slots purely for the advantage, then you’re going down the wrong path. This isn’t to say that advantage slots play is completely worthless. Assuming you already enjoy progressive slot machines, then you might as well go after any +EV opportunity.

The catch, though, is that you can’t calculate when you have an advantage. Instead, you just have to guess based on the starting RTP, beginning jackpot value, and where the jackpot sits now.

Complete Strategy Guide to Playing Baccarat

Mixed Image of a Book a Baccarat Table and a Casino Background

Baccarat is one of the best games in the casino for players of every experience level. It’s easy to play and offers a low house edge when you compare it to most other games. You only need to know one thing to use the best possible strategy, and the rules are so simple that anyone can play.

Baccarat tables used to be hidden in the high roller areas, requiring large bankrolls and bets to even get a seat at the table. But now you can play the same game in most casinos at the mini baccarat or midi baccarat tables. You can also play baccarat at most online casinos.

When I’m looking for a game with a low house edge and simple strategy, baccarat is my first choice. I prefer to play online because it offers a few advantages over land based baccarat play. I’ll share these advantages with you below.

How to Play Baccarat

Baccarat is the easiest game in the casino to play. You simply exchange your money for chips, get a seat at the table, and place a wager. The casino personnel running the game take care of everything else.

If you happen to be playing at a traditional baccarat table, the casino gives you a chance to deal the cards every once in a while, but you can pass on this option. When you play baccarat at a mini or midi table, you have a dealer, much like at a blackjack table.

The main way to tell the difference between a regular baccarat table and one of the other games is a regular baccarat table is much larger.

Mini and midi baccarat tables are the same size as blackjack tables. For the purposes of this ultimate baccarat strategy shortcut guide, mini and mid baccarat are the same.

Once you place a bet, the casino dealer deals two hands, one for the baker and one for the player, and then he or she resolves the hand. The dealer collects losing wagers and pays winning bets. All you have to do is make a bet and relax. You’re going to learn more about the betting options in the next section.

3 Betting Options and Strategy

Casino games like slot machines are designed in a way that doesn’t allow you to alter the outcome or house edge. It doesn’t matter how you spin the reels, because the long term house edge is the same.

Other games give you options which alter the house edge. When you have options, it gives you the opportunity to use strategy. Your goal and the casino’s goal is the same; to win more than you lose.

Casino games are designed to win more than they lose, so most players lose more than they win. But this doesn’t mean you should lose more than you have to. You should always use the best possible strategy to lower the house edge.

Sometimes the best strategy is complicated. The best strategy for blackjack and poker is hard, but the best strategy players have a chance to overcome the house edge. Baccarat offers one of the simplest strategies of all casino games.

To understand what the best baccarat strategy is, you need to know a little more about the three betting options.

Group of Happy People Playing Baccarat

A bet on the banker hand has a house edge of 1.06%. All winning banker bets must pay a commission, which is usually 5%. The house edge of 1.06% already accounts for this commission, and the dealer takes care of collecting it.

A bet on the player hand has a house edge of 1.24%. You don’t pay a commission on winning player hand bets.

The third betting option at the baccarat table is on a tie between the banker and player hands. The house edge varies based on the payout amount, but this is the worst bet on the table. You should never make the tie bet, because the house edge is worse than most slot machines.

Some baccarat tables also offer a side bet of some sort. Side bets come in different shapes and sizes and are called different things, but they all have one thing in common. All baccarat side bets have a high house edge and should be avoided.

Now that you know about the available baccarat wagers, can you guess what the best strategy option is?

The best and only baccarat strategy you need to use is always bet on the banker hand. I realize this sounds simple, and that’s because it is simple. This is the only strategy you need to keep the house edge low.

The Advantages of Playing Online Baccarat

Playing baccarat in a land based casino and an online casino offers the same basic game play. You place a bet and let the casino take care of everything else. So why do I recommend playing baccarat online?

In a land based casino you don’t have any control over the ace of play.

You can leave the table, but as long as you’re sitting at the table playing, the pace of the game is in the control of the dealer.

When you play baccarat online you can play as fast or as slow as you want. This is important because in any game with a built in house edge like baccarat, the faster you play the more you lose.

You can also make smaller bets when you play online baccarat. The table minimum in land based casinos is usually $10 or $20 per hand. In most online casinos the minimum bet per hand is $5 or less, with some offering minimums as low as $1.

The advantage of playing online baccarat that I like is the availability of a bonus at many online casinos. You can get a bonus on your deposit, which gives you a higher bankroll to play with. When you combine a bonus, simple game play, easy strategy, and the ability to play as fast or as slow as you want, it’s clear that online baccarat offers a better playing experience than land based baccarat.

How to Get Started Right Now

No ultimate strategy shortcut guide is complete without a step by step tutorial. Here’s a step by step baccarat guide that guarantees that you play with the lowest house edge and lets you get started immediately.

  1. Find an online casino that offers baccarat and a deposit bonus. You can use any of the trusted casinos listed on this site.
  2. Sign up for an account at your chosen online casino.
  3. Make a deposit and collect your bonus.
  4. Open the baccarat table.
  5. Make a table minimum wager on the banker hand.
  6. Play for as long as you wish. Remember that the more you play the more you lose, so don’t play as fast as you can. Take your time and enjoy the experience and your bankroll will last longer.

That’s all there is to playing baccarat using the best strategy. You’re always going to play with lowest house edge, and this gives you the best chance to win some of your playing sessions and makes your bankroll last as long as possible.

Closeup of a Baccarat Hand

If you want to play baccarat in a land based casino, here are the steps you need to follow.

  1. Go to the casino and find the baccarat table.
  2. You can exchange your cash for chips at the cashier cage before going to the table, but most casinos allow you to make the exchange at the table before you start playing.
  3. Place the table minimum wager on the banker space.
  4. Sit back, relax, and let the dealer take care of everything else.

Conclusion

Baccarat is one of my favorite casino games. It has a lower house edge than slot machines, most table games, and most video poker machines. It’s also so easy to play that anyone can play like a pro using this guide.

Anytime I take a new gambler to the casino we start at the baccarat table. Once I explain that all they have to do is bet on the banker and the dealer takes care of everything else, it makes it the perfect game to introduce someone to casino gambling.

If you’re willing to give online casinos a try, you can play with a bigger bankroll and lower minimum bets, and you still have the same betting options available. Always bet on the banker hand and play at a slower pace and online baccarat offers many advantage that you can’t find in a land based casino.

7 Gamblers Who Had It All…Then Lost It All

Mixed Image of Caesars Palace Casino Burning Money and WSOP Table

Many gamblers strive just to win meager profits. But a small percentage of players have actually managed to become rich through gambling.

The biggest winners often have the perfect mix of talent, fearlessness, and bankroll management. Unfortunately, some big winners are lacking in the latter category.

These same players have won and lost fortunes due to their inability to handle money and/or walk away. The following 7 gamblers serve as cautionary tales for knowing when to quit.

1 – Stu Ungar

Stu Ungar is best known for winning three WSOP Main Event titles. He took down this prestigious tournament in 1980, 1981, and 1997. The latter title earned him the nickname “The Comeback Kid.”

However, Ungar was proficient in more than just poker. He first became a professional gambler through gin rummy.

After standing out in the New York gin rummy scene, Ungar travelled to Las Vegas in search of action. He dominated the competition so badly that nobody would play him anymore.

Ungar was also extremely good at blackjack. He was so good, in fact, that he could count a six-deck shoe and know what the final card was.

Picture of Stu Ungar

While Ungar was excellent at various forms of gambling, he did poorly with sports betting. He also developed a bad cocaine habit that would fester throughout the years.

The combination of sports betting and coke led to Ungar losing everything he made on the gambling tables. But he still experienced a shining moment after winning the 1997 WSOP Main Event.

Ungar split the $1 million prize with his backer, Billy Baxter. Sadly, he blew his $500,000 share on drugs and sports gambling.

Just a few months later, he died in a seedy motel of a heart attack. The heart attack was the result of years’ of cocaine usage.

2 – Erick Lindgren

Erick Lindgren was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the poker boom (2003-2006). He won multiple WSOP gold bracelets and World Poker Tour titles at the height of poker mania.

“E-Dog” also landed a sponsorship deal with Full Tilt Poker that paid him $300,000 per month. Lindgren used his wealth to bet on sports and fantasy sports.

The latter caused his sports gambling problem to surface in 2012. Fellow gamblers began complaining that Lindgren failed to cover a $100,000 buy-in into a private fantasy league.

Soon, others came forward with stories about the two-time WSOP champ owing them money. He eventually declared bankruptcy after realizing that he had no chance to cover some $12 million worth of debt.

He owed $3.8 million in back taxes to the IRS. Lindgren also owed fellow gamblers, including poker pro Andy Bloch, an estimated $6.1 million.

Poker Player Erick Lindgren

He’s since gone into gambling rehab multiple times and continues to play poker. But Lindgren will never be able to pay all the people whom he owes money. Of course, bankruptcy court probably took care of most of this debt for him.

3 – Terrance Watanabe

Unlike many other gamblers on this list, Terrance Watanabe has never been a professional. Instead, he’s a whale who formerly ran Oriental Trading Co.

Watanabe took over the family business in 1977 and helped it become a prominent brand. The Japanese-American businessman sold his stake in Oriental Trading in 2000 and retired a wealthy man.

He set out to be a great philanthropist in his retirement. However, he spent far more time in Vegas casinos.

Watanabe was the biggest fish in the casino and would play everything from keno to slot machines. He lost big playing these games and others.

Of course, Vegas was more than willing to offer him generous comps. Caesars, for example, created a special “Chairman” VIP level just for Watanabe.

The CEO would proceed to lose over $200 million through gambling alone. He eventually sued Caesars Entertainment in an effort to avoid paying up on a $14 million debt. The two sides settled out of court.

4 – Ryazan

“Ryazan” became one of the most-famous daily fantasy sports (DFS) pros in the mid-2000s. He won a fortune through football and other games in 2015.

Feeling good about his skills, Ryazan began challenging other noted pros like Martin “Papagates” Crowley and Saahil Sud to matches.

He wasn’t afraid to brag about his winnings in DFS forums either. What the daily fantasy world didn’t know, though, is that Ryazan was awful at bankroll management.

In fact, he used credit cards to fund his initial bankroll. Ryazan spent much of his 2015 fortune and used credit cards to reload his account.

The result was mounting credit card interest and a diminishing bankroll. His career took a downswing in 2016 that left him unable to cover the massive taxes on his 2015 earnings.

5 – Charles Wells

Charles Wells is similar to Terrance Watanabe in that he didn’t become famous for being a professional gambler. In fact, he was a conman long before his gambling ventures came to light in the 1890s.

The Englishman funded his initial gambling bankroll via a phony musical jump rope. He duped investors into giving him a collective £4,000.

Wells took the money and headed to Monte Carlo. Here, he played roulette using the Martingale system and got lucky enough to break the bank (win every chip at a table) multiple times. By the time the trip was over, Wells had earned 1 million francs.

He went back to Monte Carlo shortly after the first big win. He did even better this time, breaking the bank 17 times.

Wells became a celebrity upon returning to Britain. He even toyed with the press that he had a secret roulette strategy.

This notion was just another con. Wells simply got lucky while using an aggressive betting strategy.

The luck would finally run out when he returned to Monte Carlo for a third time. He lost everything and returned to Britain penniless.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, Wells was also arrested for fraud. He spent the rest of his life in and out of prison.

6 – Harry Findlay

A professional sports bettor, Harry Findlay has won millions of pounds through different sports and horse racing. He’s also become a celebrity in the UK due to his outspoken ways.

Findlay started drinking his own Kool-Aid in 2007. He placed a £2.5 million bet on New Zealand beating France in the Rugby World Cup.

Findlay was so sure of a win that he held a big party at the stadium. His huge bet looked like it would pay off when New Zealand led 13-3 at halftime.

Professional Sports Bettor Harry Findlay

Despite the big lead, Findlay hedged with a relatively small bet on France making a comeback. This wager promised to pay £600,000 if the French pulled off the miracle.

They indeed did so and dealt Findlay a massive lost. He at least salvaged £600k thanks to his halftime hedge.

This was just the beginning as Findlay continued to lose more bets over the years. He also poured money into saving Coventry Stadium’s greyhound racing program only to get burned.

Findlay is now worth far less than he used to be. He’s still a successful horse bettor but not to the same extend as previously.

7 – Archie Karas

No story beats Archie Karas’ fall from gambling grace. He managed to pull off the greatest gambling run in history only to lose everything.

Karas’ tale began in Los Angeles where he was down to his last $50. Rather than saving up money to reload, he headed to Las Vegas in 1992.

Once here, he borrowed $10,000 from a friend and won enough to build a decent bankroll. Karas proceeded to win millions of dollars through a combination of pool and poker.

By the time he was worth $17 million, nobody would play Karas in pool or poker. He resorted to playing high-stakes craps at Binion’s Gambling hall.

Despite playing a house-banked game, Karas managed to run his bankroll up to $40 million. But this would represent the peak of his success.

In 1995, Karas switched to baccarat and lost $11 million. He returned to the craps tables only to lose an additional $18 million.

Following a brief visit back to his native country of Greece, Karas began playing baccarat, craps, and poker in Vegas. All three propelled his losses until he was left with nothing.

Karas has since gone on other large runs only to lose the money. He was arrested in 2013 for marking cards at a San Diego casino.

Conclusion

All the gamblers on this list have had to think ‘what if’ when reflecting back on their careers. Each of these players was up big at some point and lost everything.

Ungar is arguably the best all-around gambler ever. But sports betting and cocaine proved to be powerful addictions that he couldn’t overcome.

Erick Lindgren once appeared set for life thanks to his poker winnings and Full Tilt sponsorship. But like Ungar, he couldn’t resist betting big on sports — much to his detriment.

Terrance Watanabe built Oriental Trading into a well-known international company. He cashed out in 2000 only to lose over $200 million of his fortune to Vegas casinos.

Ryazan was one of the earliest success stories in DFS. However, his good fortune took a downturn when mounting credit card debt and bad bankroll management caused him to go broke.

Charles Wells was a nineteenth century conman who got extremely lucky playing roulette. He pushed his luck too many times and lost everything.

Harry Findlay won millions of pounds through sports gambling. But big bets and a failed bid to help UK greyhound racing cost him his fortune.

Finally, Archie Karas won $40 million after starting with just $50. He couldn’t quit at the top, though, and ended up losing the entire amount.

You may never win as big as any of these gamblers. But if you do, heed their stories so that you can quit with some of your profits.

How Roulette Works and Other Questions Answered

Roulette Table Wheel and Dice Mixed Into One Image

If you haven’t studied roulette or if you only know roulette from movies and TV shows, you’ve probably heard or seen a lot of strange, unrealistic things.

Roulette is considered to be one of the better casino games in the world. Even so people wonder if it’s possible to cheat the game or for the casino to cheat the players.

After cheating people want to know how to beat the game.

There is no guaranteed way to beat any casino game because the casinos won’t offer games that can be beaten consistently. You’ll always need a bit of luck and a good bankroll. But here are some of the interesting questions about roulette that I’ve come across.

1 – Can Roulette Be Rigged?

Of course roulette can be rigged. Any game can be rigged. A better question is how can you tell if the roulette game is rigged.

I doubt many casinos will allow you to inspect their roulette tables. As long as a land-based casino is operating under a government license it must comply with all local gambling laws.

Gaming commissions inspect the casinos and the games and they have the authority to shut down any game that may be faulty.

Casinos take responsibility for maintaining their games very seriously because they lose money if the government stops their play for any reason.

Online casinos are a different story. Unless you’re playing at an online casino with live roulette, you’re watching a software-based game.

Any licensed online casino is using a regulated gaming platform. These platforms are kept in secure data centers and the games are tested and certified by independent authorities. That may include inspection of the code.

Unlicensed online casinos may use their own software or they may steal software from the gaming platforms and modify it. You have no way to verify whether an unlicensed casino has rigged its roulette games.

Just because you cannot verify the honesty of a game doesn’t mean it’s dishonest but you’re piling risk on top of risk in playing that game.

2 – Can Roulette Be Predicted?

Older roulette tables did have physical flaws. There are a few incidents where players managed to predict where the ball would land on old, old roulette wheels. All of that is in the past.

Roulette wheels are now manufactured to very precise standards. They are subjected to testing and regular maintenance. And if there is any doubt about the randomness of a roulette wheel it is removed from service and either repaired or replaced.

Online roulette uses a random number generator to simulate all aspects of the game.

The wheel must spin with a certain amount of force. Friction causes it to eventually slow down.

The ball must be cast with a certain amount of force. Friction and the transfer of its kinetic energy to the wheel every time it connects eventually causes the ball to find a slot on the wheel and stop.

An Active Roulette Game

In computer-based roulette these factors are replaced by the random number generator. To resemble a roulette table in a land-based casino the game runs an animation that may or may not mirror a simulated spinning wheel.

Whether the simulation employs calculations of force, mass, friction, and the transfer of energy doesn’t matter. The outcome of the game is determined by the random number generator.

It is theoretically possible to predict how a game is decided by a random number generator but the only known case where this happened relied on a super-computer and hacked slot machine games. It’s unlikely online roulette game results can be predicted.

3 – Can the Roulette Dealer Control the Ball?

Yes for land-based casinos and yes for online casinos. But it’s far from likely to happen in a regulated gaming environment.

The idea that “section shooting” or “dealer stealing” – where the dealer carefully spins and aims the ball at the right moment – is possible has been debunked repeatedly. But in theory a roulette dealer could use a rigged table to cheat.

Section shooting was popularized by Laurance Scott in a 1991 article in Blackjack Forum magazine. Players try to guess where the ball will land and place bets as late as possible. This is a myth.

Online roulette dealers are computer programs. They could be programmed to rig the games but licensed, regulated gaming platforms must comply with anti-cheating laws.

Don’t make any bar bets on this idea.

4 – Are Roulette Wheels all the Same?

There are two ways roulette wheels vary in basic design.

First is the number of green or “zero” slots on the wheel. European or single-zero roulette has only 1 green slot. American or double-zero roulette has 2 green slots.

Sands roulette is a triple-zero game but it’s not yet played in many venues.

The other way roulette wheels may differ is in manufacturing materials. There are lighter plastic roulette wheels and heavier wooden wheels. If you buy a cheap roulette wheel from an online store don’t expect it to play the same way as the wheels in land-based casinos.

5 – Are Roulette Odds Good?

This question assumes that roulette odds are all the same. The payout odds work out to the house’s advantage. But the odds – or probability – of the ball landing on any 1 number are far less likely than that it will land on 1 of the 3 colors (black, green, and red).

You have a better chance of picking the right color than picking the right number, and your best bets are black and red.

On the other hand, if you only bet a single number every time in roulette on a single-zero wheel the expected probability is about 97.3%. This isn’t a bad theoretical return to player but you can find a few slot games that offer slightly better RTP of about 98%.

Both baccarat and blackjack have better theoretical RTPs as well.

The bottom line here is that roulette generally provides a better theoretical RTP than most slot games, than all keno games, and than many other unusual casino games like Chuck-a-Luck.

6 – What Roulette Number is Most Frequent?

A well-managed roulette table’s “hot” numbers will change over time. It doesn’t matter if the table is a physical contraption in a land-based casino or software in an online casino.

