7 Tips for Winning at the Casino (Even if You’re a Beginner)

By in Casino & Gaming on
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Winning at the Casino

I write a lot of gambling tips posts, but I wanted to focus on some specific advice for a specific kind of gambler in this post:

I want to focus exclusively on winning at the casino if you’re a beginner.

Since gambling is a chance-based activity, your odds of winning are about the same as anyone else’s.

But some games offer better odds than others, and you can improve your odds of winning by choosing the casino games with better odds.

Here’s how to do that on a consistent basis even if you’re a beginner gambler:

1 – Learn How to Play Blackjack

If you’ve seen Vegas Vacation, you know that Clark Griswold thinks that blackjack is the only game in the casino where a smart player can get an edge over the casino.

He’s silly, but he’s not wrong.

If you play blackjack skillfully, you can definitely get an edge over the casino.

And, even if you can’t get an edge, you can face the best odds in the house – that still requires some skill on your part – just not as much.

The first step in learning to play blackjack is to review the basic rules for the game. Spend some time playing one of the free games at an online casino to get a feel for how everything works.

Blackjack is a fast-paced game, and you don’t want to lose money just because you’re confused about the action.

The next step is to master something called basic strategy. If you’re a beginner, just buy one of the laminated cards they sell in the casino gift shop and use it to inform your play of each hand.

Finally, once you’ve mastered the basics of how to play and basic strategy, you can move on to improve your odds by learning how to count cards. If you know when the deck favors the player, you can raise your bet sizes to get a positive expectation.

You probably won’t get rich playing blackjack, but it’s your best chance of winning at any casino.

2 – Stay Away From Games and Bets With a High House Edge

Some casino games have a higher house edge than other games. Keno is an example. It’s basically just a private lottery run by the casino, and the house edge is at least 35%.

What’s the house edge?

It’s the statistically expected loss based on the difference between your odds of winning and the payout odds.

The higher the house edge is, the worse the game is for the player.

If you play blackjack with perfect basic strategy, the house edge might only be 0.5% (depending on the game’s conditions).

The difference between 0.5% and 35% should be clear.

Bet $100 on a game with a house edge of 35%, and you’re statistically expected to lose $35.

Bet that same $100 on a game with a house edge of 0.5%, and you’re statistically expected to lose 50 cents.

Imagine how much better your chances of walking away a winner are if you play the game where you’re statistically expected to lose so much less.

Also, keep this in mind:

House edge varies from bet to bet in some games, but in other games, it’s the same.

In blackjack, for example, you place your bet and face the house edge of 0.5%.

In roulette, no matter what bet you place, the house edge is 5.26%.

But in craps, for example, the house edge for the pass line bet is 1.41%. A bet on hard 8, though, has a house edge of 9.09%.

3 – Think in Terms of Alternatives

When it comes to gambling machines, slot machines and video poker look alike, but the odds for the player couldn’t be more different. The average slot machine on the Las Vegas Strip has a house edge of around 7%, but the house edge for the average video poker is probably close to 2% or 3%. Find the right video poker games with the right pay tables and play with the right strategy, and you might even play video poker with a house edge closer to 0.5%.

When it comes to roulette, you have at least 3 options, although many casinos only offer one of them. The distinguishing factor between roulette games is the number of 0s on the wheel. The standard American roulette game has a green 0 and 00. The house edge for this game is 5.26%.

You can also sometimes find roulette games that only have a single green 0. The house edge for these games is only 2.70%. That’s called European roulette, and you can expect higher betting minimums for that game.

Types of Roulette

The less said about so-called “Sands” roulette, the better. Instead of just a 0 and a 00, Sands roulette has a 3rd symbol (an “S”) which acts as another 0. The house edge for this “triple zero” roulette game is 7.69%.

The point to all these either/or situations is to demonstrate why you should think of casino games and bets on casino games as a menu of alternatives. Try to stick with the alternatives where your house edge is lower.

4 – Consider Both the Pros and the Cons of the Players Club

Most gambling writers tell you to always join the players club. They’re right about that, but they’re also wrong.

The players club, if you don’t already know, is how the casino tracks your play so that they can give you free stuff. They give you a plastic membership card to insert in their gambling machines while you play. They track how much you bet and award you free stuff according to a formula.

