No matter what your IQ, you can win money in a casino.
In fact, no amount of intelligence can guarantee that you’ll win in a casino anyway. Casino bets are random events, and the games’ odds are set up in a way that the casino wins money from the gamblers in the long run.
This means that your basic hope for winning in a casino is to win some money in the short run and go home with your winnings right away.
In this post, I explain how to do just that.
Can You Win Money in the Casino Without Much Money?
You can’t win money in the casino unless you have money to bet with. This doesn’t mean you need to have a fortune to gamble with.
But you can’t gamble unless you have something to risk.
Don’t walk into a casino without at least some money. I’d suggest not playing in the casino unless you have at least $100 that you’re comfortable setting on fire.
$1000 is even better.
I’m not suggesting you set this money on fire, though – I’m just suggesting that you might lose it, so you might as well not be attached to the money.
And you just can’t win money in the casino if you don’t bring money into the casino to bet with.
Is There a “Sure Thing” in the Casino?
There’s only one sure thing in a casino:
If you play long enough, the casino will win all your money.
That’s how all the games are designed, mathematically – in such a way that you’ll eventually lose all your money.
Another way to look at it is that the games are designed mathematically so that the losers at the games pay off the winners and the casino has some profit left over.
Here’s an example:
Suppose you’re at a strangely designed roulette table which only offers 3 bets – black, red, or green.
The black bets pay off even money, and the red bets pay off even money, too. And a green bet pays off at 17 to 1.
Now, also suppose you have 38 players at that table, and 18 of them bet on black, 18 of them bet on red, and one of them bets on green.
This covers all possible bets on the table proportionally – the roulette wheel has 18 black numbers, 18 red numbers, and 2 green numbers.
If the ball lands on black, the casino collects 20 of the bets on the table and pays off 18 of the bets on the table. The casino shows a profit of 2 bets.
The same thing happens if the ball lands on black.
If the ball lands on green, 2 of the bettors get paid off at 17 to 1, but that’s paid off by the 36 other bets on the table.
Should Your Strategy Change Based on the Size of Your Bankroll?
Your strategy should change based on your goal and on the size of your bankroll.
If your goal is to just double your money, the best strategy might be to just place a single even-money bet that has the highest probability of winning.
The most common even-money bets in the casino include:
- The pass line bet in craps
- The don’t pass bet in craps
- A standard bet in blackjack
- The player bet in baccarat
- The banker bet in baccarat
- Any of the even-money bets at the roulette table.
Any of these bets would be mathematically “fair” if they paid off at even money and offered you a 50% probability of winning.
But none of them do.
Some of them come closer to others, though.
Here’s the probability of winning each of those bets:
- Pass line – 49.29%
- Don’t pass – 47.93%
- Blackjack – 42.43%
- Player bet in baccarat – 44.6%
- Banker bet in baccarat – 45.8%
- Any even-money bet in roulette – 47.37%
- Any even-money bet in a single zero roulette game – 48.6%
I should point out a couple of things about the bets above, too, though:
More about the Odds of Winning the Above Bets
Everyone knows that the house edge for the don’t pass bet is lower than the house edge for the pass line bet, so how does the pass line bet have a greater probability of winning?
It’s because a percentage of the time on the don’t pass bet, you’ll have a tie result, which doesn’t count as a win.
Also, everyone knows that the house edge in real money blackjack is lower than any of these other games. So how is the probability of winning a hand so much lower than all the other games?
It’s because the 3 to 2 payout for a natural decreases the house edge. Also, the options of doubling down and splitting decrease the size of the house edge.
Baccarat is similar to craps – the odds of winning are higher if you eliminate all the tie bets. And ties happen more often in baccarat than most games.
So, if you just want the best shot at doubling your money, you should bet it all on a single craps throw or a single banker bet at the baccarat table.
Those offer you the highest probability of winning.
Can You Use a Betting System To Win at the Casino?
A betting system is a systematic way of raising and lowering the size of your bets based on what happened on previous bets. The goal is to beat the casino. At first glance, they seem foolproof, but a closer examination of a betting system always reveals a flaw.
