Casino Gambling For Dummies, 2nd Edition book cover

Casino Gambling For Dummies, 2nd Edition

By: Kevin Blackwood and Swain Scheps Published: 03-28-2022

Crazy about casinos, but worried about losing your shirt? Relax! This hands-on guide is filled with insider secrets and tips for maximizing winnings and minimizing losses in the most popular casino games ― blackjack, poker, craps, roulette, slots, and more. You get the scoop on everything from game rules and jargon to making the best bets (and knowing when to quit).

Articles From Casino Gambling For Dummies, 2nd Edition

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Casino Gambling For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 02-23-2022

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.

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Meeting the Casino's Cast of Characters

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

A vast and sometimes complicated hierarchy of employees with a variety of titles, responsibilities, and even different styles of dress populates a casino. These workers simultaneously cater to the needs of the guests and the casino owners. No matter who they are, the casino employees all have one goal in common: to provide you with ample opportunities to try your luck against the unevenly-stacked house odds. Casino employees are usually pleasant, professional, and well-trained individuals (after all, if you're treated with courtesy and respect, you're more likely to stay — and spend — longer). In the pits: Serving the table players As you explore the responsibilities of the various casino personnel, it helps to split the casino into two parts: The area where slot machines appear in endless rows. The area where you play table games, such as blackjack, craps, or roulette. The casino arranges the tables in pits, similar to wagon trains encircled to protect against an attack. Each pit is designed to be an autonomous, fully functioning business, equipped with a variety of table games and a small community of casino personnel that is always willing to usher your dollar bills into the casino coffers. Pit bosses Pit bosses are smartly attired, experienced professionals who are responsible for all the gaming operations in their assigned pits. As the name implies, pit bosses supervise floorpersons, dealers, and the gamers within their pit. Theirs is a very detail-oriented job, requiring not only intimate knowledge of all aspects of the games but also the ability to keep track of thousands of dollars flowing through their spheres of influence. In the event of a serious dispute, the pit boss is the one who steps in to settle matters. Among other tasks, pit bosses monitor credit markers, or the amount of credit extended to you, and they dispense comps, such as free meals or shows, doled out according to an elaborate formula based on the number of hours you play and the amount of money you wager. Winning or losing vast sums of money often ignites supercharged emotions. Another responsibility of the pit boss is to make sure those emotions don't explode into conflict. The pit boss is there to congratulate as well as to calm, to soothe as well as to strong-arm. The pit boss's job is part security staff, part supervisor, part gambling expert, and part public relations manager. Floorpersons Reporting to each pit boss are several other suits known as floorpersons. The main difference from pit bosses is that floorpersons are in charge of only a couple of tables in the pit and report directly to the pit boss. They dress and act like the pit boss, and you typically can't distinguish between the two without asking. Both of them make sure that proper casino procedure is followed. Dealers Dealers have their fingers on the pulse of the casino — figuratively and literally. Theirs is a high-pressure job with a demanding audience. Overseeing several players at a table, dealers must be confident in their gambling knowledge. They must know who wins, who loses, and how much to pay out on each hand. Many gamers mistakenly believe that dealers simply shuffle and deal cards, but dealers must also handle dice, chips, and money — accurately and quickly. Dealers have a wide range of personalities. Some are polite and ebullient, others efficient and brusque. Although finding a compatible dealer doesn't change the cards or the size of your winnings, it can make your gaming experience more enjoyable. When you find one you like, sit down, but remember the dealer has no control over the outcome. Most dealers prefer that you win because they make their money primarily from tips. Slot employees: The reel dealers The average American casino makes nearly two-thirds of its profits from its various slot machines. Therefore, casinos are diligent when it comes to maintaining and stocking them for long-term play. Slot attendants The person you're most likely to deal with if you have a problem or question about your machine is a slot attendant. Slot machine attendants are on constant vigil, ever watchful for the next jackpot or flashing light requesting service. They're usually wearing a uniform and sometimes push carts with oodles of money so they can give change to bettors in need. The attendants are the perfect people to ask if you're not sure how to play a particular machine; they know every bell, cherry, and bar like the back of their hand. Slot supervisors The slot supervisor rules the realm of the slot machines, managing employees and overseeing the maintenance and upkeep of the machines. The slot supervisor generally has several slot attendants as direct reports. For casual gamblers, slot supervisors normally play a part in your life only if you hit a jackpot that can't be paid out in coins. Management: Running the tables A host of other casino personnel contribute to the success of the house. Casino hosts Modern casino hosts best resemble a successful hotel concierge: They're at your service. A typical casino host is an affable and professional employee whose mission is to serve your every need. Hosts are hands-on people who greet VIP guests at the door and pamper them throughout their stay. Depending on the size and popularity of the casino and the thickness of your wallet, a casino host may Comp your rooms Arrange for greens fees at the golf course Get tickets to sold-out shows Give away free meals If it's your first time in a casino, don't expect to have the keys to the Rain Man suite at Caesar's Palace handed to you. But even low rollers can make a relationship with the casino host profitable: Join the club: The casino host expects you to be a casino loyalty club member before you're offered many comps. Express yourself: Don't wait for the host to find you in the penny slots area; go introduce yourself to the host. Be loyal: Find your favorite gambling locale and stick to it. Even small-scale visits can make you a valuable customer if they're repeated regularly. Just ask: The players who get comps are the ones who ask the casino host. Don't be rude or demanding, just ask politely and see what benefits you qualify for. Other managers As in other walks of life, every casino employee has to report to somebody, and those somebodies are the shift managers, who are responsible for their areas of casino expertise (such as slots or table games) during a particular shift. The only position above the shift manager is the casino manager. The only time you may ever interact with the manager is if you win enough money to buy the casino.

