“As you think it, so shall it be.” Sounds good, right? Sadly, it doesn’t exactly work that way. 

Many recent studies of teenagers show that many of them, if not most of them, want to be famous. It could be as actors, Internet celebrities, and some few might think in terms of the sciences (very few). 

Fame? That’s not going to happen. You know that. I know that. But the youngsters hungering to be noticed by the world at large do not all know that. In fact, probably most do not know that. That’s the sad irony of life. If you think it, well, it probably doesn’t happen.

The kid acting out in a high school class gains some fame or notoriety among his classmates but probably winds up as the dirty guy at the end of a low-level bar telling anyone his (usually stupid) ideas about this, that and the other thing.

Casino players have their ideas too. These ideas are geared to them making some money, maybe a lot of money. The ideas are not necessarily to make them famous. Many of these ideas are – let me be honest here – just as stupid as the guy at the end of the bar spouting his idiocies or the kid in class thinking that cracking up his classmates really means something. 

Some of the ideas of casino players are poisonous to their chances to rake in the loot from Lady Luck’s emissaries in the real world. 

Just take a look at the casinos and you’ll see just how little money is actually won by players. Close to nothing. In fact, a negative amount as almost all players are down on their luck over any period of time. They have to be because the casinos have an edge on every game and just about every bet on every game. 

If life were a boxing event, the champion of the world would be the casinos. They would be almost unbeaten except by a nano-number of players who hit some big jackpot on a mega-slot machine.

I can’t change the reality of casino play. They have the edge; the players don’t.

[Please note: Some very, very, very few players can get the edge over the casinos. These would be card counters at blackjack, real dice controllers, video poker players at some machines and poker players who beat other poker players. If you are one of these, well then keep thinking!]

Players Help Casinos

Even though the casino has the edge over the players in every game, there are better and worse ways to play those games. The better ways will keep the house edge about as low as you can get it. You can’t beat the games using these strategies but you won’t be dragged through the mud of utter ego-destroying devastation.

At craps, you can make bets where the house has an edge at just over one percent. Playing basic strategy at blackjack can keep the edge at around one-half percent.

The pace of the game, and/or the pace you impose on the game, can also protect your bankroll over time. The more you want to play in the casinos, the more you have to be in control of your time as you risk your money.

Say, you want to be at a roulette table, do you have to wager on every spin of the wheel? Do you have to play every roll of the dice at craps? Do you schedule your bathroom breaks at blackjack when the game is in full swing, thereby missing many hands?

You can be at a table, be in the excitement of the casino, without giving up all of your precious “risk” time. That helps keep your bankroll somewhat solvent.

Sometimes casino players actually help the casinos destroy them. These players fall prey to bad decisions, often thinking such bad decisions are good decisions. In the heat of the battle players often lose their rationality and go with emotions that whisper in their ears to do something that seems good but is actually quite bad.

Roulette Table

Poisonous Thoughts

Now, let me take you on a ride to some of the truly bad decisions players make, often thinking these are good decisions.

These decisions I attribute to poisonous thoughts that take over our minds, sometimes in bad situations and, yes, sometimes in good situations when the player has been winning and feeling oh so lucky.

Let Me Parlay This Bet Now

The player has been winning consistently during this session. What he wished for at home is coming true in the casino.  Wow! 

He thinks, “I can make much more money if I parlay my bet to the next level.” When he wins his next decision, he calls out to the dealer to parley his bet or he simply places his win on top of his current bet. Now, the big money should start coming in with that bigger bet out there. He will reap the rewards of his new aggression.

Over time at blackjack, our player will win 44 decisions with that big bet out there and lose 48 decisions. But he could get a blackjack, right? True. But you could also have to double down putting up more money or he could split his hand and then have to double on each end of the split. Yes, he could win, but the loss would hurt more than the win would help.

Bottom line is that the house edge works on whatever money a player is wagering. You placed the 6 or 8 at craps for $30 and now you decide to up the six to $60. The house edge is 1.52%. It was 1.52% on the $30 six and it is 1.52% on the $60 six.

The casino is now slated to win more money from you because you have parlayed your bet. You were winning and you just happened to set up a serious chance for losing. This is true of every game. 

If you are winning and then you start parlaying then your expectation is to lose more money. It is as simple as that. That’s the math and that’s the truth. You gave the casino more money to win from you.

