How Casino Games Work

Poker Hand in Front of Metal Gears

Everyone knows how casino games work, don’t they?

Actually, you’d be surprised. I’ve heard some of the most insane strategies and ideas about how to go about playing real money casino games.

The purpose of this post is to explain how casino games work so that maybe there’ll be less misinformation about it in the future.

This is ideal for those who don’t yet know much about gambling and are looking to learn more about how most casino games work.

Math Is a Critical Part of Understanding Casino Games

Some people think that casinos and real money online casinos make money from their games because they cheat. That’s not at all true. Casinos don’t have to cheat, because they use the math of larger numbers to guarantee themselves a profit.

Here’s how that works.

Every casino game has payout odds, which is the amount you get paid if you win the bet compared to the amount you had to risk.

Chalkboard With a Variety of Math Problems

Many games have even odds where, if you bet $100 and win, you get $100 in winnings. Other games might pay off at 2 to 1 or 3 to 1 if some conditions are met. If you bet $100 and win, you’ll get $200 or $300 given those odds.

The thing about these bets is that you can also use odds to describe the probability of winning.

For example, if something is going to happen half the time, the odds are even, or 50/50.

If something is only going to happen 46% of the time, and the bet pays off at even money, someone is going to profit in the long run. And someone else is going to lose in the long run.

Guess who’s going to win 54% of the time on a casino game? That’s right. It’s the casino.

More About Odds and Probabilities Related to Casino Games

Let’s look at a really clear, specific example of how this works in reality in the game of roulette.

A real money roulette wheel has 38 numbers on it, and you can place a bet on which number the ball will land in. If you bet on the right number, you get a 35 to 1 payout.

Now, suppose you have a table full of gamblers, and each person picks one number and bets $100 on it. Or suppose that one player decides he absolutely MUST win, so he bets on all 38 numbers.

What’s the outcome for the casino? They win 37 of the 38 bets, for $100 each, so they win $3,700. They lose one of those bets, and they pay out $3500 on the winning bet. This leaves them with a $200 profit.

If you average that $200 profit by all 38 bets, you’ll get $5.26 per bet on average. And that’s how the casino makes its money, by paying out at odds lower than the odds of winning.

How Slot Machines Work

Of course, most people don’t play table games like blackjack, craps, or roulette anymore. 80% of most casino revenue comes from the slots.

How do the slot machines work? As it turns out, they work almost exactly like the table games. The major differences are the bigger payouts for the top jackpots and the correspondingly lower odds of winning them.

Also, on a gambling machine, your payout is done on an “x for y” basis rather than an “x to y” basis… What does that mean?

Well, it means that you don’t get to keep your original bet in addition to your winnings. You’re trading your original bet for what you’ve won.

Closeup of Three Reel Slot Machine

This means that if you win an even money payout on a slot machine, you’re not actually winning anything. You just didn’t lose any money. In a table game, that would be considered a “push,” which is a fancy casino term for “tie.”

Let’s say you have 2,000 different possible outcomes on a slot machine. Then, let’s say you have 1,800 possible payouts on all the winning combinations.

That slot machine game would have a 90% payback ratio, which is the amount that the slot machine pays back on average on every spin. It’s like paying a 10% tax on every bet.

Are Casino Games Random?

I read a lot of blog posts from an author who likes to point out that most casino game outcomes aren’t TRULY random, but they’re close enough. They’re confused about what random means.

Random just means that the outcome isn’t predictable. You might have a biased roulette wheel, for example. Some numbers might come up slightly more often than others. This doesn’t mean the game isn’t random.

It’s still random, but the odds are just tilted away from what they should be.

Casinos don’t have an incentive to have a non-random roulette game with a biased wheel, though. If they did have one, they’d be putting themselves in a position where savvy players could figure out the bias and profit from it.

They make MORE money offering random games than they would if they had games that were predictable.

That’s an important thing to understand about how casino games work. The casinos are incentivized to make sure they’re random and fair. If they weren’t random or fair, the casino would make less money.

What Are the Different Types of Casino Games?

Casino games can be broadly categorized into three types:

  1. Gambling machines
  2. Novelty games
  3. Table games

Gambling machines are currently the most popular type of casino game in the United States. Slot machines are an example, and video poker is the second most popular example. But you can also find video blackjack and video roulette games.

Novelty games include games like keno and other “carnival style” games. These games tend to have a higher mathematical advantage for the house than gambling machines or table games.

Table games are the games you see played at the various tables in the casino. The most popular of these include baccarat, blackjack, craps, and roulette.

The table games tend to have the lowest mathematical advantage for the house. The most notable exception is video poker, which often has a lower edge than blackjack.

The problem is that you have to be familiar enough with the pay tables for the variations of video poker to spot the ones with the higher payback percentages.

With most table games, you can bet a low house edge by just sticking with the best bets at the table. And at some tables, all the bets carry the same mathematical edge.

Which Casino Games Are Best?

The best casino games to play are the ones you enjoy the most. That advice runs counter to what you’ll read on many sites.

Most books and websites advise you to stick with the games with the lowest edge, but I disagree with this advice.

Imagine this. Suppose you’re playing blackjack for an hour, and you’re pretty sure that you’re going to lose $10 per hour while you’re playing. Let’s also suppose you HATE playing blackjack.

On the other hand, you’re playing slots for an hour, and you’re pretty sure you’re going to lose $50 per hour while you’re playing. Let’s also suppose you LOVE playing slot machines. Which game should you play?

At the end of the day, if you play casino games, you’re going to lose all your money if you play long enough. That’s just how the math behind the game works.

So, even if you’re going to lose your money faster on a game with a high house edge, if it’s more fun, that’s the game you should play.

How Can I Win More Often Playing Casino Games?

In the long run, you can’t win unless you’re some kind of advantage player. Learning how to beat the casinos in the long run is beyond the scope of this post.

But, in the short term, the nature of random chance means you’ll sometimes win. I’d estimate that 20% of the time, you should be able to walk away from the casino with some winnings in your pockets.

Your goal should be to increase your likelihood of getting into the winnings in the short run. That’s easier to do than you think.

Start by playing games with the lowest house edge. This means playing blackjack and learning the correct basic strategy for the game. It also means learning about the pay tables in video poker and learning how to play that game with the correct mathematical strategy.

Craps is another game where you can get a low house edge, but you have to stick with the best bets at the table. At some games, like roulette, almost all the bets have the same house edge. But, in craps, many of the bets have a really big advantage for the casino. Avoid those bets.

The best way to increase your odds of walking away from the casino a winner is to stay far away from the slot machines. They have the worst odds of winning, except for maybe keno.

Conclusion

That’s the basic idea of how casino games work and what you need to do to get the most out of them.

What questions do you have about casino games now? Post them in the comments, and I’ll try to answer those questions.

Can You Place US Sports Bets from a Different State?

Stack of Hundred Dollar Bills on a Graphic of Us States With a Sportsbook Background

Legal US sports betting has been a big hit in its brief history so far. New Jersey has especially been a huge success story, generating $300 million in 2019 revenue on a $4.6 billion handle.

As well as the market is doing so far, though, many gamblers still have major questions. They especially want to know if they’re allowed to use a state’s online sportsbooks if they’re not physically located there.

I’ll answer this question by briefly recapping the current sports gambling structure in America and whether it’s okay to bet from anywhere in the US.

What States Offer Legal Online Sports Betting?

Dozens of states have pondered legalizing sports wagering. Here are the ones that have actually done so at the time of this post:

  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • West Virginia

Most of these states already have their markets up and running. Others, such as Illinois and Michigan, will soon offer legal sportsbooks.

These states are fairly spread out across the US.

Florida and Alaska are currently the only places that don’t border at least one state with legal sportsbooks. Odds are that your home state borders another that features sports gambling.

If your state hasn’t already legalized the matter, then they could very well do so within the next 5-10 years. Over 40 states are expected to offer regulated sports wagering by then.

Can You Place Legal Bets From Out of State?

Each state features nuances from the next regarding their sports betting laws. Indiana, for example, has excluded esports from its market due to concerns regarding underage pros.

However, such states all agree on one matter: you must be physically located in a state’s borders to gamble at its online sportsbooks.

Multiple reasons fuel this universal stipulation:

  • The US Supreme Court only repealed a federal ban PASPA on sports gambling—they didn’t legalize betting.
  • States don’t want legal conflicts with other states.
  • They also don’t want to battle over who deserves sports betting revenue.

Regarding the first point, the Supreme Court struck down PASPA in May 2018. This decision paved the way for states to individually choose if they want legal sports gambling.

However, their decision didn’t legalize sports betting across the board. If Iowa lets Minnesotans gamble with their bookmakers, for example, then it creates a potential legal conflict between IA and MN.

Likewise, they’d argue over who should get the revenue from the bets. This messy hypothetical scenario doesn’t exist as long as states confine their markets within their own borders.

How Do States Determine if You’re within Their Borders?

Each state utilizes geolocation to verify that gamblers are within their borders. Geolocation uses a bettor’s Wi-Fi signal to pinpoint their location.

This technology was shaky when Nevada and New Jersey first rolled it in the mid-2010s after legalizing real money online gambling. However, geolocation has become much more accurate in recent years.

It can pick up if you’re within the borders of a state or just outside. In the latter case, you won’t be allowed to place online wagers.

Assuming you’re using a sports betting app, then you won’t need to do anything special to enact the geolocation software. It will be built into the app.

Closeup of a Sports Betting App on Phone

When using a browser-based sportsbook, though, you may have to download a geolocation app. For example, GeoGuard from GeoComply is a popular product so far.

Will You Be Arrested for Betting Out of State?

Each state with regulated sports gambling legally requires you to be within their boundaries before betting. You’re breaking the law if you fail to comply.

Your potential punishment depends upon the relevant state. Generally speaking, though, they could arrest you for illegal gambling if they want.

Courtroom Judge's Gavel

The first step involves a simple warning. If you try gambling from out of state, you’ll receive a popup stating that you can’t legally place bets.

The popup may even convey that your IP address will be logged and any future attempts to make wagers could result in legal action.

Can You Sign Up for an Online Sportsbook from Another State?

You don’t need to be located in a state just to register for one or more of their online betting sites. After all, you’re not actually wagering during this process.

Registration is largely the same across each state. You fill in the required fields and submit your account for approval.

You should be fine as long as you’re of age and not on a gambling self-exclusion list. Remote registration is perfect if you’re planning on visiting another state and want to be prepared ahead of time before betting.

How to Place Legal Online Bets

I’ve touched on many aspects of how to stay within the confines of the law when wagering on sports. Now, I’ll summarize these points in a step-by-step manner.

1 – Be In a State with Regulated Sports Gambling

As discussed earlier, every state requires you to be inside their boundaries before making legal wagers. They use geolocation to track your Wi-Fi and figure out where you are.

Provided you’re within a state’s boundaries, then you have nothing to worry about on this front. The respective bookmaker will send a warning if you try betting from outside state lines.

2 – Register at an Online Sportsbook

Each internet bookmaker across America features the same type of signup process. If you’ve registered at one, then you’ll have no trouble getting started at others.

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You’ll need to provide basic information about yourself, such as your name, birthdate email, phone number, and residence.

Sportsbooks also ask for the last four digits of your social security number. This request is used for further identification purposes and to ensure that you’re not on any excluded gambler’s lists.

3 – Get Your Bonus (Optional)

Bookmakers often feature a field for a bonus code during registration. Here, you enter the relevant code so that you can qualify for a bonus.

US sports betting bonuses can include some or all of the following perks:

  • Free bet – If you lose your first bet, you can earn the losses back.
  • Match bonus – You receive a bonus worth a match percentage (e.g. 100%) of your deposit amount.
  • No deposit bonus – You receive free funds (e.g. $20) to place real bets with.

All of these bonuses come with terms and conditions that you must satisfy before cashing out. You’ll typically find, though, that US sportsbook bonuses offer favorable T&Cs when compared to other markets.

4 – Make a Deposit

You must have funds in your account before placing bets. Online sportsbooks give you several options for making deposits.

Here are common banking methods available at US bookmakers:

  • ACH – You use an eCheck to send funds from your bank to the sportsbook.
  • Cash – Some online betting sites let you deposit with cash at their land-based partners.
  • Credit card – You use a Visa or Mastercard debit/credit card to instantly deposit.
  • E-wallet – You use Neteller, PayPal, or Skrill to fund your account.
  • PayNearMe – Available at 7-Eleven, this option lets you deposit with cash.

5 – Place Your Bets

Once you have available funds, you’re free to gamble at online betting sites. Of course, you should take time to familiarize yourself with the sportsbook before jumping into the wagering process.

Specifically, you want to get used to the betting slips and avoid accidentally risking too much. After all, you can’t cancel a bet once you place and confirm it.

What Are Your Options if Your State Doesn’t Offer Legal Sports Betting?

Most states don’t yet feature regulated sports wagering. If you’re in this boat, then you can take one of the following actions to gamble on sports.

Visit a Nearby State

With the exceptions of Alaska and Florida, every state has at least one neighbor with legal sports wagering. Therefore, you can visit a nearby state to place bets.

Of course, this option may not be feasible if you live in the middle of a vast place like Wyoming. But the states with legal betting are at least dispersed well throughout the country.

Bet at an Offshore Sportsbook

Offshore betting sites continue to serve many states. They present an alternative if you don’t have access to regulated bookmakers.

You must be more careful with these operators, though. They only adhere to the laws of their gambling jurisdiction (e.g. Costa Rica)—not your local state laws.

Conclusion

Federally regulated sports betting would be so much easier. Unfortunately, this type of market doesn’t exist in America.

You’re forced to deal with one and a half dozen states that each have their own laws on the matter. The one universal rule, though, is that you must be within a state to place online or live bets.

I don’t recommend breaking this rule either. Otherwise, you’ll be in violation of a given state’s laws.

How Do You Find a Good Blackjack Table?

Man With Binoculars Looking at Blackjack Hand in Front of a Blackjack Table

Land-based and the best US online casinos have 1 thing in common when it comes to blackjack games. They all offer blackjack games. Things diverge between the online and land-based worlds quickly.

The land-based casino watches out for cheating. Players may try to swap chips or cards. Or a team of players may set up shop.

Online casinos don’t have to worry about player swapping chips or cards. Online cheaters are more likely trying to game the bonus deposit systems.

If you’re playing online blackjack against the computer you can have the table all to yourself. Friends can opt for multiplayer online blackjack on some sites too.

There are so many differences between online blackjack and land-based games it’s hard to list them all. Many of the differences are small details. But they add up to create very different experiences.

When I’m playing blackjack online I can set up the table I want: private or group, reshuffle or play through a deck, live dealer or computer dealer, style of play, and so on.

When visiting land-based casinos you must take what the casino offers and hope for the best. If you walk into a casino and realize you made a bad choice the nearest alternative could be a 10 minute walk or a 30-minute drive away.

Here is how I size up the blackjack tables.

Begin with the Casino Website

The Internet makes research easy and simple. Browse the casino’s website for information about their blackjack tables. Many of these sites only say how many tables they have. Some tell you which blackjack rules they offer.

If a casino says it has 3:2 blackjack games that’s a good sign.

If you’re not satisfied with the information try contacting customer service. They’ll usually tell you what you need to know.

You should also look for pictures of the blackjack dealers. I’ll explain why below.

Follow up with Online Traveler Reviews

I don’t spend much time reading casino review articles but I do look for recent travel site threads about casinos I’m interested in. If I can find a discussion that’s less than a year old I assume the casino is most likely still offering whatever games the tourists mention.

This is not a perfect system. I like to read real customer reviews because they sometimes mention interesting deta8ls, like when the tables are most likely to be closed.

If you spend enough time in casinos you’ll know when the tables begin to open up but it’s always good to know what the house custom is before visiting.

I have passed on visiting a few otherwise interesting casinos because they didn’t man their blackjack tables at good times for me.

If someone has uploaded pictures of the casino staff I look through them. I also pay attention to what the customers say about staff.

How the Dealers Dress is Important to Me

You’re in a casino. It’s all about being entertained. The dealers are part of the package.

I’ve visited a couple of Vegas casinos where the dealers were women wearing somewhat revealing clothing. It was distracting. I am sure that was what the casino had in mind.

Casinos aren’t the only companies doing business in fantasy. But if I want to stare at women in tight, revealing clothes there are other places I can go.

Closeup of a Blackjack Dealer Moving Chips

Blackjack Is supposed to be one of the least profitable games a casino offers. And yet many casinos make a tidy profit from blackjack. You can see for yourself if the casino must report its earnings to a state gaming commission.

Everything in the casino is distracting enough. They keep the alcohol flowing, the slot games bing and ding even when not being played, and the ambience is relaxing and soothing.

The last thing I want is to start fantasizing about the dealer. So I favor the professionally dressed dealers.

Always Check the Table Rules

You should prefer 2:1 and 3:2 blackjack to 6:5 blackjack but even if you don’t have a choice about that you need to look at the other table rules.

Does the dealer stand on soft 17 or not?

What are the table minimums and maximums?

How many decks does the table use?

How are the cards shuffled?

If you like the surrender option look for it.

How many players does the table accommodate?

Can you split aces, double down any way you want, etc.?

If a casino has 2 or more open blackjack tables are they using the same rules or do you have some choices?

Study the Players before Sitting Down

If you get a bad vibe about the players at the table then why sit down with them?

I’ll look to see how many alcoholic drinks they are enjoying. If it looks like a hard-drinking group I’ll pass on playing with them. If you like playing cards with people who are enjoying the booze then choose the table with the most drinkers.

Blackjack Players Seated at a Blackjack Table

You can’t stop people from leaving a table or joining it but “birds of a feather” tend to play together in my opinion. If all but one guy at the table seems annoyed or irritated, he might be why the others are not happy.

If you feel self-conscious about betting less than other players then look at their bets. This is not a sticking point for me. I don’t mind being the only bettor playing the table minimum.

Do You Want More Decks or Fewer?

You’ll read online that casinos do and do not care about card counting. The truth is that they take it seriously enough they have changed the games to make card counting less effective.

The fewer decks a table uses in its games, the better – unless they are automatically reshuffling the cards. If the dealers reshuffle manually on a frequent basis that also hurts card counting.

If you really want to count cards you’ll either need to look high and low for a table with few decks that doesn’t reshuffle or you’ll need to count for large decks.

If card counting isn’t important to you then don’t worry about how many decks the table is using. But for the classic dealer-player experience avoid tables with autoshufflers.

The longer you play and the more attention you pay to things like variance the fewer decks you’ll want to see on the table. But the casinos decide how to set up the games.

High rollers can sometimes negotiate their own terms or may be offered slightly more advantageous games. The casinos are competing for the most money in the game, not for the largest number of customers.

Does Table Location Really Matter?

Some people say you should avoid tables located close to the casino entrance. This is a psychological strategy. If you prefer gaming with a stable crowd then the hard-to-find tables may be your choices.

But I’ve watched people come and go at tables in every part of the casino. Either they sit and win or they lose and leave. Once in a while someone with a pile of chips sits there and runs it all down.

What is important is your state of mind.

Are you annoyed by constant coming and going?

If the commotion of people sitting down and leaving upsets your game then maybe you should look for a video blackjack machine. You don’t have to share it with anyone.

If mere distractions bother you then why are you in a casino?

The casino may be designed to lull you into gambling away your money but it’s also there to attract people. Sound and movement surround you. The blackjack tables are not good places for solitude and quiet reflection.

Conclusion

When it comes to land-based table games buyers have few choices, but you should be as much of a chooser as possible.

Real money online blackjack doesn’t offer the same ambience as sitting in a casino but you’ll find many more options to consider.

Picking a blackjack table shouldn’t be complicated but it’s worth spending a little time walking around the casino, getting the feel of the place. If they have several tables open take the time to study their rules.

Half the game is psychological. Unlike in poker where you try to psych out other players in blackjack the psychology is all about where you are comfortable and confident.

If you don’t feel confident sitting at a table for any reason then get up and find something else to do. Second-guessing yourself won’t help and you won’t enjoy the game.

The most important thing to look for in a table game is a good time. If you’re not having fun then go wherever you can find your good time. The tables will always be there.

7 Interesting Origins of Our Current Gambling World

Cross Image of a Painting of Ancient Gamblers and a Photo of Modern Poker Players

Humans have been playing games of chance since recorded history. Many of the gambling practices we have today have their origins in the annals of history and even prehistory. A lot of the items we use in gambling, such as dice and playing cards, started off with different purposes. In fact, most of the games we play today began with different names and different rules.

This is a list of gambling firsts. Precursors to modern games include the early games of pakapoo and trente-un. Their modern versions are known as keno and blackjack. Dice, for instance, were originally made of animal bone and used to foretell the future. The origins of playing cards are more contentious, while the first casino still survives to this day.

Here are seven origins of the modern gambling world.

1 – Astragalomancy (Dice)

Dice has been used in gambling since the beginning of recorded history. Like most items in our modern world, the origin of dice may be unrecognizable to most today. Scholars believe that dice started as a form of divination called “astragalomancy” or “astragyromancy.”

These “astragali” were originally knucklebones or other small bones of animals used to divine the future. The bones were either rolled like modern dice or picked at random from a bag then interpreted by the caster. The earliest discovered astragali date back over 8,000 years and have been found in archaeological sites all over the ancient world.

An Ancient Pair of Knuckle Bone Dice

Although bones were the most common material, astragali have been found fashioned from fruit pits, seashells, and pebbles. Over the centuries, numbers, letters, and symbols were added to the pieces. Specifically, dots representing numbers called “pips” were introduced to dice in ancient Mesopotamia, creating the version of dice we recognize today.

Because of the shape of knucklebones, astragali originally had two rounded sides and four flat sides. This evolved into, pyramid-shaped dice, cubed shaped dice, and eventually, many-sided dice like the famous Dungeons and Dragons D20 with 20 sides. Dice evolution hasn’t stopped there; modern incarnations include asymmetrical polyhedrons with as many 100 sides, barrel dice (cylindrical with flat surfaces), and dice with sides featuring everything from modern letters to astrological signs.

2 – Il Ridotto (First Casino)

Although gambling houses have existed since recorded history, Il Ridotto has the distinction of being the first mercantile Western casino. Its creation came from the Venetian government’s attempt to crack down on illegal gambling clubs. Il Ridotto, meaning the “The Private Room,” was created and opened to the public in 1638. The casino was located in a wing of Venice’s Palazzo Dandolo which still exists today as the palatial five-star Hotel Danieli.

Il Ridotto was a creation of the Great Council of Venice, making it not only the first modern casino but also the first government-owned gambling house in Europe. Gambling in the street was common in Venice at the time, so the Ridotto was created to regulate the gambling habits of its more well-to-do citizens.

Entry to the casino was banned to anybody who could not wager the high stakes and meet the dress code, effectively barring all but the most affluent citizens from visiting.

The two most popular games at Il Ridotto were biribi and basetta. Biribi played like a modern lottery, where players would choose numbers and win on a matching draw. Basetta was played similar to many modern card games and later became the game of faro.

The casino bankers would take a cut of player’s bets known as vigorish in gambling terms, generating revenue for Il Ridotto. The casino closed its doors in 1774 at the behest of local lawmakers.

3 – Pai Gow (Dominoes)

Pai gow is an ancient Chinese game originating in the Song Dynasty (960-1279). It’s played with numbered tiles traditionally made of bone or ivory. And it’s believed that these tiles were brought back from China by Italian missionaries where it was adapted into the domino sets we recognize today.

A pai gow domino set has 32 dominoes as opposed to the Western 28 domino set. They are black with white and red pips. Each tile is divided into a set of pips ranging in number from 1 to 6. Pai gow tiles have two suits, military and civil. It was originally a military-themed game. Each civil tile has a ranking based on its Chinese name while each military tile gets its values from the pips.

Chinese dominoes have different names depending on the region they’re found in with one common name in Cantonese being “gwat pai,” meaning “bone tiles.” The oldest set of pai gow tiles dates back to the 12th century. Like modern Western dominoes, Chinese dominoes can be used to play a variety of games including pai gow, tien gow, and gǔpái (literally bone tiles).

4 – As-Nas (poker)

As-nas was a 17th card game originating in Persia and played throughout the region. It is widely regarded as the precursor to poker, although there are contentions. Some scholars argue that the game of as-nas is contemporaneous with poker’s popularity in early 1800s America. This suggests that the games might have developed independently.

The as-nas deck consists of either 20 or 25 cards depending on the deck used. Unlike modern playing cards, as-nas cards have only four or five designs. For example, a deck of 25 would have five aces and five each of the five court cards. Court cards usually consist of kings, ladies, soldiers, and entertainers in descending value. Aces generally depict lions and other animals engaging in battle or with celestial bodies.

A Spread of Old Playing Cards From Medieval Times

Aside from the word “as” used to refer to the highest card (ace), as-nas is most similar to modern poker in its gameplay. Each player gets five cards and is given the chance to fold, bet, and raise. Three like cards and a pair is the highest hand. The game does not allow flushes or sequences because there are no numbers or suits.

In as-nas, only one hand is dealt and players have the options to bluff referred to as “fire off a gun” or tûp zadan. After each player bets or folds, the cards are flipped and the winner takes the pot. When two players have the same hand, the other cards break the tie. 20=card as-nas can be played with a standard deck by removing all numbered cards except for 10.

5 – Aleatory Contracts (Gambling and Investment)

An aleatory contract is a term used for an uncertain event that determines an obligation. Why does this make the list? That’s because any form of gambling is considered an aleatory contract. In the case of gambling, the outcome of an uncertain event (a game or race) determines the obligation (payout) for the recipient.

In the past, laws governing gambling were grouped with laws relating to insurance, annuities, and investment.

An aleatory contract is an agreement between two parties based on uncertain outcomes. One party pays, one party receives. Features of investment that can be considered aleatory contracts include options and derivatives. This gives a new meaning to the phrase “gambling on the stock market.”

6 – Pakapoo (Keno)

The origins of the modern game of keno is an ancient Chinese game called “pakapoo” by Westerners and “baige piao” by Chinese. The legend surrounding the game and its relevance to Chinese history revolves around a lottery that the Han Dynasty held in the 2nd century B.C. to raise military funds. The name baige piao means “white pigeon ticket,” referring to the practice of sending the lottery results to rural regions via carrier pigeon.

An Ancient Pakapoo Playing Sheet

The game originally used 80 characters found in the Chinese text, Thousand Character Classic. Each player has a sheet with all the characters and marks a designated number of them. These sheets are compared to the dealer’s master sheet, and the player whose sheet most closely matches the dealer’s sheet wins. Modern games allow players to choose up to 20 numbers with payouts depending on the amount of numbers matched.

The game of pakapoo was brought by Chinese immigrants to the US during the 19th century and eventually became the game of keno. The first known use of the word keno to describe the game was found in Houston in 1866.

7 – Trente-Un and Vingt-Un (Blackjack)

The modern game of Blackjack evolved from the games trente-un and vingt-un. In the French game of trente-un (meaning 31), players try to assemble hands totaling 31. This is believed to have been reduced to 21 (vingt-un) over time to increase the pace of the game.

The first reference to French 31 was in 1464. French Vingt-un spread throughout Europe and to the Americas in the 1800s.

The modern name of blackjack came from the practice of early gambling houses in the US offering bonus payouts to winning hands consisting of the ace of spades and a black jack. Now, this term refers to any hand equaling 21.

Vingt-un was played with an original French playing card deck which differs from a standard 52-card deck. Original French decks contained 32 cards with ones representing aces and the numbers two through six removed. They are still sold today and share the suits of modern playing cards.

Conclusion

The origins of modern gambling are rich with interesting facts and folklore. There is often an earlier version of games played with different rules, under different names.

In the modern world, we see casinos and home players creating variants that could be the new standard for future generations. Gambling terminology has also evolved over the centuries to include new meanings for old words.

This list of gambling firsts is by no means complete. Like many other human activities, gambling is ancient. Games have been lost to history; numerous fortunes have been won and lost.

The next time you engage in an aleatory contract, have fun knowing you’re engaging in one of the oldest forms of human entertainment: the activity of gambling.

How in the World Did Charles Fey Think of Slot Machines?

Slot Inventor Charles Fey in Front of Modern Slot Machines

Slots machines have been the most popular games in casinos for decades. They’ve only gotten more popular thanks to technological advancements.

Today’s slots feature many winning possibilities, exciting features, fun animations, and excellent graphics. They also boast big jackpots and bonus prizes.

Slots have come a long way since Charles Fey developed the Liberty Bell slot in 1895. Fey is often credited with being the inventor of the slot machine.

In truthfulness, Fey didn’t actually invent slots. He instead used existing ideas to advance these games and make them more popular.

Where did Fey draw his inspiration from? I’m going to discuss more on the man himself along with where he got the idea for slot machines.

Who Was Charles Fey?

Charles Fey was born as “August Fey” in 1862. He’d later change his name to Charles, because he didn’t like people calling him “Gus.”

Fey grew up in the German state of Bavaria and began manufacturing farm tools as a teenager. This trade was important to Fey’s life, since it taught him mechanical skills that he’d use later on.

In 1877, Fey moved to France in hopes of finding more opportunities than Bavaria offered. He helped manufacture intercom equipment for three years in France.

In 1890, Charles moved to Great Britain and began working for a company that made nautical equipment. By the time he was 23, Fey moved to the United States and settled down in San Francisco. He’d live here for most of his remaining life, aside from a short trip to Mexico.

Fey lived in the Mexican desert to help cure his tuberculosis through heat. Once his health improved, he moved back to San Francisco and married Marie Volkmar, whom he’d have four children with.

Charles started working for Electric Works, where he served as an engineer. Eventually, he and a coworker, Theodore Holtz, left Electric Works to start their own company.

Holtz’s and Fey’s company produced electrical equipment and telephones. Thanks to all of these mechanical-related jobs and ventures, Fey had all the experience he needed to later produce a slot machine.

Where Did Fey Get the Idea for Slot Machines?

Charles Fey didn’t learn how to invent slots based on divine intervention. Even with his immense mechanical skills, he still needed inspiration for what would become the greatest gambling machine of all time.

A Brooklyn-based company named Sittman and Pitt actually produced the first model for a slot machine. In 1891, they developed a gambling machine that features five drums and 50 card faces.

This machine was meant to be an automatic poker game. It required players to insert money, pull a lever, and send the drums spinning.

These games quickly became popular at saloons throughout New York and beyond. They didn’t pay in cash but rather, with free beers and cigars when players got a good poker hand.

Not long after Sittman and Pitt’s invention, slots began paying out in coins. But these games weren’t necessarily slot machines in the original sense.

The first coin-paying gambling machine saw inserted coins fall onto a balance scale. Gamblers would be paid if their coin caused the scale to tip and deliver coins.

Other coin-paying games featured a display window and spinning indicator. The latter would stop on a color, number, or picture and determine prizes accordingly.

Fey Advances Slot Machines with the Liberty Bell

The groundwork for slots had been laid long before Fey came along. But he saw where gambling machines could be improved and eventually designed something totally revolutionary.

He needed to look no further than his colleague, Gustav Friedrich Wilhelm Schultze, for inspiration. The latter had developed a slot that contained an automatic payout feature.

Schultze’s “Horseshoe Slot Machine” advanced slots to a new level by actually delivering prizes. Prior to this, all slot machines required a saloon worker to make payouts.

Fey went to work on his own version of the slot in 1894. He built his first machine in his San Francisco basement.

The next year, he developed the “4-11-44.” This game proved so profitable that Fey had to quit his company just to begin producing more machines.

He created the “Card Bell” in 1989. This was the first three-reel slot to deliver automatic payouts. It featured a handle that was used to spin the reels and determine prizes.

In 1899, Fey produced his greatest invention yet in the Liberty Bell slot machine. This game featured bells, horseshoes, and card suitmarks on the reels. Three bells in the payline delivered the top prize.

Liberty Bell Vintage Slot Machine

The Liberty Bell quickly became a hit across saloons in San Francisco. He produced and distributed more than 100 of these machines throughout San Francisco.

Fey made quite a bit of money off his invention. However, he wasn’t able to patent his Liberty Bell design due to restrictive gambling laws in San Francisco.

The lack of a patent allowed other companies to steal Fey’s format. Most notably, the Mills Novelty Company used the Liberty Bell template to distribute numerous slot machines across Chicago.

San Francisco eventually banned slots in 1909. Politicians and purists had grown tired of the thousands of slot machines operating within the city.

Fey and other companies started designing gambling machines that didn’t accept coins. Instead, players would pay the attendant or bartender directly to spin the reels.

These games helped keep the slot machine vibe alive in San Francisco to some degree. But they never attained quite the same popularity.

Why Does Fey Get the Credit for Inventing Slot Machines?

Charles Fey was far from the first person to think of slots. Sittman and Pitt developed the first slot machine in 1891, three years before Fey even got started.

However, the first so-called slot machines didn’t really look like what we think of as slots today. Instead, they featured rudimentary designs that involved balance scales, poker, or spinning indicators.

These types of games were necessary to advance gambling machines. However, the same designs didn’t survive for long.

Fey’s three-reel slot machines, however, did withstand the test of time. Even the symbols he used, including bells and horseshoes, hung around for a while.

Fey didn’t invent the slot machine. But he did invent the modern prototype that would be used in saloons and casinos for the next several decades. For that, he’s considered the father of modern slot machines.

Slots Have Advanced Greatly Since the Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell was a revolutionary gambling concept when it was released in 1899. Mechanical slots like this would continue to populate bars and casinos up until the 1960s.

However, this decade would finally mark a major change in casino gaming. In 1963, Bally manufactured the first fully electromechanical slot.

Dubbed “Money Honey,” this game offered automatic payouts, a bottomless hopper, and a jackpot worth up to 500 coins.

Before Money Honey, attendants frequently had to stop games and refill hoppers. Most jackpots weren’t worth anywhere near 500 coins until this point either.

Money Honey quickly proved a success in the gambling world. Soon, many more electromechanical slots hit casinos.

Money Honey Vintage Slot Machine

But the true revolution in gaming didn’t happen until the advent of the video slot. In 1976, the Fortune Coin Company produced a slot that featured a 19-inch color screen and computer software for game functions.

This original design was housed in a cabinet. After receiving approval from Nevada gaming regulators, Fortune Coin Company’s first game was put inside Las Vegas’ Hilton Hotel.

Video slots have led the way ever since first being introduced in Las Vegas. They’ve now come to offer lots of exciting features and formats.

As of 1994, gamblers have also been able to enjoy real money slots at online casinos, too. Countless slot machines are available through smartphones, tablets, and computers.

Conclusion

Charles Fey may not be the true inventor of slot machines. However, he made the most important contributions to slots.

Before Fey, these games didn’t offer spinning reels. They instead utilized odd designs that quickly fizzled out. Drawing inspiration from the work that his partner, Schultze, did on the horseshoe slot, Fey embarked on a journey that saw him produce several slot machines.

His most notable invention came in 1899, when he created the Liberty Bell. This three-reel game featured a smooth design and payout process. The Liberty Bell was such a hit that rival companies stole the format. Before long, San Francisco was filled with replica designs due to Fey’s inability to get a patent.

Charles would continue making slot machines even after San Francisco banned them in 1909. However, he had to modify them to not accept coins.

Meanwhile, coin-operated slots later spread to Chicago and New York. They also began hitting Las Vegas casinos in the 1930s.

Today, video slot machines fill both online and land-based casinos. These games are far more technologically advanced than what Fey produced well over 100 years ago.

Nevertheless, Fey still holds a prominent place in slots history. He created the slot machine design that forms the basis of most modern-day slots.

How 243 Ways Slots Paved the Way for Megaways

Megaways Logo in Front of Money and Multiple Arrows

Megaways slots are the hottest thing in gaming right now. Developed by Big Time Gaming (BTG), these online slot machines are notable for the numerous winning combinations they offer.

Many of the BTG-produced Megaways games offer up to 117,649 ways to win. Red Tiger Gaming has even produced a slot in Laser Fruit that features over 60 million ways.

The Megaways format offers varying reel heights on every spin. Most of these games allow reels to hold anywhere from two to seven symbols.

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When every reel is at maximum height, you benefit from all of the available ways. In turn, you’ll have more chances to win big payouts.

BTG has been lauded for creating and patenting Megaways. Many developers, like Red Tiger, are licensing this engine and using it to produce similar slots.

But as inventive as BTG is, they didn’t come up with Megaways out of nowhere. Instead, this popular format is the result of years of progression.

Everything started with 243 ways slots. I’m going to cover how 243 ways paved the path for Megaways to become such a major hit.

Microgaming Creates Revolutionary 243 Ways Slots

Up until 2009, real money online slots had always features paylines. Chances are, you’re very familiar with payline slot machines.

These games require you to get a qualifying payout within an active line. For example, you might land three parrots in a line and win five coins.

Microgaming, one of the most successful slots developers of all time, broke the mold when they released Burning Desire in 2009.

This slot was standard in terms of graphics and theme for the time. However, Burning Desire’s 243 ways format is what really interested players.

243 ways games see payouts form through matching symbols in adjacent reels. The symbols can be in any position on their respective reel as long as they’re adjacent to each other. Also, payouts must begin in the first reel.

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The 243 ways engine draws its name from how many winning possibilities it offers. These games are played on a 5×3 grid.

The number of winning combinations is determined by multiplying the spaces in each reel: 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 = 243.

243 ways slot machines truly have staying power. Such games are still being produced by Microgaming and other providers today.

Developers Create 720 Ways and 1,024 Ways Slots

Game developers quickly took notice how popular 243 ways slot machines were. Some decided to take things to another level by making games with even more winning possibilities.

720 ways slots were the first upgrade. These five-reel games feature a strange 3-4-5-4-3 format and offer payouts in adjacent reels.

They see wins formed from both left to right (beginning in reel 1) and right to left (beginning in reel 5). Taking everything into account, these slot machines offer 720 winning possibilities.

Screenshot of a Megaways Slot Game

1,024 ways was the next unique format to hit online casinos. A 1,024 ways game is like 243 ways slots in how it delivers payouts through adjacent reels going left to right.

The key difference, though, is that these games are played on a 5×4 grid. You arrive at the number of ways through the following formula: 4 x 4 x 4 x 4 x 4 = 1,024.

720 ways slot machines have never become big hits since being introduced several years ago. The odd-looking reel setup likely plays into this lack of popularity.

1,024 ways games have achieved more adoption than 720 ways slots. However, they’re still nowhere near as played as 243 ways slot machines.

Big Time Gaming Takes Things Further With Megaways Slots

You can see that the amount of winning possibilities have steadily increased over the years. 243 ways were once thought unfathomable when considering that 50-line slots were impressive before 2009.

Then, 720 and 1,024 ways slot machines took the matter to another level. These games use slightly different formats to provide even more chances to win.

Now, Megaways slot machines have increased the amount of winning combinations to almost comical proportions.

BTG dropped their first Megaways game, Dragon Born, in 2016. Dragon Born shocked gamblers by offering up to 117,649 ways.

Screenshot of the Slot Game Dragon Born

Today, 117,649 winning possibilities are nothing new. BTG and other developers have combined to release a number of Megaways slots with 117,649 ways or more.

Red Tiger Gaming currently holds the title for most win combinations available in a slot. Their Laser Fruit boasts up to 60,466,176 ways.

Slots providers are seemingly in an arms race to see who can offer more win possibilities. That said, we may eventually see a game that features even more than 60 million ways.

Why Are Megaways Slots so Popular?

The most obvious reason behind Megaways’ popularity is the sheer number of potential wins. These games feature far more ways to win than was previously thought possible.

10 years ago, nobody could’ve fathomed having over 100,000 win combinations. Now, a slot offering 117,649 ways is commonplace.

The thrill of the unknown is another perk to these games. You never know how many symbols each reel will hold in a given round.

Again, most games feature reels that hold between two and seven symbols. The fact that you don’t even know how many spaces a single reel will have, let alone all the reels, creates extra excitement.

Megaways slots also come loaded with additional features. Cascading reels, free spins, and random wilds are just some of the bonuses you can look forward to with these games.

Finally, the Megaways format presents a new way to experience old stories. You’ve likely played pirate-themed slot machines before. But have you tried a Megaways pirate slot?

Will Megaways Slots Always Be on Top of the Industry?

It’s safe to say that Megaways slot machines are leading the US online casino industry right now. At the time of this post, Megaways games generate lots of buzz and make the most headlines.

Gamblers have really taken a liking to these slots. But will they always remain the biggest thing in internet gambling?

The online casino industry experiences trends from time to time. At one point, 243 ways slot machines were the hottest topic. These games are still popular today but not quite at the same level as they once were.

Much of this has to do with how Megaways games have taken over. But if history is any indication, something bigger and better will eventually come around.

What that something is remains to be seen. Maybe it’ll be a new type of bonus or a non-reel-based slot (e.g. spinning wheel)?

As for now, though, Megaways are still red-hot. Judging the current situation, they may continue being the most popular type of game for years to come.

Conclusion

The Megaways engine didn’t come to BTG developers in a joint dream. Instead, it was the culmination of years spent pushing the limits of slot machines.

243 ways was the first format to introduce the concept of adding many winning combinations. Shortly thereafter, 720 and 1,024 ways games came along.

Of these setups, only 243 ways has truly become popular. But each engine was integral to boosting the number of ways in slot machines.

BTG has advanced the amount of winning combinations to astronomical heights. Some of their games offer up to 117,649 ways or more.

Even the companies that BTG is licensing their Megaways engine to are pushing the boundaries. Red Tiger’s Laser Fruit boasts a seemingly impossible 60,466,176 ways.

Considering where Red Tiger has taken Megaways, I wouldn’t be surprised to see over 100 million winning combinations. If this happens, what’s next? Over 1 billion ways?

5 Systems and Tips for Betting on College Football

College Football Player and Stack of Money in Front of a Playbook Background

When it comes to betting on football, it would seem like the NFL is the place to make your money. With less teams, more consistent players year-in and year-out, and less change in gameplay, it would stand to reason that the pros are the way to go.

Although these things are all true, each year, sportsbooks win a higher percentage of bettors’ money on NFL bets than in any other sport. This is the reason why so many serious sports gamblers turn to the college ranks to make their money.

College football provides an opportunity to bet on a wide range of games, meaning bettors have way more options when it comes to pulling the trigger on a particular play. It also means that you can be much more selective in finding the ideal conditions you’re looking for in a bet.

Because of all these options, bettors have created an endless number of strategies and systems that they’ve found success with over the years. In this article, I’ll dive into a few that you can add to your playbook to help add a few extra dollars to your bankroll come season’s end.

1 – Over Heat

It goes without saying, or at least it should, that checking the weather before betting on a game is something you should do. With that being said, knowing the weather report doesn’t do much good unless you know how to use the information effectively.

It’s true that wind, rain, and any other precipitation have a major impact on the game, but I believe temperature can be even more valuable.

Games that are played in hot temperatures tend to be dominated by the offense. The reasoning is that defenses tend to get worn out during the course of a game and heat exacerbates this phenomenon significantly.

When you’re going through your list of potential games to bet on, see if you can locate a few where the temperatures are going to be in the high 80s, 90s, or beyond and strongly consider betting the over.

As the season progresses, the weather cools down for most of the country, so focus on leagues like Pac-12 or Big 12 to find games with high temperatures. These leagues have a history of high-scoring offenses. Although bookmakers take this into account, you can still have major success betting the over.

2 – Road Warriors

Sports gamblers, especially amateur sports gamblers, have their biases. One major bias is towards the favorite, even when accounting for the spread. Some college football books report up to 60% to 70% (and even higher) of the total number of bets placed on the favorite against the spread.

Another bias that gamblers tend to have is overvaluing the home team. Although playing at home is unquestionably advantageous, it isn’t nearly as big of a factor as the general public thinks it is.

Becoming successful betting on underdogs is all about knowing the best circumstances to make your pick. One of the best times to board the underdog train is when you can find one who is getting just a few points on the road.

You might think that it’s better to choose an underdog receiving a lot of points, but this theory is unpredictable and often involves teams that have a huge talent disparity.

An underdog that’s getting less than seven points is likely to be at about the same level as the favorite.

When you factor in the “playing on the road,” oddsmakers use the public’s bias to their advantage. For example, Team A could be travelling to take on Team B. Team A is the better team, but because they’re on the road the sportsbooks put out a spread of Team A +4 points. They do this because they know the public will incorrectly take the home favorite.

Simply put, there’s no better time to choose an underdog than when they’re on the road and getting less than seven points.

3 – Bet on the Sleepers

Beating the online sportsbooks is extremely difficult in the NFL, and the same can be said about big time college football. It makes sense; the games that receive the most action are always going to be the most valuable for the sportsbooks.

You might be surprised to learn that the group of the top five teams against the spread from 2013 to 2019 doesn’t include Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, or any of the traditional powers. Instead, the schools with the best (at or around 60%) record against the spread are Temple, Navy, Duke, Colorado State, and Marshall.

College Football Player Running the Ball

That’s right, these overlooked teams have returned more money for bettors than any of the traditional top teams in the country. Because these teams typically receive very little action on their games, sportsbooks haven’t made them a huge focus. This has left the door open for gamblers to take advantage.

The same can be said for many of the NCAA’s non-power five teams. You can make money off these smaller programs by focusing on a handful of teams from smaller conferences. Get to know these teams and you’ll begin to find holes in the odds that can pay off big.

4 – Bet on Rest at Home

The college football season is a grind, and important players on every team get banged up each week. Getting a week off is crucial not only because it gives coaches an extra week to scheme, but it also provides an opportunity for a team to get healthy.

Typically, there aren’t many circumstances in which it’s advisable to take a favorite. With that said, following a bye week, college football teams that are a home favorite have a tendency to cover at a rate not usually seen with favorites in other situations.

Games that are played in hot temperatures tend to be dominated by the offense. The reasoning is that defenses tend to get worn out during the course of a game and heat exacerbates this phenomenon significantly.

From 2005 to 2019, home favorites that are coming off a bye have performed at a rate of 289-235 against the spread, which results in a 7.2% return on investment. If the home favorite coming off a bye is ranked at the time of the bye, their record climbs to 90-61 against the spread and results in a nearly 16% return on investment.

The data would suggest that taking a good team coming off a bye is one of the best bets if you’re looking to put spot the rare undervalued favorite.

5 – Counterintuitive Wins

If you frequently bet on sports, you’ll recognize that occasionally, there are lines that just don’t make sense. These are the games where sportsbooks maximize their winnings. The good news? If you know how to spot these games, you can also generate a nice profit.

One of the tried-and-true philosophies for college football sharps suggests that one of the best bets you can make is an unranked opponent that is a favorite playing against a ranked opponent.

Closeup of Cellege Football Player Catching Football

Remember that rankings aren’t necessarily a reflection of how good a team really is, but more so a reflection of their performance, strength of schedule, etc. Sportsbooks know that bettors automatically see ranked vs. unranked and assume that the ranked team is always better. When amateur gamblers see a ranked team that is actually getting points against an unranked team, they usually can’t resist.

In all cases, you want to think like the sportsbook. If you see something that feels like a trap, you might be onto something. Align yourself with the oddsmakers and you can also take advantage of the uninformed betting public.

Conclusion

College football is an American tradition that is celebrated every fall due to the passion, pageantry, and connection to one’s alma mater. This sacred time of year can also create a nice boost to your bankroll if you’re able to recognize the systems that work. Do some experimentation of your own and find which strategies work for you, and ride them all season long.

Revolutionary Slots Features That Have Become Commonplace

Woman Playing a Slot Machine Surrounded by Other Slot Machines

Innovation is what keeps slot machines relevant. After all, slots developers are competing with other modern-day technology.

They can’t roll out three-reel, one-line slots when Nintendo Switch releases a Zelda game that’s so expansive it takes 60 hours to beat.

Developers are always looking for ways to keep slots fresh. Trailblazing providers develop new features to hold players’ interest. Some features are truly revolutionary and become instantly popular with gamblers. Unfortunately, these same bonuses eventually become overused and played out.

I’m going to discuss several slot features that were once unique when they came out but have since become commonplace.

Cascading Reels

Cascading reels see symbols from winning combinations disappear and allow other icons to take their place. The key benefit here is that you can continue forming wins without having to make another bet.

Slots with cascading reels (a.k.a. avalanche) can make the symbols explode or vanish. Whatever the case may be, they disappear in some manner and help you win more money.

NetEnt’s Gonzo’s Quest was the first game to introduce the avalanche feature. Released in 2010, this slot was ahead of its time in terms of both features and graphics. Not surprisingly, Gonzo’s Quest continues to draw players even today.

Other developers took notice of how popular cascading reels were and got to work on their own versions. Soon, a large number of games offered the avalanche element.

Today, cascading reels are so common that you might not even think anything of them. They aren’t as typical as slots with one-and-done spins, but they’re certainly nothing new.

Larger Grids

The first slot machines featured three reels and one payline. This basic setup continued for decades, until the advent of video slots in the 1970s.

Video slot machines feature the technology to allow for more reels and paylines. The end result is that most slots now have more than three reels.

The most popular format for decades has been games with five reels and three rows (i.e. 5×3 grid). These slots allow for enough paylines and features to keep the average player happy.

Of course, some players have gotten a little bored with playing the same 5×3 slots for decades. Developers have responded by creating larger grids.

One common version includes a 5×5 grid, which makes for a perfect square. Such games give players 25 spaces to form winning combinations.

Some developers are pushing the limits even further with 7×7 and 8×8 grids. These slots offer 49 and 64 spaces, respectively. Such slot machines look entertaining thanks to all of the winning possibilities they offer.

However, large-grid games are becoming pretty standard today. The 5×5 and 7×7 slots are especially in abundance at online casinos.

Cluster Pays

Payline slots usually require you to form wins in active lines going from left to right. Any winning combination also has to start in reel 1.

Cluster pays are different in that they don’t enforce such strict guidelines on wins. Instead, a payout can form anywhere on the grid as long as matching symbols are touching in the designated manner.

Oftentimes, you need to line the symbols up in vertical, horizontal, or diagonal lines. Some games, though, offer cluster wins as long as the icons are touching anyway whatsoever.

In any case, these slots let you get wins all over the grid. A paying combination doesn’t have to start in the first reel.

Cluster pays is another innovation that drew plenty of interest when it came out. NetEnt really popularized this feature when they released Aloha: Cluster Pays in 2017. But over the last few years, a number of other providers have jumped on this train.

243 Ways

Slots players used to be quite amazed when they saw a slot with 50 or 100 paylines. But the bar was set much higher when Microgaming began producing 243 ways slots.

In 2009, they launched their first such game in Burning Desire. This slot became the first in history to offer 243 ways to win.

This format was so new that many players were initially confused by it. Used to payline slots, they didn’t understand how wins formed in this new breed of games.

Speaking of which, wins form when matching symbols are in adjacent reels. Much like with payline games, the first icon in a winning combination must start in the first reel.

However, the key difference is that the icons only have to be in adjacent reels, not in actual paylines. The result is that you have 243 ways to win in a slot with a 5×3 grid.

Closeup of a Row of Slot Machines

Some slots have come out with even more ways to win, including 720 and 1,024. A 720 ways game offers an odd 3-4-5-4-3 reel setup and allows you to form wins both ways. Therefore, you can start a payout in the first reel (left to right) or fifth reel (right to left).

A 1,024 ways slot is very similar to a 243 ways game in terms of rules. But the main difference is that it offers a 5×4 grid. The extra row allows for far more payout possibilities. But 243 ways slots are definitely the most common among the group. In fact, they’ve become too common over the years.

Megaways

If you thought that 1,024 ways to win are a lot, then you’ll be especially impressed by Megaways slot machines. These games are aptly named for the fact that they can offer numerous chances to win.

A Megaways slot doesn’t have a uniform grid. Instead, its reels can increase or decrease in height depending upon the rules.

Here’s an example:

  • You’re playing a slot with six reels.
  • Each reel initially features three spaces (e.g. 6×3 grid).
  • But you can make the reels grow through cascading reels.
  • You can make each reel grow to seven spaces high.
  • The grid can be as large as 6×7.
  • At this point, you’ll have 117,649 ways to win.

Not every Megaways slot offers this many possibilities. However, you can see the massive potential with these slots.

In 2015, Big Time Gaming (BTG) released the first Megaways slot in Dragon Born. This format has become extremely popular ever since.

Several more online gaming developers have adopted the Megaways engine. These types of games are now being released at a record rate.

Random Wilds

Wild symbols are typically known for appearing naturally on the reels. However, random wilds make for the possibility that additional wilds can be thrown onto the reels after the fact.

The key word here is “random.” Such slot machines are programmed to add one or more wild symbols at any point.

Here’s an example on how they work:

  • You’re playing a winter-themed slot.
  • Kids throw snowballs at the reels.
  • Each snowball that lands on the reels offers a random wild.

The exciting thing here is that you can get extra chances to win out of nowhere. You may even form huge winning combinations as a result.

What’s not exciting, though, is the concept of random wilds. Once a new and interesting bonus, this feature is quite typical nowadays.

Expanding Wilds

A standard wild symbol only fills one space. These wilds are still very helpful in creating wins, but they can only help so much in one spot.

An expanding wild differs by filling an entire reel. If you’re playing a 5×3 slot, for example, then such wilds will expand to cover all three spaces of the respective reel.

The obvious benefit of expanding wilds is that they cover more ground. You’ll win more often and earn larger payouts with a wild that takes up this much real estate.

Just like random wilds, these symbols were once a cutting edge idea. However, expanding wilds are actually among the most common features today.

Do Slots Developers Have Any More Room to Innovate?

I certainly don’t want to come off as nonappreciative for the slots features that exist today. The more bonuses and extra frills there are, the more enjoyable time I have playing.

But nothing truly new is hitting the gaming industry right now. Instead, the only innovation happening is either using different combinations of features or expanding on existing ideas.

Regarding the former, a developer might combine Megaways, cascading reels, and random wilds into one game. None of these aspects are new, but they can create a more entertaining experience when thrown together.

As for existing ideas, some companies are taking things overboard with certain features. For instance, Red Tiger Gaming has created a Megaways slot called Laser Fruit that offers up to 60,466,176 ways.

Closeup of a Slot Machine Reel

Again, Megaways are several years old. But the concept of offering this many potential lines is something new. The question, though, is if any true innovation will be taking place. Only the industry and players’ interests can decide this.

One area that might feature some new developments is skill-based gaming. Slotsmakers have been considering this heavily in the land-based arena as a way to attract millennials.

If skill-based bonuses prove successful, they’d be featured in more land-based and online slots. But no highly popular skill-based slot machines have been developed within the past few years.

That said, it’s really hard to say what could be the next big thing for slots. The industry will likely come up with something, though, when considering the saturation of the current “latest” features.

Conclusion

Real money slots providers have been immersed in a battle to keep up with new technology ever since video slot machines came out in the 1970s. So far, they’ve done a good job at keeping up with the times and coming out with new ideas.

Here are some key innovations that have been created within the past decade or so:

  • Cascading reels
  • Larger grids
  • Cluster pays
  • 243 ways (plus 720 ways and 1,024 ways)
  • Megaways
  • Random wilds
  • Expanding wilds

Each of these ideas was new and fresh upon being released. However, they’ve all become rather standard in the modern gaming world.

Of course, players still appreciate these features; otherwise, they wouldn’t be so prevalent. But the same gamblers would enjoy seeing some new blood in the industry.

What new features arise is still a mystery. Not much new has been developed in the way of bonuses and unique game formats lately.

Skill-based gaming could be the next frontier. Or, developers might simply find a new way to package cascading reels, cluster pays, etc.

Given the larger grids, Megaways, and more, slotsmakers have more to work with. That said, I’m highly confident that they’ll come up with new concepts in the near future.

Your Chance to Crush Video Poker Ended 20 Years Ago ⁠— Here’s Why

Video Poker Royal Flush With a Golden Glitter Background

Video poker is a rare house-banked casino game that gives you the chance to win profits. You can beat video poker through a combination of skill and the right variation.

Some variants get you close to 100% return to player (RTP) but it’s not quite there. Full-pay Jacks or Better, for example, offers 99.54% RTP.

You can do even better than this, though, and find real money video poker games that deliver over 100% payback. Here are three variations that offer positive expected value (+EV):

  • Full-Pay Deuces Wild = 100.76% RTP
  • 10/7 Double Bonus = 100.17% RTP
  • 10/6 Double Double Bonus = 100.07% RTP

Casinos don’t normally like giving you an opportunity to beat them. Case in point, they hunt down card counters and throw them out of the casino.

The above video poker variants are special because they provide a long-term advantage and don’t draw the casino’s ire. You can beat these games without being kicked out by security.

Casino Floor With a Variety of Machines

Therefore, you may wonder if you can dominate this game and make a good living. If so, I’ll just tell it to you straight. No, you aren’t going to crush video poker.

You’ll be lucky to make pocket change with +EV versions today. I’ll explain why by starting with where video poker used to be and what it has devolved into nowadays.

The Golden Age of Video Poker

Video poker first appeared in brick and mortar casinos in the mid-1970s. However, many players didn’t trust this new machine-based game at the time.

By the 1980s, gamblers finally came around to the concept of video poker. They appreciated the combination of large payouts, machine-based play, and in-depth strategy.

Video poker experienced a surge for the next two decades. Casinos were confident enough in the game’s success that they even introduced +EV variants.

Most players weren’t adept at video poker strategy at the time. Gambling venues could roll out high-paying games and still profit off gamblers’ poor strategy decisions.

Casinos also offered better comps and higher coin denominations. Certain video poker machines accepted dollar coins and delivered over 100% RTP.

Video Poker Pros Made Solid Profits

Only a small percentage of video poker players were highly skilled in the 1980s and ‘90s. Back then, one couldn’t just go online and quickly pull up resources on perfect strategy.

Those who did know the game well, though, could make serious profits 20 years ago. They benefited from high payout percentages, plentiful comps, and dollar denominations.

Here’s the math on how much a good player could make with Deuces Wild back then:

  • 800 hands per hour
  • $5 bet per hand (five coins at $1)
  • 800 x 5 = $4,000 wagered per hour
  • 76% player’s edge on full-pay Deuces Wild
  • 4,000 x 0.0076 = $30.40 in playing profits
  • 1% comp rate
  • 4,000 x 0.001 = $4 in comps
  • $30.40 + $4 = $34.40 in hourly profits

800 hands per hour is a fast rate. However, some experienced players log more than 1,000 hands each hour.

Quarter games existed two decades ago that offered up to 103.2% RTP. These machines presented yet another route towards being a pro player.

Here’s how much the average winning player could make on such variations:

  • 800 hands per hour
  • $1.25 bet per hand (five coins at $0.25)
  • 800 x 1.25 = $1,000 wagered per hour
  • 20% player’s edge
  • 1,000 x 0.032 = $32 in playing profits
  • 1% comp rate
  • 4,000 x 0.001 = $4 in comps
  • $32 + $4 = $36 in hourly profits

$36 may not be enough to make one rich. However, it’s enough to offer a solid living.

Considering that some pros play over 1,000 hands an hour, they could earn over $40. Pros could book even larger profits on days with double and triple comp point promotions.

As if video poker wasn’t great enough 20 years ago, casinos turned a blind eye towards advantage players. Most gambling establishments made enough off gaming to where they didn’t fret over a video poker winner here and there.

Why the Golden Age Ended

Video poker’s golden era came to a close for a few different reasons:

  • Casinos began seeing fewer profits from gambling.
  • They lowered comps.
  • +EV dollar machines disappeared.
  • Games with 103.2% RTP also vanished.

Everything can be traced back to the first point. Gambling establishments started drawing fewer gamblers throughout the 2000s.

The American recession hit in the late 2000s and severely reduced disposal income. Many people cut expensive trips to Vegas and Atlantic City afterward.

The emergence of regional casinos has also greatly increased competition throughout America. Gamblers are more spread out across the country.

The average casino sees fewer profits as a result. They no longer use +EV video poker machines and other gimmicks to draw gamblers.

Instead, casinos have focused more on all-around entertainment offerings within the past decade. Fine dining, nightclubs, shopping, and shows take precedence over triple-point video poker promos.

As a result, gambling venues have reduced comps and gotten rid of +EV machines. You have to visit specific Las Vegas casinos to find full-pay Deuces Wild these days.

What Is Video Poker Like Today?

The majority of casinos throughout America don’t offer +EV video poker. Many don’t even feature full-pay Jacks or Better.

Again, you must travel to Vegas if you want to take advantage of the best machines. Even at this rate, you won’t make much money from the venture.

California Hotel in Las Vegas Against a Pink Sky

The problem is a mixture of low coin denominations and poor rewards. Below, you can see how much you’d stand to earn with full-pay Deuces Wild:

  • You play 800 hands per hour
  • 800 x 1.25 = $1,000 wagered an hour
  • 76% player’s edge
  • 1,000 x 0.0076 = $7.60 in playing profits
  • Comp rate is 0.05%
  • 1,000 x 0.0005 = $0.50 in comps
  • You make $8.10 per hour

You’d probably be thrilled to earn $8 an hour when playing slot machines or roulette for fun. But playing video poker at a fast rate while using perfect strategy feels more like work.

You’ll especially get exhausted when playing 40 hours per week and trying to make a living through the game.

At $8.10 per hour, you’d only earn $324 per week. Considering that you would need to live in Las Vegas to make it as a “pro,” you’d be on an impossible budget plan.

Should You Still Bother With Video Poker?

You can see that the chances of being a pro video poker player today are essentially zero. At best, you’ll earn a few hundred dollars a week.

Your parents or significant other would have to support you. Meanwhile, you’d simply hold a non-conventional part-time job that requires long hours in casinos.

You might ponder if it’s even worth becoming a serious video poker player. The answer is yes and no.

You shouldn’t attempt to make it as a professional. The game’s golden age ended around 20 years ago.  The end of this era saw dollar Deuces Wild and 103.2% RTP machines vanish as well. Comps have severely gone down in quality, too.

However, you can still consider taking video poker seriously. If you love the game and want to make profits from it, then you should pursue this goal.

You’re not going to earn a serious living from the current video poker landscape. You can, however, make around $8 an hour from your hobby.

Conclusion

Gamblers in the ‘80s and ‘90s didn’t realize it at the time, but they were living in a unique era. These two decades featured a robust video poker scene and the chance to earn $35 or more per hour.

A select number of gamblers seized this opportunity and made nice profits. Those who took advantage of 103.2% payback machines and double- or triple-point promos earned well over $40 an hour.

Good things come to an end, though. The same is true of the lucrative video poker era that fizzled out two decades ago. You can still win profits from the game today. However, you’ll be hard-pressed to make more than $8 per hour.

The key issues include a lack of quality games and lower comps. You can slightly increase your profits with promotions. However, the competition for +EV machines increases on these days.

As a serious player, you’re left with two options:

  • Make profits on a recreational basis
  • Grind out a meager earning that a fast food employee would scoff at

You may truly enjoy video poker enough to improve your game and chase minimal profits. However, you shouldn’t go in with delusions of earning $30 per hour.

This feat was possible up until 20 years ago. Today, though, you’d be wasting your time if you started treating video poker like a full-time job.

4 Bets Where Gamblers Put Their Lives on the Line

Black Poker Chip With Image of Grim Reaper on Front

Gambling is, by nature, a risky activity that involves betting your livelihood on games of chance. You can even get carried away and bet real money that’s meant for other bills and expenses.

But the good news is that even if you lose, you can come back and fight another day. With any luck, you might even turn into a winning gambler.

However, a rare breed of gamblers is willing to risk far more than just money. They’re willing to put their lives on the line!

I’m going to discuss some gamblers who made the ultimate bet and were unsuccessful. Most of these people knew that they faced certain death by losing, although one had no idea what was coming to them.

1 – Niagara Falls Swim

Niagara Falls has been the site of many deadly incidents. At one time, many people (unsuccessfully) attempted to survive going over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

Matthew Webb attempted a different death-defying feat involving the massive waterfall that separates the US and Canada. He set out to swim in Niagara’s whirlpool rapids and come out alive.

Webb was no stranger to the daredevil game. He was the first person to swim across the English Channel without any artificial aids.

The English Channel swim made the former steamship captain famous. Webb performed a number of stunts in the aftermath and even became a professional swimmer.

Perhaps the latter caused Webb to overestimate his abilities by taking on Niagara Falls’ whirlpool rapids. Successfully swimming the rapids is thought to be an impossible feat.

Nevertheless, Webb set out to be the first to pull off the impossible in 1883. He staged a series of unsuccessful funding ventures to make money from the attempt. Despite failing to generate much money, he embarked on the swim anyway. He started swimming near the waters under the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge.

Niagra Falls With a Rainbow in Front

Many accounts claim that he probably survived the first portion of the swim. But he eventually drowned around the entrance of the whirlpool. He was later buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Niagara Falls, New York.

Bobby Leach, who was the second person ever to survive the Niagara barrel plunge (behind Annie Taylor), attempted the same feat decades after Webb.

He tried to swim the rapids multiple times and failed each time. On one particular attempt, he had to be rescued by a famous riverman named William “Red” Hill.

2 – Soviet Pilot Alexander Kliuyev

Attempting an extremely dangerous bet is a bad enough idea by yourself. The situation only gets worse when bringing other people into the matter.

Soviet pilot Alexander Kliuyev made such a wager with his co-pilot, Gennady Zhirnov, on June 28, 1979. Flying commercial aircraft Tu-134A, Kliuyev and Zhirnov were nearing a landing at Kurumoch Airport.

During the approach, Kliuyev bet his co-pilot that he could pull off an instrument-only approach with curtained cockpit windows. Simply put, he thought that he could land the plane without seeing the ground.

The bet was already going badly for Kliuyev when he received ground proximity warnings at an altitude at 65 meters (213 ft). He should’ve aborted the landing and performed a go-around based on the warning.

However, Kliuyev kept trying to stick the blind landing. The aircraft hit the ground at 280 km/h) and came to a stop upside down.

63 passengers of the plane’s 94 passengers died during the landing. Another seven died in the hospital. The only solace is that all of the children passengers (14) were among the 24 survivors.

As for Zhirnov, he tried to save passengers after causing one of the deadliest plane crashes in Russian history. He died of cardiac arrest while being taken to the hospital afterward.

Kliuyev survived the crash and was sentenced to 15 years for his role in the bet. He only ended up serving six years of the term.

3 – Jack McCall and Wild Bill

James Butler Hickok, better known as “Wild Bill,” is the one gambler on this list who didn’t make a single bet realizing that it could result in death. However, gambling did lead to his untimely murder.

Wild Bill became a folk hero in the Wild West. He was a jack of all trades, serving as a soldier, spy, scout, wagon master, lawman, actor, showman, and gunfighter.

He earned his notorious reputation in different ways. However, he also fabricated tales about his exploits and became more myth than man. Hickok became very familiar with death and gambling early on. He had a duel with Davis Tutt over a watch that he lost to the professional gambler.

Wild Bill asked Tutt not to wear the watch in public, because he was embarrassed by the loss. Tutt failed to oblige and continued wearing the watch around Springfield, Missouri.

Hickok and Tutt argued over the matter and agreed to square off in Springfield’s town center. Wild Bill won what’s largely considered the first quick-draw duel. Tutt was shot through the heart and quickly died thereafter.

Hickok would be on the receiving end of such an incident later in his life. He badly beat Jack McCall in a poker game in Deadwood, Dakota Territory.

Wild Bill loaned McCall money and bought him breakfast afterward. However, McCall was allegedly insulted over the affair.

McCall later returned to the same saloon and shot Wild Bill in the back of the head. McCall was arrested and acquitted of murder charges in a Deadwood courtroom.

He was later arrested, though, in the Wyoming Territory. McCall was retried and hanged for the crime on account that Deadwood wasn’t an official US jurisdiction at the time.

4 – William Bergstrom: The Mysterious Binion’s Craps Player

William Bergstrom briefly became known as the biggest high roller in history during the early 1980s. Unfortunately, his high-rolling ways would contribute to his suicide.

Born in Austin, Texas, Bergstrom made a small fortune by buying and selling properties in the Lone Star State. He eventually took his profits and begin gambling them at Las Vegas casinos.

He first showed up to Binion’s Horseshoe Casino in September 1980. Bergstrom earned the nickname “Suitcase Man” after bring two briefcases during the trip, one with $777,000 and the other empty.

Benny Binion, the casino’s owner, always honored a gambler’s first bet, regardless of the size. Bergstrom, who was anonymous at the time, gambled the entire $777,000 (approx. $2.4 million today) on the don’t pass line.

The shooter established a point of six. They then went on to seven out two rolls later. This result gave Bergstrom a $777k win, the largest ever recorded at the time.

The Suitcase Man packed his insane win in the empty suitcase and left immediately afterward. He wouldn’t return again until March 1984, three and a half years after the original win.

Exterior of Binion's Hotel and Casino

This time, he wagered $538,000 on a single roll. Bergstrom was successful and proceeded to win three more wagers worth an extra $117,000.

He came back in November of the same year with a $1 million bankroll. The amount consisted of $550,000 in cash, $310,000 in cashier’s checks, and $140,000 in gold Krugerrands (South African coin).

He wagered the entire million on the don’t pass line. The shooter immediately tossed a seven winner on the come-out roll.

Bergstrom lost the entire amount and committed suicide just a few months later in February 1985. He swallowed pills in his home and soon passed away.

Bergstrom’s family was initially unsure why he chose to kill himself following the $1 million loss. After all, he still was doing alright fine financially.

A suicide note from Bergstrom later revealed that his suicide may have been triggered by his breakup with a man who was 10 years younger than him.

Conclusion

The reasons for death-defying bets range from people wanting to show off to being in a mentally bad place.

David Webb wanted to prove that one could swim in the Niagara Falls’ whirlpool rapids and survive. However, even as accomplished at swimming as he was, Webb couldn’t pull off the feat and drowned.

Alexander Kliuyev made the most careless wager on this list. He risked the lives of 94 people to win a bet made with his co-pilot. Kliuyev landed a passenger plane upside down due to the wager and killed 70 people.

Wild Bill never bet his life on a game of chance. However, his gambling ways eventually got him killed. You might have thought that Hickok would’ve given up gambling after shooting Davis Tutt over a lost gold watch. But he kept playing poker and was later shot in the head by Jack McCall.

William Bergstrom was unfortunately suffering from depression when he began a brief high-rolling gambling stint. He was initially successful, winning sums of $777k and $655k on two separate occasions.

However, he lost a bet of $1 million dollars on real money craps and later died by overdosing on pills. Bergstrom’s suicide note revealed that he was depressed about an ended relationship.

Luckily, not many bets result in deaths like these. But there’ll no doubt be similar deadly gambling incidents at some point in the future.

7 Mistakes Sports Bettors Make Every Day

A Man at a Sportsbook Palming His Face

If you’ve ever made a bet on a sporting event, in person or through an online sportsbook, odds are that you’ve probably made a mistake before. Don’t worry, everyone else does, too.

The only difference between average sports bettors and profitable sports gamblers is the profitable ones learn from their mistakes and correct them. If you’re not learning from your mistakes, you’re not going to figure out how to win.

Another way to become a better sports gambler is to learn from other punters and their errors. Here’s a list of seven sports betting mistakes every sports gambler makes. Learn from this guide so you can avoid any mishaps and become a better gambler.

