Roulette Tips

The overwhelming majority of American casinos use a double zero Roulette wheel. This wheel has pockets numbered from 1 to 36, plus 0 and 00, for a total of 38 pockets. Contrarily, in Europe a single-zero wheel is commonly used and Roulette has always been the most popular game in the casino.

There are usually six seats at the Roulette table. In order to help the dealer differentiate each player’s bet, every player is assigned a different color chip, which they purchase right at the table. Each table has its own minimum chip values and that information is usually posted on a sign at the table. As an example, let’s say a table has a $1 minimum chip value. This means that when you give the dealer your money the colored chips he gives you in return must have a minimum value of $1 each. Thus, if you gave the dealer $50 he would ask what value you wanted on the chips and if you said $1 he would give you 50 colored chips.

If you prefer, you could say you wanted the chips valued at $2 each and he would just give you 25 chips rather than 50. You can make the value of your colored chips anything you want and you’ll notice that when the dealer gives you your chips he’ll put one of your chips on the railing near the wheel with a marker on top to let him know the value of your chips. Later on when you’re done playing at that table you must exchange your colored chips for regular chips before leaving. The colored chips have no value anywhere else in the casino so don’t leave the table with them.

Besides the minimum chip value, there is also a minimum amount that must be bet on each spin of the wheel. Once again, the minimums are probably posted on a sign at the table and if it says $2 minimum inside and $5 minimum outside this means that if you are betting on any of the 38 numbers that pay 35-to-1 the total of all your bets must be $2. You could make two different $1 bets or one $2 bet, it doesn’t matter except that the total of all your bets on the numbers must be at least $2. The $5 minimum outside means that any of the outside bets that pay 2-to-1, or even money, require that you bet $5 each time. On the outside bets you can’t make a $3 bet and a $2 bet to meet the minimums – you have to bet at least $5 every time. After you’ve exchanged your cash for colored chips you’re ready to place your first bet so, let’s see what your options are:

You can make a straight bet where you only bet on one number and if it comes in you’ll be paid 35-to-1. The casino advantage on this bet is 5.26% and by the time you’re done with this roulette section I’m sure you’ll be very familiar with that number. Another choice you have is to do a split. This is where you put a chip on the line that separates two numbers. If either number comes up you’ll be paid at 17-to-1. The casino advantage on this bet is 5.26%.

If you put a chip in an area that splits 4 numbers this is called a corner bet and if any one of those 4 numbers comes in you will be paid off at 8-to-1. The casino advantage on this bet is 5.26%.

If you put a chip at the beginning of a row of 3 numbers, this is called a street bet and if any one of those 3 numbers shows up you will be paid off at 11-to-1. The casino advantage on this bet is 5.26%.

You can also put a chip on the line between two streets so that you have a double street covered and if any one of those 6 numbers come in you’ll be paid off at 5-to-1. The casino advantage on this bet is?… you guessed it…5.26%.

The only other bet you can make on the inside numbers is the 5- number bet where you place one chip in the upper left corner of the number 1 box. If any one of those 5 numbers comes in you’ll be paid off at 6-to-1 and what do you think the casino advantage is on this bet? Nope, I gotcha… it’s 7.89%. Actually, this is the worst possible bet on the roulette table and the only bet you’ll come across that doesn’t have a 5.26% house edge on the double-zero roulette wheel. You should never make this bet.

One quick word here about “to” and “for” when discussing odds. Whenever the odds are stated as “to” this means that in addition to the stated payoff you also receive your original bet back. In other words, if you won your single number bet in roulette you would receive 35-to-1, which is a 35-chip payoff, plus you’d still keep your original one-chip bet, so you end up with 36 chips. Now if the odds are stated as “for” that means you do not receive back your original bet. If the odds in your single number bet were 35-for-1 you would still receive a 35-chip payoff but the casino would keep your original one-chip bet so you would only end up with 35 chips. The only place in a casino where the odds are always stated as “for” is in video poker. You might also come across it on a couple of craps bets where the odds are stated as “for-one” rather than “to-one” in order to give the casino a slightly better edge.

Now, getting back to our roulette examples, let’s look at all of the outside bets that you can make and keep in mind that the house edge on all of these outside bets is…do you remember the number?…that’s right…5.26%.

There are three bets you can make that will pay you even money, or 1-to-1, which means that if you win, you will get back one dollar for every dollar you bet:

Red or black – If you put a chip on red then a red number must come up in order for you to win. If the ball lands on a black number, 0 or 00 – you lose. The same thing goes for black – you lose if it comes in red, 0 or 00 and you win if the ball lands on a black number.

Odd or even – If you put a chip on odd then the ball must land on an odd number in order for you to win. If it lands on 0, 00, or an even number – you lose. If you bet on even, you win if an even number shows up and lose if the ball lands on 0, 00 or an odd number.

1 through 18 and 19 through 36 – If you bet on 1 through 18, then you win if a number from 1 through 18 comes in and you lose if the ball lands on 0, 00 or a number higher than 18. Similarly, if you bet on 19 through 36, you win if one of those numbers comes in and you lose on 0, 00 or any number lower than 19.

The only other bets left are the dozens and columns bets. If you look at the roulette betting layout you can see three areas that each correspond to 12-number sections on the table. The one marked 1st 12 covers the numbers from 1 to 12, the one marked 2nd 12 covers the numbers from 13 to 24 and the other one that’s marked 3rd 12 covers the last section of numbers from 25 to 36. If you bet on the 1st 12 you would win if a number from 1 to 12 came in and you would lose if anything else came in, including 0 or 00. The same principle holds true for each of the other dozen bets where you would win if a number in that section came in and you would lose if anything else showed up. All dozens bets pay 2-to-1.