Because random chance involves certain statistical volatility every roulette table will have runs of “hot” and “cold” numbers. A number is “hot” if it comes up frequently within an arbitrary number of games and “cold” if it doesn’t come up at all.

Its very rare for a number to come up more than a few times per 100 or 1000 games and you don’t want to bet on lucky numbers unless you have a large bankroll and a lot of patience.

7 – Which Roulette System is the Best?

There are many more roulette systems than I can name. And I’ve only played a few myself.

I don’t like the Martingale system at all, and it’s really not a roulette system.

A roulette system designs bets around the roulette table’s possible outcomes. Only placing outside bets is a system. Only making street bets is a system.

European roulette uses a secondary layout of number groups depicted in an oval shape. Players call out these bets rather than place chips on the table.

Closeup of a Hand Spinning a Roulette Wheel

The call bets – as they are named – are Voisins du Zero, Jeu Zero, Tiers du Cylindre, Orphelins, and Neighbors. Some casinos may change up the call bets for their tables.

If you’re looking for the safest roulette betting system, placing large wagers on the outside bets tends to be the favorite among experts. Roulette is designed to gradually siphon money away from players and if you can win big early in the night you’re better off quitting at that point.

Conclusion

It’s good to have a healthy curiosity about any gambling game. And I think if you can afford to lose some money it’s worth trying many of these games just to see how playing them feels.

It’s better – in my opinion – not to argue with people about how realistic and scientific some of the outlandish claims are. If you assume for the sake of discussion that someone really has found a vulnerability in a roulette game, you should also assume the vulnerability will be discovered by the casino and mended.

The easiest way for a casino to close a loop is to change the rules of the game. They’ve done this many times over the years.

Play the games for fun and enjoy hearing about the myths. But bring a health dose of skepticism to any discussion about how to beat roulette.

Power 5 College Football Betting Checklist

Letters Power 5 With College

College football Saturdays are a bettor’s paradise. With nearly endless games to bet on, the opportunity to win big is around every corner.

Although you have an abundance of options, choosing which games to bet on can be nearly as difficult as determining which way to bet. For the sake of this article, I’m going to stick to the things to look for when betting on power-five conference games.

Plenty of information exists that would say it’s best to stick to betting on smaller conferences in order to find opportunity where there might be less action, but let’s be honest – you’re going to bet on the big, primetime games too.

Because there is going to be so much action on the games, the sportsbooks are careful in creating their odds. The good news? When the public gets involved, you can use the bias to your advantage.

The key to a good strategy when betting on college football is knowing what to look for as criteria for betting on one side or the other. In this article, I’ll lay out a “checklist” that provides you with some aspects of a game to consider before making your bets.

1 – Home Team

No, I’m not going to tell you that it’s important to recognize home-field advantage. In fact, I’ve found the opposite to be true.

Without going too far off on another topic, I want to state a reminder that it’s crucial to remember that sportsbooks take bettors’ biases into the picture when setting the odds. They know that the average person is going to (most likely) overestimate the value of home-field advantage.

Now, this all isn’t to say the home-field advantage is useless and doesn’t have an impact on a game. Obviously, playing at home is going to benefit the home team.

The real challenge for bettors is assessing just how much of an impact the home team will have on the final score.

Bettors have a tendency to overvalue the importance of the home team. One way to avoid falling into this trap is by asking yourself, “Who would I take on a neutral field?” This question allows you to form an opinion without the vision of 80,000 screaming fans cheering against the team you bet on.

Home field can mean a lot in some circumstances, so make sure you don’t go too far in reducing the importance of the home/away dynamic. Some examples of when home-field is a crucial factor in the game are: when one team is traveling across the country (this is more likely to happen in out-of-conference games), or when one team has a notably bad record away from home.

2 – Schedule and Ranking

One distinct difference between the NFL and college football for casual bettors is that in college, you have a ranking next to the top teams. Rankings aren’t always the barometer for a team’s quality, and if you’re making picks with the rankings in mind you can find yourself in hot water.

Each year, the rankings start out as nothing more than an educated guess. From there, teams usually aren’t going to fall in the rankings if they win…regardless of the teams they’re playing. This means that rankings can actually be a misleading number.

College Football Quarterback Giving Two Thumbs Up

It takes a little leg work, but digging into each team’s schedule can provide a great deal of insight into how good they actually are when you take the ranking out of it. You might be surprised to find that, even late into the season, some of the top-ranked teams in the country haven’t been tested against many quality opponents.

Because the roster turnover is so high among college teams, you’ll need to take the next step and look at strength of a team’s previous opponents and not just the schools on the schedule. Plenty of metrics are readily available that should give you a good idea of whether a team’s record is actually reflected accurately in the rankings.

A quick glance back through the wins and losses will help you moving forward and give you the full picture into a team’s likelihood of winning against higher-quality opponents.

3 – Coaching

In no sport is coaching more important than in college football.  As previously mentioned, roster turnover is high, and the top team’s best players are lost in the draft each year. Coaching is the key to keeping a program at the top year-after-year.

If you’re betting on a game where two elite coaches are up against each other, this one may not apply. But, if you find yourself with a situation where an inexperienced head coach (maybe one who recently stepped up from a lower-tier program) is playing against a seasoned coach, the advantage can be significant.

Big time college coaches usually have a historical reputation that precedes them, but don’t simply go off of reputation when making your decision.

Take a look at his record in the type of game you’re betting on. For example, look at the wins against top opponents, home and away, and overall performance in conference games.

Coaching might not be the most important aspect of your checklist, but it still has a place when you need help in making a decision.

4 – Questionable Spreads

As a bettor, there’s a high probability that you’ve encountered, frequently, a spread that just doesn’t seem right. For example, an unranked team might be favored against a top-10 or top-15 team. The general public will likely look at the game as a ranked vs. unranked proposition and go with ranked underdog without questioning it. Don’t make this mistake.

The ranked underdog vs. the unranked favorite is actually one of the best situations if you’re able to resist the temptation to make the “easy” pick. It’s still important to run through your checklist before making these plays, but these should be games that are circled on the day’s schedule as chances to add to your bankroll.

5 – Weather

It should go without saying that the weather can have a tremendous impact on a game. Not only should you look at weather in terms of how it might impact the spread, but also as an opportunity to bet the total.

Even in the NFL, unfavorable conditions can lessen the effectiveness of a good offense, and this is even more the case when it comes to inexperienced college players.

Although it doesn’t necessarily apply to all of the top programs, just about every highly-ranked team is driven by a dynamic, spread out passing offense. Significantly adverse weather conditions can cause teams who normally put up point totals in the 40s and above to come back down to earth.

College Football Players Playing Game in Snow

If you’re thinking that the sportsbooks are going to be aware of the weather conditions and set the odds accordingly, you’re right. However, setting the over/under too low can subject the books to high risk, so the odds might not truly reflect the impact the weather will likely have.

It’s probably not realistic to attempt to get the weather report on every single game, but if you find a game where rain is predicted throughout and high winds are expected, think about taking the under.

As it pertains the spread, it’s important to consider the style of play each team utilizes. Most power-five teams have pass-heavy offenses, but the disparity in running effectiveness can be significant. In cold weather, rain, or high winds, the team who has the better running offense is likely to cover.

Conclusion

No matter which strategies you employ to make your picks, there’s no set list of criteria that’s going to win every time. The most important thing is to stick to a system and let things work themselves out over time.

Before making your plays in games involving two power-five conference teams, run through this checklist and see if it can help you form your own winning strategy.

How to Practice Poker

Stack of Books in Front of Image of Cards and Poker Chips

Poker is a popular, all-American card game that combines strategy, gambling and other different skills. All of the different variations of poker involve betting based on an intuitive belief about an outcome, and the winner is determined by specific combinations of hands presented by players.

In just about every modern poker game that you would play, the first round of the game begins with a forced bet known as a blind or ante. In standard poker, players place bets based on the value that they believe their hand has compared to the rest of the players at the poker table.

When players match the bet, they also have an opportunity to raise the bet. The game proceeds clockwise as each player either calls or folds. The betting round ends after every player at the table has either called or folded.

At the end of the betting round, the showdown takes place where all of the hands are revealed and the player with the highest-ranked hand will get to take the pot. Money is typically only placed in the pot for the ante initially, and then when a player wants to stay in the game or raise the pot based on his hand.

A player might also make a bet if he is trying to bluff the other players.

Bluffing is a phrase that gets mentioned a lot when you hear about poker and is actually a critical part of the game.

To be a good poker player, it’s important that you have a good understanding of the game theory, long-run expectations of other players, probability, and psychology.

Poker is getting more and more popular and has been since the beginning of the 20th century. It’s gone from being just a recreational activity or a way for people to relax after a long work day to being considered a professional sport.

Nowadays, you can turn on ESPN and tune in to professional poker tournaments here in the United States and other parts of the world. If you decide to make poker a hobby or want to get even more serious with it, then I recommend that you practice different aspects of the game.

There are a lot of different theories on the best ways to play poker. I’ll go over some of the most popular and productive ways to get better at the game.

1- Study

Before you go and enter a Las Vegas poker tournament, or before you even decide to play the game with real money—or play the game at all—it’s important that you study the game. There are all sorts of ways nowadays that you can learn something new.

When I learned how to play poker, if I wanted instructions, I had to read a book. Nowadays, there are tons of websites where you can learn how to play. There are also some popular modern books being sold that you can find just about anywhere. Some that I highly recommended are “Easy Game” by BalugaWhale and “Poker Plays You Can Use” by Doug Hull.

Both of these books are more on the advanced side than the beginner side, but they are still great books that I can pretty much guarantee will take your game to new heights. Another one called “Dynamic Full Ring Poker” is a little less on the advanced side and is going to be better for a beginner.

Go to Amazon and check out all of the instructional poker books in the new releases section.

If you’re more in the millennial age range, you’ll probably just want to study digitally. The modern method of learning is to just whip out your smartphone and watch one of the thousands of poker tutorial videos on the internet or by downloading an app.

Between YouTube and other poker gaming sites, there’s enough material to spend days on end studying tutorial videos.

You can listen to videos on the way to work, at home, at the park, at the coffee shop, or while you’re working.

The videos on some poker sites offer tutorials that you would pay for, but the teacher explains concepts clearly while providing sharp and easy-to-digest illustrations that will help you understand and improve your poker game.

A lot of teachers recommend watching poker videos that touch on specific concepts, such as probability or ranked card hands. You’ll get faster results studying videos this way than just watching one video on the whole game—that can be a little overwhelming.

Reading forums and listening to podcasts are other popular methods of learning poker that are totally free and can help you polish your game while driving or going to the gym.

2- Play With a Poker Buddy

Once you’ve studied and have a good understanding of the game and how it’s played, a great way to get better at poker it to practice playing with a friend using fake chips.

When I was learning how to play poker as a kid, my grandfather and I would play hand after hand for hours, and we would place bets using matches. There really isn’t a better way to learn something than to spend a lot of time practicing whatever it is you’re trying to learn. This is going to be the case when learning poker.

Poker Hand With View of Opponent in Background

You can read as many books as you want, or watch as many YouTube videos as you want, but you’re not going to be able to fully evolve as a poker player until you actually have cards in your hands.

If you’ve never held playing cards before in your life before and are wanting to get into poker, I highly suggest going to your local Walgreens and buying yourself a deck of Bicycle playing cards.

For whatever reason, Walgreens has professional-level playing cards in all of their locations, cards that you typically would only find online on a site that only a professional would be aware of. Bicycle playing cards are the gold standard of playing cards and the perfect deck of cards for a beginner to start learning how to handle cards.

Walmart and other stores have Bicycle playing cards too, but Walgreen has the Bicycle Black Tiger Deck, a deck designed by a magic company call Ellusionist. This deck is also a fine deck for beginners—they are just a little thicker than a normal Bicycle deck.

If you want to get into poker, you want to be comfortable with handling playing cards. Practice fanning the cards in your hand, shuffling, and get to where you can shuffle and do the bridge relatively easily. Go to YouTube and search “how to shuffle and do the bridge.”

If you can get really comfortable with playing cards, it can be an intimidation factor when playing poker against other players. Intimidation can be distracting for a player and mess with his ability to make a more rational decision. Get comfortable with the cards, and just start playing for fun and with no financial burden.

I think once you know which hand is better than which and have been taking all of my other suggestions, you’ll come to find that you have a high level of confidence with your poker skills and feel ready to start playing for real money.

Play Online

Though I do think the best way to get good at poker and prepare yourself for the tables at real casinos is to play with real cards and real people, there’s a huge advantage to playing online—you can often practice for free, and you’re still playing against real people.

But more than that, the biggest advantage to playing online is that you can focus on the mechanics of the game without being distracted by the human players. Because you won’t have a real person sitting across from you distracting you with their body language (or their actual language), you can focus on the hands, the betting rounds, and how poker is played at a basic level.

Case Holding Poker Chips and Cards

This is critical for when you’re finally playing against real people. The problem with playing against real people is that you now have this added layer of psychological play and manipulation, where players are trying to trick you and bluff you and get you riled up emotionally so that you make bad plays.

When you’re defending against that (or trying to employ those tactics yourself), you need to have a very clear idea of how the mechanics of the game work—so clear that your understanding is basically without thought. Once you reach that intuitive level of understanding, you’ll be much better equipped to play against players in real life.

Or who knows, you might just find out that you love playing poker online! Many people only play online and find that it’s just as enjoyable as watching TV or playing a video game on a console or computer.

Conclusion

Are you an experienced poker player and have some other practice tips that would be helpful for beginner players? Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comment section!

How You Can Count Cards in an Hour and Beat Blackjack

Blackjack Hand Hovering Over an Abacus

Blackjack is one of the few gambling activities where players can get a long term edge against the casinos. It’s obvious that most blackjack players never get an edge; because the casinos would stop offering the game if they stopped making money.

Some blackjack players don’t know they can get an edge, and some think that it’s too much work to get an edge. I’m going to eliminate both of these excuses. The fact is that you can get a blackjack edge by counting cards and adjusting the size of your bets. And I’m going to teach you how you can start counting cards in just one hour.

Can you learn enough in one hour to get an edge playing blackjack?

Yes, you can start playing with an edge in an hour. It’s not going to be much better than break even, but it’s a good way to start. If you want to play with a bigger edge, you can use what you’re getting ready to learn here and continue improving your skills and your edge.

After I teach you how to get started in an hour I’m going to tell you how to keep working and improve your edge more. It’s easier than most blackjack players think, and all you have to do is learn the proper techniques and practice them.

This might sound simple, and that’s because it really is simple. I don’t understand why more blackjack players don’t count cards. Keep reading and you’re never going to be able to use an excuse like it’s too hard to count cards again.

The Basics

The reason counting cards can give you a long term edge at the blackjack table is because the house edge goes up and down based on the cards remaining in the deck or shoe. A deck or shoe with more high cards than low cards moved the edge lower; eventually moving it so much that you have an edge instead of the casino.

When the deck or shoe has more low cards than high cards, the edge is pushed higher. When the deck has more low cards you want to bet less, or even stop playing. When the deck or shoe has more high cards than low cards, you want to bet more.

The problem for most blackjack players is that they have no idea how many high and low cards are left in the deck or shoe. A card counting system is a simplified way of keeping track of the ratio of high to low cards remaining.

I say that a card counting system is a simplified way to track the ration of high to low cards because many gamblers think that card counters memorize every card that gets played and then subtract these cards from the cards the dealer started with to figure out a ratio.

The truth is that most people aren’t able to memorize every single card that gets played and determine which cards haven’t been played. This is simply too hard. But a card counting system is a tool you can use to skip most of the hard work. In the next section you’re going to learn exactly how to use a simple card counting system that anyone can use.

Closeup of Two Blackjack Hand

Before you learn how to use a simple card counting system you need to know a few more things. The best card counting system in the world can’t overcome blackjack games with bad rules and poor strategy decisions.

If you want to be a winning blackjack player you have to use the best possible strategy on every hand you play and find games with good rules. The good news is that the best blackjack strategy has already been worked out, so you don’t have to figure it out on your own.

You don’t even have to memorize the best strategy. All you have to do is use a blackjack strategy card when you play. The casinos don’t have any rules against using a strategy card, and as you get experience using it you’re going to eventually memorize all of the plays without trying. The only thing you need to know about blackjack strategy besides using a strategy card for every play is to never take insurance or any other side bet.

Every rule at the blackjack table has ether a negative or positive impact on the house edge. Some rules make the house edge go up, and some make the house edge go down. I’ve included a list of common rules below that you want to look for. You’re not going to find games with all good rules, so you need to find games that have as many good rules as possible.

The first rule you need to consider is what the table pays for a natural blackjack, and this is the only rule that is unbreakable.

The blackjack table must pay 3 to 2 for a blackjack, or you should simply not play. Many blackjack games have moved to 6 to 5 payouts for blackjacks, and these tables have a house edge that’s just too high.

Blackjack tables either have the dealer stand or hit on a soft 17. When the dealer stands on a soft 17 it’s better for you. This isn’t a huge difference when comparing the house edge for a game where the dealer hits a soft 17, but it does make a small difference.

Another rule that you need to consider is about doubling down. In general, the more options you have for doubling down, the better. Though few blackjack tables offer it, if you can double down after splitting it’s a great rule.

Speaking of splitting, the more times you can split pairs, the better. The common rule is you can split to three or four hands, which isn’t bad, but if you can split unlimited times it’s better.

You should learn more about how the rules change the house edge, but if you want to get started in an hour I don’t have time to dive into the rules deeper.

The Simple Card Counting System

The card counting system you’re going to use focuses on the aces and fives in the deck. The reason why these tow cards are important is because they have the highest influence on the house edge when they’re removed from the deck.

More advanced card counting systems track more cards so they’re more reliable, but they work the same way as this system works. This means that once you learn how to use this system it’s easy to learn a more advanced system.

Most card counting systems start with a count of zero. Then you add or subtract a number, usually one, from your count. The only problem with this is that many people don’t like working with negative numbers. For this reason, I’ve adjusted the starting count to 10. You can do the same thing with most card counting systems if you don’t like to work with negative numbers.

Blackjack Table With Dealer and Players

Here’s how this card counting system works.

Start with a count of 10. Every time you see a five, add one to your count. Every time you see an ace, subtract one from your count. Make the table minimum bet when you start playing, and continue making the minimum bet as long as the count is at 11 or less.

When the count gets to 12, double your bet. As long as the count is at 12 or 13, stay at the doubled bet level. When the count gets to 14, double your bet again, and stay at this level at 14 and 15. At a count of 16 and higher double your bet again.

As the count goes back down, adjust your bets back to the appropriate level. Remember that when the count is 11 or lower you’re always making the table minimum bet. When the count gets to six or lower, especially in a shoe game, you should consider leaving the table because at this count the house edge is too high.

That’s the entire system in one short section. Using this system with the proper strategy and good rules will get you a small ling term edge. You’re still going to have some losing sessions, but in the long run you’re going to do a little better than break even.

Practice

Now that you understand how the system works and know what rules to look for and that you need to use a strategy card, you need to send the rest of the hour practicing. The good news is that all you need is a deck of playing cards. Here’s exactly what you need to do.

