“There is a very easy way to return from a casino with a small fortune; go there with a big one.”
This quote from Jack Yelton neatly sums up the general picture of casino gambling. Many people believe that it is nothing more than a sure-fire way to lose some money. They’re not quite right.
It is true that most people who play casino games lose in the long run. It is also true that casinos have an overwhelming advantage that simply cannot be overcome. However, it is not true to say that it is impossible to win at the casino. If it were, there just wouldn’t be that many people playing casino games. The fact that there is a chance to win is exactly what makes them so attractive.
Now, casino gambling ultimately comes down to luck. The odds are in favor of the casinos, which is why they always win in the long run, but players can and do occasionally get lucky. And casino gambling isn’t all about luck either. Contrary to popular belief, there are certain things players can do to increase their chances of winning. This is essentially where casino strategy comes in.
On this page, we will discuss the subject of casino strategy in detail. We’ll start by explaining two important concepts you need to understand—random chance and the house edge—then offer some basic advice that can give you a better chance of winning. We also explain how learning how to play optimally can help, and we finish with details of two important casino strategies that you should be aware of. These are card counting in blackjack and the use of betting systems.
Games of chance and the house edge
In our beginner’s guide to casino gambling, we discuss four key points that you should ideally be aware of before risking your own money in a casino. These are as follows.
- Casino games are games of chance.
- It’s not impossible to win.
- The house always wins.
- Luck is not the only factor.
To understand why the first three points are true, you need to understand gambling and the house edge. So we’re going to explain that to you now. If you read through the rest of this page, you’ll understand why luck isn’t the only factor that determines how and when a player wins.
What are games of chance?
A game of chance is defined as a game in which the outcomes are wholly or mainly random.
A good example of a game where the outcomes are completely random is roulette. Depending on which variant of the game is played, there are 37 or 38 possible outcomes from spinning a roulette wheel. Each of those possible outcomes is just as likely as any other, because the number the ball lands on is completely random. It cannot be influenced by anything but natural physics. So no matter what we bet on, the odds of winning or losing are random.
Blackjack is a good example of a game where the outcomes are mainly, but not entirely, random. The random element comes from the fact that the decks are shuffled. If the order in which the cards are dealt is random, then the outcome of the games is also random. The reason the outcomes are not completely random is that the players can decide how to play their hands. Their decisions also have some influence on the outcome of the game.
It is the random nature of casino games that means that it is not impossible to win.
Let’s go back to roulette. For example, if we bet on the number 15 for ten consecutive spins, there is a good chance that the number 15 will come up once during those spins. If it did, we would win money (assuming we bet the same amount on every spin).
The playout for a correct bet on a single number is 35:1. So we would lose our stake nine times if the number was not 15, but win 35 times our stake the only time it was.
This is why luck plays such a big part in casino gambling. Statistically, the number 15 should appear once every 37 or 38 spins (again, depending on the variant being played). But the random nature of the game means it can appear three or four times in ten spins, or not all of them in 100 spins or more. In the long run, the laws of probability will kick in and it will show up about the “correct” number of times. However, anything can happen in the short term. The same principle applies to all casino games.
So if anything can happen, why does the casino always win? The answer is because of the house edge.
What is the house’s edge?
The house edge is the mathematical advantage that the casinos have over their players. In simple terms, it exists because they don’t pay out based on “true odds”.
Using the roulette example above, we explained that the actual chance of winning when betting on a single number is one in 37 or 38. We also mentioned that the payout is 35:1. The difference between these winning odds and the payout odds is what gives the casino a mathematical advantage or advantage.
Let’s say we’re playing European roulette, with 37 numbers on the wheel. If we bet 37 spins on the same single number, the mathematical expectation is that our number will only appear once. If this happened, we would lose our bet 36 times and get a payout of 35:1 once. So if we bet $10 each time, we would lose $360 but win $350. That’s a total loss of $10.
Because of the randomness we mentioned earlier, anything can really happen in 37 spins. But in the very long run, each number will occur about as often as expected. This is simply due to the laws of probability. So, in the long run, the mathematical advantage that the casino has from not paying real odds gives them what is basically a guaranteed win.
