Casino gambling is not some arcane system of knowledge reserved for understanding only by the elite. Unless you’re Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking or Neil deGrass Tyson, you’d be out in the cold if you were.
No, in fact, every casino gambler probably has the intellectual skills to understand how the games are played, what the probabilities are, how the casino makes money from the games and which systems cost players the least amount of loss over time in their favorite games.
What else do they need to know? An important piece of information is the speed of the games. A two percent edge in a game that comes in with about 40 decisions per hour is much better than a one percent edge that comes in with 150 decisions based on the same dollar amounts of bets. The house edge is not the only criterion by which you can judge a game’s ability to grind away at your money.
How about how crowded a table might be in your preferred game? Crowded tables give the casino more money, but cost the individual player less if the player bets wisely. This is certainly a consideration.
My conclusions from personal, unscientific observation over three decades of casino gaming are short and not sweet; players mostly don’t understand the games they play. Many of them understand, but many more don’t. This is especially true for slot players. Moreover, many players believe in superstitions, which are, of course, nonsense.
So what should we do? The following seven gambling tips are certainly a starting point for casino players. They will set you on the right path.
[Note: All references to roulette are based on the American wheel with a double zero (0, 00). Blackjack references are based on an average game with six decks, unless otherwise noted].
TIP #1: KNOW THE RULES OF THE GAME
This may sound ridiculous, because how can a player play a game he knows very little about?
I see it all the time.
How many roulette players don’t realize (and may never realize) how the dealer accepts losing bets; how the dealer pays out winning bets; and when a new round of bets occurs and when no more bets can be made? Plenty. Just listen to how the roulette dealer scolds players who have no idea how the game is played. That will answer the above questions.
Ask roulette players what “even-money” bets mean. Many don’t know why they are called “even-money” bets. They think the payout reflects a bet with no house edge!
I have been at craps tables where “veteran” craps players claim that their winning bets have not been paid out. Some of them will argue loudly about this state of affairs, and then the dealer will say (usually exasperatedly), “I haven’t gotten to you yet.” Such players have been playing for decades, but still have no idea about the order of payouts.
Some craps players have no idea what the actual payoffs of their bets are. They just throw such bets and probably wish and hope they win what they are supposed to win when they win. Some players consistently don’t even know what bets they have on the board!
Blackjack players don’t know that the game generally breaks down to about 48 wins for the casino, 44 wins for the players and eight draws. Betting on the trend in live blackjack is not a good idea (actually, it’s never a “good” idea), because the trend is always against the player, except for exceptional hands such as blackjacks, double-downs, splits and double-downs on splits.
Lack of knowledge cannot make the game more enjoyable – or can it? I have no idea.
TIP #2: CROWDED TABLES ARE BEST
“I prefer to play alone at the table,” – says Joe. Nope!!! Joe is committing the cardinal sin of table games.
Slow play is best in all casino games. This applies to any game and any player who wants to play. With the exception of advantage players, who usually want to make more and more decisions, the ordinary player wants to make fewer and fewer decisions. By the way, almost all casino players are regular players and put themselves in danger.
Why is this so? Because the more money a player bets on a given game, the more money the casino edge has to grind it out.
However, the average table game player often wants to play alone or with several other players at his table. This is a big mistake. Why set yourself up to lose more money? To me, it doesn’t make sense. Lose less and enjoy the game more is a good motto for casino players.
This advice also applies to slot machine players. Play on one machine, slowly. Let that machine be a stand-alone machine. Don’t play two machines, because you are basically doubling your chances of losing.
TIP #3: KNOW THE SYSTEM YOU ARE PLAYING WITH
For the most part, I like to play gambling systems. I enjoy reading about them and listening to players who play them. But not all gambling systems are good; in fact, none can give a player an edge over the house, and anyone who thinks they can is selling themselves a bill of goods.
A good system will lose less money over time, a bad system will lose more money over time.
Is there a handy rule of thumb to distinguish good systems from bad ones?
Bad systems usually call for increases in the size of the bet as losses occurred. Or they call for such increases as winnings occurred.
Players like the idea of raising their bets when they win, because they think such wins must last. It doesn’t. A winning streak only happens in the past. It has nothing to do with now or when. The future is unknown, the past is not. But the past has no effect on the future. Too many casino players don’t realize this.
Raising the stakes is a bad idea. It only gives the casino more of your money to have its edge attack.