Shuffle the cards and turn them over one by one. Every time you see a five you add one to your count, and every time you see an ace you subtract one. After you deal all of the cards your count should be 10. Keep doing this until you can keep track while turning the cards over as fast as possible.

Now start dealing the cards in sets of two and three. Do this as fast as possible while keeping an accurate count. Keep practicing until your hour is up.

Start Counting in a Casino

The final step is to start playing in a real casino. If you followed my advice about practicing as fast as you can, you’re going to find that blackjack in the casino is slower than you practiced. The main things to focus on are using the proper strategy and keeping an accurate count.

You add and subtract for every five and ace you see, whether it’s in your hand, another player’s hand, or the dealer’s hand. You must track every single five and ace.

Don’t Get Caught

The only problem with counting cards while playing blackjack is if the casino thinks you’re counting they’re going to ask you to stop playing. This means that you need to learn how to count cards without getting caught.

Sadly, this is a deep subject that you can’t learn much about in an hour.

It’s not against the law to count cards, but the casino can make you stop playing.

This is good and bad news. The good news is you’re not going to jail, but the bad news is that they might not let you play long.

The best way to avoid getting banned from playing is to move from table to table and casino to casino often. Some card counters only spend an hour or so in a casino before moving to a different casino. Once you try your new counting system in the casino a few times, spend some time learning more about getting away with counting.

Mastering Your New Craft

The next step is to learn how to use a more advanced card counting system. A more advanced system gives you a bigger house edge, and it’s not much harder to use.

I like the Knock Out system and the Red 7 system, but the Hi Lo system is the most popular. Any of these three card counting systems work well if you learn how to use them correctly.

Conclusion

You can get an edge at the blackjack table and you can start in as little as one hour. Use the simple system on this page in combination with good strategy and good rules and you’re going to be playing with a small edge when playing blackjack for real money.

Once you master this card counting system, continue learning about better systems. Pick a more advanced system and spend as much time as you need mastering it. Your bankroll will benefit from your new skills.

The Ultimate Craps Strategy Shortcut Guide

Ghostly Image of Dice in Front of Craps Table

Craps doesn’t usually enter the discussion when it comes to the best casino games or the gambling options with the lowest house edge. But if you stick to the simple strategy you’re going to learn below and manage your bet size correctly, craps is a great game for players of every experience level.

Keep reading to learn about all of the advantages that craps players have, why playing online craps is better than playing in a land based casino, and about the secret craps bet that doesn’t have a house edge.

Craps Advantages

The biggest advantage craps offers to gamblers isn’t one that gets much discussion. Casinos want gamblers to risk as much as possible every hour they’re in the casino. Casinos know that the house edge built into their games will take care of the profit and the profit goes up if the casino can get players to risk more.

The two ways that gamblers risk more are betting more per wager and/or making more wagers. An example of a game where you make more wagers per hour is a slot machine. You can play 500 or more spins every hour on most slot machines.

A baccarat table in the high limit area with a minimum bet of $100 or $500 is an example of playing a higher amount per wager. Playing more per wager and/or more wagers per hour are detrimental to your bankroll.

This is where craps offers an advantage for gamblers. Most craps tables offer a reasonable table minimum bet in the range of $10 to $20 in land based casinos and as low as $1 when you play craps at an online casino.

When you stick with the two best bets I describe below, the only bet you make that has a house edge is either a pass line or don’t pass line wager on the come out roll. When you bet on a come out roll, most of the time a point is set and it takes multiple rolls for the bet to resolve.

The importance of this is that it reduces the total amount you risk every hour you play. This means that even though some blackjack games and some video poker machines offer a lower house edge than craps, you still often lose less per hour playing craps than playing a game with a lower house edge.

Crowd Around Craps Table Playing the Game

Another advantage that craps offers deals with a bet that has zero house edge. These types of bets are extremely rare in a casino. Once a point has been set you can make a special bet called an odds bet. You won’t see a space on the felt for the odds because casinos don’t tend to advertise fair betting opportunities.

To place an odds bet you slide your bet out behind your pass or don’t pass line wager after a point has been set. If you have a large enough bankroll to do it, you should always place the maximum odds bet allowed. Ask the casino person running the craps game what the odds bet limits are when you join the table.

Why would you want to make the maximum bet on a break even wager? You can only place an odds bet after making a bet on the come out roll. The bet on the come out roll has a house edge. You want to make the smallest wager possible on the come out roll and the largest bet possible on the odds bet because it effectively makes the house edge as small as possible.

In the long run you’re going to break even on your odds wagers and lose 1.41% on pass line bets and 1.36% on don’t pass line bets.

Rolling the Dice

One of the concerns that many first time craps players have is rolling the dice. They worry that they’re going to make a mistake or get embarrassed. Of course, if you play online craps you don’t have to worry about this, but here’s why you don’t need to worry about rolling the dice in a land based casino.

The first thing to know is that you don’t have to roll the dice.

When it’s your turn to roll, you can pass the roll to the next player. Unless you’re the only player at the table you never have to roll the dice unless you want to.

But I encourage you to roll the dice when it’s your turn. Watch the other player roll before you join the table to see how they throw the dice. After joining the table, when it’s your turn to roll the dice simply tell the casino person who gives you the dice that this is your first time.

In my experience, almost every time a player explains that this is their first time rolling the casino personnel are quite helpful. And don’t worry about making a mistake. If you make a mistake the casino person will tell you what you did and you can correct it.

The thing you need to know is the casino wants both dice to bounce off the far wall of the craps table. This can be on the fly or after the dice hit the table.

Dice Control

I want to warn you about something that I see advertised quite a bit online. Some people claim that with enough practice that you can control the outcome of dice rolls while playing craps. They make this sound good because in order to overcome the house edge you only need to alter the outcome of a small percentage of rolls.

I’m not saying that dice control is real or that it’s a myth, but do want to point out a couple things you need to know.

The first thing is that just about everyone who claims dice control is real is trying to sell you something. They’re either trying to sell you a book, a video, or a course on how to do it. This alone doesn’t mean that dice control isn’t real, but it does make my scam radar go up.

Zoomed in Image of Dice Rolling

The other thing is that even if it is a realistic possibility, you’re going to need to invest quite a bit of money in a realistic practice environment and thousands of hours in practice. You’re not going to become an expert in a few hours.

My recommendation is to focus on the simple strategy outlined below and look into dice control to decide if it’s realistic or not later.

Playing Craps Online

Playing craps online offers two advantages that land based carps players don’t have. The first advantage is that some online casinos give you a deposit bonus that at least doubles your bankroll. This helps you play twice as long or longer on the same amount of money.

Make sure you read the terms for the bonus to make sure that you can use it to play craps. All online bonuses aren’t created equal, and some of them are only for slots play.

The big advantage for online craps players is you control how fast you play.

If you play online as fast as you can you’re going to end up playing far more rolls every hour than you play in a land based casino. But you can also choose to play much slower than in a land based casino, which makes your bankroll last longer.

The final advantage to playing craps online is that the tables usually have a lower minimum bet amount. With minimum bets of $1 to $5 at most online casinos, compared to $10 to $20 in most land based casino, you can play five to 20 times longer on the same bankroll.

The Only Craps Strategy You Need

Here’s the only craps strategy you’re ever going to need. Make the minimum table bet on either the pass line or don’t pass line on the come out roll. Most craps players prefer the pass line bet, but the don’t pass line wager is slightly better.

Then make the maximum odds bet when a point is set. This is the total craps strategy, and gives you the best chance to win in the short term and long term. Never make any other carps bet.

As you learned above, if you use this strategy to play online craps, getting a bonus, playing slow, and making minimum bets, it can increase how long you can play by a large amount. With a bankroll that allows you to play 10 hours in a land based casino, you might be able to play over 100 hours online. This is a big difference, so you should consider it before you start playing.

Conclusion

Craps is a simple game, and if you use the simple strategy outlined on this page you can play knowing that you’re always getting the lowest house edge possible. When you use this strategy to play online craps you make your bankroll last as long as possible, giving you as much bang for your buck that you can find with any gambling game.

9 Tips to Improve Your ROI with Casino Games

Case of Money Next to Casino Chips With Las Vegas Strip Background

Return on investment (ROI) is often used to describe traditional investments like stocks, property, and rental units. Those who take these chances are hoping to get a high ROI on their original investment.

When you’re playing casino games, though, you likely aren’t thinking about ROI. Instead, you may be hoping to just hang on long enough to get hot or win a jackpot.

But you should keep the ROI concept in mind as you gamble. After all, a higher return ensures that you can sustain your bankroll until a hot streak does come along. That said, here are 9 tips for boosting your ROI with casino gambling.

1 – Pick Games That Pay Well

The gaming community uses return to player (RTP) as a substitute for ROI. Return to player refers to how much money you can expect to win with any given casino game.

The fact is that nearly every game gives the house an advantage. Therefore, your ROI will be negative in all but a few instances (covered later).

But the goal is to choose games with high RTP so that you can at least minimize your losses. With any luck, you can even win profits with the best-paying games.

Here are the house-banked casino games that offer the highest RTP:

  • Video poker – 100.76% (full-pay Deuces Wild) to 99.17% RTP (full-pay Bonus Poker).
  • Blackjack – 99.5% to 98.0% RTP
  • Baccarat – 98.94% RTP (banker bet)
  • French roulette – 98.65% RTP (w/ even-money bets)
  • European roulette – 97.3% RTP

2 – Choose Casinos That Feature Great Odds

As you can see from the list above, certain games feature some variation in their RTP. The reason being is that casinos can alter rules to either give you stronger odds or improve their chances of taking your money.

Obviously you don’t want to choose casinos that specialize in the latter. Therefore, you should scout out gambling establishments ahead of time to see who offers the best deals.

For example, many downtown Las Vegas casinos boast player-friendly blackjack rules. You can use these rules to lower the house edge to just 0.5%.

Wide Photo of the Las Vegas Strip

Vegas Strip casinos, on the other hand, include house-friendly rules. These changes can increase the casino’s advantage to 2% or more.

With real money online casinos, you can simply google games (e.g. “Bonanza slot RTP”) to figure out how much they pay back. This simple process allows you to quickly find the casinos/developers that feature the best odds.

3 – Learn Basic Strategy for Your Chosen Games

Some casino games offer you a solid chance to win with little strategy involved. Baccarat, French roulette, and European roulette are all perfect examples of this fact.

Other games, such as blackjack and video poker, force you to develop skills to lower the house edge.

That said, you want to study basic strategy for whatever blackjack or video poker variation you’re playing. If you’re on a 9/6 Jacks or Better machine, for example, then you want to learn specific strategy for this variant.

4 – Chase Profits with Skill Based Gambling

Up until now, I’ve only discussed house-banked casino games. However, you can explore another side to gambling through skill-based games.

Daily fantasy sports (DFS), esports betting, poker, sports betting, and video poker (certain variations) all give you a chance to win long-term profits.

In the case of DFS or poker, you’re competing directly against other gamblers. Assuming you’re more skilled than the competition and can overcome the rake, then you have a chance to win serious profits.

With esports and sports betting, you’re trying to outperform the odds and bookmaker’s “juice” when placing wagers. The hope is that you win enough bets to accomplish this task.

The only catch, though, is that each of these types of gambling is more difficult to win with. Texas hold’em, for example, isn’t like a slot machine where you place mindless bets and let luck do the rest.

That said, you must dedicate a lot of work to improving your skills. If you’re up this task, then you should definitely try skill-based gaming.

5 – Never Play When You Feel Like Crap

Whenever playing a complex skill-based or house-banked game, you don’t want to bet anything unless you feel fine physically and mentally.

Attempting to gamble in these situations can lead to bad decisions. Going further, you could blow your entire bankroll in one session if you’re not in the right mindset.

Many poker players experience this scenario through “tilt”. This term describes the state where frustrated gamblers make irrational decisions and lose more money.

Don’t let yourself tilt! Resist the urge and come back at a time when you feel better.

6 – Ignore Comps

You shouldn’t literally ignore comps, because you can pick up some nice rewards based on your play. However, you want to block the thought of comps during your gambling sessions.

You might feel like you’re getting something for free when a casino gives you a meal or even hotel stay. However, you truly earn these rewards via on your play.

Casinos know how much they can comp you and still make a theoretical profit.

At best, the amount of rewards they give you will only be worth one-tenth of your theoretical losses.

Would you gamble longer or bet bigger just to earn $0.10 on every dollar lost? Absolutely not! Just play your favorite games and let the rewards come naturally.

7 – Take Advantage of Promotions

This step may contradict the advice given above. However, promotions can add more value to your play than simple comps alone.

Casinos offer extra comp points, free spins (online), deposit bonuses (online), and more through promos. Of course, you can’t take advantage of these deals if you don’t know about them.

The first step to keeping tabs on promotions is to sign up for a casino’s newsletter or Twitter feed. This way, you’ll receive direct alerts on special deals.

You can also visit the promotions section of a casino’s website. Doing so may help you find promos that weren’t sent your inbox or tweeted.

8 – Practice Strict Bankroll Management

Bankroll management alone won’t help you improve your ROI. However, it can at least keep you from blowing your money too quickly.

For example, you may find yourself placing high slots bets. After coming up with a detailed bankroll management plan, you can stay more disciplined and be motivated to lower your bet sizes.

Closeup of Stack of Casino Chips

In addition to keeping you from losing your bankroll, this concept will also help you avoid risking money that you can’t afford to lose.

Provided you have your bankroll mapped out, you’ll be less likely to dip into funds that are meant for rent, food, and other more-important expenses.

9 – Have a Stop Loss Limit

A stop-loss limit is an excellent addition to any bankroll management strategy. Stop-loss limits refer to predefined points where you quit gambling based on your amount of losses.

Your limit can be set in any manner you’d like. However, I suggest using a percentage of your bankroll as a measuring stick.

Here’s an example:

  • You have a $1,000 bankroll.
  • You set a stop-loss worth 20% of your bankroll.
  • 1,000 x 0.2 = 200
  • You’ll quit playing any session when you lose $200.

Of course, you don’t have to wait until losing $200 to quit playing. But a stop-loss will encourage you to quit when things aren’t going so well.

Conclusion

Casino games aren’t meant to offer you a positive ROI in the long run. However, you can at least give yourself a better chance of raising your ROI with the right approach.

Everything starts with choosing games that offer high return to player. Baccarat, blackjack, French roulette, and video poker are the best of the best in this category.

Next, you want to learn strategy (if applicable) to these games. Making the right decisions ensures that you get a higher ROI.

You can take things to another level with skill-based gaming. DFS, esports betting, poker, sports betting, and video poker can deliver long-term profits under the right circumstances.

Of course, you won’t be even close to profits if you play in the wrong mindset. You always want to come into sessions feeling good from a mental and physical standpoint.

Comps and rewards can boost your bottom line for any game. Just don’t get carried away with focusing on comps.

Bankroll management is the final piece of the puzzle when it comes to raising your ROI. The better you manage our bankroll, the stronger chance you have at staying in the game and, hopefully, making some money.

All the Different Poker Card Hands

Straight Flush Poker Hand With Question Mark Above It

In poker, when you hear the word “hand,” this is referring to a set of 5 playing cards that each player will be dealt and maintain for the duration of the game. Each hand has a different rank and is compared to the ranks of the other hands at the table.

The hands are all revealed in what’s called the “showdown,” and based on which hand has the higher rank, this will determine who takes the pot.

The rank of each hand is determined by particular patterns within the cards that the player’s holding. Before you go play poker, you’ll still want to learn the basics of the game in further detail, but I’ll go through each hand in detail so that you’ll at least have that knowledge.

Poker is a fun game that can take up hours of your Saturday night with a group of friends, or can take you through the night and into the morning at the casino. Here are the seven hands that you’re going to need to understand when playing poker.

1- High Card

So when you’re playing poker and each player reveals their cards, and nobody has one of the qualifying hands below in this list, it’ll come down to who has the highest cards—we call this the “high card.”

The ranking of each card in order starts with an Ace (an Ace can sometimes be the highest or lowest card), followed by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King.

In most cases, a high card hand ends up losing—almost invariably, someone has something in their hand that’s higher than just high card—even if it’s just a pair. If you end up with a high-card hand, you should probably fold. It’s unlikely that you’re going home with any money on that pot.

2- Pair

One pair in poker is when a player has two of the same card. For example, when a player has two Kings, two Aces, two fives, etc.

The ranking of a pair is the same as when it comes to high card, except now it’s just who has the highest pair of the same card.

If players reveal their hands and a couple players have the same pair (for instance, if two players show their cards and they both have a pair of 3s), then the winner will be determined by which player has the highest kicker.

Poker Pair of Fives

The kicker is the highest ranking card out of the three remaining cards in the player’s hand. Essentially, it’s the “high card” that’s left over after the two pairs are counted.

So if a player’s kicker is an Ace, and while the other player’s kicker is a King, than the player with the Ace kicker will win the hand.

Two pair might feel like a pretty strong hand, but it’s still low on the list. If you’ve got two pair, you better be pretty sure that your opponents only have a pair before you make a bet.

3- Three of a Kind

Three of a kind in poker is when a player has three of the same card. If a player has three 3s, three Jacks, three 10s etc., this would be three of a kind.

The ranking of three of a kind is the same as what has been explained so far. Three of a kind also comes down to the highest three cards that are revealed by the showdown, followed by the highest kicker in the hand.

Three of a kind is actually a pretty strong hand. If you’ve got three of a kind, you might want to consider making some bets.

That being said, if you’re playing Texas Hold ‘Em, you might want to think twice, especially if your three of a kind is made up of two community cards. In that case, it’s possible someone else has a pair and the other three of a kind—making a full house, which I’ll get to in a minute and which is a very strong hand—and you could end up losing big time.

4- Straight

A straight in poker is when a player has five cards in a sequential rank. For example, a straight could be having a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or it could be a 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace.

If two players both show a straight, then the winning hand will come down to whichever straight has the highest rank. So if a player has a straight with the high card being an Ace, that’s going to beat a hand with the high card being a King.

Having a straight that’s a 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace is known as a Broadway straight. Having a straight that’s a 5, 4, 3, 2, Ace is known as a Baby straight.

A straight is a powerful hand. It falls right in the middle of hand rankings, and it’s rare enough that it’s definitely worth playing. If you find that you’ve got a straight, consider playing it a little slow at first, then making some big bets at the end.

5- Flush

A flush in poker is having five cards that all have the same suit. A suit in poker is a heart, diamond, club, or spade. The cards don’t need to be in a sequential rank like a straight, just the same suit.

If two players have a both show a flush, whether that’s revealing a hand with five hearts, or five spades, then the winning hand is going to come down to which player has the highest and then second highest ranking card in their hand.

Five Card Heart Flush

So if a player shows a 10, 2, 3, Jack, Ace (all cards with same suit), that will beat a flush with 5, Jack, 3, 7, 9 (all the same suit), with the Ace being the highest ranking card out of both flushes. Flush hands that differ by suit alone and have the same highest ranking card would be considered equal hands, no hand being higher ranked than the other.

This does happen from time to time, where players have equal hands and equal kickers. When that happens, the pot is split.

6- Full House

A full house, originally called a full hand, is a pretty amazing hand to be dealt in the game of poker. You’ll see players that are dealt this hand moving a lot of their chips into the betting pot, because this hand is a pretty hard hand to beat.

