Casino games should be played straightforwardly and simply. You don’t really want to do too much in the way of thinking and analyzing because that will, generally, just cause fatigue. Do your deep thinking about your favorite games at home in a relaxing and warm atmosphere.

In part one of this two-part series, I looked at casino playing generally and two games, blackjack, and craps, individually. Now, let’s go to some other games. In all, I want to keep things simple.


Roulette is the “little wheel,” a game discovered by scientist and philosopher Blaise Pascal in the 1600s. He was looking to create a perpetual-motion machine, failed at that (as all have so far failed that) and came up with the “little wheel,” a device that has mesmerized casino players for centuries.

Right now, it is the second or third most favored table-game in the casino. It even has a favorite number that players bet, the 17, known a James Bond’s number because actor Sean Connery always played that number when he was in a casino. And Connery was “Bond, James Bond.”

Players attempt to guess which numbers and propositions will come up when a little ball spins around a little wheel, then plunges into the receptacle, then lands on a numbered, colored pocket, where it stays and, quite simply, that is the winning spin.

You can wager directly on a number or two or multiple ones. You can bet on a proposition or groups of numbers with a single bet, or colors, or sequences.

The game itself is pretty simple. You bet what you think will come up, watch the ball spin, watch it then slide down through the side grooves, bounce around the pockets somewhat and finally settle into one pocket for the winning wager.

Players love the game and it is played in just about every casino in the world, legal casinos, and illegal casinos, and on the Internet casino websites such as 888casino.

There are three different roulette games currently competing in the casinos, one a good one (the single-zero [0] European/French game – house edge 2.7 percent), one a so-so double-zero [0, 00] American game with a house edge of 5.26 percent, and one an awful one made up of three zeroes [0, 00, 000] created by a modern-day Doctor Victor Frankenstein with a 7.69 percent house edge. (The villagers should stampede that one out of their small town.)

[Please note: What do house edges mean? If the game has a 2.7 percent house edge that means for every $100 you bet, the cost will be $2.70. The cost will be $5.26 for a game with a 5.26 percent house edge. And the cost will be $7.69 for a game with a 7.69 percent house edge. The higher the edge, the more a player will lose over time. Combine a high house edge with a speedy game and the player can be in deep trouble.]

Simple casino gambling

I do believe there are better and worse ways to bet roulette. You can go straight up on a number or more than one number. Each number will require an individual separate wager. That can get expensive if you hit a losing streak. Think of 10 numbers each with $50 on them. The cost could be too much to bear. 

Or you can bet propositions such as the columns (three columns of 12 numbers each which pays two-to-one on a winning wager) or the dozens (which also pays two-to-one on a winning wager). Then you have what are called even-money bets of red/black, odd/even, high/low – each of which pays even-money. 

Yes, you can mix and match every wager at all three games. Heck, you could even bet all the numbers on a game and even though that would probably be a sign of true insanity, maybe some folks might do such a thing before they are hauled away.

Quickly, how does the casino get its edge at roulette? That’s simple, it short-changes the payment of a winning bet. If the bet should pay 37-to-1 on a win in a fair game (meaning a game where the casino does not have an edge), instead the casino pays 35-to-1. That short pay will lock in the house edge. That is what occurs on all three roulette games.

What is the simplest, best way to play roulette? Here we go:

  • Roulette is a leisurely game, maybe 40 decisions an hour at a full table.
  • The house edge of 2.7 percent is decent considering the game is leisurely. The other edge of 5.26 is somewhat high and at 7.69 percent is somewhat ridiculous.
  • Play at crowded tables to reduce the number of decisions.
  • One bet on one of the three even-money wagers (red/black or high/low or odd/even) and you have a decent chance to have a winning session. It is usually hard to get creamed in such a betting scheme. And you can usually last a long time as well. 
  • If the even-money wagers have “surrender” (American 0, 00 wheels) then this is a boon. It reduces the house edge to 2.63 percent. Or “en prison” for European/French wheel (0) which reduces the house edge to 1.35 percent – one of the best bets in the casino.
  • Do not bet any side bets.

Since casinos are starting to usher in that three-zero game, you might decide to play only half the decisions on those games to keep those projected losses somewhat low. If you play four hours of roulette a day, then play those four hours but make half the bets! That would be a wise way to handle the incredibly high edge on the triple-zero game.

Remember this: No one is forced to play every decision! Take that to heart.


Traditional baccarat was also called “high-roller-room baccarat” because the minimum bets were high. The table was long and the dealers were all well-dressed; tuxes for the men and evening gowns for the women. There were usually four to six dealers per table.

