Why You Shouldn’t Bet Strategically (7 Reasons It Doesn’t Work)

by Jeff Harris
on November 7, 2017

If you do much reading about gambling and casino games, you have probably seen books and articles about strategy. The fact is that many games are designed so that playing a certain way improves your chances of winning.

If you don’t use strategy when you gamble, you might have a good reason. But most players can learn a few simple strategies without much effort. And the best thing about learning a few strategies is that you don’t have to keep learning them. Once you learn them, you can use them every time you play.

Here’s a list of 7 reasons not to use strategy when you gamble. The list also includes information about which games are available, where you can use strategy, and how to get started.

1 . You Don’t Want to Win

It’s rare to find a gambler who doesn’t claim that they want to win. But most gamblers don’t do anything to improve their chances of winning.

When you use strategy, you reduce the house edge. This means that you lose less money on average each hour. Consequently, you can play longer on the same bankroll.

It also means that you improve your chances of winning in each session. Over time, you’re still going to lose because of the way the casino games are designed. But if you use the best strategy, you can leave the casino as a winner more often than the players who don’t use strategy.

You might think it sounds harsh to say that you don’t want to win, but if you gamble and don’t use strategy, that’s what your actions are showing.

2 . You Don’t Want to Think

Many gamblers go to the casino to blow off steam after a long work week and just want to forget about the rest of their life for a few hours. These gamblers don’t want to think about strategy or anything else, so they simply play to forget.

There’s nothing wrong with this kind of gambling. But even if you don’t want to think, you can still choose some games that are better than others. It’s easy to sit down at a slot machine, put some money in, and keep pushing the spin button until you run out of money.

But you can play other games that don’t require thinking, let you play longer on the same bankroll, let you lose less money most of the times that you play, and give you a better experience overall.

The best game for players who don’t want to think is mini-baccarat. It does require one small strategy decision, but you only have to make it once. Then you can place bets until you run out of money or decide to stop playing.

In baccarat, the best strategy is to always bet on the banker. When you do this, the overall house edge is 1.04%. This is much better than slot machines or keno, where the house edge can be over 10%.

3 . You Gamble Purely for Entertainment

Another reason you might not use strategy when you gamble is if you play purely for entertainment. This might seem like the same thing as not wanting to think, but many people don’t mind using their brain while being entertained.

When you go out to eat with good company, you can be entertained while carrying on an interesting conversation. If you go to a movie to be entertained, you usually have to think about what you see and hear.

Playing casino games that don’t require thinking limits your options to slot machines, keno, and baccarat.

But when you play for entertainment, you can play any game you enjoy. Video poker can be a fun form of entertainment, even though you need to think about which cards to hold on each deal. Blackjack requires decisions on each hand, and poker players are always making playing decisions.

If you want to have the best chance to win, you should find games that offer a low house edge, and learn the best strategies for those games.

But if you gamble as a replacement for other forms of entertainment and just want to play for fun, there’s no reason you can’t do it, as long as you can afford it.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say you budget $200 a week for entertainment. Some weeks you go out to eat a few times and catch a couple movies. But other weeks you skip the movies and eating out, and gamble with your $200.

You love to play Let It Ride Poker, so you buy in with your $200 and play until you run out of money or get tired. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, as long as you’re being entertained while you play. And if entertainment is your goal, you don’t need to worry about strategy.

However, if you enjoy playing one of the casino games where you can use strategy, learning the best way to play can lower the house edge and let you play longer with the same amount of money.

If you love to play blackjack, video poker, craps, Let It Ride, Pai Gow Poker, and a few other similar games, you can spend a little time up front learning the best strategy, and then use it the rest of your life. This won’t reduce the entertainment value of your favorite game, and it increases your entertainment time.

If you prefer slots, keno, or bingo, however, there’s not much you can do.

4 . You Only Play Games That Have No Strategy

Some casino games are designed in a way that makes it impossible to improve your results by using strategy. The most common games that you can gamble on with no strategy components are slot machines, keno, and bingo.

When you play games that have no strategy, all you can do is pay your money and hope for the best. Some slot machines have special games within games that look like you can use strategy to improve your chances, but with the way lots are designed, this really isn’t the case.

Slot machines are designed to return a certain percentage of the money wagered on them to the player and keep the rest as profit for the house. This means that it doesn’t matter what you do while playing. The long-term outcome is going to be the same.

