For grizzled old casino gambling vets you have probably learned what you need to know about entering a casino. I do have a question though: Can women fit into the “grizzled old” appellation? If not, well…uh, ladies you are just so experienced that you know it all already.

1. THE GAMES FAVOR THE CASINOS.

You have to know (right off the bat) that you aren’t going to get a fair deal when you play a casino game. Seriously does anyone go into a casino thinking they have an edge?

There are no bets at the game where the player has the mathematical edge. Unless you are one of the rare individuals who can count cards at blackjack or control the dice at craps or know which video poker machines can be beaten (with the perfect strategy) or play brilliant poker room poker, the casino has you up against the wall.

Casinos Jimbo

2. HOW UP AGAINST THE WALL ARE YOU?

Now, I am going to put into units how the casino wins your money. A unit is the lowest amount you can get in casino chips. So if you bet 10 dollars of American money that will be 10 units in my example.

Prepare yourself to be astounded by how much of an edge the casino has on many of its games and on the various bets in games where you have betting choices. Take a deep breath: I will give you the games (and some of the bets), the house edges and what those mean in terms of money. Here goes:

Game Bets House edges Expectation
Blackjack Entire game ½ percent for basic strategy player / more than that for average player Loss of one-half unit per 100 units wagered (more for other strategies)
Craps Don’t Pass/Don’t Come 1.40 percent Loss of 1.4 units per 100 units wagered
Craps Pass / Come 1.41 percent Loss of 1.41 units per 100 units wagered
Craps Place the 6 or 8 1.52 percent Loss of 1.52 units per 100 units wagered
Craps Place the 5 or 9 4 percent Loss of 4 units per 100 units wagered
Craps Place the 4 or 10 6.67 percent Loss of 6.67 units per 100 units wagered
Craps All other bets 5.56 percent to 16.67 percent Loss of between 5.56 units up to 16.67 units per 100 units wagered
Roulette: double-zero wheel All bets 5.26 percent Loss of 5.26 units per 100 units wagered
Roulette: single-zero wheel All bets 2.70 percent Loss of 2.7 units per 100 units wagered
Baccarat Banker 1.06 percent Loss of 1.06 units per 100 units wagered
Baccarat Player 1.24 percent Loss of 1.24 units per 100 units wagered
Baccarat Tie 14 percent Loss of 14 units per 100 units wagered
PaiGow Poker Traditional game 2.6 percent Loss of 2.6 units per 100 units wagered
Slots Range 17 percent to 4 percent Loss of 17 units to 4 units per 100 units wagered
Video Poker Range All over the place All over the place

3. ANY EXCEPTIONS TO THE ABOVE?

Okay, yes, there are some good exceptions and some bad exceptions. The good ones include being able to “buy” the 4 and 10 at craps; the ability to place or lay Odds on the Pass, Don’t Pass, Come and Don’t Come bets; the use of surrender or en prison on the even-money bets at roulette.

The dangerousones include all “jackpot” bets needing an extra bet or “special” bet or “bonus” bet or “side” bet added to traditional games such as the Fire bet at craps and the Dragon bonus at PaiGow Poker or the side bets at blackjack (too many to bother with here).

Bottom line is to just put this in your mind: any need to make an extra bet, even if that bet has a low house edge, means your expectation is to lose more money. You are better off not making the side bets.

4. COMPS ARE NOT “FREE” STUFF.

Casinos enjoy giving players comps such as free or reduced rate rooms, food, beverage, shows, presents, parties, golfing days and so on. These comps depend on how much you bet, what games you play, how long you play them and what your losing expectation is.

You will not get a comp if the casino does not think you are worth one. Now what do you think that means? Simply, your expectation is to lose “X” amount over time then the casino will give you between 30 and 50 percent of “X” in the form of comps.
Most casinos will be right up front with their comp formulas. Just ask!

5. IF YOU WANT TO PLAY THE GAMES THEN KNOW HOW TO PLAY THEM PROPERLY.

There are better and worse ways to play every single table game. Some games such as blackjack need you to make decisions on your hand versus the dealer’s up card. Good decisions lower the house edge. Bad decisions raise the house edge. Learn what is called “basic strategy” and play it.

At craps, there are good bets and bad bets. Come on, what is my advice? It certainly isn’t to make the bad bets. Play fewer decisions at all games --- you’ll still have fun and you will reduce the casino hit on your bankroll.

Good Bets

There are better and worse ways to play the slots and the video poker machines. Learn which machines tend to give back more and how many credits you should play per decision. There are excellent strategies for all video poker games (and also warnings about the machines you should flee from).

6. DO NOT LET OTHER PLAYERS UPSET YOU.

Not all casino players are relaxed and friendly (as am I); a few are (let me be kind here) idiots! If you play blackjack someone might be annoyed at how you play your hand. At craps someone might get upset if you seven out.

7. SLOW IS GOOD; FAST IS BAD.

Even games with low house edges can be brutal because of their speed. The more decisions the casinos get, the worse it will be for you over time. The fewer decisions the better! In fast games (such as mini-baccarat, head-to-head play versus the dealer in blackjack) it is wise to sit out hands while you are playing.

8. SO WHAT IS A CASINO, REALLY?

Think of the casino as one big classroom. You have 30 kids and there are always a couple of jerks. Don’t let the few jerks spoil the casino experience for you. Smile and play the games the best ways those games should be played. You won’t have that trouble on good Internet gambling sites.

Have fun. After all, having fun is why you are playing.

About the Author
By

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. 

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