The game had three bets, two of them excellent, one just awful. The two excellent bets were “player” and “bank” both of which came in with a house edge close to one percent. The third bet, “tie” was a truly awful bet. 

One of the fun aspects of traditional baccarat was that players got to deal the cards. Unlike when playing blackjack, the players did not have a say in how the hands were played. Still, dealing the cards was fun.

Over the years, casinos have started to do away with traditional baccarat and have instead substituted “mini-baccarat” played on a table somewhere between a blackjack-sized one and a somewhat larger one. There is only one dealer and he or she deals all the cards. Players do not deal.

Some of these tables have been put in the high-roller rooms and indeed they do get players for the high-roller game.

While traditional baccarat was leisurely, mini-baccarat is a game whose speed passes the sound barrier. It can have 150 hands dealt per hour (maybe more). It has numerous side-bets, all of them coming in with relatively high house edges. The game is a gambling trap, great house edges (on two bets) with lightning-like speed.

Simple casino gambling

While the house edges on the three main bets are the exact same as on the traditional game, the speed of mini-baccarat makes those bets hit the player quite hard. In this game, speed definitely kills.

Here is a brief strategy for mini-baccarat:

  • Do not play every decision. Only play maybe 33 percent of the hands.
  • Since “bank” has the lowest house edge only bet “bank.” 
  • Skip betting on “player.”
  • Do not bet “tie” or even think about betting it.
  • Do not make any side bets.
  • Be aware that some mini-baccarat players are extremely superstitious and some of these will play opposite your betting (you bet “bank,” they bet “player”) and if they lose (and you win), they will not take it well.

Pai Gow Poker and Face-Up Pai Gow Poker

This is now one of my favorite games. Actually, two of my favorite games! 

You play two hands against the dealer, a two-card hand, and a five-card hand. The five-card hand is the dominant hand and must be a stronger hand than the two-cared one. You have to beat the dealer on both hands to win. There are a great number of ties. 

The game is leisurely and generally the players at the table are friendly and not too tightly wound up.

The original game, you play the dealer blind. You don’t know what hands he is going to make (nor does he or she). In the newer version, the dealer makes his hand first and you know what you have to do to beat him or tie her.

You should learn how to make your hands but – and here is a great part of the game – you can always ask the dealer what the “house way” is for setting the cards you’ve been dealt. This isn’t just his opinion but the set and solid way the house makes its hands. It is the best way.

[Please note: Not all dealers know the best bets at craps and blackjack. For some reason all they have to do is know the payouts and how to shuffle, etc. I always thought in my early days of play that the dealers were the experts but they aren’t. They are, however, the experts at dealing.]

Pai Gow Poker has a 2.8 percent house edge which can be lowered when you play the bank against all the other players. Face-Up Pai Gow Poker has a low edge of 1.81 percent. If you can play this version of the game it is the better one. What to do with this game:

  • Do not make any side bets and unfortunately there are dozens of them.
  • Most games will have at least two side bets with very high house edges.
  • Do not play two hands or three hands, etc. Do not increase the money you are risking. What’s the point of that?

Slot Machines

The one-armed bandits have been in existence for well over a hundred years – well over. They started as simple machines with maybe a thousand possible ways to set the lines of which a tiny percent were winners.

You could win cigars (“that man won a cigar!”), candies, or gum (women who chewed gum were thought to hang out in saloons), and then players could go and exchange those gifts for money (that was the way to get around the gambling laws). You could also get a lemon, which was a crummy line. Come on, what can you do with a lemon?

Then the machines became electrical and hundreds of variations were introduced including video poker. 

Today’s slot machines are actual marvels, true marvels. They are the superheroes of casinos (and many are available on 888casino) for without them we would not have seen casino playing taking over the world. There are casinos in almost every continent and almost every country.

Today you can have dozens of different plays on a single machine. You can have prizes that go into the millions of dollars. You have people playing penny machines spending upward of 50 cents a spin!

How many spins (decisions) can a player create on a modern slot machine? Oh, brother, some 500 or more! Slot players are the true queens and kings of the casino world and the casinos know this and react accordingly for their royalty. Even so-called penny players can actually be dollar players. Yikes!

Okay, what to do with those former one-armed bandits? I am a believer in protecting my money even though I have stayed at casino-hotels 130 times a year in my four-decade career.

  • The faster you play the worse off you will be. Slow down. Maybe after a few decisions turn around and study some of the other players or anyone who is ambling by. 
  • Play the least you can play that gives you a thrill.
  • If you are in an altered state of consciousness then quit. You probably aren’t getting anything out of your play.
  • Slot machines are strictly luck and if you’ve been lucky that is great but it is no indication of your character.

That’s it for me for this new year of playing. 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.