The games that can’t be changed by using strategy are also usually the games with the highest house edge. For this reason, you should learn to play other games that allow you to use strategy to improve your results.

Slot machines also happen to be one of the fastest games in the casino. When you combine fast play and a high house edge, it creates one of the worst things you can do with your money.

Of course, you can start to play slower, which will help some, but slot machines take your money faster than most other games, which means your budget won’t stretch as far as it could if you play something else.

5 . You’re a Spotter or Counter for a Team

Some players work as a part of a team. The most common situation where a player works as part of a team is when a group of players count cards while playing blackjack in order to try to play with a long-term edge.

A blackjack team usually has one or more players who count cards and act as spotters, and one or more players who join a game later and make big bets.

The spotters play and make the table minimum bets while counting cards. When the count reaches a place where the team has an edge, the spotter secretly signals a big player, who joins the table and bets at or close to the table maximum.

The spotters never do anything to draw attention to themselves or make the casino think that they count cards. Most spotters use basic strategy when they play, but they don’t have to.

Basic strategy players never take insurance. Card counters only take insurance when the count is particularly high. A spotter might occasionally take insurance when the big player isn’t at the table, because it makes them look more like a normal player.

If you’re a spotter, you can use strategy or not. This is one of the few good reasons a player might consider not using strategy. But if you act as a spotter, it’s best for the team if you use basic strategy, as long as you can do it while keeping a perfect count.

Any time you play blackjack and don’t use the perfect strategy, it costs you money. It might not be a great deal of money in the short run, but it adds up over time.

6 . You Think Using Strategy Is Too Hard

Many players think that using strategy is too hard. They see an article about blackjack or video poker strategy and their eyes feel like they’re going to cross with all of the information, so they stop reading.

While some casino game strategies can be difficult, the truth is that many games have simple strategies, and you can find tools to help you use the best strategy for more complicated games.

You can learn more about the games with simple strategies and how to use the best strategy for them in the next section. You’re also going to find links to tools that help you play better in the games that have more advanced strategy decisions.

Even if you don’t want to think too much, or just want to play for pure entertainment, you can improve your odds easily and increase your chances of winning.

7 . You Didn’t Know Strategy Can Lower the House Edge

Many gamblers simply don’t know that you can use strategy to lower the house edge on many casino games. Most games are designed so that the use of strategy won’t be able to overcome the house edge, but by keeping it as low as possible, you have the best chance of winning from time to time.

Some games can’t be altered using strategy, like the ones you learned about in the fourth section. Other games have simple strategies. And a few have more complicated strategies.

The casino games that have simple strategies that anyone can use include:

  • Craps . Always bet on the don’t pass line or pass line and take full odds.
  • Baccarat . Always bet on the banker.
  • Roulette . Only play on single zero wheels.

Casino games that have more involved strategy options include:

  • Blackjack
  • Video poker
  • Texas hold’em poker
  • Omaha poker
  • Seven card stud poker

Blackjack strategy involves finding games with good rules and using basic strategy. Basic strategy is a computer-generated system that shows the optimum play on any combination of your cards and the dealer up card. You can use a strategy chart (LINK TO BLACKJACK STRATEGY CHART) or card to always follow the best strategy.

Video poker strategy also uses a strategy chart or card designed for the variation and paytable of the game you’re playing. The pay tables alter the house edge, so you need to find machines with the proper pay tables and use a strategy chart or card. The two most common variations that are available with good pay tables are Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild.

The other poker variations found in poker rooms involve more strategy options than other casino games. But if you learn how to play well enough, they also offer the opportunity to play with an edge.

Pick one form of poker, preferably one with games running close to where you live, and learn as much about the strategy of the game as possible. Start by looking for books and online articles that teach you the best strategies, and practice as much as possible.

The games the casino offers with the lowest possible house edge are also the games that require the most strategy. You can play Texas hold’em, Omaha, and Seven card stud with a long-term edge, but they have the most in-depth strategy.

Blackjack and video poker can be played with a house edge of less than half a percent when you use the best strategy in combination with the best rules or pay tables.

Craps and baccarat offer an overall house edge of less than 1.5% if you stick to the proper bets, and single zero roulette has an edge of less than 3%.

The games where you can’t use strategy to alter your results often have a house edge of 5% or higher.

Conclusion

You might find that one of the 7 reasons not to use strategy when you gamble is the reason you haven’t been using strategy. With the information on this page, you’ve learned which games can be played with strategy, the best ones to start with, and how to improve your chances of winning every time you play.

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