1 – Always Bet on Their Favorite Teams

Most casual sports fans who place bets on games place wagers on their favorite team. Many of them don’t even consider the point spread, they just want to get some action down on their team.

It’s okay if you want to put a few dollars down on your favorite team from time to time, but don’t make the mistake of believing you have any chance to win in the long run doing it.

The way you become a winning sports gambler is to find games and lines that offer value on one side. Any other betting strategy that you use, like always betting on your favorite team, is the same as throwing darts at a betting sheet or flipping a coin to pick games.

In the long run, you’re going to win close to 50% of your point spread games using these methods, but this still means you’re losing money because of the vig. Only bet on your favorite teams when the line looks like it’s offering value.

Most sports fans have a difficult time evaluating their favorite team. They tend to overvalue their team and players, so they make mistakes when they handicap games. I usually don’t bet on games with my favorite team to avoid this mistake.

2 – Only Evaluate Popular Stats

Winning sports gamblers try to find every edge they can, and use everything they can access to make smart betting decisions. On the other hand, most gamblers just look at the main stats and make a quick pick on which team to bet on.

It’s easy to look up the most popular stats in each sport, but you need to dig into statistics deeper if you want to find an edge. In football, look beyond yards and touchdowns and completion percentage. In baseball, look deeper than home runs, batting average, and ERA. Consider looking into pitching staff usage or wins above replacement (WAR) for position players when placing MLB bets.

Closeup of a Sports Statistics Book

You need to look at every statistic you can find when you’re learning how to handicap sporting events. As you learn what works and what doesn’t work, you can stop using some stats and focus more on other statistics.

Don’t make the mistake that most gamblers make and just look at the most popular stats. They don’t tell the whole story.

3 – Don’t Shop for the Best Lines

The single worst thing that any sports bettor can do is make bets without finding the best possible line. If you simply start shopping for better lines on every bet you make, it’s going to improve your sports betting results.

You can improve your long-term sports gambling results by shopping for better lines. You don’t have to improve your handicapping skills in any way to benefit from line shopping. So, why don’t more sports bettors look for better lines?

The only reason I can think of is they’re either too lazy to do it, or they simply don’t know that they can. Now, you don’t have either excuse. If you think it takes too much time or it’s too hard to shop for lines, it only takes a couple of minutes to compare lines online.

A half point or a point is often the difference between a push and a loss or a win and a loss. You don’t have to turn many pushes into wins or losing bets into pushes over the course of a year to make a big difference on your bottom line.

4 – Believe the National Media Hype

The national media focuses on the most popular teams and players more than others. This makes sense because the media is interested in selling paper and advertising, so they give people what they want.

But this is dangerous for sports gamblers, because it’s easy to get biased by media coverage. All you see and read and hear seems to be about certain teams and players, while you don’t see much of anything about their opponents.

This often leads to bettors overvaluing the abilities of popular teams and players. This is something you have to be conscious of and work to avoid. One of the best ways to avoid making this mistake is to ignore national media reports and follow local media sources for all of your sports news.

A Woman Sports Reporter Interviewing a Coach

Most sports teams have at least one beat writer that regularly posts on Twitter and other social media platforms in addition to writing regular stories. A good way to get information you need is by following these local beat writers.

You still have to watch for bias, but at least you’re getting detailed information about the teams and players that aren’t popular on the national level.

5 – Don’t Spend Enough Time Handicapping Games

The bottom line is if you want to learn how to become a winning handicapper, you have to put in a great deal of work. If you’re not spending at least 30 minutes to an hour handicapping each game you place a bet on, the odds are good that you’re not spending enough time to win in the long run.

Lazy sports bettors have a hard time winning long-term. As you gain experience and learn exactly how to handicap games effectively, the amount of time you need to spend on every game will go down. But you still need to put in the hard work if you want to win.

This is especially true if you’re not winning as often as you want now. The main reason why you’re not winning is because you’re not putting in enough time and doing the work you need to do.

The good news is this is easy to fix. Start spending more time handicapping games. Keep working on improving, look for different betting opportunities, identify mistakes you make, and correct them moving forward.

6 – Undervaluing Veteran Players

It doesn’t matter if you’re betting on college sporting events or professional games, most gamblers put too much faith in young players and undervalue veteran players. The best rookies get a great deal of media coverage, but many seasoned veterans produce better numbers than the rookies and get ignored.

Veteran players have learned the ropes and know how to play at a more consistent level over the course of each season. They know how to prepare and they know tricks that rookies haven’t learned yet. It’s costly to make the mistake of overvaluing young players and undervaluing established veterans.

7 – Risking Too Much on Big Moneyline Favorites

It’s easy to look at a big favorite and convince yourself there’s no way they can lose. Even if you have to bet 20 or 30 to win 1, you simply don’t see how losing is a possibility. You might see a moneyline bet at around -2000 or -3000, and you pull out your roll of cash, make a bet, and think you have a sure thing.

But in sports betting, there’s no such thing as a sure thing. The minute you think you’ve found a sure thing, you need to stop betting. You simply need to give up on sports betting if you believe any bet is guaranteed.

A moneyline at -2000 means you have to bet $2,000 to win $100. This is fine as long as you win, but you only have to lose 1 out of 20 of these bets to lose money in the long run. Look at any stretch of 100 games with one side as a big favorite and see how many times the underdog pulled off the upset. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.

You simply have to risk too much for a small reward on these games. And it’s just not worth the risk.

Conclusion

You just learned about seven mistakes that sports gamblers make every day. The good news is you don’t have to make the same mistakes to learn from them. You can learn from them and correct them before they cost you money.

The worst mistakes that sports bettors make every day are failing to find the best lines and not spending enough time evaluating games. Avoid these two big mistakes and you’re going to start seeing better results right away.

How Does the House Edge in Blackjack Work?

Razor and playing card

The house always wins. But when it comes to real money blackjack, the way the house edge works is quite a bit different than in other games.

Before I dive into the topic, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page on this one—there’s not a game in existence where the house doesn’t have an edge.

That funny phrase about how “the house always wins” isn’t just a clever casino spiel, it’s reality. Casinos could not exist if they didn’t have an edge. It just wouldn’t make sense from a business standpoint.

Every game you play in a casino has a house edge. And how large that edge is depends on the rules the casino puts in place to some extent, and on you to some extent—your strategy, your tactics, your knowledge of the game, your decisions on how you play and why you make the plays that you do. All of these things affect how large the house’s edge truly is.

So, how does that house edge work for blackjack, anyway? Let’s take a look.

Start Thinking in Percentages

If you don’t like math, you’re probably not going to like gambling much. Or, at the very least, you’re not going to be very good at it.

House edges are usually expressed in percentages. Blackjack is well-known as being one of the few games where the house edge is low enough that you can potentially profit.

Now, as mentioned before, there are many factors that determine the house’s edge, but you’re looking at anything between 0.5% (if you’re implementing a good blackjack strategy) and a few percent (or even more).

There’s a reason so many gambling movies focus on blackjack. It’s one of the games where you can potentially come out on top if you know what you’re doing.

Why? Because the house edge only really means something for a statistically significant number of hands. What that little percentage up there means is that, on average, all players who are playing blackjack are going to lose about 0.5% of what they bet over time.

It’s clear right away why this only means something across a large number of bets. If you bet $100 and lose a hand, there’s no possible way to lose 50 cents. You either win some money, you lose some money, or you end up neutral.

But if you add up all the bets of all the players who are currently on the floor of a casino, and you start to measure the amount won and the amount lost over time, you’ll see that the house is going to be up about 50 cents a hand on average.

Casinos are profitable for precisely this reason. The rules are set up so that, statistically and over time, house losses are negated by house wins, and a slight profit is made. Slots tend to have the worst odds (and thus, are most profitable for the house), but the house holds an edge in almost every game available to you. But there are rare exceptions.

What Determines the House Edge

There are a number of factors that specifically determine the house edge. First and foremost is strategy. If you don’t know what you’re doing and don’t have a clear strategy, the house edge is going to be closer to 2% than 0.5%.

Other rules that can often feel completely strange or incalculable to new players also affect the house edge. For example, the amount you can win if you play a natural (blackjack—21) plays a big role in the house edge.

You’ll find that some casinos will pay you 3:2 on a natural (which means, for example, that you get $15 on a $10 bet), but many other casinos have moved to paying 6:5 (you get $12 if you get blackjack on a $10 bet). That greatly increases the house edge, so avoid it if you can.

Cards and Monopoly houses

Other rules play a factor—does the dealer hit or stand on a soft 17? Can you double after a split? Can you double on any first two cards? How many hands can you re-split to? Can you re-split aces? Can you hit on re-split aces? What about when a dealer gets a blackjack—do you only lose your original bet? What’s the surrender rule?

All of these seemingly insignificant rules play a huge role in the house’s edge, but remember—the house is winning over time over many different hands.

You don’t have to play a lot of different hands, you can come out on top.

Beat the House – Walk Away When You’re Winning

If you decide that the house edge in the casino you’re playing in is, say, 1%, that means you’re losing about 1% of whatever you’re betting over time.

But what happens when you win on the first hand? Let’s say you hit blackjack on your very first hand—lucky, but certainly not impossible.

Let’s further say that you bet $100 on that firsthand and the casino pays 3:2 on a natural, so you’re now up $50.

What happens when you walk away? You walk away with $50.

See, the house edge only means something over thousands of hands—tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands—all the hands that you play and that everyone else plays.

But if you only play a few hands (even a few dozen), you’re not in the realm of statistics anymore, you’re in the realm of randomness and luck.

If you’re following a decent blackjack strategy and you’ve practiced a lot, with a little luck, you might find yourself up by many hundreds or thousands of dollars over a short period of time.

If you walk away from the table before you start to lose (and you will start to lose if you play enough hands), then you’ve just beaten the odds.

The same can be said for losing, however, if you find yourself down, cutting your losses may be the best way to go. It’s certainly possible you can win your money back and get on top again, but on average, you are literally paying money to play, in the form of that 1% of your bet that the house is claiming on average.

The Solid Base of the House Edge That You Can Never Overcome

While we can talk all day long about blackjack strategy and how much money you make on a natural and all that jazz, I think it’s instructive to look at the origin of the house edge in the first place.

Every game you play in a casino has some simple rule that automatically guarantees the house and edge of some sort. Games of pure luck keep that house edge rigid, for example, there’s not much you can do to influence the odds of a roulette wheel. You place your bet, you let that sucker spin, and you either win or you lose. That’s that.

Blackjack’s house edge may be much more flexible given how you can apply strategy, but the foundation of the edge comes from the simple fact that you can bust before the dealer even has a chance to play their hand.

Blackjack table

Think about it! If you bust, the dealer might have busted as well, but it still counts as a win for the dealer because you bust first. The dealer doesn’t have to reveal their hand until the end.

That translates into a huge advantage for the dealer. The house starts off with such an enormous advantage that all those other rules have to be put into effect just to get the darn thing down to something reasonable, and even then, you need a solid strategy if you’re going to beat the house.

What Is a Blackjack Strategy?

A blackjack strategy is essentially a set of rules that takes into account probabilities of cards turning up and then makes recommendations one what you should play based on your hand and the card the dealer has revealed.

While there are more than a few blackjack strategies out there, you’re going to need to do at least some studying if you want to understand how to reduce the house edge and get yourself to a place where you can at least have a chance of making some profit.

Remember, even with a strategy, the house still maintains that edge. There’s no way around it. So, on top of whatever strategy you come up with, it’s still a good idea to learn how to get out when the gettin’s good.

That means that sometimes, you’re going to have to eat a loss and come back another day (before your losses get too big).

Sometimes, you’re going to walk away when you feel like you’re on a winning streak. At the beginning, I say that you’re going to have a bad time if you don’t like math, and it’s true. Every hand you play is a complete tossup. There’s no such thing as having a hot or cold streak.

The only way you beat the house is to quit when you’re ahead.

Conclusion

The house edge works in blackjack in just about the same way it works in every other game, that is to say, it works for the house and against you. Learn some blackjack strategy, take free gambling lessons at some of the bigger casinos, learn what you can learn from watching the pros, but ultimately, if you want to beat the house edge, learn to walk away.

7 Mistakes NHL Bettors Make Every Day

Hockey Goalie Next to a Roll of Burning Money

Of all the sports available to bet on in the United States, the NHL ranks somewhere around sixth in popularity. The NFL, MLB, NBA, NCAA football, and NCAA basketball are all more popular, and soccer might be more popular than the NHL. The reason why I point this out is because most gamblers I know who bet on the NHL are action junkies.

If you want to be a winning NHL bettor, you need to become a student of the game and not just an action junkie looking for your next bet. One of the best ways to get started is to learn the most common mistakes you need to avoid.

Here’s a list of seven mistakes NHL bettors make that you should avoid.

1 – Overvaluing the First Lines

NHL teams use more than one line during each game. The starting line usually has the best center and wings on the team, but there are also second and third lines, as well as penalty killing lines that teams use. While it’s important to evaluate the starting line for each team, you also need to evaluate the other lines that are going to see action during each game.

The best way to learn about the lines each team uses is to watch some games. You can find information about how many minutes each player averages per game, but you don’t always know how each coach uses individual players if you’re not watching hockey games.

The first line is the most valuable, but you also need to know how good the penalty killing line is and how the second and third lines match up in each game. When you only look at the first lines, you’re missing a large part of the game that you need in order to properly handicap games.

2 – Ignoring Goalies

The first thing I look at when I’m evaluating NHL games is goalie play. I want to know which goalie is starting for each team and how good they’ve been performing. Have they faced the opposing team earlier in the season, and how did they do? Has anything changed since the earlier meeting and how are the goalies playing recently in comparison to earlier in the season?

I also take a close look at the defense in front of the goalie. The defenders that spend the most time on the ice have a great deal to do with how effective each goalie is. The best defensive players make the goalie’s job easier by helping him keep a good line of sight and reducing the number of shots on goal.

Hockey Goalie by the Net

On the other hand, the best goalie in the world can struggle when the defense allows too many shots on goal and allows opponents in the crease. A goalie that can’t see a shot on goal has a hard time blocking it.

You also need to have a good idea of how good or bad the backup goalies are. If you don’t track backup goalies you should avoid betting on games when the starting goalie isn’t playing. But you can find an edge in some games with a backup goalie if you know the abilities of the backup.

3 – Missing Puck Line Opportunities

Most of the NHL bettors I know bet on the moneyline at their online sportsbooks because most of them are confused by puck lines. Instead of learning how to use puck lines when they look for value, they just ignore them and focus on the moneyline.

While there’s nothing wrong with making moneyline wagers, when you ignore the puck lines, you’re missing opportunities to find value. Once you understand how the puck line works, it’s easy to evaluate games using it.

The most common puck line has one team getting 1 ½ goals and the other team giving 1 ½ goals. This can be valuable, especially when two teams are closely matched. Many close games end with a one goal differential, so when you can make a bet and receive 1 ½ goals, you can get an edge.

Of course, you pay a price to receive goals so you have to weigh the advantage of getting goals against the higher price you have to pay to decide if there’s any value or not. But if you ignore the puck line you’re not doing everything you can to identify value when handicapping NHL games.

4 – Ignoring Defensive Abilities of Centers and Wings

Most NHL bettors look at the goalie and defensive players when evaluating games for defense, but they ignore how well or bad the center and wings play defense. When the puck is on the defensive side of the ice, all six players on defense are working to stop the other team from scoring.

Two Hockey Players With Heavy Contact

The most popular centers and wings are the ones that score the most goals and have the most assists, but sometimes, a game is won or lost based on the ability to stop the other team from scoring.

In addition to some centers and wings not being good at defense, some of them are simply lazy on the defensive end. All they seem to care about is scoring, so they don’t try as hard as they can on the defensive side. You need to know which centers and wings are good defenders and how they influence the game. And you definitely need to know which ones are lazy, because they can cost their team several goals over the course of a season.

5 – Missing Minor Injuries

It’s easy to see the injuries that keep hockey players out of a game, but hockey is a violent sport and most players deal with minor injuries throughout the season. You need to learn how to identify minor injuries and use them when you evaluate games.

The days of getting all or your information from the newspaper and on Sports Center are long gone if you want to be a winning hockey gambler. Start following the beat writers that cover each NHL team so you can find out about minor injuries that don’t keep a player out of a game but are severe enough to alter his performance.

Twitter is a good place to find out about minor injuries, but you also need to read the game reports by the beat reporters from previous games. You can also pick up on minor injuries as you watch games.

6 – Betting the Under With a Backup Goalie

Starting goalies are in that position because they give the team the best chance to win. No NHL coach can afford to sit a goalie that’s better unless he’s hurt or needs a night off. This means that when the backup goalie is starting, the odds are good that it’s going to influence the game.

I don’t bet the over/under line much in the NHL, but one hard and fast rule that I follow is to never bet the under when a backup goalie is in the net. The sportsbooks usually adjust the over/under up when a backup is starting, but I still have a hard time finding any value on the under.

It doesn’t happen in every game, but in some games, the offense jumps out to a lead and they’re like sharks smelling blood in the water. They hit goal after goal and win by a large margin. This is much more likely to happen when a backup goalie is starting than when the starter is in the game.

7 – Failing to Value Goals Over Assists

Assists are good, and the best players tend to have the best assist totals. But the way to win games is to score goals. Not every assist is created equally. I always look at the goals scored first when I’m evaluating NHL games.

I still consider assists when looking at the offenses in a game, but they aren’t as important to me as identifying the players who score the most goals. This helps me identify the opposing players most likely to be on the scorer and determine his chances of limiting the goals and shots on goal.

Conclusion

If you’re just looking for more action when you bet on NHL games, you might as well flip a coin to make your selections. But if you’re interested in learning how to handicap games and have a realistic chance of turning a profit, the tips on this page are a great place to start.

You can understand how most NHL bettors make mistakes and learn how to avoid them by learning from the seven common mistakes on this page. Keep working on your handicapping skills by recognizing mistakes you’re making and correcting them. This is how winning NHL gamblers handicap games and gain a long-term profit.

8 Insane Parlay Wins

Hundred Dollar Bills on Top of Sports Betting Tickets

The seasoned experts might advise against it, but multiple-leg parlays are one of the most exciting ways to bet on sports. It’s not often that you can turn $100 into $1,000 or more with just a few wins. The catch? It’s hard winning more than half of the games on your ticket, let alone all of them. In fact, the pros only win 52% to 53%. With that being said, when you read about these parlay winners you might think the risk is worth the reward.

1 – Beginner’s Luck

An admittedly novice gambler, Tayla Polia would quickly get her name in the record books with an NFL parlay that changed her life. In week 15 of the 2015 season, she decided to wager a modest $5 as a parlay on 15 separate bets (14 against the spread, one over/under). The odds for the particular bet were a long shot at 20,000 to 1.

Come Monday, she was $100,000 richer when all 15 games hit.

2 – Odd Parlay Prop

The Super Bowl is known for being a holiday for sports bettors, but for one unnamed gambler, Super Bowl LII was more like all the holidays rolled into one. Betting $15 on a nine-leg parlay full of prop bets, there was minimal risk, but winning was unlikely.

The odds were 400-1, but “odd” was the key to the winner’s night. He accurately predicted a high-scoring affair that was filled with odd numbers. The parlay was fulfilled as the game ended 41-33, and the odd numbered scores made for an even $6,000 payday.

3 – College Pays

Winning one parlay is hard enough, but one high-roller cashed in on an eight-teamer and a 10-teamer on the same weekend.

The New Jersey bettor wagered $1,200 across the two plays, which were comprised of mostly NCAA football games. Two NBA games were also snuck in at the end of the 10-team parlay. The odds for the two separate bets? 90 to 1 and 233 to 1.

Pen on Top of Parlay Bet

When the weekend was over, the book had paid out more than $300,000. Some questionable play calling led to a push in one of the games on the ticket, so the lucky winner missed out on even more cash. We can only hope he didn’t complain too much.

4 – A Nice Ring to It

Love, March Madness, gambling…few combinations could create a better story. Kevin Maselli of New Jersey had been in the process of saving up for a ring as a proposal to his girlfriend, Leah. The engagement loomed imminent. With the cost of rings soaring, $0.14 would soon go a long way in making the purchase.

Maselli had an interesting strategy when it came to sports gambling. He would make long parlay bets but would only wager 10 or 20 cents on each. He said they would hit occasionally, but with such a small amount wagered, the payouts weren’t huge.

During the 2019 NCAA Tournament, he bet a 14-leg parlay, choosing the winner against the spread and the over/under in seven separate games. When Auburn came back to win against Kansas, Charles Barkley wasn’t the only one yelling.

His unlikely $0.14 bet netted Maselli more than $1,300. Of course, he said he would put the money toward a ring.

5 – First Ever

On this list we’ve covered some unlikely wins with parlays up to 15 legs. This next winner took it to another level and completed the first 20-legger in the Vicksburg, Mississippi sportsbook’s history.

An unnamed bettor wagered $25 on a 20-game parlay that was a mix of leagues and bet types. All 20 games were either NBA or NCAAB games, and the bets were a combination of moneylines, spreads, and over/under.

How rare was the win? BetAmerica VP Alan Stremel said that it was the first 20-game parlay winner he’d ever seen. Other books said that they typically wouldn’t even offer the bet.

Now, the big reveal of how much the bet paid out on the initial $25—$104,400.

6 – The Favorite

The crazy thing about this particular win is that the lucky bettor only took favorites en route to an eight-leg parlay win. The wager encompassed eight college football NCAA games with lines ranging from -2 ½ to -37 ½.

After hitting on the first seven legs of the parlay, a series of miraculous events in the Stanford vs. Oregon game ensued. The Cardinal rallied from a 17-point deficit, helped in large part by an Oregon fumble as the clock winded down. Cardinal kicker Jet Toner (it just keeps getting better) sent the game to overtime with a field goal.

The rest is gambling history. Stanford managed to score a touchdown then forced an interception from Oregon’s Justin Herbert. Stanford wasn’t the only winner that night. A $366 bet cashed out at a little more than $61,000.

7 – Wrong Is Right

Sometimes, you just get lucky. One man placed a five-leg parlay bet at a Jamaican sportsbook on a series of soccer matches when he noticed something was off on his card. He had accidentally selected Roma over Barcelona in the last game of the day.

Upon recognizing his mistake, he attempted to cancel the bet but he didn’t make it in time and the card remained unchanged. This “mishap” ended up being rewarded with a more than $52,000 payout. As revered painter Bob Ross would say, “There are no mistakes, just happy accidents.”

8 – Wait, I Did What?

For some of us, when waking up after a long night of drinking, the money in our wallets disappear. Quite the opposite happened to one extremely lucky man on a visit to Las Vegas.

The story goes like this… Derek Bergee, after presumably several cocktails, wandered into a casino around 3:30 AM. A friendly visitor from Minnesota started chatting up Bergee and, as one thing led to another, Bergee ended up placing $100 on a four-leg parlay that was centered on Minnesota sports, including a college hockey matchup where he took a huge underdog over a traditional power.

Cashier Paying Out Parlay Bet

The hangover the next morning was undoubtedly eased, as all four parts of the reckless parlay hit, and the initial $100 was turned into $26,000 overnight. I’d be remiss if I failed to say that gambling at 3:30 AM while drinking heavily usually ends poorly. Proceed with caution.

Conclusion

While parlays, especially those with more than five or six games, are typically a long shot, this article proves that they can pay off. Some gamblers see great value in a bet where mere dollars can turn into thousands, but for most bettors it’s wasted cash.

While I would contest that sports betting involves more skill than luck, there’s no question that these winners were lucky more than anything else. If the math adds up, and you’re looking to roll the dice, pick out your 10 favorite games and let the chips fall where they may. As the New York lottery slogan says, “You just never know!”

Movie Review: Vince Van Patten’s “7 Days to Vegas”

Man Walking Down a Desert Highway With Text 7 Days to Vegas

Thoroughly predictable, but still enjoyable, Vince Van Patten’s slightly-autobiographical film 7 Days to Vegas is not a bad way to pass an evening. Released in 2019, Van Patten, his younger brother, James, and a cast featuring Ross McCall (White Collar), Willie Garson (Fever Pitch), Jennifer Tilly, and James Kyson (Heroes) tell the story of one man’s attempt to walk from Los Angeles to Vegas in just seven days.

It’s a bit hard to categorize this film. It’s definitely a comedy with elements of a heist movie and almost no poker at all. It does go into the world of prop betting, the crazy things guys do when they get together, and how big money can ruin nice things. Mainly, though, it’s kind of a feel-good movie.

If that sounds like the kind of film you’d like to watch, keep reading. I’ve got a brief plot synopsis and a rundown of what worked and what didn’t. If you don’t want to read ahead, just keep in mind that the good outweighs the bad, and its definitely worth spending $5 to watch the movie online.

Oh, and before I forget, this movie is not safe for work or children in any way. That surprised me for some reason, so I thought I would pass it on.

Plot Synopsis

The movie starts off by letting us know that the events in this movie are inspired by true events and it seems like some of the things in the movie really did happen. Either way, what’s real and what isn’t is largely secondary to a movie that starts off with a bang then keeps on going.

Meet Duke Madson (Van Patten), a washed up actor who is unable to book movie parts or even late night infomercials. What he can do, though, is play poker for real money which he does with his degenerate friends.

Eventually, these friendly games of poker turn into much larger games of poker and Duke makes enough to feed his family, pay his bills, etc. However, it’s not the financial security that draws him into these games, it’s the prop bets. He makes and loses thousands of dollars watching his friends do dumb things.

It’s all very macho and shows typical behavior that guys do when they’re drinking together. Eventually, the games move from his house to more classic venues (in a sort of Molly’s Game-esque kind of way). This attracts larger players (again, like Molly’s Game) including Sebastien (McCall) who turns out to be a hustler, conman, and jerk along with rich movie-producer guy.

Long story short, and to leave you with something to watch, Madsen and his brother Carl lose a lot of money to a Ponzi scheme and, at the same time, individually run afoul of Sebastien. Things come to a head when their mutual friend Sandor dies and leaves Madsen a million dollars.

Madsen’s wife desperately wants him to take that money and use it to get the family out of debt, because they’re in danger of losing their house. Instead, Madsen bets he can walk to Las Vegas from Los Angeles in seven days. Sebastien, ready to take that million dolllars, gives Madsen five-to-one odds that it can’t be done.

The rest of the movie is walking and answering the question of whether Madsen can, in fact, walk 40 miles per day in the heat to get to Vegas and earn his family’s financial freedom.

The Good

Surprisingly, there’s a lot of good in this movie. It definitely has the feel of a “guy movie” and does a good job of showing how silly dudes can be when they get together. The movie offers a comforting environment to men and the women who love them (or put up with them anyway).

There’s really good chemistry among all of the actors, which helps, too. You definitely get the feel that you’re looking into the weird, messed up lives of some gamblers who you want to root for even as you can see them making some poor choices. In other words, the cast of the movie is good.

You can tell from World Poker Tour broadcasts that Van Patten has some charisma. Also, after consulting his IMDb profile, he does have a number of acting credits to his name that Duke Madsen would envy (Baywatch, The Young and the Restless, Camp Fear, etc.) Plus, the fact that he’s playing a version of himself really allows him to shine in the role.

McCall seems to be having a lot of fun playing the villain with the British accent. Also, Don Stark (That ‘70s Show) is awesome as the temper-challenged could-be mobster Angry Jim.

The movie is also pretty funny when it needs to be, but doesn’t mind showing some real pathos from Van Patten that you might not think he would have if you only knew him as a poker announcer.

Ultimately, though, the thing I found the most interesting about the movie was that, after watching it and having a good laugh, I assumed I would put the movie up and never watch it again. The next day, I thought to myself, “I should watch 7 Days to Vegas again.” So, it definitely has that going for it.

The Bad

Perhaps my biggest complaint about the movie was the lack of poker in it. Given that I knew Van Patten primarily from his poker announcing and they advertised it during WPT broadcasts, I assumed there’d be more card playing in it. This is not Rounders in which we get some idea about the psychology of players at the table and see poker action.

If anything, this movie is a blend of Molly’s Game, as they talk about how they set up their games (which is interesting) and Jackass for all the stupid prop bets. That’s not bad. It’s definitely not what I was expecting.

Also, from a movie reviewing standpoint, the movie is paced a little oddly. It’s only 90 minutes and that actually felt just a little long. It’s also almost equally divided into two halves, that if I recall correctly, were about 45 min each. There was everything leading up to the walk and the walk. Unfortunately, the walk feels a little long.

This movie really shines when Van Patten is interacting with his friends.  You don’t get a lot of that when he is out walking by himself and what starts as kind of a happy-go-lucky film about the stupidity of guys playing poker turns into a man-versus-himself style film about overcoming hardship.

Screenshot From the Movie 7 Days to Vegas

I understood that walking to Sin City was going to be hard. I don’t know that I needed 45 minutes of that in exclusion of some of the other interesting things that could have been going on with some of the characters or even across the world.

Last, while the cast was good, there were some very forgettable characters. One person in particular, Squeeze (Joseph Siprut) seemed to appear and disappear at random. I’m still not sure what his role was in the movie other than to shake hands.

Overall, that feels like harsh criticism for a movie that frankly may not deserve it. There’s an uplifting message in the walk part, but it’s a little muted against some of the movies’ other themes and performances. Again, not that the movie wasn’t good, it does bear understanding that this isn’t a perfect film and script.

The Conclusion

At the end of the day, 7 Days to Vegas was a shockingly good movie. My fear upon hearing about it was that it would be a low budget, walking infomercial for Van Patten and the World Poker Tour. Fortunately, the movie turned out to be an enjoyable romp through the lives of fictitious poker players.

While the movie clearly had its flaws, they weren’t nearly as obvious as they could have been given my worst fears on the subject. Instead, Director Eric Balfour gives us a neat look into these men’s lives told without any real strikes against it. In fact, if Van Patten decides to make another poker movie, I would be happy to give it a chance. Maybe a Rounders remake with him and McCall as Damon and Norton?

Nah, probably not! But we can dream.

One last, sad note. This was movie was Aron Eisenburg’s last film before he passed. He rose to prominence in Deep Space Nine and left this world having to play Peanut, a man small in stature who provided big laughs. All in all, a fitting tribute to the actor.

Why Sports Betting Is Better Than Other Types of Gambling

Fan of Money Against Sports Betting Numbers

Let me say right off the bat that sports betting is not for everyone. It’s only better if it’s better for you.

If you’re curious about sports betting, then I think it has a lot to offer. Like everything else, betting on sports has its strengths and weaknesses.

But if it has advantages, it’s reasonable to ask, advantages over what? Well, I have personally concluded that there are numerous advantages over casino games.

For someone who has never bet on sports, the advantages are not always obvious. So, keep reading if you’d like to learn more.

1 – There Are a Lot of Ways to Bet on Sports

From the office pool to a friendly bet with your neighbor, sports betting is ubiquitous in our culture. You don’t see people making roulette wheels out of trash can lids, but you’ve probably made a bet over how far you or a friend can throw a rock.

My point is that sports betting begins early in life even if it doesn’t involve money. Kids make wagers on foot races, bicycle stunts, playing marbles, and hundreds of other impromptu games and competitions.

By the time you’re of a certain age and ready to bet on US sports with real money, you’ve probably already made a few bets. You may not know the ins and outs of the lingo, but there are online glossaries for sports betting to help you come up to speed.

Real money sports betting can be done in person at a bookmaker venue, on your smartphone via an app, or online from your home computer.

And you have a choice of using a bookmaker or being your own bookie by setting up an account with a sports betting exchange.

I have a friend who informally bets on sports through email, although I’ve never tried it myself.

2 – There Are so Many Sports Available

Most people bet on baseball, basketball, football, soccer, and a few other sports.

But if you can find a sport somewhere in the world you’ve never heard of, there’s a good chance someone is betting on it.

If you’re not into one kind of sport, there’s always another. If your favorite sportsbook doesn’t offer bets on a game or sport you like, you can use a betting exchange to make your own prop bets. You can basically be your own bookie!

Variety of Sports Equipment

There are two standard variations on roulette and a few customizations like Sands Roulette. And there are only a few dozen variations on blackjack. While there are thousands of slot machine games, most them only require pressing the spin button, and there’s usually no strategy involved.

If you just want variety, sports betting gives you a lot of flexibility, from betting on who wins to point spreads to prop bets about who breaks a sweat first.

3 – Sports Betting Enhances Your Excitement

You can watch many sporting events for free and millions of people do that every weekend. Rooting for your favorite team at a friendly gathering is a lot of fun.

But when you want more than just to cheer on the team, when you want a little skin in the game, sports betting allows you to put something on the line.

If you’re already playing slots, blackjack, or poker, making another bet on top of your bet doesn’t enhance the suspense very much. If the house can get more money from you by allowing you to make extra bets on your bets, they will.

Sports betting is more pure, as long as you keep it that way. You have unlimited choices about what to wager on and how often you do that.

4 – You Don’t Have to Wager Money

Money is the most common medium used for betting. You might argue that converting cash to cryptocurrency to gamble online feels less like betting with money.

Here is a simple, common scenario: You can bet lunch with your best buddy on the outcome of a game.

That’s the beauty of sports betting. While I hope you don’t, you could bet your house on a point spread if someone were willing to take that bet.

It’s only a movie, but in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, two characters make a wager on the outcome of a race. They don’t stake any money. People have been making bets like this since the first two apes fought over a piece of fruit.

Free movie tickets, clothing, cars, jewelry, dinners, and millions of other things of value are wagered on sports every year.

Sure, the bookies want money. They’re not interested in hot dogs and concert tickets. But if anyone is willing to take your bet, it’s game on! Try playing the slot machines that way.

5 – Sports Betting Wagers Scale More Easily

If you can find someone willing to take your action, there is no table limit in sports betting. Think about it. Most casinos limit you to $1,000 per spin in roulette unless you’ve been invited into the high rollers’ lounge.

If you want to make a $2,000 bet on a championship game, it’s not hard to find someone willing to take that action.

Sportsbooks set limits but, in my experience, they set higher limits on at least a few sports than for their table games. If you’ve got the money and the desire to risk that much, you can put more money up on sports betting.

Keeping it casual and low budget is fine. You don’t have to spend your entire gambling bankroll on one wager. Sports betting just gives you more leeway than table games and slot machine games.

6 – You Make Your Own Decisions

The odds don’t change whether you’re playing roulette or blackjack. If you want to know how to bet in roulette, there’s a betting guide for that. If you want to know how to bet in blackjack, there’s a strategy chart for you.

These are not boring games, but the rules are so carefully laid out that anyone with decent math skills can see how the games are so one-sided. Even if the house edge is super low, it’s still a mathematical bias for the house.

Bookmakers look for an edge, too, but they’re taking commissions on the wagers. You can bet blindly, or you can weigh a lot of independent variables in your decision.

When you’re betting on sports, there’s no probability table to follow. Every game is different. Every athlete or team is different.

If you’re using a betting exchange, you can offer whatever odds you want within reason. While there’s no guarantee anyone takes your offer, you can make it. That’s like offering your friends some action while watching a game at home.

7 – You Wager to Your Skill Level

Although skill-based slot machine games are still rare in the US, they require eye-hand coordination. If you’re not very good when playing first person video games, you probably won’t be very good at skill-based slots.

Real money blackjack and poker do require skill, but they don’t appeal to everyone. Changes in casino rules have discouraged some blackjack players and a lot of people don’t like the intensity of poker games.

Betting on sports can be as intuitive as pushing spin on a slot machine game or as analytical as tracking an asteroid heading toward Earth. The challenge is as great or as simple as you want it to be.

Skill Level Meter

Since you’re not in the game directly, you don’t need to be a master of strategy. And while there may be a psychological factor to making bets with friends and co-workers, the sportsbook acts as a go-between for bettors on both sides of the action.

It’s hard to find a downside to this type of wagering unless you insist on looking at it in the most complex way possible. You take on as little risk and complexity as you can handle. You can scale up as you get more experience under your belt.

Conclusion

Sports betting helps us feel more engaged in the games we bet on. You feel like the outcome matters more because you’ve staked something on it.

There’s a risk of becoming too emotionally involved in the games. If that happens, you should step back. There’s no reason to allow the pleasure you get from betting on sports to evolve into unhappy, frustrating experiences.

Keep betting as long as it remains fun and doesn’t hurt you financially. A final advantage to sports betting is that you need to wait between games and for games to play out.

Sure, you can take out a lot of wagers throughout the week, but for most people, it’s just casual entertainment and that’s really what makes it fun.

 

7 Lies You Believe About the Poker Boom

Poker Cards and Chips

The poker boom came and passed years ago. But many players still look back fondly on this rapid period of growth, which lasted from 2003 to 2006.

Prior to the boom, poker was seen as a sleazy underground game. Afterward, players like Phil Ivey, Doyle Brunson, and Mike Matusow were household names.

Many narratives were created during this period and are still widely believed today. However, some of these beliefs are nothing more than half-truths, or even flat-out lies.

Keep reading to find out seven of the biggest lies still being pushed long after the boom.

1 – Chris Moneymaker Caused the Poker Boom

Chris Moneymaker etched his name into poker history after winning the 2003 WSOP Main Event along with $2.5 million. Moneymaker stood out because he was an amateur with marginal skills at best. In fact, he was still working as a comptroller in Tennessee at the time of his victory.

The future champion booked his $10k Main Event seat via an $86 PokerStars. He parlayed his good fortune into a bigger stroke of luck by winning the ME. Moneymaker was subsequently seen as the spark that ignited the poker boom.

This layman did convince many players that they too could achieve poker stardom with average skills. But this narrative goes haywire when Moneymaker is credited with being the sole reason for the boom.

Poker Player Chris Moneymaker

If this was the case, then Robert Varkonyi would’ve inspired far more amateurs when he took down the 2002 WSOP Main Event. He was a far worse player than Moneymaker.

Instead, the latter’s victory was part of a perfect mix of events. Here’s what helped increase poker popularity just before his big win:

  • PokerStars and other sites were offering lots of WSOP Main Event prize packages.
  • Online poker was coming into its own.
  • The World Poker Tour (WPT) launched in 2002.
  • Poker TV shows were gaining traction.

Chris Moneymaker was no doubt an important marketing tool for PokerStars and other sites. He even landed an appearance on Jay Leno. But other events set the stage for a boom before he came along.

2 – You Would’ve Crushed Poker During the Boom Years

The average poker player today is far better than laymen who played during the boom. The skill gap isn’t even close.

Modern players take this as a sign that they would’ve owned the game back then. Some even believe they would’ve been highly successful pros.

These thoughts are true in theory. Anybody who’s beating $0.50/$1 no-limit hold’em today might have won a fortune in 2003.

However, the key aspect to realize is that both skill standards and strategy materials were low back then. The first training site, CardRunners, didn’t launch until 2005. Even then, poker training didn’t get popular until a few years later.

Twitch didn’t even exist at the time. Formerly Justin.tv, it didn’t feature pro poker streamers until the mid-2010s. Of course, books, magazines, and online articles existed at the time. But these materials didn’t offer quite as detailed of strategy as what’s available today.

Relatively speaking, you were no more likely to crush poker during the boom years than you are today. You wouldn’t have had the same in-depth resources at your fingertips back then.

3 – The US Was the Only Country Responsible for the Poker Boom

Poker was founded on Mississippi riverboats in the 1800s. Texas hold’em is named after the state that it was developed in.

Given this history, it only makes sense that most of the poker boom also took place in America. But a misperception exists that the entire boom happened in the US. The reality is that certain European countries also played a role in the matter.

Britain’s Late Night Poker (1999-2002) was the first televised poker show to use hole cams. These cams, which allow viewers to see a player’s hole cards, helped popularize future poker shows.

Besides debuting the hole cam, Late Night Poker introduced Europeans to a number of colorful personalities. Dave “Devilfish” Ulliott, John Duthie, Tony G, and Vickey Coren were some of the prominent players to appear on it.

France also saw a spike in poker interest in the mid-2000s. The Aviation Club de France became one of Europe’s hottest poker destinations. Of course, many Americans flooded online poker sites and tournaments to form the boom’s foundation. But Europe had a hand in popularizing the game as well.

4 – Poker Sites Were Getting Filthy Rich

Considering poker’s accelerated popularity, many assumed that online sites at the time were pulling in fortunes. This idea was true to some degree. Giants such as Absolute Poker, Full Tilt, PokerStars, and UB Poker were making millions in revenue every week.

But for every Full Tilt or Absolute, there were plenty of sites that were too late to the party. Some of these same internet rooms only lasted a few years before folding.

Tablet Displaying Online Poker

Even Absolute, Full Tilt, and UB struggled after the boom ended. All of them eventually went bankrupt following Black Friday (covered later).

Of course, each of the bigger sites were successful at some point during the boom. But this was only because money was rapidly flowing into the game.

Online gambling companies have found that solely relying on rake from tournaments and cash games isn’t the most lucrative business. Instead, all-around gambling sites, ones with a casino, poker, and sportsbook, are more successful today.

5 – Ivey, Antonius, and Hellmuth Got Rich by Crushing the Competition

Many stars of the poker boom were mythicized as elite grinders who crushed opponents to the tune of millions. A select few players did win a lot of money on the tables alone. However, the majority of well-known pros got far richer from sponsorships and/or investments.

For example, Annie Duke and Phil Hellmuth made a lot of money through lucrative UB sponsorships. Barry Greenstein and Daniel Negreanu benefited from sponsorships with PokerStars.

Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, Gus Hansen, Patrik Antonius, and Phil Ivey made plenty from their Full Tilt deals and/or investments.

Hansen collected an extra $5 million through the sale of PokerChamps. He founded the online poker room along with Tony G and Erik “Erik123” Sagström in 2003. The trio sold the site to Betfair just two years later for $15 million (split three ways).

This is just a small sample size of the players who earned more from side deals during the boom than they did from actually playing.

6 – Middle Aged Men Fueled the Boom

The faces of the poker boom were mostly in their thirties and forties. Or, in the case of Doyle Brunson, they were even much older.

This created the notion that middle-aged men were the ones rushing to the poker tables. The idea made sense too, when considering that they had jobs and free income to blow on their poker dreams. But the truth eventually revealed itself in the later part of the decade.

Elite pros who emerged from the ashes of the boom, such as Tom Dwan and Phil Galfond, weren’t grizzled men who worked as plumbers and bus drivers before making it big. The new breed of pros consisted of college dropouts, who spent their late teen years glued to laptops.

Of course, the college-dropout-turned-pro story only masked the ugly reality of the poker boom—it was built on the backs of students.

College students are rightly stereotyped as not having much money. But in numbers, they scraped together a collective fortune and contributed much to the game’s economy.

Countless naïve students saw online poker as an easy route toward riches, or at least avoiding the regular workforce. But many just blew their money, struggled with schoolwork, and/or failed to refine their social skills due to a poker obsession.

Of course, plenty of middle-aged and older people took up the game. But the age represented on TV shows like Poker After Dark and High Stakes Poker wasn’t entirely indicative of the average player.

7 – The UIGEA Killed Poker Growth

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) is often credited with ending the poker boom. And rightfully so, given that the UIGEA convinced payment processors (e.g. Neteller) to leave the US and made placing poker deposits much harder. However, some take this legal event too far and claim it was the end of poker growth.

WSOP ME attendance is often used as the key metric to show how poker “died” after the UIGEA. But this figure isn’t entirely representative of what really happened.

2006, the last year of the poker boom, saw a record 8,773 players enter the WSOP Main Event. This total dropped to 6,358 entrants the following year.

A big reason why ME attendance dropped so much is that fewer prize packages were being awarded. Many poker sites were too busy finding a shady payment processor or bank who’d work with them, rather than handing out numerous $10k Main Event seats.

The UIGEA didn’t completely undo several years of accelerated poker growth. It merely served as a log in the road. Sites eventually found their way around this law thanks to unsavory payment solutions.

In 2011, the US countered with Black Friday, the day when the Department of Justice indicted figureheads of prominent internet poker rooms. Black Friday was more destructive to the game than the UIGEA. Absolute Poker, Full Tilt, and UB were exposed and forced to shut down.

Other factors that have hurt online poker since then include bots, split markets due to regulation, and tougher games. But live poker appears to be as strong as ever.

The WSOP has set attendance record after record in recent years. Furthermore, the 2019 Main Event’s attendance of 8,569 is quite close to the 2006 mark.

Poker growth never technically died because of the UIGEA alone. Despite all of the problems with the game, it remains very popular in the live arena.

Conclusion

Most contend that poker will never experience a boom quite like it did from 2003 to 2006. The game went from a backroom gambling affair to a global phenomenon during this period.

But the good times only lasted so long. The boom ended in 2006 after the UIGEA was passed. Plenty of misconceptions still exist about this period years long after it drew to a close.

First off, Chris Moneymaker didn’t singlehandedly usher in the poker boom. He had a lot of help from prior events that boosted the game’s popularity.

The US wasn’t the only country that contributed to the game’s growth either. Several European countries also helped poker explode as well. Despite the boon, not every site involved was making lots of money. Many of the smaller poker rooms found out the hard way that the game isn’t a quick ticket to riches.

However, a lot of prominent players did cash in on the boom, just not from the tables. They benefited from sponsorships and business dealings more than they did from playing the game.

Another misconception is that middle-aged men kept the boom years rolling. Instead, college students and other young adults were just as much, if not more, responsible for the matter.

Finally, the UIGEA may have prematurely ended the poker boom. It didn’t, however, kill off the game’s growth, which has continued on a global level.

How Casinos Make Money From Unwary Gamblers

Confused Woman in a Casino

Casinos are a business, but not everyone knows that. Casinos regularly make money from unwary gamblers. If you’re walking into a casino to just have a bit of fun on the slots and tables, or if you don’t expect to win anything back, great—casinos are more than happy to oblige you.

However, many serious players look at casinos differently. Yes, they still want to have fun, but just like someone who likes to go hunting on the weekends is going to learn the best places to hunt or the most cost-effective ammunition, someone who has a passion for gambling is going to do everything they can to get the most out of the experience.

That being said, gaming is far different from most hobbies. The owners and managers of casinos understand the methods of encouraging people to take risks they might otherwise avoid. They know how to win.

But if you know the rules they’re playing by, you can learn to level the odds and walk away with a small bit of profit, all while having a good time. Learn how casinos make money and why cautious gamblers still lose money below.

1 – Casinos Are Another World

One of the main ways that land based casinos keep the money rolling in (and you on the floor) is by bringing you into their world. When you walk into a casino, they want you to stay as long as possible, and they have the advantage of controlling the building.

What does that mean? It means no windows to the outer world. It means no clocks on the wall. You might as well have walked into Narnia, because you’ll have no idea what time it is or how long you’ve been playing.

And if you’re having fun? Well, time flies, doesn’t it? You’ll spend hours more in the casino if you don’t notice the sun setting, if you forget to check your watch, and an easily accessible clock isn’t on the wall.

But it’s a lot more than that.

The floorplans of a casino are often deliberately confusing. It’s like walking into a maze—you’ll have no clue how to get out without asking someone. Add to that fact that the maze is filled with opportunities to continue gaming, slots and tables everywhere, and many people end up sitting back down to spend just a little more money.

Finally, all casinos are filled with light and sound and distractions. They want you paying attention to anything but what you have to do tonight or what you’re doing right now at the table. The lights and sounds and people are all meant to keep your eyes off the game, to keep you from playing your best. If you’re distracted by the cocktail waitress and the trapeze artists jumping through the air above your head, you’re not going to be playing your cards right.

What this means is that you need to be rigorous about paying attention to the time and learning the layouts. Always wear a watch, and set limits on how long you’ll play.

2 – Chips Aren’t Really Money, Right?

Another simple, yet extremely effective, trick is the use of chips. Think about this, if you had a pile of cash in front of you, thousands of dollars all in hundreds, and the next bet is a grand, how easy would it be to count out 10 Benjamins?

Stack of Poker Chips

But if all you have are a handful of colorful chips that are the exact same size and shape that only really differ in color, then your mind struggles to make the conversion. You have to think for a second and do the math. But if you’re caught up in the fun of playing, or if you don’t even know what time it is, you’ll probably throw that thousand-dollar chip in like it’s nothing.

Always remember to keep a running tab of how much those chips are worth, and count each time you make a bet.

3 – Free Booze for All

Alcohol affects your judgment, and where do you need proper judgment more than at the tables? Most casinos give away at least a few drinks, which means you’re going to find yourself overwhelmed with booze into just about any casino you walk into.

While you might wonder how the casino can afford this, you just have to remember their incredible purchasing power. Casinos are gold mines. They‘re purchasing alcohol in astounding quantities. Believe me when I say that they’re coming out on top on this one. They can afford to give you free booze.

If you want to avoid this, it’s pretty simple—either stay sober or cut yourself off early. A little alcohol goes a long way toward reducing your mental focus and increasing your chances of making a bad play.

4 – Slots for the Win

Slots are big money makers for a number of reasons. First, they’re independent of other patrons. You don’t have a dealer there watching you to see if you actually know what you’re doing. You don’t have a group of other players judging you. Anyone can walk up and throw money in. These are especially enticing to new players who feel nervous about the tables.

Slots have preset payouts. The casinos can do everything in their legal power to ensure payouts are as low as possible. They’re also everywhere. Most casinos stick slots in every available corner.

The place is lousy with slot machines! How easy it is to toss in a couple bucks while you’re waiting to meet someone or taking a break from the tables? Too easy.

The advice for this one is simple. Be careful about slots just like you would any other table. Don’t treat them like a video game on your phone. Carefully track how much you’re putting in, and set a limit.

5 – Complimentary Everything

People love to brag about getting a complimentary room at a casino (or anything else, you name it), but the reality is that the casino is only comping something because they expect to make their money back.

Not to mention the fact that they own the hotel rooms. The cost for you to purchase a room compared to the cost for them to have a room empty for a night are much different.

Generally, comps are not given in advance. They’re given for a return trip as an incentive to get you to come back. High rollers are a different story, but the majority of players can still get a lot of freebies here and there, depending on what they’re playing.

The main reason this works so well is that, in the majority of cases, the comps are meant to get you to come back. In the long run, the house always wins. If you won big today, the casinos are going to do anything in their power to get you back again and again until lady luck evens the score.

The moral of this story is simple. Don’t let comps get to your head and make you think you’re unique. The casino is betting on you coming back with a bigger ego, less attention to detail, and prepared to make the mistakes you didn’t make this time.

6 – Eat and Drink All Night Long

It seems so simple, but it’s so true. People stop gaming when they’re hungry and thirsty. Good food all night long is hard to find in most cities, but casinos understand that players craving hamburgers are players who leave… unless there happens to be a great burger joint right there in the casino.

Burger Fries and Beer

If you find yourself at a casino long enough that you’re getting hungry or thirsty, go outside and take a break. Navigate the maze, get some fresh air, get a bite to eat, then decide if you should go back.

Nobody makes good decisions on an empty stomach.

7 – Everyone Sees a Win

This last one is inevitable. When someone wins big, they like to make a big deal out of it. Lights go off, people cheer, employees come out of the woodworks to celebrate. In short, everyone stops what they’re doing to see the big win.

You don’t quite have the same experience when you have a big loss. The casinos don’t want you looking around and seeing sad faces. They want you to see the absurdly lucky folks who just hit the big one.

Once you see it, you’ll get it in your head that you might be next. It’s the same reason you see news stories about lottery winners—the lotto loves these pieces. Everyone sees the big money and imagines what they’d do with it. So, they buy a ticket.

See this for the psychological trick that it is. Someone else winning has zero effect on your odds of winning. The numbers don’t change just because someone finally hit the jackpot.

Conclusion

The savvy player walks into the casino with an understanding of the game. This is a place where statistics and math rule, and everything else is suspect. Enjoy the scenery for what it is, but understand that the odds are stacked against you. See their tricks for what they are, just tricks that have no bearing on the actual odds of your game of choice.

6 Reasons Online Casinos Are Ideal for United States Gamblers

US Online Casinos
Don’t get me wrong – it’s hard to beat the feeling of walking into a casino with the feeling that you’ll walk out a big winner. The lights, sounds, and quite frankly, the people watching, all make the casino a unique experience.

Aside from all that, the second best feeling is making money right from your couch.

Online casino gambling in the US has long been a relevant factor in the gambling industry, but it still might not be getting the credit it deserves. In this article, I’ll outline the reasons why online casinos are a great place to make money and grow your gambling bankroll.

1 – Convenience

We’re used to having everything we want at the click of a button (or touch of a screen). Because we’ve become so spoiled, actually having to leave the house to go to a casino, often in a busy area of town, can seem off-putting.

Online Casino

US Online casinos bring the action to wherever you have an internet or cell phone connection. No ATMs, large crowds, or dealers to deal with. Not to mention, you can even take your game from one device to another. Even if you get pulled away from the table, you can log back in when the issue has been resolved.

If you’re really serious about making money playing casino games and aren’t as concerned with the novelty of it all, online gambling is the perfect place to refine your craft with complete focus and concentration.

2 – Quitting While You’re Ahead

In theory, “quitting while you’re ahead” sounds good. Smart gamblers will set a number, and if it gets reached, can walk away knowing they had a successful day. The problem is that if you get to that number in a relatively short amount of time, it’s hard to leave.

As mentioned in the first point, physically going to the casino is somewhat inconvenient. That makes it harder to leave, even if you’re leaving with more money in your pocket. If you’ve only been sitting at the craps or blackjack table for 15 minutes but have already been hitting it big, it’s going to be very difficult to walk away.

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Not only is it hard to quit because you feel like you’re going to keep winning, but leaving the casino means walking to the car, driving home, and waiting until your next visit to play again.

If you’re winning big on an online casino, you can simply log out and be on your way. Some may argue that the easy access to the casino can actually make you stick around longer. In my opinion, the ease of doing something else at your home makes it easier.

3 – More Options

We all love options. When businesses compete to gain your business, the consumer, or in this case, the gambler, always benefits.

As gambling becomes more accepted in everyday society, more sites than ever are offering real money casino games, each on its own unique platform. The best part? You don’t have to choose just one!

Here is our list of the 3 best US online casinos:

The options provided to players don’t just vary in terms of the look and feel of the US online casino site. Real, usable benefits exist such as added bonuses, player incentives, and varying membership perks that can make it tempting to utilize as many different sites as possible.

So with all the options out there, how do you choose which ones are right for you? I’m glad you asked.

  • Look for the best bonuses. Many online casinos offer cash-matching perks, especially when you first sign up. These offers are truly free money, and usually don’t even have a “trap” that looks to deceive players.
  • Seek out the best platform for the specific games you enjoy playing. Although they’ll mostly give you the same options in terms of games available, if you have a particular one in mind, try to find the site that provides the best user experience for that one game. For example, you might find that you like one site’s blackjack experience, but prefer another site’s poker experience.
  • Make sure the website is trustworthy and reliable. Since you’re going to be putting your information, or at the very least your money, on a website, it should be a priority to do your research and find out which protections are in place for players.
  • Look for sites with accompanying mobile apps. If you want to make online gaming as easy as possible, see which companies provide the best cross-platform experience.
  • Explore different games! If you look around through enough online casinos, you’ll find that there are typically more offerings than you’ll see at the actual casino. Even if you prefer focusing on a few games, you might find you’ve overlooked a game that you’re successful at, and enjoy playing.

4 – Lower Stress Levels While Playing

Stress can be beneficial in certain situations. If you’re in a fight, or need to conjure up extra strength, the cortisol boost can be helpful. The same cannot be said for when you’re trying to win money gambling.

Stress Free Online Casino

When you’re at a table in a busy US casino, you’re subconsciously subjected to all kinds of stress-inducing stimuli. Just the fact that you’re stepping out of your normal comfort zone, like your house, raises your baseline stress levels. This can lead to a slight reduction in your ability to make the most rational decisions that you’re capable of if you’re thinking at full capacity.

In one study, experts found that stress levels were a whopping 17% lower when observing people playing casino games online when compared to playing in an actual casino. Calculating the actual monetary benefit is a bit more complicated, but one thing remains true: players are better when they’re more relaxed.

While all games require a degree of luck to be successful, there is undoubtedly a right and wrong way to approach them. When you strip away everything but the game itself, it can be much easier to make the “right” moves, even if they don’t always result in winning.

5 – Learning the Game

As previously mentioned there is almost always a technically right or wrong play in any situation for most casino games. Experienced players know that making the correct play will eventually pay off over time, even if short term losses are discouraging.

Learning games of numbers and probabilities is an inherently difficult proposition. It takes a lot of practice and repetition in order to commit the right moves to memory.

Online casinos provide the perfect opportunity for you “study” the games without feeling pressured by dealers or other players at the table.

If you’re playing at home, you have the luxury of keeping your handy probability sheet next to you while you play. Even though you’ll likely need to look at it for a long time before it becomes committed to memory, it’s a lot easier to learn while you’re playing than trying to study it and then take it to the table.

6 – Flexible Betting Options

Most casinos have strict minimums that require players to risk more money each hand. Some online casinos have the same minimum requirements, but you’ll also be able to find plenty that have low, if any, minimum betting criteria.

If you’re just starting out and trying to learn a game, you aren’t going to be wanted to gamble $20, $10, or maybe even $5 on each play. If you can find a game that allows you to bet $1 or so, you can afford to play more hands, which means that you have much more opportunity to learn the game.

If your goal is to get some experience without risking your entire bankroll, online casinos offer a great place to experiment without worrying about huge financial consequences.

Conclusion

For beginners, or even advanced casino game players, learning your way around an US online casinos can be hugely beneficial. If you want to learn the games, or increase your winnings while maximizing online benefits, start exploring and find the best option for you.

How to Handle a Gambling Bankroll Like a Professional

Gambling Bankroll
Most people gamble for fun and the chance to win more money than they wager. It’s exciting to walk into a casino with a pocket full of cash and high hopes. It’s a bit like the exciting feeling you get when you take a big birthday check to spend on stuff you’ve always wanted.

The difference between a trip to the casino and a birthday buying trip to a mall is that you’re all but guaranteed to leave the mall with something of value. When you gamble you’re more likely to leave the casino with less money than you took in.

If you’re only paying for fun then gambling is no different from seeing a concert or a movie. You spend your money on the time you spend at the venue.

The difference between gambling and watching a film in a cinema is that you’re not likely to hit the ATM machine for more money to see the next movie. Casinos install ATMs so their visitors can gamble away more money.

Short of carrying a bag of cash into a land-based casino with you, what are your options?

If you had an endless supply of money it would be a simple thing. But since most people live on a budget here are a few great ways to ensure you only gamble with what you can afford.

1 – Start with a Free Bank Account

Keep your gambling money separate from everything else. A separate bank account makes the most sense. And thankfully you can open free bank accounts through online banks or some special debit card offers.

Free Bank Account

Just as an example, you can buy a Bluebird card at Walmart and you won’t be charged a monthly fee for using it. Bluebird is a bank account service based on a debit card.

The important thing is to keep your money where it is safe and you have instant access to it. Even if you go over budget for the night, as long as you only withdraw money from your gambling funds account you won’t hurt your personal finances.

2 – How to Save Money for Gambling without Thinking

If you like paying for things with your smartphone then you’ve probably considered joining a service like Acorns, Chime, or Stash. These applications and others allow you to round up on all your purchases so that a little bit of money is dumped into a savings account for you.

Money in Jar, Save Sticker

As you make incidental purchases throughout the month your savings grow incrementally. You can invest this money or transfer it to another bank account. You can also withdraw it at an ATM if your account has a debit card option.

Another way to save money is to deposit everything you earn into a savings account throughout the month. Only pay yourself a “salary” once or twice a month, leaving as much in savings as possible. When you’re ready to fund a gambling account then make a transfer from savings.

By paying yourself from savings to checking account you still keep your expense money separate from your discretionary savings.

3 – Use Several Gambling Budgets in Land-based Casinos

This is a more convenient money management method for slot game players but I’ll show you how to create mini-bankrolls or mini-stakes for table games in a similar way.

If you take $200 cash into a Las Vegas casino you can divide that money into 4 lots of $50. Put $50 into a slot machine and cash out. Repeat and get 4 tickets.

Land Based Casino

If you only want to play table games then buy 4 chips for $50 each. These are your starter chips and you can cash them in at each table if you want to play with small denominations.

A third way to do this is to buy a cheap wallet for gambling. I use a long wallet with 4 pockets and I put 2-5 twenty dollar bills in each pocket.

However you carry your money around, the idea is to take a break or change games when you run out of starter money from 1 ticket, chip, or wallet pocket.

If you have a good night you can rotate the tickets or chips, gradually building up the value until you’re ready to cash in. Never cash in everything at once.

On my best nights, I found myself splitting tickets to start over and still had money left over in my wallet.

4 – Divide Your Bankroll to Create Forced Stops

If you only intend to play one game then divide your bankroll into a few high denomination chips or tickets as I suggest above. But instead of switching them out, play through each chip or ticket until you’re tired or the money is gone.

If you take a $50 chip to a table game and cash it in for ten $5 chips you can make 10 small wagers or 5 larger wagers. Just keep playing from that money until it’s gone.

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When the first mini-stake is played out take a break. This is important for your health as well as your state of mind. If you’ve been sitting at a table for a long time you need a break.

If you have a good game and win you’ll eventually want to take a break. Take your winnings, cash them in, and don’t think about them again. You’ve still got at least 1 more mini-stake.

I like to play with as little money as possible to help me make thoughtful choices.

5 – Keep a Clear Head

I’ve mentioned taking breaks already but this is important. Everyone knows the casino wants to lull you into a semi-stupified state of mind. They want you coherent enough to gamble but relaxed enough to not care if you’re losing money.

Clear Head

Even when you’re gaming from home you should be aware of how much time is passing and what you’re doing. Keep a clock next to the computer so you see the time passing. Program your smartphone to sound alarms every 30-60 minutes.

It’s important to get up and move around. But you need to avoid alcohol and stay off drugs if you’re serious about managing your money well.

Anything that makes it hard for you to think or count is a sign you need to take a break and clear your head. Walking around the casino is a great way to do this. Make 2 trips.

Contrary to what some people say, eating isn’t necessarily a good idea. While you do need to eat if you eat too much you’ll become tired. You need to walk around for a few minutes after eating at the casino.

It’s best to eat small, light meals over several hours.

6 – Review Your Gaming Choices

Some people keep a gambling diary but most players never do. Still, if you gamble often you should know what to expect for your money.

If you don’t know the probabilities associated with your favorite games you should spend some time researching them. The more you take into account your favorite games’ return to player percentages, how often they are likely to pay prizes, and how much they cost to play the easier it is for you to plan your gambling budget.

It’s better to see the numbers than to guess at them.

If you’re playing at an online casinos you have player accounts. The better casinos allow you to look at your deposits and game histories. You can afford to take some time to review your history.

It’s better to know where you’re spending the most money and getting the most from the time you spend. Don’t assume it’s all working out fairly in the end. You may be cheating yourself without realizing it.

7 – Invest Your Winnings

Whether you’re thinking of becoming a professional or want to buy a house, bank your winnings. Don’t put them back into your gambling budget.

Gambling Winnings

A good gambling budget comes from your regular income. I’ve talked with players who only wanted to play from their winnings. I’ve never met one who could keep rolling it over indefinitely.

After several years of dipping into my checking account at the worst possible times, I promised myself I would only gamble with the money I could afford to throw away. And that money comes out of my paycheck.

Anything I win goes into the bank, and I mean the non-gambling bank. If it’s a really small amount I’ll leave it in my wallet for incidental expenses like drinks and snacks.

If you can afford to keep playing from your paycheck without rolling over your winnings, you’ll become used to playing on a regular, predictable budget. You’ll know when you’ll have enough money to play again and you won’t worry about how you’ll get there.

Conclusion

Boring as it sounds money management should be an important part of everyone’s gambling lifestyle. Even though we say that gambling is for entertainment the truth is that it becomes mixed up with our monthly incomes and expenses. If you have a couple of thousand dollars in your account right now and you don’t know how much of that came from gambling, you’re ready to make a few small changes.

Keeping the money separate simplifies things and reduces stress. I found I started enjoying my playing time more when I didn’t have to worry about money. I’m not rich but I’m confident I won’t be betting the car payment next week.

Poker Prop Bets Preferred by Las Vegas Poker Pros

Poker Props
If you enjoyed the popular television program “High Stakes Poker” back in the industry’s boom era, you probably noticed superstar pros like Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, and Patrik Antonius furiously scribbling in a notepad after every flop.

These poker prodigies weren’t taking scrupulous notes on their opponent’s play though, they were simply enjoying a side session of prop betting to spice up the game.

Anyone who has played enough real money poker games over the years knows that an average session can involve dozens of idle hands in between the actual action. In other words, you’ll be folding far more hands pre-flop than you play, which leaves a ton of time to kill until you find cards worthy of continuing onward.

The term “prop” bet is short for proposition, which simply refers to the act of one player proposing a wager to another.

From there, once the parties involved agree upon the terms of a prop bet, these fun-filled side wagers can add another dimension to a poker game, even your own home game.

If you’re like millions of other Americans who host or participate in a regular home poker game, adding a few basic prop bets to the proceedings can be a great way to liven things up.

As I mentioned already, the standard variant of No Limit Texas holdem is defined by boredom. In order to give your home game guests a taste of what poker in Sin City is really all about, why not try a few of the fun prop betting ideas listed below?

1 – Pay Any Player Who Wins a Pot With 2-7

Perhaps the most popular poker game prop bet of them all, the 2-7 game (also known as the “Deuce-Seven” game) challenges players to do the seemingly impossible. Win a hand using the very worst starting hand in Texas holdem.

Statistically speaking, the 2-7 is the most unlikely of all 169 possible two-card starting hand combinations you’ll be dealt. For that reason, almost all players participating in a standard cash game or tournament will avoid playing 2-7 at all costs. Unless they’re taking a free flop by checking their big blind option, or going for a blind steal by raising the button, the vast majority of poker players ditch 2-7 as the ultimate “junk” hand.

For that reason, 2-7 makes the perfect hand to put a special winner’s bounty of sorts on.

In a blog post about the 2-7 game, poker reporter Robbie Strazynski described how his home game guests constantly requested that the prop bet be put into play:

“I played poker a few nights ago and one of our game’s regular players asked ‘is the deuce–seven game on?’

Mind you, we weren’t playing 2–7 triple draw; we were playing Texas holdem.

The deuce–seven game started to become popular a couple years ago after millions of poker fans saw it being played during the huge cash game sessions on High Stakes Poker.”

Before starting up your home game, let everyone know straight away that the 2-7 game will be in effect. From there, everyone can negotiate a bounty amount which all players must pay to whomever turns over 2-7 before dragging the pot.

Remember, you don’t have to reach the showdown with 2-7 to earn this bounty, so bluffs work just fine. As long as you claim the pot and table 2-7, you’ll force everybody else to chip in a bounty that goes straight into your stack.

Thanks to the 2-7 game, “High Stakes Poker” actually gave rise to one of the most infamous bluffs in televised poker history. Phil Hellmuth is known as “The Poker Brat” because he’s extremely tight in terms of the hands he plays, which results in the occasional bad beat, to which Hellmuth is prone to shout and berate the lucky winner.

So, imagine the table’s surprise when Hellmuth attempted to run an epic bluff against nemesis Mike Matusow holding the lowly 2-7 rags? Let’s just say, adding the 2-7 game to the mix had even a bunch of grizzled poker vets laughing and cheering Hellmuth on.

The beauty of the 2-7 game for casual home games, or even more serious competitive affairs, is that a deceptively simple rule can have several impacts on the overall experience.

First of all, anybody who picks up the 2-7 will immediately put chips in the pot instead of folding. This increases the action level ever so slightly, as one specific hand that would almost never get played winds up getting played every time.

Secondly, because everybody knows their opponent might just be bounty hunting by bluffing with the 2-7, players are far more prone to calling down on the river.

And lastly, knowing just one well-played 2-7 can bring back big bucks offers the short stacks a lifeline that can arrive on any random deal.

If you like back and forth banter and juicy bounties, trust me when I say the first time you play the 2-7 game won’t be your last.

2 – Bet One-on-One Based on the Flop’s Dominant Color

The main staple of “High Stakes Poker” prop betting, the one which sent Ivey and Daniel Negreanu scurrying to the pencil and pad after every flop, is a mano a mano competition between two players who are backing red or black.

To set up this running prop bet, two players agree to wager a set amount of money on either red or black. On the next flop, and all flops going forward until one party bows out, whomever has the dominant color from those three cards wins the dough.

The beauty of this prop bet is that every flop will come with a dominant color. You might have two clubs and a heart out there to give black the win, or two diamonds and a spade for a red winner.

Flop in Poker

To ramp up the action, you can also add bonus payouts based on certain stipulations. The most common “add-ons” used when playing the flop color prop bet pay double when your color goes three-for-three on the flop, and triple when you score a tricolored flop that happens to be suited.

With this continual prop bet in play, you’ll have a genuine sweat to savor on every single hand that goes to the flop. And because of the binary coin flip-like aspect of the wager, the variance tends to balance out so that one player doesn’t inflict too much financial damage on their opponent.

3 – Play the “Pick a Card, Any Card” Game

A variation on the flop-based prop bet, “Pick a Card, Any Card” is a game in which two or more players call out a card rank before the deal begins.

This part is rather crucial too, as you don’t want players calling for cards that are actually in their hand. Instead, have everybody taking part in the prop bet call their cards before the deal commences, thus ensuring game integrity once the actual hand begins.

Pick a Card Any Card

Let’s say I’ve chosen the seven, you take the 10, and our pal rolls with the king. We’ll assign a $10 bounty for this example. So, whenever a called card arrives on the flop, the other players participating in the prop bet must pay the winner off.

Should the flop come 7-6-2, you and our friend would owe me $10 apiece. And on a flop of 10-4-3, you’d collect $10 each from myself and the third player. Finally, with a flop like K-Q-5, you and I would slide the third player a 10-spot each.

Ramping the action up even further, you can designate bounty payouts for the rare occasions when a player nails multiple called cards. On a flop of 7-7-2, for example, you might make it $25 going my way – $10 for each of the two 7s, plus $5 more for hitting two at a time. And on a gin flop like 7-7-7, maybe you’d jack the stakes up to $50. $10 for each of the three sevens, plus $20 for hitting the trifecta.

Of course, on flops where nobody sees their card hit the felt, the game is simply a push and no money changes hands. This one gets even more interesting when multiple players manage to find their card on the flop.

Let’s say we see a flop like 10-7-3, meaning both you and I have hit our called cards. The third player would pay us $10 apiece as per usual, while you and I would swap $10 bills in a cancelled out payment.

The more the merrier in this prop bet, so feel free to invite the entire table to take part in the fun. And naturally, when you have a full table involved, hitting your called card can quickly generate a hefty payout from eight opponents.

4 – Use “Bingo” Scoring and Race to Complete Major Poker Hand Ranks

This one’s a little more complicated than the others, but I’m quite partial to playing “Poker Bingo” during my home games.

To start the bet, all players participating must chip in a set amount of money to build a prize pool which is separate from the actual poker session. As an example, let’s use the same $10 increment as before, with a full nine-player ring game taking part to put $90 in the prize pool.