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Preparing to Play Blackjack

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Yes, understanding the basics of blackjack is relatively easy. But, before you can walk away a winner, you need a deeper understanding of the nuances of the game and casino protocol. Finding a table: Strategic seating Blackjack begins by selecting a seat at the table. Typically, a blackjack table allows for five to seven players. Whenever you see an empty seat at a blackjack table, you may assume it's for your taking (unless chips or a coat are holding the spot for a player who just stepped away for a moment or unless some player is playing two hands). In most cases, joining a game in progress is okay, although some tables have a No-Midshoe Entry policy (usually marked by a sign at the table), which means you have to wait until the shuffle before playing. For your first trip to the tables, you're better off finding a nearly full table. Although the number of players at the table hardly affects the odds on your hands, the game is much quicker with fewer players. A fuller table gives you more time to think about each hand without being rushed or pressured. Seeking single-deck tables Without getting into a lot of math, here's a good rule to follow: The fewer decks the casino uses, the better for you. Your chances for success increase if you can find a single-deck game. Most casinos worldwide have gone to six or more decks in an attempt to thwart card counters (skilled players who keep track of cards). But some places still deal blackjack the old-fashioned way — with one deck of 52 cards. Most of the casinos in northern Nevada (Reno, Lake Tahoe, and Wendover) still use one deck of cards at many of their blackjack tables. If you aren't sure how many decks the casino is using, just ask. Eyeing table bet levels Before you actually sit down, look for the table's minimum and maximum betting limits. Every table has these fixed limits, which the casino usually posts on a small sign located on the table to the right of the dealer. You may sit down at a table where the placard says $5–$500, which means you have to bet at least $5 on every hand and can never bet more than $500 on any one spot. Typically, the higher the minimum starting bet, the higher the maximum bet for that table. When you're starting out, find the lowest minimum table in the casino and begin there. Making smaller bets keeps you out of trouble until you understand the game better — and you're less likely to end up sitting next to a high roller (who may not appreciate a novice at his table). Purchasing chips After you select your seat, you need to buy chips from the dealer. Select the amount of money you want to start with and lay your cash on the felt in front of you. The dealer changes your cash into chips and slides them across the felt to you. Don't hand your money directly to the dealer; doing so is a breach of etiquette and brands you as a greenhorn. After you receive your chips, leave them on the table in front of you. Chips come in several denominations and are color-coded. Although every casino uses distinctive chips, most colors are standard. Start off with a small amount of chips. A good approach is to cash in no more than 25 percent of your daily bankroll for chips. For example, if you budget $400 for the day, buy in for no more than $100 to start. This way, when you're losing, you minimize the temptation to bet more than you planned. You can always buy more chips later if necessary. Homing in on house rules Blackjack rules are fairly similar worldwide — with a few variations. Sometimes a small placard sitting on the table indicates where the casino stands in regard to certain scenarios. If you don't see a placard, you may ask the dealer what the house rules are, even when you're in the middle of a hand. Does the dealer hit on a soft 17? A soft hand is any hand that counts an ace as 11 rather than 1. The hand is soft because it can't bust on the next card. For example, if you hit (take another card) a soft 18 (an ace and a 7) with a 6, the ace automatically reverts to 1 (rather than 11), and the hand total is now 14 (rather than 24, which would be a bust). Whether a dealer hits on a soft 17 is usually spelled out in bold white letters right on the felt. Normally the dealer counts an ace as 11 anytime he has a hand of 17 or more. However, about half the casinos worldwide deviate from this rule on soft 17 (an ace and a 6). In those cases, the ace counts as 1, and the dealer hits his soft 17. Is doubling down restricted to certain card combinations? In Las Vegas, casinos typically allow doubling down, an option that allows you to double your bet, on any two cards, but other places may restrict this move to just 10s or 11s. The placard probably won't list restrictions to doubling down. If you aren't sure whether restrictions are in place, don't be afraid to ask the dealer, even if you're in the middle of a hand. Can you surrender? A playing option known as surrender is an extremely profitable option for you as a player, but not many casinos offer it. When you surrender, you lose half of your initial bet and give up your hand. For example, if you bet $10 and are dealt a 16, you can surrender and only lose $5 (half your bet) rather than risk the entire $10 on a bad hand. Once again, the placard may not readily advertise this rule variation, so always ask if surrender is available. Dealing what's in the cards All right, you're situated at the table, you've made your bet in the betting box, and your heart is pumping like a jackhammer. The dealer flashes you a warm smile, wishes you good luck, shuffles the deck, and asks you to cut the cards. If you're playing a one- or two-deck game, the dealer holds the cards in his hands and deals you two cards face-down. You can pick up these cards, but make sure you only hold them in one hand. However, the majority of blackjack games today use six or eight decks. In these cases, the dealer deals your two cards face-up from a shoe (a boxlike device that houses the cards). Whether your cards are dealt face-up or face-down really doesn't matter — dealers follow strict rules, and seeing the values of your cards doesn't influence them. Dealers' hands always start off with one card exposed and one card hidden, regardless of the number of decks.

