Beat the Casino

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Tricks to Gambling

Craps and baccarat offer the best shot that Las Vegas casinos give. They take the smallest percentage and are easiest to play. Blackjack is the game for those with a sharp eye and a good memory. Worst bets: Keno, roulette, and slot machines (in that order). Atlantic City roulette odds are better than Nevada houses but not as good as French casinos. The best blackjack is in Las Vegas, the worst in Atlantic City. The best craps rules are in Great Britain.


This is the best casino game-the only one in which a skilled player can beat the house over time. Overall, of course, the casinos make a nice profit because their edge against the average “hunch” player runs from 6% to 15%.

For the recreational gambler, a basic blackjack strategy-with no counting-can cut the house edge to only .4%. Given those odds, you’d lose about $2 in an average hour if you bet $4 per hand-not a bad entertainment value.

Rules for the no-count system:

  • Never split pairs of 4s, 5s, or 10s. Always split aces and 8s. Split other pairs if the dealer’s up card is 2 through 6.
  • Double your bet on 11 unless the dealer shows an ace. Double on 10 unless the dealer shows an ace or a 10. Double on 9 if the dealer shows 3 through 6 and on soft hands (hands with an ace that can be counted as 11 without going over 21) of 13 through 18 if the dealer shows 4 through 6.
  • Always stand on hard hands (hands with no ace or an ace that must be counted as 1) of 17 and up. Stand on hands of 12 through 16 if the dealer shows 2 through 6. (Otherwise, hit.) Always stand on soft hands of 18 and up. Always hit on soft hands of 17 or less if it is too late to double.


If you play on indefinitely for a big jackpot with out conserving your smaller wins, the casinos advantage is almost sure to wipe you out.

Even if you eventually hit your jackpot, it’s unlikely to outweigh your accumulated losses. You must accept every win, no matter how large, for what it is-a victory against the odds.

Source: Dwight Crevelt, a senior engineer on the technical staff at IGT, a Las Vegas slot machine manufacturer. He is the co-author (with his mother, Louise Crevelt) of Slot Machine Mania and has a second book, Video Poker Mania . Both are published by Gollehon Press.

Your Best Bet

All casinos aren’t alike in the odds they offer, and there can even be important differences between neighboring tables in the same house. Nevada casinos vary widely from one another … more than do houses in Atlantic City.

Example.- In Vegas, craps tables might fist the odds on a “2 or 12” or as 30 to I-on a $1 bet, the croupier will return $31 to you. Or the odds might be fisted as 30 to I-a winning bet of $1 returns only $30. The odds are clearly marked on the table, but the casinos count on you not to read the fine print so they can earn what amounts to a free dollar on the 30 to 1 odds.

In Vegas, the best deals are usually found in the smaller casinos in the Freemont Street downtown area, away from the fabled Strip. Big caution: The more out-of-the-way the casino, the greater your chances of being cheated by crooked dealers. Be especially wary of blackjack games, because in Nevada all cards are dealt by hand.

Source: Adapted from New and Old Tricks for the Shrewd Traveler .

Slot Tricks

  • The most successful slots players are those who are disciplined in their money management:
  • Set a strict gambling “budget” for your trip – a sum you can afford to lose without guilt or hardship.
  • Divide your stake by the number of days you plan to play. If you’ve budgeted $300 for a three-day weekend, you can risk no more than $100 per day-
  • Set a time limit for each session (an hour or two is reasonable) and buy a limited number of coins-say, $25 in quarters.
  • Don’t play back any coins that drop in the tray. Use only your original “buy.” When those coins run out, take stock of what’s in your tray. If you’re ahead, cash in at the change booth and place your profit in the “winning section” of your purse or wallet. This money is untouchable. If you’re behind, add whatever you have left to your original stake.
  • If you’re behind, take a break, if you’re ahead, buy more change with another portion of your original stake and play that out. Proceed as above.
  • If you’ve played half your stake and lost most or all of it, change your game plan. Change to a lesser-denomination machine (quarters instead of dollars, nickels instead of quarters, three-coin instead of five-coin).
  • If you’re ahead and your machine keeps you ahead with each cash-in, keep playing. But once your last cash-in amount is considerably less than the amount of stake spent, it’s time to move on to a new machine-if only for psychological reasons.
  • If you’ve played your allotted time and still have some of your original session stake, consider yourself lucky. Move what’s left to your ‘Winnings” pocket. This money is also untouchable-never bet your winnings!
Source: Adapted from New and Old Tricks for the Shrewd Traveler .

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