Most of who and what we are can easily fit into the word “memory.” We are more of who we were than who we are at this moment. The “me” from 50 years ago is largely a forgotten someone with just hints of this or that of himself.

I think the longer you live the more you have forgotten. That’s life, no doubt. It goes by and we have flash glimpses of this, that or the other thing but nothing is complete. We are not complete beings. Even our scattered memories are scattered still more by time. Yes, indeed, time is the wrecking ball of our memories; it is the wrecking ball of ourselves.

True, everything that has happened to us has left its mark, although those marks might not be remembered in any way, shape, or form. I am who I am because of all those events, thoughts, and desires but they are not exactly the me of right now.

Casino Playing and Memory

Casino gambling is an adventure in memory too. Most players don’t think about the casino games they play as having anything to do with memory. Right now, some of you might be thinking that “I know the strategies of how I play and I know how to play the games I like. No problem with memories for me.”

That’s not what I mean. Sure, you know how to play the game(s) you like and these strategies, be they good or bad, do not seem at all forgotten by you. But casino games have memories too or lack of memories and the casino bosses are well aware of which games are memory games and which games are not.

The bosses are not thinking so much of a person’s memory but of how a game performs in the area of its own memory.

Let me take a closer look at casino memory games:

Upcoming is a short list of casino games. Which are memory games? Which are poor memory games? Which casino games have no memories at all? I put them as a contest so you can see clearly what the casino bosses see and why they see such things.

What a Memory in a Casino Game Means

The concept of memory in a casino game is actually quite simple; if what happened in the past has a direct influence on the future of what happens – 
meaning what is about to happen soon – that game has a memory. Something changes something now then that something dictates a change later in the game.

Blackjack versus Roulette

Blackjack is a game with a strong memory and the casino knows this and some players know this too. The game is dynamic. It has a powerful memory. Every card has a meaning for what will come out of the deck or shoe on the upcoming deals.

For example, if all the aces in a single deck of cards have been played, those aces will not come out of the deck because they aren’t there anymore. There needs to be a shuffle and a fresh deck put into the game for things to go back to “normal.” The playing of a single card influences what will happen in the future. That’s memory!

Since blackjack has such a strong memory, given that every card has an impact on the future player’s and dealer’s hands, the game can be beaten by advantage players, namely card counters (among some others). Even basic strategy players increase their chances of winning if they play their hands correctly although they are playing their hands against the entire deck or shoe of the cards.

The memory of blackjack can be quite good for the players and quite bad for the casinos. Yes, the casinos’ bosses are fully aware of this. Blackjack is watched carefully to ferret out those players who might have established an edge over the game due to the game’s memory. Casinos are not in love with card counters.

You can’t blame them. Casinos are like all-you-can-eat buffets and then along comes the world-champion eating champion. They don’t want to serve food to this person.

[Please note: How long does it take a player to learn how to count cards? Maybe a few months working at home. Accomplishing it in the casino? You do have noise and other players and those pit people watching the game so the actual achievement of the task in the castles of Lady Luck is not all that easy. Yet, plenty of players have been able to do it, some spectacularly.

Card counters have to try to beat the game while avoiding being caught and told to leave the casino. It becomes a double game for the player; avoid the bosses while simultaneously attacking the game. It can be done but it is not easy.

A card counter can get an edge somewhere between one-half and 1.5 percent over the casino. Some can get even more.


Roulette is a game that has no memory, no memory whatsoever. It is strictly a random enterprise and what happened on the last decision has nothing to do with what is going to happen on the next decision. 

The seven came up on the last spin of the wheel. It had a 1-in-38 chance of coming up on the double-zero wheel (0, 00). It will have a 1-in-38 chance of coming up again. That first appearance will not dictate any future appearances of it or other numbers.

Unlike blackjack, there is no new future being established by the present decisions at a roulette game.

In the past there were wheels that were “off.” These we called biased wheels. It is not a memory in a wheel, it is just a wheel where certain numbers came up more frequently than probability indicated. 

The odds of that one number or those numbers coming up with such frequency meant the wheel’s balance was “off” as far as the game was concerned but that did not change the nature of the game. If the seven would hit more because the wheel was “off,” it would hit with that frequency over time. The game was still random.

My wife, the Beautiful AP, and I played a biased wheel that we accidentally discovered at the Rio in Las Vegas in the early 1990s. We have never seen one since. I doubt there are any of them on casino floors today because the roulette wheels are finely manufactured and they are constantly tested to make sure they are random.

Thus, roulette has no memory.