Most of the time, you’ll increase the size of your bet in a betting system after a loss or after a win. The amount you raise or lower your bet varies based on the system. Some systems change how many losses or wins trigger a change in bet size, too.
Here’s an example called the Martingale:
After every losing bet, you double the size of the previous bet until you’ve won. Then you return to your original betting size with a profit of a single unit.
Here’s another exampled called the Paroli:
After every winning bet, you double the size of the previous bet until you’ve hit your win goal. Then you return to your original betting size.
The idea behind these systems is that the probability of an outcome changes based on the previous outcome. If you’ve lost a bet on red several times in roulette, red must be “due” soon, right? Or, if red has come up 3 times in a row, it must be “hot,” right?
Of course, neither is true. The probability of getting a red result on the next spin of the roulette wheel is always 47.37%. The wheel has no memory.
Can You Count Cards if You Only Have Average Intelligence?
Counting cards isn’t a betting system even though you raise and lower the sizes of your bets based on what’s happened previously. The difference is that in blackjack, every card that gets dealt changes the composition of the deck – resulting in a change in the probability on the next hand.
The reason that’s true might not be immediately obvious. But think about it for a minute. Suppose all the aces in the deck have already been dealt. What’s your probability of getting a blackjack after that.
Since getting a blackjack requires you to get an ace and a 10, your probability of getting a blackjack has dropped to 0%.
On the other hand, if a lot of the lower cards in the deck – the cards that aren’t aces and 10s – have already been dealt, the odds of getting a blackjack increase.
Since a blackjack pays off at 3 to 2 odds, you should bet more when there are fewer low-value cards in the deck.
This is an advantage play strategy – not a betting system.
And yes, card counting works in the long run, and you can do it with average intelligence.
All it takes is some practice.
Which Games Should You Play and Which To Avoid
Your best chance of walking out of the casino with some winnings happens when you play the games offering the best odds. This means sticking with the table games and avoiding the gambling machines.
The table games include games like baccarat, blackjack, craps, and roulette.
Gambling machines include games like slot machines and video poker.
The payouts for bets on table games are significantly lower than they are on gambling machines, but the probability of winning is correspondingly better. You can’t really win a 10,000 to 1 jackpot on a table game like blackjack (unless it offers some kind of side bet with long odds), but you can on some slot machine games.
The problem is that you want to win at the casino.
Would you rather have a 47% probability of winning a bet in the casino?
Or would you rather have a 37% probability of winning a bet in the casino?
Keep in mind – we said at the beginning we want to stay in the short term, too. After all, in the long run, the games are all set up mathematically so that the casino will win all your money.
Your goal is to get a quick win or a couple of quick wins and call it a night.
Are Some Casinos Better Than Others?
Some casinos offer you better odds on their games than others. For example, many casinos now offer a variation of blackjack called 6/5 blackjack. In their blackjack games, instead of paying off at 3 to 2 odds for a blackjack, they pay off at 6 to 5 odds.
Some of them even make it sound like they’re doing you a favor.
But the payoff on a $100 bet with 3 to 2 odds is $150, while the payoff at 6 to 5 odds is $120 on the same bet.
Also, some casinos offer the equivalent of triple zero roulette – they’ll often call it “Sands” roulette. Instead of having 38 numbers, they have 39 numbers. But they have the same payoff as the roulette games with the 38 numbers.
Of course, some casinos offer both versions of each of those games, but they also vary in other respects with other games, too. Some casinos offer bigger limits on their odds bets at the craps tables – those casinos are better for serious craps players. And some casinos offer blackjack games dealt from fewer decks and with more favorable rules for the players. Those casinos are better for blackjack players.
Yes, some casinos are better than others, but some of that depends on which games you’re playing and what your goals are.
You can win money in the casino regardless of your intelligence level. The biggest trick is learning how to walk away when you’re ahead. This doesn’t require a lot of intelligence (although it does require some).
Mostly it requires self-control.
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