10 Tips to Winning More Money When Visiting Las Vegas

Las Vegas Strip Casinos, Stacks of Money
Most people who visit a casino almost go out of their ways to hand the casino extra money. That is what I call the house’s “hidden edge”. Players don’t pay close attention to what is happening right in front of them.

This is naturally what the casino wants. They don’t want to impoverish you. They want to turn you into a happy lifelong customer.

Las Vegas casinos have and advantage over their countryside cousins. Every year more than 40 million people visit Las Vegas. The casinos there count on seeing new faces all the time.

What you need when you’re visiting a town that doesn’t rely on local gamblers so much is your own hidden edge. And because of all the competition in the gambling industry it’s easy to find ways to improve your chances of winning and how much you win.

1 – What Almost No One Ever Tells You about Player Clubs

The first tip most gambling writers mention is that you should sign up for the players club. If you’re planning on visiting 10 casinos that works out to signing up for 10 clubs. If you do this in person it can take 15-20 minutes to join each club.

Or does it?

One great thing about Vegas is that the big casinos buy out or build out other properties. If you join the Caesar’s Rewards program you can accumulate points at 9 different Las Vegas casinos on the same card.

One signup gives you the freedom to play at many different locations. You’ll earn points just the same. You don’t even have to use them during that trip.

Other multi-casino players clubs include B Connected, Boarding Pass, and M life rewards. But if you visit major casinos around the country then you’ll want a Caesar’s club membership for sure.

Although you need to check club rules to stay up-to-date on what you can do with the points, if the club card is used in other cities you’ll have more chances to earn points.

And most of these players clubs allow you to transfer points to other members. You can gift them to friends and family who may need the points more than you.

2 – Don’t Use the Same Betting Strategy on Every Game

Standard advice for slot game players is to always play max bet. But you’d be crazy to do that in craps or roulette unless you have really deep pockets. And if you have that much money the casino will probably move you into the high roller games as quickly as possible.

Max betting on slot games makes sense for 2 reasons. First, some slot games won’t pay the jackpot if you don’t make a max bet. Every time I check out slot games I run into someone who doesn’t know that.

Second, simple multiplication shows you that a 5X win pays more on a max bet than on a minimum bet. Some people think, well, yeah, but the prize amounts are proportioanally the same.

Three Casino Slot Machines

While it’s true that 5X is 5X regardless of how much you bet, the secret to winning on slots is to look at how much you win proportional to your bankroll.

If you walk into the casino with only $500 you’ll have a better chance of doubling that money on slot games with max bets than with minimum bets. Statistically the longer you play the game the more likely the casino will take all your money.

The house edge is the percentage of all wagers a casino expects to retain. The more wagers you make the more money the casino keeps.

3 – Make Your Most Aggressive Wagers on the Safest Bets

This is counter-intuitive for 2 reasons. First, you’re making safe bets. That means you’re not risking much compared to other types of wagers. Second, most people say you should make high-risk bets to win a lot of money.

Here is how this counter-intuitive strategy works in roulette. Let’s say your bankroll is $1000. The table minimum is $5 and the maximum is $100.

You could bet $5 on a single number in European roulette. The payout odds are 35-to-1 but the probability of your number coming is is 37-to-1. That’s a very risky bet and you might think, well, I’m only risking $5.

On the other hand, say you place a bet on red. The payout odds are even money. If you want to win $100 you need to bet $100.

While it looks like you’re risking more money, the probability of winning is 37-to-18. That’s 18 times more likely to pay you than the single number bet.

4 – Don’t Do Drugs or Alcohol When You Gamble

When you’re intoxicated you give the house a hidden edge. Your judgment is impaired and you’re more likely to make mistakes or bad decisions.

Glass of Wine, Poker Cards on Table

Everyone knows this and yet many people still drink and gamble. I want to have fun when I gamble too but if winning more money is your priority stick to caffeinated drinks.

While there are downsides to caffeine intake it’s a stimulant that helps you stay awake and aware. It also makes you need to take a break more often than just drinking water.

5 – Always Change Games When You’re 20% Up or Down

This is a basic investing strategy but it works just as well in gambling. If you’re looking to win more then set some loss limits.

Players convince themselves the next spin or card could change everything for them. While that’s true. It’s no more likely to happen when you’re 20% down than when you’re 20% up.

As long as you never lose more than 20% of your starting bankroll stay in the game until you’re 20% up. Then walk away.

6 – Make Larger Wagers on Simple Bets in Craps

Craps allows you to gamble in a lot of ways. Keep it simple. Use one of the two following basic strategies.

  1. Bet Pass, Come, and Odds.
  2. Bet Don’t Pass, Don’t Come, and Odds

The house edge is slightly lower on the second strategy but many people tell you this isn’t as popular with players as the first strategy.

Either way, avoid the more complicated betting options when you play craps.

7 – Avoid Big Jackpot Slot Games

There are two kinds of slot games. Those that take your money and those that take your money faster. Both kinds of games pay for those big jackpots out of players’ lost wagers.

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The larger the maximum prize on a slot game the more likely it’s a high volatility game. That means the variances between wins and losses could be wilder than the craziest roller coaster.

Low jackpot games tend to be low volatility games. That means the variances between wins and losses are smaller. Your money lasts longer, giving you more chances to win a big prize.

8 – Always Bet the Banker in Baccarat

There is no safer, easier casino game to play than baccarat. The house edge is the lowest and they occasionally ask you to cut the cards.

The only thing you really need to remember in baccarat is that betting on the banker is more likely to pay than betting on the player.

9 – Never Make an Extra Wager

Casinos find ways to get you to take extra risks. This might be insurance in blackjack or playing double or nothing in a slot machine “bonus” game.

If you’ve won money and they ask you to bet part of it on a second round in the game, politely pass.

10 – Never Bet the Table Minimum in Blackjack

There are no high payout odds in blackjack. If you want to win some money in this game you’ll have to wager more than the table minimum.

Blackjack Table, Pays 3 to 2

The house edge is pretty low but the game requires some skill. When you practice at home  – and you know you will – teach yourself to bet 2 or 3 times the table minimum.

Conclusion

The only thing you can guarantee in a casino is that there are more losers than winners. It’s great to win $800 or $1000 but do everything possible to avoid needing to win back money you’ve lost.

You’re going to lose money at some point. By playing smarter you’ll cut your losses short every hour. As long as you stay in the game you have a chance or winning or losing.

As long as your winning – keep doing whatever you’re doing.

How to Play Real Money Poker When You’re Short Stacked

Casino Chips Stacked on Poker Table
If you’re playing a lot of tournament poker, you need to get good at playing with a short stack. Some players only think they have two options in such a situation:

  1. Go all in
  2. Fold

But more advanced players know they have more options than that, and learning how to navigate those options effectively will help you win more money playing poker in the long run.

That’s what this post is about, how to play good poker when you’re short-stacked in a tournament.

What Is Short-Stacked and What Isn’t?

Some players think you’re only short-stacked if you have the smallest stack of chips at the table. But really, the size of your stack is relative to the size of the blinds. It’s entirely possible to be at a table full of short-stacked players in a multi-table tournament.

You measure the size of your stack as a multiple of the number of big blinds you have. For example, if the big blind is 20, and you have 4000 chips, you have 200 BBs.

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On the other hand, if the big blind is 200, and you have 4000 chips, you only have 20 BBs. You’re not really short-stacked until you get below 10 BBs.

The ideal situation is to have 30 BBs or more. Anywhere below 30 BBs is shorter stacked than you want to be, but you’re not really short-stacked until you have fewer than 10 BBs.

When You’re Just Starting to Get Short-Stacked

When you get below 30 BBs when playing poker, you need to start making adjustments based on the size of your stack. You’re not short-stacked, but you’re not where you need to be either.

In this case, it means tightening up. You don’t have the chips to try to win straight draws or flush draws, because most of the time, you won’t fill your hand. And when you run out of chips, you’re out of the tournament.

It’s still okay to play from late position with middle pairs, though. That’s an easy fold if you miss the flop, and a big profit when you do hit your three of a kind.

Also, you shouldn’t be bluffing unless you have a big stack. Some people think that a bluff is just a big raise or bet pre-flop and an easy fold from his opponents. You need to stop thinking of bluffs that way.

Hand Grabbing Casino Chips Off Table

Instead, think of a bluff as a series of bets—a bet pre-flop, a continuation bet on the flop, and possibly even another continuation bet on the turn.

With only 30 BBs in your stack, you just don’t have enough chips to try this. If you’re facing an opponent with a large stack, he’ll sometimes just call you down just to eliminate you from the game.

You also don’t need to worry about defending your big blind. When you have a big stack, it can make sense to call a small a raise from the big blind just to see the flop. After all, you don’t want to just give away your blinds.

But when you start getting low on chips, you just need to become willing to sacrifice your big blind and wait for a better hand.

When Your Chip Stack Gets Even Smaller

When you get down to around 15 or 20 BBs, you need to adjust again. At this point, give up on the small and middle pocket pairs. The chance of hitting your three of a kind on the flop is only about 1 in 8, and you just can’t afford to get your cards all in with a small or medium pair at this point.

Don’t limp with anything once your stack is this low. It’s tempting to try to get into a hand cheap and see what develops so that you can dig yourself out of this hole, but that’s a mistake. You need to be able to double up or better, and you can’t do that by limping.

At this point, you should only be playing the best possible starting hands—big pairs, or AK or AQ suited. You also need to get more aggressive preflop. You don’t have to shove preflop every time you get something worth playing, but you should probably double the size of your standard preflop raise.

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Your goal is still to face only one or two opponents after the flop. Raising aggressively preflop is the only way to accomplish this. The more players in the pot, the likelier it is that someone will hit something that will beat your hand.

I don’t recommend trying to steal blinds with a stack this size, at least not in the early or middle stages of the tournament. If you’re getting into the later stages of the tournament, it might be worth it to get aggressive and start stealing some blinds.

I have a buddy who loves to emphasize how important position is, but when you’re running out of chips in a tournament, position isn’t as big a deal. At this point, selective aggression is the plan. Just know when to use aggressive play and when aggressive play may not be the best option.

When You Really Are Short-stacked

When you get down to 10 BBs, you really are short-stacked. At this point, your strategy becomes a lot simpler. You can either go all-in pr-eflop or you fold pre-flop. That’s it.

If you have 10 BBs, it’s probably still a good idea to try to wait for a premium hand to go all in with. Some patience here is still a good idea.

Poker Cards Spread Out, Hand Holding Casino Poker Chips

Also, at this point, your decision to go all in should also depend on what the players who act before you have decided to do. I want to be the bettor or the raiser in this spot; if someone else has already shown strength by raising, I’m less likely to go all-in.

But once you get down to 5 BBs, it’s time to gamble. ANY playable hand needs to be played aggressively, regardless of what your opponents do or don’t do.

Playable hole cards at this point include any pair, any suited connector, or any ace or king with any small card.

Conclusion

The lesson I hope you’ll take from this post is that short strategy in a Texas holdem tournament is more complex than just fold or go all in. There are different levels of being short-stacked, and the easiest way to define those levels is to look at how many BBs you have in your stack.

You’re starting to get short-stacked once your chip stack drops below 30 BBs. You’re getting to what I think of as “more short-stacked” when your chip stack drops to fewer than 20 BBs. But you’re in all in or fold mode once your stack gets down to 10 BBs.

Even in serious short stack mode, there are gradations. There’s a difference in strategy between having 10 BBs and having five BBs.

No matter how short-stacked you are, you need to remember that selective aggression is the key to winning at poker. It’s just that when you’re short-stacked, you need to be more selective and more
aggressive than usual.

10 Free Apps to Practice Poker

Poker Cards, Woman Using Cell Phone
Poker is a great game when you just get some folks together, drink a few beers, and play for low stakes. However, poker is also a great game when you want to get a little serious about making money.

Of course, if you want to become a competitive or professional poker player, you’re going to need some practice. After that, you’ll need to practice some more. And one of the easiest ways to get a lot of practice is to play online with real money.

That can get expensive, even in this day and age when playing online poker won’t win you any money but can cost you real money for virtual currency. Have no fear, though, there are plenty of poker apps you can use that don’t cost money to play.

Some of these apps may sell virtual currency, but most have giveaways you can use to recharge your chip stash. However, if you have enough of these virtual apps, you can rotate through and always have enough money to play somewhere. Here are the 10 best free apps to practice poker.

1. How to Play Poker – Learn Texas Holdem Offline

How to Play Poker – Learn Texas Holdem is a mobile application that’s available for both iPhone and Android.

It’s a nice poker app that focuses on teaching you how to play the game as opposed to throwing you right into play. This allows you to digest the game and rules of poker at your own pace.

It’s also nice because the game focuses on strategies and advanced topics that go beyond simple “learn to play apps.” There’s something for everyone in the app. It’s nicest feature, though, is probably it’s offline mode which means you can keep playing even without Wi-Fi.

2. Poker Heat

Poker Heat Mobile AppPoker Heat is, in a lot of ways, the opposite of How to Play Poker as this app is gorgeous to behold and features innovative controls that are almost more fun than the game. Therefore, if nice user interfaces are your thing, or you find some of the other entries on this list confusing, definitely give Poker Heat a try. The action is good and the competition will keep you guessing.

The app does hit you with a lot of ads and requests, but that’s not too atypical for free apps of any kind. So, it’s not bad, just something to keep in mind.

3. Texas Holdem Poker Deluxe

Texas Holdem Poker is both a mobile application you download to your phone or, if you’re not sick of sending your friend app requests of Facebook, the top-rated poker app on Facebook (according to its Google Play listing).

Either way, Texas Holdem Poker Deluxe starts you off with free chips and lets you replenish your stash with daily giveaways. Once you have all that sweet, sweet loot, you can instantly join a table, and play in sit and go’s or other tournaments.

Really, where this game excels is the easy Facebook connectivity, which can be nice if you don’t have a phone nearby or don’t want another app. It’s also got a really nice, professional looking interface that the company clearly took some pride in maintaining. This also means it’s easy to use, which can be a nice change from a lot of poker apps.

4. Governor of Poker 3

Governor of Poker 3 AppGovernor of Poker 3 is the latest in a line of poker apps to wear the name “Governor of Poker” and is available on Steam, Android, and iOS. Like many others on this list, you start out with free chips you can grow via daily chip giveaways and by winning games or tournaments. Also, you can play blackjack, for when you need a Texas Holdem break.

All of this makes Governor of Poker a solid entry on the list. What distinguishes it, though, is its attitude. The whole game is an Old West theme with silly graphics to boot. There are also tons of ways to brag about your status and show off how good you are, which adds a bit of icing on the cake.

This may mean the app is not for everyone, but it’s a nice change from other apps.

5. World Poker Club

World Poker Club is another app that’s available for both mobile devices and Facebook. On this app, you play other Texas or Omaha Holdem poker, which is a nice change. Really, this is another solid entry into the world of free poker apps. It distinguishes itself through its commitment to fair play, which it takes very seriously.

6. Jackpot Poker

Formerly known as PokerStars Play, Jackpot Poker is a free mobile app from the famous online site, PokerStars. With a name like PokerStars attached to it, you know the game is going to be quality, even if they are a little insistent you pay them for more virtual currency.

The only drawback is that this app only offers Texas Holdem. Still, it features a fun, furious mode of poker called Jackpot Poker which features three players fighting over a prize.  You can also play cash games, too.

7. Appeak Poker

Appeak Poker AppAppeak Poker checks in on this list as another no-frills poker application, though that shouldn’t be taken as an insult. Appeak Poker wants to get you playing the game quickly and keep you playing, which means giving you nothing that might otherwise distract you from playing the game.

The interface is clean and the avatars look like stylized cartoons from a Disney XD show. Still, the app does exactly what you want it to do—give you the chance to play poker. You can enter the game immediately and start playing, choose one of its different poker modes, or defend your home country’s rep in the duel mode.

Either way, Appeak has lots to offer anyone looking to get in a few games.

8. VIP Poker – Texas Holdem

The maker of VIP Poker was once a client of mine, so I was excited to see them release a free app. Their mobile app strikes the right balance between being easy to play and featuring a really easy-to-use interface. In fact, VIP Poker is one of the easier applications to use on this entire list, even if the graphics aren’t up to the quality of others on the list.

Ultimately, though, the free currency is what makes VIP Poker great. I never ran out of free-to-play virtual currency with VIP Poker, so I always had it to play.

9. Zynga Poker

Zynga Poker AppIf it’s mobile or Facebook, you know Zynga is going to have an entry. And you know that entry is going to be a lot of fun to play, and that you will be asked to give real money (a lot). With that said, Zynga makes up for their constant ads with a gorgeous user interface, dealers with scanned images welcoming you to the table, and tons of extras.

There are several different tournament styles you can play and they offer a variant called “Jump Poker” where you are dealt a new hand after you fold. It keeps the action high, which is definitely not a bad thing. Overall, this is a great poker app to practice on.

10. WSOP

World Series of Poker (WSOP)’s online app is still the class of the poker space. It’s attractive, it offers Texas and Omaha Holdem, and there are tons of minigames and challenges you can undertake to earn more virtual currency (on top of the standard daily chip giveaways).

Really, there’s no finer poker app to play on the web that doesn’t cost money and, consequently, you’re not likely to find many better online poker players in any free app on the web. All in all, this makes it the place to play.

My only gripe is with the betting amount slider. It’s easy to go all-in or bet a little money. Anything in between feels like a crap shoot based off of how the interface works. Still, that’s pretty minor compared to the rest of the app.

Conclusion

In the end, there are several places you can go to find a hot game of poker online. I liked these 10 because they are all professional, they don’t crash, and they offer something that makes them more fun to play. Any of them are great entries if you are looking to improve your poker game through experience.

If you’re not sure where to start, go to WSOP then work your way up the list. Also, feel free to download several apps. No one says you can’t have fun playing them all.

The Martingale System vs. the Paroli System: Which One Is Better?

Hands Holding Poker Cards, Poker Chips, Casino Poker Table
If there’s a game where people bet something of value on the outcome, there are one or more betting systems in use. Gamblers love casino betting systems. The most popular betting systems are used in many different types of gambling games.

The two most popular betting systems are the Martingale and Paroli systems. Both systems have been used for several hundred years.

In this post, I will be discussing the differences between the Martingale and Paroli systems and which one is better.

Martingale vs. Paroli: History

The French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal (lived from 1623 to 1662) is the father of many of the theories and principles associated with gambling.

It’s possible that Pascal invented both the Martingale and Paroli betting systems. Historians actually agree that he and Pierre de Fermat developed the science of probabilities while discussing gambling problems via letters.

That early correspondence between Pascal and Fermat may have been the root of modern game theory.

Game theory historians only trace the principles back to the early 1700s, but Pascal and Fermat were interested in how many possible ways gambling games could be resolved.

Modern game theory predicts the possible outcomes of simple situations. The 20th century mathematician John von Neumann is credited with proposing the first formal rules for modern game theory.

Betting systems like the Martingale and Paroli don’t resemble the classic prisoner dilemma, but they came from someone’s thought experiments about how to improve chances of winning in a gambling game. That is the essence of game theory, and it’s a fitting way to describe betting systems.

Why Do People Use Betting Systems?

This is one of those rhetorical questions inexperienced gamblers ask their elders. There are as many reasons to use betting systems as there are people making bets.

The most obvious reason for using a system is your hope of beating the game’s unfavorable odds. In casino games the house always has an edge. The payout odds are not as good as the probabilities.

In other words, you’ll lose money by making only even-money bets because the house wins slightly more often than the player over time. It depends on the game, but gambling writers frequently use roulette to illustrate how even money bets eventually cost you money.

Casino Roulette Wheel with Casino Chips on the Side

If you only bet on the outside bets (even or odd, red or black, top half or bottom half of the wheel), the math says you’ll win about 48.6% of the time in European roulette. Just to break even, you need to win 50% of the time.

A betting system cannot change the payout odds. The appeal of a betting system is that it seeks to improve the return to player by strategically raising bets. Another way to look at a betting system is that it tries to reduce losses.

In theory, if you must lose, it’s better to lose the least amount of money possible, the minimum bet allowed in the game.

By the same token, in theory, if you’re going to win, it’s better to win the largest amount of money possible which is the maximum bet allowed.

The idea behind any betting system is that your wins should outweigh your losses over time.

The Flaw Is That They Don’t Change the Rules of the Game

Whether you use the Martingale system or the Paroli system, you’re still at a probabilistic disadvantage in the games casinos offer. The following games have some of the best odds in all casino games and they all favor the house:

Although blackjack requires skill, it’s still a game of chance. That means you can’t predict what the next card the dealer draws will be. If you could make such predictions, the house wouldn’t let you play blackjack, and you’d win more money by betting on what the next card will be anyway.

The randomness of any gambling game weakens the potential value of even the best betting system.

How the Martingale System Works and Where It Fails

The Martingale system is the classic betting strategy, the one most players have heard about. It’s a simple strategy and therefore, easy to learn.

The Martingale system is also game-independent. You can use it in every gambling scenario you can think of, as long as you can make a series of wagers.

The system relies on betting units. A unit is the smallest allowable bet, the table minimum in games like blackjack and roulette.

In the Martingale system, the player begins by wagering a single unit and continues betting only single units as long as he wins.

Three Poker Cards, Casino Chips

When the player loses the bet, he doubles the size of his bet on the next round. And where does the Martingale system fail?

You’ll either run out of money as you continue to raise your bets (if you fall into a losing streak), or you’ll run into the table limit, which forces you to stop increasing your bets.

I’ve heard of players trying to use a modified Martingale system where they keep betting the table maximum until they win back the money they’ve lost. I’ve never seen anyone use this system successfully, but I suppose it’s happened somewhere.

How the Paroli System Works and Where It Fails

The Paroli system is often called the Reverse Martingale system. Instead of raising bets after you lose, the Paroli system tells you to raise your bets after you win. The system assumes you can make more money by taking advantage of a winning streak.

Even so, the Paroli betting system calls for you to return to a single unit wager after the third consecutive win.

That means you’ll resume making minimum wagers either because you just lost a bet or because you just won a third consecutive bet.

The Paroli system fails because it doesn’t take full advantage of a long winning streak. Assuming you win 40 wagers in a row, you’ll win, raise, raise, and start over 13 times.

What if you had continually raised your bets during that streak until you hit the table limit? The Paroli system is not a good choice for people who are prone to second-guess themselves.

The Paroli System Has One Clear Advantage Over the Martingale System

Since you don’t know how long your winning and losing streaks will be, or even if you’ll have any streaks, the Paroli system is a more conservative betting strategy.

In other words, your money should last longer if you use the Paroli system than if you use the Martingale system.

I don’t see it as an advantage that the Paroli system never leads to the table limit like the Martingale system. While you don’t have to worry about what to do when you can no longer raise your bet, the Martingale system has the theoretical advantage of paying really well on bets at or near the limit, if you win.

Shorter Streaks Are More Likely in Most Gambling Games

While it’s possible the roulette wheel could land on red 40 times in a row, or you could draw 10 blackjacks in a row, your winning and losing streaks will usually be much shorter.

Losing streaks in the Paroli system are much less expensive than losing streaks in the Martingale system.

Two Ace Blackjack Cards, Casino Blackjack Table

On the other hand, winning streaks don’t exist in the Martingale system. If you use the Martingale system in a 40-win streak, you’ll only win on minimum bets. Like with the Paroli system, this is probably not a good strategy for people who tend to second-guess themselves when gambling with real money.

The high probability that any winning or losing streaks will be short-lived means that either betting system will fail to return its full potential value to the player.

Conclusion

About the only betting system I ever use is to be consistent with my wagers. I don’t count cards in blackjack, so I’m not looking for signs I should raise my bet.

I usually play outside bets in roulette. Call me a boring gambler, but I hate single-number bets because I don’t enjoy losing most of my wagers.

If you enjoy risk and the potential rewards, and you want to use a betting system, the Martingale is probably a better system for you. It entails a lot of risk and even if you only win one big wager before going back to the minimum, it could result in a nice payoff.

If you want to preserve your stake for as much as possible then you’ll probably feel better using the Paroli system.

Neither system guarantees you’ll leave the game with more money than you started, but it may be fun to test them both a few times and see which one you like the best.

The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Casino Gamblers

Guy Holding Thumbs Up, Pile of Colored Casino Chips
I should start by pointing out that neither I nor this site has any association with the original 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In fact, I’m pretty sure that Stephen Covey would disapprove of this post.

When I was younger, I read a lot of personal development material, and the 7 Habits had an almost cult-like following.

Now that I mostly write about real money casino gambling for a living, I thought it would be interesting to apply some of those principles to your career (or hobby) of gambling.

Below, I’ve provided my take on the seven habits of highly successful casino gamblers.

1 – Be Proactive With Your Casino Gambling

The first three habits in the traditional model have to do with personal victory as an individual. And the first step in that process is identifying what you can and cannot control and staying focused on what you CAN control.

What can you control when you’re a casino gambler?

You can choose which games to play. You can choose which bets to place. You can decide how to size those bets. You can decide whether to join the players club. You can decide to play when there are bonus points and rewards available for members of the players club.

You cannot decide what the outcomes are going to be for a specific bet. You have no way of knowing or controlling whether the ball lands on red or black in roulette, or whether the next roll of the dice at the craps table is 7 or 11.

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You can’t decide what kind of rewards you’ll get as a member of the players club. You also don’t get to decide when the bonus times are.

By focusing on what you can control, you can be more effective. For example, at the craps table, you can choose the bets with the lowest house edge.

At the blackjack table, you can learn to count cards and raise and lower your bets based on whether the deck is favorable to you.

2 – Begin With the End in Mind

This is just a fancy way of saying you should set goals. With casino gambling, it’s mostly unrealistic to set a goal of making a living as a casino gambler (although it’s possible for advantage players like card counters in blackjack).

Casino Blackjack, Dealer, Blackjack Players

What kinds of goals should you set instead of being a winner? You might set goals related to how much time you get to spend playing. Or you might set a goal for how much you want to win and be willing to quit once you’ve won that much.

You should certainly have a limit on how much you’re willing to lose. (This is called a loss limit.) Most of these goals won’t change the odds. They’ll still be against you.

But without deciding what success looks like beforehand, it’s impossible to know when you’ve achieved it.

3 – Put First Things First

This basically means you need to prioritize. For a casino gambler, I think this has a lot to do with money management strategies.

Most people gambling in a casino have traveled to that casino on vacation. If that’s the case, you need to know how much money to budget for things like transportation, food, and room and board.

It’s sad but true that a lot of casino gamblers lose so much money gambling that they’re tired and hungry before they return for their trip.

It’s easy to lose track and lose a bunch of money before your trip is over.

A lot of casino gamblers think their luck is bound to turn, but that’s an example of the gambler’s fallacy. The casinos make a lot of money from this.

Put first things first. Set aside the money you need for other purposes before deciding how much money you’re going to gamble with. Be extremely self-disciplined and diligent about staying within your budget.

Don’t even take a trip to a casino unless you’re already in good financial shape to begin with.

4 – Think Win-Win

The next three habits have to do with dealing with other people. You might not see how this applies to the life of a casino gambler, but let’s face it, dealing with other people matters everywhere no matter what.

Thinking win-win is the idea that you’re going to look for a solution that looks like a win to both parties.

Let’s say you’re playing slots in the casino and you really enjoy beer. The cocktail waitress comes by and brings you a beer. And you LOVE that it’s free because you’re gambling.

Casino Slot Machine Floor, Cocktail Waitress Holding Drinks

If you don’t tip her, guess how many more rounds you’re getting? Not only will the cocktail waitress you stiffed refuse to bring you more drinks, she’ll warn the other waitresses about you.

On the other hand, if you tip her a $5, $10, or $20 when she brings you the first beer, she’ll make sure you’re toward the top of the list of customers to bring drinks to for the rest of the night. All you’ll need to do is tip her $1 every time she brings you a drink.

If you spend a lot of time in the casino, it might be worthwhile to give her another $5 every couple of hours just to keep her happy.

You both win. She makes a decent amount of money, and you get to drink cheap without having to wait for service.

5 – Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

The idea is that most people are trying so hard to convey their ideas to other people that they lose valuable rapport with that other person.

When does something like this come up? Let’s suppose you’re a reasonably high-dollar gambler, and you have your own casino host assigned to you.

If you think about what his goals are first, you’re more likely to work out situations where you can get your goals achieved, whatever those might be.

Maybe you want to get an upgrade to a suite to impress your girlfriend. If you talk to your casino host with an attitude of what you can do to help him, you’ll be more likely to get what you want.

This works with everyone else in the casino, too. You can often get an upgraded room by slipping the hotel desk clerk a $20 bill when you check in.

6 – Synergize

This is a fancy word for using teamwork. I know that there are gamblers who prefer to gamble on their own without dealing with other people. This habit might not apply to them. But think about the people it does apply to.

For example, the most successful card counters in history belong to teams. Some of the most successful poker players also belong to teams.

Hand Throwing Poker Cards on Table

This is an example of combining multiple people’s strengths to achieve results you couldn’t achieve on your own.

For example, you might not be a great poker player, but you might have a huge bankroll. It might be worth your while to find a couple of young poker winners to sponsor. You pay for their buy-ins, then you get a cut of their winnings.

I recently bought 2% of a poker player’s action in the World Series of Poker. He didn’t place in the money, but it sure was fun. He probably could have entered the event without any investors, but some poker pros really do need financial backing to get into the game.

7 – Sharpen the Saw

This is based on the old story about how someone asked Abraham Lincoln what he would do if he had eight hours to cut down a tree. He said he’d spend the first seven hours sharpening his saw.

In your case, YOU are the saw. You can’t play the game of poker effectively if you’re drunk, tired, or sick. Sharpening the saw means taking care of your health and well-being so that you can perform effectively. This is true of world-class sports bettors or card counters in blackjack, too.

But it also applies to recreational gamblers.

If you’re a recreational casino gambler, your goal is to have as much fun as possible without losing too much money. That takes self-discipline and willpower.

Guess what happens to your self-discipline and willpower if you’re not well rested?

Conclusion

So, yes, the seven habits of highly effective people do have specific applications to being a casino gambler, even if Stephen Covey would disapprove.

Do you have any examples of how these habits of highly successful casino gamblers have informed your casino play?

6 Biggest Sore Losers in Gambling History

Neon Gambling Sign at Casino Entrance, Hand Holding Poker Cards
Nobody likes to lose when gambling with real money. But at the end of the day, most losers are mature enough to pay their debts and avoid causing an incident.

Unfortunately, certain gamblers don’t believe in this code. Some people might refuse to pay up or even cause physical harm to others.

Neither scenario is pleasant. However, there are players who  just can’t handle themselves properly after losing money. Below, you can read about the biggest sore losers to ever gamble.

1 – Harry Kakavas

By all means, Harry Kakavas never should’ve had to worry about money. The real estate developer made an estimated $1 billion by selling luxury homes on Australia’s Gold Coast.

But like many people who get filthy rich, Kakavas got tired of always winning. So, he started gambling in casinos…a lot.

Kakavas became famous for playing some of the highest stakes ever seen in Australian casinos. He would bet as much as $300,000 per hand in baccarat.

The billionaire didn’t fare so well in these games. He quickly lost his billionaire status and more after taking a beating on the baccarat tables.

Unhappy with his luck, Kakavas made trips to Las Vegas and Macau in hopes of turning things around. These gambling excursions didn’t go any better. In fact, he once lost $164 million through a single Vegas session in 2006.

Rather than taking his losses like a man, Kakavas spent several years attempting to sue various casinos. His case revolved around the VIP perks and casino comps that were offered.

He argued that the VIP rewards were merely used to keep luring him back to casinos. Kakavas lost every lawsuit and failed to recoup any of his massive losses.

2 – Jack McCall

Jack McCall may be the saltiest loser on this list. In fact, he’s such a sore loser that he actually murdered “Wild” Bill Hickok over a poker game.

This story began in August 1876, when Hickok was gambling at Nuttal and Mann’s Saloon No. 10 in Deadwood, South Dakota (formerly Dakota Territory). He was drunk and quickly lost all of his money to Hickok.

The latter encouraged McCall to stop playing poker. Hickok also bought the losing player breakfast and offered him money. McCall accepted the money, but he was also insulted by the gesture.

The following day, Hickok was at the poker tables again. He normally sat with his back against a wall so he that he could see any potential enemies coming. However, the only seat available at the time was one that faced away from the entrance. He begrudgingly took the seat.

Casino Poker Table, Ace of Spades Poker Cards

McCall entered the saloon during the game and shot Hickok in the back of the head. Wild Bill died instantly. After murdering Hickok, McCall was summoned to appear in court. He claimed that he was avenging his brother’s death (Lew McCall) at the hands of Wild Bill.

But the poker losses were largely believed to be the main reason behind the murder. Nevertheless, he was acquitted and allowed to go free.

McCall was later reported after bragging about shooting Wild Bill. He was subsequently retried on grounds that the first trial happened on Indian lands, rather than on true American soil.

This time, he was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. McCall was hanged on March 1, 1877. One interesting side note to this bitter gambler story is that the hand Hickok died with—two black aces and two black eights (fifth card unknown)—is called “dead man’s hand.”

3 – Terrance Watanabe

Terrance Watanabe was once a very successful businessman. As the CEO of Oriental Trading, he helped the company grow to the point where it was selling $300 million annually.

In 2000, after over two decades in the family business, Watanabe decided to sell his controlling stake in the company. The Japanese-American tycoon always had a business-first mentality up to this point. But he decided to relax and start enjoying his fortune after selling Oriental Trading.

Unfortunately, part of this relaxation included long stays at casino resorts. Watanabe would play everything from slot machines to roulette during his stays.

He differed greatly from the average high roller. Rather than playing games with the lowest house edges, he’d gamble on anything—even keno, which has an extremely high house advantage.

Watanabe was treated like a king as a result. Casinos spared no expense when it came to comping him. Watanabe asked few questions and continued gambling away his fortune. His losses hit a peak in 2007, when he dropped over $120 million.

He eventually lost so much that he couldn’t cover his debts. Caesars Palace sued Watanabe for $14.75 million in bad checks. The latter countersued Caesars Entertainment on grounds that the casino gave him drugs just to keep him playing. It turns out that this part of the case did have some validity.

The Nevada Gaming Commission hit Caesars with a $225,000 fine for letting Watanabe use drugs on their property and sexually harass waitresses. But the countersuit didn’t save Watanabe from having to pay the casino. He ended up settling with Caesars out of court for an undisclosed amount.

4 – Safa Abdulla Al Geabury

Safa Al Geabury bears similarities to Terrance Watanabe. He’s a very wealthy individual who refused to cover his gambling debts when the time came.

The Swiss businessman owns an Islamic art collection that was once valued as high as $1 billion. He received a huge marker at London’s Ritz Club in 2014 as a result of his wealthy reputation.

But when it came to pay the marker, Al Geabury was very cheap. He lost £2.2 million at the Ritz Club and ignored the debt. The casino eventually sued him for the money. Al Geabury defended himself by saying that the Ritz took advantage of his compulsive gambling problem.

London Ritz Club Entrance

If true, this might have helped his case. But the Ritz produced signed documents from Al Geabury where he agreed that he no longer had a gambling problem.

The judge in the case ruled in favor of the Ritz Club. He saw too many inconsistencies in Al Geabury’s testimony and didn’t believe that he suffered from compulsive gambling.

Even after the court ruling, the art collector still refused to pay up. Al Geabury was ordered to make another court appearance, which he skipped under the guise that he couldn’t afford the trip.

The judge reached his limit and charged Al Geabury with contempt of court. He was sentenced to 10 months in prison as a result.

5 – Arnold Rothstein

Arnold Rothstein became a legendary bookmaker and gambler. He originally built his fortune by winning in poker games and sports betting.

However, part of Rothstein’s success was attributed to match fixing. He was the central figure behind the Chicago Black Sox Scandal of 1919.

Rothstein had his friend and employee, Abe Attell, pay players on the Black Sox team to throw the 1919 World Series. He was able to escape legal consequences by denying everything in court, but privately, he admitted to fixing the World Series.

This blackmark didn’t affect his finances. Rothstein became wealthier than ever after opening brothels and nightclubs across New York City. He also had a very respected image in the criminal underworld. Case in point, he was once paid $500,000 just to mediate a feud between two gangs.

At one point, he was worth an estimated $50 million. This amount is worth approximately $730 million when adjusted for inflation.

However, Rothstein would suffer a fall throughout the late 1920s. He went through a long losing streak in different forms of gambling.

In September of 1928, he lost $320,000 in a poker game. Rothstein refused to pay after alleging that the game was rigged. He was invited to another poker game in October. Here, he was fatally shot over what was certainly retaliation for not covering the $320k debt.

Rothstein was asked to identify his shooter as he was dying. But even in his last moments, he wouldn’t snitch on a fellow gangster.

6 – Leonard Tose

Leonard Tose is yet another successful businessman who went down the wrong path with high stakes gambling.

Tose earned a $20 million fortune through his trucking company. In 1969, he used $16.1 million of this amount to buy the Philadelphia Eagles.

$16.1 million would only buy a fraction of an NFL team today. After all, some franchises are worth billions of dollars. But the amount that Tose paid for the Eagles was a record at the time.

Philadelphia Eagles Fans and Mascot

Tose held onto his football franchise until 1985, when he sold the team for $65 million. He was forced to sell after losing over $25 million at Las Vegas casinos.

He attempted to sue various casinos for $500,000 apiece on grounds that they kept serving him free drinks and encouraging him to gamble. Tose lost every one of these lawsuits.

Things didn’t go much better for him afterward. He continued losing his fortune and everything else that he’d accumulated through trucking and the Eagles.

Conclusion

Anybody who sits down to a casino table or engages in other types of gambling must be prepared to lose. After all, they’re dealing with negative expectation games in many cases.

However, the gamblers discussed here weren’t prepared to lose. And when they did suffer losses, they either didn’t want to pay up or wanted revenge.

Jack McCall is the most extreme case discussed here. And Rothstein is the one person on this list that died as a result of gambling debts. Kakavas, Watanabe, Al Geabury, and Tose all fall into the category of businessmen-turned-gambling-addicts.

As you can see, it never pays to be bitter over a gambling loss. You’re better off paying the cost and moving on.

How Playing the Stock Market Is Like Gambling

Stock Market Data, Casino Roulette Wheel
There are two differences between the stock market and gambling games. First, the stock market represents the equity in business operations. That equity includes the value of assets and potential future income. Buying stock, mutual shares, or options is treated as an exchange of value.

When you gamble, you’re not buying into anything.

Second, when you gamble, there’s a middleman (typically a casino or bookmaker) who is carving some of the money out of the exchange for themselves.

Gamblers pay each others’ winnings. In theory, established casinos stake their bets against players from players’ money. Only a new game or casino requires business owners to risk wealth on early wagers.

Where playing the stock market begins to resemble real money gambling is in the uncertainty of what happens next. The investor must decide whether to “keep playing” or to bail out of a declining investment.

Even so, there are several ways investors can turn their investments into high-stakes gambles. All the equity they believed they were buying vanishes.

Equity Is No Longer the Most Important Value in Stocks

Anyone who has taken an accounting course or two should be familiar with the following formula:

Owners Equity = Assets – Liabilities

The shareholders’ equity in a publicly traded company is whatever its net assets are worth, including intangible assets like intellectual property rights.

Future potential income isn’t included in basic accounting equity formula, but investors looking for potential gains or returns are interested in some kind of future income. So-called income investors want to be paid dividends. The best dividends are paid from profits. The worst dividends are paid from loans.

Since the 1980s, equity investing has gained more popularity than income investing. The equity investor doesn’t care if the stock pays dividends or even if the company makes a profit.

All the equity investor wants is to buy low and sell high. That’s similar to how gamblers want to put money into a game and receive a high payout.

While you may not be buying equity in the craps table, you’re risking your money on a potential outcome. Equity investors could lose everything if the stocks they buy drop to zero.

Every year, the major markets delist stocks whose market prices per share have dropped below required minimums. These companies may own valuable assets, but their stock prices reflect a lack of investor confidence in their futures.

True net asset value isn’t as important as market price in the stock market.

Equity Investors Bet on Uncertain Outcomes

During the good times, the stock market tends to carry most stock prices up with it. There will always be losing stocks, but as the major indexes grow in value, most stocks follow.

But even good, strong companies may experience sudden loss in share price. The market may panic if a corporation’s CEO is charged with a crime or otherwise loses investors’ trust.

You might be thinking investors should just use a buy and hold strategy. That’s a great theory, but it creates an unrealistic expectation.

One of the mechanisms at work in the stock market is automatic trading. There’s more than one kind of automated trading. The officers of publicly held corporations must exercise their options (to buy stock at discounted prices then sell it at market price) in a careful, transparent way.

Using Laptop Computer Looking Over Stock Market

If you track insider trading, you’ll often see reports about programmed sales that go through when stock prices are volatile. The executives have no choice but to let some sales happen and take a loss.

For all intents and purposes, because you don’t know when the next natural disaster or scandal affects your equity investments, you’re gambling that your stocks won’t lose share price value when you’re ready to sell.

It’s similar to betting on a slot machine or any game of roulette. No matter how skilled the investor, the future is still a big unknown for all of us.

Some Investments and Gambling Games Are Extremely Volatile

One of the saddest investment stories I remember following was for a company whose stock fell from about $50 a share to less than $10 a share.

The stock eventually stabilized, and new investors were able to get a great deal. But I saw a few people complaining on investor forums about how they were never going to recover their lost equity.

One guy bought 1000 shares at $50. By the time he sold, he lost more than $40,000 on that investment. This is why equity investors should set loss limits on their purchases. Income investors should protect their capital, too, but they tend to buy companies whose stocks are less volatile.

Most gambling games offer volatility.

A simple rule of thumb for determining the volatility of a gambling game or wagering strategy is to compare the frequency of wins to the payouts.

High volatility slot machine games pay less often but are more likely to pay higher prizes. By comparison, an outside bet in roulette is a low volatility wager, but a single number bet is a high volatility wager.

Gamblers and Investors Fall Prey to Sunk Cost Fallacy

The sunk cost fallacy assumes that if you’ve already sunk a lot of money into a project, then you can’t afford to abandon the project. The fallacy leads you to continue dumping money, time, and energy into the project even though all signs indicate it’s failing.

Investors do this when they “average down” on stock prices. They believe they’re reducing the cost of their shares and improving future equity gains. It’s true that many stock prices are cyclical in nature. They regularly move up and down within a “trading window.” The principle of buy low, sell high is important for investors who buy stable stocks.

Inexperienced investors often fail to realize when stocks they’ve chosen have fallen through the floor of their previous trading range. These stocks are bad investments because more people are trying to get out than are trying to get in.

Dollar Bills, Casino Chips, Casino Dice

By comparison, many gamblers will lose their entire casino bankroll on a single game. Their thinking is based more on the randomness of the games they’re playing. This is especially true in slots and roulette.

Appearances are always deceiving in these games. Whereas some players conclude, “If I just keep playing I’ll win it all back,” other players assume that any hot or cold streak will run for a while.

In reality, a hot streak of wins occurs just as randomly as an individual win. By statistical measures, these variances are perfectly normal in the estimated probabilities. Gambling game probabilities are calculated on the assumption that the games are played continually without end.

Good gambling budget guides recommend setting loss limits. Even if you’re playing a game you know well and you have full confidence in future wins, it’s a good idea to take a break when you’re losing.

Savvy Investors Study Companies and Markets

Just as many gamblers study probability tables and strategy guides for games like blackjack, keno, and poker, many investors study companies and their market sectors.

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Knowing the history of a company and its industry makes you better informed. It doesn’t guarantee you’ll always make good investment decisions.

By the same token, knowing the odds and probabilities for your favorite games doesn’t guarantee you’ll always make good wagers. Experienced players sometimes make bad decisions.

Warren Buffett is the greatest investor in history. On several occasions, his company, Berkshire Hathaway, has lost hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars on investments. The losses only count if they must be charged off on corporate income statements, but even Berkshire Hathaway occasionally does that.

The stock market isn’t necessarily a safe place to put your money. It’s a better investment channel than gambling by far, but there is one way big investors are piling into gambling.

Some Gamblers Attract Sponsors With Deep Pockets

Although the casino industry is big business and some casinos are owned by publicly traded companies, world-class poker players may be backed by sponsors.

If you don’t trust your own gambling skills and instincts, then bet on someone with a winning track record. Professional poker has attracted a lot of money.

Lottery Numbered Balls

Even state lottery games sometimes attract syndicates of investors who hope to buy jackpots. Although there is no skill involved in playing a lottery game, large jackpots make it mathematically profitable to buy a lot of tickets.

Conclusion

Gambling is like attending a music concert. You’re paying for an evening’s entertainment. But whereas the concert audience may go home with a ticket stub and t-shirt, gamblers may go home with more money than they took into the game.

Given the possibility of making money from gambling, it does work like the stock market in some ways. Gambling is a more volatile channel for investment. At least with the stock market, you can invest in index funds that are stable and have good long-term prospects.

The 4 Best Vegas Strip Casinos for Non-Gambling Family

Caesars, Planet Hollywood, Venetian, Stratosphere

When you’re a young gambler visiting Las Vegas by your lonesome, or maybe a few like-minded pals, the casino becomes your home away from home.

In fact, many hardcore players soaking in the Sin City experience for the first time seldom feel that infamous 110-degree heat searing the sidewalks, as they remain glued to their favorite table game or machine all day.

And for good reason…

With every casino on the iconic Las Vegas Strip offering an all-you-can-eat buffet of blackjack, baccarat, craps, roulette, slots, and video poker, who has time to gorge themselves at the actual buffet? With a steady stream of complimentary cocktails arriving on demand, who needs to sit in a crowded bar and pay $10 bucks for a beer? And with beautiful dealers in the “party pit” area strutting their stuff while they deliver the cards, what’s the point of seeing one of those exotic revue shows that The Strip is known for?

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Indeed, folks who enjoy gambling as their prime source of entertainment are always in luck when they touch down in Las Vegas. On the other hand, their spouses and family members who aren’t interested in putting money on the line, and children who aren’t yet permitted on the gaming floor, can often be left to fend for themselves.

Fortunately, the best Las Vegas casino resorts have readily embraced a new role as family-friendly destinations that cater to guests of all ages and inclinations. Nowadays, a decent chunk of the 40 million annual visitors to the gambling capital of the world never even place a bet.

Instead, they’re off feasting at world-class restaurants run by celebrity chefs like Emeril Lagasse, Gordon Ramsay, and Giada De Laurentiis. Or shopping at any number of high-end retail outlets featuring designs by Burberry, Fendi, Prada, Michael Kors, and many more. Or catching a show with musical luminaires like Celine Dion, comedians extraordinaire like Penn & Teller, and the acrobats of Cirque du Soleil.

Just like the Las Vegas Strip serves as the flame to which top gambling talents flock – advantage play specialists, poker pros, and elite sports handicappers – the city’s bright lights also attract the very best restaurateurs, entertainers, and fashionistas to excel at their craft.

And that’s great news for anyone arriving in Las Vegas with no intention to gamble.

If you’re a non-gambling spouse or family member coming along for the ride, but you’d still like to cut loose on the Las Vegas Strip, this page is for you. Below you’ll find five of the best casinos along Las Vegas Boulevard where guests who don’t gamble can have a blast.

1 – Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel & Casino

One of the more impressive sights greeting visitors to the Las Vegas Strip, the appropriately named Caesars Palace is a monument to extravagance and excess in the true Sin City spirit.

Caesars Palace

And while the casino itself is top-notch, you can spend a week here without ever stepping foot on the gaming floor.

The Bacchanal Buffet is regularly voted as the best buffet in town by reviewers from USA Today and the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and when you see (and smell) this glorious spread in person, you’ll immediately know why. Unlimited mimosas get the Bacchanal Buffet party started, and for reasonable prices of between $55 and $65 (depending on the hour), you’ll have carte blanche to devour everything from prime rib to fresh crab legs, Australian lamb, and green applewood smoked wagyu beef.

Vegetarians and vegans are in luck at Bacchanal Buffet too, what with the pasta station serving up penne and oil, the Asian station offering all the noodles you can eat, and a diverse array of salads that cover every color in the rainbow.

Once you’ve fueled up for the night ahead, be sure to score tickets to Absinthe, one of the most popular long-running shows in Las Vegas. Blending the awe-inspiring feats of a carnival with carnal pleasures, Absinthe is designed for adults who want to go “all in” on Las Vegas’ most sensual delights. If you enjoy vaudeville style comedy, burlesque inspired dancing, and a singularly unique experience, Absinthe at Caesars Palace is the ticket.

But before you the Spiegelworld Tent where Absinthe is held, you’ll want to dress the part, so take an hour or three to see what the Forum Shoppes have in store. Billed as the “Shopping Wonder of the World,” the Forum Shoppes are home to outlets by Louis Vuitton, Christian Louboutin, Salvatore Ferragamo among dozens of other acclaimed international designers.

To get you started on the right path, full location and contact information for Caesars Palace – along with a five-star Yelp review indicative of the venue’s family-friendly commitment to non-gambling guests – can be found below:

Caesars Palace Contact Information

Five-Star Family Friendly Yelp Review

“Been coming here for 20 years. Caesars is as good as it gets. The spa is the best in Vegas. The Augustus tower rooms are large and quiet. Half of them will get you a great fountain view. Giant upscale shopping mall. There is a wide variety of food choices. It’s all yours for the taking.”

– Susan L., Northridge, Los Angeles, California

2 – Planet Hollywood Las Vegas Resort & Casino

If the Forum Shoppes at Caesars Palace are all about shoppers experiencing the lap of luxury, the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood feel more like the world’s greatest mall happened to be built inside of a casino.

Planet Hollywood

Designed in a convenient circular array around the Zappos Theater – another terrific non-gambling destination found within Planet Hollywood – the Miracle Mile Shops will bring you back to the days when “mallrat” was a term of honor. Everything here is bright and bubbly, brimming with excitement as shoppers peruse the most popular modern retailers.

After you buy a swimsuit from Bikini Bay or Billabong, head over to The Scene Pool Deck, which doubles as Planet Hollywood’s outdoor swimming pool and an endless party. Live DJs provide the tunes, dozens of cabanas provide the shade, and Las Vegas’ perpetual sunshine provides the tan.

And don’t forget to take a whirl on the Flowrider, an exhilarating wave-generating “ride” where you can try to hang ten while surfing or boogie boarding.

Don’t fret if you take a spill on the Flowrider either, because this place boasts one of the best spas to get pampered and primped on The Strip in Planet Hollywood Spa by Mandara.

Planet Hollywood Contact Information

Five-Star Family Friendly Yelp Review

“Nice to have the Miracle Mile shops right at your fingertips. My wife is a Fat Tuesday fanatic, so she appreciated having one right here in Miracle Mile. I appreciated the ABC Store to get some very fairly priced beer for room consumption.
Guests get access to the gym which is standard but also access to the Spa facilities including indoor hot tub, steam room, and sauna. Nice surprise.”

– Desmond J., San Lorenzo, California

3 – The Venetian Resort Las Vegas

The Venetian, and its adjacent sister casino the Palazzo, are the perfect place for non-gamblers to savor the essence of Sin City.

Venetian

Most people know all about the Grand Canal Shoppes, a sprawling multi-story shopping district intertwined with the Venetian’s famous outdoor canals.

But the Venetian is also home to an immersive virtual reality (VR) experience known as The VOID, where teams can take part in truly spectacular VR adventures utilizing cutting-edge technology.

The Venetian’s gilded interior is also home to world-class nightlife at TAO Nightclub, the Wolfgang Puck steakhouse CUT, and up close and personal interactions with superstars of every area at Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum.

Throw in top-tier swimming pools and spas that regularly rank among the best on The Strip, and the Venetian / Palazzo complex is a goldmine for non-gambling entertainment.

The Venetian Contact Information

Five-Star Family Friendly Yelp Review:

“I loved the shopping center it was fun to walk around and my husband and I took the gondola which was fun. The pools are really nice but it does get over crowded so try to come around 11 am to get a spot to lay down on.
I will come here again and again every time I visit Vegas!”

–Neloffer E., Dublin, California

4 – Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower (AKA “The Strat”)

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll start this entry off by letting you know that the Stratosphere isn’t exactly an upscale casino resort like the other three venues listed above.

STRAT

With that said, the Stratosphere – which was recently rebranded as “The Strat” – is a perfectly nice place to stay on The Strip when you’re looking to save a few bucks.

And those savings will surely come in handy when you’re looking to have a good time at the Stratosphere. As the tallest point in the entire city – the 1,149-foot tower is actually the highest freestanding observation deck in America – the Stratosphere’s famous tower takes full advantage of its lofty status.

Visitors who like to walk on the wild side can head up top to the Observation Deck, an open-air area on the tower’s rooftop which offers by far the best views in town.

If you’re a little more hesitant about heights with exposed edges, try the Indoor Observation Deck, where angled windows allow guests to lean and peer down to The Strip below. And at the Top of the World restaurant, you can dine while taking in a 360-degree view of the Las Vegas skyline thanks to a revolving floor that completes a full rotation every 80 minutes.

And over at the Level 107 SkyLounge, you’ll find some of the best happy hour discounts on The Strip combined with a full 360-degree view.

Oh yeah, for the folks out there who get their kicks by mainlining adrenaline, you simply can’t miss the various roller coasters and thrill rides built on the very top of the Stratosphere.

Stratosphere Contact Information

  • Address: 2000 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89104
  • Phone: (702) 380-7777
  • Website: https://thestrat.com/

Five-Star Family Friendly Yelp Review

“Great place to stay! This hotel offers a variety of activities on the property. Casino, hotel, buffet, shops, restaurants, 2 pools, observation deck, bars, and is located in a convenient area.
The buffet is an absolute must! I visited 3 other hotels for their buffets and The Stratosphere Buffet was by far, the best one!”

– Pamela P., Sheffield Lake, Ohio

Honorable Mentions

While they aren’t exactly focused on non-gambling adults, both the Excalibur and New York/New York cater to kiddos by offering a long lineup of child-friendly entertainment options.

Excalibur hosts a nightly jousting session known as the “Tournament of Kings”, where kids and adults alike can watch the White and Black Knights duel on horseback.

And at New York/New York, you’ll find a spectacular outdoor roller coaster which twists and turns around the property, along with a massive “Big Apple” arcade and carnival games section.

Conclusion

Las Vegas will always be known best as the epicenter of the world’s gambling scene, a place where anybody with a few bucks and a little luck can leave town a newly minted millionaire. But gambling with real money on the line isn’t for everybody, especially on the grand stage of the Las Vegas Strip, so casino resorts here take pride in offering a full spectrum of entertainment options.

The five venues listed above go above and beyond, however, ensuring that anybody who walks through the door can have fun to their heart’s content, all without putting a single chip or spin in play.

One Habit That Will Immediately Improve Your Blackjack Game

Blackjack on Table

There are two kinds of people in the world: you and everyone else. No matter what skill you decide to master, sooner or later, you’ll depart from the basics.

In gambling, that means you learn the basic strategy first then start experimenting with unorthodox strategies. Basic strategy exists because it works. It may not make you wealthy, but it keeps you grounded as you play the game. When you start taking risks you rationalize your decisions.

In your own mind it’s okay to be the exception because you know what you are doing. But it wouldn’t be gambling if everything worked out the way we wanted it to.

In blackjack, it takes time to master basic strategy. And when you stop playing for a while you begin to forget some of those rules. The best players I know play basic strategy most of the time.

When Should You Work on Improving Your Blackjack Game?

If you’re practicing the game every time you play, then why do you need more practice?

Odd as it may sound, I learned the difference between practice and habitual play from a corporate motivational speaker. To paraphrase what she told us, you’ll keep practicing a bad habit just as much as you’ll practice a good habit.

Once any behavior is a habit, you keep doing it over and over again. Most people fall into bad habits throughout their lives. I’d go so far as to say we habitually develop bad habits.

When it comes to playing a game like blackjack, you should work on improving when you realize you’ve developed a bad habit.

And how do you know when you’re playing badly? Go back to basic strategy. Check yourself against the standard plays. If you’re not sure whether to split sevens and eights, it’s time to review basic strategy.

Why Do We Develop Bad Habits in the First Place?

When I first learned to play blackjack, I made a lot of mistakes. Everyone does that. And like many other people, I bought a book that explained basic strategy.

But the day came when I put that book down and never opened it again. I don’t even have it around anymore. At one point in my gambling life, I was confident in my ability to play the game. I wish I could say I left the casino a winner every time, but I only did okay. Still, I was proud of my blackjack skills.

I had friends that wouldn’t go near the tables. Whenever we went to a casino, I looked for a blackjack game and they headed for the slot machines. And I think I grew bored with the basic game. It wasn’t fun anymore. So, I began experimenting with unusual decisions.

Blackjack 17 on Table

Sometimes, I would hit on 17 and win. Sometimes, I would stand on 16 and lose. There’s no rhyme or reason to my departures from basic strategy. I was being rebellious. I was looking for a little more risk in the game. And after a while, my bad play became a habit.

The bad habit didn’t form in a single night. I had to make a conscious effort to bend the rules again and again until I stopped feeling guilty or stupid for taking an unnecessary risk.

Substituting a Good Habit for a Bad Habit Isn’t Always Easy

Getting back to basic strategy isn’t hard. If you’ve forgotten some parts of it, the internet makes it easy to find all the play tables and strategy cards you need.

What makes it hard to go back to basics is that the game stops feeling exciting. I found a video blackjack game and didn’t enjoy it. After hearing that motivational speaker talk about bad habits versus good habits, I came to the realization that I was trying to elevate my game. But I took the wrong path.

If it’s more risk you want, then move out of your comfort zone by increasing your bets. Stick with basic strategy and adjust your betting.

Basic strategy is wager-neutral. Although the house edge in blackjack is small, it’s still hard to pull ahead by much if you’re not a high roller. So, become a middle roller.

The One Good Habit Every Blackjack Player Needs

You can call it self-testing or self-evaluation. Whatever you call it, you should review how you play the game in a conscious, detailed way.

Time to Self Reflect

Challenge yourself to stick to the basic strategy and make some sort of note about when you change. I didn’t want to keep a blackjack strategy so I challenged myself to take one chip off the table when I gave into the temptation to depart from basic strategy.

I didn’t literally take the chip off the table. I just pulled it back. It’s like putting a dollar in a swear jar. If it costs you money to follow your bad habit, how long will you keep doing it?

It’s not a perfect system, but I amazed myself the first time I tried this. I watched that little stack grow and asked myself what I was doing.

Two Ways to Raise the Cost of Your Game

By indulging in bad habits, I allowed myself to lose more money than I should have. And what made this habit so difficult to break was that the losses weren’t obvious.

When the cost of your risk isn’t obvious, the risk feels safe in a false way. Taking on falsely safe risks isn’t smart gambling. By taking money off the table, I reminded myself of what my risky plays were costing me. I made the costs obvious.

When I realized I had been playing badly out of habit, I decided that if I wanted to take on extra risk in the future, I needed to be open and honest with myself. I decided to raise my bets rather than make dumb plays out of some rebellion against boredom.

Ask Yourself How Much Your Strategy Is Costing You

It’s surprising how quickly we begin lying to ourselves. If that sounds like something a motivational speaker would say, that’s because I got it from her.

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But it’s true. We’ll rationalize small (bad) choices in life because they save us time, or maybe they are less expensive options. But there are hidden costs to every bad decision.

If you’re not sure how much a risky strategy is costing you, then why are you taking the risk? You should know what you’re wagering when you gamble. If you don’t, you’re losing control.

A skillful player maintains control and awareness. The casino accounts for nearly every wager it makes every day. It’s easy for the house because they have accountants and software tracking their money.

Players don’t have the luxury of asking the accounting department how much money is left in the bank. You’re not just deciding how to play the game but also how to manage your money.

Conclusion

You don’t have to make your entertainment complicated to keep it exciting. There are other ways, besides raising your bet, that can make your blackjack game more interesting.

If you can choose between two styles of blackjack, you can choose to play the one that has a slightly higher house edge. Learning the rules of that game will keep you awake for a while. While I don’t recommend playing 6:5 blackjack, if you want a slightly tougher game where you still play basic strategy, that’s one way to go.

Instead of adopting bad habits under the pretense of making the game more interesting, in the future, I’ll look for more interesting ways to play with basic strategy.

A more skillful player may feel confident leveraging ideas beyond the basic strategy. I don’t need to be the world champion blackjack player. And I don’t need to be a show off.

I just want to enjoy the game and walk away a winner. If I can’t do both, then at least I’ll enjoy the game without guilt.

Loose Slots – Are They Real and How to Find Them

Slot Machines

For years, slot machine players and gambling experts have pushed back and forth on the idea that some slot machines are looser than others, that they’re configured to pay more than most slot machines.

Most casino floor managers dismiss the idea. A few people claiming to be casino floor managers on social media have said there’s something to it. But it’s never as simple as rumor makes it out to be.

I think one reason why the argument won’t die down is that the original story came from an interview Frank Scoblete conducted with an Atlantic City slot game director in the early 1990s. In the interview, the director said he placed machines that were looser than average in certain locations.

Much has changed since the early 1990s. Modern slot machines are better designed than the mechanical machines that dominated casino floors in the 1980s and 1990s. The old mechanical reel slots did have multiple settings that changed the odds.

Do Loose Slot Machines Exist?

Yes, you can find examples of truly loose slot machine games. YouTube provides you with the proof you need, but the videos you want to watch are made by technicians. I’ll share a couple below.

What may have confused some players, and I know it first confused me, is a video like this one from 2006. This video explains how to change the odds on a Pachislo slot machine by pressing a button. These games are very popular in Japan.

Pachislo machines look like normal American slot machines, but they allow players to use skill to stop the reels from spinning. In other words, most American slot machines determine what the game result is before the reels stop spinning. Even if you hit the red “Stop” button, the game outcome is decided.

On the Pachislo machines, you have a chance to determine the outcome with skill. I’ve only played one slot machine game in the US that has a similar feature. It was called Lotus Flower and was very popular because players could “catch” the three bonus symbols if they stopped the reels quickly enough.

If you research how odds are changed on modern (American) slot games, you’ll find videos like this one from 2017 which shows a technician removing and replacing a chip. I’ve been told, and have read in many articles, that casino technicians rarely change these chips.

Are Slot Machine Games in the US Ever Loosened?

American slot games are regulated, and changing a programming chip requires a process that ensures accountability is maintained. It’s just not worth the casino’s time to reprogram slot machines often.

On the other hand, I have a friend who once played in a slot game tournament. He watched as casino staff cordoned off a row of machines, reprogrammed them, then guarded them until the tournament. After the tournament, the machines were reprogrammed again.

During the tournament, the slot games ran at their loosest possible settings. The players simply beat the “Spin” buttons as fast as possible to run up their credits (not real money) as high as they could.

But Some Slot Machines Seem Looser Than Others

You may have fallen in love with a slot machine game at one casino only to find that its counterpart at another casino doesn’t seem to pay as well.

Loose Slots Sign

There are two possible explanations for the discrepancy. First, it could always be that you’re playing one machine during a random “hot” streak and the other during a random “cold” streak. That’s a coincidence, and it happens.

The other possible explanation is that each casino may order games with their own payout requirements. One casino may buy the machines set at 90% RTP, and another may buy the machines set at 94% RTP.

And it’s possible one casino installs two or more cabinets for the same game with different odds settings. It hardly seems fair.

Can You Tell if a Slot Machine Game Is Loose Without Playing It?

Here’s where things get interesting. You should be able to find some indication of how often a slot machine game is expected or programmed to pay a prize.

Some slot machine games tell you what the theoretical return to player is in their help screens. I’ve had to page all the way to the last screen to find these percentages.

I’ve also seen labels glued to the slot machines that say things like, “This game has a payout ratio of 1:3.5.” That’s not the same as a payout percentage, but it should give you an idea of how often a machine is expected to pay a prize of any value.

All the scratch off tickets I’ve studied print an expected prize ratio on the back of the card. It’s usually in the neighborhood of 1:3 to 1:6.

My friend who played in the slot tournament uses a rule of thumb for guessing a slot machine game’s frequency of prizes. Ignoring progressive jackpots, which are determined randomly, he believes the slot games with the lowest top prizes are more likely to pay frequently. This is not a scientific opinion.

In fact, I know some players who swear that only the higher denomination slot games—the “high roller” machines—are set to pay more frequently.

I haven’t played enough slot machine games to make up my mind on that. But what I do know is that some slot machine games pay a lot of small prizes less than the wagers. I hate these games and as soon as I realize I am playing one, I move on.

As an example, if you bet $5 on every spin and you win somewhere between $1 and $4 most of the time, the game is making a profit even when it pays a prize. Those bigger prizes and bonus games don’t seem to come as often.

The bottom line seems to be that even if you can find a machine that pays frequently it may not pay enough.

The Grass Is Always Greener on the Other Side

I remember walking through a casino on the west coast one night. A large group of people were standing around a slot game and watching several people play. The machines seemed to be in a hot zone that night.

It took about an hour for the players to grow tired of the games. I don’t know if they left with more money than they had when they sat down. My wife and I decided to try our luck on those games.

Blackjack Table

We lost about $100 in 30 minutes. Some people would say the machines had gone cold. Other people say they were played out and needed to cycle through their random numbers again. All I know is that I lost the $100 I had won at the blackjack table.

The myth of the loose slot machine may be feeding on the excitement people feel when they believe someone else is winning. How much does a $2000 slot machine jackpot cost you?

I’ve heard stories of people winning a jackpot on their first spin. And yet, when I ask people how far ahead they are after winning a jackpot, a lot of them say they’re still down for the night.

Jackpots are fun to win but they can be expensive.

Conclusion

My friend who plays the slots says he has a sure-fire way of finding slot games that are most likely to pay more than they take. He talks to the people playing the games and asks them if they’re regulars.

Local gamblers often have favorite games. Some of them seem to be luckier than others. My friend believes those few lucky players have stumbled across truly loose slot machine games.

He says he’s won a few jackpots just by playing machines favored by the local regulars. He’s come away with a few thousand dollars on a $100 budget more than once.

If he’s in a new casino or the casino brings in new games, he is just as lost as everyone else. There may be no 100% reliable method for finding loose slot machines. Even so, half the fun is looking for those machines that, for whatever reason, are ready to reward you for your patience.

But I don’t expect to start earning a living playing the slots. Casinos make most of their money from slot games. That means somebody must be losing and it always seems to be me.

What’s a Reasonable Amount of Money to Lose per Hour Gambling?

Poker Cards and Casino Chips, Hands Opening Empty Wallet
No one wants to admit they lose money gambling, but we all do. It’s all part of the game. When gambling on a budget, it’s important to decide in advance where to stop losing.

When you’re winning, you don’t need to stop playing if you’re still aware and feeling good. Gambling budgets are only necessary to limit your losses. The reason they say “don’t bet your rent check” is that too many people have done exactly that.

I look at the reasonable loss as what I’m willing to pay for an evening’s entertainment. For comparison, I look at how much it costs to watch a sports game live at the stadium. I can watch the New England Patriots for about $40 a seat. Toss in some drinks and food, and I could cover a sports date with about $150.

A trip to the casino is more expensive. We’re willing to go as deep as $500 per visit. We have friends who don’t think twice about dropping $2000 at a casino.

The most important question is, what are you willing to pay for your entertainment? Another good question to ask yourself is how long do you want to stay there?

How Many Hours Do You Want to Spend in the Casino?

This is the first question I think about when planning a trip to the casino. We might drive to the next state over and visit one of the Native American casinos. Or we might visit Las Vegas for a weekend getaway.

How much time I think I’ll be there correlates to my budget.

If I only have $300 for a quick run at the casino, I’ll probably spend most of it at the blackjack table. It takes a while for me to lose $300.

If my wife and I make it a Saturday evening date, we’ll plan on getting a hotel room and driving back in the morning. Hence, we increase our budget to cover more time and meals.

I count the time we spend in the restaurant as entertainment time.

Playing in a Local Casino May Make a Difference

A few years back, I lived about a 30-minute drive from a casino. It was a modest size place. There weren’t many table games but a lot of slot machines.

If we wanted to spend an afternoon there, we budgeted about $50 to $100. We could always go back another time. It was more like a dinner date than a big sports date or weekend outing.

Casino Video Poker Machines

With $50, I usually started out on a quarter machine and rolled my money up. That could take a while. I often lost the first $10 to $20 before pulling ahead.

There were days when I would give up after three hours. I think the quality of the time you spend gambling with real money is affected by how far from home you are.

Subtract Meals and Other Expenses Before Calculating Acceptable Losses

When I first started gambling, I just assumed I would keep track of my money. That story ended quickly when I had to drive home hungry because I didn’t have anything for a snack.

If you’re playing $100 a week for fun, then knock about $20 off the top for food and gas. That’s cutting it close, but it should work for most people who live near a casino.

It’s a rare day for me when I lose $80 off the top. I love to play blackjack anyway, and that game takes a while to leech your money from you.

Assume a 4- to 8-Hour Gaming Budget

You know your gaming habits better than anyone else. Adjust this formula as you see fit.

We spend somewhere between four and eight hours in a casino.

That includes gaming, eating, taking in a show, and just wandering around talking. We talk to strangers, but since we go gaming with friends many times, it’s a social event for us.

If we’re willing to lose $500 a night, that works out to about $80 an hour. That’s slightly more than $1 per minute.

Calculate How Many Bets You Make per Hour

Assume you’ll lose more than you win. Budgeting for wins won’t work because you’re assuming the best-case scenario.

On a slow day, where hardly anyone is playing the tables, you can easily burn through 100 hands of blackjack in an hour. Assuming a slightly positive bias in cards, you’ll win about half those hands.

Playing $10 a hand, your stake should stay about the same. I can lose $100 in an hour when the cards go against me. Most nights, I’m only down $20 to $30 when making $5 bets and about $50 when making $10 bets.

I rarely play craps, but I like to play roulette with three to six people at the table. That’s not too crowded, and I don’t feel like I’m all alone. I expect to get about 45 to 50 spins at a roulette table.

Casino Roulette Wheel and Casino Chips

I play a lot of outside bets in roulette to offset some of my riskier inside bets. I’ll risk two table-minimum bets most of the time unless I get lucky. If I stay with the game, I budget about $150. If I’m not getting anywhere after 30 minutes, I move on.

I tried estimating slot games per hour and couldn’t find a number I liked. If I’m playing slots, I’ll divide my bankroll in half and stop playing when I lose half. If I win enough to replace that slots stake, I may not visit the blackjack table at all.

Stretch the Time Out If You’re Losing Faster Than You Anticipated

If you’re willing to lose $150 in the first hour, but you’re down $200 in the first 15 minutes, take a break. When I first started gambling, I thought aggressive bets were the way to go. A friend intervened and saved about a third of my first night’s stake.

Paying attention to the time is important. If you don’t know how much time has passed while playing a game, then budgeting doesn’t help. You may be down $200 because you’re making bad bets or because you played longer than you realized.

Winning is easy. Losing is hard work if you don’t want to go home early.

If I see my wife hunkered down on a slot game ignoring the world, I check her casino bankroll. Either she’s winning and taking the machine for all she can or she’s trying to get back what she lost. If she’s losing faster than we expect, I’ll invite her to take a break with me.

That little interruption is all she needs to take a deep breath and relax. If she’s really into the game, I may dig through her purse to distract her. She usually carries ibuprofen so I’ll have a convenient headache.

And what goes around comes around. She’s pulled me out off a few bad blackjack tables. She’ll ask if I’m hungry or invite me to go for a walk in the fresh air. That’s one of our signals to take a break.

Conclusion

There’s an unwritten rule that gambling friends don’t share their winnings. I can’t swear I’ve never seen anyone hand money to someone they weren’t married to. It just feels like people only share with their significant partners.

Nothing is more embarrassing than losing all your money while everyone else is having fun. Since you can’t count on anyone to hand you $100, you need to practice good money management.

If you know the bus doesn’t leave for five to six hours, count your blessings when it’s time to eat. That break for dinner might be what saves you from standing around with your hands in your pockets.

Otherwise, budget your bets so your money lasts a while. If that means playing the 25-cent slots, then play the slots. Roll it up.

My parents used to gamble a lot. Mom always hit the cheap slots first no matter how much money she had. Her philosophy was to let the casino fund the bankroll you lose.

Somehow, she made that system work more often than statistics say it should.

The 7 Biggest Casino Gambling Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid

Three White Casino Dice, Blackjack 6/5 Table Game
Casinos win enough of your money even when you do everything right. They make even more money when you make consistent mistakes.

The purpose of this post is to point out the seven biggest casino gambling mistakes you can make and provide you with tips for avoiding them.

Your goal when visiting a casino should be to lose as little money as possible while having as much fun as possible. Making fewer mistakes is one way to accomplish this goal.

1 – Playing Slot Machines

Slot machines are the most popular game in the casino, which is one of the reasons why it’s at the top of the list of casino gambling mistakes. Here’s why I think playing slot machines is a mistake.

Other Games Are More Fun

Slot machines involve putting money into a machine, pressing a button, and watching some reels spin around. You hope they land on something that will win. You have no influence over the outcome with a slot machine game, though, and frankly, the slots are boring as a result.