You did not increase your chances to beat the house over time; you did the exact opposite. You cannot with such parlays escape the facts much as you might wish to. The casino is expected to take more money from you when you bet more money. Simple as that.

Double, Double, Toil and Trouble

Probably the oldest form of poisonous attempts to beat casino games is to double one’s bet after a loss, not after a win. You might go $10, $20, $40, $80, $160, $320, $640 and you probably have to go over the table maximum to make the next bet in the sequence. Chances are you get locked at $320.

How much do you actually win by winning that $320 wager? You win $10.  

Consider that the above is seven doubles of your losing bets. Oh, yes, you will win a lot of these doubles and, again, what will you be paid? That $10 win that would have been your first win had you won that first bet. You get the picture here? 

Add up all those losses and realize that this system of wagering can be a huge loser for the player.  

The player will incorrectly think that this is an unbeatable system, when it is a crusher as it crashes after maybe seven or eight decisions.

This wagering system is called the Martingale and it has flummoxed many players. “It has to be a winning system,” thinks the player. “Can I really lose seven decisions in a row? Come on, that’s not going to happen.” 

The logic seems right when the player thinks it but it is a poisonous thought and will lead to destruction.

[Please note: Yes, yes, I will admit it. In my first months of playing, I did try the Martingale. Actually, I thought I had invented this perfect system and I won a little here and there and then I got creamed. That disaster took place at the long defunct Sands in Atlantic City. I have discovered that many relatively new players will attempt it with the same results as I had. And many will also think they had invented this perfect system. Toil and trouble for sure.]

Deck of Cards

Playing Two Hands

You’ll see players playing two or three hands at some card games. A few amazingly aggressive players might play every spot at a blackjack or mini-baccarat table.

Now, if you are a high roller who wants to bet $500 a hand but prefers to do it as $100 on five hands, that’s fine. That’s your betting choice that you can afford.

The average player is not thinking that way. They play two or more hands thinking it will allow them to win more. Yes, they can win more by doing this but they will definitely lose more even with those more wins.

Multiple Bet Games

The multiple bet games such as craps and roulette can be hazardous games to play unless you have discipline and will power. You will note if you go to a craps table and observe, it becomes quickly evident that craps players love to make all sorts of bets when they play.

Most craps bets have extremely high house edges, many in the double digits and some of these are much higher than most slot machines. Let that sink in for a moment. 

Still, a few bets have very low house edges and these are the ones on which players should focus. The lower the house edge the better chance to come out ahead. That simple statement makes total sense but seems to be ignored by many craps players who can’t seem to stop themselves from betting too many bets.

Roulette has the same problem. With 37 or 38 possible bets at the game (depending on whether the player plays the European game or the American game), many players just throw a lot of chips on the table.

Some of these players can’t afford such lavish expenses. They should think in terms of the proposition bets on the outside of the layout where they can play for stakes that suit their bankrolls.

Craps and roulette lend themselves to overbetting. That is a dangerous situation. Over betting is one of the reasons some players just can’t handle consistent trips to the casinos. Overbetting is a poisonous thing. Remember that.

Tilting at Windmills

We’ve all heard of the expression “tilting at windmills” which is attributed to the great novel about Don Quixote, a character who spent a life living a lie or a dream or a fantasy or a person who tilted at windmills – take your pick. You have even more picks as well. Because the casino world is a place for seriously tilting at windmills or, rather, going on tilt.

What is going on tilt in relation to casinos? Put simply: a player who goes on tilt has for a period of time lost his or her mind. Or if you don’t like the idea of someone losing his or her mind, then that someone is in the grip of stupid moves propelling him or her to lose money, maybe a lot of money. I prefer calling “going on tilt” the temporary losing of one’s mind. No matter, losing money is the key ingredient in going on tilt.

Here is a typical scenario: The player is losing money, a lot of money. Nothing is working. Every strategy fails. Money is going to the casino at an amazing speed. The player finds it difficult to win anything. 

Then the player thinks: To hell with it all.

The player starts to go around the casino playing slot machines and every table game where there is a spot available. It doesn’t matter. More and more money is wagered and that money is mostly lost as well. 

If the player drinks? More poison added to the playing poison. 

That is going on tilt. Loss of discipline, loss of money, loss of control of one’s emotions.

Don’t let poison of any kind ruin your casino-playing experience.

All the best in and out of the casinos!

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.