TIP #4: WHAT SHOULD BE THE SIZE OF YOUR BETS
If I were to place a few pennies on a bet in a casino, winning or losing would be irrelevant, because a penny or two is not a bet that makes your heart beat faster. However, if I were to sell my house, sell my car, empty out my bank account and any other investments I had and put it all on one bet in a casino then I would probably…die. My heart probably wouldn’t be able to take it.
Our bets, according to my mentor, the late Captain Dice, should be enough to get the blood flowing, to increase excitement, but not so much that the fear of losing makes us a little small, no bet should be enough to jeopardize our bank or our physical health.
Waking up in the morning asking ourselves, “How much did I bet yesterday?” is not a good situation.
[Note: I wrote about Captain in my books. He was indeed my mentor].
Gambling in a casino is supposed to be fun, which it can’t be if there is any desperation involved. Betting too much is not good. Likewise, betting too little doesn’t give us the thrill we seek in casinos.
I think the Greek philosopher Hesiod was right when he wrote (I paraphrase), “Moderation in all things.”
This saying is especially true for casino players and their betting choices.
TIP #5: KNOW WHEN TO GET OUT OF THE GAME
The worst and most depressing way to start a casino session/trip is to get hammered so hard and fast that you find yourself at the bottom of a deep pit and your concept for the next day or two is to dig your way out. You’re not even worried about winning as much as you are about not getting buried.
Of course, you feel you have to keep playing to dig and fill that hole. Of course, the casino won’t lose its edge over you, so you can continue your rapid descent into oblivion and crawl home. In a sense, you may be at the bottom.
Is there anything you can do about it? Yes, you can slow down the pace of your game. Imagine that you are about to take a loss and tell yourself sternly: “Sam, don’t do anything stupid. Don’t bet more than you normally would; don’t go wild with really high house-edge bets that have big payouts.
Play it safe. Play healthy. Be smart. Stay composed. There are many days of casino gaming ahead.
Let’s say you stay on your feet, maybe a little down, maybe a little up, the question is: when to quit?
Here are the possible answers:
- Your mind says to the rest: “It’s time to quit now and do something else.” Then quit right there and then. Your session is over.
- I’m tired. It’s time to hop, skip and jump from this game.
- I think I will savor this victory until the next session. Bingo! You’re out of the game.
- I’m losing just a little bit. I’ll take a break and come back later.
- God, but I’m tired. It’s time for a nap. Settle comfortably in bed for a while.
- God, but I’m tired. Time for a good night’s sleep. Settle comfortably in bed for a while.
TIP #6: RECOMMENDED MONEY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
Money management cannot give a player an advantage over casino games. This is a solid fact that casino players need to understand. They are in a negative situation and this situation will inevitably manifest itself, either now or over time. Often now and with time. I sometimes wonder how many casino players have ever gotten ahead of the games they love to play at any point in their gaming career – whether short-term or long-term?
But good money management is a solid tool to keep your losses under control. This is a basic idea that needs to take root in the casino player’s brain. Money management is a way to protect your gambling bankroll.
Here are my recommendations for a good money management system:
- Set up a bank/checking account called a 401G for your gambling funds. Regularly deposit money into this account. By the way, the “G” stands for gambling.
- Use the money from this account only to gamble in the casino.
- If you win at the casino, the money from those winnings will go into this account.
- Make sure you have enough money to play in the casino at least four hours a day. It could be less, but more could be a mistake.
- Divide your money based on how many sessions you plan to play. Don’t play for your entire bankroll.
- Never allow yourself to lose more than one-third of your total bankroll in one trip to the casino. Recognize that one trip equals two days of play.
- Don’t lend money to anyone to gamble. This is a bad investment. Remember Polonius’ advice to Laertes in Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet”: “Be neither a borrower nor a lender, for borrowing both of yourself and your friend loses you, and lending blunts the edge of husbandry.”
TIP #7: DON’T WORRY ABOUT COMPS
Too many players worry about what level of comps they will get from the casino. Some players think that comps are freebies that the casino gives because those players are liked – for one reason or another. They believe that their host (if they deserve to be hosted) chose them for some unspeakable reason.
Comps are based on one simple factor: How much money the casino expects you to lose over a given period of time. They will reimburse you a percentage of that in the form of room and board and other “favors.”
Here’s the simplest, smartest advice when it comes to comps: Take what they give you because you’ve earned it through potential losses, but never play to get comps. They will come or they won’t.