Other Games Offer Better Odds

Any table game in the casino will offer you better odds than the slots, especially if you stick with the right bets.

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Yeah, some of the sucker bets at the table games are even worse than the slot machines, edge-wise, but let’s assume you avoid those.

Video Poker Is Much Better

A video poker game looks like a slot machine but has significant advantages. One of those is that you actually know what you’re getting into, odds-wise, because you know the odds of getting a specific card in a poker game. The odds of getting a specific symbol on a slot machine could be anything.

Slot Machines Are the Fastest Games in the Casino

Not only are the odds on the slot machine games worse than the odds on any other game, but you’ll lose more money on them because of their rate of play. The average slot machine player makes 60 spins per hour, while the average roulette player might only place 40 bets per hour. Guess who’s going to lose more money in that comparison?

2 – Ignoring Basic Strategy in Blackjack

Blackjack has a reputation for offering the savvy casino gambler the best odds in the casino. The game deserves this reputation, because it does indeed offer great odds.

But you only realize those odds by making the optimal decision in every situation. And that optimal decision isn’t always intuitive. In fact, it’s often counterintuitive. You face 10 possible dealer up-cards, and you have only a handful of totals to compare those up-cards to when you’re deciding whether to hit or stand.

Four Poker Cards on Table

If you make the mathematically optimal option in every one of those situations, you’re a basic strategy player, and the house edge for the game is probably well under 1%.

The house edge, by the way, is how you measure how big an advantage the casino has over you, mathematically. The casino doesn’t cheat. They just maintain a mathematical edge.

In casino blackjack, they do this by making you play your hand before the dealer plays his. If you go bust, you lose immediately, even if the dealer busts later in the hand.

If you try to just wing it instead of memorizing basic strategy or using a chart, you’ll give the casino another 2% or 3%, depending on close you get to the real basic strategy. Playing blackjack without basic strategy is a huge mistake that’s easy to avoid.

3 – Drinking Too Much

My niece recently took her driver’s license written exam. One of the questions was a multiple-choice question asking what alcohol affects first. The correct answer was “judgment.”

The last thing a casino gambler needs is impaired judgment. You have all these flashing lights and exciting sounds going on around you. People are winning money left and right. Women are prancing around offering you free drinks, and they’re half-dressed.

The last thing you need when gambling in a situation like that is to have impaired judgment. You need to be able to make good decisions all the time while you’re gambling.

And even if you’re a hardened heavy drinker, if you’re new to the casino, alcohol will impair your judgment and cause you to lose money you don’t need to lose.

My advice to the casino gambler is to abstain completely from alcohol while gambling.

4 – Playing With Scared Money

Gamblers have a saying: “Scared money always loses.” What’s scared money?

In the context of gambling, it’s money you can’t afford to lose. The only money you should be gambling with at the casino is money you don’t need for other purposes.

Don’t be like those knuckleheads in Indecent Proposal who try to win enough money to save their real estate by playing roulette and/or craps. Sure, you might win, but the odds are against you.

Casino Roulette Wheel, Pile of Money

And the odds get worse when you’re playing with money you can’t afford to lose. This is especially true if you’re playing blackjack. You might make a decision that isn’t mathematically optimal because you’re playing too conservatively and you’re scared of losing.

Budget for your gambling and stay within that budget. Know how much you’re willing to lose during a period of time. And don’t use money you’ve set aside for other purposes to gamble with. Always practice proper bankroll management.

I have a buddy who went to Vegas one time who lost all his money on his first day, including his food budget. He spent the next four days in his hotel room eating potato chips and watching movies because he needed to hang on to just enough money to catch the cab to the airport.

Don’t gamble with scared money. You’ll regret it if you do.

5 – Playing for Comps

Don’t misinterpret this mistake. I’m not saying you should ignore the player’s club. You absolutely get comps for your action. That’s part of the deal in the casino.

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What you need to avoid is playing more than you would normally because you’re trying to hit certain goals with your comps.

A friend of mine visits a relatively local casino at least once a week. He gambles so much that he has his own casino host. He explained to me that the rewards program at the casino has three tiers, and he was in the second tier and wanted to move into the top tier.

THAT is an example of playing for comps. He was gambling more than he would have normally just to get more free stuff. That’s playing right into the casino’s hand. You should avoid that if you can, because the casino has one goal—to separate you from your money as fast as possible.

Get your casino comps, but don’t let it be an incentive to gamble more than you would have otherwise.

6 – Trying to Cheat

I’m not talking about counting cards, here. That’s not really cheating. After all, counting cards is just using your mind to think about the game you’re playing so that you can make mathematically optimal decisions. There’s nothing illegal or unethical about counting cards in blackjack.

When I say that trying to cheat is a mistake, I mean things like stealing chips or trying to befriend a dealer as a confederate to collude at a specific game. Trying to change the size of your bet after the outcome has been determined is cheating, too.

Blackjack Cards Laid Out in Rows

The main reason I’m opposed to these “techniques” is because they can get you arrested and you might even have to serve time.

You’ll read interesting and colorful stories about slot machine cheats like Tommy Glenn Carmichael, too, and you might even think that sounds pretty cool. The reality of his situation is that he’s spent a lot of time behind bars.

Winning a few bucks at a gambling game isn’t worth even a few weeks of your life behind bars, much less months or years. And cheating at gambling games in Nevada is a felony.

7 – Playing 6/5 Blackjack

In a standard blackjack game, a blackjack (or a “natural”) pays off at 3:2 odds.

This means that for every dollar you bet, you get 1.5x that in winnings when you get a natural. A natural is just a two-card hand that totals 21. In other words, it’s a hand that consists of an ace and a 10.

Recently, casinos have started rolling out a version of blackjack where you get a 6:5 payout for blackjack instead of the standard 3:2 payout. That means you get 1.2 units for every unit you bet.

And some casinos even have the chutzpah to try to spin this as a bonus for the player, because a six is bigger than a three. And some casino gamblers’ math skills are bad enough to fall for that.

But a 3:2 payout on a $5 bet is $7.50. A 6:5 payout on a $5 bet, though, is $6. One is obviously better than the other. How much better? The house edge increases by over 2% when you’re playing in a 6:5 game.

Just don’t ever play such a game. You’re better off playing almost any other game in the casino, besides slots, of course.

Conclusion

Those are the seven biggest casino gambling mistakes I see most often. And if you’re looking to become a profitable gambler, you should definitely steer clear of them. Did I leave anything out?

What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in a casino?

5 Ways You Can Cheat at Blackjack

Blackjack Cards in a Row, No Cheating Sign
Some gamblers think it’s okay to cheat. They feel that casinos are swindling them by only offering games that give the house a mathematical edge. In their minds, cheaters are just “evening out the odds.” But there are cheaters who are truly trying to get ahead.

Because casinos only make their money by gradually retaining a percentage of wagers, most of the money that people wager on casino games is actually paid back to players. But the games themselves are mathematically designed to create the house edge.

Most wannabe cheats don’t realize that if they’re cheating the casino, they’re cheating other players out of money, too. Clearly, the ability to cheat is glorified when it shouldn’t be.

If you think about all the cheating methods you’ve heard about, it means those methods are very well-known. And if they’re well-known, that must mean the people using them were caught. Keep reading and you’ll find five ways you can cheat when you play blackjack and why you should avoid them.

The Only Successful Cheat Is the Guy Who Is Never Caught

How do you collect statistics on people who are never caught cheating? And what counts as never being caught? I’ve read interviews with casino security experts who say that players cheat all the time. But there are no mass arrests. Mobs of players are not routinely evicted.

Are the casinos really allowing cheaters to get away with it? And if the casinos see these players cheating, that likely means they’ve been caught and released.

It’s almost like fishing. You let the small fry go and only bring in the big fish.

Instead of arguing semantics, let me just say this…

It’s possible you could find small ways to cheat and never be held accountable. But that doesn’t mean you should count on it.

While I don’t encourage anyone to cheat, if you’re going to do it, don’t make it a habit. And don’t get greedy, because that’s how you get caught cheating.

Remember that the casinos know about all of the cheating methods that follow.

1 – Replacing or Swapping Playing Cards

The classic stereotype of a cheating blackjack player is the one where they have cards hidden up their sleeves.

There really are retractable arm-mounted card holders. They slide the card out from your sleeve into the palm of your hand. Stage magicians, the kind who depend on illusions, use them. And you’ll occasionally see them in movies and TV shows.

I’ve heard rumors of blackjack players being caught using these devices but I’ve never seen that happen.

Woman Holding Blackjack Cards

At most casinos, you can buy decks of cards. But sometimes, they damage the cards so they can’t be used to cheat. If you’ve ever played with a deck of cards that came with a hole, it was probably bought from a casino.

Some players team up to swap cards at the table. This is a risky move and not one I would want to try. You could be prosecuted for cheating, but if you’re caught, you’ll most likely be turned out and blacklisted.

2 – Replacing Chips With Fake or Different Value Chips

According to some people who claim to have worked in casino security, this is the most common way blackjack players try to cheat. I’ve seen several variations on the scheme. It’s been attempted by individuals and groups.

The largest chip-swapping scheme I’ve heard about involved around 50 people playing roulette. But blackjack players sometimes do this, too.

The idea is to make a bet with say a stack of $50 chips. When you lose, you swap a $5 chip for a $50 chip, thus making an extra profit of $45.

Another way cheaters replace chips is to “cash in” chips they didn’t buy in the first place. That’s not quite the same as swapping chips during the game. The chips being cashed in might be counterfeit, stolen, or discontinued chips.

I once accidentally handed a cashier a chip from the wrong casino. She politely gave it back to me, and I apologized. They didn’t care. It happens all the time.

I guess it doesn’t require much imagination to run around to a lot of different casinos to try that. But that’s probably why a lot of chips have casino names and dollar values on them.

3 – Arguing With the Dealer

I’ve definitely seen people argue with the dealer before. At the time, I didn’t understand why they were doing that. And I can’t say I know for sure in retrospect that they were trying to cheat.

But this is a simple strategy. It usually follows one of two paths:

  1. The player denies asking for a bad card. If the player indicates a “hit” and is then dealt a high-value card, he may try to avoid busting by saying he didn’t really mean it. If the player is subtle enough in asking for the hit, the dealer can’t be sure the trick may work. Where small bets are concerned, some casino pit bosses have said they’ll take the loss rather than stop a game. This is a pretty ballsy move. You’re outright lying and risking ejection. If you’re going to try this, don’t be surprised if a pit boss moves over to your table.
  2. The player says he doubled down when he didn’t. This is an even ballsier move. You take a hit that clearly puts you in a winning position. Then, you slip an extra bet onto the table as the dealer moves onto the next player. If the dealer stops and challenges the extra wager, the player insists he called “double.” In a noisy casino this might work, but the casinos train their dealers to watch for this tactic. I’ve read that some players wait until the round is finished so they know the dealer has lost. If they move their hand over their chips, they might keep them covered long enough to fool people on the floor. Security cameras will see it, but security teams rarely intervene in small cheating unless a player is flagged. The video can be reviewed later if staff conclude the player has been cheating.

4 – Marking the Cards

Yes, this really happens in real life. In 2013, Archie Karas was accused of marking blackjack cards during gameplay with invisible ink. It took about two months for the casino to review the video and file charges.

In Karas’ case, he used special eyewear to identify the cards as they came back across the table. Other cheaters have been less sophisticated.

Casino Blackjack Piled in a Row

Card marking has always been frowned upon by a majority of players because, if done successfully, it creates an overwhelming advantage for the player marking and reading the cards.

One could argue that in blackjack, other players are not hurt by card marking. I don’t think it’s worth playing with the math. This is clearly a high-risk idea.

You might win a few thousand dollars and get away with it for a while.  But the Karas case shows that casinos are watching out for sophisticated marking schemes.

5 – Dealing With the Dealer

Casinos don’t trust their dealers and with good reason. Every few months ,I hear about another dealer getting arrested for colluding with a player.

Why do dealers cheat? They have their reasons, but most dealers realize this isn’t a smart career move. They’re more likely to be prosecuted for cheating than someone who is arguing about whether he doubled down.

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Cutting a deal with a casino staff member opens you up to felony charges. Law enforcement takes these schemes seriously.

You already know the casinos are watching their dealers closely. They might be good at cheating in casinos, but sooner or later, they all seem to get caught.

Conclusion

I’ve never met anyone who claimed to be a successful habitual casino cheat. I’ve met a few people who said they tried something simple and got away with it.

They only did it once or twice. Or so they say. And I tend to believe them.

When you stop to think about what being caught could cost you, playing an honest game of blackjack seems a lot more fun and free. You may lose all your money the next time you play, but at least you can go home knowing the police won’t have any reason to come find you in two months time.

5 Fun Facts About Caribbean Stud Poker

Poker Cards Spread Out, Caribbean Stud Poker Logo
Long before hybrid table games like Let It Ride, Mississippi Stud, and Three Card Poker revolutionized the gambling industry, it was Caribbean Stud Poker that took casinos by storm.

If you ever gambled during the late 1980s through the 1990s, you’ve probably encountered this simple table game. At one point back in the day, Caribbean Stud was a casino staple.

As the name implies, Caribbean Stud Poker combines the essential elements of traditional Five-Card Stud Poker with house-banked table gaming. Instead of squaring off mano a mano with an opponent, you place your bet(s), take five cards, and assess the situation.

From there, you can elect to raise it up (known as making the “play” bet in Caribbean Stud Poker), or fold your hand away and live to fight another day. Players still have to see their own five-card poker hand prevail against the dealer.

To cap off the exciting gameplay, your hand is scored against an escalating pay table (more on this to come) offering anywhere from even money to a 100 to 1 “jackpot.”

Caribbean Stud Poker only takes a minute to learn, and achieving mastery is attainable after a few sessions. Its simplicity may explain why it has all but died off in recent years. But if you’re interested in learning more, look no further.  Below, you’ll find five fun facts about playing Caribbean Stud Poker that even expert players are surprised to learn.

1 – David Sklansky Claims to Have Invented the Game

Before poker pros like Dan Harrington and Barry Greenstein were writing strategy books, David Sklansky was the industry’s most prolific author.

In just two summers between 1982 and 1983, Sklansky bagged three gold bracelets at the annual World Series of Poker (WSOP). He went on to write “Hold’em Poker” (1984) one year later, before publishing his masterpiece “The Theory of Poker” (1999) a decade and a half later.

But while Sklansky was busy terrorizing the poker tables in 1982, he found time to invent a completely new way of gambling on table games he dubbed “Casino Poker.”

In Sklansky’s game, players placed an Ante bet before taking five cards at random. The dealer also took five cards, and two of them were exposed to give the player partial information to work off. From there, the player could opt to fold weak holdings, or make a “play” bet for twice the size of their original ante. At showdown, the dealer needed an A-K or better to qualify, which prompted juicy payouts from an escalating pay table.

Poker Player David Sklansky

Sound familiar? Well, it should, because Sklansky says his Casino Poker innovation was the precursor to Caribbean Stud Poker as you know it today.

Back in 2007, Sklansky took to the Two Plus Two poker forum to pen a post titled simply “I Invented Caribbean Stud.” In the post, Sklansky explains how his Casino Poker transformed into Caribbean Stud Poker thanks to a series of unfortunate events:

“In 1982 I invented the game that became Carribbean Stud. I called it Casino Poker. Except for the fact that I exposed one card rather than two, and had no progressive jackpot betting option, the rules were the same. Ante one, bet two more, dealer qualifies with AK. Plus there were bonus pays for high hands.

I was told I couldn’t patent the game but I trademarked the name and put it on trial at Vegas World. I didn’t follow through because my girlfriend died during that time and I wasn’t up to it.

A few years later, a poker player asked me about the game because he knew a casino owner in Aruba. He brought the rules down there, they added the progressive, exposed only one card and got it patented. There is ongoing controversy about that patent and I was asked to give a deposition about it a few years ago.”

While the accuracy of this account can’t be verified, and Sklansky’s name doesn’t appear on the 1988 patent for the game, there’s little reason to doubt his story. Poker players have long been known for dabbling in outside entrepreneurial interests, often with disastrous results due to their lack of business experience and willingness to trust fellow gamblers.

Whether Sklansky truly invented Caribbean Stud Poker will remain an open debate, but in any event, poker players and gamblers alike owe the man a debt of gratitude in more ways than one.

2 – Caribbean Stud Poker Offers Unique Casino Pay Tables

As Sklansky mentions in his post, Caribbean Stud Poker offers “bonus” payouts when your hand beats the dealer’s qualifying (A-K high or better) hand.

These bonus payouts are attached to the “play” bet, which is more commonly known as the “raise” bet amongst regular players because you must double the Ante bet to force a showdown.

And as you can see with the pay table below, Caribbean Stud Poker’s dual pay tables for the ante and raise bet make the game quite unique indeed:

Caribbean Stud Pay Table

Hand Ante Raise*
Royal Flush 1 to 1 100 to 1
Straight Flush 1 to 1 50 to 1
Four of a Kind 1 to 1 20 to 1
Full House 1 to 1 7 to 1
Flush 1 to 1 5 to 1
Straight 1 to 1 3 to 1
Three of a Kind 1 to 1 2 to 1
Two Pair 1 to 1 1 to 1
One Pair 1 to 1 1 to 1
High Card 1 to 1 1 to 1

*Only paid when dealer has a qualifying hand of A-K high or better

Right off the bat, seasoned table game players will notice some odd stuff going on up there…

First, you don’t even need to make one pair or better to earn a minimum even money payout, just any high-card hand that is better than the dealer.

On the raise bet, bonus payouts stay at even money through two pair, before climbing to 2 to 1 at three of a kind. And of course, that 100 to 1 payout for landing a royal flush is the hook that keeps players coming back for more.

3 – Caribbean Poker Strategy Is Binary, So Its Easy to Master

Far too many table game players pass up on Stud-based games because they conflate “poker” with the Texas Hold’em they see on TV.

But while the tournament heroes and cash game wizards rely on intricate strategies to survive, anyone can learn to play Caribbean Stud Poker perfectly in a matter of minutes.

Here’s how it works..

The basic Caribbean Stud Poker strategy boils down to a binary decision for the vast majority of hands you’ll see:

  • With one pair or better, you should ALWAYS raise.
  • With anything worse than A-K high (A-Q high, K-high, etc.) you should ALWAYS fold

You’ll see some sites out there offering a detailed strategy chart for playing your A-K high hands, and if you use that resource, the house edge comes to 5.22%.

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But that chart is a bear, with hundreds of different options to memorize, so most Caribbean Stud Players simply use A-K-J-8-3 as their baseline.

In other words, when you have A-K-J-8-3 or better, ALWAYS make the raise bet, while hands like A-K-J-8-2 or worse (A-K-10-x-x, A-K-J-7-x, etc.) should ALWAYS be folded.

Using this strategy shortcut increases the house edge ever so slightly to 5.31%, but that difference is statistically negligible over short-term sessions.

4 – Caribbean Stud Poker Has a Cousin Called Caribbean Draw Poker

When playing your favorite online casino, you might see a game labeled as “Caribbean Draw Poker,” and it can be easy to confuse that with Caribbean Stud as described on this page.

But in reality, Caribbean Draw Poker is an offshoot offering slightly different rules and gameplay.

Poker Cards in a Pile

To make a long story short, Caribbean Draw Poker lets players discard two cards from their hand and draw replacements, hence the name, in an effort to improve. Other than that, the games are essentially the same, but that drawing element completely changes basic strategy considerations.

5 – Progressive Side Bets May Be Tempting, But It Was Built for Suckers

This final fact may not be very fun to learn, but it’s important nonetheless: NEVER play the progressive side bet option if you like money.

Sure, when you see a big-time progressive jackpot of six-figures or more advertised for landing a royal flush, tossing a measly $1 chip on the side bet to take a shot seems like a fine idea.

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And why not, what with a 10% progressive payout for straight flushes, $500 for four of a kind, and $100 for a full house up for grabs as well?

Unfortunately, when using five cards and no draws, you’ll only make a royal flush on 1 in 649,740 deals, or 0.0001% of the time.

That makes the progressive on Caribbean Stud Poker one of the very worst in all of real money gambling, with an obscene house edge of 26.46%. That’s keno territory, so no table game player worth their salt should waste their time or $1 chips on this ultimate sucker bet.

Conclusion

Caribbean Stud Poker may have seen better days in terms of popularity, but for table game enthusiasts of a certain vintage, it’ll always hold a special place in gambling lore. Game inventors who saw how popular Caribbean Stud Poker became in the 1990s used its Stud Poker structure as the inspiration for classics like Mississippi Stud, Let It Ride, and Three-Card Poker. And as the five fun facts presented here prove, not many casino games have the long and winding history that this one boasts.

5 Weird Variations of Roulette Games

Casino Roulette Wheel and Roulette Board
Roulette features a basic concept. You bet on a specific number or section of numbers and wait for a spinning wheel to determine your results.

This concept has worked well enough to keep drawing many gamblers over the years. But roulette has been around in its current form since 1796 and isn’t exactly the hottest thing in gambling.

If you’re into this game, then you may be looking to spice up your roulette experience. The good news is that you have plenty of options for doing so.

Online gaming provides capabilities far beyond what a land-based casino can offer with roulette. It features software that can be programmed to feature some really unique, if not just downright weird, games.

That said, I’m going to cover some of the oddest roulette variations available. Most of these are only found in online casinos, although a couple can be found in land-based establishments, too.

Interesting Roulette Games Worth Trying

Have you ever thought about playing multiple roulette wheels simultaneously? Or trying a game with multiple balls spinning around the wheel?

If you’ve ever had thoughts similar to these, then you should find the following games quite interesting.

1 – Multi-Wheel Roulette

Roulette tables are supposed to have one wheel. In fact, nobody truly envisioned a multi-wheel table until online casinos came along.

Thanks to modern gaming technology, multi-wheel roulette is now available. Here are the key elements of this game:

  • Up to 8 wheels in play.
  • A single bet is placed across all active wheels (e.g. $1 placed on four different wheels).
  • Each type of bet is made on all active wheels (e.g. red/black on six different wheels).
  • Each wheel produces its own results.
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The exciting thing about this game is that you can make a certain wager and watch it play out across multiple wheels.

2 – Double Action Roulette

Double Action roulette is one of the aforementioned games that can be found in either land-based or online casinos. This variation is notable for its unique wheel.

Here are the characteristics of its wheel:

  • Outer numbered track on wheel (just like with regular roulette).
  • Inner numbered track on wheel.
  • Two different areas on the board for outer and inner bets.

Double Action roulette lets you essentially bet on two games at once. If your outer bet doesn’t come through, then maybe you can count on the inner wager, or vice versa.

3 – Multi-Ball Roulette

Multi-ball roulette is exactly how it sounds in that multiple balls are in play during each spin. Available at real money online casinos, it’s perhaps the most exciting game on this list.

This variation can put up to 10 balls into play at once. All of the balls are different colors, so as to eliminate confusion.

Colored Roulette Balls, Casino Roulette Wheel

Multi-ball roulette works like standard variations in the beginning. You place your chips on the board and select the spin button when you’re ready.

All available balls will be released once the wheel begins spinning. With up to 10 balls, you can look forward to 10 different results.

4 – Pinball Roulette

This online game combines pinball and roulette for a truly unique gaming experience. But it works differently than standard roulette or pinball.

Rounds begin like normal. You place your chips on the board and indicate when you’re ready to play.

Next, you’ll be taken to a new screen that has the following features:

  • A pinball area (minus the flippers).
  • Numbered track located at the bottom.
  • Only 15 to 20 numbers are visible at any time.
  • The numbered track rotates across the bottom to ensure that all pockets are available.
  • You shoot the ball into the pinball area.
  • It bounces on the bumpers until finally resting into one of the pockets below.

Unfortunately, the missing flippers take away any skill element to this game. However, you should still enjoy shooting the ball into play and watching it bounce down into one of the pockets.

5 – Mini Roulette

Along with Double Action, mini roulette is the other game on this list that can be found online and live. It features a wheel with just 13 numbers, including zero and 1 to 12. Contrast this to American and European wheels, which have 38 and 37 numbers, respectively.

The fun with mini roulette is that the wheel looks totally different from standard wheels. The only drawback, though, is that it has a high house edge.

Mini roulette without the la partage rule features a 7.69% house advantage. La partage pays half of even-money bets back when the ball lands on zero.

With la partage, the house edge drops down to 3.85%. Even still, these odds aren’t great in comparison to the European version (2.70% house advantage).

Always Play New Roulette Games for Free First

You can see that the roulette world is filled with some interesting and truly odd variations. Therefore, you might want to try one of these games if you’re tired of the classic version.

Assuming you do, then you should find out if a free online version is available. After all, you don’t want to bet good money on something you don’t like.

Almost every online casino allows you to play games for free. The idea is to let you trial games in hopes you’ll later deposit.

You may or may not want to deposit at a particular casino. But you can at least try unique roulette games this way. All you need to do is register for an account. Once you’re finished registering, you can proceed to enjoying free roulette variations.

Why Do Casinos Roll out New Roulette Variations?

As mentioned before, roulette has been available in casinos since the late 1700s. In one sense, this longevity gives roulette a historic mystique that’s hard to match.

On the other hand, this game can feel quite dated, especially when comparing it to innovative video slots. Both online and land-based casinos are fully aware that innovation is happening throughout the industry. They can’t sit idly by and watch their competitors attract gamblers with more interesting games.

Casino Roulette Wheel

Therefore, casinos are always willing to try something new in hopes of drawing and keeping more players. Roulette variations are part of this process.

Double Action or mini roulette may not send gamblers running through casino doors, but they’re certainly appealing to those who enjoy playing roulette, yet want something different.

As with any new and bold casino game, some of these experiments don’t work out. However, some variations do eventually become long-time hits.

Are Unique Roulette Variants Ultimately Worth Choosing?

Whether you play a new roulette game mostly depends upon what you value most. Do you want a completely different experience? Are you looking for the best chance to beat the casino?

In the latter case, you may not be interested in playing a new variant. Instead, you’ll want to spend more time searching for French Roulette.

This variation gives you the best odds of beating the casino. It’s played on a European wheel with the la partage rule.

Again, European Roulette has a 2.70% house edge. But when la partage is added to the equation, French Roulette features a 1.35% house advantage.

I’ve yet to see any variations that offer the French rules. Instead, variants have either a 2.70% or 5.26% house advantage. In the case of mini roulette, the house edge can be either 3.85% or 7.69%.

Casinos are relying on the novelty effect, rather than great odds, to draw gamblers. But if you’re all about the experience, then you won’t mind braving a higher house advantage.

Conclusion

Roulette isn’t like slot machines, which offer countless games and themes. However, it does at least have a decent selection of variations.

Everything begins with the classic variants, such as American, European, and French roulette. But you can go even further than this when looking for interesting experiences.

I suggest trying at least one of the games covered here. Each has the potential to offer you something very different from the usual drill.

Multi-ball, Double Action, and multi-reel roulette are great if you crave action. They all give you the opportunity to bet on multiple outcomes in each round.

Pinball roulette is a really fun hybrid game that includes a heavy pinball element. Mini roulette offers a cool little wheel with only 13 numbers. I wouldn’t spend too much time with this version because of the high house edge. But it’s worth a few spins for the novelty wheel.

Before you try any of these games, you’ll definitely want to test them out for free. Online casinos give you the ability to try any game after registering for an account.

You can thus play a unique roulette variant and walk away without even making a wager if you don’t like it.

Online Gambling Banking Methods: ACH vs Bank Transfer

Hands on Laptop Computer, Cell Phone on the Side Displaying Bank Icon
The online gambling world offers plenty of banking options. Credit cards, cryptocurrencies, debit cards, e-wallets, and prepaid cards are some of the available deposit methods.

However, few options are as convenient as moving money directly to and from a banking account. This scenario eliminates any extra middlemen standing between you and your bank account.

ACH (a.k.a. eCheck) and bank transfer are two such methods. Both allow for moving money to and from your bank.

But what’s the difference between them? I’m going to discuss this matter by covering the intricacies of eChecks and bank transfers, along with their strengths and weaknesses.

What Is ACH?

ACH stands for “automated clearing house,” which is a network that allows for money to be moved between banks. This term covers multiple types of transfers, including bill payments, direct deposits (from employers), fund transfers, and person-to-person payments.

An ACH Transfer can take place in two ways:

  • ACH – You can “push” money to either your account or family members’ and friends’ accounts. Venmo, for example, allows for these debit-type payments.
  • Debit – Money is “pulled” from your account. Such payments are often recurring, allowing the recipient to automatically deduct what they’re owed from an account each month.

I’ve never heard of an online casino that lets you set up recurring transactions. Therefore, you’ll be using credit-style eChecks in the internet gambling world.

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ACH transfers can take up to several business days to complete. The long delay is due to network operators processing eChecks in batches throughout the day/week, rather than immediately.

Assuming you could set up debit-style transactions, then your gaming deposits would be processed by the next business day at the latest. Again, though, you’ll be using credit ACH transactions at online gambling sites.

The National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA) sets the rules regarding ACH. This trade group oversees the network and allows for same-day processing in some situations.

However, you’re unlikely to come across such a scenario in the gambling world. Even if you could get same-day ACH, you’d have to pay an expediting fee to banks.

The good news about credit-type eChecks is that they’re cheap, if not free. They’re either completely free to send, or they require around a $1 fee.

What Is a Bank Transfer?

A bank transfer (a.k.a. wire transfer) is a fast, secure way to move money. The process of sending a wire transfer isn’t difficult, but you may have trouble gathering the necessary information and providing it in the correct format.

When you use a bank wire, the money lands in your account immediately. You can’t stop or cancel a payment unless the decision is made within the short timeframe before it’s deposited.

That said, you want to be completely sure you’re dealing with a reputable gambling site before sending a bank transfer.

The two types of wire transfers include:

  • A transfer between banks through a standard bank network.
  • An electronic payment service, such as Western Union, that may or may not involve a bank account.

As you can see, a bank transfer is a specific type of wire transfer. In this case, you’re sending electronic funds from your bank account to another person’s account.

A wire transfer service, meanwhile, can either involve sending electronic funds or cash. You can bring cash to a Western Union agent, for example, and the recipient can be given cash once the transfer is completed.

Two Western Union Booths

Of course, the focus of this section is bank transfers. Therefore, I’ll only discuss such payments throughout the rest of this section.

The key information that you need to complete a bank transfer includes:

  • Recipient’s bank name
  • Recipient bank’s American Bankers Association (ABA) routing number
  • Recipient’s bank account number

You may need more info than this, depending upon your bank. However, these are the main aspects you need before completing such a payment.

You must ask the recipient to supply their details. The bank agent you’re dealing with can help if anything is missing.

A common piece of advice is to never wire money based on instructions provided in an email. After all, a hacker could intercept your message and change the recipient’s details so they receive the payment instead.

Ideally, you’ll call the recipient to receive their bank details. However, you shouldn’t have to worry about this when dealing with an online casino, which will provide you with details via customer service.

Also, international bank transfers require a swift code. When dealing with an offshore gambling site, you need to get the swift code before sending payment.

How Do These Options Differ for Online Gambling Deposits?

A bank transfer and ACH have some obvious similarities. However, they also have key differences that set them apart when it comes to making internet gambling deposits.

Bank Transfers Are Faster

ACH isn’t the most convenient way to fund your gambling account. Such transfers can take two to three days to complete, because they’re processed in batches, rather than right after being requested.

An eCheck, in contrast, is processed almost immediately. The casino receives the deposit right away, because there’s no hold put on the funds.

EChecks Are Cheaper

Oftentimes, ACH doesn’t cost anything to send or receive. If there is a cost, the sender may have to pay a dollar or less.

Laptop on Table with Banking Check Logo on Screen

Bank transfers, on the other hand, do come with notable charges. You’ll pay between $10 and $35 to send a wire in many cases.

The recipient may even have to pay a fee when smaller bank/wire institutions are involved. Of course, most online casinos don’t accept payment through such services.

ACH Is Safer to Use

One big advantage of eChecks is that they can be reversed in the case of error or fraud. You can contact your bank if something is fishy, and they’ll determine whether or not to reverse the charge.

A wire transfer, in contrast, can only be reversed in rare circumstances. The bank/wire service has a tiny window to make a reversal.

In short, you need to ensure you’re dealing with a reputable casino before sending funds. You have no chance of getting the money back once the deposit clears.

Bank Transfers and EChecks Have Different Common Uses

Both ACH and bank transfers can be used to fund an online gambling account. However, they’re commonly used in different arenas outside of the gambling world.

eChecks are the best option for recurring transactions. For example, you may schedule automatic car or student-loan payments with ACH.

Bank transfers are used for quicker transactions. If you know somebody who needs money immediately, you can send a bank wire.

You may want to think about what services you like using outside of online gaming. This way, you’ll have a more seamless transition when making casino deposits.

Should You Deposit With ACH or Bank Transfer?

Whether you use ACH or a bank transfer to deposit at gambling sites depends upon the desired speed. Are you feening for real money online gambling now, or can you wait a few days?

Bank transfer allows for quicker deposits. Therefore, it’s the best option when speed is the most important factor.

Hopefully, though, you’re fine with waiting a couple of days. ACH may be slower than a bank transfer, but it’s cheaper, easier to use, and safer.

Computer Keyboard, Cup of Coffee, Phone Displaying Banking Icon

You don’t have to pay anything to send eChecks in many cases. You can easily use this service just by providing your checking account details. EChecks can also be reversed within a reasonable timeframe if sent to a fraudulent casino.

That said, ACH is the superior option in most cases. Bank transfers are only useful when you want to make quick deposits and don’t mind the high fees.

Conclusion

Bank transfers and eChecks are just two of the many ways you can deposit at internet casinos. That said, they have a lot of competition when it comes to online gambling.

But the key advantage to both options is that they can be used to send money directly to a gaming site. No other middleman is involved (e.g. e-wallet), nor do you have to visit a physical location (e.g. prepaid card).

That said, ACH and bank wires are each solid ways to make a gambling deposit. But you also have to consider the differences between each.

An eCheck is safer, cheaper (usually free), and more convenient. Honestly, you should always use ACH over bank transfers when it comes to internet gambling.

The only time that a bank transfer makes sense is if you want quicker funding. But in

A Vegan’s Guide to Eating in Las Vegas

Woman Wearing Vegan Hat
Ah, Las Vegas. The city that was built on cheap prime rib and shrimp cocktails. A place known for massive buffets featuring eggs, carved meat stations, cold seafood, and sushi.

What’s a vegan to do?

Sure. Whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but that’s not good enough for most vegans out there who want to be able to go on vacation and still maintain their values when they eat. The good news is that while the city of Las Vegas has a reputation for cutting loose, it also knows not to mess around with those who have specific diets.

That means that you can be vegan and love Vegas, too. Sometimes, that may mean needing to plan ahead, but it’s completely doable! Here are a few tips to help you along.

Vegas Loves Vegans

That’s not a joke. Las Vegas is home to a diverse crowd of people who come from all around the world and there are plenty of vegan-friendly and all-vegan restaurants here. In all seriousness, Las Vegas truly wants you to fly to her borders and spend money like there’s no tomorrow.

Vegans are not going to do that if they can’t find any place to eat. That’s why you’ll be seeing meatless alternatives on menus across the board.

Of course, there’s a world of difference between a meatless meal and a vegan meal, but chefs who can make meatless meals fantastic can also take the extra step and make a great vegan meal.

All you have to do is ask. Unfortunately, in some places, you are going to have to ask, but you should be able to eat tons of enjoyable vegan food in Las Vegas.

Avoid Most Buffets

Okay, I know I said there’s plenty of options, but buffets aren’t one of them.  I thought long and hard about whether to include buffets, but at the end of the day, I had to decide. If you’re vegan, most buffets are not for you.

Foods in Silver Tins, Vegetable Bufft

I really wanted the whole of Las Vegas to be behind a healthy, plant-based diet, but for every buffet I looked at or went to, I just didn’t see a lot of vegan options. If you’re only vegetarian, then yeah, you can stuff your gullet like most meat eaters at a buffet. If, however, you eat strictly no animal products, then only the Wynn is really known to cater to plant-based diets. Just tell the host and a chef will show you your options!

Overall, it’s a numbers game. It’s still a case where a higher number of people want to eat things with honey, butter, or chicken broth. In buffets, you have to cook for the masses to keep costs down, which means going with meat items. But if you keep asking for it (and go there when it opens), you will see more of Las Vegas come around.

Vegan on the Las Vegas Strip

Remember that part about Las Vegas loving vegans? That still holds true. First, like many places outside of Las Vegas, you’re likely to be able to find a plant-based pasta, Japanese food, or Chinese food at most restaurants. But I also realize that’s not good enough and certainly doesn’t match Vegas’ luxe image.

So, hop into an Uber, take a walk, or ride on the bus and head to Mandalay Place, which is conveniently located nearly Mandalay Bay (it’s actually between Mandalay Bay and the Luxor). There, you will find two excellent restaurants with vegan options.

Vegan at Mandalay Place

First, we have Hussong’s Cantina at the shoppes at Mandalay Place. Hussong’s is routinely rated some of the best Mexican food in all of the Las Vegas Strip. They have a separate vegan menu for anyone looking for plant-based alternatives. Don’t miss out on a feast of tostadas, enchiladas, “fish” tacos, and even breakfast burritos with vegan chorizo and scrambled vegan eggs.

Vegan Fish Tacos on Plate

Also, at Mandalay Place, you can stop by Slice of Vegas, a pizza place that serves vegan pizza made with Daiya mozzarella. There are also “meatball” subs, pastas, and other vegan delights to be found. Just ask for the vegan menu when you enter and get ready for an amazing meal!

Other Vegan on the Strip

For those who find themselves in the middle of the Strip, near the Wynn, you will find a restaurant called Stripburger and Chicken. One of the burgers they serve is the Impossible Burger, which you can get with fresh cut fries or sweet potato fries. It comes with caramelized onions and you can sub the cheese for avocado. Sadly, their menu doesn’t yet feature a vegan milkshake.

For those on the north end of the Strip, there’s always El Dorado Cantina which is rated some of the best Mexican cuisine in town. They’ll serve you up some tableside guacamole, some ghost chili salsa, grilled cactus tacos, meaty roasted chiles, and a delicious veggie-stuffed burrito with Mexican squash and portobellos.

Vegan-Friendly Hotel: The Wynn

When it comes to vegan-friendly Vegas, though, I saved the best for last. While I don’t support Steve Wynn’s personal conduct at all, his decision in 2010 to go vegan has delicious consequences for those who stay at his hotels.

Wynn has decreed that there will be animal-free menus at all his properties, including his Vegas casinos and he has worked with vegan chefs to improve their offerings. So far, this doesn’t mean that he’s given up on animal products completely in his hotels, but you can always get meatless dishes at his restaurants.

Terrace Pointe Cafe at the Wynn Las Vegas

This alone can justify a stay at one of his hotels. The Wynn and the Encore have vegan menus at every restaurant within the properties. Terrace Pointe Café is known for its vegan chicken and waffles, complete with a spiced maple syrup and a scallion waffle. Lakeside has an incomparable carrot cake with walnut brittle and a cauliflower steak charred to perfection. To top it off, Sinatra has vegan milanese, “chicken” parmigiana, and Valrhona chocolate mousse to finish your meal. You can even request vegan meals for in-room dining!

Vegan Off the Strip

For those willing to leave the bright lights of the casino behind, Vegas offers a number of places for vegans to tickle their taste buds.

The first place to go is VegeNation in Downtown Las Vegas for vegan American fare from around the world. You can also stay for one of their seminars on how to help change the environment for the better, which is a pretty cool thing for a restaurant to offer. VegeNation is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch.

You can then head over to Ronald’s Donuts for a massive selection of vegan doughnuts (soy-crème filled, anyone?). They also offer fried doughnut holes for anyone looking to add some extra carbs to their diet. This is Vegas and you have to cut loose!

Also, if you’re goal is to eat vegan like Bill Clinton once did, head over to Simply Pure, an all-vegan restaurant where the former president once stopped.

Even if eating like a Clinton isn’t your thing, they have a breathtaking assortment of fresh sandwiches, enchiladas, nachos, salads, and many other mostly-raw dishes. They also offer cooking classes and catering.

If you’re dining with omnivores, The Modern Vegan is a great place to stop by. Their menu is astonishingly extensive! You’ll see everything from buffalo chicken cheese dip to eggs Florentine. There’s waffles, hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches, and even healthy options like protein bowls, salads, and kombucha.

These are just some of the vegan restaurants that you can explore while in Las Vegas.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, Las Vegas has something for every vegan. If you want to stay on the Strip, you have allies amongst the chefs there. If you ask, they will make you something special. And since this is Vegas, it’s likely to be a lot more delicious than some boiled noodles or a basic salad.

Also, the Wynn can be your beacon to eating animal-free on the Strip.

If you’re willing to adventure out though, the eating really gets going. All of the places listed above are going to give you a completely fantastic vegan meal using a lot of ingredients sourced locally. Yes, that’s right, there’s a lot of urban agriculture in Las Vegas and it’s showing up in restaurants all over the city.

The main thing, though, is that I know traveling while vegan can be a headache. It requires extra planning and can put you in the hands of chefs who may or may not know that butter, cream, and chicken broth aren’t vegan.

But you don’t have to worry about that in Las Vegas. All you have to worry about is whether you will fit into your clothes after all that delicious vegan food.

Poker Hands and Poker Hand Rankings

Poker Hand on Table with Chips
I ran into a friend of mine yesterday who was jealous because a bunch of our mutual friends were playing Texas holdem Saturday night. She was bummed because she never learned to play poker.

I told her it was easy to learn, and the first thing she needed to do was learn about poker hands and poker hand rankings.

And that gave me the subject for my latest blog post.

Poker Hands Are Almost Always Made Up of Five Cards

In fact, I’m not sure of an exception to this rule. Poker isn’t one game, of course, it’s multiple games that have a couple of things in common:

  1. They have a betting structure where you can decide to continue to play or not
  2. They use five-card hands that usually win based on the standard poker hand rankings
The variations are nearly infinite. But one thing most variants have in common is that, no matter how many cards are used in the game, you win the pot if you have the best five-card hand at the end of the hand.

If you’re playing Seven-Card Stud, for example, you get seven cards, but you use the best five-card hand you can make to determine the winner.

If you’re playing Texas holdem, you have two cards in your hand and five face-up cards that you share with other players. You make the best five-card hand you can using any combination of those seven cards.

If you’re playing Omaha, you have four cards in your hand and five face-up cards that you share with the other players. But you still make the best five-card hand that you can, using two cards from your hand and three cards from the community cards.

Ranks and Suits

Poker is almost always played with a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. Each card has two attributes:

  1. A rank
  2. A suit

You have four suits—clubs, diamonds, hearts, and spades. In each of those suits, you have 13 ranks—2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, jack, queen, king, and ace. The ace is unusual because it can be the highest OR the lowest card. It can rank above the king, but it can also count as a “1.”

Flushes, Straights, and Straight Flushes

Poker Straight Flush

The ranks and suits become important when you have a flush, a straight, or a straight flush.

A flush is just five cards of the same suit. They can all be clubs, diamonds, hearts, or spades, it doesn’t matter. If you face an opponent who also has a flush, the player whose flush has the highest ranked card wins. An ace would be the highest card in any flush.

A straight is just five cards where the ranks are in succession. It doesn’t matter what suit the cards are, it only matters that the cards are made up of consecutive ranks.

For example, an A2345 is a straight, but so is a 10JQKA.

In the prior example, the ace counts as 1, but in the second, the ace counts as the highest card in the hand, above the king.

If multiple opponents have a straight, the one with the highest card in the straight wins. But if the ace is used as a 1 to make an ace to 5 straight, it counts as a low card for this purpose.

A straight flush is a hand where the cards are all consecutive, AND they’re all of the same suit.

Pairs, Trips, Quads, and Full Houses

Poker Full House

All the other possible poker hands you can make have nothing to do with consecutive ranks or suited cards. They have to do with how many cards of a specific rank you have.

A pair, for example, is a hand where you have two cards of the same rank and three other cards. If you and your opponent both have a pair, the higher-ranked pair wins. A pair of aces beats a pair of kings, for example.

Two pair is a hand made up of two cards of one rank and two cards of another rank, plus a third card of still another rank. Three of a kind is a hand made up of three cards of the same rank and two other cards.

A full house is a three of a kind with a pair, three cards of one rank and two cards of another. And, of course, four of a kind is four cards of the same rank.

In all these examples, the highest-ranked card determines the winner.

The Standard List of Poker Hand Rankings

So far, I’ve discussed the various poker hands you can have in relation to the attributes of the cards. I haven’t given them a ranking. Almost all poker games use the same ranking system.

From best to worst, here are the poker hand rankings:

  1. Straight flush
  2. Four of a kind
  3. Full house
  4. Flush
  5. Straight
  6. Three of a kind
  7. Two pair
  8. A pair

A straight flush always beats four of a kind or anything lower. A four of a kind always beats a full house or anything lower. And so on, through the end of the poker hand rankings list.

The first element of poker strategy any new poker player should master is the poker hand rankings. If you don’t know what beats what in poker, you can’t possibly make the correct decisions.

How These Hand Rankings Are Determined

The poker hand rankings are sorted this way based on the probability you’ll be dealt such a hand. The less likely it is to get a hand, the more it’s worth.

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For example, the probability of getting a four of a kind is 72,192 to 1. The probability of getting a full house, on the other hand, is 4,165 to 1. That’s a dramatic difference.

Also, most poker hand ranking lists include a separate listing for a royal flush, which is just the highest possible straight flush you can have. The only thing that makes it different from any other straight flush is how high your highest card ranks, but we don’t break four aces into a separate listing.

So, I don’t break a royal flush out into its own listing either.

Starting Hand Rankings in Texas Holdem

Man Holding Pocket Aces

I could write about poker hand rankings all day, but for now, let me just address starting hands in Texas holdem.

Your starting hand in a game of Texas holdem consists of the two cards you get face down at the beginning of the game. These are the two cards you get to look at before deciding whether to play the hand at all.

The best possible starting hand in Texas holdem is a pair of aces. Often, a pair of aces can win a hand even if it doesn’t improve with the other cards. The rankings continue from there like this:

  1. Pocket aces
  2. Pocket kings
  3. Pocket queens
  4. Ace king suited
  5. Pocket jacks
  6. Pocket 10s
  7. Ace queen suited
  8. Ace king (not suited)
  9. Ace jack suited
  10. King queen suited

This might seem like a hard chart to memorize, but think about it like this… These are the best possible starting hands in the game. You should raise with any of them unless you have reason to believe that someone else has a better starting hand.

For example, if you have a pair of queens, you should raise with it, unless a couple of stingy players in front of you have already bet and raised. Even then, it often makes sense to raise with the queens.

Also, these hands all fall into categories. First are the pairs. Any pair of 10s or higher is a premium starting hand, even though there’s a huge difference between pocket 10s and pocket aces.

Then, you have the suited aces. An ace and a king, an ace and a queen, or an ace and a jack are great hands if they’re of the same suit. You have the potential to make the best possible flush, the best possible straight flush, and the best possible straight.

And if you miss those, you still might catch another ace or pair one of the other big cards, in which case, you’ll have a big pair with the best possible kicker.

Ace king offsuit is prized mostly for its high pair potential, but also for its high straight potential. And king queen suited has lots of potential to make big flushes and straights.

Conclusion

Poker hands aren’t that hard to understand, but if you’re a beginner, it’s probably the first thing you should learn.

Of course, the second thing you should learn is your betting options at various points in the game.

Did you already know everything about poker hand rankings? Did I leave something out? Let me know in the comments.

Will Facebook’s Libra Be Used in Online Gambling?

Computer Displaying Online Roulette Game, Facebook Libra Logo
Facebook has become the gold standard for social media in terms of size and revenue. They furthered their market dominance by purchasing the photo-sharing app Instagram in 2012.

Now, Facebook appears to be targeting the financial world. They recently announced that they’ll be launching a cryptocurrency called Libra.

Bitcoin is currently the big name in the cryptocurrency space. But Libra could also become just as notable if everything goes right.

In fact, Libra might be used for far more transactions than Bitcoin, which is often considered a store of value. Libra may even become the most common payment method in the online gambling world.

“May” is the key word here, because nothing is set in stone as far as Libra goes. That said, I’m going to discuss more on this digital currency and how it could be used in the online gaming world.

What Is Libra?

Details on Libra are fairly scarce because it hasn’t yet been released. But according to Facebook, this crypto will be used to send money cheaply and improve financial services, especially for the unbanked population.

Libra is what many in crypto refer to as a “stablecoin.” A stablecoin is pegged to one or more fiat currencies, such as the US dollar, euro, or British pound.

Such cryptocurrencies are usually based on a simple ratio for a specific currency. Example, a single USD Tether (USDT) equals $1.

This particular stablecoin will be built upon a blockchain platform called the Libra Network. Blockchain refers to technology that’s based on multiple servers (a.k.a. nodes), which act as ledgers for a network.

One key difference between the Libra Network and other stablecoin blockchain platforms is that it’ll be “permissioned.” Only servers that have been granted the proper access can connect to a permissioned blockchain.

Many crypto enthusiasts favor decentralized blockchains over the permissioned variety. After all, a decentralized network can’t be controlled by any single entity.

Facebook claims the Libra Network’s permissioned status will allow it to run faster. Speed is the of the utmost importance here, given that Libra is built for everyday use.

The Libra Network is built on open-source code, thus allowing any developer to create tools and digital wallets on top of the network. Facebook notes that this setup will allow them to eventually make Libra a public blockchain.

At the time of this writing, though, the social network has failed to provide details on how they’ll complete this transition. That said, much surrounding Libra is still up in the air.

Who Will Run Libra?

Many have cried that Facebook is using Libra to take over the financial industry. This is a scary thought when considering how Facebook gathers and gives away their users’ data.

However, the social networking giant won’t manage Libra on a day-to-day basis. Instead, the Libra Association, a non-profit organization based in Switzerland, will manage the digital currency.

This consortium includes multiple companies and nonprofit organizations from around the world. The 28 founding members come from various segments, including blockchain, payments, technology, and venture capitalism.

Mercy Corps Logo, Coinbase Logo, Lyft Logo, Paypal Logo

This association aims to have at least 100 members by the time the currency launches. Some of the most notable members at this time include Coinbase, Lyft, Mercy Corps, and PayPal.

The Libra Association’s main duties include managing the financial reserves that will back Libra’s stability and operating servers to run the network. Regarding the stability, Facebook claims that Libra will be much less volatile than Bitcoin because it’s backed by fiat.

Libra’s value will be pegged to a variety of standard currencies, including a Japanese yen, dollar, euro, and more. In contrast, other stablecoins are usually just pegged to the US dollar.

How Will Libra Work?

The Libra Association plans to launch a product called the Calibra Wallet. This digital wallet will allow users to store Libra and send it to their FB friends at little to no cost.

A standalone app, the Calibra Wallet will be compatible with both Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Other developers and companies will also be able to create wallets on the Libra Network.

Facebook claims that Calibra will run independent of the company to protect users’ and privacy. The social networking company also states that they won’t share customers’ personal or financial details with third parties.

The only time they’ll break this arrangement is to comply with law enforcement investigations and prevent fraud.

You may be wondering exactly how Facebook will benefit from Libra. They expect the transactions between their customers and businesses to create more ad revenue.

Using Libra in Online Gambling

As mentioned before, the exact details on Libra are unknown since it hasn’t launched yet. However, it’ll probably work like any other cryptocurrency with regard to internet gambling.

If you already use crypto or even Bitcoin to play casino games with, then you should have no trouble adapting to Libra. Assuming you don’t, then the process of using crypto for online gaming isn’t too difficult.

The first step is to purchase cryptocurrency using fiat. Only certain exchanges accept fiat, including Coinbase, Gemini, and Kraken.

Colored Laptop Keyboard, Poker Cards Spread

You can’t, on the other hand, visit Binance or KuCoin, for example, and buy Bitcoin with cash. You have to choose an exchange that’s set up to allow you to make such purchases.

Once you have crypto, then you can transfer it to your online gambling site wallet. To do this, you first need to obtain a wallet address from the gaming site.

Gambling sites that accept crypto will feature these options in their banking section. You just need to visit their cashier section and look for the appropriate cryptocurrency to get a wallet address.

Assuming Libra becomes widely adopted thanks to its association with Facebook, then it should be available at many internet gambling sites. Furthermore, it’ll assuredly work just like any other crypto for gambling purposes.

Advantages to Using Libra for Online Gambling

One of Libra’s distinct advantages is that it’ll be backed by a consortium of well-respected companies. Many dislike the business practices of Facebook or PayPal, but they can’t deny that the companies behind Libra are more reputable then what’s common in cryptocurrency.

For example, USDT is backed by a murky ownership group. While the stablecoin has operated without many hitches up to this point, it does leave plenty of questions.

Perhaps the biggest question is what’ll happen with their lawsuit in New York. The NY State Attorney General has accused the stablecoin’s backers of trying to cover up $850 million in missing funds.

Nothing has been decided from a legal standpoint as of yet. However, many are leery of how USDT doesn’t have a full reserve to back its supply.

The Libra Association at least has a number of public companies behind it. These businesses can’t just hide behind a convoluted network of shell companies if things go wrong.

If Libra turns out to be a scam that drain’s people’s money, then reputations will get dragged through the mud. Therefore, the association has plenty of incentive to ensure they run a clean network.

Another advantage to Libra from a gambling standpoint is that it’ll make for easier crypto-to-fiat conversions. If you know that one Libra equals one dollar, for example, then you’ll have no trouble determining your bet sizes.

Contrast this to Bitcoin, which is a wildly fluctuating cryptocurrency with weird conversion rates. For instance, one milli-Bitcoin (mBTC), the most-common unit in online gambling, equals $9.74 at the time of this post.

Yet one more thing to like about Libra is that it’ll probably be easy to obtain. Provided you use Facebook, then you’ll able to get this digital currency just by visiting your social media account.

Of course, exchanges like Coinbase have made the process of buying Bitcoin relatively easy. But you’ll find it even handier to go through Facebook if you’re already using social media anyway.

Will Libra Even Launch? Or Will Governments Crush It?

So far, I’ve discussed a lot of probabilities regarding Libra. Once again, though, nothing with this future cryptocurrency is set in stone.

It may not even get off the ground. US lawmakers and financial figureheads are already questioning this new concept.

Government Building

Congress isn’t thrilled with the idea of a social media site offering their own global financial network. Some lawmakers would even like to ban Libra and similar currency ideas.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell floated concerns that Libra could be used for money laundering and other crimes. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also believes that this crypto might be used in illicit activities.

The problem is that Libra could be subject to far less regulation than the US dollar. Facebook has delayed the launch in order to clear up these concerns in the meantime.

Conclusion – Should You Gamble Online With Libra If It’s Available?

Libra should be a legitimate stablecoin in a cryptocurrency environment that has few reputable options. Furthermore, it should offer a number of online gambling advantages.

First off, public companies will run the Libra Network. Unlike the owners of USDT, this network’s nodes will be highly visible and must protect their reputations.

Another benefit is that Libra will be pegged to a variety of fiat currencies. Therefore, you won’t have to struggle mathematically to make the conversions on your bets.

Contrast this to Bitcoin, which is currently the dominant crypto in online gambling. Milli-Bitcoin conversions aren’t very clean, which leads to confusing bet sizes (e.g. 1 mBTC = $9.74).

You can also expect stability when gambling with Libra. Your bankroll will always be worth the same in terms of fiat value on a day-to-day basis.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies fluctuate every day. Your gambling funds could be worth $200 one day and just $160 the next.

Of course, Libra also brings some legitimate concerns. Facebook, which spearheads the Libra Association, has taken plenty of heat for sharing users’ data.

Some worry that Libra is just another avenue for FB to grab more data. Then again, the Libra Association will be a vast network that should ease these concerns. The other major worry is that Libra won’t even get started. Congress and financial regulators are apprehensive about a corporate-backed currency.

Despite all of the potential drawbacks, Libra still looks like an interesting option for online gamblers. That said, you should definitely consider this cryptocurrency if or when it becomes available.

Pros and Cons of Table Game Bonuses

Two Poker Cards, Casino Dice, and Poker Chips on Table
Online casinos offer plenty of bonuses to new players. Their goal is to use these deals to attract new gamblers and retain their play.

Much of the emphasis is put on slots bonuses. However, table game offers are available, too.

That said, I’m going to discuss more on what table game bonuses are, along with what you need to do to earn them. I’ll finish by discussing the advantages and drawbacks of these deals.

What Are Table Game Bonuses?

As you may know, casino table games include anything that’s played on a table. The most popular games in this category are the following:

Therefore, a table game bonus revolves around playing associated games. For example, you might see a 100% match bonus that can only be unlocked by playing specific table games.

These deals are usually offered as an alternative to slots bonuses, which are much more common at online casinos. In fact, the vast majority of such offers revolve around slots.

But what if you don’t enjoy spinning the reels? Table game bonuses still give you a chance to earn bonus money based on a different type of gaming.

Wagering Requirements Behind These Deals

Like many online casino bonuses, table game offers feature a variety of terms and conditions (T&Cs). You need to meet each of these terms before cashing out money from a bonus.

Of these terms and conditions, wagering requirements (a.k.a. playthrough) are arguably the most important. Playthrough dictates how much you need to bet before withdrawing money.

Here’s an example:

  • You’re eligible for a $100 table game bonus
  • Playthrough is 200x the bonus
  • 200 x 100 = $20,000 must be wagered

The obvious goal here is to find the lowest wagering requirements possible. You can develop a feel for what constitutes low playthrough by looking around the industry.

Do note, though, that wagering requirements on table game deals are always much higher than what’s seen with slots bonuses. The reason being is that an average online table game has a lower house edge than the standard internet slot.

Slot Machine, Roulette Wheel

That said, you may want to do some comparisons between slots and table game bonuses to see which is ultimately the better deal. Here are some examples.

Slots Bonus

  • You’re going for a $50 bonus
  • Playthrough is 45x the bonus
  • 50 x 45 = $2,250 must be wagered
  • You play a slot with a 4% house edge
  • 2,250 x 0.04 = $90 in theoretical losses

Table Game Bonus

  • You’re going for a $50 bonus
  • Playthrough is 200x the bonus
  • 200 x 50 = $10,000 must be wagered
  • You play a blackjack game with a 0.5% house edge
  • 10,000 x 0.005 = $50 in theoretical losses

Of course, playthrough isn’t the only term behind table game bonuses. Below, you can see a few other terms and conditions that are often included:

  • Game restrictions – Specific games that either feature higher wagering requirements or are completely disqualified.
  • Claim timeframe – You have to claim a bonus within the specified time period.
  • Playthrough timeframe – You also need to meet playthrough within a given number of weeks/months.
  • Deposit restrictionsNeteller and Skrill deposits aren’t usually eligible for online casino bonuses.

Advantages of Table Game Bonuses

If you’re interested in online table game offers, then you’ll be happy to know they offer multiple advantages. Here are the biggest benefits to pursuing such bonuses.

Earn Money on the Side of Your Favorite Table Games

Do you love playing online baccarat, blackjack, and/or roulette? If so, then you’ll appreciate being able to earn extra money on the side of your play.

All you need to do is play games designated by the terms to start unlocking your bonus. Once you meet wagering requirements, then you can withdraw the bonus funds.

Guy Using Laptop, Poker Cards Spread

Even if you don’t satisfy playthrough, you’ll have fun making an effort to do so while enjoying exciting casino games.

Common games like baccarat and blackjack aren’t the only options for meeting wagering requirements. Caribbean Stud, Pai Gow Poker, and Three-Card Poker are often included in the equation, too.

Play Low Risk Games

One of the biggest draws to table games is that they don’t have as high of a house edge as slots, keno, and scratch cards. In fact, certain table games give you some of the best chances to beat the casino.

Here are the top online casino games in terms of house advantage:

  • Online blackjack = 0.3% to 1.5% house edge
  • Baccarat = 1.06%
  • Craps = 0.46% (don’t pass line backed w/ 2x odds)
  • French Roulette = 1.35%
  • European Roulette = 2.70%

You can see there are several good options when beating the house is top priority. The fact that you can earn bonuses on the side only sweetens the deal.

Sometimes You Get a Better Offer

Earlier, I made a comparison between wagering requirements on table game and slots bonuses.

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This example featured a situation where both deals were the same in terms of expected losses.

Sometimes, you’ll find table game bonuses that are a better deal than the slots offers. These deals will have playthrough that make them the superior choice.

Drawbacks to Table Game Bonuses

These bonus deals definitely have some things going for them. But they also have a few downsides too, which you certainly want to know about beforehand.

Wagering Requirements Are Quite High

Table game bonuses can feature anywhere from 100x to 400x playthrough. The latter range is what you really need to worry about when going for these deals.

Table game offers that carry between 200x and 400x wagering requirements often lead to high theoretical losses, even when you’re playing a favorable blackjack game.

This high playthrough does two things:

  • Forces you to play for a long time to earn a bonus.
  • Increases the chances you’ll lose money by the time the bonus is unlocked.

These Deals Are Often Worse

I’ve shown a couple of scenarios where table game bonuses are either equal to or better than slots deals regarding terms and conditions. However, the latter are often superior when everything is taken into account.

First off, slots bonuses normally feature lower theoretical losses. The extremely high wagering requirements on table game bonuses, meanwhile, cancels out low house edges with baccarat, blackjack, French Roulette, etc.

Casino Roulette Wheel Spinning, Roulette Table

You should still go for table game deals if you enjoy these games. Be forewarned, though, that you’ll be at a handicap in comparison to those pursuing slots bonuses.

Several Excluded Games

The term “table games” implies you’ll be able to play any game within this category to satisfy playthrough. The reality, though, is that these deals usually restrict several different games.

Baccarat, craps, French Roulette, European Roulette, and certain blackjack variations can all be restricted. One or more of these games may still be eligible for playthrough purposes, but the point is that multiple games won’t.

Online casinos restrict certain games due to a combination of a low house edge and ease of play.

Regarding the latter, casinos don’t want unskilled gamblers to play easy games (e.g. baccarat, French Roulette) and simultaneously pick up bonuses.

Assuming these games aren’t completely restricted from satisfying wagering requirements, they may have higher playthrough.

Here’s an example of high playthrough:

Casino Game Bonus Playthrough
Baccarat 400x
Blackjack variations 200x
Caribbean Stud 200x
Craps 400x
French Roulette 400x
European Roulette 200x
Pai Gow Poker 200x
Three-Card Poker 200x

Not As Many Table Game Bonuses Available

One more downside to table game offers is that they aren’t available as frequently as slots bonuses. Casinos fully realize that slots players are their largest customer base.

Therefore, they’ll offer numerous slots bonuses throughout the week. Meanwhile, table game players may only have access to occasional deals.

Another problem is that certain table games are sometimes restricted from earning points through VIP programs. In these cases, you’re being punished in terms of both bonuses and loyalty rewards just for enjoying these games.

Conclusion

You can see there are some very good reasons to go after table game bonuses. The chief reason is that they provide the chance to collect extra money on the side of playing table games.

If you have any table favorites, such as baccarat or roulette, then you’ll appreciate these deals. You can enjoy casino classics while trying for a bonus at the same time.

Another plus is that you’ll normally be playing games with lower house edges. Earlier, I covered several options that give you a solid chance at winning money.

One more benefit is that you may ultimately get a better deal. Table game bonuses with fair playthrough can sometimes be more favorable than slots offers.

The key word here is “sometimes,” though, because slots bonuses are typically superior. Their low playthrough often counteracts the higher house edges associated with slots.

Another drawback to table game deals is that they take forever to earn. Unless you play high stakes, then you’ll spend quite a while on the cyber tables meeting 200x wagering requirements.

You should also be aware of any possible game restrictions. Baccarat, craps, roulette, and some blackjack games may not qualify. So, do the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to table games? The answer is entirely subjective.

If you love table games and don’t like slots, then, yes, you should purse these deals. Assuming you like both slots and table games equally, then slots bonuses are usually a better option.

The Basics of Craps Betting

Craps Table Layout, Two Red Dice
The thing about craps betting is that there are so many bets available, and if you’ve never played before, the game can be confusing.

In fact, it’s confusing enough that a single blog post probably doesn’t have the space to cover everything you should really understand about betting at the craps table.

Still, it’s not as complicated as you first might think. After all, it’s a casino game, and casino games that are too complicated scare off players. And no one at the casino wants that.

Before jumping into the basics of craps, feel free to take some time to grasp common craps terms to understand some of the language used in this article. With that being said, let’s get started.

The Pass Line Bet

If craps were physics, the pass line bet would be the nucleus at the center of the atom. It’s the most basic bet on the list of bets, and it’s a wager on the most basic outcome in the game.

Playing craps begins when a shooter makes a roll called a “come-out roll.” He rolls two dice, and he gets one of the following results:

  • A success
  • A failure
  • A point

If the shooter rolls a total of 7 or a total of 11 on the come-out roll, he’s succeeded. A bet on the pass line wins even money immediately. If the shooter rolls a total of 2, 3, or 12, he’s failed. A bet on the pass line loses immediately.

If the shooter rolls any other number (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10), he’s set a point. The pass line bet stays in action, and the shooter rolls again. At this point, the shooter keeps rolling until he either rolls the point total again or rolls a 7.

If he rolls the point total again, he succeeds, and the pass line bet pays even money. If he rolls a 7, he fails, and the pass line bet loses.

If he rolls any other number, the pass line bet stays on the table until it’s resolved.

If you’re playing in a game of street craps, practically all the action is based on this one bet. They don’t have a fancy table in street craps.

Once you understand the pass line bet and the shooter’s goals, you can start to expand your thinking about the other bets on the craps table.

The Odds Bet

The odds bet is one of the only bets on the craps table that isn’t labeled. It’s a bet you can only place after the shooter has made a point. It’s placed on the table directly behind your pass line bet.

The odds bet is interesting because it’s the only bet in the casino that doesn’t have a mathematical edge for the house. It pays out at the same odds as you have of winning it.

Instead of paying even money, the odds bet has a payout based on how hard it is to roll the point again before rolling a 7.

If the point is 4 or 10, the odds bet pays off at 2 to 1 odds. If the point is 5 or 9, the odds bet pays off at 3 to 2 odds. If the point is 6 or 8, the odds bet pays off at 6 to 5 odds.

Since the odds bet puts more money into action on the same outcome and has no casino house edge, you can think of it as a way of reducing the total house edge on the total amount of action you have in place.

The casino thinks of it that way, too. That’s one of the reasons why they have limits to how much you can wager when you make the odds bet.

Crowd at Casino Playing Casino Craps

In some casinos, you can bet 100X the pass line bet you just made on the odds. For example, if you bet $5 on the pass line and the shooter made a point, you could put $500 on the odds bet.

Most casinos don’t have limits that high, though. 10X is more common, but you’ll also find casinos that limit you to 1, 2, or 3 times your pass line bet.

One common betting limit in place today is 3x4x5x, which means the amounts you can wager on the odds bet is 3X if the point is 4 or 10, 4X if the point is 5 or 9, and 5X if the point is 6 or 10.

This is done to make the payouts easier for the staff to handle. Assuming you’re always making the maximum odds bet (and you should be), the payout for the odds bet and the pass line bet combined is the same.

For example, if you bet $10 on the pass line and the point was 4, then you bet $30 on the free odds bet, you’d win $10 on the pass line bet and $60 on the free odds bet, for $70 in total winnings. That’s 7 times your original bet.

If you bet $10 on pass and the point was 5, you could bet $40 on the free odds bet. The payoff would be $60 on the odds bet and $10 on the pass bet, giving you the same total winnings of $70.

That was the whole point to creating those limits – to make the payouts easier to manage.

The Wrong Bettor

Someone who bets on the pass line is called a “right bettor.” But that’s not your only option.

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You can bet against the shooter, too. The basic bet for that is called the “don’t pass” bet. It has a slightly lower house edge than the pass line bet, but it’s only a difference of 0.05%.

If you bet on “don’t pass”, you’ll win even money if the shooter rolls a 2 or a 3 on the come-out roll. A 12 is treated as a push. You’ll lose immediately if the shooter rolls a 7 or an 11.

If a point is set, you win if the shooter rolls a 7 before the point. The don’t pass bet, like the pass bet, always pays even money. And like the pass line bet, you have an odds bet available to you.

Laying the Odds

If you bet on don’t pass and the shooter makes a point, you can lay the odds. In this case, you have the same betting limits as the pass line bettor does when he takes the odds bet.

But your payoffs are the opposite. Instead of getting 6 to 5 odds, you get 5 to 6 odds when you win. Instead of getting 2 to 1 odds, you get 1 to 2 odds.

People Playing Craps at the Casino

This means if you lay $10 on the odds, and the point is a 4, you only win $5. This is so counter-intuitive to most gamblers that they just stick with right betting and the odds bet there.

Something about winning less than the amount you staked is a huge turnoff to gamblers, even when they understand that the bet has no house edge. Go figure.

Come Betting

That’s most of the big stuff, but you can’t cover the basics of craps betting without getting into come and don’t come bets.

These are basically the same bets at the pass and don’t pass bet. But they give you the opportunity to place a bet on the next roll as if it were a new come-out roll, even when the shooter is trying to make a point.

The come bet pays off with the same odds as the pass line—even money. You can take the odds bet with a come bet, too, and it pays off with the same odds as if you’d placed a pass line bet.

The don’t come bet works just like the don’t pass bet, but with the same difference. It treats this new roll as if it were a new come-out roll.

Conclusion

That about covers the basics of craps betting. Of course, most of this will make a lot more sense once you play craps in a live casino.

You can, though, play free craps at an online casino and get a better understanding than you would just reading a blog post.

Benefits of Sports Betting vs. Casino Games

Baseball Game, Casino Slot Machines
Sports betting and casino games definitely aren’t the same. However, they do bear some similarities to each other.

Both are forms of gambling. Both are also usually found in casinos. Of course, they also have distinct differences from each other as well.

You may want to account for these differences when figuring out where to put your gambling dollars. After all, your bankroll is only so large, and you should use some discretion when figuring out what games to play.

Personally, I like the idea of starting with sports gambling and going from here. You may or may not ultimately like sports wagering over casino games, but it does have a number of advantages.

That said, I’m going to discuss the biggest benefits of wagering on sports versus playing casino games.

You Have the Ability to Win Long-Term Profits

Casino gambling delivers plenty of thrills. Unfortunately, most games also feature a house edge.

The house advantage ensures that the casino wins most of the time. You have to get lucky in order to walk away with profits at the end of the day.

You need to get extremely lucky to be casinos over the long term. Nearly every gambler loses in the end due to the house edge.

Sports gambling, on the other hand, does give you a realistic shot at winning money. Rather than having to beat a house edge, you just have to win enough bets to beat the juice (a.k.a. vig).

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Juice refers to the commission that sportsbooks take from the losing side of a wager. For example, the losing side pays 10% juice in a point spread with -110 odds.

This sounds an awful lot like a house edge, but it’s not entirely the same. Instead, sports gambling gives you a chance to win long-term profits even with the vig factored in.

Obviously, you have to be a very good bettor to earn profits. Otherwise, everybody and their mother would be wagering on sports.

The key point is that, unlike with casino games, you have a realistic path towards winning money in sports betting.

More Strategy Than Most Casino Gambling

Casino games vary in terms of how much strategy they require. Slot machines, for example, hardly feature any strategy at all. You simply spin the reels and let fate do the rest.

Blackjack is different because it has extensive strategy. The catch, though, is that you can use a blackjack strategy chart to play like an expert in no time.

Sports betting takes strategy to a much higher degree than even blackjack. You can’t just find a chart on the internet that tells you how to make perfect decisions.

Instead, you need to develop handicapping mastery over time. Handicapping refers to the process of determining which side has the better chance of winning and by how much.

Baseball Field

Sportsbooks have expert handicappers who set the lines. Your goal is to become good enough to find what thin value, if any, exists in each wager.

Another path towards making sports gambling profits involves using software programs. Many programs can help you with handicapping and arbitrating.

The latter refers to the process of betting in a way that guarantees you a profit. To do this, you must find two lines for the same match that differ in a way that guarantees profitability.

In any case, you can see that sports betting involves extensive strategy. If you’re looking for something more challenging than casino games, then you should consider this type of gambling.

Numerous Betting Options & Markets

You can enjoy a large number of games in any online or land-based casino. Some of these options include the following:

However, the sports betting world features even more variety. It offers a wide range of sports along with different leagues within each of these markets.

Soccer (football) alone features dozens of leagues across the world.  At a big sportsbook, you may be able to wager on 15-20 different soccer leagues.

As if this selection isn’t enough, you can also look forward to a number of bet types. Here are the main categories of wagers that you can make:

  • Moneylines
  • Totals (a.k.a. over/under)
  • Point spreads
  • Prop bets
  • Live wagers
  • Parlays
  • Teasers

Chance to Gamble on the Sports You Love

Are you a huge sports fan? If so, you’ll appreciate that you can wager on the games you enjoy and watch them later.

Sports are always more exciting when you have action on the line. This aspect is why sports gambling has become so popular.

What’s nice is that you don’t have to waste much time getting started either. You can simply visit an online bookmaker, register, deposit, and begin betting within 15 minutes or less.