The last bet to look at is the column bet and that is also a bet that pays 2-to-1. There are three possible column bets you can make and you’ll notice that each area corresponds to the numbers in the column directly above it. So, if you put a chip under the first column you will win if any of the numbers in that column come in and you will lose if any other number, including 0 or 00 shows up. Once again, the same rule is in effect for each of the other columns where you would win if the number appears in the column above your bet and you would lose if it doesn’t.

Slot Machines

The majority of a casino’s actions and winnings come from Slot machines. They are simple to use, inexpensive to maintain, and require little attention or player skill (although some people swear that luck is also a gambling “skill”).

There are many different machine games. Jackpot size, combinations, symbols, size and number of coins allowed in each machine can vary. Included in these games are the popular video poker games. Modern machines are completely electronic. Symbol combinations come up randomly and machines are pre-programmed to return a certain percent to the players.A slot machine returns between 85 percent and 98 percent, depending on the game, location and usage. The average house advantage is calculated to be about 9 percent. Only play slots at a casino with a 98% Payout Average.

General Tips

  • Recognize the symbols that constitute a jackpot on your machine. All machines are different. Las Vegas attendants say winners routinely walk away from winning machines without waiting for the rest of the payout from attendants. The largest jackpots are all paid by attendants.
  • If you’re lucky enough to hit an attendant-paid jackpot — typically $1,200 or more — do not touch your machine or leave it for even a second. Do not insert more coins or allow anyone to touch it. A attendant must come by to complete the transaction.
  • Always play the maximum bet. If a machine will take a bet of five quarters, place the five-quarter bet. This gives you the best odds of winning long-term if you get a good hand.
  • If you like to play slots, Always look for a 98% or higher payout with a progressive jackpot.

Hot Tips That Slots Players Need To Know Are there any sure-fire ways to win at slots? Absolutely. Here are some ways:

  • Play the progressives with maximum coins.
  • Continue to play only if the machine is hitting at least one out of four spins.
  • Stop playing and cash out if you double your bank roll. Example: If you alloted $100.00 ro play slots and you accumulated $200.00 or more in winnings -> CASH OUT!
  • Stop playing at a pre-determined limit. Don’t get caught up in the “I need to win my money back” mentality.

The above ways doesn’t guarantee that you’ll become an instant winner, because it’s tough to beat a house edge that generally runs well over 10 percent, but it also doesn’t have to be so tough on your bankroll. So, let’s get started…

  1. The only true skill to playing slots is machine identification.
    Example: Progressive machines offer the opportunity to compare and shop around for the best value. One 25 cent “machine carousel” can have a progressive jackpot of $2,600, and another bank of machines- exactly the same and standing side by side-$1,900. You should always be looking for the best opportunities possible.
  2. Casinos will advertise machines that have a 98.5 percent payback. WOW! A casino game holding just a percent and a half, and on a machine no less. But there’s a down side. If you look closely at the advertisement, it will probably say “on select machines.” Furthermore, it probably won’t be posted on the machine itself, and it will generally be limited to a single bank of machines in the casino. Now it becomes your responsibility to find them. Easiest way: Ask a employee, and if he or she doesn’t know, have one of them ask a direct supervisor.
  3. Casinos give away millions of dollars in comps each year, and as a player, you deserve your share. Repeat, you deserve your share. How? Casinos now offer you the ability to “comp yourself” by using one of their player’s club cards. It’s generally based on the number of coins you cycle through a machine, so you might as well get credit for all those quarters you’re inserting. Shop casinos for comp value and find out what you’re worth to them. If you play online slots, look for a casino that offers the best comp points.
  4. You always want to treat “comps” as a form of profit, but you never want to gamble just to receive them. It’s much better to play a 98 percent payback machine and increase your winning opportunities than play machines with a poor return that cycle more of your coins. Remember, you’re there to stay in action and possibly win, not lose your bankroll for a free buffet.
  5. If you can’t afford to play the maximum amount of coins, you shouldn’t be playing that denomination of machine. If dollar slots are too rich for your blood, drop down to a quarter machine. It’s always better value to play five quarters versus one dollar or five nickels instead of one quarter. The maximum coins always have the best payout value.
  6. I recommend not playing back the credits you’ve accumulated. Cash out and take stock. The problem with playing back credits is that the longer you stay, the machines built-in advantage eats away at them. It doesn’t take long to zero out. Example:  If you have $100.00 bank roll for slots, play the $100.00 and do not allow the machine to play back your credits.  Look at it this way, The credits accumulated is your profit, if any.
  7. Can’t decide which type of machine to play? If you’re going to choose between video poker and slots, play video poker. Even poor play on a video poker machine will have a better payback than most machines.
  8. Before you walk away from a machine, don’t forget to press the cash-out button. Millions are lost each year by gamblers forgetting their winnings (stored credits).
  9. You receive full payment when hitting a jackpot. Even with some relatively small jackpots, if the machine is short coins in the hopper, you’ll receive only a partial cash payment in the tray, with the balance to be paid by a attendant. If you were to insert more coins and pull the handle, say bye-bye to the remainder of your jackpot.
  10. Read all the posted material on a machine. It is your responsibility to fully understand all printed information concerning the number of coins to insert, lines needed to be lit, prizes or awards. In most cases, when someone calls a attendant over and complains the machine “just ripped me off,” that individual generally didn’t read the pay schedule correctly.
  11. When you insert coins, don’t assume all the tokens register before you pull the handle. Played five but only four recorded? Sorry. You’ll get a sympathetic pat on the back from the casino, but no money.
  12. Avoid machines that use video representations of symbols. With these slots, there is absolutely no way to figure out what the payoff percentage of that machine is.
  13. Most casinos will hold a machine for you while you go to the restroom, take a short break or even go on a buffet run. Just ask a supervisor to reserve your machine and give a specific time when you’ll return.
  14. Don’t chain yourself to a cold machine, even if it’s your favorite. Why? Because the longer you stay on any machine, the more time the machine’s built- in mathematical advantage has to work you over. This is how casinos build mega-resorts, time always working on their side and a mathematical edge on each and every machine.
  15. Even though you’re only playing slots, you still need to set a loss limit on your bankroll for both your trip and each individual gaming session. Divy up your wad per playing session, discipline yourself and stick to it.
  16. When searching for high payback machines, ask a few employees where the local players find the best value. Simply put, locals don’t play dog machines.
  17. Leave both your credit and bank teller cards at home so you will not be tempted with the easy convenience of getting cash. Only bet what you can afford to lose.