Poker Hand

From there, the objective is to fill out your imaginary bingo card by completing most of the major poker hand ranks. That is to say, one pair, two pair, three of a kind, straight, flush, and full house.

I tend to leave four of a kind, straight flush, and royal flush off of my Poker Bingo board, simply because these hands are so rare that you might not see them at all during a single session. But you can feel free to tweak the guidelines in this regard as you see fit.

As the game progresses, players will call out how many hands they have left to hit, while taking bold lines with drawing hands in hopes of completing their last rank.

And in the end, just like in standard bingo, whomever can call out “Bingo!” first by landing all of the designated hands will scoop the entire prize pool.

5 – Start a Bad Beat Jackpot Fund

Suitable only for serious players who meet on a regular basis, the “Bad Beat Jackpot” prop bet co-opts a classic casino card room promotion.

You’ll want to organize a prize pool collection as per the previous entry, with everybody participating asked to chip in a set amount of money. Once the prize has been determined, the objective here is to hit a qualifying bad beat to trigger the jackpot.

Most casinos opt for a very strict threshold, something like aces full of kings beaten, or any four of a kind hand beaten. But this part is all up to you. Whatever bad beat you choose, however, the players involved in actually making the hand happen will wind up splitting the prize on a top-heavy basis.

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For my home games, I use a threshold of any full house with three aces beaten, which gives everybody a higher likelihood of hitting a bad beat. And once the jackpot is triggered, the player who lost the hand takes 75% of the prize pool, with the winning player claiming the other 25%.

Conclusion

Prop betting and poker games go hand in hand, what with a group of diehard gamblers assembled around the table with money to burn. Given the often slow pace of No Limit Texas holdem, adding one of the five fun prop bets listed on this page to your home game mix is a great way to keep everybody on their toes and having a blast in between hands.

6 Sports Betting Factors that Affect Over/Under Bets

Sportsbook and Man in Sports Stadium

After the point spread, the total (over/under) is the most bet on aspect of a football game. If you’re unfamiliar with the type of bet, it’s as simple as it gets. The sportsbook puts out a number, and the bettor must decide if they think the total of the two teams’ combined final score will be higher or lower.

While understanding the type of wager is easy, predicting the result is not.

The bettors who end up making money on the over/under are those who take the time to research the factors that might contribute to the scoring total in the game. I’ll lay out six things to look for that can help make the over/under a profitable part of your long-term betting strategy.

1 – Weather Impacts the Odds

You’re probably thinking that this one is obvious, and to a certain extent, that would be correct. However, it’s not just how the weather will impact the game that you need to evaluate.

Obviously, sportsbooks take weather into account when setting the lines. However, that doesn’t mean the public will always consider the weather. This means that lines aren’t always impacted as significantly because US gambling sites don’t want all the money on one side or another. Often times, the line will end up moving to where it would be if there wasn’t inclement weather.

If you’re able to find a game where the weather looks bad and the over/under looks high, it’s usually worth taking the play.

Don’t just take the temperature and rain into account either, it’s important to note the impact that wind can have on a game. Windy games typically reduce a heavy-passing team’s effectiveness, and teams that are stronger on the ground can get an advantage.

2 – Look at Team History

This one might not be as important unless you’re betting later in the season, but it’s always a good idea to look back at a team’s past performance as it pertains to the over/under.

Often times, you’ll find that teams are pretty evenly split on whether or not their games finished as the over or under, but occasionally, teams will lean heavily one way.

When a team is regularly playing on games where the under hits, it doesn’t necessarily indicate that the team is just inept offensively. Sometimes, it can be the case that teams with an offense that are perceived to be more explosive will receive higher over/under totals, even when it’s not necessarily justified based on their performance.

On the flip side, sometimes teams with outstanding defenses will always receive bettors who are biased towards the under, meaning the total line will be lower than it should be due to this perception.

In any case, it’s probably not recommended to base your pick strictly off of what a team has been doing previously in the season, but it’s definitely an important piece of data to consider.

3 – Game Flow and Overall Team Performance

Full disclosure, this isn’t the most scientific way to make a pick, but I still believe there’s value in it. Game flow isn’t a technical term, but I’m referring to the way you feel a game will play out beyond just the score. For example, in a game where a good team is playing a bad team, it’s important to consider the implications of a team having a big lead in the second half.

As a team pulls away from a weaker opponent, offensive mindsets change and scoring becomes slightly less of a priority. This is especially true in the NFL. When teams have higher than a two-point lead, the focus turns more toward running out the clock, which means the under becomes a better bet.

If two teams are more evenly matched, a continued push for more scoring might result in a late game cover.

4 – The Public Opinion

Most sports bettors know that it’s generally a good idea to stay away from the public money on any bet. This is especially true when betting on totals. Call it an offensive bias or just wishful thinking for an entertaining game, but the public tends to bet the over in most cases.

This knowledge isn’t inherently helpful, but it can work as a guide if you’ve done your research and still feel on the fence about a play. Remember, fans make up a good percentage of the overall betting money, and fans like offense. In fact, they like it so much that it’s hard for them to bet against it.

Crowd at a Sports Event

Because sportsbooks hope to get even money (or close to even) on either side of a play, the public’s bias will often result in the line being higher than it should be in an effort to get some money on the under. Even with this adjustment, the majority will usually be on the over. Take advantage of the setup that amateur betters have left you with.

5 – Consider an Alternate Total

Perhaps this is just a personal thing, but I don’t typically place bets where my return is going to be less than what I’m risking. In my opinion, winning a bet is generally hard enough in the first place that I feel you should try to capitalize on all of your wins. For this reason, I like betting alternate totals.

Value is extremely important when trying to put together a long-term strategy. It’s frustrating to lose games, but winning or losing isn’t necessarily what’s important. Your focus should always be the flow of money in and out of your bankroll.

Alternate totals simply change the over/under number and the payouts are adjusted accordingly. Obviously, moving the line in one direction or another is going to add risk, but the extra point or two you’re dealing with could be a 20% difference in the return on your bet.

Don’t get carried away by making huge changes to the original line, but if you can find a spot where you still feel comfortable and can get in the plus money, that’s the play to make.

6 – Know When to Sit Out

Of all the pieces of advice you can find on the internet that promise to help you become a successful bettor, I’ve found that this one hardly ever makes it onto the list. The truth is that sometimes the best betting decision is to hold off and save your money for another play.

If you find yourself staring at a potential bet and don’t have any real feeling one way or the other, it’s usually a good idea to sit it out. Additionally, if you catch yourself getting ready to make a bet without any reasoning behind it, it might be best to pass that game up.

Because the spread and over/under are just about a 50-50 proposition, it might feel like you’re just as well-off betting on one side or the other and letting the chips fall where they may. This mindset might be okay at the roulette wheel where you’re choosing between black and red, but sports gambling incorporates a range of factors that go beyond chance.

Throughout your betting career, you’ll find that some of the best decisions you made were letting go of a few games that you didn’t feel you had a read on. If you feel like you’re just rolling the dice, it should be an indication that a particular play isn’t the best idea.

Conclusion

Regardless of which strategies you find work best for choosing a side in the over/under, just make sure you have some sort of reasoning behind your decision.

Use the public’s bias toward high scores to your advantage. You might just be able to find some value in taking the under at an alternate line with a lower total number.

Finally, just to reiterate, it’s okay to sit a game out if you don’t feel strongly one way or another.

5 Reasons Why You Should Play Video Poker

Women in Front of Video Poker Machines

One of the most overlooked games in all of gambling is video poker, and I think that’s a shame because video poker has more than a few redeeming qualities that make it a game you should absolutely check out.

If you’ve never played it before, the premise is pretty simple. You’re playing poker on a machine, and you’re usually dealt a five-card hand and given the option to stay or draw more cards. For most of these games, you only get a payout if you hit jacks or better in a pair (you won’t win if you have a pair of twos or if you have a high card hand).

Here are five reasons why I think real money video poker is such an excellent game and why you should absolutely play it when you’re in the casino.

1 – You’ll Get Better Odds Than With Any Slot Machine

This is, far and away, the biggest reason I recommend you play video poker over any other machine in a casino. You’re just going to get the best odds, period.

How much better are your odds? It depends on the machine, but generally speaking, you’re going to have a house edge at a video poker machine that’s around 1% or less. And in rare cases, you’ll have some machines that actually pay out more than 100% (that means they have returns over 100%).

What does that actually mean in practice? It means you have an advantage over the house! Now, remember, the house edge only comes into play in the long run, so having a slight advantage over the house just means that, over tens of thousands of hands, you’ll make slightly more money than you lose.

This is such a huge deal because you’ll literally never find another game in the casino (or on any online gambling sites for that matter) that have a house edge in your favor. They just don’t exist.

This is actually one of the reasons why video poker is dying off. The savvy gambler who really studies how video poker works and spends a lot of time playing knows how to play every hand and understands how to make the most money playing video poker. Some casinos want to get rid of the machines because they pay out pretty well if you’re familiar with a strategy.

But that’s good news for you. Yes, I will admit that the only way you can get the edge in your favor is if you study the right strategy for video poker and really figure out how to play every hand (on top of learning how the pay tables differ and how your play should differ based on those tables). But with that being said, for the gambler who is serious about going into a casino and making a profit, this is absolutely the game for you.

2 – You’ll Find Them in Just About Every Casino

Video poker is honestly a little-known secret in the gambling industry. They really don’t want you playing these games because they tend to actually lose money on them when a serious player gets on one, so they try to hide them or scatter them amongst slots.

That being said, you’ll probably find video poker in just about every land based casino in the world. Still, the casinos try to keep you from playing them, so you’ll have to do a bit of searching to get on one.

They’re usually hidden in the back of the casino somewhere (the ones that pay out the best are anyway), and you’ll usually have to walk past a lot more enticing games in order to get to one.

And because the best ones are rare in the casino, you’ll usually find someone on them. You’ll have to strategize about when to visit your casino so that you can get on one before they get occupied by the card sharks who really know what they’re doing.

3 – They’re Not Flashy, so People Avoid Them

Now, despite what I said about them being occupied, they’re usually occupied by some of the best gamblers around. So, that means the vast majority of casino-goers are going to avoid these machines.

They’re not nearly as flashy or enticing as some of the other games that you’ll find in the casinos, so there’s some added benefit to you. Other casino gamblers are getting caught in the honey pots of the slot machines while you go for the gold.

Video Poker Machine

And speaking of slot machines, let me remind you that one of the ways slot machines become so profitable for casinos is because there’s not really a way for you (or anyone) to figure out the odds of winning on a slot machine unless the casino outright tells you.

While you can definitely figure out the odds for card games and for roulette, you’re not going to be able to pin them down on a slot machine. Video poker odds, on the other hand, are really clear. So, you’ll know what you’re getting into from the get-go. This is because video poker is using digital cards from a digital deck, so technically, the odds can be easily calculated.

4 – They’re Great for People Who Love Strategy

If you’re the kind of person who walks into a casino and sees people who are just shoveling money into slot machines blindly or who are throwing their money away at the roulette tables and you think, “Ugh, how boring!” then video poker is the game for you.

Most casino games fall into two categories, games that are pure chance or games that are a combination of skill and chance.

Video poker absolutely falls into the second category. It’s a game that’s a combination of skill and chance that will make you work hard for your wins but will reward you for time spent learning strategy and understanding how the game works.

Now, with that being said, I’m not kidding when I say the word “strategy.” And it’s not nearly as simple as blackjack strategies either.

When it comes to video poker, there’s quite literally a strategy for every single type of video poker variant out there, and the strategies all have to do with how to play various types of hands.

Basically, you’re not so much memorizing an overarching strategy as you are a series of tactics or rules that you have to follow for a variety of specific situations. It can actually be kind of overwhelming for new players because it’s a long list of rules for each pay schedule, and it takes some serious time to learn them all.

Then, you actually have to sit down at your nearest video poker game of choice and practice. This, in and of itself, means you’re going to be losing some money for a while as you learn how it all works and try to keep in mind what hands to play and how to play them.

However, over time, when you get the strategy down and you understand exactly what you’re doing, you’re going to be able to play quickly and not have to think a whole lot as you play. It’s definitely rewarding monetarily once you figure out how it all works and can start playing without having to put a ton of thought into each hand.

5 – Video Poker Is the Game of Choice for Serious Players

Not everyone who walks into a casino is a serious player, and that’s totally okay. But if you’re the kind of person who walks into a casino with the goal of walking out with extra money in your pocket, or if you’re serious about turning gambling into a career (and it’s not uncommon), then video poker is the game for you.

The reason is simple! If you get down the strategy for every pay schedule and understand what you’re doing so well that it becomes intuitive, you’re going to make a profit over time. It’s the one place in the casino where you can actually do well and turn your gambling into something of a career. But to really go for it in terms of making gambling your full-time career, you probably need to think about playing poker against other people. That’s a subject for another day.

Video Poker machines on Casino Floor

Video poker is great way to work your way into gambling as a career, so you’ll find that serious players who really want to play for the money and aren’t just there for the entertainment value of the place are going to get on these machines and stay on them for hours at a time.

This also means that the game has the potential to get a little boring, especially when you’ve gotten your strategy down to a science and know how every hand should be played the moment it’s dealt. But for serious players, it’s not about the fun, it’s about winning.

What Are Your Top Video Poker Tips?

Do you play video poker a lot? What tips do you have for players on how they can do well and walk away with cash in hand? Let me know in the comments!

How to Play Online Poker in Las Vegas

Poker Cards and Las Vegas Sign

Las Vegas is home to more poker tables than any other city in the world. This fact isn’t surprising when considering that Vegas hosts the World Series of Poker and other notable tournament events.

However, you don’t always need to hit the live poker tables when you feel like playing. Instead, you can enjoy Nevada’s legal and regulated online poker market.

You may be interested in Vegas online poker if you’ll be visiting Sin City soon and want to play in your hotel room or elsewhere within the state. The following guide covers what you must know about playing online poker in Las Vegas.

What Is the Online Poker Situation Like in Vegas?

The Silver State has been running legal online poker sites since 2013. The Nevada Gaming Commission and Nevada Gaming Control Board both oversee the market.

Unfortunately, Nevada only offers one poker site or network at this time. WSOP.com, which operates in partnership with 888, is the lone game in town.

Station Casinos’ Ultimate Poker became the first Nevada poker site when they launched in April 2013. However, they didn’t experience much success, especially when WSOP.com opened their virtual doors in September of 2013.

South Point’s Real Gaming was the third site in the mix. They never managed to generate any notable traffic before folding. Again, WSOP’s online poker room is your only option in Vegas. It draws a fair amount of traffic thanks to its quality software and lack of competitors.

Nevada is part of a multi-state poker compact with New Jersey and Delaware. This deal sees all three states share internet poker liquidity. The compact hasn’t resulted in a traffic boon. After all, the three states’ populations combined don’t even equal 13 million.

Poker Cards and Die on Grey Laptop

In any case, you at least hold the option to play legal online poker when in Vegas. You can’t, however, play at the gray market poker sites (e.g. Ignition, Americas Cardroom) that serve the rest of the US.

Can You Play Poker Online If You Don’t Live in Nevada?

You can legally enjoy Nevada online poker even if you’re not a resident. You simply need to be of age and located within state lines to play.

The minimum age requirement is 21 years old. You’ll need to provide your birthdate upon registration. Additionally, a site can ask for additional identification when you make a withdrawal.

For example, you may need to provide a photo ID before cashing out. This request might seem invasive, but it verifies your age and helps prevent somebody else from withdrawing money from your account.

Nevada requires you to be within their state boundaries to ensure they aren’t taking wagers from players from other states. WSOP uses geolocation to determine where your device is located before allowing you to play.

How Do You Get Started With Nevada Online Poker?

You shouldn’t have much trouble playing online in the Silver State. But you may want to keep the following points in mind if you’re new to the matter.

Meet the Requirements

You must be at least 21 years or older to legally play in Nevada. You also have to be physically present in the state.

Assuming you’re outside of state boundaries, the software will issue a warning. Remember, it’s technically illegal to play real money Nevada poker if you’re not in the Silver State.

Register for an Account

You need to register for an account before playing. This process requires entering the following information:

  • Name
  • Birthdate
  • Email
  • Home address
  • Phone number
  • Username
  • Password
  • Last four digits of social security number
  • Bonus code (discussed next)

Upon filling out the registration form, you submit it and wait for approval. As long as you’re of age and within Nevada, you should receive instant approval.

Nevada online poker rooms must ask for your last four social security digits for identification purposes. After all, they don’t want to approve you if you’re on an excluded gamblers list.

Enter a Bonus Code

You can qualify for a welcome bonus if you enter the appropriate code during registration. These codes are available on actual poker sites and/or through affiliates.

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Welcome bonuses typically consist of a match percentage bonus. For example, you might qualify for a 100% match bonus worth up to $1,000. These offers come with wagering requirements.

For example, you need to earn a certain amount of loyalty points before cashing out chunks of your bonus.

You may also be privy to other rewards too, such as freeroll tickets or a no-deposit bonus. The latter only requires you to enter the relevant bonus code and complete wagering requirements to earn free money.

Make a Deposit

One of the best aspects of Nevada’s poker market involves the prominent banking options. You can use the following reputable services and brands to fund your account:

  • ACH – You can send funds from your bank account to a poker site instantly (i.e. eCheck).
  • Cash at the Cage – Visit land-based casino partners in Vegas to fund your account in person.
  • Credit card – Use Discover, Mastercard, and Visa to deposit.
  • E-wallet – PayPal, the world’s largest e-wallet service, is also available as a deposit option.
  • PayNearMe – You can visit a local 7-Eleven and deposit with cash (you receive a payment voucher).

Nevada requires operators to provide you with responsible gambling tools. For example, you can set deposit and loss limits on your account.

Pros to Vegas Online Poker Sites

The Nevada internet poker market offers several benefits over non-regulated (i.e. gray) markets. Here are the main advantages to playing in the Silver State.

Completely Legal and Regulated

The state legislature legalized online poker in early 2013. That said, you can play at state-regulated poker sites without worry.

Again, you just need to meet the minimum age (21) and geolocation requirements to play. As long as you’re good in these departments, then you’ll have no issues with enjoying Vegas online poker.

Plenty of Banking Options

The gray market suffers from a shortage of banking options. Some of these non-regulated sites resort to using Bitcoin, because they have no other choice.

Nevada, in contrast, boasts a legal internet poker market. You can use well-known payment options, like PayPal, Visa, and Mastercard, to fund your account.

Compete Against Players From Other States

The multi-state pact with New Jersey and Delaware lets you play against grinders from other states. More importantly, it helps increase liquidity and allows for larger poker tournaments.

The number of states offering online poker is small at the moment. However, more states are beginning to enter the fray, such as Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Cons to Vegas Online Poker Sites

Nevada’s online poker situation is far from perfect. Here are some drawbacks that you should consider before playing here.

Only One Site

Ultimate Poker and Real Gaming dropped out of Nevada years ago. This leaves WSOP.com as the sole online operator in the state.

Hopefully, more competition will enter in the near future. As it looks now, though, the Silver State may not be large enough to accommodate more operators.

Low Liquidity

Nevada is only home to 3 million people. And while it gets a boost from the Vegas tourism, it still doesn’t feature much iPoker liquidity.

The result is a market that can’t offer much beyond four-figure tournaments and low-stakes hold’em cash games.

No Chance to Become a Professional

If you’re living in Vegas, you must hit the live tables to become a professional. The online game doesn’t offer nearly enough action to make a decent living.

Internet traffic does experience a spike every summer, when the WSOP takes place. However, this boost only lasts for six weeks, at which point, most players leave town.

Conclusion

You can see that the Nevada internet poker market isn’t exactly a dream. It will get better as more states join the multi-state compact.

At the moment, though, you can’t find much in the way of options (one site), big tournaments (none), or cash games. These conditions, however, don’t mean that you can’t still enjoy online poker action when in Vegas. If you’re a low roller, then you should be comfortable with the cash games and tournaments here.

You may also appreciate being able to play at regulated sites, rather than the offshore market poker rooms that serve many other states.

Of course, you need to be at least 21 and located in Nevada before playing. Once you meet these requirements, you’re good to go.

How to Watch Baseball Games as a Bettor and Not a Fan

Baseball Fan as Money
I love watching baseball games as a fan, but when I get serious about betting on baseball games, the way I watch games changes. I was fortunate to be able to play baseball growing up and through four years of college, so I enjoy many things during a game that others might miss.

I still watch some games for fun, usually high school, college, and minor league game. But when I watch Major League Baseball games now, it’s as a sports bettor and not a fan. Here are some things to look out for as a baseball bettor the next time you watch a game.

Quality at Bats

The best hitters in the game never seem to have a bad at bat. They’re always fighting and looking for an edge, and they never give up. On the other hand, the game is still filled with guys that are consistently outmatched and seem to be lucky to put the ball in play.

Great hitters foul off pitches they can’t handle and don’t swing at many balls outside the strike zone. I remember seeing a picture of the bat Joey Votto used in batting practice during the height of his success, and it was amazing.

He hit every ball on the same spot on the bat, leaving a mark that wasn’t much bigger than a baseball on the barrel. This is the kind of precision that sets an MVP candidate apart from everyone else. Can you imagine the work and hand eye coordination required to do this? I’m not talking about a few swings in a row, but thousands of contact situations on basically the same spot on the bat.

This is the kind of thing that makes great players great.

When I’m trying to create a MLB betting strategy, I’m trying to identify these types of players. The more players a team has in the starting lineup that never have a bad at bat and never give up an out without fighting, the more they’ll win.

I know that below-average and average hitters are going to have some success over the course of a season. But when a team needs a big hit or a sacrifice fly, or when a truly special hitter is up, they have a much higher chance of success.

Pitching Matchups

Pitching matchups and pitching staff usage are fascinating in a few different ways. The first way is how the two starting pitchers compare and what you can expect out of each of them during their time in the game. I discuss starting pitchers more in another section, so I’m going to talk about another way that pitching matchups are interesting here.

Major League Baseball seems to be more specialized all of the time. You have relief specialists, some teams are using openers for starting pitchers, and more positions are using platoons based on the opposing pitcher.

MLB Pitching

The top hitters in the league have success against both right and left-handed pitchers. But the statistics show that a right-handed hitter performs better against a left-handed pitcher and a left-handed hitter performs better against a right-handed pitcher.

When a team starts a left-handed starting pitcher, the opposing team usually stacks their lineup with right-handed hitters. Just like the best hitters, the best pitchers are able to do well against a right or left-handed hitter, but you have to consider these types of matchups when you handicap games.

The thing I’m most interested in as a bettor is when average, or below average, hitters face pitchers throwing from their side. In other words, it’s when a right-handed batter is facing a right-handed pitcher or a left-handed batter is against a left-handed pitcher.

Can the hitter still give a quality at bat? Is the pitcher able to get an advantage over the hitter? This is information I can use when evaluating future games so I can bet on baseball appropriately.

Bullpen Possibilities

I mentioned that the game is becoming more specialized above, and one area where it’s highly specialized is in the bullpen. Each team has specialists to face important right-handed and left-handed batters, and these specialists have a great deal to do with the success of their team on a nightly basis.

A new rule was introduced in MLB for the 2020 season that changes how managers can use relief specialists. When a relief pitcher enters the game, he has to face a minimum of three batters before leaving the game, unless the end of an innings comes first or he gets injured.

Aroldis Chapman

As a handicapper, I want to know who the specialists are in each bullpen and if they’re available to pitch. When I’m watching a game, I’m evaluating how well bullpen specialists do their job. I’m also looking for how managers on each team use their specialists and how they pinch hit against specialists at different points in the game.

Many managers run their teams in a way that makes it look like the last three outs are more important than other outs. From a mathematical standpoint, every out is of equal importance. You have to get 27 outs in a regulation game, and the first one is just as important as the last one.

I need to know as a handicapper if a manager is willing to use his best lefty specialist in the fifth or sixth inning to get an out or if he always tries to save him for an out later in the game.

Starting Pitchers and Pitch Counts

Starting pitchers are throwing fewer innings than ever before, and as a baseball bettor, it’s important to understand how managers use their starting pitchers. Managers are going to their bullpens earlier and earlier in the game, because they want fresh arms to face the lineups the third and fourth time through.

Pitch Count

When I’m watching the starting pitchers, I try to get an idea of how effective they are early and as their pitch count climbs. Some pitchers are on strict pitch counts, while others have more leeway. Many young starting pitchers pile up large pitch counts in early innings and end up getting pulled from games in the fifth and sixth inning, even if they’re pitching well.

As a fan, it drives me nuts when a young pitcher needs 25 or 30 pitches to get through an inning, even if he’s keeping his team in contention to win the game. As a handicapper, it doesn’t bother me when pitchers throw a bunch of pitches, but it is information I need to know about.

You need to know which pitchers throw too many pitches on average every inning on a regular basis, because it helps you determine how deep they can go in games you’re handicapping.

Smart Base Running

Most fans want to see home runs and exciting games. The games most fans remember are the ones won with a walk off home run or big strikeout. But many games are won and lost because smart base runners took an extra base when they could or bad base runners ran into an out or didn’t take an extra base.

When a runner is on first and the batter hits a single, a smart base runner knows when he can advance to third base and when he needs to stop at second. A bad base runner either gets thrown out at third or stops at second when he could’ve advanced to third.

With no outs or one out, a runner on third is going to score much more often than one on second. If you’re betting on baseball, you need to know which players are good base runners and give their teams a better chance to win and which players hurt their team’s chance to win because
of poor base running.

Defensive Shifts

Another area of specialization in MLB is the use of defensive shifts. Many hitters have a tendency to pull the ball so defenses move toward where the hitter is likely to hit the ball. This is quite effective, and the evidence of this is that we’re seeing more shifts every season.

Defensive Shifts

When you’re betting on baseball games, you need to know which hitters are hurt by a shift and which opposing teams are most likely to use a shift. You also need to take the pitcher into account, because a pitcher that always works on the outside of the plate makes it harder to pull the ball.

A great control pitcher like Greg Maddux in his prime didn’t make many mistakes, so hitters usually had to put the ball in play where the pitcher wanted it. But there aren’t many great control pitchers, and hitters are good at punishing mistakes.

Conclusion

If you want to watch baseball games as a fan, try to take in some minor league or amateur games. But if bet on Major League Baseball, you need to start watching MLB games like a handicapper so you can avoid making any mistakes when betting on MLB. You can use everything you’ve learned here to help you handicap games in the future, but only if you’re sure of what to look for.

Things to Do When You Need to Change Your Gambling Luck

Gambling and 4 Leaf Clover
There are two kinds of luck, magical luck and random luck.

Superstitious people appeal to, and may believe in, magical luck. They avoid stepping on cracks, don’t open umbrellas indoors, and carry around a “lucky” rabbit’s foot.

Gamblers quickly develop small rituals when playing the same games. These rituals may not be appeals to luck. They border on obsessive-compulsive behavior and may, according to some experts, be a subconscious attempt to control the game.

Random luck is just that, good fortune that occurs because you’re in the right place at the right time. It doesn’t matter how hard you pull the handle on the one-armed bandit. All that matters is that you are the person who spins the wheels when it’s time for a jackpot.

If you’re looking to change your luck while real money gambling, check out some of our tips below.

Thinking Positively Affects Many Outcomes

Although motivational speakers have taught us to use the power of positive thinking for decades, science has found only slight evidence that this might work.

Men who believe they have beaten a rival experience a spike in testosterone. In a competitive situation where strength or stamina help, a slight boost in testosterone can be a positive thing.

Different Outcomes

Other research seems to show that optimistic people tend to live longer. We don’t understand why this happens, but more studies have still found that positive thinking can help people heal faster.

The one common thread in all this research is that thinking positively affects how you perform. And when you’re gambling, you need to make the best decisions you can. That’s a type of performance.

Therefore, putting a positive spin on your gambling improves how you play the game. And the better you play the game, the more likely you’ll come away a winner.

It’s a small advantage but it’s not one to be overlooked. Besides, you’re more likely to have a good time if you’re feeling bright and positive about your gameplay. People who can only see the downside of the game are less likely to appreciate small wins or believe they can win at all.

When Playing Slot Machine Games, Choose Games Likely to Pay

There are two ways to interpret this advice. You can choose games likely to pay big jackpots or you can choose games that are likely to pay more often.

But you need to be a little more precise than that. A networked progressive jackpot game with an advertised minimum $1 million jackpot is more likely to pay a big jackpot than a non-progressive game that tops out at $10,000.

Slot Machines

It’s an obvious distinction but if you’re looking for games “more likely to pay,” you need some clarity. You really want to choose a slot machine game that’s more likely to pay you back with a little extra.

And there are slot machines that do that. They eventually take someone’s money, but they are less likely to take everyone’s money than other slot machine games.

Most experts tell you to look at the theoretical return to player, or RTP. This may be reported in the slot machine’s help screen. It may be implied by a sticker on the machine that says “game pays about 1:4.”

A low volatility machine is less likely to pay big prizes but more likely to pay lots of small prizes. A low variance machine is less likely to experience a wide swing between how much money it keeps and how much money it pays.

The best slot machine games have low volatility (pays often) and slightly high variance (paying good prizes). These games probably have high RTPs but not all high RTP games have the combination of low volatility and slightly high variance you want.

When the Game Gets Rough, Change the Game

Even if you’re the best poker player in the world, sooner or later, the cards go against you. Gambling depends on random chance to create a challenge.

When I’ve lost more than 20% to 30% of my stake at the blackjack table, I get up and walk around. Not only does this help clear my head, it gives me a break.

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If you don’t feel good about playing a game, then play another one. Ignoring your anxiety by manning up takes away some of your energy.

Slot players have hundreds or thousands of games to choose from in any large casino. If you’re not having fun, there’s no reason to sit there and let the machine take your money.

Winning is great, but losing can either be torment or the cost of enjoying yourself. If you’re not having fun, just find a game you’ll enjoy more. There’s no reason to pay for entertainment that isn’t entertaining.

Play Two Games at a Time

Playing two games simultaneously is easier to do on slot machines and video card games. You can also do it on video keno and sometimes, at the blackjack table.

If you’re comfortable with the challenge, it may be more entertaining even if you lose. But playing two or more games at the same time requires more brain power if you’re required to think.

2 Games of Blackjack

Slot game players often play two machines at the same time when they’re bored and the casino isn’t full. You’re usually expected to give up the extra game if all the machines are occupied.

Truthfully, there’s no statistical advantage in playing two or more games at a time. But some players feel they have better luck doing this. Even if your positive thoughts aren’t influencing the random number generators, they’re affecting how you enjoy the games.

Stop Taking Extra Risks

If there’s one thing a casino will do for you, it’s give you more opportunities to lose your money. They’ll add progressive or side bets you really don’t need to take. Some slot machine games allow you to bet a prize you just won on a “double or nothing” bonus.

Those double or nothing bonus games improve the house edge. You’re only playing with money you won on your original bet. Even on a 50-50 game, you’re giving the casino a chance to keep the prize it just paid you.

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Put another way, if you’re playing a slot machine with an 85% RTP on regular play, why would you want to bet money you just won on a 50% RTP bet?

This is why blackjack experts say you shouldn’t buy insurance. The chances the dealer has a blackjack are less than the chances you’ll win or push. When you take insurance, you’re betting the dealer has a blackjack.

By the same token, using any betting system that requires you to raise your bets to win back money you’ve lost is just adding risk to risk. Simple multiplication shows us that maximum bets pay better than minimum bets but you’re still playing for revenge, not fun.

Conclusion

I don’t believe in magical luck. When I find myself brushing my shoulder or falling into some other rhythmic tic, I either stop it or quit playing the game for the day.

Sure, gambling rituals make some people feel more comfortable. If it helps you relax and enjoy the evening, there may not be any harm in spinning around three times and throwing salt over your shoulder.

Random luck is something you can change by putting yourself into a different environment. It may change for the worse, but even so, you have the option of changing the game again.

Why You Should Add Bingo and Keno to Your Repertoire of Gambling Games

Bingo and Keno
Some of my readers probably turn their noses up at bingo and keno. These are games which seem beneath the notice of the average casino gambler, and I like to think my readers are above average.

But it’s never good to ignore opportunities. Keno and bingo both provide opportunities to have some fun when gambling, even though it’s a different kind of fun from blackjack or poker.

Here’s why should add bingo and keno to your personal gambling routine.

Bingo Is Fun

I was talking to a friend of mine just a couple of days ago about how accepted bingo is as a form of gambling. As far as I know, it’s the only gambling game that’s regularly played in a church setting. It’s also probably the most popular and fun gambling game in the world.

Heck, just look around the bingo hall. Are those people having fun? You bet they are.

Bingo Card

Bingo is fun because of the game’s social aspect. Most of your time in the bingo hall is spent chatting with the other players. In that respect, it’s like poker, but without the strategic element.

Some of the bingo players I know visit the bingo hall with at least one friend, but most of them go with a group. Even if you go by yourself, you’ll probably meet some people you can talk to.

I think bingo is even more social than poker, by the way. After all, when you play poker, you’re usually sitting at a table with half a dozen people—nine opponents, tops. But in a bingo hall, EVERYONE is playing together.

Bingo is also fun because of the suspense factor. You can see how close you are to winning, and if you’re close, the anticipation is worthwhile.

The other reason bingo is so much fun is the size of the prizes. Unless you’re playing slots or keno, you don’t really see the kinds of jackpots in bingo that you do with other casino games.

In fact, your odds of winning a big jackpot in bingo are probably better than they are in any other game with a large prize.

Keno Is Fun, Too

I was unfamiliar with keno the first time I visited a Las Vegas casino. But once I’d played the game, I started to understand its attraction among gamblers of all stripes.

One of the reasons people love it is because of how easy it is to play keno for real money. It’s as simple as deciding how many numbers you want to play from the 80-number keno card available. The max is usually 20 numbers.

Keno

Once you choose your number, you decide how much you want to bet. Once you’ve turned in your card along with your wager, you can sit back, relax, and wait for the results.

Keno results are like lotto results. They’re determined randomly by the drawing of various numbered, plastic balls. The more numbers that are drawn matching the numbers on your keno card, the more money you win.

You should keep in mind that you won’t ever match all 20 numbers even if you decide to play all of them. I say this with the certainty of someone who has actually looked at the math behind this eventuality.

Sure, it’s possible, but it’s so unlikely that it might as well be impossible. Also, keno is a slow-paced game. This makes it boring for some gamblers, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, keno is one way you can stay in action in the casino even when you’re involved in other activities. I personally like to play keno online while I’m eating breakfast.

The virtue of it being a slow-paced game is that, even though the house edge is very high, you’re not putting much money into action at a time. This means you’ll lose less money playing keno than you will playing almost any other casino game.

Add to that the excitement factor of being able to win a life-changing jackpot, and you have a great gambling option.

And casinos make variations of keno available to mix it up enough that you’ll never be bored. Once you’ve “caught” five keno numbers or more, you’ll be hooked for the rest of your life, I promise you.

Social players should love keno, because you can hang out in the keno lounge with your buddies, put a little money into action, and have great conversations and enjoy the fellowship keno has to offer.

More About the House Edge and the Rate of Play

When you’re estimating the “cost” of playing a gambling game, it’s easy to project an average hourly loss rate for the game. You just multiply the game’s house edge by the average bet size and the number of bets you’re making per hour.

Blackjack, for example, is well-known for having one of the lowest house edge percentages in the casino. If you play with perfect basic strategy, you can play a game where the house only has an edge over you of 0.5%.

House Edge

Let’s assume you’re playing heads-up with a deal for $5 per hand. You’ll get in about 200 hands per hour in this example, which means you’ll be putting $1,000 per hour into action. With a house edge of 0.5%, your projected, average hourly loss is $5 per hour. That’s cheap entertainment, for sure.

Now, let’s look at keno. The house edge for this game is 35% or more. That makes it sound like a really expensive game, but let’s look at the other numbers.

Most people won’t play more than 10 or 12 games of keno in an hour. Most people only buy keno tickets for $1, so you’re looking at putting $10 per hour into action.

35% of $10 is only $3.50, so on an hourly basis, playing keno is cheaper than playing blackjack. Sure, it lacks the intellectual stimulation of trying to decide how to play each hand, but keno isn’t a contest of will or intelligence.

It’s a chance to be social and maybe win some money.

Keno Is Better Than the Lottery

The gambling game that keno is most comparable to is the lottery. You’re looking at a house edge that, while still high, is considerably lower than you’d face when playing the lottery. 35% is better than 50%, and you get to play more often than once or twice a week.

Also, the lottery lacks the social aspect of keno or bingo. When’s the last time you saw a group of people getting together to socialize while watching the results of the lotto drawing?

Yeah, me neither.

Money From Bingo Often Goes to Charity

Bingo isn’t treated the same as casino games. Some of this is because bingo halls regularly donate a large percentage of their money to charitable causes.

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In fact, in many states, if you want to run a bingo hall, you’re required to run it for charity. Otherwise, you won’t get a license.

I’m sure that some of the entrepreneurs running some of these casinos in Las Vegas donate some money to good causes here and there. But that’s not the same as being in a business that consists almost entirely of giving a huge percentage of your profits to charity, as you do with bingo.

Conclusion

I’m fascinated by gambling games that involve numbers. This includes bingo, keno, and the lottery. These are fun games where you can win large jackpots while socializing with other friendly, fun-loving gamblers.

Do you ever play bingo or keno? If not, do you think you might give either game a try after reading this post? Let me know in the comments.

How Can You Win Online Blackjack?

Online Blackjack on Laptop and Money
It’s easy to find online blackjack games. But the rising popularity of live dealer games highlights a nagging concern that has plagued the online gaming industry for over two decades.

Are online blackjack games rigged?

Honestly, there is no way to know for sure. That’s more because of the immense number of blackjack gaming sites than for any other reason. But you’re trusting the online casino to play a fair game.

With live dealer blackjack you can see the dealer pulling cards. It feels more transparent than when you’re playing a computer simulation.

Does that really matter, though?

We don’t need to invoke the laws of physics to explain why blackjack simulators feel a bit unnatural. But it’s worth looking at the differences between online blackjack and playing in a land-based casino.

1 – Blackjack Simulations Vary in Design

I’ve played some shady blackjack simulators. I say they are shady because they were obviously using random numbers to “guess” what card should come next.

You might be thinking these games all work the same way but they don’t. An honest blackjack simulator tracks all the cards in the shoe. Whether it’s a 1-deck game or an 8-deck game, if the Ace of Spades is dealt the game tracks that virtual card until the next shuffle.

Free Blackjack

The shady games don’t track the cards. They just spin up a random number and use it to decide what card is dealt next. You could see the Ace of Spades come up 3 times in a row on a “single deck” game.

I test online blackjack games in free play mode before putting any money on the line. As long as I’m satisfied they are tracking the virtual cards I feel it’s worth taking a chance on the game.

But even if all the games work as you want them to, you can’t assume you’ll be able to count cards.

Online blackjack games demand perfect play more than we want to admit. Players are proud and stubborn. We’re all experts in the game.

If you’re losing at online blackjack it could be you’ve picked a bad game, but it could also be that you’re making the wrong assumptions about how the game works.

2 – Online Blackjack Feels Different from Playing in a Casino

I don’t know if anyone has studied the psychology of blackjack players, comparing online play to land-based casino play. But it always feels different to me.

I wonder – in the back of my mind – if I make different decisions based on the environment. The temptation to take some extra risks seems a little stronger in a 1-on-1 game where I don’t have any other players to think about.

Casino Blackjack

In a land-based casino I’m less likely to make a risky play because I don’t want to see people rolling their eyes at me. In an online game I might go for the money a little more often.

If I’m not just imagining that, and if other players gamble the same way, then maybe we’re cheating ourselves by trying to be more bold in private play.

Maybe this is yet another reason why casinos love whales so much. They often ask for and get private tables.

3 – Have You Chosen the Right Casino?

Where you gamble online makes a difference. I honestly, truly believe that. I’ve read so many player complaints and casino blacklist reports that I know some of these sites are cheating players.

The game already favors the house. Blackjack may have one of the lowest house edges among casino games but it’s still designed to take your money. So if a casino sets out to cheat players it can do so in one of two ways.

It can either run a rigged game – where it cheats you out of honest chances of winning – or it can find excuses not to pay your winnings. Some online casinos have been caught cheating, and you never know when you’ll try a new casino that is set up to cheat players.

There are certain online casino operators who change brands like runway models change clothes in a fashion show. As soon as they are caught cheating players they shut down their sites and open new casinos.

If you get a spooky feeling of déjà vu when testing a new casino, your instincts could be right. It’s always a good idea to look for player complaints and how they are resolved when testing new casinos.

4 – Have You Chosen the Right Kind of Blackjack Game?

There are two ways that blackjack games can differ from what you know.

Double Up Blackjack

I’ve already discussed the first way a game can differ above – where the specific game’s card management may be something other than what you expect.

But the other way a game can differ is more obvious. You might pick a blackjack game with a slightly different name from what you’re used to playing. If try out Double Up Blackjack without understanding how the rules are slightly different you’ll use the wrong playing strategy and end up losing all of your real money.

The casino may be offering you better odds on some hands but you’ll pay for those odds in other ways. If you don’t understand the rules of the game and how the odds differ from what you expect, you’ll have a harder time winning than in the game you know.

5 – Inconsistent Play Doesn’t Improve Your Chances

Everyone gets frustrated with a run of bad luck. Giving in to the temptation to change things up with crazy betting or playing angles isn’t going to improve your chances of winning.

You might get a good hand if you do something stupid. But the good hand comes in spite of doing something stupid, not because you took a chance on unorthodox play.

Basic blackjack strategy doesn’t guarantee you’ll win. Basic strategy offers you the best chance of holding the house edge down in a fair game. The better you are with basic strategy the better your chances of winning but you could still lose.

Blackjack is not just a game of skill. It’s a game of chance and skill. The casino plays blackjack because the rules affect who chance favors.

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Chance always favors the house in blackjack.

No matter how good a player’s skill is the house is betting more on chance than skill. In fact, the house is betting more on players’ unrealistic faith in their own skill. All the dealer must do is follow the house rules.

Since chance is against you making things worse by tossing your skills out the window isn’t helping. Yes, I wrote above that I sometimes do this. But my eyes are open.

And I know I shouldn’t do that.

6 – Do You Practice Enough?

Nothing replaces practice. If you don’t practice playing the game enough you won’t be ready for the real money games.

I know some people who only play blackjack for real money. If you have enough money to lose then you can practice like that.

Even though the free play games may not be as exciting as the real money games, if you’re serious about beating online casino blackjack you need to practice, practice, practice.

There is no excuse for entering a lame horse in a race and no reason not to practice blackjack on free games.

7 – Do You Have the Budget You Need?

How much money do you need to stake yourself as a professional gambler? That figure may depend on many different factors but it’s going to be in the thousands of dollars.

Blackjack may be easier to win than other games but if you judge winning by how much money you have at the end of the session then you need a good bankroll.

Poker Chips

Because the payout odds on blackjack are so low compared to other games you need to make bigger wagers to win big. And that means any mistake will be costly.

Everyone’s got a story about rolling $50 into a $500 night at the blackjack tables. But no matter how many hands you win during the game the last hand matters the most.

Whether you leave the table with more money than you started depends in part on you. And that is true in online blackjack too.

Think of it this way: the less you practice the more money you’ll need to stay in the game.

If you’re compensating for a lack of practice and skill in basic strategy with money you’re less likely to beat the online game than the odds and probability tables predict.

Conclusion

A fair and honest online blackjack game can be beaten just as much as its offline counterparts. The rules may change slightly because of how the cards are managed but this is true in land-based casinos.

The house rules may also change and as with land-based casinos the player must study the rules before playing the game.

Beyond those factors it comes down to managing your own expectations and habits. If you play the online game with less preparation than you bring to the land-based game you should expect different results over time.

But there is also the chance you pick the wrong casino. Be very sure before you hand your money over to strangers that they can be trusted.

The Best 7 Pieces of Video Poker Advice I Have to Offer

Video Poker
Most people have tried video poker, and if you have any experience with a deck of cards, video poker becomes pretty easy.

It’s basically a video game version of draw poker – you get dealt 5 cards, you get to decide how many cards you want to discard and replace, and you get paid off based on the poker hand value you wind up with after the drawing.

But video poker isn’t the same as regular poker. The hand values aren’t the same, and you’re not facing a competitor.

It is, though, your best choice when it comes to gambling machines.

This post explains why that is and offers advice about how to get the most out of your video poker experiences.

1- Always Play for 5 Coins

The first thing to know when playing video poker is that you always – without exception – play for the maximum 5-coin bet.

The reason is that you don’t activate the maximum jackpot for the game without betting the max.’

Video Poker Paytable

The best-paying hand in every video poker game is the royal flush – 5 cards 10 or higher of the same suit that are also all adjacent to each other in ranking.

Also, all video poker coins have a base setting where you decide to bet between 1 and 5 coins.

If you bet fewer than 5 coins, the payoff for a royal flush is 200 for 1 or (sometimes) 250 for 1.

If you bet 5 coins, the payoff for a royal flush is 800 for 1.

That’s the only payout that changes based on how many coins you play, but it’s a big enough difference to have a strong effect on the house edge.

Don’t give 2% of your action back to the casino because you decided to play for 4 coins or fewer.

Just place the max bet.

If you have to, go down in stakes.

If you can’t afford a $5 bet on a dollar machine, find a quarter machine and bet $1.25 per spin instead.

2- Start with Jacks or Better

The most basic game of video poker you can play is Jacks or Better. All other video poker games are just variations of Jacks or Better.

The game is called Jacks or Better because that’s where the payoffs start – with a pair of jacks or higher. Any lower ranked hand results in no payout.

Jacks or Better

Variations of video poker take the Jacks or Better gameplay and trick it up, usually with the addition of wild cards and different payouts for various hands.

For example, in Joker Poker, you’re playing with a 53-card deck instead of a 52-card deck, and the extra card is a joker.

In Deuces Wild, all the 2s are wild.

The pay tables, of course, reflect the addition of wild cards by reducing the size of the payout for most hands. They also often have a pay table that starts with a tougher hand, like 3 of a kind instead of a pair of jacks or higher.

In Bonus Poker variations, you don’t have wild cards, but you do get bigger payouts for 4 of a kind if the cards are of a certain rank. The size of those payouts can change the name of the game, too, so you can wind up with Double Bonus Poker and Triple Bonus Poker.

But the starting point for learning any of these games is Jacks or Better. Once you’ve learned Jacks or Better, consider checking out our blog on common Jacks or Better video poker mistakes.

3- Learn the Most Common Pay Table Differences

One of the reasons I suggest starting with Jacks or Better is because the pay tables stay remarkably consistent from one game to the other – with the exception of 2 hands.

This is a full-pay (or 9/6) Jacks or Better pay table:

  • Royal flush – 800 for 1
  • Straight flush – 50 for 1
  • 4 of a kind – 25 for 1
  • Full house – 9 for 1
  • Flush – 6 for 1
  • Straight – 4 for 1
  • 3 of a kind – 3 for 1
  • 2 pairs – 2 for 1
  • Pair of jacks or better – 1 for 1

You’ll notice that the payout for a full house is 9 for 1, and the payout for a flush is 6 for 1. This is pretty much the best scenario with a Jacks or Better game. If you play with optimal decisions, the house edge on this game is only 0.5%.

But many casinos will have machines with a lower payback percentage, and they’ve only tweaked the payouts for those 2 hands. An 8/5 Jacks or Better game, for example, pays off at 8 for 1 for a full house and 5 for 1 for a flush.

The house edge on that game is 2.7% instead of 0.5%.

4- Practice

You’ll notice that I mentioned that the house edge I’m quoting is based on you making the “optimal decisions.”

That’s something else to love about video poker. It’s a game where the decisions you make actually influence your outcome.

Practice

In most casino games, like craps or real money roulette, the best thing you can do is pick the bet with the lowest house edge and move on from there.

But in video poker, you decide which cards to keep and which cards to throw away.

And your general idea about which decision is correct might or might not be the mathematically optimal choice.

This is why computer programmers and video poker enthusiasts have created software that calculates the mathematically optimal strategy for each game.

You can buy software and find websites which offer practice video poker games where you can test your decision-making against the algorithm.

These video poker trainers are worth using if you want to maximize your return on video poker.

5- Use that Slot Players’ Club Card

Most people who’ve spent some time reading about casinos know that you’re supposed to join the players club and always play with your players club card inserted.

This is more important for video poker players than for most gamblers because the house edge is so low that an additional 0.2% can reduce the house edge to practically nothing.

I often advise people to consider how much marketing they’re signing up for when they’re joining the players club. The casino clearly thinks that the ability to advertise to you is worth 0.2% of your action, but if you’re a video poker player, you’re already losing far less than the average casino player.

6- Remember that Video Poker Isn’t Traditional Poker

This goes back to the point I made earlier about practicing and getting the hang of video poker strategy. Some of the decisions you’ll make in video poker will be markedly different from the decisions you might make in a traditional poker game.

Here’s an example:

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A lot of times in video poker, you might draw to a big-payoff hand even if it means breaking up a paying hand. If you have a pair that’s also a 4-card draw to a straight flush, you should always draw that extra card. This usually isn’t the case in a game of traditional 5-card draw. The payoff just isn’t there to warrant going for the big hand.

7- Scout Out the Best Games in the Best Casinos

I wrote a post recently with some roulette advice, and in it, I suggested that you try to find the casino that offers the better roulette games – the ones with a single zero on the wheel.

This advice applies to video poker players, too. You should try to find casinos or online casinos offering video poker games you know how to play with the best possible pay tables.

But since casinos don’t publish information that specific about their offerings, how are you to do that?

I suggest checking out Bing and/or Google for player reports from specific casinos. Multiple sites offer reviews of Vegas casinos that explain which video poker pay tables are available at them.

Conclusion

To me, video poker is a far better option than a slot machine. The payback percentage is almost always higher, and it’s just as easy to learn and play.

Most importantly for me, I have something to do with my mind when playing video poker. I don’t like pulling a lever and getting a random result that I have no part of.

I like to think about which cards I should keep and which cards I should discard.

Video poker, along with blackjack, are the 2 casino games which offer the most intellectual stimulation. They also offer the best odds in the casino.

How Poker Games Work

Home Poker Game
Most people learn about poker games when they’re pretty young – at least they did if they were from my generation.

But this post digs a little deeper into how real money poker games work.

You can use your knowledge of how poker works to win more often, too.

The Basics of Poker

The most important thing about a game that makes it poker is the betting, and the 2nd most important thing is the deck of cards and what you’re doing with it – although you could arguably play poker without cards. (I read an article from Mike Caro once where he argued that point successfully.)

Poker Cards and Chips

In poker, you get a “hand” – some pre-determined number of cards. That collection of cards is ranked according to the standard rankings of hands (usually – but not always).

What do you do with that hand, though?

You decide whether to bet on it, and if you do bet on it, how much are you going to bet on it.

In fact, it’s helpful to know a lot about betting in poker. I’ll cover betting in the next section, and I’ll follow that up with poker hand rankings in the section following.

Then I’ll look at how we put those ideas together into specific poker games.

Betting in Poker

The first thing you need to know about betting in poker is that there’s such a thing as a “forced bet.”

In some games, these forced bets are called “antes.” To play in a game with an ante, you have to put the ante bet into the pot before getting dealt a hand.

In other games, these forced bets are called “blinds.” In those games, the requirement to put money into the pot rotates around the table.

These forced bets exist so that there’s action. If you didn’t have to put any money into the pot once in a while, you’d just fold until you got a premium hand, and everyone else would fold any time you bet.

Poker Chips

The next thing you need to know is that betting happens in a specific order. Don’t indicate what you’re going to do until it’s your turn to act.

Finally, you should know that you have the following betting options available to you:

You can fold. This means that you don’t have to put any money in the pot, but you also don’t have a claim to it regardless of how the hand plays out.

You can check. This means it’s your turn, there’s no action yet, and you don’t want to bet. You’re not folding, but you’re not betting, either. If everyone else checks, you move on to the next roun.

You can bet. This means to put money into the pot. The other players also have to put money in the pot if they want to stay in the hand.

You can call. This means someone bet before you, and you’re willing to put that amount of money in the pot and stay in the hand.

You can raise. This means that you’re going to call the previous bet and increase the size of it for the people acting after you. The original bettor has to decide if he wants to stay in the hand after you raise, too.

Deciding when to take each of these actions is where the skill element of poker comes into play.

The Standard Ranking of Hands

You almost always play poker with a standard 52-card deck. In some home games, you’ll also sometimes include a joker, which acts as a wild card – it can substitute for any card you need to make a stronger hand with.

The cards in the deck have suits and ranks. You have 13 cards in each of 4 suits. The cards are numbered 2 through 9, and there’s also a jack, queen, king, and ace. The suits consist of clubs, diamonds, hearts, and spades.

Most poker games use 5 cards to determine how the hand ranks. From best to worst, your poker hands are:

  • 5 of a kind – This is 5 cards of the same rank, like 5 aces or 5 kings. This is only possible in a game with wild cards, for obvious reasons.
  • Straight flush – This is 5 cards of consecutive ranks and also all the same suit. If the cards are all 10 or higher, you have a royal flush.
  • 4 of a kind – 5 cards of the same rank.
  • Full house – 3 cards of one rank and 2 cards of another rank.
  • Flush – 5 cards of the same suit.
  • Straight – 5 cards of consecutive rankings.
  • 3 of a kind – 3 cards of one rank and 2 other cards.
  • 2 pairs – 2 cards of one rank, 2 cards of another rank, a final card of still another rank.
  • A pair – 2 cards of the same rank along with 3 other cards of different ranks.

If you’re going to play poker, you either need to have the hand rankings memorized or have a card with them listed for you.

You can’t possibly maximize your probability of winning in poker unless you understand the hand rankings.

Bluffing and Deception

Poker is also, by its nature, a game of incomplete information. In most games, you’ll know some of the cards your opponents are working with, but you’ll never know all of them.

This means that if you bet and raise with weak cards, your opponents might fold, which means you’ll win money without having to show down a hand. (If everyone folds, you win the pot.)

Poker Bluff

Betting with a hand that has almost no possibility of winning is called bluffing.

You can also bet with a hand that probably isn’t the best hand but has a chance of developing into the best hand.

This is called semi-bluffing.

According to David Sklansky, every time your opponent takes an action different from what he would take if he could see your cards, you gain, and vice versa. (That’s his Fundamental Theorem of Poker, paraphrased.)

Draw Poker Games

The game most people learn first is 5-card draw. Everyone gets 5 cards face-down, there’s a round of betting, then everyone gets to discard cards and replace them. This is followed by another round of betting and a showdown.

Draw poker games usually require you to have a hand of a minimum strength to start betting with.

They also usually require you to make an ante before getting a hand.

Bet sizes are pre-determined, and the ante is almost always much lower than the actual betting limits for the game.

I don’t know of any casino cardrooms that deal this game, but kids still play 5-card draw pretty often. You’ll find it in a lot of home poker games, too.

Stud Poker Games

In a stud poker game, you get some of your cards face-up and some of them face-down. You don’t have a drawing round; you’re stuck with the cards you get.

The cards are dealt in phases, and there’s a round of betting after each phase.

The number of cards in a stud poker game is usually 5 or 7.

Royal Flush

In 5-card stud, you usually start with a face-down card and a face-up card, then a round of betting. The cards continued to get dealt face-up, one at a time, followed by a round of betting, until everyone has 5 cards.

In 7-card stud, you start with 2 face-down cards and one face-up card, then a round of betting after each card is dealt. The best 5-card hand you can make determines whether you win the showdown.

In a lot of 7-card stud games, the pot gets split between the high hand and the best qualifying low hand. In some, the low hand wins the entire pot.

Stud is another game which uses antes rather than blinds.

Community Card Poker Games

If you’ve been paying attention to the zeitgeist, you already know about community card games. Texas holdem is the most well-known, but Omaha is gaining popularity, too.

In a community card game, you get a couple of cards in your hand, but you and your opponents share multiple cards in the center of the table – the board.

In Texas holdem, you get 2 “hole” cards, but in Omaha you get 4.

Community card poker games use blinds, not antes, and there are multiple betting rounds.

You start with hole cards, then a betting round, then the flop – 3 community cards are dealt. Then another betting round follows, and a single community card – the turn – is dealt. The final card is called the river.

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There’s a betting round after each of these steps in the deal.

You make the best 5 card you can using your hole cards and the board.

In Texas holdem, you can use any combination of cards from your hand and cards from the board.

In Omaha, you must use 2 – and only 2 – cards from your hole cards, and 3 – and only 3 – cards from the board.

The Rake

Casinos don’t make any money without some kind of potential profit. In poker, they make their money via the rake.

The rake is just a 5% charge they collect from the pot before paying off the winner of a hand.

Otherwise, you’re just competing with the other players at the table.

Conclusion

That’s the basics of how poker games work. There’s a lot more to learn, though – you can read entire books about specific poker games or check out this blog on poker fundamentals.

Poker makes a great lifetime hobby.

Do you understand better how poker works now?

7 Ways to Maximize Your Casino Comps in Las Vegas

Las Vegas Casino Comps
Casinos are (rightfully) often thought of as a place that takes your money away. With that being said, there are some instances where they’ll actually give back to preferred players by way of comps.

Comps are complimentary items and services given out by casinos to encourage players to gamble. Just like everything else in the casino, there’s a way to get a slight edge and enjoy a few more of these freebies… if you know what you’re doing.

In this article, I’ll go over the various ways players can enjoy more comps and play with a little more of the envied house money next time you’re in Las Vegas casino or a casino in your town.

1 – Use Your Card (In the Right Way)

This one sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many frequent players don’t use their card correctly to get the best deal.

The first rule is to distinguish between land casinos and other situations like a cruise, riverboat, or an online casino. Experts suggest that on a cruise, you should use your card every time. In land-based casinos, however, it gets a little more complicated.

M Life Cards

Be a more flexible about when you use your card at a typical casino. For example, each session is counted as a trip. If you’re only going to be there for a few minutes, it might lower your comp because of the impact it has on your average play.

2 – Know When to Bet Big

You always want to show off when the important people are around. Betting higher amounts when the pit boss is watching, especially right when you arrive at the table, is a great way to find yourself in the casino’s good graces.

If you’re not familiar with how casinos do ratings, it’s actually pretty simple. The pit boss will write down names and player numbers. When you’re finished with your session, your average bet and time played will also be recorded to determine your potential worth to the casino.

Keep in mind that pit bosses can get pretty busy throughout the night, so it’s important to make the most out of the times where you have his or her attention. One way to increase your rating is to call the pit boss’s attention to your table when you make any unusually high bets.

These are crucial to get seen and recorded by the people who have a say in the type of comps you’ll receive.

3 – Talk to Pit Bosses Afterwards

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received in college was that if you take the time to talk to your professor and negotiate grades, it will almost always work out in your favor. This is also the case when trying to improve your comps at casinos!

It’s important to talk to your pit boss after your session for several reasons. First, you want to make sure that you have actually been rated. In the chaotic nature of a pit boss’s night, ratings slips can disappear without a trace. If your goal is to get better comps, this rating is essential.

Casino Pit Boss

The next reason it’s important to talk to your pit boss following your session is because you can actually have your numbers changed a little bit. You probably won’t be able to convince the bosses to alter your numbers drastically, but a little bit goes a long way.

For example, getting a boost on your average bet from $90 to $100 might not feel all that significant, but it means you’ll get 11% more comps just for speaking up.

In addition to having your average bet total raised, see if you can ask the pit boss to increase your recorded play time. Even just a half hour longer can pay off, and all they can do is say no.

Keep in mind that talking to pit bosses tends to go much more favorably if you’ve tipped your dealer and been respectful to them the whole night. When asking for things at casinos, it helps tremendously if the staff likes you.

4 – Play With the People

When you’re looking for the perfect table to play, go towards the one with the most people. The reason isn’t necessarily to get attention on yourself, but rather to increase your playing time while not risking more money. To put it simply, it slows the game down.

To explain further, the casino will typically estimate around 75 hands per hour for blackjack. If you’re playing at a very full table, that rate might be slowed down to around 50 hands per hour. Why is this important? Because while you might only be playing 50 hands per hour, you’ll be earning comps at a level as if you were playing the estimated 75 hands per hour.

Obviously, there’s extra risk assumed if you’re playing for several hours, but there’s also an increased benefit in terms of comps. The trick is to play as long as possible, while risking a disproportionately low amount per hour.

5 – Give Them Your Email

It seems like just about every business you interact with is trying to get ahold of your email address for marketing purposes. In most cases, this just leads to endless annoying emails. In this case, it can lead to huge savings, incentives, and benefits.

Typing Email

Casinos are always looking for ways to get you in the door, and in many instances, they’ll pay to have you. If you’re a regular player, you should be taking advantage of the offers provided to preferred customers.

My recommendation would be to set up a separate gaming email address specifically for the purpose of casino perks. Before you make a visit, look it over and see what offers apply to the games you’re looking to play.

6 – Play the Part

Casinos love high rollers, and they especially love high rollers that lose more often than they win. With this knowledge in mind, try giving the impression to the pit bosses that you fit this profile.

If you’re just sitting down at the table and know you’re going to make an average of $25 per play, try front-loading some of that action when you’re most visible to pit bosses. For example, play $100 on the first hand to give off the vibe that you aren’t afraid to risk a little more.

Additionally, when you inevitably lose, don’t be afraid to be vocal about your losses. When the casino notices you’re lining their pockets, they’ll be more inclined to give you some comps to help you stick around longer and visit more frequently.

7 – Know How the System Works

If you aren’t familiar with how pit bosses rate players, it might surprise you to learn that it’s a relatively uncomplicated, straightforward process. Primarily, ratings are based on how long you play and how much you’re betting.

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It’s important to know the system so you can work the system. When you’re making a bigger play, try to get the attention of the pit boss in an effort to boost your average bet and overall player rating.

If you’re curious about where you stand, it’s okay to ask! In many cases, pit bosses will appreciate your consideration and subconsciously favor you over other players who haven’t tried to interact or learn their rating.

Finally, this has been mentioned but is worth repeating, be pleasant! It’s a fact of life that people give more leeway to those who make their lives easier. Be an enthusiastic, respectful player, and you’ll reap the benefits.

Conclusion

The fun part about comps is that there’s a true human element involved. Practice your particular strategy, and before long, you’ll be enjoying the comps that other players are missing out on.

Remember that the perfect system varies depending on pit boss, so get to know them if there’s a casino you frequent, and see if the relationship can help you get a better deal.

How Effective Is Basic Strategy in Blackjack?

Blackjack Strategy
You’ve read a lot of blackjack articles and blog posts now, and every one of them has suggested that you learn basic strategy in blackjack.

But how effective is basic strategy in blackjack? That depends on what you mean by “effective.”

If you want to know what it does to your odds of walking away a winner, that’s one thing. If you want to know if basic strategy will help you win in the long run, well, that’s a little more complicated.

I’ll share some opinions and ideas about basic strategy in blackjack below.

Basic Strategy in Blackjack Is a Losing Strategy

Here’s the most important thing you should understand about basic strategy in blackjack—it’s a losing strategy.

You can decide whether a strategy is a winning or losing one by looking at whether it wins or loses money in the long run. That seems like a fair definition to me.

Losing Gambling

All casino games, including blackjack, offer the casino a mathematical advantage in the long run. This mathematical advantage is expressed as the house edge. The higher the house edge is, the bigger the casino’s advantage over the player.

Blackjack is famous for having the lowest house edge in the casino, but that low house edge assumes you’re making the mathematically best decision in every situation. That mathematically best decision is what we mean when we talk about “basic strategy.”

But even with perfect basic strategy, the house edge is between 0.2% and 1%. The difference is based on the game conditions in effect. This means that in the long run, even if you play with perfect basic strategy, you’re going to lose all your money playing blackjack.

That’s how the house edge works. Over time, it’s like a tax on your gaming action.

How Does the House Edge Convert to Actual Cash Losses?

I like to illustrate the difference between the long run and the short term in blackjack by looking at a single hand.

If the house edge predicts that I’m going to lose 1% of each bet on average, over time, what does that mean?

Losing Money

It means that for every $100 I bet, I’m expected to lose $1. But if I sit down and play a single hand of blackjack for $100, it’s impossible to lose $1.

I might lose $100. I might win $100. I might win $150. I might double down and win $200. But losing a dollar is impossible.

Even if I play two or three hands, it’s impossible to average a $1 loss per hand. But if I play a million hands, my chances of coming up with an average loss of $1 per $100 bet goes up tremendously.

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In fact, with a sample size that large, it becomes almost a certainty.

The closer I get to an infinite number of hands, the closer my average should get to the expected average loss as predicted by the house edge. I like to think of this exponentially.

The most extreme example of the short run is a single hand. 10 hands is also an example of the extreme short run. 100,000 hands, on the other hand, is getting closer to the long run. And a million hands is closer still.

But here’s how you predict how much money you’ll lose at blackjack using basic strategy.

Take the amount you’re betting per hand and multiply it by the number of hands you’re getting per hour. You can try keeping a mental tally while you’re playing.

Then, multiply that by the house edge. You can find sites that estimate the house edge for you based on game conditions.

Here’s an example:

  • You’re playing 80 hands per hour at $10 per hand. That’s $800 per hour in action.
  • You’ve checked a website, and your estimate of the house edge is 0.5%.
  • $800 X 0.5% is $4, which is your expected loss per hour.

In the short run, you might see losses much lower or greater than that. In an hour of blackjack, anything can happen.

What Does This Mean in Practical Terms?

If you ignore basic strategy and just go with your gut, the actual house edge you face is probably at least 2% higher than you’d expect.

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How long would you have to play to lose all your money using basic strategy versus not using basic strategy? You can estimate this, even though the prediction will be imperfect.

Let’s say you have a bankroll of $1,000. If you’re losing $4/hour, which is the estimate we came up with already, it would take 250 hours of play before you go broke.

That’s a lot of gambling entertainment for your money, and I’d recommend thinking about it that way, too. Gambling at a casino is an entertainment expense, just like going to a concert or going to the movies.

But if you’re making a lot of basic strategy mistakes, you’re looking at a house edge of 2.5% instead, which sounds low, but it turns that average $4 loss per hour into a loss of $20 per hour. At that rate, you’ll go broke in 50 hours.

Even with a huge amount of variance, that number won’t change much. It might take 60 hours to lose all your money instead of 50, or you might lose it in 40 hours.

The difference between an expected loss of $4 per hour and an expected loss of $20 per hour is significant.

Getting the Most Play for Your Money (Among Other Things)

If you stick with basic strategy, you’ll be more likely to walk away from a session with a profit. Placing bets with a higher house edge, especially in a low variance game like blackjack, just means increasing your probability of having a losing session.

But you’ll also be more likely to last longer, which is a great goal to have.

If you combine perfect basic strategy with an aggressive approach to getting casino comps, you might even break even, value-wise.

Comp City

Things have changed in Vegas since Max Rubin wrote Comp City, but they haven’t changed THAT much. You can still get free stuff for gambling, and that free stuff can offset some of those losses.

The casino estimates your predicted loss on the average player, not on a basic strategy player. They also don’t have a problem with basic strategy players, because they know they still have an edge.

If you can earn back 0.2% or 0.3% in comps on your money, your effective house edge drops to 0.3% or 0.2%.

Basic Strategy Is a Precursor to Other Strategies

You’ve probably already heard about card counting, too. It’s not hard to do, but it takes practice and the ability to focus.

But counting cards won’t help you get an edge over the casino if you don’t know basic strategy first. Basic strategy only gives you 1% or 2% most of the time.

Add 1% to a negative 0.5% edge, and you wind up with a 0.5% edge on your side. Add 2% to that same edge, and you wind up with an edge of 1.5% over the casino.

Those are great numbers, but suppose you learn to count cards without learning basic strategy? What happens to your numbers then?

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Add 1% or 2% to a negative expectation of 2.5%, and the casino still has an edge of 0.5% to 1.5%. To succeed at counting cards, you must know basic strategy perfectly, too.

And one of the ways that counting cards helps you get an edge over the casino is by informing you of deviations from basic strategy based on the composition of the deck.

You can’t deviate from basic strategy unless you know how to play with basic strategy first.

Conclusion

How effective is basic strategy in blackjack?

In terms of reducing the house edge as low as it can possibly go, basic strategy in blackjack is 100% effective. In fact, it’s the only tactic that can make that claim.

In terms of guaranteeing that you’ll go home a winner, well, basic strategy isn’t effective at all. It can increase your chances of doing so. But in the long run, unless you’re counting cards, basic strategy is still a losing strategy.

If you’re going to play blackjack for real money, you should memorize and use basic strategy to reduce the edge. It’s not that hard, and, in the long run, you’ll get way more gambling for your money.

2 Great Anime Films about Gambling

The Money of Soul and Possibility Control and Saki
So before I even go into the top 2 anime gambling films, I am going to do a brief rundown of what anime even is. Although the popularity in the west continues to grow each year, there are still plenty of people in the US who have no idea what anime is, what it’s all about, or why they should care (and trust me, you should—it’s an incredible artform).

For most people in the US, especially adults, anime is something they just don’t have experience with. They might have seen it for a second or two while checking on their child while they watched cartoons after school, but they still may not know that what they saw was anime (or how to tell the difference between the anime shows versus all of the non-anime cartoons out there).

What is Anime?

The word anime is Japanese for the term “animation.” The Japanese use it to refer to all forms of animated media that’s outside of their homeland (Japan).

For those of us who live outside of Japan, the word anime refers specifically to animation that has been created and produced inside Japan, while also meaning a “Japanese-disseminated” animation style.

It’s hard to explain what the art style looks like exactly, but the most common explanation is this:

“Anime includes those cartoons where the characters, especially the female ones, all have really big eyes.”

Most people have probably stumbled across the art style at some point, even if they don’t know it, and to be honest, there really aren’t a lot of people in the younger generations who don’t at least know what it is.

2 Anime Girls

The earliest commercial Japanese animated flicks date back all the way to 1917, and since then, the industry has grown exponentially. Anime started to emerge in the 1960s, and by the late 20th century, anime had spread internationally.

Anime is a distinct art form, especially when compared to other styles of animation. It uses distinct styles of production methods, combining graphic art, characterization, cinematography, and even clever and brilliant styles of emergent technologies.

When creating anime, the focus is less on the animation and movement and more on the realism of settings and camera effects including panning, zooming, and angle shots. Character proportions and features can be quite varied, including characteristically large emotive or realistically sized eyes.

Believe it or not, there are over 430 productions studios, including huge and well known names like Ghibli, Toei Animation, and Gainax. Once English dubbing was introduced into anime, there was a pretty rapid rise in international popularity. This led to international studios adapting and using it as an art form.

If you’re not familiar with anime as an artform, then you’ve probably come across it in video games. Because much of modern video gaming originated in Japan, you’ll see a lot of videos today, whether produced in Japan or other parts of the world, that have the same anime style.

And if you don’t play video games much, you’ve almost certainly heard of the biggest media franchise in the world—no, I’m not talking about Star Wars (although you’re right to believe it’s huge).