Once your account is set up and funded, you’ll be able to place wagers rather quickly. In fact, you can make bets in less than a minute with your smartphone.

What Advantages Do Casino Games Have Over Sports Betting?

As you can see, plenty of reasons exist for making sports betting your favorite type of gambling. However, you should also consider the advantages of casino games too.

Casino Gaming Strategy Is Generally Less Complicated

If you like using strategy in gambling, then you’ll appreciate sports wagering. You need a strong knowledge of the sports and betting aspects to make consistent profits.

However, you may be the type who doesn’t like spending weeks, months, or even years mastering gambling. Instead, you might just want some quick thrills.

In this case, real money casino gambling has an advantage. Certain games like baccarat, roulette, slot machines, and video poker take very little time to learn.

Casino Video Poker Machine

Sure, some games also require strategy in order to boost your chances of winning. But even a strategical game like video poker is easy to get started with.

You just insert coins and start playing hands with little time wasted. You can learn the strategy later or merely play for fun.

Sports betting isn’t hard to get started with either. However, you’ll be at a severe strategic disadvantage if you don’t know anything about the matter.

Fewer Illusions Regarding Wins and Losses

I’ve heard many losing sports bettors say, “I’m breaking even.” If this were always true, then everybody would win at a 50/50 clip and bookmakers wouldn’t be taking any juice.

The latter is not true because sportsbooks rely on vig for part of their profits. The reality is that the average gambler loses around 5% of each bet they make (i.e., $0.05 out of every $1).

Therefore, one can easily fool themselves into thinking that they’re winning when it’s not true. Even the best sports bettors only win around 53% to 55% of the time.

Bookmakers would quickly go bankrupt if everybody was this successful. Instead, they normally end each year with a profit while most bettors don’t.

Casino gambling also creates some illusions regarding wins. For example, blackjack or baccarat players may also fall into the “breaking-even” mindset.

But generally, gaming lends itself to more transparent wins and losses. Most gamblers realize that they’re facing a house edge and are realistic about their lower odds of winning.

Casino Gambling Has More Bonuses & Promotions

One of the most attractive things about online and land-based casinos is the rewards. Brick-and-mortar casinos are well known for offering lavish comps, including fine dining, hotel suites, and limousine rides.

Gambling sites, meanwhile, offer casino bonuses, free spins, and cashback. The goal is to give gamblers back a percentage of their money so that they feel rewarded and will keep playing.

Casino Comps Banner Outside Casino

Many sportsbooks feature VIP programs and/or bonuses. However, their VIP rewards are nothing like what’s seen at casinos.

You may not care about these loyalty benefits if you’re killing it with sports betting and making lots of money. However, you can always appreciate getting cashback.

More Jackpots in Gaming

One of the main reasons why people play slot machines is the jackpots. They love the idea of betting anywhere from a quarter to a dollar and potentially winning a six or seven-figure jackpot.

Other games like Caribbean Stud Poker, blackjack, and video poker can also offer large progressive jackpots. Therefore, you’ll have no shortage of chances to win big in a casino.

The closest thing that sports betting has to a jackpot is a parlay. These wagers see you put a variety of outcomes on a single betting slip in hopes of winning a large payout.

However, parlay wins still don’t compare to some of the massive jackpots that players have won over the years.

The Ultimate Determinant in Choosing Sports Betting Over Casino Gaming

You can see that there are pros and cons to sports gambling. However, I believe that the advantages outweigh the downsides.

The best aspect of sports wagering is that it gives you the hope of winning profits. If you improve your skills enough, then you can win on a fairly consistent basis and make money from gambling.

Casino games like poker and blackjack (card counting) also offer this opportunity. But the majority of games don’t.

When looking at casino gambling in a broad sense, it just doesn’t provide a realistic chance to become a pro. Meanwhile, sports betting can be beaten in the long run.

I’m certainly not saying that it’s easy to win in sports gambling. After all, far more people lose money long term when betting on sports.

Again, though, the hope is at least alive for becoming a professional. Even if you never become a sharp, you may still enjoy the journey to improving your handicapping skills and winning at a higher rate.

Conclusion

Casino games are definitely a popular form of gambling. Some people never look past gaming once they get started.

However, these same people are missing out on other types of gambling — namely sports betting.

Sports wagering offers distinct advantages of casino gaming. For starters, it can actually deliver long-term profits.

Sure, you need to improve your skills to the point where you can consistently win. But the effort is totally worth it if you become a successful bettor.

Assuming you enjoy using extensive strategy, then you’ll appreciate how sports gambling has this in spades. You can use handicapping, bankroll management, and software programs to boost your winnings.

Sports betting also has a wide variety of bet types and markets. You can wager on any of your favorite games and choose various bet types when doing so.

Of course, casino gambling has its benefits too. Gaming collectively features less-complicated strategy, larger bonuses, and huge jackpots.

Nevertheless, I still think that sports betting is the superior form of gambling. It has the type of strategy and profit potential that keeps me more engaged.

Why Aren’t NetEnt Slots Available in Most of the US?

Casino Slot Machine, NetEnt Logo
Net Entertainment (NetEnt) is considered one of the elite online gaming providers. They’ve produced hundreds of popular slots along with dozens of live and virtual table games.

Some consider NetEnt to be the best developer in internet gaming. That said, anybody who has access to these games is definitely in for a treat.

Unfortunately, Americans aren’t allowed to play NetEnt’s slots and table games. Why is this the case? I’m going to cover why this provider doesn’t offer its services the US along with more on the company itself.

What Does NetEnt Do?

NetEnt is mostly known for producing online casino games. They make slots, virtual table games, and live dealer games.

Of these categories, NetEnt has become especially famous for their slots. Their games typically offer high-quality graphics, great features, and high return to player (RTP).

Here are some of the biggest hits from NetEnt:

  • Aloha! Cluster Pays
  • Arabian Nights
  • Blood Suckers
  • Dead or Alive (I & II)
  • Divine Fortune
  • Drive Multiplier Mayhem
  • Gonzo’s Quest
  • Hall of Gods
  • Jack Hammer (I & II)
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Mega Fortune
  • Starburst

In addition to producing great all-around slots, NetEnt also offers huge progressive jackpots. Arabian Nights, Hall of Gods, and Mega Fortune sometimes feature jackpots worth millions of dollars.

NetEnt even offers other solutions to those who want to run online casinos. They provide customer service, banking options, account management, and more to aspiring gaming sites.

An individual or company that wants to start a casino can use these solutions to quickly launch. This is why some internet casinos exclusively feature NetEnt games.

Why Has NetEnt Stayed Out of the US?

Americans who are looking to enjoy games from one of the world’s best providers have been disappointed up to this point. That’s because NetEnt has largely stayed out of the United States for decades (I’ll discuss the “largely” aspect later).

In fact, NetEnt is one of the few gaming providers that’s never made a widescale foray into the US. They want to avoid tricky legal situations, because the US is mostly a gray area regarding online gaming.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) is the main thing keeping many gaming companies out of the country. This law restricts gambling businesses from accepting payments related to unlawful gaming.

American Flag, Row of Casino Slot Machines

The legal language of the UIGEA doesn’t offer a lot of clarification. But it undoubtedly criminalizes serving states that specifically outlaw internet gambling, such as Washington.

This law also gives certain government branches the ability to block suspicious transactions that may be related to online gaming. For example, relevant government agencies could block Visa or Mastercard transactions related to illegal offshore gambling.

Due to this element of the UIGEA, credit card processors make an effort to block unlawful gambling transactions themselves. Meanwhile, certain e-wallets like Neteller and Skrill avoid the US entirely to avoid such hassles.

Taking all this into account, NetEnt has decided to simply avoid serving Americans rather than deal with the convoluted legal situation. They’re on good standing with US federal and state governments as a result.

Where Does NetEnt Operate?

Net Entertainment may not serve the world’s most lucrative internet gambling market. However, they do operate in a large number of other countries.

NetEnt games are commonly found in online casinos that serve Europe, which has many regulated online gambling jurisdictions.

This developer has always preferred operating in licensed jurisdictions. In doing so, they avoid legal clashes with governments. They currently serve the following jurisdictions:

  • Alderney Gambling Control Commission
  • Belgian Gaming Commission
  • Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner
  • Malta Gaming Authority
  • New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement
  • Oficiul Național pentru Jocuri de Noroc (Romania)
  • La Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (Spain)
  • UK Gambling Commission (GC)

NetEnt Is Now in the US

As mentioned before, NetEnt has largely avoided serving the US. However, they recently gained a foothold in America by serving New Jersey.

They obtained a license with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) in 2015. Such licensing wouldn’t have been possible had this developer violated the UIGEA.

New Jersey Highway Sign

Through a partnership with Gamesys US LLC, NetEnt now provides games to multiple New Jersey online casinos. This company has already obtained licensing in Pennsylvania as well. The Keystone State legalized online gaming in 2017 and is still laying the foundation for their market.

Once the market is up and running, NetEnt will finally be able to offer their games to another place. This is exciting when considering that PA is the country’s sixth-largest state with 12.75 million residents.

What About NetEnt in Other States?

Again, this provider isn’t going to suddenly risk violating a law that they’ve so carefully tiptoed around for two decades. On the other hand, they’re obviously interested in serving Americans.

The question then becomes, what other states will they serve beyond New Jersey and Pennsylvania? The problem with predicting this is that states have been slow to regulate online gaming. Only three states have done so, including Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

NetEnt is already in two of these states. Chances are that they won’t serve Delaware, which currently favors 888 Holdings.

Other states, like Illinois, Michigan, New York, and Ohio, have floated the possibility of legal online casinos. But they’ve yet to approve any legislation to date.

As for the rest, NetEnt won’t provide games to any state that hasn’t regulated online gaming. This cuts out over 40 states, which have either outlawed internet gaming or treat it as a gray area.

What Are the Rest of Americans Missing With NetEnt?

NetEntertainment has plenty of good qualities. But their biggest attribute is their collection of well-designed online slots.

They’ve produced some of the industry’s biggest hits within the past decade. NetEnt is also one of the most innovative companies in the space.

Side View of a Casino Gambling Machine

For example, Gonzo’s Quest, which launched in 2009, is largely regarded as online gaming’s first 3D slot. It’s also quite possibly the first game to offer the cascading reels effect. NetEnt was also a pioneer in offering high-quality mobile gaming. Their NetEnt Touch series helped take Android and iPhone slots to a new level.

Another great thing about this provider is their slots return to player (RTP). They consistently push the bar in this category, with their games often featuring between 96.5% and 98.0% RTP.

Here are some of the top NetEnt slots regarding payback:

  • Blood Suckers = 98.0% RTP
  • Kings of Chicago = 97.8% RTP
  • Devil’s Delight = 97.6% RTP
  • Simsalabim = 97.5% RTP
  • Zombies = 97.2% RTP

Keep in mind that many online slots offer around 96% RTP. Therefore, NetEnt games give you a better chance to win on average.

I’m not trying to sell you on these games; they’re just that good in a variety of aspects. Unfortunately, only New Jersey and (soon) Pennsylvania have the ability to play them.

The only way to enjoy NetEnt slots is to either visit one of these states or another country where such games are available.

Conclusion

NetEnt continues to stay out of the majority of the United States. They don’t want to risk violating any laws and jeopardize their chances of serving regulated markets.

The UIGEA is the main deterrent from entering the broader US market. This law creates the possibility that the federal government could come down on illegal gaming providers and online casinos.

However, NetEnt has begun serving New Jersey residents in recent years. They’re definitely one of the most popular gaming providers in the Garden State.

They’ve also obtained licensing in Pennsylvania. Once PA launches their market, NetEnt will likely be one of the state’s premier providers.

They could possibly spread to other places that regulate internet gaming. The only problem is that internet gaming regulation is moving at a snail’s pace in America. Just three states currently offer legal online casino gambling. Of these, Delaware is fairly exclusive with 888.

7 Profit Producing Blackjack Strategies

Blackjack Cards Spread Out
Blackjack is a popular game, and almost everyone knows how to play. But did you know that you can use certain strategies to improve your chances to win?

The way you play your hand, and the table rules, both change your chances to win. The more you know about blackjack strategies, the better your chance to show a profit.

Here are seven profit-producing blackjack strategies that you can start using today.

1 – Use a Strategy Card

The easiest way you can improve your chances to win at the blackjack table is to use a strategy card. A blackjack strategy card or chart has a table that shows the best way to play every possible hand. You can find a blackjack strategy chart here or you can buy a card in a casino gift shop.

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The reason why it’s important to always use a strategy card or chart is because every hand has a single best way to play. The best way produces the maximum amount of profit or minimizes the expected loss for every hand.

Some hands are easy to play, like when you have a face card and a nine and the dealer has a six. Most blackjack players understand the best play is to stand. But some hands aren’t as easy. A strategy card takes all of the guesswork out of the equation.

2 – Never Take Insurance

One of the worst bets at the blackjack table is the insurance bet. When the dealer has an ace showing, they offer all of the players insurance. The insurance wager is half your original bet, and pays 2:1 when the dealer has a blackjack.

When the dealer has a natural blackjack, you lose your original wager and get double your insurance bet, so you break even on the hand. But when the dealer doesn’t have a natural blackjack, you lose your insurance bet and play out the rest of the hand with your original wager.

Casino Blackjack Table

This might sound like a decent bet, but it’s not. The insurance wager is really just a side bet that you can play that has nothing to do with your regular hand. It’s triggered by the dealer showing an ace, but you need to look at it as a standalone side bet.

The deck has 13 ranks of cards from two through ace, so the dealer will have a natural blackjack with an ace showing when their down card is a 10, jack, queen, or king. This means that four out of 13 times on average they have a blackjack, and nine out of 13 times they won’t.

This is a ratio of 9:4, and the wager only pays 2:1. The ratio needs to be 8:4, or the payout needs to be 9:4, or 2.25:1, for it to be a fair wager.

3 – Play at Tables With Good Rules

Every rule used at the blackjack table is either good for you or good for the casino. The tables where blackjack pays 3:2 are much better than when it pays 6:5. In fact, you should never play blackjack where a natural pays worse than 3:2.

Other favorable blackjack rules to look for include:

  • Allowed to double down on any two cards
  • Allowed to double down after split
  • Allowed to split multiple times
  • Dealer stands on a soft 17

Of course, there are many other blackjack rule variations, and you need to learn about all of them, but these are the main ones to watch for. Another good rule for players is surrender, so look for it where you usually play.

4 – Always Play for Comps

Every single time you make a bet in the casino, you should be receiving casino comps. This includes blackjack, but it’s the same for any gambling activity. It doesn’t cost anything to join the player’s club or slots club, so there’s never an excuse for not getting comps.

It doesn’t matter if you only play occasionally, or just play for small stakes, you should always make sure the casino is counting your comp points.

You can get all kinds of free things through the comps program, and many casinos run promotions and discount programs for club members on top of the comps.

Before you play another hand of blackjack, sign up for the comps program. Then, make sure you present your club card before you start playing every time you gamble. Even earning a free meal makes one less thing you need to pay for, and the comps for big players can be even better.

5 – Start Counting Cards

Counting cards is actually one of the only ways you can get a real edge against the casinos. It’s not as hard to do as most people believe, and once you learn how to do it, you can use the skill for the rest of your life.

Blackjack Cards in Pile

You can find all kinds of information about how to count cards online, or you can read a good book. With just a little bit of practice, possibly as few as 10 hours, you can learn all of the basics of card counting.

Once you learn how to count cards in blackjack, all you need to do is practice. You can practice at home or playing free online blackjack.

6 – Learn About Shuffle Tracking and Ace Sequencing

Shuffle tracking and ace sequencing are advanced blackjack strategies, but you should at least be aware of what they are. The reason I’m covering both of them in the same section is because they’re closely related.

Shuffle tracking is done by watching the value of cards as they’re put in the discard tray. When groups of aces and other high cards are placed in the discard tray close together in a hand shuffled game, you can watch where the group of cards goes as the shoe is shuffled.

This can give you a good idea of where the high cards will be dealt after the shuffle, and you can make higher bets. When you know high cards are coming, you have an advantage over the casino.

Ace sequencing is when you track aces that are close together the same way you use shuffle tracking. When you see three or more aces go into the discard tray close together, you can sometimes watch and predict when they’re going to be dealt.

Aces are the best card in the deck for blackjack play, and any hand that you get that includes an ace is a profitable long-term hand.

7 – Learn About Hole Carding

Hole carding is another advanced strategy blackjack play, and it doesn’t happen very often. But when it does, you can play with a big advantage against the casino.

Here’s how hole carding works… When you’re sitting in certain spots at the blackjack table, usually directly in front of the dealer or at first base, you can sometimes see the value of the dealer’s hole card if the dealer is sloppy.

Blackjack Casino Table, Colored Casino Chips

You have to pay attention to have any chance to see hole cards, but when you see one it helps you make the best play on your hand.

Let’s say you receive a jack and a six, and the dealer is showing a queen. Normal strategy says you should hit in this situation, but if you saw the dealer’s hole card and they have a six, the best play is to stand with your 16. The dealer is going to have to take another card, and eight out of the 13 possible cards will bust their hand.

Conclusion

You can get started right away using some of these seven blackjack strategies. Get a strategy card and use it every time you play, never take insurance, and find games with good rules. If you just do these three things, you can start seeing better results every time you play blackjack.

You should always sign up for the comp program at every casino where you play, no matter what games you play. Getting comps is like getting free money for doing something you’re planning to do anyway.

The last three strategies listed on this page are more advanced, but you should at least take a few minutes to learn more about them to see if you can learn how to be an advantage blackjack player.

How to Enjoy Las Vegas When Traveling With Kids

Welcome to Las Vegas Sign, Guy with Kid on His Shoulders
Children are our future. They are also a major delight in our lives. But they definitely change the whole meaning of the words, “We’re going to Vegas.”

Sure, you can pack the kids into any of the big hotels on the Strip and send them scurrying off to the pool or shopping while you hit the tables. But if you want your kids to grow up remembering the fond times with you, consider having some different fun when you visit Las Vegas.

The tables will always be ready and waiting for you. Your kids will grow up before you know it.

1 – Pick a Family-Friendly Holiday

It’s hard to top out the shows on the Strip for fun and entertainment. And there’s no denying that Vegas has lots of themed attractions the whole family can enjoy. But certain times of the year are extra special.

If you want to treat the kids to an ice Christmas vacation without having to slog through ice and snow, you could do worse than take them to Las Vegas in December. There are usually two or three ice skating attractions and plenty of Christmas decorations and shows.

Many of the famous big shows change their themes for Christmas, too. That includes Blue Man Group, Cirque du Soleil, and many of the big-name stars who take the stage in Vegas.

Although you won’t find a big Thanksgiving Day parade in Vegas, it’s a great place for a short vacation if you ‘d rather not go during the summer. The temperatures are more hospitable and this is a great time of year to do some of the outdoor attractions.

The LINQ Promenade shops are open for Black Friday and some years they’ve offered great discounts on Las Vegas attractions.

2 – Stay in a Glampground

Families with a little extra money to spend will enjoy a glamping vacation. “Glamping is the luxurious way to camp.

Most people think of the state of Nevada as a huge desert, but there’s a little more scenery to take in than just rocks and sand. Glamping enthusiasts can choose from about 50 locations and stay in treehouses, tipis, log cabins, tiny houses, yurts, domes, and other unusual accommodations.

Grand Canyon National Park

The kids won’t be wishing they could be playing the slots. You can take them to visit Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, the Grand Canyon, and either of two national forests.

National parks and trails criss-cross the state. The family can see mountains, go caving, see Red Rock Canyon, or stand in Death Valley. Lake Mead National Park also boasts over 1 million acres of mountains, canyons, valleys, streams, and lakes, including the big one for which the park is named.

3 – Tour Las Vegas as a Family

One of the most interesting attractions in Las Vegas is free. You can roam certain streets and enjoy fantastic street art created by locals. The Art Walk in Downtown Las Vegas is well-known among locals.

In addition to the fantastic sights and sounds, everyone can enjoy walking up and down the Strip there are several attractions, including the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Adventuredome Theme Park, the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay, and the Gondola Ride at the Venetian.

But even if you have never heard of it, your kids are sure to want to visit the Marvel Avengers STATION. It’s the real deal, a museum built around the Marvel cinematic universe.

Who wouldn’t want to be Iron Man or have their own personal J.A.R.V.I.S. electronic butler? But maybe the best family attraction of all is the VOID virtual reality venue at Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian.

Travelers to Vegas say you can usually take in two of these attractions per day, sometimes three if you plan accordingly.

4 – Plan a Magic Day for the Family

What’s better than a great magic show? Las Vegas is famous for its enchanting productions and stage magicians. The kids will love the GameWorks arcade at Town Square. There are over 200 games to choose from.

Cirque du Soleil Las Vegas Show

Other magical or magic-like activities include three zipline attractions, Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden at the Mirage, the Tournament of Kings (dine at King Arthur’s Court), and several Cirque du Soleil shows.

If you take the family ziplining, they’ll also enjoy Las Vegas’ famous indoor skydiving attraction. It’s better than riding a magic carpet.

And everyone says Zak Bagans’ Haunted Museum is to die for.

5 – Make a Schedule and Book Things in Advance

One of the more practical tips for traveling is to set up a schedule so everyone knows what to expect. You can’t plan for temper tantrums and sick days, but leave a little free time in-between excursions so everyone has some down time.

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This is especially important if you plan to spend much time outdoors during the warm months. The sun won’t just be murder on your skin, it will literally tire everyone out.

You’ll want to print out a map and plot each day’s activities on it. Make notes about what your travel options are. Walking may sound great before you get there, but if everyone gets too uncomfortable, know where to jump a bus when you need it.

Think about buying a transit pass, renting a car, and charting parking garages in advance. It’s better to be over prepared than to be lost in a strange city when the clock is ticking.

6 – Pack a Few Extras to Ensure the Family Is Comfortable

Plan on keeping water bottles and travel wipes handy. Every mother knows that baby wipes help keep infants cool. Well, travel wipes do the same thing for everyone else.

Take hats for everyone, extra shirts, and don’t forget to use sunblock.

Unless you’re going hiking in the wild, you probably only need one to two packs for the family. Don’t burden everyone with backpacks because they’ll have to find places to stow their gear when they visit attractions.

Group of People Hiking Desert Mountain

If you do plan on going out into the desert, make sure everyone packs a water bottle. It may be inconvenient, but water fountains are hard to find. Chewing gum is easier to carry than water and it helps fight dry mouth.

And give every kid a cheap cell phone that can be tracked in case they get lost or separated from you. Program the family numbers into the phones so they don’t have to memorize anything.

7 – General Travel Tips for Families Going Anywhere

Invest a little extra money in one or two sets of matching durable luggage. Mark them stylishly with reflective tape or stickers so they’re easy to pick out from a crowded baggage return.

Some people swear by travel cubes, zippable light-weight storage bags for your clothing and accessories that fit inside suitcases. Travel cubes make it easy to organize everything you take with you, but they do take up some of the space inside your luggage.

If you’re driving to Vegas, you’ll want a travel cleaning bag. Include Febreze anti-allergen spray, a roll of paper towels, and an all-purpose cleaner. Put the liquid spray bottles inside gallon-size resealable bags to avoid ruining other things if they leak.

Unless you’re going camping, you probably don’t need a first aid kit.

If you spend time outdoors well away from a typical hotel or pharmacy, it would be a good idea to pack some antibiotic ointment, non-latex adhesive bandages, and alcohol prep pads.

Take at least two travel wipe packets. Some families just buy an entire box of them.

You’ll probably have a motley collection of chargers and power cords for smart phones, portable CD players, and more. Collapsible lunch bags make great carryalls for electronic accessories and they are both cheap and waterproof.

If you don’t want to pay for movies at the hotel, take an HDMI cable with you if you travel with a laptop computer. You should be able to hook it up to most modern TV sets. Some hotels disable the HDMI ports, but you’ll find plenty of online travel forums where people share specific tips and experiences.

Conclusion

Vegas should be fun for everyone. If you have enough smart phones in the family, you’ll be able to record lots of pictures and videos.

You’ll want to take more than you need and do more than you have time for. Be flexible. Let your mood help you pick what to do next. And most importantly, make sure everyone relaxes and has a great time.

The Challenge in Designing Skill-Based Casino Games

Casino Slot Machines, Poker Machines
Certain casino games have little skill involved. Slot machines are perfect examples, because they merely require making bets and spinning the reels.

However, casinos have recently begun rethinking their model on slots. They’re now trying out skill-based slot machines in an effort to judge their popularity.

Of course, creating the perfect skill-based game isn’t easy. I’m going to discuss more on these games and why developers have a hard time getting them right.

What Is a Skill-Based Casino Game?

Skill-based gambling certainly isn’t new in casinos. Blackjack, which has been around for centuries, has long required skill.

Poker is another example. This player-vs-player game features more strategy than anything else in the casino.

But these days, gambling venues use the term “skill based” to define a slot machine that requires skill. After all, slots have traditionally lacked any sort of complex play throughout their history.

A skill-based slot machine is one that gives players some degree of control over their results. Typically, the bonus round is more interactive and offers talented players a better chance to rack up credits.

Here’s how it works:

  • You’re playing a racing themed slot.
  • You trigger the bonus.
  • You must race against AI opponents.
  • Your score (payout) is based on your finish.
Essentially, skill-based slots offer arcade-style gaming during bonus rounds. If you can master the bonus, then you have a stronger chance of winning money.

Other than this aspect, skill-based games play just like any other slot machine. You spin the reels and let luck do the rest.

This category of gaming can also refer to new touchscreen table games. For example, Gamblit is making unique products that introduce skill in a new way.

Gambling Poker, for example, sends cards flying across the touchscreen. The goal is to touch the best cards, or at least those that help your hand the most, before other players.

Again, poker already features plenty of strategy. But this version requires hand-eye coordination, rather than just mulling over whether to bet, raise, or fold.

I’ll focus on skill-based slot machines for the remainder of this discussion. However, I just wanted to explain how this new breed of games goes beyond just slots.

Why Are Casinos Offering Skill-Based Games?

Some casino games have existed in their current form for centuries, including blackjack and roulette gambling. Others rely on technology to stay current with the times.

Slot machines are definitely in the latter category. They’ve undergone a lot of changes since being introduced on gaming floors in the 1970s.

Today’s slots offer multiple features, such as second-screen bonuses, unique wild symbols, and cascading reels. These additions have been enough to appease the average slots player.

But casinos have found out that millennials aren’t playing slot machines like previous generations. The current technology boom is perhaps the main reason why.

Millennials have grown up with smartphones, Xbox One, and social gaming. Their definition of the latest tech and hottest trends is far different from what Generation X and Baby Boomers expect.

Guy Holding XBox Gaming Control

They’re not impressed with a walking wild symbol or cascading reels. They demand more from gaming, because they’ve witnessed rapid advances in the field their whole lives.

The gambling industry is now trying to figure out what this generation will play. Millennials do play table games like blackjack and poker to a degree.

The problem, though, is that slot machines are the big breadwinner for gambling establishments. They can only rely on Gen X and Baby Boomer slots players for so long.

Skill-based gaming is an attempt to attract millennial gamblers. The skill-based bonuses are something new that may or may not appeal to young adults who love both advanced and social gaming.

The first attempts at this style of gaming have centered on arcade games like Scientific Games’ Space Invaders and IGT’s Centipede. Both are based on old Atari games and include bonuses that involve blasting invading aliens.

Arcade machines from the 1980s don’t seem like the perfect pitch to young adults. But they’re at least a step in the right direction.

Getting the Right Balance Is Difficult

Skill-based gambling is nothing new when considering blackjack and poker. However, this is the first time that casinos have made a serious attempt at introducing skilled electronic games.

Designing such products isn’t easy. Developers need to figure out the right blend of skill, luck, and entertainment.

Create a game that’s too easy and the casino will lose money. Make a game that’s too hard and everybody will see it as a losing bet.

Therefore, one of the biggest challenges is developing a game that appeals to both casual and advanced gamers.

This is likely the reason why casinos are debuting Atari classics. They want something that older players are familiar with, while still offering the skill-based play that could possibly draw millennials.

Casinos are walking on delicate ground by making forays into this niche. Tournament.com provides an example of what can go wrong in this category.

In the late 2000s, Tournament.com created a platform where video gamers could bet on Valve’s Half-Life and Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO). The site let players wager on their individual and team performances in each match.

Unfortunately, the platform went awry almost from the beginning. Pros could perform worse to lower their rating, then bet big while competing against amateurs.

Players soon came to distrust the site and wouldn’t deposit. Tournament.com was also struggling to pay their high server costs.

Another example involves a partnership between Sweden’s Jadestone Group and GamArena. The two sides worked together to create a betting platform for Tetris, golf, racing, and table tennis games.

Lack of demand and interest quickly became problems. Much like with Tournament.com, gamblers were leery of betting outside of the more common sportsbooks, casinos, and poker sites.

Of course, major casino brands that offer skill-based gaming have established more trust with players. So, they may not deal with the same problems as the Jadestone/GamArena and Tournament.com efforts.

But these stories show that good ideas don’t always translate into success. This is especially true when calling on gamblers to rely more on their skill versus luck.

Casino Gaming Regulation Has Arrived

The good news for skill-based gaming efforts is that the regulatory powers seem to approve. Nevada, which often sets an international standard for these matters, has already given their blessing.

Aerial View of the Las Vegas Strip Casinos

The state legislature passed Senate Bill 9 in May 2019. This law makes way for skill-based slot machines. Politicians in the Silver State understand the situation that Las Vegas casinos are facing. Therefore, they were quick to approve legislation that will possibly help attract younger players.

“This bill allows gaming manufacturers to use cutting-edge technology to meet the challenges prompted by a younger, more technologically engaged, visitor demographic,” said Gov. Brian Sandoval.

“Passing this legislation into law is an important step forward in providing new opportunities for this critical industry to progress, while ensuring that Nevada remains the global epicenter for gaming innovation and development.”

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement has also given their stamp of approval. They’ve allowed GameCo to trial Danger Arena and Nothin’ But Net at Atlantic City casinos.

Danger Arena (first-person shooter) and Nothin’ But Net (basketball) are interesting because they’re not slot machines. Instead, they’re general video games that have been adapted for casino play.

Companies Are Working on the Matter

Plenty of gaming companies have jumped on the mission to develop casino games with skill. GameCo, Gamblit, IGT, and Scientific Games are just some of the developers that have produced such games.

Eric Meyerhofer, the CEO of Gamblit, believes that the goal of such efforts is to focus on fun above all.

“It’s as much about the modern-day, fun arcade experience as it is just a pure gambling experience,” said Meyerhofer.

CEO of GameCo Blaine Graboyes

GameCo CEO Blaine Graboyes highlighted the massive group of adult gamers that these products can potentially attract.

“Attracting millennials to the casino floor is the most critical issue facing gaming destinations today,” he explained. “[…] We have created a truly state-of-the-art experience that speaks directly to the nearly 93 million adult Americans that play video games.”

Conclusion

Slot machines still appear to have plenty of life left on casinos floors in their current form. However, the situation may very well change within the next few years.

Gregg Giuffria, a former rocker who now heads G2 Game Design, believes that the industry is in dire straits.

“It’s an emergency situation that we’re in right now,” explained Giuffria. Slot machines as we know them—it’s over. Five years from now, there will be casinos operating with about 50% slots. 10 years from now, only 10% to 15% of the casino floor will be filled with slots. People will talk about how their parents played those.”

10 years may be a short time frame for slot machines to nearly vanish from casino floors. After all, they currently take up around 80% of gaming floors today.

However, Giuffria and others involved in the industry can see the writing on the wall. Traditional slots aren’t the same draw they were in the past.

As for what will ultimately take their place remains to be seen. Giuffria sees gambling versions of Call of Duty and Candy Crush as the future.

Gambling on a complex game like Call of Duty seems ways off. However, social gaming like Candy Crush could definitely be on casino floors in the near future.

Social gaming has the perfect balance between skill and casual play. That said, you can probably look forward to skill-based gambling versions of Candy Crush and Plants vs. Zombies—sometime soon.

The Ideal Amount of Time for Playing Casino Games

Clock on Top of Casino Table Game
You may not pay much attention to how long you play casino games. Instead, you might just gamble for entertainment without a second thought.

This scenario represents the ideal way to play casino games. You can enjoy yourself without stressing about the amount of time you’ve spent playing.

However, you should definitely consider tracking how long you play casino games. The reason being is that you want to make decisions with a clear head and use optimal strategy.

Unfortunately, no perfect blueprint exists for how long to play casino games. But you can form a better idea on this matter by checking out the following advice.

Factors to Consider

Again, no universal answer exists on how long to play casino games. Therefore, you should consider how your own situation relates to the following factors before deciding.

Skill-Based vs. Non-Skilled Casino Games

One of the biggest divisions in casino gaming is skilled vs. unskilled play. The former refers to games that require a large degree of strategy, while the unskilled category includes games that don’t require much thinking.

Blackjack and poker fall into the skill-based class. You need to use extensive strategy with these games to boost your chances of winning.

Meanwhile, slot machines, baccarat, and roulette don’t require many hard decisions. Instead, you just play the game and let fate do the rest.

Skill-based games are more mentally draining. After all, you need to think about each decision to improve your odds.

Therefore, you won’t be able to play these games as long and still use optimal strategy. On the other hand, you can keep playing slot machines or baccarat for hours without using much brain power.

Your Experience With Gambling

Gambling isn’t thought of like running or lifting weights, where you gradually see improvement over time. Instead, it’s viewed as pure mental stimulation and entertainment.

However, your capacity for gambling increases over time just like with weightlifting or running. Going further, your decisions become more automatic as you become familiar with games.

Poker Cards Spread Out on Table, Deck of Cards

Even poker, which requires more thought than pretty much any casino game, can be mastered with enough time. If you play the same stakes for hours each day, you’ll eventually notice patterns in your opponents.

These patterns allow you to essentially play on autopilot after a while. You don’t have to use as much mental energy as a result.

That said, experience is a defining factor in how long you can gamble. The more experienced you are with certain casino games, the longer you’ll be able to play.

Bankroll Size

You obviously can’t gamble as long if you don’t have the money to do so. Unfortunately, many a player has ignored this logic and blown money they can’t afford to lose.

Therefore, you definitely want to account for your bankroll size with regard to gambling. If you’re well-funded, then you should have no problem gambling for hours.

With a smaller bankroll, you should be more aware of how long you’re playing casino games. You might even set an alarm on your smartphone to avoid losing track of time.

Sleep

Your amount of rest before a gambling session has a big impact on your thinking capacity. With more sleep, you’ll make better decisions and have additional mental energy.

In contrast, a bad night of sleep leaves you struggling from both a mental and physical point. You may have trouble playing with a level head for any longer than one to two hours if you’re sleepy.

The old rule stands that you want to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night. You should especially follow this standard if you plan on gambling a lot the next day.

Diet

One of the biggest factors that gamblers overlook is their diet. They don’t realize that eating crappy food has an effect on how long they can efficiently play casino games.

Therefore, stopping by McDonald’s or Wendy’s before your casino session is a bad idea. Meanwhile, lean meats, vegetables, and fruits have the ability to boost your mental abilities.

Wins and Losses

Considering the luck associated with any form of gambling, you’re going to have both good and bad sessions.

Cold streaks don’t technically have any bearing on how long you play. However, you’re not a robot and will experience emotions when you’re on an up or a downswing.

You may be able to gamble all night when Lady Luck is smiling on you and you’re winning lots of money. But you’ll struggle mightily when stuck in a cold streak.

If you have any inclination of leaving during a downswing, then follow your feelings. The last thing you want to do is continue playing when you’re not having a good time and risk making bad decisions.

Applying Work Science to the Optimal Gambling Time

As mentioned before, no ideal time exists for how long you should play casino games. In fact, the subject is rarely discussed in gambling circles.

But you’ll gain insight into the matter by looking at how the office world handles optimal working times. Office work and gambling bear some similarities, because they both involve using brain power over brawn.

Clock, Outside Casino Neon Sign

Time and time again, research has shown that four hours per day is the optimal amount of time for critical thinking.

Why then does the modern work world require people to log at least eight hours every day? A big reason why is because few people work optimally for four hours straight.

Nevertheless, four hours seem to be the gold standard for how long you can reasonably gamble before suffering a decline.

How Can Some Pro Gamblers Play All Day?

You might look at the above advice and think, “But I’ve heard stories of gamblers playing all day and night. Why should I stop after four hours?”

Professionals can gamble for hours on end due to a combination of factors. For starters, they have a big enough edge to where they continue making profits even after their play drops off.

Another factor is that they have a high level of experience. Some gamblers have been playing a certain game for so long that making good decisions is automatic.

Finally, they have the mental fortitude to handle both winning and losing sessions without blinking. Somebody who earns a living through poker or card counting won’t freak out when they’re having a terrible session.

Taking everything into account, you shouldn’t compare yourself to professionals when figuring out how long to gamble. Instead, concentrate on your own situation and decide what’s best for you.

Keep Track of Your Casino Sessions

You don’t want to just wing it with regard to determining your gambling session length. Instead, you should have some documentation on how long you can play.

I suggest keeping notes on you how long you play each session. You can use these notes to form a composite average.

Writing in Notebook

You might even consider keeping detailed notes that cover how you’re feeling based on how long you’re playing. For example, you might jot down that you lost concentration after three straight hours of play.

The idea behind these detailed notes is to figure out when you begin playing sub-optimally during a long session. You may eventually notice a pattern and determine exactly when to quit for the day.

Why Is Figuring Out Your Gambling Time so Important?

Gambling is a thrilling activity that keeps you playing for hours. The downside is that your concentration can diminish before you even realize it.

Once this happens, you may play worse and lose more money. This problem is particularly worrisome with skill-based games like blackjack and poker, where bad decisions lead to more losses.

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Even concentration in non-skilled games like slot machines and roulette is important. You may do something stupid like try to win back losses or make bigger bets when you’re mentally exhausted.

That said, you should formulate an idea on how long you can reasonably gamble before losing your edge. The goal is to stop when your performance begins going downhill, or even beforehand.

Conclusion

The best way to determine how long to play casino games involves considering your own situation.

  • Are you playing skill-based or non-skilled games?
  • How long have you been gambling?
  • What’s your bankroll size?
  • How is your diet and do you get enough sleep?
  • Are you on a hot or cold streak?

These are the main questions to ask yourself when determining how long to play. Each of these factors play a significant role in your gambling capacity.

For example, skill-based games are more mentally draining than the unskilled category. Therefore, you won’t be able to adequately play poker or blackjack as long as slot machines or roulette.

Your experience also has a big role in how long you can play. The more experienced you are, the better able you’ll be to gamble on autopilot. Your diet and sleep are some of the most overlooked aspects in this regard. Eating well and sleeping enough give you the mental stamina for long gambling sessions.

Defining the amount of time you can reasonably play casino games is important. After all, you don’t want to gamble for hours when you’re mentally exhausted. This scenario leads to making bad decisions that drain your bankroll. That said, you should figure out your optimal gambling time and stick to it until improving in this regard.

The Truth About Hot Numbers in Roulette

Casino Roulette Wheel
You can find several attitudes about the game of roulette among gamblers. Most roulette players do believe in hot numbers, and this post is meant to reveal the truth about that phenomenon.

But first, I want to talk a little bit about roulette player attitudes. Some people understand that roulette is entirely random and that the house has an edge. They’re hoping to beat the odds this session and have some fun while they’re at it.

Others don’t understand the math behind the game or think they have psychic powers that will help them win. They’re optimistic but foolish.

Still, others think that they’ve found an exploit which will help them win at roulette. They might think that the roulette wheel has a bias toward certain numbers, for example. Or they might think that a systematic method of raising and lowering their bets can help them succeed at roulette.

This post is about people trying to take advantage of roulette hot numbers.

What Are Hot Numbers and What Do They Have to Do With Biased Wheels?

A roulette wheel has 38 numbers on it, which means that the odds of a specific number coming up are easy to calculate (1/38, or 37 to 1). This, of course, assumes that each number has an equal probability of coming up.

Modern casinos use well-calibrated roulette wheels. They change them out periodically so they don’t get worn out. And they also move the roulette tables around in the casino, so even if you do find a bias, that wheel might not be in the same place tomorrow as it was today.

Casinos still display what the most recent numbers to hit have been on an electronic toteboard. The idea is that players will decide what numbers to bet on based on what’s happened on previous spins of the wheel.

You don’t need a big change in the odds of winning to get an edge over the casino. If a number comes up 1 out of 34 times instead of 1 out of 38 times, you have an edge over the casino.

It’s finding those hot numbers that’s the problem. You can’t find such a bias using a small number of trials, because variance in the short run is to be expected.

Just because the number seven has come up four times in the last hour doesn’t mean that it’s going to keep coming up more often than it should, statistically.

In fact, if you want to be confident that a roulette wheel has a bias toward certain specific numbers, you’d need to have the results of 10,000 spins or more. Assuming 50 spins per hour, you’d need to watch a roulette wheel for 200 hours before you could be confident that your results were statistically accurate.

You could go with fewer spins than that if you were comfortable with the idea that you might be mistaken. But even watching 1000 spins would take 20 hours.

Since the casino changes out and moves roulette wheels from one spot to the other, you can’t be confident that “clocking” the roulette wheel will accomplish anything. But if it did, what would that do to the house edge?

What Hot Numbers Will Do to the House Edge

The house edge in roulette is based on the fact that you have 38 numbers, each specific number has a 37 to 1 probability of hitting, and the payoff if and when you do hit is 35 to 1.

Look at a statistically perfect set of 38 spins. Assume a $100 bet on each number, and each number comes up exactly once. You’ll win $3500 on your winning bet, but you’ll lose $3700 on the other 37 bets, for a net loss of $200.

Roulette Wheel Spinning, Pile of Money

Average that into 38 spins, and you’ve lost an average of $5.26 per bet (or 5.26%). Now, assume the same situation, but the single number is “hot” and has a 33 to 1 probability of coming up.

In 34 perfect spins, you’ll win $3500 once, and you’ll lose $3300 on the other 33 spins. That’s $200 in net profit, or $5.26 per spin. You have a 5.26% edge over the casino in this situation.

And the casino’s okay with this, because the other numbers come up less often, and everyone betting on them loses more money than they statistically should.

Are There Any Betting Techniques You Could Use?

My favorite strategy for betting on roulette is to bet only single numbers. I sit down at the table and look for the number that’s come up the most often recently based on what’s showing on the toteboard. If there’s a number that’s come up three times, and some of the other numbers have only come up two times, that’s my number.

If another number overtakes that number of repetitions, I switch to that number. So, if I’ve been betting on that number that came up three times, and some number has now come up four times, I switch to that number.

I like to have specific win goals and loss limits, too. Normally, I’ll sit down at the roulette table with enough money to play for at least 38 spins, about $400 if I lose every spin betting $10 per spin.

My goal is to hit a single number once or twice during those 38 spins. If I hit that goal, I quit early. If I run out of money, I walk away. That’s a simple system for taking advantage of hot numbers, but I should warn you about something.

It’s not a system that will change your probability of walking away a winner.

You’re not dealing with any kind of certain mathematical edge. Your win goals and loss limits don’t affect the odds. You’re just hoping that a number will get hot and stay hot long enough for you to win a single number bet a couple of times in an hour.

This happens sometimes, in fact, it’s bound to happen on a regular basis. In the short run, you can take advantage of this occasionally. In the long run, the times you win using this technique will be overcome by the number of times you lose using this technique.

What About Raising and Lowering the Sizes of Your Bets?

Hot numbers are a separate strategy for roulette from most betting systems, although both betting systems and hot numbers have a common flaw. They both assume that past results somehow predict future results.

For example, if you’re using the Martingale system, you’re doubling your bet every time you lose until you eventually win. The assumption is that if you bet red multiple times in a row, it’s eventually bound to hit.

This works some of the time, but occasionally, you’ll hit a losing streak that will wipe out all your gains in the amount of the house edge.

Casino Roulette Wheel with Casino Chips on the Side

The hot numbers strategy I outlined above does the same thing. It assumes that these numbers are more likely to come up than you’d think because they’ve come up before. In almost all modern casinos, the roulette wheels are carefully calibrated and new. This means that the probability of getting a single number is always the same, 1/38.

Sure, in any subset of results, you’ll see a number come up more often or less often than you’d expect. That’s the nature of a random event.

But the Law of Large Numbers indicates that over a long period of time, the probabilities and the actual results will start to mirror each other.

Conclusion

The truth about hot numbers in roulette is bound to disappoint you. In a modern casino, you’re not going to get an edge over the casino by trying to find out which numbers are coming up more often than you’d statistically expect.

There was a time when this was possible, but that time is long past. My best advice for playing roulette? Use any system you like, including searching for hot numbers and raising or lowering your bets.

Just don’t ever expect a system to work in the long run, because it won’t.

How to Play Poker and Win

Pile of Poker Cards Faced Down, Poker Logo with Poker Cards and Casino Chip
There are a handful of critical aspects when it comes to learning how to play poker. There’s learning the different poker hands and their ranks as well as learning to call, raise, and fold. But there’s also more to it than just that.

This post tries to capture some of the other aspects of how to play poker, including a few hints about general strategy that might keep you from losing too much money early in your career.

How to Find a Good Poker Game

It’s easy enough to find real money online poker, although if you live in the United States, only a limited number of websites will actually allow US players to compete for real money.

If you’re brand new to poker, though, I suggest getting started with the free, play money games on the internet. You’ll learn a lot about how the game goes.

The most important things to pay attention to begin with is what order everything happens in. It’s important to understand this, especially when you switch to live poker.

And I recommend switching to live poker as soon as possible. I got my start playing on the internet, but live poker has charms all its own.

Finding a live poker game is easy, but it can depend on where you live. Most people in the United States are within driving distance of a poker room. A quick search of the internet can help you find such a game.

Another option, which is a better option financially, too, is to find a home poker game. Why’s that a better option? Well, you can avoid paying the rake that way.

When you play poker in a casino, the casino has a dealer run the action. The casino also takes 5% of every pot as their “rake.” This is one of the ways they stay in business.

If you’re at a table with players who are equally skilled, you’ll eventually break even over time. But not if 5% of the pot disappears on every hand. To break even in that situation, you have to play better than everyone else.

How do you find a home poker game? Ask around at the office. If you hang out in a bar, ask around there. You can also find message boards on the internet where locals host poker games, but some of them charge a rake. Such games are “underground” games and are probably illegal.

How to Host a Poker Game

If you have trouble finding a poker game, you can always host. You’ll need at least five or six players to have a decent home poker game, so you’ll probably need to invite 10 people to get a decent game going.

You’ll also need the proper equipment to host a poker game. Obviously, you’ll need decks of cards. I like to have two decks going, so you can have a deck shuffled at all times. There’ll be no pauses in the game while the deck’s getting shuffled.

I also like to use plastic playing cards rather than ones made of cardstock. You’ll pay more for such a deck, but it should last you forever. Kem is a good brand for this.

Group of People Playing Poker Game Outside on Bench

You’ll also need a poker table. You can find cheap poker tabletops that you can just put on top of your dining room table online. They’re good enough to start with.

Finally, you need clay chips. These used to be expensive, but they’re not too expensive anymore. Don’t host a game with plastic chips. They’re just lame and lack gravitas. Also, don’t host a poker game with a lot of cash on the table. Have your guests buy chips.

Be sure to let everyone know what variant you’re going to play and for what stakes. It’s okay to host a poker tournament and charge an extra $5 toward the buy-in if you’re going to provide snacks and drinks.

You should, in fact, provide snacks and drinks. Just because it’s a poker game doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be a good host, and a good host offers refreshments to his guests.

Also, check out this blog I wrote on how to deal a home poker game if you need extra help on getting your game started.

How to Bluff in Poker

Since I’ve already written posts about how poker hands and hand rankings work, as well as how betting in poker works, I’m going to skip those subjects and get straight into the subject on most people’s minds—bluffing.

A bluff is when you bet with a hand hoping that everyone else will fold. In that event, you win the pot by default.

A true bluff is a bet where you’re almost certainly have a lower-ranked hand than your opponent. If you think you have a better hand, you’re value betting, not bluffing.

If you don’t play much poker, you might think that bluffing is a bigger part of the game than it actually is. But the truth is, bluffing doesn’t work often enough to be profitable, especially in lower stakes games. They call lower stakes Texas holdem games “no foldem holdem” for a reason.

You need a perfect situation to bluff successfully. Part of that situation is few competitors.

If you bluff into four opponents, all four of them must fold for you to win. Even if they each have a 50/50 probability of folding, the odds of all of them folding in the face of your aggression is still only 20 to 1 or so.

But if you bluff into a single opponent, your odds improve dramatically. Paying attention to your opponents’ tendencies also matters if you’re going to be bluff.

A better strategy is semi-bluffing. When you semi-bluff, you bet aggressively with a hand that probably won’t win, but might improve and be a winner later.

You have two ways to win in such a situation. You win if your opponent folds, but you also win if your hand improves.

The classic example is when you’re heads up with someone and you have four cards to a flush on the flop. You have a roughly 1 in 3 chance of making your flush. If you bet aggressively, though, your opponent might fold. You have two ways to win.

Poker Strategy Tips for Beginners

You can find plenty of strategy tips for poker beginners online, but the biggest and best involve your overall approach to the game.

Most people agree that, especially for a beginner, a tight aggressive approach is the best way to play. There are two concepts to understand in that sentence:

  1. Tight
  2. Aggressive

I’d like to address tightness first. Poker players can be categorized as tight or loose. This refers to how many hands they get involved in.

A tight player doesn’t get involved in many hands, while a loose player gets involved in lots of hands.

This implies that a tight player has a better hand going into any situation than a loose player. The better hands don’t come along as often, so the tight player obviously only plays when he has good cards or better.

A loose player, though, plays too many hands and sticks with them too long hoping they’ll improve. Some loose players think of themselves as some kind of sheriff with a responsibility to keep the other players honest.

Being tight or loose is a separate concept from aggression, though. An aggressive player might play few hands or a lot of hands, but when he plays a hand, he’s usually betting or raising with that hand.

Hand Holding Spread of Poker Cards

You’ll rarely see an aggressive player just call a bet. The opposite of an aggressive player is a passive player. And passive players call bets to stay in a hand.

You want to be the kind of player who usually bets instead of checking, who usually raises instead of calling. The goal is to only play when you have good cards. When you do play, you want to bet and raise. You want to get money into the pot when you’re likely to win. This is called being “tight aggressive.”

Tight passive players lose money because they don’t bet and raise enough, so they don’t get any value from their winning hands.

Loose aggressive players sometimes make money in games with poor players because they get a lot of their opponents to fold. Still, when they face someone with some discipline, it’s easy enough for them to win just by waiting for good cards.

Loose passive players are the best opponents. They will call your bets with lousy cards all night. Don’t be a loose passive player when you’re gambling with real money.

Conclusion

There are some of the basics of how to play poker, including how to find poker games and how to host poker games.

I also included some poker strategy tips appropriate for beginning players. You will definitely learn more as you go and put all these tips into practice. So good luck and have fun!

What Is Dark Flow in Slot Machines?

Slot Machine Reel
Slot machines are fun games that entertain countless people on a daily basis. But certain players can become addicted to slots and blow too much money on them.

Several aspects can lead to slots addiction. One of these is a newly-coined term known as “dark flow.” Judging by the name alone, dark flow certainly doesn’t sound like a good thing. But what exactly does this term mean?

Keep reading as I explain more about dark flow and how you can combat it. I’ll also discuss other factors that can lead to slot machine addiction.

What Is Dark Flow?

Mike J. Dixon, a psychology professor at the University of Waterloo, conducted a 2019 study on slot machines. Dixon discovered that some players fall into a state where they’re totally engrossed in slot machines and ignore their surroundings.

He describes this mindset as “dark flow.” The term refers to falling into a trance and making “dark” decisions, like wasting too much time or money in the casino.

Dixon’s study focused on 129 slots players. He discovered that non-gambling mindfulness problems led to slots fixation and dark flow.

Mindfulness refers to being fully aware of the present moment. Becoming engrossed in slot machines and forgetting everything else is the opposite of mindfulness.

Study participants who experienced depression earlier in life were the most susceptible to this problem. Dark flow actually enhanced their gambling experience, thus leading to addiction.

Therefore, problem gambling isn’t just the result of dark flow or depression, but rather a combination of the two. Depressed players use slot machines as a means of escape, thus leading to dark flow.

This scenario creates a vicious cycle, where players lose money and spend more time away from family and friends. They may be even more depressed after a session is over, especially if they’ve lost too much money.

Other Addictive Qualities of Slot Machines

Dark flow is definitely a serious problem for gamblers. However, it’s not the only factor that causes problem gambling. Here are a few other addictive qualities associated with slot machines.

Losses Disguised as Wins

Nearly all slot machine games today feature multiple paylines. You can expect between 20 and 50 lines on the average slot.

All of these lines make for more excitement, because they give you additional chances to win. The problem, though, is that they also lead to a phenomenon known as losses disguised as wins (LDWs).

An LDW is when a win pays less than the cost of a spin. Therefore, you’re fooled into thinking that you’ve won, when you’ve really lost.

Here’s an example:

  • You bet $1 on a spin.
  • You win $0.25.
  • The game plays a triumphant sound effect to sell the win.

You lost $0.75 overall in this example. But the fact that you won something creates the illusion of a winning round.

Natasha Dow Schulls Addiction by Design BookAs explained in Natasha Dow Schüll’s Addiction By Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas, “people experience this (LDW) in their brains in an identical way as a win.”

You might be perfectly adept at basic math and able to tell the difference between a win and loss. However, the speed at which slots move makes it harder to differentiate between the two events.

The best thing to do in this situation is stay mindful of wins and losses on each spin. In contrast, you want to avoid rapidly spinning the reels and failing to account for the results.

Lights and Sound Effects

Slot machines are programmed to emit powerful sound effects and flashing lights after wins. On the surface, these features merely serve to entertain players.

However, they have a deeper purpose than most gamblers realize. These lights and sound effects are used to enhance the effects of LDWs and make you feel like a winner.

As noted by research, flashing lights and sounds motivate players to spin the reels faster. This hastened play rate can eventually lead to dark flow.

Findings from the University of British Columbia (UBC) back up the idea that sound effects and lights lead to dark flow. As UBC’s Luke Clark noted, some players simply lose track of time when playing slots as a result.

“When the experienced slot machine gamblers played, we found they not only felt that they lost track of time and their surroundings,” said Clark.

Skill Based Slots

Skill-based slot machines are beginning to hit casino floors with greater frequency. These games offer some degree of control over bonus round results.

For example, you may have to shoot outlaws in a Wild West slot. Your accuracy will determine how many credits you earn.

On the surface, skill-based slots are a harmless and welcome addition to the gaming world. But they’re not entirely innocent either.

i
These slot machines give off the impression that they can be beaten with enough skill. The reality, however, is that skill-based bonuses only account for a small amount of payback.

Such a game may offer 94% base RTP, for instance, with up to an additional 3% possible through the bonus. But even if you’re really good at the bonus, you’ll only earn 97% RTP on average.

Near Wins

A near win can refer to missing a big payout by a narrow margin. For example, you may only miss the jackpot by two symbols.

Here’s an example:

  • A slot offers a $100,000 jackpot for five fighter jets.
  • You’re betting $1 per spin, with $0.02 on each line.
  • You land four fighter jets in a line.
  • This payout offers 1,000x your line bet.
  • 02 x 1,000 = $20 payout
  • You continue playing for hours under the guise that you’re close to hitting the jackpot.

The problem with this logic is that every spin is independent of the last. The next round doesn’t account for how many jackpot symbols you landed in the previous round.

Casino Slot Machine Reels

A $100k jackpot may only be hit on 1 out of every 10 million spins. Meanwhile, your chances of getting four symbols could be 1 in 200,000 (or 50x less).

Slots developers realize that near wins are a powerful motivator. They’re more than happy to program such occurrences into games and keep you glued to the reels.

Research shows that near wins are similar to LDWs in how they make you feel like a winner. They can even create the same feeling as winning a jackpot.

The best way to fight this phenomenon is by realizing the long odds of winning big payouts. Getting multiple jackpot symbols in one round has no bearing on what happens on the following spin.

Comps

In essence, casino comps are a good thing. They serve as rewards for playing slot machines and other casino games.

The problem comes in, though, when gamblers overvalue comps. This mindset leads to playing longer just to accumulate better rewards.

The best way to think of comps is as a small repayment on theoretical losses. They’re actually not that valuable relative to total bets.

Here’s an example to explain:

  • You bet $1,000 on a slot machine.
  • The game has a 7% house edge.
  • 1,000 x 0.07 = 70
  • You’ll theoretically lose $70 on this slot.
  • The comp rate is 0.1%.
  • 1,000 x 0.001 = 1
  • You earn $1 in comps.

Low comp rates are a norm throughout the industry. The only way that you’ll earn lots of rewards through these programs is by betting lots of money.

Given that slots are negative-expectation games, you stand a bigger chance of losing money in these cases.

What Can You Do to Play Slots Responsibly?

You don’t have to stop playing slots entirely just because they have addictive qualities. Instead, you can still enjoy them without experiencing dark flow and other problems.

The following techniques will help keep you mindful while avoiding the ugly side of slot machines.

Use Your Phone Alarm

A great way to combat dark flow is by breaking your concentration. You can easily accomplish this goal by using your smartphone.

Cell Phone Displaying Timer

All you need to do is set your alarm for predetermined points. For example, you may want to be reminded how long you’ve been playing every 15 minutes.

In this case, set your alarm to ring at 15-minute intervals. The ringing alarm will pull you out of any potential slots trance.

Put Your Phone on the Slot Machine Betting Panel

You’ve likely noticed that casinos don’t have clocks. This trick is used to prevent you from keeping track of time.

But you can easily get past this ruse by using a watch or even your phone. The watch works best, because you can simply look at your wrist to see the time.

However, your phone does the job, too. Just put your smartphone on the betting panel and look at the time every now and then.

Play Slot Machines near the Entrances and Bathrooms

A good way to avoid dark flow is by choosing slots that are located near a casino’s entrance or bathrooms.

These spots see a lot of foot traffic. You may occasionally be interrupted by the many people walking by.

This scenario seems like a bad thing because you’re being distracted. However, this is entirely the point, you don’t want to be totally lost in a slots game.

Only Bring What You Can Afford to Lose

You can’t play slots if you’re out of money. Therefore, limiting your funds is an easy way to keep you from playing slots for too long.

Here’s an example:

  • You go through your finances before a casino daytrip.
  • You calculate that you have $500 to spend.
  • You bring $500 cash—$400 for slots and another $100 for miscellaneous expenses.
  • You also bring a debit card for emergency purposes, but leave it in the car.

Nothing prevents you from visiting the car and grabbing the card when your $400 is gone. However, this long walk serves as a deterrent from playing too long and over-betting.

You can really go hardcore by only bringing cash on the trip and leaving the cards at home. The drawback, though, is that you may need some emergency funds.

Avoid Drinking (Too Much)

Everybody knows that casinos serve drinks to remove your inhibitions. Many players lose track of their bankroll management and end up getting drunk and losing their money.

Group of People Lifting Drinks Up to Cheer

That said, you should avoid drinking if at all possible. Assuming you do accept some free beers/cocktails, then keep the quantity to a minimum.

Having more than one alcoholic beverage per hour can lead to making bad decisions. You may be tempted to play long sessions and/or place big bets when you’re buzzed or drunk.

Conclusion

The problem with dark flow is that it’s hard to notice until it’s too late. You may only realize that you’ve fallen into a slots trance after your bankroll has vanished.

That said, you want to take precautions to avoid dark flow. You should also be aware of other addictive slots qualities, such as LDWs, near wins, lights/sound effects, and comps.

The easiest way to avoid playing too long is by only bringing what you can afford to the casino. Something as simple as leaving your debit/credit cards in the car may be enough to avoid dark flow.

You can also snap yourself back into reality through the use of a smartphone alarm or playing by the entrance. Both methods create distractions that will pull your mind from a slot machine.

The first step to avoiding slots addiction is to recognize the traps. The next step is to use some of the advice provided in this post for staying in the present.

Study Shows Sounds Draw You to Slot Machine Games

Woman Sitting Playing Slot Machine at the Casino
Slot machines feature a number of vibrant sound effects. You may think that these sounds are just part of the entertainment.

However, research shows that sound effects from slot machines are about more than entertainment. In fact, these noises are meant to both draw and keep you playing slots.

Slot machines ringing out with triumphant noises and exciting music aren’t inherently evil. However, the matter becomes more serious if these sounds cause you to play slots longer than you’d like.

Obviously, you don’t want to be convinced to keep spinning the reels beyond what you’re comfortable with. That being said, keep reading to find out more about the study and how you can keep from falling victim to enticing sound effects.

What Research Reveals About Slot Machine Sounds

Mike Dixon, a psychology professor at the University of Waterloo, has been involved in several prominent slot studies over the years. His research on these games’ sounds is one of his best works.

Dixon’s study reveals that certain slots noises can trick your brain into thinking you’ve won more money than you really have.

For example, you might bet $1 and only earn back $0.30. However, celebratory noises that ring out from the machine may convince you that you’re truly a winner.

Specifics of the Study

Dixon’s research featured 96 participants. Each gambler played two sessions on a slots simulator.

The professor and his team measured the players’ physiological responses to the slot machines’ outcomes. Wins, losses, and losses disguised as wins (LDWs) were all measured with the sounds both turned on and off.

The gamblers’ palms gave away how they were feeling in each situation. Their palms, which were tested for skin conductance, became sweaty when they got excited. Their heartbeats also became faster during periods of slots arousal.

Human Skeletal X-Ray, Slot Machine Reels

In the first session, LDWs and wins were reinforced by celebratory noises and animations. In the second, only the animations were left on while the music was turned off.

When the sessions were finished, researchers asked the gamblers which round they had more fun with. The team also inquired about how the players thought they did in terms of wins and losses.

Heart rates were faster and skin conductance tests were greater during the session with sounds. Gamblers also felt like they won more money in the first run.

The reality, though, is that the players severely overestimated how much they won in the initial session. Estimates on wins were 24% in the first round versus 15% in the second session. In reality, the winnings were relatively the same for both rounds.

The study authors concluded that,

“Although sounds may have contributed to players’ enjoyment of the game, sound may also lead to an overestimation of winning.”

They added, “Both of these effects may contribute to gambling problems, such as misbeliefs about the true chances of winning, and persistence that some players experience when playing slot machines.”

Should You Be Bothered by the Addictive Nature of Slots Sounds?

The study doesn’t exactly cast slot machines and their developers in a good light. Developers purposely add sounds that convince players to gamble longer.

As a result, you may feel leery about playing slot machines or even visiting casinos in general. After all, you’ll hear these noises immediately upon walking into a casino and perhaps be drawn to them.

Of course, you don’t have to fall victim to the addictive qualities of these noises. You can avoid this trap simply knowing about Dixon’s study and what slots sounds are designed to do.

Assuming you’re able to play responsibly, then you may even find that the music and sound effects enhance your experience. After all, who doesn’t like hearing a triumphant noise after netting a payout?

The key, though, is to fully realize what happens on each spin. You want to understand whether or not you actually won, not just rely on the noises.

Other Factors That Can Attract You to Slot Machines

Sound is far from the only aspect that makes slot machines addictive. Plenty of other aspects make these games alluring, including the following.

Flashing Lights

You can expect to see flashing lights accompany triumphant sounds during any payout. These lights also reinforce wins, no matter how big or small.

Much like with sound effects, you need to be skeptical of these lights. Just keep in mind that a game will light up regardless of how much you win, even if it’s just $0.30.

Themes

The slots world offers a large variety of themes to appeal to many types of players. Fantasy, holidays, sports, and wild animals are some of the most common themes in slot machines.

A typical trend over the last decade involves rolling out slots based on popular movies and TV shows. These well-known themes have become huge hits on casino floors.

A gambler who loves Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, for example, will be attracted to Playtech’s Gladiator online slot. That said, developers know what they’re doing with regard to themes.

Bonuses and VIP Rewards

Black Loyalty Rewards CardThe casino industry has done a great job at convincing players that casino comps are more valuable than they truly are. Some gamblers will actually extend their slot sessions just to upgrade to a better comp.

You should realize, though, that these bonuses and rewards aren’t worth nearly as much as they appear to be.

In fact, most slots VIP rewards are only worth around $0.02 per $1 in theoretical losses.

Considering the chances of you losing 50x the value of comps, you certainly don’t want to overestimate the worth of these rewards.

Jackpots

Most slot machines feature some kind of jackpot. Many of the most popular games offer seven, or even eight figure top prizes.

For example, Microgaming’s Mega Moolah has paid out a number of multimillion-dollar prizes. In 2019, it delivered a record-online slots jackpot worth over $21 million.

This prize is an exception to the norm. However, the fact stands that jackpots worth six, seven, or eight figures draw big crowds.

Psychological Factors

Slots makers don’t just rely on physical aspects like sounds and flashing lights to attract gamblers. They also program games to take advantage of certain psychological factors.

For instance, LDWs convince players that they’re winners even when they lose money overall.

Here’s an example of an LDW:

  • You bet $0.50
  • You spin the reels and win $0.10
  • ($0.50) – ($0.10) = $0.40 net loss
  • Music begins playing and the machine flashes
  • You feel like a winner but you lost $0.40

Slot machines have the ability to put you into a trance based on their speed of play, animations, and other entertaining factors. You may begin mindlessly spinning the reels without realizing how long you’ve been in the casino.

This scenario is what’s referred to as a slots trance. A good way to keep yourself from falling into these trances involves being aware of the current time and how long you’ve been in the casino.

Gambling establishments don’t put clocks on the wall for this very reason. But you can simply refer to your smartphone every so often to check the time.

Friends Who Play Slot Machines

Slot machines may seem like a solo affair. However, they can turn into a social excursion when you’re with a friend.

Playing slots with a friend or two definitely adds to the experience. But it also serves as another draw to these games.

As long as you and your friends play responsibly, then gambling with buddies is a positive aspect. On the other hand, you definitely don’t want to gamble too often with those who go overboard on slot machines.

Conclusion

Dixon’s research proves that slots sound effects can keep you spinning the reels longer. They provide positive reinforcement on all wins, even those that come in LDW form.

If you’re playing on autopilot, you’ll be more likely to fall for these tricks. After all, the sounds are purposely designed to make you feel good about any payout.

The key is to ignore the noise and analyze each spin. Did you actually win money during a round, or did you just win a small payout that doesn’t even equal the spin cost?

The latter is an aspect that you should be fully aware of while playing. Furthermore, you need to know when you’re truly winning money versus losing it.

Awareness will help prevent you from playing too long. That being said, pay attention to each spin and don’t be fooled by the sound effects.

What Exactly Does Casino Surveillance Do?

Casino Sign, Surveillance Camera
Casino surveillance is one of the most mysterious parts of the gambling world. We all know that surveillance exists in casinos, but what exactly do they do?

You’ve likely seen movies or TV shows that depict casino surveillance as desk jockeys who watch computer monitors all day. You might be surprised to know, though, that their duties extend beyond just looking at monitors.

If you’re interested in learning exactly what surveillance does, then keep reading as I discuss their daily tasks and what it takes to land one of these jobs.

Duties of Casino Surveillance

As mentioned before, casino surveillance does more than just watch computer monitors. Their job requires multiple skills, including everything from catching cheaters to writing reports on notable incidents.

Monitor the Casino Floor

The chief duty of a casino gaming surveillance officer is to monitor the gambling floor. They use audio and video equipment to watch gamblers and employees.

Their big focus is on ensuring that gamblers play fairly and according to house rules.

However, they also need to pay mild attention to dealers, given that croupiers are occasionally corrupt.

Watch for Advantage Players

Casinos have the right to refuse service to advantage gamblers, who are players that hold an edge over the house in one or more games. Blackjack card counters are the best-known examples of advantage players.

Any good pro gambler will take steps to mask their skills. After all, casinos will escort advantage players out of their establishments and possibly ban them, too.

That said, surveillance becomes a huge part of catching skilled gamblers. This crew is trained to look for signs of pro gambling and alert the floor if necessary.

Watch for Potential Cheaters

Unlike advantage play, cheating in casino games is flat-out illegal. Casinos have the right to detain crooked players until law enforcement arrives.

Casino Roulette Wheel, Busted Red Logo

Common types of cheating include card marking, concealing cards, dice sliding (craps), chip dumping (poker), and using electronic devices in roulette. The best cheaters are adept at hiding whatever technique they’re using to make profits.

Surveillance provides a big helping hand in identifying potential cheaters. Much like with advantage gambling, surveillance is trained on the different cheating tactics that players use.

Work With Law Enforcement if Cheating Is Uncovered

Law enforcement will surely be involved if a player is caught using illegal means to beat the casino. Of course, the justice system can’t just prosecute players based on the casino’s word alone.

Instead, a gambling establishment has to provide proof that a player was cheating. Surveillance, thanks to their video evidence, can help successfully prosecute cheating gamblers.

Provide Extra Security for the Cashier’s Cage

The floor isn’t the only part of the casino that needs monitoring. Other sections of these establishments also need help from the “eye in the sky.”

The cashier’s cage especially must be monitored. After all, cages at various casinos have been robbed in the past.

Good surveillance footage can identify perpetrators and help police arrest them later.

Write Reports on Notable Incidents

Manning cameras and monitoring various areas of the casino are big parts of surveillance. However, these officers need to do more than just watch video monitors.

They also have to fill out reports when notable incidents happen. These reports can be based on a cheater, advantage gambler, crooked employee, or other matters.

Escort Unruly Gamblers Off the Floor

You might think of casino security as just being burly guys in suits who wrestle away problem gamblers. However, surveillance may also be called upon to help escort such gamblers off the floor as well.

Part of this duty depends upon the size of the casino. A major Las Vegas resort like the Bellagio may have special security whose job is to deal with unruly gamblers.

At smaller casinos, though, surveillance might provide backup and strength in numbers to more easily detain problem players.

How Much Does Casino Surveillance Get Paid?

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics defines casino surveillance as gaming investigators or gaming surveillance officers.

A look at either job title reveals that a casino surveillance worker makes around $33,000 per year on average. This works out to $15.97 per hour over the course of a 40-hour week.

Those in the highest 10% of this field earn a median salary of $48,600. Those in the lowest 10% collect $21,000 on average.

Security Camera Under Neon Lights, Money

One reason for the wide discrepancy in salaries is the type of employer. Local governments pay casino surveillance an average of $33,350. Private gambling companies offer $30,870 and travel accommodation employers pay $35,430.

Location is another key factor in surveillance officers’ salaries. Those working in Connecticut and Indiana earn an average of $46,080 and $43,290, respectively.

Employees in South Dakota and West Virginia only receive $26,320 and $26,540 on average, respectively. That said, casino surveillance workers can benefit by relocating to more lucrative markets with bigger casinos.

What Does It Take to Become a Surveillance Officer?

You might think that surveillance officers need an extensive tech background. After all, they must use electronic equipment and be experts at switching camera views.

The reality, though, is that they don’t need elite education. Schooling requirements don’t usually extend beyond a high school diploma or even GED.

However, prospective surveillance officers must pass a thorough criminal background check. Casinos can’t trust just anybody to monitor their floors.

Such workers usually have to obtain licensing as well before they’re eligible to become surveillance officers. This licensing isn’t hard to acquire in most states.

Surveillance employees can further their careers by going through additional programs and classes. Such courses are available through both universities and organizations.

Challenges That Gaming Investigators Deal With

One problem with trying to become a surveillance officer is the limited number of opportunities.

At one point, this field was booming due to all of the casino growth throughout the US. But the number of new casinos has stagnated in recent years.

Job growth for gambling surveillance was just 9% over the past decade. Compare this to the average growth rate of 14% for all job fields across America.

Casino Slot Machines, Security Guard

Another challenge is the moderate to low salary. These officers need quite a bit of training to carry out their duties.

However, they don’t earn any more than the average factory worker. This problem is particularly highlighted in rural states like West Virginia and South Dakota, where surveillance earns meager salaries.

But there’s some hope for this field. More states are expected to legalize casino gambling in the future.

Such expansion will no doubt lead to more casinos. Likewise, the demand and salaries for surveillance employees could grow in this event.

Conclusion

Casino surveillance is stereotyped as having one duty—to watch video monitors. But as you can see, their job description goes beyond just manning cameras.

They also write reports, provide extra physical security, and work with law enforcement when necessary. Of course, their primary responsibility remains viewing monitors to catch advantage gamblers, cheaters, and crooked dealers.

The eye in the sky serves as a big deterrent for cheating the casino or just trying to gain an edge on them. Potential advantage gamblers and cheaters will think twice before trying to profit off casinos.

Unfortunately, surveillance is a thankless and often underpaid job. The average officer only makes around $33,000 per year.

This is an okay salary that can help a single person or family with two working parents to get by. However, it’s hardly going to make anybody rich.

Job growth has been slow for gambling surveillance over the past decade, too. This profession has grown at a rate that’s 5% slower compared to the average job field.

Much of the problem is due to casino saturation. States that already have gambling establishments feature more than enough casinos relative to their population.

But surveillance employees can look forward to potential growth in the future. After all, a number of states have yet to legalize casino gambling.

That said, this profession could be more lucrative in future years, especially if demand for employees becomes higher.