This is just a very simple explanation to give you a basic understanding of how the casinos have an advantage. If you want to know more, read our article that explains everything about the house edge in more detail.
Basic Casino Strategies Advice
The unfortunate truth about casino gambling is that the house edge exists in every game that casinos offer. It doesn’t matter if we play slots, roulette, blackjack or any other game, the casino will always have this inherent advantage.
This is why players need the luck to win at the casino.
While you can’t really overcome the house edge in the casino, there are a few things you can do to minimize its effect. That’s what casino strategy is largely about, which is why luck isn’t the only factor. You can’t do anything to ensure regular and consistent wins, but you can increase your overall winning chances. At the very least, you can reduce the rate at which you lose.
Here are two easy-to-follow tips that will instantly give you more bang for your buck at the casino.
- Play games with the lowest house edge
- Take advantage of casino rewards
One important thing to know is that the size of the house edge is not the same in every casino game. It can range from very low to very high. Somewhat obviously, if you play the games with the lowest house edge, you keep a casino’s advantage over you to a minimum. There are three games in particular that have a very low house edge and are also very easy to learn. We recommend playing these if you want to make your money last in the casino.
- Video poker
Another important thing to know is that casinos reward their customers. Their primary goal is to keep as many people as possible on their games and machines for as long as possible. The more gaming business they handle, the bigger their profit will be. That’s why they encourage their customers to play more often by giving them rewards.
Most locations provide their customers with playing cards. These cards record a player’s gaming activity, and casinos issue comps based on that activity. Comps can come in the form of free drinks, meals, accommodation, or even extra chips to gamble with. You really should take advantage of these compositions when you can, as they can significantly increase the overall value you get for your money.
One of the great advantages of playing at online casinos is that they are extremely generous when it comes to the bonuses and rewards they provide to their players. So just playing online rather than at a fixed price can give you better overall value for money.
While it’s not technically a strategy, there is one more very important piece of advice we want to give you at this stage. And that is to ALWAYS set a budget while playing. Casino gambling should primarily be seen as a form of entertainment and a way to have fun. You may win some money, but you will always be more likely to lose. This is why you should only play with money you can afford to lose.
Optimal play in the casino
The best way to get maximum value at the casino, in our opinion, is simply to learn the optimal way to play each game. This point doesn’t apply to games that are completely random, because it doesn’t really matter how you play them, but it does apply to games where your decisions matter.
In such games, a “mathematically correct” decision must always be made. If you make the right decisions every time, you can significantly reduce the effect of the house edge. You still won’t overcome the house edge, so the odds will still be against you to some degree, but technically you’ll improve your overall winning chances.
Blackjack and video poker are the best examples of games where your decisions have a big effect on the results. This allows you to minimize the house edge to an almost negligible level if you play correctly. We explain the best strategies for playing these games in the following sections of our website.
- Game Guide for Blackjack
- Guide to Video Poker Games
Counting cards and using betting systems
Card counting and using betting systems are two casino strategies that you should know for very different reasons. Card counting is a strategy that can be used when playing blackjack, and if used correctly, it can even give you a small advantage over the casino. Betting systems are not actually a strategy at all, but many players see them as such. They do nothing to alter the effects of the house edge and can be very damaging.
Card counting explained
The idea of card counting is to keep track of all the cards that have been dealt so that you can get an idea of which cards are left in the deck. Because there are certain cards that are technically more useful to the player than the house (tens and aces), you can identify circumstances where your upcoming hands are more likely to win than to lose them. By raising your bet when the remaining cards are heavy with tens and aces, it is possible to actually turn the odds in your favor.
Betting systems explained
The basic concept of betting systems is that you adjust your stake based on whether previous bets have won or lost. These systems fall into two broad categories; positive progression systems and negative progression systems.
With positive progression systems, you increase your stake when you win and decrease it when you lose. The theory is that you can take advantage of winning streaks by betting more and more as you run well.
With negative progression systems, you increase your stake when you lose and decrease it when you win. The theory here is that losing streaks must eventually come to an end, and by increasing your stakes, you will end up winning more with successful bets than you lose with unsuccessful bets.
The logic behind these systems may seem good at first glance, but they are completely flawed. They do absolutely nothing to increase your chances of winning at the casino, and should only be used with extreme caution