Actually, it’s Pokemon. That’s right, not only is Pokemon the largest media franchise in the world in terms of profit, but it’s also a perfect example of the anime style. If you’ve ever taken your kids to any of the animated Pokemon movies (or the recently released live-action Pokemon movie Detective Pikachu), then you’ve seen anime.

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Really it’s all about the big eyes—that’s what underlays so much of the style.

Now that you have an extremely basic understanding of anime, I want to talk about some great anime films that center around gambling and or casino life.

Gambling movies that are not anime have been extremely popular worldwide over the decades, so it’s probably not much of a surprise that gambling is big in anime as well. Gambling can be an exciting and exhilarating experience, but obviously there’s a portion of the population that struggles with it, so including gambling in a movie can be a way to come close to the lifestyle associated with gambling without actually putting your money on the table.

I think some of the draw for anime creators and movie directors is the high drama of gambling. When you have brilliant minds battling it out for high stakes while doing tricks, bluffs, and planning schemes in order to aid in the winning process, you’ve got a recipe for edge-of-your-seat action.

These movies are similar to western gambling movies, except they are anime! There are so many more films that could be on this list, but for now, I am just going to go over 2 really great anime films about gambling.

1- The Money of Soul and Possibility Control

The Money of Soul and Possibility Control is an animated series from 2011 that was produced by Tatsunoko Production. The plot of the series follow Kimimaro Yoga, a student studying economics. Living in a country whose economy is in shambles, but also being surrounded by peers who show off their luxurious lives, Kimimaro understands the significance of money.

The Money of Soul and Possibility Control

He has been struggling to make ends meet, and then, one evening, his whole life as he knows it is completely turned upside down when a stranger with a top hat on arrives at his doorstep one late evening.

He’s introduced to the alternate reality of the Financial District, which is kind of like a real money online casino, where money flows abundantly if a person uses their “future” as collateral. In the series, the term for fighters is entres, and entres can have large quantities of money if they win, and risk having their future altered if they lose.

Yoga has to adapt in this new world if he is going to protect his wealth and his future. As the series progresses, we see Kimimaro start to realize the impact that the alternate reality of the Financial District is having on the real world.

One of the important lessons in the series is Yoga having to learn just how much money is really worth. The entire storyline was created and directed by Kenju Nakamura. The first airing of the show happened on Japan’s local station, Fuji TV, April 15, 2011. It was shortly after released on DVD and Blu Ray by a company called Toho. It eventually made it to the United States, the UK, and Australia.

What I like so much about this movie that really sets it apart from your classic gambling movie is that it’s not so much about specific, well-known table games, but rather is about the consequences that gambling itself can have, including gambling addiction. It’s a metaphor for what happens when you let gambling get out of hand and start to control your life, so I like to recommend it to people because it’s a different take on the traditional gambling flick.

2- Saki

Saki is a 25 episode anime adaption of the popular manga series called Saki (manga is basically Japanese comic books). The series first aired on TV in Tokyo on April 06, 2009. The anime portrays a peek into what the gambling environment might look like in China and other parts of Asia.

Saki

The game played in the anime is a popular game played while gambling. Saki is everything you would expect while watching a tournament-style sports game (minus the high levels of testosterone). The cast is predominantly female, and the story revolves around Saki Miyanaga, a high school freshman who does not like mahjong.

Mahjong is a tile based game usually played with 4 players that was developed by China during the Qing Dynasty. Unless a family is playing for fun, gambling is very common in Asia during a mahjong game.

Growing up with a mahjong-obsessed family, Saki becomes resentful toward the game because of how it would cause her family to treat her. If she lost, she would lose her gift money for New Year’s. If she won, her family and older sister would just get upset with her. In the midst of being emotionally scarred and having trauma around her family and the game, she curiously follows her friend into the schools mahjong club.

Saki then joins her friends in the national mahjong tournament, but this is where the story starts to get a little out of hand—playing the game wakes up several of her inner demons (in a literal sense).

I think again what I like about this anime is that it’s a very different take on gambling and doesn’t romanticize the experience of gambling or make it seem like more than it is. I don’t think it necessarily demonizes gambling, but it does have a lot of metaphors about the effect that gambling can have on you personally and on your family, and for that reason, I think it’s definitely an anime worth checking out.

Conclusion

While there are a number of anime films out there that concern gambling, I think these are 2 of the greatest. What do you think? Is there anything I left off this list? Let me know in the comments!

7 Mistakes That Winning MLB Bettors Avoid

MLB Betting Mistakes
I love spring, because baseball teams are in spring training and I know that there are going to be thousands of games to bet on soon. This means there’s going to be thousands of chances to find value and make winning MLB bets. But I also know I have to avoid making too many mistakes if I want to win.

Here are seven mistakes that many MLB bettors are making every day. Avoid these errors and your MLB handicapping results are going to improve.

1 – Overvaluing Home Runs

Home runs are exciting. In fact, they’re the most exciting thing that can happen in a baseball game for many people. Power hitters tend to get more press and become more popular than singles hitters. And it’s easy to remember the biggest home runs of the season. It’s even easy to remember some of the biggest home runs in history.

Blue Jays Homerun

For example, Carlton Fisk’s home run in the 1975 World Series game six is iconic. My dad is a Reds fan and that home run crushed him. But he’s been able to live with it because the Reds won the next game to wrap up the series.

How many times have you seen the film of Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s home record? What about when Bonds, Sosa, and McGwire were battling each other for the single season home run record?

Home runs are a big part of the game of baseball. A home run can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, or defeat from the jaws of victory if your team gives the long ball up. Home runs are a big deal, so it’s easy to overvalue them as a baseball bettor.

You need to consider home runs when you’re handicapping teams and players, but you also need to understand that even the best home run hitters only hit home runs at a rate of one every three games or so.

Here’s a list of home run totals translated to the average number of games per home run over the course of a season:

Home Runs Average Number of Games per Home Run
32 1 Home Run Every 5 Games
40 1 Home Run Every 4 Games
54 1 Home Run Every 3 Games
65 1 Home Run Every 2.5 Games

A player that hits 54 home runs over the course of a season is truly valuable and rare, but he still only has a chance to change the outcome of a game with a long ball 33% of the time. The other two out of three games aren’t changed by a home run.
Home runs are an important part of handicapping, but most MLB bettors overvalue them when evaluating games.

2 – Undervaluing OBP

While most bettors overvalue home runs, they undervalue on-base percentage at the same time. OBP isn’t sexy or exciting, and few can name the top OBP guy every year like they can the top home run hitter. But baseball players that get on base at a high rate can be just as important as the guys that lead the league in home runs.

Teams that put a lot of runners on base tend to score more runs. The team that scores the most runs wins. A hitter with a .400 OBP gets on base four out of every 10 plate appearances. A hitter with a .300 OBP percentage only gets on base three out of every 10 plate appearances. This works out to the better OBP guy getting on base close to one extra time every two games, or around 80 more times over the course of a season.

OBS Calculations

When teams put more runners on base they create more opportunities to score runs. They put more pressure on the opposing defense and the pitcher. Look at the teams that score the most runs every season and look at where they rank in OBP. It’s not always a perfect correlation, but there is a correlation.

3 – Undervaluing Bullpens

MLB bullpens are more important than ever, because they’re throwing more innings than ever. Starting pitchers still throw more innings than bullpens, but the gap is closing quickly. Every bullpen is filled with specialists, and some of the best pitchers on the game are working the ninth inning instead of starting.

Aroldis Chapman

It’s more difficult to evaluate each team’s bullpen because you never know exactly which pitchers are going to pitch in a given game. You can make an educated guess, but the things that happen in the game dictate bullpen usage.

A team with especially weak long men in the bullpen is in trouble if the starter doesn’t go six or seven innings. But if they have a strong back end of the bullpen and the starter makes it through six innings or more, the team can avoid giving up the lead with their weakest pitchers.

I spend as much time evaluating bullpens as I do starting pitchers now. When I started betting on MLB games, I spent much more time evaluating the starters than the bullpens because the starters worked much deeper in games on average than they do now.

4 – Overvaluing Starting Pitchers

This goes hand in hand with the last section, but it’s so important that it deserves its own section. Starting pitchers are one of the most important things to evaluate when you’re handicapping MLB games, but don’t make the mistake of overvaluing them.

Clayton Kershaw

As I mentioned in the last section, I spend as much time evaluating bullpens as starting pitchers now, and I recommend you do the same. I haven’t reduced the time I spend on the starting pitchers, I just added to the time I spend on the bullpens.

I keep a spreadsheet for every starting pitcher that tracks how many innings they pitch per game on average over the course of the season as well as what they averaged the last two seasons. I also track the difference between home and road starts. This gives me a good idea of how many innings the bullpen is going to be used when evaluating each game.

5 – Ignoring the Over/Under Lines

MLB lines include the popular moneyline bets, run lines, and over/under opportunities. Moneyline wagers are the most popular, followed by the run lines. But the over/under option can offer quite a bit of value to good MLB bettors.

I tend to focus on the games that have a good chance to go over, but this fits my handicapping style. This means your style might help you identify the games that have a good chance to go under.

MLB Over/Under Bet Example

MLB Teams Over/Under
Chicago Cubs Over 5.5 (-110)
St. Louis Cardinals Under 5.5 (-110)

Starting pitchers aren’t going as deep into games, so more games have long and middle relievers forced to get outs. These are usually weaker pitchers than the starters and back end relievers, so more runs are being scored. This means more games have a chance to win the over.

6 – Ignoring the Run Lines

Many MLB bettors ignore the run lines and focus on moneyline wagers. While this is acceptable if you’re making a consistent profit, the run lines often offer value. When I bet on run lines, I almost always bet on the side getting runs.

MLB Runline Bet Example

MLB Teams Runline
Chicago Cubs +1.5 (-215)
St. Louis Cardinals -1.5 (+150)

Many MLB games end with the winning team up by only one run. When you bet on the run line on the team getting runs, you get 1 ½ runs. This can be a valuable play for smart MLB bettors.

Most of the run line bets I make are on home teams that get runs. The home team always gets to bat in the bottom of the ninth unless they’re winning, so they have an extra three outs to cover the spread. This might seem like a small thing, but over the course of a season, this can turn several losing bets into winners.

7 – Ignoring WHIP

The pitching equivalent of OBP is WHIP. WHIP stands for walks plus hits divided by innings pitched, and it shows how good a pitcher does at keeping the other team off the bases. The pitchers that allow the most base runners tend to give up more runs. WHIP is the best way to get a quick idea of how many runners each pitcher allows.

WHIP Calculations

Of course, there are other things you need to look at as well. I recently read an article about Nolan Ryan that reminded me how some pitchers can have a high WHIP and still be effective. For most of his career, he had a high WHIP because he walked so many hitters, but he was still a good pitcher because he struck out so many. He might walk two in an inning, but he also might strike out three and not give up a run.

Track every pitcher by WHIP, but also break it up into walks, singles, and extra base hits. Also, track each pitcher’s strikeout rate. This gives you a complete picture of the ability of each pitcher.

Conclusion

One of the best ways to improve your handicapping results is to learn from the mistakes that others have made. I learned about the seven mistakes that MLB bettors make listed on this page the hard way.

Learn from my mistakes, so you can win more bets by avoiding the seven mistakes MLB bettors make listed on this page.

The 5 Best Bars on the Las Vegas Strip

Crowd with Cocktails in Hand, Bar Neon Sign
It’s not a mystery that Las Vegas has received decades of fame for being an essential part of the world’s ever-thriving casino and entertainment industry. Las Vegas first started to pave the way in the Casino industry upon opening famous, world-renowned casinos such as the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino, which today sits in what is known as “Downtown” Las Vegas.

A lot of people make the common mistake of thinking that the area I’m going to be focusing on, The Strip, is the only part of Las Vegas that showcases an amazing and entertaining nightlife. I just like to point out the existence of the often overlooked Downtown.

With the dozens of casinos that make the amazing skyline view of The Strip in Las Vegas, there are dozens of bars that include some of the nicest ones you can find in all of the United States.

Here are 5 of the best bars on The Las Vegas Strip.

1- The Dorsey Cocktail Bar

Sitting inside the world-renowned Venetian resort casino and rated in 2016 as the best bar in Las Vegas is the one and only Dorsey Cocktail Bar.

Those that take the opportunity to step into this high-end cocktail bar will genuinely experience the joy and luxury of having their Las Vegas nightlife experience radically transformed.

If you’re the kind of person that enjoys a more “classic” style of cocktail, then The Dorsey will meet your needs.

The Dorsey is proud of its selection of whiskeys. Including scotch, bourbon, and rye, enjoy one of the many handcrafted cocktails poured on the rocks, designed by the veteran bartender Sam Ross.

There are a variety of spirits that you can savor in the comfort and class of the Dorsey, making guests feel like elegant connoisseurs of authentic cocktail culture. For the drinks that require citrus and juice, you can count on all of the high-quality ingredients freshly squeezed every day.

A drink that stands out above the rest and one that The New York Times named one of the eleven essential drinks of the modern cocktail revival is The Dorsey’s own Penicillin.

It’s a catchy name for a very serious drink.

2- The Golden Tiki

Las Vegas is good at making its guests feel like they have teleported into an entirely new world, and the famous bar The Golden Tiki does quite an exceptional job at doing just that.

Enjoy some pretty amazing cocktails in one of the four different themed sections of The Golden Tiki.

The Best Happy Hour in Las Vegas is at The Golden Tiki from 4pm–7pm daily, with a DJ and drinks that will excite you and make your taste buds dance along with the beat of the high energy atmosphere at The Golden Tiki.

Inside the Golden Tiki in Las Vegas Nevada

If you enjoy tableside magic from some of Las Vegas’s best street performers or want to hear live Jazz from Vegas’s Jazz quartet, The Sharps, then swing into The Golden Tiki on a Thursday night and have the cocktail experience of a lifetime.

For those that want to get a drink in as early as 8 in the morning, swing into The Golden Tiki for one of the dozens of house cocktails featured during their Early Bird special hours!

Sitting in the Chinatown district on The Strip, the awesome tiki bar atmosphere has memorable and top-notch decor.

A crowd-pleaser across the board seems to be the collections of shrunken heads that are on display at The Golden Tiki.

All of their tiki-style drinks are listed for reasonable prices, great for any budget. On top of that, all the staff is friendly and professional, especially the bartenders. The killer drinks and vibe at The Golden Tiki will have you coming back for more!

3- Bound

Located right between the hotel check-in and retail shop of The Cromwell, Bound takes your Las Vegas bar experience to a new level of class.

The subtle lighting and gold and dark tones create a warm, intimate vibe. Elegant and plush seating with curtains surround the bar, providing an intimate experience for its guests. Bound’s crowning centerpiece is its chic circular bar.

Bound is a bar for the people that can appreciate the 1970’s style Las Vegas swank at its finest. The dark and warm decor with the carefully balanced, handcrafted cocktails makes Bound famous nationwide for very good reason.

If you’re looking for a perfect drink before dinner, Bound is the place to be.

After satisfying your soul with a cocktail, you can head upstairs from Bound to Giada for a fantastic dinner. Bound is the perfect atmosphere for a romantic date or if you’re looking for a place to sit down for a one-on-one catch up with an old friend.

A house favorite at Bound is their Breakfast Martini, made to order with Bombay Sapphire gin, Cointreau, Lemon juice, and orange marmalade. Sip and take in all of the vibrant flavors in an atmosphere where colors pop and crystal shimmers.

For bourbon lovers, try The Bound Old Fashioned. This elegant cocktail is made of Woodford Reserve bourbon, sugar cube, house-made brandied cherries, and Angostura bitters. You can unleash your inner bunny with The Bunny Bubbles. Made with raspberry puree and fresh pomegranate, the name draws inspiration from the most iconic centerfold models.

If you’re looking for something sweet and spicy, don’t miss The Spicy Fifty—crafted with Stoli Vanil vodka, elderflower syrup, fresh lime juice, honey syrup, and chili pepper!

4- Parasol Up

Due to this bar’s central location within The Wynn Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, Parasol Up arguably offers some of the best people-watching out of any other bar on the Las Vegas Strip.

Not only will you be entertained by all of the eccentric personalities found any day of the week on The Strip, but Parasol Up has quite amazing cocktail choices and an impressive list of wine.

As you watch the steady stream of people from all over the world heading to the casino floor of The Wynn, sip on some creative but not overly complicated cocktails that capture the hotel’s own history.

Blackberry Cocktail Beverage

For starters, order the blackberry-infused Sinatra Smash! If it’s cold outside, then indulge in some of the most amazing hot chocolate that you’ll ever have.

This amazing cocktail bar includes a terrace that overlooks The Lake of Dreams at the Wynn. Lake of Dreams is fully enclosed and visible only to those that are inside the resort. As you enjoy your drink, you can watch the spectacle of music and imagery that’s created by over 4,000 lights and stunning holographics and puppetry.

The escalator from Parasol Up will take you up to the 40 ft waterfall and the pine-topped mountain where you can enjoy shows that happen every half an hour, around the clock. Swing into Parasol Up for a truly unforgettable cocktail atmosphere.

5- Vesper Bar

Sitting inside The Cosmopolitan is the all chrome everything establishment known as the Vesper Bar. The shiny mirrored walls and glitzy atmosphere brings out the pieces of Las Vegas that you’ve probably heard about.

Now you can discover for yourself the exquisite atmospheres that will continue to make Las Vegas famous for generations to come. Vesper Bar features cocktails that are just as swoon-worthy as its bar decor.

The mirrored tiles, the neon accents, and waves of gilded gold that hang above your head allow Vesper Bar to bring a contemporary flair to a classic look.

The Cosmopolitan’s head mixologist, Mariena Mercer, serves guests signature cocktails from a menu that features timeless classics, as well as cocktails that have been reimagined and made for those that can appreciate truly eclectic flavors.

Take the Raising Hell, for instance—a spin on the traditional El Diablo that brings mezcal, spiced raisin syrup, and apples into the mix.

If you’re not in the mood for a cocktail, Vesper Bar has a pretty extensive wine list served by the glass, or enjoy a bottled craft beer.

No matter what your heart is craving, Vesper Bar is the place to be at inside The Cosmopolitan on the Las Vegas Strip.

Is There A Bar I Missed?

If you’ve spent time on the Las Vegas Strip or classic Downtown Las Vegas, then I’m sure that you probably hopped into a bar or two that left you with an experience that’s worth sharing!

If that’s the case, I would love to hear about whatever bar stood out to you the most during your last trip to Las Vegas.

Please drop a comment in the section down below and share with us your most memorable bar in Las Vegas!

The 8 Best Places for Tacos in Atlantic City

Mexican Tacos
Imagine kicking back after a long day after gambling at the casinos in Atlantic City. You’re definitely up, so you’ve decided to treat yourself to a refreshing cocktail as you watch the sun slowly head for the horizon. That’s when it hits you.

You’re hungry for tacos. Don’t worry. This is totally normal. Tacos are delicious.

Fortunately, like it’s bigger brother Las Vegas, Atlantic City has a number of places for you to enjoy tacos. Some of them are a little off the beaten path, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be utterly delicious. In fact, the opposite is true. Some of these smaller places are the perfect place to get a delicious taco.

So, while you may not always think tacos when looking out over the New Jersey shoreline, when you are in Atlantic City and do need a taco, there are places you can go. Here are eight of the top places you can go.

8 – Harry’s Oyster Bar and Seafood

There are a lot of places in Atlantic City that serve a good fish taco, but out of them all, I chose Harry’s Oyster Bar and Seafood. We were tempted to pick Kelsey’s since we pretty much love everything about their soul food setup, but in the end, Harry’s just barely nudged them out.

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Plus, have you seen the sunrise over the ocean in AC? That view alone is going to make you want some seafood, so you might as well enjoy it in a taco.

At Harry’s, you can get your tacos with grilled mahi or with garlic sriracha shrimp. In both cases, they come fully loaded with avocado, pico de gallo, chipotle mayo, and other fixings. Really, the hardest part is deciding if you’re doing the fish or shrimp tacos because both are excellent.

Also, depending on how you like to travel, Harry’s is by far the most upscale location on the list and offers steaks, a raw food bar, lobster, and other delicacies.

7 – Mexico Restaurant and Bar

Mexico Restaurant and Bar looks and feels like a homey, familiar Mexican place that you might find in a lot of cities. The décor isn’t earthshattering, but the restaurant is casual, and the staff is friendly.

Tacos Lined Up on Restaurant Plate

Still, everyone goes to (and comes back to) a Mexican restaurant for the food and Mexico Restaurant delivers. The restaurant offers traditional Mexican favorites and delicious fresh choices like shrimp tacos, tacos de bisteck (steak), tacos de pollo (chicken), carnitas, lengua, al pastor, and others.

All of the food looks authentic, but just slightly elevated for a discerning palate. It’s definitely a place to go for any of your favorite tacos.

6 – Los Amigos Restaurant and Bar

Los Amigos sits several blocks off the strip and offers a full range of meat and vegan options for the discerning Mexican diner. Their tacos include scallop tacos (a must try for those who come here), diablo shrimp tacos (yes, they’re hot), fish tacos, al pastor, and ground beef.

For those looking for a meal without the meat, Los Amigos serves vegan albondigas (okay, not a taco, but can you say no to albondigas?), drunken mushroom tacos, and fried cauliflower tacos along with other vegan dishes.

Really, even if vegan is not your thing, the meatless dishes are amazing and full of a lot more veggies than you would find just about anywhere. Therefore, our recommendation is go and get both meat and some meatless options. You won’t be sorry!

5 – El Rincon Del Sabor

El Ricon Del Sabor is one of the less pretentious entries on the list, but don’t start getting too pretentious to eat here. Seriously, for real authentic tacos, El Rincon is one of the best you will find anywhere.

Two Tacos From El Rincon Del Sabor

As far as selection goes, El Rincon Del Sabor has the taco favorites you would expect out of a taqueria. In fact, the tripe tacos should top your list when you come here. El Rincon also has a lot of other amazing looking dishes should you start to crave more than just a taco, or 10.

Really, the highest compliment I can pay this place is that this is where the locals go to eat Mexican. Also, it’s not too far away from the boardwalk (relatively) so for those who aren’t locals, there’s a good chance you can get here from your hotel.

4 – Tacos El Tio

Tacos El Tio is a feast for the eyes and the tongue. The restaurant’s space could have been just any other indoor Mexican joint, but they went above and beyond, presenting murals and vibrant colors reminiscent of the best taquerias in Mexico.

Their menu is impressive and full of high quality, authentic dishes you don’t always see. What you will see, though, is their selection of nine different street tacos served in handmade tortillas. These range from a vegetarian option (papas con rajas or potatoes with strips of peppers) to chorizo, carne asada, mahi, and more.

It all looks so good, but the shrimp tacos with pickled habanero might be the best choice, as long as your mouth can take the heat.

3 – El Charro Mexican Restaurant and Bar

El Charro Mexican Restaurant and Bar is another unique looking Mexican destination with a full menu and no less than eight different types of tacos from chicken to steak to chorizo to shrimp.  They also have some more unique dishes like the molcajete (a bowl of grilled meat), mixed fried seafood, ceviche, and other dishes, too.

Chicken and Steak Tacos

As far as menus go, El Charro doesn’t have the largest, but what they do have, they do extremely well. When you order their tacos (if you can’t decide, you can’t go wrong with the steak tacos), you know you’re getting something that was made with care and with quality.

However, there is definitely one thing you should note: El Charro delivers to the beach and to the best US casinos in the surrounding area. So, go ahead and indulge your taco cravings. El Charro has you covered.

2 – Casa Taco and Tequila

As far as luxury goes, Casa Taco and Tequila is fancy enough to give Harry’s a run for its money. Part of the Tropicana, Casa Taco just has this little upscale vibe that’s hard to describe but easy to see for yourself.

Fortunately, that pizzazz factor that’s evident in the environment is also evident in the food. Their menu is filled with ceviche, salads, crab tostadas, fajitas, and entrees that make me forget about the tacos and order something else. (Seriously, the arrachera, hanger steak with sautéed onions and mushrooms are so good.)

Still, this mission is about tacos and Casa Taco is happy to serve me steak, chicken, barbacoa, surf and turf, or picadillo tacos. Each is done with meticulous care and attention to detail. Of course, the star is the surf and turf (skirt steak and grilled shrimp with refried beans, avocado, queso fresco and salsa roja).

Not only is it a good taco, it just kind of screams “casino” and is a throwback to the glory days of Atlantic City.

1 – Pancho’s Mexican Taqueria

Pancho’s Mexican Taqueria is pretty much the place for tacos anywhere in the eastern part of the United States. It’s not the kind of place you go if you want something with a lot of ingredients or a dish that’s overly refined.

Tacos Al Pastor, Chile Sauce, Jarritos Orange Drink

No, this is the place you go when you want tacos. You go to Pancho’s when you want authentic street tacos, you want a lot more options to choose from, and you want to eat deliciousness.

Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with glitz and glamour. Casa Taco made it to number two on the list, but sometimes, I want a taco that reminds me of when I was in Mexico. And that’s when I head to a place like Pancho’s and order al pastor, steak, or suadero (brisket tacos). I eat the meat on homemade tortillas with spicy sauce, and I love every minute of it.

Conclusion

There are a lot more places I could have added to this list. Just about everywhere along the Atlantic City boardwalk is going to have fish tacos on their menu. That’s sort of expected from an oceanside town.

Perhaps more importantly, there are more Mexican restaurants and taquerias that could have been added to this list. Still, we wanted to pare it down to the top eight places and really highlight where to get classy tacos when you go to Atlantic City.

For that, eight was definitely enough since, more than likely, you will need multiple trips to eat at them all (which isn’t a bad thing, right?).

Still, I know you will get great tacos (or other meals) at any of the eight places (nine if you count Kelsey’s) listed above. Just find one that catches your fancy because they all have a different take on tacos, order all the food you want, and enjoy until your cravings are gone.

Top Fried Snacks in Las Vegas

Hand Reaching to Grab Fried Food From Plate
A good trip to Las Vegas is about a whole lot of things: amazing times sitting around the pool, hot casino action at the tables or the slots, and, of course, the food. Las Vegas is chock full of places to catch gourmet meals under the watchful eye of celebrity chefs, great meals at designer restaurants, and more than a few great snack places.

These snacks range in size and shape and go from the sweetest cakes and cookies you’ve ever had to the saltiest bites from around the world. Of course, they also come in the best variety possible: fried. In fact, there are fried foods all around Las Vegas to be discovered and savored.

If that sounds like something you’d love, here are ten fried delicacies that you have to try.

Fried Twinkies

At this point, fried Twinkies may not seem like a thing because they’ve been out for a while.

Not to say that fried twinkies are bad just because they’ve been around, but can we say that fried Twinkies are a draw at this point?

Fried Twinkies

Of course we can because this is Las Vegas!

Do you really think that Las Vegas would serve up a fried Twinkie and not add that little bit of Las Vegas magic?

That’s why I recommend heading to a place known for gilding the lily a little bit and trying a fried Twinkie.

In this case, I recommend Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill, where not only do they fry the Twinkie, they serve it with chunky strawberry sauce for a bit of sweet and salt.

Add whipped cream, and you have a tremendous fried treat to enjoy.

Fried Oreos

Oreos are another delicacy that started astronomically delicious and only got better when dipped in batter and fried in hot oil. It’s incredible how something that good can somehow get better, but the heat melts the sweet cream inside and softens the cookies and somehow makes magic more magical.

So, naturally, they’re a perfect fit for several Las Vegas eateries.

In fact, so perfect that they can be found in several places all across the city. For my money, check out Fremont Street Experience for the fried Oreos (and Twinkies and a bunch of other foods) that can be had for really cheap.

Head there, and you won’t be sorry.

Fried Fish

Maybe sweet things aren’t your cup of tea. No bother, maybe something across the Pond is. In that case, I recommend going out for some lovely fish and chips.

Basket of Fried Fish and Fries

And where can you find the loveliest of fish and chips? Go to Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips at the Linq Promenade. You have to believe that the master of all things British cuisine has also mastered the fish and chips. (Spoiler alert: he has.)

Even better, there are several restaurants that bear Ramsay’s name, most of them do great fish and chips.

Fried Scallops

To keep things in the sea, you can also seek out the best-fried scallops in Las Vegas. Although there’s no ocean with scallops in them real close to Vegas (it’s in the middle of a desert after all), you can get great fried shellfish, including scallops, in Sin City.

There are several places you can go, but my pick has to be Lazy Joe’s Fish & Chips.

Chicken and Waffles

If you prefer your fried meal to be chicken instead of from the sea, then can we suggest chicken and waffles?

If that sounds like your thing, you can order them at several diners and eateries around the city. You can also seek out extra special gourmet chicken and waffles.

If you do, there are a few destinations you can seek out. First, you can try Bruxie, a sandwich shop that has a unique waffle sandwich in which a waffle envelops a piece of fried chicken and toppings like a fried egg, coleslaw, and others. It’s like a regular chicken and waffles but kicked up to Las Vegas level.

There’s also Lo-Lo’s Chicken and Waffles, which puts chicken and waffles in the name, so you know they’re right. There’s also Hash House A-Go-Go, which can build you a chicken and waffles almost a foot high.

Korean Chicken

Keeping with the fried chicken trend, have you ever tried Korean fried chicken? If not, Las Vegas is a great place to give it a try.

If you’re not familiar with Korean fried chicken (called chikin by some), it is a South Korean method of preparing fried chicken. It is twice-fried, which makes the crust crunchier and, often, less greasy.

The crust itself can have many different spice blends, but most have salt and sugar (not something you find in American fried chicken.)

What’s also really cool about Korean fried chicken is that because the chicken is fried twice, the outer crust is smooth, which gives it a unique look.

Fried Chicken Baskets

If that sounds like something you might enjoy, Las Vegas has several Korean restaurants and chicken places that will serve you Korean fried chicken.

However, none of these are going to be as good as Bonchon (in my opinion anyway.)

At Bonchon, you can get your Korean fried chicken as wings, strips, drumsticks, or boneless wings.

They offer different styles (spicy, soy garlic, sweet crunch, or half & half) and several sides, including fried rice, kimchi, rice, or edamame.

No matter which you pick, you are sure to get a fantastic fried meal.

Deep-Fried Calzone

If you live in a major urban area, you’ve probably seen fried Oreos, fish, chicken, etc.

However, have you seen a deep-fried calzone?

If not, that’s too bad because it’s long been a theory of mine that deep frying makes anything better. That applies to the calzone.

For those who are unaware, a calzone is basically like a pizza that’s been folded over and sealed (also like a Hot Pocket.)

Just imagine the pizza goodness deep-fried, turning crispy and hot on the outside, and gooey and savory delicious on the inside.

Do I have your attention?

Good. Head to Pizza Rock inside the Green Valley Ranch and try one of their deep-fried calzones with a side of French fries.

You’ll find the calzone is stuffed full of flavorful ingredients, and the garlic fries are a perfect accompaniment. It’s definitely worth the trip to Pizza Rock to check it out.

Coccoli

Oh, since we’re on the topic of Pizza Rock, there’s something else you need to try when you go there: Coccoli.

Fortunately, Coccoli is nothing like broccoli (because let’s face it, nothing healthy should be on this list.) Instead, Coccoli features “sea salted fried dough with prosciutto di Parma and burrata cheese.”

Coccolir Bread on a Plate with Cheese Spread

That by itself sounds pretty amazing: salted dough plus fried plus more salt from the prosciutto and a little cream from the cheese sounds like something you want to put in your mouth. However, there’s a whole lot more you can do with salted, fried dough.

Maybe you could dip it in some of their pizza sauce or pair it with ranch or dip it in some extra virgin olive oil and herbs. The sky is the limit, and Pizza Rock is the type of place that will let you get away with a little bit to have a good meal.

Cheese Curds

No list of fried foods would be complete without fried cheese. Again, this is something that you can get all over, and you can get Vegas-style only in Las Vegas.

For that, I recommend deep-fried cheese curds from Badger Café. Yes, you can get them in a lot of restaurants, and Badger Café doesn’t precisely serve them in a large tower or with lots of trimmings, but they serve them so well that it’s a place that gets recommendations and high marks from a lot of customers.

So, give them a try.

You will not be sorry.

Crazy French Fries

Crazy French fries made the final list, though this slot was once reserved for deep-fried tacos.

However, when researching places to go for deep-fried tacos, I remembered that Bomb Tacos and a few places around Las Vegas had mastered the art of kicked up French fries.

In this case, we recommend the carne asada curly fries from Bomb Tacos, but really when it comes to Vegas if a place serves fries, they’re going to be great.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are a lot of different foods to fry and a lot of different restaurants for you to try.

No matter what you want to see dredged in flour or dipped in batter, then fried in oil, you can probably find it somewhere in Las Vegas or at a Las Vegas casino. From sweet items like Oreos and Twinkies or savory items like fish, cheese, or chicken, Las Vegas has it to offer.

Even better, these restaurants will serve the dishes Las Vegas-style: huge, fancy, and gourmet.

Is Card Counting Dead? Or Can You Still Beat Blackjack?

Blackjack Card Counting on Tombstone
Blackjack Card counting has existed since the 1950s. Casinos initially struggled to deal with successful card counters.

However, they’ve spent the past several decades understanding this advantage play (AP) method and how to combat it. Casinos have since added multiple decks, instated unfavorable rules, and learned how to spot APs.

These days, the industry even has technology on their side. They use facial recognition technology and databases to identify APs and keep their info on file, respectively.

That said, casinos seemingly have a big edge in this game of cat and mouse. Many blackjack players feel that card counting is dead as a result.

In reality, though, card counting and table-based advantage gambling is just as alive as ever. I’ll cover why this is the case and what you can do to win a fortune today.

Learning Card Counting Is Easy

You’ve likely seen card counting showcased in movies. This AP method is often portrayed as a complicated process that only geniuses can employ.

But counting cards isn’t really that complex, and you can learn it in minutes. Below, you can see the main components of card counting when using the popular Hi-Lo system.

Assign Values to Cards as They’re Dealt

Your first task as a card counter is to watch cards as they’re dealt and assign the following values to each type:

  • High cards (A through 10) = -1
  • Neutral cards (7 through 9) = 0
  • Low cards (2 through 6) = +1

You need to keep a running tallying and add or subtract 1 as each card comes out of the deck. This count is known as your “running count.”

Convert Your Running Count into a True Count

Understanding the running count is a nice start. However, you need to have a “true count” to account for the multiple decks featured at most real money blackjack games.

You must divide the running count by the estimated remaining decks to make this conversion. You estimate the amount of decks left by visually looking at the shoe.

Here’s an example:

  • +9 running count.
  • You estimate that 3.5 decks remain.
  • 9 / 3.5 = 2.57
  • Your true count is +2.57

You may have trouble determining how many decks are left at first. Furthermore, you might not be so precise on the remaining decks (i.e. 3.5) and true count (i.e. 2.57).

But the more precise you are, the better you’ll be at knowing your exact advantage or disadvantage. You should become more comfortable with these aspects over time.

Determine Your Edge (If Any)

Once you have the true count figured out, you can apply it to see if you have an advantage over the casino. Here’s how the true count correlates to an edge or disadvantage in various scenarios:

  • +3 true count = 1.77% player’s edge
  • +2 true count = 1.17% player’s edge
  • +1 true count = 0.58% player’s edge
  • 0 true count = 0.42% house edge
  • -1 true count = 0.80% house edge
  • -2 true count = 1.53% house edge
  • +3 true count = 2.05% house edge

You gain an advantage when the true count is at or near +1. However, you don’t want to raise your bets until reaching a +1.5 true count or higher. A more-favorable count helps you make higher wagers with more confidence.

Raise Your Bets to Capitalize On Your Edge

You determine your bet size based on your advantage in a given hand. Assuming the casino holds an edge, then you flat bet.

But you want to gradually raise your wagers as the true count becomes more favorable. Here are examples on how you can determine your bet sizes:

  • +4 true count = $300
  • +3 true count = $200
  • +2 true count = $100
  • +1 true count = $25
  • 0 true count = $25
  • -1 true count = $25
  • -2 true count = $25
  • +3 true count = $25

This model represents a 1-12 bet spread. $25 serves as one unit, while $300 represents 12 units (300 / 25).

You need to spread your bets from low to high to make long-term profits. However, you don’t want to get crazy with a 1-25 spread or higher. Pit bosses can easily spot this massive difference.

Consider Strategy Deviations Based on the Count

You can further increase your profits by knowing when to deviate from proper strategy based on the count.

Blackjack

The main idea behind card counting is to wager more when the deck is rich in aces and 10s. Your chances of getting a natural blackjack are higher at this point.

Another perk to counting cards is that you can tell when more high cards (favor you) exist than low cards (favor dealer). Dealers, who draw to a hard or soft 17, benefit from low cards, because they have a smaller chance of busting out.

Assuming you go away from basic strategy at the right times, you can further boost your edge. Here’s an example:

  • You’re dealt an ace and 7 (soft 18).
  • The dealer’s upcard is 2.
  • Basic strategy dictates that you stand in this situation.
  • However, the true count is a very favorable +3.
  • The deck features a large number of high cards that could bust out the dealer.
  • You double down as a result.

You don’t necessarily have to make these strategy deviations to win with counting. But you can increase your advantage even more when doing so.

Why Do People Consider Card Counting Dead?

Back in the 1960s, famed gambling author Edward Thorp refined card counting to the point where he gained a sizable edge over casinos.

However, Thorp’s Ten Count system wouldn’t hold up in today’s blackjack world. Worse rules, enhanced surveillance, savvy pit bosses, and facial recognition make counting tougher than ever.

Skull and Crossbones and Blackjack

You need to put far more effort into winning blackjack profits today. Many players take this as a sign that card counting is dead.

They don’t see a way to get around the databases, facial recognition, and RFID tracking inside chips that are used today.

Of course, card counters are still making money today. Therefore, those who think this AP method is dead are wrong.

You Can Still Win with the Right Approach

You can win through card counting alone if you’re skilled enough. But you should consider adding more layers to your approach in the form of shuffle tracking, different appearances, and more.

Shuffle Tracking on Top of Counting

Shuffle tracking is mixed with card counting to capitalize on weak shuffles. It can also result in less scrutiny from the pit boss and surveillance.

This technique calls on you to look for opportunities where aces and 10s are grouped together. You want to follow these card batches, or “slugs,” as they’re placed into the discard tray.

Cards Shuffling

Once the shoe has been dealt, the dealer pulls cards out of the discard tray and begin shuffling.

You continue visually tracking the slugs as the croupier shuffles. If the dealer uses a “one pass” shuffle (weaker than two pass), you can successfully employ this method and determine where the slug might come out during the next shoe.

Assuming you’ve done a good job at tracking the slug, you can raise your bets once the slug cards begin coming out.

Shuffle tracking accomplishes two main goals:

  1. It gives you a bigger advantage by helping you track aces and 10s.
  2. It masks your counting efforts.

Regarding the latter, increasing your bets towards the end of the shoe is a big sign that you may be counting. You’re more likely to determine that the deck is rich in high cards at this point.

With shuffle tracking, though, you can more accurately locate a slug of good cards. If this slug is earlier in the shoe, then you can also spread your bets earlier too.

Switch up Your Appearance

You can hit the casino multiple times within a year or even month by changing your look. Different appearances make it harder for gambling venues to recognize you after multiple hot nights.

You don’t necessarily have to wear disguises. In fact, flamboyant looks can attract unwanted attention from the pit boss.

A better plan is to slightly alter your appearance. You can go unshaven with glasses one time, for example, then be cleanshaven the next.

Be Careful with Spreading Bets

Again, you want to be mindful of how large you’re spreading bets. The bigger the spread, the more likely the pit boss will take notice.

Blackjack Bets

Of course, you must vary your minimum and maximum wagers by a fair amount. Otherwise, you won’t make any money.

But you also want to avoid being greedy and going from a $10 minimum to $500. A 1-100 spread like this will almost assuredly lead to you being thrown out.

Know Where to Count Cards

Some of the best US casinos are more tolerant than others when monitoring advantage players. Ideally, you’ll play at gambling establishments that gives you the benefit of the doubt.

Every casino has its limits regarding APs. The best plan is to research casinos ahead of time and chose those that have a reputation for being lenient.

Stay on the Move

The worst thing you can do as an advantage gambler is continue hitting the same casino again and again. One huge session can draw attention from the pit boss and surveillance – let alone multiple big wins in a row.

You want to stay on the move and continue traveling from casino to casino. This practice is much easier in major gambling destinations, such as Atlantic City and Las Vegas.

Assuming you’re good enough and have a large bankroll, you might even consider playing in various states. This way, you avoid developing the AP stigma in single gambling destination.

Conclusion

Card counting is much easier to learn than Hollywood makes it seem. You can earn money through counting if you practice enough and develop good skills.

That said, card counting isn’t dead in any capacity. Even with their sophisticated technology and trained employees, casinos are still losing money to APs.

Of course, counting cards is also tougher than at any point. The best APs counter this by improving their skills even more.

Some of the things that you can do to boost your profits include shuffle tracking, changing your appearance, researching casinos, and staying on the move. The more layers you throw on top of your card counting approach, the more money you stand to win.

But first thing’s first: you need to thoroughly learn basic card counting. After you feel comfortable in your counting abilities, you should proceed to the advanced AP techniques.

Mistakes Jacks or Better Players Make All the Time

Jacks or Better and Video Poker Machines
Jacks or Better is one of the most popular and oldest forms of video poker. It’s easy to play and if you know what to do, the strategy is fairly simple as well. But it’s like most casino games; if you make mistakes they cost you money.

Here’s a list of seven mistakes that Jacks or Better video poker players make every day. Learn how to avoid these mistakes on this page and you improve your chances of winning at Jacks or Better video poker.

1 – Royal Flush or Bust

The royal flush on a Jacks or Better video poker machine pays 4,000 coins when you bet five coins. This is a nice payout and makes just about any playing session profitable. Even if you’re playing on a quarter machine, the royal flush pays $1,000.

You should try to get as many royal flush hands as you can when playing real money video poker, but you can’t afford to chase them at the expense of other paying hands. Some players make every playing decision based on what gives them the best chance to hit a royal flush. This is a costly way to play Jacks or Better.

Royal Flush of Diamonds

Here’s an example of chasing a royal flush when it’s the wrong play:

You have a starting five card hand with three cards to a royal flush and a pair of jacks or better. You might have the ace of clubs, queen of clubs, the jack of clubs, the jack of hearts, and the seven of spades.

If you’re playing for a royal flush or nothing you keep the three high clubs. But the proper play that returns the most money over time is to keep the pair of jacks. The only time you keep a draw to a royal flush over a pair of jacks or higher is when you have four to a royal flush.

I even see players keep two to a royal flush and discard a paying hand. This is terrible strategy and costs you a great deal over time. Instead of using the royal flush or bust strategy, use a basic strategy card or chart when you play Jacks or Better video poker.

2 – Folding Paying Hands

This kind of goes with what you learned in the last section, but you should almost never fold a paying hand in Jacks or Better. Any hand of a pair of jacks or better, including two pair hands, three of a kind, straights, full houses, and flushes, is a paying hand.

The only time you should ever draw to a better hand when you have a paying hand is when you have four cards to a royal flush or four cards to a straight flush. When you have four cards to a royal flush the only hand you keep is a straight flush.

Video Poker Hand

This has to be a king, queen, jack, 10, and nine. If you have this hand, don’t draw for a royal flush. Every other paying hand that you have that includes four to a straight flush; you fold the one card that isn’t in the royal flush and hope to hit a royal flush.

If you have four to a straight flush, you always discard the fourth card unless you have three of a kind, a full house, a flush, or a straight. Realize that the only two hands on this list that you can have with four to a straight flush are a straight or a flush. If you have three of a kind or a full house you can’t have four to a straight flush.

3 – Betting Less Than Five Coins

You should never play Jacks or Better unless you bet five coins. If you can’t afford to make a five coin wager or don’t want to bet that much, find a machine with a lower per coin cost so you can bet five coins.

Video Poker Paytable

When you bet five coins and hot a royal flush you get an extra bonus. Instead of winning 1,250 coins, you win 4,000 coins. This makes a big difference in the overall house edge of the game. A five coin bet only costs 25 cents on a nickel machine, and $1.25 on a quarter machine, so you have options for lower cost wagers.

If you don’t want to bet five coins you should find a different game to play that has a low house edge. And if you don’t bet five coins and still play Jacks or Better, you should only bet one coin. The edge is the same for any bet under five coins, so don’t waste the extra money betting two, three, or four coins.

4 – Not Playing 9/6

Jacks or Better is available with many different pay tables, but you should only play on machines that pay nine coins for a full house and six coins for a flush. These machines are usually called 9/6 machines and they have a low house edge.

The house edge is much lower on a 9/6 Jacks or Better game than the other pay tables. You can find 8/6, 9/5, 8/5, and worse, but you should never play on them.

5 – No Bonus and No Comps

Jacks or Better video poker offers a low house edge and high payback percentage, but the casino still always has an edge. But there are a couple things you can do to help offset the house edge.

The first tactic is to find a good Jacks or Better bonus at an online casino. A bonus gives you more money to play with, which gives you more chances to hit a royal flush. You can’t get bonuses when you play Jacks or Better in a regular casino, but there’s a trick you can use there also.

Most land based casinos in the US have some sort of player’s club that awards comps for your play. Some online casinos also have player’s clubs, but they’re more common in land based casinos. You should sign up for the comps club wherever you play Jacks or Better video poker.

If you can find an online casino that offers a comps program and a bonus for Jacks or Better play you can enjoy the benefits of both at the same time.

6 – Playing Too Fast

When you play Jacks or Better, even using perfect strategy and a 9/6 pay table, the house still has an edge. This means that over time you’re going to lose money. This doesn’t mean that you can’t win sometimes when you play, but the losses end up higher than the wins in the long run.

One way to limit your losses playing Jacks or Better is to slow down how fast you play. Most Jacks or Better players play as fast as possible. But you have complete control over how fast or slow you play, so you can play slower and lose less money.

7 – Guessing

You never need to guess what the best play is when you’re playing Jacks or Better. People have used computer programs to determine the best play in every situation, and you can get a strategy card or chart that shows what the best play is.

Here’s a simple strategy that you can use when you play Jacks or Better video poker. When you use this strategy on a 9/6 machine the house edge is close to .5%. In other words, the pay back percentage is almost 99.5% using this strategy.

Read the list from the top to the bottom and stop as soon as you find a hand that matches what you have. Keep the cards that make the hand and discard everything else.

  • Royal flush – Straight flush – Four of a kind
  • Any four cards to a royal flush
  • Full house – Flush – Straight – Three of a kind
  • Any four cards to a straight flush
  • Any two pairs
  • Any pair of jacks or higher
  • Any three cards to a royal flush
  • Any four cards to a flush
  • Any pair of tens or lower
  • Any four cards to an open ended straight
  • Any two suited cards jack or higher
  • An three cards to a straight flush
  • Any two cards jack or higher
  • Any king, queen, or jack with a suited 10
  • One card jack or higher
  • If you don’t have any of the hands listed above, discard all five cards

Conclusion

Eliminating the most common mistakes that Jacks or Better players make is easy. Start using the best strategy every time you play, only play on machines with the 9/6 pay table, and make five coin wagers.

You can improve your results even more by slowing down your play and getting bonuses and comps. When you avoid all of the Jacks or Better mistakes listed above you’re always playing with the lowest possible house edge. This makes your video poker bankroll last longer and improves your chance to win every time you play.

4 Reasons Why Roulette Is Actually a Great Game to Play

Roulette Wheel
Roulette gets a bad rap. Lots of professional gamblers will tell you to stay away, to treat roulette like the plague and focus on other games that allow you to use your skill and knowledge to take advantage of better odds.

While it’s true that some games have better odds in some respects, there are actually a lot of reasons why you should give roulette a try and give the naysayers the cold shoulder.

1- Roulette Is 100% Chance Driven—That’s Good for the Amateur Gambler

Now look, I’m not going to argue that people who are gambling for a living should be playing roulette. If your goal when you walk into a casino is to become financially independent, I can’t help you—go talk to the poker and blackjack guys.

That being said, if your goal when you walk into a casino is to have fun (and let’s face it, the vast majority of people who walk into a casino are just there to have a good time), then I want you to seriously consider roulette because it’s all about chance.

Roulette Board

If you’re an amateur gambler—and probably 90% of the people who walk into a casino on a weekly basis are—then you’re not sitting at home all day learning blackjack strategies. You’re not practicing poker week in and week out. You’re not considering every strategy on the planet and figuring out what works best for you.

That means the games that involve skill—and that’s practically all card games—are going to kick your butt.

You’re either a) going to implement a strategy you read about on your phone on the way to the casino with your buddies and absolutely fail to implement it properly or b) you’re going to go in with no strategy at all and make a mess of things.

That’s a sure-fire way to lose your hard-earned dough without having a whole lot of fun. Most people forget that the cost of gambling adds up pretty quickly. If you try to play cards without a viable strategy, that money is going to be gone so fast you’re going to wonder why you drove all the way to the casino in the first place.

Roulette is different. Once that ball starts rolling around the wheel, nothing can influence it. The game is pure, unadulterated chance. That means you don’t have to worry about strategy at all, which is excellent for the average gambler. You can make your bets and just let the wheel spin and see what happens.

2- Roulette Has Better Odds Than Most Slot Machines (and Is Less Complex)

The other real alternative to roulette in most casinos is going to be the slot machines. Slot machines are essentially banks for casinos. They generate an incredible amount of income and rarely pay out. Even worse are the progressive slots—these bad boys have to have even lower odds to make the periodic giant payouts make sense.

But even if we all buy into the idea that we’re not in the casino to make money and are there to have a good time, the slot machines still don’t make a lot of sense because of how hard the odds are to figure out and how hard the games themselves are to figure out.

Roulette Board

The fact of the matter is that modern slot machines and online slots are exceedingly high tech and hard to figure out. They often have complex betting possibilities that by themselves can make your head spin. On top of that, many of them have many different types of ways that you can play.

All this adds up to work. You have to get pretty serious about figuring out how these machines operate and how you can even play them correctly. It’s not enough anymore to say bet the maximum and let it ride. You have to practically be a computer scientist to figure out what to do with this things.

Add to this the fact that a lot of people go to the casino and drink too much, and you have a recipe for disaster. You’ll end up feeding way too much money in and will walk away broke quickly.

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Roulette’s betting possibilities are much simpler in comparison, but further, they’re pretty self explanatory. It’s rare that anyone is going to look at a roulette table and be confused about exactly how they can bet.

Because of all the betting options and how straightforward they are, you can just choose the options that have the best odds and essentially play them over and over.

Unlike playing slots, where it’s pretty unclear how much of a chance you actually had to win, you can look at a roulette wheel and see exactly what your chances are. If you choose even/odd for example, you’ll be able to literally see all the even and odd numbers on the wheel. With a slot machine, you’re just feeding your money in and hoping for the best. The things are practically black holes.

3- Roulette Is All About Chance—Which Is a Lot More Fun

Now I don’t know about you, but the idea of having to go to a casino and actually think about what I’m doing isn’t exactly enticing. When I’m playing a game of skill, it always makes me question my wins and losses. I tend to get frustrated because I’m convinced the problem is me—I’m making bad bets or bad plays or whatever.

Chance

With roulette, it’s completely different. You’re throwing money on the table and then letting Lady Luck make all the decisions. If you lose, bad luck. If you win, good luck!

There’s something very freeing about that. It’s not you against the game. You don’t have to worry about how much you’ve had to drink. You just put the money on the table and see what happens. You don’t even really have to worry about being distracted. Just do what you do and enjoy yourself.

So taking away the frustration element is great, but unlike at a slot machine where you’re sitting by yourself and enjoying wins or losses in total isolation, when you play at the table you’re surrounded by other people who are just as into it as you are.

Unlike with cards, you don’t really have to worry about making a fool of yourself because the betting is so straightforward. Sure, you can do some fancy bets, but even those you’re going to pick up quickly. You’ll make friends fast at the table, and when someone wins big, you’ll get to be a part of all that excitement.

Roulette is absolutely a social game. Most people don’t want to sit at slot machines with their friends—they want to all play together. Roulette is one of the few games where you can do that and feel like you don’t have to pay too close of attention while doing so.

4- Roulette Has Serious Suspense, Unlike Other Games

If you’re going to the casino, you’re probably hoping for some big thrills, and that’s exactly what roulette provides.

One of the big problems that you see with other games is that there’s not much in the way of suspense. When you’re playing cards, the suspense isn’t drawn out much at all (unless you’re playing Texas Hold ’Em), but when you’re playing roulette, you get quite a bit of suspense with very little in the way of actual work.

Roulette Board

For example, when you’re playing real money blackjack, there’s little in the way of actual suspense. The cards come out too quickly for any suspense to really build. Plus, because you’re so focused on strategy, you’re just not focusing on what could actually happen—you’re not a spectator so much as a player.

When you’re playing roulette, you are absolutely a spectator. You put down your bets, and sure, technically they will call you a player, but in reality, all you’re doing is watching. It’s very similar to horse racing in that respect.

One of the reasons horse racing can be so much fun is that you have no say at all on the outcome. You watch, you make your bets, and then the suspense builds and builds over the course of the race.

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The same thing happens with roulette. When you’re “playing” roulette, you’ll find that the action of the ball racing around and around the wheel—without anyone at the table having any ability to influence what that ball does—makes for a great deal of suspense.

You’ll find the same line of reasoning at work with sports betting. The difference of course is that, with horse racing and sports betting, you’re just never going to really know the odds. There are essentially infinite factors at play—the weather, the wind, the players, the horses, how rested they are, and on and on.

There is still parity in sports. Anyone can go nuts and break out for an incredible win that no one saw coming. With roulette, it’s pure chance. You make your bets and see what happens, and that makes for some serious suspense—and serious fun!

7 NBA Betting Mistakes to Avoid Making

NBA Betting Mistakes
If you’re betting on NBA games on a regular basis, you’re probably making some mistakes. Some errors are more costly than others, but every sports bettor does it. The key is to learn from them so you don’t make the same slip-ups in the future.

Here’s a list of seven mistakes I see NBA bettors make every day. Use this list to help you avoid making the same miscalculations, which is going to help you increase your profit in the long run.

1 – Ignoring Back-to-Back Declines

Most NBA bettors should know about the influence that back-to-back games have on teams, because I’ve personally come across it hundreds of times. But I see bettors make the mistake of ignoring this advice every day. You have to learn how to evaluate teams playing the second game of a back to back if you want to be a winning NBA bettor.

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NBA players are professional athletes, and most of them are in great shape. But they’re also humans, who can only do so much before their performance suffers. Even the best athletes in the world can see their performance suffer when they’re tired.

Basketball is a game that requires a high level of skill. You’re trying to put a round ball through a round hole that’s not much bigger than the ball. This means that a shot made from 10 or 20 or more feet away that’s off by a half inch can be the difference between scoring and missing.

Fatigued players also get fewer steals, turn the ball over more, and get fewer blocks. They also tend to foul more often. All of these things come into play on the second game of a back-to-back schedule. While each individual play doesn’t seem like much, they can quickly add up to a big difference in a game. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring back-to-back games affecting player performances.

2 – Betting on the Point Spread on Big Favorites

Over the years, I’ve learned not to bet on the favorite in the NBA if the line is big. I know that when a dominant team is facing a weak team, the favorite is likely to win, and they’re likely to win by a lot. But there are too many things that can happen to make the final score closer than it should be to make these profitable long-term bets.

NBA Point Spread Example

Team Point Spread
Los Angeles Lakers -15.5 (-105)
Chicago Bulls +15.5 (-115)

The most important thing you need to learn about betting on NBA games is that the coaches and players don’t care about the point spread. Coaches get paid to win games, not on how much they win games by. The players want to put up points and stats, but the best players get more rest when their team is up by a large margin.

I’ve seen far too many of these games where the favorite gets a big lead then coasts to the win. The other team scores a bunch of points when the game is out of reach, making the final score much closer than it should be.

The bottom line is that these games are simply too unpredictable to make a long-term profit on.

3 – Overestimating Rookie Contributions

Every year, there are a few NBA rookies who make a big impact on the league and their teams. But most rookies struggle to play consistently from game to game.

The NBA game is faster and bigger than college, so even the best players coming into the league struggle because they’re not the best player on the court every night. And even if they are the best player, the other team doesn’t have as many weak spots as they’re used to seeing.

Zion

Bettors tend to focus on scoring more than anything else, and rookie scoring is volatile. A rookie can look like a star one night and put up 20 or 30 points, then struggle to get 10 points the next game. Rookies are hard to handicap for scoring purposes.

The places where the top rookies can show some consistency include rebounding and on the defensive end of the court. Here’s a tip that I use when evaluating rookies that are good defensive players.

I look for teams that put their best rookie defenders on the top scorers on the opposing team. These rookies usually can’t stop the best scorers, but when they’re facing a team without a great shooter, they can influence the game more.

I don’t give the rookie much credit when he’s facing a great scorer, but if he can keep up with the top scorers, he has a good chance to be valuable against the second tier of scorers.

If you like to bet on these basketball players while they’re still in college, check out this page on 7 mistakes college basketball bettors make everyday to avoid making any betting mistakes.

4 – Not Separating Offensive and Defensive Rebounding

Rebounding is an important statistic for evaluating NBA games, but it’s even more important to separate offensive and defensive rebounding. Every offensive rebound gives the team another possession and another chance to score. Every defensive rebound stops a possession without a score and starts the next possession for the team getting the rebound.

Rebounding

Both offensive and defensive rebounds are important, and you need to consider both when you’re evaluating games. But you need to use offensive rebounding more than most handicappers. Offensive rebounding is one of the most important things a team can do to improve their chance to win, and some teams are much better at it than others.

One of the surprising things you’re going to find when tracking offensive rebounds separately from defensive rebounds is that some guards are exceptionally good at reading shots and getting long offensive rebounds. The same guards might not get many defensive rebounds, but they make a big difference when they work on the offensive glass.

5 – Ignoring Possessions per Game

Tracking the average number of possessions a team gets on offense and allows on defense is a good way to judge how slow or fast teams play. This might not seem important, but it’s particularly helpful when you’re considering the over and under lines.

In the same game, teams alternate possessions so the total for each team is either close or the same. But each team has their own possession average that you should be using when evaluating games. This is useful when you’re comparing two teams, because two teams that have a high number of average possessions tend to score a lot of points when they meet.

On the other hand, two teams with lower average possessions tend to create a lower total score. The challenge is trying to figure out what happens when one team has a high average number of possessions and the other has a low average number of possessions.

As you start tracking the number of possessions, you start getting a feel for how to evaluate these matchups. You can use historical numbers to get an idea, but some teams are better than others about keeping the game tempo up.

6 – Failing to Factor in East Coast and West Coast Issues

You have to consider two different things about east coast and west coast issues when you’re betting on the NBA. The first thing is bias, and the second thing is long distance travel.

Knicks and Lakers Logos

Teams on the coast tend to have a bias when it comes to public betting. Teams in Los Angeles, Boston, and the New York area tend to have a bigger fan base than teams in Indiana and Dallas. This is important to understand because bias can move lines. When you see a line that’s moved because of bias, you can often find value on the other side of the game.

Most professional teams have a problem when they travel to play from one coast to the other. The time zone changes, and extended travel creates issues with performance. If you’re not tracking how teams that go from one coast to the other are performing, you need to start doing it right now.

7 – Placing Wagers Too Early

The best time to place NBA wagers is a few minutes before tipoff. You have access to late breaking news on television and online, and you need to take advantage of it. Few things are worse for an NBA bettor than placing a big bet and finding out the best player on the team you bet on is a late scratch.

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Follow the Twitter feeds for the beat writers for the teams you bet on so you can get late breaking news on your phone or computer. This can help you make profitable last second wagers and avoid getting bit by a late scratch.

Conclusion

It takes a lot of work to be a winning NBA bettor, and you’re going to make plenty of mistakes. If you learn from your mistakes and correct them, it’s going to help you win in the future.

You can also improve your NBA handicapping by learning from mistakes that others make. Learn from these seven mistakes that NBA bettors make all of the time.

El Cortez: The Last Haven for Coin-Based Slot Machines

El Cortez Slots
For decades, slot machines accepted bets and made payouts in coins. Gamblers, meanwhile, happily pumped quarters into these machines in hopes of winning hundreds or thousands of coins back.

But casinos eventually got tired of the inefficiencies of coin-based slot machines. Gaming venues needed to hire attendants just to deal with coin hoppers. Machines would also be down for half an hour or more following big wins. The player needed time to collect the rush of coins, while an attendant had to refill the coin hopper.

During the 1990s, casinos began replacing their coin-operated machines with ticket-in/ticket-out (TITO) games. Decades later, coin-based slots are now very rare on gambling floors.

Nevertheless, a few Las Vegas casinos offer these games. El Cortez, the longest-continually running casino in Vegas history, is the biggest haven for coin slot machines.

I’m going to discuss why El Cortez sees the need to keep these relics along with more on the disappearance of coin-based games.

Coin-Operated Slot Machines Offer a Sense of Nostalgia

Those who gamble on coin slot machines aren’t seeking the latest features and biggest jackpots. Instead, they want to relive Vegas trips of years’ past.

Phyllis Henry is one of these gamblers. The 84-year-old recently spoke to Vegas Inc. about why she returns to El Cortez to play coin-operated slots.

“I play the (coin-based slots) because it’s what I’ve always done all the years I’ve played,” she said. “I guess I like to get my fingers dirty.”

Henry is likely to keep paying these games in the future. After all, she won $200 worth of quarters during the interview.

A true throwback to gambling’s past, Henry recorded her win in a notebook that she uses to chart slots wins and losses. She also stored her newfound pile of quarters in an old cottage cheese container.

Henry isn’t the only gambler who appreciates the simple games and experience at El Cortez. Helen Iwata is another player who frequents the downtown casino’s coin slots.

The 88-year-old has been coming to El Cortez since 1965. She even knew the late owner, Jackie Gaughan, who passed away in 2014.

The Largest Selection of Coin Slot Machines

The vast majority of casinos want nothing to do with coin-operated slots. They’ve forsaken these machines long ago in favor of TITO games, which are more similar to an online slots experience but you’re still at the casino. The latter merely requires paper to print receipts. TITO slot machines don’t feature coin hoppers or go down for 30 minutes every time somebody wins 1,000 coins.

El Cortez is rare in their acceptance of the older style of slots. In fact, they’ve embraced such games in an effort to attract their core audience.

This gambling establishment features 175 coin slots, which is more than any other casino in Vegas or elsewhere. According to general manager Adam Wiesberg, they don’t plan on diminishing this selection anytime soon either.

“We have all the latest and greatest (slots) on our slot floor, but we intend on keeping a selection of coin machines,” said Wiesberg.

“We have a process where we take away some games every month that don’t get as much play, But we have players who love these machines.”

He added that most coin-operated slots were built to last. The main difficulty, though, involves finding parts when one of these games do break down. Some parts for coin-based slot machines are no longer being made. When they do get the parts, El Cortez also needs technicians who can handle the work.

Catering to Gambling’s Old Guard

The majority of the El Cortez staff has worked at the casino for over a decade. During this time, they’ve developed solid relationships with the regulars.

Rick Ronca, who manages El Cortez’s slots floor, noted that these relationships are important to the casino’s success.

“When you go to a place where it’s just ticket-in and ticket-out, you don’t really need any (maintenance) staff for that,” said Ronca. “Here, our staff is critical to us.”

“They know each regular customer by name. They greet them and talk to them. I don’t have an employee who’s been here less than eight years. The average is probably about 30 years.”

Wiesberg also spoke to the relationships that El Cortez staff members have with their long-time customers.

“Our ownership still appreciates that connection with the customer, which many places have gotten away from. They’ve gotten away from it because there’s no money in it. But for us, it’s a legacy that we’re trying to maintain. Our customers are loyal.”

A Tourist Destination

El Cortez enjoys more advantages from their coin-operated machines than just attracting nostalgic gamblers. They’ve also became a tourist destination thanks to their vintage games.

El Cortez Las Vegas

Some gamblers make a special trip downtown just to insert quarters into these games and pull the handles.

Because there aren’t many coin-operated slot machines left in Las Vegas, tourists from all over the globe stop by to play these old-school slots.

It’s no surprise that it’s become a novelty in the local Las Vegas gambling realm. While there are folks who are regulars at these slots, there are others who stop by just to experience its nostalgia.

Challenges to Offering Coin-Based Slots

Wiesberg said that newer gambling establishments make more profits from TITO games. After all, casinos don’t need as much manpower to keep modern slot machines running.

El Cortez, however, does “require more labor” to maintain their coin-based games. They also need employees to handle various tasks dealing with the coins themselves.

Coin Slot Machine

Staff members count all of the coins on a nightly basis. They’ll go through $30,000 worth of quarters and $3,000 worth of nickels on average.

They must also separate the coin denominations via bags. Once the bags are full, they’re stacked on top of each other until a driver can take them to the bank.

Those handling the coins must wear pocketless jumpsuits. A security guard with a metal detector checks them before they leave the room.

Sometimes, the games also need special fixes that aren’t immediately available. For instance, the casino wanted to replace the outdated bill acceptors on the coin-based machines.

They had to contact a metal fabrication firm and order specially made brackets just so the games could accept both bills and quarters.

Conclusion

Vegas and other gambling destinations have long since put their coin slot machines out to pasture. These games are typically only available through eBay sellers (for personal use) nowadays.

However, certain casinos still see value in coin-operated slots. El Cortez is the biggest aficionado of these classic games.

They have a special place on their gaming floor for 175 coin-based slot machines. At a time when other casinos view these games as antiques, El Cortez uses them as an important marketing tool.

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This casino draws a large number of gamblers who play classic slots for nostalgic purposes. They even attract tourists who want to try vintage slot machines.

El Cortez won’t be getting rid of their coin slots anytime soon. While they offer newer games like any Vegas casino, they also plan to keep their coin-based slot machines for the foreseeable future.

What Is the Best Strategy to Win at Blackjack?

How to Win at Blackjack
One popular search query on the internet, according to Google, is the following question:

What is the best strategy to win playing real money blackjack?

Most of the time, when you search for blackjack strategy on the internet, you’ll find a post explaining how you should always use basic strategy.

That’s good advice, as far as it goes. But basic strategy isn’t really a strategy at all. It’s just a list of tactics.

In this post, I’ll examine the difference between a blackjack strategy and blackjack tactics.

I’ll also some advice on coming up with a strategy for winning at blackjack.

What’s the Difference between Blackjack Strategy and Blackjack Tactics?

A strategy is an overall approach to achieving a goal. With blackjack, most people have a goal of winning more money than they lose.

A tactic, on the other hand, is a specific action to take at a point during the execution of your strategy.

It’s a subtle difference, but it’s an important distinction to make.

Here’s an example of a blackjack tactic:

You get a total of 11 for your first 2 hands, and the dealer’s showing a 6. You decide to double down.

That’s a tactical decision. (It’s also the correct tactical decision.)

Here’s an example of a blackjack strategy:

You accumulate a bankroll of $10,000 before starting. You memorize and drill yourself on basic strategy until you’re 100% confident that every decision you make is mathematically correct at the blackjack table.

Then you learn the Hi-Lo Counting System, which you also practice and drill until you can do it without mistakes and without anyone knowing you’re counting.

You bet between 1% and 5% of your total bankroll on every hand, depending on the count.

That’s an example of a blackjack strategy, because it describes your overall approach to the game.

A Bankroll Management Strategy for Blackjack

I don’t remember what the context was, but years ago a poker player friend of mine mentioned that if you have a negative expectation, you need an infinite bankroll.

His point was well taken, and it applies to blackjack as well as real money poker.

Bankroll Management

The first step to having a blackjack strategy for winning is to figure out a way to get a positive mathematical expectation and managing your bankroll appropriately.

Most people understand that getting a positive expectation is as simple as learning and mastering a card counting strategy like the Hi-Lo. I’ll have more to say about counting cards and other advantage techniques in blackjack soon, but first, let me address bankroll management.

You need enough money in your bankroll to withstand the vagaries of fortune. No matter how good you are at blackjack, you’re going to have a small edge at best.

If you bet too high a percentage of your bankroll on each hand, you risk going broke before the long run kicks in.

A positive expectation only works in the long run.

I suggest not betting more than 1% to 5% of your bankroll on a hand of blackjack, no matter how good at the game you think you are.

This means that if you have a bankroll of $1000, you’d be betting between $10 and $50 per hand.

100 Dollar Bill

If you have a bankroll of $10,000, you’re betting between $100 and $500 per hand.

And keep in mind that you still have the possibility of going broke. Blackjack is a random game, even if you have appropriate strategies and bankroll management in place.

Casinos are able to withstand the vagaries of luck because they’re backed by tremendous bankrolls in the millions of dollars.

Most casinos could make a profit offering even money games just because they can absorb losing streaks better than players.

That’s the first pillar of your winning blackjack strategy – appropriate bankroll management.

Basic Strategy in Blackjack

The next thing you need to do is master basic blackjack strategy.

Basic strategy is just the mathematically best way to play every hand in the game.

Some hands are good and have a positive expectation almost any way you play them. Many hands are terrible and have a negative expectation any way you play them.

Blackjack Cards

Basic strategy has looked at the expectation of every possible action in every possible situation and chosen the one with the highest mathematical expectation.

If you’re in a situation where multiple decision have a positive expected value, basic strategy tells you which decision has the highest positive expectation.

If you’re in a situation where every decision has a negative expectation, basic strategy tells you which decision loses you the least amount of money in the long run.

When you see people talking about how the house edge in blackjack is less than 1% or less than 0.5%, these estimates assume that you’re using basic strategy to make your decisions.

The average gambler, just playing by feel or guesswork, adds 2% to 4% to the house edge just by making basic strategy mistakes.

So, if you want to win at blackjack, you must master basic strategy first.

This will get you to where the house edge is as low as possible.

Learning How to Count Cards

Counting cards doesn’t require you to memorize all the cards that have been played so that you know which cards are left in the deck.

To succeed at card counting, you just need a way of estimating the ratio of high-value cards to low-value cards still in the deck.

Card Counting

Why does card counting work to get you an edge in blackjack?

The answer is simple:

You get paid off at 3 to 2 odds for a natural – a 2-card hand totaling 21.

The only way to get a blackjack is to get an ace and a card valued at 10 (the 10s, jacks, queens, and kings are worth 10 points each).

When a random deck of cards is dealt, the ratio of 10s and aces in the deck to the lower cards in the deck changes based on which cards have been dealt.

Sometimes you’ll wind up with a deck where there are more low-value cards than high-value cards.

And sometimes you’ll wind up with a deck where there are more high-value cards than low-value cards.

When there’s an imbalance resulting in a lot of 10s and aces, you have a higher probability of getting that 3 to 2 payout, so it makes sense to bet more in those situations.

When the reverse is true, you should bet less.

Here’s a simple way to figure this out:

The Hi-Lo Count

The most basic and probably most popular card counting method is the Hi-Lo System. Using this system, you assign a +1 or -1 value to some of the cards in the deck. You keep a running tally, called “the count,” using this plus or minus 1 system.

When low cards come out of the deck, the deck gets better for the player. These cards get counted as +1. The low cards that matter in the Hi-Lo Count are the 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, and 6s.