Baccarat Rules

Baccarat (correctly pronounced “BAH-kah-rah”) has long been a favorite card game of high rollers, but even many more budgeted players as well! The rules are incredibly simple and can be mastered in a few minutes. The object of baccarat is to correctly predict whether the banker’s hand will win, the player’s hand will win, or the game will result in a tie.

The value of a hand is determined by adding the values of its individual cards. Tens and face cards count as zero, while all other cards count as their numerical value. After summing the total, only the last digit is used. Therefore, baccarat hands all have values from 0 to 9. The hand with the higher value wins. If the hands have the same value, the game results in a tie. Initially, both the banker and the player are dealt two cards. If the two initial cards total 8 or 9, the hand is called a “natural”, and the game will end at that point. Otherwise, standard Baccarat “third card rules” (that Gold Club players need not remember) determine if a hand should receive a third and final card.

Winning bets on the player’s hand are paid at 1:1 odds. A 5% commission is charged on winnings as a result of a bet on the banker, making the net odds on banker bets 0.95 to 1. A winning wager on a tie bet is paid at 8:1odds. If the game does result in a tie, bets on the banker or player are returned.

If you have an abundance of pure luck, then Baccarat is your game. Baccarat is played using a fixed set of rules for the player and the dealer. Calculations have been made that show the odds of the player winning are 44.62%, losing 45.85%, and tying 9.53%. Thus it would seem advantageous to bet on the house winning virtually every hand.

To even out the odds, the house charges a commission (usually 5%) on winning bets placed on the house. How should this change the way a player wagers?

Factoring in the commission, you are still slightly better off betting that the house will win. This assumes the commission is the usual 5%. However, should the commission change then you have to adapt your strategy. If the commission is less than 5% then it is always advantageous to bet on the house, while if the commission is more than 5% it pays to bet on the player winning.

Removing the tie hands in the event there is no payoff, the odds of the player winning are 49.32% and for losing 50.68%. For various commissions we can calculate the following average payoffs then, assuming 100 wagers of $1 were made.

4% Commission Betting on the player Betting with the house
Winning $49.32 $50.68 * 96% $48.65
Losing $50.68 $49.32
Difference -$1.36 $0.67
You lose less when betting with the dealer.
5% Commission Betting on the player Betting with the house
Winning $49.32 $50.68 * 95% $48.15
Losing $50.68 $49.32
Difference -$1.36 -$1.17
You lose less when betting with the dealer.
6% Commission Betting on the player Betting with the house
Winning $49.32 $50.68 * 94% $47.64
Losing $50.68 $49.32
Difference -$1.36 -$1.68
You lose less when betting with the player.

Baccarat sometimes allows for a bet to be made for a tie, and sometimes doesn’t (mini Baccarat typically played online usually does). Although the odds of 8 to 1 may sound appealing, it is considered one of the worst wagers in the casino, so don’t bother making this bet part of your baccarat strategy.

You can test out your Baccarat strategies right now at Hotspot Casino. They offer a great version of online Baccarat you can play for real money or just for fun. They do allow tie bets and take a 5% commission on banker bets, a great rendition of Baccarat online.

Blackjack Strategy

Blackjack players have a greater role in their own destiny than almost any other gambling players because the Blackjack dealer follows set rules and makes no real decisions of his or her own. An intelligent, well-informed player uses this knowledge to his or her tremendous advantage. There are three different strategies a Blackjack player can utilize:

  • Play Blackjack as a game of luck: Use a money management scheme and decide when to call a card and when to stand regardless of what the dealer shows. Apply a suitable money management system like the Paroli System and know when to quit by setting appropriate profit and loss limits.
  • Use basic strategy: Follow the game and analyze the dealers cards in order to determine whether to call a card or stand. Apply a suitable money management system like the D’Alenbert System and set appropriate profit and loss limits so you know when to quit.
  • Card Counting: This is difficult and if casinos catch you doing it they won t be too happy. If you utilize this method, it is best to learn from the experts. There are many books that detail Blackjack card counting strategies.

Paroli System
This system is in a way the opposite of the Martingale system. You start with one bet and you increase your bet when you win rather than when you lose.

However, you will need to plan a betting procedure whereby you know how far you will let the bet build before you take it down to the initial starting bet and how much to raise after each win. This obviously depends on the type of game played and the odds of the bet. The advantage of this system is that you do not require a large bankroll. It lets the profit run and cuts short the losses.

D’Alenbert System
This is a mixture of Martingale and Insurance systems. Bets are raised one unit after each losing bet and lowered one unit after each winning bet. The sequence and amount raised or lowered can be varied to suit particular games and odds.