Can You Really Control Dice to Help You Win at Craps

Hand Throwing Dice on Craps Casino Table
Craps seems like a totally random game. After all, you simply try to toss dice off a diamond-patterned wall.

And you don’t necessarily have to hit the wall. But casinos want you to make an attempt to ensure randomness.

These factors seemingly produce uncontrolled results. However, a small segment of the craps community believes you can influence your results with a certain technique.

This technique is referred to as “dice control” (a.k.a. controlled shooting). It involves the art of tossing dice in a manner that helps you control the winning numbers as you play real money craps.

Dice control sounds great in theory, but it’s actually a scam. I’ll explain more on this method along with why it’s a complete farce.

Basics of Dice Control

The term “dice control” says everything. You’re controlling how you toss the dice. But how do you pull this off?

Everything begins with how you “set” the dice. Setting refers to holding the cubes in a specific manner, with certain numbers covered and exposed.

The V-shape is one of the most classic sets. It involves holding the dice so that the threes form a V-shape. It’s supposed to reduce your odds of throwing a seven.

The next matter is to toss the dice in a consistent manner. You’re aiming to kiss them off the back wall and reduce randomness.

This feat certainly isn’t easy when considering the diamond-patterned wall. But then again, you don’t need to control the outcome very often to gain an edge.

Group of People Playing Casino Craps, Throwing Casino Dice

Assuming you can reduce your “sevens rolls ratio” (RSR) by just a bit, then you can swing the odds in your favor. RSR alludes to the ratio of rolls that produce a seven against those that don’t.

Your odds of rolling a seven are one in six, or an RSR of 6:1 (16.67% of the time). But if you can improve to just 6.5:1, then you’re guaranteed profits over time as a “right” bettor (e.g. pass line). Do even better than this, and you’ll be rolling in the winnings.

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You can’t expect to lower your RSR with a good set alone. Instead, you need to practice your toss to develop consistency.

Experts advise either buying a real craps table or rigging your own for practice purposes. The latter option is more feasible when considering the cost and space requirements of a real table.

These experts also claim that you must practice for months to develop a consistent toss. This seems reasonable when considering how impossible it is to actually control your throws.

You supposedly need to approach this method like a professional athlete hones their craft. A pro basketball player doesn’t just start out hitting 80% of their free throws. Instead, they need to work up to these skills.

The same is allegedly true of dice control in that practice makes perfect. Top craps players are said to toss dice for hours a day outside of the casino.

What’s the Promise of Dice Control?

Some of the biggest proponents of controlled shooting include Dominic LoRiggio, Chris Pawlicki, and Frank Scoblete.

These gambling authors claim that craps is a beatable game. They also contend that you can make a fortune over time with enough hard work.

Frank Scoblete, Two Casino Dice

Scoblete often writes about a late gambler who went by the nickname “The Captain.” He claims that The Captain regularly beat casinos out of big winnings.

Besides earning money, another benefit of dice control is that it flies under the casino’s radar. Staff members will turn a blind eye towards controlled shooters. Therefore, you can use this technique without being hassled.

One more benefit is that dice control is physical in nature. You’ll find that perfecting your dice toss is more fun than sitting around counting cards or trying to see the dealer’s hole card (a.k.a. hole carding).

You may even come to love the practice element. You can treat this matter like a fun game where you want to be the best.

Why Is Dice Control a Complete Scam?

The biggest question mark surrounding controlled shooting is that it’s not banned by casinos. Gambling venues normally don’t care if somebody sets the dice and throws with the same consistency every time.

Casinos are staunchly against allowing advantage gamblers to run over them. They harass and even ban successful card counters to prevent this from happening.

Yet they could care less when it comes to dice setters. Dealers allow these so-called advantage players to set dice within reason.

Now, the aforementioned gambling authors will tout how casinos do harass controlled shooters. They’ll conjure up stories about a dealer or pit boss trying to back off a dice controller.

But they’re not doing so out of fear of these gamblers beating them. Instead, casino staff members simply don’t want players slowing down games with complicated sets and pre-throw rituals.

Another problem with dice control is that there are no reliable examples of successful players. Scoblete’s examples of The Captain are the only stories we have to go off of. But Scoblete has no actual proof that The Captain truly beat casinos or even existed.

Contrast this to other advantage play techniques, like card counting or wheel bias. Both of these strategies have produced documented cases of big winners.

Perhaps another fishy sign is the dice control courses run by LoRiggio and Scoblete. The pair operate Golden Touch seminars, where they teach players controlled shooting for the low price of $1,500.

Of course, they claim that the lofty cost is due to them giving away such valuable information. However, paying $1,500 for an advantage gambling method that’s unproven is over the top.

Many craps enthusiasts want to believe that the game can be beaten through skill. But looking at the facts, things just don’t add up.

Is There a Reliable Way to Beat Craps?

I strongly contend that there’s no legal way to beat craps on a consistent basis. You actually can top the casinos through dice sliding. However, this technique doesn’t satisfy the legal requirement.

The only real way to win in craps is by making good bets and backing them with odds. You start this process by focusing on pass line, come, don’t pass line, and don’t come.

Casino Craps Table

Pass line (made on come-out roll) and come (made after) both have a 1.41% house edge. Don’t pass line (made on come-out roll) and don’t come (made after) each have a 1.36% house advantage.

You can back any of the four aforementioned bets once a “point” number has been established. Betting bigger odds means that a larger portion of your wager won’t be subject to the casino house edge.

Here’s an example to illustrate how larger odds lower the overall house advantage on your wagers:

  • 2x odds pass line = 0.848% house edge
  • 2x odds don’t pass line = 0.682% house edge
  • 5x odds pass line = 0.326%
  • 5x odds don’t pass line = 0.227%
  • 10x odds pass line = 0.184%
  • 10x odds don’t pass line = 0.124%
  • 20x odds pass line = 0.099%
  • 20x odds don’t pass line = 0.065%

The problem with higher odds is two-fold:

  • You must be able to afford the bet.
  • Most casinos don’t offer 10x or 20x odds.

Regarding the first point, your odds bet needs to match its multiple in relation to the original wager. If you bet $10 on pass line and take 10x odds, for example, then you must wager an additional $100 ($110 total).

As for the second dilemma, you may not find a casino in your area that allows higher than 5x odds. But you can still benefit with odds ranging from 1x to 5x.

Conclusion

I seriously hope that you haven’t paid for any dice control courses or worked on your toss for long. If so, then you’ve been scammed!

Controlled shooting simply doesn’t work. Instead, it’s the invention of clever gambling authors who want you to believe that craps can be beaten for the right price.

If you’re serious enough to spend hours practicing your toss and, most importantly, pay $1,500 for a course, then you can win.

But this narrative is complete BS. You merely need look at how casinos couldn’t care less about controlled shooters to see the truth.

Casinos know the industry better than anybody. They understand what type of gamblers are to be feared and which ones are puffing on pure fantasy.

Dice setters fall into the latter category. Nobody can toss a pair of small cubes 12 to 14 feet down a table, hit a diamond-patterned wall, and expect consistent results.

You’re better off throwing your time into a real advantage play technique, like card counting or hole carding. Leave controlled shooting to the delusional crowd who believes that they can make long-term profits.

Assuming you like craps, then you can still give yourself a reasonable chance to win. All you need to do is make bets with the lowest house edges and back them with odds.

You may not gain the upper hand on casinos this way. But at least you’ll have decent odds of winning, without blowing time and money on dice control.

How to Gamble on Jeopardy!

Alex Trebek, Jeopardy, Money PIle
One of my fellow gambling bloggers is a huge fan of the show Jeopardy! In fact, he watches it every day with his elderly mom. We’ve discussed the show at length on multiple occasions, and our discussions invariably wind up focusing on how to gamble on Jeopardy.

You’re probably familiar with the game show already, as it’s practically an American institution. The original version of the show was on from 1964 to 1975, and the most recent version has been on the air since 1984. (I was 14 years old when Alex Trebek went to work hosting this new version.)

Can you believe they’ve aired 8000+ episodes of Jeopardy now? It’s won multiple Daytime Emmys, too.

I’d argue that besides baseball and poker, the only thing more quintessentially American (leisure-wise) than Jeopardy is gambling. So, here are some thoughts about how to gamble on Jeopardy.

Jeopardy Slot Machines

Of course, everyone knows now that slot machine games are the biggest revenue generator in almost any American casino. I used to see reports that estimated the gambling machines made 70% of a casino’s money. I think the number now is closer to 80% in most casinos.

One of the big revolutions in slot machine gaming was the launch of The Wheel of Fortune slot machine, which was based on the game show of the same name. The gimmick for that game is that you get to spin a wheel just like the one on the show.

Wheel of Fortune is the most popular slot machine franchise in history, so it’s no surprise that IGT and other slot machine manufacturers have tried to duplicate that success by launching slot machines based on other TV game shows.

Games like Deal or No Deal, Press Your Luck, and The Price Is Right are all popular examples of game shows that have been translated into slot machine games.

Hands Hitting Buttons on Slot Machines, Jeopardy Slot Machine

But if you want to gamble on Jeopardy, the easiest way is probably to just find a casino with a Jeopardy slot machine game and play it.

It’s a five-reel video slot machine game with nine paylines. The game also features several bonus games. The graphics and sound effects are all specifically based on Jeopardy. The symbols include the logo for the show, along with some of the famous question categories.

Jeopardy slots are dollar games, which means you must bet at least $1 per spin. You can bet up to $5 per spin, and you can bet on anywhere from one to nine paylines. The jackpot is 25,000 coins.

The main bonus game features a screen with Jeopardy categories on it, and the amount won on each of the 30 spots is randomly determined. You don’t have to answer in the form of a question either, or even answer a question at all. It’s basically like a bonus game on any other slot machine.

Still, if you want to gamble on Jeopardy, this is one good way to do it.

Become a Contestant

Being a contestant on Jeopardy could also be considered gambling, although you don’t have to risk any of your own money to play on the show. If you consider the time and expense involved in becoming a contestant, you can see that you do have something at stake in exchange for the chance to win money with Alex Trebek.

To become a Jeopardy contestant, you must follow a specific process. That process begins with an online test on Jeopardy’s official website. If you pass the test, your name goes into a pool of potential contestants. The show’s producers randomly choose names from that pool to audition.

If you do well during your audition, they might invite you to compete.

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This process can take 18 months. Auditioning isn’t a guarantee you’ll get in; if you have a lousy personality, you might not make it onto the show.

You also must meet the eligibility requirements for the show. These aren’t complicated, you need to be over 18 years old, unless you’re competing in the teen tournament, in which case you must be between the ages of 13 and 17. If you’re applying for the college show, you must be a full-time undergraduate student. You’re ineligible for this version of the show if you already have a degree.

You also can’t have appeared on the show with Alex Trebek before. You and your relatives also can’t have been employed by Sony, Quadra, CBS, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, any TV station, or any company which provides prizes to these shows.

How much can you win on Jeopardy? Well, that depends on how well you do, but as far as I know, there’s no cap to your winnings. James Holzhauer won over $2.4 million during his time on the show. (Coincidentally, he’s a professional sports bettor.)

Jeopardy Strategy for Winning the Most Money

I want to further address James Holzhauer, by the way. He won over $2.4 million during the 33 episodes of Jeopardy on which he appeared.

This is more than anyone except Ken Jennings, who won $2.5 million during 74 episodes. If you look at the amount won versus the number of episodes, you’ll see that Holzhauer did a lot better on a per-episode basis.

How did he do it? What was different about his strategy? Most contestants on Jeopardy start with the $200 questions and work their way up to the $1000 questions. Holzhauer did the opposite by starting at the bottom of the board with the $1000 questions. This enabled him to stack up money faster than other contestants.

Jeopardy Contestant James Holzhauer, Secrets of the Buzzer by Fritz Holznagel

The next component of his strategy was to find the Daily Double as fast as possible so he could double his money and get a big lead over the other contestants. During the first round, Holzhauer almost always bet everything he had on the Daily Double.

During Final Jeopardy, Holzhauer always wagered more than he probably needed to, but he never wagered enough to result in a loss if he got the answer wrong.

Of course, it helps to get 97% of your answers right, which Holzhauer did. Also, you need to be fast with the buzzer to have any hope of winning. Holzhauer says he read a book on the subject, Secrets of the Buzzer by Fritz Holznagel.

How do you develop the kind of broad knowledge you need to win at a trivia game like Jeopardy? I’ve read that one of the best ways is to spend time reviewing children’s non-fiction books. They’re less dense than non-fiction books written for adults. And they often include answers to questions that are often asked on the show.

Bet on the Results With Your Friends or a Sportsbook

Finally, you can also bet on Jeopardy by just placing a friendly wager at your local bar or in your living room with your buddies watching the show.

The easiest way to do this is to find two other people who want to bet on the show. Each of you backs a contestant of your choice; winner takes all.

Another option is to find an internet sportsbook accepting action on the contestants. These are prop bets, and they’re not always available. But when a player starts seeing unusual success on Jeopardy, some books, like Bovada, will offer action on how long a contestant will last or how much money he’ll win.

Conclusion

That’s how to bet on Jeopardy. You can play slot machines, get on the show, or bet on the show with someone else.

Do you have other ways to gamble on Jeopardy?

7 Ways to Get Rich Gambling

Casino Game Reel, Woman Counting Money
Have you ever dreamed about getting rich gambling? Some gamblers are able to do it, so why not you? What could be better than taking a risk and having it pay off in a big way?

Gamblers have been trying to get rich for years. Some of them have been able to do it by getting lucky and hitting a big progressive jackpot or a big lottery. But others have been able to amass riches by a more practical and straightforward method.

I’ve put together seven ways you can get rich gambling with real money below. Some of them are easy, just requiring a small bet and a great deal of luck. But some of them are within your reach, if you’re willing to do the work and put in the time.

1 – Win a Big Poker Tournament

Just about every poker player knows the winner of the WSOP main event takes home millions every year. But did you know there are hundreds of poker tournaments that pay out over $100,000 played every year?

You don’t have to win the WSOP main event to win a big score. But even if you only look at the biggest poker tournament in the world, your odds of winning are still much better than you get with things like one of the big lottery drawings.

2 – Grind It out as a Blackjack Card Counter

This one isn’t glamorous like some of the other ways to get rich gambling on this list, but it’s one of the things that offers a realistic opportunity for anyone with the skill and desire to make some serious money.

When you buy a lottery ticket, you have the chance to win a huge prize, but the odds are strongly stacked against you. If you learn how to count cards, you can methodically make money.

Blackjack Cards Falling Down Into Pile

But there’s one thing you need to understand, and it’s in the title of this section. Getting rich by blackjack card counting is a grind. You have to play as much as you can, you have to keep your mind in top shape, and you’re always doing your best not to get caught.

Even if the money is good, the grind can wear you down. On the plus side, you don’t have to be a genius to learn how to count cards, and like I mentioned above, it gives you a realistic opportunity to make money gambling. Anyone with average intelligence and the desire to master it can become a winning card counter.

3 – Hit a Progressive Jackpot

Most large progressive jackpots are available on slot machines, but some other games have them also. The problem with slot machines is they have a high house edge. The odds of hitting a progressive jackpot are also highly against you, but they’re not worse than hitting the lottery.

One thing you need to watch for is many of the slot machines with big progressives require a large bet per spin to be eligible for the top prize. If you’re betting $2 or $2.50 per spin, it doesn’t take long to burn through your bankroll.

4 – Win a Big Lottery

If you’re like me and most other people, you’ve probably spent some time thinking about what you’d do if you hit a big lottery prize. After all, most of us have never had a million to spend, much less 10 or 100 million. And the cost of a ticket is only $2 or $3.

I don’t know of any other bet you can make that offers the chance at such a high return for a small investment. This is one of the reasons why the lottery is so popular, and I’m all for taking a small risk for a big reward.

Mega Millions Lottery Winner Holding Big Check

The odds of you hitting a big lottery, even if you play every day your entire life, are very small. It’s not really a realistic chance, but someone is going to win, so I don’t blame you for buying a ticket. If you want a better chance at riches, read one of the two sections on this page about grinding out your fortune.

5 – Poker Grinding

It’s not as flashy as it looks on television, but many poker players are able to grind out a good living at the tables. They play hour after hour, making $20 to $30 or even $50 an hour.

The first thing you need to do is learn how to win on a consistent basis. This isn’t easy, but it’s possible with enough study and practice. Once you learn how to win, the next key is to find the most profitable games and play in them as much as possible.

You can play on a somewhat set schedule, but the fact is if you’re in a wildly profitable game, you can’t afford to leave until it becomes less profitable.

It might become less profitable because the players change or because you start getting tired and start making mistakes. But if you’re killing the game, you need to ride it until you can’t do it anymore.

Just like grinding out a living as a card counter, making good money as a poker player is a grind. It quickly changes from a fun game to something much like a job. This is acceptable to some players, but it makes many players quit playing. Only you can decide if this is a good option for you, but be aware that it can turn a game you love into one you dread.

6 – Sports Gambling

Sports gambling is a tough business to get rich in, but a few players are able to do it. I cover it more in the next section, but one way to use sports betting to take a shot at fast riches is by trying to win multiple bets in a row while rolling your profits into the next bet. Another way to try for quick money is by betting a multi-team parlay ticket.

Most sports bettors who try to roll their profits, or win a big parlay, usually fail. The sports bettors who make money are the ones that grind out wins over time, like some poker players and blackjack card counters.

Basketball Hoop, Money Holding Rolled Up Money

Most successful sports bettors develop their own systems or models and use them to find games and lines that might be profitable. Then, they combine their models and systems with study of the players and teams involved, and find profitable betting situations.

The biggest problem sports bettors run into while trying to get rich, even when they figure out how to win more than they lose, is getting a large enough amount of money in action to win big. It’s easy to get large bets down on big games like the Super Bowl, but how do you get $50,000 or $100,000 down on a small conference game in the middle of the season?

If you want to try for fast riches sports betting, pick a multi-team parlay and take your chances. The odds are better than the lottery, but the rewards are smaller, too.

7 – Let It Ride

I’m not talking about the popular table game Let It Ride here. Instead, I’m talking about making a bet and betting the total amount again when you win. When you win a bet and place the original wager, then win back into action, it’s often called “let it ride.”

Many times, these types of bets are made on even money wagers, like red or odd at the roulette wheel. But this requires a long series of wins to add up to a large amount. The same concept is in use in sports betting using multiple game parlay bets.

But let’s look at the numbers using an example with a much higher pay out than even money.

Instead of needing to win eight or 10 bets in a row, you only need to win two or three in a row to turn a small investment into a huge return.

If you place a $100 wager on a single number on roulette, you get your original wager back and a win of $3,500 when you win. If you let the $3,600 ride and hit a single number again, you suddenly have $126,000 plus your bet of $3,600.

The odds are heavily stacked against you, but not as much as they’re stacked against you in the lottery. If you’re playing on a single zero wheel, you have a 1 in 37 chance of hitting any single number. The odds of hitting a single number two times in a row are 1 in 1,369. This translates to .0007304602, or if you convert it to a percentage, it’s .073%.

You can use the “let it ride” strategy in many different situations. At the dog or horse track, you can bet on a long shot, then let your win ride on another long shot to try for a big win.

Conclusion

If you want to get rich gambling, you can either try to develop the skills you need then grind out profits over time, or you can rely on luck of the draw and try for a huge win on very long odds. The grinding method offers a more realistic path, but it takes a great deal of work.

Even if you aren’t willing to be a grinder, you can still take a shot from time to time at a big poker tournament, the lottery, or by letting your profits ride.

7 Terms That Make or Break an Online Casino Bonus

Guy Using Laptop Computer Playing Slot Game
Nearly all real money online casinos offer bonuses to attract new players and keep existing ones. Therefore, you’ll have no trouble finding bonus deals.

You may even see offers that are worth thousands of dollars! But you should never jump at these deals nor any others in the online gaming world.

Instead, you want to look at the terms and conditions first. Reading terms and conditions isn’t the most exciting practice, but it’ll be worth your while in the long run.

After all, you want to find deals with favorable terms. Keep reading to see seven areas you should especially focus on.

1 – Playthrough

Playthrough (a.k.a. rollover) is the amount you must bet to unlock bonus funds. Rollover is expressed as a multiple of the bonus (or bonus plus deposit amount).

Here’s how playthrough works:

  • A gaming site offers a 100% match deposit bonus worth up to $500.
  • You deposit $300.
  • You’re now eligible for a $300 bonus.
  • Playthrough is 40x the bonus.
  • 300 x 40 = $12,000 must be wagered

$12k might sound like a lot to bet. However, the process goes quicker than expected when gambling at a reasonable pace.

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The key issue, though, is defining fair rollover. 40x is standard on 100% match deposit bonuses, while anything higher is generally unfair.

You should look around at a few casinos or more and compare rollover on their welcome bonuses. The goal is to spot the fairest deal, or at least some good online casino bonuses on all casino sites.

2 – Time to Meet Playthrough

Casinos don’t give you forever to meet rollover. Instead, they want you to satisfy playthrough within a reasonable timeframe. “Reasonable” is the key word here, because, in some instances, the timeframe is the exact opposite.

Casino Bonus on Envelope, Woman Sitting Using Laptop

You should be given at least 30 days to satisfy rollover. Certain sites, however, force you to meet playthrough within seven days. Assuming you can’t satisfy rollover in this short time period, then your bonus will be nullified.

That said, you want to pick a casino that offers a fair amount of time to release bonuses. The larger your deposit, the more days you’ll want for meeting playthrough.

3 – Cashable or Sticky Bonus

Deposit bonuses break down into two main categories:

  • Cashable – The full bonus amount can be withdrawn after satisfying conditions.
  • Sticky – Only winnings from the bonus can be withdrawn.

Cashable bonuses are typically what gamblers expect when they go for a bonus. They envision being able to withdraw the entire amount after meeting rollover.

Here’s an example of a cashable bonus:

  • A casino offers a 100% match deposit deal up to $1,000.
  • You deposit $750.
  • You’ll be able to withdraw the $750 bonus after satisfying all requirements.

Sticky bonuses are named for the fact that they stay in your account. But you can at least cash out winnings from them.

Here’s an example:

  • A casino features a 300% match bonus up to $1,000.
  • You deposit $500.
  • 500 x 3.0 = 1,500
  • The $1,500 bonus’ sole purpose is to generate winnings.

Sticky offers are notable for their huge match percentages. You might see “300%” and think that you’re getting a tremendous deal.

The reality, though, is that you only keep what you win. Your total haul will likely be much less than $1,500.

Cashable and sticky deals are worthwhile in their own right. However, you want to know which type of offer you’re chasing before depositing.

4 – Cap on Winnings

Both sticky bonuses and free spins let you keep winnings. But you can’t win an infinite amount with either type of offer.

Online Roulette Wheel, Pile of Dollar Bills

Instead, casinos protect themselves by limiting the amount of money that can be earned through such deals. They may only allow you to win $250 or less from sticky bonuses and/or free spins.

Here’s an example:

  • You make a deposit and receive 50 free spins.
  • The site caps the amount that can be won through free spins at $300.
  • You earn $700 with the spins.
  • You withdraw $300 after meeting terms and conditions.
  • The other $400 vanishes upon cashing out.

The thought of casinos limiting how much can be won through bonuses seems unfair. However, they want to protect themselves in the event that somebody hits a huge jackpot or goes on an amazing streak.

Gaming sites sometimes give out no-deposit bonuses. Imagine if they gave one of these free bonuses, only to be burned when somebody hits a $1 million jackpot.

5 – Max Bet

An easy way to satisfy rollover would be to just make huge wagers over and over. Casinos realize this, which is why they limit bet sizes during active bonuses.

For example, you may only be allowed to bet up to $25 per round in slot and table games. If you make one wager that’s over the max allowed, then you’ll forfeit your deal.

It’s painful to go through the work of reading terms and satisfying rollover, only to miss out because your bets are too high. Make sure that you look for the maximum wager size to avoid this scenario.

6 – Game Stipulations Regarding Playthrough

One common thought regarding rollover is to play games with the highest return to player (RTP). This plan allows you to satisfy playthrough while inflicting the fewest losses possible.

The problem, though, is that casinos include stipulations on their highest paying games. Slots, table games, and video poker with the highest RTP don’t contribute as much to rollover, or are excluded entirely.

Here’s an example of what you may see in terms and conditions:

The game categories below contribute the following amounts to playthrough:
Slots and scratch cards = 100%
Blackjack and baccarat = 20%
Video poker = 10%
Craps and roulette = 0%

Most slots and scratch cards have lower RTP than the other categories. Therefore, they contribute the max amount towards releasing bonuses.

Certain table games and many video poker variations have better RTP. Casinos reduce their contributions towards bonuses as a result.

You may even see some division within slot machine games. For example, games that pay above 97% RTP might only offer 20% towards satisfying rollover.

The biggest thing to watch for is completely excluded games. Playing one of these games results in your entire bonus being forfeited.

7 – Deposit Method Restrictions

You wouldn’t think that a deposit method matters for bonus purposes. However, certain payment methods come with restrictions.

Neteller and Skrill are commonly excluded from bonuses. These e-wallets are sometimes associated with bonus abuse and money laundering at gaming sites.

Person Entering Credit Card Information Into Laptop

Although they’re reputable companies themselves, Neteller’s and Skrill’s services make it easier for bonus abusers and money launderers to cash out.

If stipulated, you won’t qualify for bonuses when depositing with either option. This is exactly why you want to thoroughly know which deposit methods do and don’t qualify for bonuses.

Conclusion

You may be intimidated when looking at a long page of terms and conditions. But you still want to read them for practical purposes.

Doing so ensures you won’t miss any important terms when chasing a bonus. This practice also gives you a better idea on what are fair and unfair terms.

If you need a starting point, playthrough is a good term to look at first. Rollover goes a long way towards determining the value of a bonus.

Keep in mind that certain games may offer reduced contributions towards playthrough. Sometimes, you’re better off playing a game with low RTP as long as it has a 100% contribution rate.

You also want to know how long you have to satisfy rollover. 30 days should be the minimum, while 60 days or more are much better.

Knowing if a bonus is cashable or sticky is also crucial. The last thing you want to do is make a huge deposit, only to find out that the bonus can’t be withdrawn.

Winnings from sticky deposit bonuses and free spins are limited. Therefore, you want to know exactly how much can be earned from such deals.

Another aspect worth noting is the max bet size. You never want to exceed this amount, because doing so will forfeit your bonus.

In summary, the best path towards quality bonuses is fair terms and conditions. Hopefully, you find a gaming site that has reasonable terms so you can get good bonus deals again and again.

Why Aren’t Microgaming Slots Available in the US?

American Flag, Casino Slot Machines
Microgaming is one of the top software providers in the online gambling world. They’ve developed some of the most popular online casino games and have the largest game library in the industry (800+).

That said, Microgaming slots and table games seem like great options. The only problem, though, is that they’re not available to some countries.

This list includes the US, which hasn’t been able to play on Microgaming online casinos for years. Meaning, people in the US can’t play their slot games. Why is this the case?

Find out as I discuss more on this software provider and why they ultimately chose to pull out of America.

What Does Microgaming Do?

Microgaming is mainly known for their online casino games. They produce slots, table games, and specialty games.

Their slots are especially popular. They offer some of the biggest progressive jackpots in the internet gaming industry.

Mega Moolah has paid out the largest jackpot in online slots history at $21.7 million. Other games like Major Millions and King Cashalot also have huge progressive jackpots.

Unlike many software providers, Microgaming doesn’t just produce games. They also feature a turnkey solution for any company that wants to launch one or more online casinos.

Microgaming provides customer service, banking, games, and more for interested parties.

If you look around the gaming world, you’ll find sites that exclusively feature games from Microgaming. These online casinos are using Microgaming’s turnkey solution.

Microgaming Blocked Some States After the UIGEA

Microgaming launched the world’s first online casino in 1994. As a pioneer of internet gaming, they operated at a time when no country had specific laws regarding online gambling.

Therefore, Microgaming could operate freely in any jurisdiction. This includes the US, which was by far the most lucrative gaming market at the time.

However, Congress began taking issue with internet gaming in the late 1990s. A series of discussions over the years led to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006.

The UIGEA makes it illegal for businesses to accept payments related to unlawful gambling. Under this law, an online casino commits a felony by offering their services to a state where such gaming is illegal.

Aerial View of Courthouse

Some software providers and internet casinos left the US after the UIGEA was signed into effect. These gambling businesses were just as concerned about payment processors drying up as they were about the legal effects.

Sure enough, many banks and payment processors, such as Neteller, stopped serving US-facing gaming sites. However, a few payment solutions remained in the market.

Microgaming initially took advantage of these limited payment processors to continue serving Americans. Microgaming also blocked residents of Washington state, where online gambling is a felony.

Due to the legal language of the UIGEA, Microgaming felt perfectly comfortable continuing to serve the rest of the US. After all, the majority of America treated (still treats) internet gambling as a grey area.

Kentucky Domain Name Seizure Deals Another Blow

Again, one of Microgaming key services is to provide the tools that one needs to open and run online casino. This setup gives operators some degree of freedom under the Microgaming brand.

However, Microgaming and many of its operators left the US after an incident involving the state of Kentucky. In September 2008, Kentucky Judge Thomas D. Wingate seized 141 gambling-related domain names on behalf of the Bluegrass State.

The state’s Public Safety Cabinet and Justice Department pushed for this action. They argued that online gambling sites were illegally serving their residents, as per terms of the UIGEA.

Microgaming.com was one of the seized domain names. They were able to successfully get their domain name back, but the incident convinced them to vacate the US afterward.

A few independent Microgaming casinos continued operating in America. They served states that didn’t have a defined stance on internet gambling.

This situation changed when the UIGEA officially went into effect on June 1st, 2010. Microgaming notified Americans that their software and games would no longer be available to the US.

The company and its licensees now use geolocation to determine a player’s location. Any player deemed to be within the US will be barred from downloading Microgaming software and loading such games through browser-based play.

You can still get around this issue by using a proxy server. A proxy masks your IP location and makes it appear as if you’re playing from another country.

If Microgaming finds out that you’re an American, though, they’ll confiscate your winnings. Therefore, you’re taking too big of a risk by using this software from America.

Whom Does Microgaming Serve?

This provider may not serve US residents anymore, but they have a broad range of other clients. They’re licensed in 20 other jurisdictions across the world.

Most of these markets are found in Central America, Europe, and South America. Microgaming has a particularly heavy presence in Europe, where they cover countries like the UK, France, Italy, and Spain.

They still serve some grey markets that don’t have a hardline position on internet gaming. For the most part, though, Microgaming stays within legal bounds these days.

You’re guaranteed to be allowed to use their software if you’re from any of the regulated markets that they serve. Some of Microgaming’s slot machine games that are offered in legal jurisdictions:

  • Avalon (I & II)
  • Break Da Bank
  • Cool Wolf
  • Game of Thrones
  • King Arthur
  • King Cashalot
  • Lucky Leprechaun
  • Major Millions
  • Mega Moolah
  • Terminator II
  • The Rat Pack
  • Thunderstruck II
  • Tomb Raider

Will US Players Ever Be Able to Play Microgaming Slots Again?

Unfortunately, you still can’t use Microgaming’s software from anywhere in the US at the moment. But hope is on the horizon.

A few states have legalized and regulated online casino gaming at the time of this writing. They include Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

Delaware hasn’t had much luck with their internet gaming due to their small size. New Jersey, however, has progressively seen more and more revenue since legalizing online casinos in 2013.

Pennsylvania, which is larger than the Garden State, could potentially have even more success when their internet casinos launch.

Casino Slot Machines, Microgaming Logo

PA and future states that legalize online gaming will be looking for licensees. Microgaming could potentially be one of them in the future.

This software developer has yet to get into New Jersey or Delaware. But they have a chance with PA and future markets.

Microgaming has played by the rules ever since completely vacating the US in 2010. They’ve also avoided legal clashes with US states, beyond the Kentucky domain-name seizures.

Only time will tell if Americans will ultimately be able to enjoy Microgaming slots again. But I wouldn’t rule it out from happening within the next few years.

Conclusion

Microgaming has long been one of the most popular developers of online casino games. In fact, they were the first provider into the game and remain one of the best options today.

One thing that separates Microgaming from other developers is their wide range of options. They offer over 800 games, most of which are slots.

Another aspect that helps Microgaming stand out is their jackpots. Mega Moolah has broken the record time and time again for the biggest online slots jackpot. Major Millions and King Cashalot also offer seven-figure prizes sometimes.

If you’re from America, you unfortunately won’t be able to enjoy these games. Microgaming has been out of the US market for almost a decade now.

They left the US to avoid potential legal consequences. They also wanted to leave open the chance for returning to America one day.

None of the current states with legal online gaming have licensed Microgaming yet. But the company still has an opportunity to get in later, especially with more states considering internet casinos.

For now, though, they’ll be happy with continuing to be one of the biggest international providers of online casino games. Microgaming currently serves over 20 regulated markets and will expand upon this number as more countries legalize the activity.

Helping First-Time Gamblers and Beginners

Aerial View of Casino Floor
My wife was on a business trip and called to let me know they were going to stop at a casino. She asked me what she should play. She’s had some gambling experience, but it’s been over 10 years since she’s gambled.

This made me think about how I’d handle this situation with someone who’s never gambled before online or at a land-based casino. The challenge is recommending a game that a beginner can understand while also giving them a strategy that’s easy enough to use that they can learn it within a few minutes. You also need to consider the budget the first-time gambler has.

Once I thought about this some more, I was surprised at how many options there are if you ever find yourself in this situation. Here’s a list of helpful advice that may be perfect for a first-time gambler.

Baccarat

Baccarat is easy to play because the dealer takes care of everything after you place a bet.

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To be clear, the version of baccarat I’m speaking of here is mini or midi-baccarat, played at a table that looks like a blackjack table.

Traditional baccarat plays the same, but the dealing procedure is different, and I wouldn’t want to stick a new gambler in that situation.

When you’re helping a new gambler at a distance, all you need to explain about baccarat is that they need to place the table’s minimum bet at all times, and always bet on the banker. It’s helpful if you explain the commission on the bet so they aren’t confused, but the casino people running that baccarat game take care of everything once a bet is made.

Craps

Craps can be a bit intimidating for new gamblers because of all of the betting options and enthusiasm surrounding most tables. But once you understand how to play, it’s simple. The best bet on the craps table is the don’t pass line, but I recommend telling a new gambler to start with the pass line. The house edge is only slightly higher on the pass line, and most craps players make it.

Craps Table Layout, Two Red Dice

The pass line is the only bet a new player needs to make, and the casino personnel run the game after a bet is placed, so nothing else needs to be done. But you can also explain the odds bet to a new player to help keep the house edge as low as possible.

Just like baccarat, I recommend making the table minimum bet when you play craps. If you have a large bankroll to work with, backing full odds is the best play. But with a smaller bankroll, you can make a small odds bet or skip it altogether.

Roulette

Roulette is a good game for a new gambler, because every bet on the table has the same house edge. I suggest starting with one of the even money bets with the table minimum, but players can make any bet they want.

The most important thing to tell a new gambler is they should find a wheel that doesn’t have a double zero space. A wheel with only a single zero space offers a much lower house edge than a double zero or triple zero wheel.

Roulette is also slower than some other games, so even with a higher house edge than some games, you still can lose less per hour played than when you play other games.

Blackjack

Blackjack isn’t the easiest game to play in the casino. You have to make decisions on every hand, and the rules differ from table to table. But blackjack usually has a lower house edge than any of the other games on this list. And it offers one other advantage that the other games don’t have.

Pile of Blackjack Cards, Blackjack Table Layout

You can use strategy when playing blackjack to alter the house edge. If you had to teach a new player the correct strategy at a distance, it’d be too difficult. But there’s a trick. Most casinos have a gift shop of some kind, and you can usually find a blackjack strategy card there. If a new blackjack gambler can get a strategy card, they can easily use perfect strategy when they play.

Here’s a list to use when you’re helping a new gambler play blackjack:

  1. Always make the table minimum bet.
  2. Never take insurance.
  3. Tell the dealer you’ve never played before and ask her or him to help you avoid big mistakes.
  4. Use your strategy card for every decision.
  5. Don’t make any side bets.
  6. Explain splitting, doubling down, and insurance.
  7. Never play at a table that pays worse than 3:2 for a natural blackjack.

It might be uncomfortable to admit to the dealer that it’s your first time playing blackjack, but almost every dealer I’ve seen over the years is more than willing to help new players.

Most blackjack dealers have a good idea of the best plays, and they can help a new player avoid making an embarrassing mistake during the game.

All of this might be too much for some first-time gamblers. If it is, stick with one of the other games on the list. But if a new player can handle the list above and isn’t uncomfortable using a strategy card, blackjack is the best option on this list for having a chance to actually win a few dollars.

The odds are still against turning a profit, but you do win while playing blackjack more often than any other game on this page.

Slot Machines

Experienced gamblers, especially those who focus on low house edge games, might be surprised to find slot machines on this list. But remember that in this situation, the goal isn’t to find a low house edge, it’s to find a game that’s easy to play and fits in a particular budget.

Gambling on slot machines are as easy to play as any game offered in the casino. Once you figure out how to put your money into the machine, you just find the spin button and push it. This takes care of the easy to play section, and you can’t teach strategy here because one doesn’t exist.

Here’s what you could instruct a new gambler to do. Find a slot machine with the lowest amount required to bet per spin. Warn them that penny slots aren’t really penny slots. Their best bet is finding a machine that has a minimum bet of a quarter.

Casino Slot Machine Floor

This is all you really need to know, but I recommend taking your instructions a little deeper. I suggest taking half or less of the total amount you’re willing to lose and loading it into the machine when you first start playing.

The next piece of advice is to play as slow as you can. The urge to push the spin button as fast as possible is costly, so if you take fewer spins, you can play longer. Shoot for 200 spins or less per hour.

If you’re playing for a quarter per spin, this means you only risk $50 per hour at 200 spins. Even with a house edge of 10%, your expected loss rate is only $5 an hour.

You might lose more than that on a single visit, but this gives you plenty of playing time for a low investment.

Keno

Keno has an insanely high house edge, but it has two great things going for it for inexperienced gamblers.

You can make low bets, usually $1 minimum, and there are a limited number of draws every hour.

You can pick the numbers yourself, or have the casino automatically generate your numbers, so keno is easy to play.

If you play 10 keno draws per hour at $1 per draw, you’re only risking $10 an hour. The downside is that you’re probably going to lose $3 or $4 of this $10 every hour. But the upside is that if you’re lucky, you can win thousands of dollars.

Conclusion

My wife ended up playing 1/3 no limit Texas holdem and blackjack. She lost on the night, but she kept her losses within her comfort zone and had a great time. She used to play holdem, so she wasn’t completely out of her element. I’d never try to instruct a new player on playing Texas holdem in the situation I discussed above.

Of all the options listed above, I recommend baccarat as the first choice. Blackjack is a close second, if a strategy card can be picked up at the casino. Both of these games have a low house edge and are fairly easy to play. Baccarat is easier than blackjack, but often, the blackjack dealers are quite helpful with new players.

How to Play Slot Games All Day on $100

Slot Machine Reels, Hundred Dollar Bill
If you enjoy playing slots, there are two facts you need to be aware of. The first one is that slots have a high house edge, often as high as 10%. The second fact is that slots can burn through your bankroll faster than just about any game in the casino.

The good news is that it’s still possible to play slots for hours on a small bankroll. On this page, I’m going to show you how you can enjoy playing slots all day on $100 or less, and I’m going to give you the tools to determine how big your bankroll needs to be for a set period of time.

This knowledge is helpful when you plan a trip to the casino or when you plan a longer trip to a destination like Las Vegas to play the slot machines.

I’ve seen gamblers blow through $100 in an hour playing slots, so it might seem like a tall order to be able to play all day on only $100. But once you understand the information included below, you’ll be able to stretch your bankroll and still enjoy hours of slots play.

The Importance of Expected Value in Slots

In order to completely understand how playing slots all day on a small budget is possible, you need to understand a little bit of the math behind the game. This is fairly basic information, so don’t worry if you’re not a mathematician.

The truth is you don’t really need to understand the math on a deep level, because you can just plug numbers into the simple formula that I show you later.

Expected value is at the root of every type of gambling game. In the simplest terms, expected value is the amount you can expect to win on any given bet on average. The important thing to understand is that expected value is an average based on hundreds of thousands or millions of times making the same wager.

On any single spin of the reels on a slot machine, you either win or lose. When you lose, you lose your entire wager. When you win, you win an amount that varies a great deal based on the combinations of the reels.

Slot Machine Reels Spinning

The easy way to view expected value is using the casino house edge or the payback percentage for the game you’re playing. The casino house edge is the percentage of every bet the casino keeps in the long run on a game they offer.

The house edge for slot machines varies a great deal from machine to machine, and the casino industry doesn’t like to share information with the public. Most slot machines have a house edge between 2% and 10%.

If you know the house edge, you can simply multiply it times the amount of money you bet to come up with the expected value. You can do this for a single wager or for a longer time, like an hour.

With a house edge of 10%, if you make a bet on a slot machine of $1, the expected value of the bet is 10 cents for the casino. This means you can expect to lose, on average, 10 cents every time you bet $1.

To take this a step beyond this, if you make 400 bets in an hour of $1 each, you can expect to lose $40.

Here’s the formula:
Total amount of wagers X house edge = Total expected loss

The total amount of your wagers can be determined by multiplying the amount of each bet times the number of bets you make. So, if you bet $1 per spin and take 876 spins, the total amount wagered is $876.

You simply plug in the relevant numbers into the formula and you can quickly determine how much you’re going to lose on average. Remember that this is an average, so in the short term, you can possibly win or lose a great deal more than the expected numbers. But over time, the expected value always becomes true.

Using Expected Value to Determine Bankroll Size

Now that you know how to determine the expected value, you can easily use this information to figure out how big your bankroll needs to be and how to manage your bankroll to play for a set amount of time. In the example above, when you make 400 bets every hour with a 10% house edge, you expect to lose $40 an hour.

If you want to play 10 hours, you’re going to need at least $400. But if you decide to play for 50 cents a spin instead of $1, you only need a $200 bankroll.

Or you could only make 200 spins per hour at 50 cents and come up with a needed bankroll of $100 to play 10 hours.

Let’s say you’re planning a trip to Las Vegas and want to play slots six hours a day for five days. This is a total of 30 hours of slots play. You like to play a progressive slot machine with a bet of $2 per spin and usually take 400 spins per hour.

Here’s how to determine the required bankroll:

The truth is that you need to plan for a higher bankroll amount because the expected loss is a long-term average. To make sure you don’t run out of money, you should take a bigger bankroll, or play on a machine with a lower bet amount, and/or take fewer spins per hour.

Playing Slot Machine Games All Day on $100

Now, let’s look at exactly how you can play slots all day on only $100 using the information that’s already been covered. I’m going to use a 10% house edge because it’s about as bad as you’re going to end up playing.

If you’re lucky enough to find a machine with a lower house edge, the expected value is better for you, so you can play longer.

Slot machines are designed so you can play hundreds of spins every hour. The casinos want you to risk as much money as possible, so they design the slots so they’re easy and fast. Some machines can run 500 to 600 spins per hour.

In the calculations below, I’m using 300 spins per hour. This is still a fast rate of play, letting you take five spins every minute. If you play faster than this, you need to slow down or you’re going to burn through your bankroll faster.

Woman Sitting Playing Casino Slot Machine

While most casinos advertise nickel and penny slots, the truth is that you can’t just bet a nickel or a penny. The lowest minimum bet machines in many casinos let you bet a quarter. So, the first thing is to find a slot machine you can play for 25 cents per spin.

Here are the numbers we have so far:

You should be able to play over 13 hours on a bankroll of $100. Even with the knowledge that expected value is an average and that you can lose more than expected in the short term, the combination of the expected time being over 13 hours and the possibility of a lower house edge machine, you should be able to play eight hours on $100.

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You can plug your numbers into this simple formula to determine the expected value for different combinations, as well as predict your needed bankroll for any length casino visit or trip.

I suggest running the numbers with fewer spins per hour to see just how long you can stretch your bankroll.

Conclusion

If you know the numbers and plan ahead, it’s easy to play slots all day on a $100 bankroll. I like to find a quarter machine that has a jackpot so if I get lucky, I can win a big prize. It’s even better if you can find one with a progressive jackpot. But this system works with any machine.

Once you understand how bet size, spins per hour, and the house edge directly relates to your bankroll, you can quickly see how much you need to play with. If you don’t know the house edge for the slot machine you’re playing, use 10%. This is a safe number and is on the conservative side, so you don’t run into any surprises.

How Nathan “BlackRain79” Williams Came to Own Micro Stakes Poker

Two Poker Cards and Casino Chips on Laptop Keyboard
Micro stakes poker isn’t meant to give one a full-time living. These stakes, which generally range from $0.01/$0.02 to $0.25/$0.50, are supposed to be for recreational players.

Somehow, Nathan “BlackRain79” has found a way to make a living at limits that are normally reserved for weekend warriors. And he’s more than happy to share exactly how he’s excelled in the micro stakes.

That said, I’ll discuss Williams’ story and his advice for how players can maximize their profits at the lowest limits.

Who Is BlackRain79? How Did He Become Famous?

Nathan Williams, BlackRain79Nathan Williams plays online poker and is a coach. Against all odds, he’s become well-known for playing micro stakes.

BlackRain79 first gained notoriety around 2009, when his PokerTableRatings chart went viral. Here’s what observers saw back then:

  • $0.02/$0.05 stakes — $13,000 in winnings
  • $0.25/$0.50 — $250 in winnings
  • $0.50/$1 — $40 in winnings
  • $2/$4 — $3,000 in losses
  • $3/$6 — $53 in winnings

You can see that Williams hadn’t done anything exceptional at most of the stakes. In fact, he was a huge loser in $2/$4 cash games up until 2009.

But his $0.02/$0.05 graph was a complete anomaly. Soon, he became a hot topic of discussion across various poker forums.

Williams continued his success long after he became famous in poker for winning in the micros. At one point, he was multi-tabling 24 tables and playing up to 10,000 hands per day.

Today, BlackRain79 no longer logs the same volume. However, the 40-year-old still plays a fair amount of poker.

His biggest pursuit these days, though, is his coaching profession. Williams has a website, writes ebooks, and runs a YouTube channel, which are all aimed at helping players improve their win rate.

Why Did Williams Choose the Micro Stakes for a Poker Career?

According to an interview with Vox, Williams didn’t originally set out to crush low-limit games. He fell into it by chance.

The Vancouver native discovered poker when he was working odd jobs after graduating from college. He became mildly successful in the mid-2000s by employing a tight-aggressive style.

BlackRain79 tried different stakes, but began focusing most of his time on the micros. He appreciated the weak opponents at these limits and began to slowly churn out profits.

Why Has Williams Been so Successful in the Micro Limits?

The biggest difference that BlackRain79 notices from the low to high stakes is the competition. Micro limits are full of “pure amateurs” who don’t care as much about the money involved.

“The money involved is not significant for an American,” said Williams. “It’s a lot of people where it’s just their hobby, and nobody is taking it seriously or [is] that good.

Typing on Laptop Keyboard, Online Poker

“When you go up to higher stakes you encounter more professionals. They’ve got notes on you, they’re studying your game, they’re using tracking software. They’re playing to win. It’s a much, much different environment.”

He added that low-limit players are more likely to call a $0.25 bet, for example, because it’s not that much money.

“People equate money with what it is in real life,” he explained. “You raise someone 50 cents, that’s not even a cup of coffee. You raise someone $100, that could be a grocery bill or something.”

What’s the Biggest Mistake That Micro Stakes Players Make?

BlackRain79 has spent a great deal of time in the lowest limits. That said, he has a good opinion on the biggest mistake that even good players make in the micros.

“Honestly, it’s probably just tilt control,” he said. “I’ve seen so many good players who can be incredible, but when they start getting a lot of bad beats — which happens a lot at lower stakes, because you’ve got bad players chasing every draw.

“They kind of lose their mind a bit and start going on wild bluffs and throwing away money. It’s the mental game.”

Williams noted that he himself isn’t completely immune to tilt. However, his “quitting strategies” have improved over the years.

“I knew when to stop playing, rather than being Captain Comeback, and trying to chase it all back.”

How Williams Logged Such an Insane Hand Volume

Some online poker players are beat after playing a couple of thousand hands in a day. Williams managed to exceed this amount by five times on many occasions.

Two Poker Cards and Colorful Casino ChipsHe’d often play between 5,000 and 10,000 hands per day during his height. His key to this incredible volume is a disciplined approach that doesn’t involve too much thought.

“I played a very systematic approach,” explained Williams. “I know exactly what I’m doing with every hand. It’s a very tight, aggressive game, there’s not a lot of creativity to it.

“I’m playing against people who are going to make massive mistakes, so I don’t need to think too deeply about it. It’s a straightforward process.”

Will BlackRain79 Be Moving up the Stakes Anytime Soon?

Many players like to transition up the limits as quickly as possible when they dominate certain stakes. Not Williams, though, who’s been quite content to continue winning at the micro stakes.

Williams mentioned that he was initially playing to pay the bills. He said, “I would play tournaments on the side to keep the fun level up sometimes, but once you turn pro you approach it like a job, so I wasn’t in it to make big plays.”

Should You Follow in Williams’ Footsteps and Become a Micro Stakes Pro?

The idea of logging thousands of low-stakes hands doesn’t sound very exciting. But then again, Williams has made a living through poker doing so.

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Should you consider his path towards a full-time poker living?

Probably not. Even Williams himself admits that micro stakes aren’t very lucrative and can be a tough way to make a living.

“Yeah, I mean I wouldn’t recommend what I did to very many people. It was kind of stupid to be honest,” he said while laughing.

“It’s weird because it’s turned into a business of me teaching the game. But I don’t think it was a good idea. I was probably making around $15 an hour during my peak on the lower stakes. I did play the higher stakes, where I’d average more.”

BlackRain79 has since moved from Canada to Thailand, where the cost of living is much cheaper. He notes that $15 an hour is sufficient living in Thailand. Williams also appreciates the freedom that poker has given him.

Screenshot of Nathan Williams, BlackRain79 Youtube Channel

These days, he doesn’t spend countless hours grinding out tiny profits. He’s instead transitioned into a poker coach and entrepreneur.

“The business side is the majority at this point. Poker is a smaller part of my income,” said Williams. “It’s a full-time business with YouTube, my blog, all the books. I do some freelance work as well, I write for Poker News.”

However, this isn’t to say that BlackRain79 doesn’t practice what he preaches nowadays. He still plays “a decent amount each month to stay on top” and is constantly talking strategy and reviewing hands with students.

Conclusion

Before Williams’ career, few would’ve thought that making a living with micro stakes poker was even possible. However, he’s proven that it can be done with enough diligence.

The problem, though, is that it takes an incredible amount of effort to make the same as with a normal job. BlackRain79 himself only earns around $15 an hour in the lowest limits.

He also took a lot of heat from his family during the journey. Nevertheless, micro stakes poker still seems to be one viable way to become a poker pro, even if it’s only part time.

One key is to have the mental stamina to grind out thousands of hands each day. You must be able to multi-table lots of tables and sustain your edge in the process.

Another factor is relocation. Williams now lives in Thailand, which is about 100% cheaper than Vancouver. Even if you don’t make this dramatic of a move, you could at least move from a more expensive state or province to a cheaper one.

Playing micro stakes poker requires more than just skill as a full-time pursuit. It also takes additional sacrifices to ensure that you can live the full-time poker life without scraping pennies together.

Learning Advantage Gambling Math Can Improve Your Casino Skills

Neon Sign Displaying Poker, Sic Bo, Roulette, Blackjack, Math Equation
The main difference between most gamblers, who lose on a consistent basis, and the small group who’re able to beat the casinos is a lack of knowledge. Some gamblers don’t have any idea that they can win in the long run, and some simply don’t know how to win, though they might understand that it can be done.

If you need a recap on how advantage gamblers differ from casual gamblers, take a look at my previous blog for more details.

One thing is certain, in order to become a winning gambler, which I call an “advantage gambler,” you need to understand advantage gambling math.

It’s not too hard, and even if you don’t care for math, you can learn what you need to know if you’re willing to spend a little time working on it.

I’m not trying to convince you that being an advantage gambler is easy. The truth is that it’s hard work. But the truth is also that it can be done, and if you have any interest in learning how to be a long-term winner, it starts with advantage gambling math.

Expected Value

Expected value is the basic math that is the foundation of all advantage gambling. Until you understand what it is and how it works, you’re going to have a hard time beating the casinos. The good news is that you’re going to learn everything you need to know about expected value in this section.

The first time I read about expected value I didn’t understand it. It was in a book by David Sklansky, and it sounded like something important, but it was a bit difficult to wrap my head around. Eventually, I started to understand it and went back over the basics many times.

Expected Value, Explained

Every decision you make as a gambler has an average value over the long run. If you make the same decision or play hundreds or thousands of times, there’s an average value. In the short term, usually just a single decision or play, the value is either just a win or a loss.

But if you average the value over many times, you can determine if a play is profitable or unprofitable on average. Advantage gamblers look for profitable expected value and do everything they can to make these bets. This is called positive expectation.

If you make positive expectation wagers more often than negative expectation ones, you win more than you lose. This is why expected value is the most important mathematical concept for advantage gamblers.

Colorful Question Marks, Two Red Dice, Win Lose Dice

Here’s an example of determining expected value:

If you study casino games, you’re aware that almost all of the games and bets offered in the casino have a house edge. With a casino house edge, how are you supposed to find positive expected value?

The answer is that most gamblers never learn how to find and make positive expected value bets. But smart players learn how to find and exploit them. I cover some of the best places to find positive expectation in the next section, but before you move on, consider what happens when you make positive expected value wagers.

Making Money With an Edge

Let’s say you’ve found a blackjack game with good rules and have mastered card counting. Instead of playing a game with a house edge, you’re playing a game with a small edge in your favor. Overall, you’re playing with an edge of .5% over the casino and are betting $2,000 per hour.

.005 X $2,000 = $10

This doesn’t seem like much, but compare winning $10 an hour to losing hour after hour. All of a sudden, instead of gambling for fun and exchanging money for entertainment, you’re being entertained and making money while you do it.

Some games don’t offer a chance to play with positive expected value. Advantage gamblers avoid these games. Here’s a list of games that generally don’t offer advantage play opportunities:

The reason I used the word “generally” above is because there are a few specific instances where you can play some of these games with a positive expectation. Occasionally, a progressive slot machine will have the jackpot climb so high that it effectively eliminates the house edge. You can also play a few video poker games, combined with perfect strategy and comps, which eliminate the house edge.

You can even find special situations, involving comps, promotions, coupons, or tournaments, where some of the other games on the list offer a small positive expected value. But for the most part, these games should be avoided. Once you master some of the advantage play methods for the gambling activities in the next section, you can start looking for positive expected value elsewhere. Just don’t start with the games listed above.

Potentially Profitable Gambling Activities

The most common forms of advantage gambling include poker, sports betting, blackjack, horse racing, dog racing, daily fantasy sports, and esports betting. Most gamblers still lose while participating in these gambling activities, but they all offer the opportunity for advantage gamblers to play with long-term positive expectation.

Poker is my favorite advantage play game because, other than a small rake collected by the casino or poker room, you’re competing directly against the other players. By studying the game and improving your skills, you can overcome the rake and make money in the long run.

Advantage poker players understand how to use particular starting hand requirements, pot odds, position, and pot size control to take advantage of weak opponents.

Smart poker players put themselves in more positive expectation situations than their opponents, locking in a long-term profit.

Some gamblers that play real money blackjack have learned how to find games with favorable rules, use the best possible strategy, and have mastered a card-counting system that gives them a long-term edge against the casino.

Yankee Stadium, New York Yankee Baseball Game

Sports betting is somewhat like poker, in that the sportsbook charges a fee on losing wagers called the “vig” to make money. This creates a situation where smart sports bettors can handicap games well enough to overcome the vig, creating a positive long-term expectation.

Horse racing and dog racing works somewhat like poker and sports betting, because all of the money collected is put in a pool and the track keeps a percentage of the pool. The rest of the money in the pool is paid out to gamblers who place bets on the winning animals. This gives the best handicappers a chance to win more than they lose in the long run.

Daily fantasy sports and esports betting both work on similar models to poker and sports betting. This gives the best gamblers an opportunity to win more than they lose.

The step by step process of beating each of the gambling activities on this list can fill entire books, so it’s outside of the scope of this article. The important thing is to know that you can become a winning gambler, and the place to start is understanding what you need to do.

Understanding Advantage Gambling Math

Let’s say you’re playing Texas hold’em and have four cards to a flush after the turn. The pot has $500 in it and your opponent bets $100. From your experience and what you know about your opponent, you know that if you hit your flush on the river, you’re going to win the hand. And if you don’t hit your flush, you’re going to lose the hand.

The question you have to answer in this situation is if calling the $100 bet has a positive expectation. It turns out that this is fairly easy to do once you know how.

After the $100 bet is added to the pot, the total is $600. You have to risk $100 for the chance to win the $600. You know the value of the two cards in your hand and the four cards on the board, so this leaves 46 unseen cards that can land on the river. Nine of these cards complete your flush and 37 of them don’t.

Because there are 46 possible river cards, if you run the numbers for each possible card and average the results, you can learn if it’s profitable to call.

Stacks of Colored Casino Chips on Table

By making the $100 call 46 times, your total investment is $4,600. When you lose, you receive nothing back. The nine times that you win, you receive the $600 in the pot back as well as your $100 call. This is a total of $700 and when you multiply this with the nine times you win, the total is $6,300.

In this situation, you win more than you lose, so the expectation is positive. To get the average expected value, you divide the difference between $6,300 and $4,600 by 46. This gives you a positive expected value of $36.96 every time you make the call.

You’re still going to lose 37 out of every 46 times you’re in this situation, but the nine times you win makes up for the losses. In addition, when you hit your flush sometimes, you might be able to win another bet on the river. Because you know you lose when you don’t hit your flush, you always fold on the river when you miss, so you don’t lose more money.

Advantage poker players learn about dozens of different situations like this and put themselves in these situations as often as possible. This locks in long-term profits for smart players.

Conclusion

Now that you understand how expected value is the key to advantage gambling math and how it works, you can quickly build your skills to start winning on a consistent basis. It’s not going to be easy, but with the skills you build, you can be an advantage gambler for the rest of your life.

3 Ways Advantage Gamblers Are Different

Guy Wearing Sunglasses Playing Slot Machine
I’ve read a saying that goes something like this, “If you want to get the results someone else is getting, do what they do.”

This makes a great deal of sense, but most gamblers refuse to do what winning players do. If you want to be a winning player, you need to start mimicking the actions of winning players who gamble with real money. Another common name for winning gamblers is “advantage gamblers.”

To help you get started, I’ve explained three ways advantage gamblers are different from normal gamblers below.

1 – They’re Always Looking for an Edge

Most gamblers have a favorite game, or a small group of favorite games, and simply go to the casino and play them. They get comfortable playing these games and fall into something like a rhythm. They play the same way they always do and lock in a profit for the casino.

Casinos love players like this, because they produce profits for the casino like clockwork.

Advantage players are always looking for an edge. If their best edge is at a particular game, they stick with that game and try to maximize their returns. But they aren’t afraid to switch games or activities if something else offers a higher return.

While every type of gambler can find a level of comfort, even advantage gamblers, the difference between normal gamblers and advantage gamblers can be viewed through the lens of comfort.

Most gamblers find a level of comfort and stick with it. This is why they only play one game or a small group of games. Advantage gamblers don’t seem to ever be entirely comfortable. They’re always looking for another edge.

Sometimes, this is simply trying to increase their current edge by a fraction of a percent, and sometimes, it’s trying to find a new angle to produce an edge a different way or in a different activity.

How One Advantage Gambler Got an Edge

I read an interesting story about an advantage gambler and how he got an edge during a special promotion a casino was running. A particular casino had a promotion where the gambler with the most play during a set period of time got to pick a single card from a series of giant playing cards.

Each giant playing card had a cash value that the gambler won. I don’t remember the actual values, but the top prize was big enough that it made it profitable to make sure he was the top player during the promotion. It was either $50,000 or $100,000, but if he picked one of the other cards, it wouldn’t cover his losses during the contest.

Neon Casino Sign, Hands Holding Giant Poker Cards

He watched the area where the drawing was going to take place, and when the casino employee went to set up the giant playing cards, the advantage player took a seat where he couldn’t be seen and watched the cards being set up.

The casino employee knew the values of the cards and spent more time looking at the highest value card and fidgeting with it. He basically told the advantage gambler where it was without consciously doing so.

When it came time to draw, the player picked the card with the top prize and made all of his play profitable.

Here are three things you need to recognize from this story:

  1. He understood the promotion well enough to know that he could make money by being the top player if he was able to draw the top paying card.
  2. He figured out a way to have the best chance to draw the top paying card.
  3. He figured out how to take advantage of the situation while playing within the rules of the promotion. He didn’t cheat to earn the chance to draw a card, and he didn’t cheat to find out which card to pick.

When I read this story, I was floored. I’m an advantage player and always try to keep my eyes open for new ways to get an edge. But I’d have never thought about watching the employee set up the cards. This is an example of how you can use your mind to find an edge.

Even the best players miss things from time to time, but the majority of them are always willing to learn. This means they’re always looking for an edge.

2 – They Know the Numbers

If you read many articles that I post, one of the themes that run throughout many of them involves the numbers that run the gambling world. The reason for this is because numbers and math dictate everything that happens in the gambling world.

Most gamblers ignore the math, and they pay for this every time they gamble. This is the number one reason most gamblers lose. On the other hand, advantage gamblers know the math behind gambling, and know how to use it to gain an edge.

Two Poker Cards, Numbers

You can find all kinds of articles on this blog to help you learn more about the numbers behind gambling. I suggest finding them and reading them as soon as possible. Learn about the house edge, positive and negative expectation, and all of the math behind your favorite games.

Don’t stop until you know as much about the games that you play as the casinos do. If you’re a blackjack player, become a true student of the game. If you play poker, become a master of the game, including pot odds and expected value.

3 – They Always Have a Plan

Advantage gamblers start their gambling career like most other gamblers. They try their hand at getting lucky, but lose most of the time. Then, they realize that there are some ways to play with an advantage. This leads them to different areas, where they expand their knowledge and build their skills.

Once you become a true advantage player, you always have a plan before you gamble. You probably are willing to alter the plan when you recognize a better advantage, but you don’t gamble without a plan.

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When you think of the word plan, do you think short term or long term?

The best advantage players work with both short and long term plans. They build their skills over a long time so they can master their chosen activities in both the short and long term.

After an advantage player learns how to beat one game, they usually look for other advantage plays. Sometimes, this involves adding a second gambling activity, and sometimes, it’s simply getting better at what already works. And the best of the best do both at the same time.

I started planning how to play blackjack with an edge and developed several ways to bet on sports profitably. My main advantage play is still poker, but I’m always looking for an edge in everything I do.

If you want to be an advantage player, start with a solid plan. The fastest way to learn how to play with an edge is blackjack, and if I had to start over, that’s where I’d start.

Hand Holding Ace of Hearts Card

Poker offers some advantages over blackjack, with the most important one being no heat, but it takes longer to master. Sports betting also offers some advantages, but it might take even longer than poker for many gamblers.

The best advice I can offer long-term is to make a plan and get started today. Your goal is to become an advantage gambler, and the only thing in your way is to develop a plan and get started.

Once you become an advantage gambler, you want to have to strategize every time you gamble. But you also want to keep your strategy flexible so you can find and exploit other opportunities.

If you’re on your way through the casino to the poker room and see a blackjack dealer or a Mississippi Stud dealer flashing hole cards, you need to forget the poker room and use the flashing dealer for as much profit as possible while the opportunity is available.

Conclusion

In order to become a winning gambler, you have to start doing things that winning gamblers do. I’ve explained three important ways that advantage gamblers are different than most gamblers. Use these three things to change the way you gamble, and start improving your results right away.

Where Is Online Gambling Legal in the United States?

American Flag, Poker Cards, Woman on Her Bed with Laptop
If you read a lot about gaming, you probably see advice telling you to gamble more online. I have given this advice myself because there’s really no better way to get a lot of games in quickly, gain experience, test yourself in tournaments, etc.

In fact, playing online poker is always widely regarded as one of the best ways to start earning serious poker income if you want to go pro.

There’s only one small problem with this particular piece of advice—online gambling is still either operating in a legal gray area or flat out illegal. If you don’t know your local laws, there’s a very good chance you could end up doing something that’s a crime with a very easy-to-follow paper trail.

The good news is that online gambling is getting legalized in more places all the time, and many states offer some sort of online gaming. Still, there are better and worse states across the United States when it comes to allowing online gambling.

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Also, it should be noted, when talking about this issue, “online gambling” is limited to money directly changing hands as it would in a casino.

It is my understanding (in other words, the understanding of a non-lawyer) that any game that doesn’t involve money is fair game. You can play as much video poker or roulette or whatever as long as you’re not wagering money.

Areas where you pay money to earn virtual currency that you can’t then cash out also appear to be legal as a few sites (like WSOP.com) appear to operate on this basis. Again, I am not a lawyer. Please feel free to contact a gaming law professional within your area for more specific information.

Is Online Gaming Illegal in the US?

No. Yes… Maybe?

Court Gavel IconThere seems to be a lot of back and forth on the topic on whether it is illegal to play poker or table games at online casinos. (The matter of sports betting is far more certain as all parties agree that betting on sports is illegal in places unless it is specifically allowed.)

Still, there are several very good opinions about online gaming that generally boil down to the argument that there is nothing that specifically disallows one from gaming online. This is especially true if the casino is hosted outside the US.

On the other hand, the FBI has a very well-stated opinion on their site that says online gambling with real money is completely illegal and goes on to show that people have been arrested for it. This article, though dated in 2007, is a pretty strict warning to avoid online gambling.

Again, I’m not a lawyer, but I would never advise one to go against what the FBI said, even if it was in 2007. This is doubly true because a search of FBI.gov does not show that the 2007 opinion was reversed and, in fact, does show arrests for activities outside of online gaming. Therefore, you take your freedom in your own hands if you carelessly gamble online.

With that said, there are plenty of exceptions to whether you can or cannot gamble online, and they vary by state.

New Jersey and Pennsylvania Are the Best States for Online Play

Of the three categories of online gambling activities (casino, poker, and sportsbooks), if you live in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, you have room to celebrate. Your online gambling laws are the most lenient in the country, and you can do all three. More than likely, it won’t be long until more states adopt this attitude, but for now, these states are the most open to letting you gamble from your own home.

Delaware, Nevada, West Virginia, &, Rhode Island Have Online Gambling Options

If living in New Jersey or Pennsylvania is not an option for you right now, there are other states that openly allow some combination of the three major online gaming activities. Delaware will allow you to both frequent an online casino and play poker online.

Deck of Cards, Casino Dice, Welcome to Las Vegas Sign

West Virginia and Rhode Island also allow online sportsbook betting, making them one of a very few number of states to allow sports betting. Strangely enough, Nevada, a state that has counties with legalized prostitution and legalized recreational marijuana will only let you play poker online. They want you to visit in-person casinos for your table games. Nevada sportsbooks do offer online betting through land-based sportsbooks and their respective apps.

Some States Operate in a Gray Area

If you don’t live in one of the states mentioned above, it’s time to start asking around to see what is and isn’t legal. (By the way, don’t just blindly trust the internet on this matter. If you have any concerns, always seek out a legal gaming professional with a real understanding of the law.)

With that said, a lot of state laws are strange or poorly worded when it comes to online gambling. For instance, both Kansas and Missouri have laws that generally fail to mention online gambling. Given how old some state constitutions are, this is hardly surprisingly. Still, both have laws that deal with gambling, though they focus on specific areas (for Missouri, riverboats; in Kansas, lotteries and moral crime).

Therefore, as concerned citizens, each of us has to ask themselves whether it makes sense to try gambling online. There are a lot of sites that preach a doctrine of whatever is not addressed specifically is legal.

Frankly, this is an argument that, I believe, does have some merit in a court of law. On the other hand, it may fail to encompass the full breadth of the law.

For instance, according to K.S.A. 21-6404 of the Kansas Statutes, gambling, which is partially defined as “making a bet” is a class B nonperson misdemeanor. In other words, it’s a crime. So, while the Kansas Constitution doesn’t specifically call out online gambling as being illegal, it does say making a bet is a misdemeanor.

There’s likely an argument that a good lawyer can make in this case, which would somehow show that online gambling is not covered under those statutes. That’s for good lawyers and courtrooms to decide.

What it really boils down to is what the police or federal agents think when they decide if they are going to make an arrest, what the district attorney thinks when they decide to prosecute, and what the judge thinks when they hear the case. If that’s acceptable to you, then you can make that choice. However, online gambling is not for everyone.

Plus, Pennsylvania is apparently a really nice place to live and all online activities are legal there.

Best Bet: Find a Casino or a Non-Cash Site

Because I’m not a lawyer, I can’t tell you that anywhere in the United States is legal to gamble except the states mentioned above. Even then, I would argue that you should check to make sure laws haven’t changed.

Guy Using Laptop with Hands on Back of His Head, Poker Cards, Casino Chips

As always, while playing poker or casino games online is fun, there are ways you can do it and not get in trouble with the law at all. When it comes to playing games for money, your best bet is to head out to a licensed, reputable casino offshore and play there. It’s a little more work and requires a little more planning, but it’s legal.

Why Is Gambling’s Legality Even an Issue?

This is a good question, though one that’s shrouded in a lot of history. First, gambling in general has often been made illegal because it is an affront to “morality laws” which state the gambling leads to general bad behavior.

There are also a number of non-moral reasons for making gambling illegal, including protecting people from losing all their money on bets or falling into gambling addiction. Plus, physical casinos are notorious for money laundering. Online casinos have even less transparency.

On the other hand, some of the reasons why online gaming is illegal clearly have to do with taxes and keeping money from heading overseas.

There is some validity to this, too, though making it legal to operate an online casino from inside the US (and regulating and taxing it) would solve a lot of these problems.

Conclusion

It is a little hard to draw a conclusion on the matter of online gaming in the United States. It seems strange that just about everywhere has some sort of legalized gambling outside the home, but few methods for gambling online.

Still, for now, this is the situation in which gamblers find themselves. There are a few places which clearly welcome online gamblers to peruse their hobby in some form. For most of the country, though, the online gambling is a gray area in which there is no specific law against gambling. There’s also plenty of general laws that prevent it.

In the end, the best policy is to hit a casino and lobby your Congresspeople to change laws. That keeps you out of hot water and playing the games you love so well.

How Betting Works in Poker

Casino Poker Chips, Two Poker Cards
I recently wrote a post about how to get started in poker by learning the hand rankings. In that post, I suggested that hand rankings are the first thing you should learn. The second most important thing you should learn is how betting works in poker.

I’ve seen poker writers as clever as Mike Caro claim that you don’t even need cards or hand rankings to play poker, you just need a clearly defined betting structure.

This means that betting is more important to the nature of the game of poker than any other aspect of the game. In this post, I provide details and observations about how betting works in poker.

The Most Important Thing to Remember About Betting in Poker

Wait until it’s your turn to bet before acting.

If you try to bet before it’s your turn, you reveal information to your opponents that they can use to modify their actions.

If you fold (drop out of a hand when it’s not your turn), you’re revealing information about how many players will be in the pot.

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The betting order almost always goes clockwise around the table. The player to your right acts before you do, and the player to your left acts after you do.

Also, it’s customary to announce your action. Once you’ve done so, you’re committed to that action. Clever players looking for an advantage might watch their opponents’ reactions to their announcement and change their decision if this rule of etiquette weren’t in place.

Your Betting Options in a Poker Game

You only have five betting options to choose from. I explain each of them below.

  1. You can check – Until someone makes a bet, you can stay in the hand without betting any money at all. This is called “checking.”
  2. You can fold – This means you don’t have to put money into the pot, but you also forfeit all rights to continue in the hand. Any money you’ve already bet and put into the pot is now forfeit, too.
  3. You can bet – If you’re the first person in the round to make a bet, you’re “betting.” Once someone has placed a bet, the other players must call, fold, or raise.
  4. You can call – This means that someone else has bet, and you’re going to put that amount of money into the pot and stay in the hand to see who the winner will be, unless you change your mind in a later betting round and fold.
  5. You can raise – If someone before you has bet, you can raise them to increase the size of the bet. When it’s the bettor’s turn again, he can fold, call your raise, or re-raise.

Forced Bets – Antes and Blinds

I’ve never played in a poker game without some kind of forced bet. This is a bet you must make if you want to get cards. Forced bets happen in one of two ways:

  1. Antes
  2. Blinds

An ante is a bet you’re required to place before getting a hand. You must place an ante bet on every hand in a game with antes. The size of the ante is usually small compared to the size of the bets and raises in the game, but it’s big enough to prevent you from folding until you get the best possible hand.

A blind is the same as an ante, but instead of being placed every hand, the blind rotates around the table. You only need to place the blind when it’s your turn to do so.

Big Blind Poker Chip, Casino Poker Chips, Poker Cards

In games with blinds, you usually have two players who have to place blind bets. One of these is the small blind, and the other is the big blind. The small blind is usually half the size of the big blind.