When high cards come out of the deck, the deck gets worse for the player. These cards get counted as -1. The high cards that matter in the Hi-Lo Count are the 10s, jacks, queens, kings, and aces.

You’ll notice that the 7s, 8s, and 9s aren’t mentioned. For the purposes of this counting system, they each count as 0.

When the count is positive, you’ll bet more.

When the count is 0 or negative, you’ll bet less.

Just by doing this, you can convert a negative expectation game into a positive expectation game.

Drilling and Practicing

To learn how to do this, start by practicing at your kitchen table. Count through an entire deck of cards, adding and subtracting one. Time yourself.

You should arrive at a total of 0 when you get through the entire deck.

If you wind up with another total, you made a mistake, and you need to slow down and try again.

Practice

Once you can get to 0 several times in a row, it’s time to try to get faster.

The first step to doing this is to deal 2 cards at a time and count them that way.

This is will more accurately simulate what you’ll face in the casino anyway. Blackjack moves fast, especially if you’re heads-up with a dealer. An average casino dealer can deal over 200 hands per hour when playing heads-up with a player.

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You’ll need to get good enough at counting cards that you can do it without detection. This means not moving your lips or looking like you’re concentrating.

You should practice in conditions that simulate a casino. Turn the TV and the radio on at the same time so that you can deal with the noise. Get the kids to play in the kitchen while you’re practicing. That will help you deal with the peripheral activity going on within sight of you.

When you get to the casino, size your bets based on the count.

If the count is +1, increase the size of your bet from $10 to $20.

If it’s +2, increase the size of your bet from $10 to $30.

And so on, up to 5% of your bankroll.

Limit yourself to an hour at a specific table in a specific casino, and try to visit the casinos during different shifts.

Conclusion

The best strategy to win at blackjack is to master basic strategy, learn to count cards, and risk less than 5% of your bankroll on a single bet.

Then don’t caught by the casino.

How Pitching Staff Usage Influences MLB Handicapping

MLB Pitcher
There was a time when starting pitchers frequently threw 300 plus innings a year. Their job was to either finish the game or get through the eighth inning with a lead to turn the game over to the closer.

The last year a pitcher threw 300 innings in the regular season was 1980, when Steve Carlton threw 304 innings. The last time a pitcher threw 250 innings was in 2011, when Justin Verlander threw 251.

Pitching staff usage has changed a great deal over the years, and you need to handicap games based on how pitchers are being used now.

From Nine to Five

To throw 300 innings in a season, a pitcher needs to start 40 games and throw an average of 7.5 innings per start. No one starts 40 games a year anymore, and no one averages that many innings per start. In 2019, Verlander started 34 games and averaged 6.6 innings per start, and he led the league in innings pitched.

Today, the best starting pitchers are expected to start 32 to 36 games and pitch six or seven innings in most starts. A guy that can keep his team in the game for five or six innings and make 30 plus starts a year is getting huge money on the open market.

Two Lineup Cards

Studies have shown a large decline in performance for the average starting pitcher after the first two times through the lineup. These studies have influenced team management to build their pitching staff, so they can go to fresh bullpen arms in the middle innings more often.

It doesn’t really matter why things have changed, even if they make sense. The important thing is to learn how to use the new usage of starting pitchers and entire pitching staffs to do a better job at handicapping baseball games.

Starting pitchers are still important when you handicap a MLB game, but the way the manager handles a pitching staff and the strength of the bullpen is more important.

One of the first managers to start using his complete pitching staff with success was Sparky Anderson with the Cincinnati Reds in the 1970s. He earned the name “Captain Hook” because he often pulled his starters early in games and relied on a deep bullpen.

At the time, this was a different approach from the other teams in the league, but today, his strategy is considered the norm.

How I Handicap Baseball Games

MLB Logo
When I bet on MLB games, I try to map out three areas of the game and I also utilize these 5 MLB betting stratigies. The first thing I look at is the first five innings, when the starting pitchers throw the bulk of the innings. Then, I look at the sixth and seventh innings where long and middle relievers enter the game.

The last thing I look at is the end of the game, in the eighth and ninth inning, where the set-up man and closer come in when the team has a lead. It’s easy to fall into the trap of expecting the starting pitcher to get through seven innings and hand the game over to the set-up man and closer, but very few games work out this way.

Good teams need guys in the bullpen that can get outs in the sixth and seventh inning just as often as they need a guy to come into the game in the ninth and close the door.

Strikeouts and Pitch Counts

Another area where MLB games have evolved is the importance of strikeouts. More teams focus on developing and acquiring pitchers who can strike out more batters, because strikeouts can kill rallies and make the chance of an error on a ball in play disappear.

The higher rate of strikeouts makes the pitch count go up for pitchers, which in turn, leads managers to pull pitchers faster. It also leads manager to protect their bullpen arms more by giving them more days off.

Strikeouts

As a handicapper, both of these things are important to understand. I want pitchers with high strikeout rates because they do a better job of controlling the other team’s offense. But I also need to know how often a manager is willing to use his best pitchers in the bullpen. If a guy isn’t available today, it needs to be considered before I handicap the game.

Pitch counts also have a great deal to do with how deep managers let their starters go into games. Most pitchers are on some sort of pitch count limit, even if the teams and managers don’t talk about it. Only a few pitchers are good enough and are trusted enough by their teams to be allowed to work deep into games.

Specialists in the Pen

Each baseball game has 27 outs per side in a regulation nine inning game. Of the 27 outs, which ones are the most important? Is the first out more or less important than the second out? Is the final out more important than any other out?

Hader

The final out or outs of the game seem like they’re the most important, but the truth is that each of the 27 outs is equally important. MLB teams still tend to use one of their top relievers to close games, but managers and front offices realize that the out you get in the sixth or seventh inning is just as valuable as the last out of the game.

The problem is that each team only has so many good pitchers. And your best pitchers can’t throw every inning of the season. Because of this, managers have been trying to learn how to use their less-talented pitchers to get the outs between the starter leaving the game and the set-up man and closer entering the game.

Instead of putting a weaker pitcher on the mound and hoping for the best, pitchers are being used like specialists more and more. A left-handed pitcher might be saved to come into the game to face the other team’s most dangerous left-handed hitters, then removed for a right-handed specialist for the next batter.

The middle innings are more specialized than ever, so you have to use this information when you’re handicapping MLB games. Games can be won or lost in the middle innings. Evaluate the middle inning specialists for each team every time you handicap a game.

The New Three-Batter Rule

Major League Baseball put a new rule in place starting with the 2020 season that is supposedly designed to speed up the game. The rule states that a relief pitcher must face at least three batters before being removed from a game unless the inning ends before they face three batters.

This rule has a direct influence on pitching staffs, especially the specialists that have been used to getting one or two big outs in the past. The interesting thing is that the rule doesn’t restrict opposing managers from pinch hitting. This rule seems designed to add more offense to games instead of making games shorter.

The pitchers that get hurt the worst are the lefties that have extreme splits between facing left-handed and right-handed batters. A smart handicapper is going to be aware of this and adjust his or her evaluations using this information.

Ranking the Middle Innings

Every successful MLB bettor handicaps games their own way. But most of them consider the same things when they’re handicapping, they might just look at things in a slightly different way. I’m going to share how I use middle innings relievers in my handicapping to help you get started.

Middle Innings on Scoreboard

I look at the pitching staff of each team in a game and rank the starters against each other and the back end of the bullpen against each other. The back end is the closer and set-up man.

Then, I look at all of the pitchers that might pitch between the starter and the back end. I try to find out if any pitchers aren’t available, and look at the ones most likely to be used today. Then, I use all three pitching groups to help me find a side of the game that offers value.

Conclusion

Pitching roles and expectations have changed a great deal over the years. Starting pitchers are being pulled earlier and middle inning specialists are expected to bridge the gap between the starters and the closers in almost every game.

Winning baseball bettors learn how to adjust when the game changes, and it’s important to adjust to the way managers use their pitching staffs today. Break the pitching staff into three groups for each team and adjust your handicapping model or system so you have the best chance of finding value.

Also, don’t forget to include the three-batter rule for relief pitchers and how it influences in game pitching decisions.

How the Craps Table Works (For Beginners)

Craps Table
If you want to learn to play craps, you should start by learning how the craps table works.

It might seem intimidating at first, but it’s less complicated than you think.

And smarts craps players ignore most of the table, anyway.

This post explains in detail for beginners what they need to know about placing bets on the craps table.

The Basics of the Craps Table

In casinos, craps is played at a table, usually one covered in green felt. The bets available are labeled on the felt. The table is also the playing surface for the game – you roll the dice on the same table where you place your bets.

Most of the best US casinos use a long table for craps – it’s 12 feet long, but it’s kind of rectangular. You’ll find smaller craps tables sometimes, but most casinos use the 12 feet long table because it accommodates more players – up to 16 people can play craps comfortably at a 12 feet long table.

Casino Craps Table

The rail around the table is padded because a lot of people get tired of standing and want something to lean on. Craps isn’t like blackjack; you don’t sit on a stool at the craps table.

Each player has a rack where he can put his chips while he plays. That’s located next to the padded railing.

The green felt is considered the bed of the craps table, and it has (almost) all the bets available stenciled on it.

Also, the craps table isn’t really a flat table – it’s more like a big, rectangular bowl. This prevents the dice from rolling onto the ground. The walls inside the table are padded with rubber pyramids, which serve to further randomize the rolls of the dice.

If you’re the shooter, you’re required to roll the dice all the way to the pyramids on the other side of the table.

How the Bets Are Laid Out on a Craps Table

If you’ve never played before, you’ll think craps is too complicated because of all the different bets available on the layout.

But it’s easier than you think.

You can think of the table as having a side section and a center section. (Really, there are 2 side sections – one on either end of the craps table. They’re identical, though.)

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The side sections are both run by a dealer, but the center section is run by the stickman.

You’ll see blocks with numbers and words in them in each section. Those are the bets you can place.

You should avoid the bets in the center section, which are the bets that the stickman will encourage you to make. I’ll explain the center section later, but for now, I want to focus on the section where you’ll be making the most bets if you’re a smart player.

The self-service bets – the bets you’re allowed to place for yourself – include the following bets:

  1. Pass
  2. Don’t Pass
  3. Come
  4. Don’t Come
  5. Field
  6. Big 6
  7. Big 8

These are the most basic bets in craps, and they have the lowest house edge – although Big 6 and Big 8 are the worst in this batch. (On some tables, those aren’t even in the self-service area at all.)

When one of these bets wins, the dealer puts your winnings on the table next to your bet. If you leave that money on the table, it goes back into action.

The other area in the side section is the dealer’s area. Here, you need to get the dealer to place your bet for you. This area includes the point boxes:

  • 4
  • 5
  • Six
  • 8
  • Nine
  • 10

You’ll notice that I spelled out 6 and 9. That’s how they’ll appear on the table so that players don’t get confused about which is which.

When a shooter sets a point, the dealer puts a puck in the appropriate box to signify the point for that game. These spots serve a 2nd purpose, too – you can ask the dealer to place Buy, Lay, and Place bets for you in those spots.

Come and Don’t Come are still self-service bets, but the odds bet for those must be handled by the dealer. The dealer uses the chips you bet on Come or Don’t Come to mark the number in those numbered boxes, and they put the odds bet next to the appropriate number, too.

The Center Section Is for Prop Bets, Which You Should NEVER Make

You’ll notice that the stickman, who’s running the center section of the craps table, acts like a carnival barker or one of those loud pitchmen you sometimes run into at a flea market. That’s because his job is to sell the worst bets on the craps table to the players.

The reason these are the worst bets on the table is because the house edge for ALL these bets is insanely high.

Craps Stick

The house edge is a statistically expected loss that you’ll see over the long run with a specific kind of bet.

The pass line bet has a house edge of 1.41%, which is relatively low for a casino game. In fact, it’s one of the best bets in the casino.

But the house edge on the bets in the center of the table is 9% or higher.

Nonetheless, here you can place bets in this section if you want to.

To do so, you toss your chips to the center of the table to the stickman and announce what bet you want to place. Try to use some skill and deftness when you do this – you don’t want to knock someone else’s chips over, for example.

When you win one of these proposition bets, the chips are paid directly to you rather than just being placed on the table next to your original bet.

Examples of Proposition Bets and Their House Edge

The hard way bets are bets on totals like 4, 6, 8, or 10.

But they only pay off if the shooter rolls that total “the hard way.”

This means that a total of 4 must be a pair of deuces, a 6 must be a roll with of both 3s, an 8 must consist of a couple of 4s, and a 10 must be made up of 5s.

The payout for a hard 6 or hard 8 is 9 to 1, and the payout for a hard 4 or 10 is 7 to 1.

Craps Table

The house edge for the hard 6 or hard 8 bet is 9.09%.

The house edge for the hard 4 or hard 10 bet is 11.11%.

I often suggest that many gambling writers make too much of a fuss about the house edge on casino games, but this is one instance where it’s a big deal.

You’re looking at a statistical advantage for the casino that’s 10 times as great on one bet over the other bet.

You should pay attention to that, for sure.

Just skip the proposition bets.

You’ll have just as much fun at the craps table, you’ll probably stay in action longer, and you’ll have a better chance of going home from the craps table a winner.

How to Get Used to the Craps Layout

The best way to get used to the game of craps is to play at an online casino, like those recommended on this site. All the casinos listed here offer free-to-play versions of their casino games. You play for “play-money” chips.

The big advantage of doing this is that you’re not risking any real money when you’re playing these free craps games.

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The online video game layout for those craps tables are almost completely identical to what you’ll see in a live casino, too.

It’s much better to learn without risking money if you can.

Conclusion

You need to know how the craps table and its layout work if you want to stand a chance at winning when shooting dice.

The best way to do that is to practice on a free game after reading through this quick tutorial.

The most important advice I offer in this post, though, is to stay away from those bets in the middle of the table. The house edge is just too high on those.

Bad at Gambling? Play Baccarat & Boost Your Odds of Winning

Baccarat and Odds Arrow
Many casino games don’t require any skill to play. Slot machines, keno, and roulette are perfect examples of simple games that don’t feature extensive strategy.

The drawback, though, is that many of these same options don’t provide great odds. Slots, particularly those in land-based casinos, feature some of the highest house edges in gaming.

You can switch to blackjack or video poker, both of which offer great odds. However, you won’t win consistently if you’re bad at strategy.

What can you do if you want solid odds without studying complex strategy? Play baccarat for real money! I’ll explain why below.

Baccarat Features Some of the Best Odds

Decades ago, many gamblers ignored baccarat. After all, this game featured high stakes ($50 and above) and carried the reputation as a snobby, elitist affair.

Fast-forward to today and baccarat’s reputation has changed greatly. Mini tables feature low stakes ($10) and a down-to-earth atmosphere.

Best Baccarat Odds

Many players are just now beginning to see one of baccarat’s best attributes as a result: its low house advantage. You can achieve a 1.06% house edge as long as you bet on the banker hand winning every time.

The casino takes a 5% commission out of banker hand wins. Even still, you’re almost in a coinflip situation when gambling against the casino.

Another favorable proposition includes wagering on the player to win. This bet carries a 1.24% house advantage.

Although just a little less favorable than the banker wager, the player bet is still worthwhile if you’re looking for some variety. Plus, you don’t need to worry about settling 5% commissions at the end of your session.

The tie bet carries either a 14.36% or 4.85% house advantage. The difference involves whether it pays 8:1 (14.36%) or 9:1 (4.85%) when the player and banker tie.

In either case, you should avoid betting on these hands tying. The tie wager is baccarat’s version of a sucker bet.

Baccarat Strategy Is Easy

Baccarat isn’t the only game that gives you a strong chance to beat the casino. As mentioned before, though, blackjack and video poker feature extensive strategy.

In contrast, baccarat doesn’t require much thought at all. You achieve optimal strategy just by wagering on the banker hand, this is why Baccarat is the best game for first-time gamblers.

If you’re feeling frisky, you can bet on the player hand. Those who are into trend betting sometimes alternate between the two propositions.

Here’s an example of trend gambling:

  • You normally wager on the banker hand due to its superior odds.
  • However, you witness the banker win four times in a row.
  • You feel like the player is due for a victory after losing four straight.

You don’t stand any better chance of winning by following trends like these. Nevertheless, trend betting is fun for a change of pace.

Overall, though, you only need to worry about wagering on the banker. Done repeatedly, this strategy drops the house edge to its lowest point.

How to Play Baccarat

Baccarat isn’t like blackjack, where you and every other player receive a separate hand. Instead, the table features two spots near the dealer marked “Banker” and “Player.”

After wagers have been placed, the croupier deals each side two cards to begin a hand. The hand that scores closer to 9 wins.

You’ll see betting spaces in front of you marked “Banker,” “Player,” and “Tie.” You place your chips on the outcome that you think will win.

Here’s a quick recap on how to play baccarat:

  1. You place your chips in one of the three designated betting areas.
  2. The croupier deals a hand to the Banker and Player side.
  3. The hand closest to 9 wins.
  4. The dealer sorts out all winning and losing bets.

How Are Baccarat Scores Determined?

This game’s simplicity is one of its greatest attributes. You merely need to put chips in the proper betting circle to play.

However, you may be interested to know exactly how scores are determined. Here’s a brief rundown on the scoring process:

  • An 8 or 9 on the first two cards is a “natural.”
  • The banker or player automatically wins with a natural if the other side doesn’t also have one.
  • The player receives a third card if their score is under 5.
  • The player stands with a 6 or 7.
  • When the player receives another card, the banker draws for a third one depending upon the following rules:
    • Banker always draws if the player has 0 through 2.
    • Banker always draws on 3 unless the player has 8.
    • Banker draws on 4 if the player has 1 through 7.
    • Banker draws on 5 if the player has 4 through 7.
    • Banker draws on 6 if the player has 6 or 7.
    • Banker always stands on 7.

Tips for Better Baccarat Play

I’ve discussed how easy it is to use perfect baccarat strategy. Nevertheless, you might still appreciate a few extra tips.

Stick with the Banker Bet

I can’t reiterate this single piece of advice enough. If you want the best-possible chance of beating baccarat, then you should always wager on the banker winning.

The bummer is that casinos take 5% out of wins. Their reasoning is that you have a 50.68% chance of winning banker wagers.

Therefore, they must take these commissions to ensure their edge stays intact. Even still, the banker bet’s 1.06% house advantage is one of the lowest in gaming.

Don’t Obsess Over Betting Systems

Earlier, I covered how trend gambling offers an interesting way to enjoy baccarat. But neither trend betting nor any other gambling system will help you win long-term profits.

The problem with these strategies is that they do nothing to counteract the house advantage. You can watch trends and manipulate your betting patterns anywhere you want.

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In the end, the house will still hold a 1.06% edge on the banker bet, a 1.24% edge on the player bet, and a 14.36% (or 4.85%) edge on ties.

The only thing that gambling systems are truly good for is spicing up sessions. You may get lucky and have immense success with a system while also getting to try a new method of playing.

Always Leave Enough to Cover Commissions

You don’t need to worry about manually paying commissions in online baccarat or many land-based settings.

Online real money casinos automatically take 5% of your winning banker wagers. Meanwhile, some brick-and-mortar venues see you cover commissions following every hand.

Other casinos, however, don’t require you to pay these 5% cuts until you leave the table. Such scenarios create difficulties if you don’t separate commissions from your main bankroll.

Assuming you can’t cover the full amount at the end of a session, then casinos will obtain your personal details. They’ll ensure that you pay up at a later date or face legal consequences.

Choose Stakes You’re Comfortable With

Mini baccarat has made playing in land-based casinos more affordable than in past years. You can play land-based baccarat for as little as $5 to $10 in some cases. Online baccarat features just $1 stakes.

$5 and $10 Chips

However, you still need to avoid getting carried away. You may be tempted to bet more during hot streaks or even when you’re losing.

The latter situation is extremely dangerous, because it constitutes chasing losses. You could end up losing your entire bankroll as a result.

That said, you should set a stop-loss limit (e.g. $100) before each session. You want to quit for the day upon hitting this limit.

Collect Baccarat Bonuses & VIP Rewards

Both land-based and online casinos usually offer loyalty rewards to baccarat players. You should take advantage of these VIP benefits to pad your bankroll.

Internet casinos have the added bonus of offering bonuses. For instance, you might get a free $25 bet for live dealer baccarat.

Or, you could receive a match deposit bonus. An example of the latter would include a 100% match bonus worth up to $200.

Get Your Baccarat Bankroll Ready

You never want to risk money that you can’t afford to lose on baccarat or any other casino game. Therefore, you should come up with a casino bankroll management plan.

Bankroll

Your first goal here should be to avoid betting anything that’s needed for bills and other expenses. This process involves going through your weekly/monthly finances and determining how much is left over for gambling.

Next, you want to set a unit size and determine how many units you’re willing to lose in a given session (i.e. stop loss).

Here’s an example:

  • You have a $300 baccarat bankroll.
  • You normally make $5 bets.
  • 300 / 5 = 60 units
  • You set a stop loss of 15 units.
  • You’ll never gamble past 15 units in a session.

Conclusion

You don’t have to master a difficult game like blackjack to win more often in gambling. Baccarat provides around the same odds of winning and is much easier.

You just need to follow the simple strategy of wagering on the banker hand winning every time. This strategy is good enough to yield around a 1% house edge.

Other tips include creating a bankroll management plan, going for bonuses/VIP rewards, and forgetting about betting systems.

How Much Did the MIT Blackjack Team Win?

MIT BLackjack
The blackjack world has seen many successful players over the years. But no name reverberates in the gambling world as much as the MIT Blackjack Team.

This group, or corporation, of card counters terrorized casinos from the early 1980s until the late 1990s. It’s immortalized in the 2008 film 21.

Much is known about the MIT Blackjack Team and their methods. However, no information exists on their exact winnings.

I’m going to explore this topic by quickly rehashing the team and looking at variables that can provide a ballpark figure on their profits.

What Is the MIT Blackjack Team?

Blackjack card counting teams usually consist of a group of players who stick together for a few years. When they break up, their team dissolves and they’re left looking for other opportunities.

MIT Logo

The MIT Blackjack Team differed greatly from this model, though. It wasn’t so much a team as it was a corporation that included leaders, players, and even investors.

Everything started in 1979, when professional blackjack player Bill Kaplan was strolling through the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He found a flier that called for students to join the MIT Blackjack Club.

The club was looking to capitalize on the new casinos in Atlantic City. After helping the club in the beginning, Kaplan didn’t feel that the team had enough skills to win long term.

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However, he didn’t give up on the idea. He later met blackjack player J.P. Massar at a local Chinese restaurant.

Massar wanted Kaplan to critique his team as they played in Atlantic City. The latter felt that the players were good, but they were using an overly complex counting system.

In exchange for staying with the team, Kaplan required that they agree to the following standards:

  • Corporate-like structure
  • Kaplan and Massar at the top
  • Funds split between investors and players
  • One card counting system for the entire team
  • Training sessions
  • New members undergo a difficult trial

The MIT Blackjack Team was officially born in 1980. They started with $90,000 in investment capital and quickly doubled this amount.

This success continued for years with players making $160 per hour ($80/$80 split with investors). The team’s capitalization hit $350,000 by 1984.

The team members continued growing as well. By 1984, it featured 35 members from a combination of Harvard and MIT.

At its height, this squad had 80 members. Teams were spread throughout the world in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Caribbean countries, and Europe.

Why Was the MIT Team so Good?

Many believe that this team was so good because it was filled with genius students. In reality, though, the MIT squad had success due to their unique corporate structure. Kaplan said as much when speaking with Boston Magazine.

“Most teams fail on the money management,” he said. “They never make it to the long run.

“There are tens of thousands of people who tried to win at the game. But MIT was the only team who really won year over year, because we ran it like a business.”

The rigorous training process that Kaplan and Massar put the players through also had an impact on their long-term success.

“Training, extensive training, checkout procedures, two hours of perfect play, leaving the table right,” explained Kaplan. “It was really run more tightly than most businesses.”

The investments and dozens of players working across the globe also helped MIT become the legendary standard in blackjack.

“[Card counting is] hard to do, as an individual. One of the reasons you play as a team, you can pool all your capital, but you’re able to get to the long run sooner.”

Variables to Calculate the MIT Team’s Winnings

No published figures exist on profits for the MIT Blackjack Team. Furthermore, key members like Massar and Kaplan don’t discuss it either.

Therefore, variables are needed to come up with a rough estimate on their winnings. Here are some key pieces of information that I’ll draw from when deciding how much the team made.

Number of Players

As mentioned earlier, the MIT Blackjack Team featured up to 80 players at its height. However, it also has as few as seven members, too.

Players entered the team and left in a steady stream. I’ll just take the lower end of the average and say that there were around 25 players at all times.

Days Played Per Player

The team didn’t play five days a week, every week. Instead, travel time and other pursuits were factored into the mix.

Some team divisions played as far away as Europe or the Caribbean. Others traveled from the team’s Boston-area home base to Las Vegas.

Additionally, some members were students while others were full-time players. Taking everything into account, I’ll assume that members logged an average of three days per week.

Daily Winnings

The average hourly profit for the team was $160. Assuming each team member played five hours a day, they’d earn approximately $800 per day. Multiplying the 25 players by $800 each day, the team as a whole would earn $20,000 daily.

Monthly Winnings

Here’s the math on how much the squad would make each month:

  • $20,000 daily winnings
  • 3 days per week x 20,000 = $60,000 per week
  • 4 weeks per month x 60,000 = $240,000 per month

Annual Winnings

Here’s the math on how much the team would earn each year:

  • $240,000 per month
  • 12 months x 240,000 = $2,880,000 annually

Longevity of the Team

This blackjack group started with Kaplan, Massar, and a few others in 1980. It ran really strong until the early 1990s.

Kaplan, Massar, and John Chang revived the squad as Strategic Investments in 1992 so that they could take advantage of the nearby Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut.

Strategic Investments was very successful until the end of 1993, when most of the team was identified and banned from casinos.

“Team Amphibians” and “Team Reptiles” continued the tradition from then until 2000, when the MIT group ceased their play completely. All told, I’ll count the longevity as 20 years.

Expenses

MIT Team members were responsible for covering their own travel costs and meals. The investors merely fronted the bankroll money needed to play.

Therefore, I won’t count expenses against winnings. After all, the corporation didn’t need to pay for the players.

How Much Money Did They Win?

I’ve consolidated the variables to just two: annual winnings and the team’s longevity. Now, the only matter left involves figuring out how much the team made in its lifetime.

Here’s the math:

  • 20 years
  • $2,880,000 in annual winnings
  • 20 x 2,880,000 = $57,600,000

Based on all the variables, both known ones and speculated, I believe that this blackjack team made $57.6 million.

This is no doubt a tremendous amount. Of course, it was split between investors and players with dozens on each side.

Why Did the MIT Team Stop Playing?

This blackjack squad might still be going today if casinos let them. However, gambling establishments hate losing serious money to card counters.

Casinos networked to end this card counting team’s reign. Griffin Investigations, a private investigator, matched yearbook photos of MIT and Harvard students to identify much of the team.

Blackjack

Griffin realized that many of the previously caught players lived around Cambridge. They were able to piece together the rest from here. Individuals also quit playing off and on. Many came to understand that professional gambling isn’t as glamorous as it seems.

Others were merely part-time spotters who didn’t get rich from their gambling endeavors. They were perfectly fine walking away from the casino world when a potentially lucrative career awaited them.

Heat from casinos also caused a great deal of stress for many players. Nobody likes having unpleasant conversations with the pit boss and, much worse, worrying about security.

As if all this weren’t enough, players had to continually earn their spots every time they were out in the field. Team management would verify new members’ results to ensure that they earned their keep.

The MIT Blackjack Team as a whole, though, was a fruitful pursuit for most involved. They no doubt made millions and quite possibly close to $57.6 million overall.

Conclusion

I’ll admit that my variables may not be spot on. Only a few team members would know the exact numbers on players, days played per week, winnings, etc.

However, I believe that my variables and ending figure could be somewhere in the ballpark of how much the MIT Team earned playing real money blackjack.

You may have your own thoughts on the matter, especially with the longevity and what counts as actual team play. Maybe you don’t consider the Amphibians and Reptiles teams to be the true MIT squad.

Whatever the case may be, though, this blackjack team accomplished something that no other squad has or will in the gambling world. They successfully crushed casinos for nearly two decades and earned millions in the process.

Why Doesn’t Reno Get More Attention as a Gambling Destination?

Las Vegas Sign and Reno
Reno is one of the largest gambling destinations in America. Strangely enough, though, it draws very little mainstream attention.

The “Biggest Little City in the World” doesn’t have the pizazz of Las Vegas or even Atlantic City. This is despite the fact that Reno features over 20 casinos and a number of outdoor activities.

Due to its proximity to Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Reno is perfect for biking, hiking, kayaking, and swimming.

With everything that Reno has to offer, why doesn’t it get more publicity? I’ll cover the main reasons through this post.

Where Exactly Is Reno?

Many Americans have heard of Reno. Most could tell you that it’s in Nevada. Beyond this, though, they have no clue what part of the state it’s in or which major cities it’s near.

Located in Washoe County, Reno lies on the west-central border of the Silver State. It’s about 20 miles from both the capital Carson City and Lake Tahoe.

Reno on Map

It bears a suburb called Sparks. The Reno-Sparks metropolitan area is the second-most populated part of Nevada after the Las Vegas-Henderson metro area.

Geography-wise, the city is based at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada range. Therefore, it offers spectacular mountain views and outdoor recreational activities.

Reno also features its own little Silicon Valley called Truckee Meadows. Major companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Tesla have invested heavily in the area.

Reno Draws Unfortunate Comparisons to Las Vegas

Reno will forever be cursed with comparisons to Las Vegas. No American gambling destination even comes close to the latter.

Nevertheless, the “Biggest Little City in the World” feels even smaller when pitted against its cross-state rival. Actually, it’s not much of a rivalry.

Reno Sign

People around the world know Vegas as the home of lavish resorts, endless entertaining options, five-star restaurants, 24-hour wedding chapels, risqué activities, and the hottest nightclubs. Reno, meanwhile, is known as “some town with casinos.”

Regardless, Nevadans and neighboring states still compare the two locations due to their fairly close proximity (seven hours). When given a choice between the two, almost everybody picks Sin City.

It Has the Stigma of Being the “Old Gambling Capital”

Believe it or not, Reno actually used to be the premiere gambling destination in both Nevada and the US in general. Well into the 1950s, it was a thriving town that drew high rollers, celebrities, and countless other visitors.

Reno also featured the most glamorous gambling resorts outside of Monte Carlo at the time. The situation changed, though, by the early 1960s.
Las Vegas began rising to prominence at this point. American Airlines bought out Reno Air in 2000, then closed down their fleet shortly after the 9/11 attack (2001).

Native American casinos in California began providing increased competition (discussed later). Once-notable resorts began to fall, including Fitzgerald’s Horseshoe Club, Maples Hotel, Nevada Club, and the Primadonna. All of these events have taken their toll and made Reno take a distant backseat to Vegas.

Reno Doesn’t Draw the LA Crowd… It Draws Sacramento

The many millionaires and Hollywood celebrities from LA don’t go to Reno. They go to Sin City, which, in addition to providing far more entertainment, is a much closer drive.

LA seems like a far drive away from Vegas at 270 miles. However, Interstate-15 makes this a quick and relatively effortless 270 miles.

Sacramento

Meanwhile, a drive to Reno from LA is about eight hours. The trip isn’t exactly a breeze either, due to the surrounding mountains. Sacramento is the closest big city to Reno at 100 miles away. Of course, with 500,000 residents, Sacramento isn’t exactly that big.

The Bay Area is 200 miles away. Reno does draw a crowd from Oakland and San Francisco. However, these same people might rather take the short flight to Vegas instead of driving to Reno.

Colder Weather

I’ve frozen my butt off during a few Las Vegas nights. However, this nighttime desert cold is nothing compared to Reno.

Outside the summer months, Reno is cold just about every night of the year. You’ll need to wear long sleeves and possibly a jacket during most evenings.

The city’s high altitude presents more problems on this front. Reno is about a mile above sea level, so it doesn’t hold much daytime heat at night.

One more problem is the altitude sickness. If you’re not used to being in the mountains, you might suffer this problem at some point during a trip.

Mob Money Went to Vegas

As mentioned before, Reno used to be America’s choice gambling destination. But Las Vegas’ fast growth in the late 1950s and ‘60s changed all of this.

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Mobs from Chicago and New York ran Sin City during this period. They pumped lots of their illegitimate earnings into making Las Vegas grand.

They spared few expenses in building lavish hotels and casinos. After all, the mafia needed to make their money laundering fronts look legitimate.

Today’s Vegas casinos feature corporate ownership. However, the town’s foundation owes itself to the mob’s original funding. Reno had a mafia presence in earlier decades, too. It just never saw the massive influx of mob money that Vegas did.

The City Could Use a Cleanup

The point of this post isn’t to rip on Reno. But I can’t help but mention that some areas have seen better days.

Old Reno Hotel

The main street features boarded-up buildings. Streets have more litter than even Atlantic City, which is saying something.

Casinos bear graffiti on the outside. Reno has a more visible homeless population than Vegas. In short, this isn’t the world’s most glamorous gambling spot.

Reno Competes With California Indian Casinos

California signed Proposition 1A, the Gambling on Tribal Lands Amendment, in 2001. This law paved the way for the Golden State to negotiate with Native American tribes on opening casinos.

The aftermath has forced Reno to deal with increased competition along the western Nevada-eastern California border.

Reno used to draw lots of bus traffic from CA. Those in the Bay Area, Sacramento, and other middle parts of the state frequently took trips to the Biggest Little City.

This bus traffic has mostly dwindled down in recent years. The same people can take shorter trips to Indian casinos in the Sacramento and Lake Tahoe (CA side) areas.

Should You Still Consider Visiting Reno?

Reno is far from a perfect gambling destination. My general takeaway from the place is that it’s seen much better days.

Reno

It doesn’t offer anywhere close to the same glitz as Las Vegas. Reno doesn’t have the proximity to major California metropolitan areas that Vegas and Native American casinos do.

This town also has physical barriers preventing it from being an ultimate casino hub. Notably, the mountain range makes Reno cold and can give visitors altitude sickness.

Conclusion

Even with all this being said, though, the Biggest Little City deserves some recognition. For starters, it still offers plenty of casinos, nightclubs, restaurants, and side entertainment.

The mountains and Lake Tahoe also make this a great place for both hiking and water-based activities. You can get to the lake in just over 20 minutes.

Reno is also less crowded and packs major attractions into a tighter area. This situation means for less walking compared to Vegas and fewer people to walk around.

Perhaps most importantly, Reno is the much cheaper alternative to Vegas. The average room price won’t run you $150 or $200. You don’t need to pay $100 for a decent meal for two.

Consider checking out one of these great Reno resorts and casinos if you ever end up in “The Biggest Little City in the World”:

In summary, Reno doesn’t compare to Las Vegas or Atlantic City in terms of amenities and fancy restaurants. It does, however, win out when considering affordability, outdoor recreation, and mountain views.

4 Tips to Playing Texas Holdem Like a Pro

Texas Holdem
When Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of poker main event in 2003, it was instrumental in launching the professional poker career of many players. It’s not because of anything that Moneymaker did after the tournament. It’s because the win came at a perfect time to ignite the poker boom.

A combination of media coverage, availability of poker games online and in land-based poker rooms around the world, and an amateur poker player in Moneymaker who won his seat in the WSOP at an online satellite poker tournament created the perfect storm.

Many things have changed in the poker world over the past two decades, but you can still become a pro poker player easier today than at any time before Moneymaker beat Sam Farha at the final table in 2003.

Here are four ways you can play like a Texas holdem poker pro.

1 – The Opposite Rule

Texas holdem is the most popular variation of poker, and it’s easy to learn how to play. But this doesn’t mean that it’s easy to be a professional holdem player. You have to learn how to play well in many different areas, and there are few hard and fast rules when it comes to strategy.

Many people preach that tight and aggressive play is the best way to win, but this isn’t true in every situation. The reason why tight play is usually better than loose play is because most holdem players play loose. But the best way to play when you’re at a table filled with tight players is to play looser than your opponents.

Ace and King

The best Texas holdem players are able to adapt their game and strategy to fit the situation. Most of the time, the best strategy is the opposite of what everyone else is doing. This works better in some situations than in others. This is why it’s so important to learn how to make adjustments in different situations.

Overall, tight play is better than loose play. When you play loose, you play hands that don’t show a long-term profit. When you play tight, you fold most of the unprofitable starting hands, so you play mostly profitable hands.

But when everyone at the table is playing tight, you can win more when you loosen up your starting hand selection. Just don’t overdo it, or that eliminates your advantage.

When it comes to aggressive play, most of the time, the best strategy is to play aggressively when you enter the pot. When you play in an aggressive manner, you bet and raise and force your opponents to make more decisions.

But when you’re playing against a table full of aggressive players, it’s more profitable to sit back with your best hands and let your opponents trap themselves. You still need to turn on the aggression in the correct situations, but you don’t have to play every hand aggressively to turn a profit.

You can’t use the opposite rule in every situation, but you need to learn how to adjust your strategy based on profitability in every situation.

2 – Odds and Expectation Rule

It’s almost impossible to be a winning professional Texas holdem player without using odds and expected value. Amateur poker players tend to resist learning about and using pot odds, but once you learn how to use them, you never have to study them again.

What are the Odds?

Many poker players think it’s hard to learn how to use odds, but it’s easy once you decide to do it. You can learn everything you need to know about poker odds in a couple hours, and with a few additional hours of practice, you can build a skill that you can use for the rest of your life.

Once you learn what poker odds are and how to use them, the next step is learning how to use pot odds to make profitable decisions. This is an easy transition once you understand odds, and this is one of the big differences between winning and losing poker players.

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The final step is to learn what expected value, or expectation, is and learn how to use it for every decision you make. Expected value is the long term average value of a decision.

Every decision you make at the poker table, from folding or entering the pot before the flop to calling or betting on the river, is either profitable or unprofitable.

The key is to learn how to determine the long term value, either positive or negative, for every decision. When a play has a positive expected value, it means that you make a profit in the long run making the play. When a play has a negative expected value, it means that you lose money in the long run.

If you want to be a professional Texas holdem player, focus on mastering odds, pot odds, and expected value. Once you master these areas, you’re going to be a winning poker player now and in the future.

3 – You Pick Your Opponents

The most well-known poker pros are tournament players, because tournaments are the main format shown on television. But many of the same pros you see on TV also play in cash games, and some poker pros specialize in cash gameplay.

When you play tournament poker, you have to play against the other players in the tournament, but when you play cash games, you have choices about where you play and who you play against. The most successful poker pros know how to find profitable games.

Poker Player

Poker pros usually play in traditional poker rooms, and many of them also play online. But you also can find them playing in private games. The goal is to win money in the long run. The way to do this is to play better than most of your opponents.

While it’s important to build your skills and ability so you’re better than most players, this isn’t the only way to make sure you’re one of the best players at the table. Find and create opportunities where you’re playing against weak poker players.

If you can go to the poker room and find tables filled with weak players, you can make money there. But you might be able to make more profit by finding private games filled with bad players, or create your own private games where you control who plays and who doesn’t get invited.

You can start using this strategy right now, no matter where your poker skill level is at this time. Even if you’re not the best poker player you can be yet, you can still win consistently if you make sure you’re always one of the best players at the table.

The most profitable poker pros aren’t necessarily the best poker players in the world. The most profitable poker pros are the ones who win the most money, and one way to do this is by winning against bad players.

4 – Play Within Your Bankroll

Professional poker players know that they have to manage their bankroll. If you run out of money, you can’t play, and if you can’t play, you can’t win. Good and bad Texas holdem players have ups and downs. Sometimes, bad players win for a short time and good players lose for a short time.

If you’re a profitable Texas holdem player and can stay in the game long enough, the profit will follow. But you have to play within your bankroll so you can stay in the game long enough to reach your long term profit potential.

Money

The best bankroll situation is to have enough money to play in any game that offers long term profit that you can find without worrying about going broke on a downswing. A few poker players have a bankroll this big, but most are forced to play below certain levels because of bankroll restraints.

As your skills improve and you gain experience, you’re going to learn a safe total bankroll range. Until you learn from personal experience, you should have 20 to 30 times the average buy-in amount for tournaments and no limit cash games, and 200 to 300 times the big bet for limit cash games.

Conclusion

If you want to be a professional Texas holdem player, you need to learn how to adjust your game using the opposite rule, master odds and expectation, pick your opponents whenever you can, and play within your bankroll.

These are the things that pro players do, so you need to implement them when possible. You can also check out this page on 5 Texas Holdem hands and how to play them for more Texas Holdem poker tips!

You can start improving your results today by doing a better job of picking your opponents. The best long-term strategy is to become a master of positive expectation, because every great poker player uses expectation to turn a long-term profit.

7 Mistakes College Basketball Bettors Make Every Day

NCAA Basketball Betting Mistakes
I’m not a huge basketball fan, but I’m happy when the NCAA basketball season tips off every year. If you know how to properly evaluate college basketball games, you can find plenty of lines that offer value throughout the season.

I’ve made many mistakes betting on college basketball over the years, and I see many gamblers making the same mistakes today. Take a few minutes to learn how to avoid some of these errors by reading about the top seven mistakes that college basketball handicappers make every day.

1 – Ignoring Pace of Play Tendencies

Every team in the NBA seems to play at a high pace of play. But this isn’t the case in college basketball. You still see many college teams run slow deliberate offenses that run a lot of clock every time they have the ball.

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This is important when you’re looking at betting the over or under, but it’s also important when betting on point spreads. A game that’s played slower makes it more difficult for the favorite to cover a large spread, because they don’t have as many opportunities.

One of the most difficult things to do when you’re evaluating college basketball games is determining which team is going to control the game when one usually plays fast and the other team usually plays slow. But you always need to be aware of how each team tries to play so you can use pace of play when you handicap games.

2 – Control of the Paint

Basketball has changed over the years, with teams learning how to win games using three-point shots to overcome a disadvantage in the paint. You often see this in NBA games, but it’s also true in many college basketball games.

The Paint

The college basketball teams with dominant big men can still control games, especially when they have a good coach. Teams that control the paint score more points close to the basket and tend to have a large rebounding differential in each game.

It’s easy to get distracted by long range shooting and fancy passing, but don’t ignore the teams that control the paint. A team that dominates the paint has a good chance to control the game.

3 – Guard Domination

I talked about controlling the paint in the last section, but teams with good guards can also dominate a game. The problem with most college basketball teams is they don’t have good guards. A great guard is almost as hard to find as a great center.

The first thing most bettors look at when evaluating college guards is their shooting ability. Shooting ability and scoring is important, but the best guards know how to create points for their teammates, protect the ball, and play good defense on the other end of the court.

A secret that I’ve used to make a lot of good bets over the years is to evaluate the experience of the guards on each team. In college, the team with the most experienced guards tends to have an advantage. I’ll take a pair of third and fourth year guards over a pair of freshman or sophomores almost every time.

I understand that there are some first and second year guards that have elite talent, but veteran guards can usually play with these guys, and they’re less likely to make a mistake in an important part of the game.

4 – Point Spread Bets on Big Favorites

If there’s one rule that I never break when betting on college basketball, it’s that I never bet the point spread on a college basketball team who’s a big favorite. I might make a moneyline wager, but the point spread is far too unpredictable to show a long-term profit.

NCAA Basketball Point Spread Example

Team Point Spread
Duke -12.5
UNLV +12.5

The first thing you need to understand is that college basketball players are still kids. And kids are unpredictable. They look like grown men because they’re big and athletic, but they still do things that normal kids do.

Another thing to remember is that the best teams tend to get the best shot from opposing teams. A big underdog can get up for a big game and play better than normal, making the final score closer than it should be. And the final thing to understand is that when a favorite gets up big, they start resting their best players and the other team can score a lot of points in garbage time.

On the other hand, sometimes, an outmatched team is mentally beat before the game is played and they don’t even put up a fight. So, betting on the underdog and getting a bunch of points is risky, too. I simply skip the point spread bets in these games and focus on other games that offer a better value or bet the moneyline.

5 – Waiting Until March Madness

When the tournament season rolls around in college basketball, it brings amateur gamblers out of the woodwork. They enter office pools and make bets on teams that they haven’t watched play all season.

March Madness Logo

This is okay for average sports bettors, but they’re missing hundreds of good betting opportunities that come up during the regular season. If this is you, and you wait until March Madness to bet on college basketball, consider checking out our top 5 March Madness betting tips.

The fact is that the sportsbooks set better lines during March Madness than they do on games during the regular season, because they know they’re going to get more action. This means you have a better chance to find value on regular season games.

If you want to be a winning college basketball bettor, you have to take advantage of every opportunity to find value that you can. You need to concentrate on the regular season more than the tournament.

6 – Ignoring Small Conferences

I make as much profit betting on small college basketball and football games than on pro games. Focusing on small college conferences is the fastest way to become a winning basketball gambler.

The sportsbooks don’t spend as much time evaluating and setting lines for small conference games as they do for the big conferences and the NBA. The books know they won’t get as much action on these games so they have less risk.

This gives you the opportunity to find games that offer value. You can easily spend more time watching small conference games and acquiring information than the sportsbooks do. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring small conference college basketball games.

7 – Ignoring Popular Team Bias

Do you know who the most popular college basketball teams are? If not, you need to make a list right now. A good place to start is with the teams that get the most national coverage. Teams like Duke and North Carolina spring to mind.

The reason why it’s important to know which teams are the most popular on the national scene is because these teams have more money bet on them by the public than other teams. Does this mean you should bet on them, too? The answer is that you should look at the lines and see if there’s value betting against them. You need to look at this in every game they play.

Duke and UNC Logos

You might be wondering what popularity, heavy betting, or national coverage has to do with winning more bets. The sportsbooks know who the most popular college basketball teams are by the amount of public money gets bet on them. The most sophisticated sportsbooks know how much of their handle comes from the public and how much of it comes from sharp sports bettors.

Sportsbooks understand that sharp sports bettors bet on value, so their money is going on a team they think has the best chance to cover the spread. Sharp sports bettors don’t care about how popular a team is. And you shouldn’t either.

When the public bets heavily on one side of a game and the sharps don’t even the game out, the books often move the line against the popular team to entice more bets on the other side to balance their books. Sometimes, the sportsbooks move the line before they set it because they know what’s going to happen.

This is why you can often find value betting against the most popular college basketball teams. You can get more points than you should, and this is how you find and take advantage of value when betting on college basketball.

Conclusion

College basketball offers many different opportunities than the NBA. The game is different and some things that don’t work in the pros still work in college. This means you have to learn how to evaluate the college game in a different way than you evaluate the NBA.

If you had to pick a single thing from the mistakes listed above that can help you become a better college basketball handicapper, start concentrating on small college games. This is the fastest way to find games and lines that offer value.

Top 8 Pizza Places in Las Vegas

Pizza on Cutting Board, Las Vegas Logo
Sometimes there’s nothing better than a nice, piping hot slice of pizza to pair with a perfect night of gambling.

I say that without a hint of facetiousness. There are times, even in the dead heat of a Las Vegas summer, when the cards are falling, the chips are getting pushed, the slots are clanging, and the dice are flying that you get hungry.

Naturally, Las Vegas is a city filled with all kinds of different places to eat, and those restaurants have a time and place. Still, there will come a moment when you want something fast that grounds you a little bit.

That maybe reminds you of home or gives you a bit of familiar to hang on to as you are wagering a lot of your money.

In this case, pizza can do quite nicely. Even better, there are pizza places in just all the Las Vegas casinos along the Strip.

Those places are useful when you want fast, but don’t necessarily care about quality. When you want something a little more gourmet, I’ve got eight places you can go in search of a quality piece of pizza.

8- Northside Nathan’s

There’s a part of me that wanted to rate Northside Nathan’s higher than eight, but after thinking about it, it’s probably the right place. The thing with Northside Nathan’s is that its strength can also be it’s one weakness.

I am talking about Detroit style pizza.

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Detroit style pizza is deep-dish style pizza, sometimes with little piles of ricotta served on the slices.

For those who like deep-dish, it’s great. Those who don’t might not know that Northside Nathan’s also does a traditional round style.

For my money at Northside Nathan’s, I go with the Adelaide’s Supreme with all the toppings except jalapeno, anchovies, and pineapple (thank goodness) in their famous Detroit style.

In the round style, I give the nod to the Tex Mex Style featuring green sauce, pinto beans, meatballs, and jalapenos.

It’s unusual and unusually good.

7- Pizza Rock

Pizza Rock reminds me of a traditional pizzeria done Las Vegas-style: big neon, lots of flashes, a feeling that you’ve walked into something different, but still with some heart. With a few locations across the Las Vegas valley including one located inside the Green Valley Ranch Casino and Resort, Pizza Rock is one of my favorites.

Entrance to Pizza Rock in Las Vegas Nevada

That heart starts with the fantastic menu at Pizza Rock, including some wicked appetizers and insalata.

Still, we’re talking about pizza here, so let’s talk about one of the five ways you can get a pizza made at Pizza Rock:

  1. New York/New Haven-style made in a 700-degree brick oven
  2. Pizza Napoletana baked in a 900-degree wood oven
  3. Pizza Romana cooked in a 700-degree electric brick oven
  4. Classic American prepared in a 550-degree gas brick oven
  5. Classic Italian made in a 550-degree gas brick oven

Given all those styles, it’s nearly impossible to say which is the best of all of them. That would take a lot of time and a lot of eating. So, take it from me and believe that there are a lot of really great topping choices that are inventive and mix great flavors.

Also, you can take my word for it and order the New Haven Lou (that’s New Haven-style if you hadn’t guessed) with mozzarella, spinach, sliced meatball, ricotta, crushed red peppers, garlic, EVOO, oregano and romano. They do it with no sauce, but I like to request it.

6- Dom DeMarco’s Pizzeria & Bar

Not every restaurant that gets transplanted to Las Vegas is a success. Still, Dom DeMarco’s Pizzeria & Bar started from pretty rarified air and managed to survive even in the desert.

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If you’re not sure who Dom DeMarco is, he’s been dubbed the pizza god and is an acknowledged master of the pizza art. New Yorkers would stand in line for three hours to try a slice of his pie, so you know it had to be amazing.

That tradition now continues in the Sin City sun. Located where most people never see (the parts where the native Las Vegans live), Dom DeMarco’s Pizzeria & Bar was opened by pizza masters and trained by Dom himself to make the pies.

When you go to Dom DeMarco’s, you can always choose to customize your pie however you would like.

This pizzeria and bar also feature ten specialty pizzas, including The Big Apple, made with imported San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, pepperoni, ham, meatballs, house-made sausage, Grana Padano and fresh basil. Tell me that doesn’t sound great?

5- Popup Pizza

If you read Popup Pizza’s press, they’re the best slice in town. Even though that comes straight from the horse’s mouth, it’s not that far off.

Popup Pizza, which is not a popup, instead located in the Plaza Hotel, offers six different types of specialty pies along with the option of making your pizza your way. One of these pies is a vegan pie, which you should try if you don’t eat meat or consume dairy.

Hand Reaching Out For Slice of Pizza on Table

Still, for me, the perfect choice is either the creamy onion, spinach, and mushroom, or the hot pepperoni. Both pizzas have a fresh onion cream sauce as their base, both topped with fresh mozzarella. The creamy onion, spinach, and mushroom are finished with roasted mushrooms and sautéed spinach. At the same time, the hot pepperoni adds pepperoni, pickled jalapenos, and a topping of Mike’s Sweet & Spicy Honey.

Honey is a controversial topic, but popup will make you believe.

4- Metro Pizza

Metro Pizza was founded by people who grew up in the pizza business. More importantly, when they opened Metro Pizza, they did it intending to honor the humble pizza slice that can be found in great pizza joints across the country.

They’ve done an excellent job of it, too.

At Metro Pizza, you can get regular round pizzas, stuffed pizzas, Sicilian square pizzas, and New York-style pizzas all under one roof. They’ve got plenty of specialty pizzas and varieties that you can try, too.

Still, for money, the star of the show is their East Side Pizza (New York style.) It’s hard not to get an Old New York style with tomato sauce and big slices of fresh mozzarella. The Mott Street with sausage, peppers, and onions also is a can’t miss item for the pizza lover in all of us.

3- Flour & Barley

Flour & Barley does a great job of combining traditional Italian flavors with modern sensibilities all in one pie. It’s a difficult thing to get right, but Flour & Barley does it (and does it so well they opened a second location on Waikiki Beach!)

Flour and Barley Pizza Shop in Las Vegas

Still, the proof of a pizzeria is in the pie, not the location. Fortunately, Flour & Barley delivers with several local specialties, seven white pizzas (including a shrimp scampi pizza), and eleven red sauce pizzas.

My pick is the lasagna pie with Bolognese, mushrooms, sausage, and ricotta cheese because it’s just different enough to be remarkable.

2-Evel Pie

Evel Pie is precisely what it seems like: the daredevil life of Evel Knievel compressed and transformed into a pizza restaurant with a healthy dash of old school rock and roll to boot. It’s a place to get a great pizza pie when you’re also too metal to eat anywhere else.

No, no, that’s a good thing.

I swear.

The menu has several specialty pies that you can order whole or by the slice, but really the joy of Evel Pie is making your own. I can’t help but order my pie with “man candy bacon” and vegan meatballs for sort of a “duality of man” type of pie.

The Gang Green with basil pesto and mozzarella is also a great choice.

1- Naked City Pizza

This is the type of place you have to be careful when searching for on Google, but I promise this pizzeria is safe for work and has even been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. It’s also one of the most quality pies you will find in Sin City.

Naked CIty Pizza in Las Vegas Nevada

Naked City Pizza doesn’t have the hugest menu. Its specialty pie list has only eight entries along with four more vegan pizza recipes. Still, that doesn’t matter at Naked City because you don’t go here for crazy flavor combinations (Flour & Barely has that covered.)

No, you come to Naked City Pizza because the pies are great or it’s Sunday, and you want brunch.

Whatever the reason you are going to love this pie.

Conclusion

In a city that’s reinventing itself as the elegant dining capital of the world, please leave it to Las Vegas to have also mastered the utterly delicious pizza. All sorts of different styles and varieties are there for eating; you just have to decide if you want something quick and delicious, a Detroit style, New York-style, or something in between.

No matter what it is, though, you can probably find it on this list.

Why the Aliante Casino Is the Hidden Gem of Las Vegas

Aliante Casino in Las Vegas Nevada
Las Vegas still holds the title as one of the greatest casino and entertainment meccas of the world. Every single month, people flock into the dozens of different resort casinos that fill the Strip as well as those that are available in Downtown Las Vegas.

Downtown Vegas is the home of what people call the “classic” casinos of the city. The casinos featured in movies with actors like Elvis Presley are the same casinos that still sit on a lot on Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas.

Because of all the different hotel choices, it can be overwhelming when trying to pick the right one. I hope to shed light on an option that gets overlooked a lot when people look for a hotel for their trip to Las Vegas.

The Aliante Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas is an underrated resort-style hotel that locals enjoy. Let’s do a brief overview of the casino and talk about some of the things that make it one of the hidden gems of Las Vegas.

History of the Aliante Hotel and Casino

Aliante Casino and Hotel, formerly known as Aliante Station, is a hotel and casino that sits inside the Aliante community within North Las Vegas. It’s owned and operated by a company called Boyd Gaming. The resort was opened under its original name in December of 2005 as a joint project between Station Casinos and The Greenspun Corporation.

The final cost for the resort was $662 million.

At the beginning of Aliante’s journey, it struggled significantly with being able to even come close to breaking even.

Aliante would eventually have to file for bankruptcy. Later, a lot of the hotel and casinos would get refurbished, costing the casino and hotel  $2.8 million. Boyd Gaming would eventually purchase Aliante Casino and Hotel in 2016.

The former mayor of North Las Vegas, Mike Montandon, was initially against a casino getting added into the community of Aliante during the early planning stages. But he was convinced by the community’s developers that it was a good idea. Once the resort was officially built, it featured approximately 200 hotel rooms and 2,000 slot machines.

The resort finally took off in 2007, and it received 1,000 employee applications each week from mid-July all the way through early October in 2008. The main clientele that the owners and operators of Aliante wanted to target was a combination of their current customer base, the 6,500 households in the Aliante community, visitors, tourists, and the visitors to the nearby Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The Games at Aliante Casino and Resort in Las Vegas

The games that you will find in Aliante are casino games played by gamblers all over the world. One of the more common games you’ve probably heard of is blackjack, and that is a game that Aliante loves to boast about in their online advertising.

I guess if you decide to make Aliante your hotel destination of choice, make sure you give one of their blackjack tables a go. You can compete against their friendly dealers and race to 21 with their $5 double deck deals that pay 3:2.

Casino Roulette Table Game with Wheel

Roulette is a relatively easy game to play at Aliante. All you have to do is choose your color, number, or just the words even or odd, and wait for the ball to pick a winner. You’ll be happy if you love to play roulette and decide to stay at Aliante. The minimums for a buy in at their roulette tables are only $5.

If you’re looking for a game that’s more social and action-packed, then craps is your game of choice. If you’re an experienced player, enjoy Aliante’s 10x odds, repeater bet and fielder’s choice options, as well as friendly rules. For beginners, feel free to jump right in on a game, and the dealers at Aliante will be more than happy to help you learn as you play!

Ultimate Texas Hold ’Em, Three-Card Poker, Pai Gow Poker, and High Card Flush give Aliante the rank of the top casino for table games in North Las Vegas. Aliante’s exclusive single property progressives, which are only available to the Aliante players, ensure that you’ll never hear that “someone” hit the high hand on the other side of town.

Stay at Aliante Casino and Hotel

The rooms and amenities that come along with a stay at Aliante make it a resort that can be compared to some of the best resorts in Las Vegas. There are several different room options for the guests of Aliante.

The Deluxe Room bed options include one king as well as double queen options. Most of the rooms have some of the best views of the mountains in Las Vegas. The Deluxe Room features furniture and a bed frame with dark espresso wood, giving each Deluxe Room a very relaxing, cozy vibe.

The updated decor and amazingly comfortable plush mattresses and pillows make Aliante a perfect home base for a relaxing vacation.

The Ambassadors Suite has comfortable and modern luxuries that are a step up from the Deluxe Room.

Enjoy expansive east-facing mountain views, double vanity sinks, as well as an in-room refrigerator. At 730 square feet, you’ll have plenty of room for everything you need (and maybe even some things you didn’t know you needed).

The Luxury Suite includes wall-to-wall extravagance that lets guests mix business with pleasure, allowing them to be the “CEO of relaxation,” as stated on the official website for Aliante. They’ve gone out of their way to make sure that everything—all the way down to the stitching in your robe—is kept immaculate but cozy. After a stay in the Luxury Suite, you will truly leave feeling like a king.

Last are the Executive and Presidential Suites, which go all the way up to 1,500 square feet. These suites are reserved for the few people that can truly appreciate contemporary luxury and elegance.

The lavish living room area included in the Presidential Suite includes a dining room table that can comfortably seat six guests, a full bar, and a 60-inch flat screen TV with a Creston premium sound system.

The butler service area comes complete with a double sink and is located just off of the bar area. The two bedrooms situated on either side of the suite live up to the highest standard of elegance, with each room having its own private bathroom, plush beds, and beautiful views.

Things to Do and See

There’s a whole world of things to do and see once you’re in Las Vegas, but most of them could be done within the resort of Aliante.

One of the hottest things to do while staying here is checking out what’s going on at Access, a music venue inside the resort. Entertainment is center stage at Access, with custom acoustic ceilings and three enormous video screens. The furthest seat from the stage at Access is only 75 feet away.

The ETA Lounge is another popular venue inside of Aliante. Have a drink, or several, and dance the night away at this club that you’ll find popping all through the night. There are great bartenders, delicious cocktails, and hip and contemporary decor that will help make for an unforgettable night.

Guy Sitting With Beer In Front of Him, Thumbs Up

The club and music venue is great, but maybe you want to find something to do in the evening for the whole family. That can easily happen since Aliante has its very own movie theater. If you’re looking for a private and relaxing night, then head on over to the RE:LAX SPA. Aliante encourages its guests to experience high levels of relaxation and harmony once they step foot into their luxurious haven.

Aliante’s skilled spa therapists will definitely help you achieve whatever level of relaxation and harmony you are looking for. They offer an array of treatments that can restore tired muscles, relieve tension, revive the spirit, and reveal a version of you that maybe you forgot existed.

Have Something That I Missed?

There are plenty of other details and amenities that you will find available of the official Aliante Casino and Resort. If you decide to make this your resort of choice on your next trip to Las Vegas, I can promise you that you won’t regret your choice.

Have you already been a guest at Aliante previously and know some awesome things about the resort that I might have missed? Please feel free to let me know in the comment section below!

7 Riverboat Casinos Worth Visiting

Casino Roulette Wheel, Riverboat on Doc
Riverboat casinos conjure images of gamblers in pork pie hats, the mighty Mississippi, and Mark Twain smoking corn cob pipes. These pieces of Americana can still be found in cities across the United States and make exciting vacation destinations.

Typically, this style of real money casinos are found along the Mississippi River and the Gulf Coast. States known for their riverboats often border and contain tributaries of the Mississippi, although not all.

Once railroad transportation rose to dominance in the early 20th century, riverboats became entertainment destinations with its live music, dancing, and gambling. The riverboats carried guests on small excursions often leaving and docking every several hours.

Riverboats are known as a type of legal fiction, meaning they were created to limit the areas where gambling establishments could be constructed and often never leave the dock.

1 – The Amelia Belle in Amelia, LA

The first riverboat on the list is from Boyd Gaming, a casino and hospitality company based in Paradise, Nevada. Located in Amelia, Louisiana, between Morgan City and Houma, the Amelia Belle rests in the Avoca Island Cutoff waterway.

One of the most beautiful riverboats on my list, this four-story casino has a classic turn of the century look and is impressive when lit up at night. Unique table game offerings include Three-Card Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, and Mississippi Stud.

Along with your standard fare, the casino has a regular $10,000 giveaway and offers an advertised $777 slots jackpot. Don’t miss their touted Cajun Buffet for classic Louisiana favorites.

2 – The Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin, Illinois

The Grand Victoria is located on the Fox River in Elgin, Illinois. The destination is a holding of El Dorado Resorts, owners of the Tropicana, and another riverboat casino on my list, the Isle of Capri.

Table Games Inside the Grand Victoria in Illinois, Grand Victoria Riverboat

40 miles west of Downtown Chicago, the Grand Victoria boasts four restaurants:

  1. Buckinghams Steakhouse and Lounge
  2. Indulge Show Kitchen Buffet
  3. Crave Deli
  4. Prime Burgerhouse

The casino contains over 1,100 video poker and slot machines in addition to 36 table games. It is the highest-generating casino in the state of Illinois and is known for its community outreach programs. So, you can take added comfort knowing that your fun is contributing to local toy-collecting programs and not-for-profit organizations.

3 – Casino Queen Marquette in Marquette, Iowa

If you’re looking for a more personalized experience, this is your destination. The Queen Marquette is a smaller riverboat casino operated by CQ Holdings and is located in Marquette, Iowa. Like most of the riverboats on this list, the Queen Marquette rests on the Mississippi River. Across the river, you’ll find the quaint midwestern town of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.

Although the Queen Marquette has only eight tables games, it more than makes up for it with over 566 slot machine games. Table games include blackjack, Mississippi Stud, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, 21+3, Fusion Roulette, Shoot to Win Craps, and Fusion Blackjack.

The riverboat is connected to a 31-acre site that also contains an enclosed pavilion where you’ll find dining and entertainment attractions.

Although most casinos have hosts whose job is to provide personalized service to casino guests, the Queen Marquette puts extra emphasis on this staff. Owing to their smaller size, they tout more focused attention and accommodation in planning your visit.

4 – Sam’s Town Hotel and Gambling Hall in Shreveport, Louisiana

The Sams’s Town name is synonymous with gambling in Las Vegas, but this casino in Shreveport, LA, brings the luxury of Vegas to the South.

All Sam’s slots are progressive, meaning with each play, your chance of winning one of several jackpots becomes greater. A spin of the ol’ triple double stars will win you a jackpot over $90,000.

Sam's Town Hotel & Casino Riverboat, Poker Cards Spread Out

Along with standard table games, Sam’s Town Shreveport offers variations such as Craps no More, Mini Baccarat, and Let it Ride.

If you’re feeling luxurious, stay in the 760-square-foot Magnolia Suite and dine at the elegant William B’s Steakhouse. Spa Blu offers a variety of spa treatments, including massages, facials, body treatments, manicures, and pedicures. Relax in their dry saunas and steam rooms to unwind after a long day of winning. Check out their entertainment venue, Sam’s Town Live, for great local and national acts.

5 – Hollywood Casino in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Hollywood Casino is located right across the street from the state capitol building on the banks of the Mississippi River in downtown Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Hollywood Casino has an extensive Tier Credit program. At the Executive Producer level, customers can enjoy such benefits as personal host service, access to the exclusive Producer’s Lounge, and free sports tickets.

Hollywood Casino has your standard slots, video poker, and traditional table games.

In addition, they host regular gambling events including slot tournaments, lucky draw match games, a $64,000 Hi-Lo tournament, and several cash giveaways for club members.

The Hollywood boasts several restaurants, including The Celebrity Grill, Epic Buffet, the Take Two Deli, and more. After that, you can take to the links on the Copper Mill Golf Club.

Copper Mill is a “links-style” course reminiscent of those found in Scotland, with a unique layout that’s a combination of holes with three par 3 holes, three par 4 holes, and three par 5 holes on each nine. You can also take in the latest movies at the Movie Tavern which offers restaurant quality food while you relax and enjoy the show.

6 – Isle of Capri in Lake Charles, Louisiana

The Isle of Capri Casino, located off the aptly-named Lake Charles in Lake Charles, LA, provides a classic casino experience with a wide range of luxury suites.

The casino contains 30 table games, 11 poker tables, and over 1,100 slots. Like many casinos in southwest Louisiana, you’ll find the unique game of Pai Gow based off of the ancient Chinese game of dominoes adopted for a modern card deck.

Dealer at Pai Gow Casino Table, Isle of Capri in Lousisiana

Restaurants include the steakhouse Otis and Henry’s Bar and Grill, the Farmer’s Pick Buffet, and the diner-style Lone Wolf Express. Check out the lineup of live local entertainment and hear the unique sounds of Louisiana Swamp Pop, a variation of classic zydeco native to southwest Louisiana.

After dinner, relax on the upper deck with a drink, take in the view of the city lights, and watch the locals stroll along the downtown waterfront.

7 – Treasure Chest Casino in Kenner, Louisiana

Located in the New Orleans suburb of Kenner, Treasure Chest is a 24,000-square-foot dockside riverboat resting on placid Lake Pontchartrain. Enjoy the distant view of the downtown New Orleans skyline and picturesque cypress tree groves in the bayous surrounding Kenner.

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Being another holding of Boyd Gaming, one advantage of the company’s extensive line of casinos is that club perks will often carry to other Boyd Gaming casinos, allowing you take your perks with you to their other locations.

Unique table games include Mini Baccarat, Fortune Pai Gow, Flop Poker, Three-Card Poker, and Four-Card Poker. Restaurants include the Vista Buffet and Cafe Pontchartrain, both serving favorites of Louisiana food culture.

Once you’ve eaten your fill of boiled crawfish and steamed crab legs, take in the live entertainment in the Treasure Chests Caribbean Showroom. National acts are great, but the local Cajun and zydeco acts will give you a unique musical experience.

Conclusions

Riverboats may not have all the bells and whistles of your standard casinos (although some do), but what they lack in Vegas style amenities, they more than make up for in character. Riverboat casinos are perfect for those who are in it for the main draw, gambling, and would like to do so in a unique environment.

There are many destinations for riverboat casinos up and down the Mississippi River. There are also a few outside the confines of the “Mighty Mississippi.”

The next time you’re at one of these uniquely American establishments, hearken back to the turn of the century and imagine yourself amongst maverick gamblers and saloon-style showgirls. Riverboat casinos are the stuff of movies and novels, but you can still experience the atmosphere of this early American tradition today.

Keep your eyes peeled when on deck, you might see Huck Finn floating by leisurely on a wooden raft off on his next adventure.

Why It’s Gotten Harder to Win at Poker Consistently

Poker Cards in Pile, Poker Logo
Making a living playing poker is harder today than it’s ever been, especially if you play online. You used to be able to beat many poker games even if you were an amateur with only a little skill and knowledge. One of the reasons the game has gotten tougher has to do with the so-called poker boom.

At one time, an American poker player could choose from a couple dozen websites where they could play real money Texas holdem. Almost all these sites were full of loose, passive players who didn’t know what they were doing. When Chris Moneymaker won an entry to the World Series of Poker then won the Main Event, these games got even bigger and better.

Think about the difference between playing live poker and online poker.

At a full table in a casino, you’re lucky to get 30 hands per hour. At an online casino, you’ll get at least 60 hands per hour. Play two or three tables at a time, and you can get in almost 200 hands per hour without a lot of trouble.

Winning poker at the time involved nothing more than folding most of your hands and betting and raising with the hands you decided to play. In other words, you had so many fish playing that a super-tight aggressive strategy was enough to win enough money to earn a living.

Today’s online poker environment is different. Yesterday’s fish are today’s sharks. More pros are competing for the same profits, and the number of sites accepting real money action from United States players is dwindling.

So, yeah, it’s harder to win consistently at poker, especially online. But a smart player can still make money playing poker online or off. This post offers some tips for how to do that.

It Takes Time and Practice to Get Good at Poker

You’ve probably heard that it takes 10,000 hours to master something. So, how long does it take to get 10,000 hours at the poker table?

Let’s assume you’re bankrolled well enough that you can play 40 hours a week. If you play 50 weeks a year, that’s 2000 hours a year, so you’re looking at five years.

Group of Guys Playing Poker Game

And most people can’t devote 40 hours a week to poker every year. If you can, though, you can become a master. But I’d suggest that not all this time needs to be spent at the table. Some of that time could be spent reading poker books, writing a poker blog, or watching poker tutorials on television.

Also, don’t forget about the difference between playing online and off. 10,000 hours at 30 hands per hour is dramatically different from 10,000 hours at 200 hands per hour.

If you specialize in online play, you might argue that you could get in 10,000 hours’ worth of hands in less than a year because of multi-tabling and the faster dealing in online poker games.

Keep this in mind, too, master poker meant something different 20 years ago. Since the competition is tougher, you need to be a better player to be considered a master, too.

2 – Where to Learn About Playing Poker

You can find an almost unlimited number of places to learn how to play poker well today. 20 or 30 years ago, you had to read Super/System and get in a lot of hands to learn how to play. You also had to be able to think about the game in a counterintuitive way.

Some of these ways to learn how to play poker well cost money, but others are completely free. In fact, no matter what your budget is, you can learn how to play poker and win consistently.

If you’re almost completely broke, you can spend time on the internet reading strategy articles and watching tutorials on YouTube.

If you have a little money, you can buy some of the excellent poker strategy books available. I enjoy anything from Two Plus Two and find their materials worth studying. Anything written by Ed Miller is also worth reading.