Basic Rules

    1. If the dealer’s up card is a seven (7) or higher, you should play to seventeen. That means that if you were dealt a 10 and a 2 (you have 12), you must hit this hand until you reach 17.
      Let’s say your next card is a 4 (you now have 16), You must hit this hand again, until you reach 17.
    2. If the dealer’s up card is a six (6) or lower but higher than a three (3) you must play to twelve and stop.
    3. If the dealer has a six (6) showing and you were dealt a 10 and a 2 ( you have 12), you must stand on this hand.
    4. If the dealer’s up card is a two (2) or a three (3) you must play until 13.
    5. If you were dealt a 10 and a 2 (you have 12), you must hit this hand.
    6. Let’s say the next card is an Ace (you now have 13), you

must

    stand on this hand.

Basic Strategy
Some of the most favorable odds found in any casino game can be found in Blackjack. However, these odds diminish greatly as the gambler strays from what we call “basic strategy.” “Basic strategy” is a chart that an individual player follows that tells he or she exactly when to hit, stand, split, or double down.

The charts that follow outline the basic strategy for a game that contains two decks, and one that forces the dealer to stay on a soft 17. If you follow this strategy your chances of a successful round of Blackjack will increase significantly. When played closely, the Basic Strategy can reduce the House’s edge in Blackjack to 0.5% or less, depending on the rule variations in effect.

Basic Strategy Single Deck

Your Hand vs Dealer’s Upcard
8 Double on 5 to 6. Otherwise hit.
9 Double on 2 to 6. Otherwise hit.
10 Double on 2 to 9. Otherwise hit.
11 Always double.
12 Stand on 4 to 6. Otherwise hit.
13 to 16 Stand on 2 to 6. Otherwise hit.
17 to 21 Always stand.
A,2 to A,5 Double on 4 to 6. Otherwise hit.
A,6 Double on 2 to 6. Otherwise hit.
A,7 Double on 3 to 6. Stand on 2,7,8 or A. Hit on 9 or 10.
A,8 Double on 6. Otherwise stand.
A,9 Always stand.
A,A Always split.
2,2 Split on 3 to 7. Otherwise hit.
3,3 Split on 4 to 7. Otherwise hit.
4,4 Same as 8 above.
5,5 Same as 10 above.
6,6 Split on 2 to 6. Otherwise hit.
7,7 Split on 2 to 7. Stand on 10. Otherwise hit.
8,8 Always split.
9,9 Split on 2 to 9 except 7. Stand on 7,10 or A.
10,10 Always stand.

 

The above chart assumes the casino doesn’t allow doubling down after pair splitting. If the casino allows doubling down after pair splitting then use the following pair splitting rules.

Your Hand vs Dealer’s Upcard
2,2 Split on 2 to 7.Otherwise hit.
3,3 Split on 2 to 7.Otherwise hit.
4,4 Split on 4,5 or 6. Otherwise hit.
6,6 Split on 2 to 7. Otherwise hit.
7,7 Split on 2 to 8. Stand on 10. Otherwise hit.

Basic Strategy Four, Six, Eight Deck

Your Hand vs Dealer’s Upcard
5 to 8 Always Hit.
9 Double on 3 to 6. Otherwise hit.
10 Double on 2 to 9. Hit on 10, A.
11 Double on 2 to 10. Hit on A.
12 Stand on 4 to 6. Otherwise hit.
13 Stand on 2 to 6. Otherwise hit.
14 Stand on 2 to 6. Otherwise hit.
15 Stand on 2 to 6. Otherwise hit.
16 Stand on 2 to 6. Otherwise hit.
17 Always stand.
18 Always stand.
A,2 Double on 5,6. Otherwise hit.
A,3 Double on 5,6. Otherwise hit.
A,4 Double on 4 to 6. Otherwise hit.
A,5 Double on 4 to 6. Otherwise hit.
A,6 Double on 3 to 6. Otherwise hit.
A,7 Double on 3 to 6. Stand on 2,7 or 8. Hit on 9,10 or A.
A,8 to A,10 Always stand.
A,A Always split.
2,2 Split on 2 to 7, Otherwise hit.
3,3 Split on 2 to 7. Otherwise hit.
4,4 Split on 5,6. Otherwise hit.
5,5 Never split. Treat as 10 above.
6,6 Split on 2 to 6. Otherwise hit.
7,7 Split on 2 to 7. Otherwise hit.
8,8 Always split.
9,9 Split on 2 to 6, 8 or 9. Stand on 7,10, or A.
10,10 Always stand.

The above multiple deck basic strategy is valid if the players are allowed to double down after pair splitting. If doubling down is not allowed after pair splitting, then use the following pair splitting rules.

Your Hand vs Dealer’s Upcard
2,2 Split on 4 to 7.Otherwise hit.
3,3 Split on 4 to 7. Otherwise hit.
4,4 Never split. Always hit.
6,6 Split on 3 to 6. Otherwise hit.

Splitting Pairs

This table shows when you should Split identical pairs. (A “T” in the Pairs column represents any pair of ten-valued cards). A “Y” means you should split when you have the indicated pair, and the Dealers shows the indicated upcard.

Dealer’s Upcard
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 T A
(A,A) Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
(T,T) N N N N N N N N N N
(9,9) Y Y Y Y Y N Y Y N N
(8,8) Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
(7,7) Y Y Y Y Y Y Y N N N
(6,6) Y Y Y Y Y Y N N N N
(5,5) N N N N N N N N N N
(4,4) N N N Y Y N N N N N
(3,3) Y Y Y Y Y Y N N N N
(2,2) Y Y Y Y Y Y N N N N

Key:

  • Y = Yes, split the pair
  • N = No, don’t split the pair

Soft Totals
A “soft” hand is one that includes an Ace, which can be counted as 1 or as 11. The general rule of thumb is that you can always improve a soft hand with a total of 17 or less by hitting. Only hit a soft 18 when the Dealer shows a 9 or better.

