Casinos stay in business by doing one thing and doing it well—separating gamblers from their money. Free booze, Vegas shows and fine dining may be nice, but when it comes to gambling, the house always has the edge.
So, with that in mind, what’s the best way to have some fun and still have a decent chance at winning? Here are some of the best bets in a casino that just might score a few bucks for your wallet
Blackjack is a simple game to learn, but butchering the best practices for playing blackjack can hand the house plenty of your hard-earned cash. Serious players hoping to win should master this game’s basic strategy. A quick internet search will turn up a treasure trove of charts to help. Get dealt a 7-7? Split those versus a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7. Take a hit on an 8, 9, 10 or ace. Perfect use of basic strategy can reduce the casino’s edge to about 0.5% and make this game one of the best bets in a casino.
Splitting and doubling are also key concepts in blackjack. Winning through these opportunities greatly impacts a player’s results. While you never split 10s, splitting aces is a must. When splitting, you turn identical dealt cards into two separate hands and ante up another wager for the second hand and receive another card for each, with options to stand or hit. With so many cards valued at 10, as well as the existence of 9s and 8s in the deck, a blackjack is quite possible when disconnecting those two aces.
Doubling down offers another shot at taking some casino money. A player can double the initial bet and will therefore receive only one more card. This is usually done when holding a 9, 10 or 11. This gives players a decent shot at drawing to 19, 20 or 21. However, other hands also offer doubling opportunities, depending on the dealer’s card. Learning basic strategy will help in these situations. Splitting one hand and doubling can certainly help a player to profit in the long run.
Most craps players know the best opportunities are at the pass line (or don’t-pass line). After the point number is established (4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10), this wager means the bettor is hoping to hit the point number again before rolling a 7.
Pass-line wagers pay even money if the point is hit. However, players can also “take odds” on their pass line wagers once the point number is established. This can double a player’s wager and even go as high as 50 times, depending on the casino. What’s great is that there is no house edge on the odds bet.
Backing up that bet earns the true odds of rolling that number. For example, a player may have $5 on the pass line and $20 in odds. If the point number 6 is hit, the house would pay $5 for the initial bet and $24 for the $20 free-odds bet. The 6 and 8 are paid out at 6 to 5, the true odds of rolling the number. The other point number payouts are:
It’s not often that the casino offers odds in a player’s favor, and those heading to the craps table should take advantage.
Video poker players who master basic strategy will find some great odds for winning, but it is important to find a 9/6 machine. This refers to the payouts on a full house (9 to 1) and a flush (6 to 1), and players can expect “full pay.” When playing maximum bets and using perfect strategy, the expected return is 99.54%. In Las Vegas, 9/6 machines can usually be found off the Strip.
Baccarat is a centuries-old game. This game may look intimidating, but it is actually fairly simple. When playing, each card retains its numerical value with kings, queens, jacks and 10s valued at 0. Aces are valued at 1.
In baccarat, a “player” faces off against the “banker” as players bet on either side or a tie. The goal is to get as close to 9 as possible. Any two-card hand adding to 9 is called a natural. A 10-9 would be a “natural 9” because the 10 has no value and the 9 makes for a perfect score.
No hand can go over a total of 9, and any total over that simply drops 10. For example, a player dealt 7-8 has a total of 15. However, that hand is actually valued at 5. A hand with a natural 9 is the winner. If neither has a 9, then the next-best hand is an 8 (also called a natural). If the two hands are the same, with an 8 or 9, then the hand is a tie.
There are specific rules for drawing cards for lower totals, but the dealer takes care of this, and rules are available at the table. Baccarat comes with a small house edge of only 1.24% from betting on the player and 1.06% from betting on the banker. Just slightly worse than 50/50, those odds offer a chance at a legitimate win with a little luck. On the other hand, avoid betting the tie. That pays 8 to 1 but carries a 14.36% casino edge.
Do you have decent Texas hold’em skills? Unlike most games, players do not take on the house at the poker table. Instead, players battle each other, and the casino only takes a small “rake” from each pot. Beat those opponents, and you will walk away a winner.
There are a few keys to success, however, in Texas hold’em. Obviously, brushing up on your poker skills is critical, but don’t get into a game you can’t afford. Bring a bankroll that offers some time to survive the inevitable ups and downs. Also, don’t be afraid to get up and walk away with a small win. Too many players look to double or triple their initial buy-in, which is usually too big of an expectation. Even a 10%, 20% or 30% win is a nice return on investment, and most would be happy to see those results in a stock portfolio.
Sports betting has exploded across the country, and numerous states have legalized the fun. While many “action junkies” participating in sports betting ultimately wind up being losing players, some solid selections can pay dividends. Keen analysis, trend tracking and line shopping can help that NFL matchup produce a payout.
One key is to be selective. Betting on every game is likely to produce a losing record. Instead, select four or five contests with real favorites or an edge for one team after looking at key matchups. Hitting all those wagers is unlikely, but going 3-2 regularly can help lead to a winning season and some extra cash.
Roulette players generally face a house edge of more than 5%. However, a few wagers are better than others. A black or red wager isn’t 50/50, but these do bring the lowest house edge on the table. This also goes for the odd/even, low (1-18) and high (19-36) bets as well.
Expect a 46.37% chance of winning on these bets. The Green 0 and 00 produce the house edge, usually a crushing spin for bettors. Also, remember that each spin is independent of every other spin. Red may have hit eight of 10 spins, but that doesn’t mean it won’t come up again on the next spin. These roulette bets may not be sexy, but at least they offer a chance to beat the house.