A full house consists of the combination of a pair and a three or a kind. This could be 3, 3, 3, Jack, Jack, or 7, 7, 7, 5, 5.

The determination of who would win if two players were to both reveal a full house first comes down to the highest ranking three of a kind, or “triple” followed by the highest ranking pair.

So in the example above, the highest ranking hand would be the hand with the triple 7’s. Full house hands that have a different suit but equally ranked cards would be considered equal hands.

7- Four of a Kind

Like a three of a kind, a four of a kind is four of the same ranking cards instead of three of the same ranking cards.

So Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack would be an example of a four of a kind.

If two players both show four of the same ranked cards, then the winning hand, like the rest of the poker hands listed, will come down to the highest ranked set of four cards. So four Jacks is going to beat a hand showing four 7s.

Four Kings is going to beat a hand of four Jacks. This is not a common hand to be dealt, but it’s quite the destructive hand if you play it slow.

8- Straight Flush

So this is a dirty hand right here. The legendary straight flush. A straight flush is pretty self-explanatory, consisting of five cards of the same suit all in a sequential order, just like the straight that has been explained above. Having a 5-high straight flush is known as “the steel wheel.”

Each straight flush in ranked by the highest ranking card of the sequential cards. So five clubs with a Queen being the highest ranked card is going to beat a hand containing five hearts with a 10 being the highest ranking card.

The granddaddy of all poker hands, the most sought after hand in poker, the “Royal flush,” consists of a straight flush with an Ace being the high card, followed by a King, Queen, Jack, 10.

This is the rarest hand to be dealt in poker.

9- Five of a Kind

Taking the “Royal flush” out of the picture, this is the highest possible hand that a player could be dealt in a poker game.

Like the three of a kind of four of a king, the five of a kind is a hand of five of the same ranked card. If two players both show a five of a kind, then whoever has the highest ranked set of quintuplets will win the round.

This hand doesn’t come up very often because it requires a joker card or wild card. If you’re playing without wild cards, you won’t see this hand.

Conclusion

Poker is an amazing game with a variety of hand combinations. If you want to win big at real money online poker or in the casinos, you better have a solid understanding of the different possible hand combinations and how they work.

What’s your favorite poker hand? Tell me in the comments.

7 Interesting Facts About Sports Betting

Nfl Player Running Image Mixed With Sportsbook Image and Words "Facts" Stamped Over Top

It’s no secret that the sports gambling industry is in the midst of what some might call a Golden Age. Since around 2015, as daily fantasy sites took off and legal restrictions were slowly peeled back, gambling has become more accepted among the public than at any time in the past.

Some individuals remember a time when betting on sports had to be done through a bookie or a shady offshore website. Now, betting on sports can be done legally through any number of apps you can download on your phone in seconds.

In addition to the accessibility of sportsbooks, the sports gambling subculture has even made its way to primetime television programs on the biggest networks in sports. Bottom line tickers even provide information on betting odds. In short, sports gambling has revolutionized the way future generations will consume sports.

Regardless of your opinion of gambling, it’s likely that it’s here to stay. In this article, I’ll lay out seven facts you may or may not have known about the sport betting industry.

1 – Football Is King

This may come as no surprise, but football, specifically the NFL, is the most frequently bet sporting event in terms of both money and overall participants. But how big exactly is the football betting footprint in American sports gambling?

Nearly 36% of all bets made in 2018 were on either college or professional football.

Behind football is basketball, which sees about 30% of the total action (the football vs. basketball comparison might be closer than you expected). Behind that is baseball, which receives 25% of all sports bets.

 2 – Sportsbooks Thrive in September

I’ve already confirmed what you probably believed to be true in the first place; football betting gets a lot of action.  Another reality, one much more unfortunate, is that it’s also the biggest money-maker for the sportsbooks – especially in September. How good exactly is September for the books? Let’s just say they make more than in October and November combined.

When you think about why the books are disproportionately successful in September, it’s not difficult to come up with a few reasons. First, the late summer months are slow betting months. Some gamblers love the odds baseball presents, but the general betting public isn’t as keen on the sport.

NFL Player Running the Ball

The second reason is that people are simply excited about watching and betting football. Almost every American sports fan, bettor or not, looks forward to start of the football season like a child looks forward to Christmas morning. For the sportsbooks, it’s better than any holiday.

The last reason sportsbooks are so successful in September is that people go full-tilt betting on football but simply don’t have much reliable data to use when making their picks. Early in the season, both the NFL and college football are at their peak of unpredictability, and sportsbooks use the bettors’ bias from the previous season against them.

3 – It’s a Huge Industry, and Continually Growing

As legalization spreads and public opinion has begun to shift, the money wagered reflects the enthusiasm.

According to the sports business journal, $4.9 billion dollars were wagered on sports in 2017…and that’s just in Nevada! The number is significant, but it’s even more impressive when you consider that’s a 440 percent increase from the total amount of money bet on sports in 1984. Amazingly, this still only accounts for 2.15% of the state’s casino winnings.

If you’re wondering about the overall sports betting market outside of Nevada, it’s increasing in size at a significant rate as well.

Experts are predicting a growth of roughly $10 billion per year, which means it’s expected to reach nearly $60 billion in 2020. And those are the conservative numbers.

While there isn’t any reliable data to prove it, there’s no question that tens of billions more dollars are bet each year in illegal gambling that isn’t being tracked by a specific entity.

4 – Everyone (okay, almost everyone)

Obviously, determining what percentage of the population bets on sports doesn’t have an exact answer. People gamble in various ways, and it isn’t always trackable. However, most estimates will suggest that nearly 80% of the population has, in one way or another, bet on sports.

While this 80% number seems high, keep in mind that fantasy games are included in the metric and this can account for a significant percentage of the people who you wouldn’t consider typical sports bettors. But, if money is risked in the hope of winning more money, that constitutes gambling.

5 – Legality Is Growing Constantly

It wasn’t in the too-distant past that sports gambling was illegal across the board in states other than Nevada. What once seemed like a longshot proposition is now becoming a reality in dozens of states across the U.S.

As of fall 2019, ten states (Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, Mississippi, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and New York, Iowa, and Indiana) have fully-legalized sports betting.

Nearly every other state is in the process of reviewing legislation, but it’s reasonable to expect several more states to fall in line with the legalization movement over the next couple of years.

Sports Book TV Screens

All of the transition begs the question, “What does this mean for bettors?”

The answer depends on if you were already gambling underground beforehand. If you were already placing bets through an offshore site or a private bookie, you can benefit from the higher standards that come from legalized gambling. Although private bookies certainly have an interest in maintain a reputation as a fair place to bet, the lack of regulatory powers meant that anything could happen.

Legalization obviously opens new revenue streams for casinos and gambling companies, and the state will certainly be taking their cut as well.

Only time will tell how thing will play out as all sides undergo the growing pains that inevitably come with legalizing something that has soon long been carried out undercover.

6 – Live Betting Is Bigger Than You Think

If you didn’t get your picks in before the start of the game, you’re not alone! Statistics show that nearly 25% of the money bet on sporting events is wagered in-game. Live betting, meaning bets placed while the competition is in progress, is becoming more popular as online sportsbooks make betting in real-time easy and convenient.

Some individuals use live betting as a way to recoup losses from bad bets placed before the game, but others use it as a way to make more educated plays based on the information they’ve learned from what they’ve already seen in the game.

Next time you’re feeling unable to make a decision before the game begins, consider giving live betting a shot…everyone’s doing it!

7 – Looking to the Future

On the opposite end of the spectrum from live betting is futures betting.

Futures bets involve predicting an event that isn’t based on a single game, but rather an eventual result that will happen down the road.

For example, betting on who will win the Super Bowl during the middle (or beginning) of the season, choosing the eventual MVP of a league, or which team will win the pennant are all examples of common futures bets.

These types of bets can be extremely appealing to gamblers because they are enticing for those bettors looking to place high-value bets. In many cases with futures bets, even the team or player with the best odds will still be in the plus-money, meaning you can win more than you risk if your bet hits.

One casino in New Jersey reported 5% of all betting money was on a futures play. While that doesn’t seem like much, that still translates to millions of dollars for the book (and a few dollars for the winners).

Conclusion

It will be fascinating to see how legalization impacts a practice that has been going on since the dawn of competition. Without question, the evolving landscape will provide opportunities for bettors and sportsbooks alike that could only have been dreamt about years ago.

A $50 Million Online Slots Jackpot? Yes, Perhaps

Laptop With Hacksaw Casino Games in Front of Stacks of Money

Online slots jackpots have grown immensely within the past decade. In fact, 11 jackpots have paid over $10 million in the last decade.

These prizes may not compare to the largest Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots. However, they’ve definitely made gamblers filthy rich.

As big as online slots jackpots are today, they’re about to get much bigger. One gaming developer plans to launch a $50 million jackpot within the coming months.

I’ll discuss this upcoming prize below along with how it’ll smash the records set by previous internet slots jackpots. I must add, though, that I’m not sure if this payout will truly materialize.

What Is the Biggest Online Slots Jackpot Ever?

Mega Moolah (Microgaming) and Mega Fortune (NetEnt) have paid most of the largest prizes in online slots history.

Mega Fortune set world records when it delivered €11,735,446 (approx. $13.3m) and €17,860,868 (approx. $19.5m) in 2011 and 2013, respectively.

Mega Moolah has taken the reigns within the past few years, though. It awarded record payouts of $20,057,734 and €18,915,872 (approx. $21 million) in 2019 and 2018, respectively.

The $21 million prize from September 2018 currently holds the Guinness World Record for being the biggest online slots jackpot of all time.

Hacksaw Gaming Announces Upcoming $50 Million Jackpot

Hacksaw Gaming is a developer that just recently came onto the scene. However, they’re already looking to make a big splash with a series of massive jackpots.

They’re going to roll out a line of “insured” jackpots that feature payouts worth between $5 million and $50 million. These prizes will also be listed in equivalent euro and pound amounts.

Every huge online slots jackpot available today is of the progressive variety. They take small amounts from each bet to fund the prize and need time to grow.

Hacksaw’s insured prizes will always be offered at a constant value (e.g. $25 million). This aspect guarantees that you can play for a huge payout right away.

“With our new concept, operators can rely on having huge, exciting jackpots on offer without having to wait for the progressive jackpot to build up,” said Marcus Cordes, COO of Hacksaw. “It also enables smaller operators to offer the same huge prizes as the Tier 1s, levelling the playing field.”

Hacksaw’s plan involves launching My Lucky Number with a $25 million jackpot. This game is scheduled to come out somewhere around the middle of 2020.

From here, the developer will launch a flurry of other big jackpot games. $5 million, $10 million, and $50 million prizes are all on the agenda.

A Record Setting Online Slots Jackpot

Earlier, I covered how Mega Moolah currently holds the record for the biggest-ever internet slots prize at $21 million. It could be on its way to offering another such prize when considering that its “Mega Jackpot” is worth $11 million at the time of this post.

However, the $21m record could be a distant memory if Hacksaw’s plan goes off without a hitch. The proposed $50m jackpot would break the current mark by a wide margin at $29 million.

Even the second-largest jackpot in Hacksaw’s proposal would be a record-setter. At $25m, it would top Mega Moolah’s mark by around $4 million.

What Is Hacksaw Gaming?

Hacksaw Gaming definitely isn’t the biggest name in online gambling. One reason for this is that they’ve only been around since September 2018.

They gained a foothold in the industry by producing online scratch cards. Hacksaw has been successful in this endeavor so far.

Hacksaw Gaming Digital Scratch Cards

One year after opening, they produced their first online slot in Stick ‘Em. This game, which revolves around a marshmallow mafia member, brought a totally new theme to the industry.

They’ve produced one other internet slot in Om Nom. A 4×4 slot based on desserts, Om Nom gained praise for its simple, yet unique, style.

Can Hacksaw Really Pull Off a $50m Jackpot?

Hacksaw has had a very successful start. However, I’m skeptical on their plan to offer the biggest slots jackpots known to man.

At the time of this post, they haven’t even been around for two years. Already, they’ve proposed slots prizes that would easily crush any payout that’s been offered so far.

Neither Om Nom nor Stick ‘Em features a top payout that’s anything notable. Their next upcoming slot, My Lucky Number, will allegedly leap onto the scene with a $25 million jackpot.

I’m not accusing Hacksaw of lying about what they intend to do. They’ve proven to be a reputable developer so far with their online slots and two dozen scratch cards.

Rather, I just think that this is an overly ambitious plan when considering the current records. I must see these massive prizes to believe them.

Most likely, Hacksaw Gaming has secured large outside investments and/or big loans to help them offer these jackpots. They’re assuredly not announcing $25m and $50m prizes based on air.

Again, though, I want to see these jackpots before automatically believing that slots prizes will reach astronomical heights in less than a year’s time.

Will Hacksaw Encourage Other Slots Providers to Up Their Jackpot Game?

Microgaming and NetEnt have had no trouble offering big slots payouts in the past. Playtech and Yggdrasil Gaming have delivered massive prizes too.

However, none of these providers hold a candle to the upcoming Hacksaw insured jackpots. I wonder if the latter will kick-start an arms race to feature bigger and better top prizes.

Microgaming is best positioned to challenge Hacksaw’s $25m and $50m payouts. They currently seed Mega Moolah at $1 million, but they could increase the seed to $5m or $10m and encourage faster-growing jackpots.

Bovada Casino, which uses proprietary software, also features a large jackpot through Shopping Spree (currently $4.56m). They could conceivably offer bigger payouts when considering their large share of the US market.

GTECH has built a large jackpot through Aladdin’s Lamp €5 that’s worth over $4 million. They might be a dark horse contender for the future slots jackpot record.

Playtech, Yggdrasil, Realtime Gaming (RTG), Blueprint Gaming, and NetEnt are other possibilities that could factor in.

Of course, the idea that developers will suddenly began offering bigger jackpots just because of Hacksaw is pure speculation. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least 2-3 of these software providers make an attempt to compete with Hacksaw.

Should You Play for These Record Setting Prizes When They Launch?

Assuming these giant online slots jackpots become available as planned, they figure to cause hysteria among the gaming community. As for whether you should join in this frenzy depends on your personal preferences.

If you’re somebody who dreams of getting rich through slots, then you can best accomplish your dreams through these upcoming games. No slot machine—online or land-based—has ever paid out $50 million.

Only Megabucks, which is available in Nevada casinos, has delivered over $25 million. It currently holds the record for the biggest slots jackpot ever at $39.7 million (2003).

Therefore, Hacksaw Gaming’s slots will offer the largest prizes you can find at any casino. You should target these games above all if you have visions of mansions, Lamborghinis, and private islands.

Megabucks Slot Machine

Downsides to pursuing this prize include volatility and the odds. Regarding the latter, you’re almost assuredly not going to win $50m, $25m, or even $5m.

Of course, the dream is that you’ll defy the odds and win big. However, I wouldn’t count on it in this lifetime.

Any slot that offers even a $1 million jackpot will have serious volatility. Just imagine what kind of volatility you’ll deal with when a $25m or $50m prize is introduced.

Finally, you also need to worry about the taxes and potential payout structure if you do somehow win. Lumpsums for big gambling prizes usually only deliver 60% of the amount, while annuities (annual payouts) reduce the value of the prize when account for inflation.

Conclusion

Hacksaw Gaming is embarking on an insane plan to offer several insured slots payouts worth between $5 million and $50 million. The latter would smash the record for the biggest slots jackpot of all time.

I’m still skeptical on whether these prizes will launch as planned. After all, Hacksaw is proposing to more than double the largest online slots jackpot ever.

Nevertheless, I’ll be watching with vested interest if these games do roll out as planned. Based on Hacksaw’s solid reputation so far, I’m guessing that they will actually offer the $25m and/or $50m payouts at some point.

Sports Betting Handle vs Revenue – Differences Explained

Hand Squeezing Money With a Sportsbook Background

Most state and federal governments are slow to warm up to various types of gambling. The United States exemplifies this tendency better than almost any other country.

However, American politicians have made an exception for sports betting. Fueled by the promise of billions of dollars in revenue, over a dozen states quickly legalized sports gambling after the fall of PASPA—a former federal ban on the activity.

What these same politicians don’t understand, though, is that the billion-dollar projections are based on sports betting “handle” and not revenue.

What are they missing? I’m going to discuss the differences between sports betting handle and revenue and how these terms impact you.

What Is Sports Betting Handle?

Handle refers to the total betting volume that online sportsbooks receive on a particular matchup, sport, or in general. This term describes a variety of scenarios involving the financial details of sportsbooks.

For example, a bookmaker may want to know its handle for NBA games in the month of March. Or, a legislature could inquire about the total handle of all in-state bookmakers in a given year.

Here’s a more-detailed example:

  • FanDuel’s parent company, Flutter Entertainment, wants to know their total handle in New Jersey.
  • FanDuel accepted $250 million in overall wagers throughout the year.
  • Therefore, FanDuel’s New Jersey handle for the year is $250 million.

Simply put, handle doesn’t refer to how much sportsbooks earn in revenue. It merely indicates how much total betting action they accept/handle.

What Is Sports Gambling Revenue?

Operators don’t open land-based and online sportsbooks just to help you and other gamblers connect. They expect to make profits like any other business.

Bookmakers collect these profits in the form of “juice” (a.k.a. vigorish). Juice represents the cut that operators take from the losing side of a bet.

Here’s an example using a point spread:

  • New York Jets +6.5 (-110)
  • Miami Dolphins -6.5 (-110)
  • Both sides are wagering $11 for every $10 they stand to win.
  • Only the losing side, though, actually pays the $11.
  • The losers, and only losers, must cover 10% juice in this instance.

The sportsbook collects $1 in juice for every $22 in handle. They earn approximately 4.5% (1/22) out of every dollar wagered.

This 4.5% represents their margin on the bet. Margin is often used interchangeably with juice.

However, it’s slightly different than the latter. A margin indicates the bookmaker’s profit on the overall betting action.

Thus, it directly correlates with the sportsbook’s revenue. Meanwhile, juice only represents what the losing side pays.

Why Do People Get Revenue and Handle Confused?

Most politicians, media personalities, and the general public don’t understand sports gambling very well. Many of the same people are confounded by how the odds work (such as in the previous example).

I don’t blame these people for not understanding sports wagering. After all, -110 odds, juice, and point spreads aren’t part of school lessons.

In any case, this lack of understanding leads to misconceptions. One of the most-common misconceptions is that handle and revenue are the same thing.

Interior of a Sports Bar

As I’ve explained, they’re definitely not! Handle includes all wagers that sportsbooks accept for a certain game, sport, time period, etc.

Revenue represents the profit margin that bookmakers have on each bet (generally 5%). Sportsbook profits and the government’s cut come directly from this margin (when losing side pays vigorish).

You can easily see the differences between revenue and handle after spending just five minutes on the subject. Nevertheless, many people are still befuddled by the terms.

Sportsbooks & Governments Care Deeply About These Concepts

Obviously, bookmaking operators put lots of thought into their handle, margin, and juice. They need these numbers to reflect their financial performance.

Handle and revenue are pretty closely correlated. The average sportsbook holds between a 4.5% and 5% profit margin on their handle.

Sometimes, though, bookmakers must look at the concepts separately. They might have a relatively high handle, for instance, yet be earning less than a 4% margin (approx. 8% juice).

