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Top 5 Tips for the Casino

May 24th, 2007 at 05:40 pm

1. Know the odds - The casino, or house, has a mathematical advantage in every game played in a casino, but that edge is not the same for every game, or even every bet within a given game. In a game like Keno, the house edge is 25-30%, meaning for every $100 you wager, the house can expect to win $25-$30. On the other end of the scale are the Craps and Blackjack tables where the house edge is just 0.6% and 0.8% respectively. So compared to that Keno game, at the Craps table, for every $100 you wager, the house can expect to win just $0.60. Where do Slot Machines fall? It depends, but isn't good in any case. The house edge on slots varies from about 3% to 25% depending on the machine. The worst table game odds can be found at the roulette table where the house edge is 5.25% (with double zeros).

2. Learn the game - The odds I just discussed apply only to players who are utilizing perfect strategy. An untrained blackjack player gives the casino more like a 20% edge, instead of the 0.8% edge from a knowledgeable player. There are numerous websites and books at your local library or bookstore where you can study the games (craps or blackjack hopefully) and learn basic strategy to maximize your odds and minimize the house advantage. There are also many online casinos where you can play for free to practice your skills before setting foot in a real casino wagering real money.

3. Establish your limits - Other than learning the game, the most important things to decide before you start playing are how much you are willing to lose and at what point you will stop if you are winning. Many people do the first one and forget to do the second. As a result, when they are doing well and find themselves ahead, they don't stop playing. Instead, they keep on wagering and, inevitably, end up losing money when they could have walked away ahead had they set, and stuck to, a winning limit, not just a losing limit.

4. Get a Player's Club card - On your first visit to a casino, stop at the Promotions desk and sign up for their Player's Club. It goes by a different name at every casino. You will get a card with a magnetic strip. You then insert that card in any slot or video poker machine or hand it to the pit boss at any table game. Your play will be monitored and recorded and you will earn points toward comps, or complimentary gifts. Comps can range from free parking in the casino garage to free meals to major stuff like TVs, stereos or free vacations. Contrary to common belief (I was surprised to learn this myself) but comps are not reserved only for the high rollers. After just my 2nd trip to one casino this year, wagering just $300 each trip (and winning several hundred one of those times) I received offers for free hotel stays at that location. It definitely pays to get the card and to stay loyal to one casino (or family of casinos).

5. Gambling is entertainment, not investing - Since this is a personal finance site, I should point this out. Money that you take to the casino should come out of your Entertainment budget or envelope. This should be money that isn't needed for anything important like rent or college or retirement. If you win, you can certainly put some extra money toward those things. If you lose, however, you don't want to come up short where it really matters.

Go and play and have fun and GOOD LUCK!

1 Responses to “Top 5 Tips for the Casino”

  1. kv968 Says:

    "Contrary to common belief (I was surprised to learn this myself) but comps are not reserved only for the high rollers."

    One thing a lot of people don't realize with this is that it's not only the amount of money bet, but the time spent playing. Granted, a larger amount of money spent would result in bigger comps, but the amount of time playing considers into it hugely also. In other words don't think just because you spend $100 playing at a table that's all that counts. If you keep winning and losing with that initial $100, but keep playing, they're taking that into consideration also.

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