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Cheat Sheet

Casino Gambling For Dummies

From Casino Gambling For Dummies by Kevin Blackwood, Max Rubin (Foreword by)

Casino gambling can be fun, exciting, and a little nerve-wracking. Knowing which casino games have good odds in your favor (gamble on these!) and which ones to avoid will help you to keep your cool — and as much of your money as possible. By making your money last, you extend your playtime; so manage your money wisely.

Casino Gambling Games with Decent Odds

For gamblers, four casino games offer decent odds. That is, if you made a hundred $1 bets at these recommended casino games, your average loss would only be about a buck. These odds aren’t good enough to retire on, but they stretch your bankroll as far as possible, even if you’re on a limited budget.

Neither life nor gambling offers any guarantees, and your actual daily results may be far different than your theoretical loss, so plan accordingly.

Jacks or Better Video Poker (the 9/6 Version)

The 9/6 version of Jacks or Better is considered full pay because you get a payout of 9 for 1 for a full house and 6 for 1 for a flush. The 9/6 version is the only one whose payout rate makes it worthwhile to play. Tips for playing this game well include:

  • Make sure you’re playing a full-pay 9/6 version by looking at the Full House/Flush payouts for one coin.

  • Because of the increased payouts for a royal flush, always play the maximum coins to get the best odds — even if that means finding nickel or quarter machines to stay within your bankroll.

  • Never keep a kicker (a high card along with a pair).

  • Throw away a small pair (tens or lower) if you have four cards to a flush or three cards to a royal flush.

Blackjack

The way to win at Blackjack is to get better cards than the dealer. The aim is to have your cards add up to a maximum of 21.

  • Play the table with the least number of decks.

  • Stay away from gimmick games like 6-5 blackjack, Spanish 21, or Super Fun blackjack.

  • Remember the following important tips

    Double down on 10 or 11 when dealer shows 2 to 9. (To double down means you double your bet and are allowed just one more card.)

    Stand on 13 to 16 when dealer shows 2 to 6.

  • Hit on 12 to 16 when dealer shows 7 or higher.

  • Never take insurance.

Craps

Rolling two dice is the essence of craps and what number those dice add up to determine whether bettors on the Pass line win or bettors on the Don’t Pass line do. A new player’s first roll is her come-out roll, and other players wager on what the shooter will roll. The smartest strategy is to stick to the following bets in craps:

  • Pass line bet with odds bet

  • Come bet with odds

  • Don’t pass bet with odds

  • Don’t come bet with odds

Baccarat

You may be intimidated by baccarat with its glitz, glamour, and European aura, but behind the stiff exterior lies a decent game for the average bettor because there are only three possible results of each hand and there’s no skill involved — it’s strictly the fall of the cards. A couple tips for doing well:

  • Always bet on the banker (house edge is 1.06 percent, meaning if you made a hundred bets of $1, your average loss would be about a buck).

  • You can also bet on the player’s hand. (The house edge is only slightly worse than the banker’s hand at 1.24 percent.)

Bets to Avoid in Otherwise Safe Casino Gambling Games

Some casino games are safer to gamble on than others, but even these have versions or bets that'll drain wallets. Avoid these casino game versions or bets at all costs:

  • Jacks or Better Video Poker (6/5 Version): The payouts are much worse on some versions of video poker. For example, when you make a full house on a 6/5 machine, you get paid only six coins instead of nine. Play only the 9/6 version of Jacks or Better.

  • Blackjack — the insurance bet: This side bet pays back 2 to 1 when the dealer has a blackjack, but the true odds are closer to 2.2 to 1, making this a losing bet over time. You’re gambling, after all, you’re all about the risk, so forget the insurance.

  • Craps — the field and proposition bets: The house edge can be as high as 16 percent for these seductive bad bets. (Can you say ouch?) Stick with Pass, Don’t Pass, and Come bets.

  • Baccarat — tie bets: If you want to keep your money, steer clear of this bet; the house has an edge of 14.36 percent on tie bets. You want to enrich yourself, not the house.

Casino Gambling Games to Avoid at All Costs

If you’re gambling in a casino, you know that the odds always favor the house. But some casino games have higher odds for the house than others, including the ones in the following list. Don't gamble on these games unless you want to go home with a lighter wallet:

  • Three-Card Poker

  • Let it Ride

  • Red Dog

  • Roulette

  • Caribbean Stud Poker

  • Big Six Wheel

  • Keno

How to Manage Your Money at a Gambling Casino

Successful casino gamblers understand the math and odds behind the games, but discipline with money is also critical. Managing your money at a casino requires self-control. Use these tips to keep yourself in the safe zone:

  • Never borrow money while gambling. Chances are good that you’ll lose it, making a bad situation even worse.

  • Only bet what you can afford to lose. Gambling with money you’re scared to lose is neither enjoyable nor wise.

  • Set and stick to a budget. Write it on your forehead if you have to, but no matter what, when you hit that number, leave the casino.

  • Avoid ATM machines or lines of credit. Using credit is a really easy way to get financially overextended while gambling.

  • Limit your playing time. Taking a break keeps your mind sharp.

  • Hotel rooms have beds — use them. When you only gamble a few times a year, it’s tempting to play marathon sessions. But your body and your bankroll aren’t built to handle the casino’s pulsating 24/7 schedule, so make sure you sleep and rest.

  • Don’t drink and gamble. If the casino serves drinks for free, you should be very suspicious.

  • Remember the law of gravity — what goes up must come down. Casino profits soar when players get greedy. Quitting with a small win is far better than losing your shirt.

  • Don’t play any game you don’t understand. One of the fastest ways to burn through your cash is to jump into a game where the rules or strategies confuse you.

  • Never lie about your wins or losses. If you find yourself deluding a person or several people in your life about your gambling, take pause and reevaluate your gambling.

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