If you have more money, you can invest in poker classes or even individual poker coaching. If you’re serious about taking your game to a professional level, these kinds of learning experiences can take years off your learning curve.

3 – It’s Still Easy to Find a Poker Game

Fewer sites accept players from the United States, but live poker is in more demand than ever. The country has more casinos in 2019 than it did in 1999, and almost all of them have cardrooms now. I used to play in Dallas in the underground cardrooms there, but that’s no longer necessary when you can just take a 45-minute drive to Oklahoma to visit the tribal casinos there.

Casino Table Games in Casino

In fact, I’d guess that 80% of the population lives driving distance from a casino that offers live, real-money poker. The variety of games and limits at these real money casinos is better than it’s ever been.

You can still find plenty of action online if you’re willing to look and have a reasonably high-risk tolerance. Many of the offshore sportsbooks that accept real money bettors from the United States also offer real money poker online.

4 – Why Hands per Hour Is so Important

It might seem like I spend a lot of time talking about hands per hour. That’s because the number of hands per hour has a bigger effect on your win rate or your loss rate than anything else.

When someone plays poker professionally, they start thinking about how much money they win on average per hour at the table. Since you’re dealing with a casino house edge that can be measured as a percentage, you can use an old formula to estimate how much you’re expected to win on average per hour.

For example, if you have a 1% edge, you just multiply that 1% by the amount of money you put into action per hour.

Let’s say you play 30 hands per hour live, and, on average, you put $10 into action per hand. That’s $300 per hour in action. If you have a 1% edge, your hourly wage is $3/hour.

Sure, you can increase that by getting better at the game, but you still have limits. Even if you get to a 2% or 3% edge, your hourly wage is $6 or $12 per hour.

You can also play for higher stakes, but a lot of times, the competition at the higher stakes tables is tougher. This means that your edge drops.

But let’s say you double the stakes you’re playing for and maintain the same edge. Now, you’ve gone from $12 to $24 per hour. Finally, let’s say you start playing online, and everything else remains the same except you’re now playing four tables at a time. Instead of winning $12 to $24 per hour, you’re winning $48 to $96 per hour.

Conclusion

It’s gotten harder to win at poker consistently for a couple of simple reasons. The first is that you don’t have as many poorly educated players in the pool of competition. You don’t win money by being better than the poker pros, you do it by being better than the people who are bad at poker.

The problem with bad players is that they improve, and become good players, or they lose all their money and quit playing altogether. This combination makes it tough to find soft competition and win money easily, which is the goal of any poker pro.

But you can still win money at poker consistently. You need to avail yourself of the many new learning opportunities available, and you need to take advantage of the ability to play multiple tables at online poker rooms.

Top 10 Attractions in Atlantic City That Aren’t Gambling

Atlantic City Boardwalk and Atlantic City Logo
When someone says Atlantic City, hopefully, you think of gambling, casinos, or the boardwalk. At one time, Atlantic City was every bit the rival of Las Vegas when it came to attracting show talent, glamourous developers, and fun things to do.

A little bit of the gold plating has fallen off that lily and AC doesn’t shine as bright as it once did. Fortunately, New Jersey is putting time, effort, and resources into bringing back the Atlantic City of yesteryear. Even if they did nothing else, there are still plenty of things to do in the city, whether it’s in the casino or outside of it.

Most people focus on the gambling, but here are 10 things you can do while in Atlantic City that don’t involve gambling, especially for families and those who want to mix up their AC vacation experience.

10 – Seasonal Events

While Atlantic City’s resident population doesn’t pass the 40,000 mark, it’s a tourist city, which means there are always seasonal events happening throughout the year. Whether you want to see a concert, get out on the water, see a holiday cooking show, or do something with the kids, you can find it in Atlantic City.

Because of the tourist nature of the city, most of these events take place on Friday or the weekend, but that’s not atypical of a lot of cities.

A really great calendar of these can be found on Atlantic City’s website or just by doing a Google search. Both places will give you events happening inside the casino and outside of it, too.

9 – Absecon Lighthouse

Absecon Lighthouse is New Jersey’s tallest lighthouse at 171 feet tall and overlooks Absecon Inlet. This towering landmark of Atlantic City has recently undergone a massive renovation, including a “charming gift shop” according to its website.

Absecon Lighthouse

The renovation has brought new life to the lighthouse and new visitors who are thrilled to climb the lighthouse (inside using the stairs, not outside of it sadly…) and it really is a nice-looking East Coast building.

Also, speaking of seasonal events, the Absecon Lighthouse is part of the Lighthouse Challenge, a weekend-long challenge to visit 14 lighthouses, museums, or lifesaving stops along the shore. Sounds like a good way to spend a weekend in October!

8 – Lucy the Elephant

Who knew the world’s greatest elephant resides in Josephine Harron Park in Margate, New Jersey, roughly six miles from downtown Atlantic City? Lucy, the aforementioned world’s greatest elephant, is a six-story replica of a friendly elephant you can climb through and end up on her back.

Even better, Josephine Harron Park is located very near the coastline, meaning that one can climb up Lucy’s back and get some pretty magnificent views of the ocean. If you want, you can also take a tour of Lucy to hear about her origins back in the 1880s and how Margate ended up with a huge elephant building on its shores.

This is definitely an activity for the kids with the nearby park, which is perfect for enjoying a picnic lunch.

7 – Shopping in The Quarter at Tropicana

The Quarter at Tropicana is a throwback to Old Havana and the luxury of yesteryear. Located at the Tropicana Casino Resort, this shopping area features a large number of outdoor stores, restaurants, nightclubs, and a spa.

The Quarters

You don’t need to stay at the Tropicana to enjoy the Quarter, fortunately, as a parking garage was part of its initial construction. What you do need to do is cut loose and enjoy the classic look and luxury of Old Havana, as you brose at trendy shops or try the restaurant/night club Cuba Libre.

If you go, do look out. You might get swept up by the excitement of a bachelor/bachelorette party or, on the weekends, a bunch of Atlantic City residents looking to cut loose and dance.

6 – Storybook Land

When people think Atlantic City, they think gambling. No one every stops to talk about what there is for families to do. If the giant elephant weren’t enough, Atlantic City also offers Storybook Land, an amusement park for younger children about 20 minutes from downtown Atlantic City.

Storybook Land has everything a child (or an adult who wants to be a child for a while) could need. There are trains, smaller roller coasters, brilliantly painted figures from fairytales, and restaurants with fun, whimsical names like The Gingerbread House and The Dining Depot.

Even better, tickets are very reasonable, especially with so many attractions and things to do in the park.

5 – Atlantic City Aquarium

For those who aren’t ready to return to the table and slot machines, Atlantic City is also home to the Atlantic City Aquarium which is open year-round and offers tickets for about the price of an ante at the blackjack table.

Atlantic City Aquarium

Visitors to the aquarium will be treated to various exhibits, animal enclosures, sweeping tanks full of ocean wildlife, and tons of information about the environment. Also, the aquarium is located in historic Gardner’s Basin which also offers plenty of places to eat, water events, shopping, and other activities.

Really, who needs to gamble?

4 – Playground Pier

No, this is not another family establishment in Atlantic City (that comes next). Playground pier is more of a playground for an older crowd who enjoy fine dining, upscale shopping, and getting married. (Well, maybe not that last part, though there is a banquet hall on the bottom floor that hosts a lot of weddings.)

Anyway, as we were saying, Playground Pier is a four-story shopping location that’s adjoined by the skybridge to Caesars. The first floor features traditional Atlantic City shopping, the second story has the skybridge, the third story is your upscale luxury shops, and the fourth floor hosts the banquet and events hall.

Playground Pier offers something for everyone, making it a playground everyone can enjoy.

3 – Steel Pier Amusement Park

Get ready for Atlantic City’s oldest theme park. Steel Pier is a roughly 1,000-foot-long park situated on an actual pier along Atlantic City’s famous boardwalk. This makes it the perfect blend of beautiful sights and family fun all combined into one famous package.

Steel City

You have to hand it to Steel Pier. They really did find a way to make use of their somewhat limited space. Most of the rides do cater to a younger crowd, but there’s something for everyone to ride and enjoy. There are also games of skill, boardwalk favorites like ice cream, hot dogs, and pizza, and even a place to throw axes.

All in all, it’s a nice place to enjoy a day or night with the family in between marathons of gambling.

2 – Boardwalk

Even if Steel Pier isn’t your thing (and I recommend you make it your thing if only for a little while), the famous Atlantic City boardwalk is there for your enjoyment. It is well-documented that today’s boardwalk isn’t quite what it used to be, but it’s still a boardwalk. There are still things you can do (even if that means looking out on the ocean).

Be sure to check out the various piers along the boardwalk or use it to access Playground Pier or Steel Pier. With that said, do be careful about going to the boardwalk after dark. Make this a day activity.

1 – The Ocean

While you probably came to Atlantic City to gamble, there’s a whole ocean out there just waiting for you to swim in it. That’s right, Atlantic City’s beach is free for you to enjoy as long as the weather (and in some cases, state politics) permits. There are lifeguards on the beach from 10 AM to 6 PM during the summer.

Atlantic City Beach

Certain areas in Atlantic City also offer kitesurfing and kayaking for those who want to do more than swim the Atlantic’s blue waters. Even better, the boardwalk is not far from the ocean so you can drop in for a quick meal then get back to enjoy those amazing blue waters.

Conclusion

Atlantic City is a land full of surprises. When people talk about AC, they tend to only mention either the boardwalk or the casinos (and frankly, both aren’t spoken of very nicely). However, as you can see, there’s a lot you can be doing besides just gambling in Atlantic City.

Now, you may be wondering why you would want to do any such thing, but clearly, there’s something for every taste in Atlantic City. Whether that’s shopping at Playground Pier, dancing at the Quarter, eating hot dogs, hopping on rides until you’re sick at Steel Pier, or climbing into an elephant’s insides, you can do it along the coast of New Jersey.

Then, of course, after all that family fun and shopping is had, you can quickly take a stroll through your favorite casino and get back to hot poker action. Just because AC’s fun, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do any gambling at all.

11 Crazy Bars in Las Vegas

Mermaid, Atomic, Gold Spike, Griffin
Las Vegas isn’t the place to go to drown your sorrows over a frosty brew while whiney country songs play in the background. It’s a high-energy atmosphere that features some of the world’s most-extravagant bars.

Las Vegas watering holes are in an arms race to see who can impress alcoholics the most. Everything from mermaids to fire is in play as Sin City bars try luring stumbling tourists into their doors.

If you want a show and unforgettable atmosphere along with your $12 beer, then you should check out any of the unforgettable and crazy Vegas bars covered below.

1 – Mermaid Lounge

The Mermaid Lounge is located inside the Silverton Casino, which is three miles away from the bustling Strip. You’ll find that it’s definitely worth making the trip to this low-key casino just for the Mermaid Lounge alone.

Mermaid Bar

This bar boasts a giant aquarium that holds 117,000 gallons of water and 4,000 tropical fish. Highlights of the aquarium include many exotic fish, a jellyfish habitat, and women dressed in mermaid costumes swimming around the tanks.

If you really dig the mermaid aspect, then you can order a few brews and watch these ladies perform dancing routines at specific times.

2 – Chandelier Bar

Many bars around the world shoot for the elegant theme. But the Chandelier Bar takes this mission to another level with its three-story crystal chandelier.

Chandelier Bar

Featuring 2 million crystal beads, this house-sized chandelier is worth seeing even if you don’t drink. You can find it and the Chandelier Bar inside of The Cosmopolitan.

This opulent establishment features three floors — each with its own vibe and set of bartenders. If you’re not sure where to begin, then the 24/7 ground-floor bar is a good place to start your night.

3 – Atomic Liquors

Unlike many Vegas drinking establishments, which change names and ownership every three months, Atomic Liquors has a rich history. It’s one of Vegas’ oldest bars and once served as a spot where people could watch nuclear weapons testing.

Atomic Liquors

Atomic Liquors is found on Freemont Street amidst a bevy of other entertainment options (e.g. ziplining, live music). It boasts a classic neon sign, outdoor seating area, and plenty of charm inside.

4 – Double Down Saloon

This wouldn’t be a crazy bars list without discussing a place that serves “ass juice.” As you can tell from this single drink alone, Double Down Saloon isn’t catering to the James Bond wannabes.

Double Down Las Vegas

It’s a 24-hour punk bar that lets anybody in and offers live music day and night. You’d better hold your liquor here too, because you’ll be forced to clean up your own vomit if you can’t.

Regarding the ass juice, it’s actually a fruity drink that’s served in a toilet-bowl-shaped shot glass. Double Down Saloon offers plenty of other interesting drinks as well.

5 – Gold Spike

If you feel like doing more than just standing around with a beer in your hand, then Gold Spike is a nice spot to go.

Gold Spike

This downtown bar features a number of oversized games, including a giant chessboard and beer pong table. You can also enjoy normal-sized versions of cornhole, shuffleboard, and skee-ball.

The fun doesn’t stop here. Gold Spike also includes “The Backyard,” which boasts DJs, small concerts, and disco nights.

6 – Velveteen Rabbit

The Velveteen Rabbit has a mild atmosphere compared to many other Vegas bars. But this establishment still stands out thanks to its beer and cocktail selection.

Velveteen Rabbit

First off, you can choose from 12 specialty beers that rotate quite frequently. You’ll also be able to pick from a large selection of cocktails via a seasonal menu.

Velveteen Rabbit’s indoor area offers posh lounge furniture indoors. It also has an outdoor patio that’s perfect for drinking Vegas summer nights away.

7 – The Griffin

Contrasting the Velveteen Rabbit, the Griffin is all about atmosphere. It features a dark setting, two circular fireplaces, and a stone bar.

The Griffin

This medieval-feeling place is probably where Game of Thrones characters would drink if they were real and could visit Las Vegas.

Even if you’re an ardent clubber, you might begin your night at the Griffin. Or, you can also unwind here after an action-packed night.

8 – Golden Tiki

Located in Chinatown near the Strip, the Golden Tiki brings a touch of the islands to the desert. It’s decorated with pieces of thatched roofs, idols, and plenty of colorful lanterns.

Golden Tiki

The Golden Tiki is a nice spot if you’re feeling energetic, but not so much so that you want to hit the dance floor. It’s also a good place to visit if you want to bask among the locals.

Assuming you’re downtown, rather than by the Strip, then Frankie’s Tiki Room is a similar bar worth visiting. Owned by the same outfit that runs Double Down Saloon, Frankie’s mimics the rougher side of island culture.

9 – Skyfall Lounge

The Vegas drinking scene draws the most attention from its vibrant nightclubs and themed bars. Skyfall Lounge, on the other hand, is a departure from all of this.

Skyfall Lounge

Perched far above Sin City in the Delano, this bar offers an air of sophistication with its low music and plentiful lounge furniture.

You can look out over the Strip with your martini and feel like you own the city — even if you’re secretly dreading covering your bar tab at the end of the night.

10 – Fireside Lounge

Housed inside the Peppermill Restaurant, the Fireside Lounge feels like it was made for the Blue Man Group with its UV lighting and odd décor.

Fireside Lounge

You’re practically treated to a Vegas show as you sit amid fire pits and a rush of neon. You can also look forward to some really interesting drinks, including the 64-ounce “Scorpion.”

11 – The 107 Sky Lounge

The 107 Sky Lounge competes with the Skyfall Lounge for best views of the city. Actually, there is no competition as this bar wins hands down.

107 Lounge

Its name comes from that fact it’s located 107 stories into the Vegas skyline at the top of The Stratosphere. If you’re not happy with this view of the Vegas Strip, then there’s no pleasing you.

Conclusion

If you’re going to drink in Las Vegas, then you might as well do it in style. Any of the 11 bars covered above are great places to enjoy new experiences and, of course, catch a buzz.

You can base your choices on your personality type or simply what you’re in the mood for in the moment.

Assuming you want to feel like a sophisticated Vegas visitor, then the 107 Sky Lounge, Chandelier Bar, and Skyfall Lounge are all great stops. The 107 Sky Lounge and Skyfall gain extra points for their incredible views.

Assuming you want a spectacle to look at while drinking, the Mermaid Lounge and Fireside Lounge offer plenty of intriguing scenery.

Double Down Saloon and Gold Spike are great for when you’re in an active mood. The former is a crazy punk bar, while the latter offers lots of games to enjoy.

The Velveteen Rabbit and Griffin are nice choices for when you just want to kick back without dealing with loud music and shot girls coming by every two minutes.

Of course, Vegas boasts a wealth of other drinking venues besides the ones covered here. That said, you can stumble through the town and develop some of your own favorites along the way.

Why Blackjack Is the Best of All Possible Casino Games

Blackjack Table and Number 1
Blackjack and craps are my two favorite casino games. When I’m asked which game I recommend to casino gamblers, I always point them to real money blackjack.

This post explains why I do that. Why is blackjack the best casino game of them all?

Blackjack Is Easy to Understand and Play

Anyone who knows anything about casino game design knows that one of the challenges of creating a new casino game is making the game simple enough that the average gamblers can understand how to play in just a few minutes.

Few games have accomplished this better than blackjack. The rules are dead simple, you get two cards. They’re worth the amount on the face of the card, with the jack, queen, and king worth 10 points each. Aces are worth 1 or 11, whichever is better.

You want to get a higher total than the dealer, but you also want to keep your total to 21 or lower. Any total of 22 or higher is a losing hand.

Blackjack Table

You play your hand first, deciding when to take additional cards and when to stand on your total. The casino plays their hand next, and they do so according to a prescribed set of strategies. They usually have to hit any total of 16 or lower, and they have to stand on any 17 or higher.

If your total is higher than the dealer’s, OR if you’re still in the game when the dealer busts, you win even money.

And when you get a card worth 10 with an ace, you get a blackjack, which pays off at 3:2. You have some other options, but they’re mostly just variations of hitting and standing.

The basics are so simple that a second-grader can learn how to play.

Blackjack Has the Lowest House Edge in the Casino

One way to compare casino games is by looking at the house edge for each game. This is the amount the casino expects to win from each bet expressed as a percentage. It’s based on comparing the odds of winning to the payout odds for that bet.

House Edge

The house edge is a long-term expected win. The less time you spend playing, the more likely you are to see results different from the mathematical prediction. (Casino games are still random.)

The longer you play, though, the closer your results will eventually come to the mathematically predicted results. Most casino games have a house edge of close to 5%.

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This means that every time you bet $100 on that game, the casino expects you to lose $5.

Most blackjack games, though, have a house edge of between 0.5% and 1%. Every time you bet $100 on blackjack, the casino expects you to lose between 50 cents and a dollar. That’s a big difference in the cost of your entertainment.

Blackjack has one catch when it comes to the house edge, though. To get the low percentage that I quoted, you must play with the correct strategy. More on that in the next section.

Blackjack Has “Basic Strategy”

Imagine if you were playing with a blackjack player who hit any total of 20 or lower – in other words, he tries to get exactly 21 on every hand.

Now, imagine being a player who mimics the house strategy of standing on any 17 or better and hitting any 16 or lower. Which of you would lose more money during an hour of blackjack?

That example clearly illustrates that there’s a strategy to blackjack. Neither of those two strategies are optimal, by the way. They’re just great at illustrating how much money you can lose by not making the correct decisions at the blackjack table.

Basic strategy is the comparison of every possible total you could have with every possible dealer up-card and what the mathematically best move to make is in every one of those situations.

You can find a card with basic strategy in the gift shop of any hotel and casino. You can also learn basic strategy online. Not only does basic strategy lower the house edge on blackjack, but it also makes the game more interesting. It takes time and effort to memorize basic strategy, but it’s worth it.

If you ignore basic strategy, you’ll face a house edge of between 2% and 4% higher than otherwise. It depends on how far your personal strategy deviates from the correct basic strategy.

Blackjack Is Available for Low Stakes

One of my favorite things about blackjack is that it’s available for relatively low stakes. Combine that with the low house edge, and you have an affordable way to while away the hours enjoying some gambling entertainment.

$5

You can find blackjack games with betting minimums of $5 or $10 per hand throughout Vegas, but be careful. Some of the lower stakes games, especially on the Strip, only pay out 6:5 on a blackjack (or a “natural”) instead of 3:2. Don’t dignify a game like that with your presence.

You can find blackjack for $3 per hand in some other casinos in Vegas, but usually not on the Strip. You can also find low limit blackjack games online and in other gambling destinations.

When you figure that you’re probably only going to play 100 hands or so per hour, and maybe even less than that, you’re talking about putting only $500 or so into action per hour.

If you’re playing with basic strategy and mediocre rules where the house edge is 1%, you’re only looking at an average hourly loss of $5. That’s as cheap as watching a movie, and you’re an active participant.

You Can Count Cards in Blackjack

Counting cards isn’t for the faint of heart, but it isn’t illegal, and it isn’t cheating. The casinos want you to think it is, but that’s their problem, as long as you don’t get caught.

You don’t have to memorize a deck of cards to get an edge at blackjack by counting cards either. All you have to do is keep a rough estimate of how many low cards and how many high cards are left in the deck.

Counting Cards

How does this get you an edge? You get a 3:2 payout for a natural, right? And the only way to get a blackjack (or natural) is to have an ace and a 10, right?

Those are the high cards in the deck. As those get dealt, your probability of getting a blackjack lowers. But as the lower cards in the deck get dealt out, your probability of getting a blackjack increases.

And because of the nature of a random, shuffled deck of cards, you’re going to have an uneven distribution some (or a lot) of the time.

When that uneven distribution favors you, when there are a lot of high cards left in the deck, you raise the size of your bets. The easiest system for counting cards is to add 1 to the count every time you see a 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 get dealt. Then, subtract 1 from the count every time you see a 10 or an ace.

When the count is positive, raise the size of your bets. The higher the count is, the bigger your bet should be. The only trick after that is to not get caught.

Even though counting cards is legal, casinos don’t like it, and they reserve the right to keep you from playing their blackjack games. Some of them will even trespass you from their property altogether.

Blackjack Players (and Dealers) Tend to Be Friendly

I know that not everyone is as social as I am, but if you are, blackjack can be even more fun because of the other players at the table. Just don’t socialize so much that you hold up the game. The other players will hate you for that.

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In fact, it helps to know some of the etiquette for playing blackjack in a real casino, too. The most important rule of etiquette at the blackjack table is to NOT tell the other players how to play their hands.

You’ll understand how annoying that is once someone does that to you. The other important rule of etiquette is to occasionally tip the dealer. You don’t have to tip amazing amounts, but you should tip a few bucks an hour. That dealer is a service professional, and she’s relying on your tips to make her living.

Conclusion

Blackjack is my favorite casino game, and it should probably be yours, too. The reasons are clear, but the biggest one is that blackjack gives you the best probability of going home a winner.

The house still has an edge, but it’s the lowest edge in the casino.

6 Ways You Can Make Your Home Poker Game Feel Like a Las Vegas Card Room

Las Vegas Poker Room and Home Poker Game
If you’re like millions of other Americans who enjoy card games and camaraderie, you probably participate in a home poker game of some sort. Whether it’s getting together once a month to joust over penny-ante pots with old college pals, or battling over big bucks in a competitive tournament league, home game poker is a big deal in all corners of the country.

Back in the day, I hosted one of the biggest home games in my hometown—steady $2/$5 No Limit Texas Hold’em cash spanning two tables on Saturday night.

As the game’s organizer and steward, I took great pride in watching a couple dozen regulars revolve in and out every weekend. But I was far from alone in the home game hosting ranks. I made my rounds playing in three to four regular sessions every week.

I’ve seen my fair share of home game poker action, from the perspectives of both host and guest. Nonetheless, I couldn’t help myself from thinking about the streamlined operation and sophisticated ambiance while playing poker in Las Vegas. As the night progressed, I began making mental notes on the various ways home game hosts can transform any table into a true Vegas-style affair.

On that note, the list below highlights six of the easiest ways you can make your home poker game feel more like a Las Vegas card room.

1 – Buy a Genuine Felt Table to Play Poker in Style

Once you’ve played on a professional style casino poker table, lined with smooth green baize and ringed by a comfortable cushion with embedded cupholders, crowding around a cat-scratched ottoman to play cards simply can’t compare.

Even a legitimate dining room table made of wood or laminate doesn’t really replicate the look and feel of poker as played in Las Vegas. Cards dealt with a little mustard on them can easily slide right off the side, while sweaty beers threaten to leave water rings when coasters are hard to come by.

Poker Table

Anything less than a full-scale casino card room poker table lessens the game somewhat, so why not spring for the real deal?

Fortunately, adding this essential element to your home game is much easier than you might imagine. You don’t even have to contact any specialized contractors to build a custom model. Although, you can definitely do so if money is no object.

The fine folks at BBO Poker Tables offer a slew of custom designs ranging in price from $699 to $2,399 depending on make and model. These tables from BBO are at functional and beautiful, and you can even design unique felt that bears your home game or league’s colors and logo.

But if you’re trying to remain budget-minded with your home game improvements, checking the poker table menu on shopping sites like Amazon and eBay reveals a long lineup of affordable alternatives.

You’ll find quick fixes like tabletop felt liners that fit various shapes and sizes of table. If you want a more professional look without the expense of custom design, poker tables with foldable legs are easy to set up and store when they’re not in use.

No matter which type of poker table you prefer, consider it to be the foundation of any top-notch real money poker game.

2 – Only Play With Quality Clay Chips and Bicycle Playing Cards

If a real poker table is the foundation, genuine clay chips and Bicycle brand playing cards are akin to the bricks that build a Las Vegas style home game.

If you’ve ever played poker in the casino setting, you know that handling the chips and cards is a sensory experience that can’t really be replaced by imitations. Casino poker chips have a certain feel and heft to them, allowing dexterous players to riffle them perfectly with the flick of their wrist. And when you transition to the home game arena, cheap plastic or wooden chips just can’t compare to the genuine clay material used by Las Vegas poker rooms.

Bicycle Playing Cards

You can head here to sample the various clay chips furnished by PokerChipMania.com, one of the leading purveyors of custom chip sets. These bad boys come complete with bright colors and denomination labels, so the players in your home game will never have to be reminded about the various values in their stack.

And at only $3.75 for a stack of 25 chips, you can easily stock a full-scale chip set with enough ammo for a full tournament or cash game table without breaking the bank.

As for the cards, most Las Vegas casinos stick with the Bicycle brand by default, and for good reason. Sturdy card stock, a classic design, and a glossy finish have made Bicycle playing cards favorite of gamblers since 1885.

3 – Hire a Professional Casino Dealer to Run the Game

Almost all home games allow players to take turns acting as the dealer, and in most cases, this self-service setup works just fine.

But if you really want to take your home game to the next level, hiring a trained casino dealer to run the show is the only way to go. Believe it or not, many casino dealers moonlight by working home games in their spare time, so all it takes is a little looking around on your local Craigslist page to make a match.

Casino Dealer

You’ll typically be charged a rate right around $25 per hour, which might seem steep at first glance, but is actually a very reasonable wage for the services rendered. A properly trained poker dealer protects the integrity of the game by concealing the deck’s bottom card, avoiding exposed cards, and preventing misdeals.

If efficiency is a priority, nothing beats a poker dealer who can wash, shuffle, and deal a new hand within 30 seconds. The worst part about using a player dealer rotation is often waiting for certain people to get in gear, what with ongoing banter and the big game on in the background. And even when they are ready to roll, some players just don’t like having to alternate between dealing and playing their cards and trying to drag the pot.

By employing a professional dealer for your home game, your guests can feel free to focus on the task at hand without worrying about slowing down the pace or becoming distracted during a big hand.

4 – Use an Automatic Card Shuffler to Get in More Hands

If you aren’t interested in springing for a professional dealer, the next best thing is adding an automatic card shuffling machine to your home game mix.

For just $20 or so on average, you can purchase an automatic card shuffler on Amazon and have it delivered before your next poker night. These nifty little gadgets work wonders too, taking two decks in separate compartments and thoroughly randomizing them within a matter of seconds.

If your home game crowd tends to bend or mistreat the cards while taking their turn as the shuffler, or their speed isn’t quite up to snuff, using an automatic card shuffler solves those problems straight away. And the best part is, every minute you shave off extemporaneous shuffling time adds more hands per hour to your home game’s pace of play.

Card Shuffler

Check out this convenient listing to learn more about the top seven automatic card shufflers of 2020.

5 – Spread Different Games and Variants to Spice Things Up

Like most folks, I cut my teeth as an aspiring poker player by learning the great game of No Limit Texas Hold’em.

And while the “Cadillac of Poker,” as 10-time WSOP gold bracelet winner Doyle Brunson once famously referred to his home state’s namesake variant, is certainly deserving of its status as a home game staple, you should consider expanding your horizons going forward.

By embracing the many different forms of poker at your disposal, you can turn a tired Texas Hold’em only home game into a much more entertaining and enlightening experience.

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Take the four-card offshoot known as Pot Limit Omaha, which expands on the Texas Hold’em template by giving each player four hole cards to work with, as the perfect example. Because most players are already familiar with Texas Hold’em rules and gameplay, transitioning to Pot Limit Omaha is a breeze.

But once you’ve added the variant to your table’s rotation, you’ll find that more hole cards to work with creates increased action, leading to larger pots and a higher frequency of climactic showdowns.

Other poker variants to consider include Seven Card Stud, Omaha Hi-Lo Eight or Better, Razz, and Badugi. In each case, you’ll likely need to teach the gang certain structural tips, but because poker is an extremely intuitive pursuit, your home game players will almost always adjust in short order.

To learn more about the “mixed games” that make up a well-rounded poker menu, check out this handy guide published by PokerNews.

6 – Set Up a Full-Fledged Mini Bar and “Comp” All the Cocktails

On a final note, one of my favorite parts about playing poker in Las Vegas is the steady stream of complimentary cocktails that come my way.

Whether I’m winning or losing at the moment, looking up to see the cocktail server on their way with a refreshing Corona and lime or Jack and Coke always seems to enhance the experience.

Minibar

To replicate the Las Vegas atmosphere in all its glory, take a shot at setting up a mini bar area of your own ahead of the next home game on the schedule. I’d recommend buying a bottle of all the major liquor types, along with a couple cases of beer. Put everything on ice, along with garnishes like olives and orange slices, and a dozen clean cocktail glasses.

From there, just let your players know that they can help themselves to a drink whenever they’d like, and you’ll see the table suddenly light up.

Conclusion

Las Vegas has represented the pinnacle of poker for decades now, and that’s never going to change. Home games are sort of like the minor leagues when compared to the Big Show, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for less than the Sin City lifestyle while hosting your next poker night. Just take advantage of a few of these six tips to transform your basic home poker game into an experience your players won’t soon forget.

5 Strategies for Handicapping MLB Games

Baseball Field and Logo
Most Major League Baseball bettors take a quick look at the standings, compare the starting pitchers, and make a bet. Sometimes MLB bettors just bet on their favorite team. This is the extent of their handicapping. Of course, most MLB bettors lose, so you definitely don’t want to do what they do.

Here are five advanced MLB handicapping strategies that I use. It’s going to take some extra work to get up to speed on these strategies, but in the long run, they’re going to help you make more profitable baseball bets.

1 – Strikeout Percentages

When a batter strikes out, he doesn’t have any chance to help his team. He can’t move a runner over, hit a sacrifice fly, or create a positive situation for his team. The only upside to a batter striking out is if he didn’t hit into a double play.

Baseball Player Striking Out

On the other side of the equation, the only thing better for a pitcher to create than a strikeout is a double play. When a pitcher strikes out a batter, he gets one of the three outs he needs to get out of the inning, keeps the offense from improving their chance of scoring, and creates an advantage for his team.

These are both reasons why I track strikeout percentages for hitters and pitchers when I’m handicapping Major League Baseball games. Here’s exactly how I do it.

For batters, I divide total strikeouts by total plate appearance. Plate appearances include hits, base on balls, outs, hit by pitch, and sacrifices.

For pitchers, I divide strikeouts by total batters faced. The lazy way to do this is to track strikeouts per nine innings pitched for pitchers, but this can be misleading. I want to be able to compare overall numbers when I’m comparing pitchers. Strikeouts per nine innings pitched can be high even when a pitcher gives up a bunch of hits and walks.

When you track strikeout percentages for both batters and pitchers this way, you get a true comparison between players and teams. This is useful in any MLB handicapping situation.

2 – Ground Ball Percentages

Ground balls are usually good for the pitcher. While some ground balls go for hits, some of them also get turned into double plays. Ground ball hits and double plays come close to balancing each other out, so when you track ground ball percentages, it gives you a good metric for handicapping purposes.

You track ground ball percentages the same way you track strikeout percentages. For batters, you divide the total number of ground balls by total plate appearances. For pitchers, you divide the total number of ground balls by total batters faced.

Guy Fielding Ground Ball

A pitcher with a high ground ball percentage facing a team with several ground ball hitters in the lineup has a good chance of turning in a good performance. This is also helpful when betting the over or under line.

On the other hand, a pitcher with a low ground ball percentage facing a team filled with low ground ball percentage hitters might be in for a rough night.

You can’t look at strikeout percentages and ground ball percentages in a vacuum. The information is valuable for both of these percentages, but you have to keep it in context for it to be more valuable. Some pitchers are able to do well while getting few ground balls. They might have high strikeout totals and get a lot of pop ups.

Some hitters strike out at a high percentage of the time, but are still dangerous because a high percentage of the balls they put in play produce runs. You can’t look at any single thing when handicapping MLB games and make profitable bets. You have to use a combination of these factors to place winning baseball bets.

3 – Extra Base Hit Percentages

Extra base hits either score runs immediately or place a runner or runners in scoring position. This is why extra base hits should be valued much higher than singles and walks. And just like the last two sections, you should track extra base hit percentages for hitters and pitchers.

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For hitters, divide the sum of all doubles, triples, and home runs by total plate appearances.

For pitchers, divide the sum of all doubles, triples, and home runs by total batters faced.

The truth is that a home run is worth considerably more than a double. And it’s also valuable to track home run percentages by batters and pitchers. But I’ve found that tracking extra base hit percentages is a better way for me to use these statistics in my handicapping than tracking home runs separately.

The best pitchers limit the number of extra base hits they give up. They might give up some singles and walks, but they restrain the damage by limiting extra base hits. It’s much harder for an offense to score by stringing two or three hits together than to score as a result of an extra base hit.

4 – Manager Tendencies

Every MLB manager has certain tendencies. Some of them stick with slumping players longer than others, and some pull pitchers faster than others. When you’re handicapping games, it’s helpful to know the tendencies of each manager in the game.

The first thing I look at is how fast the manager goes to the bullpen. This is valuable because I can use information I have about how deep the starting pitcher is likely to go in the game and which bullpen pitchers are likely to see action in the game and which ones aren’t.

David Ross

A starting pitcher that usually goes seven innings with a manager that trusts him is usually going to get the game to the back end of the bullpen. On the other hand, a young pitcher with a manager who pulls pitchers quickly means that the long relievers are most likely going to be needed.

It’s also useful to know which managers like to steal bases and which ones like to use the hit and run. In the National League you see a lot of double switches, so knowing how an NL manager handles these, and who he has on his bench, helps you handicap games.

The new relief pitcher rule MLB put into place in the 2020 season to speed up games is something you need to be aware of. The new rule states that any pitcher brought into the game in relief has to face at least three batters unless he gets hurt or reaches the end of an inning.

I’m looking forward to seeing how each manager handles the new rule. One area where the new rule might be quite profitable for smart bettors is in-game betting. This rule gives the offense an advantage because the offense can pinch hit for a favorable matchup. Look for profitable in-game betting opportunities early in the season.

5 – Bullpen Usage and Availability

It’s important to understand how each team uses it’s bullpen on a game-by-game basis and over the course of the season. You also need to know which relief pitchers are available each day and which ones are being rested.

Most managers only use a relief pitcher two days in a row before giving him a day off. Some will use a key guy three days in a row, but the performance is usually lacking on the third day, so this can be useful as well.

The best way to learn which bullpen arms are available and which ones are getting rest is to read the local beat writers for the teams. Some teams have beat writers who are active on Twitter, and this can be a good source of information.

MLB Bullpen

This goes along with the manager tendencies from the last section, but you need to know how each manager deals with tired and struggling pitchers. A manager with a quick hook tends to wear down his bullpen over the course of a season, and put too many below average pitchers in the game on a regular basis.

A manager with a slow hook tends to have his best bullpen arms available when he needs them, but he also gives some games away by sticking with his starters too long. This isn’t as common as it used to be because MLB teams are using analytics more. Analytics show that a pitcher’s performance drops a great deal on the third trip through the opposing lineup, so managers are pulling starters faster.

MLB teams are also using 12 and 13-man bullpens more often, so they have more fresh arms every day. The way teams are using pitchers and their pitching staffs is changing, and if you want to be a winning MLB bettor, you need to change along with them.

Conclusion

Start using these five advanced MLB handicapping strategies when you’re evaluating games. Tracking strikeout and ground ball percentages is something that almost no one is doing, so it can give you a quick advantage.

Most baseball bettors are focused on home runs, so they miss the importance of doubles and triples. Use extra base hit percentages to factor in every hit that isn’t a single to get an advantage. Learning more about manager tendencies and how teams are using their bullpens is also important if you want to win more baseball bets.

The Top 8 Late Night Eats in Las Vegas

Open Late, Girl Biting Into Hamburger
After doing considerable research, I can now definitively say that Las Vegas has a bit of a nightlife scene.

Okay, all sarcasm aside, there’s a very good argument to say that life in Vegas doesn’t start until the sun goes down. Some would say that the real Sin City doesn’t begin until after midnight.

This is, of course, backed up by the fact that there’s a party going on somewhere in Las Vegas. Even better, there’s a game of poker all hours of the day. Perhaps most importantly, though, there are tons of places you can go to eat even if the sun went to bed hours ago.

The real problem when you visit Las Vegas isn’t where you’re going for late night eats, it’s narrowing down your options. A lot of restaurants cater to a later rising crowd (or to casino workers getting off their shifts).

Still, I did my best to find eight places that I am confident you will enjoy should you find yourself out at night in Las Vegas with a real case of the late-night snack attack.

8 – In-N-Out Burger (Open Until 1 AM)

There’s a lot of Las Vegas originals (or at least non-chain restaurants) that I could have put in the number eight spot, but I didn’t. And that’s because I love In-N-Out Burger.

It really is one of the best fast food burgers you can find anywhere. And when you get your fries animal style, there’s nothing that your taste buds will love more.

On the other hand, there are few things that your stomach won’t hate more than late night In-N-Out Burger, but in every situation, there’s got to be some sacrifices.

I do wish it was open a little later than 1 AM, but I can tell you from personal experience that if you go around 12:30 AM, they will serve you after 1:00 because the lines are so long.

7 – Biwon Korean BBQ and Sushi Restaurant All You Can Eat (Open Until 3AM)

Located off the Strip, Biwon is my favorite place to go for Korean BBQ in all of Las Vegas. The fact that it’s open until 3 AM is really just the icing on the cake.

Korean BBQ foot on Table

With that said, even I thought it might be a little much to go for the all-you-can-eat meat in a Korean BBQ so late at night. However, after giving it some deep consideration, I decided that all that meat would put me in a meat coma and I’d fall asleep that much easier.

Plus, their sushi sometimes has cucumber or avocado or something vegetable-like in it. So, it’s basically a health food, right? That’s a good thing to have before bed.

6 – Hash House A Go Go at the LINQ (Open 24 Hours)

Like some restaurants on this list, not all Hash House A Go Go restaurants are open 24 hours. Fortunately, the one at the LINQ Hotel & Casino is. The others, inexplicably are only open until 10PM, which is kind of a bummer.

Anyway, Hash House A Go Go is your destination when you think that eating a plate full of food the size of your head is not enough and you’re really angling for a plate full of food the size of your entire body. (I say that with only a little hyperbole.)

Famous for their breakfast food, sandwiches, and burgers, it would take a pack of wild horses to keep me from ordering Andy’s world famous sage fried chicken and waffles—a four-waffle, two-chicken piece meal that is taller than the knife that comes with it.

Even better, I can make it Nashville hot for a dollar more, which I am likely to do even if I will hate myself the next day.

5 – Tacos El Gordo (Open Until 4 AM)

Interestingly enough, Tacos El Gordo also made the list of best tacos in Las Vegas. This fairly authentic taqueria serves up magic on a plate in the form of tacos, tostadas, quesadillas, and fries (which are covered in meat and cheese).

Inside Tacos El Gordo in Las Vegas

If this were a normal trip to Tacos El Gordo, I would probably opt for a big taco platter with carne asada or an al pastor sope. However, if we’re talking late night eats, I have my eyes on those French fries. More nacho than fry, I think that dish is perfect for when I want to eat late at night.

4 – Earl of Sandwich in Miracle Mile Shops (Open 24 Hours)

Like Hash House A Go Go, not all Earl of Sandwiches are open 24 hours. To satisfy those late night cravings for some of the best sandwiches you’ll ever eat, head to the Miracle Mile Shops inside the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino where you will find the Earl of Sandwich.

At first look, the Earl of Sandwich looks fairly ordinary. In some ways, it has all the glamour of Subway’s older brother who has started wearing cologne.

That impression quickly dissolves away once you bite into your food, as Earl of Sandwich has perfected the art of sandwich making. Their menu is a mix of more avant garde sandwiches and more commonplace meals.

Still, it doesn’t matter. No matter what you order, the sandwich will be next level amazing and the chocolate cookies are some of the best you have ever had.

3 – Izakaya Go (Open Until 2AM)

Apparently, I have a thing for eating sushi after the sun goes down. Or any time, really… But let’s face it, when you want sushi, you want sushi. Thanks to places like Biwon and Izakaya Go, I can pretty much get my fill.

Sushi Rolls on a Plate, Chopsticks

Fortunately, I can get my fill on the good stuff, too. Izakaya Go is a traditional-looking Japanese “tapas” restaurant which serves some of the most beautiful dishes you will find in Las Vegas. Also, their multi-page menu covers everything from hot and cold appetizers to sashimi to grilled and fried dishes to sushi.

It’s really hard to suggest a single dish because they’re all amazing looking, but at the end of the day, I’m going to get a Super Go Crunch sushi “burrito” (with tempura shrimp and veggies), a fresh halibut roll, and the fresh poke served with homemade chips.

2 – Herbs and Rye (Open Until 2AM)

There’s something about the Sin City experience that says, “Go eat meat.” There’s something even a little more Las Vegas about going to a place with a big meat menu at midnight (or later). For me, this used to be Ruth’s Chris, but now I turn to Herbs and Rye for my midnight carnivorous adventures.

If I’m going with friends, then the King Kong Ribeye (a mere five pounds of meat that serves three) is always going to be my choice.

If I’m flying solo, I go with the 12 ounce Bone-In Kansas City steak with a side of jalapeno cream corn and sweet potato tots. Since I’m the guy who always orders an app even when I have five pounds of meat coming, I will also recommend either the carpaccio or the littleneck clams.

1 – Peppermill Restaurant (Open 24 Hours)

The Peppermill Restaurant is a funky, futuristic neon eatery that’s constantly cited as one of the best places to eat in Las Vegas (late night or not). This is undoubtedly due to the quality of their food and a rather impressive menu that encompasses both breakfast and non-breakfast favorites.

If you go to the Peppermill looking for breakfast, choose from one of their 1 omelets or gild the lily a little bit and try a crab cake eggs benedict. For non-breakfast selections, the wings are plentiful and come with a number of sauces.

Hands Holding Out Bowl with Steak

However, the real star of the appetizer section is the sriracha chicken bites. Sriracha is “infused” in the chicken before they’re battered and deep fried. That pretty much checks all the important food boxes right there.

Then, for dinner, finish the meal with a sandwich, one of several burger choices, or go with something way too big and filling. If that’s your game, try the New York steak and shrimp scampi. It’s a perfect marriage of sweet shrimp, robust steak, and garlicky scampi sauce.

Conclusion

Sandwiches, sushi, Japanese, Korean, diner food, omelets, meat, meat, or meat… No matter what you’re looking for on your late night adventures, Las Vegas has something for you. Even better, the places on this list are all over Las Vegas so you can find a place even if your misadventures take you off the Strip.

Feel free to try them all and figure out which one you think is best. But whatever you do, don’t just call out for room service. You won’t enjoy the food from your hotel any more than the places on this list. Plus, this way, you get to see more of Las Vegas at night, which is always cool.

7 Gamblers Who Went Nuts After Losing

Casino Slot Machine Jackpot and Paytables, Pile of Money
Nobody is happy after a losing gambling session. But most people are at least able to keep their cool after blowing their bankroll.

Unfortunately, other gamblers are sore losers. In fact, some players have gone downright nuts after losing a significant amount of money at casinos in the US.

From lawsuits to murder, certain gamblers now live in infamy due to their actions after losing. Below, you can read about seven people who refused to accept their losses.

1 – Jack McCall

Gambler Jack McCallJack McCall was a buffalo hunter in the Wild West during the late 1800s. He eventually made his way to a gold mining camp outside of Deadwood, South Dakota.

On August 1st, 1876, McCall got extremely drunk at Nuttal and Mann’s saloon in Deadwood. He proceeded to lose a large amount of money to “Wild Bill” Hickok in poker.

Wild Bill was a gentleman about the matter and offered to both loan McCall money and buy him breakfast. McCall begrudgingly accepted, but he was also insulted by the offer.

The same poker game raged on the next day, this time, without McCall. Hickok normally sat with his back to the wall so that he could better protect himself against enemies.

On this day, though, he couldn’t get such a seat. McCall took advantage by walking up and shooting Wild Bill in the back of the head. Hickok died instantly. McCall, meanwhile, made a drunken and unsuccessful getaway attempt.

He was apprehended and tried for murder at the mining camp. McCall argued that he was justified in his actions, because Wild Bill allegedly killed his brother in Kansas. The jury believed him and found him not guilty.

Many associated with the matter were critical of the decision. Some questioned the validity of the mining camp court as well. Nevertheless, McCall was a free man for a while. He was arrested again in Wyoming after bragging about murdering Wild Bill.

Such a retrial would normally be considered double jeopardy. However, Wyoming authorities argued that Deadwood wasn’t officially part of the US court system.

McCall was brought to a federal courtroom in Yankton for a retrial. This time, he was found guilty of murder and hanged three months later at age 24.

2 – Safa Abdulla Al Geabury

Safa Abdulla Al GeaburySafa Al Geabury became notable for his Islamic art collection, which was valued at $1 billion. His clout earned him a large marker at the Ritz Club in 2014.

Al Geabury proceeded to lose £2.2 million in one session at the prestigious London casino. Markers are supposed to work like credit, where gamblers repay any potential losses.

However, Al Geabury simply decided that he wasn’t going to pay. He argued that the Ritz took advantage of his gambling problem and he wasn’t responsible for the losses.

The problem for the Swiss businessman, though, is that he previously signed documents stating that his gambling problem was under control.

The Ritz Club used these documents to win over Justice Simler. The judge also felt that Al Geabury contradicted his own story too many times.

At this point, it seems like the case should’ve been closed and Al Geabury would pay his debt. Only, he still refused to cover the market.

Justice Simler ordered Al Geabury to return to the London courtroom and finish the matter. But the sore loser claimed that he couldn’t afford the trip from Switzerland to the UK.

Simler finally had enough and charged Al Geabury with contempt of court. The latter ended up being sentenced to almost one year in jail as a result.

3 – Terrance Watanabe

Terrance WatanabeTerrance Watanabe made a fortune as the CEO of Oriental Trading. He took over in 1977 and built it to a company that was making hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

In 2000, Watanabe decided to retire and sell his controlling stake in Oriental Trading. Up until this point, the Japanese-American businessman had been completely focused on his company.

Now armed with several hundred million dollars, he decided to start enjoying life. For Watanabe, this enjoyment all began in the casino. He stayed for weeks on end at various Las Vegas casino resorts. Watanabe indulged in everything from illegal drugs to casino games during his visits.

Unlike many high rollers, he didn’t discriminate on what kind of games he played. Watanabe was even willing to play high-stakes slot machines and keno, which both have really high house edges.

He didn’t fare too well on the gambling floor. He lost $120 million dollars in 2017 alone. Watanabe soon blew through the fortune that he earned as head of Oriental Trading. His problems came to a head when he was sued by Caesars Palace for writing $14.75 million in bad checks.

He fought back with a countersuit that blamed Caesars for letting him use drugs on their property. The Nevada Gaming Commission hit the casino with a $225,000 after hearing the allegations.

However, this fine didn’t absolve Watanabe of his debts. He still had to settle out of court with Caesars for an undisclosed amount.

4 – Brad Booth

Brad BoothBrad Booth was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the mid-2000s poker boom. “Yukon” Brad made a fortune in live and also real money online poker.

He also became famous for playing on the TV show High Stakes Poker. His comeuppance was quite notable when considering that he spent years grinding in the remote Yukon Territory.

Booth’s career hit a major roadblock, though, when he was part of the Ultimate Bet cheating scandal. He estimates being cheated out of $2 million by UB consultant Russ Hamilton throughout the mid-2000s.

The losses didn’t end here, though. No longer confident in his game, Booth proceeded to lose another $4 million. He blamed the scandal for causing him to question his skills at every step of the way. Unfortunately, he’d never get any retribution for the cheating incident.

Booth eventually began launching online attacks against Phil Hellmuth, who was once a prominent UB-sponsored player. Yukon Brad claimed that Hellmuth knew more about the scandal than he led on.

Eventually, though, Booth ran into more troubles of his own and had to stop focusing on the past. He was outed by Doug Polk after failing to repay $28,000 from a cash-for-online funds swap.

Booth still grinds in low-stakes cash games in Vegas. However, his reputation is largely ruined as a result of not repaying Polk.

5 – Harry Kakavas

Harry KakavasHarry Kakavas was once a highly successful Australian real estate developer. He amassed millions of dollars by developing homes on Australia’s Gold Coast.

Rather than using these profits to further his business, Kakavas began gambling large amounts of money at Melbourne’s Crown Casino. He wagered an estimated $1.5 billion and lost $20.5 million of this amount during his gambling heyday.

Kakavas chose not to pay up and instead launched a lawsuit. He claimed that the Crown Casino had taken advantage of his gambling addiction.

Kakavas cited the lavish comps that the Crown offered to keep him coming back. For example, they’d send a private jet to pick him up.

The High Court ruled that casinos have no duty to “protect gamblers from themselves.” The court also noted that Kakavas was by no means a special case in terms of compulsive gambling.

6 – Erick Lindgren

Erick LindgrenErick “E-Dog” Lindgren started out with a very successful poker career. He began winning major tournaments just before the boom years (2003-06), including a $1 million prize in the 2002 WPT Partypoker Million III cruise.

The wins kept rolling in for Lindgren. He eventually landed a lucrative sponsorship deal with Full Tilt Poker that reportedly paid him $300,000 per month.

Beneath all of his success, though, was a festering sports betting problem. Lindgren bet and lost millions of dollars on sports. He was able to handle these losses when the Full Tilt checks were rolling in. However, he eventually lost this sponsorship deal after Black Friday (Apr. 15, 2011).

Things quickly spiraled out of control for Lindgren from here. By November 2012, he admittedly couldn’t repay his sports betting debts and entered rehab.

He was also dealing with a lawsuit involving a $4 million loan from Full Tilt. According to Howard Lederer, a former board member of the poker site, he accidentally loaned Lindgren $4 million instead of $2 million.

E-Dog refused to pay, or couldn’t pay, the money back. His inaction and refusal to answer texts regarding the matter prompted the lawsuit.

Lindgren finally filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2015. He had less than $50k in assets while owing over $10 million to various creditors.

7 – Stu Ungar

Stu UngarStu Ungar is perhaps the greatest gambler who ever lived. He dominated gin rummy to the point where he couldn’t find a single person willing to take him on in a straight-up game.

“The Kid” instead had to offer major handicaps to draw opponents. For example, he would play each hand from the unfavorable dealer position just to get action.

Ungar transitioned to poker in 1977 following his inability to find decent rummy games. Just a few years later, he won back-to-back WSOP Main Event titles in 1980 and 1981.

Unfortunately, Ungar began using cocaine around this same time. He initially used it to help power through long poker sessions. However, his cocaine usage eventually became a lifelong habit. The Kid also began losing lots of money with sports betting.

He spent most of the 1990s making losing sports wagers and spiraling out of control. Ungar got a break, though, when Billy Baxter staked him in the 1997 WSOP Main Event.

He’d go on to win the 1997 Main Event along with a $1 million prize. He split half of the money with Baxter. Sadly, Ungar went back to his old ways by abusing drugs and losing money through sports betting. He died just one year later due to a heart attack brought on by years of cocaine abuse.

Conclusion

Most of the gamblers on this list were very successful people at one time. Some even managed to conquer gambling itself and win millions of dollars in the process.

Unfortunately, each person discussed here also went mad when they suffered major gambling losses. Jack McCall even resorted to murder after his losing poker session to “Wild” Bill Hickok.

Luckily, nobody else on this list killed anybody. But they did do other shady things, from not paying up to heavily abusing drugs.

Terrance Watanabe and Harry Kakavas both launched lawsuits when they lost. They each tried claiming that the casinos in question took advantage of them. Neither successfully proved their argument and were forced to pay whatever they could as a result.

Despite owning an expensive art collection, Safa Abdulla Al Geabury just flat out refused to pay a large market to the Ritz Club. Al Geabury was stubborn to the point where he spent 10 months in jail on contempt of court charges.

Brad Booth and Erick Lindgren were both highly skilled poker players. However, each lost money to the point where they could no longer pay back backers and creditors. Stu Ungar is the most tragic tale on this list. The three-time WSOP Main Event champ could never kick his sports betting and cocaine habits. The latter eventually cost him his life.

The seven gamblers covered here are definitely among the most famous to lose their wits. Sadly, they won’t be the last.

Why the US Professional Sports Betting Dream Could Soon Die

American Flag Waving, Baseball Stadium Aerial View
Nevada previously had a monopoly on the US sports betting market. Those who wanted to legally gamble on sports needed to travel to the Silver State.

Many Americans were left without any safe betting options as a result. Those who couldn’t make it to Nevada had to resort to shady bookies or offshore betting sites. The latter is a decent option for the most part. However, they’re not subject to US laws, leaving the potential for a bad actor here or there.

The US betting scene just recently changed, though, with the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).

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This 1992 law previously banned sports gambling outside of Nevada and three other states, none of which offered traditional sportsbooks.

Each state is now free to decide whether they want to legalize this type of gambling. Several states have already done so, while others have legislation in waiting. If you reside in a US state that has legalized sports betting, be sure to choose a quality sportsbook to wager at. Do your research and check out what to look for when choosing an online sportsbook.

While regulated sports betting seems like a good thing for everybody from recreational gamblers to pros (a.k.a. sharps). After all, more bettors will have opportunities to place bets at licensed online sportsbooks and brick and mortar sportsbooks.

However, sharps don’t really stand to benefit from regulated betting. In fact, they’ll find it even tougher to make a living through this type of gambling.

I’m going to explain this matter by covering the difficulty of winning in sports today along with how pros could get squeezed out of the US.

Sports Betting Has Already Gotten More Difficult

Even sharps don’t have a completely easy time beating sports wagering. In fact, their job has gotten even tougher in recent years.

According to “Gambler X,” a sharp who recently wrote an anonymous piece for ESPN, their edge has decreased for multiple reasons.

“It’s well documented that most books are banning winners, but my edge has decreased for other reasons.”

The anonymous gambler claims that sportsbooks are getting sharper and making fewer errors. This pro used to be able to find an abundance of soft lines throughout Vegas. However, he’s now seeing fewer opportunities than ever before.

Why Sharps Fear Legalized Betting

The concept of legal sportsbooks spreading throughout the US would appear to be a good thing. It only stands to reason that more options equal better opportunities.

But regulation is actually having quite the opposite effect. It’s convincing major European players like William Hill to enter the market.

Outside Entrance to Euro William Hill

This trend presents a problem for pros, because European bookmakers aren’t very tolerant of their kind. Euro sportsbooks frequently ban suspected sharps.

Nevada and New Jersey have already welcomed William Hill with open arms. Delaware, meanwhile, is essentially letting the UK-based bookmaker run their state-backed betting operation.

“The book [in Delaware] is owned by the state lottery, and William Hill sets the lines and decides what bets to take for a very small percentage of profits,” Gambler X explained.

“This strategy leads to dealing one-way lines, on which they are taking action on only one side and then banning anyone William Hill in Las Vegas deems likely to win money.”

“If the State of Delaware is the primary beneficiary from the sportsbook, then shouldn’t it be required to offer a fair system in which anyone can play?”

The Search to Find Profitable Opportunities

Gambler X hasn’t had much success in the bigger regulated markets lately. They haven’t given up hope, though, and have tried finding lucrative markets. Unfortunately, their search hasn’t turned up much so far.

Gambler X’s goal is to find smaller sportsbooks that aren’t backed by corporations with anti-sharp policies. These types of bookmakers used to be more prevalent in Las Vegas. Lately, though, they aren’t found in as great of frequency.

“For me, independent books that set their own lines and manage their own risk are the lifeblood of my business. They mean more chances to pick off bad lines, opportunities to arbitrage and more places I can go fire the same bet at the number I want,” Gambler X stated.

With fewer options, pros like Gambler X are finding it difficult to make a living in the way that they used to.

Sports Betting Legalization Is Good for Pros on One Front

Legal sports wagering may be hurting pros in many areas. However, the increase in opportunities at least offers sharps something to look forward to. With the addition of legalized sports betting, there have been more places for sharps to sneak bets without moving the lines by much.

Inside a Casino Sportsbook

Gambler X may be bullish on having more chances to put down large bets without changing the odds. However, he also fears that bookmakers will keep consolidating and have a greater chance at rooting out sharps.

“More casinos sharing liquidity and information to stay one step ahead of bettors. More jurisdictions and hodgepodge shops where one is the majority owner, but lines are set by another, and software is provided by a third. It’s just more stuff to make my life miserable.”

Will Americans Still Be Able to Beat Sports Betting?

Sharps already have a tough task in beating sports gambling. They need to be good at handicapping, finding opportunities, and timing their bets.

Now, they must worry more than ever about getting banned from the best sportsbooks. After all, larger players are entering the US industry and kicking sharps out at an alarming rate.

This means that fewer pros than ever will exist in sports gambling. However, it doesn’t necessarily ruin the dream for everybody.

Skilled professionals will still find ways to beat lines and evade bookmakers. Time-honored methods, such as sharps using “beards” to place bets for them, can still work.

Of course, not everybody who wins money with sports betting has to be a serious professional. Recreational gamblers will still have an opportunity to win money for the time being.

Regulation is moving at a very slow pace. Therefore, most Americans still look to offshore bookmakers as their primary betting outlets.

Skilled semi-pros will still be able to make decent profits at these softbooks. The strict betting limits at offshore sites all but eliminates the chances of becoming a full-time pro. But the soft lines at these sportsbooks still create profitable situations.

Conclusion

Sharps rely on opportunities just as much as their handicapping skills to win profits. Unfortunately, their opportunities will become more and more limited with each passing year.

Large corporations will be capitalizing on most of the regulated US sports gambling market. Unlike the small independent bookmakers, these operations are known for banning sharps or featuring tight lines.

Some of those who’ve relied on sports betting for income may find the changes to be unbearable. This will leave a smaller percentage of professional bettors than ever before.

But certain sharps will still find a way to win, even with the changes. As Gambler X noted, more markets will exist in the future.

Of course, many of these markets will be controlled by the larger players. But some independent sportsbooks with softer lines and more tolerance may open up in bigger states.

That said, the dream of becoming a professional sports bettor isn’t completely dead in the US. However, the prospects don’t look great right now either.

The Best Games to Learn the Fundamentals of Poker

Neon Poker Sign, Two Colored Casino Chips, Three Poker Cards
Since the poker boom of the mid-2000s, no-limit Texas hold’em has been the gateway for most people into the world of poker.

It makes sense. Much of the popularity of the game comes from the use of hole-card cameras on TV broadcasts of no-limit Texas hold’em tournaments.

As if that wasn’t enough, most of those tournaments mix pros and amateurs, and the latter win pots quite frequently. This doesn’t change the fact that, if you’re serious about being at least decent at poker, you must learn the fundamentals of the game.

And, the way I see it, there are two games in US poker gambling that will help you to do that a lot easier than others.

The Fundamentals of Poker

If you’re reading this post, I suppose you already know about the ranking of hands and the actions you can perform at any given time. If you don’t, you’ll find many resources out there that explain these things to you.

The fundamentals I’m talking about here are the things you have to learn if you want to have a shot at winning at any variant of poker. Just like any soccer player must learn how to control a ball, how to pass it, and so on, any poker player should know certain things.

Not all fundamentals are made equal, though. Some are much more relevant to certain poker variants than others.

Let’s discuss position, for example. This is one of the most important things in Texas hold’em, but it doesn’t play that big of a role in Razz or Seven-Card Stud.

So, what does play a big role in any kind of poker game, whatever its specific rules may be? It all comes down to two things—mathematics and psychology.

The Mathematics of Poker Games

You don’t have to become a human calculator like Phil Gordon. (The guy can tell you the odds of any given hand in hold’em as soon as the flop is turned over.) But you do have to know a few things.

First, you need to have an idea of how the cards you’ve been dealt compare to what other players may have. This is before you even decide if you’ll put (more) chips into the pot. And it’ll lead you to become savvy about one of the most important fundamentals of the game, hand selection.

Calculator, Ace of Spades Poker Card

It’s a common beginner’s mistake to overvalue the odds of suited cards hitting a flush, for example. Or ignoring the importance of the kicker in determining the winner of a given hand. By the way, if words such as “kicker” are alien to you, make an effort to familiarize yourself with the poker jargon as well.

To avoid those kinds of mistakes, have some fun tweaking with the odds calculators you can find online. From there, it’s essential to know about your odds on later rounds of betting the game you happen to be playing.

You don’t need to complicate things much, really. In fact, many good players find it enough to use simple problem-solving, and they do fine with that. After all, they learned to understand the value of that old adage, which says that poker is a game of people more than a game of cards.

The Psychology of Poker

That’s where the psychology of the game becomes more evident, particularly after you spend hours playing against the same people.

It’s not enough to learn how to detect your own and your opponents’ emotions. You also need to know how to use that knowledge to your advantage.

This may sound like a lot, and it is. That’s why psychologist Daniel Goleman talks about five different competences of emotional intelligence:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social skills

As you can see, the math may get you to a certain point, particularly against weaker players. But it’s not of much use against those who have been on the felt long enough.

The main difference between these two groups is that weaker players are less perceptive of the nuances of the game. Those players, known as fish, are too self-centered to be empathetic.

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That’s the reason why you often hear good players saying that you can’t bluff an amateur. Sure, you can scare them out of a hand now and then, but you must remember that a bluff is a story.

When you’re up against a good opponent, though, things are different. So much so that the math goes out the window, and it becomes a matter of game theory on a much higher level.

Bankroll Management in Poker

Bankroll management is not something you’ll always see among the list of fundamentals of poker. But make no mistake, this is a crucial aspect of the game.

This becomes more evident if you’re a regular cash game player. But no tournament player has the right to ignore this mix of mathematics and psychology.

So, to begin with, what is your bankroll? In simple terms, that’s the money you have put aside exclusively to play poker.

White Dice, Colored Casino Chips, Pile of Money

You can see different views on the internet of how to calculate the size of your bankroll. Because of this, I won’t get into these details here. Especially because, as I said before, there’s also a psychological side to it.

If the thought of losing all your buy-in makes you uncomfortable, that’s a sign that such a game is too big for you.

It matters little that you think you have an edge against all the other players on that table. You won’t have the confidence to explore that edge if you’re worried about the money you may lose. And the more you play, the more you learn that confidence is everything in poker.

My 2 Poker Games of Choice

Okay, we’ve covered a lot of ground already.

If you’re still with me, this is what you’ve come here for, your two picks if you want to get better at the fundamentals of poker.

Five-Card Draw

It wasn’t that long ago that Five-Card Draw was the first variant of poker most people would start with. There are some good reasons for that.

For a start, you only have two betting rounds. The first is after you receive your five cards face down; the other comes after you have the option of “drawing” a certain number of cards.

Having only two betting rounds is a great way for you to get used to less complex math. It also allows you to see more hands without having to commit too many chips. This is a great learning experience in itself. After a while, you’ll learn the value of not relying on the showdown in the first place.

I know I said it before, but I’ll say it again—poker is a game of people.

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In Five-Card Draw, you never get to see any of your opponents’ cards unless there’s a showdown. This makes it the perfect game to observe other players’ tells.

Maybe that’s why it’s lost so much of its popularity in recent years. Online poker, for all its benefits, still doesn’t let you see other people’s body language, tone of voice, etc.

Although, to be fair, you can observe a few things playing through real money online casinos too, such as how long a person takes to act on different circumstances.

Once you get used to those aspects of Five-Card Draw, you’ll be better prepared for my second pick.

Limit Hold’em

Crandell Addington, one of the founders of the World Series of Poker, once said that,

“Limit poker is a science, but no-limit is an art.”

I don’t know in which context he said that, but it’s a good metaphor. Any type of limit game favors a more analytical approach. It’s here that the benefits of understanding hand selection and your odds of improving your hand are clearer.

And you can also see the effect of each of your decisions—fold, call, check, bet or raise—in a more gradual way. Then, it’s easier to dissect your play.

Apart from that science, let’s also take a moment to consider the art of Limit hold’em, starting with the psychology of bankroll management.

Stacks of Casino Chips and Cards on Poker Table

When you play a limit game, you lose everything at once if you’ve already lost a considerable amount of chips before. This is valuable knowledge. Not only because it enables you to learn the cost of your mistakes, but it also prevents you from losing everything because of a single bad decision.

For this reason alone, limit games are a great way for you to learn the value of self-discipline. But there’s so much more to it than that.

Imagine that you have a good hand in no-limit Texas hold’em. You can place a large bet early on to scare players who might want to join the party with marginal hands.

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You can’t do that in Limit hold’em, though. And this forces you to improve your reading skills on later rounds of betting.

That’s how you become a good post-flop player. Or do you think it’s merely a coincidence that Daniel Negreanu, one of the best readers of hands, is a fan of Limit hold’em?

Conclusion

If none of this was enough to convince you of the importance of the fundamentals, let me end by sharing a quote from NBA legend Kobe Bryant.

Once, performance coach Alan Stein, Jr. had the privilege of watching Kobe training. Stein’s initial excitement gradually faded, as he watched Kobe spending a long time practicing basic drills.

Not too long after the workout was over, he asked Kobe the reason for practicing such basic moves. The response he got was legendary: “Why do you think I’m the best player in the world? Because I never ever get bored with the basics.”

Great Sections of Las Vegas Beyond The Strip

Aerial View of the Las Vegas Valley
People all over the world know about the Las Vegas Strip. Known to city planners as Las Vegas Boulevard, this 4.2-mile stretch offers every type of activity, bar, casino, and resort amenity that one could ask for.

So many tourists never make it off the Strip. Whether it’s out of fear of the unknown or having already found everything they like, these gamblers stick to the main path.

But these same visitors are missing out on other parts of fabulous Las Vegas that also have plenty to offer. Sin City boasts four other main sections that are filled with casino resorts and other attractions.

Downtown Las Vegas

Downtown Vegas was once the crown jewel of the city. Those days have long past, and you can tell from the age of certain casinos.

Nevertheless, Downtown LV still maintains relevance thanks to the Fremont Street Experience. The latter refers to a five-block stretch that boasts ziplining, the world’s largest slot machine (“SlotZilla”), live music, and more.

Downtown Las Vegas Street View

Assuming you want to experience the rougher side of Vegas, then downtown is where you need to be. You’ll find several notable casinos downtown, including El Cortez, Main Street, Oasis at Gold Spike, and the Golden Nugget.

El Cortez isn’t the nicest casino in Vegas. However, it does have some of the lowest minimum bets in town and some coin-operated slots for the nostalgic crowd.

The Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino walks the fine line between embodying Vegas’ past without looking dilapidated. It also offers a premier attraction that puts you up close and personal with sharks.

Oasis at Gold Spike is a hipster’s paradise with its multi-colored furniture, quirky game rooms, and grass-covered balconies.

Main Street casino is a slightly better-looking version of El Cortez. It too has low minimum bets along with some of the best craps action (20x odds bets) available.

Henderson

Henderson is a Vegas suburb located on the city’s southeast side. “Suburb” may be the wrong word when considering that Henderson features over 310,000 residents.

It serves as a nice compliment to the Strip and Downtown Vegas by offering many entertainment options without the crowds.

The Green Valley Ranch Resort & Casino is one of the most popular casinos in Henderson. It features fine dining, shows, and “The District.” The latter refers to a large shopping area at the resort. This complex also offers excellent rooms for much cheaper than you’ll pay at Strip casinos.

Green Valley Ranch Resort & Casino in Henderson Las Vegas

The Railroad Pass Hotel and Casino holds the distinction of being America’s longest-running gambling establishment. It’s understandably more dated than Green Valley but still offers solid rooms and amenities.

Fiesta Henderson, which is close to Lake Mead, is one more noteworthy Henderson casino. It’s centrally located near two of Vegas’ busiest highways and features quality rooms that are on par with Railroad Pass.

Summerlin

Assuming you’d like to get some exercise in during your Sin City trip, you should head to Summerlin. It puts you within close distance of Red Rock Canyon and also offers some sweet golf courses.

Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa in Summerlin Las Vegas

You can stay at the Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa in between hiking sessions. Red Rock resort features a large buffet, luxurious pool, and one of Vegas’ finest spas.

The Suncoast Hotel and Casino is a cheaper alternative when you’re staying in Summerlin. JW Marriott is one of the more lavish resorts found in this suburb.

Overall, Summerlin isn’t the best spot if you’re looking for the hottest clubs and best party atmosphere. Instead, it’s more about relaxing in Las Vegas’ slowest-moving section.

South Vegas Strip

The South Strip is still technically part of Las Vegas Boulevard, but it’s not generally known as THE Strip.

As long as you don’t long for the glitz and glamour of the Bellagio or Venetian, then you should consider the southern section. This is known as a “locals” area that features budget-friendly rooms and dining.

You can enjoy quality meals, pools, restaurants, and shows without being a high roller. Other offerings include movie theaters, live concerts, comedy acts, and even equestrian events.

Bass Pro Shops' in Las Vegas Nevada

The Silverton perfectly embodies the local vibe with a solid buffet and low minimum casino bets. It also offers interesting attractions in the Bass Pro Shops’ flagship store and Mermaid Bar.

The M Resort is the classiest casino on the South Strip. While you’ll also pay more for this luxury, you won’t have to shell out quite as much as you would in Strip casinos.

South Point is one more establishment worth checking out. It has some of the cheapest food and drinks in town and hosts major events and conventions.

Should You Still Consider the Strip?

You can see that you don’t have to stay on the Strip to have a good time. Therefore, I heavily encourage you to get out and enjoy some other locations within Las Vegas.

Even still, the Strip is always going to get the most attention. It’s featured in prominent movies and well known throughout the world. The Strip’s fame is well deserved, because it gives you an opportunity to do pretty much anything.