In this case, they’d need to figure out how to boost their juice without turning off customers. Parlays and teasers—both of which feature high vigorish—help them accomplish this goal.

Governments also care quite a bit about this matter too. Those who understand the difference between handle and juice can form a complete picture on how much tax receive they’ll receive.

Here’s an example:

  • Nevada sportsbooks handled $6.6 billion worth of bets from June 2018 to Sept. 2019.
  • They made $407.55 million in revenue during this period.
  • Nevada charges bookmakers a 6.75% tax rate.
  • They paid $27.51 million in taxes.

Lawmakers who mistake handle and revenue will be severely disappointed with the tax results. Those in Nevada, for example, would think that they’re due $445.5 million (6.6 billion x 0.0675) under this false assumption. That said, it’s important for politicians to note the differences when they’re making policies.

Do Sports Betting Revenue and Handle Affect You?

Both handle and bookmakers’ juice impact you as a sports gambler. As for handle, you want to know what kind of betting volume an operator is seeing.

High volume leads to more liquidity, which, in turn, leads to larger wagering limits. Sportsbooks are willing to allow bigger bets when they receive more volume.

This is why NBA and NFL betting limits are larger than handball and curling limits. If you bet big, then you’ll want to choose bookmakers and/or sports with a higher handle.

Juice, or margins, affects you in even greater ways. Low juice means that you don’t need to pay sportsbooks as much in the event of a loss.

Furthermore, you have a stronger chance of winning long-term profits with lower vigorish. Therefore, you should shop around at different sportsbooks to find the best deals for particular games/sports.

How Do You Figure Out the Juice You’re Paying?

You can easily determine what vigorish you’re dealing with when commonly betting at the same odds. For example, many point spreads attach -110 odds to each side (10% juice for losing side / 4.5% margin overall).

You’ll have a more difficult time, though, when wagering on point spreads and moneylines when odds are more uneven. Luckily, you can use a sports betting margins calculator to figure out what kind of vigorish the bookmaker is taking.

Here’s an example:

  • Chicago Bulls +155
  • Indiana Pacers -190
  • You enter these odds into a margins calculator.
  • This particular wager holds a 4.75% margin for the bookmaker.

Such tools let you figure how much vigorish you’ll pay in any given situation. You should get into the habit of running odds from prospective wagers into these calculators whenever possible.

What’s Acceptable Juice?

Generally speaking, you only want to face between a 4% and 5% margin on a given bet. Anything higher than this puts you in a tough spot as far as long-term prospects go.

Remember, the losing side pays 10% vigorish with -110 odds. This scenario works out to around a 4.5% margin overall for sportsbooks.

Many operators, however, make closer to a 5% margin off the total handle. They do so by taking more juice and featuring higher margins on parlays—especially when such bets involved 3+ teams.

Wide Angle of a Sportsbook

Parlays are attractive, because they offer large potential payouts for a small bet. For example, you could win 720x your initial stake on a wager involving 10 teams.

However, parlays are often considered “sucker bets.” They give the house over a 30% margin. Simply put, you’ll lose $3 out of every $10 you wager on parlays.

Most other types of bets, though, hang around the 5% margin (approx. 10% juice) area. You should focus on point spreads, moneylines, totals, and/or live wagers to get the best deals.

Reduced Vig Sportsbooks & What You Should Watch Out For

Some bookmakers advertise themselves as “reduced vig” or “reduced juice” sportsbooks. These terms refer to operators that take less juice than their competitors on average.

Here’s an example:

  • The average bookmaker takes 10% juice (-110 odds) from the losing side of points spreads.
  • This leads to a 4.54% margin.
  • A reduced vig operator only takes 8% juice (-108 odds) from the losing side.
  • This leads to a 3.84% margin.

You might rush to open an account at the first reduced juice operator you see. However, they make up for the lack of vig they take in other ways.

Most notably, bonus offers are weaker, or even nonexistent, at reduced vig sportsbooks. Sometimes, these bookmakers don’t offer any better deal when considering that they feature lame bonuses.

Conclusion

Failing to understand the difference between handle and revenue can lead to some wild assumptions. Politicians from a smaller state like Iowa, for example, may think that their market is set to make billions.

Of course, sportsbooks don’t collect every bet they take as profit. Instead, they merely handle wagers placed on all sides of an event.

They earn their profits by receiving juice from the losing side. Their overall take on a bet is their margin (e.g. 5%, or $50, on $1,000 worth of bets).

Once you thoroughly understand handle, revenue (margin), and juice, you can look for the best opportunities at sportsbooks.

5 Advanced Quarterback Evaluation Strategies for Handicappers

Image of NFL and NCAA Quarterbacks

When you evaluate quarterbacks in games you’re handicapping, what statistics do you use? You can quickly look up completion percentage and compare touchdowns to interceptions, but is this where you stop?

You need to look at quarterback play in a much deeper way if you want to have success as a football handicapper. The quarterback is the most important position on the field, and you need to learn how to evaluate and compare the ability of each quarterback in a game.

Here are five advanced evaluation strategies for handicapping quarterback play.

1 – First Down Completion Percentage

The average football bettor doesn’t understand the importance of first down. All of the action seems to be on third down conversions, but the results of first down plays set up everything that happens on second and third downs.

You need to learn about the first down tendencies for every team you evaluate, because some teams run more on first down than others. But you also need to know how well every quarterback does on first down. You should track the completion percentage on first down for every quarterback.

The first down completion percentage is a valuable statistic by itself, but it’s even more valuable as a comparison tool between two offenses in a game. Every quarterback should have a higher completion percentage on first down than on other downs.

On first down, defenses need to be prepared for a run or pass play, so they can’t put the same pressure on the quarterback as they can in second and third and long situations. This makes it easier for the offense to complete passes on first down.

I use this information when I handicap NFL and college games, but it’ the most profitable for me when betting on NCAA football games. The NFL lines are almost always tighter than college lines because the NFL draws a bigger handle and there are fewer games in the pros every week.

In college football you find many games where the first down completion percentage is a wide gap between the two quarterbacks. The team with the quarterback with a much lower first down completion percentage has a harder time scoring because they’re forced to deal with more second and long and third and long situations.

College Football Quarterback

You also need to be aware of the passing game tendencies for each team and make adjustments. A team that tends to throw five yard passes on first down had better have a much higher first down completion percentage than a team that throws 15 yard passes on first down. Both types of teams can be successful, depending on many different factors, but the quarterback in a quick hit system needs to complete a high percentage of first down passes to be successful.

A quarterback who throws 10 to 15 yard passes only needs to complete one every three downs to move the chains. A quarterback throwing five yard passes needs to complete two every three downs to move the chains.

2 – Interception Percentage

Every sports bettor can quickly see how many interceptions a quarterback has thrown, but almost no one uses the information in comparison to total attempts. To get a true comparison of quarterbacks, divide the number of interceptions by pass attempts.

Most of the time the quarterbacks with the highest total number of interceptions also have the highest interception percentage, but the percentages can show which quarterback does a better job protecting the ball when two quarterbacks appear to be close.

One secret that only the best football handicapper’s use is identifying garbage time interceptions and removing them from the stats.

When a team gets down by a large margin late in a game the quarterback is forced to make throws that he usually doesn’t make. This leads to more interceptions.

Of course, a team that’s often behind is an issue for many reasons, but you need to be aware of the difference between garbage time interceptions and interceptions thrown when the game is close.

Some interceptions are clearly the quarterback’s fault, but some are caused by mistakes that receivers make. Sometimes a receiver misses a catch that ends up being intercepted. If you can identify these situations, which you can only do by watching games or film, you can eliminate these from the stats.

But this isn’t always the best way to handle the situation. If this happens once you can probably safely subtract it from the equation, but some receivers create problems on a regular basis. Even if it’s not the quarterback’s fault, if it’s likely to happen again you can’t ignore it.

Your job is to handicap the games in a way that gives you a chance to win a wager, not defend a quarterback or receiver. You can’t afford to let anything cloud your judgment, so you have to deal with facts and learn how to evaluate them correctly.

3 – Sack Percentage

Amateur handicappers are quick to believe that sacks are 100% on the offensive line. But the truth is that sometimes sacks are the quarterback’s fault. It’s often difficult to determine when the line fails and when the quarterback holds the ball too long or doesn’t move away from pressure. The only way to get a good idea is to watch as many games as possible.

To determine sack percentage, divide the total number of sacks by the total number of pass attempts. This gives you a good way to compare the sack tendencies of opposing quarterbacks.

Don’t make the mistake of underestimating the importance of sacks. A high percentage of drives that include a sack don’t end in points. A sack is a classic drive killer, so you need to know which quarterbacks and teams are prone to taking a sack and killing a drive.

4 – Results by Quarter

Do you have any idea how quarterbacks perform in the first quarter versus the second quarter? Or the first quarter against the fourth quarter?

Don’t worry. Almost no one else does either. But if you want to be a winning football bettor you need to find out how quarterbacks perform in different parts of the game.

It’s a fact that every quarterback has different tendencies, and they can change from season to season. Most quarterbacks perform at a slightly better level early in the game than when they’re facing more pressure in the fourth quarter. But a few special quarterbacks play three quarters looking average at best, but come alive in the fourth quarter and rarely make a mistake.

The first thing you need to do is track how quarterbacks perform by quarter for every team you might bet on. This isn’t going to be easy, especially if you’re betting on both NFL and NCAA games. But I never claimed that being a winning football bettor is easy.

The next thing is learning how to use this information when you’re handicapping NFL and NCAA games. If you have all of the information in the world but don’t know how to use it to win more bets it’s a waste of time and effort.

I use results by quarter to evaluate games with close to 50/50 lines. In games where the books offer a line close to even, I tend to lean toward betting the team with the quarterback who has a better fourth quarter track record.

5 – Yards per Attempt

This is one of the easiest statistics to find because it’s listed by some stats services. The more common statistic is yards per completion, but yards per attempt is a much better way to compare two quarterbacks.

To determine yards per attempt, simply divide the total number of passing yards by the total number of pass attempts. I always take this another step and find the average number of times the quarterback throws every game.

NFL Quarterback Carson Wentz

When you look at yards per attempt it rolls yards per completion and completion percentage into one statistic. You still need to look at completion percentages when you evaluate games, because there’s no argument that a guy completing 65% of his passes has an advantage over a guy completing 50% of his passes. But the gap might not be as big as you think.

As a matter of fact, a quarterback completing 65% of his passes can have the exact same yards per attempt as a guy completing 50% of his passes. If this is the case, I still give the guy completing 65% of his passes an edge, but it’s not a hug edge for handicapping purposes.

The reason why I lean toward the quarterback completing 65% of his passes over the quarterback completing 50% of his passes with the same yards per attempt is because the guy with the higher completion percentage has a better chance of completing a pass when it’s most important.

Conclusion

Start by tracking the three percentages listed on this page. Sack percentage and interception percentage help you identify how often a drive killing play happens. First down completion percentage gives you a good idea of how well the quarterback does in moving the chains.

Results by quarter helps you see which quarterback is likely to win a game late and which one is going to struggle in late game pressure. Yards per passing attempt helps you compare quarterbacks when you need to look beyond completion percentages.

Start using these five advanced quarterback evaluation methods to improve your sports betting knowledge.

Biggest Gambling Wins with the Martingale

Bag of Money With Casino Chip and Roulette Wheel Background

The Martingale is the most-famous betting system of all time. It calls on you to double your wagers following every loss.

The Martingale is both simple and effective, but it’s also extremely risky. This strategy creates the potential for losing all your money more so than with any other betting system.

Nevertheless, some gamblers still use this system while chasing riches. Certain players, including the ones covered below, have made millions using the Martingale.

Charles Wells

Who Is Charles Wells?

Charles Wells is one of the most-famous gamblers of all time. Interestingly enough, though, he wasn’t a gambler by trade.

Wells was an nineteenth century conman who tricked people into investing in his fake inventions. The key word is fake, because he never intended to create any of the products he proposed.

Drawing of Gambler Charles Well

The Brit’s best skill was convincing investors to give him money—not inventing things. He even managed to trick people into giving him a collective £4,000 for a musical jump rope.

Wells never had any intention of using the £4,000 (approx. £130,000 today) to work the fabled jump rope. Instead, he used the money to go on a gambling excursion in Monte Carlo.

How Did Wells Get Rich Through the Martingale?

Wells began playing roulette when he arrived in Monte Carlo. He started experiencing success almost immediately.

The conman suddenly looked like a professional gambler as the chips mounted in front of him. He managed to break the bank over a dozen times during the trip.

Breaking the bank refers to winning every chip at a table and, subsequently, shutting it down.

Wells walked away from his first trip with over 1 million francs (approx. £4 million, or $5.2 million).

He returned to Britain for a short while only to decide that he wanted another go at Monte Carlo. Wells once again experienced incredible success and won even more francs.

Upon returning to England this time, Wells had suddenly become a nationwide celebrity. Many people wanted to know the reason behind his success.

The conman lied his way through interviews by saying that he devised a secret strategy. The spoiler is that he was merely using the Martingale.

Wells made the fateful mistake of taking a third trip to Monte Carlo. Beforehand, he decided to defraud more people and purchase a yacht with his earnings.

Karma would catch up to Wells as he lost all his money to the casino. He returned to Britain and was immediately arrested for fraud. His final years were spent rotting in prison without a pound/franc to his name.

David Choe

Who Is David Choe?

David Choe is an American artist who has painted famous murals and designed album cover art for Linkin Park, Jay-Z, and more. His painting of Barack Obama is featured in the White House.

Despite his talent, one of Choe’s most-memorable works has nothing to do with his skill. Instead, he did a mural for Facebook’s office that ended up netting him $200 million.

Choe thought that Facebook would never succeed in the long run. Nevertheless, he liked Mark Zuckerberg and the other FB figureheads.

So, he painted them a mural in exchange for Facebook stock. His shares ended up being worth $200 million when the company’s IPO launched.

How Did Choe Win with the Martingale?

With a famous art career and numerous Facebook shares, Choe obviously didn’t need gambling to get rich. Nevertheless, he found success on the casino floor too.

Casino blackjack became his game of choice. Choe employed the Martingale and set a stop-win limit for each session.

A stop-win limit refers to when a gambler quits playing after meeting a desired win target. Choe even brought a friend along to make sure that he quit sessions after reaching his goal.

In an interview with Howard Stern, the artist spoke of how he started gambling with just $500. He ran this total up to $1 million strictly through the Martingale and stop-win limits.

This gambling story is impressive enough. However, some of the side stories that Choe told on Stern and the Joe Rogan Experience podcast are even more interesting.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal chronicled some of his Las Vegas adventures in 2014. They recounted how Vegas rolled out the red carpet to keep Choe gambling.

“The height of my Vegas experience was staying at the penthouse in every single casino — like all the high-roller casinos — a harem of whores in each one,” he told LVRJ.

“I would be going to Vegas all the time with 100 grand. A million dollars in, like, a pillowcase in my backpack.”

One casino even sent a private jet to Choe’s Burbank, CA home. He and a friend rode on the “giant, empty plane” to Las Vegas.

Other gambling establishments let him ride in “secret elevators,” offered him illegal drugs, and threw more women at him. He didn’t want the drugs, but he definitely appreciated the women.

Choe’s lavish lifestyle and Martingale winnings came to a halt when he suffered an angina attack (form of heart disease) at age 35.

He hadn’t slept for five days and began losing his sense of balance. Finally, Choe collapsed on his penthouse floor with $20,000 chips spilling out of his pockets.

After waking up from the angina attack 36 hours later, he wanted to start playing blackjack again. However, his friends talked him into returning home to Burbank and leaving the wild Vegas lifestyle behind.

John Henry Martindale

Who Is J.H. Martindale?

If you think that the name John Henry Martindale sounds familiar, you’re right. He invented the Martingale system, or at least holds credit for the idea.

J.H. Martindale was a casino owner in London during the eighteenth century. He was a hands-on owner who frequently mingled with his customers.

During these conversations, he’d give advice to gamblers. One of his biggest pieces of advice was to double bets following losses.

How Did Martindale Win Through the Martingale?

J.H. Martindale didn’t win by gambling with the Martingale. Instead, he made money for his casino by talking players into doubling wagers after losing.

This is a risky betting strategy compared to others when considering that many players book small, consistent wins with this system. In the end, though, Martindale felt that the house would always come out on top.

He was right in most respects. The Martingale can reap plenty of small winning sessions. However, a gambler’s luck will eventually run out if they keep employing this strategy.

Should You Use the Martingale to Win Big Too?

The Martingale has remained popular for almost two centuries. The main reason why is because it works…at least in theory.

Here’s an example to show the power of the Martingale:

  • You bet $10 and lose (bankroll at -10).
  • You bet $20 and lose (bankroll at -30).
  • You bet $40 and lose (bankroll at -70).
  • You bet $80 and lose (bankroll at -150).
  • You bet $160 and lose (bankroll at -310).
  • You bet $320 and win (bankroll at +10).

You’ve lost five bets in a row in this example. But despite winning just one out of six wagers, you’ve managed to book a $10 profit.

The Martingale is seemingly a foolproof system. It could work under the perfect conditions. The problem, though, is that such conditions don’t exist.

Monte Carlo Casino

First off, you’d need to find a casino without table limits. Otherwise, you’ll eventually reach the table limit during a losing streak and not be able to double your wagers any longer.

Secondly, you’d need an infinite bankroll to ensure that you never risk losing all of your money. Maybe Jeff Bezos can pull this off, but not you.

Of course, the odds of you going on an insane losing streak are low. The longer you play, though, the more likely you are to run into such a horrific occurrence.

If this happens, then you have no recourse since your bankroll will be gone. Long story short, use the Martingale at your own risk.

Conclusion

Most gamblers don’t use the Martingale (at least consistently) due to the reasons outlined above. But you can see from the stories of Wells and Choe that it’s possible to win big with this strategy.

Each player earned seven figures using the Martingale. Wells actually pulled this feat off twice during trips to Monte Carlo.

However, you should temper your expectations with this system. The Martingale can deliver frequent winning sessions, but it also takes a while to build your winnings. The story of Choe playing for a year before hitting $1 million illustrates this idea.

Ultimate Strategy Guide to Playing Roulette

Roulette Wheel With Casino Lights Background

Roulette is one of the few gambling games that have stood the test of time. It’s considered one of the classic games, and has been widely available for over 100 years.

It’s really a simple game that keeps things interesting because there are so many betting options and it uses a different mechanic than most other gambling games. This special mechanic is a spinning wheel and an ivory ball.

Roulette isn’t a game that is considered a strategy game, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t use a simple strategy to improve your odds. In this shortcut guide you’re going to learn everything you need to know about roulette strategy.

Bet Options

Roulette has more betting options than most gambling games. You can bet on a single number or almost half the numbers at one time using color, odd or even, or 1 to 18 or 19 to 36, and just about anything in between.

If you want to bet on two numbers you can, as long as they’re beside each other or one on top of the other on the table. You can bet on any three number row or on four numbers by placing a bet on the corner shared by all four. You can bet on groups of 12 numbers by betting on 1 to 12, 13 to 24, or 25 to 36, or by betting on one of the three columns.

You can even make a special bet called a basket bet on the first row and the single zero on a European or French wheel or the first row, the single zero, and the double zero on an American wheel.