In games like Draw Poker and Stud Poker, it’s customary to use an ante. In games like Texas holdem and Omaha, it’s customary to use blinds.

In some community card games, especially tournaments, you’ll often see blinds AND antes, especially in later rounds of the tournament.

Rounds of Betting

In almost every variation of poker I’ve ever played, you had multiple rounds of betting, at least two, but usually more.

The most basic type of poker is Five-Card Draw poker. It usually has just two betting rounds. You place your ante bet before getting your cards, creating a pot.

Then, you get your five face-down cards. Once you’ve seen the cards, you get to engage in the betting round. Afterward, there’s a drawing phase, where you discard some cards and get new ones.

After you’ve seen your final hand, there’s another round of betting. Following that second round of betting, there’s a showdown if multiple players are still in the pot. That’s when you compare the hands of the players still in the pot to see who wins the money.

In Texas holdem, you have even more betting rounds.

You have a betting round after you get your hole cards, the first two cards in the game. You have a betting round on the flop, which is after the dealer has revealed the first three community cards in the game.

Then, there’s a betting round on the turn, that’s the one community card that gets revealed after the flop. There’s a final betting round after the river, which is the final community card. So, in Texas holdem, you have four betting rounds.

Betting Sizes and Limits

Before you start playing in a poker game, you find out what stakes you’re playing for. This means that you know how big the antes and/or blinds are before sitting down to play. You also know the appropriate sizing of the bets during the other stages of the game.

I’ll give some examples from common poker games below.

Limit Texas holdem is a Texas holdem game where the betting ranges are narrowly defined. You’ll see the minimum bet for the first two rounds of betting as the first number, and the minimum bet for the next two rounds as the second number.

For example, if you’re playing in a $5/$10 limit game, your bets must be in increments of $5 after the hole cards and the flop, and in increments of $10 after the turn and the river.

Nine of Hearts, Nine of Spades, Five Dollar Casino Chip

The big blind in such a game is usually the same size as the lower bet, so the big blind would be $5 in this game. The small blind is usually roughly half the size of the big blind. It would be common to see a small blind of $2 or $3 in this situation.

But Texas holdem can also be played as “pot limit” or “no limit.” In these games, the two numbers before the game will indicate the sizes of the blinds. For example, a $1/$2 pot limit or no limit game would have blinds sizes of $1 and $2.

Then, in a pot limit game, you can bet and/or raise up to the size of the pot, including how much money would be in the pot if you just called the previous bet. Pots can get really large in pot limit poker faster than you’d think.

In no limit holdem, you can bet or raise all the chips you have in front of you at the table. But the bets and raises also have to be in those increments.

If I bet $20, and you decide to raise me, you’d need to raise me at least $20, you couldn’t raise just $5 or $10.

Also, one thing that people who watch a lot of television might misunderstand is that you don’t have to come up with the deed to your house or the title to your car if you can’t cover the other guy’s bet or raise. You only have to risk the money in front of you. Just remember to protect your casino bankroll.

In the event that he has more chips than you, he only risks what you have in front of you. If there are multiple players in a pot, that might mean having a side pot or two.

Conclusion

Understanding how betting works in poker is critical to your development from a beginner to an intermediate player.

In the space of a single blog post, it’s hard to cover everything you might need to know about betting in poker, but this provided as good an introduction as I think you’ll find online.

Did you learn something new about how betting works in poker here? Did I leave something out or make a mistake?

How to Dominate Single Table Poker Tournaments

Group of People Playing Poker Game
One of the easiest ways to start playing poker, especially online, is single table tournaments. You enter a tournament of up to 10 players with the top 3 finishers earning a prize, or a six-player table with the top two finishers in the money.

Single table poker tournaments are available at most online poker sites, and they’re also available in some land-based poker rooms. They’re also available in a wide range of buy-in amounts, so you can find one that fits your budget.

Most single table poker tournaments are run using Texas holdem, but some rooms offer them in other variations like Omaha and Stud. No limit is the most popular structure, but limit tables are also available in most poker rooms.

1 – Study the Rules and Payout Structure

Most single table poker tournaments have a similar rule and payout structure, but it’s important to make sure you know exactly what they are before you start playing. How fast the blinds increase is important so you know how long you can wait before the blinds become large enough to threaten your stack.

i
The common payout structure for nine and 10-player tables is 50% for first place, 30% for second place, and 20% for third place.

If the buy in is $10 + $1 and there are 10 players, the prize pool is $100, with $50 going to first, $30 to second, and $20 to third.

In six-player tournaments, the split can be 70/30 or 60/40 for first and second place.

2 – Understand the Profit Point

Your goal as a single table poker tournament player is to make money. It’s good to learn how to play well enough to make a profit on a consistent basis. This means you need to understand how often you need to finish in the money to make a profit.

If you average the return for finishing in the money, you receive 33.3% of the prize pool every time you do. This means that to make a long-term profit, you have to finish in the money slightly more than one out of every three tournaments you enter.

The numbers are a little better if you’re able to finish first more than average, but for now, you need to learn how to finish in the money at least 40% of the time you enter a single table tournament. Here are the numbers based on the traditional payouts and entry fees.

Casino Chips, Money Pile

Using $10 + $1 and a 10-player format, your average return for finishing in the money is $33.33. Your cost to enter a tournament is $11. If you enter 10 tournaments, your total cost is $110. If you finish in the money three times, finishing first, second, and third, your total return is $100. This is a loss of $10.

If you’re able to finish in the money four times, your total return averages $133.33, for a profit of 23.33, or $2.33 per tournament. You can play with the numbers to determine your breakeven point, but for now, you need to focus on finishing in the money 40% of the time.

If you’re able to do this, you’re going to be able to turn a consistent profit. The good news is this isn’t especially hard if you follow the rest of the advice on this page.

3 – Forget Defending the Blinds Early

One of the most dangerous things that single player poker tournament players do is defend their blinds with weak and average hands. Some players are quite aggressive in trying to steal blinds, and the natural tendency is to fight back.

But you need to wait until you have a real hand or until the blinds climb to a high enough level to make a real difference. If a late position player raises early in the game, fold and wait until you have a better hand unless you’re sure you have a strong chance to win.

And if you’re hand is strong enough to defend the blinds with, push all in. The blinds leave you in the worst position after the flop, so put the pressure on the pre-flop aggressor by forcing them to risk their entire stack.

4 – Fold Early

In the early stages of a single table tournament you should fold all but your best hands. With your best hands, you should be trying to double up. If your hand isn’t good enough to double up with, simply fold and wait for a better opportunity.

This doesn’t mean you should automatically push all in, but you should play your best hands in a way that has the best chance to double up.

Most players end up playing too many hands early, so a lot of the time, you can fold until three to five players have eliminated themselves.

Even if you have a smaller stack with five players left, you only have to double up a time or two to have enough to compete for the money.

5 – Survive the Middle

Once you reach the middle stages of the tournament, some of your opponents will have been eliminated and the blinds will start to go up quite a bit. You still want to play as tight as possible, but you’re going to be forced to win a few hands or steal some blinds to stay in play.

People Sitting at Poker Table, Poker Tournament

Identify the players who aren’t protecting their blinds and use the power of position when you’re in late position. It’s still important to focus on playing with good hands, but the middle is the time for survival.

6 – Aggressive Late

When the tournament gets down to four players in a nine or 10-player tournament or three players in a six-player tournament, it’s called the “bubble.” You’re one elimination from the money, and many players get overly tight at this point trying to sneak into the money.

If you have enough in your stack, you might be able to fold into the money at this point, but I usually play more aggressively to take advantage of the players trying to sneak into the money.

I will want to build my stack because it gives me the best chance to win. The more chips you can control when you get into the money, the better your chance to finish in first place.

I’ve read advice that if you can fold into the money that you should fold every hand, including pocket aces and kings. I completely disagree with this advice. When you enter a tournament you should play to win, and getting all your chips in with hands like aces and kings give you the best chance to win.

7 – Start Small

It takes some time to improve your skills to the point where you can finish in the money 40% of the time. This is why I suggest starting with buy-in amounts far below your overall bankroll. Start at the low limits and stick with them until you can beat them on a consistent basis.

Once you master a level, don’t try to skip levels just because you’re doing well. If you start at the $10 + $1 level, move to $20 + $2 and play there until you master it.

8 – Move Up With Profits

Keep your profits in your bankroll so it can grow. Use your profits to fund your bankroll so you can move higher. If you have to put more money in your bankroll outside of your profits, resist the urge to play at a higher level. Just always remember to protect your money and practice bankroll management.

The competition doesn’t change a great deal when you do move from level to level, but the players are better on average as you move up. The same strategy you use at the $10 + $1 level won’t work as well at $100 + $10.

Hand Holding 100 Casino Chips

The basic concepts are the same, but more players understand the basics at the higher levels. You can still find single table tournaments at the middle buy-in levels that have many poor players, but you’re also likely to be facing at least three or four players who know what they’re doing.

9 – Move to the Big Time

Once you learn how to beat the low and middle buy-in levels you can start taking a shot at the top levels of single table poker tournaments using your profits. The bad thing is that, at the top levels, it becomes increasingly difficult to finish in the money 40% of the time.

Of course, the truth is that you don’t have to finish in the money 40% of the time at higher buy-in levels to make a profit, but you still have to money over a third of the time.

You should try your hand at these levels when you master the other levels and can afford to, but the truth is that it might be more profitable to play at the middle limits than to play at the higher limits. Only experience will be able to give you a true picture.

Conclusion

Single table poker tournaments are a good way to start playing poker. The buy-in limits the amount you can use, and the strategy to beat the lower levels is fairly simple. Once you learn how to beat the lower limits, you can use your profits to move up.

3 Ways to Be a Better Deuces Wild Video Poker Player

Deuces Wild Video Poker Screen, Poker Cards Spread
Most video poker players got their start by learning the foundational game of Jacks or Better. It provides the template from which all other variants are built upon.

In fact, after inventor William “Si” Redd realized that his original two pair or better payout threshold on his first Fortune 1 Draw Poker machine was too high, Jacks or Better became the prototype used to secure casino placements in Nevada.

Still, many video poker enthusiasts out there don’t consider it their game of choice. Instead, the sharpest tools in the shed bring their bankrolls to the Deuces Wild machines to score some of the best odds offered by any casino game.

Nowadays, both the gambling halls in Las Vegas and the best online casinos out there today spread Deuces Wild by default. The game enhances the action found in Jacks or Better by turning the deck’s twos into wild cards, which can be substituted for any other card in the deck to create winning hands.

As you might expect, the addition of four wild cards turns every hand of Deuces Wild into a sweat, because you never quite know when a couple of “ducks” will swim onscreen to turn a lowly pair into four of a kind.

With that being said, here are effective ways to become a better Deuces Wild video poker player.

1 – Get a Machine’s Full Pay Rate by Betting the Max Five Coins

This simple trick holds true across the spectrum of video poker variants, but Deuces Wild grinders should pay special attention to their bet sizing.

Video Poker Game MachineMore specifically, you should always bet the maximum of five coins per hand. Put another way, you should never play a hand of video poker unless you’re betting five coins.

Before I dive into the nitty gritty of why that is, you should know this rule doesn’t have to be cost prohibitive. Many video poker rookies mistakenly believe the max bet rule requires them to bet higher than their bankroll limitations allow. So, you’ll inevitably find players wagering something like three coins a hand at the $0.25 stakes for a $0.75 total outlay, all because the $1.25 max bet is “too rich for their blood.”

But here’s the thing… you don’t have to bet in quarter-coin denominations. If risking $1.25 on a five-quarter max bet is too high for your tastes, simply dial it back and change the coin denomination to nickels instead. From there, you can bet the max of five coins at a nickel apiece for a $0.25 total wager per hand.

Now that you know betting the max doesn’t have to be a bother, here’s why this rule is numero uno among video poker experts—it unlocks the game’s “jackpot” payout.

Take a look below at the “full pay” table for Deuces Wild, and pay close attention to how the various payouts escalate as the number of coins bet climbs:

Deuces Wild Pay Table (by Coins Wagered)

Full Pay 15/9/5/3 1 Coin 2 Coins 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Natural royal flush 300 600 900 1,200 4,000
Four deuces 200 400 600 800 1,000
Wild royal flush 25 50 75 100 125
Five of a kind 15 30 45 60 75
Straight flush 9 18 27 36 45
Four of a kind 5 10 15 20 25
Full house 3 6 9 12 15
Flush 2 4 6 8 10
Straight 2 4 6 8 10
Three of a kind 1 2 3 4 5
Payback percentage 99.67% 99.67% 99.67% 99.67% 100.76%

As you can see, the minimum payout for three of a kind climbs steadily in a 1-2-3-4-5 progression. Same for the straight and flush (2-4-6-8-10), full house (3-6-9-12-15), and so on up the ladder.

Until you reach the natural royal flush, that is…

For the best hand in Deuces Wild, the payouts climb on a steady progression (300-600-900-1,200) when you bet between one and four coins. But even though the payout “should” jump to 1,500 on a five-coin max bet by following that pattern, it somehow skyrockets to 4,000 coins instead.

This is the coveted jackpot element embedded in every video poker pay table, but unless you’re betting the max of five coins per hand, you’ll lose out on that additional 2,800-coin premium when you’re lucky enough to land a natural royal.

2 – Looking for the Best Pay Tables Can Give Players the Edge

Another thing to look for in that full pay table above is the payback percentage rates found in the bottom row.

Naturally, including a juiced-up jackpot payout for five-coin bets increases the payback percentage from 99.67% to 100.76%. And no, that’s not a typo either…

Deuces Wild has become a phenomenon among savvy gamblers because you can actually enjoy a slight edge over the house when you find a machine offering the full pay table. If you hail from a table games background and prefer the casino house edge metric over payback percentage, that 100.76% rate is equal to a 0.76% player edge.

That’s nothing to sneeze at either, considering the casino industry regularly fleeces blackjack players on the back of a 0.50% house edge.

Unfortunately, the casino industry wasn’t built by offering player edge games, so most modern venues choose to spread inferior pay tables instead.

To see just how badly Deuces Wild players suffer when they encounter a substandard pay table, see the chart below:

Deuces Wild Pay Table Comparison

Pay Table Payback Percentage
25/15/9/5/3/2 100.76%
25/15/11/4/4/3 99.96%
25/16/10/4/4/3 99.73%
25/15/9/4/4/3 98.91%
20/12/10/4/4/3 97.58%
20/12/9/4/4/3 97.06%
25/16/13/4/3/2 96.77%
20/10/8/4/4/3 95.96%
25/15/10/4/3/2 94.82%

Yep, by simply tinkering with a few key payouts, adding or subtracting just a single coin, casinos discovered an easy way to separate suckers from their dough.

To make sure you never put your money behind a watered-down Deuces Wild pay table, watch out for the following payout tweaks in bold:

Pay Table 15/11/4/4 16/9/4/4 20/12 15/9/4/4 20/15/9/4/4
Natural royal flush 800 800 800 800 800
Four deuces 200 200 200 200 200
Wild royal flush 25 25 20 25 20
Five of a kind 15 16 12 15 15
Straight flush 11 9 9 9 9
Four of a kind 4 4 5 4 4
Full house 4 4 3 4 4
Flush 3 3 2 3 3
Straight 2 2 2 2 2
Three of a kind 1 1 1 1 1
Payback Percentage 99.96% 99.67% 98.94% 98.92% 97.97%

And to help you locate every last one of the remaining full pay Deuces Wild machines in your area, check out this searchable database from vpFREE2.

Just choose the 100.76% full pay table, followed by your region, to pull up a detailed directory showing every top-dollar Deuces Wild machine around.

3 – Mastering Basic Strategy Can Make Anybody a Master

Scoring that sweet 0.76% player edge requires a little more work than simply finding full pay machines. You’ll also need to know basic strategy for Deuces Wild.

Fortunately for you, I’ve got you covered there, so study the chart below to learn the optimal play for every possible scenario:

Deuces Wild Basic Strategy Chart

Four Deuces

Strength Starting Hand(s)/Draw(s) Optimal Play
1 Four deuces Draw one

Three Deuces

Strength Staring Hand(s)/Draw(s) Optimal Play
1 Royal flush Hold pat hand
2 Straight flush Hold pat hand
3 Four-card royal flush draw Draw one
4 Four-card straight flush draw Draw one
5 Three of a kind, straight, or flush Hold pat hand
6 Three deuces only Draw two

Two Deuces

Strength Starting Hand(s)/Draw(s) Optimal Play
1 Pat four of a kind or better Hold pat hand
2 Four-card royal flush draw Draw one
3 Four-card straight flush draw Draw one
4 Three of a kind, straight, or flush Hold pat hand
5 Two deuces only Draw three

One Deuce

Strength Starting Hand(s)/Draw(s) Optimal Play
1 Any pat four of a kind or better Hold pat hand
2 Four-card royal flush draw Draw one
3 Full house Hold pat hand
4 Four cards to straight flush Draw one
5 Three of a kind, straight, or flush Hold pat hand
6 Four-card straight flush draw Draw one
7 Three-card royal flush draw Draw two
8 Three-card straight flush draw Draw two
9 One deuce only Draw four

No Deuces

Strength Starting Hand(s)/Draw(s) Optimal Play
1 Royal flush Hold pat hand
2 Four-card royal flush draw Draw one
3 Three of a kind through straight flush Hold pat hand
4 Four-card straight flush draw Draw one
5 Three-card royal flush draw Draw two
6 One pair Draw three
7 Four-card flush draw Draw one
8 Four-card open-ended straight draw Draw one
9 Three-card straight flush draw Draw two
10 Four-card inside straight draw Draw one
11 Two cards to a royal flush; Q-J high Draw three

That’s a lot of information to grasp right off the bat, so it helps to break things down based on “deuce count.”

Obviously, having multiple deuces onscreen on the same deal makes your decisions much easier, so the rules for four- and three-deuce hands are rather short and straightforward.

Basic strategy’s true strength lies in its ability to navigate the game’s closer calls.

Imagine you’ve been dealt something like the 4h-9h-10h-Jh-2s to start. In this case, you could use the wild deuce as a fifth heart to form a flush, or turn it into an 8h or Qh (which one is irrelevant) to hold a four-card straight flush draw.

Deciding between a sure payout of two coins or drawing once for two possible cards to make a straight flush for nine coins is quite a pickle, unless you have basic strategy on your side.

By consulting the “one deuce” segment of the chart above, you’ll see the four-card straight flush draw ranks higher than the pat flush. Thus, ditching the 4h and shooting for the straight flush is mathematically the best play over the long run.

Conclusion

Deuces Wild is known as the prince of video poker for one simple reason—it’s one of the best bets on the floor. You just won’t see very many player edge possibilities in today’s corporatized casino climate, so when a full pay Deuces Wild machine opportunity itself, many top players will devote their full bankroll to capitalize on the gold mine.

3 Caribbean Stud Poker Rules and Strategies Most Players Don’t Know About

Back in the 1990s, Caribbean Stud Poker was all the rage. The clever little fusion of traditional Five-Card Stud and house-banked table gaming took the industry by storm after being introduced in the late ‘80s.

At one point, you couldn’t reach your blackjack table without bumping into a crowd of rabid Caribbean Stud Poker fanatics.

Over time, the game’s popularity waned, thanks in large part to a “new wave” of hybrid table games that expanded on the classic Caribbean Stud template. Popular table games of the modern era like Mississippi Stud Poker, Three-Card Poker, and Let It Ride all owe their inspiration to Caribbean Stud Poker.

Today, you’ll only find the game spread in two Las Vegas casinos, the Venetian and the Palazzo. Fortunately, the best online casino platforms out there have Caribbean Stud Poker.

To help you play your best game, I’ve compiled three Caribbean Stud Poker rules and strategies that most modern players don’t know much about.

1 – That Second Raise Bet Only Gets Paid When the Dealer “Qualifies”

Once, when I was enjoying a Caribbean Stud Poker session by my lonesome, a hotshot businessman wearing Armani from head to toe sat down in the next seat over. I was betting $5 red chips and he pulls out $100 black chips from his pocket, giving me a little look of derision as he upped the table ante.

A few hands passed by in silence before the following deal took place.

Mr. Hotshot gets his five cards and immediately makes the raise bet for $200 more, his hands almost shaking as he slides the stack forward. My cards are trash, and the dealer is showing the ace of spades anyhow, so I fold quickly, anxious to see what’s in store on the showdown.

Sure enough, Mr. Hotshot turns over the mother of all poker hands, A-K-Q-J-10, all in hearts, for a natural royal flush.

Natural Royal Flush With Hearts

“Yeah, baby! Gimme the money! That’s a royal, gimme my 20 grand!”

I catch the dealer’s eye for a moment, then see a sly smirk flash for just an instant, and I know instantly what’s coming next. The dealer turns over his hand one card at a time, adding the lowly 2-5-7-Q combo in rainbow suits to his ace of spades.

“Dealer doesn’t qualify sir, it’s a push on the raise bet. But you did win $100 on the ante bet. Congratulations.”

The “congrats” was delivered with nothing but contempt, and I could’ve sworn Mr. Hotshot’s head was going to explode.

He berated the dealer, unleashing a stream of obscenities. Like I said, one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen…

So, here’s what happened. If you scan the following pay table, Mr. Hotshot’s $200 raise bet was indeed eligible for a $20,000 payout at 100 to 1 odds.

 

Caribbean Stud Pay Table

Hand Ante RAISE*
Royal flush 1 to 1 100 to 1
Straight flush 1 to 1 50 to 1
Full house 1 to 1 7 to 1
Flush 1 to 1 5 to 1
Straight 1 to 1 3 to 1
Two pair 1 to 1 1 to 1
One pair 1 to 1 1 to 1
High card 1 to 1 1 to 1

*Only paid when dealer has a qualifying hand of A-K high or better

But as the all-important asterisk makes clear, those raise bet “bonus” payouts are only awarded when the dealer shows down a qualifying hand. And in Caribbean Stud Poker, a qualifying dealer hand must be ranked at A-K high or better.

This dealer only had A-Q high on this occasion, so even though Mr. Hotshot beat 1 in 649,740 odds to land the elusive royal flush, his raise bet was simply returned as a push.

That might not seem quite fair if you’re just now learning the game, but Caribbean Stud Poker can be a cruel mistress.

Of course, after he calmed down a half-hour later, I eventually pointed out to Mr. Hotshot that his royal flush could’ve been worth even more. Had he tossed a measly $1 chip down on the progressive jackpot side bet, that lightning strike longshot of a hand would’ve paid out $125,000 and change.

He didn’t though… And now that I think back on it, that was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen on the casino floor.

2 – The Best Strategy Is to Avoid the Progressive Jackpot Side Bet

Speaking of the progressive jackpot side bet, all it takes is an extra $1 chip to become eligible for the following commonly found pay tables:

 

Common Caribbean Stud Poker Progressive Jackpot Pay Tables

Hand Table 1 Table 2 Table 3 Table 4 Table 5
Royal flush 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Straight flush 10% 10% 10% 10% 10%
Four of a kind $100 $150 $500 $500 $500
Full House $75 $100 $100 $150 $75
Flush $50 $50 $50 $75 $50

Many newcomers to Caribbean Stud Poker bet on the progressive by default, seeking a safeguard against the nightmare scenario Mr. Hotshot likely never lived down. And indeed, this optional wager removes the dealer qualification caveat, so if you hit gin with a royal flush or straight flush, the dealer’s hand doesn’t matter, you’re a massive winner.

Unfortunately for players, this side bet is truly awful in terms of expected return. With a house edge of 26.46%, it’s among the worst offered in all of casino gambling. I’m talking “as bad as keno” worse, or “three times as bad as the hard eight in craps.”

If you want to play Caribbean Stud Poker strategically, skipping the progressive jackpot side bet every time out is a great place to start.

3 – Playing Perfect Strategy Involves a Simple Three-Rule System

Based on your five-card starting hand’s relative worth, you should always know whether a fold or a raise bet is the right play.

And here’s how you do it.

  • With any hand ranked at A-K-J-8-3 or better (one pair; A-K-Q-x-x; A-K-J-9-x; etc.), you should ALWAYS make the raise bet.
  • And with any hand ranked at A-K-J-8-2 or worse (A-Q-x-x-x; A-K-10-x-x; A-K-J-7-x; etc.), you should ALWAYS fold.

Yep, believe it or not, that about does it for Caribbean Stud Poker’s optimal strategy.

When you play using these guidelines, the house edge and element of risk for the game come to 5.32% and 2.60%, respectively.

Conclusion

As you can probably tell if you made it this far, I really do love Caribbean Stud Poker. The game just has an elegance that its later derivatives simply can’t match.

It’s a shame to see my favorite “fun” table game go by the wayside of late, but with a rebirth in the offing thanks to online casinos, I hope learning about the rules and strategies presented here serve you well down the road.

The Greatest Las Vegas Boxing Matches Ever – Part 2

Boxing Match, Boxing Ring, Welcome to Las Vegas Sign
In part one of this article, I was able to talk about 3 of the greatest Las Vegas boxing matches. But obviously, there are more than 3. In addition, there are more than just heavyweight title matches that are among the greatest.

As a matter of fact, only 1 of the top ten biggest boxing gates in Las Vegas was a heavyweight matchup. And 6 of the biggest gates involved the same man, Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

But the biggest gates aren’t the only barometer for determining a great fight. A fight could have the biggest gate of all time and stink on ice. The fighters have to have heart and determination. In many cases, something has to be at stake, usually a title belt.

4 – Evander Holyfield vs. Lennox Lewis II in 1999

This was a return match for the 2. The last bout, which took place 8 months prior at Madison Square Garden, ended in a draw. Many said that Lennox had won, but 2 judges split the decision and the final judge ruled it a tie on points.

Both bouts were set up to unify the WBA, WBC, IBF, and Lineal World Heavyweight Championships. Holyfield was the WBA and IBF Heavyweight Champion and Lewis was the IBO, WBC, and Lineal Heavyweight Champion. After the last bout, both had retained their championships. Prior to the bout, the IBO had named Lewis as its champion, adding that title to the mix in the return bout.



The bout was evenly matched for the first 8 rounds, with the scorecards going back and forth as far as who was winning. Lewis had a strong showing in the early rounds, winning the points in the first 3 rounds. Holyfield came back with strong showings in rounds 4, 5, 6, and 7. Lewis then started to move ahead by winning the next 3 rounds. The final round saw the round split between the 2. When the dust settled. Lewis won the fight and became the first Undisputed World Heavyweight Champion since 1992.

The fight saw 17,078 paid attendees and had a gate of $16,860,300.00

5 – Marvelous Marvin Hagler vs. Thomas Hearns in 1985

Marvelous Marvin Hagler (and yes, Marvelous is his legal first name) had defended his undisputed World Middleweight Championship 10 times by the time he had met Hearns in the ring. In his previous 50 fights, he had only been knocked down once, and Hagler to this day maintains that it should have been ruled a slip and not a knockdown.

Hearns, on the other hand, had moved up from the welterweight to the junior middleweight to the middleweight division and was known as one of the hardest punchers in boxing, winning 30 of his first 32 fights by knockout.

The fight was held at the Caesars Palace and it surely was a battle from the beginning. For the first round, the 2 fighters traded power punched for the majority of the 3 minutes. The first round saw Hearns open a cut on Hagler’s head and Hearns would find out (after the bout) that the slugfest resulted in him breaking his right hand. The judges split on the round, with Hearns winning on 2 judges’ cards and Hagler winning on the last judge’s card.

In round 2, Hearns became rubber-legged and the pace of the bout slowed considerably. Hagler was able to pin Hearns to the ropes at the end of the round by landing a flurry of hard punches.



Round 3 saw Hearns land a punch that opened up the cut on Hagler from the first round. Hagler had the proverbial crimson mask from blood flow, so much so, the referee temporarily stopped the bout to have it looked at. The doctors gave the okay, and the match continued.

The stoppage lit a fire under Hagler as he didn’t want to lose the titles due to a cut, so Hagler came out aggressive and landed an overhand left to the head of Hearns. Hearns backed away, and Hagler moved forward and landed a hard right hook high on Hearns’ head. Hearns awkwardly stumbled backward into the ropes, with Hagler chasing after him. The champion landed a vicious right to Hearns’ chin. Hearns went limp and fell forward, as Hagler landed two uppercuts. Hearns then fell face first to the canvas. Hearns staggered to his feet at the count of nine, but he was unable to continue. The referee stopped the bout.

Despite the fight only lasting 3 rounds, it won acclaim in the boxing community. British magazine Boxing News called it “8 minutes of mayhem”, while US magazine The Ring called it “the most electrifying 8 minutes ever.” The match would wind up winning Fight of the Year for 1985.

6 – Marvelous Marvin Hagler v. Sugar Ray Leonard in 1987

This fight saw the much-anticipated return to the ring of “Sugar” Ray Leonard. It had been 3 years since the former Welterweight and Middleweight Champion had fought officially, however, behind the scenes, he had been fighting full bouts in secret, which included official referees, judges, and ranked boxers to prepare for his return.

The pre-fight stipulations received a lot of press as a 22 x 22-foot ring, 10-ounce thumbless gloves, and the fight was to be a 12—not 15—round bout (which later became the standard). Hagler agreed to these stipulations for a larger cut of the prize money.

The bout saw Hagler try to use a right-handed boxer stance in the first few rounds, this was a switch from his natural southpaw stance. However, Leonard adjusted quickly and won the first 2 rounds. Hagler then switched back to southpaw for the rest of the fight.



As the bout continued, Hagler was starting to take it to Leonard. In the fifth round, Hagler rocked Leonard with a right uppercut before the final bell. This led to Leonard slowing down for the rest of the fight.

The best fighting was in the 9th round. Hagler did damage to Leonard with a left cross. Leonard then furiously tried to fight his way out of the corner. The action see-sawed back and forth for the rest of the round.

The fight ended with Hagler and Leonard exchanging along the ropes. Leonard threw 629 punches and landed 306, while Hagler threw 792 and landed 291. Leonard was announced as the winner by split decision and took the WBC, The Ring, and lineal middleweight titles in the process. The decision remains one of the most controversial in boxing history as many thought that Hagler won.

The paid attendance for the bout was 12,379 and generated a live gate of $6.2 million.

7 – Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Conor McGregor in 2017

Rarely has a match between a boxer and a fighter from another genre been a good fight. Matches that saw Muhammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki and Chuck Wepner vs. Gorilla Monsoon in the 1970s turned matchmakers off of the thought of a mixed fighting match.

Originally, that’s what was expected by 2 division UFC champion Conor McGregor and undefeated 5 division boxing champion Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Jr. But as negotiations progressed, it was decided that both fighters would battle in a boxing match.

The match was one of the most anticipated ever among both boxing and MMA fans, as both were the respective torchbearers for their sports. It was a no brainer that Las Vegas visitors around this time arrived solely for this match alone.



The start of the fight saw McGregor start strong and actually won the first 2 rounds. During round 3, ringside experts realized Mayweather was using the “rope-a-dope” technique to lull McGregor into a sense of false security. In MMA, McGregor has been used to fighting 25 minutes at a time (5 5-round bouts). This showed in the fight as he started fading by the 9th round. Mayweather landed several punches to McGregor’s face by the end of round 9. This continued into round10 when the referee stopped the bout and awarded the match to Mayweather.

McGregor was disappointed by the early stoppage but respected the referee’s decision.

Despite the loss, McGregor was given a lot of praise for his performance. Retired boxers George Foreman, Mike Tyson, and Evander Holyfield all heaped praise on his inaugural boxing match.

Mayweather officially retired after the match with a 50 – 0 record with 27 knockouts.

The bout saw 13,094 paid fans in attendance with a live gate of $55,414,865.79. Both fighters made over $100 million for their appearance.

Part 2 – Conclusion

In the last 40 years, Las Vegas has established itself as the mecca for boxing. The highest grossing matchups are usually held in the Entertainment Capital of the World.

And fans are realizing this, as many of the top grossing gates in Las Vegas happening just in the last 5 years (and this includes adjustments for inflation).

In the years to come, boxing and Las Vegas will continue to be synonymous with bigger and better venues being built in the form of new casino resorts and other facilities under construction such as the 18,000 seat Madison Square Garden Sphere Las Vegas that’s expected to open in 2021.

5 Super Bowl 54 Prop Bets to Avoid

Kansas City Chiefs, San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl 54, Super Bowl Trophy
Super Bowl 54 is almost here. The Kansas City Chiefs will take on the San Francisco 49ers in the most highly-anticipated sporting event of the year on Sunday evening from South Florida.

The Chiefs are steadily holding as slight betting favorites. Most online Super Bowl betting sites have settled on Kansas City as a 1.5-point favorite. The Chiefs are still attracting plenty of betting attention on the spread, while the 49ers’ plus-money moneyline odds are appealing, as well.

All in all, Super Bowl 54 looks like it will be one of the more entertaining games in quite some time. An entertaining game also lends itself to plenty of prop betting opportunities. Prop bets have become synonymous with the Super Bowl over the years. Each year it seems as though more and more props become available.

Obviously, this year is no exception. Identifying potential value in the odds is the first step toward becoming a successful football bettor. It’s also important to know when to avoid a bet. The following are 5 prop bets to avoid for Super Bowl 54.

Where to Bet on Super Bowl 54

The American Gaming Association says nearly $7 billion is expected to be wagered on Super Bowl 54. While plenty of those bets will be made at land-based casinos in states with legal sports betting, the vast majority of the wagered will be placed over the internet.

As you may expect, there is no shortage of betting sites out there with competitive lines and props ahead of Super Bowl 54. You want a site that offers fair odds, fast payouts and security. The sites we’ve listed certainly meet those criteria.

Will a Fan Run Onto the Field During Super Bowl 54?

  • Yes +700
  • No -2000

Liquid courage is a real thing. Every year, fans at all types of sporting events make the very poor decision to leave their seats and invade the field of play. We see it in soccer, baseball and football most often, but basketball games aren’t exempt, either. There are always fans that decide to have a little too much to drink during games, and a select few are dumb enough to try to run onto the field.

The Super Bowl is the biggest TV event in the United States every year. If you want to get your voice heard, doing something to get onto the broadcast during the Super Bowl is a pretty good way to do it. However, running onto the field of play is also a crime. Most people are smart enough to realize that a few minutes of airtime, even during the Super Bowl, isn’t worth the legal headaches that will inevitably follow. Plus, broadcasts have been avoiding on-field disruptions during games in recent years.

Super Bowl tickets aren’t cheap, either. Those that get to see the game in person are lucky to be able to attend. I seriously doubt someone would be wanting to flush that money down the toilet just to get onto the field. I would imagine Super Bowl 54 will go on without any fan disruptions.

Will There Be a 15-Minute Delay?

  • Yes +750
  • No -1500

There was a different kind of delay the last time we saw the 49ers in the Super Bowl. Back in 2013, Super Bowl 48 between the 49ers and Baltimore Ravens was delayed by about 15 minutes due to a power outage in the Superdome in New Orleans.

As they say, lightning rarely strikes in the same place twice. Miami isn’t New Orleans, but what are the odds that some sort of interruption will delay a second-consecutive Super Bowl involving the 49ers?

The NFL and the host city does everything it possibly can in order to make sure its marquee event goes off as planned and without any disruptions. They can’t account for every random thing that happens, but betting against a 15-minute delay seems like an incredibly even decision, even with the +750 odds.

Will Jimmy Garoppolo Throw for Less than 100 Yards in a 49ers Win?

  • Yes +750
  • No -1750

Patrick Mahomes is the driving force behind the Chiefs, but the same can’t necessarily be said about Jimmy Garoppolo for the 49ers. Garoppolo has more influence than someone like Trent Dilfer did for the Ravens when they won their first Super Bowl, but the Niners’ chances of winning don’t necessarily hinge on Garoppolo lighting up the scoreboard.

That was evident in the NFC Championship Game, when Jimmy G. threw just 8 passes in San Francisco’s 37-20 triumph over Green Bay. He accrued just 77 yards passing as Raheem Mostert and the ground game dominated the Packers. What are the chances we see a similar showing in the Super Bowl? Extremely slim.

Garoppolo never threw for fewer than 100 yards in any game this season until the aforementioned Green Bay game. The 49ers have gone 15-3 on the year (playoffs included) with Garoppolo serving as something of a system quarterback.

Garoppolo may throw for fewer than 100 yards, but it’s unlikely to translate into another win for the 49ers. Even at +750, pass on this prop.

Will Demi Lovato Omit a Word During the National Anthem?

  • Yes +900
  • No -3000

Jennifer Lopez and Shakira may be garnering most of the attention as the halftime entertainment, but Demi Lovato has been tapped to sing the pregame national anthem. Whether Lovato will take over or under 2 minutes to sing the Star Spangled Banner is a popular prop, but you can also bet on whether the singer will forget one of the words to the tune.

Even if she’s nervous to be on the big stage, it’s almost impossible to think she will actually omit one of the words. There have been plenty of anthem-related bloopers over the years, but not at the Super Bowl.

Betting “no” here seems like a no-brainer, but you’re essentially throwing your money away by taking those odds, too.

Will Any Player Get Suspended the Week of Super Bowl 54?

  • Yes +400
  • No -700

Unfortunately, NFL players have shown a tendency to run afoul of the law on occasion. There is a laundry list of high-profile players to have been arrested over the years, and we’ve seen a few disruptions in the week leading up to the Super Bowl. A player got caught soliciting a prostitute in the lead-up to the game one year. We also know the NFL isn’t shy about administering random drug tests to its players.

With the exception of Tyreek Hill, most of the players on both teams have stayed in the league’s good graces. Hill has faced some legal issues, but he has been on his best behavior since the league cleared him to play before the season began. With just 2 days until the Super Bowl, it’s hard to imagine any player makes the silly decision to potentially get himself into trouble.

No players will get suspended by the league-leading up to the game. Avoiding this prop altogether is for the best.

How Are Poker Sites Doing in the War Against Bots?

Online Poker Game, Computer Sequence, Keyboard
Online poker rooms have to police their sites to prevent various types of cheating. Colluding and multi-accounting have traditionally taken center stage, because both of these methods give players an unfair advantage.

But more recently, bots have become the main issue at poker sites. The problem is so bad that certain players are now hesitant about online poker.

What are bots, and why are they so bad? Keep reading, as I discuss the issue and what internet poker rooms are doing to combat the problem.

What Are Online Poker Bots?

A poker bot is a computer program that’s created to play online poker. These programs operate based on specific mathematical concepts and game theory, with the end goal of making the best long-term decisions.

A bot is only as good as its programmer’s knowledge on poker and game theory. Therefore, these programs can differ in terms of skill level.

Unlike a human, poker bots have difficulty in “reading” opponents. They instead use systematic play in an attempt to beat opponents.

Poker bots are especially successful with the limit betting structure, which caps wagers to a specific amount on each street. No limit poker, in contrast, has more incomplete information and relies on reads to a greater extent.

As you’ll see later, though, modern bots are programmed so well today that they’re more capable of understanding this incomplete info.

Poker Bots Have Improved Over the Years

Bots were once a novelty in the online poker world. Those who programmed them often had the intent of seeing how their computer creations could perform against human players.

The earliest poker bots struggled to even beat the micro stakes. They weren’t considered a serious threat, especially to no limit players.

Eventually, bots started to become big business. Players would pay programmers to create bots for them, or even design their own.

Person Typing on Laptop Computer, Online Poker Room

These newer programs were able to beat limit Texas hold’em on a regular basis. Bots have become so advanced today that they’ve essentially “solved” limit hold’em.

Again, though, no limit poker involves more complexities than the limit version. Many thought that no limit poker could never become solved.

Bots have put cracks in these notions in more recent times. They now regularly beat micro and mid-stakes games. Some of the best programs are even capable of defeating top high-stakes pros.

Libratus Shows the Potential of Bots

Over the past decade, university programming departments have taken a vested interest in poker. They’ve developed various artificial intelligence (AI) that’s capable of playing the game at a high level.

Their goal isn’t to design a supercomputer that can make huge poker profits. Instead, such universities are merely using the game as a testing ground for greater things (e.g. medicine, war games).

The first efforts by universities weren’t capable of beating top-level professionals. However, this all changed when Carnegie Mellon University developed Libratus.

CMU’s Claudico faced off against a group of no-limit hold’em pros led by Doug Polk in 2015. Thanks to Polk’s dominating play, the team was able to win in the machine vs. man challenge.

However, Carnegie Mellon made some upgrades and came back with a revamped bot in 2017. Libratus was more than up to the NL hold’em challenge and better than the proceeding Claudico.

Facing a team of Jimmy Chou, Jason Les, Dong Kim, and Daniel McAuley, Libratus won handily over the course of 120,000 total hands.

Below, you can see how badly the bot defeated each human opponent:

  • Dong Kim: -$85,649
  • Daniel MacAulay: -$277,657
  • Jimmy Chou: -$522,857
  • Jason Les: -$880,087

One reason why Libratus won so easily is because it has the ability to improve its play overnight. The AI analyzed its play from the previous session and learned how to get better.

Contrast this to human players who need rest and can’t dedicate extensive hours to improving after long sessions. Kim noted the difficulty in competing against this super bot.

“I didn’t realize how good it was until today. I felt like I was playing against someone who was cheating, like it could see my cards. I’m not accusing it of cheating. It was just that good.”

Libratus won at a rate of 14.7 big blinds per 100 hands. This is an astounding win rate in the micros, let alone against the world’s best players at higher stakes.

Why Are Bots Hated in Online Poker?

Few poker bots are anywhere near as good as Libratus. But many are skilled enough to where they’re universally hated by the poker world. Here are some specific reasons for why bots are so disliked.

No Fatigue

The amount of time that one can play online poker varies from person to person. Generally speaking, though, most players can’t go more than four to five hours at peak performance.

Bots differ because they’re merely computer programs. They never tire and can theoretically play 24/7.

Of course, wise bot users log off from time to time to make their sessions look realistic. After all, poker sites look at session multiple times when trying to determine if a user is human or not.

But even if a bot is logged off every four hours or so, they’ll still play at peak levels with no distractions.

Emotionless

Tilt is one of the biggest problems for any poker player. Everybody gets flustered once in a while, causing them to have a more difficult time making decisions clearly.

Guy Thinking With Head Down, Poker Cards Spread

Herein lies another advantage for bots, because they don’t have emotions. Therefore, they never have to worry about getting angry or mentally defeated when they gamble real money online.

No Fear of Risk

Many successful poker players are risk-averse individuals who are willing to take gambles. But higher stakes can sometimes cause one to scale back bets for fear of losing too much.

Programs aren’t scared when it comes to stakes. They make the optimal play based on their programming regardless of the money at hand.

This trait can sometimes backfire for the owner if the bot has bad luck. But overall, forgetting the stakes and concentrating on optimal poker is the ideal way to play.

Built-in HUDs

A Heads-Up Display (HUD) collects useful stats on opponents. These stats eventually reveal your opponents’ tendencies in different situations.

HUDs are banned at some online poker rooms, because they can provide users with a big advantage. Some bots already have these programs built in, meaning they have an advantage on two fronts.

Bots Remain One of the Biggest Issues in Online Poker

As mentioned before, poker bots have become one of the larger problems in the game. They give relevant account holders an edge in many categories.

Not surprisingly, players have complained about these programs. Some have even quit the game entirely over fear that they’re constantly facing bots.

Computer Keyboard, Poker Cards Pile

Certain rooms like PokerStars and Americas Cardroom (ACR) have really struggled with this issue. Popular podcaster Joe Ingram once advised everybody to boycott ACR until they got their massive bot problem fixed.

Taking everything into account, poker sites are doing more than ever to eliminate bots. Some of the world’s biggest online poker rooms have employees who are dedicated to looking for these programs.

Unfortunately, catching every bot is a difficult pursuit. The dilemma still persists to this day in the internet game.

Poker Sites Do a Better Job of Dealing With the Problem

Every poker site is aware of AI to some degree. Certain sites have really stepped up in their efforts to rid themselves of the problem.

Partypoker is one of the best-known examples today.

Following a lengthy investigation, they closed down 277 bot accounts and confiscated $734,582 from the associated accounts.

PokerStars has also improved their efforts to find and close down cheating accounts. They don’t have any newsworthy success stories like Partypoker, but they’re actively working on the issue.

Conclusion

Online poker rooms are still fighting the war against bots with no end in sight. At stake is the legitimacy of the game.

Nobody wants to play online poker when they could potentially be facing an unbeatable AI. That said, the poker world is doing what it can to minimize the problem.

The sites themselves do a fair amount of work to catch bots. After all, they stand to lose business if these AI accounts are shut down.

Sometimes, the players themselves are a big help. They can report suspected cheating accounts. At which point, the site’s employees will follow up on the matter.

Only time will tell if the bot problem can be fixed. It’s not always easy to catch those who are using these programs.

Again, though, the validity of poker is on the line. Sites need to keep catching and banning AI users in order to keep the game fair.

Pros and Cons of Betting Exchanges

Two Men Looking at Cell Phone, Moneyline Sportsbook Marquee
Sports betting has existed in some form or another for thousands of years. The earliest sports wagers were made between individuals, with no middleman in the equation.

As the industry evolved, traditional bookmakers began handling the action for sports gamblers. They still accept action from bettors today and make their money by skewing odds in their favor.

Betting exchanges arose in the early 2000s as an answer to the unfair odds featured at standard sportsbooks. Betfair, the first ever exchange, is aptly named for its mission to offer more reasonable odds.

Exchanges haven’t taken the sports gambling world by storm. However, they’ve carved out a nice niche in the betting industry.

The question is, though, should you use these sites over regular online bookmakers?

I’m going to cover the various pros and cons of betting exchanges so that you can make an informed decision. But first, I’ll discuss the basics of how they work.

How Does a Betting Exchange Work?

A betting exchange is essentially a meeting place for gamblers who want to bet on opposite outcomes in a sporting event. The gambler who wagers on an outcome winning is “backing” the odds, while the person betting on the outcome losing is “laying” odds.

Both sides must agree upon the odds and stakes. The bet becomes valid once the parties agree to the conditions.

The backer is risking money on their chosen outcome winning. Assuming they win, then the layer needs to pay them. Meanwhile, the layer is acting as the bookmaker. They win the backer’s stake if the outcome loses.

As for the exchange, they earn money by charging commissions on the action. Most sites only take a commission from the winning side.

Here’s a step-by-step explanation of how an exchange bet works:

  • You lay $25 that the Baltimore Ravens won’t win the Super Bowl at +3000 odds.
  • As long as Baltimore doesn’t win the title, you earn a $25 profit.
  • But if the Ravens win, you must shell out $750 (30.00 x 25) to the backer.
  • The backer would pay a commission to the exchange based on their winnings.
  • Ex: 750 x 0.05 (5% commission) = $37.50 goes to the operator

In summary, you and the other party create the market—not a bookmaker. You can propose stakes and odds as either a backer or layer. You simply need another gambler to agree to the terms to lock in the wager.

Advantages of Betting Exchanges

Andrew Black and Edward Wray, both sports gamblers themselves, created Betfair with the bettor in mind.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that betting exchanges offer gamblers distinct advantages over traditional bookmakers. You can see the different benefits of exchanges below.

Better Odds

You shouldn’t automatically assume that an exchange will always have superior odds than standard online sports betting sites.

But they generally tend to feature better prices. This trend is especially true with longshot wagers, which often carry favorable odds at exchanges.

Aerial View of MLB Baseball Field, Stacks of Money

Traditional sportsbooks attach high prices to such bets in order to minimize their risk. Meanwhile, many exchange layers look at longshot wagers as easy money and are willing to offer better odds to draw more backers.

You, of course, have to account for the commission when accepting such bets. A 5% commission can be significant when you do win a bet with long odds.

Nevertheless, you’ll still find a lot of good deals at exchanges. You might consider comparing various odds at sportsbooks and exchange sites to find the most value.

No Margins to Deal With

Regular betting sites have an advantage over the average bettor due to their margins. A margin is the difference in odds that results in the bookmaker earning “juice” from the bets they offer.

Here’s an example:

  • Tampa Bay Rays +165
  • New York Yankees -205

The difference in odds here creates a 4.94% margin. You can find easily find these figures by using a sports betting margins calculator.

Again, exchanges take a commission. This amount generally ranges from 2% to 5%, with the former being much more favorable than standard bookmaker margins.

Ability to Lay Odds

The typical sports betting scenario sees a bookmaker create the odds, and you wager on them. You never get to act as the layer in this case.

Exchanges are unique in that you can be the bookmaker. You won’t have built-in margins like a sportsbook, but you can at least take outcomes that you think have a strong chance of losing.

If you’re a well-funded layer, you can create or accept a number of longshot bets to rack up small profits. As long as none of these outcomes win, you’ll earn a bunch of small payouts.

You may lose one of these wagers occasionally. Provided you have the funds to back it up, though, you’ll be fine in the long run.

Live Boston Celtics Game, NBA

You can even lay odds to minimize risk on your backed wagers. Here’s an example on how this works:

  • You back the Boston Celtics to win the NBA Championship at +1600 odds.
  • The Celtics finish the regular season as the number-two seed.
  • Their odds of winning the championship are now at +800.
  • You lay these odds to take the opposite side.

Depending upon how much you back and lay, you can even make a guaranteed profit in this situation.

Winning Bettors Aren’t Banned

One of the most common sports betting misconceptions is that winning bettors are automatically banned. This belief isn’t necessarily true, but it does come to light in some cases.

If you continually arbitrate, or bet on all possible outcomes in a way that guarantees profit, bookmakers will likely ban your account.

Some sportsbooks also limit your account if you’re a “sharp.” These are highly-skilled bettors who can influence odds with their wagers.

Exchanges don’t restrict your bets or ban you just for being successful. After all, other gamblers are paying your winnings and not the sportsbook.

Downsides of Betting Exchanges

Sports gambling exchanges sound great up to this point. Of course, everybody would be betting at them if they were perfect.

But exchanges aren’t completely flawless. In fact, they have some notable drawbacks, which you can see below.

Lower Liquidity

Exchanges like Betfair and Ladbrokes Coral have a lot of traffic. Therefore, you can find plenty of markets to wager on.

Soccer Player Kicking Ball, Ladbrokes, Betfair

But as a whole, betting exchanges usually have lower liquidity than the average sportsbook. This situation presents problems when it comes to matching bets.

You won’t have much trouble finding a match for primetime TV games and playoff matchups. However, a less heralded sport like darts or certain longshot bets present a different story.

Every exchange wager requires two parties to happen. You may not find a taker when creating a market you want.

Sometimes, you will spot the type of bet you’re looking for, only to get odds that you wouldn’t dream of taking.

In any case, exchanges won’t always have what you’re hoping for in terms of odds and bet types. You may need to turn to traditional sportsbooks at times.

No Parlays and Limited Accumulators

Continuing off the last point, exchange betting sites don’t have parlays. They also have little-to-no accumulators too, depending upon the operator.

This aspect may not bother you if you’re not into parlays and accumulators anyway. However, you definitely want to consider this matter if you are into either type of wager.

Fewer Betting Exchanges

As mentioned before, exchanges haven’t taken the sports gambling world by storm.

Only a handful of these sites exist today, including Betfair, Ladbrokes Coral, Matchbook, and Smarkets.

Exchanges are a great idea in theory and many bettors use them on a daily basis. But they haven’t proven superior enough to wrestler a huge market share away from traditional betting sites.

More Freedom for Match Fixers

Match fixing can happen in any type of sports wagering. However, exchanges present breeding grounds for this type of corruption more so than regular bookmakers.

A layer could offer really attractive odds that attract numerous backers. They can then pay off an athlete for less than they stand to make by winning.

Few Bonuses – If Any

Many online sportsbooks offer welcome bonuses to new customers, such as a free bet or deposit bonus. For example, BetOnline offers a welcome bonus that can be worth up to $1,000. These offers give you a chance to earn extra cash (deposit bonus) or at least recoup losses (free wager).

Bonuses Offered on BetOnline

Exchange betting sites, on the other hand, don’t offer many bonuses. Some sites don’t feature any promotions at all.

The logic here is that exchanges are already giving you a good deal by taking small commissions. They don’t feel the need to shower you with rewards on top of everything else.

Bigger Learning Curve Involved

Online sportsbooks are a little easier to use than exchanges. You only have to concentrate on placing bets based on the given odds with traditional bookmakers.

Exchange sites, meanwhile, are presented in a different format. You also need to worry about setting your own odds if you’re looking for a specific bet.

Of course, exchange betting isn’t rocket science. It’s just a bit harder if you’re already experienced with regular sports gambling or new to the matter in general.

Conclusion – Are Betting Exchanges Right for You?

Your betting experience level should play a role in whether or not you consider exchange betting. You don’t want to jump right into this style of wagering when you’re still learning the ropes.

Instead, you’re better off figuring out the basics of sports gambling and placing wagers with a traditional bookmaker in the beginning.

Assuming you do have some experience, though, then betting exchanges are worth considering due to their special advantages.

First off, they give you the chance to lay odds. You can make money off the losing side while acting as the bookmaker.

You’ll also be able to get better prices on average. This is especially true when considering longshot wagers.

One more thing that betting exchanges do differently is not ban winners and arbitrage bettors. They merely collect commissions off the winning side.

However, you also have to consider the downsides to betting exchanges. These sites don’t have as much liquidity as regular sportsbooks, meaning there are fewer wagering options available.

The lack of liquidity also means that there are no parlays available. Accumulators are in limited supply as well.

You can’t find as many betting exchanges either. The few that exist mainly operate in the UK and other parts of Europe.

Another aspect to worry about is the lack of promotions. You’ll have access to few, if any, bonuses at these sites.

It’s up to you to determine whether the pros outweigh the cons. If you’re

The Greatest Las Vegas Boxing Matches Ever – Part 1

Boxing Match, Welcome to Las Vegas Sign
Boxing and Las Vegas have been synonymous for the last few decades. Since the 1980s, many top matches have been broadcast from Sin City.

Las Vegas is a natural location for fights. The city has multiple venues in which big fights can be held. The ability to bet on the sport draws fans in to pay Las Vegas a visit. The short distance from Los Angeles allows for celebrities to attend that boost both attendance and viewership. And Nevada has set itself up as the premier sports regulatory board in the country.

The history of boxing in Las Vegas goes back over 7 decades. In fact, the first nationally televised boxing match emanated from Las Vegas was in 1955 when Light Heavyweight Champion Archie Moore fought Heavyweight contender Nino Valdes for the right to battle World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Marciano for the belt.



In the 1960s, the Las Vegas Convention Center would become the premier venue for boxing in the city. The venue hosted bouts featuring some of the greatest boxers of all time including Sugar Ray Robinson, Floyd Patterson, Sonny Liston, and the Greatest himself, Muhammad Ali.

The entire time, casinos wanted to get into the boxing game as an event would keep guest in the hotel and keep them gambling. This finally happened on June 12, 1969, when casino resort mogul Kirk Kerkorian arranged for former World Heavyweight Champion Sonny Liston to face Leotis Martin for the newly created North American Boxing Federation Heavyweight Championship.

Since the Liston – Martin fight, thousands of bouts have taken place in Las Vegas, the majority of which in casino resorts. Some of the greatest bouts of all time would emanate from the Entertainment Capital of the World.

1 – Larry Holmes vs. Gerry Cooney in 1982

The early 1980s saw a change in the world championship picture of boxing. Muhammad Ali has just retired. New faces started appearing on the scene. One of these faces was WBC World Heavyweight Champion Larry Holmes. Holmes was on a crusade to beat Rocky Marciano’s 49 – 0 record. Another face was Gerry Cooney, who by the end of 1981 had amassed a 25 – 0 record including a win over former WBC World Heavyweight Champion Ken Norton.

The stage was set for these 2 to clash.

Legendary and notorious boxing promoter Don King was in charge of setting up the bout. He did so by creating one of the largest and most racially charged promotional campaigns of the time.

Both fighters traveled the country and attended press conferences. Cooney was made to look like a star and was featured on the cover of Time magazine. King stimulated further interest by arranging for Cooney to hang out with Rocky star Sylvester Stallone. The night of the fight saw several Hollywood stars attend.

King positioned Cooney as “The Great White Hope” as there had not been a white World Heavyweight Champion in over 2 decades.



The promotion, however, got out of hand when white supremacists threatened to shoot Holmes before he got to the ring. Black groups promised to have armed members at the bout to protect Holmes. Due to the threats, the Las Vegas Police Department deployed snipers on the roofs of all the hotels surrounding the Caesar’s Palace casino.

The fight was a back and forth battle for the first 9 rounds, with Holmes scoring a knockdown in the 2nd round. The 10th round saw Cooney having points deducted for low blows (these were not intentional, he was having issues keeping his hands high due to fatigue). By round 13 Cooney knew he was going to lose and just wanted to make it to the end of the 15 round fight. With about 10 seconds left in the 13th round, Holmes rocked Cooney with a punch that caused Cooney to stumble and hold the ropes to prevent him from falling and Cooney’s corner threw in the towel.

To this day, the fight holds the record for the highest attendance of any boxing event in Las Vegas with 29,214 people who paid to be in attendance.

The gate for the night was $ 6,239,050.00. In today’s dollars, that’s the equivalent of 16,522,038.85, which when adjusted for inflation makes it one of the top 20 gates in Las Vegas history.

2 & 3 – Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield I & II in 1996 and 1997

These 2 fights were highly anticipated matchups. The posters for the bout simply used the phrase “Finally”. The bout was for Tyson’s WBA World Heavyweight Championship that he had won 2 months prior. Tyson was stripped of the WBC World Heavyweight Championship for his choice to fight Holyfield instead of the choice of the WBC.

Oddsmakers heavily favored Tyson to win. However, Holyfield’s strategy kept Tyson on the defense, with Holyfield moving forward and Tyson backward for most of the match, this forced Tyson to put his weight on his back foot throughout the fight which minimized his punching power and threw off his balance.

By the 11th round, Tyson was to the point where he was unable to defend himself and was out on his feet. The referee stopped the bout and awarded the championship to Evander Holyfield.

After the bout, Tyson’s camp attributed Holyfield’s win to frequent headbutts during the bout. Although the headbutts were ruled accidental by the referee, they would become a point of contention in the rematch.



Tyson was granted a rematch roughly 8 months later on June 28, 1997. The bout, titled “The Sound and the Fury” took place at the MGM Grand.

This fight only lasted 3 rounds and was the most controversial in the previous 50 years of boxing. In the 2nd round, Holyfield ducked a punch from Tyson and in the process, unintentionally headbutted Tyson, causing a cut to open over Tyson’s right eye.

This enraged Tyson (due to the headbutting in the 1st bout). Tyson came out of his corner for the 3rd without his mouthpiece. Referee Mills Lane ordered him to return to his corner with the mouthpiece in place.

Tyson began the third round with a furious attack. With 40 seconds remaining in the round, Holyfield got Tyson in a clinch, and Tyson bit Holyfield on his right ear. The bite took out a 1″ piece from the top of the ear. Tyson spit out the piece of ear onto the ring floor. Holyfield shrieked in pain and jumped in circles at which point Lane called for a time-out. As Holyfield turned to walk to his corner, Tyson shoved him from behind. Lane sent Tyson to a neutral corner as an enraged Holyfield gestured for Mills Lane to look at his bitten ear, which was rapidly bleeding.

The fight was delayed for several minutes as Lane debated what to do.

Lane’s consulted with the ringside doctor determined that Holyfield was able to continue despite the massive bite, Lane deducted 2 points from Tyson and continued.

During another clinch, Tyson bit Holyfield’s left ear. Tyson’s second bite just scarred Holyfield’s ear. The men continued fighting until time expired. When Lane discovered the 2nd bite was discovered, the fight was stopped.

Tyson went on a rampage at Holyfield and his corner. Lane told Tyson’s corner that he was disqualifying Tyson for biting Holyfield. Security immediately surrounded Holyfield and Tyson was taken back to his corner by security. Lane said he knew from experience that the bites were intentional. He had told Tyson not to bite anymore and he disqualified him for disobeying that order. Holyfield left the ring seconds after the interview, which gave the fans and audience the hint that the fight was over.

Twenty-five minutes after the brawl ended the official decision was announced to the crown. Tyson was disqualified and Holyfield remained champion. It was the first time in over 50 years that a fighter was disqualified in a heavyweight championship bout.

For his actions, Tyson was fined $3 million and was suspended indefinitely (which lasted a little over a year) by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.



Both fights saw almost identical attendance and gates with a combined attendance of 32,382 and a total gate for both events totaling $28,427,900.

Part 1 – Conclusion

These 3 fights were among the most anticipated matchups of their times. Holmes and Cooney was a time where the old guard of fighters like Ali, Frazier, and Liston had all but left the sport and new faces were taking their place.

In the case of Holyfield and Tyson, both men had left the sport (Tyson for legal reasons and Holyfield for health reasons) and were making a comeback.

However, in all 3 matches, the promoters and fighters chose Las Vegas to host the bouts. In many ways these bouts (as well as a few that will be mentioned in part 2, helped build the reputation of Las Vegas as a mecca for boxing and sports in general.

While heavyweight championship bouts seemed to be the primary type of bout that main evented in Las Vegas, that’s not always the case as you’ll see in part 2.

6 Things You Might Not Know About Sports Betting

Two Guys Looking Over Sportsbook Moneylines, Baseball Player, Money
Thanks to a new wave of legalization, sports betting is the hot new ticket for gambling operators and gamblers alike. When professional leagues are hopping aboard the sports betting bandwagon by partnering up with heavy hitters like MGM Resorts, the writing is on the wall.

Whether you’re a beginner trying to figure out your parlays from your prop bets, or a seasoned sharp who has been beating the books for years, these last few years have sparked a legitimate sports betting renaissance.

From casual bets between friends while you watch the night’s big game, to organized office betting pools, back alley “bookies,” and March Madness tournament brackets, betting on sports has truly hit the big time.

Throw in the rise of daily fantasy sports (DFS) platforms like FanDuel and DraftKings, and massive multimillion dollar prize pools offered by season-long handicapping contests, and bettors today have more tools at their disposal than ever before.

To help you make sense of this brave new world in sports betting’s history, check out the six fun facts below.

1 – More Than a Dozen States Have Legalized Single-Game Sports Betting

Up until May 14 of 2018, sports bettors living in every state except for Nevada had to keep their hobby a secret.

That’s because a federal law known as the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) prohibited bookmaking operations everywhere except for the Silver State. Nevada was “grandfathered” in based on its longstanding legal sports betting industry, but 49 other states were out of luck.

PASPA was ostensibly passed to protect the integrity of sports, but point-shaving scandals persisted well after a federal ban was put in place. Recognizing that the law prevented New Jersey from capitalizing on legal casinos in Atlantic City by adding sportsbooks, leaders in the Garden State passed a series of Sports Wagering Acts between 2012 and 2014.

Voters also signed off on the issue via ballot measure, but at the last minute, the NCAA, NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL banded together to sue and block the law from taking effect.

New Jersey Highway Sign, Guy Looking at Sportsbook Moneylines

The leagues alleged that New Jersey was violating PASPA, while the state countered that the 10th Amendment’s anti-commandeering doctrine granted states the right to regulate their own affairs. The resulting court case, Murphy v. NCAA, eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court and fortunately sided with New Jersey.

In a landmark 6-3 ruling, the Court found PASPA to be unconstitutional, striking the law down altogether and officially allowing states to set their own sports betting laws.

Since that historic ruling, Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island have followed up by legalizing and launching local sportsbooks. And new laws are already on the books in Iowa, Indiana, Montana, Arkansas, and Tennessee.

These betting shops come in all varieties, from glitzy Las Vegas-style sportsbooks operated by casino heavies like MGM and Caesars, to more intimate venues housed in racetracks and tribal casinos.

The new era of legal sports betting in America has also connected players to top-rated online sportsbooks like FanDuel in New Jersey, so you can place bets directly from a computer or smartphone.

2 – The Largest Sportsbook in the World Is the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook

World-famous Las Vegas, Nevada, is the world’s undisputed gambling capital, so it’s no surprise to learn Sin City is home to the largest sportsbook of them all.

When you visit the aptly named SuperBook at the Westgate Resort & Casino (formerly the Las Vegas Hilton), you’re stepping foot inside the biggest bet shop on the planet. The venue spans more than 30,000 square feet, with dozens of betting windows where ticket writers await, a modern food court, two bars, and a separate lounge for cigarette smokers.

Everything here is huge, from the six- and seven-figure wagers placed by high rollers who call the SuperBook home, to the massive wall-to-wall video screen showing off all the big games overhead.

In fact, that video wall is also a record-holder, taking the title of “world’s largest LED video wall” at 20 feet high and a whopping 240 feet wide. Overall, the state of the art video screen contains 1,640 LED tiles made of Christie Velvet material capable of displaying 65 million pixels.

And bettors definitely soak in their favorite sports bet sweats in style, thanks to a seating area with more than 400 leather “relaxation loungers” spread across the expansive floor.

Be sure to pay a pilgrimage to the SuperBook soon though, because by late 2020, the Circa casino resort under construction in Downtown Las Vegas is set to supplant Westgate’s centerpiece as the world’s largest sportsbook.

Circa owner and casino mogul Derek Stevens is betting big on his new venture, but as he told the Las Vegas Sun, it wouldn’t be possible if not for the SuperBook’s inspiration:

“We want to create something that people don’t forget. For me, I’ll never forget that moment I walked into the Las Vegas Hilton (now Westgate) SuperBook. I looked around, and I thought to myself, ‘my god, this is the greatest place on Earth right here.’”

Stevens, no stranger to splashing around on spectacular sports bets himself, also promised avid bettors a one-of-a-kind experience a la the SuperBook when the Circa opens to the public.

 3 – Anybody Can Turn $1,500 Into $1 Million Picking NFL Spreads

Speaking of the SuperBook, the Westgate’s pride and joy has been minting new millionaires for the last two years via the NFL SuperContest.

Since 2004, any gambler with $1,500 to burn can sign up at the SuperBook and enter the world’s largest football handicapping pool. Dubbed the SuperContest for obvious reasons, the crux of this tournament style sports betting competition is deceptively simple.

Pick five NFL games per week, using a point spread, throughout the regular season. Correct picks for a “cover” are worth 1 point, losses are worth no points, and a point spread push is good for 0.5 points.

Whichever bettor or team (players can band together to reduce their financial risk) amasses the most points by season’s end claims the lion’s share of a seven-figure prize pool.

Last year’s champion Eric Kahane took down the largest SuperContest grand prize to date, winning $1.4 million by besting the 3,123-entry field.

As you can see in the table below, the money up for grabs in the SuperContest grows by leaps and bounds every year:

NFL SuperContest History

YEAR TOP PRIZE
2019 $1.47 million
2018 $1.42 million
2017 $1.32 million
2016 $895,482
2015 $914,175
2014 $740,325
2013 $557,850
2012 $447,000
2011 $310,200
2010 $207,000
2009 $196,800
2008 $210,000
2007 $205,200
2006 $249,600
2005 $303,000
2004 $131,520

You don’t have win the whole shebang though, as the top 100 finishers in the field earn prizes that increase on an escalating scale, a la tournament poker.

4 – Online Sportsbooks Today Are Safe, Secure, and Reliable

In the rough and tumble days, before regulation became prevalent, a few unscrupulous online sportsbook operators gave the whole industry a bad name.

Thankfully, the market tends to weed out bad actors, so bettors can simply visit a respected resource to read reviews .

With more players interested in betting online, licensing regulations are becoming more strict and the competition has online books striving to become the best possible options for potential gamblers.

5 – Majority of Americans Support Legalized Sports Betting

For the longest time, lawmakers and politicians claimed that the public had no appetite for sports betting outside of the city of Las Vegas.

American Flag, Football Game

But with the veil pulled back, thanks to the Supreme Court’s PASPA repeal, Americans are embracing a new way to wager on the level. Per the latest polling by the American Gaming Association (AGA), 63% of respondents agree with the Court’s decision to overturn PASPA.

Even better, 8 out of 10 Americans would like to see their home state make like New Jersey and launch legal bet shops on land and online.

6 – You Don’t Have to Bet Big to Win Big

Most recreational bettors relish the opportunity to turn a few bucks into big money, and there’s no better place to make a serious splash like that than the sportsbook.

Just ask Tayla Polia, who turned a paltry $5 parlay bet into $100,000 back in 2015 via the William Hill online sportsbook app. Of course, that 15-team ticket on NFL point spreads required beating long odds of 20,000 to 1, so don’t expect to become a parlay master overnight.

Conclusion

The sportsbook almost seems like a separate world set apart from the slots and table games, but it’s as pure a form of gambling as you’ll ever find. Now that you know a little more about the industry, it’s easier to appreciate everything sports betting has to offer.

The Worst Poker Advice I’ve Heard

Two Guys Sitting at Table, Poker Cards Spread
I play a great deal of poker, so I’ve heard quite a bit of bad advice about it. For this page, I’ve decided to put together another article on poker tips.

Blackjack has a limited number of decisions, which is a smaller number than poker players need to make. But the game of poker has a finite number of playing decisions, and many of the decisions come up over and over again.

When you master the common decisions, it goes a long way toward winning poker play. One way to do this is by avoiding bad poker advice.

Here is some of the worst poker advice I’ve heard and how you can learn from it to improve your long-term poker profitability.

Playing Ace King

I know where this bad advice comes from, but it doesn’t help much to know where it comes from if you don’t do anything about it. Many Texas holdem players play ace king like they’re pocket aces. The reason for this is because they see poker pros do it in poker tournaments on television.

If the poker pros do it on TV, how can it be a bad play?

The thing that most players miss is the context where the pros are playing the hand. You don’t see poker pros playing ace king like pocket aces in the early stages of a tournament or when they have a decent sized stack.

Where you see them play it this way is later in the tournament and usually when they’re getting short stacked or they’re at a shorthanded table.

You can play ace king aggressively, but risking all of your chips with it is rarely a good idea. It almost always has to improve to win, and sometimes, when it improves, it still loses. By playing it aggressively, you can win by improving to the best hand or when your opponents fold. But when you end up all in with it before the flop, you’re rarely a big favorite to win the hand.

Years ago, I decided to start playing ace king like I play ace queen, and I stopped losing money on the hand. The same thing happened when I started playing pocket jacks like pocket eights.

The important thing is to not overvalue hands like ace king. It’s still a fairly strong hand, but it’s not nearly as strong as a high pocket pair, so stop playing it like pocket aces or kings.

Bluff More

Early in my poker career, I read a piece of advice talking about bluffing. I don’t remember who wrote it or where I read it, but one of the things it said was if you don’t have any other way to win the hand, you should bluff. The idea is that if you miss your draw and can’t possibly win at the showdown, your only chance to win is to bluff.

On the surface, this might not sound like bad advice, but in action, it usually just costs you money. Most poker players bluff too much, so their opponents tend to call them more often.

Man Looking Down at Poker Cards in Hand

This is also one of the reasons why you should usually call a reasonable bet on the river, even if you’re not sure you have the best hand. Winning poker players know that, for the cost of a reasonable bet, they only have to be correct about their opponent bluffing a small number of times to show a profit.

Here’s an example:

Instead of bluffing more, start bluffing less. Build a reputation as a player that doesn’t bluff, so the few times that you do bluff, you have a better chance of pulling it off. Reserve most of your bluffing to semi bluff opportunities where you have a hand that can improve, but may also be the best hand currently.

Never Show Emotion at the Table

The problem with the advice to never show emotion at the poker table is that it doesn’t go far enough. You should rarely show your true emotions at the poker table, but you should show false emotions every time it helps you win.

One thing you need to understand is that, against the top competition in the poker industry, trying to use false emotions can be costly. But against most players, it can be quite profitable. When you’re playing against good players, the best plan is to try to avoid showing any emotion, so you don’t give any tells.

I was playing in a no limit Texas holdem and game and was in a hand against a decent, but not great player. He had position on me and he was paying attention to the table. I flopped a set and there were two suited cards on the flop.

I bet into him and he called. The turn was a blank, and I bet into him again. He called again. I was fairly certain that I had him on the right hand, and I was sure that I had the best hand both times I bet into him.

I decided to try to fool him if the river paired the board and completed his flush. A paired board gave me a full house, but if I acted right, I thought I could fool him into thinking he had the best hand with a flush.

The river paired the board and completed his flush, and I immediately sighed and slumped my shoulders. I quickly straightened up like I was giving away information and checked. He moved all in and I called for a big win.

i
Notice how I used emotion and how I had a plan in place before I used a false emotion. It’s difficult to use a false emotion on the spur of the moment.

You could argue that the hand might have played out the same if I hadn’t done anything before checking. But the results were exactly what I wanted, so I was glad it worked.

The next time you’re gambling with real money in poker, watch for opportunities to use false emotions to your advantage. If you can act like you’re on tilt after a bad beat while not being on tilt, it can help you win a few big hands. You can find other ways to use false emotions for profit if you watch for opportunities.

You Don’t Need to Learn Pot Odds

The truth is that you don’t need to learn what pot odds are and how to use them, but if you want to be a winning poker player, you need to know everything there is to know about pot odds.

Once you learn how to use pot odds, most of the time, you won’t have to determine them exactly on every hand. You eventually learn the numbers on the situations that come up often, so you just know if you’re getting the right odds.

