I’m sure many of us have experienced the frightful scenario of being in a meeting or perhaps just at a dinner among friends and asking what you instantly recognize as an embarrassing question.
I don’t particularly appreciate seeing people shy away from questions for fear of looking stupid. I believe that questions are what drives innovation and intelligence. How else are we supposed to learn?
Here are the answers to the casino gambling questions you are scared to ask.
What’s the House Advantage?
Listen, the casino isn’t going to put any games on the gaming floor that doesn’t guarantee a long-term profit for them.
Every game on the casino floor is carefully crafted to give the casino an advantage while simultaneously keeping players engaged and gambling.
You can’t make the edge so obvious that players are losing every single hand. That would quickly frustrate even the most hopeless of casino gamblers, and they’d have to board up the massive and empty buildings.
That’s the brilliance of how casinos work. Some players will break even, others will lose, and a percentage will leave the property a winner.
However, over time the math holds, and the casino takes a nice profit. Games come with various house edges ranging from 5% or slightly higher on slot machines down to around 1% for video poker, blackjack, and certain craps bets.
Let’s imagine you’re playing a game with a 2% house advantage. You can typically expect to lose $2 for every $100 you put into play over the long haul.
This means if you’re playing 50 hands of blackjack an hour at $5 per hand, you’ll lose approximately $5 per hour this way.
Of course, that varies greatly on how well you play blackjack and the cards you get. Sometimes you’ll win, and sometimes you’ll lose at a higher rate.
The casino knows that in the end, about 2% of all the money put into play will wind up as profit. The casinos have so many players on the floor at any given time that they can afford only to take a small percentage of the money in play.
You can think of the house advantage as the casino’s insurance against going bankrupt.
Should You Use a Betting System?
There are dozens of betting systems out there, and they all claim to be the best. You’ll hear gamblers tout how the systems are a lock, and you’ll never go home broke again.
Malarkey, pure and simple. Sure, you’ll be able to have a good session possibly and win occasionally.
However, there’s no beating the house edge by using a betting system.
The Martingale seems to be the most popular betting system around. So, let’s do a brief examination and move onto more important matters.
The Martingale has you double your bet any time you lose a hand on an even money bet. So, an even-money bet on roulette, for example.
Unfortunately, there are several fundamental problems with this ideology. It sounds good at first, making a $10 bet and making a $20 bet to cancel the initial loss if you lose.
Now, you’re ahead $10. Unless you also lose the second bet, now you’re betting $40. If you win, great, but if you lose, your next bet is $80.
See the problem here?
It won’t take long to completely wipe out your bankroll if you have a run of losses. This means you’ll be lying poolside lamenting your losses without any hopes of recouping them.
Even if you had a limitless bankroll, you’re going to run into table limits at some point. A simple run of 10 consecutive losses looks like this starting with a $10 bet: $10, $20, $40, $80, $160, $320, $640 (Are you broke yet?), $1280, $2560, $5120.
In summation, and I’ll bet you agree, steer clear of betting systems. If you want to give the casinos a run for the money, you’re much better off sticking to playing the blackjack’s basic strategy.
Can You Beat the Casino?
Yes and no. The casino games are completely random, and there will be times where that works to your benefit.
After all, if people didn’t win, nobody would go to the casino. So, it depends on what you mean by beat.
The casinos will always hold an edge in the long run, and you’ll never overcome it completely.
However, there have been some brilliant mathematicians that have figured out a way to beat the casino.
I’m referring to the card counters like the team of young whiz kids from MIT. The MIT blackjack team ran their card counting operation through casinos for over a decade.
It’s estimated that the crew made north of $55 million during their run. So, you could say that they beat the casinos.
Unfortunately, the casinos caught onto the team, and most of them were banned from entering casinos for life.
You can put in the time and become an excellent card counter. It’s much easier than you think and probably your best shot at beating the casino.
However, if the casino catches you, you can expect to become persona non grata at any casino around.
I’d suggest making small incremental goals on each trip. Each time you hit one of your goals, call it a win and move onto the next goal.
Is Gambling Expensive?
How much you choose to spend on real money gambling is completely up to you. Where you live, what games you enjoy, and what you consider “expensive” are all important factors.
Perhaps you live within an hour’s drive of a casino. You’ll be able to make day trips to the casino.
Conversely, if your hours away from the nearest casino, you might choose to fly to Las Vegas.
A trip to Vegas is one of the most exciting trips a casino gambler can take. However, it can quickly add up.
You’ll need to buy airfare, book a room, have a decent gambling bankroll, and account for meals and other activities.
A very basic trip to Las Vegas can easily set you back $1,000 before you even factor in money for gambling.
I’ve driven to a casino with fewer than $100 and gambled all night. So, where you gamble is vitally important.
The bottom line is that you should never gamble with money you need for other expenses like rent or food.
How expensive gambling is will depend on your habits. I’ve played penny slots for 7 hours on less than a $25 buy-in.
What’s the Best Game to Play?
I get asked this question by most people that learn of what I do for work. In fact, my wife had minor surgery recently, and while she was coming out from being under, her doctor came to let me know how everything went.
During our conversation, he turned to my laptop and asked if I’d gotten any work done. I told him I had and what I was working on that morning.
He immediately asked me what game he should stick to on his upcoming trip to Las Vegas. I told him the best play was to play the games he enjoys the most because, in the end, gambling is a form of entertainment.
Having said that, there are a couple of games I prefer to play and give you the best shot of winning while allowing you to play longer.
The first is craps. The craps table is one of the most exciting places in the casino. By sticking to the safe bets like the Pass line and Don’t Pass, you dwindle the house edge to under 2%.
Don’t let the crowd intimidate you; get in there, and win that money.
The second game I love to play is Video Poker. Video Poker is a wonderful alternative if you prefer the solitude of the slot machines coupled with the lowest house advantage in the casino.
If you learn how to play skilled video poker and find the right machine, you actually have a slight edge over the casino.
Finally, my favorite casino game, blackjack. Blackjack provides me with the perfect blend of social interaction, skilled play, and minimal house advantage.
If you’re new to blackjack, stop by the gift shop and buy a basic strategy card. When a player uses basic strategy on every hand, the house edge can drop to below 0.5%.
So, you’ll actually walk away from the table a winner much more often. Blackjack also seems to move along at the perfect pace for me.
I don’t worry about ever losing my bankroll allotment quickly and having to limp away from the table. I can gamble for the amount of time I’ve given myself without ever running out of chips.
I hope the answers to the casino gambling questions you are scared to ask have clarified some things. Never hesitate to ask questions; this includes asking your dealer for clarification if you don’t understand.
Never forget, you don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.