Closeup of a Roulette Table

But at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what bet you choose to make when you play roulette. With the exception of the basket bet on an American wheel, all of the bets have the exact same house edge. The payouts vary based on the odds of winning the bet you make, but all of the payouts in comparison to the odds produce the same house edge percentage.

The basket bet on an American roulette wheel has a higher house edge than the other. As you’re getting ready to learn, you should never play on an American roulette wheel, but if you do, you should never make the basket bet. Any other available betting option is better than the basket bet.

The Only Thing That Matters

The only thing that matters when it comes to betting on roulette is how many spaces are on the wheel. An American roulette wheel has 38 spaces, which includes a double zero space. European and French roulette wheels have 37 spaces because they don’t have a double zero space.

When you gamble on a roulette wheel with 38 spaces, the house edge is 5.26% on every wager except the basket bet that I mentioned in the last section. When you gamble on a roulette wheel with 37 spaces, the house edge is 2.7%.

Clearly, the only type of roulette you should ever consider playing is a game on a single zero wheel with only 37 spaces. This is the ultimate roulette strategy shortcut.

Always play on a wheel with only 37 spaces.

Recently roulette wheels with a triple zero space have been popping up. These wheels are even worse than wheels with a double zero space. The house edge on roulette wheels like these with 39 spaces is 7.69%.

Funny French Rules

Some roulette games have one of two special rules that you need to know about. These rules are only available on some single zero games, and some players call it a French roulette wheel. The two special rules are called En Prison and La Partage.

La Partage is a rule that gives you back half of any even money wager you place when the ball lands on the zero space. Even money bets are the ones that pay 1 to 1, including bets on red, black, even, odd, 1 to 18, and 19 to 36. This rule cuts the house edge on even money wagers from 2.7% to 1.35%.

The En Prison rule is somewhat like the La Partage rule. It only applies to even money bets, and when the ball lands on the zero space the even money bet is neither won nor lost. The bet stays in place and is resolved on the next spin.

Roulette wheels with either of these rules are rare. In the United States these wheels are very hard to find, and if you do fin done it’s likely to be in a high limit room where large minimum bets are required.

These rules are more common in Europe, but they still aren’t regularly found anywhere except in France. This is why many players call games using these rules French roulette.

If you can find a roulette game using one of these rules, you should play on it and stick with even money bets. This is the best roulette game you can possibly find.

Is Roulette Your Best Option?

I understand that some people simply like to play roulette, and it’s fine if you land in this category. If you simply have to play roulette, stick with a single zero wheel and make the smallest bets you can on every spin of the wheel. This is the only way to make your bankroll last longer.

The casino has quite a few options that offer a lower house edge than roulette, even if you play a single zero wheel. If you’re looking for games with simple strategy, baccarat and craps both offer bets with a lower house edge than roulette.

If you’re willing to use a little more strategy, blackjack and video poker both offer opportunities to play with a house edge under 1%.

And if you’re willing to invest a great deal of time and effort into strategy, poker variations like Texas holdem and Omaha offer a chance to win in the long run.

Online Roulette Considerations

Real money online roulette games are the same as the ones you play in land based casinos. But they do offer a few advantages that you don’t find when you play in your local casino. Here’s a list of the reasons why playing online roulette can be better than playing land based casino roulette.

Bonus offers – Roulette is one of the many gambling games that have a hard house edge. A hard hose edge means that in the long run it’s impossible to win. You might win sometimes, but overall you’re going to lose more than you win.

Anytime you gamble with a hard house edge, it means that the more you play the faster you lose. When this happens your bankroll shrinks and you either have to stop playing or you have to add money to your bankroll.

Closeup of Roulette Wheel and Chips

At many online casinos you can get a bonus when you make a deposit to play roulette. A common bonus is a 100% match on your deposit, so if you deposit $500 you get $1,000 total for your bankroll. With everything else being equal, this means you can play twice as long on the same amount of money with a 100% deposit bonus.

Pace of play – One of the things you have no control over when you play roulette in a land based casino is the pace of play. The number of spins per hour is pretty much the same no matter what you do. The only thing you can do is stop playing if you want to play fewer spins per hour.

When you play online you have complete control over the pace of play. You can play as slow as you want or as fast as you want. In fact, you can play many more spins per hour playing roulette online than you can in a land based casino.

But the best option is to play slower than when you play in a land based casino. This slows your losses and makes your bankroll last longer.

No travel – Every time you travel to a land based casino you have expenses. When you play online, or on a mobile device, you save on these expenses because you don’t have to travel. This isn’t a huge savings in most cases, but every little bit that you save can be added to your bankroll.

Table minimums – The minimum bet at most online roulette tables is much smaller than at land based roulette tables. If you stick to the table minimum bet you can play much longer on the same amount of money. This is a big advantage that online roulette offers.

Conclusion

The ultimate roulette strategy shortcut is simply to make sure you always play on a single zero roulette wheel. If you can find a wheel using one of the French rules and stick to even money bets you’re even better off.

For the best use of your bankroll, play online roulette with a bonus and stick with table minimum wagers. This extends your bankroll as far as possible, and can add hours of fun to your gambling journey.

10 Crazy Facts About the History of Atlantic City

Pair of Dice in Front of Atlantic City Background

New Jersey has a pretty long legacy of stories and history around gambling, all centered around the famous Atlantic City and its historic boardwalk.

Over the decades, the resort city has experienced some pretty significant legal and economic shifts as a relevant and major tourist location, and in 2020, it looks like Atlantic City is on an upswing.

Let’s dive into the history of how gambling found its way to Atlantic City and explore some of the crazier facts about Atlantic City.

1- The First Boardwalk Ever Was in Atlantic City

Atlantic City was the first city to introduce a boardwalk. In 1870, the plans for the boardwalk started off as a $5,000 project and would run one mile long.

No stores would be allowed to be within 30 feet of the boardwalk. When harsh winter days arrived in Atlantic City, the boards would be taken apart and stored until the weather returned to a state that allowed people to want to be outside.

The first Boardwalk would act as a way to keep beach sand out of hotel lobbies. It was originally only intended to be a seasonal structure.

The Boardwalk in Atlantic City today runs 4 miles long and is abundant with tourist attractions, a small amusement park, restaurants, bars, and food stands.

2- Saltwater Taffy Came From Atlantic City

If you’ve ever had “saltwater taffy,” you can thank Atlantic City for being the birthplace of the popular candy that tourists have always enjoyed when vacationing in Atlantic City.

In the 1800s, a guy named Joe Fralinger wanted to create a candy that tourists could take home with them, giving them a tasty way to commemorate their trip in Atlantic City. Today, you can still find the famous candy story, “Salty Taffy.”

3- The Largest Musical Instrument in the World is in Atlantic City

A cool fact worth mentioning about Atlantic City is that in its famous venue, Boardwalk Hall, there sits what is known to be the largest musical instrument instrument in the world.

This pipe organ has over 33,000 pipes—no other musical instrument has been able to break this world record. It also holds world records for being the loudest instrument.

4- Atlantic City is the Birthplace of the Miss America Pageant

Everyone that lives inside the United States has heard of the famous Miss America Pageant. The very first pageant was held in Atlantic City in 1921.

The day for the pageant was strategically planned by the city as a way to keep tourists in the city past Labor Day.

The pageant shifted from being held in Atlantic City to moving to Las Vegas in 2006 before returning back to Atlantic City, where the pageant is still currently hosted.

5- Atlantic City Is on an Island and Once Housed a Health Resort

The gambling mecca in Atlantic City sits on an island in New Jersey known as Absecon Island. Back in the early to mid 1800s, the island was primarily used for light farming and shellfish harvesting.

The first idea for a resort to be built on the island came from a doctor named Jonathan Pitney. He thought that the island would be an ideal location for a Health Resort.

New Jersey Boardwalk

In the 1850s, construction on the first hotel would begin. Known as the United States Hotel, the resort would include 600 rooms and take up over 16 acres.

The hotel could comfortably hold 2,000 guests and would be the biggest hotel in the US at this time.

6- Prohibition Was Basically Ignored

By the early 1900s, the US saw a rise in hotel construction, and by the end of the Prohibition era, Atlantic City held the title as being the premier summer resort destination on the East Coast.

During the Prohibition era from the 1920s to the 30s, Atlantic City was a region in the US where Prohibition was simply just not enforced.

Atlantic City was the destination of choice for the thirsty folks that were seeking alcohol. The business model at the time held the belief that hotel owners needed to do whatever they could, and by any means necessary, to make sure that its guests were happy.

The convenient beach location of the resort city made it easy for rum runners to bring their goods onto the shore.

The people in charge of the law enforcement in Atlantic City controlled everything from the smuggling operations and the restaurants where alcohol was served to the hotels, making Atlantic City a wide-open town that supposedly did a good job of violating the federal laws that existed during this time period.

7- New Jersey Has a Long Gambling History

New Jersey has always had a long-held reputation for being more open than other states when it came to gambling. The state would run lotteries in an attempt to help fund war efforts until they were made illegal in 1844.

New Jersey was also home to the Freehold Raceway, the oldest racetrack in the United States. Freehold Raceway continued to operate through various legal statuses, much like how the town continued to serve alcohol through the prohibition period.

This included an 1894 decision to ban parimutuel gambling, a type of betting that involves all bets being placed in a fixed pool, and an 1897 vote which made all gambling illegal.

Racetrack gambling would be legalized again in 1939, but despite the fact that gambling was illegal in the state until 1939, illegal casino and bookmaking operations, slot machines, and numbers rackets were abundant in Atlantic City.

8- A Crime Boss Ran the City

The city operated under the crime boss Enoch Nucky Johnson, who was actually featured in an HBO series in 2010 called the Boardwalk Empire.

Filled with famous—but at the same time underground—speakeasy establishments, drinking, and betting, Atlantic City redefined the prohibition era. Atlantic City was so popular during this era that the famous hotel, Resorts Hotel Casino, renovated its entire resort to try to capture the 1920s vibe and culture.

As Johnson became more powerful, infiltrating different government commitees in Atlantic City throughout the early 1900s, it is said that he made an annual $500,000 from kickbacks that he would take from construction projects, illegal drinking, prostitution rings operating in Atlantic City, and gambling.

Johnson would help create the title of “The World’s Playground” for Atlantic City.

From a quote in an NYT obituary, Johnson stated “We have whiskey, wine, women, song, and slot machines. I won’t deny it, and I won’t apologize for it. If the majority of the people didn’t want them, they wouldn’t be profitable, and they would not exist. The fact that they do exist proves to me that the people want them.”

By the year 1941, Nucky Johnson would be convicted in tax evasion charges, resulting in a 10-year federal prison sentence. After serving 4 years, Johnson was released on parole, never seeking a seat in politics again.

9- Atlantic City Fell to Pieces After WWII

The end of the Second World War would bring a huge shift in the popularity of Atlantic City, a shift that would cause a severe decline in the city’s economy.

The demise of Atlantic City during this time period would create an influx of crime and poverty. By the 1960s, a pretty significant number of hotels would be closed down and repurposed as apartments and nursing homes.

Several of the popular landmark hotels in the city were completely demolished.

10- Legalized Gambling Was Seen as the Way to Save Atlantic City

By the 1970s, the plan would emerge to legalize gambling in Atlantic City and attempt to recreate the once popular resort town.

The New Jersey lottery emerging in 1970 would act as a catalyst that would bring the popularity of gambling back to Atlantic City.

There were potential downsides and fears around legalizing gambling and turning the city back into a resort mecca. A huge state-wide fear was that casinos would end up back in the hands of mafia organizations and would inevitably lead to corruption and exploitation of New Jersey’s vulnerable citizens.

But despite the fears of local leaders, many Atlantic City locals stuck behind the idea that casinos were the answer for how to bring Atlantic City back into the spotlight. They tried to introduce a revised referendum that would legalize gaming inside the borders of Atlantic City only.

New Jersey Casinos

Millions of dollars were spent on a campaign to save the city through Atlantic City legalized casinos. In 1976, proponents successfully got the proposal added to the ballot, and the press of Atlantic City ran a front-page editorial supporting legalizing gambling in Atlantic City as the answer to the city’s economic trouble.

The revised referendum passed in November 1976, although according to the Atlantic City Free Public Library, it was approved by a slim margin of just 1.5 million votes to 1.14 million.

In 1978, Resorts Atlantic City, which still operates from the same Boardwalk location to this day, became the first legalized Atlantic City casino to open to the public.

By the 1970s, Atlantic City would also see the first opening of the doors of Caesar’s Atlantic City and Bally’s Atlantic City.

Is There More That I Missed?

Atlantic City has experienced some pretty significant economic rises and falls throughout the last century.

By 2018, the city had finally seen its first economic rise since the previous decade, and today, Atlantic City’s economy is as stable and profitable as ever.

Do you have some facts about the history of Atlantic City and its entertainment industry that I missed?

If you have some relevant thoughts, please feel free to leave them down in the comment section below!

7 NFL Handicapping Tips for Early Season Games

NFL Logo With Stadium Background

Handicapping NFL games gets harder every year. The sportsbooks keep getting better with their lines, so it’s harder to find value. This is why many sports bettors are moving to NCAA football games, because it’s easier to find weaker lines.

The early season NFL games still offer some value because there are more unknowns early in the season. A sharp handicapper can still find some value in these early games, because the books are dealing with the same unknowns when they’re setting the lines.

Here are my seven top handicapping tips for NFL betting on early season games.

1 – Don’t Overvalue Offense

The modern NFL is designed for offense because the powers in charge figured out that fans want to see more scoring. Most of the rule changes have been designed to protect quarterbacks and make it easier to score. This is all designed from a marketing perspective.

This has lead to the public valuing offense more than defense when they make betting decisions. This alone can offer an advantage to smart sports bettors who can properly evaluate offenses and defenses. But there’s an added advantage that can be had in early season games.

While NFL defenses are more complicated than they used to be, it’s still easier to put a complete defensive package together early in the season than it is to get an offense firing on all cylinders.

The best players on offense are playing less in the pre season than ever before because teams don’t want to risk injury to their best players.

This makes it more difficult for offenses to play at their best in the early season.

When you’re handicapping early season NFL games, don’t overvalue offenses. Defenses have a better chance of operating up to their talents in these games.

2 – Higher Variance

Early season NFL games have a higher variance than later in the season, this can also be said when betting on NCAA football games. It’s hard to accurately predict how new players will perform and you never know when older players will start declining. Coaching changes happen every year, and new schemes are introduced.

I look at the first two or three weeks of every NFL season as a crapshoot. The books setting the lines struggle with this also, so more lines end up being off at the start of the season.

NFL Quarterback About to Throw the Ball

The question is how can you use the higher variance to improve your handicapping?

It’s easier said than done, but the knowledge that the sportsbooks have to deal with the higher variance has some value. I find more lines that seem to be far from my handicapped predictions in the first few weeks, and I’m more confident in making bets on these games.

Sometimes I’m wrong, which is the nature of betting systems on sports, but over the years I’ve learned that the books aren’t any better at early season games than I am.

3 – Veteran Offensive Lines

The average NFL fan betting on games tends to ignore offensive lines or just think about their ability to block in a vacuum. But in the modern NFL one of the big things an offensive line needs to be able to do is communicate and work together.

This is where an offensive line filled with veteran players has an advantage. When all five linemen return from the previous season they already know how to work together and communicate. This can be a big advantage early in the season. As the season progresses little issues get worked out and it equalizes the communication on offensive lines.

4 – The Preseason Means Nothing

As I mentioned above, the best players are playing less in pre season than ever before. Many starting quarterbacks and skill position players are playing only four or five series in the entire pre season. This makes it challenging for the offense to click quickly once the season starts, especially for teams with younger quarterbacks and skill position players.

On the other hand, teams with a group of receivers and a quarterback who’ve been together for several seasons can get on the same page faster because of their previous experience working together.

The only things I look at in the pre season are injuries and how new skill position players and quarterbacks seem to be working together. I ignore everything else on the offensive side of the ball.

On the defensive side of the ball, I look at how a new scheme from a new coach seems to be working, but I don’t put too much faith in the pre season results.

5 – Aging Running Backs

No position in the NFL is more likely to drop off from one season to the next than running back. A great running back can go from one of the best in the league to average or worse in one season. The teams are starting to figure this out and have stopped paying running backs as much as they turn 30 and older.

Only a few running backs are able to maintain high end production into their 30’s, so you need to be careful about overvaluing them in early season games.

The offensive line has a great deal to do with the success of running backs, but even the best lines can’t turn an average back into Barry Sanders or Emmitt Smith.

Running backs that are still on their rookie contracts tend to out produce those on their second deals that take them into their 30’s. Keep this in mind when you’re handicapping early season NFL games.

6 – Coaching Continuity

The NFL is more complicated than it has been in the past on both sides of the ball. Offenses and defenses use advanced and complicated schemes to try to get a small edge. Every time a new coach, including offensive and defensive coordinators, join a new team they install new schemes.

Most teams with new coaches have to iron out issues in the early season as everyone tries to get on the same page. This can give an advantage to teams that carry over the same head coaches and coordinators from year to year.

Understanding this and using it when you handicap early season games can give you an advantage. It’s more pronounced on the offensive side of the ball, but defenses also deal with changes that can lead to a handicapping advantage.

On the offensive side of the ball, look for new coordinators who make big changes. Some offensive schemes are similar from one coordinator to another, but often the entire system changes. When a new system that’s not similar to the old one is put in it can take a few weeks to start working well.

One area where there seems to be a big wakeup call is when a hot offensive college coach enters the NFL and tries to do what made them successful in college. This almost never works as well as they hop in the early season.

7 – Beware the Shiny Object

Every NFL season a few rookies come into the game backed with a bunch of hype. These players are usually quarterbacks and skill position players, and most of them end up disappointing bettors. Smart sports bettors know that rookie NFL quarterbacks are rarely decent, much less good. The best NFL quarterbacks usually take three or more seasons before they start to flourish.

Running backs and top end receivers can make a bigger impact early in their careers, but they also don’t usually live up to the hype. A good rookie receiver that’s lucky to land with a good quarterback can have a big impact, but veteran quarterbacks tend to lean on more experienced players in crunch time, even when a rookie is very good.

NFL Football Players Running a Play

The shiny object can also be a new head coach who comes into the league with a great college resume or someone who had success as a coordinator. The best college coaches and NFL coordinators don’t always make the best head coaches.

In addition, the head coaches in the NFL have to excel in managing coaches and players as much or more as being strong in the X’s and O’s on a day to day basis.

Overall, smart NFL bettors never overestimate the impact of new players and coaches. They know that anyone with a great deal of hype is likely to underperform, especially early in the season. When I bet an early season NFL game with an inexperienced quarterback, I’m almost always on the other side.

Conclusion

Early season NFL games offer many opportunities to find value for smart sports bettors. The public does a poor job betting these games, so one of the first things to look at is the side opposite the public. The sportsbooks struggle handicapping early season games as much as smart handicappers, so you can find some profitable opportunities if you know where to look.

Use the tips on this page or check out these tips on US sports betting to find valuable early season lines. As the season progresses, many of these tips become less valuable. But you can use them year after year to handicap early games.

Are Online and Land Based Casinos Really at War?