Hand Picking Up Poker Card Off Table

But until you reach this point, the only way to maximize your returns is to run the numbers to make sure you make the best play. The way you do this is to practice until you can run the numbers quickly and accurately every time.

At the lower limits, you can make consistent profit by combining the smart use of pot odds with tight starting hand requirements. It’s fairly simple to be a profitable player at the low levels. Once you start moving up into the middle limits, you need to improve other areas of your game, but the only thing standing between most poker players and profit is their failure to understand and use pot odds.

Conclusion

I know I only covered four things on this page, but if you learn from my advice and ignore the bad advice you hear, it’ll instantly improve your results. The most important thing you can do is start using pot odds.

When you combine smart use of pot odds with bluffing less, using emotions at the right time, and stop overvaluing weak hands, your profits are going to quickly move in the right direction.

Why You Don’t Get Online Casino Bonuses With Neteller and Skrill

Guy Typing on Laptop, Neteller Logo, Skrill Logo
Bonuses are one of the best parts of online gaming. The vast majority of internet casinos offer these rewards, ranging from free spins to deposit bonuses.

These deals are great from the perspective that they give you an opportunity to earn free money. However, you must meet terms and conditions before you’re able to reap the benefits.

One common term you may see is that Neteller and Skrill deposits don’t qualify for bonuses. Why are these e-wallets exempt from bonus offers?

Keep reading as I cover more on Skrill and Neteller, along with why they normally don’t allow you to obtain bonuses.

What Are Neteller and Skrill?

Simply put, Neteller and Skrill are e-wallets that let you send and receive money. Both require a linked bank account, which you can use to either provide funds for the e-wallet or send money to.

Neteller and Skrill are commonly accepted at online casinos, along with many other types of businesses. However, each e-wallet has slight nuances from the other in terms of history, particularly regarding online gambling.

Neteller

Neteller E-Wallet LogoNeteller is run by Paysafe Group and operates out of London. This brand is particularly well known in internet gambling circles. It moved into this space in July 2000 and was processing 85% of the gaming world’s deposits at one point.

Neteller moved out of the US in 2007, shortly after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was signed into effect.

As a result, they saw their revenue drop from $239 million in 2006 to $61 million in 2010.

Nevertheless, Neteller has remained a force in the payment processing game. They’re still largely found at many gambling sites across the globe.

Skrill

Skrill Moneybookers LogoThis company launched in July 2001 as Moneybookers. The UK-based company was purchased by Investcorp in 2007 for €105 million.

By 2010, Moneybookers became known as one of the world’s fastest-growing financial intermediaries. It featured 25 million customers and 120,000 merchant accounts at the time.

The company rebranded to Skrill in September 2013.

Just two years later, they purchased Paysafecard, an Austrian-based prepaid card service.

In August 2013, CVC Capital Partners bought Skrill for €600 million. The business was sold again to Paysafe Group (Neteller) in March 2015 for €1.1 billion. Paysafe now owns two of the largest e-wallets in the gaming business.

What Kind of Bonuses Do You Miss With These E-Wallets?

If you’re hunting for online casino bonuses, then Neteller and Skrill aren’t the best options to use. Below, you can see the various rewards that you’ll miss out when using them as deposit methods.

Deposit Bonus

The average internet casino offers many different deposit bonuses. These deals can cover new players (discussed next), existing players (a.k.a. reload bonuses), or VIPs.

In any case, deposit bonuses are based on a match percentage of your deposit. Here’s an example of how it works:

  • A casino is offering a 100% match bonus worth up to $200.
  • You deposit $75.
  • You’re now eligible to earn a bonus worth up to $75.

You’ll of course need to meet terms and conditions before the money is yours. But these can be very lucrative deals if you play a lot of online casino games.

Welcome Bonus

You’re typically eligible for a welcome bonus after making your first deposit(s) at an internet casino. These bonuses can either be valid for one deposit or a series of deposits.

Bovada Welcome Bonus

Here’s an example of the latter:

  • Welcome bonus package worth up to $1,000
  • First deposit is eligible for a 100% match bonus up to $500
  • Second deposit is eligible for a 100% match bonus up to $300
  • Third deposit is eligible for a 100% match bonus up to $200

You don’t have to make three deposits to qualify. But some casinos try to include more bonuses to encourage additional deposits.

Free Spins

Free spins can either be given out as part of a deposit bonus (e.g. 100% match bonus + 25 free spins) or as a separate offer. You use these spins to generate winnings that can later be cashed out.

Here’s an example:

  • You’re awarded 25 free spins
  • You earn $10 with the spins
  • You can cash out the $10 upon meeting terms and conditions

Winnings from free spins are often capped. You can usually earn at least $100 or more before hitting this cap, depending upon the casino.

Why Are Neteller and Skrill Excluded?

Skrill and Neteller are excluded from bonus deals for multiple reasons. You can see more on each of these reasons below.

Fraud and Money Laundering Prevention

Some licensing authorities put heavy emphasis on making sure that their operators aren’t used as fraud and money laundering targets. Casinos in these licensing jurisdictions are expected to obtain valid identification from users to prevent these problems from happening.

The issue with Neteller and Skrill is that they make obtaining this identification more difficult. Some casinos would rather just not accept either deposit option as a result.

Others will take Skrill and Neteller deposits. However, they make both options less appealing by excluding them from bonus deals.

High Fees

E-wallets in general have some of the highest fees among gaming deposit methods. Neteller and Skrill are no different in this regard.

Typing on Computer Laptop, Poker Cards and Chips

Fees on deposits and withdrawals can range from 2% to 3% of the total transaction. Gaming sites that help cover these fees are less likely to allow e-wallet deposits/cashouts.

Popular for Bonus Abuse

Neteller and Skrill are often connected to bonus abuse. The latter refers to when players continually exploit loopholes in bonus terms and conditions to boost their chances of earning a profit.

These e-wallets allow players to make quick withdrawals. Therefore, they can abuse a bonus policy and cash out before casinos realize what hit them.

Unpopular With UKGC

The UK Gambling Commission oversees all internet casinos that operate in the UK. They’ve noted their displeasure with any payment method that increases the chances of fraud or money laundering.

Here’s what Sarah Harrison, Gambling Commission Chief Executive, noted in a 2018 letter to UKGC licensees:

“It is vital that the gambling industry takes its duty to protect consumers and keep crime out of gambling seriously. The Gambling Commission’s new strategy sets out our vision for a fairer and safer gambling market.”

Again, Neteller and Skrill make it harder for operators to identify suspected criminals. That said, more and more UK online casinos could drop these companies as payment options.

What Should You Deposit With to Get Bonuses?

You may find that a number of your favorite gaming sites don’t allow Neteller and Skrill to count for bonuses.

But what can you use in their places? Here are some of the most common deposit methods that qualify for bonus opportunities.

ACH

Automated Clearing House (ACH) lets you send money directly from your bank to an online casino. You can also withdraw money back to your bank account as well.

One big advantage is that ACH (a.k.a. eChecks) is easy to use. You merely need to supply your checking account number, routing number, and check digits.

The drawback is that a fair number of casinos, especially those facing US residents, don’t accept eChecks.

Visa and Mastercard

These credit cards handle over 80% of all credit card transactions in the world. Not surprisingly, they’re you can use credit cards at online casinos.

Guy Using Laptop Entering Credit Card Details

Visa and Mastercard are fast and reliable ways to fund an online gaming account. However, the downside is that they tend to reject gambling-related deposits at a higher rater than any other payment option.

Bitcoin

Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer payment method that lets you send this cryptocurrency directly to an online casino. It’s also decentralized, meaning your deposits can’t be blocked by a government or bank. Some gamblers seem to really enjoy playing on Bitcoin online casinos.

The problem with Bitcoin, though, is that it’s volatile and can be worth 10% or less the following day. You may prefer traditional currencies (e.g. USD) if you can’t stand this uncertainty.

Wire Transfer

Western Union and MoneyGram are online casino wire transfers that can be used to fund a casino account. You give an agent your money, and they’ll supply you with the info to send the wire.

The nice thing about this option is that the agent can quickly guide you through the process. But the fees are usually around $35, which is pretty expensive for a deposit.

Conclusion

As highlighted before, the biggest problem with Skrill and Neteller is that they’re often excluded from bonus offers. But you don’t have to automatically dismiss them as a casino banking option.

Both e-wallets are reliable and have good support staffs behind them. You can call on customer service if you have trouble depositing with either.

Another plus is that Neteller and Skrill can be used for deposits and withdrawals. Contrast this to credit cards and debit cards, which are usually only available for deposit.

Assuming you’re not worried about online casino bonuses, then Neteller and Skrill may be the perfect options.

However, you definitely want to steer clear from them if you do love deposit bonuses and free spins. Depositing with either e-wallet may exclude you from bonus deals.

The key is to look at bonus terms and conditions beforehand to figure out the situation. A casino will clearly note if Neteller and Skrill deposits aren’t eligible for bonuses.

 

How Real Money Online Casinos Compare to Land-Based Casinos

Casino Slot Machine, Woman Sitting Using Laptop
At the risk of creating a false dichotomy, I’m going to analyze the pros and cons of gambling real money at online casinos as compared to traditional, land-based casinos in this post.

But let me get one thing out of the way from the start—you don’t have to choose one or the other.

Most of the gamblers I know play at online casinos AND in land-based casinos. Each type of casino has its uses, and this post delves into those uses in detail. Read more about the pros and cons of online casinos in comparison to land-based casinos below.

Learning How to Play Real Money Casino Games

The biggest advantage online casinos have over land-based casinos is their use as a learning tool.

All online casinos offer free, play-money versions of their casino games. These are useful to help you learn how to play a casino game BEFORE risking any money on it. You just can’t do that at a traditional casino.

Online casinos offer free games are used as a marketing tool to encourage players to sign up for a real money account at the casino. They’re also there to give the online casino gambler something to do when their bankroll has been lost and they’re waiting for payday to roll back around.

These free versions of the casino games have the same odds and payouts as the real money versions. The casino just gives you play money chips to wager with. These play money chips have no actual monetary value.

They’re just a way to keep score while you’re enjoying the free games. Most casino games are easy to learn. In fact, that’s a requirement at most casinos. They won’t even offer a game if it’s too difficult for a player to learn the rules.

But different gamblers have different learning styles. For example, I’m a big fan of Let It Ride, but one of my closest friends isn’t.

I’ve been playing poker since I was a little boy, so I have a good grasp of how poker hand rankings work. Learning Let It Ride was easy for me. I just sat down at my local casino and started playing.

My friend, on the other hand, never understood what was going on at the table. On top of that, he couldn’t decide what to do at any point in the game.

There was nothing particularly difficult about the game. He just lacked some of the basic understanding behind it and needed some extra time to learn how to play.

I found him a knockoff version of the game at an online casino called “Let ‘em Ride.” After an hour or two, he understood the game well enough that he couldn’t wait to get back to the casino and try again.

You can’t learn to play casino games for free in a land-based casino, even though most of them do offer free classes.

But those classes only last for a few minutes, and when they end, you have to risk real money to play. You might get a hand or two or a free bet or two, but you can’t get a feel for the game without risking money at a land-based casino.

The Comfort of Your Own Home

You can play at an online casino from home using your desktop or laptop computer. At most modern online casinos, you can even play using your mobile phone.

If you know someone who isn’t comfortable walking around a casino or being in one, they can still enjoy the occasional game of real money blackjack on the computer or on their smartphone.

Laptop Displaying Poker Cards, Cat and Coffee on Desk

Other people might have other reasons for gambling online instead of at a land-based casino. Some people suffer may from crippling anxiety or agoraphobia.

Or maybe they just hate having to get dressed up and leave the house. Maybe the nearest casino is over an hour away.

Either way, being able to gamble from the comfort of your own home is an undeniable advantage that online casinos have over traditional casinos.

The Loneliness of the Online Casino Gambler

One person’s advantage is another person’s disadvantage. If you enjoy the socializing that goes along with gambling in a casino, you’ll probably find online casinos lacking.

But there are some exceptions. If you enjoy the social aspect of casino gambling, you should definitely consider online poker and live dealer casinos.

At any site offering online poker for real money, you can play with other poker players from around the world. Socializing and chatting with these other players is easy and, for many, it’s a big part of the fun.

Bingo is another gambling game where the chat on the internet is a big draw.

Live dealer casinos are casinos which have real table games available with real dealers. The action happens via webcam.

And you’re not the only casino gambler playing with these dealers. At many (if not most) of these live dealer casinos, you can chat with the other gamblers while you play.

For many, this emulates enough of the casino gambling experience that they don’t feel the need to ever set foot in a traditional casino again. For others, there’s nothing that compares to actually interacting with live people and other gamblers in real life.

My best advice? Try both and see what scratches your particular itch better.

Dealing With Offshore Companies

The biggest drawback to playing at online casinos, especially if you’re from the United States, is the necessity of dealing with offshore companies.

If you live in one of the few states with legalized, regulated internet casino gambling, you don’t have to worry about this.

But if you live in the other 47 states, you must find an online casino willing to accept your wagers. And because of the gray area of the legality of online casinos, these companies are both located outside of the country and sometimes less than trustworthy.

This isn’t to say that all offshore casinos are dishonest. They’re not. It’s just that some people might prefer to do business with a company in their own country. After all, if you have an issue with a company headquartered in Antigua and Barbuda, you might have a tougher time taking them to small claims court.

Laptop on Table Displaying Craps Game

You don’t have to stress out much over whether such companies deal a fair game. For the most part, offshore online casinos have no incentive to actually cheat. After all, these games are designed to have a mathematical edge over the player regardless of what the players do.

In that respect, offshore casinos have no more incentive to “cheat” than land-based casinos.

What players occasionally seem to run into, though, are online casinos which don’t pay out winnings at all or don’t pay out winnings in a timely manner.

If you’re dealing with a land-based casino, you just trade in your chips for cash. With an online casino, you have to worry about stuff like deposit and withdrawal methods.

The best idea for most casino gamblers is to find an informational site they trust like this one and sign up at a highly-recommended online casino.

If they’ve done their job correctly (as this site has), they’ll have vetted their casino recommendations with research into reputations and actual experiences playing at the casino in question.

Conclusion

That covers—in broad strokes, anyway—the perks of playing at an online casino as compared to playing at a traditional, land-based casino.

After thinking about the differences, have you made a decision about playing at one over the other?

Spanish 21 Secrets No One Tells You About

Poker Cards in a Pile, Spanish 21 Table
Back in the late 1990s, Spanish 21 was all the rage among table game gamblers. Whenever my buddies and I would take a break from grinding high-limit blackjack, the Spanish 21 tables were a sure ticket for fun hands, creative plays, and in most cases, a breakeven or winning session.

Unlike other gimmicky table games back then, Spanish 21 was designed to offer the best of both worlds. Removing the deck’s four 10s definitely favors the house, but a slew of rule modifications more than makes up for a 48-card deck.

If you make a blackjack in this game and the dealer does the same, you’ll still win a full payout. Same goes for any 21 hand for that matter, as the player hand always takes precedent to avoid pushes.

This is just one a few of the extremely liberal rules that make Spanish 21 such a player-friendly game. If you’ve been learning the ropes and want to become a legitimate Spanish 21 expert, read more below to find four amazing secrets about the game that nobody tells you about.

1 – Using Blackjack Basic Strategy Won’t Work in Spanish 21

Let’s say you start the hand holding a 6-6 for a 12 total, while the dealer is showing a lowly three.

If you enjoy playing blackjack, your instincts will direct you to split the sixes up and hopefully catch two more high cards to take on the dealer with 16 against three. That’s how the basic strategy book in ordinary blackjack says to play a pair of sixes in this spot.

But, if you split here in Spanish 21, you’d be making a big mistake.

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Remember, the deck has four fewer 10-value cards to work with, so splitting those sixes won’t work out as often in this game.

Instead, the basic strategy chart for Spanish 21 says to hit the 12 and hope for a nine or under.

Failing to realize the nuances between blackjack basic strategy and optimal play in Spanish 21 dooms many players to an early demise, simply because they neglected to study.

If you want to avoid that fate, just be sure to consult the Spanish 21 basic strategy tables below:

Spanish 21 Hard Hands Strategy

TOTAL CORRECT PLAYS
Hard 9 Double against dealer’s 6. Hit against everything else.
Hard 10 Double against 2-7. Hit against 8 or higher.
Hard 11 Double against 2-8. Hit against 9 or higher,
Hard 12 Hit against any dealer total.
Hard 13 Stand against 6 (except with 4+ cards). Hit against all other totals.
Hard 14 Stand against 4-6 (except with 4+ cards). Hit against all other totals.
Hard 15 Stand against 2-6 (except with 4+ cards against 2-5). Hit against all other totals.
Hard 16 Surrender to Ace. Stand against 2-6 (except w/ 4+ cards vs 2-4). Hit vs all others.
Hard 17 Surrender to Ace. Stand against all others.

Spanish 21 Soft Hands Strategy

TOTAL CORRECT PLAYS
Soft 13 or 14 Hit against any dealer total
Soft 15 Double against 6 (except with 4+ cards). Hit against all other totals.
Soft 16 Double against 5-6 (except with 4+ cards). Hit against all other totals.
Soft 17 Double against 4-6 (except with 4+ cards). Hit against all other totals.
Soft 18 Double vs 4-6 (except with 4+ cards). Stand against 2-3 and 7-8. Hit against 9-A.
Soft 19 Stand against all totals.

Spanish 21 Pair Hands Strategy

TOTAL CORRECT PLAYS
2-2 or 3-3 Split against dealer’s 8. Hit against 9-A.
4-4 Hit against all totals.
5-5 Same strategy as hard 10.
6-6 Split against 4-6. Hit against all other totals.
7-7 Split against 2-7.  Hit against all other totals.
8-8 Surrender to Ace. Split against all other totals.
9-9 Split against 3, 4, 5, 8, or 9. Stand against 2, 7, 10 and Ace.

You might’ve noticed a few plays that aren’t listed, but that’s only because they’re obvious, common-sense decisions.

If you have any hard eight or lower, hitting is the only play that makes sense because you’ll never go bust taking an additional card. And with any hard 17 or higher, a bust probability of 69% when hitting makes standing—even against dealer sevens, eights, nines, or 10s—the correct course of action.

2 – Win Holding a 10 to the Dealer’s 21 by Landing a “Charlie”

In the old days, blackjack tables used an odd little rule called the “five-card Charlie.”

Whenever a player ran out five baby cards without going bust, they’d be paid out on a winning hand regardless of what the dealer wound up with. Thus, a sorry looking run of cards like 2-2-2-3-3 for a 12 would receive an instant five-card Charlie payout.

That rule has largely been erased by corporate casino operators, but Spanish 21 made Charlie hands an ironclad aspect of the game.

If you land a five-, six-, or seven-card Charlie at the Spanish 21 table, you’ll receive an automatic even money payout, even if the dealer lands a natural blackjack. Thus, the rare combination of 2-2-2-2-2 for a 10 can magically take down the dealer’s perfect 21.

3 – The Game’s Strategy “Bible” Was Published 10 Years Ago

Until 2008, most gamblers who consider themselves to be sharp dismissed Spanish 21 as a fad or gimmick.

The Pro's Guide to Spanish 21 and Australian PontoonThey mistakenly assumed that casinos spread the game to offer a less beatable alternative to the increasingly beatable blackjack tables.

As it turns out though, Spanish 21 is actually more beatable than standard blackjack, as casino strategist Katarina Walker revealed in her 2008 book, The Pro’s Guide to Spanish 21 and Australian Pontoon.

I advise readers to review the entire book for a full tour of Walker’s teachings, but get a load of this passage to see what it has to offer:

“The most player-advantageous card (Ace) occurs in a higher proportion (1/12 instead of 1/13). Re-splitting Aces and drawing on split Aces is permitted, making Aces even more player-advantageous. Naturals (aka Blackjacks) are always paid out at 3:2, even against a dealer natural, making Aces even more player-advantageous.”

Walker posted these insights on a popular online blackjack forum while discussing Spanish 21’s beatable nature.

I’ll admit, while the loss of four 10s from the deck got my attention, I never really considered how four aces become more valuable in a 48-card deck.

4 – At Least 2 Casino Resorts in Sin City Still Spread Spanish 21

While the bulk of Spanish 21 played today can be found at top-rated online casinos, the game is still popular in land-based gambling halls, too.

Tribal casinos in the Pacific Northwest spread Spanish 21 by default, and you can’t find a pit in Atlantic City that doesn’t have tables running around the clock.

Las Vegas, meanwhile, seemed to banish the player-friendly game into exile over the last decade. You’ll still hear players talk about Spanish 21’s disappearance from Sin City, but as it turns out, one operator is looking to bring it back from the brink—Las Vegas Sands.

In the two Sands-owned casinos on the Strip, Venetian and Palazzo, you can play Spanish 21 for a $10 minimum and $1,000 maximum. Dealers hit on soft 17, but even with that house-friendly rule in effect, the edge is quite reasonable at only 0.76%.

Conclusion

Spanish 21 came and went in a flash, dominating the brick and mortar table game pits for a few years before transitioning mainly to online casinos. The game might not be as popular as it once was 20 years back, but the online gaming industry is definitely giving Spanish 21 a second chance at life.

That means an entirely new generation of gamblers is only now discovering just how fun blackjack can be when liberal rules and bonus payouts are put into effect. If you’re one of those gamblers, taking advantage of the four secrets listed here is the best way to make the most of your new passion for Spanish 21.

7 Reasons to Visit Las Vegas Before You Die

Las Vegas Strip, MGM Grand Casino, Las Vegas Sunset
If you’ve never had the opportunity to visit Las Vegas, you’re missing out on a one of a kind experience. Everyone seems to think that Las Vegas is only for gamblers. But gambling is only a part of everything that Las Vegas offers.

I’ve been fortunate to travel to the city several times and have always had a good time. I always gamble when I’m there, but I also spend time enjoying some of the other things the city offers. My wife has gone with me twice, and she’s not a big gambler.

On trips to Las Vegas with her, I’ve seen some great shows, ate at some outstanding restaurants, and seen some amazing museums and exhibits. The city is about far more than what it seems. Here are seven reasons why you should visit Las Vegas.

1 – Dozen of Gambling Options in Las Vegas

Before moving on to other reasons to visit Las Vegas, let’s get the big one out of the way. The Sin City has more casinos collected in a small area than anywhere in the world. The famous Las Vegas Strip has casinos on both sides and the Fremont Street area is filled with even more casinos.

It doesn’t matter what type of gambling you want to do, there’s plenty of options. Slot machines fill the casinos and are available in many other places in the city, including at the airport.

You can place bets at dozens of sportsbooks and play poker at just about any limit you want. Other popular casino games are available including roulette, craps, baccarat, video poker, keno, Let It Ride, three card poker, Mississippi Stud, bingo, and many lesser known games that you can’t find anywhere else.

Las Vegas is the place to be if you want all of the gambling action you can stand. If you don’t like one casino, another is a short walk away. Many of the casinos are even connected by shops and walkways so you don’t even have to go out in the desert heat.

2 – Memorable Vegas Shows

I’ve never been a person who goes out of his way to see shows, but when my wife travels to Las Vegas with me she insists that we do some things other than gamble. This has led me to see some great shows that we’ll remember for the rest of our lives.

Cirque de Soleil Acrobat Show, Las Vegas

Some of the world’s best entertainers perform in Las Vegas, and popular groups like the Blue Man Group and Cirque de Soleil have long-running shows. I’ve seen both, and I highly recommend seeing them at least once if at all possible.

You can also find great singers and impersonators of famous musicians who are no longer with us. Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra are two of the famous singers from the past who have impersonators doing Las Vegas shows.

3 – Fremont Street Experience

The Fremont Street experience is difficult to describe, and the pictures and videos available online don’t do it justice. It’s a unique experience that you won’t soon forget. The light show is worth the trip alone, but you also get to see street performers and you can visit some of the casinos that offer a completely different experience than you get on the Strip.

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At times, the crowds are heavy on Fremont Street, so make sure you have your wallet or purse secured.

Crime isn’t bad in Las Vegas, but anywhere a large group of people come together, there’s a chance for a pickpocket to operate.

I keep my cash and important cards and documents deep in one of my front pockets or in a side pocket on cargo pants that I can fasten closed. My wife uses a purse with a zipper on top and a large strap so she can wear it across her body. We’ve never had a bad experience, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

4 – Amazing Dining Options

The best meal of my life was in Las Vegas. I’ve had nice meals at many different places, but the one that always stands out for me was the first time I ate at the Stratosphere several years back. The restaurant is on top of the casino and rotates so you can see the entire city as you dine.

Group of People Sitting Down Eating, Restaurant

I haven’t been to the Stratosphere for a few years, so I can’t tell you if it’s still a great option, but I can tell you that the city is filled with great dining options. The buffets available at some casinos are better than anything available in most towns.

You can read online reviews of popular restaurants before your trip, or you can have an adventure and figure out where to eat in Las Vegas once you arrive. Either way, you won’t run out of dining options in the city.

5 – Bragging Rights

Las Vegas is one of the few places in the world that you can brag about visiting to everyone you know. It seems that the world is filled with people who have had the opportunity to visit Las Vegas, and those who want to visit.

I can’t stress enough that Las Vegas isn’t just about gambling anymore. I know people who’ve traveled to the city many times and never placed a bet.

This is a great conversation starter for them, because they talk about all of the interesting things they do and can say they had so much fun that they didn’t have time to gamble.

When we saw the Blue Man Group perform, it was a great experience. We’ve been able to talk about this experience many times with our friends and new people we meet, because most people know of the Blue Man Group.

6 – Interesting Las Vegas History

While most people don’t think too much about history when they plan to visit Las Vegas, the truth is that you can learn a great deal about history when you visit. You can find many interesting exhibits and museums, with some of them located right inside the casinos.

Luxor Las Vegas Casino and Hotel

On one trip, we stayed in the Luxor Hotel & Casino, and I had the opportunity to visit the Egyptian exhibit in the hotel. It didn’t take long and was well worth the trip. I also got to visit a wax museum on one trip and the skill of the craftsman who built the wax figures is amazing.

Do a search for museums and exhibits before your trip so you can carve out a little time to get some history you won’t find anywhere else. You’ll be glad that you did.

7 – Street Performers

I mentioned the street performers in the Fremont Street section, but it’s such a unique experience that I felt they needed their own section. It’s difficult to describe the atmosphere and entertainment value completely, and some people might not enjoy them as much as others, but to me the street performers are amazing.

Magic has a special place in Las Vegas, with famous magicians running shows every day.

You can see some great magic performed on the street from many different performers. You can also see all kinds of other fascinating and interesting street acts.

The street performers in Las Vegas are hustlers, which is one of the reasons why I enjoy watching them. When I say hustlers, I don’t mean it in a bad way for the most part. Some of them might not have the best intentions, but most of the ones I enjoy are doing their best to entertain you as a way to make some money.

Conclusion

I know that it’s not cheap to take a trip to Las Vegas, but if you can afford it, I recommend going at least once. Even if you don’t place a single bet while you’re there, you can still enjoy a once in a lifetime experience.

Depending on when you plan to visit, you can find good deals on flights and hotels. One thing that I recommend for your first trip is to stay at one of the casino hotels on the Strip. It’s easy to get stuck in a crappy hotel when you make online reservations, so don’t take a chance of ruining your first trip by trying to save a few dollars.

If you plan to see a popular show and/or eat at a high end restaurant, make reservations or buy tickets as soon as you book your trip. Many shows sell out weeks in advance, and you don’t want to miss out on the best attractions.

Start planning your first trip to Las Vegas now. Even if you have to save up for awhile, it’s worth every penny. Stay on the Strip on your first trip, but take at least a day to make the short cab ride over to Fremont Street while you’re there so you can experience both of the most popular areas of the city. And who knows? You might even get lucky and come home with more than you came with.

Does Grimming in Poker Work?

Guy Wearing Sunglasses Using Laptop, Small Blind Button, Poker Cards
Poker is definitely one of the most-strategic forms of gambling. You need to have a strong grasp of poker strategy in order to outplay your opponents.

But some players don’t just rely on strategy to win. They angle shoot in order to boost their chances of winning.

Angle shooting isn’t blatant cheating. But it’s designed to bend rules and deceive other players, especially less-experienced opponents.

Grimming definitely fits into the angle-shooting category. This tactic sees players take full advantage of a loophole that’s available in online poker.

Keep reading to find out more on grimming, how it can help you win, and why others will hate you for doing it.

What Is Grimming in Poker?

The term grimming is named after an online poker player who goes by the handle ‘Grimstarr.’ He became famous in 2007 for a strong high-stakes run that saw him win close to $800k in cash-game profits.

Aside from his winnings, Grimstarr also gained notoriety for using a shady tactic in heads-up cash games. He employed the tactic so much that it eventually became known has grimming.

Here’s how it works:

  • Sit at an HU cash table.
  • Post the small blind.
  • Play one hand.
  • Leave immediately thereafter, so as to avoid posting the big blind.

You can see the obvious advantage here. Grimstarr theoretically gained half a big blind every time he pulled off this technique.

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Grimming is also referred to as “buttoning,” because an HU player in the small blind has the button. So not only did Grimstarr gain a small blind, but he also had the favorable seat for the hand.

Even with these advantages, buttoning is a tedious way to make money in low-stakes poker. Imagine how many people one would need to sucker in order to make any serious profits at $1/$2 NLHE or below.

Grimstarr employed this technique at higher stakes so that he could truly capitalize. At $100/$200 NHLE, for example, he’d gain $100 in value every time that he left without posting the big blind.

Grimming mostly relates to HU tables. But it can be used in slightly bigger cash games, such as three-handed tables involved in a story I’ll cover later.

Is Grimming Allowed in Poker Games?

Online poker rooms can’t program their software to automatically punish grimmers. Somebody might have to leave an HU game after one hand for various reasons.

Maybe their connection quickly drops, or they get an emergency phone call after starting the table. A poker room can’t be completely certain, which is why they don’t immediately penalize somebody who grims here or there.

Buttoning is allowed to some degree. You can technically get away with it off and on as long as you don’t become a habitual offender.

But make no mistake about it: dedicated grimming isn’t allowed by sites, nor welcome by the poker community!

Guy Holding Chin Using Laptop Computer

A poker room will ban you if others complain about your buttoning behavior. Such was the case with a successful high-stakes player known as ‘Jama-dharma.’

According to a 2013 TwoPlusTwo thread, Jama-dharma was grimming three-handed, fixed-limit hold’em games at PokerStars. He waited for victims at stakes ranging from $10/$20 to $500/$1,000.

He’d make sure to be in a specific seat that would guarantee him the button when an opponent sat down. Jama-dharma played shortly and left before having to post the big blind.

Multiple players shared their stories of Jama-dharma’s buttoning behavior in the forum thread. Some also complained to PokerStars, which banned his account.

Poker sites don’t cover grimming by name in their terms and conditions. However, they don’t take kindly to any type of angle shooting.

They reserve the right to ban angle shooters who ruin the game for others. Sites won’t hesitate to shut down the account of a grimmer if they have enough evidence.

Can Grimming Help You Win in Poker?

Yes, buttoning can definitely give you an advantage in online poker. It helps you win more money in two ways:

  1. You have the best table position.
  2. You only have to post the small blind, while the opponent must post the big blind.

This two-pronged advantage gives you a strong chance to collect profits. The only catch is that you need to be competent enough at the stakes you’re playing.

Even if you’re only good enough to play break-even poker with the button, you’ll still win long-term profits. After all, you’re paying less in blinds than opponents.

The difficult part is that you need to continue finding these opponents. Regulars will eventually come to know your name and avoid you if they suspect grimming.

Another problem is that you have to leave tables quickly after finding a game. You don’t get to enjoy lots of hands at the same limits.

This is where sitting at tables in multiple stakes comes into play. Jama-dharma did this so that he’d be virtually guaranteed of finding some action.

You’ll also have to spread out across multiple limits if you want to earn consistent profits. The goal is to collect steady action as players continue filtering onto the tables that you’re occupying.

Pros of Poker Grimming

As the section above indicates, buttoning can obviously lead to success. But I’d like to go deeper into the benefits below.

You Gain an Extra Small Blind

Cash games are set up to where players post the big and small blind at a roughly equal rate. However, grimming is specifically designed to help you avoid paying your fair share of the blinds.

You only cover the small blind and can leave before fronting the big blind. This trick leads to theoretical value as you only pay half as many blinds as opponents.

You Have Prime Position

One of the very first things that you learn though poker strategy is that later position is better. Acting after opponents gives you more information on their hands.

Computer Keyboard, Ace of Spades, King of Spades

Grimming coincidentally always leaves you in the button in HU tables. Therefore, you have the benefit of both more info and covering fewer blinds.

Buttoning Gives You a Strong Chance of Making Profits

Beating poker is hard, especially when moving up the stakes. Grimming makes this difficult process easier, though, by giving you built-in advantages.

You don’t have to be a poker genius to win when you’re playing from the button and not fronting the small blind. You just need to be an alright player at the stakes where you’re buttoning to earn profits.

Cons of Poker Grimming

Buttoning would be ideal if neither opponents nor poker sites were the wiser. It’s difficult to get away with, though, which leads to the following downsides.

Opponents Will Hate You

Grimming isn’t blatant cheating, such as colluding with other online players or using bots. However, it definitely works angles to provide an edge that your opponents don’t have.

Nobody likes working their butt off to become a better poker player, only to have somebody angle shoot them out of money. Fellow players will spit venom your way if/when they discover that you’re buttoning.

Poker Sites Will Eventually Ban You

The good thing about grimming is that you can get away with it for a while. Opponents have to catch on before you take any heat for doing it.

Once other players do notice, though, then you’ll be officially on notice. At least one player is likely to complain to the poker site, which will then begin looking into the matter.

Guy Sitting on Couch With Laptop, Red Banned Logo

Multiple complaints create the distinct possibility that you’re indeed buttoning. Some poker rooms may issue a stern warning, while others will immediately ban your account if they have enough cause.

No Guarantee of Winning

Buttoning definitely increases your odds of winning profits. However, it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll become a successful player.

Chances are that you’ll be grimming at higher limits, where players are tougher. Having the button and paying fewer blinds helps, but these perks won’t matter if your skills are terrible.

Even Grimstarr met his match after a quick burst of success. He won hundreds of thousands of dollars within a few months, only to lose most of it in an equally short amount of time. So always, always be conscious of how you’re managing your bankroll.

Conclusion

You can see the allure of grimming. It helps you avoid paying the small blind and also gives you the button.

That said, it’s no wonder why players like Grimstarr and Jama-dharma rode this tactic towards fortunes.

Grimstarr experienced short-term success with this technique, while Jama-dharma was up around $700k by the time PokerStars banned him.

Their success stories might make you interested in trying out buttoning. However, you also have to be aware of the downsides.

First off, opponents are going to send all kinds of hate through the chat box when they catch on. Some of these same players might even complain to the poker site and/or take their story to the forums.

Once the poker room is alerted, they’ll be closely examining your activity. They may eventually issue a lifetime ban, such as what PokerStars did to Jama-dharma.

Another dilemma is that you need to be fairly adept at the stakes you’re playing. If you grim in higher limits, where there’s the most profit potential, then you at least need to be close to break even.

Even with the big risks, you may still be attracted to grimming. Just be aware that you can only get away with buttoning so long before you become notorious and eventually banned.

Fundamental Poker Concepts Everyone Should Know

Poker Casino Chips in a Stack, Poker Cards Spread Out
Poker is like most other human endeavors. Mastering the game involves mastering the fundamentals. The fancy stuff is cool, but it doesn’t lead to becoming an expert.

You have to learn the fundamental aspects of the game before getting fancy. This post lists and explains four of the most fundamental concepts in poker that you should know before starting to play.

1 – Tilt

If you used to play real, mechanical pinball machines, you’re probably familiar with the concept of tilting a pinball machine. It just meant that you jostled the machine too much.

In the game of poker, a player tilts when he gets too emotional or frustrated by the outcomes of various hands. If he starts making bad decisions based on these emotions, he’s “on tilt.”

Poker players on tilt usually loosen up and start playing more aggressively. They get into hands with cards that aren’t as good as they should be. Then, they bet and raise too much with those hands.

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Avoiding tilt is one of the most important skills you can have as a poker player. And being able to put other players on tilt can be useful, too, but you can win without ever tilting an opponent.

You can’t win consistently if you play on tilt on a regular basis yourself, though. A lot of the time, poker players go on tilt when they’re victims of variance. I cover that concept in the next section.

The best ways to avoid tilt include taking a long-term approach to the game, playing with a sufficient bankroll, and making sure that your normal human needs are met.

In other words, don’t play poker when you’re hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. (That’s an acronym known as HALT in recovery circles.) If you do, you’re liable to go on tilt and donk off all your chips.

2 – Variance

One of the aspects of poker that differentiate it from other games of skill is that it contains an element of chance. This randomness means that even when you make all the mathematically correct decisions, you’ll sometimes lose.

And sometimes, you’ll lose multiple times in a row. Of course, this can be disappointing whenever you gamble with real money, but that’s what gambling is.

Now, probabilities are best understood as long-term phenomena. When you see a hand on TV that’s supposed to win 66% of the time, it’s easy to convert that into two out of three times.

But if you see that same hand played out in real life three times in a row, it might easily lose all three times. This is an example of how anything can happen in the short term. It’s an example of variance.

Without variance, you wouldn’t be able to win against weaker players at poker, because they’d refuse to play. After all, who’s going to play a game where they lose almost all the time because their opponent is so much better at the game?

This is also why chess isn’t a big gambling game. Put two chess players into a game together, and the better player will usually win.

Two People Playing Poker, Holding Poker Cards

But take two poker players and have them play heads up for an hour or two, and the worse player might easily win more money by just getting lucky.

Skillful players are able to take a long-term perspective and embrace this short-term volatility and variances, because in the long run, it will keep the bad players in the game. Without a supply of bad players, good players can’t profit.

Variance can just be defined as the difference between the expected results and the actual results. The expected results are a product of the math, and they’re theoretically predicted based on the makeup of the deck.

The actual results can turn out to be anything, although they’re more likely to resemble the probabilities than not.

When you hear poker players say they’re “running bad,” you’re probably looking at an example of a player who’s the victim of variance in poker. You’ll often see this phenomenon called a “downswing.”

3 – Bankroll Management

I mentioned earlier, in the section on avoiding tilt, that one way to avoid tilt is to be sure you’re sufficiently bankrolled. This means you’re practicing appropriate bankroll management skills.

The first step in managing your bankroll appropriately is to make sure you’re playing with money you can afford to lose.

I was playing in a neighborhood poker game with a young man named Shawn recently. Shawn is about 5’4”, has a long beard, and has a twinkle in his eye. He reminds me of a leprechaun, in fact.

But he had no twinkle in his eyes at the poker table last Saturday night. He was sweating the outcome of every hand in which he was involved. I learned later that he was trying to win enough money that night to pay his rent.

I’d submit this as an example of poor bankroll management.

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If you don’t have enough money to pay your rent, you can’t afford the buy-in for the game in which you’re playing—no matter how low it is. But even if you’re playing with money you can afford to lose, you can still be insufficiently bankrolled.

This is a function of variance, too.

You need to have enough money in your poker bankroll that you can afford a downswing (or losing streak) without going broke or having to quit playing.

If you’re playing no limit holdem at a table with $1/$2 blinds and a $100 buy-in, but you only have $100, you’re playing with an insufficient bankroll.

Even if you get pocket aces and go all-in, you still have a reasonably high probability of losing all you money. Even if you win with the best starting hand in the game 80% of the time, you’ll get knocked out of the game 20% of the time and have to start building a new bankroll before you can play again.

A better approach is to make sure you never play in a game where the buy-in represents more than 5% or 10% of your total bankroll.

If you want to play in the $100 no limit game, you should have $1000 to $2000 in your total bankroll. That way, if you face some bad luck, you can buy back in and start over again.

4 – Position

Position refers to when you act compared to your opponents. If you act before most of your opponents, you’re in “early position.” If you act after most of your opponents, you’re in “late position.” If you have about as many players acting before you as you do after you, you’re in middle position.

The later your position is, the more information you have about your opponents and how good they think their hands are. This enables you to make better decisions.

For this reason, most beginner poker strategy texts advise playing tightly from early position and loosening up from later position.

Guy Sitting Down Looking at Poker Cards in Hand

A low-ranked hand of suited connectors isn’t playable if you’re the first person to act, because if there’s a raise and re-raise from the players who act after you, you’ll have no choice but to fold, losing your original bet.

But if you’re in late position and four or five players have limped in before you, it’s worth calling and seeing the flop for three reasons:

  1. There’s a lot of money in the pot, so you’ll get paid off on the rare occasions you hit the flop hard.
  2. No one before you has raised, so you can get into the pot cheap.
  3. You can fold on the flop if it doesn’t fit your hand, and you’re not going to lose a lot of money by doing so.

Most players ignore or don’t pay enough attention to their position when they’re playing. I have a friend who also writes about poker, and he says that position is the most overlooked aspect of poker strategy. I suspect he’s right.

Conclusion

These are not the only four fundamental concepts of poker you need to worry about. Pot odds, outs, and aggression are also important concepts to understand. Tight play, reading opponents, and bluffing matter, too.

But these four concepts are as fundamental to the game as any others, and they’re a good starting point for the average player.

Once you’ve mastered these four fundamentals, you can feel free to move on to other basics.

Spanish 21 Rules and Strategies Most Players Don’t Know About

Four Blackjack Cards Next to Deck on Table, Casino Chips, Spanish 21 Logo
If you ever find yourself becoming a bit bored with blackjack in its traditional format, Spanish 21 is the game for you.

Old-school blackjack is largely defined by the limitations it places on players. Under the standard house rules found in most casinos, you can’t double down after drawing a third card, you can’t split a pair of Aces after having already done so, and you can’t exercise a late surrender. These restrictions are put in place to preserve the house’s inherent edge, which any grinder equipped with a basic strategy chart can shave all the down under 0.40 percent.

But when you sit down to gamble real money at the Spanish 21 tables, you’re not only permitted to make these adventurous plays, you’re encouraged to do so.

This clever offshoot takes blackjack as your grandfather played it and revs the engine up, so to speak. Players have free reign to indulge all of their desires, doubling down whenever the situation warrants (two cards, three cards, whatever works in this game), resplitting Aces, and even winning on a 21 when the dealer has an identical total.

With all of these rules in effect under normal gameplay dynamics, the player would hold a nice edge over the house. To restore order and make the game competitive, Spanish 21 utilizes the 48-card deck, popularized in casinos from Barcelona to Madrid.

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When playing with a Spanish deck, you’ll notice that all of the low-ranked cards (2s through 9s) are there, along with the Aces and Faces (Jacks, Queens, and Kings) – but the four 10s have been removed from the equation.

By subtracting these valuable 10-value cards, Spanish 21 removes just enough of the player’s equity towards making strong totals like 19, 20, and 21. Conversely, the absence of four 10s gives the dealer a leg up, as they’ll go bust hitting totals like 13, 14, 15, 16, and soft 17 less often than usual.

Most players know about the lack of 10s in Spanish 21, and maybe a few of the more popular relaxations of the rules, but that’s just about the extent of their knowledge on the game.

This can be dangerous too, as Spanish 21’s propensity for fun-filled gameplay masks a fiendishly complex underlying strategy. Simply put, if you think you can apply basic blackjack strategy and succeed in Spanish 21, you’ll be like Don Quixote futilely tilting at windmills.

To help you develop a deeper understanding of the game’s intricacies, I’ve compiled the following list of four rules and strategies for Spanish 21 that most players just don’t much about.

1 – How Many Rules Change Between Blackjack and Spanish 21

Ask around about Spanish 21 when you’re playing standard blackjack, and you’ll hear a wide variety of answers.

Some players will mention the double down flexibility, others might discuss the use of “Charlie” hands to score winners, and still others will focus on the bonus payouts for making five-card 21s or 6-7-8 / 7-7-7 combinations.

Colored Casino Chips, Queen of Spades, Ace

But what you’ll rarely hear is one person confidently listing all of the ways Spanish 21 changes blackjack’s fundamental DNA.

That makes sense too, as the Spanish 21 rulebook is quite extensive, with so many rules of the road that fitting them all on a little table game placard is next to impossible.

With that in mind, check out the list below for a full guide on Spanish 21’s player-friendly rules:

Spanish 21 Rules That Favor the Player

  • “Charlie” hands are good for automatic winners, so when you land five, six, or seven cards without going bust, you’ll beat the dealer no matter what they have. In other words, the dealer might spike a perfect 20, but when you hit a hand like the 2-2-4-5-5 for an 18, the “five-card Charlie” makes you the winner
  • Whenever the dealer holds a multiple-card 21 (any non-blackjack 21), you’ll still be the winner with a 21 of your own
  • This rule isn’t universal, but many games let you “redouble,” or double down once again after making the play for the first time. In other words, you could have 4-5 for a 9 and double, with a 2 now giving you 11. Because this is still a great spot for doubling, a redouble would let you add a third bet to make a second double down
  • You can double down following a split. In other words, if you split 7-7, then draw a 3 on one and a 4 on the other, you can now double down on the new 11 and 10 totals
  • After splitting A-A, you can then “re-split” if you get another A-A total
  • Whenever you land a five-card 21, you’ll get paid out at 3 to 2 on your bet. Six-card 21s are good for 2 to 1, while seven-card 21s score a 3 to 1 payout
  • Whenever you land a 6-7-8 or 7-7-7 three-card hand, in different suits, you’ll be paid out at 3 to 2
  • Any suited 6-7-8 or 7-7-7 pays out at 2 to 1
  • A suited 6-7-8 or 7-7-7 in spades pays out at 3 to 1
  • Landing a suited 6-7-8 or 7-7-7 in spades specifically is good for a 3 to 1 payout
  • Landing a suited 7-7-7 when the dealer also shows a 7 pays out $1,000 for any bets of $25 or less
  • Landing a suited 7-7-7 when the dealer also shows a 7 pays out $5,000 for any bets in excess of $25

In addition to these standard Spanish 21 rules, the dealer’s option to hit or stand on soft 17 is depends on the venue’s house rules. Same goes for the shoe construction, as Spanish 21 calls for either a six- or eight-deck shoe.

2 – Spotting the Best Dealer and Deck Setups Can Cut the House Edge in Half

Speaking of those dealer action and deck construction rules, they’re pivotal to Spanish 21 success.

As the table below makes clear, a dealer forced to hit on soft 17 automatically doubles the game’s house edge, while more decks always adds a few percentage points in the house’s favor:

Dealer Actions in Spanish 21 and Their Impact on House Edge

DEALER ACTION (# OF DECKS) HOUSE EDGE
STAND on soft 17 (6 decks) 0.37 percent
STAND on soft 17 (8 decks) 0.38 percent
HIT on soft 17, with redoubling (6 decks) 0.42 percent
HIT on soft 17, with redoubling (8 decks) 0.45 percent
HIT on soft 17 (6 decks) 0.78 percent
HIT on soft 17 (8 decks) 0.80 percent

Knowing these numbers, the best possible way to play Spanish 21 is with a six-deck shoe while the dealer must stand on soft 17.

3 – Spanish 21 Basic Strategy Can Be Broken Up for Easier Learning

To begin your tutelage on Spanish 21’s optimal strategy, start off with the most obvious plays.

If you have a hard 8 or lower to start with, you should always take a hit because you’ll never go bust. And if you have a hard 17 or higher, you should always stand, because hitting here gives you a high likelihood of busting.

As for the more nuanced decisions that will come your way, see the tables below to master Spanish 21 basic strategy in a matter of minutes:

TOTAL CORRECT PLAYS
Hard 9 Double vs dealer 6. Hit vs everything else.
Hard 10 Double vs 2-7. Hit vs 8 or higher.
Hard 11 Double vs 2-8. Hit vs 9 or higher.
Hard 12 Hit vs any dealer total.
Hard 13 Stand vs 6 (but not with 4+ cards). Hit vs all other totals.
Hard 14 Stand vs 4-6 (but not with 4+ card). Hit vs all other totals.
Hard 15 Stand vs 2-6 (but not with 4+ cards vs 2-5). Hit vs all other totals.
Hard 16 Surrender vs Ace. Stand vs 2-6 (but not with 4+ cards vs 2-4). Hit vs all others.
Hard 17 Surrender vs Ace. Stand vs all ot
TOTAL CORRECT PLAYS
Soft 13 or 14 Hit vs any dealer total
Soft 15 Double vs 6 (but not with 4+ cards). Hit vs all other totals.
Soft 16 Double vs 5-6 (but not with 4+ cards). Hit vs all other totals.
Soft 17 Double vs 4-6 (but not with 4+ cards). Hit vs all other totals.
Soft 18 Double vs 4-6 (but not with 4+ cards). Stand vs 2-3 and 7-8. Hit vs 9-A.
Soft 19 Stand vs all totals
TOTAL CORRECT PLAYS
2-2 or 3-3 Split vs dealer 8. Hit vs 9-A.
4-4 Hit vs all totals.
5-5 Same strategy as hard 10
6-6 Split vs 4-6. Hit vs all other totals.
7-7 Split vs 2-7. Hit vs all other totals.
8-8 Surrender vs Ace. Split vs all other tot

4 – The Match the Dealer Side Bet Really Isn’t Worth the Risk

One of the biggest hooks that bring new players to Spanish 21 is the Match the Dealer side bet.

Whenever your two-card starting hand has a piece that matches up with the dealer’s up card, you’ll earn bonus payouts based on the table below:

Spanish 21 Match the Dealer Hands and Payouts

MATCH PAYOUT
Two suited matches 18 to 1
One suited and one non-suited match 13 to 1
One suited match 9 to 1
Two non-suited matches 8 to 1
One non-suited match 4 to 1

These side bet payouts might seem attractive at first glance, but you’ll wind up missing out on them 84.5 percent of the time. And even with the 4 to 1 payout for one non-suited match factored in, 96 percent of all hands you see won’t return the larger rewards.

That creates a house edge of 3.05 percent, which just isn’t worth the trouble when Spanish 21’s base game is already quite reasonable.

Conclusion

Spanish 21’s rules and strategies are what makes the game such a pleasure to play. Instead of putting the proverbial handcuffs on a thinking player – telling them how they can’t play their cards – Spanish 21 loosens up old-school blackjack to create a more engaging game. And by incorporating the rules and strategies learned here, you’ll be able to enjoy the same razor thin house edge rates that hardcore blackjack grinders pride themselves on attaining.

How Do the Payouts on Let It Ride Work?

Stacked Casino Chips, Let It Ride Poker Logo
Let It Ride is a casino card game based (loosely) on poker. Instead of having to beat someone else’s hand, you play against a pay table. Your payout is based on the strength of your final hand.

If you get a big hand, like a royal flush, you can win 1000 to 1, depending on the casino where you’re playing.

If you’re new to the concept of casino games in general, it’s probably appropriate to explain what differentiates a poker game from a casino game.

In a real poker game, you’re competing with the other players at the table. You win the pot—which consists of money bet by you and the other players at the table—by having the best hand at the table, or by getting all your opponents to fold.

In a casino game, you and the other players are playing against the casino.

The dealer facilitates this action, but she’s not really risking her own money. She’s risking the casino’s money. This is called a “house-banked game.”

In some casino games, like blackjack, for example, you compete with the dealer to see who has the better hand. The other players at the table are doing the same—as long as they beat the dealer, they win, regardless of how their hands stack up against yours or the other players’ at the table.

Let It Ride falls firmly into the casino game, house-banked game category.

But like I mentioned, it doesn’t involve beating the dealer, because the dealer doesn’t even have a hand in Let It Ride.

How Do You Play Let It Ride Bonus Poker?

In some respects, Let It Ride resembles Texas holdem poker. You get 3 cards, and the dealer gets 2 cards. The 2 dealer cards are community cards that are shared by you and the other players at the table.

You get paid out based on the 5-card poker hand ranking from your 3 cards and the 2 dealer cards.

But if it were as simple as just dealing the cards and comparing them to the pay table, Let It Ride would be a boring game indeed.

Here’s what makes Let It Ride Bonus Poker interesting:

You start by placing 3 bets instead of just one. All 3 bets must be the same size. For the sake of this example, we’ll assume you’re betting $10, so you’d have to put $30 on the table before being dealt a hand.

Hand Reaching for Two Poker Cards on Table

The 3 cards are dealt face down, usually, but you get to look at them. The 2 dealer cards are also face down, but you don’t get to look at them yet.

After you look at your 3 face down cards, you have the option of taking back one of your 3 bets. After you’ve made this decision, the dealer exposes another of her cards, and you get the same opportunity—you can pull back one of your 3 bets, or you can leave it on the table.

This means that you have 3 possibilities once the dealer exposes her final card:

  1. You might have all 3 of your original bets in front of you. (In our example, $30.)
  2. You might only have 2 of your original bets in front of you. (In our example, $20.)
  3. You might only have 1 of your original bets in front of you. (In our example, $10.)

Once the final card is exposed, you get paid off based on the poker hand ranking of the final 5-card hand. In this respect, Let It Ride resembles video poker.

The Payouts for Let It Ride Poker

If you have anything less than a pair of 10s, you lose. The casino dealer collects your bet and moves on the next hand.

If you have a pair of 10s or better, you get paid off based on the strength of your hand, based on the following pay table:

  • A pair of 10s, jacks, queens, or kings pays off at even money. (If you have $30 still on the table, you win $30.)
  • 2 pairs pay off at 2 to 1. (If you have $30 still on the table, you win $60.)
  • 3 of a kind pays off at 3 to 1. (If you have $30 still on the table, you win $90.)
  • A straight pays off at 5 to 1. (If you have $30 still on the table, you win $150.)
  • A flush pays off at 8 to 1. (If you have $30 still on the table, you win $240.)
  • A full house pays off at 11 to 1. (If you have $30 still on the table, you win $330.)
  • 4 of a kind pays off at 50 to 1. (If you have $30 still on the table, you win $1500.)
  • A straight flush pays off at 200 to 1. (If you have $30 still on the table, you win $6000.)
  • A royal flush pays off at 1000 to 1. (If you have $30 still on the table, you win $30,000.)

One of the reasons Let It Ride retains its popularity among the world of real money gambling is because of the possibility of getting those big payouts when you get a 4 of a kind or better.

How Does the Bonus Bet Work in Let It Ride?

I left something out of the original description of how to play Let It Ride poker. You have one other betting option besides the 3 bets that constitute the main game.

You can also place a bonus bet.

This is an optional bet—you can play without making the bonus bet.

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In some casinos, the bonus bet pays off based on the final 5-card hand, but in most casinos, it pays off based on the player’s 3 cards only.

In casinos which off the bonus bet on the final 5-card hand, the payouts vary from casino to casino. For example, in some casinos, the 5-card bonus bet doesn’t pay off for a pair of 10s or better, but in others, they pay off even money on the bonus bet.

On the other end of the pay table, the payoff for a royal flush might be as much as 25,000 to 1, but it might also be as low as 10,000 to 1.

Casino Poker Table, Casino Chips and Cards

The payouts for flushes and straights are consistent on the bonus bet, though—50 to 1 or 25 to 1, respectively.

The 5-card bonus bet is a sucker bet, because it has a huge house edge compared to other bets in the casino—including the main bets in Let It Ride. Most casinos offering this version of the bonus bet limit your action to $1 per hand on this bet.

The more common version pays off based on the poker hand ranking of your 3-card hand. The payouts for these casinos can also vary, but here’s the most common version of that pay table:

  1. A pair pays off at even money.
  2. A 3-card flush pays off at 3 to 1.
  3. A 3-card straight pays off at 6 to 1.
  4. 3 of a kind pays off at 30 to 1.
  5. A 3-card straight flush pays off at 40 to 1.
  6. A 3-card royal flush pays off at 50 to 1.

You’ll notice the lack of a payoff for 2 pairs. That’s because with 3 cards, it’s impossible to get 2 pairs. (You’d need at least 4 cards to have 2 pairs.)

Some casinos offer higher or lower payoffs for a 3-card flush or straight.

And a 3-card royal flush is strictly limited to a hand consisting of the queen, king, and ace of the same suit.

Is Let It Ride a Good Game to Play?

Yes, Let It Ride IS a good game to play, but only in certain respects. If you’re looking for the casino card game with the best house edge, Let It Ride isn’t it.

The house edge for the main action in Let It Ride is 3.5%.

The house edge in baccarat hovers around 1%, and the house edge in blackjack can be lower than that—as low as 0.3% under certain conditions.

But Let It Ride is still a better game than American roulette, which has a house edge of 5.26%.

And of course, the 3.5% house edge assumes that you make optimal decisions about pulling your bets back in and letting them ride.

Conclusion

The payouts on Let It Ride are easy enough to understand if you have some familiarity with poker and poker hand rankings.

It’s a good game if you avoid the bonus bet, which is a side bet with a relatively high house edge.

The Role of the Pit Boss in Catching Card Counters

Man with Arms Crossed, Three Blackjack Cards Floating
You’re probably aware that card counting in blackjack isn’t welcome in casinos. These advantage players are skilled enough to win profits off the house, which casinos hate.

Of course, card counters don’t wear blinking cursors. Casinos must be adept at catching counters to avoid losing too much money.

Various employees work together to make this happen. Dealers, surveillance, and floormen can all play a role in thwarting counters.

But while it takes a team effort, pit bosses often receive the most attention in this matter. They preside over the table games section, which is why they’re often feared by counters.

What exactly is their role in rooting out card counters? I’ll answer this question by discussing their day-to-day duties as well as how they help catch advantage players.

The Normal Duties of a Pit Boss

As their name implies, a pit boss is in charge of many aspects relating to casino pits. First off, they need to manage the employees running the table games, including floormen and dealers.

The floormen also lend a helping hand by managing several tables. They can even handle minor disputes or problems that arise.

However, the pit boss deals with any serious issues. If a croupier severely misdeals a hand and players grumble, the pit leader will have to sort out the dilemma.

Aerial View of Casino Blackjack Tables

The pit boss also has to complete paperwork regarding inventory. For example, they might have to go through various tables and make sure that the inventory numbers add up.

They’re tasked with rating players too. Anytime a gambler wishes to be comped, the pit boss will be called over to rate their play.

Obviously a pit boss can’t watch the same gambler hand after hand. So they watch a gambler for several hands every hour and use this info to determine comps.

Pit Bosses Don’t Have Time to Fixate on Card Counters

You can see from the above that pit bosses don’t have time to play cat-and-mouse with potential advantage gamblers all day.

Their job description includes a broad range of duties. Not only do they manage lots of employees, but they also have to rate gamblers for comps.

Of course, pit bosses aren’t inept when it comes to watching for card counters and other types advantage players. They need to thoroughly understand all of the table games, from blackjack to roulette.

Such insight gives them the tools to catch counters when the need arises. But the key point is that they don’t walk around for 10 hours with counters on their mind.

What Does a Pit Boss Do When There’s a Suspected Counter?

Considering their multitude of tasks, the pit boss isn’t usually the first employee to observe a potential card counter. Instead, dealers, floormen, and/or surveillance are the first line of defense.

Row of Blackjack Tables In Casino

These employees have more time to observe counters at their respective tables and can get a good read on the situation. The pit boss may then be discreetly notified of the potential counting action.

They can use several tactics to determine if counting is indeed happening and proceed accordingly. Here are some of the actions that they take to both catch and deal with advantage players.

Back Off the Counter

One of the first things that a pit boss may do is “back off” a counter. Backing off refers to various tactics that are used to better judge the player in question and/or pressure them.

For example, the pit leader may watch a gambler closely, stand behind them while they’re playing, or even chat with them.

The pit boss doesn’t want to creep out the player. They don’t yet know if the gambler has done anything wrong.

They merely want to see how the gambler reacts to the situation. A friendly conversation won’t rattle a non-counter, but it can make an advantage player nervous.

A backed-off card counter may stop what they’re doing and leave the casino altogether.

Switch Dealers

Counting cards isn’t the only way to beat casinos. Players can also use techniques, such as hole carding.

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The latter refers to spotting a dealer’s hole card when they peak for a natural blackjack. Only a small percentage of dealers are bad enough to consistently flash their hole cards when looking for a blackjack.

In any case, pit bosses will sometimes switch dealers to thwart this very technique. This is the perfect way to stop a hole carder.

Switching dealers doesn’t technically do anything to disrupt a card counter. After all, the count will be the same after the new dealer takes over. But it can serve as another method of backing off counters.

Have the Dealer Shuffle the Shoe

Card counters need to have sufficient deck penetration in order to confidently raise their bets. A big positive count means little if the first deck of an eight-deck shoe is still being dealt.

Hand Reaching for Blackjack Cards, Shuffling Cards

Re-shuffling the shoe eliminates all of the progress that a counter has made. This is exactly why pit bosses will sometimes come over and tell the dealer to shuffle earlier than usual.

Offer to Rate a Player

Most advantage gamblers avoid being rated, because they don’t want their information on file. Such info can help a casino more easily identify card counters and eventually ban them.

Pit bosses normally ask any gambler with a big chip stack if they’d like to be rated. The casino gets a chance to win all of these chips if they can lure the player back.

Asking a gambler if they want to be rated accomplishes the dual goal of determining if they’re a counter. An advantage player will often refuse the invitation.

Offer the Gambler Comps

Offering casino comps to a possible card counter is a bit different than extending an invitation to be rated. This tactic is used to draw the player’s attention away from the game for a short while.

The pit boss may offer a free drink or chat with the gambler about a free meal or hotel stay.

When done long enough, such conversations can break the player’s concentration and make them lose track of the count.

Back Count

Being a professional card counter isn’t automatic prerequisite for becoming a pit boss. However, these employees are usually somewhat adept at counting.

They can count off to the side of a table and see if a player raises their bets during positive counts. If so, then the gambler in question may very well be a counter.

Call Security

Assuming the pit boss is indeed sure that they’re dealing with a card counter, they’ll like call security to escort the player out.

Security Guard Going Down Escalators

Contrary to what the general public believes, security doesn’t take these gamblers out back and rough them up. However, they will ask the player to leave nicely and follow them to the door, no matter how much they’re gambling in blackjack. This applies to every gambler.

Conclusion

Counting cards is already a difficult task when considering all the conditions that you must deal with. You need to keep up with the dealer’s speed, know when to raise bets, and camouflage your counting efforts.

Counting becomes infinity harder when considering that employees like the pit boss are out to get you. Unfortunately, you can’t just ignore their existence when playing with an advantage.

You should know various things about the pit boss’ job as it relates to catching card counters. The best place to start is with how little time they have to monitor players themselves.

A pit boss is one of the busiest people in the casino. They need to manage pit employees, fill out lots of paperwork, rate gamblers, and settle major disputes.

They’re not typically the ones who first suspect card counting, because they don’t have time to stare at individual tables.

Dealers, floormen, and surveillance usually alert the pit boss to potential counting, because they work more directly with certain tables.

Once the pit boss is alerted to the situation, they can use a variety of techniques. Here’s a recap of what they’ll do:

  • Back off counters
  • Switch dealers
  • Ask the dealer to shuffle the shoe
  • Ask a player if they want to be rated
  • Offer comps
  • Back count
  • Call security

The pit boss likes to verify that card counting is indeed taking place before they take any drastic actions. That said, backing off a player is usually their first resort.

They may also watch the suspected counter from a distance, then call for the shoe to be reshuffled. This action not only throws off card counters, but also lets them know that there’s cause for concern.

A pit boss can gauge a player’s reaction by asking them if they want to be rated. Most normal players will say yes.

Offering comps can also help determine a normal gambler versus card counter. The latter crowd will at least be distracted by the conversation.

Knowing the various ways that a pit boss spots card counters doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be in the clear. However, this knowledge will give you some indication of when the casino is on to you.

What You Should Know About Las Vegas Before You Visit

Las Vegas Strip Casinos, Bellagio, Paris
Las Vegas has so much going on you’ll be able to plan several trips there without repeating anything you’ve ever done. But visiting Vegas is expensive. Your hotel room bill is only the beginning of all the charges and fees you’ll have to cover on your trip.

Give a little thought to your next trip to Vegas – especially if it’s your first – to save you time and money. You can’t see everything at once, so you’ll have to prioritize. You should use a map and a calculator when planning your trip.

No one can tell you if you’ll enjoy your time in Las Vegas, but most people will say you should go at least once. There is more to the city than just casinos and gambling. You’ll want to experience as much of the off-Strip entertainment as possible to get a taste of the full, real Las Vegas experience.

The idea is not to pass yourself off as an expert on Vegas. It’s just to manage your money and your experience. You’ll keep frustrations to a minimum and have a much more enjoyable visit.

1 – Be Ready to Tip Everyone

You may not have to tip everyone, but you should expect to tip a lot of service providers.

Basic tips run from $1 to $3, depending on your budget and how you feel about tipping someone. You’ll want to carry a few $1 bills on you but not a large wad of cash. Guys, buy a decent money clip to make it easy to get to the bills, so you don’t have to fumble through your wallet.

It’s customary for many restaurants and driver services to add a gratuity or other surcharge.

You should ask or check in advance about what goes on the bill. Even so, if you’re particularly happy with the service you’re receiving, an extra dollar or more will be appreciated.

Other people you can expect to tip include valets, sommeliers, tour guides, and even restroom attendants.

A good rule of thumb for deciding on how much to tip is to look at how much time the person spends helping you. A restaurant server may cater to your needs for about an hour, and most people now tip around 20% of the check.

If you’re part of a group, then a group tip is usually acceptable. You don’t need to contribute as much in a large group as you do in a smaller group or as an individual.

2 – You Can’t Cover the Las Vegas Strip on Foot in a Day

First of all, not everything exciting in Las Vegas is on the Strip. Most of the city’s tourist destinations are elsewhere, so pay attention to where the places you want to visit are located. You’ll need a map.

Crowd of People Walking Down Las Vegas Strip

Secondly, it takes more than a couple of minutes to walk between the hotels. A few of them are connected via tunnels or walkways, but walking the Strip is far easier said than done.

The Las Vegas Monorail runs beside the Strip and takes you to other parts of town. It may be your best bet for cutting down on travel time and costs.

3 – You’ll Need Nice Clothes to Get Into Some Establishments

Las Vegas may be a relaxed, family-friendly city, but you can only wear sandals and t-shirts to the pool-side bars. Elsewhere, you’ll be expected to dress up a little bit.

Real-life isn’t like the movies, fortunately. Unless you attend a formal dinner, you only need to wear slightly upscale clothing. Men should wear at least a sports coat and maybe a tie. Leather shoes are a must.

If you’re not sure about the dress code, then call ahead.

These locations can set higher standards than your local family restaurant and night club because so many people want to get into them.

And it’s all part of Las Vegas’ appeal. When in Vegas dress comfortably in nice clothes. Leave the sequined dresses and tuxedos for the performers and serving staff.

4 – You Should Never Have to Pay Full Price for a Vegas Show

Las Vegas is always putting on a show for free. Just walking around town is an experience everyone should enjoy.

Ticket Booth Outside

But when you’re ready to see one of the main attractions, look for discounts. They are everywhere. Some people even get into shows for free depending on where they are staying.

Why do venues advertise a full price that almost no one ever pays?

Well, that makes the real price of admission seem all that much more special.

5 – Ask a Hotel Concierge Before Making Your Evening Plans

There is so much to do in Las Vegas that even seasoned travelers cannot keep up with everything. All the nice hotels have helpful concierge desks. They are happy to make suggestions for you – especially since that is part of their jobs.

The hotels usually have contracts or reciprocal arrangements with several local clubs and restaurants. They may be able to get you some discounts, last-minute bookings, and sometimes even access to VIP rooms.

The concierge can also explain where to go and how to get there to the greenest tenderfoot to just step off the plane.

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Although you should be making plans in advance if you arrive in Vegas ready to have fun and have no idea of where to start, talk to the concierge.

And you don’t have to be a guest in the hotel to just ask questions. If you’re visiting several of the resorts you can always ask their concierges for help, even if they reserve some services for guests.

6 – Expect Las Vegas Weather to Be Both Cool and Warm

It may surprise you to learn that Las Vegas sits about 2,000 feet above sea level. That’s not quite mountaintop thin air but you’ll feel it if you’ve spent your entire life living near the ocean front.

Weather conditions can be more extreme at even moderate altitudes like 2,000 feet. That means it gets hot fast when the sun is shining on you and it cools down quickly when the sun sets.

Las Vegas Strip, Casinos in Las Vegas

You’ll want to dress in comfortable, cool clothing for the daytime. Because Vegas is in the Nevada desert you probably won’t need a raincoat. Some people carry small umbrellas for sun shades during the day time.

At night you may want a sweater or light jacket.

And the casinos like to keep the air conditioning running so you may want to take a light jacket or sweater with you if you plan to spend any time in a casino. The same is true for all the indoor shows.

7 – Transportation in Vegas is Plentiful and Complicated

You’ll see lots of taxi cabs running on the streets but it’s illegal for them to pick up fares on the street. You’ll need to call ahead for a cab or get one at a hotel cab depot.

First-time visitors to Las Vegas often pay more for cab fare than other people because they don’t provide clear directions to the drivers. So-called long hauling occurs when the driver takes you the long way to your destination, running up the clock.

Use your smartphone to find the shortest route to your destination and make sure the driver takes you that way. Avoid the freeway as much as possible.

Alternative transportation is usually less expensive than taking a cab anyway.

The city provides day passes and multi-day passes for its buses and Monorail. You can also hire Lyft and Uber drivers in Vegas.

You’ll find parking everywhere but little free parking. If you’re driving out of the city to visit nearby attractions and handling your own transportation, always ask if you can validate your tickets before you enter your destinations.

Conclusion

Everyone’s first-time experience in Vegas is a little bit different but we all learn a few unexpected lessons. And because the city changes so much over time old advice columns may not be as helpful as they were a few years ago.

Scouring the travel sites for tips about what to do and expect in a new city is a smart idea but unfortunately, a lot of those discussions are very old. You’ll need to visit the official Websites for the destinations, service providers, and cities to get the latest information you need.

And maybe the most important thing you need to know about Las Vegas is that if there isn’t an official Website for whatever you’re interested in then that place or service probably doesn’t exist.

Does Ratholing in Poker Work?

Stacks of Casino Chips, Poker Cards on Table
Poker is full of legitimate strategy techniques that you can use to gain an edge over opponents. In fact, you can literally spend a lifetime learning how to play better poker.

However, poker also includes some less savory tactics. Bum hunting, where winning players only take on less skilled opponents heads up, is one of the best known examples.

Ratholing is another cheap tactic that players use to gain an advantage. But it’s not as well-known as bum hunting.

I’m going to discuss more about ratholing, including how it works, what advantages it provides, and why opponents hate this technique.

What Is Ratholing in Poker?

Ratholing is the act of taking chips off the table during a poker cash game. Here’s an example on how it works:

  • You buy into a cash game with $20.
  • Your stack increases to $50.
  • You remove $30 from the table to guarantee that you don’t lose it.
  • Your stack is back to $20.

Ratholing (a.k.a. “going south”) can be pulled off in different ways. In the scenario above, you remove money from the table and continue playing.

Another method involves leaving the table and buying back in later with a smaller amount. Here’s how this would play out:

  • You buy into a game for the maximum of $200.
  • Your stack increases to $400.
  • You leave the table.
  • You return and buy back in with $200.

You’re basically doing the same thing in this situation as you did in the other scenario. The main difference, though, is that you’re actually getting up from the table for a while.

Ratholing is impossible at many online poker rooms. After leaving a table, you’ll have to buy back in with the same amount you left with (e.g. $150).

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Most live poker rooms also ban this practice. However, you can actually get away with ratholing by slipping chips into your pocket when nobody is watching.

You may also be able to sit at the same table again after some time has passed with less than you left with. This situation all depends upon the dealer’s memory and if the same players remain at the table.

Certain poker sites allow ratholing in their fast-fold variants. Fast-fold poker sees you move to a new table as soon as you fold cards, rather than waiting for the hand to finish.

The sites in question will let you stand up from your seat and quickly sit down with a lesser amount. Keep in mind, though, that this scenario only plays out with specific fast-fold versions.

Why Is Poker Ratholing Often Banned?

As mentioned above, the majority of online and live poker rooms ban ratholing. But why is this tactic such a big deal?

It makes sense that you can’t rathole in poker tournaments. Before an all-in call, opponents must know how many chips you have and what it’ll take to knock you out.

The restriction on cash game ratholing is more ambiguous, because you can technically pick up your chips and leave any time. However, poker rooms definitely have good reason for banning ratholing in this setting, too.

Hand Reaching Towards Stacked Casino Chips, Banned Logo

The main problem with ratholing is that it takes money off the table. Going further, many players get angry when they’re deprived of the chance to win back losses.

Here’s an example:

  • An opponent wins $50 off you.
  • They pocket the $50, thus, removing money from the table.
  • You and other players have no chance of winning that extra $50.

On one hand, you should seemingly be able to pick up chips at any point in cash games. But the problem is that it’s an unethical move that disparages players and hurts poker rooms.

Every poker site or land-based cardroom that I’ve played at in recent years has an anti-rathole rule. They ban any practice that can harm their business or annoys customers.

Can Ratholing Help You Win in Poker?

Ratholing is looked down upon by both cardrooms and poker players. Nevertheless, some people still use this technique in an attempt to gain an advantage.