Normally, it’s about 0.2% of your action.

It’s important to realize that the casino doesn’t care if you win or lose. You get the rewards based on how much you bet, not on how much you lose. The casino is playing a numbers game:

Players Club Cards

The more bets from the more players, the more they profit, regardless of the winners.

In fact, the winners are accounted for by the house edge.

It seems like the players club is all upside. After all, gambling with the players club card in effect has no influence over the probability of winning or losing.

But here’s the downside:

The casino uses that information to market to you. They encourage you to visit the casino more often and to gamble more while you’re there.

The more often you visit the casino and the more money you put into action, the more you lose.

If you lose twice as much money because of the advertising and trying to reach a higher player status in the club, that more than makes up for the 0.2% of your action that the casino pays you back.

So, joining the players club might be a good idea. It might not.

You’ll need to decide for yourself about that.

5 – Manage Your Money Well

I’m not a big believer in win goals or loss limits. I don’t care much about session bankrolls, either.

But I do believe in the most basic of money management skills:

Setting aside a bankroll that you’re going to use to gamble and not spending any money beyond that.

I’ve visited Vegas and gambled too much only to live on fast food for several days. I have a friend who hung out in his hotel room for half his vacation because he blew all his money gambling and only had enough money to take a cab to the airport.

Decide how much money you can afford to lose, and once you’ve lost that amount, quit gambling for the trip.

Have money set aside for other activities, too.

You’ll have a much better time on your gambling trip if you can pull this off.

6 – Learn How to Play Poker

I sometimes provide some coaching and training for other writers in the gambling space, and one of the things I usually have to explain to the beginners is the difference between a casino game and a poker game. This is harder now than ever because casinos have all kinds of house-banked, poker-based games available.

Here’s the difference:

A casino game, by definition, is banked by the casino. In other words, if you win, the casino pays you. If you lose, the casino gets your money.

A poker game, on the other hand, is a game where if you win, you win money from the other players at the table. If you lose, the other players are getting your money.

Caribbean StudIn games like Caribbean Stud, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, and Pai Gow Poker, you’re playing against the casino – not the other players.

They use some of the trappings of poker games, but they’re not poker games because they lack that element of competition with the other players.

Why should you learn to play real poker?

Simply put, it’s probably the easiest way to get bets where the odds aren’t heavily stacked against you. Most of the poker players in casinos play terribly. If you play well, their mistakes result in positive expectation for you.

Learning how to play poker is easy to do. Read a couple of good books and practice at some of the free money games online.

7 – Understand That There’s No Winning in the Long Run With the Casinos

In probability, there’s a concept called the “Law of Large Numbers.”

The idea behind this is that the more trials you get in during a series of random events, the closer your actual results will start to resemble the mathematically predicted results.

Take roulette, for example.

Let’s say you bet on red. You have a probability of 18/38 of winning that bet. You have 18 red numbers and a total of 38 possible numbers. That’s the same thing as 47.37%. When you have a single spin, it’s impossible to get a partial result. This is the ultimate example of the short run. You either win the amount you bet or lose the amount you bet. It’s impossible to win 47.37% of the amount you bet.

If you bet on 2 spins in a row, it wouldn’t surprise you to lose twice in a row. It also wouldn’t surprise you win twice in a row. The most likely scenario would be to win a spin and lose a win, but we understand that it’s a random event.

None of those scenarios are so far outside the norm that we’d be surprised to see them.

Where most casino gamblers get hung up is in thinking that the large numbers are much smaller than they are. They might think that in 100 spins, they’ll see about 47 wins and 53 losses, give or take 2 or 3 on either side of that.

But, the truth is this:

100 spins is still the short run.

You don’t start getting into the long run until you start seeing thousands of spins.

And, what you realize is this:

In the long run, you can’t beat the casino. The math is on their side. The only real way to win in the long run is to refuse to play.

The closer you get to never, the better your chances of walking away a winner are. Place one bet, win, and quit, and that’s the closest you can get to the perfect scenario. The more bets you place, the closer you get to the long run, and the likelier you are to lose.

Conclusion

Winning at the casino requires good luck, and you can’t control that.

But you can choose the games where you’re most likely to get lucky, and you can place the bets with the better odds.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...

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