Swords Crossing Image With Laptop and Casino Strip Background

Online casinos present an alternative to brick-and-mortar casinos. If you don’t want to physically visit a gambling establishment to place bets, then you can simply play online.

For this reason, some states have approved internet gaming. They see online casinos as a nice source of additional tax revenue.

However, some feel that gaming sites serve as a threat to brick-and-mortar casinos. They propose that internet casinos will cannibalize gambling revenue and take away jobs at land-based establishments.

This view proposes that brick-and-mortar and online casinos are in some kind of war. Is this picture really accurate, though?

I’ll discuss this matter by looking closer at the reason why people think that internet and land-based casinos can’t exist.

Why the Belief That Online Casinos Will Topple Land Based Venues?

Sheldon Adelson, Chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corp, is mainly responsible for pushing the idea that gaming sites are inherently evil. He even started a Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG) to promote his agenda.

The CSIG cited Macquarie Capital’s Chad Benyon as stating that internet gaming will “cannibalize $25 million to $50 million” in revenue from New Jersey land-based casinos.

In a 2015 interview, Benyon’s overall point was actually that online gaming will provide an additional $200m to $300m. Subtracting the projected $25m to $50m cannibalization, this is still a definite net gain.

The crusade that Adelson launched to stop online gambling isn’t built on sound reasoning. However, it has still swayed some opinions.

Notable Differences Between Online and Land Based Casinos

The CSIG seems like mere propaganda to further Adelson’s land-based casino empire, which stretches from Vegas to Macau.

Nevertheless, gaming sites do hold some advantages over brick-and-mortar establishments that make them threats in certain respects. Below, you can see the primary benefits that they offer gamblers.

Online Casinos Can Run with Fewer Operating Expenses

Online casinos in the USA don’t need to build lavish complexes that are filled with amenities and hotels rooms. They also don’t have to pay huge utility bills to run these establishments.

Instead, they just need servers and a place to operate. These operations, of course, have other costs to cover, but nothing to the degree of live venues.

Land Based Casinos Need More Employees

Gaming sites also don’t need nearly the same number of employees as brick-and-mortar operators. Outside of developers, marketers, and management, they don’t require much other help.

The biggest live casinos, on the other hand, employ hundreds or even thousands of people. For example, Adelson’s The Venetian Las Vegas has 6,000 people working for it.

The minimal workforce, combined with lower operating expenses, allow online casinos to run more cheaply. As a result, they can be more flexible during a market downturn.

Gaming Sites Offer Better RTP

Land-based casinos aren’t known for featuring great odds. They’ve gradually jacked up house edges on their games to give themselves more profits.

Of course, they also need greater profits to keep their operations going. This is the primary reason why they feature slot machines with low return to player (RTP) ranging from 88% to 94%.

Most online slots, in contrast, feature between 95% and 97% RTP. They also generally offer better payback for blackjack and roulette (more single-zero wheels available).

Brick and Mortar Casinos Charge Higher Bets

Land-based establishments also charge larger minimum wagers to play. This measure is also based on the need to generate more revenue to cover higher operating costs.

Slot machines, for example, require anywhere from $0.50 to $3 to play. Table games generally have minimum wagers ranging from $10 to $25.

Online slots typically let you play for anywhere from $0.01 (one payline) to $0.50. You can enjoy table games for just $1 per hand.

Online Casinos Are More Convenient

Perhaps the biggest advantage that gaming sites have over brick-and-mortar casinos is the convenience factor. They don’t require you to travel anywhere.

You can pull up an internet casino on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. You also have the ability to take the casino anywhere with you through a mobile device.

Free Online Casino Games

Gaming sites don’t need to employ dealers or feature physical slot machines. Therefore, they don’t technically lose any money by letting you play for free.

At most casinos, you can begin enjoy free gaming immediately after completing registration. Free online casino games let you test everything out before officially deciding to make a deposit.

The Reality: Internet and Land Based Casinos Complement Each Other

Some of the aspects covered above point to the possibility that internet casinos do compete with their land-based counterparts. The numbers, though, tell a different story.

Kevin Smith, CEO of Boyd Gaming, has pointed out how online gambling boosts the company’s overall revenue—rather than take away from it.

Smith spoke about Boyd’s dual success with the Borgata and their gaming sites in 2014. He stated that the company’s internet gaming success isn’t coming at the expense of the Borgata.

“These results also once again demonstrate online gaming’s potential to expand our business,” said Smith. “About 85 percent of our online players have not had rated play at Borgata in at least two years, showing there is little overlap with our land-based business.

Picture of Las Vegas Strip

“Online gaming is growing our database, creating a long-term opportunity to market Borgata to an entirely new group of customers.”

Tom Ballance, the COO of the Borgata, backed up Smith’s comments when speaking with CNBC.

“In January, Borgata launched a mobile gaming app for iPhones and iPads, and we are scheduled to roll out a version for Android devices shortly,” Ballance explained. “As Borgata expands into mobile gaming, we believe we will further grow our business and the overall market.”

Here’s more evidence from industry executives and reports suggesting that internet gambling compliments the land-based sector:

  • Dover Downs (Delaware) CEO Ed Sutor refers to online gambling as a “new market” that targets a “new demographic.”
  • A report from the American Gaming Association (AGA) offers the consensus that online gaming helps boost land-based revenue.
  • A Nevada study concludes that most local poker players haven’t adjusted their land-based play with the presence of legal NV online poker.
  • Mitch Garber, the head of Caesars Acquisition division, points to the UK as perfect evidence that internet gaming doesn’t hurt the brick-and-mortar industry.
  • Thomas Winter of the Golden Nugget (New Jersey) states that up to 70% of their online players have never/rarely been to the Golden Nugget.

Will the Synergy Between Online & Brick and Mortar Casinos Ever Change?

Studies and comments from gambling execs prove that internet gaming isn’t having a negative impact on brick-and-mortar casinos.

Otherwise, gaming companies wouldn’t be launching legal online casinos. But will this favorable balance always remain?

More and more gambling options create extra competition across the board. Many states are already experiencing casino saturation.

For the time being, online gambling is supplementing revenue for casino corporations. However, when will the overload of land-based and internet options become too much?

Picture of Bellagio Interior

My guess is that online casinos will continue to mostly draw those who don’t typically gamble live. Therefore, gaming companies are smart to expand into live and virtual settings.

They stand to earn more money overall with presences in both spaces. That said, online and live casinos aren’t truly competitors.

The problem, though, comes when looking at the industry as a whole. Gambling saturation is a real thing in America and beyond.

Politicians continue approving gaming bills in an effort to generate quick tax revenue. They also want to prevent this revenue from flowing into neighboring states.

Eventually, though, the gambling industry will begin to stagnate (it already has in some places). Both online and land-based gaming revenue will start to suffer at this point.

Conclusion

On the surface, live and internet gaming seem to be in a war for gambling supremacy. Revenue and casino figureheads, however, paint a different picture.

Not long after Adelson waged a war against online casinos, other executives and research suggested that internet gaming improves overall revenue.

It doesn’t, as Adelson and his CSIG claim, cannibalize brick-and-mortar earnings. Of course, many casino corporations already know this and have entered the online space.

The real problem for gambling companies moving forward is saturation. Casinos—both online and live—will need to deal with an overcrowded market in the coming years.

5 Reasons Why Past Results Are Handicapping Poison

Bottle of Poison in Front of Mix of Sports Players

One of the most challenging things I deal with as a handicapper is the balance between past results and determining what’s going to happen in the future. I’m not alone in this, because this is basically what handicapping is about.

You have to use past results to help you predict what’s going to happen in the future, but it’s far from an exact science. It’s dangerous to rely too heavily on past results.

Here are five reasons why past results are dangerous for handicappers, and how to use them in the best way.

1 – The Past Doesn’t Accurately Predict the Future

If you’re an investor, one of the things that you’ve probably heard is that past results don’t predict future results. This is true in investing, and it’s also true in sports handicapping. Past results can often give you a rough idea of what might happen in the future, but they never give you a 100% accurate prediction.

To be a profitable handicapper you have to look at a wide range of things and evaluate them in an efficient manner. Most handicappers start by looking at past results, but the best ones know they have to adjust their expectations based on many things beyond past results.

The problem is that most sports bettors want the past to accurately predict the future, so they look for trends and statistics that back up their desire.

When you look for things to back up want you want to find, it’s fairly easy to pay attention to the things that agree with you and ignore everything else. This is called conformation bias.

But if you want to be a winning sports bettor you need to keep an open mind and avoid the trap of finding what you want and ignoring what actually makes you money. You should consider past results when you’re handicapping, but if you don’t learn how to adjust them based on many different factors you’re not going to be a profitable bettor.

2 – Age Issues

Age is always a factor when you’re handicapping sports. Young players are often unpredictable. They have a big game one day and the next time they play it looks like they don’t know what they’re doing. As athletes move into their 30’s they eventually reach a point where they simply aren’t producing at the same level they were able to in their late 20’s.

The sweet spot for athletes in most sports is somewhere in their late 20’s. Before this they’re often unpredictable, and after this period it’s just a matter of time before their production falls off a cliff.

Two College Teams Running a Play

This is why past results can be dangerous for handicappers. You might make the mistake of not giving a young player enough credit for improvement or you might give an aging player too much credit when they start declining.

When you’re evaluating games to bet on, take a close look at the age of the players in the game. You start by looking at the age of the most important players on each team, but you don’t start there. Are there young players ready to step up and make their mark, and are there older players that can still be important if they’re used correctly?

Learn how to make handicapping adjustments based on the age of players when you’re considering past results.

3 – Injuries

It’s easy to understand why an injury that makes a player unavailable for a game changes how past team results should be used in handicapping. But there’s more than one type of injury. Many players play through minor injuries, and these aren’t always reported. And many times the teams let their best players play through injuries because the backup isn’t as good as the starter, even when they’re playing with an injury.

The key is to learn how to find out about injuries that aren’t serious enough to make a player miss a game, but are serious enough that the injury might change the level of performance. Sadly, there isn’t a single best way to find these things out.

Beat writers for each team have the best chance to learn of potential injuries, and some of them post on social media frequently.

This is one way to learn about injuries, but it takes a great deal of work and time to track every team this way.

It also takes a great deal of time to watch games, but this is the best way to spot potential minor injuries. I always watch how athletes run in games to try to spot minor injuries. It takes a lot of time, but most good handicappers watch as many games as they can, because there are many things you can’t see in a box score.

4 – Rest and Fatigue

Another area where past results can be misleading is the level of rest and fatigue that players have. A fresh player might have had a big game, but have a hard time duplicating the results when they’re worn down.

The sports where you need to be most concerned with rest and fatigue are baseball, basketball, and hockey. Each of these sports has long seasons and many games close together. Baseball teams play three and four game series and often play series back to back.

The problem with handicapping and taking rest and fatigue into account is that it’s not always easy to see when a player is wearing down. These are professional athletes, and some of them can perform at a high level even when they deal with some fatigue.

Man Receiving Sports Injury Rehabilitation

Of course, some players clearly have a drop in performance when they get tired. The key is to learn how to track player usage and try to determine when you should factor in the lack of rest and when it’s not important.

When betting on baseball, remember that relief pitchers and catchers need more rest than other positions. You need to track the recent usage for pitchers, including pitch counts, and know when a manager likes to rest his starting catcher.

MLB has a catching problem because there aren’t enough good catchers for every team to have a good one. The drop off between the starter and the backup catcher is usually large, so you need to know when the starter is resting.

5 – Old Results Are Meaningless

I recently saw a statistic that claimed an NFL team had a specific record against the spread in their last five season opening games. While I suppose this is interesting on some level, the fact is that it doesn’t help me handicap their season opening game this year.

The only things I’m interested in are things that are going to help me win more bets right now and in the future. I do my best to ignore everything else.

Teams are made up of players. While it’s true that some teams seem to have a better culture, the truth is that what a team did last season doesn’t have anything to do with what you can expect them to do this season.

It’s not even helpful to know how teams have performed against the spread up to the current point this season. Online sportsbooks set their spreads using a wide range of variables for each game, and just because a team has covered or not covered most or all of the recent spreads is no indication of what they’re going to do in the future.

I understand the reason why so many people find things like this interesting, and I even understand why some bettors try to use this type of information to handicap games. They’re looking for the magic formula that lets them handicap games with the least amount of work.

The perfect sports betting system in most bettor’s minds is one where they can plug in a bunch of stuff and have the system spit out a winning bet. But this is too easy to be realistic, and even if you can develop a system that works much this way, it’s not going to use anything from how a team performed in prior seasons and it’s not going to consider how a team did against the spread in recent games.

A big part of becoming a winning handicapper is learning what things are important and which ones to ignore. You can safely ignore anything that happened at the team level from previous seasons and anything that happened concerning the spread in recent games.

Conclusion

You have to use past results when you’re handicapping games, but you have to be careful which results you use and which ones you ignore. Some past results are completely worthless, so if you use them they’re going to hurt your results.

Ignore all team results from past seasons and focus on individual players. Consider age, rest, and fatigue along with injuries when you’re handicapping games. And always remember that past results are never a perfect indicator of future results, no matter how much you want them to be.

The Ultimate Blackjack Strategy Shortcut Guide

Closeup of Ace and Jack of Spades With Books in Background

Blackjack is the most popular casino table game offered by casinos, and has held this crown for a long time. It gives players a chance to walk away from the table as a winner more often than most casino games, and if you’re willing to do the work you can even play with a small edge in the long run.

This ultimate blackjack strategy shortcut guide is designed to get you started playing as quickly as possible while taking advantage of a small house edge. Once I teach you how to get started, I’ll share with you the next steps if you want to learn more about beating blackjack.

The Importance of Rules

Most casino games have a single set of rules. The rules for each game are directly related to the house edge, so when the rules are always the same, the house edge is usually the same. But blackjack has a wide range of rules options, so if you want to play with a low house edge you need to find games with good rules.

Because there are so many different rules variations in blackjack, it’s difficult to simply list one set of rules that make a good game.

A game with one bad rule and several good rules can still be a good game. And a game with several decent rules can be a good game, even if it doesn’t have a single great rule.

Because of this, I’m going to list common blackjack rules and explain which ones are better than others. When you find a game with more good rules than bad ones you know you have a game you can play.

Natural blackjack payout – One hard and fast rule for blackjack players is to never play at a table that pays worse than 3 to 2 for a natural blackjack. More and more casinos are offering games that only pay 6 to 5, and you should never play one of these games. The house edge goes up too much with a short payout to let you overcome the added edge.

SurrenderThe surrender rule allows you to fold your hand before the end and receive half of your original wager back. This isn’t a common rule, but some casinos offer it. Surrender is a good rule for you. You might see things about early and late surrender, but it’s almost impossible to find a game offering early surrender. The difference is in early surrender you can surrender before the dealer checks their down card and in late surrender you have to wait to see if the dealer has a natural blackjack.

Splitting cards – The best rules are that you can split any pair and that you can split as many times as possible. If you split your pair and receive a second pair, it’s best to be able to split again. Common rules allow you to split three or four times.

Doubling down – When you double down you place a second bet equal to your first one and receive exactly one more card. This is valuable when you have a total of 10 or 11 and the dealer has a poor face up card. The best rule allows you to double down at any time on any number of cards. This isn’t common. The most common rule is you can double down on any two cards.

Doubling down after splitting – Most casinos don’t allow you to double down after splitting, but if you can it offers you another advantage.

Dealer stands or hits on soft 17 – This rule isn’t as important as the other rules listed here, but when the dealer stands on a soft 17 it’s slightly better for you than when the dealer hits a soft 17. If the other rules are favorable, the dealer hitting on a soft 17 isn’t enough to make it a bad game.

Number of decks – The number of decks in play makes small difference to the house edge. The basic rule is the smaller the number of decks, the lower the house edge. Blackjack games are commonly dealt using a single deck, double deck, four decks, six decks, and eight decks. A single deck blackjack game is best, followed by a double deck game, etc. If all of the other rules are good, the number of decks isn’t overly important.

You can find rules variations beyond these, but most of them don’t matter. Find games with as many of these good rules as possible and you should be ok.

Using Blackjack Strategy

Finding real money blackjack games with good rules is only one part of the equation. Once you find a game with good rules you have to learn how to use strategy to lower the house edge more. Every possible card combination you can have at the blackjack table has a mathematical correct way to play. Making the single best possible play either wins the most money or loses the least amount of money.

If you try to determine the best play on your own it can be quite challenging. The good news is you don’t need to figure out the best blackjack strategy on your own. You can find a detailed blackjack strategy card here.

Closeup of a Blackjack Table Game

The way to use a blackjack strategy card is to find your hand down the left hand side and the dealer’s face up card along the top. Where the two meet it shows the best play. Using proper blackjack strategy is this simple. Simply use a chart or card every time you play.

The other two things you need to know about proper blackjack strategy are to never take the insurance bet and never make any of the side bets. The insurance wager is simply a disguised side bet that increases the house edge. All side bets are designed to increase the house edge, so you should always avoid them.

How to Start Playing Now

Here’s how to start playing real money blackjack now with a low house edge. You can use these steps whether you play online or in a land based casino.

The first step is to print out or buy a blackjack strategy card. Always use you chart or card when you play. Eventually you’re going to memorize the best plays, but don’t worry about that now. Simply use your chart.

The next step is to find real money blackjack games with good rules.

Many casinos offer tables with different rules and different numbers of decks so don’t give up when you see the first table.

Once you find a table with good rules take a seat and start with table minimum bets. As long as you play with good rules and use proper strategy, you should always bet the minimum. The only reason to bet more is covered in the next section.

When you follow these simple steps you’re playing blackjack with a low house edge. Depending on the exact set of rules, you’re usually going to play with a house edge of under a half percent.

The Next Steps

Once you learn how to find blackjack tables with good rules and learn how to use the proper strategy, you can start learning how to improve your chances of success even more. You can find information on this site and in books about advanced strategy for blackjack including card counting, shuffle tracking, hole carding, and ace sequencing.

I recommend learning as much as you can about card counting once you master the rules and basic blackjack strategy. It’s possible to develop a long term edge over the casino if you learn how to count cards

While you can use the other advanced methods I listed above to get an edge, the easiest way is to master counting cards. It’s more challenging than using basic strategy, but it’s not too hard for most players to learn if you’re willing to work at it.

Closeup of a Blackjack Hand

The first thing to do is learn the basics of counting cards. Once you understand how card counting works, the next step is to pick a card counting system and master it. You can use almost any card counting system, but the ones I recommend investigating first are the Knock Out, Red 7, and High Low.

These are all simple systems that are easy to learn and produce powerful results.

I mentioned in the last section that you shouldn’t raise your bets as a basic strategy blackjack player. Once you learn how to count cards you raise your bet in specific situations to help you overcome the house edge. Complete details are included in the system you choose to learn.

Conclusion

Playing blackjack with a low house edge is as simple as finding games offering good rules and using the proper strategy. This isn’t complicated, and there’s never an excuse to ignore this advice. The casinos allow the use if a strategy card or chart at the table, so make sure you always use one.

When you follow this advice you can start playing right away. Once you get comfortable with the rules and using proper strategy, start learning more about counting cards.