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Improving Your Odds at Roulette

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Remember to stay realistic about the long odds on this popular game of chance. Approach roulette with the sober realization that, with a house advantage of 5.26 percent on the American wheel, roulette is among the worst bets in a casino. Despite the odds, you can still use some simple strategies to stretch your roulette bankroll and enjoy the thrill of the spin. This article contains a few tips that can help you improve your chances of winning. Roulette is a drain on your wallet simply because the game doesn't pay what the bets are worth. With 38 numbers (1 to 36, plus 0 and 00), the true odds of hitting a single number on a straight-up bet are 37 to 1, but the house pays only 35 to 1 if you win! Ditto the payouts on the combination bets. This discrepancy is where the house gets its huge edge in roulette. Starting with the basics Strategy is critical if you want to increase your odds of winning. The first time you play roulette, the players sprinkling the layout with chips may look as if they're heaping pepperoni slices on a pizza. You can make many different bets as long as you stay within the table's maximum limits. Consequently, few players make just one bet at a time. Of course, the more bets you make, the more complicated and challenging it is to follow all the action. Here are two possible plans of attack to simplify matters: Stick to the table minimum and play only the outside bets. For example, bet on either red or black for each spin. This type of outside bet pays 1 to 1 and covers 18 of the 38 possible combinations. Place two bets of equal amounts on two outside bets: one bet on an even-money play and the other on a column or dozen that pays 2 to 1. For example, place one bet on black and one bet on Column Three, which has eight red numbers. That way, you have 26 numbers to hit, 4 of which you cover twice. You can also make a bet on red and pair it with a bet on Column Two, which has eight black numbers. Again, you cover 26 numbers, and 4 of them have two ways to win. Pairing a bet on either red or black with Column One (or on one of the three dozens) covers 24 numbers, and 6 numbers have two ways of winning. Spreading bets like this won't make you rich, but it does keep things interesting at the table. Playing a European wheel If you happen to find a single-zero European wheel, you greatly improve your odds: The house edge is half that of roulette with the American wheel — only 2.63 percent. You may see a European wheel at one of the posh Vegas casinos, such as Bellagio, Mirage, or Caesars Palace. If you can't find one on the floor, it's probably tucked away in the high-limit area along with the baccarat tables, so you may need to ask. You can also find the single-zero wheel at some other upscale casinos around the country. Because casinos set aside the European wheel for high rollers, you're likely to find a higher table minimum, say $25. But because the house edge is half that of a double-zero wheel, the European wheel is the better roulette game to play for bigger bettors. Your chances of winning get even better if the casino offers an advantageous rule called en prison. Sometimes available on the European wheel, the en prison rule lowers the house edge even further to a reasonable 1.35 percent. The rule applies to even-money bets. For example, say you have a $10 bet riding on black. If the ball lands on zero, your even-money bet doesn't win or lose but remains locked up for one more spin. If the ball lands on black on the next spin, the house returns your original bet of $10, but you don't win anything. If the ball lands on red, you lose. And if the ball repeats the zero number again, your bet stays imprisoned for another round.