Dealer’s Upcard
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 T A
(A,A) Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
(T,T) N N N N N N N N N N
(9,9) Y Y Y Y Y N Y Y N N
(8,8) Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
(7,7) Y Y Y Y Y Y Y N N N
(6,6) Y Y Y Y Y Y N N N N
(5,5) N N N N N N N N N N
(4,4) N N N Y Y N N N N N
(3,3) Y Y Y Y Y Y N N N N
(2,2) Y Y Y Y Y Y N N N N

Key:

  • H = Hit
  • S = Stand

Hard Totals
A “hard” hand does not include an Ace. This table is the core of the Basic Strategy. A “D” in this table means you should Double in those situations.

Dealer’s Upcard
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 T A
17 S S S S S S S S S S
16 S S S S S D D D D D
15 S S S S S D D D D D
14 S S S S S D D D D D
13 S S S S S D D D D D
12 H H S S S D D D D D
11 D D D D D D D D D D
10 D D D D D D D D H H
9 D D D D D H H H H H
8 H H H H H H H H H H

Key:

  • H = Hit
  • S = Stand
  • D = Double; if unable, Hit

 

Card Counting
The technique of card counting allows the player to take note of changing probabilities and by altering playing and betting strategies accordingly, they can gain a statistical advantage over the casino.

To learn the the skill of card counting is relatively simple. And no – you don’t need to have a photographic memory or a freakish mathematical ability.

The card counting system described below is designed only as a rough guide to give you an idea how card counting is done. It is not recommended that it be put to use in a practical sense. This is intended only to give a feel for how card counting is done, and is not recommended for actual practice.

    For single deck games:

  1. Start the count at -4 when the deck is shuffled.
  2. Count -2 for 10, J, Q, K.
  3. Count +1 for everything else (including Aces).
  4. Bet low when the count is negative, high when the count is positive (actually, simulations show that you can bet high for a count of -2 or above).
  5. Take insurance when the count is positive.
  6. Play basic strategy at all times.

A note about card counting

The principle behind card counting is that a deck of cards rich is tens and Aces is favorable to the player, a deck rich in small cards is favorable to the dealer. A deck rich in tens and Aces, is likely to bust the dealer more often.

To gauge the richness of the deck in high cards or lack of them, the player needs to keep track of the cards that are already played and assign a point value to each card. The calculation is quite complex, but basically the card counter will give a plus point each time the deck of cards becomes more favorable and a minus point each time it becomes less favorable. Basically, the high cards have a -1 point and the low cards a +1 point and the in between 0 point.

The counter then counts by adding and subtracting points according to the cards played and keeps a running total of the count called ‘running count’. Then he also needs to divide the running count by the proportion of the size of the deck of cards left to get the ‘true count’. Now he knows the relative richness of high cards in the remaining deck.

A positive count is good and a high positive count is best and the card counter will assess his hand, the dealer’s up card, weigh up his options and intensify his betting accordingly.

To be a successful card counter you need to have a powerful memory and fast reaction while amassing information as you play. And for what? If everything works out well, you will be looking at a slow and tedious 1% average profit. If you wager large sums of money to make the 1% worthwhile, you are likely to be noticed by the pit boss and prompt frequent shuffling of the cards. Card counting is hard, not liked by the casinos and is not as rewarding as it may seem.

Shuffle Tracking
This is a fairly new technique that has not been publicized very much. The best definition I have seen is this one: “‘Shuffle-tracking’ is the science of following specific cards through the shuffling process for the purpose of either keeping them in play or cutting them out of play.” The concept of Shuffle tracking appears to have resulted from bored mathematician’s research and computer simulation of shuffling cards.

Of course, just because someone shuffles a deck (or decks) of cards does not mean that the cards are “randomized”. The methods mentioned in the two previous sections (Basic Strategy and Card Counting) assume a random order of cards. (According to some authors, a single deck of cards must be shuffled twenty to thirty times to ensure a truly random dispersion. If a Casino is using a 6 deck shoe, that’s 120 to 180 shuffles!) As in the Card Counting section, I am going to restrict the discussion to the basics of shuffle tracking as the combination of references listed at the end of this section provide a complete discourse of the topic.

A beneficial (to the player) shuffle for a one deck game is executed by dividing the deck equally into 26 cards and shuffling them together a minimum of three times. This allows the cards to be sufficiently intermixed to yield a fairly random distribution. An adverse shuffle prevents the cards from mixing completely.

The simplest example is the Unbalanced Shuffle. As its name implies, the dealer breaks the deck into two unequal stacks. As an example, let’s say you are playing two hands head on with the dealer and the last 10 cards in the deck are dealt. The result of the hand was that both your hands lost to the dealer primarily due to the high percentage of low value cards in the clump. Note that if you were counting, you would have bet a single unit since the deck was unfavorable. The dealer is now ready to shuffle the deck, and separates the deck into 31 cards in one stack and 21 in the other stack. The dealer shuffles the two stacks. If the shuffle is done from the bottom of each stack on up, the top ten cards of the larger stack will remain intact without mixing with any of the other cards. Those ten cards can remain in the order they were just dealt throughout the shuffle if the process of bottom to top shuffling is not altered. You are now asked to cut the deck. If you don’t cut the deck, the 10 cards that were dealt last hand will be dealt as your first two hands. The result will be the same as your last and you will lose the two hands. However, if you cut the deck exactly at the end of those ten cards, you have just altered the future to your benefit. Those cards will now be placed at the bottom of the deck. Should the dealer shuffle up early, you will avoid them altogether. In addition, if you were keeping count, you would know that the deck was favorable during the first 3-4 hands since there would be an abundance of tens in the portion of the deck that will be played. You would accordingly increase you bet size to maximize your winnings.