5 Advanced NCAA Football Handicapping Strategies

College Football Player Next to Money and Sportsbook Board

Every NCAA football bettor knows the best teams in the country, but they don’t always know why the best teams are consistently at the top of the rankings. Winning sports bettors know why the top teams are at the top, and they use this information to find profitable betting opportunities.

Here are five advanced betting strategies for NCAA football games that I use.

1 – Recruiting Ranking

Pick whatever college football recruit ranking service you prefer and look at the top 10 teams for recruiting rank in the last 10 years. Then look at the top 20 teams in your favorite pole at the end of each of the last 10 seasons.

What you’re going to find is an extremely high correlation between the teams that sign the best recruiting classes and the teams that finish in the top 20. This isn’t strictly a year to year correlation, because the third year of a recruiting class is when the class has the biggest impact.

In other words, every recruiting class has its biggest impact when the players are juniors or red short sophomores. This doesn’t mean that a recruiting class can’t have an impact in other years, but the third year is the most important.

The main reason why this is important is when a team has a great recruiting class one year and doesn’t have a great class other years. Most of the top teams recruit well on a regular basis, so they always have a strong class in their third year.

The teams that are consistently at the top of the recruit rankings include Clemson, Alabama, and Ohio State. Alabama and Clemson have dominated NCAA football over the last decade and Ohio State has been in the playoff discussion every year.

When you’re handicapping college football games, take a close look at the construction of each roster. Look at how many five star players are playing meaningful minutes for each team and how many four star players are playing meaningful minutes for each team.

Don’t be lazy when looking at recruiting rankings. It’s easy to count the four and five star guys on the roster, but this doesn’t give an accurate picture. If a five star freshman isn’t playing meaningful minutes there’s no reason to consider him when you’re evaluating games.

The bottom line is that the team with the most talent usually wins. You can find coaches that do a good job of coaching up the talent they have by developing two and three star players into good players, but very few are able to consistently recruit poorly and produce teams that beat teams with better recruits.

Ranking the talent on the rosters of the top teams in the country is helpful, but it can be especially profitable when you’re handicapping games between teams who aren’t in the top 50 programs in the country. This is one of my favorite handicapping strategies when I’m evaluating games in middle and small conferences. A four star recruit might not even be starting on one of the teams at the top of the rankings, but he might be able to dominate the entire conference at a smaller school.

2 – Defensive Speed

In some ways college football is similar to the NFL. But in other ways it’s completely different. In the NFL, every team has speed. The game is faster, and even the weakest teams have a great deal of speed. In the NCAA, some teams have speed on both sides of the ball in almost every position, and other teams lack speed.

I didn’t completely understand the importance of speed on defense until about 10 years back. I was watching a bowl game between a Big 10 team and an SEC team. On paper the two teams appeared to be evenly matched, but the play on the field told a different story. The SEC team was playing at a completely different speed, and they ended up dominating the game.

College Football Player Running the Ball With Defenders Chasing

Many teams in the Big 10 figured out the advantage of speed and have improved their team speed so they can compete on the big stage. The time when a team could overpower opponents and rely on three yards and a cloud of dust are long gone.

In NCAA football, many teams have quarterbacks that can run. In the NFL there are a few running quarterbacks, but it’s not as important as in college. Defenses have to have quite a bit of speed to control a running quarterback.

The problem for handicappers is that you can’t find a statistical relevant speed listing. You can get an idea from some statistics, but to truly rank the team speed you have to use your eyes. On paper two teams can look closely matched, but on the field when they play against each other you can clearly see how the speed matches up.

You may have noticed that the title of this section is defensive speed. Offensive seed is important also, but the difference is that offenses can game plan around speed issues. Defenses have to react to what the offense is doing, and sometimes the only way for the defense to have a chance to compete is to have a great deal of speed.

3 – Kickers

College kickers are mostly ignored by sports bettors. But a good or bad kicker is often the difference between winning a spread bet and losing one. Very few college football teams have a good kicker. Too many college teams have a terrible kicker.

It always drives me nuts when a football team in a big conference has a terrible kicker. Most of these schools have tens of thousands of students, and they can’t seem to find a single one who can kick a 40 yard field goal. Most of these schools have soccer teams, so why can’t the football coach find a soccer player who can kick field goals?

College Football Player Kicking a Field Goal

My pet peeves aside, you need to know which kickers are good and which ones are bad. A team with a kicker who can consistently score from 40 yards and in is going to walk away with points in the red zone much more often than a team with a poor kicker. In games with a tight spread, the team with a better kicker is more likely to cover, and a team with a bad kicker is more likely to cost you money.

4 – Tracking Coordinators

Offensive and defensive coordinators change frequently at the college level. Good coordinators get head coaching jobs and assistants get a chance to be coordinators. This can make handicapping college games challenging on a year to year basis.

One of the things that I see that’s different in the NFL and NCAA is in college football there are some offensive minds that seem to be able to adjust every week and every season to whatever the defense is doing. In the NFL there are adjustments, but the defenses adjust at the same time, so a great offensive mind isn’t as effective on a week to week basis as in college.

While it isn’t a 100% correlation, many of the best offensive adapters in the NCAA are guys that were NFL assistant coaches in the past.

Start tracking the best offensive and defensive minds in the college game and it can give you an advantage in handicapping games.

One thing to be aware of; a great offensive or defensive coordinator doesn’t always make a great head coach. The college game has become more about the head coach being a great recruiter, motivator, and manager than about being a great in-game decision maker. Coordinators are taking bigger and bigger roles running both sides of the ball while head coaches aren’t as involved.

You also need to be careful of betting early season games with teams that have new offensive coordinators with unproven track records. Sometimes it takes a few weeks for a new coordinator to start working his system consistently.

5 – Regional Betting and Line Trends

If you bet with a national or global sportsbook you aren’t going to see what I’m covering here, but if you bet with a local sportsbook or a bookie, you need to keep a close eye on regional betting trends and lines.

The most popular local teams get heavy betting action. This can lead to one of two things possibly happening. The first thing is the local books adjust the lines when they open to take advantage of sports fans, and the other is the lines open as normal and then get moved as heavy action comes in on the local team.

You need to avoid betting on the local team with a local book or bookie, or look at the other team in the matchup to see if the line offers value.

Conclusion

If your goal is to become a winning NCAA football bettor you need to use every betting strategy available to make money. Go beyond the strategies that everyone uses and add these five advanced handicapping strategies to your mix.

5 Formats Straight From Las Vegas You Can Use to Spice up Your Home Poker Game

Poker Cards and Chips Mixed With Image of a Home Poker Game

Millions of Americans assemble around their kitchen table for a weekly home game. Playing poker with your pals is a time-honored tradition, both among regular gamblers and recreational players alike.

Home poker games provide a venue for swapping stories, letting off steam, and busting one another’s chops. For folks who take the game seriously, a steady home game can serve as a proving ground of sorts, offering an opportunity to test their skills in a competitive setting.

Sin City is home to the world’s foremost poker scene, with dozens of casino poker rooms, hundreds of professional players, and thousands of tourists rounding out the lineup on any given day.

You can find every conceivable format too, from multiday events that feel like a marathon to quick, in-and-out “turbo” tournaments. The great game of Texas holdem is joined by offshoots like Omaha (holdem played with four hole cards) and Seven Card Stud. And the stakes range from a few dollars per pot to titanic sums in the six- and even seven-figure range.

Living in Las Vegas gives me a ton of access to the latest innovations in real money poker, so I always look for ways to apply that access in hopes of improving my own home game.

On that note, check out the list below to find five fresh ideas straight from Las Vegas casinos that you can use to spice up your home poker game.

1 – Bounty Tournaments

One of the coolest poker prop bets to the world of tournament poker I’ve encountered is the bounty format.

Essentially, a bounty tournament rewards anybody who eliminates an opponent from the table with an instant cash payout. Let’s say your normal home game tournament uses a $100 buy-in and 10 players to the table. Normally, all $100 of each entry fee would be used to form the prize pool of $1,000, with the top three finishers splitting that up in something like a $500-$300-$200 arrangement.

But in a bounty tournament, you can take $20 from each entry fee and assign that dough as the bounty on that particular player. The total prize pool still has $800 up for grabs, but now, anybody who busts somebody else out of the game scores a $20 rebate. If you catch a hot run of cards and roll through the table, you can easily pay for your original buy-in just by claiming bounties.

Closeup of a King and Four of Clubs

Bounty tournaments become extremely entertaining because the dynamics shift significantly in favor of aggression. Whereas you might normally fold a hand like K-10 to a short-stack’s shove, knowing that a bounty awaits if you get lucky and bust them makes calling that much easier.

And because nobody wants to fall into the short-stack danger zone themselves, everybody will be playing a little more aggressively than normal in hopes of building a big stack with which to rack up bounties.

If you don’t feel like diminishing your standard prize pool, you can always tack on the bounty fee on top of your normal buy-in. This way, the main prize pool remains intact, with players ponying up a little extra to sweeten the bounty pot.

I love bounty tournaments because they make every all-in situation more intense than usual. Knocking somebody out of contention is always a treat, but scooping a sweet bounty at the expense of a buddy just makes the victory more meaningful.

To get a sense of how bounty tournaments up the ante for everybody at the table, watch this highlight reel from last summer’s $1,500 buy-in No Limit Texas holdem Bounty tournament at the World Series of Poker (WSOP).

That one used a $500 bounty, which turned every hand into a battle for both pride and pocket money.

2 – Cash Game Bomb Pots

In the cash game format, the concept of “bomb pots” has taken the Las Vegas poker scene by storm. Here’s how they work…

Imagine you’re playing a standard cash game using blinds of $1/$2. At any time, calling for a bomb pot requires all players to place an ante, typically equal to 5x the big blind. Thus, everybody chips in $10 before the cards are dealt to suddenly create a sizable pot right off the bat.

From there, the dealer doles out everyone’s hole cards as per usual, along with the flop. At that point, the hand plays out normally, but the bomb pot format ensures all 10 players at the table have gone to the flop with random hands and a huge pot already built.

The fun thing about bomb pots is how they add an element of pure chance to poker’s typically clinical approach to preflop hands. You’ll be putting in that forced ante before ever seeing your cards, and you’ll even head to the flop without the option to fold, so literally any two cards can connect with the board.

Bomb pots have a way of loosening up what would normally be a tight table, too. Just get a load of Phil Hellmuth, the notoriously tight 15-time WSOP gold bracelet winner, bluffing the entire table out of a juicy bomb pot.

If you’re looking for a fun way to add action and unpredictability to your home poker cash game, bomb pots are definitely a great addition to consider.

3 – Tag Team Tournaments

In 2017, the WSOP introduced a clever new tournament format known as the Tag Team event, where two or more players form a team and enter together.

From there, one player takes to the table and tries to build the team’s stack, but they can tag a teammate to relieve them at any point. This flips the usual tournament structure on its head, as players you might have a great read on suddenly disappear, only to be replaced by someone you’re unfamiliar with.

In the home game setting, a tag team tournament would probably work best with two-player tandems partnering up. And to prevent one player from dominating their team’s usage rate, I’d suggest going with a timed tag out system, with each player swapping out every 30 minutes.

Tag team tournaments can lead to many interesting scenarios, especially when you accumulate a ton of chips. Conversely, the thrill of tagging in to find a short stack waiting, only to run it up and tag your teammate back in to find a big castle of chips, simply can’t be beat.

You’ll also have plenty of strategic implications to think about when playing a tag tournament. Maybe you’re better at the early phases of a tournament, when the blinds are relatively small and the antes haven’t kicked in yet.

Meanwhile, your teammate excels at the endgame when the stacks are less deep and the blinds come around more often. Knowing all of this, you could assign yourself as the team’s “opener” while making your teammate the designated closer.

Check out this clip from PokerNews to see what top pros have to say about the tag team tournament format.

Most home game poker players stick with No Limit Texas holdem every time they get together, and for good reason.

The “Cadillac of Poker” is perfect for recreational players who discovered the game watching the old WSOP and World Poker Tour broadcasts. All-in moments, brutal bad beats, and the ability to double up in an instant make No Limit Texas holdem a ton of fun.

With that said, you should definitely think about hosting a dealer’s choice cash game the next time your pals come over to play some cards.

In the dealer’s choice format, whomever holds the dealer button on that particular hand gets to “call” the game. You can opt for the more popular poker offshoots like Pot Limit Omaha, traditionalist games like Seven-Card Stud, or even more obscure variants like Razz (a Stud game where the worst hand wins), Badugi (a game where players try to hit hands using all four suits), or split pot games like Omaha Hi Lo Eight or Better.

Dealer’s choice cash games are extremely entertaining simply because they’re so unpredictable. You never know which random variant the next player over will call next, so everybody has to stay on their toes at all times.

And when you know a particular opponent isn’t well-versed in one game or another, calling it out just to needle them is always good for a laugh.

5 – Satellite Tournaments to the WSOP

On a final note, if attending the WSOP in Las Vegas has always been a dream shared by you and your fellow home game players, why not turn your kitchen table into a satellite qualifier?

The annual WSOP offers plenty of gold bracelet events priced at $1,000, so all it takes is $100 from everybody and a 10-player game to create a winner take all satellite. Whomever winds up winning every chip in play becomes the home game’s resident champion, receiving a full $1,000 buy-in with which to take their shot at gold and glory at the next WSOP.

The stakes can obviously be modulated to fit everybody’s bankroll accordingly, but if you have a full table of players on a consistent basis, you should be able to host a WSOP satellite rather easily.

Conclusion

Poker home games have been a staple of the game for many decades, serving as the foundation from which the wider poker community develops and evolves. If your personal home game seems to be stuck in a rut lately, trying any of the five formats listed here is a surefire way to inject a little excitement and intrigue back to the proceedings.

7 Mistakes Horse Racing Bettors Make Every Day

Jockey Riding a Horse Next to an Image of a Fan of Money

Horses are wonderful animals and there aren’t many things in life that compare to spending a day at the track watching them compete. I always enjoy going to the horse track, but I can’t go to the races without placing some wagers in person.

I used to bet on horses based on odds, and even placed a few bets by picking horses that had names I liked. But I quickly learned that I needed to learn how to handicap the races if I didn’t want to lose too much money.

I started learning from my betting mistakes and improved over time. You can improve your horse race handicapping by learning from mistakes as well, and they don’t even have to be your own mistakes.

Here’s a list of seven mistakes horse race bettors make. Take the time to learn from these mistakes so you don’t make the same ones.

1 – Ignoring the Jockey

Amateur horse racing bettors tend to focus on the horses. While you need to learn how to handicap horses based on their abilities, you also need to understand how important the jockey is during a race.

I look at many things when I’m handicapping a horse race. These include:

  • Past results and times for each horse
  • Past results and times for each jockey
  • Past results when the horse and jockey have been paired
  • Track condition and weather of the current race as well as in past races
  • Pedigree of the horse
  • Experience of the jockey

One of the most important things I look for is how much experience each jockey has. Every jockey was a rookie at one time, but being a good jockey is more than just physical ability. It’s like many other professions in that you learn how to improve with experience.

Good jockeys also learn specific things about the horses they ride the most, which can give them an edge in a race.

I still place bets on good horses with jockeys who have less experience, but I lean toward betting on horses with experienced jockeys.

When you’re evaluating jockeys, take a close look at the horses they were on in their recent races. I compare where the jockey finished with the final odds. This isn’t always perfect, but it gives me an idea of when the jockey finishes higher than expected or lower.

2 – Ignoring Starting Position

It doesn’t usually take horse race bettors long to learn that starting position is important. But I still see gamblers ignore it every day, and that’s a mistake.

Another mistake that horse race bettors make is assuming that one position is better than another in every situation. You have to learn which horses perform the best from different positions.

Here’s an example of different horses performing differently from positions:

A horse that comes out of the gate fast has a much better chance to win from the rail than one who starts slow and finishes fast.

A slow start from the rail can bury an otherwise good horse and make it harder to win.

You should also look at how each jockey has performed in the past from each starting position. The performance of jockeys by position isn’t usually as important as the horses, but it can give you an edge that no one else is looking for.

3 – Overvaluing Speed

Speed is important in horse racing, because the horse that finishes first has the fastest speed for the individual race. But there are many more things that go into effectively handicapping a race than past speed results. The mistake many horse bettors make is only relying on speed, or relying on past speed results too much.

If you know nothing about handicapping horses, you can come close to breaking even in the long run by simply betting on the horses that have the best times in previous races. But you’re never going to make a profit doing this.

Learn how to use speed as a part of your handicapping strategy, but don’t make the mistake of relying on it too much. Other things like track condition, weather, and the jockey also come into play.

4 – Placing Bets Too Early

The way the odds and payouts work in horse racing is they’re set based solely on the amount of money bet on each horse. This means that the horse with the best odds isn’t always the horse that has the best chance to win the race.

This is good because it means that smart handicappers can make money by picking horses that have a good chance to win that others aren’t placing big bets on.

Racing Horses Running Around a Bend in the Track

But this also means that the odds on each horse change as bets come in. This means that the early odds on a horse might offer value, but when all of the bets come in the odds change so much that there isn’t any value on the horse.

You only have so much time to get your bets in, but you need to make them as late as possible. This way you have a good idea of the odds that you’re going to get when the race starts. A horse that’s a good value at 10 to 1 might not be a good value at 5 to 1.

5 – Making Long Shot Bets for Fun

Have you ever seen a horse that had odds listed at 50 to 1 and decided to risk a few bucks just because of how much you can win? Most amateur horse bettors have ether done this, or at least thought about doing it.

While long shot horses do win from time to time, the truth is that there’s usually a good reason why they’re long shots. Winning horse race bettors make bets based on value, not based on hoping to get lucky.

When you place a bet on a long shot it has to be because you think it offers value. If you don’t see value, you should never make the bet.

6 – Overvaluing Pedigree

Before I get into the danger of overvaluing pedigree, I want to make it clear that pedigree is somewhat important. The best horses often produce offspring that put up good numbers. But the problem is that some bettors rely far too much on pedigree.

Each horse is unique and is trained by someone and is ridden by a jockey. If you use the world’s worst trainer and worst jockey on the best horse, the horse isn’t going to perform as well as it can.

On the other hand, the world’s best trainer and jockey can’t turn a terrible horse into a winner.

When you’re evaluating horse races, it’s good to know something about the pedigree of each horse, but it’s just one small part of effective handicapping strategy. Don’t make the mistake of overvaluing pedigree when you’re handicapping horse races.

7 – Making Large Bets on Heavy Favorites

Typically at quality online sportsbooks heavy favorites offer low odds. This means that when you win a bet on a heavy favorite your return is smaller than when you bet on horses with longer odds. Does this mean you shouldn’t bet on favorites?

Remember two things you learned earlier. The first thing is every bet you make needs to be based on value. This means that is the favorite offers the best value in comparison to the odds you should bet on the favorite. But when the odds don’t offer value you shouldn’t make the bet.

The other thing you need to remember is how odds work in horse racing. A big bet can make low odds go even lower. This is why I don’t recommend making big bets on big favorites. When the odds are low and you make a bet that makes them even lower, you’re setting yourself up for disaster.

Side View of Racing Horses

Too many things outside of your control, the horse’s control, and the jockey’s control, come into play during a horse race. A horse can stumble or get bumped or get trapped during a race, and the split second can be the difference between winning and finishing second.

When you make big bets on heavy favorites you have to win almost 100