Casino Gambling For Dummies, 2nd Edition
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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.

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)

Jacks or Better video poker is considered full-pay when you are paid out 9-for-1 for a full house and 6-for-1 for a flush. When you’re looking for a machine, check the payouts because the 9/6 version is the only one that’s worthwhile. Tips for playing this game well include:
  • Always play the maximum coins to get the best odds —even if that means finding nickel or quarter machines.
  • Never keep a kicker (a high card along with a pair).
  • Throw away a small pair (10s 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. Keep these tips in mind:
  • Play the table with the least number of decks.
  • Stay away from games that pay 6-to-5 on a blackjack. Find games that pay 3-to-2.
  • If you can, get more money in play by splitting or doubling down when the dealer shows a bad card (2 through 6).
  • Stand on 13 to 16 when the dealer shows 2 throug h6.
  • Hit on 12 to 16 when the dealer shows 7 or higher.
  • Never take insurance.
  • Avoid gimmicky side bets. They might promise a big payout, but the house edge is huge.

Craps

A new player’s first roll is their come-out roll. Other players wager for or against the shooter throwing a certain number twice before throwing a 7. The smartest strategy is to avoid the array of bets with a high house edge and stick to the following bets:
  • Pass Line bet with full odds.
  • Come bet with full odds.
  • Don’t Pass bet with full odds.
  • Don’t Come bet with full odds.

Baccarat

Despite its reputation as a game for the elite, this is a fun game with a low house edge. There are only three possible results of each hand, and there’s no skill involved — it’s strictly the fall of the cards. Here are a couple of tips for doing well:
  • Bet on the banker for the lowest house edge (1.06 percent).
  • 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.)

Avoiding bad bets in disguise

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 for medium hands stink in this version. Play only 9/6 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. Besides, who needs insurance when you’re playing to win?
  • Craps — one-throw bets: Betting on propositions, the field, and the big 6 and 8 are wallet slayers with a huge house edge. Stick with Pass, Don’t Pass, Come, and Don’t Come bets where you’re wagering for or against the shooter to hit a number twice before rolling a 7.
  • Baccarat —tie bets: Every now and then, the house and player hands end up the same, and you can bet on it happening. Unfortunately, the house edge is over 14 percent.

Games to avoid at all costs

If you’re gambling in a casino, you know that the odds nearly always favor the house. But the games with the worst bets take the house advantage to another level. Unless preserving your bankroll isn’t a priority, when you see these games, walk right on by:

  • Three-Card Poker

  • Let it Ride

  • Red Dog

  • Roulette

  • Big Six Wheel

  • Keno

How to manage your money at a casino

Successful casino gamblers understand the math behind the games, but knowledge is only powerful if it comes with the discipline to manage your money. Use these tips to keep yourself in the safe zone:

  • Never borrow money while gambling. Whether it’s a credit card or a generous friend, borrowing money to gamble is a surefire way to make your financial situation worse.

  • Only bet what you can afford to lose. Gambling with money that’s already earmarked for expenses like food, rent, or tuition is a major mistake.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Consume alcohol moderately while playing and gambling: There’s a reason casinos serve drinks for free and go easy on cannabis users. Gamblers under the influence lose more.

  • 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 can’t be honest with people in your life about your time in a casino, it’s time to find a new hobby.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Kevin Blackwood is one of the most successful blackjack players in the world. He writes for magazines such as Casino Player and is a contributing editor for Midwest Gaming and Travel. Blackwood was a semi-finalist at the World Series of Blackjack and a featured guest on the World Blackjack Tour. Swain Scheps is director, data and analytics platforms, at Nike. He has written extensively on gambling topics and is a veteran sports bettor and industry expert. He has provided gaming advice and instruction in the Fodor's Las Vegas travel series.

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