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Navigating the Casino Maze

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

From Monaco to Vegas to the local riverboats, most casinos of the world are laid out similarly. This common design is no accident — casino owners have an intimate knowledge of the gambler's mind, and they design the interiors to make their guests comfortable with parting with their cash. Gambling is the ultimate impulse buy. The casino's layout encourages this impulse. Taking away the mystique is your first step toward improving your odds and coming out a winner. With every casino visit, before you drop your first dollar on the table, stand still, take a deep breath, and look around. Getting in is the easy part In Las Vegas or Atlantic City, you can walk in off the street and find yourself a few feet away from the gaming areas. You're practically holding the door for your significant other with one hand and rolling the dice with the other. After all, casinos want as little as possible to stand between you and your favorite game. But most casinos give you a chance to catch your breath prior to plunging into the action. When you walk in, you often find yourself in a lobby. Most casinos are also hotels, so you may see familiar sights, such as the check-in counter. People bustle about and crowd together and this bottleneck is no accident; it's part of the calculated marketing strategy to lure you ever closer to the games. At the threshold of the gaming floor, the sounds, colorful lights, and crowd energy all go to work on your senses, even from a distance. Just like an infant reaching for bright colorful objects, casino visitors gravitate to the sights and sounds of the casino floor. Even the temperature scientifically controlled for maximum comfort. You quickly find that every destination in a casino — the guest elevators, the bathrooms, or the buffet — requires that you walk through (or dangerously near) the gaming areas. Slot machines and video poker stations are positioned just inside the casino entrance. The boys in marketing put them here so you can test the waters and feel the rush a quarter at a time — getting your feet wet right at the casino entrance. Up ahead you see the casino proper, a virtual indoor carnival buzzing with excitement. You can almost feel the energy pulsing. Slot machines: Place them and they will come As you enter the casino proper, you see hopeful gamblers, often two-deep, standing in line, patiently waiting their turn to reap the spitting, buzzing payoffs from the slot machines. Larger casinos hold aisle after aisle of slots, like rows of corn. Casinos typically place the most profitable slot machines within easy access to the main traffic aisles, such as the foyer, restaurants, and bars, and are extremely careful to place high-hit frequency slots within earshot of the thronging masses. As you venture down the aisles of slots, you may find a few open machines, but not many. As one row ends, another aisle begins. Some of the most popular machines are Double Diamond and Wheel of Fortune. Table games: Penetrating the inner circle Just as the sun is the center of the solar system, the table games rest in the middle of the casino system, attracting visitors ever inward and at the same time providing the main source of energy and vitality to the floor. Table games are grouped together into areas known in casino lingo as pits. The pits are separated from slot machines, restaurants, and other casino functions by a wide aisle, allowing nonplayers to watch the action and vicariously enjoy the thrill of turning over the winning card or nailing the winning roll. Table games you can play include Baccarat: The classic card game is often played in a separate room to create a more civilized and secluded atmosphere. Blackjack: Determine your own fate with smart decisions and timely double downs. Craps: Roll the dice and hear the crowd roar in the most boisterous game on the floor. Poker: It's just like your neighborhood game, except you never have to shuffle. Roulette: Pick a number, place your bet, and then watch the spinning wheel go round and round. If you're a high roller, the most exclusive gaming tables with the highest betting limits are often in adjoining rooms, separated by glass from the other tables. They feature fancy amenities, such as private cocktail servers or a bar. But most table games are designed for moderate bettors. The loud, boisterous call of a lively crowd gathered around the craps table can seem like a siren song to players tempted to leave the boredom and repetition of the slots, and that's no accident. The intimate nature of the poker table beckons would-be strategists, while the smoky haze surrounding a blackjack game cries out to the novice with its lack of intimidation. The bar: Quiet escape — or not? Most casinos have a bar that's central to the main action. A large casino may offer numerous bars interspersed throughout the floor. Some feature live music, and some are simply service bars where you can take a quick pit stop away from the flow of traffic. But don't picture a quiet setting of soft music, hushed whispers, and clinking glasses. There's no escaping the games: Casino bars are in the midst of the lively pits. Casinos profit from the fact that alcohol lubricates the ATM card. But no casino wants drunk patrons, and the policy on pushing alcohol consumption varies from place to place. Some tribal casinos don't serve it at all. If you don't feel like leaving your table to head to the bar, most casinos have servers who take drink orders. You can pay and tip them with chips from the casino or cash. However, if you want to eat, most casinos don't allow eating at the table. You need to visit one of the many restaurants to chow down. Cashing out: Heading to the cashier's cage The cashier's cage is where you redeem your markers — the chips the casino uses to represent cash — for hard cash and where you buy and redeem your slot tokens. (You must buy your chips at the tables, and you must cash out at the cashier's cage.) Every casino has cashier's cages — the larger the casino, the more cages you find. Highly trained and supremely trusted casino employees handle more cash each shift than most people see in a lifetime. Cashier's cages are easy to find. Casinos typically locate them along the sides of the rooms to allow the more valuable floor space for games. Here, much like at a bank, one or more tellers deal with the public through a window.

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Bets to Avoid in Otherwise Safe Casino Gambling Games

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

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.

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Casino Gambling Games with Decent Odds

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

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.)

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How to Manage Your Money at a Gambling Casino

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

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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Casino Gambling Games to Avoid at All Costs

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

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

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