This article is dedicated to providing you with basic and essential strategies to the most popular casino games. If you’re planning a trip to the casino, or wish to try your luck online, don’t waste a cent before knowing which games to play, which games to avoid, and how to reduce or even eliminate the casino’s statistical advantage.
There are no magic bullets and no secret systems that will allow you to win at gambling. The only proven way to win is by playing the optimal strategy for the game you are playing. The optimal strategy for any game is derived through statistical analysis by professional gaming mathematicians and authors. I have links to many of these authors’ books and websites, and i’ve drawn upon their collective knowledge to present this basic overview of advantage play.
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This article covers the most popular casino games, as listed below. More games will be added over time, or as requested. But for serious gamblers, the games below are the only ones you’ll want to play, due to their popularity, low house edge and/or high comp rate. If you’re looking for information on Texas Hold’em, check out my other articles on various topics including Basic Hold’em.
- Blackjack – Basic strategy and rules, plus card counting.
- Video Poker – Pay schedules and strategy.
- Craps – The best bets at the craps table, plus dice control.
- Slot Machines – High payout slots and the best online slots bonuses.
The House Advantage
How do the casinos make so much money, year after year? Are the games rigged? Is your luck just that lousy? Casino gambling is what mathematicians call a negative expectation game. This means that over the long run, you will lose money to the casino. In the short term, you may win (or lose) a lot of money, but over the long run, the house advantage will whittle that down to the approximate statistical percentage that the casino expects to make from that game.
The house advantage (also referred to as the house edge) is simply the minimum percentage that the casino expects to keep as profit. A typical blackjack game can have a house edge of less than one-half of 1%, while slots can have a house edge of 2-6% or more. Smart gamblers choose their game according to its house advantage, which is why more professional gamblers play blackjack as opposed to slots.
The inverse of the house advantage is the payout percentage, which is usually applied to machines such as slots and video poker. A machine with a payout percentage of 98% would have a house advantage of 2%.
So, how do you overcome the house advantage? You can’t completely eliminate it, but you can minimize it as much as possible by only playing games with the lowest house edge, taking advantage of casino comps, managing your bankroll and learning the optimal strategy for every game you play.