You want to get married on the spot without meeting with your pastor three times beforehand? Sure. Are you hoping to experience an unforgettable night at a club and see extremely beautiful women? You can do that here, too.

Las Vegas Boulevard, The Strip

However, you also have to be aware of the downside to endless entertainment and being tempted by the best of the best. You’re going to pay ridiculous sums of money to enjoy these luxuries!

Some resorts are so audacious that they charge both “entertainment” and “service fees.” Isn’t the original cost of the entertainment already both the entertainment and service fee!?

Assuming you still can’t resist the allure of the Strip, then you can still find ways to cut costs and enjoy fine casino resorts.

The LINQ is one of the best locations for living it up on the Strip without nose-diving your bank account. It features rooms for under $40 per night. The Palazzo and Treasure Island Hotel & Casino also give you an opportunity to stretch your budget.

Conclusion

The Vegas Strip continues to get all the attention from Hollywood. It’s earned this right too, thanks to its massive resorts, vibrant nightclubs, and unforgettable attractions.

But Las Vegas doesn’t end after the Strip. Instead, it features several other sections that are worth visiting.

Downtown is the city’s second most popular section. El Cortez, Golden Nugget, Main Street, and Oasis at Gold Spike are each worth checking out. You should also consider a visit to the Freemont Street Experience’s many attractions, too.

Henderson is a very large suburb to the southwest of Vegas. It features a laidback atmosphere along with notable resorts like Green Valley Ranch, Fiesta Henderson, and Railroad Pass.

Summerlin is a ritzy suburb of Sin City that’s within close proximity to Red Rock Canyon. That said, it’s a perfect spot for if you want to gamble and enjoy nature.

Some of the area’s most popular resorts include the JW Marriot, Red Rock Casino, and Suncoast Hotel and Casino.

Finally, the South Vegas Strip is like the Strip’s lesser-known sibling. It retains some of the same offerings of the main Strip without being as expensive. M Resort, Silverton, and South Point are all popular resorts in this section.

This post may not be enough to sway you to check out other areas of Sin City. After all, Las Vegas Boulevard is pretty magnetizing.

But you should at least consider one of the other four sections covered here. This way, you can enjoy much of the same entertainment and memories without going hundreds or even thousands of dollars over your budget.

Slot Machine Near Misses Will Not Keep You Playing

Two Casino Slot Machines
If you play slots for real money, then you’ll barely miss out on big payouts all too often. You may have even had heartbreaking experiences where you got a payout, but just missed a big jackpot or bonus.

These instances are referred to as “near misses.” They describe the times where you’re just one symbol away from getting paid or earning a much bigger prize.

The conventional wisdom has always been that near misses keep you spinning the reels longer. However, new research shows that this long-held belief is completely untrue.

Below, I’ll cover this research along with why people ever believed that near misses held some power in the first place.

Common Thinking Regarding Slot Near Misses

Slot machines are designed to award you payouts for landing a specific number of symbols in a payline. For example, you may receive a prize as long as you get three or more icons in a line.

However, you’ll experience plenty of times where you only get two symbols. In these cases, you’ll narrowly miss out on scoring a prize.

These near misses have always been thought to make you play longer. You’re supposedly more likely to believe that a payout is right around the corner in these situations.

Just missing out on a prize isn’t the only scenario where near misses come into play. You may need three scatter symbols for a bonus and land two of them.

Again, you’ll allegedly want to continue gambling when considering that you almost triggered the bonus. You might think that the slot machine is “getting closer” to offering more orbigger prizes.

The question, though, is whether or not you’ll truly be motivated to log more time on slots just because you’ve almost won.

Research Reveals the Truth About Near Misses

The University of Alberta recently conducted a study regarding the near miss concept. Their results show that near misses may not actually motivate people or animals to continue a particular activity.

Their research used the habits of pigeons to determine whether mankind is fueled by narrowly missing out on a payout. Pigeons were used because they’re considered among the most impulsive lab animals.

Jeffrey Pisklak, one of the researchers involved with the study, noted that pigeons have addictive personalities. They’re similar to a compulsive gambler who can’t stop playing slot machines. He likens them to nature’s “problem gambler.”

Row of Casino Slot Machines, Two Laptops, Taking Notes

The pigeons were set in front of food. Researchers watched to see if the birds pecked more to get food following a near miss.

They discovered that the pigeons didn’t increase their pecking rate following close calls. Therefore, it can be assumed that neither they, nor compulsive gamblers, are motivated by near misses.

Pisklak believes that this phenomenon does hold merit in certain instances. For example, a basketball player who narrowly misses a shot may be more inclined to keep practicing. They can use the previous botched shot as information on how they can improve the next attempt.

However, slot machines are different because they don’t feature skill. A gambler who nearly misses on a spin can’t use this info to boost their chances the next time.

Will This Research Convince US Casinos to Operate Differently?

Slot machine developers use several tricks (covered later) to keep people playing for longer hours. Near misses, however, don’t appear to be a useful trick.

It was often thought that developers purposely programmed games to have close calls more often. The logic here is that more near misses offer more encouragement that a big prize is coming up.

Slots providers and US real money casinos can simply refer to the University of Alberta’s study to see that near wins don’t have any impact on gambling behavior. Then again, though, the gambling industry may have already known this for a long time.

Assuming this is the case, then they won’t change anything about slot machines regarding near misses. They’ll just keep the rate of these incidents at a normal level.

But if any developers do actually design slots to feature more close calls, then they’ll likely stop. The Alberta research team has proven that designing games in this manner is a waste of time.

Four Things That Will Convince You to Play Slots Longer

Near misses may not actually do anything with regard to convincing you to play more slots. However, the following four factors do have an impact. You should be mindful of these aspects at all times.

1 – Slots Trance

Modern slot machines feature a nice mix of good graphics, flashing lights, and fun soundtracks. These elements are seemingly harmless ways of increasing the entertainment value surrounding a slot.

The reality, though, is that they can combine to put you into a trance. Research suggests that the flashing lights and soundtracks can especially cause you to play more.

You can fall into a “slot machine zone” while spinning the reels. This zone causes you to become fully immersed in a game and forget about your surroundings and responsibilities.

Slot Machine, Trance

The University of British Columbia (UBC) performed research on this subject. They divided players into two groups, including casual players and problem gamblers.

The team then had the gamblers play slots for 30 minutes apiece. Each slot machine featured side panels with moving white circles.

Players were asked to push a button when a white circle turned into a red square. Problem gamblers missed the red square more often than the casual players. They also reported falling into trances while spinning the reels.

2 – Wins Disguised as Losses

Most slots today feature 20 paylines or more. The multiple lines ensure that you have lots of chances to win in each round.

However, they can also lead to a phenomenon known as losses disguised as wins (LDWs). An LDW may cause you to think that you’re a winner even if you’ve lost money.

Here’s an example:

  • You bet $0.50 on a spin.
  • You win two prizes worth $0.05 and $0.10 ($0.15 total).
  • The machine lets out loud sounds and shows flashing lights.
  • You now feel like a winner thanks to the theatrics.
  • But you’ve actually lost $0.35.

The sounds and lights aren’t the only aspects working against your better judgement. The quick pace of slot machines can also make you lose any semblance of reality.

You may fail to account for how much you’re winning and losing based on how fast you can play. Instead, you’ll just notice the lights and sounds and quickly push spin to start the next round.

3 – Chasing Comps

Casino comps are typically one of the more exciting parts of playing slot machines. However, they can also loop you into the trap of playing strictly for rewards.

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You may feel that you’re actually earning something valuable. In reality, you’re risking far more than comps are worth.

The key problem is that you’re typically only rewarded at a rate of 0.1% of your total betting volume. This rate isn’t even close to your theoretical losses.

Here’s an example:

  • You’re playing a slot with a 5% house edge.
  • The casino’s comp rate is 0.1%.
  • You bet $10,000 total.
  • 10,000 x 0.05 = $500 in theoretical losses.
  • 10,000 x 0.001 = $10 in comps.
  • 500 / 10 = Your comps are worth 50x less than theoretical losses.

You should still go after rewards and promotions if you’re going to play slots anyways. But the key is to avoid extending sessions just to upgrade comps.

4 – Skill-Based Slot Machines

Skill-based slots have become more notable within the past few years. They play just like standard slot machines, with the exception of offering a bonus round with skill.

Here’s an example:

  • You’re playing a slot about cops and robbers.
  • You trigger the bonus round.
  • You need to shoot out the robbers’ tires during a highspeed chase.
  • You’ll earn a larger prize for shooting the tires quicker.

These types of slots have been given rise because casinos are looking for a new way to appeal to millennials. The latter doesn’t play regular slot machines as much as previous generations.

Ebay Slot Machine in Casino

Casinos are hoping that more interactive forms of gambling will appeal to younger crowds. They’re also banking on gamblers’ overestimating the level of skill involved.

The idea of a skill-based slot makes it seem like you have a stronger chance to win. In reality, though, the bonus round only makes up a small amount of overall payback.

Here’s an example to illustrate this point:

  • You’re playing a slot with 92% base RTP.
  • The bonus round can add another 4% payback when played perfectly.
  • Therefore, you can achieve up to a maximum of 96% RTP.

96% payback isn’t bad in the overall scheme of things. However, it’s not quite what you may envision after becoming an expert at the bonus round in question.

Skill-based slot machines should be treated as a fun novelty rather than a path towards winning gambling profits.

Conclusion

Near misses have long been thought to incite more slots play. Logically speaking, they can trick you into thinking bigger prizes are coming in the near future.

The truth, though, is that slots players aren’t really motivated by close calls. They’re no more likely to continue playing after just missing a bonus than they are when completely missing it.

The University of Alberta may have finally dispelled the myth that near misses lead to more play.

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Their study revealed that pigeons, nature’s compulsive gamblers, don’t peck after food any more often following a near miss.

As explained by Jeffrey Pisklak, one of the researchers, players know that they can’t do anything to improve upon a losing spin.

They can only push the spin button and hope they’re lucky. This lack of skill takes away any motivation to continue playing just because of a close call.

You can see that near misses have no bearing on you playing more often. However, you should pay attention to the following factors that can make you feel like gambling more:

  • Slots trances
  • Losses disguised as wins
  • Comps
  • Skill-based play

Of these, trances are especially problematic. Slot machines use an array of lights and sounds to keep your focus on the games instead of the outside world.

LDWs contribute to the trance-like state. You may be convinced that you’re winning thanks to the lights and sound effects even after losing money.

Many gamblers inflate the value of comps and think they’re getting an incredible deal. In reality, these rewards are worth less than the theoretical losses you face while chasing them.

Skill-based play may make you overconfidence about your chances of winning. The skill element only accounts for a small amount of payback.

As long as you’re aware of the four problems above, then you’ll have a better chance at keeping your slots bankroll.

Do US Online Casinos Really Need Blockchain?

Bitcoin, Blockchain, Poker Cards Spread, Red Dice
The online gaming industry has run pretty smoothly as is for years. However, some online casinos are attempting to shake things up with blockchain technology.

Blockchain is commonly used in reference to cryptocurrencies. Most notably, the Bitcoin network relies on blockchain to process financial transactions and remain secure.

Certain internet casinos have applied the same technology to their operations. But is blockchain really necessary in this capacity?

I’m going to discuss more on this tech along with what, if anything, it can do to improve even the best US online casinos.

What Is Blockchain Technology?

Blockchain is a newer concept and one that’s not easily explained. If you look up the definition of this technology, you’re bound to see something like, “A time-stamped and immutable record of data that’s managed by a group of trustless computers.”

You’d think that blockchain was akin to unlocking the secrets of quantum computing based on this definition. However, it can be broken down into simpler terms.

The name is based on how this technology operates on a series of digital blocks. The blocks serve as the digital info, while the chain acts as a public or private database.

Each block in the Bitcoin network includes the following:

  • Date when the block was purchased
  • Time when the block was purchased
  • Value of the block

As you can see, the buyer’s name and other details are kept out of these transactions. Instead, only the purchasing wallet address is available to the public.

Speaking of which, everything that happens on a public blockchain (like Bitcoin) is available for everybody to see. Unlike with private databases and chains, nothing can be hidden from public view.

This visibility is exactly why the online gaming world has become interested in blockchain. The transparency can interest players who are otherwise mistrusting of casinos.

How Does Blockchain Work at Real Money Online Casinos?

Every bet placed at a casino is stored on the relevant blockchain. If you’re playing at a Bitcoin casino, for example, then your wagers will be recorded in the BTC network.

New blocks are added to the network after bets. But the following four occurrences must happen prior to a new block being created:

  • You make a transaction (a.k.a. bet).
  • The transaction is verified by a network of computers.
  • Your transaction is stored on a block with the aforementioned three pieces of info.
  • The block is given a “hash,” which is an anonymous, digital signature.

Following the last step, the block becomes publicly available for anybody to see. You, along with any other person, can verify whether or not your wager is fair.

Computer Keyboard, Blockchain

Most online casinos and gaming providers are fair regardless. However, they’re forced to be honest when blockchain is involved.

Otherwise, they risk exposing themselves through a major cheating scandal. No casino will risk their reputation and entire business when anybody can verify if they’re offering fair gaming.

Pros of Blockchain in US Casino Gambling

Blockchain may seem confusing and unnecessary for gambling purposes at first. However, it does offer the following advantages over the current system that’s used at many online casinos.

Transparency

The majority of online casinos operate through private databases. You and other gamblers don’t see what goes on behind the scenes regarding betting results.

This system has largely worked up until this point. However, a few scandals have emerged over the years.

For example, Rome Casino once offered a faulty online slot machine called Diablo 13. Developed by TopGame, this slot was missing crucial wild symbols on reels 1 and 5.

These missing wilds made it impossible for anybody to win the jackpot. Not surprisingly, players complained about Diablo 13.

Rome management responded by claiming that they had TopGame fix the issue. They didn’t immediately, though, and only discontinued the game after more complaints.

Luckily, these incidents are rare. But blockchain ensures that such problems can be caught by players sooner.

Casinos Develop More Trust

Gaming sites instill more trust in their operation thanks to blockchain. As covered above, this technology leads to more transparency.

Players feel more secure at a casino when they can verify their results. Contrast this to the average private-database casino, which offers no transparency.

Blockchain doesn’t guarantee that a casino or software provider will never cheat. However, it severely reduces the chances of any such problems.

Increased Security

Continuing off the last point, casinos have little incentive to cheat you when blockchain is involved. They’d have to go through a monumental effort to pull off such a scam.

Laptop Computer, Cyber Security Lock and Cloud

The way that this tech works presents serious problems for any nefarious operator. Here’s a rundown on why this is true:

  • A blockchain stores every new block in chronological order.
  • The contents of each block are impossible to alter without drawing attention.
  • Each block’s hash code contains a string of numbers and letters.
  • When one block is altered, its hash also changes.
  • However, the next block still features its original hash.
  • The crooked casino then needs to change the next block.
  • But the block after this maintains its original hash.
  • The casino is caught in a massive loop of altering blocks to avoid getting caught.

Unless you’ve somehow managed to place a $10 million bet, the casino will go through more trouble than it’s worth to scam you.

Cryptocurrency Offers More Banking Options

Bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies utilize blockchain. Therefore, this technology allows for far more banking options at casinos.

Bitcoin is definitely the most prominent coin found in the gaming industry. However, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin have become more notable within gaming.

Crypto offers notable advantages over traditional banking options. The biggest benefit is that cryptocurrencies aren’t controlled by a bank or government.

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You don’t have to worry about a bank or e-wallet scrutinizing your online casino deposits in this case. Instead, miners—who don’t know the nature of transactions—approve your deposits.

Crypto also lets you gamble with more anonymity. You’re only identified by a wallet address when making deposits and placing bets.

Cons of Blockchain at Casinos

Blockchain can definitely help the gaming industry in certain ways. But it’s not perfect and comes with some notable downsides.

Learning Blockchain and Crypto in General

If you’ve never dealt with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies before, then you won’t automatically know how to use them. Instead, you’ll have to invest time into understanding crypto.

First off, you need to know how to deposit at a blockchain casino. Most of these sites only accept Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Luckily, exchanges like Coinbase and Gemini have made the process easier. Even still, depositing with crypto isn’t as easy as entering your credit card numbers and the CV2 code.

You might also want to know how to verify bets on the blockchain. This process is more complicated than making deposits.

Assuming this complication turns you off, then the transparency aspect goes out the window. You’ll have to rely on somebody else to keep an eye on casinos.

Cost to Implement Blockchain

Again, most real money online casinos run on databases. They need to switch over a lot of processes if they suddenly want to go blockchain.

Established gaming sites are less likely to do so. They may only consider this option if the majority of the industry turns to blockchain.

Laptop Computer, Casino Colored Chips

Therefore, only newer casinos are actually running their sites through blockchain. These sites are often referred to as “provably fair” casinos.

Plenty of other gaming sites accept Bitcoin as a deposit method. But they’re not actually using blockchain as their platform.

Crypto Has a Bad Name

If you bring up cryptocurrency or blockchain around anybody, you’re likely to get eye rolls. Most people still associate crypto and even blockchain tech with scams.

Bitcoin has been frequently labeled a scam by mainstream news outlets and financial analysts. Warren Buffet famously called BTC “rat poison squared.”

Crypto’s case wasn’t helped by the ICO scams in 2018. Many projects used initial coin offerings to gather millions of dollars in funds.

While some of these ICOs were legit, others were nothing more than money grabs. The founders either outright scammed investors or did very little work on projects after collecting the money.

None of this proves that blockchain casinos can’t work. However, the general population is more hesitant to use such gaming sites.

Is Blockchain Necessary in Casino Gambling?

The online gaming industry can run just fine without bringing blockchain into the fold. After all, you don’t hear about many scams in gaming anyways.

But blockchain isn’t just about changing the way that things are done. It’s about improving certain aspects of the industry.

It brings more trust to the online gaming world. Casinos and software provides are very unlikely to engage in shady practices when considering how many eyes could be watching them.

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Furthermore, you can actually verify your bets at a blockchain-based site. This option provides piece of mind that you won’t get ripped off.

Blockchain has already improved the number of banking options at casinos. Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin are some of the many cryptocurrencies that have invaded the real money online gambling space.

Some players prefer crypto due to its decentralized nature. Gamblers who deal with restrictive online gaming laws (e.g. Americans) can use Bitcoin to work around the issue.

Of course, blockchain isn’t 100% perfect; otherwise, every casino would’ve implemented it already. The chief problem is that it requires changes for both you and the industry.

If you’re not already familiar with crypto, you need to learn how to use it. You may also consider figuring out how to check the authenticity of your bets.

In summary, the question isn’t whether or not the gaming industry needs blockchain. Casinos are already using the technology indirectly when accepting crypto deposits.

Instead, the question is how far blockchain will go in the gaming world. Time will tell if more casinos implement this tech on a widescale level.

Conclusion

Blockchain is a confusing concept at first, especially when relying on the definition. But it’s not as hard to understand after unpacking its function. Simply put, this tech stores digital blocks of information on a chain. It essentially acts as a private or public ledger for the user.

When public, blockchain offers incredible transparency to the gambling industry. You can verify bets by using the info stored on the chain.

Nobody can alter a block without having to go down the line and continue changing numerous other blocks. In the end, casinos would waste more effort than it’s worth to pull off a cheating scandal.

Of course, many gaming sites don’t feel that they need to feature more transparency. They feel that their operations are already reputable and honest.

This line of thinking is totally fine when considering the rare gambling scandals anyway. But certain casinos have gone the blockchain route to promote more trust in their brand.

Regardless of if more casinos implement this tech into their operations, many will continue accepting cryptocurrencies. At the very least, blockchain will become a larger part of online gambling through crypto alone.

What Happened to the Live Horse Racing Industry in Las Vegas?

Welcome to Las Vegas Sign, Live Horse Racing
For many residents in states outside of Nevada, the local horse racing track represents the only opportunity to place legal bets on athletic competition.

The so-called “Sport of Kings” has been enjoyed by spectators and bettors alike since the era of antiquity, and America’s first colonists set to work organizing races almost immediately upon arrival. The domestic industry dates back to the Newmarket Course in Salisbury, New York, where race fans first began congregating all the way back in 1665.

This rich history begs one big question… Why would Las Vegas, Nevada, not offer even a single horse racing track?

At first glance, Sin City would seem to be the perfect fit for Thoroughbred and harness racing, what with America’s first legal gambling industry set up in 1931. But Las Vegas hasn’t been able to get a local horse racing scene off the ground.

The country’s longstanding gambling capital attempted to bring horse racing bettors aboard several times. Unfortunately, the abundance of gambling options caused the idea to pull up lame each and every time.

In the three entries below, I recount Las Vegas’ often tortured path to creating a horse racing market, including the rise of three local tracks and their respective failures to cross the finish line.

Smoot Arrives in Sin City to Gamble on Las Vegas Park

The year was 1946, and New York City promoter extraordinaire Joseph M. Smoot wanted out of the Big Apple altogether.

After procuring a ride with his lawyer’s partner Hank Greenspun, who went on to found the Las Vegas Sun newspaper, the pair arrived in Las Vegas and went their separate ways.

Greenspun was interested in the profession of journalism, while Smoot had his sights set on a different career path—horse racing track operator.

Having had previous experience helping to promote the Hialeah and Gulfstream parks in Florida, and Santa Anita Park in California, Smoot envisioned a similar project panning out in Sin City. After raising millions of dollars in funds from local investors and civic leaders, Smoot set to work constructing a one-mile track he dubbed Las Vegas Park.

But as Greenspun wrote years later in his memoir, Where I Stand: The Record of a Reckless Man (1966), Smoot never intended on turning the track into a success story:

“Old Joe knew a track wouldn’t have a chance, and he said so when he came here in 1946.”

Greenspun’s assessment proved to be eerily accurate. When Las Vegas Park opened for business on September 4th, 1953, Smoot’s embezzlement scheme began to fall apart almost immediately.

In a Las Vegas Sun retrospective published in 2008 on the failed track, titled “A Sad Saga: Horse Racing in Las Vegas”, the newspaper provided the following rundown of Las Vegas Park’s many failures:

“Before the first race, the Australian-made tote board on the infield went down. And machines inside the $50 and $500 betting windows broke, so high rollers were forced to make many small wagers at the commoners’ windows.

Lines were long. Tempers were short. A disappointing and shallow-pocketed crowd of 8,200 saw Lefty James, with star jockey Tony DeSpirito on top, win the $10,000 Mirage Handicap.

After three days of poor attendance and the continued malfunctioning of the tote board, racing was suspended for two weeks so an American model could be installed.

On Oct. 10, 4,000 patrons bet a total of $100,000. Without a doubt, veteran turf writer Pete Bonamy wrote, it was one of the poorest showings by a racing crowd ever recorded.”

By October 19th, just six weeks after opening, the experiment was over for good as Las Vegas Park closed its doors after only 13 race days.

Thunderbird Downs Only Survives for Three Years

The city of Las Vegas would go without a horse racing track until 1963, when Thunderbird Hotel investor Joe Wells decided to deploy his assets in an effort to build an attached Thunderbird Downs Racetrack.

Horse Racing Track With Crowd Watching

The half-mile track played host to Thoroughbred and quarter horse racing for three years, but Thunderbird Downs wound up closing down amidst a spate of ownership changes due to lack of funding.

At the time, the track was built behind the Thunderbird Hotel and offers pari-mutuel betting and bleachers for spectators.

The Last Hurrah for Las Vegas Horse Racing Enthusiasts

In 1981, the Funk family settled down in Las Vegas. They were an experienced horse racing track operator who ran venues from Florida to Oregon during the 1960s and 1970s.

David J. Funk joined forces with his brother Albert and the pair’s father David Sr., to open Las Vegas Downs on January 15, 1981.

The track was located on the corner of Boulder Highway and Racetrack Road, and according to GamingToday, the venue suffered an immediate case of whiplash:

“The first night of racing offered a 12 race card featuring a Big Q, a daily double involving the night’s last two races. All signs pointed up.

Unfortunately, opening night was the peak of attendance as an average of 1,000 patrons became the norm. Shortly after, the city of Henderson started foreclosure proceedings after demanding back payments of more than $364,000.”

In an obituary for David Jr. published by the Las Vegas Sun in 2015, the elder brother lamented his family’s inability to make horse racing thrive in Sin City. He stated that the facility just couldn’t be profitable due to timing.

It was published that the Funk family actually found it incredibly difficult to walk away from the opportunity, but that the funding was just far too much for them to cover.

Racing Commission member George Franklin had even attempted to help them out with an extension to find other avenues of financing, but nothing ever pulled through.

Since then, there have been no attempts to operate a horse racing track facility in the Sin City.

Conclusion

Horse racing has its place in locales that lack full-scale casino and sportsbook gambling, but the industry simply faces too much competition in Las Vegas to survive.

Fortunately, local bettors and visitors who like to play the ponies can still get your action down at off-track betting (OTB) racebooks like the South Point, Wynn, or the Westgate SuperBook.

Nonetheless, the specter of horse racing’s failure to get out of the gate in Las Vegas looms large for diehard fans who would like nothing better than to sit in the grandstands and watch their horse come home first.

Slot Machines: Expectations vs. Reality

Row of Slot Machine Games in Casino
Slot machine games are great profit centers for online and land-based casinos. Even though most players know the games favor the house, they continue to deposit their money.

There is a social aspect to playing real money slot machine games in a casino. You can chat with your neighbors, whether they’re friends or strangers. The casino is relaxing and exciting at the same time.

Researchers in the fields of gaming science and psychology began publishing studies in the late 1980s and early 1990s that peeled back some of the secrets of the slot gaming industry.

They were playing up our expectations to keep us playing their games. While that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone today, the public was more naive back then. We didn’t have the internet to help us expose industry secrets.

If you were lucky, you found an honest book about gambling in bookstores. Most people probably got their Vegas inside secrets from newspaper insert magazines and little booklets bought in grocery stores.

Where is the dividing line between what real money slot gamers expect and what they receive? Here are a few things that come to mind.

Everyone Expects to Win

Deep down inside you really do expect to win at some point no matter how much you tell yourself that you’re just playing for fun.

After all, the games pay prizes. Some slot machine prizes are just less expensive losses.

Slot machine games are designed to reinforce the expectation of winning. Several research studies, like this one by “Journal of Gambling Studies”, have found that games create and reinforce this expectation.

That study evaluated how multi-line video slot games use “LDWs” (losses disguises as wins) to lure players into playing longer. Say you’re playing a 50-line slot machine game and it charges a penny per pay line. It may pay a prize of 30 cents on a basic bet.

That’s a loss but it looks like a “win.” The game may even say, “you win 30 cents!”

Games Come Close to Paying Off

This is another old tactic. The Nevada Gaming Commission held a series of hearings in which game-makers and casino operators admitted to using “clustering” to simulate “near wins.”

On older slot machine games, the reels (controlled by computer chips) would align two out of three winning symbols but the third reel stopped on a blank slot. Some real money games were designed to pause on the winning symbol then roll up or down to a blank slot.

Up Close Slot Machine Keys

This deceptive trick was called out by gambling addiction advocates and other groups. It’s fallen out of practice and in some jurisdictions, it’s forbidden.

Your expectation that a game comes close to paying off isn’t that far-fetched. If all you need to win a jackpot is a single random number like 998 and the random number generator produces 997 for the next spin, that is mathematically close.

But this expectation is easily exploited into creating a false hope. The bottom line is always the same. You either win back your bet or more, or you lose money.

Playing Longer Improves Your Chances of Winning

This is a controversial expectation. On the one hand, if you’re a budget player who isn’t concerned about winning, then it makes sense to use a conservative strategy.

That means making only minimum bets and extending your play time as long as possible. I met one player who compared it to putting more quarters into an arcade video game so he could keep shooting. He was just a terrible shot with the arcade’s gun.

At least, with a slot machine game, you might win a jackpot. In an arcade video game, you get to list your initials on the Top 10 Players page until someone knocks you off.

In 2008, Kyle Siegrist of the University of Alabama in Huntsville published a groundbreaking paper titled “How to Gamble If You Must.” His research used an imaginary even-money game called “Red and Black.” This is not a realistic scenario because no casino would offer such a game.

Siegrist’s finding that the longer a timid bettor (playing on minimum bets) plays, the greater the probability the house wins has often been cited.

Siegrist’s model says you have a better chance of reaching a target goal through bold play (betting the maximum) than through betting the minimum.

This finding assumes the house has an unlimited supply of money, and the player does not. In other words, he who has the most money wins. It just takes longer for the timid player to lose everything.

Your chances of reaching your target goal are better with bold bets because of the wild swings in random results. All you have to do is reach the goal once and you’re done. That’s more likely to happen with a big win than with a small win.

In reality, slot machine games are designed to pay less often than Siegrist’s “Red and Black” model. You still have a better chance of reaching a target goal with maximum bets but the odds are stacked against you.

And it’s not just because the theoretical return to player is less than 100%. It’s also because the house has more money than you.

Every Slot Game Is “Due” to Pay Off

I heard a story that a New Mexico casino was closed by the Indian tribe that owned it in the late 1990s because it went an entire day without paying a single slot game jackpot. I’ve tried without success to find a source for that story other than the person who told it to me.

If true, it would be an unusual event in the history of real money gambling. What the story tells me is that everyone expects slot games to pay sooner or later. By “pay,” I mean pay a big jackpot.

You can explain to someone how slot machine games work in fine detail, down to random number generators and virtual reels. They’ll understand you. But something happens when we start playing slot machine games.

We develop unrealistic expectations while playing the games.

Four Reel Casino Slot Machine, Money

In 1992, Michael Walker of the University if Sydney published a paper titled “Irrational thinking among slot machine players” in the Journal of Gambling Studies.

The study involved 27 university students who recorded their thoughts while playing slot machine games. The study found that slot game players are 38% more likely to engage in irrational thinking during gameplay than real money video poker and arcade game players.

The study participants were 80% more likely to make irrational statements about strategy while playing slot games.

When slot players say, “this game is due to pay off,” they’re not thinking rationally. They may acknowledge how random the results are before they sit down but as time goes by, their thinking becomes less rational.

In reality, every new spin has the same chance of triggering a jackpot as the last. That never changes.

You Win More With Higher Bonus Multipliers

If a slot bonus game is designed fairly, then when you’re asked to choose more free spins or higher multipliers, the math should work out about the same.

That doesn’t guarantee you’ll win the same amount of money on each bonus game. It does promise an equal chance.

There is no law I’ve heard about that requires all these bonus options to play by the same rules. Part of the mystery could be finding the combination that pays best.

Some slot machine games are designed to increase the bonus payoffs as you play through multiple bonus games. But when presented with a single screen and three or four choices of bonus round options, the player’s expectation should be that each set of options pays about the same.

That’s only fair. In reality, I’ve found myself preferring higher multipliers for wins on some slot games and more free spins on others. When I’m not playing the games, I realize these are irrational preferences. But I’d rather be paid 3x a prize than 2x a prize.

You have a better chance of winning big prizes with more free spins. Or do you?

Conclusion

I really do prefer blackjack to playing slot games. It’s more predictable and rational to me. The more I learn about how slot machine games are designed, the less I want to play them.

But I still play them when I’m in a casino and bored with the cards. Knowing that my thinking is biased toward unreasonable expectations doesn’t change my mind. I guess they got me there.

But that’s why I stick to a gambling budget. When I run out of slot game money, I go home.

Can You Apply Game Theory to Blackjack?

Pile of Scattered Poker Cards, Casino Blackjack Table
You’ve probably at least run across the term “game theory” at some point. It’s shown up in a lot of different places, from articles of optimal hands in Texas Holdem to the 2018 movie Crazy Rich Asians.

You may have wondered what game theory is and if it’s really as powerful as you would be led to believe. Could it have lead Constance Wu’s character to essentially dominate everyone she played poker or mahjong against? Simply put, game theory is very powerful, maybe not as powerful as it has been shown in the movies, but still pretty cool.

Normally, game theory is shown in head-to-head card games, but I started wondering… Could it apply to other games like playing blackjack? The results were somewhat mixed, but ultimately, game theory can help with blackjack if used properly.

Let’s look at how blackjack can help, understand the obstacles blackjack presents when using game theory and, of course, learn what exactly game theory is.

What Is Game Theory?

Game theory is simply the application of math (technically, “mathematical models of strategic interaction” according to Wikipedia) to the decisions you make.

These decisions including whether you fold or raise in Texas Holdem or, potentially, whether you hit or stay in blackjack.

Game theory applies to more than just poker. It finds its way into nearly every human endeavor from stock trading to police work to poker and, over time, it can produce mathematical models that are really good at predicting human behavior.

However, all of the places that get game theory applied to them have a few things in common. First, they all have at least two players in competition. The rules of the game are mostly clear and players gain a better result for some actions than others.

Limitations of Game Theory

Even though Hollywood would have you believe otherwise, game theory isn’t an all-powerful tool for making perfect decisions. In fact, it requires two things to make it work.

First, you need a lot of data. No one just has a eureka moment and invents a mathematical model describing the perfect way to play US poker games or rule the stock market.

Instead, researchers working on the problem build a model and test it. They learn from their tests, then they refine the model, rebuild it, and test again. After a bunch of iterations, they will then produce either a massive failure or model that might work after it has been vetted in the real world.

Guy Sitting Taking Notes in Notebook, Poker Cards Facing Down on Table

Wait, don’t go anywhere. This only sounds like math class. It’s really poker.

The other thing that game theory needs is a small number of variables (in other words, not a lot going on). In fact, the University of Alberta folks who pioneered a lot of this research are pretty quick to point out their models work best when it’s one-on-one because that’s when the fewest number of things might change.

To bring this point home, people are messy, and if you get a lot of them in one game, they can make game theory’s head spin and leave you looking for other ways to dominate the table.

Why Game Theory Isn’t Optimal for Blackjack

Now that you’re ready to don your cap and gown and earn a degree in higher order mathematics (or not), it’s time to look at why game theory is not optimal for blackjack.

At first, it would seem that blackjack and say, Texas Holdem, are similar enough that if game theory applied to one (Holdem) it would apply to the other. However, there’s something fundamentally different between the two activities and that’s the level of interaction.

In Texas Holdem, there is no house and you’re not playing the dealer. Each player is out to beat every other player in the game to win the pot. Player interaction is assured, thus, the essential definition of game theory is met—two more players trying to get a better result.

Player Interaction in Blackjack

This is not true in blackjack. You can play your entire hand of blackjack and have no interaction with another soul except “hit me” or “stay.” What your “opponent” does—in this case, the dealer—is all mandated by a predetermined set of rules, so there really is no other player to play against.

Two People Sitting at Blackjack Table Grabbing Casino Chips

In some ways, the closest you come to any kind of interaction in blackjack is that the players can affect the outcome of your hand by choosing to take cards or not. However, that’s not the kind of decision that game theory can help with since you have no control over what other players do and you will never have enough information before the round is over on how previous plays affect your hand.

Frankly, if you could model that, you’d have to take into account all previous hands because they all take cards from the same set of decks. That’s not mathematical modeling. That’s card counting.

Why Game Theory Works for Blackjack

Because of everything above, the general theory is that game theory (pun intended) isn’t for blackjack. There’s not enough decision making for game theory to accurately model it.

At the end of the day, I’m just not sure that’s the whole story. We’re not going to arrive at a true mathematical model of blackjack by the time this article is over, but there are at least good arguments that such a model should be able to exist.

How do we know a mathematical model can exist?

Basic Strategy – Blackjack’s Mathematical Model

It’s safe to say that your basic strategy blackjack players aren’t going to get much of a boost out of game theory.

There’s already a mathematical model to follow (basic strategy) that has been shown to produce favorable results in a lot of real world scenarios.

By the way, it should be pointed out that the above statement is not an indictment against basic strategy or blackjack players who follow it. I would advise literally everyone to follow basic strategy, especially in the beginning. However, basic strategy can be spruced up.

Adding More Information to Blackjack

Don’t let anyone fool you (including what I said above). Yes, the house in blackjack isn’t as wily an opponent as those you might meet at a poker table, but blackjack has winners and losers. There’s strategy, and there are things you can do to win or at least increase your chances of getting a better result.

In my opinion, that makes them close enough to a game theory opponent that game theory could apply.  What it’s missing, though, are additional sources of information, which is sometimes called counting cards (though neither you nor I will ever call it that).

We’re just going to track aces, twos, threes, and kings. This is a variation on the strategy that the MIT blackjack team used to win a lot of money from the casinos.

Unfortunately, they were MIT kids and we are not. So, we’re just going to add one for each ace and king and subtract one for each two and three. The higher the number, the less likely the deck is going to produce a higher value card.

Colored Casino Chips and Deck of Cards, Blackjack Table

Of course, now we run into our problem.

We’re still a mathematical model short of true game theory. This means that we have to build a model of when to stay, hit, etc. based on the value of our hand and the number in our head. We then have to convert that model into something that live humans can employ during the heat and emotion of a blackjack game.

Like I said above, we’re not going to solve blackjack and game theory today. I’m merely saying that we can, at the end of the day, inject additional sources of information into what most think of as a system that wouldn’t otherwise support it.

In other words, there’s hope that with a little bit of mind tracking, we can develop a true model (not a fly-by-night system) that will let everyone dominate the poker table.

Conclusion

Game theory is a fascinating topic and a practice that is changing how we’re doing everything, including betting our chips at the poker table. It is somewhat unfortunate that there are not already prevalent applications of game theory to the game of blackjack, but part of that could just be basic strategy’s fault. It’s a good system on its own.

Still, there’s likely a time down the road when brilliant game theorists will look at blackjack and realize there is an untapped source of information that can be fed into a model, whether that’s keeping track of a few cards.

I just can’t wait for that day because then I can say, “I told you so.” Until then, I’ll track the high cards and the low cards and build my own way to succeed at blackjack.

Ways to Gamble When You Have No Money

Two Red Casino Dice, Man Opening Empty Wallet
It may sound like a dream or an enticement, but there are ways to gamble when you have no money. It’s always better to have some loose change lying around. But even when you’re completely broke, there are still a few things you can do.

Let me be honest before continuing. If you’ve already gambled away all your loose change, I think you should take a break. Relax outside the gaming environment. Just go for walks every day for a couple of weeks.

If you don’t gamble much and just happen to be broke, think about other ways you can gamble before you head over to the blood bank and make a donation. Sure, giving blood saves lives and being paid to give blood is even better, but let’s look at the free options first, besides playing free online casino games.

The No Deposit Online Gambling Offer

I think everyone has come to loathe this idea, but I might as well discuss it. If you set the right expectations, you can still gamble. And there’s a small chance you’ll get to keep some money.

But if a no deposit bonus seems too good to be true, it’s probably buried by revised terms and conditions.

If you can still find a no deposit bonus that’s reliable, remember that it plays like real money.

You’ll probably never be able to withdraw it, but at least you’ll have a chance to get really lucky and surge past that playthrough requirement.

All of the offers I’ve looked at place a cap on how much you can claim in winnings. As long as the casino honors their side of the bargain and you don’t try to cheat them, you can gamble without risking any of your money.

And you might walk away with some pocket change if you jump through all their legal hoops. Just be patient about the process. The best US online casinos don’t exist for the sake of giving us money. They are businesses that expect to make a profit.

Play Second Chance Drawings With Other People’s Tickets

This is almost as bad a dumpster diving in my opinion. But I have a confession to make. My parents love looking for old junk sitting by the roadside.

If they think they can fix it, they’re not too proud to haul someone’s junk away for them. And my dad did once sell a wooden table he rescued and repaired.

If you have friends who play the state lottery scratch off tickets, then ask them if you can have their losers. Check the backs of each one, especially on the $5 and higher games. Some of them have second chance drawings.

Lottery Ticket With Pen Next to It

You’ve got about as much chance of winning a second chance drawing as of, well, winning the Powerball lottery, I guess. But it happens! The more you enter, the more chances you have to win.

This is the next best thing to playing in a sweepstakes. Actually, it’s better because you don’t have to wade through any magazine subscription offers.

I’ve seen people digging through the trash bin beside the lottery ticket machine at grocery stores. Now, that’s probably a sign they should go for a walk. But if you’re really wanting to surf that wave, it’s there for you.

Sign Up for Online Sweepstakes

I tried the online sweepstakes experience once. I thought it might be worth writing about.

If you don’t mind downloading adware, seeing fake security warnings pop up on your computer screen, or waiting while your browser loads 20 billion ads, you can sign up for a few sweepstakes games online.

While I didn’t have to buy any magazines, I didn’t win anything either. I felt lucky just to keep control of my computer.

But you can certainly climb that mountain if you’re feeling adventurous.

Gamble for Real Money by Yourself

This may not sound like fun, but if you’re having trouble saving up money for a decent gambling budget, try gamifying the process.

Gamification is where you reward yourself for doing the right thing. Are you trying to lose weight? Buy yourself a sundae on Saturday if you can go all week exercising for 20 minutes a day. That’s gamification in terms everyone can understand it.

One way to gamify saving money is to make yourself an offer every time you find you have some money. Say you find a $5 bill in your car. That would pay for lunch.

Reward yourself with a hot dog lunch at the local warehouse store like BJs, Costco, or Sam’s Club. You don’t need a membership to eat at their cafes. And the hotdogs are not only cheap, they’re better quality than those 12-packs you buy at the regular grocery store.

Woman Holding Dollar Bill

So, now you’ve had a filling, fatty fast food lunch (dog and drink) for less than $2, you can save the remaining $3 in your “rainy day” jar.

And here’s where the gambling part comes in. Challenge yourself to eat cheap for a week. If you succeed, you take the money you saved and add it to the “rainy day” jar. That’s a win.

If you cheat on your cheap diet for a week, you take ALL the money out of the jar and drop it in the nearest charitable donation box. That’s a loss.

I did this one year in college. It was much harder to stick to the plain than you might think. That jar stayed empty more often than it filled up.

Borrow Money for a Gambling Binge

Okay, don’t take out a loan or withdraw money from a credit card. Be smart about this. Time is money!

If you have friends who ask you for favors, like repairing their car or painting their house, ask them for a few bucks up front.

Really, you’re committing to doing odd jobs for money, but it’s technically borrowing until you’ve fulfilled your promise of completing a task. And I hope you follow through.

If you do cut a deal with a friend, explain why you need the money and see if they’ll help you out. And when they do, make paying them back with cash or service a top priority.

Don’t welch on your friends, and don’t overcommit. If you’re borrowing money every chance you get, it may be time to go for some walks around the neighborhood.

Spend your time wisely because time is money. How you spend your time also affects your health. Instead of stressing out your friends over a few dollars, spend an hour or two each day relaxing instead.

Never count on being able to pay someone back out of your winnings. And if a friend asks you for money, don’t listen if they offer to pay you back out of their winnings.

Take Up Freelance Writing

Is this an article about gambling without money or about making money? …Is there a difference?

If you can write halfway decently, you should be able to find a few freelance gigs. If you’re paid online, that makes it easier to transfer the money to a gambling account.

Woman Sitting Writing in Notebook, Coffee on Table

Freelance writing might include reviewing casino games. It might include writing about gambling tips. It might also include reviewing yoga videos on YouTube.

Whatever you decide, there’s always someone out there looking for writers. Try it out! You certainly don’t have to make a career out of it. All you need is a few dollars to burn an evening with. And earning that money at least gives you a sense of accomplishment.

Conclusion

No matter how poor and broke you feel, if you can get out of bed in the morning and keep a clear head, there’s usually some way you can either find money or gamble without putting anything down.

However you do it, don’t waste time and energy wishing you had more money to play with. Your gambling budget is dependent on you.

Top 9 Buffets in Atlantic City

Hand Reaching for Food at Buffet
It’s kind of an established fact that Atlantic City, New Jersey, is a second-class citizen in the world of poker cities. When it comes to best and brightest places to wager some money, the seaside attraction has taken a deep backseat to places like Las Vegas, Macau, Monaco, and San Jose.

Given the city’s proud history of nightlife, casinos, ocean boardwalks, and entertainment, it’s kind of a shame that Atlantic City doesn’t get the same press that Vegas does. With that said, it’s not like Atlantic City has fallen into the ocean either. There are still plenty of places you can play a round of cards and get a good meal.

Therefore, when you find yourself in Atlantic City and you have winnings burning a hole in your pocket, you have nine perfectly good places to grab a buffet. That may be fewer than Sin City, but you can still feast on a fine dinner at a reasonable casino price.

1 – Borgata Buffet

When it comes to Atlantic City, you can’t do much better than the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa. It really is the class of Atlantic City casino resorts including their nightlife, fully decked-out spas, meeting spaces (because we all want to meet in a casino instead of play) and, of course, there’s the food.

The Borgata is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It also serves brunch on certain days.

The fare is pretty typical for a buffet at breakfast and lunch—omelets, bacon, ham, and lox for breakfast and fried chicken, Asian cuisine, pizza, and sandwiches for lunch. At dinner, though, the Borgata turns into a gourmet dinner with prime rib, cold and hot seafood entrees and enough desserts to please any sweet tooth. If you’re in Atlantic City, this is the buffet to try first.

2 – Palace Court Buffet

Close on the heels of the Borgata is the Palace Court Buffet at Caesars Atlantic City Hotel and Casino. The Palace Court is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Friday and open for brunch and dinner on Saturdays and Sundays. During these times, diners can feast on sushi, pizza, ice cream, desserts, carved meat, and all the sides one could possibly desire.

Knife and Fork Cutting Meat

Also, on Saturday and Sunday dinner, the Palace rolls out the extra glam and features crab legs and prime rib on their buffet. Then again, perhaps the greatest feature of the Palace Court Buffet is a no-wait, self-service wine area so you can always make sure you glass is extra full. Viva Atlantic City!

3 – The Buffet at Golden Nugget Atlantic City Hotel, Casino, and Marina

For those who love the Golden Nugget on Fremont Street in Las Vegas, can I offer you The Buffet at Golden Nugget Atlantic City, Casino, and Marina? Those who want to bring a little Vegas into their Atlantic City will find The Buffet to be right up their alley (though, let’s be honest, the AC version seems a little nicer than the place in Sin City).

All diners can stop by the buffet for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Even better, Fridays feature an all-you-can-shove-down-your-gullet (my words, not theirs) seafood buffet that is a steal at around $35. For those who need a cocktail, The Buffet offers a full bar along with a mouthwatering spread of pizzas, carved meats, salads, desserts, and more.

4 – Capriccio

If you think you’ve had an Atlantic City brunch, wait until you try Cappricio at the Resorts Casino Hotel on the Boardwalk. Capriccio is renowned for its upscale Italian cuisine in an artful, Old World-style setting. On Sundays, though, Cappricio really kicks things up with a Sunday brunch that looks like it’s right out of a gourmet photoshoot.

Italian Pasta on Table

Diners will feast on Italian favorites, sushi, lamb, caviar, antipasto, cheese, cold salads, cold seafood, and lots more (including scrumptious desserts). Even though Capriccio may not do buffets all the time, their Sunday brunch was more than good enough to land them on the list of best buffets in Atlantic City. And it’s only open one day of the week!

5 – Kelsey’s

Another restaurant making the list because of a superior Sunday brunch, Kelsey’s is the place to go in Atlantic City to get your soul food fix. Open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday and for brunch on Saturday and Sunday, for less than $30, you can treat yourself to a fine meal combining breakfast and soul food favorites.

Whether you want grits, eggs, omelets, fried fish, bacon, or shrimp, Kelsey’s has something for you on their buffet. The only drawback is that Kelsey’s isn’t in a casino, but it is less than a 10-minute walk for those who want to dine on something a little different.

6 – Fiesta Buffet

Are you ready for a party? Then, be sure to check out the newly-redesigned Fiesta Buffet at the Tropicana Atlantic City, which is one of the more colorful and well-stocked buffets you’re likely to run across in the entire area. This buffet features breakfast from 8:00 AM to 11:30 AM, when the buffet switches over to lunch until 2 PM. Dinner is promptly at 4 PM until 9:00 PM.

Buffet Food in Trays

That makes the hours a little unusual especially compared to Las Vegas, which might be the real city that never sleeps. Still, while the buffet is open, enjoy colorful salads, seafood dishes, seafood scampi, meat, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and everything in between. Even better, stop by for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.

7 – Fresh Harvest Buffet

The Fresh Harvest Buffet is the pride and joy of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City. The Fresh Harvest serves up lunch and dinner every day. The lunch buffet offers an impressive selection of salads, bagels, pizzas, fish, and six different types of gelato, three types of cookies, multiple types of individual desserts, and a crepe station.

Dinner just piles on more with an international section, more meat, and a lot of choices of seafood for your dining pleasure. Even better, the Fresh Harvest Buffet is open until 9 PM on weekdays and 10 PM on Friday and Saturdays. That way, you can get in a little more gambling before you fill your tummy with amazing food.

8 – Waterfront Buffet

The Waterfront Buffet is located “near” Harrah’s Atlantic City (and also very near the waterfront, hence the name). Despite it just being “near,” this is one of the official restaurants of the Harrah’s Atlantic City complex, though it’s only open for dinner, which is unfortunate because there are a lot of things to try at this buffet and one meal doesn’t seem like enough.

Hands Cutting Up Chicken and Other Foods on Plate

When you go to the Waterfront, you can enjoy salads, steaks, chopped salads, fresh fried chicken, and, most importantly, on Fridays, you can dig into all the crab legs you can eat. It’s not bad and the price is startlingly affordable for Harrah’s members (less than $25).

9 – Sunday Brunch at Nero’s

Our last entry in the list takes us back to Caesars Palace for one last Sunday brunch in Atlantic City. At Nero’s, you can gaze out onto the water as you dine on crab legs, oysters, shrimp, steak, sushi, waffles, crab stuffed salmon, make-your-own-bloody Mary’s, and more (like cheesecake, pastries, and tiramisu).

Nero’s is one of the prettiest places to eat in Atlantic City, so we recommend it any time. But they have really figured out the magical combination to make a perfect brunch.

Conclusion

Atlantic City gets made fun of a lot and sometimes, it brings it on itself.

For instance, when I started researching this article, I literally found Golden Corral listed as a top buffet in Atlantic City. Still, that’s really unfair, as there are a lot of talented chefs working hard to prepare meals that any of us would be proud to eat.

Therefore, next time you’re looking to get away and aren’t feeling the overwhelming hustle and bustle of Vegas (or the heat), give Atlantic City a try. There are several casinos that would be proud to have your business and there are at least nine delectable buffets that you can you try. Really, the hardest part should be trying to figure out which Sunday brunch you’re going to attend.

Do Casinos Really Have a “Cameraless Room”?

Casino Entrance Sign, Poker Cards and Casino Chips on Table
Everyone who has seen a Las Vegas crime movie has undoubtedly run across the idea that, at some point, the hero of the film will end up in a windowless, cameraless room inside of casino at the order of the film’s villain.

In that room, the villain’s thugs beat the hero senseless and leave him there to devise some Hollywood-clever way to escape.

If you’re not sure what I mean, the best movie featuring such a room is Ocean’s Eleven which, if you haven’t seen it, you really should. Go ahead. I’ll wait… Back now? Good.

Anyway, those cameraless beating rooms probably don’t exist. Not that most casino operators would tell me if they did, but it seems unlikely given the stiff competition among the best casinos in the US that they would have places where you might get the pulp beaten out of you.

Still, it’s fun to think about these rooms, which is why we will look at the origin of the cameraless room, talk about why a casino might have them, why they don’t, and draw our own conclusions about whether they really exist.

The Origin of the Cameraless Room Myth

The origins of the cameraless room appear to be shrouded in myth. One source that I found said that it might have started with the book Bringing Down the House, though the myth appears to be much older.

In fact, it looks to have started back in the days when Las Vegas was more involved with organized crime.

Back in those days, instead of mega-corporations owning casinos, the mafia either owned them outright or had a big stake in the person who did. And, if Hollywood has taught us anything, when the mob becomes involved, public beatings soon follow.

Historical Precedent for Casino Beatings

Still, it’s hard to get a read on whether there were beatings even back in the 1950s through the 1970s. In and of itself, that’s likely a controversial statement.

From what I can tell, everyone accepted it as fact that casino thugs would seek out cheaters and beat them up as a warning back in the day. Does that mean it happened? Well, it was hard to find a single case where it did even in the case of some famous blackjack card counters.

Casino Dealer Moving Blackjack Cards on Table

With that said, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. It’s probably safe to assume that stealing money from a casino in the 1950s likely got you noticed by some people you’d rather not be noticed by. In turn, those people said hello with their firsts and thus, the legend of the Las Vegas casino was established.

Still, whether those beatings took place in a cameraless room in a casino is also up for debate.

Detained, Not Beaten

There is perhaps one modern source of the cameraless room myth—casino detention. Per current law, casino employees can detain anyone as long as there is suspicion of cheating and the detention is not considered extreme.

Really, any casino employee (who all undergo extensive anti-cheating training) has the ability to stop a casino patron on suspicion of cheating and ask them questions. This is probably a little uncomfortable for casino customers when they experience it and, very likely, could circle back to the idea that these detained alleged cheaters may go to a beating room when security gets ahold of them.

Suffice it to say, while security team members may not be the perkiest casino employees, that’s a far cry from thugs who deliver beatings behind closed doors.

What About Casinos Outside of Las Vegas?

Just to be clear, up to this point, the casinos we’re talking about are the big, fancy, visible casinos along the main Las Vegas Strip. Those casinos are governed by a certain set of laws and expectations that likely aren’t the same for Native American casinos, casinos in other countries, or casinos on cruise ships.

Outside Casino Building Entrance

It’s safe to say that these types of casinos operate under vastly different laws. Foreign laws, Indian reservation laws, and the law of the open seas are all completely different than United States and Nevada gaming law. Could any of these types of casinos have the famed cameraless room or still beat people up?

While I don’t have any proof, Native American casinos seem pretty safe. Cruise ship casinos also seem pretty safe despite the fact that you can’t really escape the ship if you get caught cheating.

Foreign Casinos May Be a Problem

Native American and cruise ship casinos are probably safe, but it doesn’t take a lot of searching to find that cheaters have been attacked in Cambodia. Still, even this appears to be an isolated incident compared to the number of folks who actually go to these casinos.

With that said, it never hurts to be respectful when you gamble in foreign countries. The fact of the matter is, you probably don’t know the law or the customs.

Why Casinos Might Have Cameraless Rooms

It’s actually highly likely that Las Vegas does have cameraless rooms somewhere in the casinos. Traditionally, these include casino hallways and bathrooms.

But in all seriousness, if you could find the plans for a casino, you might run across a few rooms that don’t have any cameras in them. However, this would not be proof that the casinos were using them for beating anyone.

Instead, it’s far more likely that they’re used for employee breaks, holding excess inventory, or they haven’t been dedicated to a purpose and don’t need a camera.

Ultimately, I think we want to believe that casinos have beating rooms because it adds an element of danger and mystery to the whole operation. Maybe it is true. More than likely, if those rooms do exist, its so that casino security can have a conversation with words, not fists, with suspected cheaters before the cheats are escorted out.

Why Casinos Don’t Have Cameraless Rooms

The lack of a solid beating story from anyone in the last few decades is pretty good proof that casinos don’t have cameraless rooms used Ocean’s Eleven-style. Also, there are two really good reasons why they don’t routinely beat cheaters like we see in the movies—marketers and lawyers.

MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas

Why marketers? Consider this. You run MGM Grand and you just found out that Mandalay Bay security beat the tar out of a guy caught cheating. Your next great marketing campaign will center around how your casino is a great place to be and not somewhere you’ll get physically assaulted.

In fact, patrons would leave any casino where beatings happened in droves to the point where the offending casino would likely either shut down or get new, less violent owners faster than it takes to lose a stack of chips at the poker table.

There’s simply no room in Las Vegas’s competition for mob justice. This is doubly true in today’s legal environment. If a patron were to be attacked, they could sue a casino for a lot of money. Like we said before, casinos are owned by large corporations who don’t want to have to go to court over a cheater they could have just thrown out.

The Final Verdict

Given that the world is run by marketers and lawyers, ultimately, the reasons against there being cameraless rooms seems pretty compelling. If this article would have been written 30 years ago, my answer would likely have been different.

It was a different time back then and, as I said, there’s enough circumstantial evidence that I believe there were probably some beatings that took place in the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s.

In fact, I have no evidence to the prove or disprove this, but I bet that if you went into older casinos, you could probably find the rooms that may have been the mob’s “conversation rooms.”

Today, they have either been renovated or feature camera systems.

Still, a lot of this is hearsay. The casinos clearly aren’t going to advertise the existence of cameraless rooms, either today or in the annals of history. It would be bad for business, and they’re not going to risk anything like that. In turn, that does nothing for the rumor mill that wants to believe such rooms exist.

Conclusion

Whatever you think about cameraless rooms, don’t be afraid to go to a casino unless you’re cheating. Most people will never do anything that warrants a cameraless room, so it probably doesn’t matter.

In the end, the fact that we can enjoy stories with such rooms is what really matters. Happy gambling!

Has Microgaming Gone Downhill in the Slots World?

Casino Slot Machine Reels, Microgaming Logo
Microgaming is no doubt one of the most legendary names in online gaming. They’ve produced countless hit slots over the years and supply a large number of US casinos.

However, many younger slots fans don’t really play games from Microgaming. Some haven’t even heard of this developer.

How can it be that one of the greatest slots providers of all time isn’t relevant among the younger crowd? I’ll answer this question by covering Microgaming’s rise and where they’re at today.

The Original Pioneer of Online Gaming

Microgaming may have gained fame for its many popular slot machines over the years. But one lesser-known fact about them is that they started the first-ever online casino.

In 1994, Microgaming launched the Gaming Club. This casino was launched at a time when consumer internet technology was relatively new.

Other developers would quickly follow suit by launching both online casino games and sites. Many used Microgaming as a model for their early efforts.

What’s amazing is that both Microgaming and Gaming Club is still around over two and a half decades later. In contrast, many early slots developers and casinos fell by the wayside years ago.

Movie Deals, 243 Ways, and the Explosion of Microgaming

Microgaming has never rested on its laurels after developing the first online casino. Instead, they’ve continued to innovate over the decades.

Burning Desire Slot ReelsThey’ve had many milestones along the way. But perhaps their most notable is the advent of 243 Ways slots. Microgaming rolled out Burning Desire in 2009. This release marked the first time that a game featured 243 Ways.

A 243 Ways slot doesn’t have paylines. Instead, it sees you land matching symbols in adjacent reels to earn wins. The result is that you get 243 winning possibilities on every spin. This figure comes from multiplying the number of spaces in each of the five reels: 3x3x3x3x3.

Up until 2009, every online slot had been based on the traditional payline model. Microgaming bucked the trend, though, and created a format that’s since been used in countless games.

They haven’t retained a prominent position in gaming through 243 ways alone. They’re also notable for the many movie-based slots they’ve made.

In fact, Microgaming was one of the first online slots producers to sign lucrative deals with movie studios. They’ve created games based on everything from Tomb Raider to Lord of the Rings.

Jackpot Mania

Yet another reason behind Microgaming’s rise is the huge jackpots that they offer. This developer has become very famous for its jackpot slots.

Mega Moolah Online Slot ReelsTheir Mega Moolah currently holds the record for the largest online slots jackpot in history. In September 2019, an anonymous player hit the Mega Moolah “Mega Jackpot” for €18.9 million.

Mega Moolah has paid out several other prizes worth eight figures. The only slot that comes close to matching this feat is NetEnt’s Mega Fortune.

Microgaming also features other progressive slots with huge jackpots. King Cashalot and Major Millions each have the potential to pay out seven figures.

This provider even has a progressive roulette game that delivers big wins. Roulette Royale has paid as much as $440,000 in the past.

Microgaming Is Still Producing Plenty of Online Slots

The theme of this post is to question where Microgaming is at regarding the biggest slots producers. But before I get into this, I’d like to discuss how they’re still fairly relevant today.

This company is developing new slots on a regular basis. Their latest releases may not generate as much buzz as when Microgaming was churning out games based on blockbuster movies, but they’re still newsworthy.

Some of their latest slots at the time of this post include:

  • A Dark Matter
  • Crystal Dawn
  • Deco Diamonds Deluxe
  • Jungle Jim and the Lost Sphinx
  • Lock a Luck
  • Long Mu Fortunes
  • Mega Vault Millionaire
  • Tiki Mania
  • Treasures of Lion City

Of these games, Jungle Jim and the Lost Sphinx is especially noteworthy. It’s part of their series about a jungle explorer who’s in search of lost treasure.

Is Microgaming in Trouble?

Let me be clear, Microgaming isn’t going to fold up anytime soon. The Isle of Man company employs over 200 people and boasts more games than any other developer (600+).

They’re also one of the few providers that doesn’t drag jackpot payouts over the course of years. They deliver lumpsums, which is impressive considering the number of multimillion-dollar jackpots they’ve awarded.

But something is off about Microgaming these days. Their latest slot machines just seem to blend in with the many other games that are released on a monthly basis.

Typing on Laptop Computer, Online Slot Reels

This isn’t the 2000s or early 2010s any longer, when Microgaming produced hit movie-based slots and drove innovation. Instead, their slot machines just seem good rather than great.

Microgaming is still among the top game developers. However, they’ve been caught by NetEnt and aren’t as buzzworthy as Big Time Gaming (BTG), Blueprint Gaming, and Elk Studios.

They’re no longer grabbing headlines with their slots and features. Instead, Microgaming seems to be enjoying success based on its past accomplishments.

Microgaming Should Be Celebrated No Matter What

Again, younger slots gamblers aren’t as familiar with Microgaming as they may be with BTG, Blueprint, Elk, or NetEnt. The simple reason why is because these other developers are hot in terms of the hit games and features they’ve recently launched.

To be fair, NetEnt has been on top of the game for a long time. Unlike Microgaming, though, they’ve innovated enough to stay relevant among all age demographics.

Nevertheless, Microgaming should still be celebrated by the online gambling world. They’ve been the first to do several things, including the following:

  • Open an online casino
  • Offer a 243 Ways game
  • Develop blockbuster-movie internet slots
Without Microgaming blazing a trail, the hottest studios of today might not be where they’re at. Online gaming as a whole wouldn’t be as advanced either.

Microgaming deserves the success that it enjoys today. They may not be releasing the most buzzworthy games every month. However, their jackpot slots and older games still draw crowds every day. That said, they should enjoy plenty of success in the coming years.

Conclusion

With 25+ years of history, Microgaming is the most successful online game developer of all time. They started internet gaming and still remain a force in the industry.

However, they’re not as well known among up-and-coming gamblers. The big reason why is that their newer games are simply not as popular nor newsworthy as other prominent developers.

I listed several of their latest slots earlier. Of those, only Jungle Jim and Lost Sphinx stand out due to it being part of a series. This is a company that’s largely stuck in the 2000s. Most of their greatest hits and major progressive slots were released in this era.

Mega Moolah, which was launched in 2006, still remains a cash cow. It commonly offers multimillion-dollar jackpots and holds the record for the largest payout.

But Microgaming has failed to move with the curve. Their latest slots just don’t shake up the industry like some of their earlier efforts.

This developer is in no financial danger that I know of. Microgaming still licenses their slots out to countless casinos and generates huge jackpots through Mega Moolah, King Cashalot, and Major Millions.

However, their primary fan base is aged 30 and above. They should still retain these fans for years, but they’re not going to wow younger players until they start producing some better features.

Will this happen? Who knows? Even if it doesn’t, then Microgaming can enjoy the fruits of its previous successes, which are greatly deserved.

What Are the Odds of Winning on a Video Poker Machine?

Video Poker Odds
I never play slot machines. If I want to play at a gambling machine, I usually stick with real money video poker.

I have various reasons for this, but one of the most important reasons is because the odds of winning at video poker are far better than the odds of winning at a slot machine game.

How do you know what the odds of winning on a video poker machine are? I can offer some guidance in this post. To learn more, keep reading below.

Probability and Video Poker

Before you can calculate the probability of winning at video poker, you need to understand some of the basics of probability math.

The first and most important thing to understand is that an event’s probability is just a number between 0 and 1. The closer that number gets to 1, the likelier it is to happen.

By definition, something with a probability of 0 will never happen. Also by definition, something with a probability of 1 will always happen.

And if you add the probability of something happening with the probability of it not happening, you’ll also always get a total of 1.

Win Over Lose

That probability can be expressed in multiple formats, but the most useful formats are odds and percentages.

Everyone knows what a percentage is. It’s just a measure of how many times out of 100 you expect something to happen. If something happens 20% of the time, that means it happens 20 times out of every 100.

Odds, on the other hand, can measure probability. But they also measure the amount a bet pays out. Something with a 20% probability of happening has odds of 4 to 1. You have four ways it can happen and one way that it can’t.

Like other fractions, odds can be reduced. To get to that 4 to 1, we just converted 20% into 20/100, which reduces down to 1/5. That means it happens 1 out of 5 times.

Gambling Machines Measure Their Odds in Terms of Payback Percentage

When you’re dealing with a slot machine, you have a variety of symbols on each reel, each of which comes up a certain percentage of the time. You don’t have any way of estimating how often that symbol will show up, but the slot machine manufacturer knows.

When they take all the possible combinations and their percentages of coming up, they balance that against the payout for each of those combinations to create a profitable game for themselves.

Let’s say you have a really simple slot machine game with four potential winning combinations:

  1. You’ll get three bars 25% of the time and win even money.
  2. You’ll get three cherries 10% of the time and win 2 for 1.
  3. You’ll get three plums 5% of the time and win 3 for 1.
  4. You’ll get three pumpkins 1% of the time and win 5 for 1.

It’s easy to calculate the expected return (another phrase for “payback percentage”) for a game like this.

You start by calculating the expected value for each of the possible prizes. You just multiply the probability of winning by the amount you’ll win.

  1. 25% x 1 unit = 25%
  2. 10% x 2 units = 20%
  3. 5% x 3 units = 15%
  4. 1% x 5 units = 5%

Add those up, and you have the payback percentage for the game:

25% + 20% + 15% + 5% = 65%

Over time, on average, you’ll get back 65 cents for every dollar you bet on that slot machine game.

In the short run, over an hour or so, you might win some money or lose more than that. But over time, your average should get close to this.

The Advantage of Video Poker Over Slot Machines

My problem with slot machines is that they’re the only game in the casino where you don’t know what the odds of winning are.

When I’m rolling a pair of dice, I can calculate the probability of winning. When I’m playing blackjack, I can estimate the odds of winning, because I know what the odds of getting specific cards are. When I’m playing roulette, I know how many red and black outcomes are on the wheel.

Video Poker Greater Than Slots

But since slot machines are run by a random number generator, I have no way of knowing what the probability of getting three cherries in a row is. It could be 8 to 1, 16 to 1, or 1000 to 1.

All I know for sure is that the odds of getting each payout are lower than the payout odds for that combination.

Video poker, on the other hand, is based on a deck of 52 cards. I know how many of each card is in the deck, so I can estimate the odds of getting specific combinations.

When you combine that knowledge of probability with knowledge of the payouts for those combinations, you wind up with the payback percentage of the game.

Jacks or Better Is the Original Video Poker Game

For the most part, all video poker games are just variations of Jacks or Better. It’s a simple enough game. You bet between 1 and 5 coins and get dealt a virtual five-card poker hand. You then decide which of those five cards you want to discard and which you want to keep. The machine deals you replacement cards and pays off your bet based on the poker hand you wind up with.

Jacks or Better

The best possible hand is a royal flush, which pays off at 800 for 1 odds if you bet five coins. If you’ve bet fewer coins than that, it only pays off at 200 for 1 or 250 for 1, depending on the machine.

So, you should always bet the full five coins to take advantage of that higher payout. If you play with something approaching optimal strategy, you should get a winning hand about 45% of the time on a Jacks or Better video poker game.

That’s the short answer to “what are the odds of winning on a video poker machine,” by the way. It’s roughly 45%. But that’s not going deep enough. You should know more about it than that.

Since we know the probability of winding up with various combinations of cards, we can calculate the overall payback percentage for such a game. You just do the same calculations we did for the simple slot machine above.

You multiply the probability of winning each prize by the amount of that prize and add them all together to get your payback percentage.

  1. A pair of jacks or better comes up about 21% of the time and pays off at 1 for 1.
  2. Two pair comes up about 13% of the time and pays off at 2 for 1.
  3. Three of a kind comes up about 7%of the time and pays off at 3 for 1.
  4. A straight comes up about 1% of the time and pays off at 4 for 1.
  5. A flush comes up about 1% of the time and pays off at 6 for 1.
  6. A full house comes up about 1% of the time and pays off at 9 for 1.
  7. A four of a kind comes up about 0.2% of the time and pays off at 25 for 1.
  8. A straight flush comes up about 0.01% of the time and pays off at 50 for 1.
  9. A royal flush comes up about 0.002% of the time and pays off at 800 for 1.

Multiply those and add them all up, and you have a game with a payback percentage of about 99.5%.

But Not All Video Poker Games Are the Same

Of course, Jacks or Better is just one variation of video poker. You can find dozens of different video poker variations on the market. All of them are based on Jacks or Better, though.

With some of these variations, the big difference is the inclusion of wild cards. In Joker Poker, the game uses a 53-card deck with a joker that acts as a wild card. In Deuces Wild, the deck has the same 52 cards in it, but the twos are wild cards.

With games like these, the payouts for the various hands change based on how much more likely the higher hands are to appear.

But that’s not the only way casinos and game manufacturers vary their video poker games. They also change the payouts on various hands.

Double Double Bonus Poker

If they change those payouts enough, you get a different game. Bonus Poker, Double Bonus Poker, and Bonus Bonus Poker are basically variations of Jacks or Better that provide higher payouts for four of a kind hands of a certain ranking.

But even within a single narrow band of a game, like Jacks or Better, you can find multiple pay tables available. The differences in these pay tables change the payback percentage for the game.

With Jacks or Better, the pay table I used as an example is the best possible example. When manufacturers want to create a Jacks or Better game with better odds for the house, they have smaller payouts for the full house and the flush. Changing those payouts from 9 and 6 to 8 and 5 reduces the payback percentage from 99.5% to 97%.

Your Decisions Matter

One of the other fun things I like about video poker is that your decisions have an effect on the outcome. These payback percentages that I mention assume that you’re playing your cards optimally. In other words, you’re making the right decisions about which cards to keep and which ones to throw away.

?
In this respect, video poker is like blackjack. It’s a game of skill as well as a game of chance. Don’t believe me?

Imagine what your payout would be if you broke a pair every time you got one. Can you see why that would hurt your results in the long run?

Conclusion

What are the odds of winning at video poker? On a single hand, on most games, it’s about 45%. But that only tells a small part of the story.

Video poker offers a nearly endless amount of complexity when it comes to payback percentages and correct strategy. It’s a game worth learning to play.

4 Ways to Bet on Sports in Las Vegas That Most Bettors Don’t Know About

Las Vegas Sign Over Odds
Twenty years from now, historians will surely remember 2019 as the year sports betting went mainstream.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in May of 2018, which struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 as unconstitutional, the longstanding federal ban on sportsbooks outside of Nevada came to an end. Since then, 12 states have joined Nevada in offering legal and regulated single-game sports betting, both via brick and mortar bet shops and online / mobile apps.