Some dealers will unknowingly split the deck into unequal stacks. However, more often than not, they are required to split the deck into unequal stacks. If they are required to do this, they are performing the House Shuffle. The casino has trained the dealer to shuffle a particular way… on purpose! Why? In the long run, the house will benefit from this because most players will not cut any bad clumps out of play. If you have played BlackJack in a casino, how much did you pay attention to the way they shuffled? Like most people you were probably oblivious to it.

There are a number of shuffle methods, some of which have been labeled as: the “Zone Shuffle”, the “Strip Shuffle”, and the “Stutter Shuffle”. The Zone Shuffle is particular to shoe games (multiple deck games) and is probably one of the most common shuffle methods. It is accomplished by splitting the shoe into 4 to 8 piles depending on the number of decks in the shoe. Prescribed picks from each pile are made in a very exact way with intermittent shuffles of each pair of half deck sized stacks. The net effect is a simple regrouping of the cards pretty much in the same region of the shoe as they were before, thereby preventing clumps of cards from being randomly mixed. If the dealer won 40 hands and you won 20, this trend is likely to continue until you are broke or until the unfavorable bias is removed through many shuffles.

What if the players are winning the 40 hands and the dealer only 20? If the dealer has been mentally keeping track of how many hands each side has won in the shoe, the dealer will probably do one of two things. One is to keep the shuffle the same, but ‘strip’ the deck. When a dealer strips a deck, he/she strips off one card at a time from the shoe letting them fall on top of one another onto the table. This action causes the order of the cards to be reversed. The main consequence is to dissipate any clumping advantages (a bunch of tens in a clump) that the players may have. The second thing the dealer may do is simply change the way they shuffle to help randomize the cards.

Easy Online Casinos » Craps Strategy

Casinos almost always have their odds published on the table. An odds bet is a supplement to the original pass line bet and it can range anywhere from 1 to 100 times your original bet, depending on the house odds. A pass line bet with odds cannot be made on the “come out roll”, as it can only be made after the point is set. For example, if you were betting $5 on a pass line bet and the point got set to 4, you could place an equivalent or larger bet just below your original wager.

Place the chips half-on and half-off the bottom of the pass line. If on the next roll a 4 is hit you win your pass line bet back, and an additional sum of money derived from the odds bet. In this case, the payoff is 2 to1 on the odds bet. The actual number the point is set to determines the payout on odds bets. If the point is set to 4 or 10, odds bets are paid back at 2 to 1 odds. If the point is set to 5 or 9, odds bets are paid back at 3 to 2 odds. If the point is set to 6 or 8, odds bets are paid back at 6 to 5 odds.

The odds bet is usually explained as being an intelligent bet in the game of craps. This is because the more you wager (double, triple, quadruple odds bet) the lower the house edge drops. A standard pass line bet holds a house edge of 1.41% – respectable, and compared to many other casino games you have to choose from its downright excellent, but take into account the potential for odds betting and it’s a whole different story. The house edge on a pass line bet with ten times odds is an incredible 0.18%.

For quick reference here is a chart showing the advantage derived from each stage of odds bets.

Bet Casino Payoff Casino Advantage
Pass Line Bet Even Money 1.41%
With Single Odds (1x) Even Money Plus Odds 0.85%
With Double Odds (2x) 0.61%
With Triple Odds (3x) 0.47%
With Five-Times Odds (5x) 0.33%
With Ten-Times Odds(10x) 0.18%

Below are some other Bet strategies:

  • The Don’t Pass Bet
  • The Come Bet
  • The Don’t Come Bet
  • The Hardway Bet
  • The Buy Bet
  • The Proposition Bet
  • The Field Bet
  • The Place Bet
  • The Lay Bet

 

The Don’t Pass Bet
If you’re in a land based casino and having a good time at the craps table, maybe making a few new friends, then you probably shouldn’t bet on the don’t pass bet. Essentially its like betting against the shooter or against the dice, which means you win when everybody else loses. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but you want to keep those new friends don’t you? You want to be invited to the next party no? Craps is a party game in a casino, filled with good vibes, my well learned advice, don’t disrupt the vibes. They may have nothing at all to do with mathematics, but they are no less important.

On the don’t pass bet (to make this bet place your chips in the narrower section just beyond the pass line labeled don’t pass) made on the come out roll, you lose on a 7 or 11, and win on a 2 or a 3. A 12 on the come out roll is like a push in blackjack, it’s a standoff where nobody wins or loses. If anything else is rolled it becomes the point, and you win if a 7 is rolled before the point is repeated. Notice how this is the opposite of the pass line bet, and notice how you win when the shooter loses. Seems awfully nice of the casino to offer an opposite bet of the normal one, wouldn’t the house lose their statistical edge? Only if they kept the numbers straight. Sadly on a don’t pass bet with odds, the casino pays out pretty crappy amounts. The odds of a 7 coming out before a 10 are quite good so the casino has to hedge its bet in effect.

 

The Come Bet
You’ll quickly notice the large area of the craps board labeled with ‘COME’ smack dab in the middle of the playing area. Make sure you have read the section on the Pass bet in our craps rules section and earlier in this section, if you know all there is to know about the Pass line bet, then you wont have any trouble getting your head around the simple ‘COME’ bet. The easiest way to think about the COME bet is to think, it’s exactly the same as the Pass line bet, but can be made after the point is set. There is no such thing as a come bet on the come out roll, because it would be exactly the same as a Pass line bet.