Card Games such as Pai Gow Poker and Baccarat versus Craps

All card games share some of the elements of blackjack. Cards that have come out of the deck, even if it is a single-deck game with just one round of play, can give the player an idea of what the other players might have in their hands or, even better, what the dealer might have.

Such information can change how players will play their cards in the game. Is this exactly like blackjack where the player can get an edge by doing this? Not really. Can the player maybe lower the house edge against them? Quite possibly.

Most bosses want players not to know what other cards have come out. 

If you look at a traditional baccarat game you can find ways to count the cards. Will such counting give you an edge? No. Will it reduce the edge of the house? It might. 

[Please note: Always wager the banker bet at baccarat. Most baccarat card counting systems think the banker should be wagered about 90 percent of the time. You won’t beat the game but you will have the best game by doing this.]

Craps is supposed to have no memory, no memory whatsoever. Many players don’t believe this. Because all players can pick up the dice and shoot them, superstitious players (who don’t realize that they are superstitious) think that those players are influencing the game with their throws.

Most players (let me change that – almost all players) have no influence on a craps game. The dice are just like the balls in roulette; they will bounce and land where they will, strictly in a random way. 

Still, craps seems to encourage players to trend bet quite a bit. Many craps players think trends will predominate in the future (they won’t) and so these players raise their bets after two or a few hits of a number or proposition.

[Please note: Here I am going to contradict myself somewhat. There are some players, a micro-percentage of them, who have practiced long and hard hours to attempt to influence or control those cubes. Some have succeeded in a small way. Sadly, more people claim to have this skill than actually do and some of these sell their services. For craps players, beware of such players. How to tell who they are? They make bets no amount of control can beat in the long run.

Craps has no memory except in the extremely rare case of someone who can actually influence the dice. Card games have some memories but not enough to give the player any kind of edge over the casino.

Slot Machines versus Video Poker

Slot machines are unquestionably the kings and queens of the casino world and they have been since 1984 when both Las Vegas and Atlantic City first announced that these former “one-armed bandits” made the most money for these two venues. 

Slot machines are now responsible for the overwhelming majority of profits made by the houses of Dame Fortune. There are some casinos in the country where over 80 percent of the income can be traced to these machines.

Players love them and play them incessantly.

Slot machines are computer programmed devices that pay out a certain percentage of money played in them. These returns or “wins” are controlled by the Random Number Generator (actually known as the Pseudo-Random-Number Generator) that picks the winning and losing symbols on the machines.

With one exception, slot machines are strictly random devices paying enough (or as little) as casinos request from the designers. I think most slot players have no idea how these machines actually work and they honestly don’t care. They love playing the games. That’s enough for them.

What happens now on a slot machine has nothing whatsoever to do with what will happen in the future. The machine does not rely on memory. It won’t say to itself, “Gee, I haven’t given out a big jackpot yet. I guess it’s time.” The symbols and images are selected at random for a given percentage of the time. These percentages do not change over time either. They are what they are. 

Only if a machine is reprogrammed will things change but those things won’t change unless the machine is indeed re-reprogrammed. 

There are – or were – machines called banking machines that did rely on a memory of sorts. I wrote about them in my book Slots Conquest. Knowledgeable players could actually get an advantage on these machines if they played them at the proper time.

The machines had a bank that would multiply wins if some jackpots were hit. If player one was playing the machine and racked up say 50 points, the jackpot could be multiplied by some percentage. 

Now, say player one has to go to dinner? He cashes out his money. BUT the banked elements stay in the bank for the next player. If those elements multiply the win so that the amount of the money put in by player two (or player three, etc.) the money coming out of the machine will be more than the money played in the machine. 

The previous players have helped the newer player to beat the machine! That bank was the key to everything.

Now, video poker, as you can guess, is a card game where every card played dictates what cards can’t be played when drawing more cards for any given hand. This game has a memory and good video poker players have memorized the proper plays based on this fact.

Memory is as important in casino games as anything else!

So, remember this: All the best in and out of the casinos!

*Credit for the cover photo in this article belongs to AP Photo/Mike Groll*

Frank Scoblete grew up in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. He spent the ‘60s getting an education; the ‘70s in editing, writing and publishing; the ‘80s in theatre, and the ‘90s and the 2000s in casino gambling.

Along the way he taught English for 33 years. He has authored 35 books; his most recent publisher is Triumph Books, a division of Random House. He lives in Long Island. Frank wrote the Ultimate Roulette Strategy Guide and he's a well known casino specialist.