The benefits of ratholing are slight and specific to individual players. In other words, this tactic won’t benefit every type of player.

Some ratholing perks are similar to those with short-stacking. The latter refers to purposely playing at a cash table with less than the maximum buy-in (e.g. $40 at a $200 buy-in table).

The first thing that ratholing does is reduce your potential losses in any hand. This method becomes attractive when you hate risking large amounts during all-in decisions.

It’s also useful when you’re not a great post-flop player. You have less to worry about on the flop, turn, and river, because you’ll be all-in much of the time.

Another thing that ratholing can do is tilt your opponents. If you’re playing in a setting where you get away with it, then they might get so annoyed that they begin playing worse.

Of course, ratholing doesn’t provide any massive advantage. It has more internal value than anything, especially if you’re a bad post-flop player who wants to minimize risk.

But some players have convinced themselves that ratholing provides a house edge of epic proportions. Appeasing these players is part of the reason why poker rooms ban the practice.

Why Do Poker Players Hate Ratholers?

I just mentioned how certain players believe that ratholing gives opponents a massive advantage. While not necessarily true, this is one of the reasons why people hate ratholers.

However, there are other reasons behind this hatred as well. Many players consider ratholing to be terrible poker etiquette.

Everybody wants a chance to win their money back, even if they just end up losing more in the process. Ratholing not only robs them of this chance, but also takes table money out of circulation.

Pro Poker Player at Poker Tournament

Ratholers are looked down upon in terms of skill level, too. The general perception is that good players can defend their stack, rather than resorting to pocketing part of their winnings.

Poker rooms themselves dislike such players. Ratholers take money away from games and generally annoy everybody else at the table.

Finally, this practice would destroy the game if it were continually allowed. Imagine how destructive the following scenario would be to poker:

  • Everybody who wins a big pot takes that money off the table.
  • Those who’ve banked their winnings eventually leave for the night.
  • Soon, the poker room has little money circulating around.
  • All remaining players are forced to quit early, because no more chips are available.

This situation would create an environment where players had to win quick or miss out. Poker would also be a much different game and one that was less fun to play.

Pros of Poker Ratholing

So far, most of the evidence goes against ratholing. But those who employ it may gain one or more of the following positive benefits.

Reduce Variance

Poker variance can affect you at any point. When variance isn’t in your favor, you can lose quite a bit of money.

Ratholing, which amounts to short stacking in some cases, helps reduce your losses during bad streaks.

Going further, it lowers the overall amount of variance you’ll experience in poker. You can’t lose as much during an all-in pot when only playing with $25 at a $100 buy-in table.

Limit Your Post-Flop Decisions

You may be a solid pre-flop player, but struggle with post-flop play. Ratholing can help in this regard when you’re playing with a smaller stack.

All you need to do is pull enough chips off the table to have less than the maximum buy-in. The lower your stack, the less you must worry about in post-flop play.

Here’s an example:

  • The table’s maximum buy-in is $100.
  • You rathole the point where you have $30.
  • Nobody can ever force you to call for more than $30 post flop.

The amount of money you stand to lose during all-in calls decreases significantly in this situation. Furthermore, you can use ratholing until you improve as a post-flop player and feel more confident.

Throw Opponents off Their Game

Sometimes, you may get away with short stacking, even when an opponent or two notices. These same opponents may begin grumbling without actually telling on you.

Two Guys Playing Poker, Holding Poker Cards in Hand

They might become so annoyed that they’re concentrating on you instead of their own game. In extreme cases, they’ll become tilted and start making bad plays as a result.

Fairly Easy to Get Away With in Live Poker

Many real money online poker sites program their software to ensure you can’t rathole. You’ll be forced to buy in for the same amount of chips as you left with or have to choose another table.

Live poker, on the other hand, presents opportunities for you to rathole in certain cases. Most notably, you can slip chips into your pocket when others aren’t looking.

You can also play within the limits of ratholing rules. Here’s an example on how this can work:

  • You leave the table with $400 worth of chips and want to pocket $300 of it.
  • A live or online poker room forces you to sit out at least an hour before doing this.
  • You wait exactly 60 minutes. You buy in for $100.
When players complain about this, you can always make up an excuse. You could tell the other players that your significant other wanted to talk or that you had to get something to eat.

If all else fails, you can simply point to the fact that you’re within the house’s rules.

Cons of Poker Ratholing

Ratholing isn’t the worst poker sin, but it’s highly unpopular among both players and poker rooms. That said, this strategy has some notable downsides.

Most Poker Rooms Ban Ratholing

The biggest downside to ratholing is that it’s flat-out prohibited in almost every case. Maybe you’ll find a fast-fold variant or poker room where it’s allowed, but don’t hold your breath.

This tactic removes money from tables, meaning poker rooms won’t earn as much rake. It also gets on players’ nerves and can make the game less fun overall.

Many Players Hate Those Who Rathole

You may be perfectly fine trying to float a poker room’s rules and ratholing when possible. But are you willing to play with a bunch of opponents who suddenly hate you?

Poker Player at Table with Poker Cards in Hand

Poker has certain unspoken etiquette rules. Ratholing definitely violates these rules and will turn the table against you, even when you wait the allotted amount of time before rebuying.

Prevents You From Maximizing on the Nuts

Perhaps you don’t care about what other players think. However, you no doubt care about your own winnings.

Ratholing can be bad strategy, because it prevents you from maximizing your great hands. Your smaller stack will prevent you from capitalizing on those times where you have a nut flush.

Conclusion

Ratholing can provide some small advantages, especially when it comes in the form of short stacking. You can minimize variance and reduce the difficulty in making post-flop decisions.

The goal, though, is to reach the point where you’re not relying on ratholing and other gimmicks. You instead want to be a solid player who’s confident enough to play without pocketing small profits.

Many poker rooms make this decision easy for you anyway, with anti-ratholing rules. Players further dampen the matter by giving you crap about using this tactic.

Overall, I don’t recommend ratholing, because the downsides outweigh the benefits. But you might still consider it as a short-stacking strategy until you become a stronger player.

Slots Bonuses vs Blackjack Bonuses

Ace of Spades, Eight Diamonds, Queen Diamonds Card, Slot Machines
Online casinos offer lots of bonuses. Some of these are general online casino bonuses that can be earned through any game.

Other offers are for specific games, including slots and blackjack bonuses. Both deals are good from the perspective that they give you a chance to earn money on the side of your play.

But which type of bonus gives you the best chance to win free money? I’m going to cover this matter by looking closer at different types of offers and discuss which is ultimately better.

What Are Online Casino Deposit Bonuses?

Before you can understand the differences between slots and blackjack bonuses, you need to know how deposit offers work in general.

These deals give you the chance to earn bonus money after you make a deposit. They’re based on a match percentage of your deposit.

Here’s how deposit bonuses work:

  • A casino is offering a 100% match bonus worth up to $600.
  • You deposit $300.
  • 300 x 1.0 = $300
  • You’re now eligible to earn a $300 bonus.

Obviously casinos can’t just give you this bonus money on the honor system. After all, you and every other player could simply cash out everything once you receive the bonus.

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Therefore, you need to earn these bonuses by meeting terms and conditions (T&Cs). Terms can vary from casino to casino, but some are nearly universal throughout the industry.

Here are key T&Cs worth noting:

  • Playthrough (a.k.a. rollover): the amount of money that you must wager before being able to cash out a bonus.
  • Game restrictions: some high-paying casino games offer reduced contributions towards playthrough.
  • Claim time frame: you’re given a set number of days to visit your account to claim the offer.
  • Rollover time frame: you must meet playthrough within a certain time period.
  • Deposit method restrictions: Neteller and Skrill aren’t usually eligible for deposit bonuses.

Of these terms, playthrough is especially important. This factor determines how difficult it’ll be for you to earn your bonus.

Hand Putting Money Into Wallet Through Laptop Screen

If you need to meet 40x rollover on a $100 bonus, for example, you’d need to wager $4,000 (40 x 100). Assuming you had to meet 50x playthrough, the amount you’d have to bet would shoot up to $5,000.

One more aspect worth mentioning is the difference between cashable and sticky bonuses.

A cashable bonus is one that can be withdrawn once you meet T&Cs. If you’re eligible for a $100 bonus, then you’ll be able to cash out the full amount.

A sticky bonus (a.k.a. non-cashable), in contrast, can’t be withdrawn. Instead, you only get to withdraw winnings generated through your bonus.

Sticky bonuses usually have higher match percentages ranging from 200% to 400%. That said, you’re given a lot of funds upfront to try and collect winnings.

This discussion will mainly revolve around cashable slots and blackjack bonuses. But keep in mind that some of the deals you may come across will be in the non-cashable category.

Common Characteristics of a Slots Bonus

Online casinos frequently push their slots bonuses, because they have a higher house edge on most slots. That said, you’ll find many real money slots online offers throughout the internet gaming world.

The key characteristic of these bonuses is that table games and video poker don’t count towards satisfying rollover.

Below, you’ll see other important aspects behind these deals.

Can Include Free Spins

Some slot bonuses also include free spins. As the name implies, free spins allow you to play real-money slots without having to spend any of your own funds.

Here’s an example of a deal with free spins:

  • A bonus offers a 100% match deposit bonus worth up to $200 + 20 free spins.
  • You make a $50 deposit.
  • This deposit not only qualifies you for a $50 bonus, but also the 20 free spins.

The winnings that you generate through these spins can be cashed out upon meeting T&Cs. Of course, you must have enough money to meet the casino’s minimum withdrawal (e.g. $10).

High Paying Slots Offer Reduced Playthrough Contributions

The logical thing to do when clearing a slots bonus is to play games with the highest return to player (RTP). This plan gives you the best chance of satisfying playthrough while still earning a profit.

Of course, casinos are fully aware of this idea. Their T&Cs may mention how certain slots only contribute 20%, or so, towards meeting rollover.

Casino Slot Machine Reels

For example, they may include every slot on their site that offers over 97.5% RTP. Even with high payback, such games would be worse for satisfying playthrough when considering the 20% contributions.

You may even find that such games are excluded entirely from slots bonuses. That said, you want to look over the bonus terms carefully to see what games are on the restricted list.

Keno and Scratch Cards May Satisfy Wagering Requirements

Slots are by far the most-popular game category at online casinos — hence why these bonuses are named after slots. However, they’re not the only type of games that can be used to meet rollover.

Keno and scratch cards often fall under these deals too. They both have around the same RTP as most slots, or lower, which is why they’re included.

Common Characteristics of a Blackjack Bonus

Some blackjack bonuses are strictly for blackjack, while others are listed as “table game bonuses.” The latter allows you to play various other table games, such as baccarat, Pai Gow poker, Red Dog, and roulette.

Of course, slots won’t help you meet wagering requirements for these games. Here are other factors to keep in mind regarding blackjack offers.

Often Cover Multiple Blackjack Variations

Most gaming sites feature multiple blackjack variations. That said, blackjack bonus offers include some or all of a casino’s variants.

Here are some of the different games that you’ll find at online casinos:

  • 21 + 3
  • Atlantic City rules
  • Blackjack Switch
  • Classic Blackjack
  • Double Exposure
  • Elimination
  • European blackjack
  • Match Play 21
  • Multi-hand blackjack
  • Perfect Pairs
  • Pontoon
  • Single deck
  • Spanish 21
  • Super Fun 21
  • Vegas Downtown rules
  • Vegas Strip rules

You need to check the bonus T&Cs to see which variations count towards satisfying rollover. In most cases, you’ll find that the majority of variants fall under this bonus umbrella.

High Rollover

The vast majority of blackjack games offer higher RTP than the average slot. Therefore, casinos boost the playthrough to make it more difficult to earn these bonuses.

Playthrough on blackjack bonuses can be anywhere from 100x to 200x, depending upon the casino. In contrast, slots bonuses usually only carry between 35x and 50x rollover.

Given that some online blackjack variations offer higher than 99.5% RTP, casinos are justified in raising the playthrough.

Requires Hours of Play, or Large Bets

You might have a good chance to win with online blackjack when adding bonuses into 0 equation. However, you’ll really have to work for blackjack bonuses in the long run.

Woman Using Laptop, Queen of Diamonds, Eight Diamonds

The high rollover forces you to bet lots of money to satisfy T&Cs. Here’s an example:

  • A casino is offering a 100% match blackjack bonus worth up to $500.
  • You deposit $300, thus qualifying you for a $300 bonus.
  • Rollover is 100x.
  • 300 x 100 = $30,000 must be wagered

You can see from this scenario that you’ll either have to play a lot of hours or make big bets to meet playthrough.

Conclusion – Which Online Casino Bonus is Better?

Various factors go into deciding whether a slots or blackjack bonus is better. You can’t automatically declare that one category is superior to the other.

Instead, you need to look at the offer and carefully weigh the T&Cs to determine the value of each individual deal.

Here are the main factors to consider with each offer:

  • The amount of money being offered
  • Size of match percentage
  • Cashable or non-cashable bonus
  • Games with reduced playthrough contributions
  • If free spins are included (slots only)

The amount of available money especially comes into play if you’re a high roller who’s looking to earn lots of bonus funds. A bonus worth up to $100 won’t be nearly as attractive to you as a deal worth up to $1,000.

The match percentage also factors heavily into the value of bonuses. When comparing a 75% and 100% match bonus, the latter lets you qualify for more bonus funds with a smaller deposit.

You should also note that gaudy match percentages, such as 300% or 400%, are reserved for sticky bonuses. Non-cashable offers can also be good, but you must realize that you’ll only be able to withdraw the winnings.

Never start playing slots or blackjack games immediately without looking over the T&Cs. After all, you don’t want to play games that only offer 20% or less towards meeting playthrough.

Finally, slots bonuses with free spins are a little better than deals that don’t include them. You’ll come up empty-handed with free spins more times than not when considering the terms and conditions. Nevertheless, free spins can still be very valuable when you get lucky.

You can see that plenty of factors go into determining if a slots or blackjack bonus is worthwhile. That said, look over the rules and know how to compare different offers to each other.

You Get What You Deserve When Gambling

Stack of Money and Casino Chips on Casino Table
Have you ever heard anyone say they didn’t deserve something that happened to them? Have you ever thought that maybe you got something you didn’t deserve? This usually happens when you think life isn’t fair, but there are two ways to look at it.

The reason why most people think they’re getting something they don’t deserve is because something bad happens. A poker player that gets all in with the best of it and suffers a bad beat might be unhappy because they don’t think it’s fair that they didn’t win.

But there’s another side to getting something you didn’t deserve. What do you think when you win a jackpot on a slot machine or hit a long shot when you’re betting on the horses? Rarely does anyone think they don’t deserve a win. Instead, they think they got lucky or gained enough skill to benefit.

You can’t change the way people view things, but it doesn’t help when you believe you deserve or don’t deserve something that doesn’t fall within normal expectations. One of the things I like the most about gambling with real money is that, in the long run, you always get exactly what you deserve. This is true for the bad things that seem to happen and the good things.

If you want to embrace the fact that you get what you deserve, and find out how to benefit from it, find out how below.

What You Deserve Is Directly Related to Expectation

Gambling in any form is based on mathematical principles and equations. Some of them are simple and some are more challenging to understand. You don’t have to be a math genius to understand the math behind most gambling games, but you do need to understand a few principles.

Every game you play in a casino has a built-in house edge. The casino house edge is created in different ways, but the main thing to understand is that all casino games are designed to make the casino money.

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If a game is designed to make the casino money, this means it’s also designed to make you lose money.

Casino games have a house edge, which is an average percentage that the casino keeps from every dollar wagered on the game. Poker rooms make money by taking a percentage called a “rake” from each pot. Sportsbooks make money by charging more than you can win to make a bet in the form of vig.

Slot Machines Inside Casino

If you know the house edge of a casino game, you can determine your expectation playing the game. Some games have strategies you can use that lower the house edge and some games don’t. When you play slot machines, you can’t change the house edge. But when you play video poker, you can use strategy to lower the house edge.

Here’s an example of the house edge and what it means for your expectation.

You’re playing roulette on a wheel with a double zero space and making $50 bets on black every spin. You play 50 spins every hour. The house edge on this bet is 5.26%.

Taking this another step, if every game in the casino is designed to hold a house edge, why does anyone play in the casino? It’s because they either don’t understand what it means they deserve, or they don’t care.

Before you decide to stop gambling forever because it’s obvious that you can’t win, there’s a bit of good news. You can gamble in certain ways that allow you to play with positive expectation. You can learn more about this in the next section.

How to Get on the Right Side of Expectation

In order to win when you gamble, you need to figure out how to play with an edge against the house instead of playing against the house edge. The good news is that there are a few things you can do to make this possible.

One way to play with an edge is to figure out how to play a casino game using strategy that reduces the house edge below zero. Most casino games are designed so this isn’t possible, so you can’t play them with positive expectation. But blackjack is one game where you can learn to play with an edge.

In order to play blackjack with an edge, you have to learn about card counting, find games with good rules, and learn how to use perfect strategy.

This sounds hard, but most gamblers can learn how to do it if they’re willing to work. You can eventually learn to play with an overall edge as high as 1% over the house.

A few video poker games also offer an opportunity to play with a small edge when you combine a good pay table, proper strategy, and comps. These opportunities are rare, but a few do exist.

Another way to overcome the house edge is to play in games that make the house money in ways other than a built-in house edge. The two most common ways to do this are to play poker and bet on sports.

Poker Player Reaching For Casino Chips on Table, Poker Cards Spread

Poker is one of the best opportunities to gamble with an edge because you compete against other players instead of directly against the house. The poker room takes a rake from each hand instead of operating with a built-in edge.

This mean that, in order to make more than you lose playing poker, you simply need to learn how to play better than most of your opponents. This is called beating the rake, and it means that you win enough to cover the rake, leaving a profit.

Sportsbooks make money by collecting the vig on losing wagers.

When you bet $55 to win $50, the extra $5 you pay when you lose is profit for the book. The $50 you lose is used to pay out the winners on the other side of your bet.

While the vig is a built-in cost of betting, if you can learn how to pick winners 53% of the time or more, you overcome the vig. It’s not easy to learn how to beat the vig, but some sports bettors do it, and you can learn how to do it as well.

You can find a few other ways to gamble with a positive expectation, but these are the main ones. Learn how to do it one of these ways and either continue improving your skills on your chosen game or learn a new one.

Conclusion

Remember that in gambling, you get what you deserve. If you choose to play games that can’t be beat, you’re going to lose. If you choose to play games that can be beat in a way that still gives the house an edge, you’re still going to lose.

But you can choose to play games that allow you to beat other players and start winning on a regular basis. The choice is yours! Focus on turning the tables and make getting what you deserve work for you instead of against you.

History of Sports Betting in Las Vegas

Tennis Game, Welcome to Las Vegas Sign, Money Spread
Tucked behind a cloud of smoke, crowds of people surrounded craps, poker, and roulette tables hoping to get lucky. It was 1931 and the state of Nevada has just legalized gambling. In a post-Great Depression United States, trepidation toward legalized gambling seemed warranted. However, as funds desperately needed to be raised for the Hoover Dam Project as part of the New Deal, legislation was put in place that reversed the ban on “against the house” gambling.

While gambling real money on games like blackjack, roulette, and craps quickly gained popularity, sports betting still largely remained in the shadows. Several reasons explain why attitudes on gambling, especially sports gambling, weren’t favorable during the 1920’s and 30’s. Most notably, the 1919 World Series. Eight Chicago White Sox players were involved in an illegal gambling scheme, which resulted in “throwing,” or losing the series on purpose to fulfill bribes from gamblers.

As sports like college football and basketball became more popular in the early 1920s, illegal sports gambling surged in popularity. When they watched millions of dollars change hands without being taxed, the Nevada state government recognized it needed to get a cut of the action.

Although technically legal in 1931, horse racing and sports bets were primarily taken care of by illegal bookies. These individuals operated out of “turf clubs” – small establishments where sports gambling was deemed semi-legal, but it mostly just unregulated. Over time, the owners of these clubs began turning million-dollar-per-week profits. This success resulted in a sense of urgency for lawmakers who wanted to tighten regulations. Additionally, casinos and larger-scale operations saw an opportunity to cash in.

Uncle Sam Gets Involved

In 1949, 18 years after gambling was officially legalized in Nevada, the first government-sanctioned sportsbook opened its doors for locals and those visiting Las Vegas. This groundbreaking push was led by groups of bookmakers, those who had been running their own sports betting operations, and eventually the state acquiesced to their demands. That same year, legal bets were placed for the first times on horse racing. The turf clubs were now legal, but strictly operated separate from casinos. In fact, they had agreements to stay out of the casinos so long as the casinos stayed out of the sports gambling business. Although informal, this mutually agreed upon separation was highly regarded as crucial to the success of each entity, and lasted for decades when the two powers would finally converge.

Football Game, Uncle Sam, Money Floating Around

Just as bookmakers and casino owners were celebrating their newfound legality and large profits, the federal government decided it was time to get involved. In 1951, congress passed a federal excise tax on all sportsbooks in Las Vegas. Sportsbooks were now required to pay a 10% tax to stay in operation. This would prove to be a major event in gambling history. Legal sportsbooks could no longer compete with underground operations that had no such tax to consider when running their businesses. This led to the involvement of organized crime groups who now had a reason to try their hand at a gambling operation.

By the mid-1950s, sports gambling was dominated by black market bookies and the majority of legal sportsbooks had closed their doors. Gambling on sports was growing exponentially in popularity and mobs all over the country were more than willing to fulfill the need for a place to wager on races and games.

Things changed in 1961 when we saw an example of a phenomenon that would become increasingly common throughout American history: The government trying to solve its own mistakes via more government.

In an effort to curb illegal gambling, as well as several other crime operations run by the mob, then-President JFK introduced the Wire Act of 1961. This made it illegal to use phones or telegrams to pass information regarding sports betting, debts to be paid, or anything related to crime in general.

The Sports Gambling Comeback

Following a decade-plus of several pieces of legislation similar to the Wire Act in 1961, the government decided to ease taxes on legal operations. The hope was to re-incentivize sportsbooks to go back into business, which would reduce the need for illegal bookmakers. In 1974, Congress reduced the 10% tax on sports betting profits to 2%. Nevada Senator Howard Cannon deserves the credit for the move, and he was rewarded by the results. Legal sportsbooks began to make a strong comeback. Senator Cannon had won the support of lawmakers by suggesting that a 2% tax would actually make more revenue for the state because of the increased volume of legal sportsbooks – he turned out to be right.

Old Photo of the Stardust Sign in Las Vegas

While sportsbooks began popping up all over Las Vegas following the lower tax, a new partnership was happening in 1975. Frank Rosenthal, who ran Stardust Casino, convinced lawmakers to let sportsbooks into casinos. Not long after, nearly all casinos had sportsbooks. The turf clubs that dominated the sports betting landscape decades prior were now a distant memory.

The good fortune continued for legal sportsbooks and casinos. In 1984, Congress continued to reduce the tax on profits – this time from 2% to 0.5%.

This created an environment in which sportsbooks could not just remain economically viable, but truly thrive and grow in popularity.

Around this time, gambling on sports began to lose its stigma as a degenerate activity, and acceptance grew among sports enthusiasts, lawmakers included.

Exempt

Of all the pieces of legislation that governed legalized sports gambling, perhaps the most important for those visiting Las Vegas, and enjoy sports betting in general, came in 1992. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) prohibited states from offering bets on professional or amateur sports. Gambling on sports was now illegal…except in Nevada. The state was exempt from the new regulations. Lawmakers said they were “grandfathered” out of the new legislation and sportsbooks in Las Vegas could still take on bets in any sport they chose to offer.

Signing Document, American Flag

The impact of PASPA was felt across the globe. Sports betting was now restricted outside of Nevada, but it began to grow exponentially online. In 1996 the first bets were placed digitally. This was a move that would change gambling forever. All over the world, online sportsbooks took up shop in countries where gambling was unregulated.

Conclusion

Nearly 26 years after the passing of PASPA, the issue of gambling was once again at the forefront of the legal system. In May 2018, the Supreme Court reversed PASPA on the ground that it violated the 10th Amendment. There was no longer a ban on federal sports gambling and the issue would now be left up to the states to regulate on their own. In June of 2018, less than a month after PASPA was repealed, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy placed a legal sports bet at Monmouth Park racetrack.

As of June 2019, seven states now have legal, regulated sports betting and several more states are on their way to legalization. While future generations might not associate sports gambling with Las Vegas in a way previous generations always will, the impact of Nevada as a case study in gambling won’t be forgotten. From shady turf clubs, to casinos, to a billion-dollar national industry, legalized sports betting has come a long way in the past 100 years.

Can You Trust RealTime Gaming?

Laptop Computer on Table Displaying RealTime Gaming Online Games
RealTime Gaming (RTG) is one of the oldest software providers in the online gambling world. They’ve been operating since 1998, making the company over two decades old.

This may not seem like the pinnacle of longevity in most industries. But 20 years is outstanding in the online gambling world.

Of course, no software developer runs this long in online gambling without some controversy. RealTime Gaming is definitely not an exception.

In fact, certain gamblers don’t trust RTG. Why is this the case?

You can find out as I cover more on this provider and discuss some of its most controversial incidents.

History of RealTime Gaming

RealTime Gaming launched in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1998. Gambling on the internet was just a few years old at the time, which enabled RTG to get a fairly early start in the industry.

The basis of their operation was serving US-facing online casinos. There were no laws against internet gambling, which enabled RTG to thrive in the industry’s early days.

RealTime established itself as both a notable game developer and turnkey solution. The latter sees RTG provide operators with everything they need to get started, from customer service to banking methods.

The US would eventually pass the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). This law doesn’t ban internet gaming, but it does criminalize the act of accepting payments related to unlawful online gambling.

Dealing with payment processors is a big part of RTG’s turnkey business. The UIGEA damaged their ability to legally serve clients from the US.

Ownership decided to sell the business as a result. Hastings International, which is based in Curacao, purchased the company.

RTG now holds a gaming license in Curacao. This constituent country of the Netherlands is one of the world’s biggest providers of internet gambling licenses in the world.

Why Is RTG Such a Big Name in Casino Gambling?

RealTime Gaming doesn’t produce the flashiest slots or most revolutionary games. Instead, they develop cartoonish slots with solid graphics that, while fun, don’t shake up the industry.

So, why is RTG such a big deal over two decades after their launch?

RealTime is one of the few software developers that’s fully committed to the US. In fact, much of their business comes from Americans and US-facing casino clients.

If you’ve ever played online casino games from the US, chances are that you’ve come upon an RTG casino.

Three Friends Playing Casino Slot Machines, RealTime Gaming Aztec's Millions

RTG has proven that they can develop fun slots with catchy themes. Here are some of their biggest hits:

  • Aztec’s Millions
  • Bubble Bubble (I and II)
  • Caesar’s Empire
  • Cleopatra’s Gold
  • Coyote Cash
  • Fucanglong
  • Kung Fu Rooster
  • Lucha Libre (I and II)
  • Naughty or Nice?
  • Red Sands
  • Super 6

They all offer similar games, welcome bonuses, and promotions.

Some of the world’s biggest software providers, like NetEnt and Microgaming, won’t serve the US. They don’t want to risk violating the UIGEA or any other laws.

RTG has capitalized on this opportunity by continuing to operate in the US. As a result, their games and software have become quite famous in America.

You won’t have a difficult time finding negative opinions regarding RealTime Gaming. They’ve served some rogue casinos and have stumbled through a few questionable incidents.

Here’s more on the primary reasons why some have a pessimistic view of RTG.

RTG Slots RTP Varies From Casino to Casino

Most online gaming providers offer uniform return to player (RTP) for each of their games. Rival Gaming’s Japan-O-Rama, for example, features 95% RTP at any gaming site where it’s found.

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RealTime Gaming, in contrast, operates more like land-based slots providers. They give their casino clients some degree of control over payout percentages.

Here are the three options that RTG gaming sites can choose from for each slot:

  • 91% RTP
  • 95% RTP
  • 5% RTP

The top end of this range is excellent. Not many slots in the entire industry offer 97.5% payback.

But the low end of the spectrum is terrible. 91% RTP is akin to what’s seen with penny slot machines in brick and mortar casinos.

The problem is that you don’t really know what payout percentage you’re getting with RTG games. The best you can do is compare a game’s pay table across different casinos.

Assume that you’re interested in playing Asgard. You could then visit different RTG casinos to see which one has the best pay table.

But most other providers don’t put you through this much work. Instead, you can just google a slot’s name along with “RTP” to see its payback.

Powering Rogue Online Casino Sites

RealTime Gaming isn’t the greatest at vetting its clients. As a result, they’ve served some of the gaming industry’s biggest scam artists.

Their software powered the Crystal Palace group (a.k.a. Paxson Limited Marketing), which is one of the most infamous names in gaming history.

Guy Wearing Headphones Using Computer, Poker Cards and Chips on Screen, Warning Scam

The South African-based company ran a number of blacklisted casinos. Their sites were known for awful customer service, abusive bonus terms and conditions, and even failure to make payouts.

Oliver Curran (a.k.a. Warren Cloud) ran this circus. Crystal Palace was sold and rebranded after he died of a heart attack at age 34, while sailing on his ill-gotten yacht.

RTG may not have had a direct role in how Curran operated his sites. But the association with Crystal Palace and other rogue operations over the years have hurt RealTime’s brand.

Questions Surrounding Progressive Jackpots

One fun thing about RTG slots is that they’re all connected to at least one or more progressive jackpots.

Some of the smaller random progressive prizes hit at a fair clip. However, the largest RTG jackpots have yet to pay out at the time of this writing.

Aztec’s Millions, which has been available for over a decade, offers a $3.1 million jackpot that’s never been won. Jackpot Piñatas, Megasaur, and Cleopatra’s Gold each have six-figure prizes that are still waiting to pop.

You could make the case that these payouts haven’t hit because of their sheer size. But some developers have paid multimillion-dollar jackpots multiple times.

I’m not suggesting that RTG has programmed their biggest jackpots to not pay at all. However, their jackpots seemingly have extremely low hit frequency when compared to the average game.

The Willingness to Serve Gray Markets

One more knock against RealTime’s trustworthiness is simply that they have no problem serving gray markets.

I highlighted how RTG serves many US-facing casinos. They also operate in other unregulated markets throughout the world, including Canada and South Africa.

Laptop With Casino Chips, Credit Card, and Casino Dice on Keyboard

No country has taken major legal action against RealTime Gaming. The company is smart enough to back out of states and countries with regulated online gambling markets.

However, the absolute most reputable real money online gambling developers don’t serve gray markets. They instead obtain licensing in regulated jurisdictions and stay above board.

Conclusion – Is RealTime Gaming Legit?

As mentioned before, RealTime Gaming has a long history of success that dates back to the late 1990s. Companies don’t last this long without having some redeeming qualities.

RealTime Gaming has proven to be a good solution for companies that want to run an offshore casino. The company itself seems pretty legitimate.

The problem for RTG, though, is some of the entities they’ve served. Their brand was most notably dragged through the mud by Crystal Palace for years.

Part of the problem in serving unregulated markets is that RealTime deals with some unsavory characters. Online casinos that are willing to brave the US aren’t always the most reputable operators.

The absence of publicly available RTP and progressive jackpots that haven’t hit don’t help matters.

RealTime offers pay schedules ranging from 91% to 97.5% RTP. This aspect is confusing to many gamblers, who are used to finding payout percentages with a quick Google search.

The six and seven-figure jackpots that have yet to be won are downright fishy. I suspect that they’re programmed with very, very low odds of being hit compared to prizes of similar value.

Nevertheless, I’m confident that RTG is a legitimate software provider. They’ve withstood the test of time and haven’t suffered through any serious scandals on their own part.

Gambling Machines and How They Work

Casino Gambling Machines,
In a modern casino, you’ll see more gambling machines than anything else. The slot machines (or one-armed bandits) are the most profitable game in any casino, and I’ll explore the reasons for that in this post.

But slot machines aren’t the only gambling machines on the casino floor.

You’ll also find video poker machines, which are far superior to slot machines for a number of reasons.

I’ll explore those reasons in this post, too.

Here’s an explanation of how gambling machines work:

How Slot Machines Work

What makes a slot machine a slot machine?

It’s the presence of the spinning reels.

All slot machines are gambling machines, but not all gambling machines are slot machines. The spinning reels are what make the difference.

Traditional real money slots work like this:

You have 3 spinning reels with multiple symbols on them. When you activate the machine by inputting a coin and pulling a lever, the reels spin and land on those symbols at random.

If the same symbols line up across the center of the front of the machine, you win a prize. The amount of the prize is determined by the symbol.

Originally, slot machines were powered by big metal hoops (the reels), springs, and levers. They were entirely mechanical.

Modern slot machines, though, use physical reels that land based on a computer program.

Or they don’t use physical reels at all. This is more common than ever. These video slot machines just have animation on a screen, like in a video game, and the results are also powered by a computer program.

This computer program is called a “random number generator.”

The payouts for the various combinations are determined by the probability of hitting those combinations, but they’re almost always lower than the odds of hitting.

Three Slot Machines in Casino, Gambler Sitting Playing Slots

For example, if you have a 500 to 1 probability of getting a specific combination, it might only pay off at 400 for 1.

The difference between the actual odds and the payout odds gives the casino a profit in the long run.

This is called “the house edge,” but most people don’t use the expression “house edge” when discussing gambling machines.

Instead, people talk about the “payback percentage,” which is the other side of the house edge coin.

Instead of representing the average amount of each bet that’s lost over the long run, the payback percentage represents the average amount of each bet that’s won over the long run.

A slot machine with a 5% house edge has a 95% payback percentage.

Over the long run, though, it’s impossible to win at slot machines. The math behind the game ensures that.

Most slot machines have a payback percentage of 75% to 95%, but there’s no real way to know what a payback percentage is for a modern slot machine game.

You don’t know what the odds are for getting specific symbols in any given game—that’s determined by the random number generator which determines the results.

How Video Poker Works

Video poker looks a lot like a slot machine, but it doesn’t have spinning reels. Instead, you’re dealt a 5-card hand on a video screen.

Almost all video poker games are based on 5-card draw, so you get to choose between 1 and 5 cards to discard and replace.

You get paid off on the poker value of the final hand based on the pay table for the game. The jackpot hand is always the royal flush—the 10, jack, queen, king, and ace of the same suit. That only comes up about once every 40,000 hands.

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The royal flush pays off at 200 for 1 unless you wager the max bet—5 coins—in which case it pays off at 800 for 1. This is remarkably consistent from one video poker machine to another.

Other game-play elements, like payouts and wild cards, vary wildly from one video poker game to another, but the top hand is almost always the royal flush, and the payoff is almost always 800 for 1 on a 5-coin bet, but less if you bet fewer coins.

This makes the first aspect of video poker strategy easy—you always place the max bet of 5 coins.

There are no advantages to wagering fewer coins, and the lower payout for the top hand changes your expected results more than you probably think.

The Difference Between Video Poker and Slot Machines

The major difference between video poker and slot machines is the difference between reels with arbitrary symbols and arbitrary symbols and a deck of playing cards.

Video Poker Machine Screen, Slot Machine Reel

There’s no way to calculate the payback percentage of a slot machine, because you have no way of knowing what the probability of getting any of the symbols is.

For example, you might be playing on a slot machine where cherries are programmed to come up 1/8 of the time, but apples might only be programmed to come up 1/16 of the time.

An identical slot machine next to this example machine might have entirely different probabilities programmed in. The cherries might be programmed to come up 1/10 of the time, and the apples to come up 1/32 of the time.

The payback percentage for the game is based on the payouts for the combinations AND the probability of getting each combination.

Without the probability, you can’t solve for the payback percentage, which is the “unknown” in the equation.

But video poker games are different.

The symbols on a video poker machine are based on a deck of playing cards.

And if it’s a legitimate video poker game, the probabilities for getting each card are identical to the probabilities you’d have in a real card game.

Since you know that a deck of cards consists of 4 suits with 13 ranked cards in each suit, you can calculate any probability you need to related to your results.

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This also affects your strategy for the game. Deciding which cards to hold and which ones to discard is a critical aspect of video poker strategy.

With slot machines, there is NO strategy, ever.

The payback percentage on a video poker game is something that can be calculate, and it usually ranges from 95% to 99%.

Keys to Success with Gambling Machines

If you’ve been paying attention so far, you’ve probably already figured out the first key to success with gambling machines:

Play video poker instead of slot machines.

Remember how I pointed out that the payback percentage for a slot machine ranges from 75% to 95%?

And the payback percentage for a video poker machine ranges from 95% to 99%?

That was your clue to the first aspect of gambling machine strategy.

Always go for the game with the highest payback percentage and the lowest house edge.

You’ll still go broke in the long run if you play long enough, but you’ll take longer doing so.

And since the point of casino gambling is entertainment, your goal should be to get the maximum amount of entertainment for your gambling dollar.

The other key to success with gambling machines is to always join the slots club and always play with your casino players club card inserted. As weird as it sounds, casinos want you to use your players card.

Row of Casino Slot Machines, Money Rolled Up

The card is meant to track how much money you’re gambling so that the casino can reward you (incentivize you) with rebates.

They calculate these rebates based on a percentage of the action you’re bringing the casino. This usually amounts to between 0.1% and 0.3% of your action.

That doesn’t sound like much until you start doing some of the fancy math that casino experts like to do.

The first thing to do is calculate how much you can expect to lose in the long run on a gambling machine.

Let’s take, for example, a Jacks or Better video poker machine with a 99.54% payback percentage. The house edge for that game is 0.46%, which is the amount you’re expected to lose in the long run on that game.

If you play a $1 video poker game and make the max bet each hand, you’re gambling $5 per hand. If you’re an average video poker player, you’re playing 600 hands per hour. (It’s a fast game.)

That’s $3000 per hour you’re putting into action, and your expected loss is $3000 X 0.46%, or $13.80.

If you’re getting 0.3% of your hourly wagers back in rebates and comps from the casino, you’re looking at getting $9/hour back from that $13.80.

How can you turn that down?

Conclusion

Those are the basics of gambling machines and how they work. If you’re already a casino customer, you probably already have a preference when it comes to gambling machines.

Do you think your preference might change now?

In other words, if you’re a slot machine fanatic, do you think you might be willing to try video poker now?

3 Ways to Be a Better Mississippi Stud Poker Player

Hand Holding Poker Cards, Casino Colored Chips, Mississippi Stud Poker Logo
One of the more volatile table games ever devised, Mississippi Stud is a hybrid of traditional Five-Card Stud played against the dealer rather than other players.

At first glance, Mississippi Stud seems to be quite simple. Players place a mandatory ante bet to kick off the hand, then they take two cards at random. From there, the goal is to decide between paying a “third street” bet in exchange for a third card, followed by fourth street and fifth street bets to complete your five-card poker hand.

The standard hierarchy of poker hand rankings is used and hands are scored against the pay table below.

Mississippi Stud Poker Pay Table

HAND PAYS
Royal flush 500 to 1
Straight flush 100 to 1
Four of a kind 40 to 1
Full house 10 to 1
Flush 6 to 1
Straight 4 to 1
Three of a kind 3 to 1
Two pair 2 to 1
One pair (Js or better) 1 to 1
One pair (6s – 10s) Push
All other Loss

But things get tricky… On all three of the street bets, players have multiple options to choose from. You can fold to avoid further damage, or you can size the street bets in either 1x, 2x, or 3x multiples of your original ante bet.

When you do, you’ll be looking to improve your skills and strategy knowledge ASAP. After all, in a game like Mississippi Stud that challenges players to three decision points on every deal, knowing when to hold’em and when to fold’em is what separates the sharps from the suckers.

To help you become the best Mississippi Stud player you can be, I’ve put together the following list of three ways anybody can bring their game to the next level.

1 – Master Mississippi Stud’s Basic Strategy

Every table game which allows players to make decisions and act on their hand is beholden to a basic strategy.

And while the name might suggest simplicity, there’s nothing at all “basic” about these guides to optimal decision making. Gamblers who play blackjack have used supercomputers to crunch the numbers since the 1960s, seeking the most mathematically profitable play for every possible player total vs. dealer up card scenario the game can create.

Mississippi Stud hasn’t been around nearly that long, but savvy players know that a 52-card deck and binary player decisions (fold or bet) make it possible to develop a similar basic strategy.

In other words, for every possible combination of cards you can hold, and the inherent probabilities of making a payable hand those combos create, one decision will always offer the highest expected return over the long run.

Hands Holding Onto Poker Cards Stack to the Side

You may lose the hand you’re playing right now while applying basic strategy, but when you use it consistently over a lifetime of Mississippi Stud sessions, you’ll wind up winning more (or losing less) than the next guy playing by gut instinct alone.

Take a look below to find basic strategy guidelines for the great game of Mississippi Stud:

Key

  • “High” card = Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Aces. All high cards are valued at 2 “points” using this specialized system
  • “Middle” card = 6s, 7s, 8s, 9s, and 10s. All middle cards are valued at 1 point
  • “Low” card = are 2s, 3s, 4s, and 5s. All low cards are valued at 0 points

With Two Cards

  • Bet 3x on 3rd street with any pair
  • Bet 1x on 3rd street with any hand valued at 2 points or higher (one high card; two middle cards)
  • Bet 1x on 3rd street with exactly 5-6 suited
  • Fold everything else

With Three Cards

  • Bet 3x on 4th street with any payable hand (one pair of 6s or better)
  • Bet 3x on 4th street with any Royal Flush draw
  • Bet 3x on 4th street with any straight flush draw containing zero gaps AND ranked 5-6-7 or better
  • Bet 3x on 4th street with any straight flush draw containing one gap AND at least one high card
  • Bet 3x on 4th street with any straight flush draw containing two gaps AND at least two high cards
  • Bet 1x on 4th street with any other three suited cards
  • Bet 1x on 4th street with any low pair (5s or worse)
  • Bet 1x on 4th street with any hand worth at least 3 points
  • Bet 1x on 4th street with any straight draw containing zero gaps AND ranked 4-5-6 or better
  • Bet 1x on 4th street with any straight draw containing one gap AND two middle cards
  • Fold everything else

With Four Cards

  • Bet 3x on 5th street with any payable hand
  • Bet 3x on 5th street with any four-card flush draw
  • Bet 3x on 5th street with any four-card open-ended straight draw ranked 8-high or better (5-6-7-8, 10-J-Q-K, etc.)
  • Bet 1x on 5th street with any other straight draw
  • Bet 1x on 5th street with any low pair
  • Bet 1x on 5th street with any hand worth at least 4 points
  • Bet 1x on 5th street with three middle cards AND a previous bet of 3x made on any earlier street
  • Fold everything else

As you can see, the strategy tips start off with a fairly “tight” approach, which is poker-speak for conservative. When you only have two cards to work with, the only time to be betting the 3x wager on third street is when you hold a pair. From there, one high card alone is good enough to bet 1x, as are two middle cards, along with the 5-6 suited combo.

Other than that, you should be folding from the get-go on all other hands.

This can seem counterintuitive at first, but as the old-time poker pros are prone to saying, “tight is right” in this game.

From there, the subsequent streets are a little tougher to navigate. But in a nutshell, you’ll be firing away with the big 3x bets whenever you’ve made payable hands or draws to the topline “jackpot” hands like a royal flush or straight flush.

When you utilize these basic strategy tips, the casino house edge on Mississippi Stud comes to 4.91%. That may seem a tad high, and it technically is when compared to similarly designed table games.

But most analysts who study Mississippi Stud point to the game’s multiple betting points to judge the game by a different metric, element of risk. In this case, Mississippi Stud’s element of risk is 1.37%, which is about half as risky as hybrid table game relatives like Let It Ride (2.85%) and Caribbean Stud (2.56%).

2 – Fold Away Small Bets While Waiting for Big Hands

According to the game’s leading strategy theorists, folks using a perfect basic strategy should find themselves folding on third street approximately 31.07% of the time.

Woman Holding Out to Ace Poker Cards

You’ll make the third street bet before folding on fourth street another 7.67% of hands.

And you’ll fire two bets on third and fourth streets, only to fold fifth street when you miss everything on 4.85% of hands.

All told, you should be folding without a showdown right around 43.50% of the time.

This can be too much to bear for action-junkies that just like to bet and see what happens, but basic strategy’s mathematical foundations make things clear.

If you want to maximize the rewards reaped from your winning hands, while minimizing the damage inflicted by losers, taking advantage of basic strategy’s tight design is the only way to play.

3 – Practice for Free Until You’re Playing Every Hand Perfectly

It’s one thing to read about basic strategy guidance on a page like this, but it’s a different beast altogether attempting to put those tips into play at the table, especially with real money on the line.

To make that task much easier, dial up this handy Mississippi Stud training tool to test your knowledge without parting ways with a single penny.

The trainer will let you know when you’ve made a basic strategy error, while keeping a running tally of your wins, losses, and accuracy rates.

Keep practicing until your perfect your Mississippi Stud Poker strategy, then move forward to playing real money poker games.

Conclusion

Mississippi Stud is one of the more devilishly designed table games of all time. Players get to have a direct impact on the hand, not only once, but three times before it’s all said and done. You can chase draws, modulating your bets to control the risk while you do, and even fold when the uphill climb to a winner becomes too steep.

But, because most players don’t like the idea of folding without a fight, Mississippi Stud is typically played in one of two ways—expertly or awful. Mistakes tend to compound themselves in this game, turning a small $5 investment into a big $50 loss on the turn of just five cards. If you’ve made it this far, you’re fully prepared to minimize the mistakes, while maximizing the house’s punishment when you hold the goods.

7 Sports Betting Hacks for All Gamblers

Sports Betting Websites, Hand Holding Money
Even the most successful sports bettors win slightly more than half the time. Simply put, there’s a reason they call it “gambling,” not “winning.” Although throwing your money at a 50/50 proposition might seem like a risk, gaining a slight edge can have a major benefit over a long period of time.

Because sports betting is gaining popularity, with the US hitting record betting revenue levels, I’ll lay out seven sports betting hacks you can try that might help you gain a slight edge over the books.

1 – Take the (Free) Money and Run

Sportsbooks know that the more you gamble the better chance they have at winning more of your money over the long run. Thus, many online books offer free bonuses to incentivize new players to join their community. While it’s true that the books might make their money back, and then some, off less experienced bettors, that doesn’t make it any less valuable. Whether it’s a deposit match or free credit to use in a specific sport, don’t overlook these bonuses.

2 – Do Your Sports Betting Research

Everyone has their own strategies for deciding which bets to make. With that said, very few put as much time and effort into gathering all relevant information as the pros. The best part? They tend to share a great deal of their insight online, often for free.

Person With Laptop Open, Writing Down Notes, Basketball College Game

You might think you know what you’re doing after a hot week or month of gambling, but these experts have developed strategies that are based on numbers, not feelings or even sports knowledge. Do yourself a favor and learn how they decide which plays to make, and their reasoning behind it.

3 – Bet on Familiarity

The most successful bettors are those who have developed a familiarity with a small number of different sports or events. It’s difficult to pick up on trends if you’re betting on too many sports, especially when you don’t really know much about them. Finding your specialty could be as easy as settling on your favorite sport or simply deciding which sport you think gives you the best odds to turn a profit.

It might be the most fun to bet on the NFL or NBA as these are the most visible sports on TV, but try your hand and some more obscure leagues to find which works best for you.

I had a friend in college who bet on the WNBA and ended up winning so frequently that the bookmaker no longer allowed bets on WNBA games. Do some experimenting of your own and you might be surprised where you have the most success.

4 – Shop Around

It’s unlikely that lines and spreads vary greatly between gambling sites, but make no mistake, there are differences. Before placing a bet, it’s a good idea to shop around and see if you can find the same bet at a better price (read: more favorable spread). Gaining a point when betting the underdog, or giving one less point when sports betting on a favorite can make all the difference over a series of bets.

The good part about line shopping is that the formula for choosing the most favorable bet is typically pretty easy. Next time you’re ready to place a bet, check two or three additional sites to see if you can find a better deal. A point here and there might not seem like a big deal, but keep in mind that the margin between success and losing money is very slim, and every advantage matters.

5 – Know Your Sports Betting Bankroll

The reason most people lose money on gambling is because they simply lose track of money in and money out. One way to avoid this is by creating a strict bankroll and monitoring it closely, just like you would when managing your casino bankroll if you were gambling at the casino.

That’s not to say that you won’t end up losing money, but you’ll at least have an idea of what’s happening.

Soccer Player About to Kick Soccer Ball, Hand Pulling Money Out of Wallet

Most bettors have their own strategies, but there are a few basic rules that experienced gamblers stick to in order to avoid major losses. First, you should allot a specific amount of money to use for the week/month/year. This is your bankroll. Next, determine a percentage that you’re willing to play in one particular bet. For example, many experts say that they won’t gamble more than five percent on any particular play. This mentality also helps you recognize gambling as a money-making endeavor, and not just a cheap thrill.

6 – Find Your Favorite Sports Bets

From over/under to props, spreads to moneylines, there’s no shortage of bet types you can play on a sporting event. Much like familiarizing yourself with one or two sports, getting comfortable with a couple types of bets can pay dividends. Just like anything else, the more you do it, the better you get. Maybe your intuition lends itself better to predicting different aspects within a game, than the final score itself.

Throughout the NBA playoffs, I frequently utilized single-quarter bets to increase my success rate.

I felt like the individual quarters were much easier to predict than a final score, and with smaller spreads I felt like there were fewer variables to consider.

Many gamblers find it easier to single out prop bets such as an individual player’s performance, than it is to worry about the game in its entirety. Not to mention, when you single out a specific part of a game to bet, it’s easier to keep on trends as you know exactly what information you need to get informed.

7 – Risk vs. Reward

Few sports betting wins are more exciting than when you’re able to turn a small bet into a huge return. On the other hand, few losses are more painful than betting a heavy favorite and watching it all collapse before your eyes. It may be tempting to throw high amounts of money on big favorites in hopes of scoring an easy win (albeit with a low payout), but be wary of these bets as a few losses could be damaging to your bankroll.

Pile of Money, Live Football Game

Seeking value in a play is always a good thing to consider, and when you’re risking 5-6 times the payout, the value just doesn’t add up. That doesn’t mean that sports betting on a heavy favorite is always ill-advised, but recognize that you might be taking on quite a bit of risk for a low reward.

Conclusion

Each time you make a bet, you’re accepting that there’s a real chance you won’t get that money back. However, if you take a more scientific than emotional approach to sports gambling, you can make some decent money in your free time. Always keep in mind that having a plan, even a rudimentary plan, is better than throwing your money at every game you have a “feeling” about for one reason or another.

Regardless of what your strategy is or what bets you make, keep a record of everything so you can keep track of your wins vs. losses, and pick up on trends that can help you in the future. No single piece of advice will make you a winner overnight, but over time you can get to that 52-53% threshold that makes gambling profitable.

How to Properly Review Your Poker Sessions

Man Sitting Playing Poker, Poker Chips in Front of Him
For most online poker players, a session ends when they exit the tables. But those who want to better their games may go the extra mile by reviewing their sessions after the fact.

Post-session analysis may not be the most exciting aspect of poker. However, it can pay big dividends and help fix your leaks.

That said, I’m going to discuss more on reviewing your sessions along with the finer points on how it can be done.

What Is Post-Session Analysis in Poker?

Post-session analysis is simply the matter of reviewing your poker session after the fact. You can either review a few hands or a larger sample, depending on your preferences.

Of course, studying your own play is easier said than done. You need a good idea on exactly what to look over.

Some people recommend that you study your top hands to see what you do right. Others suggest focusing on your worst hands, so that you can improve upon mistakes for the next time you gamble with real money.

As long as you’re doing any type of analysis at all, you’re ahead of most players. But the goal is to get more out of these post-sessions by knowing exactly what to look for.

Assuming you’re totally new to studying your sessions, you may feel like every hand and street is worth examining. However, this isn’t really the case. Given that there are only 24 hours in a day, you need to narrow your focus.

How to Pick Which Poker Hands to Study

Some players make the mistake of thinking that post-session analysis is all about looking over their biggest hands. This crowd thinks that big pots equate to the most important moments in poker.

However, the point of studying your sessions is to make the best decisions every time, not just win big hands. You need to eliminate leaks from your game, no matter how big or small.

Hand Holding Poker Cards Over Table

Rather than focusing on pot sizes, you should review hands that give you the most trouble. You may have no clue what to do in a certain spot and need help.

Assuming you run into a confusing situation, then you need to make a note of it immediately. One way to do so is by saving your hand history, then going back to this same spot and reviewing it later.

Another method involves using a third-party program like PokerTracker. You can use these programs to return to certain hands and look them over.

You should also consider reviewing hands where an opponent did something that you haven’t seen before. Perhaps you’re playing at stakes where three-betting with suited connectors isn’t common.

Such moves aren’t necessarily right in every instance. But you can still gain valuable insight on what to do and what not to do by examining opponents’ strategy moves.

When you do pick hands to review, be sure to wait until after your session to study them. The last thing you want to do is divide your focus between playing and looking over hands.

Get a Second Opinion From Another Poker Player

You can learn plenty just by reviewing your own hands. But you may not fully pick up on everything that’s going on or be too close to the situation.

This is where having somebody else watch your session is helpful. They can offer some objective pointers, especially if they’re a good player.

Two People Sitting Playing Poker

You can invite the player over if they live close. Or you can use screen-sharing software if they’re in a remote location. One more way to do this is to send them some choice hand histories.

You might even consider starting a poker study group with fellow players. Group members can take turns sweating sessions for each other and offering helpful suggestions.

Whatever the case may be, you’ll find that getting a second opinion is ideal. But what exactly should you expect from a poker friend or study group?

A good place to begin is by first reviewing a hand(s) yourself. From here, you can tell the other person what you think is the best play in this particular hand or spot.

They can then look it over and give their assessment. Assuming they’re more experienced than you, they may have a better opinion on the matter.

A more ideal scenario is if you can get multiple people to look at the situation. Several opinions on playing a certain spot are better than one outside voice.

Of course, the key thing to consider here is that you’re merely getting opinions. Outsiders don’t always have the best advice on your game.

Even still, it’s always good to have others’ perspectives. You’ll especially benefit if three to four people are saying the same thing about a hand. You can use this consensus as an answer to whatever hand or spot you’re struggling with.

Use Poker Software to Help With the Matter

Earlier, I mentioned using PokerTracker to help document your hands so that you can go back and review them. But such software can be more than just a glorified way to save hand histories.

These programs have filters that allow you to narrow down what type of hands or situations you are and aren’t doing well with. You may be a master at pre-flop betting, but your loss rate skyrockets after the flop.

You’ll need some serious hand volume before the data means anything. A database of 200 to 300 hands isn’t going to offer you much info on your tendencies.

Here are some different aspects you can filter through with third-party software:

  • Win rate in certain positions – As explained before, you may play better during specific streets or in certain seats.
  • How you fare in specific situations – You can check to see if your continuation bets, four-bets, etc. are successful the majority of the time.
  • Your performance against certain types of opponents – Poker software can compile stats on opponents. It also shows how you fare against each type of opponent (e.g. LAG, TAG, etc).
  • How well you play different hands – Are you squeezing proper value out of pocket aces? Do you struggle with pocket 10s? These are the types of questions that software can help answer.

One problem with third-party programs is that they can be overwhelming at first. Many recreational players don’t get past the trial phase because they don’t want to deal with processing all of the information.

If you find yourself in this situation, then you can just start with the basics (e.g. certain hands, positions), then gradually work towards the in-depth aspects. An example of the latter would be figuring out how you play K-J off suit on the button.

What Will You Ultimately Gain From Post Session Analysis?

Reviewing your sessions is highly important at any level. But this analysis is especially important to beginners.

Beginners have more leaks on average than experienced players. Therefore, they need to look over their play the most.

Colored Chips and Poker Cards on Table

If you’re starting out with poker, you may find that you make certain mistakes over and over. Analyzing sessions is a good way to identify these leaks and eliminate them from your game.

Eventually, you may notice patterns in certain situations. At this point, you’ll be able to make decisions automatically and potentially be profitable at your chosen stakes.

Of course, opponents become tougher as you move up the ladder. The same ABC strategies you use in $0.05/$0.10 NL hold’em won’t work as well in $1/$2 games.

That said, you can still benefit from post-session analysis when moving up the limits. Through study, you may notice that adjustments are needed against stronger opponents.

I can’t think of a common situation where analyzing your sessions isn’t valuable. Everybody from beginners to experienced grinders can improve their games through this method.

The only possible situation where post-session analysis isn’t entirely important is when you’re first learning the game. At this juncture, you’ll want to spend the most time on basic concepts (e.g. table position, playable hands).

But other than complete beginners, everybody should consider putting the effort into studying their own game and improving poker results.

Conclusion

Post-session analysis isn’t a difficult concept to figure out. You’re merely reviewing specific hands and spots to see how you can play them better, if at all.

But this process does involve some intricacies that can speed up your improvement. First off, you need to know what type of hands to review.

You may be tempted to look at every hand in the beginning. However, this is a waste of time once you thoroughly know the basics of poker.

Instead, you want to focus on hands that leave you confused or involve something that you haven’t seen before.

With the former, you should figure out how to play certain spots so you can handle them in the future. Regarding the latter, you want to study unique plays by opponents no matter if they turn out good or bad.

Another way that you can improve is to have another person review your sessions. Preferably, you’ll find somebody who knows the game well and can give you solid opinions.

You may even opt to form a study group of players who can take turns sweating your play. This method gives you multiple opinions on how to handle certain spots.

Also, don’t forget to incorporate software into either solo or group poker session analysis. These programs not only document your hands, but they also provide filters that allow you to focus on specific situations.

Poker is definitely a game where you get out what you put in. Assuming you put the time into post-session analysis, then you’ll definitely benefit in the long run.

10 Ways to Spot Your Own Poker Tells

Two People Sitting Playing Poker, Poker Cards Spread Out
One of the most important skills in poker is reading your opponent. In an average game of poker, you will learn more about the state of the game if you can decipher an opponent’s tells than through any other method. In other words, if you can master reading poker tells, you can master the game of poker.

Unfortunately, the opposite is true. If your opponent figures out how to read your tells, then you have already been beaten. If you make a noise or shift your eyes or drum your fingers in response to a good or bad hand and someone else figures it out, then forget bluffing, forget aggressive betting. Your tells will give away the game.

Therefore, you need to learn to master your own tells and get rid of them. At the very least, they should be very difficult for others at the table to read. The best way to get rid of them? Coach yourself out of them. Here are 10 ways to help with that.

1 – Always Be Aware of Your Hands

Your hands are two of your easiest sources of poker tells and, sadly, unlike the eyes, cheeks, scalp, etc., you cannot hide them behind sunglasses, a hoodie, a turtleneck, etc. Seriously, try playing poker in mittens to cover your hands. It just doesn’t work.

In all seriousness, pay attention to your hands.

Many people’s hands start to shake or they start to gesture wildly when they have a great hand (pun intended) or when they are bluffing.

If you think you are prone to that, pay attention to what your hands are doing. Practice laying them gently on a surface during play to avoid making fists, squeezing the table, etc.

2 – Play Sample Games in the Mirror

When it comes to how you look when you play poker, you probably know far less than everyone else. The only way to fix that is to play poker in the mirror. While you are playing poker, feel free to admire how good you look doing it, but also pay attention to your posture and your body movements.

Poker Pro Sitting By Poker Table with Hand on His Neck

Do you slouch? Lean forward? Lean back? Sit up straight? Yawn? Shadow box? Get fidgety? These are the types of questions you have to ask yourself as you play. Figure out if these types of body movements constitute a tell or are just part of your natural body rhythm. Either way, do your best to cancel all movement and sit there, giving no information about what is going on.

3 – Record Your Facial Expressions

Turn on your favorite poker app through one of the many mobile online casinos and point your camera at your face. Play a few hands where you win. Play a few hands where you lose. Rewind your video.

Now, as you watch the video, can you tell if you were winning or losing? Do you smile? Snort? Frown? Laugh? If you do, try to stop it. Any of those actions can become great tells.

Restart the video recording and play more poker. As you do, be intentional about not letting your face express anything about your hand. After a while, you will get it.

4 – Record Your Eye Movement

Yes, your soul is important, but the eyes are the gateway to your hole cards. Sadly, of all your tells, the eyes are the hardest to disguise.

That’s why so many poker players wear sunglasses. They know they’re eyes are constantly talking and sunglasses are they only way they know how to shut them up.

If your tournament or casino or group of friends allows you to wear sunglasses, they’re not a bad option. You should definitely train yourself to wear them and play. However, you may not always have glasses, which is why you need to record your eyes while you play. Then, through constant repetition, coach yourself to prevent your eyes from talking too much.

5 – Watch Other People’s Reactions

When you play poker in real life, watch other people watching you. At first, this should give you a pretty good idea of what they’re seeing and when you’re revealing your tell. Perhaps you can hide when you have good hole cards, but they can always tell when you’re bluffing. Maybe it’s something else, but watching others can teach you about yourself.

Group of People Playing Poker, Person Watching Poker From Afar

Once you have mastered how others see you, though, it’s time to get devious. Start sending out fake poker tells and see how other people react. If you widen your eyes and suddenly everyone folds, there’s a good chance that’s your tell. If you shake your hands and people act like you’re bluffing, you have probably found another tell. Experiment to see if you figure out what information you’re broadcasting.

6 – Blood Pressure Cuff

Yes, this is taking things a bit far, but if you’re serious about getting rid of your tells, your blood pressure is a tell. It’s very possible that when you have great cards or miss dealing to an inside straight, your cheeks will flush or you will find some other way to turn red. This is good information for you to know.

Sadly, you may not have many options except to cover your skin, but at least you know you need to do it. You can also try exercises to keep yourself calm, but don’t let those become tells, too.

7 – Use a Timer for Changes in Speed of Play

Your phone should have a stopwatch on it. Keep track using the lap timer of how quickly you make your bets and see if you have any patterns.

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Chances are you’re either faster or slower when you’re bluffing and when you have a strong hand. Other people will notice.

With that said, this one can be a little tough to judge since there’s a natural cadence to how a game is played. Most of the time betting is much faster at the start of the hand and more thinking happens at the end. Take that into account, but do try to tell if you get antsy or overly thoughtful in certain situations.

8 – Record Your Noises

Turn off the video portion of your recorder and listen to yourself play. Try to pick out if you’re grunting or snorting or talking excessively at certain points during the game. Guess what? It’s possible these are all poker tells and, often, verbal tells are far easier to pick up than non-verbal cues.

Fortunately, they’re often much easier to correct. Just concentrate on being economical with words or talking all the time. Either way, keep a consistent sound pattern.

9 – Sit in a Squeaky Chair

Do you fidget? If you’re not 100% sure, find a squeaky chair and play in it. Usually, the sound of the chair will alert you to whether you’re a fidgeter.

Guy With His Arms Crossed Sitting At Poker Table

Sometimes, though, you need a little more data. In that case, record yourself with the volume turned up. If you’re playing for real money and you suddenly hear the chair start to go off like it’s in an earthquake, there’s a good chance you are fidgeter and need to stop lest you tell the table your emotional state.

The good news here is that you’re probably a fidgeter outside of poker. Therefore, you have lots of chances to practice.

10 – Ink the Card

Inking the card is just one way to figure out if you are consciously or unconsciously touching your cards. Once you figure it out, stop touching your cards.

People who check the hole cards repeatedly tell the table that something is going on. Therefore, your best bet is to leave your cards alone. Then, there’s no chance of sending the table any signals.

Conclusion

Figuring out your tells is a fairly easy process at the end of the day, though it may feel time consuming and, perhaps, a little silly. No one really wants to sit at the table in a blood pressure cuff in a squeaky old chair with cameras pointed at their face and eyes. Frankly, if you’re not playing competitively or professionally, you may never need to go to such lengths.

However, if you’re serious about poker, or worse, think that you are losing too many games because your non-verbal cues are shouting extra info to the world, then start watching yourself.

Looking at your poker tells is really just a simple matter of watching a video of yourself and seeing how react.

Once you know what you are doing, you can make a conscious effort. With that said, we do recommend that you play small stakes games while coaching yourself out of your tells. Concentrating on not having a tell robs you from concentrating on the game, and your play might suffer. Therefore, practice when the stakes are low until it becomes second nature to not fidget, talk, etc., and you will be just fine.

MIT Blackjack Team Member Reveals Secret to Success

Jack of Diamonds Card on Blackjack Table, Casino Chips Laid Out on Table
Casinos don’t offer players a lot of openings with regard to long-term profits. They hold the advantage in almost every scenario.

Blackjack is one of the few situations where players can gain the edge over casinos. Of course, one must know how to count cards in order to pull off this feat.

But card counting alone isn’t always enough to win big. Some players form teams to give themselves a stronger chance of earning bigger profits.

The MIT Blackjack Team is arguably the best such team in history. They made millions of dollars from casinos around the globe.

One of their founding members recently explained exactly what made the team so special. Hint: It wasn’t just the fact that they were geniuses from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

What Was the MIT Blackjack Team?

The MIT Blackjack Team is actually an umbrella term for a team that encompassed multiple schools. It included students from the Harvard Business School, Harvard University, and MIT.

The team’s origins can be traced back to November 1979, when blackjack pro Bill Kaplan saw a flier for an MIT blackjack club. He contacted the students in charge and proposed that they form a team to take advantage of Atlantic City casinos.

The latter was ripe for the picking, considering that the New Jersey Casino Control Commission had recently ruled that AC casinos couldn’t ban card counters.

Kaplan’s team was able to increase its initial $5,000 stake to $20,000. However, he didn’t feel like they were really bound for greatness due to their lack of cohesiveness.

In May 1980, Kaplan met J.P. Massar at a local Chinese restaurant. The latter overheard Kaplan talking about his blackjack exploits and introduced himself.

Massar asked Kaplan to travel with his newly formed team to critique their play. Kaplan agreed and watched the group play in Atlantic City.

He saw more potential in the students than with his old team. But he also explained that they needed to simplify their counting strategy.

Kaplan wanted Massar and his friends to agree to a corporate-like structure for the team as well. He wanted a uniform procedure that included:

  • A standard counting system used by all members
  • Management at the top (i.e. Kaplan and Massar)
  • Tough training protocol
  • Trial by fire for potential new members
  • Investors
  • Funds split between investors and players based on multiple factors

By August 1980, the team was up and running with $89,000 worth of investment capital. Just three months later, they’d more than doubled their initial stake.

Casino Dealer By Blackjack Gaming Table, Las Vegas Strip

The team was also crushing Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos to the tune of over $160 an hour. The players and investors earned around a 50/50 split, with team members collecting $80 per hour.

In 1984, the MIT Blackjack Team had grown to 35 players and had capitalization of $350,000. But Kaplan decided to become less involved with the team around the same time.

He had been playing as a pro since 1977. He’d become recognized by so many casinos that he couldn’t set foot on most Vegas gambling floors.

Therefore, Kaplan decided to stop playing and continue managing his real-estate investments. Massar, John Chang, and Bill Rubin assumed managerial duties afterward.

What Makes the MIT Blackjack Team so Special?

The MIT squad isn’t notable just because they won. After all, many card counting teams throughout history have been successful.

Instead, this particular team is famous due to the extent that they won. They earned millions of dollars, making the endeavor worthwhile for both the players and investors.

Some of the investors earned as much as 300% back on their stake. This rate is incredible when compared to traditional investments.

The MIT Blackjack Team is also famous for its sheer size. At its height, the team had 80 people playing in casinos throughout America and Europe.

The group’s strict training and procedures paid off. Every group within the team was profitable after taking expenses into account.

Yet one more notable point about the team is their longevity. They lasted from 1979 into the early 2000s.

Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut, Poker Card

Chang, Massar, and Kaplan, who was still involved in some capacity, even turned the team into a limited liability corporation in 1992. They created Strategic Investments in order to raise more funds for the team and take advantage of Connecticut’s Foxwoods casino opening.

Strategic Investments was able to raise far more money for the team than previous efforts. It also used included groups of three players, including a big player, spotter, and controller.

The spotter would watch games and count until finding a positive deck. The controller would sit at the same table, make small bets, and verify the spotter’s count.

They’d signal the big player when the deck went positive. This player would sit down and bet big immediately, so as to look like a high roller instead of a counter.

Of course, the big-player technique wasn’t completely new to those who are used to playing real money blackjack. But the extent to which this team took advantage of the concept was.

At one point, the MIT Blackjack Team had members stationed everywhere from New York to California. Sarah McCord, who joined the team in 1983, trained players located on the West Coast.

Casinos had never faced such a coordinated effort to count cards. Many gambling establishments across the world were losing money to this skilled corporation.

What Happened to the MIT Team?

All great things must come to an end. Casinos aren’t stupid, and they eventually came to realize just how much money they were losing through blackjack.

They made a more concentrated effort to network and identify the team members. Some casinos even hired private investigators to look into the matter.

The investigators had a breakthrough upon realizing that many of the players had addresses near Cambridge. They then used MIT and Harvard yearbooks to determine the members.

Strategic Investments made a fortune in a short time span. They paid all of the remaining members and investors, then dissolved at the end of 1993.

However, the team was still kept alive to some extent by other players. It hung on until the early 2000s, when almost every member had been outed and identified by casinos.

Did The MIT Team Win Because They Were Geniuses?

A close connection has often been made between card counters and geniuses. The MIT Blackjack Team is a large reason for this association.

However, the truth is that one doesn’t have to attend a prestigious university just to understand card counting. Kaplan, who recently did an interview with Boston Magazine, explained this aspect.

“Honestly, just about anyone with a high school education can learn the game. It just happened to be, everyone on the team was from Harvard, MIT, Princeton, University of Chicago.”

He added that some of the team members didn’t even attend college. All it took was enough practice and memorization.

Kaplan Explains the Real Secret to the MIT Team’s Success

As mentioned above, you don’t need to be a genius just to count cards. But you do need some traits that some players seem to struggle with.

“Most teams fail on the money management. 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. Training, extensive training, checkout procedures, two hours of perfect play, leaving the table right. It was really run more tightly than most businesses.”

Person Stacking Colored Casino Chips on Table

Kaplan added that another key to the MIT Blackjack Team’s success was their sheer volume of players. More manpower allowed them to better capitalize on opportunities.

“It’s 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. As a player, your advantage is about one percent. If you’ve got 30 people playing and putting in eight hours, playing in accordance with the guidelines, you get to the long run that much faster.”

Conclusion

The MIT Blackjack Team has become one of the most legendary names in gambling history. They terrorized casinos from the 1979 to the mid-1990s.

The team even continued on into the early 2000s, before finally disbanding for good. But they’d more than made their mark by this point.

As covered by Kaplan, what set the MIT Blackjack Team apart from other teams was their commitment to bankroll management and discipline.

This team wasn’t just a collection of gamblers who pooled their money together. Instead, they were a corporation run by investors with strict guidelines.

Casinos had never encountered such organization in card counting before. They had serious difficulties rooting out the MIT Blackjack Team members and stopping their organization.

The casinos resorted to hiring private investigators to crack the code. They were finally able to identify the MIT and Harvard players and stop the bleeding.

Nevertheless, the MIT Blackjack Team walked away with millions of dollars and also cemented their legacy in gambling lore.

3 Ways to Evaluate Omaha Starting Hands

Poker Cards Laid Out
Omaha Poker can be tricky when it comes to starting hand evaluation, especially for Texas holdem players. With four cards to evaluate, you have to consider more possible combinations and outcomes while playing Omaha.

One of the most important things to remember when evaluating Omaha starting hands is that the best ones have many things working together. I cover three different qualities to look for below, but the best hands usually have at least two of the properties listed, if not all three.

After reading this, you should feel ready to take on the mighty Omaha poker rooms in Las Vegas and feel confident in your game. Let’s get started!

1 – Flush Possibilities

If you’re a first-time Omaha player, one thing you should know is that a flush is one of the weakest complete hands in Omaha. When you have a flush and the board pairs, you can end up losing a big pot to a full house. When there isn’t a possible full house, a flush limits your opportunities to build a pot because it’s obvious to everyone that a flush is possible.

I never play an Omaha hand based only on the possibility of a flush. Having a possibility of a flush is valuable, but it’s more of a secondary value than a leading value. And you should never make the mistake of believing your second or third-best flush is good.

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Many Omaha Poker players play any suited ace, so the odds are high that, if a flush is available, someone has the nut flush.

When the possibility of a flush is present, in addition to a straight or full house possibilities, it greatly improves the value of your starting hand. You still aren’t going to put much money in the pot with second or third-best flushes, but with a king high flush, the ace may land on the board, giving you the nut flush.

With a queen high flush, if an ace lands on the board, your flush is still the second best. But the odds are lower that an opponent has a suited king than a suited ace. Players value suited aces much higher than suited kings, as should be the case, so the suited kings get folded before the flop more often.

2 – Straight Possibilities

Straight possibilities aren’t as flashy and popular as flush and full house possibilities, but they’re just as important to winning Omaha players. Most of the value in straights in Omaha Poker is because they’re often harder to spot by your opponents than flushes and full houses. You can usually extract extra bets with the nut straight that you won’t get with the nut flush.

The higher the straight, the better. But on many boards, the nut straight isn’t ace or king high. A nut straight that’s nine or 10 high is often ignored by your opponents, which makes it more valuable than a nut flush most of the time.