Say I wanted to make a come bet, and the point had been set to 5. I would put my come bet down in the come section and wait for the next roll. If a 7 or 11 is hit you win (while the shooter looses), and you lose on a craps shot (2, 3 or 12). If it’s any one of the other numbers, this becomes your ‘come point’. If your ‘come point’ is rolled before a 7, you win. So say a 9 is rolled, at that time the stickman moves your come bet to the 9 on the board. Now if the shooter rolls a 9 before a 7 you win, if they roll a 7 before a 9 you lose. Also remember that on come bets you also have the ability to place “odds” bets just like pass line bets after your ‘come-point’ is established.

 

The Don’t Come Bet
The don’t come bet is the opposite of the come bet, much in the same way the don’t pass bet is the opposite of the pass bet. The don’t come bet must be made after a point is set by the shooter. If a 7 or 11 is rolled you lose, if a 2 or 3 is rolled you win, and a 12 is a standoff. Otherwise a come point is set and you win if a 7 is rolled before the come point is repeated, and lose if the come point is repeated before a 7 is rolled. The don’t come bar is highlighted in our graphic.

Once again the odds are in your favor that a seven would be rolled before a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 so the odds bets pay the opposite of a pass line odds bet.

 

The Hardway Bet
Named that way because it’s a hard way to win, just kidding, but the hardway bet has some pretty horrible odds, so I recommend you stick with pass line bets with odds for the most part. Actually the ‘hard’ bit derives from the doubles involved. To roll a ‘hard eight’ means to roll it with double 4’s, to roll a ‘hard 6’ means to roll it with double 3’s. So in craps the only hardway bets that exist are a hard 4, 6, 8, and 10. When you make a hardway bet your betting that the hard version of what your betting on will come up before the soft version, or a seven. The soft version is the opposite of the hard version. Two threes is a hard six, but a 4 and a 2 is a soft six.

Odds are not completely consistent from casino to casino on the hardway bets but generally they go like so: a hard 4 pays 7 or 8 to 1, a hard 6 pays 9 or 10 to 1, a hard 8 pays 9 or 10 to 1, and a hard 10 pays 7 or 8 to 1.

Hardway bets are usually placed to add a little spice to the game, not in any effort to win more money. This is emphasized by the fact that the house edge is something atrocious on these bets. For a 4 or 10 the hard way, there is an 11.1% house edge, for a 6 or 8, it’s around 9%.

 

The Buy Bet
You may find some people who look like they know what they’re talking about around the craps table ‘buying’ instead of ‘placing’ numbers. What’s the difference, why do we care? A buy bet decreases the house edge and enables you to win more. The numbers 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10 can all be bought, but usually the 4 or 10 is picked because its pays off better. The buy bet is similar to the place bet in that the number you buy must come up before a 7 does. The odds are higher for a buy bet. 2:1 on a 4 or 10 buy, 3:2 for a 5 or 9, or 6:5 for a 6 or 8. The catch is, you have to pay a 5% commission on any bets you buy (often called a ‘vig’). Depending on how much you bet, buying a bet can make you more money in the end even after accounting for the ‘vig’. The odds are only in your favor on a buy bet for a 4 or 10, so stick with the place bet on any others.

 

The Proposition Bet
Proposition bets are the ones you can make in the middle of the table, and exist only on the ‘next roll’. As one roll bets they can be heart racing and exciting, an integral part of the craps experience.

    • These bets include:

 

  • “any seven” bet With the “any seven” bet you’re betting the shooter will hit a 7 on the next roll. Horrible house edge, never make this bet.
  • “snake eyes” bet With the “snake eyes” bet you’re betting the shooter will throw a two on the next roll.
  • “yo eleven” bet With the “yo eleven” bet you’re betting the shooter will hit an 11 on the next roll.
  • “any craps” bet With the “any craps” bet you’re betting the shooter will throw a 2, 3, or 12 on the next roll.
  • “any three” bet With the “any three” bet you’re betting the shooter will throw a 3 on the next roll.
  • “midnight” 12 bet With the “midnight” bet you’re betting the shooter will throw a 12 on the next roll.
  • “horn” bet With the “horn” bet you’re combining the snake eyes, 3, yo 11, and midnight bets.

Just to illustrate the horrible house edge on many of these proposition bets I have provided a table:

Bet Casino Payoff Casino Advantage
Any Seven 4:1 16.67%
2 or 12 30:1 13.89%
3 or 11 15:1 11.11%
Any Craps 7:1 11.11%
Horn Bet 2 or 12 – 27:4 3 or 11 – 3:1 12.50%

 

The Field Bet
The field bet is also among the smarter bets in craps, but not the great odds you get with odds on the pass line. The field holds approx a 5.5% house edge. As you’ll notice in our graphic, the field is an area on the craps table just beyond the don’t pass bar. The other handy bit about a field bet is that it can be played on any roll, so it’s a very non-threatening move.

The great aspect to the field bet is the simplicity. It’s a one-time bet which states simply: if the shooter throws a 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12 (any of the numbers in the field area) then you win. If a 5, 6, 7, or 8 are thrown then you lose. There is no trick to placing your chips on one of the numbers in the field, its just anywhere you want and any of those number can be hit. If your betting on the field, most casinos also give you a bonus if a 2 or a 12 is thrown (notice the circles on those numbers). Many casinos pay 2x your bet when a 2 or “snake eyes” is thrown and some even pay 3x your bet if a 12 (commonly called a ‘midnight’) is thrown.

So look at that, even if you’re just a beginner you already know exactly how to make a pass bet, a pass bet with odds, and a field bet. Most of the wagering at a craps table revolves around just these betting techniques.

