Slot Machine Strategies - Slots Strategy

Slots strategies are limited mostly just to bankroll management and good sense, because slot games are purely luck and are meant to be pure fun, and pure distraction. The slot strategy tips I'm offering here are meant to maximize the amount of fun you're having, since you don't really have a shot at reducing the house advantage by playing smart, like you can with blackjack. Consider this a short course on slots strategies:

  • Have fun.
  • Don't believe common slot myths
  • Manage your bankroll. Understand how much you want to play, how many sessions you want to play, and do some simple division.
  • Don't play with money you can't afford to lose.
  • Always bet all lines with the max bet. If you can't afford to do that, then play at a lower denomination slot machine.
  • Be sure you're a member of the slots club and that you're tracking your play--you want to get all the comps you've got coming to you.
  • Progressives don't pay out as often as regular slots, but you've got the jackpot to look forward to if you hit it.
  • Higher denomination machines have higher payback percentages. So play the highest denomination machine you can without putting undue stress on your bankroll.
  • Consider video poker.

I recommend checking out Slot Tips for additional info about slot machines and playing the slots. Another good site for slots players is Slots King.

You must understand video poker pay tables in order to make good decisions about video poker. Choosing a good machine with a good pay table is the first, most crucial, and fundamental step in a winning video poker strategy. If you understand a video poker pay table, then you can figure out how much the machine will pay out over time when played correctly.

Jacks or Better is the grandaddy of video poker games. The best versions of Jacks or Better has a 99.5% payback. This make Jacks or Better (full pay anyway) one of the best bets in the casino--right up there with blackjack and certain craps bets.

Here's an example 9/6 pay table for Jacks or Better:


Royal Flush--250
Straight Flush--50
Four of a Kind--25
Full house--9
Three of a kind--3
Two pair--2
Pair of Jacks or better--1

These are the one coin payouts on a full pay Jacks or Better game. You can multiply each of these payoffs by the number of coins you play to get the payoff for a higher amount bet. The exception is the royal flush. That's the jackpot hand and pays out 4000 coins.

This is called a 9/6 game because it pays out 9 coins for a full house and 6 coins for a flush. A common variation on this pay structure is an 8/5 game. This payoff schedule turns one of the best bets into the casino into a much poorer bet--97.3% payoff instead of 99.5%. Don't settle for a video poker pay table that is less than perfect if you can help it. 9/6 is considered a full pay Jacks or Better game. Any lesser pay table for jacks or better is a bad bet. has an excellent article on Video Poker Pay Tables.

Casino Bonuses - Incentives to Gamble Online

Casino bonuses are funds that an online casino deposits into your casino account as a bonus to your deposit. Online casinos are extraordinarily competitive, so they do all that they can do to encourage players to try their casino out, including giving you extra money to do so. Casino bonuses are normally a matching amount, but some casinos have bonuses that require no deposit.

Be sure to always read the casino's terms and conditions for the bonuses they offer you. Almost all online casinos require a certain amount of action (called "wagering requirements") before letting you cash out. Some casinos also subtract the amount of your bonus from your withdrawal too. (The money is in your account to wager with, but cannot be withdrawn no matter how many times you wager it.)

Many casinos also exclude certain games from the wagering requirements for withdrawing your money. Most often they exclude blackjack and roulette, but some online casinos are so restrictive that they won't let you count anything you wager on any game besides their slots.

Another perk some casinos offer, and one that I'm particularly fond of, is ongoing match bonuses. Crazy Vegas casino is my favorite example of this. You can get up to $1500 a month in bonuses with their monthly 15% deposit bonus incentive.

Some casinos also have lists of players they call "bonus abusers", who are players that play only the minimum requirement for cashing out their bonus and then leave. Theoretically, if the casino is offering a good enough bonus, and their wagering requirements aren't too strict, someone could play at quite a few casinos in a day, taking advantage of bonus offers and playing just the minimum required to cash out, and come out profitable. This is not a good idea, because most online casinos have written into their terms and conditions that if someone is a suspected bonus abuser, they can withhold their withdrawals.

Bonuses make online gambling a little more fun, and they get you more action for your money. But they're not a realistic way to make a long term profit, because you'll eventually no longer be allowed to play at any online casinos.

There are a few casino bonus related portals. One of the most comprehensive guides to online casino bonuses is Casino Cash Journey. Another good casino bonus resource is Casino Geek's Online Casino Bonus Advice page.
If you're going to gamble at a casino, online or land-based, it's important to know how the casino makes its money from you. Casinos make money from the players because they don't pay out at the real odds for the game. Expectation is what you can expect to win or lose long term on a given bet if you make it over and over again.