Straight Starting Hands Poker Cards on Green Table

You still have to be careful when considering which hands to fold and which ones to enter the pot with. A hand like 10, nine, seven, and five is still a terrible hand. But a hand of 10, nine, eight, seven, with backup weak flush possibilities is playable in some situations.

The backup flush possibilities offer almost no value as flopped or turned flushes because you don’t win many contested pots with weak flushes. The value of them in this situation is when you flop or turn a nut straight and get all in, or close to all in.

Sometimes, when you get all in with a straight, an opponent is drawing to a flush. Other times, a card lands on the river, completing both a higher straight and a flush. The backup flush draw can save you when this happens.

3 – Full House Possibilities

Full house possibilities come from having a pocket pair, or two pocket pairs, in your four-card hand. Full house hands are strong in Omaha and often win the hand when you hit them. But when you complete a full house and don’t have the nut full house, you still need to play with caution.

Most good Omaha poker starting hands include high cards for a good reason. The higher the cards in your hand, the better your opportunities are of completing a higher full house. This might seem like common sense, but some of the biggest pots I win in Omaha are full house over full house.

Here’s an example of a full house over full house hand.

You start the hand with queen, queen, jack, 10, and the flop is ace, queen, seven. The turn is another seven, and the river is a two. You have queens full of sevens, which seems like a big hand. But at the showdown, your opponent turns over ace, ace, jack, 10 for aces over sevens.

Even the aces over sevens aren’t technically the nut hand. An opponent with pocket sevens has quads, but quads are rare even in Omaha Poker.

While this isn’t a scientific observation, I’ve only had quads two or three times that I can remember while playing Omaha, and I’ve played at least tens of thousands of hands.

When I have the best possible full house, I always get as much money in the pot as possible. If someone has quads, I simply lose the hand and move on to the next hand. It happens so rarely, and you have to maximize your profits when you have a strong hand that it costs you more in the long run to slow down with a strong full house than playing aggressively.

Putting It All Together

The best Omaha starting hands have multiple things going for them. A hand like ace of clubs, ace of spades, king of clubs, and queen of spades is a good example. The pair of aces is a good starting point, with a chance to improve to the best possible full house. When a flush in spades or clubs is possible, and the board doesn’t pair, you have an ace high flush.

The only way to lose with an ace high flush when the board doesn’t pair is if an opponent has a straight flush. This hand also has the makings of a nut straight, with an ace, king, and queen. As you can see, all four cards work together and give you multiple ways to hit a good flop.

While Omaha Hi Lo isn’t as popular as Omaha Hi in real money gambling, the best starting hands in Hi Lo work together in the same way. The best hand is usually believed to be two aces, each paired with a two and three suited to the respective ace.

This hand offers the three lowest cards. In most cases, if there’s a low, you have the best possible low. The only time you don’t have the best possible low is when the board has two of your three low cards, which is rare.

Stacks of Casino Chips on Poker Table

The pocket aces are strong and can improve, and you have flush possibilities in two suits. While you still need to have the nut hand to win most high pots in Omaha Hi Lo, when you have the nut low and the second or third best high hand, you can bet aggressively and occasionally scoop the entire pot.

Here’s an example in Omaha Hi Lo.

You’re on the river and have the nut low and an ace high flush. The board paired, so you know you might lose the high half of the pot to a straight, but you can afford to jam the pot because you have a nut low.

Of course, there’s a possibility that your low can be quartered, but in this situation, the chance of winning the high half far outweighs the possibility of being quartered. In this example, your most profitable play is to get as much money in the pot as possible.

In the three sections above, you learned the three main ways to evaluate Omaha Poker starting hands.

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A key thing to learn in Omaha is when the board pairs, it reduces the value of flushes and straights, even if you have the best possible flush or straight.

Of course, sometimes you still win with a flush or straight when the board pairs, but if you get much action after the board pairs, it’s a good sign you’re behind. You also need to be careful when you hit a full house but it isn’t the nut full house.

Evaluate all of your starting hands looking for the three things listed above. The best hands have all three possibilities present, and the other playable hands have two of the three present. Rarely is it profitable to play a hand that doesn’t have at least two possibilities present.

The only type of hand that comes to mind, that you can play profitably in some situations which only has one of the possibilities listed above, is four high cards with an ace. Hands like ace, king, queen, jack, or ace, king, jack, 10. And when you play a hand like this, you need to get away from it whenever a flush is possible or the board pairs.

Conclusion

When you’re learning to evaluate Omaha starting hands, look for straight, flush, and full house possibilities. The more possibilities a starting hand offers, the better your chances to flop a good hand. Fold most hands that only have one of the three things going for it, focusing most of your resources on hands that have two or all three possibilities.

7 Things Every Poker Professional Needs

Hand Grabbing Casino Chips, Two Poker Cards
Don’t let the movies fool you. The life of a professional poker player is not all big tournaments and winning big pots. But that’s not to say it doesn’t have its glamorous moments, and there’s a certain freedom to basing your livelihood on playing games whenever you want.

Still, when you’re a professional poker player, playing the game becomes about more than just winning the hand. It starts to mean that if you lose the hand, bills do not get paid. Of course, I would never dissuade anyone from answering the call if professional poker is what they want to do.

Instead, I want to point out that playing professional is a job that has similar concerns as any other job. A lot of poker pros who are just starting out don’t always enter the profession with that mindset. They just want to play the game and worry about things like insurance and groceries some other time.

Fortunately, when you decide to go pro, that won’t be you. You’ll be prepared, because I’ll show you some things you must have as part of your poker playing career.

1 – Motivation

Starting off as a poker pro, you might not think that motivation would be something you need. However, there’s a lot more to the life of a poker pro than you see on television and, after a while, it can start to seem like a grind.

This is the major problem with basing one’s lifestyle around a game or activity you find fun. Once it becomes a job, then it’s work. It’s not just leisure anymore.

You’re going to need to be sure that when you’ve played 12 hours of poker on real money gambling sites, you can play a few more if you have bills due. You need to make sure that even as things aren’t going your way, you will still want to play.

Fortunately, motivation can be tested before starting life as a pro. Put yourself in a few extreme poker situations (playing for hours everyday after a day job or entering a marathon of tournaments) and make sure you always want to play. If not, just play for fun.

2 – Savings

If you’re considering the life of a pro, you probably know how much money you need to be successful in a given tournament. Now, you need to start thinking about exactly how much money you’re going to need to be successful in a tournament and still eat, pay rent, keep the gas on, etc.

Person Sitting By Poker Table, Stacked Casino Chips, Poker Cards

How much any given pro needs to live varies based off of their lifestyle, whether there’s a spouse with their own income, etc. If possible, though, a poker player should look at what they’re doing as if they were starting their own business. Experts say you should have at least three months’ worth of expenses in the bank before starting on your own. That money does not include what you think you need to gamble.

We’ll talk more about poker bankrolls later.

3 – A Deep Understanding of Downswings

Every poker player hits a run of bad luck in the casino and online. There are some nights where no matter what, the slot machines keep coming up empty, the dealer keeps hitting 21 or you keep getting dealt 2-4 off suit as your hole cards.

Sometimes, these runs of bad luck last a night and sometimes, you start a downswing that can last for months. If you are playing at a friend’s house or for fun, you can always shrug off these runs of bad luck, stop playing, and come back to fight another day.

If you play poker for a living, you don’t get to just play when you’re on a heater.

Your ability to make money gambling needs to somehow survive and flourish despite the fact the only kind of luck you might be having at that point can be categorized as “awful, terrible, or just bad.”

Good professional poker players soon learn that downswings happen and they keep gambling because that’s their livelihood. Hopefully, they have a way to keep up their spirits and many will switch games for a bit for a bit of fresh air, but ultimately, they do play on because they understand downswings go away eventually.

4 – A Large Enough Bankroll to Survive Some Downswings

We said we would get back to talking about poker bankroll because it’s important that a poker pro’s bankroll be large enough to survive rotten luck without sacrificing their lifestyle. Certainly, there’s a give-and-take when it comes to funds for poker and funds for living, but you don’t want to dip too far into either one to pay for the other.

That’s why, when you’re figuring out how much money you need to save, think about the number of tournaments you plan to play in a given week and their fees, how much money you plan to deposit into online accounts, etc. That should give you a basic idea of how much playing poker is going to cost you.

Hand Touching Poker Cards Spread Out, Roll of Money, Dice

Next, assume that you make absolutely no winnings for a period of time (e.g., two months). Hopefully, your savings can keep you fed, with gas in your car, and clothes on your back, but you need to take your weekly poker costs and multiply them by eight (or more) so that you have money to keep playing even when your luck goes south.

With that being said, practicing casino bankroll management is extremely important, no matter what kind of casino game you’re playing. So this applies to every player.

5 – Paying Taxes

That’s right. Poker pros pay taxes, too. Money earned as part of gambling is taxable, which means it’s as certain as death. Not including it in your financial plans can be deathly, too.

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Like I said, paying taxes is not optional and the casinos themselves will take out around 30% of your winnings in taxes and pay it to the government.

This can be partially offset by your gambling losses (which you will have), but you will still owe money at the end of the year.

To figure out how much you owe, if you have all the losses reported, poker pros would do well to hire an accountant to help them figure it all out. A financial planner can help, too. Unfortunately, both of those services cost money.

6 – Emotional Support

Great entrepreneurs who start businesses always talk about the need for a network. Great athletes have agents. Golfers have caddies. You get the picture.

Any professional poker player would do very well to find an emotional support network on which they can lean when times inevitably get bad. They’re also good for celebrating when things go right, too, but that’s another story.

In all seriousness, before becoming a professional poker player, you would do well to find people who genuinely care for you and want you to succeed in the profession. At the very least, find people who are willing to help you pick up the pieces when you’re in the midst of a downswing. This will keep your mind right and ensure you don’t tilt in the midst of a run of bad luck.

7 – A Good Laptop

If you’re going to do the professional poker thing, get used to the idea of playing online poker. Sitting at several different tables at once playing poker is the easiest and fastest way to ensure that a steady flow of poker winnings heads your way.

Guy on His Laptop, Two Overlapped Poker Cards

However, you cannot do that on a crap laptop that lags, locks up, or doesn’t get a clean connection to the internet. Even the best internet will sometimes glitch and those glitches can cause your poker client to time out or fold or do other things that don’t result in you winning money.

Therefore, good poker pros have good computers to get online and fast, clean, reliable internet to play online games.

Conclusion

First, I said it before, but I will reiterate—if you want to be a poker professional, absolutely go for it. It’s a life of freedom that few will ever enjoy in their careers. It can also turn into a life of adventure, travel, and lots of stories if you do it right.

However, the life of a poker professional isn’t all sun, fun, and playing high stakes games James Bond-style in Monaco. You have to grind, and you have to win or else the money goes away.

That’s why we wanted to highlight these things that people who go pro need but aren’t thinking about. It’s really difficult to add paying taxes to the fantasy of sitting final table at the World Series of Poker, but if you aren’t doing the one (pay taxes), you can’t do the other because the government will have some things to say.

Still, good luck. Keep these things in mind, and you can have a rewarding life as a poker pro.

The Ultimate Guide to Gambling

Neon Casino Sign
Have you ever wished that you could pick up a some sort of ultimate gambling guide that made gambling simple? If such a guide existed, wouldn’t it be great if it not only made gambling simple, but it also explained how to win in simple terms?

A gambling guide that made things simple and explained all the ways you can win would be thousands of pages long. But I can offer you the next best thing. On this page, I’m going to give you an overview of what a guide to prosperity through gambling would cover.

You can look at this like an outline that touches on all of the important things you need to know. Go through this guide and find the areas that interest you, then you’ll know exactly what you need to learn more about.

This ultimate gambling guide is designed to be the starting point for everything you want to accomplish in gambling. By the time you finish reading this page, you’re going to find things you didn’t know you needed to learn.

What Every Gambler Needs to Know

Every gambler needs to understand why and how gambling games work. Every form of gambling available in land-based casinos, real money gambling sites, poker rooms, and sportsbooks has a base that drives it and basically controls everything. This base dictates how the house makes money, how much money the house makes, and is the secret that lets some players win while most players lose.

The base behind all forms of gambling is math. This might be scary for some people, but if you don’t accept and understand this, you’re never going to learn how to win. You don’t have to be a math expert, but you do need to learn how to use math to your advantage.

The mathematical base of gambling leads to the house edge. The house edge is how the house makes money, and all games are designed to have one.

Some games are designed in a way that lets you use strategy and smart play to overcome the house edge. Others are designed in a way where nothing you do changes it. I cover more about both of these types in the next two sections.

Every game has a unique house edge. Some are available with different rules and pay tables, which change the house edge. The first thing you need to do is learn what the house edge is for the different variants and pay tables.

Once you learn how it works and know the edge for different games, the next step is to learn which games allow you to change the edge using strategy and smart play.

Gambling Activities You Can Beat

In this section, I’m going to quickly cover the gambling activities you can beat using strategy and smart play. In some of these games, you have to locate specific rules and pay tables, but if you want to win, you need to learn as much as possible.

Poker

Stack of Red Casino ChipsPoker is one of the best options for advantage gamblers because the poker room takes a small fee from each pot for profit instead of a built in house edge. This means you just need to play poker better than the majority of your opponents to win.

Blackjack

Blackjack offers opportunities for players who learn to use basic strategy and card counting strategy. You can also keep your eyes open for hole carding possibilities. A lot has been written on card counting, so you can definitely find detailed information on it.

Video Poker

Playing video poker is harder to beat than most of the other games on this list. But, with a combination of good pay tables, proper strategy, and comps, players are able to play with a long-term edge.

Sports Betting

Football IconThe way sportsbooks make money is by charging a small fee on losing bets.

If you can figure out ways to place bets without this fee, or win more bets than you lose, you can become a long-term winner betting on sports.

Track Betting

Track betting includes horse and dog racing. The way most tracks make money is by putting all the bets in a pool, taking a percentage off the top, and paying back the rest of the money based on how much is bet on each horse or dog. This creates an opportunity for smart handicappers to make a profit, because you’re basically competing against other bettors like when you play poker.

Daily Fantasy Sports

Daily fantasy sports is fairly new in the gambling area, but the way it works is, you pick a team of players who earn points for their results in a game or contest for the day. If your players get more points than your opponents, you win your bet. This works like poker, with the house taking a small fee so you can make a profit when you’re better than your opponents.

Esports Betting

Video Game Controller IconEsports betting works just like regular sports betting, except you’re betting on popular video game players and teams. This is even newer than daily fantasy sports betting, so be careful if you start in this industry. Any time a new betting option is available, there’s a chance of a few bumps in the road.

Gambling Activities You Can’t Beat

Basically, any gambling activity that isn’t listed in the last section can’t be beat under normal circumstances. In a few specific circumstances, a few of the games listed below can be beat, but most of these involve cheating. I never recommend cheating, because when you do, there’s a good chance you’re going to end up in jail.

Here’s a list of gambling activities that generally can’t be beat.

  • Slots
  • Roulette
  • Baccarat
  • Craps
  • Three-Card Poker
  • Caribbean Stud Poker
  • Let It Ride
  • Mississippi Stud Poker
  • Bingo
  • Keno
  • Lottery
  • Pai Gow Poker
  • Pai Gow Tiles

Get Paid to Gamble

When you learn which games can be beat and the strategies and techniques needed to beat them, you can make money while you gamble. This can seem like a dream come true, but as you’re going to learn in the next section, being a winning gambler tends to suck the fun out of gambling.

Orange Rewards Card, Money Bills

The important thing you need to learn from this section is that most casinos have programs in place offering rewards to gamblers to keep them gambling and coming back for more. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing one of the games that can be beat or one that can’t, you should always sign up for the club offered by the house and any promotions they have.

Some online casinos don’t have a player’s club, but many do, and most land-based casinos offer one. When you receive rewards or comps as they’re often called, it can help offset your losses or increase your wins.

Gamble for Fun or Profit

Once you figure out how to be a winning gambler, it often becomes more like a job than a fun activity. While it’s fun to win, when you know you can beat a game, it often becomes a grind.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a winning card counter or grinding out profits at the poker table, doing what you need to do to win can seem like a job.

I’m a strong advocate for learning how to be a winning gambler. But if you enjoy gambling and use it as a form of entertainment and can gamble within your means, I just want to warn you about learning how to beat the casinos. Many gamblers find they lose the enjoyment of gambling once they start winning on a consistent basis.

One way to keep some of the excitement is to keep gambling part time instead of trying to gamble for a living. Even if you’re good enough to make as much profit gambling as you do working a regular job, there are some benefits to working a regular job and gambling on the side.

Most people reading this aren’t going to believe that gambling for a living can’t be fun and exciting. You might have to learn this for yourself, but don’t burn any bridges before you’re sure it’s what you want to do.

Conclusion

This ultimate gambling guide gives you a clear path to get started. The best way to start is to learn everything covered in the first section about gambling math and the house edge, then continue to the next section.

Once you know everything about gambling math and the games you can beat, you’re ready to become a prosperous gambler. The only thing standing in your way is inactivity. Follow the steps laid out in this article and you’re well on your way to becoming a winning gambler.

5 Best Tips for Winning at Pai Gow Poker

Pai Gow Poker Table, Hand Holding Queen Poker Card
So, you’ve seen Pai Gow Poker at the casino and thought it looked neat. You’re not alone! Since the late 1980s, Pai Gow has been featured in a number of American casinos and gambling establishments abroad.

It’s a fairly simple game derived from a dominos game (also called Pai Gow) that involves forming two of the best hands possible from a pool of seven cards. There are no additional draws and no ways to improve your hand. It’s just you versus the dealer in a showdown of hands where anything is possible.

Some might think that the fact there is no ability to draw and no community pool would mean there is little skill in Pai Gow Poker. Actually, the opposite is true, as you have to form two hands that can beat the dealer or come away with nothing.

Sound fun? It is. Let’s look at the game itself and how to make money off of it.

What Is Pai Gow?

A lot casino-goers and gamblers have heard of this poker variant, but probably have never played it and may not know the rules. If so, that’s fine. It’s an easy game to learn, though it can be difficult to master.

Also, it should be noted that “Pai Gow” is really shorthand for “Pai Gow Poker” in this article, because Pai Gow is a dominoes game played in China while Pai Gow Poker is the card equivalent of that game.

Confused so far? Good! This game is played with a standard 52-card deck with an additional joker. The joker is wild and can complete a straight or a flush, or it counts as an ace. It’s not completely wild like in some games.

In a hand, each player and the dealer are dealt seven cards.

The objective is to make the best hand of five and the best hand of two (note that the hand of five is called the “high hand” as we discuss the game).

“Best” in this case is defined by the typical poker hand ratings. Also, the high hand has to be of a higher rank than the low hand.

Once the players make their high hand and their two-card hand, the dealer assembles her hands and the hands are compared. If the player has a better high hand and two-card hand, they win their bet.

If the dealer has one better hand and one worse hand, the game is a push. Any other result, including ties, go to the dealer. At the end of the day, the casino may ask for a commission from your winnings. The standard commission is 5%.

Other Bets in Pai Gow Poker

There are also some other factors that go into Pai Gow Poker. First, there are a lot of other bets that can be placed to make the game more interesting.

For example, you can make a side bet that you will make a certain type of hand (for instance, a three of a kind or better). You can also make envy bets in which the house pays out based on the seven cards and doesn’t matter if the player wins or loses.

Three of a Kind Poker Hand, Green Poker Table

Finally, Pai Gow offers an almost unique betting experience. You can bank in Pai Gow Poker, which means you make a bet that you will beat another player’s hand, not just the dealer’s hand.

Now that you have at least a taste of the game of Pai Gow, let’s talk about how you can win at it. Like games such as online baccarat, it can be somewhat difficult to really win at Pai Gow because it lacks hand improvement via drawing and more skill-based actions like waiting for position, bluffing, or even doubling down.

Still, there are ways you can come out on top in the game. Just follow these tips.

1 – Make a Side Bet

Depending on the game, there are different types and amounts of side bets you can make. Sometimes, you’re betting on a certain hand strength. Other times, you’ll be entering into a progressive jackpot.

You may be able to make a single side bet, other times, you can make two. Check with the rules or your dealer to find your options.

No matter how you make the side bet, it will be paid out in multiples based on the strength of the hand. For instance, a straight pays out 3 to 1, while five aces pays out 250 to 1.

With that said, making side bets in any game is usually fairly risky. The odds always favor the house a lot more than the game you’re playing.

In this case, though, Pai Gow offers you very little else that you can do that will allow you to flex your skills. Therefore, if you’re feeling it, place a side bet.

But don’t go too crazy with your side betting because you will be asked to bet on things that are improbable. The house doesn’t want to pay out a lot of the hard-earned money it has collected, so please remember this tip.

In this case, “not going crazy” means don’t bet too much above the minimum side bet. Also, bet on hands you’re more likely to achieve. You can track if you win or lose your side bets. If you lose more than you win, find another bet to make.

2 – Make an Envy Bet

Envy bets work a lot like side bets except you’re betting that another player at the table will hit a hand of a certain strength. For instance, you might bet that a player will make a straight or a flush. If any other player at the table has a hand of that score, you get an envy bonus, which is a set dollar amount.

Unsurprisingly, the envy payouts are smaller than the side bet payouts. For instance, a four of a kind might pay $5, while five aces might only pay $50 for the first hand.

Four of a Kind Poker Hand on Poker Table

There are a number of reasons for this, the most obvious being that with more players at the table, there’s a greater chance you will hit the envy bonus. This brings us to the topic of winning with envy bonuses.

First, when you sit to play Pai Gow, you’ll want to find a crowded table. This is an important Pai Fow tip because it increases the odds you’ll hit an envy bonus. Second, the payouts for them aren’t huge, so don’t bet more than the minimum.

Finally, when you’re betting an envy bonus, try to bet hands that someone is more likely to get (a four of a kind or a straight flush). They will pay more than the minimum bet and someone is at least a little likely to get one of those hands.

3 – Deploy Your Joker Wisely

The strange thing about Pai Gow Poker is that you’re making two hands. Therefore, you have two potential places to use your joker. The natural tendency will always be to complete a straight or a flush with your joker, but don’t neglect your two-card hand.

Sometimes, it might be worth having a pair of aces or an ace high just so your small hand isn’t terrible.

A lot of that depends on what else you can put into your high hand. Just don’t make a high hand without thinking about the low.

4 – Be Aggressive

Aggressive is the name of the game in Pai Gow and, in this case, aggressive means presenting the highest value in both your high and your two-card hand.

The house makes money in Pai Gow Poker because you only get paid if you win both the high and the two-card hand outright.

Therefore, you need to win outright. How you do that will vary from hand to hand.

However, don’t get carried away with this tip… meaning don’t fall into the trap when you make a great high hand and a bad two-card hand. Try to find a way to maximize your strength so you can win the game.

5 – Bank Like Crazy

Banking is the part of Pai Gow when you play against other players. Do it. Especially if you’re playing on real money online casinos.

Stacks of Casino Chips, Poker Cards Spread Out on Table

Unless you’re at a table in which banking makes you out to be the villain (in which case, find a new table), bet against other players as much as you can.

This way, you can earn money from them on top of money from the house.

Conclusion

Pai Gow is a fun casino game with just enough skill to make it exciting, but not so much that beginners feel totally lost.

As long as you can play aggressively and make enough side bets to keep some extra money rolling in, it can be a lucrative game as well. Sadly, not every casino offers it, but when you find one that does, play it. You will not regret the experience.

Simple Gambling Tips Even Experts Forget

Three Poker Cards, Tips Icon
No one is perfect and we all make mistakes, but learning from mistakes is essential. Repeating mistakes you should already have learned from is a red flag.

Sooner or later, in every field of endeavor, overconfidence becomes a problem. No matter how good you are at your job, someone will eventually outdo you.

As a gambler, and this is true for anyone who takes intentional risk, it’s crucial to believe in the inevitability of your success. Otherwise, why are you gambling with real money in the first place?

It’s true that as long as a gambler believes there’s a chance of winning, then the game is worth playing. But when the player begins feeling so overconfident that he neglects basic strategy, he undermines his own success.

Here are a few examples of how overconfidence leads expert gamblers to make easily avoidable mistakes.

1 – Check the Rules Before You Start Playing

When you’ve played the table games so many times that you know the rules by heart, you stop looking at the posted table rules. Those players might even think they don’t need any pointers or gambling tips.

This isn’t disastrous, but I’ve known more than a few gamblers who were caught by surprise when they learned things weren’t as they expected.

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When casinos began switching over from 3:2 blackjack to 5:6 blackjack, more than a few players were caught by surprise. How often do the posted rules change?

Not often enough to keep us checking. I’m not going to play conspiracy theorist and say the casinos were hoping for this. It was an easy mistake to make and a few people were caught off guard.

On the other hand, some keno players assume that all the video keno games are the same. That’s not true. Their rules are decided by their manufacturers, you must remember this important casino tip. The casinos might even request special games.

And taking your video keno experience to another variation of the game is risky, too. The probabilities and payout odds can change from state to state, casino to casino, style of game, etc.

Slot Machines in Casino, Caution Sign Reading Check Rules Before Playing

I’ve even heard some older slot game players complain that their favorite games stopped paying as well. The casinos may not like changing the percentages on the slot games, but they do have that option. I’m sure it’s happened. although not as often as some players believe.

If a game publishes an estimated return to player, check it every time. While knowing the RTP doesn’t guarantee you anything, you can adjust your expectations if need be.

By the same token, if you consider yourself an expert in blackjack or poker because you’ve been playing for a few years, the live casino experience is a different card game. Even if the rules are the same, it offers a different experience.

2 – Don’t Overlook the Terms and Conditions

I used to follow several online gambling forums closely. They offered to intervene with online casinos if players complained about not being paid or, worse, losing their accounts.

Sometimes, an online casino is labeled as “rogue” because they don’t work to resolve player difficulties. But in my experience, sometimes the players who reported these casinos just weren’t reading the terms and conditions carefully.

Casinos may be faulted for making these agreements complicated and hard to find.

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Some online casinos publish two terms and conditions documents. One is for the general casino account and one is for all the bonus offers.

When I was more active in online gaming, I was frustrated that casinos didn’t just combine these documents. Once I figured it was standard, I checked every site for a second document. I know for a fact that a lot of players don’t do practice this gambling tip, even though they’re experienced gamblers.

As long as you don’t violate the rules and the casino pays you on time, you can live blissfully in your ignorance. But it’s all on you if you neglect to learn the terms and conditions of the casino or bonus that you use.

3 – Keep Track of Wins and Losses

This is more of a problem for me when I’m gambling with my wife. One of us will lose when the other is winning. We hand money back and forth.

Sooner or later, we’ll realize that we’ve blown through our bankroll. If we’re lucky, we both win at the same time, but you can’t count on that.

Group Playing Blackjack at the Casino, Guy Shouting, Win Logo

Budgeting is a vital casino tip if you don’t want to start dipping into your savings account and credit cards. Know how much you have to play with at all times!

Even online gaming can be problematic if you don’t transfer your entire account balance to a game. I’ve seen a few players admit they didn’t realize they had drained their full balances by transferring too much money to their active game balances.

There are several popular methods for tracking your money. One that I’ve tried a few times is putting all my money into separate tickets or chip stacks early in the evening. I only play blackjack games with my blackjack budget. And when that’s gone, I don’t borrow from the slot game budget.

If I get ahead early on, I’ll siphon off some of my winnings into a reserve fund. I decide later if I want to gamble with that money or leave the casino with it.

4 – Don’t Assume You’re Good Enough or Better Than Everyone Else

This isn’t much of a problem at blackjack tables, except when some opinionated drunk starts criticizing other players. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen too often.

I have a few friends who play poker and they tell me that overconfidence can be a big factor in both online and land-based games. One friend even told me the best poker players use less experienced players’ overconfidence against them.

Overconfidence is also a factor to think about in sports betting.

You need to be confident in your picks, but if you use an online sports betting exchange to create your own market, you’re taking on extra risk.

The bookies aren’t just setting odds on the basis of their opinions. They take the balance of wagers on both sides of their prop bets into consideration. The bookies want to earn a commission and the players want to win bets.

When you start making your own book, you need to create reasonable offers. If you overextend yourself because you think you’ve got a sucker on the line, you’re asking for trouble.

5 – Evaluate Playing on Margin or Credit

I’ve faced this situation before. It was a combination of not being ready to call it quits at the casino and also being out of cash.

There was a credit card in my wallet that was fully paid off, and it was far too easy to borrow a thousand dollars. While it worked out okay for me, this may not be your ideal scenario.

Poker Cards on Table, Wallet with Money and Credit Cards, Casino Chips

But it may not seem too bad for a player who is being staked or sponsored by someone else. As long as they win overall, their sponsors stay in the game.

The idea of investing in a gambling career takes some people back, but it’s definitely becoming a big business. And how is it any different than investing in a startup or a well-established corporation?

Investors buy shares of stock even as it drops into the penny stock range. Until someone stops buying the stock, it will always be a risky investment rather than a sure loss. The corporation might dig its way out of a hole just as a player may start winning again.

If you’re confident in your skills and your abilities, playing on someone else’s credit may just be a helpful gambling tip for you.

6 – Never Neglect Personal Finances or Life Expenses

Every gambler should pay attention to their personal finances. Most people gamble occasionally for entertainment and are playing on a tight budget.

It’s the regular players who risk putting themselves into bad financial situations.

As long as you pay your bills and build your savings, you have the leeway to gamble your discretionary income.

When you start borrowing from your household budget, it’s probably time to take a break. Put your personal finances into order, build up your budget again through bankroll management, and wait for a better day.

The casinos aren’t going anywhere!

Conclusion

I can think of a few dumb mistakes I’ve made where I really should have known better. I can’t undo them now, but the lesson to learn from makes future mistakes easily avoidable. Never allow your overconfidence to make decisions for you.

As soon as you let that feeling of being unstoppable make your decisions, you’re back to making an avoidable mistake. Only make rational and reasonable choices when you’re gambling, and that goes for your gameplay and your bankroll management.

$225 Million Casino and Hotel Proposed for Des Moines Airport

Plane on Airport Tarmac, Poker Cards, Red Dice, $225 million Price Tag
The development group, Highview Development Group, presented their plan to build a $225 million casino and hotel to the Des Moines Airport Authority board on Tuesday. The group said the project would effectively help cover a funding shortfall for the airport’s planned new terminal. The airport board has tabled discussion of the proposal until their February meeting.

The proposed complex will include a 350-room hotel connected to the airport via a skywalk. Other winning features are a fountain, rock garden, restaurant and wedding and banquet facilities.

Highview Development Group is led by Reggie Sinha, head of a business and development consultant firm, and includes Wild Rose Entertainment, a company founded by Des Moines entrepreneur Gary Kirke, which would operate the casino.

In a statement released Wednesday, Wild Rose said:

“It should be noted that Wild Rose is not the first nor the only casino organization approached by [Sinha] and his Highview consortium. The company supports and is part of his efforts to put forth a creative solution to generate a long-term, continuous funding stream for the airport’s much needed improvements.”

Terminal Funding Projects

Two former major Des Moines construction projects valued at $16 million, the FedEx building and the South Cargo Apron project, took four years to complete and were the first of two partnerships in the new terminal vision.

Kerty Levy, Des Moines Airport Authority Board Chair, said this of the recently completed projects and their valuable connection to the new terminal vision:

“This project is part of our vision to build a new terminal. A vision that will support our local economy and enable us to grow cargo operations and air service to continue connecting Iowans to anywhere.”

The primary purpose of the $6.7 million FedEx facility was to open land on the south side of the terminal to relocate Signature Flight Support and Des Moines Flying Service to where FedEx currently sits, clearing the way for a new terminal north of the existing site.

The total South Cargo Apron project cost $9.16 million, including the cost of roadways and new pavement.

Current Casinos in the State

As of now, Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Altoona serves as the sole legal gambling house in metropolitan Des Moines since it opened as a horse track in 1989. In 1995, it added slot machines and in 2004, added table gambling.

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission twice rejected investors’ proposals for a casino in Cedar Rapids — in 2014 and 2017 — citing a “saturated market” and potential “cannibalization” of income for other casinos in the state.

Proposed Opening Date

The new, 18-gate terminal, a $500 million project, is planned to have an opening in 2028. Officials have been seeking to cover the project’s funding shortfall, a whopping $194 million, from various sources in order to complete this ambitious project.

The proposed casino-hotel could be the winning ticket to securing the additional funding needed to get the new terminal off the ground. According to the Highway Development Group’s proposal, the casino would generate $85 million per year and create 1,000 jobs.

Kayla Kovarna, an airport spokeswoman, said:

“It’s our duty to consider all proposals that might benefit the airport and greater Des Moines.”

Tips for Winning at Baccarat Games

Hand Grabbing Casino Chips on Baccarat Table, Virtual Baccarat, Winner Text
There’s something very James Bond-esque about baccarat, right up there with shaken martinis, fancy cars, and Walther PPK pistols. Because of that, the game can take on a bit of mystique that may not be quite deserved.

Is baccarat fun? Of course. Is it a great way to spend time in a casino? Yes. Is it the exclusive province of superspies and the fabulously rich? No way. That’s the problem.

For many years, people believed that you have to be loaded to play baccarat, and that’s simply not the case. There are many low bet tables where you can bet a game for around $10. Sure, that’s more than the penny slots, but it’s nothing compared to high stakes poker tournaments.

Really, I cannot encourage you to play the game enough. The rules are complex, sometimes overly so, but all you really have to do is make a bet, then sit back and watch the chips come in. If that sounds like something you can do, let’s talk about how you can win!

1 – Study the Rules

If you haven’t spent a lot of time studying the rules of baccarat, the first time you see it played, you may find it has a certain “Calvinball” quality to it. (That’s the game from Calvin and Hobbes in which the rules are made up on the spot by those playing it.)

In all seriousness, once you get used to the game, the rules of baccarat are finite, printed on reference cards for you, and make a certain amount of sense with only a slight suspension of disbelief.

Still, it’s in your best interest to find one of the cards to understand when the player has to take a third card and when the dealer has to do so as well. If you can master that, the whole game becomes clear.

Still, at the end of the day, it almost doesn’t matter because you as the player make only a small number of decisions. The game, and whether you take a hit, is solely determined by the reference card. All you can do is choose to bet on the player, the dealer, or a tie and choose whether to make side bets.

That’s it.

2 – Don’t Bet Ties

On the subject of betting in baccarat, don’t ever bet ties even though they pay large multiples of your bet. There are plenty of good resources that go through the math of why this is a bad idea, but it really comes down to how slim the chance of a tie really is.

Baccarat Table, Red Arrow and Red Don't Stop Sign, Woman Holding Hand Up

As it stands, casinos, including several real money gambling sites, may pay as much as 8 to 1 if the player and the dealer tie. However, the two sides tying will average out to far less than one in every eight times. Therefore, you are throwing your money away on a very slim possibility and that’s not the way to win.

Instead, bet the dealer and you’ll be much better off.

3 – Find Out Commissions on Dealer Bets

Statistically, your best bet is to bet the dealer. The dealer’s actions, determined by the rules, give a slight edge over the player. Unfortunately, to offset the fact that so many people bet the dealer, you have to pay a commission for all your winnings when you put your money on the dealer.

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5% is the traditional amount of commission for betting on the dealer. That means for every dollar you earn, you pay back five cents.

That shouldn’t sound like a lot and please don’t let it dissuade you, especially given the better odds the dealer will win.

However, do make sure that the commission is only 5% before you play. You don’t way any surprises when it comes to paying money back. Also, if you can, try to play baccarat in an area where several casinos offer tables as they will oftentimes lower commissions to earn your business.

4 – Decide If Mini-Baccarat Is for You

Mini-baccarat is simply baccarat played at a smaller table. Whether you end up playing mini-baccarat depends completely on what the casinos offer (and they will only offer either mini-baccarat or maxi-baccarat, not both). In the end, the real difference is four chairs between mini and maxi and how the banker (dealer) is determined.

In mini-baccarat, the role of dealer is passed around the table and only the banker can touch the cards. Everyone else is just a passive participant. It can still be fun, but it reinforces that everything is determined by the rules.

5 – Ride Streaks

At the end of the day, you (the baccarat player) can exercise minimal control over the game. The cards are going to fall where they fall, and your available action is determined solely by predetermined patterns.

With that said, you have to do something in order to decide if you’re going to bet on the player, the dealer, or a tie (which you’re not going to do, right?). In this case, your best bet is always to bet on the dealer unless the player is riding a streak.

By streak, we mean that the player has bucked the odds and won three times in a row. It’s possible in that case, the player is on a heater and you can bet on them to win, too. Of course, the odds are still in the dealer’s favor, so you can always just bet them.

6 – Pause Your Betting in Some Situations

Part of betting a streak is that there has to be a streak on which to bet. A streak automatically ends when that person, dealer or player, loses. Therefore, it is perfectly acceptable to not bid a hand or two to see if either the dealer or the player is going to establish another streak on which you will bet.

Casino Dealer and Player at Baccarat Table, Yellow Pause Button, Poker Cards

However, if you feel the need to place a bet even after a streak is over, you can always bet the dealer or bet a tie, which (again), you won’t do because you are 15 times less likely to make money.

7 – Be Consistent

The above ideas about betting streaks are just one way to approach baccarat betting. There are others which are just as legitimate that you can choose.

Either way, whatever you do, be consistent in how you bet and stay true to whatever you decide. That way, you’re not trying to bet with your gut on something which is really a fancy guessing game.

8 – Fewer Decks Means Less Variance

If you can, try to find baccarat games with fewer decks. Most of the time, baccarat is played with six to eight poker decks. If you can find a table that uses six decks, there should be less variance in the hands because there are fewer cards.

9 – Watch Your Bankroll

Watching your bankroll in baccarat is very important because the game plays fast. If there are a small number of players at the table, you can be starting a new hand every few minutes at $10 (or more) per play.

People Playing Casino Baccarat, Hand Pulling Money From Wallet, Watch Out Icon

That kind of spending has the ability to deplete a bankroll quickly if you’re not paying attention. Always keep in mind how much money you have overall and set loss limits for yourself. That way, you know when it’s a good time to get up and play another game over which you may have more control.

10 – Minimize Your Exposure

Baccarat removes a lot of the skill elements of betting and focuses in on the randomness.

That doesn’t mean it’s not fun, but there’s no bluffing, no bullying other players at the table with your chip stack, etc. There’s just following your system for betting and hoping that your chips come in.

Because of this, it’s a good idea to play baccarat in spurts. After you have won or lost a set amount, that’s a good time to get up from the table and do something else. That way, you don’t get on a run of bad luck and watch your money drift away because of your bankroll management.

Conclusion

It probably sounds like I don’t like baccarat or think of it as a lesser game because it leaves so much up to chance. That’s simply not the case. Baccarat is fun and exciting and makes me feel like a superspy (even if I like my martinis stirred).

It is important to realize that, with baccarat, there is no magical formula that will generate a win every time. That’s just not how the game works. That’s why you pay commission if you place a less risky bet (in other words, betting on the dealer).

If your local casino supports baccarat and you have the bankroll for its minimum bet, there’s absolutely no reason that you shouldn’t play. Just keep in mind that if you want a game that involves a lot of skill, baccarat is not it. Keep that in mind and you will have a great time when you hit the baccarat table.

Reasons Why Gamblers Love Land-Based Casinos

Slot Machine Floor in Casino, Guy Excited
Land-based casinos come in all shapes and sizes, and the public definitely has a stereotypical image of the industry. But not every casino looks like the big Strip casinos you see in movies.

That image is cultivated, and it contributes to the flood of emotions that some problem gamblers feel. For everyone else, the glamour and the noise of the crowd heighten our excitement, too.

Even on a slow night, a large, popular casino gives the appearance of being ready to stage a ball or celebration. It’s an ongoing party, 24/7. Most people enjoy the rush of walking through the doors, hearing the ring of the slot machines, and the excited crowds standing around the craps tables.

But there’s so much more to the modern casino experience than the cultivated sights and sounds. Visitors expect to be pampered, treated like royalty, and have all their basic needs fulfilled.

So, why do local players enjoy going to the small casinos? The industry is large enough to have something for everyone. I’ve visited many casinos, large and small, in winter and summer, in northern and southern climes.

Although I have my own ideas about why people love land-based casinos, I looked around to see what others say. Here are the 4 most popular reasons people love going to the casinos either when they travel or when they get off work.

1 – Everybody Knows Your Name

Many people who play at their local (smaller) casinos say they enjoy being greeted by name by the staff. They also mention how polite and professional casino staff are when they’re regulars.

This is a necessary skill for anyone who works in a public place, but some companies enforce the standard better than others. The casino industry in general has earned a reputation for hiring polite, discreet staff.

On the other side of the coin, many casino workers complain about certain types of customers who are rude. Casino employees may be required to endure a little nastiness every week. Hence, they appreciate polite and thoughtful customers (not to mention tips).

Casino Craps Table, Two Hands Handshake

Good customers aren’t just people who contribute to the company’s profits. They also treat employees with respect and don’t create problems. Staff members will remember you kindly for your good behavior.

Hence, local land-based casinos have an advantage over tourist destinations because workers can get to know the regulars and establish good rapport with them. I’m sure this is one of the main reasons why smaller casinos can do well even in crowded markets.

2 – The Food Is Good

Sure, I’ve eaten sandwiches at a few roadside land-based casinos that felt and tasted like they were days old. But maybe I just picked the worst times to eat. I can definitely think of a few bad meals I’ve had from pretty much every restaurant where I’ve been a regular customer for years.

Casino food usually has a reputation for being of higher quality. Industry-wide practice is to use good buffets and specialty restaurants as loss leaders

I’ve been invited to lunch a few times by friends and co-workers who drove the extra few minutes down the road to a nearby Native American casino. The buffet was excellent and far better than what you’d find at regular restaurants in town.

Casinos know that if you enjoy the experience, you’re more likely to come back. The buffet isn’t just a loss leader, it’s also advertising. You have to walk past all the casino games to get to the food, and that’s purposeful at most casinos.

3 – Most People Feel Safe in Casinos

Although crime can happen anywhere, the security available at land-based casinos reassure most people.

If you’re in a strange town and want some entertainment, a local casino is usually a great place to spend a few hours. They’ll do what they must to keep their customers safe and happy.

Whether you’re truly any safer at a casino than other venues isn’t the point. If people feel safer there, they’ll enjoy going back more often. It’s simple psychology.

Woman Playing Slot Machine in Casino, Safe Zone Caution Sign

When thrill-seekers seek out danger, most of them do it in a controlled environment. They don’t really want to stroll through a violent crime-infested neighborhood with wads of cash in their hands.

A few years ago, I worked with a woman who spent a lot of time at a nearby casino. I asked her if she won much and she said she broke even most of the time.

So, why did she keep going back? Because the part of town where she lived didn’t have much to offer in the way of affordable entertainment.

It wasn’t a bad neighborhood, but it was surrounded by bars and cheap motels. She didn’t feel safe in those areas when night fell.

4 – The Climate-Controlled Environment Is Unparalleled

When I was a kid, we spent a lot of hot summer days at the local cinema. While I still enjoy watching a good movie in the theater, it’s not the same experience for me. The last time I was a regular movie-goer was when I was in college.

As the weather heated up, I found myself spending more spare time in cinemas and shopping malls. The air conditioning made the days pass comfortably.

A few winters ago, my wife and I were bored at home. There was snow everywhere in our town, and it was a risky drive to go very far even though the snowplows were working.

So, we drove over to a nearby casino. We parked in a decked garage, so the snow didn’t cover our car. Then, we strolled inside where our heavy coats were immediately too warm.

Whether it’s the summer or winter, if you want to escape the weather, a casino offers entertainment, food, shelter, and sometimes even a hotel room if you cannot travel.

I can’t get a room at a shopping mall, and most movies last about two hours if even that long. The casino offers a full evening of distraction, good food, and comfort.

The night we went, we thought the place would be deserted. We were lucky to find a covered parking space. It turned out a lot of other people had the same idea. Luckily, our local casino offers plenty of room, so we were able to head to our favorite section and play slot machine games.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that we love to hang out at places that make us feel safe and create an enjoyable experience.

The rush of playing games in a casino comes and goes. That’s the danger of spending too much time in a gaming venue. But I’d say the euphoria and excitement gamblers feel are no different from what sports fans enjoy on a long weekend.

There’s no shame in admitting you enjoy the crowd, the lights, the noise, and the gaming. We love going to land-based casinos because they can be a lot of fun.

What’s Happening in Vegas? January 12-18

There’s something for everybody in Las Vegas. Sports, entertainment, and fun await residents and travelers to Sin City.

Here are all the exciting events taking place this week in Las Vegas:

What's Happening in Vegas Banner

Sunday: January 12th

Escape to Margaritaville

The new musical is appearing at The Smith Center in Las Vegas for their first tour run.  Based on the hit song by Jimmy Buffet, the story follows singing bartender Tully who falls for a woman who walks into his bar. 

With music and lyrics by Buffet himself, the story is a fun tropical-style romp.

Escape to Margaritaville has performances at 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM on January 12th. Tickets are available through The Smith Center.

Monday: January 13th

Ice Skating at Cosmopolitan

The Ice Rink is reopening at The Cosmopolitan and guests of all ages can enjoy the skating fun while taking in the surrounding views of Las Vegas.

Each winter the Boulevard Pool freezes over and becomes a trendy spot to strap on the skates, sip some hot chocolate, and snack on s’ mores by the firepit.

The Ice Rink at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas opens Monday, January 13th at noon with prices starting at $30.

Wednesday: January 15th

UNLV vs San Jose State

UNLV Runnin’ Rebels will face the San Jose Spartans at the Thomas and Mack Center.

The Rebels are looking to keep their momentum going strong coming off a four-game win streak while The Spartans will be pushing hard for dominance. This promises to be an action-packed game.

Catch all the action Wednesday, January 15th starting at 8 PM. Tickets are just $15.

Thursday: January 16th

Bartender Battle at Hofbrauhaus

The ultimate bartender competition will take place at Hofbrauhaus on Thursday, January 16th.

Local bartenders in Las Vegas will go head-to-head in a real-time competition to see who can make the best cocktail. Attendees can enjoy samples of the signature cocktails during round one.

The battle begins at 6 PM with tickets priced at $15. Must be 21 years or older to attend.

Saturday: January 18th

The Chainsmokers at XS

Grammy Award-winning duo The Chainsmokers continue their residency at XS nightclub inside The Wynn Las Vegas.

XS has frequently been ranked as one of the top nightclubs in Vegas and has quickly become the place to see EDM, making it the perfect home for The Chainsmokers whose residency is set to run through 2021.

Fans can catch their live performances for just $40 per ticket.

There’s always something to do in Las Vegas, the city that never sleeps!

3 Easy Steps to Improve Your Blackjack Results

Blackjack-Results
Many gamblers enjoy playing blackjack, or 21, as it’s known to some people. You try to get the highest total you can without you or the dealer going over 21. But many gamblers don’t have any idea how to play the best way, so they end up losing more than they need to every time they play.

Here’s a list of three steps you can make that are easy to implement and will start helping your results right away. The first two are steps that every single blackjack player in the world should take. The third one almost guarantees a profit, but it’s not for everyone.

1 – The Only Strategy Is Basic Strategy

I frequently hear blackjack players giving other players advice on how to play their hands and whether or not they should take insurance. Sometimes, the dealer even shares his or her advice on how to play. Once in a while, the advice is good, but most of the time, the advice is to be taken with a grain of salt.

Blackjack-Image

Sometimes, I see blackjack players play a hand one way, and later play the same hand a different way. I also see players take insurance then decline it for other rounds. If you don’t know why playing the same hand different ways is wrong, I’m going to share with you something that’s very important.

Every hand and situation at the blackjack table has a single best way to play. The right play is always the same, so there’s never a good reason to change. This is based on advanced mathematical and computer simulations that consider every possible outcome for each hand, combined with the dealer up card. The results from this analysis are a set of plays that are the best in every situation.

This blackjack strategy is usually called “basic strategy.” And if you’re not using it now, you need to start immediately and use it for every blackjack hand you play for the rest of your life.

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Blackjack has a lower house edge than most casino games, and it’s easy to learn how to play. Many people learn to play blackjack from family and friends as they’re growing up.

Here’s a link to some basic blackjack strategies you can use every time you play online or print out to use when you play in a land-based casino.

Blackjack strategy charts are easy to use, and it’s not against the rules to use them in most casinos. When you receive your two starting cards, look for them on the chart. Then, find the dealer’s up card and figure out the best play where the two lines cross. Remember, this is the best play every time.

The other part of basic blackjack strategy you need to follow is to never take insurance. It doesn’t matter what anyone else tells you or what cards you have, it’s always a bad bet to take insurance. Even though some dealers and casinos and players call insurance even money, there’s nothing about the insurance bet that’s even money.

2 – Table Rules Are Important

Now that you understand why using basic blackjack strategy is so important and have a chart to use, you’re well ahead of most blackjack players. When you use the proper blackjack strategy, it keeps the house edge as low as possible in any blackjack game you play. But there’s something else you can do to improve your blackjack results, and that’s find games with good rules.

You won’t find a standard set of blackjack rules, because one doesn’t exist. Some casinos have a standard blackjack game, but different games use a different combination of rules. I’m going to cover the main rules in this section and show you which ones are good for you and which ones aren’t.

Look for blackjack games that have as many good rules as possible and your results will start improving because the house edge is going to be lower.

The number of decks the casino uses changes the house edge. The basic rule is, the lower the number of decks being used, the better for you. A single deck blackjack game is slightly better than a double deck game, which is slightly better than four deck shoes, etc. This isn’t the most important blackjack rule, but if all of the other rules are the same, play in the game with the least number of decks.

A natural blackjack pays 3:2 at most blackjack tables, but more casinos are offering tables that only pay 6:5. The house edge goes up so much on the 6:5 tables that you should never play on a table that doesn’t offer 3:2 pay outs. This is one rule you should never break.

When to Surrender in Blackjack

Blackjack Surrender is only available on certain tables, but it’s a good rule if it’s available. The rule allows you to surrender your hand and receive half your original wager back.

Some tables allow players to double down after splitting pairs, and this is a good rule for you. It’s quite valuable to be able to double down on each hand created when you split aces, so keep an eye out for tables that allow this.

Blackjack tables either have the dealer stand or hit on a soft 17. The best option for you is where the dealer stands on a soft 17, but this isn’t as important as several of the other rules.

You want to play on tables that allow you to split pairs as many times as possible. When you split a pair and receive another pair on one of the hands you split, it’s best if you can split again, and not all tables allow this.

Another rule to look for is being allowed to double down on any two cards. It’s even better if you can double down at any time on any number of cards, but this is a rare rule. The most important totals to be allowed to double down on are 11, 10, and nine.

3 – Be the Dealer

While this isn’t something you can find much information about, one of the best ways to make money from blackjack is to offer the game instead of playing the game. This comes with a big warning; in many areas, it may be illegal to offer casino games without a license.

It’s technically illegal to run private poker games in many areas, but most law enforcement agencies ignore home poker games as long as no one is getting cheated. But casino games, like blackjack, put you in more danger of being arrested. If you want to start your own blackjack game, seek legal advice and do everything you can to protect yourself.

Blackjack is designed so the house wins most of the time. A few players have learned how to count cards and beat the house, but the vast majority of players lose more than they win. If blackjack games weren’t profitable overall, the casinos would quit offering them.

This means that the way to make the most money with blackjack is being the house. You’re going to need a large bankroll to fund your game, but as long as you have enough to survive the ups and downs and can avoid being cheated, there are few better ways to generate profit.

You also need a table, preferably covered in felt, several decks of playing cards, and a shoe to deal the cards from and a shuffling machine are also helpful. You need to replace worn decks of cards frequently, and higher quality cards last longer, but cards are an ongoing expense.

Smart blackjack players can use worn playing cards to get an edge, so don’t try to use cards too long before you replace them. You also need to watch for players trying to mark cards. The final thing you need to do to get prepared is learn how to deal correctly. If you don’t deal correctly, you can flash the value of cards to players, which can also eliminate your edge.

Once you have everything in place, all you have to do is find players. Be careful when trying to find players, because large amounts of cash often attract thieves and other dishonest people.

Conclusion

Print out the strategies I linked to in this article and start using it every time you play blackjack. This is the only way to keep the house edge as low as possible, which gives you a better chance to win. The next step is to find blackjack tables with the best rules. When you combine tables with good rules and always use the best strategy, your results are going to improve immediately.

7 Poker Myths Exposed

Hand Grabbing Casino Chips Off Poker Table, False Red Stamp
One of the things that makes poker such a great game is the fact that there are very few things that are correct 100% of the time. Pocket aces beat seven-two off suit most of the time, but there are some situations where the bad hand wins. Most answers to casino poker gaming questions actually depend on the situation.

Have you heard or read advice like you should always play tight and aggressive or you should always raise with pockets kings and aces? At first, advice like this seems useful, but is it always true?

In this article, I evaluate seven poker myths I’ve heard over the years that are supposed to be true. As you read each section, you’re going to learn which pieces of advice you should be following.

1 – Always Raise With Pocket Aces

The advice that you should always raise with pocket aces is aimed at beginning and poor poker players. It’s hard to misplay pocket aces.  And if you’re not a strong player, the best way to play them is to enter the pot with a raise.

But if you’re a strong player, there are times where you can make more money with pocket aces by not raising when you enter the pot. Before continuing, you need to know that if you play limit Texas holdem, you should raise every time you have pocket aces. The only time you can possibly make more money not raising to enter the pot is in no limit or pot limit play.

Here’s an example where calling with pocket aces can be more profitable than raising.

Four Poker Cards Spread Out with Colored Casino Chips on the SideYou’re in late position in a no limit Texas holdem game, and everyone involved in the hand has deep stacks. You’re known as a strong player, and most of the players at the table respect your play. A loose but fairly good early position player enters the pot with a raise and one middle position player, who is particularly tight, calls.

If you raise, the early position player will probably see the flop with you, but the tight player in middle position may fold. If the tight player calls your raise and sees the flop, and if you get any play from them after the flop, the odds are high that they hit a big hand.

On the other hand, if you call instead of raise, neither of your two opponents can put you on a hand. When you call, and the loose player opens with a bet on the flop, the middle position player will call with a wider range of hands because they know the early player is loose.

By playing the hand this way, you can extract extra bets from the middle position player and often from the loose player in early position as well.

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Of course, the downside is that you let them both see if they can improve on the flop without charging them to do so. This is why it’s usually better to raise with pocket aces.

Does all of this mean you should stop raising with pocket aces? For most players, you should continue raising with them every time you get them.

The way you’re going to know that you’re ready to consider not raising is when you start seeing how the hand can play out before the flop and see more opportunities for profit by calling. The truth is, most poker players never reach this level of play.

2 – Always Raise With Pocket Kings

I actually raise with pocket kings more often than I raise with pocket aces. Pocket kings are a strong hand, but I don’t want to let anyone with a weak ace see the flop for cheap and outdraw me. But pocket kings can be played without a raise in a few situations like the ones I covered in the last section.

I personally believe that you need to be an even stronger player after the flop to not raise with pocket kings.

This is a play that only the best players should try to make, and even for them, it should be a rare occasion.

3 – Always Play Tight

Tight play is usually the best way to play poker because it means that you fold weak hands. If you were able to track all of the starting hands that you could possibly play, and assign the average profit or loss to each hand over millions of hands of poker, you could clearly see why playing tight is more profitable than playing loose.

The player with the best starting hand to enter the pot has the best chance to win. Of course, the flop, turn, and river changes things sometimes, but the best starting hand wins more than any other hand in the pot.

Your abilities after the flop also come into play, and superior post-flop players can play a few more hands than weaker players. But even the best poker players tend to play tighter than most.

So, should you always play tight?

Hand Holding Poker Cards Spread, Question Mark

The answer is that you should play the way that is the most profitable. If playing tight is the most profitable way to play in the situation you’re in, then play tight. But there are times when the tightest player at the table doesn’t make the most profit.

The most common situation where being the tightest player isn’t profitable is when you’re playing at an extremely tight table. When everyone at the table is playing tight, it’s often more profitable to loosen up a little bit. But you need to be careful not to play too many more hands.

Most poker players will be more profitable if they play tighter. This is because most poker players play too many hands.

4 – Always Play in an Aggressive Manner

The type of play suggested by many experts is tight and aggressive. I covered why tight play is usually the best option in the last section, but what about aggressive play?

Aggressive play is usually better than passive play because of two things. When you play aggressively, you can win when your opponents fold or by having the best hand at the end. When you play passively, the only way to win is by having the best hand.

When you play aggressively, you also force your opponents to make more decisions under stress. Every time an opponent needs to make a decision, he or she can make a mistake, and every time an opponent makes a mistake, it’s profitable for you.

But be careful, this isn’t the case one-hundred percent of the time with aggressive play. Check out this blog from my colleague on when you shouldn’t use tight aggressive poker play.

But all in all, both of these reasons are good, and they’re why most players are better off being aggressive. But just like tight play, there are times when taking a more passive approach can be more profitable.

The best time to consider passive play is when you’re playing at a table with one or more hyper aggressive players. You can let them lead the betting when you have a big hand, because more players will stay in the pot with them.

5 – Never Slow Play a Monster Hand

I’ve actually seen and heard advice about never slow playing a monster hand and always slow playing a monster hand. But a monster hand is like many other things in poker, because you need to do whatever has the best chance of maximizing your profits.

In limit play, I always bet and raise at every opportunity with a monster hand. I don’t want to miss a single bet, so I never check or just call in limit play.

Person Looking Over Poker Cards Playing Poker with Three Friends, Yellow Caution Tape

In no limit play, the only times I slow play a monster is when it’s so strong that it can’t be beat, like four of a kind or a straight flush, or when a maniac is doing all of the betting and raising for me.

At the lower levels, most players aren’t sharp enough or paying enough attention to recognize when you have a monster hand. This means there’s no reason to slow play. As you move up in levels and the competition gets better, there are limited situations where slow playing may be more profitable. But you have to remember that as your competition gets better, they’re more likely to realize you’re slow playing.

6 – Play Against Better Players to Get Better

While I agree in general that one way to improve your poker skills is to play against better players, the problem I have is that it’s costly to play against better players. In other words, this is an expensive way to get an education.

There are many ways to improve your poker skills, and only one of them involves playing against better players. It’s much more profitable to find tables with weaker players.

You can read books and good poker strategy articles to improve. You can take a break from playing on gambling sites and watch videos of better players. You can take a shot against better players from time to time, but I avoid them as often as possible so I can maximize my profits.

7 – Never Play Free Poker

I don’t like to play free poker online because the play is so bad that it can mess with my game. I’ve even read advice that you should never play free poker. But I think free poker has a place, and I think it’s a great way for new and inexperienced players to learn how to play.

Casino Table with Casino Chips, Laptop Displaying Online Poker Game, Free Games Text, Red X

Once you learn how to play and adopt some simple poker strategy, I suggest moving to the real money tables. Even the online micro limit tables are better than the free tables. One thing you should know is that if you can’t beat the free money tables, you aren’t going to be able to beat the real money tables.

The strategy you use to beat the free tables won’t work as well at the real money tables, but it’s where you need to start.

Conclusion

Whenever you hear someone say that you should always do a certain play at the poker table, take a minute and think it through. Rarely should you do something 100% of the time playing poker. There are a lot of myths surrounding poker, and most of the time, you’re better off changing up your play a small percentage to maximize your profits depending on the situation.

How to Improve Your Poker Strategy by Watching TV

Hand Holding Remote Pointing at Television, Poker Chips and Text
Not long ago, one of the bloggers here wrote a post about how watching televised poker was bad for your ability to learn to play casino poker games.

He makes some good points. Watching the World Series of Poker on ESPN isn’t going to turn you into a poker pro – no matter how much time you spend in front of the television watching it.

And the players on shows like High Stakes Poker and Poker Night are probably playing the game differently than they would if the cameras weren’t rolling.

In a sense, these shows are just more reality television. And if you haven’t noticed yet, there’s no reality in reality television.

That being said, I think a discerning poker player can improve his game in several ways by watching poker on television.

1- Keep a Journal

One of the first tricks to improving your poker game by watching poker on television is to start taking notes and keeping a journal based on what you’re seeing. When you write things down, you’re more likely to remember them. Also, it’s impossible to write about stuff when you’re not thinking about it.

The only way to improve your poker strategy by watching poker on television is to think about what you’re seeing.

Do you agree or disagree with how the player handled that hand?

Were you rooting for one of the players in particular?

Do the players on television exhibit any tells?

Are any of them acting and trying to throw off their opponents?

What are the announcers saying about the action? Do the announcers know enough about the game to provide insight into the decisions that are being made?

Answering questions like these – especially as they relate to specific hands, can help you make watching poker on television a more active and less passive experience, which is a requirement if you’re going to get better at the game this way.

2- Think About What Your Role Model Would Do in a Situation

It’s easy to get caught up in your emotions when it’s time to make a decision. This is true in all aspects of life, poker included. One of the ways to get some impartiality into your thought is to think about what your favorite poker player would do in your situation.

In fact, it doesn’t even matter who your favorite TV poker player is. Just asking the question of yourself before making the decision can provide you with the distance from the situation that you need to make a better poker decision.

Poker Professional Daniel Negreanu, Questions Marks on Sticky Notes, Two Poker Cards

What would Doyle Brunson do here?

What would Phil Hellmuth do here?

What would Daniel Negreanu do here?

I can promise you this:

Any of these players has starting hand requirements that are probably tighter than yours. If you’re thinking about playing a marginal hand, you can use this line of thinking to make better decisions and tighten up.

3- Use the TV Shows to Motivate You

Most of us spend too little time reading about and improving our game. We also tend to not get enough practice at the things we’re hoping to be good at. If you have the right mindset, you can use televised poker to get yourself motivated to do what’s necessary to improve your game.

Think about it.

When Chris Moneymaker won the 2003 WSOP Main Event, it was exciting. Who doesn’t want to think they have a chance at becoming a millionaire at the poker table?

And if Chris Moneymaker can do it, so can you. He’s not some kind of savant or genius.

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He is, however, a dedicated student of the game who reads about and plays the game with an eye toward learning.

Any time you see someone playing poker on television, use them as motivation to study more or play more. Once you feel ready to go, put your knowledge to the test by gambling on real money sites.

4- Look for Shows with Lots of Commentary

Not all poker shows are created equal. The best poker shows feature knowledgeable commentary from expert poker players. If you can find episodes of World Poker Tour where Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten are discussing the decisions the players are making, you have a learning resource like no other. Both hosts are excellent players with a lot of insight to share.

Poker Card Icons Wallpaper, Television Displaying World Poker Tour Show

Some poker shows feature interviews with the players, too. Any time you get to watch Phil Hellmuth or Annie Duke discuss why they played a hand the way they did, you should take advantage of it.

5- Use Poker Shows for Hand Histories

One of the best things about watching poker on television is that it gives you access to hand histories you wouldn’t otherwise have without risking money. You can post these hand histories in poker forums to ask other players for their opinions.

The amount of knowledge and expertise in many poker forums is astounding, and it really shines when you start discussing specific hand histories.

You could also get free hand histories by playing free poker on some kind of play money website, too, but since there’s no money on the line in these games, they don’t offer the same learning opportunities.

I advise players who are serious about wanting to get good at poker to avoid play money games. With nothing of value on the line, people make bad decisions repeatedly. They tend to carry those bad habits into games with real money.

In other words, poker on television gives you a shot at getting experience at the tables without risking money and without learning bad habits when there’s no money on the line.

6- Look to the Internet

Not all televised poker is on traditional broadcast channels. If you’ll broaden your definition of what constitutes “poker on television,” you’ll find that a lot of videos of poker online offer learning opportunities.

In fact, you can even find virtual poker classes on some websites. You pay a fee to take the class, but you then get access to a world-class poker player like Daniel Negreanu who actually teaches a class on how to win at poker on your computer screen.

Hand Reaching for Laptop Displaying Poker Cards and Casino Chips

For people who enjoy virtual learning experiences, this kind of poker television programming is invaluable.

You can find multiple websites that offer nothing but poker tutorials on video, and you can also find great poker strategy tutorials on YouTube for free.

Another option is to look through blogs. There a lot of great resources out there written by poker experts. These blogs usually include tips on how to play, how to make the best bets, and pointers on how to win more playing poker.

7- Become Even More Active in Your Poker TV Watching

One way to watch poker on television is to have a friend watch a pre-recorded show and relate the action to you afterward. You can tell him how you’d play the hand without the benefit of seeing the other players’ hole cards. You can then compare your decisions with what the player on television did.

You can also discuss with your friend whether you made the right decisions compared to the players on television. Chances are, your poker-watching buddy will also want you to do the same for him.

It’s best to do this exercise with someone who’s at least as good at poker as you are.

It’s a way of becoming even more active when you’re watching televised poker, even though you’re spending quite a bit of time not watching the action at all.

Conclusion

The ultimate trick to using televised poker to improve your poker strategy is to become a more active viewer. Passively watching what’s happening on the screen won’t improve your game.

But if you take notes and discuss what you’re learning with someone else, you can definitely take your game up a notch.

I’ve had many an enjoyable conversation with my best poker friend about the poker we’ve watched on TV. It’s taken my game up a notch.

I have several notebooks filled with journal entries about what happened on the poker shows I was watching on television, too.

All of that plays a big part into how your poker gaming skills improve from watching tv. You’ll see it payoff the next time you play a game.

Also, do your best to find shows with commentary from both players and announcers who are watching the game. It’s hard to find a substitute for getting actual advice and insight from real poker pros.

Finally, take advantage of the variety of poker programming now available on the internet – especially the classes available in various venues.

I’m a big fan of Daniel Negreanu, and I think anyone who’s wanting to take their poker game to the next level will find watching his Masterclass worthwhile.

There’s no substitute for experience, but poker TV can be a valuable learning tool, in the same way that discussion forums and books can be learning tools.

If you take nothing else away from this post, do this:

Try writing something down about the next poker game you watch on TV. You might be surprised at what kind of insight that provides you.

Legalization of Sports Betting Being Discussed in California

It’s been over a year since the Supreme Court lifted the ban on sports betting which opened the option for states to legalize it. States around the country have been taking advantage of the new opportunity since the decision was made in 2018. California is the latest to begin talks on legalizing sports betting as state lawmakers held a preliminary hearing in regards to it.

A Man Stands in Front of a Sportsbook

The push for legalized sports betting was made by Senator Bill Dodd with added support from Assemblyman Adam Gray. In the past, Gray has made unsuccessful attempts to try to get an amendment made to the constitution which allows sports betting. That amendment would need to be passed before California can join the other states where sports betting is legal.

Native American Tribes Pushing for Sports Betting

A coalition of Native American tribes is also pushing for sports betting in California to become legalized. On the heels of Assemblyman Gray and Senator Dodd’s filing of the proposed bill, the coalition filed their own paperwork in favor of legalization.

In June of 2018, it looked like the political influence the tribes held would halt the proposed bill immediately. A case was brought against the state of California and Governor Jerry Brown regarding illegal card rooms that the tribes held exclusive rights over. However, several tribes are now supporting the initiative.

The Bill Has Mainstream Support

The Sacramento Kings of the NBA are among some of the top names in professional sports that are in strong support of the California bill being passed. People in the horse racing industry are also big proponents of enabling sports wagering in California. In the past, many sports leagues were in direct opposition to the legalization of sports betting citing that it would undermine the integrity of the games being played.

Now, as more and more states are legalizing sports betting, some sports leagues are in favor of the proposed changed with one caveat. They’ve suggested that “integrity fees” be added to the bill. In other words, they’re suggesting that any wagers become taxed. Still, having names like the Sacramento Kings backing the bill can only help the initiative as it moves forward.

Which States Have Legal Sports Betting?

Nevada is the most well-known gambling state in the U.S. and sports betting has been legal there for decades. Other states with legalized gambling include Oregon, Arkansas, Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia.

Several other states have either recently legalized sports betting or are very close to it. This includes Colorado, Maine, Montana, Tennessee, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Illinois, and Washington D.C.

Legalized sports betting is growing but it will still take time and patience before it is seen in every state.

4 Gambling Prophesies for the Next 10 Years

Futuristic Gear Wallpaper, Person Playing Casino Slot Machine with Arms Up
It’s difficult to see how much things change in a decade if you’re living through the changes. Small things happen that don’t seem like a big deal, but when all of the small things come together they often create a big change that no one seems to notice.

Changes are coming faster and faster in the world because of technology and the open availability of knowledge. The availability of just about anything you want to know is just a few seconds away by searching on the cell phone in your pocket or on your computer. This means that things are changing faster than ever.

Some of these changes are good, like advances in medicine, and some of them are bad, like evil people being able to access information and products they need to advance their evil causes. Advancement in all areas is going to continue, so the smart people and companies are looking for new ways to take advantage of changes.

The gambling industry is not immune to advancements. Things have changed in several areas in the last 10 years, and they’re going to continue changing. Here are four gambling prophecies for the next 10 years. All four of them are already happening to some degree, but all four of them are going to continue and accelerate in the coming decade.

1 – Sports Betting Lines Are Going to Get Tighter

Sportsbooks have been getting better at setting tight lines for several years. And I predict that they’re going to continue improving their lines over the next decade. Everyone has access to more information and analysis about sports and athletes than ever before.

Smart sports bettors are using this information to make better betting decisions, and the sportsbooks are using it to make tighter lines.

Man Standing in Front of Sportsbook TVs, Money Bills Spread Out with Baseball Mitten and Bat

Consider some of the advanced statistical measures you have access to today that didn’t exist a decade ago. In baseball, wins above replacement, or WAR, and defensive zone rating help bettors predict outcomes of games in ways they never could before.

The sportsbooks dedicate more resources and time to setting their lines than sports bettors, and the books are already using all of the information they can access. The books are going to continue using advanced statistical data and refining their lines. Eventually it’s going to eliminate profitable betting opportunities for all but the top few percent of sports bettors.

2 – Good Blackjack Games Are Going to Be Harder to Find

It’s harder to find good blackjack games than it was 10 years ago, and it’s only going t get worse. This is evident by the influx of 6 to 5 tables. And even the tables that still pay 3 to 2 are using worse rules on average than in the past.

Sadly, I don’t see this trend reversing. As long as blackjack players are playing on tables with poor rules, why would the casinos change anything? Most blackjack players have no idea how the rules hurt them, and the casinos don’t want smart blackjack players anyway. As long as the casinos can fill table with poor rules they make more money and the added benefit is they make the advantage players look elsewhere.

The only way you’re going to see more blackjack tables with good rules come back is if players stop playing the current games. And I simply don’t see this happening.

The one place where you’re probably still going to be able to find blackjack tables with decent rules is online, but online tables have a few advantages for the casinos that land based tables don’t. Online casinos can offer better blackjack rules because advantage players can’t beat the games by counting and players can play more hands per hour than they can play live.

It’s also cheaper for an online casino to offer blackjack than a land based casino because they don’t have the same overhead. They don’t have to pay a dealer, buy a table and cards, and keep a giant building running like a land based casino.

3 – Online Gambling Will Be Legalized and Taxed in Most of the United States

Technically, for this prophecy to be true there only needs to be legalized online gambling in 26 out of the 50 states. I don’t think there’s any question that this is going to happen, and I don’t think it’s going to take 10 years. I wouldn’t be surprised if some form of legalized online gambling will be available in 45 or more of the 50 states in 10 years.

A few states, like Utah and Hawaii, basically don’t offer any kind of gambling and don’t seem inclined to change. But most states are more interested in tax revenue than policing their citizens, so if they can increase tax revenues they’re willing to at least consider just about anything.

You’re currently seeing more and more states legalize sports betting, and the United States already has legalized online poker and online casinos in a few states. While it may seem slow, the fact is that online gambling legalization is spreading in the United States.

United States Flag, Person on Laptop Surrounded by Casino Chips

The United States has a unique legal situation with some powers resting in the federal government’s hands and other powers in the state’s control. It’s possible that the federal government will try to create some form of legalized online gambling system, but the most likely scenario is that it continues to be on a state by state basis.

One problem with operating on a state to state basis is you end up with a bunch of different laws based on where you’re located. But you already see some states cooperating, like a few states sharing their pool of poker players.

The biggest thing that’s driving, and going to continue driving this, is that United States citizens are already gambling real money online and the states aren’t collecting taxes from most of this activity. It’s obvious that the states and federal government isn’t going to be able to completely shut down online gambling, because they’ve tried and failed.

The next step is legalizing it and taxing it. They might as well make some money from it if they can’t stop it. I don’t see how anything else can realistically happen in the next 10 years.

4 – Land Based Casino Companies Are Going to Take Over Online Gambling

Land based casino and gambling companies are already moving into online casino and gambling activities in regulated markets, and this trend is going to accelerate. For many years there was a divide between land based and online gambling. Companies either ran land based operations or online operations.

Many owners of land based gambling companies have fought online gambling tooth and nail. This makes sense, because online gambling targets the same customers as land based gambling companies, and it’s more convenient for gamblers to log in and gamble from home on their computer, tablet, or smart phone than fight traffic and take the time to travel to a land based casino, sportsbook, or poker room.

Even though the land based gambling owners have been able to delay the l