 

The Place Bet
The place bet is a variation of betting with a number. You can make a place bet anytime by handing the dealer your bet and saying ‘I want to place the 8’ or whatever number you want to place bet for. You can make a place bet at any time on any of 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10. If the number you have ‘placed’ is hit before a 7, you win and you’re paid as follows: 4 or 10 placed – 9:5 odds, 5 or 9 placed – 7:5 odds, 6 or 8 placed – 7:6 odds.

Notice the pass line bet offers better odds, so basically you should stick with it over the long run. Although you can technically place a place bet at any time, it is impossible for it to come into effect until the shooters point is set, therefore it is more acceptable to ask for this bet after the come out roll is over.

 

The Lay Bet
An unusual and uncommon fellow, the lay bet resembles the don’t pass and don’t come bets in that you are playing against the dice. The lay bet can be made at any time. In essence it’s the opposite of the buy bet, and the same as the don’t come bet, but with different odds. The lay bets may be placed on 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10. The bet is on the fact that a seven will be rolled before your number. 7 is more likely to come up than any other number so the casino requires you to wager more than you could win. This bet also requires a commission of 5% on average. If the bet is on 4 or 10 you get 1:2 odds, on 5 or 9 2:3 odds, on six or 8 5:6 odds. Lay bets are usually only made by people who think they understand more about what’s going on that is probably possible. I would be surprised if anyone were ever in a position where a lay bet is the best option, I recommend sticking to the basic bets if your not an expert already.

Easy Online Casinos » Video Poker

There are three things you need to do in order to strip away the mystery of an online video poker machine and understand its value to you. These should be included in your video poker strategy:

  • You must be able to read the pay tables and know which ones have the highest payback.
  • You must know the best video poker strategy for the machines you choose to play.
  • You must know the volatility of a particular machine – what effect it will have on your bankroll.

Based purely on the mechanics, playing online video poker is simplicity itself. However, playing it well entails a bit more effort and that’s where your video poker strategy comes into play. Online video poker is one game where the house advantage is definitely affected by how much knowledge the player has. The two main skills involved (proper machine selection and knowing the proper strategy for the video poker machine you’re playing) get complicated because online video poker comes in a never-ending variety of games.

How do you navigate this sea of machines? First, lets look at them in the broadest terms: there are non-wild card games such as Jacks or Better and Double Bonus. Then there are wild card games such as Deuces Wild or Joker Wild. Within these two general types, there are many varieties. Payout schedule return rates may vary from below 90% to above 100% (see table below).

The best place to begin honing your video poker strategy is with the machine that started the whole phenomenon: the Jacks or Better game. The Jacks or Better pays off for a pair of jacks or higher, which is particularly good for beginners because of its easily understandable strategy. Better yet, the best version of Jacks or Better has a 99.5% payback percentage when played with expert strategy. This means it has only a 0.5% house advantage. In other words, in the long run, you expect to lose only 50 cents of every $100 you play. This is one of the best bets in the casino.

Consider Jacks or Better as the hershey bar of the video poker candy store: classic, reliable, straightforward, and simply satisfying. You may want to move to more new and exotic confections, but Jacks or Better must always be the most accessible and understandable part of your strategy.

While there are many factors to consider in developing your online strategy, they are far too numerous to detail here. We will leave you though with an important factor, and possibly the most important thing to look at when developing your strategy – the pay table. The pay table strips away the game’s mystery; its basically a window into knowing whether the game is worth your money. An example of a pay table can be seen below, and unlike slot machines, the pay table isn’t just there for us to “oohhh and aaah” over all the pretty payoffs – it can reveal how much a game pays back if played perfectly.

You can consider these tips the ‘tip of the iceberg’ in developing your online video poker strategy. How they help … Enjoy yourself.

Hand Frequency % Probability Payout Return *
Royal Flush * 1 in 40,390.55 0.002% 800* 1.98%
Straight Flush 1 in 9,148.37 0.011% 50 0.55%
Four of a kind 1 in 423.27 0.236% 25 5.91%
Full house 1 in 86.86 1.151% 9 10.36%
Flush 1 in 90.79 1.101% 6 6.61%
Straight 1 in 89.05 1.123% 4 4.49%
Three of a kind 1 in 13.43 7.445% 3 22.33%
Two pair 1 in 7.74 12.928% 2 25.86%
Jacks or better 1 in 4.66 21.459% 1 21.46%
Nothing 1 in 1.83 54.543% 0 0.00%

* – Royal Flush payout is based on max coins (4,000 coins for 5 coins played).
** – Total return: 99.55.

Easy Online Casinos: the gambling primer

The odds are almost always working against the player. However, the good news is that by playing smart the player can cut down the house edge to very minimal levels. For example the Las Vegas single deck blackjack player can expect to lose only 90 cents per hour betting $5 a hand (based on typical single deck rules and 100 hands per hour). The Tunica craps player can make a bet of up to $100 on the odds after a $5 pass line bet at an expected loss of only 7 cents per bet resolved. Furthermore the player can earn room, food, beverage, and entertainment comps that well exceed his expected loss. After considering the value of casino comps the player can easily come out ahead. How can the casinos afford to do this? Easily, because most players play foolishly and leave plenty of money behind. If you are willing to take the time to learn how to play proper strategy you will let the bad players subsidize your free comps and almost free gambling.

Most casino games are perfectly suited to mathematical analysis. Only games with a human factor like poker and sports betting present a problem. Every game that is player against dealer can be analyzed perfectly broken down into the odds. In these games there can be only one right answer to a strategic question. There are no gray areas or matters of opinion.

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