And with the wave of sports betting bills being passed by state legislatures from Arkansas to West Virginia, the industry has quickly become legitimized by society as large. All four of the major professional leagues – the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB – have inked sponsorship deals with leading bookmakers in the months since PASPA fell.

As a result, millions of Americans are discovering the simple joys that wagering on sports can offer for the first time. Indeed, the New Jersey sports betting market has routinely exceeded Nevada’s in terms of overall monthly wagering “handle” – or the total amount of bets placed.

With that said, the Silver State is still home to America’s original sports betting industry, and thus Nevada sets the template from which all other states model their respective setups. And with over 40 million visitors flocking to Las Vegas every year, the vast majority of Americans who place a wager in the years to come will still do so in Sin City.

That’s a great thing too…

Whereas states which have only recently legalized sports betting are still building the business from the ground up, Las Vegas sportsbooks have 70 years of experience in the field. That means bettors who venture to Las Vegas will always find the best odds, highest limits, and the most variety in terms of wagering options.

Speaking of wagering options, you can compare the emerging rivalry between Nevada and New Jersey to get a better sense of what those decades of experience really mean.

Las Vegas and Atlantic City

While bettors in the Garden State have a handful land-based sportsbooks in Atlantic City’s casinos, along with a few racetracks and the online / mobile app options, Las Vegas is home to hundreds of retail betting outlets. These range from small one-window bet shops to the Westgate SuperBook, which bills itself as the world’s largest sportsbook facility.

Befitting that level of variety, betting on sports in Las Vegas offers several different avenues that simply can’t be found anywhere else. On that note, I’ve put together the following list to show off four of the coolest ways to wager on sports in Sin City that most sports betting enthusiasts don’t know about.

1 – Enter a Sports Handicapping Competition Like the NFL SuperContest

One of the most entertaining, and potentially lucrative to the point of life-changing, ways to bet on sports is Las Vegas involves the city’s wide array of handicapping contests.

The most prominent of these competitions is the Westgate SuperContest, an annual event which has been held since the 1980s. While the price is admittedly a bit steep at $1,500, SuperContest players become eligible for a top prize payout that regularly tops the seven-figure plateau.

To wit, last year’s edition drew 3,123 contestants to generate a total prize pool of $4,309,740, with eventual champion Eric Kahane going 59-25-1 over the course of the NFL season to claim the lion’s share with a $1,422,214 first-place prize. This year saw the field size grow to 3,328 entries for a total prize pool of $4,592,640, and the eventual champion will pocket $1,469,644.

The Westgate SuperContest isn’t like a traditional single-game sports bet. Instead, participants are challenged on their ability to pick against the point spread throughout the entirety of the NFL’s 17-week regular season.

Westgate Supercontest

Each player must choose five games from the week’s schedule, using specially generated static point spread lines posted every Wednesday by the bookmakers at the Westgate Resort & Casino. From there, a correct point spread pick is worth 1 point in the contest, point spread pushes are worth 0.5 points, and an incorrect selection is worth 0 points.

By season’s end, whomever accumulates the highest point total wins the grand prize payout of over a million bucks. But this isn’t a winner take all affair by any means, as the top-100 finishers from the field will earn payouts ranging from double your buy-in to over $600,000 for a runner-up run.

The Westgate also runs a special SuperContest Gold edition which uses a $5,000 buy-in and a winner take all payout structure.

In each case, however, the thrill of testing your handicapping skills against thousands of other bettors simply can’t be replicated. It’s one thing to beat the book for a big bet by backing a sneaky underdog on a random Sunday in November, but surviving the gauntlet over 85 picks – against the spread no less – is another story altogether.

And the best part about the SuperContest is you don’t even need to live in Las Vegas to give it a go. As long as you can get yourself out here before the NFL season starts, the Westgate allows non-locals to play via proxy service.

i
Once you sign up along with your designated proxy in person, you can use an online service to submit your picks to them, before the proxy hits the Westgate to enter them on your behalf.

Proxy services have enabled the recent explosion in popularity enjoyed by Sin City’s sports handicapping contests. Along with the SuperContest, you can take part in a slew of sports competitions hosted by casino sportsbooks all over Las Vegas. Everything from college football point spreads to NBA season win totals are in play, so do yourself a favor and look into a sports handicapping contest or two the next time you’re betting in Las Vegas.

2 – Use a Self-Service Betting Kiosk When You Can’t Get to the Sportsbook

Everybody enjoys the full-on sensory experience of visiting a major casino sportsbook.

Theatre style seating, wall to wall video screens showing every game on the schedule, and crowds of crazed fans living and dying with every play – what’s not to love, right? For serious sports bettors, taking in a Sunday smorgasbord of NFL action isn’t complete without the sights and sounds unique to their favorite sportsbook.

With that said, chances are good that you’ll find yourself unable to visit the book at some point down the line. Maybe your family is having too much fun strolling on The Strip, or you’re stuck in some Off-Strip gambling hall that lacks a full-fledged sportsbook. In any event, lack of access to a ticket taker manning a betting window doesn’t mean you have to sit the next big game out.

William Hill Betting Kiosk
Instead, just search for the nearest self-service betting kiosk and you’ll have a ticket in hand in no time flat. William Hill U.S. – the American arm of venerable London-based bookmaker and Las Vegas’ leading sportsbook operator – runs hundreds of self-service betting kiosks throughout Nevada.

In terms of the greater Las Vegas metropolitan area, check out the list below to find casinos where William Hill U.S. self-service betting kiosks can be found:

Las Vegas

  • Binion’s Gambling Hall & Hotel
  • Casino Royale
  • Downtown Grand Casino
  • Ellis Island Casino
  • Four Queens
  • Hooters Casino
  • Max Casino at the Westin
  • Plaza Hotel & Casino
  • Silver Sevens Hotel & Casino
  • SLS Hotel and Casino
  • The D
  • Tuscany
  • Golden Gate Hotel & Casino
  • Alamo Casino

North Las Vegas

  • Lucky Club
  • Siegel Slots
  • Silver Nugget

Boulder City

  • Hoover Dam Lodge

Henderson

  • Casino Valle Verde
  • Club Fortune Casino
  • Emerald Island Casino
  • Longhorn Casino
  • Railroad Pass Hotel & Casino
  • Skyline Casino

Most of the major bookmakers in Las Vegas offer self-service betting kiosks alongside their traditional in-person windows.

These machines work just like any ATM or bill-breaker you’re already accustomed to using at the casino. Just slide your cash in, use the touch screen to navigate the wagering options, and select your bets to print out a ticket. From there, winning tickets can be redeemed at the sportsbook or casino cashier’s cage as per usual.

3 – Download a Sportsbook App to Use on Your Online / Mobile Device

Another way Las Vegas sportsbooks have sought to make things easier for bettors is by launching online / mobile apps. Accessible from any internet-capable smartphone, tablet, or mobile device, online sportsbooks are a convenient way to stay connected with the sports betting scene 24/7.

BetMGM in iPhone

When sudden injury news breaks about your game’s star player to cause unexpected line movement, wading through traffic to reach the nearest book can put serious bettors at a disadvantage. But with a sportsbook app downloaded to their device, the same bettors can pounce on stale lines without ever getting out of bed.

You can learn more about how the best online / mobile sports betting apps in Las Vegas really work by visiting the Play MGM page.

4 – Place a Live “In-Game” Wager While the Action is Already Unfolding

One of the best reasons to use an online / mobile sportsbook app while visiting Las Vegas is to take full advantage of in game betting.

Also known as “live betting,” an in-game wager is exactly what it sounds like – a bet you place in real-time as the game is already underway. Let’s say you’re watching Monday Night Football and the heavily favored New England Patriots find themselves in an early 7-0 hole. The pregame point spread was New England (-14) over the Miami Dolphins, but given the current deficit, that number drops to (-9).

Live Betting

With in-game betting in play, you can pounce on the new spread at anytime simply by clicking a couple of buttons. The beauty of in-game betting is that it turns the basic three wagers offered by pregame wagering (point spread / moneyline / Over-Under) into hundreds of possibilities as the game unfolds.

You’ll find everything from adjusted point spreads and moneylines, Under-Over totals that fluctuate in line with the current score, and player “prop” bets based on individual statistical performance.

In-game betting is made possible by data analysts like Craig Mucklow, an expert on mathematics and probability as they relate to sports betting. In his position as vice president of trading for Don Best Sports, a Las Vegas-based firm which feeds sportsbooks with in-game betting odds, Mucklow supervises a team of oddsmakers responsible for setting new lines on the fly.

And as Mucklow told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in a profile on the rising popularity of in-game betting, this new frontier offers sharp bettors plenty of opportunity to identify and capitalize on small edges:

“We know the impact of pitching changes, the impact of an empty net, the impact of heat and humidity on the second half totals of football games.

All these kinds of pieces of data impact the line. We’re always looking for analytics, and some of the best bettors are, too.

There’s always someone smarter than you out there that picks up trends faster and does the data better. It’s a cat and mouse game all the time.”

Conclusion

As the sports betting industry continues to establish itself nationwide, a new generation of bettors has embraced this entertaining and challenging enhancement to enjoying athletics. Accordingly, Las Vegas is due for an influx of newly minted sportsbook fans who are new to the city’s unique betting scene. Hopefully this guide provides a roadmap for rookies to learn the ropes, because Las Vegas sportsbooks really have much more to offer than meets the eye.

6 of My Favorite Films That Have Scenes Set Inside Las Vegas Casinos

Oceans 11, Rain Man, Godfather, Casino, Hangover, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Ever since the city of Las Vegas sprung up from the Mojave Desert sands like wildflowers after a spring shower, filmmakers have recognized the locale as picture perfect.

The first movie filmed here was the comedy Las Vegas Nights (1941), and over nearly eight decades afterward, Hollywood kept on setting scenes in Sin City.

You have to Meet Me in Las Vegas (1956), which told the tale of a simple rancher who realizes holding his lady love’s hand at the roulette table provides surefire good luck. Elvis Presley put on quite the show in Viva Las Vegas (1964), serving up his musical stylings and scandalous dance moves on the silver screen. And in Diamonds Are Forever (1971), suave secret agent and super-spy James Bond throws them bones at the craps table while wooing the buxom brunette Plenty O’Toole.

It’s clear to me why directors, writers, and location scouts working in the filmmaking industry have long appreciated Las Vegas.

There’s simply no place on Earth quite like it, an adult fantasyland where traditional vices like gambling, drinking, and dancing with the opposite sex are not only accepted but encouraged. The flashing neon lights beckoning from sundown to sunup, the palatial casinos standing like sentries along The Strip and Fremont Street, and the unmistakable air of anticipation as gamblers look to court Lady Luck combine to make Las Vegas the perfect place to film a flick.

I’m no film buff, not in the scholarly sense anyhow, but I am a Las Vegas local who loves his hometown dearly. Accordingly, I’ve developed a passion for movies which feature Sin City’s signature casinos as an essential part of the plot.

Wikipedia lists more than 100 films that depict scenes shot in Las Vegas, and naturally, the vast majority of those showcase the inside of a casino. I’ve watched practically all of them too, and over the years a few have held up to become all-time favorites.

Without further ado, I present my personal list of the best films that have scenes set inside Las Vegas casinos. That doesn’t mean they’re the best movies ever made – although in one case, it might just be – this list simply focuses on my favorites (in no particular order).

1 – Ocean’s 11 (1960) and (2001)

The original Oceans 11 was released way back in 1960, and at the time, the concept was nothing short of revolutionary.

Rather than focus on a single A-list star or even a pairing between two well-known actors, Oceans 11 assembled an ensemble cast for the ages.

None other than Frank Sinatra himself played the lead character Danny Ocean, a World War II veteran who wants to pull off the biggest heist in history. After gathering a team of associates – including fellow real-life Rat Pack members like Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Peter Lawford – Ocean’s gang of 11 thieves target five casinos simultaneously in one of the boldest robberies ever conceived.

The boys spend plenty of time strolling through their five targets, the Sahara, the Riviera, the Desert Inn, the Sands, and the Flamingo. These casinos are a pure shot of Las Vegas vintage in all its glory, and perhaps the fact that only the Flamingo still stands tickles my nostalgia bone to some degree.

Whatever it is about the original Ocean’s 11 though, there’s just no other film out there that manages to capture the essence of old Las Vegas in all its glory.

So you can imagine my surprise when the Hollywood hitmakers announced that Ocean’s 11 would be remade in 2001. I had my reservations, of course, as trying to fix what ain’t broke almost always spells disaster.

But when I sat down to watch the modern version, now titled Ocean’s Eleven to avoid confusion, I was beyond pleasantly surprised.

By casting the new millennium’s undisputed “star of stars,” George Clooney, to play the iconic role of Danny Ocean, director Steven Soderbergh did right by the original. Clooney is an electric presence onscreen, and that mischievous twinkle in his eye makes him a dead ringer for Sinatra in his prime.

The 2001 remake rounded out the ensemble cast in similarly fine fashion, inviting Clooney’s real-life pals Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and Casey Affleck to join the late Bernie Mac in attempting to take down Las Vegas’ holy shrines for the score of a lifetime.

The casino hit list has been pared to three, with the Bellagio, the Mirage, and the MGM Grand standing in for Sin City’s fallen angels, and I’ll be the first to point out that these corporate megaresorts can’t hold a candle to classics like the Sands and the Desert Inn.

Even so, both Ocean’s 11 and Ocean’s Eleven have a permanent spot saved on my DVR list, as they each manage to showcase the evolution of Las Vegas in their own unique way.

2 – Rain Man (1988)

Rain Man

The bulk of Rain Man takes place on the road, but for a few glorious minutes, the table game pit within Caesars Palace becomes the stuff of legend.

Tom Cruise lends his star power to the part of Charlie Babbit, a flashy foreign car dealer who cares only about his own bottom line. But when Charlie discovers that he has an older brother named Raymond, and learns that the autistic man might just inherit the family fortune, the situation takes both brothers on a journey that changes their lives for the better.

Initially, Charlie is looking only to bilk his mentally challenged brother out of their father’s seven-figure estate. As they spend day and night together, however, Charlie develops a genuine love for the brother he never knew he had.

Eventually, the two take to the road for a cross-country trip, and along the way, Charlie realizes that Raymond is actually a savant. While he lacks the coping mechanisms and social norms that most of us take for granted, Raymond is capable of astounding mathematical calculations. After noticing that Raymond can count any amount of objects instantaneously – and struggling to repay $80,000 in unexpected debts – Charlie takes a detour to Las Vegas in hopes of cashing in on his brother’s hidden talents.

What follows is one of the most incredible montage scenes in all of movie history, let alone Las Vegas-centric films. Having taught Raymond how to play blackjack, the perfect venue for a natural blackjack card-counting genius, Charlie sets the scene in motion by confidently telling his brother “let’s play some cards.”

We’ve included this video so you can see how Raymond fares against the hapless Caesars Palace blackjack dealers.

And if you’re like me, you’ll rewind and rewatch it again several times order simply to savor all of the little details that make this performance so memorable.

3 – The Godfather (1972)

The Godfather

Perhaps the greatest work of art in the entire history of moviemaking, The Godfather is obviously not a Las Vegas movie per se.

The tale of an organized crime family called the Corleones is defined by dramatic performances from Marlon Brando as patriarch Vito Corleone and Al Pacino as his son Michael. There’s no need to delve into the mafioso details of The Godfather though, as anybody who clicked through a blog post about movies has to have seen the flick several times over.

Simply put, they don’t make ‘em like Francis Ford Coppola’s gangster epic anymore.

My focus in covering The Godfather here, however, is the brief detour from New York City’s underworld to Las Vegas, a town where the mob was making tremendous inroads at the time. When the Corleone family’s black sheep and Michael’s older brother Fredo is dispatched to Sin City to secure connections with the casino industry, The Godfather briefly opens a window into a Las Vegas that viewers won’t soon forget.

The scene, in the video below, opens with a rousing musical track set to drive-by visuals of old Las Vegas legends like the Sands and the Desert Inn. From there, the audience is invited behind the scenes to see how the power players who built this town handled their business.

This one’s not the most casino or gambling heavy entry on this page, but no list of my favorite films would be complete with The Godfather.

4 – Casino (1995)

Casino

Shifting gears from backroom drama, Casino is a tour de force that encapsulates every conceivable aspect of the industry from which the film takes its title.

De Niro stars as Sam “Ace” Rothstein, a sports handicapper for the mob who is based on the real-life gangster Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal. Appointed by his bosses to run the Tangiers casino, which is “played” by the Riviera, Rothstein ruthlessly oversees a full-scale renovation of the joint into Sin City’s premier destination for gamblers and wise guys.

Joined by Joe Pesci as a madman of a right-hand man, and constantly bedeviled by the woman of his dreams (Sharon Stone), De Niro’s depiction of Rothstein alternates between terrifying and tragic.

The beauty of Casino is how director Martin Scorsese manages to capture every aspect of a thriving casino enterprise. Rothstein cuts no corners, taking ownership of everything from how the cocktails are poured, maintaining decorum at the poker tables, supervising the nightly profit count process, and even doling out harsh punishment to cheaters dumb enough to try and scam the mob.

If you’ve never been inside of a Las Vegas casino in your life, sitting down to watch Casino will leave you feeling a legitimate local.

5 – The Hangover (2009)

What can I say about The Hangover and its uncanny ability to capture the look and feel of modern Las Vegas?

Aside from the comedic hijinks that will leave you rolling with laughter, even on repeat viewings, The Hangover takes a sense of pride in taking the audience on a full tour of the town. From the rooftop banishment atop Caesars Palace for a groom who wants to reach his wedding, to the amazingly well-done tribute to Rain Man and its blackjack scene, The Hangover has a special place in the hearts of every Las Vegas local.

6 – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

This one might not be for everybody, so if the heavy drug use and debauchery that made author Hunter S. Thompson infamous aren’t up your alley, feel free to skip Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

On the other hand, if you love Las Vegas for the city’s ability to get weird, this flick is for you.

Johnny Depp seems to transform into Thompson, the late pioneer of “gonzo” journalism and one of the most influential nonfiction writers of the 20th century. Everything about his performance is award-winning stuff, but it’s the backdrop of old-school Las Vegas that keeps me coming back to rewatch Fear and Loathing.

Don’t take my word for it though, get a load of Depp and his lawyer Dr. Gonzo (Benicio del Toro) struggling to “maintain” as they wander through the Circus Circus casino after dropping acid.

Conclusion

I love Las Vegas, and I adore quality filmmaking, so it’s no surprise to learn that seeing Sin City on the silver screen still delights me to this day. I could watch dozens of movies about my hometown, and indeed, I have over the years. And although they all have something to offer, even the box office bombs, the six flicks listed above will always hold a special place in my heart.

Blackjack Card Counting – 3 Reasons Why You Should and Shouldn’t Do It

Blackjack Card Counting

Card counting has long fascinated gamblers and the general population alike. Many see it as a path towards quick riches.

Some even attempt to embark on this path in hopes of winning big. They dream of being like the MIT Blackjack Team and many other successful card counters.

However, there’s another side to counting beyond the money and Hollywood glamour. This advantage gambling technique isn’t always as great as it seems.

Therefore, you need to look at the pros and cons before jumping into the matter. Here are three reasons both for and against counting cards.

The Case for Card Counting

The obvious benefit to card counting is that you can make money with it. But as you’ll see below, the advantages of counting go deeper than just financial gain.

1 – Counting Cards Isn’t as Tough as It Seems

Blackjack card counting is sometimes presented as a technique that only mathematical geniuses can pull off. However, this thought is far from the case.

You can actually learn card counting in as little as a few minutes. You just need to study a simple system.

The Hi-Lo is a favorite among both beginners and experienced counters. It’s easy to get started with and offers you a big enough edge to win consistently.

Everything starts with the values you assign to each card as it comes out of the deck:

  • 2 through 6 (low cards) = +1
  • 7 through 9 (neutral cards) = 0
  • A through 10 (high cards) = -1

The goal is to count until you get a positive count worth +2 or higher. At this point, enough low cards have come out of the deck to where you have a stronger chance of getting a natural blackjack.

The catch, though, is that most blackjack games feature six to eight decks. Therefore, you need to convert your running count into a true count.

You must divide the running count by the number of remaining decks to do so. Here’s an example:

  • Your running count is +12.
  • Four decks remain in the shoe.
  • 12 / 4 = +3

The last matter is deciding how much to bet when the count is positive. You want to start raising your wager when the true count is at least +2.

However, you need to avoid wagering too much out of the blue and drawing suspicion from the casino. The easiest way to accomplish this is by raising your wager by predetermined betting units.

Here’s an example:

  1. Choose a unit size (e.g. $25).
  2. Determine your true count (e.g. +3).
  3. Subtract 1 from the true count (3 – 1 = 2).
  4. Multiply this number by your unit size (25 x 2 = 50).
  5. You should bet $50 per hand while the true count is at +2.

Counting cards definitely isn’t as simple as basic blackjack strategy. However, you can see that it’s not brain surgery either.

2 – Card Counting Is One of the Few Ways to Make Gambling Profits

Believe it or not, the casino doesn’t want you to make money, at least when they’re facing you. They don’t mind if you win profits in poker against other players. However, they don’t want to provide you with a living.

That said, casinos have stamped out most of the ways you can beat them. Card counting is one of the few remaining routes towards guaranteed winnings.

Slot Machines

As covered later, these guaranteed winnings aren’t so easy to make. But they’re possible, nonetheless.

Card counting isn’t the only advantage gambling technique in the world. Hole carding and shuffle tracking can also bring you profits when done right.

The key difference, though, is that these methods are also infinitely harder and more time-consuming. You need to find one of the rare dealers who consistently flashes their hole cards for this technique to work.

Shuffle tracking works similar to card counting. However, it involves a more complex process of tracking certain cards throughout the deck. Unless you want to become a hardcore gambling expert, then card counting is the path of least resistance.

Of course, you can also win in poker by beating other players and the rake. The problem, though, is that poker has gotten much tougher in recent years.

When compared to card counting, you need to study poker a lot more to beat stakes that can bring in reasonable profits.

3 – You Can Make Your Own Hours

Most people clock in and out at set work times. They never get the joy of being their own boss and making their own hours.

Card counting offers you this rare ability. You choose when to visit the casino and how long your sessions will last.

Working Around the Clock

Of course, some of your hours will depend upon the situation. For example, you may know that the second-shift crew at a certain casino is more lenient towards counters.

In these cases, you need to follow the money and play during the most profitable scenarios. Nevertheless, you still have a choice on when you play and leave for the night.

Chances are that you won’t have to play for many hours each week to make a solid living. If you and your team (if applicable) are good enough, you may earn plenty of money in 20 hours’ worth of work.

You don’t even have to make a full-time living through card counting. Instead, you could merely supplement your income with up to 15 hours of play each week.

The Case Against Blackjack Card Counting

The points covered above definitely make card counting seem like a worthy pursuit. However, you should also consider the drawbacks to trying to make it as a counter.

1 – You Don’t Have a Very Big Advantage

One of the biggest card counting myths is that pros make a fortune every night. This falsehood is perpetuated by Hollywood movies that show counters earning tens of thousands of dollars in a single scene.

Such profits are possible every now and then, especially if the stakes are high. But you shouldn’t expect to win every time out.

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Assuming you’re like most counters, then you’re only going to have between a 0.5% and 1.5% edge over the casino. Taking the average of these figures, you’ll earn $1 for every $100 wagered.

Of course, you’re not guaranteed winnings with such thin margins. You’ll only win in just over half of your sessions at this rate. Dealing with losing streaks is an unfortunate part of card counting. You need to have a large bankroll to cover any potential downswings.

As a team, you’re advised to have between $20,000 and $25,000 to comfortably play without risk of busting. You’ll want around $10,000 as a solo counter to survive the volatility.

2 – Card Counting Takes Practice and Dedication

Earlier, I explained how you don’t need a PhD to count cards. But you do need a strong work ethic to become successful.

Learning how to count is only a small part of the matter. You should also practice counting a lot in the beginning.

The goal is to condition yourself to count in the distracting casino environment. After all, you need to keep up with the dealer’s speed while also putting up with players’ chatter. One good way to practice is with free online blackjack trainers. However, these trainers don’t simulate the exact casino environment.

Therefore, you’ll also want to visit a real casino and either count off to the side or play for low stakes while practicing. This method is the only true way to properly condition yourself for what’s to come.

As you can see, card counting isn’t just about learning a simple system and making big profits right away. It instead requires a lot of work and planning beforehand.

3 – You Have to Avoid Getting Caught

The biggest deterrent to counting cards is the fact that casinos will throw you out, at least if you’re caught anyway. You can avoid being detected, although you’ll find this difficult on a regular basis.

Blackjack Players Behind Bars

Staff members are trained to spot counters. They’ll especially be tipped off if you spread your bets too widely.

Bet spreading isn’t the only concern. You also have to fit in with the other players so that you don’t come off as a cyborg-like counter.

These skills take time to master. Unfortunately, you don’t have much chance to develop them before running out of places to count.

If you’re caught counting at an MGM Grand property, for example, then you’ll be blacklisted from all of their properties. That said, you need to work hard to avoid getting caught from the beginning.

Conclusion

Does the good outweigh the bad with card counting? For most people, card counting isn’t worth the effort. They don’t have the patience or bankroll to count with any hope of long-term success.

But this doesn’t mean that you have to be turned off from the matter. You may especially be drawn to counting if you’re really serious about earning gambling profits.

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Again, card counting is one of the few legitimate advantage play methods. It’s actually easier to learn and use than other techniques, like hole carding and shuffle tracking.

It also doesn’t require you to pour hours into gaining an advantage like poker does. Instead, you can quickly learn how to count in a matter of minutes.

The key, though, is that you’re able to maintain a proper count in the face of casino distractions. You’ll find this task much harder when you’re at a real table with real chips on the line.

You really have to know yourself before jumping into card counting. Furthermore, you also need the desire to want to be a successful gambler.

Assuming you’ve always been fascinated with people who make a living with gambling, then you may have what it takes to count cards. If this process sounds like too much work, then you might just want to count for fun at low stakes.

The Phantom Gambler Bets $777,000 on a Single Roll in Craps and Wins

777,777 Craps Win

If you spend enough time on the casino floors of Sin City, you’ll inevitably hear about the Phantom Gambler. Many variations of the story have emerged over the last four decades.

But in essence, a high roller comes to the casino with a suitcase stuffed with cash. He bets the entire six-figure sum on a single roll of craps. He wins and silently fills a second casino with his haul before walking away without a word.

A story like this sounds too good to be true. Las Vegas casinos seldom accept action to the tune of a half-million or more on any one wager. And who in their right mind would really bet that much on a pure game of chance like craps?

Knowing all of this, most people who hear the story of “Suitcase Man,” also widely referred to as the “Phantom Gambler,” scoff at the notion. Gambling enthusiasts are prone to exaggeration, after all, so a story like that of Suitcase Man can be attributed to the rumor mill.

But what if I told you that Suitcase Man was real and his high-rolling exploits really did happen? What if I told you that the big-time bettor made THREE of these real money craps bets over four years?

Well, you don’t have to take my word for it. Just look up William Lee Bergstrom. Or better yet, stick around and let me regale you with one of the most legendary stories to ever emerge from the “Wild West” era of Las Vegas gambling.

Mystery Man Strolls Into Binion’s With Two Suitcases and a Dream

Beginning in 1951, a former underground gambling boss from Texas by the name of Benny Binion arrived in Las Vegas to escape his past.

Setting up shop along Fremont Street in the Downtown District, the colorful character opened the doors to Binion’s Horseshoe casino that same year. Almost immediately, Binion set his joint apart from the rest of Sin City’s gambling halls by offering essentially unlimited action.

Binions

In other words, whatever amount his players were willing to wager, Binion would be happy to book their bet. Binion’s Horseshoe wasn’t the most glamorous casino in town by any means, but he had more money and moxie than his competition.

It was on September 24th, 1980, when a stranger strolled in and entered Binion’s Horseshoe casino in Downtown Las Vegas. He was carrying two suitcases. One suitcase carried precisely $777,000 in cash, while the other was completely empty.

After a quick trip to the cashier’s cage to exchange his hard currency for casino chips, the mystery man headed straight for the nearest craps table. Every last chip was piled on the don’t pass line, setting up what might’ve been the biggest bet in Las Vegas history at the time.

The man never spoke a word, silently watching as the shooter tossed the dice for her come out roll. The first roll produced a six to set the point number, so our hero now needed to see the shooter hit a seven to “seven out” before she rolled another six.

The shooter’s second roll tumbled until the dice revealed a nine, which mattered not for the big money player. But on the third roll, those dice came to a rest, showing the prettiest sight a “back line” bettor can see—a seven for a don’t pass line winner.

Just like that, Binion’s craps dealer calmly slid the winner a stack of chips equal to $1,554,000 in what was easily the house’s largest loss to date. The player, who never said a thing as this epic roll played out, tipped the table’s staff $4,000 and collected the rest of his winnings without a word. His second suitcase now stuffed, the man then drove into the desert night.

Benny Binion’s son Jack, who went on to take control of the Horseshoe following his father’s conviction on tax evasion charges in 1953, later recalled the first impression made by the player known as Suitcase Man:

“The guy called previously about betting anywhere from $200,000 to $1 million.

We said, ‘Yeah, you can do it.’

It’s the biggest bet in a gambling house I have ever heard of anywhere, anytime.

He was cool. He really had a lot of gamble in him.”

For the next four years, nobody would hear from the Phantom Gambler again, but he would return with a vengeance to take a second shot at a seven-figure craps win.

Doubling Down on His Incredible Double Up

On March 24th, 1984 the craps dealers at Binion’s Horseshoe saw a familiar scene play out.

Once again, the Phantom Gambler walked in without a word and exchanged $538,000 in cash for casino chips. Once again, he hit the first craps table he could find and laid the entire lot down on the don’t pass line.

And once again, the shooter managed to seven out before rolling their point number for a second time, thereby sending just over $1 million straight into the man’s suitcase.

A second Binion brother named Ted held court over the casino floor at this time, and he didn’t want to let the secretive high-roller leave without at least learning a little more about the man.

According to Ted Binion, the Suitcase Man was a 32-year-old out of Austin, Texas. His name was William Lee Bergstrom. And as the superstitious Bergstrom told Binion after his second big winner, he was inspired to bet the original $777,000 on the don’t pass line when he noticed a bar of silver in his hard currency cache bore a serial number containing 7-7-7:

″He told me he’d wake up in the middle of the night 30 days before making the bet and decide to do it.”

Brief Biography of William Lee Bergstrom

William Lee Bergstrom

After graduating from Austin High School in 1969, a young Bergstrom majored in electrical engineering at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

After transferring to the University of Texas in 1971, and eventually dropping out, Bergstrom went on to earn his aviator’s license and become a private pilot. He also took an interest in real estate, buying rundown properties, renovating them, and selling them for a hefty profit in a process known as “flipping” nowadays.

Having amassed a small fortune through his penchant for flipping property, Bergstrom began dabbling in currency trading on the side. This profession led him to horde gold and silver bars, as well as the South African currency known as Krugerrands.

Based on his personal belief in a looming economic collapse which would cause hyper-inflation, Bergstrom preferred to keep his stash of precious metals personally rather than deposit them in a bank. This philosophy also provided the foundation for his willingness to bet it all on a roll of the dice, as Bergstrom didn’t believe the money would be worth anything in the years to come.

Third Time’s Not a Charm for the Phantom Gambler

A few months after his second seven-figure score on a seven out, Bergstrom returned to Binion’s Horseshoe bearing a small fortune.

All told, his $550,000 in US dollars, $310,000 in cashier’s checks, and $140,000 worth of Krugerrands added up to precisely $1 million.

Here’s how Ted Binion described the scene that played out from there:

“When he bet the $1 million, he brought $700,000 in cash and the rest of it in cashier’s checks and dumped it at the casino cage.”

For his biggest bet of all, one which put every penny he had to his name at risk, Bergstrom backed the don’t pass line for a third time.

The come out roll provides don’t pass line bettors with their biggest obstacle, as any seven or 11 on the shooter’s first try produces an instant loss. A seven will hit on 16.67% of rolls, while an 11 will show up 5.56% of the time. All told, don’t pass line bettors face a 22.23% chance of losing on the come out roll alone.

The trick is to dodge the seven or 11 on the come out roll, which then tilts the advantage in favor of don’t pass line bettors, who now have the highest win probability on subsequent rolls.

On the other hand, any two (2.78%) or three (5.56%) on the come out roll means the don’t pass line bet wins, giving Bergstrom an 8.34% shot at winning on the initial roll.

And that’s when it all went wrong for this “wrong way” bettor with balls of steel… The shooter’s first roll found the dice showing seven, meaning Bergstrom’s biggest bet to date had gone bust to leave him broke.

Even so, as Ted Binion recalls, Bergstrom had ice water in his blood despite the disastrous roll:

“He was betting all he had. But he never flinched when he lost that million.

He just signed those cashier’s checks smooth as glass and went down and got the enchiladas the Mexican cook had left him.”

Bergstrom’s Story Ends Tragically in Suicide

The huge loss occurred on November 16th, 1984, and within five days, a thunderstruck Bergstrom tried to take his own life by swallowing a concoction of various pills.

One might imagine that losing a million bucks in less than a minute motivated Bergstrom to such dire straits, but in reality, he was merely a heartbroken soul with nowhere else to turn.

As a closeted gay man, Bergstrom’s relationship with a younger partner named John had drawn the ire of his overbearing and bigoted father. Eventually, his father’s interference caused Bergstrom’s boyfriend to break things off, which sent the former into a downward spiral.

In a personal letter addressed to a friend, Bergstrom made his plans post-million loss quite clear:

“[John’s] leaving me was the only reason I gambled the $1 million in the first place.

I knew that if I lost the million dollars that I would for sure fully and completely do away with myself.”

That initial suicide attempt didn’t work out as planned, and Bergstrom made his way back to Binion’s Horseshoe a few months later with a cashier’s check for $1.3 million in hand.

But the check was a forgery and Bergstrom’s father had already called the casino to alert them about his son’s scheme.

The next morning, on February 4th, 1985, Bergstrom was found dead of a drug-induced suicide. In his last note to the world, Bergstrom made a simple request to be cremated, with his ashes interred in an urn bearing the following inscription:

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“The Phantom Gambler of the Horseshoe, Who Bet $1 Million on Nov. 16, 1984.”

Naturally, the Binion family obliged by footing the bill for Bergstrom’s last wishes. As Ted later told the Associated Press, he never thought twice about taking care of the late gambler who helped make his casino a Las Vegas landmark.

Conclusion

The expression “go for broke” is often used by gamblers visiting Las Vegas, but for Bergstrom, that credo is well-deserved. While his life ended tragically after the million-dollar loss, the legend of Suitcase Man lives on to this day.

And because the corporate casinos which dominate Sin City these days won’t take action like Benny Binion proudly did, nobody will ever top the Phantom Gambler’s dizzying highs and lows at the craps table.

Everything You Need to Know About Legal Marijuana in Las Vegas

Hands Rolling Marijuana on Table, Las Vegas Logo
If you’ve wandered through a casino resort parking garage in Las Vegas recently, you might have noticed the unmistakable scent of marijuana lingering in the air.

That’s because Sin City lived up to its reputation as an adult playground in late 2016, when local voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure, legalizing and regulating recreational marijuana use. The sale and consumption of small amounts of marijuana is now legal.

Marijuana legalization, either for medicinal purposes or recreational enjoyment, has become a big business throughout the country. Full-scale recreational sales are also legal in Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

But Nevada law controls how much you can carry, where you can smoke, and even which growers and distributors are permitted to dispense their buds, “pre-rolled” cigarettes (AKA “joints”), edible gummies, vape pens, and other THC-based products to the masses.

Unless you’re a local who lives here day in and day out, navigating this legal and regulatory maze might just leave you dazed and confused.

Whether you enjoy the occasional puff yourself, or you simply want to learn more about what to expect during your next excursion to Las Vegas, this page is for you. Below, you’ll find a comprehensive guide to legal marijuana in Las Vegas in a safe and responsible fashion.

History of Marijuana Legalization in Nevada

First things first… how did we all get here?

Well, the effort to legalize marijuana in Nevada began way back in 1998, when voters turned out at a 59% margin to support the Nevada Medical Marijuana Act. That ballot initiative was backed up two years later by 65% of the electorate*.

*Nevada law requires two consecutive successful ballot measures to amend the state’s constitution.

From there, medicinal marijuana (MMJ) patients who use THC to remedy symptoms associated with cancer, AIDS, and glaucoma among other ailments were permitted to grow their own plants and smoke at home, but full-scale sales and distribution didn’t become a reality until 2013.

As for recreational marijuana sales and usage, the issue was put to voters in November of 2016 through Question 2, better known as the Initiative to Regulate and Tax Marijuana. Despite an onslaught of negative campaign ads funded by Las Vegas Sands multibillionaire Sheldon Adelson, 54% of voters once again offered their support for an end to prohibition.

At the time, Joe Brezny—spokesperson for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA)—told the Cannabis Business Times that his lobby group was pleased to see voters repeatedly reject prohibition.

Nevada State Flag, Red Voting Ballot Box

By January 1st of 2017, marijuana use became fully legal, and on July 1st of the same year, licensed dispensaries began distributing their products across Las Vegas and the rest of the state. Smokers are now able to possess up to one ounce of “flower,” or 1/8 ounce of concentrated THC or Cannabidiol (CBD) extract.

The law was largely touted as an easy way to build an economic engine in Nevada that didn’t depend on tourism and US casino gambling. By applying a hefty 15% excise tax on all sales, much larger than the 2% tax levied in neighboring California, Nevada sought to generate millions in annual revenue for local school districts.

In fiscal year 2018, the state collected $42.5 million in marijuana-based revenue, with $27.3 million diverted straight to the Nevada Distributive School Account.

You can learn more about how Nevada utilizes its recreational marijuana taxes, along with licensing fees and other revenue derived from the flourishing industry in this informative article published last June by the Las Vegas Sun.

List of Licensed Legal Marijuana Dispensaries in Las Vegas

As of the most recent accounting from the NDT, Las Vegas and its surrounding suburbs are home to 46 licensed marijuana dispensaries:

Legal Marijuana Dispensaries Operating in Las Vegas

Dispensary Street Address
Apothecary Shoppe 4240 W. Flamingo Rd., #100
Acres Cannabis 2320 Western Ave.
Blackjack Collective 1860 Western Ave.
Blüm LV 3650 S. Decatur Blvd.
Blüm LV 1130 E. Desert Inn Rd.
CannaCopia 6332 S. Rainbow Blvd, #105.
Cheyenne Medical 3500 West Sahara Ave.
Cultivate Dispensary 3615 Spring Mountain Rd.
Essence 5765 W. Tropicana Ave.
Essence 2307 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
Essence 4300 E. Sunset Rd, Ste. A-2, A3.
Exhale Nevada Dispensary 1921 Western Ave.
Exhale Nevada Dispensary 4310 W. Flamingo Rd.
Inyo Fine Cannabis Dispensary 2520 S. Maryland Pkwy.
Jardin Premium Cannabis 2900 E. Desert Inn Rd, #102.
Jenny’s Dispensary 5530 N. Decatur Blvd, #115 North
Jenny’s Dispensary 10420 S. Eastern Avenue, Suite 100.
Releaf 2244 Paradise Rd.
Medizin/Planet 13 4850 W. Sunset Rd., #130
MedMen 5303 Paradise Rd.
MMJ America 4660 S. Decatur Blvd.
Nevada Medical Marijuana 3195 St. Rose Parkway, Suite 212.
Nevada Medical Marijuana 1975 S. Casino Dr.
Nevada Wellness Center 3200 S. Valley View Blvd.
New Amsterdam Naturals 823 S. 3rd St.
NuLeaf 430 E. Twain Ave.
Oasis Medical Cannabis 1800 Industrial Rd., #180
Piso’s 4110 S. Maryland Pkwy.
Reef Dispensaries 3400 Western Ave.
Reef Dispensaries 1366 W. Cheyenne Ave, #110 – 111.
Sahara Wellness 420 E. Sahara Ave.
Shango 4380 Boulder Hwy.
ShowGrow 4850 S. Fort Apache Rd., Suite #100
Silver Sage Wellness 4626 W. Charleston Blvd.
Euphoria Wellness 7780 S. Jones Boulevard
The Apothecarium 7885 W. Sahara Ave., #111 – 112
The Dispensary 5347 S. Decatur Blvd.
The Dispensary 50 N. Gibson Road
The Grove 4647 Swenson St.
The Source 2550 S. Rainbow Blvd, Suite 8.
Thrive Cannabis Marketplace 2755 W. Cheyenne Ave.
Thrive Cannabis Marketplace 1112 S. Commerce St.
Top Notch The Health Center 5630 Stephanie St.
ZenLeaf 9120 W. Post Rd., #103.

During your next trip to Sin City, you can visit any of these locations to purchase marijuana in a safe, comfortable, and completely legal setting. Most of the dispensaries are extremely upscale establishments.

What to Expect When Visiting a Vegas Marijuana Dispensary

For smokers, stepping inside a legal marijuana dispensary for the first time feels a little like walking into Willy Wonka’s Weed Factory.

I personally prefer The Apothecary Shoppe, which boasts a beautiful interior that invites customers to gaze upon the THC-fueled goodies showcased within glass display cases. This venue is my personal favorite based on its proximity to the Strip, as it only takes a couple minutes driving westbound on Flamingo Road to reach this oasis in the desert. Just go right past the Gold Coast casino and when you see the Palms on your left, The Apothecary Shoppe can be found to your right.

If you’re a first-time customer, the process begins by presenting yourself to the security staff manning the entrance. They’ll check your purse or backpack before you head inside, where a receptionist stands ready to verify your age via an ID check. Next up, you’ll need to fill out a very short form with the pertinent information, such as your name, address, and phone number. This info is used later on to streamline the process during repeat visits.

Person Weighing Marijuana on Scale

Once you’ve been admitted, you’ll take a number and wait to be called. Dispensaries like to limit the amount of customers who enter the actual marijuana sales floor, so you’ll kick back in a waiting room just like you would at a doctor or dentist appointment.

When your name and number is called, you’ll be greeted by a “budtender” who will escort you through the secure doorway and into pot paradise. Display cases will contain everything from pre-rolled joints perfect for smoking without additional equipment, packets of flower or bud measured and priced with precision, and all varieties of edibles, concentrates, and other modern additions to the marijuana enthusiast’s menu.

Feel free to ask questions about the various strains. Indica is known for inducing a “body high,” laughter, and relaxation, while sativa provides a more energetic, mentally active state, along with their respective THC content.

That budtender label is more than just a funny pun, as the employees who staff Las Vegas’ legal dispensaries are highly trained in the art and science of marijuana growth. If you’re looking for something to mellow out after a hard day’s work, an edible that won’t leave you stuck to the couch, or a concentrate that can be “vaped” on the go, your budtender will be happy to steer your toward the correct strain.

When you’ve selected your goodies, be sure to leave a tip for the staff, then proceed to the checkout counter to settle up. Dispensaries will accept cash or debit/credit card, and you’ll receive an itemized receipt listing your purchases and all applicable taxes and fees.

To give you a sense of the pricing structure, check out The Apothecary Shoppe’s menu here. The best dispensaries in Las Vegas love to secure customer loyalty by offering freebies and discounts for first-time visitors.

To complete the transaction, most dispensaries will vacuum seal your products in a nondescript package which won’t be identifiable to non-smokers. This convenient feature allows you to head back to your car, return to the casino resort, and head back up to your room without emitting any odors or attracting unwanted attention.

Where You Can Use THC Products Legally While in Las Vegas

While the law permits the growth, sale, and purchase of marijuana, Nevada policymakers made sure to include provisions limiting where users can enjoy their THC- and CBD-based products.

Simply put, if you think you can light one up while you’re in a hotel room, you’ll have a rude awakening on your hands. The law limits usage to one’s personal residence only, making Las Vegas hotels, casinos, and even outdoor cigarette smoking areas no-go zones.

Shadow Silhouette of Guy Lightning Cigarette

In fact, you’ll often find a little placard in your room, smoking or non-smoking, which states that marijuana odors left behind will result in a sizable surcharge added to your final bill. This is why those parking garages and other secluded areas adjacent to the casino will often smell like Woodstock.

With that said, the increased popularity of edibles and vape pens within the industry speaks to the average smoker’s urge to remain inconspicuous.

With a packet of THC-infused gummy bears stashed in your pocket or purse, you can easily enhance your mindset without anybody else ever noticing. And in the case of vape pens, their ability to emit water vapor that remains odorless and dissipates within seconds makes them a preferred vehicle for folks who spend most of their time in crowded places.

It may sound silly to exercise an abundance of caution in Las Vegas. Nonetheless, responsible marijuana smokers should do right by this emerging industry by adhering to all laws and norms pertaining to public smoking.

Conclusion

Marijuana usage remains a contentious subject across the country, but as Nevada and 32 other states have proven, legalization and regulation can become a smashing success. From the economic benefits provided by every bud bought, to the reduction in petty criminal activity associated with the black market, Las Vegas has rolled a winner with its legal marijuana gamble. If you’re looking to enjoy this addition to Sin City’s smorgasbord of indulgence, I hope this guide helps you on every step along the way.

The 3 Best US Casinos Outside of Las Vegas

Casino Entrance Neon Sign, United States Map
Everyone should visit the casinos in Las Vegas at least once in their gambling careers. It’s a city unlike any other in my travel experience. But America has more to offer the casual gambling tourist than just Las Vegas.

There was a time when the Gulf Coast was America’s gambling mecca, and Las Vegas was almost an afterthought. Today, over 90% of all Americans live within a two-hour drive from a gaming venue. The only surprising statistic about US real money gambling is that land-based gambling is still illegal in some states.

Although Las Vegas is easy to get to, it can be expensive for most Americans. We want to be well-fed, entertained, and sleep in safe, comfortable accommodations. Nowadays, we also expect stylish venues, a variety of themes and architectural styles, and plentiful attractions.

Here are my top three choices for the best casinos outside of Las Vegas in the United States.

1 – Beau Rivage Resort and Casino

Located in Biloxi, Mississippi, the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino is the most famous and popular of modern Gulf Coast casinos. Travelers need to fly into Pensacola, FL, or New Orleans and take a car or bus along Interstate 10 to reach the casino. But I can assure you, it’s well worth the trip.

Among American travelers, the Beau Rivage is one of the top five gambling destinations. It has earned more five-star reviews on travel websites than nearly every other casino in the country.

Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Mississippi

MGM Resorts owns and operates the Beau Rivage, which was originally designed to be a Las Vegas hotel. Maybe that’s a major reason why the resort is so popular with travelers. You get a touch of Vegas outside of Vegas.

With 11 restaurants to choose from, you’ll never have to leave the Beau Rivage when you get hungry. You won’t be able to visit them all in a typical two-day stay unless you force yourself to do that.

Players can choose from baccarat, blackjack, craps, and roulette for table games and over 1,800 modern slot machine games. MGM Resorts customers will appreciate being able to use their M life Rewards cards and earn points within the system.

The casino offers a luxurious poker room, a high limit lounge, and hosts the Million Dollar Heater Poker Series. Guests can also download and play free mobile slot games on their smartphones to earn rewards, including room nights, meals, show tickets, and more.

2 – WinStar World Casino

Located in Thackerville, Oklahoma, the WinStar World Casino is probably the most famous non-Vegas casino in America. It’s the largest casino in the world and is located about an hour’s drive north of Dallas.

Because it’s located in the Great Plains, the WinStar casino has room to spread out and accommodate everyone. You can stay in an RV campground or in the resort’s luxurious hotel. If the main hotel is booked up or too expensive, you can stay at the Inn at WinStar.

WinStar boasts two fine dining restaurants, 10 casual dining restaurants, six fast food restaurants, and five bars and lounges. You won’t run out of things to do and places to visit while you’re there.

WinStar World Casino in Oklahoma

Travelers can also spend time shopping at five in-resort stores, including a gift shop, two boutiques, and a smoke shop. Guests can shop at the Isle at WinStar for casual items all hours of the day, seven days a week. You’ll almost never have to ask for directions to the nearest off-resort store.

One reason why WinStar is so popular with travelers is that it hosts big and small events like concerts, conventions and business meetings, weddings, and social events. You won’t spend much time wondering what there is to do in Oklahoma. You’ll wonder how to spend more time doing things there.

But what makes WinStar so famous in the world of gambling is the nine-plaza gaming experience. They cover a mile of gaming floor space, and WinStar claims to have more electronic and table games than any other casino in the world.

You’ll ask what’s so special about Las Vegas when Oklahoma has the WinStar World Casino. The resort offers everything, including an elegant poker room, the Lightning Link immersive gaming lounge, a bingo hall, off-track race betting, and thousands of slot machines.

The main gaming venues are designed around the Far East, New York, Paris, and Brazil.

In consumer reviews, WinStar is only slightly less popular than Beau Rivage.

3 – Harrah’s in New Orleans

The Harrah’s brand is legendary in the US casino industry. Harrah’s is part of Caesars Entertainment and that means top-value gaming and resort experiences for customers. Guests will appreciate being able to use their Caesar’s Rewards club cards, too.

New Orleans has a lot to offer casual visitors. The Crescent City is one of America’s top-rated tourist destinations and it has been featured in movies and TV shows around the world.

Harrah’s offers a modern gaming experience, including separate playing areas for smokers and non-smokers alike. But it wouldn’t be New Orleans if there wasn’t a twist on gaming.

Harrah's New Orlean Casino

The Hoodoo Party Pit livens up the table games with DJs on the weekend and voodoo-themed gaming. People aspiring to be the next James Bond can choose between mini-baccarat and midi-baccarat. Midi-baccarat allows players to touch the cards, just like in the movies.

Other table games at Harrah’s include pai gow, several styles of poker, craps, blackjack, and high card flush. The poker room is an elegant callback to the stylish riverboat era of Louisiana history, sitting just off to the side of the main casino. Players sit at up to 20 tables.

They accept call-in reservations for the poker room up to 30 minutes before you arrive. You’ll always know you have a seat when you get there. And if you love WSOP events, Harrah’s New Orleans is on the circuit.

The slot machine gaming at Harrah’s is top of the line. The casino offers over 1,500 games, including over 700 penny slots. Machines are spread out across more than 100,000 square feet of floor space.

Video poker enthusiasts will be overwhelmed by the more than 200 machines on the floor. You won’t be able to play them all in one visit.

Harrah’s boasts nine restaurants, including two upscale venues.

The eating experience is more laid back because it’s New Orleans, but you’ll love the decor and the convenience as well the variety of cuisines.

Beer lovers will want to dine at Gordon Biersch, famous for brewing their own beer.

There is always something going on in New Orleans, but Harrah’s has its own event schedule, too. There are game tournaments, art shows, and clubs. And the resort has an elegant meeting area for special events.

Conclusion

I wanted to write about the top 10 casinos outside Las Vegas but there was so much to say about these three that I knew it would take up too much of your time.

You could spend a lifetime visiting all of America’s casinos and only visit half of them at most. While local players enjoy having quiet venues to spend time in, it’s the grand resorts that we love to talk about. And that’s because they give us plenty to talk about.

May your gaming trips be fun, safe, and memorable! Enjoy gambling at any one of the three best US casinos outside of Las Vegas that we listed.

Guide to Betting on Boxing Matches

Coach and Boxing Fighter Talking in Ring
It may not carry the same weight it used to in the world of sports, but boxing is still a major source of income for sportsbooks and skilled gamblers. Whether it’s the inaccessibility of many of the fights or simply a dwindling interest, it’s hard to believe boxing was once at the forefront of sports betting worldwide. In fact, some of the biggest fights have rivaled Super Bowls for total money wagered.

Bovada Boxing CTA

Its status may have changed, but the sport itself is no less fun to bet on now than when names like Ali, Frazier, and Holyfield danced around the ring. While even today the general sports public is familiar with the most popular fighters such as Mayweather and Pacquiao, there’s plenty of money to be made in fights featuring lesser-known boxers.

If you’re lucky enough to be in the city of Las Vegas during a boxing match, you’ll see firsthand just how crazy bettors will get at sportsbooks.

Whether you’re a lifelong fan or looking to get your feet wet, if you put in the time and research, you can turn punches into dollars. Here are five tips and betting strategies for boxing to consider before throwing down your money.

1 – Look at the Moneyline

If you have experience in sports betting, this should be a common-sense place to start when you’re looking to gamble on a fight. If you’re not sure how the moneyline works, I’ll explain. Each fighter has their own “line.” An example would be “Mayweather -600.” This means you would have to bet $600 to win $100. On the other side would be the underdog, whose odds might look something like “Canelo +250,” meaning a $100 bet would win $250.

Betting moneylines can be tricky in boxing because it’s rare that fights are perfectly matched up between boxers of similar skill.

It’s not unusual to have huge favorites that require a bet of $1,000 (or more) just to win $100. You may be thinking that betting on a huge favorite means a guaranteed win, and usually, you’d be correct. However, one loss when you bet on a heavy favorite could erase a half dozen wins you had before it. Recognize the risk vs. reward in betting on favorites and choose accordingly.

2 – Over/Under Bets

One of the most exciting aspects of boxing (or any combat sport for that matter) is seeing how long two fighters will be able to keep going. This is where the over/under comes into play for bettors.

Maybe you have a feeling an early knockout is in the cards, or perhaps you think two evenly-matched fighters are expected to go the distance. Either way, there are a range of factors to consider when betting the over/under on how many rounds will take place.

The first thing to recognize about this type of bet is that it’s usually not an equal return on both the over and the under. For example, let’s say it gets set at 10.5 rounds. Betting $100 on the over might return $150, while betting on the under might only return $80. It’s crucial to check the moneyline numbers even on these types of bets.

Boxer in Time Out in Boxing Ring

It’s also important to note that over/under bets are pretty unforgiving, especially in a sport where there are several variables out of your, and sometimes the fighter’s, control. If the fighter hurts his ankle and can’t continue, it counts. If the roof malfunctions or rain stops the fight, it still counts.

Another consideration when betting the over/under is the ref. Many boxing referees have developed reputations for ending fights early or letting them go on longer than expected.

3 – Know When to Hold ‘Em

If you’ve got the pizza, beverages, and buddies ready for a long night of watching boxing, it can be tempting to throw down a bet on every fight on the card. If you’re looking for entertainment and don’t care about losing money, go for it. If you’re looking ahead with a little extra in your bankroll, consider betting less fights.

Not only is it a good idea to resist the urge to bet on every single fight, it can be in your best interest to focus all of your money on just one fight. In order to give yourself the best chance to win, you need to research the ref, the styles, and other nuanced aspects of the match. It’s unlikely you’ll want to put in this effort for each fight.

Keep in mind that the fight you choose to bet on doesn’t have to be the main event. Tremendous value (and sometimes easier picks) can be found in any fight of the evening. Above all, just do your research and choose what feels most comfortable.

4 – Keep Up With the News, But Avoid Public Opinion

In case you’re new to sports betting, I’ll catch you up on one of the widest-held beliefs in the world of sports gambling: Fading (betting against) the public has long been considered one of the most reliable strategies for winning in the long-term. Boxing is no different.

Two Boxers in Ring

Simply put, the public is relatively uninformed and tends to bet with their heart. And I can’t blame them… Who doesn’t love a good comeback story? A good habit to get into when placing bets is doing some personal research on the available data then making your own decision, completely independent from public sentiment.

Remember that sportsbooks set things up so that they can win money. A great way to do that is by playing on the public’s tendency to make bad decisions. I’m not saying to always go against the public if you have a strong feeling one way or the other, but when in doubt, go the other way.

5 – Prop Bets

Everyone loves a good prop bet… And a boxing match provides a great arena to throw down a few of your own. Here are a few of my favorites:

Will There Be a Knockdown?

  • This one is pretty straightforward. However, it’s important to remember that this refers only to official knockdowns, which means that a count must be given by the referee.

Will There Be a Point Deduction?

  • Point deductions can happen for a number of reasons and is always at the discretion of the referees. If you’re considering placing this prop bet, it’s imperative that you do your research and know the tendencies of the ref.

Will There Be a Knockout?

  • Don’t know who which fighter to pick but want to root for the big, crushing knockout blow? This one is for you! It doesn’t matter who wins, as long as the fight ends in a KO.

    Note that a knockout can be a fight that ends when a referee counts to 10, or if the referee stops a fight even while the fighter is still standing. Additionally, if the trainer stops the fight at any point, it’s considered a knockout. Disqualification? You guessed it, also a knockout.

Will the Fight End in a Draw?

  • The trick to this prop bet is that you can only bet on it being a draw. You can’t bet that a fight won’t end in a draw. You’ll usually get some pretty strong odds on this type of bet because judges don’t want fights to end in a draw. It might not hurt to throw a couple dollars on this prop, but I wouldn’t recommend making it your main wager.

There are other prop bets available in addition to those I’ve listed, but these are the most popular. If you have the opportunity to visit the world’s largest sportsbook located inside the Westgate Resort & Casino, you’ll have plenty of prop bets to choose from.

And if you can’t choose which fighter you think is going to win, these props give you a great option for putting some skin in the game.

Conclusion

Boxing has been a favorite event of the biggest sports bettors for decades. Even today, with its diminished prominence, hundreds of millions of dollars are wagered on big fights.

Don’t let your lack of boxing knowledge get in the way of getting in on the action. Do your research, start following a few fighters, and you might just become a fight fan.

Tips for Successful Controlled Shooting in Craps

Casino Dice Wallpaper, Casino Craps Table Layout
When playing craps games, you’re required to toss the dice down the table and towards the wall. You don’t actually have to hit the wall every time, but you’re expected to make a reasonable attempt at doing so.

Casinos enforce these rules, because they don’t want advantage gamblers beating them. By requiring players to bounce dice off of a textured backwall, casinos presumably accomplish their goal of thwarting advantage players.

However, controlled shooting (a.k.a. dice control) is a proposed method of circumventing the house edge. Controlled shooting sees you grip and toss dice the same way every time, in hopes of producing desired results.

Of course, you have no chance to consistently roll the numbers you want. But dice control at least offers the promise of producing desired numbers once in a while.

The big catch, though, is that controlled shooting doesn’t come naturally. Even Dominic LoRiggio (a.k.a. The Dominator), who’s known in some circles as the craps GOAT, worked for countless hours to perfect his toss.

LoRiggio and certain other gambling experts contend that you can pull off dice control with enough work. That said, I’ll discuss how this technique works along with tips for perfecting it.

How Does Controlled Shooting Work?

Dice control begins with the way that you grip the dice (a.k.a. setting). The goal is to hold the dice in a manner that exposes the number combinations you want while hiding those you don’t.

I’ll get more into this concept later on. But an easy example is when you grip the dice in a way that hides combinations that produced seven.

Working on your release and toss is the next step. You want to roll the dice in a consistent manner so that you have a better chance of tossing desired numbers.

Most controlled shooters measure their success rate through the Sevens to Rolls Ratio (SRR). This term refers to the ratio of rolls that result in seven versus those that don’t.

If you play craps without any skill, your average SRR will eventually work out to 6:1.

In other words, you toss a seven on one out of every six rolls (16.67%). This ratio is exactly what the dice odds suggest (six out of 36 dice combinations produce sevens).

The aim is to practice enough to the point where you can alter your SRR ratio over time. Assuming your SRR improves to just 6.3:1, then you’ll have an edge on casinos.

You must devote hours to practicing your toss in order to make this happen. Some craps players rig homemade tables so that they have a cheap practice area. Others actually purchase real casino tables and store them somewhere in their house or garage. Of course, craps tables cost quite a bit and take up a 12×14 area.

Once you have the equipment, you can proceed to pouring hours into the matter. Professionals like LoRiggio and Frank Scoblete suggest that you practice a few hours daily over the course of several months.

Hard work doesn’t guarantee that you’ll become an expert controlled shooter. However, it does improve your chances of becoming profitable.

Tips for Improving Your Dice Control

Understanding how dice control works and that you must practice for hours is a great start. But you’re not going to win if you’re practicing the wrong habits.

Therefore, you want to know the correct techniques before beginning on a dice-control control journey. Here are some tips that can get you started in the right direction.

Develop the Right Grip

Craps players have developed a large number of grips over the years. However, you really need only concern yourself with one of them in the beginning: the “blanket roll.”

Hand Holding Red Dice Over Craps Table

This grip is fairly easy to use and works great. The blanket roll calls on you to hold the dice in a V shape with the threes facing up. You want to use this grip after the come out roll, when a point number has been established.

As you probably know, your goal after the come out roll is to toss the point number before seven. The blanket roll hides sevens combinations and makes this objective more possible.

Use the Proper Release

You probably release the dice without thinking under normal circumstances. Controlled shooting, however, requires you to put more thought into the matter.

First off, you should let the dice roll out of your fingers in a soft manner. The last thing you want is a backhanded throw that sends the bones flying towards the wall. More velocity increases the chance of randomness, which is your enemy in this matter.

You also need to keep your hands and arm low upon releasing the dice.

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Ideally, your hand, arm, and the dice will all be parallel with the top of the craps table when you let go.

The idea here is to avoid swinging your hand upward and sending the dice on a longer path towards the wall. Instead, you want them moving towards the backstop in a soft and controlled motion.

Toss With Consistency From the Same Spot

Continuing off the last point, you also need to roll the dice with the same consistency every time. This means using the same tossing motion and arm speed.

Likewise, you want to perform your tosses from the same spot of the table. By always standing in the same spot, you’ll develop even more consistency.

Yet one more thing to keep in mind here involves leaning over the table as far as you can during the throw. This action reduces the distance that the dice must travel before hitting the wall.

Keep Your Hands Dry

Dice control can be an emotional affair in the casino. After all, you have other people around the table and money on the line.

Person Rubbing Hands Together

This pressure may cause you to sweat once, especially when you’re not doing very well. A sweaty hand makes it more difficult to continue tossing dice the same way that you need to every time.

Practice and success help you avoid this problem. Until then, you should hide a small container of chalk dust in your pocket and use it from time to time to keep your fingers/palm dry.

Don’t Give Away Your Controlled Shooting

Dice controllers aren’t harassed by casinos to the extent that blackjack card counters are. Furthermore, nothing about controlled shooting is illegal.

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But casinos do have the right to refuse service. They may exercise this option if you’re controlling the dice and making a killing.

Therefore, you should work on gripping and tossing the bones in a natural manner. You’ll still be using controlled shooting, but you won’t be taking 30 seconds to load up and toss every time.

Should You Ultimately Pursue Dice Control?

You can see that dice control requires lots of effort. That said, you don’t want to jump into this advantage play technique lightly. Instead, weigh the pros and cons to decide if controlled shooting is worth your time. Only then will you know if it’s worth trying to develop this technique.

One advantage to dice control is that it’s largely allowed. As long as you aren’t slowing down the game, you’ll be allowed to set the dice and line up for your toss.

Again, you want to ultimately disguise your controlled shooting if you’re successful. But in the beginning, you may take your time (a reasonable amount of time) without the casino harassing you.

Another benefit is that dice control is a fun way to make money through gambling. Unlike card counting, you’re actually using a physical skill that can be practiced.

Casino Craps Table

One more advantage is that dice control is a fairly cheap way to get into advantage play. Compared to counting, where you’re called on to bet hundreds of dollars during a favorable count, controlled shooting only requires making small wagers.

Of course, you can pump up your bets at any time. But the best course in the beginning is to place small wagers until you can win in a casino environment.

The one downside to controlled shooting beyond the intense practice is its debatable success. Dice control hasn’t produced any verifiable success stories (e.g. MIT Blackjack Team) beyond the self-proclaimed exploits of LoRiggio, Scoblete, and several other authors and experts.

Therefore, you need faith that controlled shooting can ultimately work. As long as you believe that dice can be manipulated to some extent, then you may enjoy controlled shooting.

Conclusion

Dice control seems impossible. After all, you need to toss the dice down the table in an effort to hit the backstop. But you can improve your chances of being a winning controlled shooter with the right tips.

First off, you need the correct grip based on the situation. If you’re trying to avoid tossing a seven, for example, then a classic blanket roll should do the trick.

Next, you need to focus on releasing the dice properly. The goal is to release the dice softly and close to level with the tabletop. Of course, thinking about this feat and pulling it off are two different things. Proper practice is necessary in order to develop a consistent tossing motion.

You also have to keep your hands from sweating too much. Playing in the casino can be a nerve-wracking experience. But chalk prevents your hands from getting overly sweaty.

Finally, you don’t want to make it too obvious that you’re a dice controller. Casinos will be more apt to ban you if they’re losing heavily.

Before you set out on this journey, you really need to decide if controlled shooting is worth the effort. Provided you think so, then the tips presented here will help you get better.

How to Get Discounted Show Tickets in Las Vegas

Las Vegas Show, Show Ticket
Nothing quite says Vegas like out-of-this-world shows. Vegas has long been a spot for artists of all shapes and sizes to congregate, and the casinos have been willing to give the best and brightest the chance to perform in the bright lights of the stage.

What’s great about how modern Vegas handles shows is that you rarely see long-term residencies for big name artists anymore. That’s good for you because it means you have a lot more options.

Musicians used to spend years in Vegas doing back-to-back shows. Elvis famously did two shows a night for seven days a week, two years running. But that’s becoming less and less common. Big-name artists are now committing to residencies for less than year’s time, and some merely commit to doing about 10 shows and getting back on the road.

What does that have to do with discounted tickets? It means you’ve got a lot more competition. One of the only ways that casinos can drum up excitement for some of these shows is to give out discounts. There are literally tons of ways you can get discounted show tickets in Las Vegas, you just have to be willing to put in a little extra work.

1 – Get Your Vegas Show Tickets Far in Advance

This is probably going to sound pretty obvious, but if you get your tickets way in advance, you can often get some fairly steep discounts. We are far beyond the days when you had to work with a travel agent to get tickets in advance (or make phone calls and have them mailed to you). Alongside your trusty internet connection, you can get your tickets the same day you book your flight.

Now, this all depends on the show, of course.

Not all shows are going to think of tickets purchased six months out as “advanced,” especially if it’s an extremely popular show.

Like all travel, you should start planning early and see what kind of discounts you can get if you book well in advance.

2 – Get Your Tickets the Day Of

Most of us can get on board with the idea that advance tickets are going to come with some sort of discount, but I think many of us will struggle with the idea that going the chaotic-and-crazy route can actually save you some money, too.

If you’re more of a seat-of-your-pants kind of traveler (instead of a check-every-box-twice type), this might be right up your alley. Because Vegas shows occur so often, there are invariably leftover seats. Many hotels will make half-price tickets available for purchase on the day of the show.

Calendar, Acrobatic Show

The drawback to this approach is that you might not be able to get tickets to the show you really wanted to see, or you might not get the best seats in the world. But if you’re flying into Vegas on a budget (or the tables were particularly cruel to you one night), then consider checking with your hotel to see if they have any discounted tickets available.

Another thing to keep in mind is that there are quite a few third-party vendors around town who are also going to be able to let tickets go on the cheap as long as they’re same-day shows. Keep your eyes open and ask the concierge at your hotel where you should go if they don’t have any half-price tickets available that suit your tastes.

3 – Join a Las Vegas Player’s Club

Player’s clubs are rewards programs for casinos in Las Vegas. Every casino has one, and almost all of them come with a sign-up bonus. You earn points for just about every game you play (including slots) as long as you present your card. You can use those points for all kinds of rewards, including discounted or free show tickets.

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If you plan on spending a lot of time at the tables or on the slots, especially in many different casinos, you should join every player’s club you can and see what kind of discounts you can get on show tickets.

While you can sign up for just about any of the player’s clubs of the major casinos online, you can also sign up for them once you’re on the ground in Vegas. Just talk to the concierge at each casino to learn more.

4 – Avoid Weekend Tickets and Shoot for a Weekday

Anyone who flies regularly knows that the best way to get cheaper plane tickets is by traveling on non-peak days. The same goes for tickets in Vegas.

Remember, the shows you’re going to see really don’t operate like the concerts or theatre shows you’re probably used to. These things are happening constantly throughout the week, so there are going to be peaks and valleys.

Las Vegas Show Act

The weekends are obviously the most popular, but there’s still a show to be had the other five days of the week. Check out the weekday prices, and you’re sure to save over the popular weekend tickets.

Another big benefit to this is avoiding crowds! There’s a reason the tickets are cheaper during the week. The lower demand means you might be able to put your feet up and spread out (instead of feeling squished into your seat like a sardine).

Last minute tickets are almost always going to be more available for a weekday show as well, so some steep discounts are possible.

5 – Choose Your Vegas Hotel Based on Your Preferred Show

Not everyone loves live performances. Many people come to Vegas to play the tables, toss a few coins into some slots, and party. However, if you’re coming to Las Vegas just to see a particular show, you’ll want to consider choosing your accommodations based on where that show is playing.

There’s a lot of competition in Vegas among the casinos, which means that each casino is going to offer exclusives that you won’t find anywhere else.

If your main goal is to see a particular artist on your trip, consider seeing what packages that casino has to offer before considering another choice.

Many casinos will throw in discounted (or even free) tickets to their exclusive shows as an incentive to get you to spend the night in the casino.

6 – Coupons, Fun Books, and Memberships, Oh My!

Another excellent way to get discounted show tickets in Las Vegas is to make use of the extensive network of coupons available to you.

Start with Las Vegas Advisor. You’ll find all kinds of coupons here (that change from year to year). Now, it does require you to sign up and become a member to get full access to their Member Rewards Book, but you actually get more than just discounts on shows.

You’ll get coupons that you can use for dining, for gaming, and even for spas, in addition to discounts on shows and entertainment. It costs less than $40 to sign up, which you’ll almost certainly make back if you’re in Vegas for a full week.

The Beatles Las Vegas Show, Two Discounted Coupon Tickets

Another great resource for awesome Vegas coupons is Vegas4Locals.com. They don’t exactly card you to make sure you’re a local. And unlike LVA, they don’t charge for their coupons. You can get discounts on shows, tours, dining, casino rooms, shopping, and more.

Another option is to get a discount card. You usually have to search these out online, and they change drastically from year to year, but essentially they’re a physical card that you pay for once and then use at a variety of places in Vegas.

Yes, you have to pay for them, but the discounts they provide are deeper. You may be able to save significantly if you plan on seeing lots of shows while you’re in Vegas. They’re also great if you want to save on just about anything else—food, hotels, drinks, you name it.

Finally, you’ll want to look into a Vegas staple called “fun books.” You may or may not get a fun book with your player’s club membership at each hotel, but not always. You may need to ask the player’s club agent directly to get one.

Fun books are filled with coupons that tend to be unique to the hotel and unique to the month or season that you visit.

You can even find people handing them out on the strip in exchange for a tip! But don’t bother with that, just ask your hotel’s concierge about what they have available.

7 – Play the Lottery

No, not the literal lottery! Most people aren’t aware of it, but many shows have a lottery system that offers low-cost tickets for a select number of seats for each show. You’re really rolling the dice on this one, but hey, isn’t that the spirit of Vegas? And if you’re lucky enough to win, you might find yourself saving dozens or even hundreds of dollars.

8 – Get Them Comped

Finally,