If you flip a coin, you have a 50% chance of it landing on heads, and you have a 50% chance of it landing on tails. If you paid someone $1 every time you were wrong, and they paid you a dollar every time you were right, you'd be making an even money bet on an even odds proposition. Your long term expectation would be 0. You would break even.

The way a casino would pay out in this situation would be different so that they could make a profit. They would probably pay you 95 cents every time you were right, and you would pay them $1 every time you were wrong. This would create a positive expectation for the casino, and a negative expectation for you. Half the time you would lose $1, and the other half of the time you would win 95 cents. Instead of breaking even, you would lose 2.5 cents per bet over time. (Because half the time you would win.) If you stated this in percentage terms, the house would be said to have a 2.5% advantage in this game.

This sounds like an oversimplification, but it's really not at all. One of the newer casino games in Las Vegas is casino war, which is a gambling version of the card game War that you used to play as a kid. You and the dealer each get dealt a playing card. If your card's value is higher than the dealer's, you win, and vice-versa, just like when you were playing as a kid.

Here's where the casino changes the expectation in their favor though: If your card is the SAME as the dealer's card, you can either surrender (in which case you lose half your bet), or you can go to war, which means you have to make another bet the same size as your original bet. When you go to war, three cards are burned and you each get another card. If you win the "war", you ONLY get paid out on the original bet. If you lose, the house gets both bets.

So you're facing even odds unless you go to war. If you go to war, the house has an advantage, because if you win, you only get paid $1 for every $2 you've wagered. The casino could just as easily create a game called "casino coin toss war", with very similar rules, and it wouldn't be too different from the coin-tossing game I described earlier. The single difference would be that the casino would have an almost 3% edge over you.

What it Costs to Gamble per Hour

You should always keep in mind when deciding what kind of gambling you're going to do what it's going to cost you per hour. This isn't a difficult calculation if you know how many bets per hour you're going to make, how big the bets are going to be, and what the casino's advantage is.

For example, if you're playing baccarat, you're probably going to play about 60 bets per hour. If you're betting $100 a bet, you're wagering $6000 per hour. Since the house edge if you're betting on the bank is only about 1.1%, you can expect to lose $66 or so per hour playing baccarat. $100 per bet X 60 bets X 1.1% house advantage = $66.

Blackjack played with perfect basic strategy reduces the house edge to about 0.5% under good playing conditions. You're probably looking at about 75 or so hands per hour, maybe more or less depending on how many people are at your table and how long they're taking to make their decisions. If you're playing at $5 a bet, you can play for an hour for a cost of only $1.88. That's a lot of action for your money, in my opinion.

Something else to keep in mind is that you're wanting to have fun. To have fun at gambling, you have to be playing for stakes that matter to you, but you cannot be playing for stakes that will break you. John Vorhaus talks about the gulp factor in a couple of his excellent books on poker. You should be playing for stakes that are high enough that you'd swallow hard if you just lost that much money one day and couldn't find it.

That amount might be $100 for you, and it might be $1000 for me.

The flip side to that is if you're playing for stakes that are too high, you're going to destroy your enjoyment of the game because you're so worried about being put in dire financial straits.

Also, if you're gambling online, you will usually be making more bets per hour than in a standard casino because of the speed of the software. I think there are now RTG casinos who deal 150 hands of blackjack per hour to you. THAT's going to change your hourly cost.

One last thing--if you play poker, you should be targeting an hourly earn rate. If you're playing poker, you should be playing to win, and tracking your results. A simple spreadsheet with three or four columns will enable you to track your hourly earn rate. But you'll need a lot of hours of records before you can be confident what your earn rate is.
Keno and the lottery are two different games in one sense, but they're the exact same game in another sense. Both games are based on blind luck, and both games offer some of the absolute worst odds a gambler could have. Keno generally has better odds and more options about how you can play than the lottery does.

The house edge for keno usually runs between 25% and 40%. The house edge for a state-run lottery is usually about 50%. I've never understood why it's illegal for someone to gamble in certain states on certain games, but it's legal to play the lottery. And the arguments people use to defend anti-gambling laws (It's hard on the economic lower class, it's a waste of money, and it's going to have a bad effect on society as a whole.) don't seem to apply to the one game with the worst odds of any--state sponsored lotteries.

The only advantage keno has over other casino games is that it's one of the slowest games you can play in terms of bets per hour. So your hourly cost for playing keno probably isn't too different from playing slots or blackjack, even though there is a tremendous difference in the house advantage. A roulette wheel generally gets spun about 30 times in an hour, but you'll usually only make 5 or 6 keno bets in any given hour. So again, your hourly cost might make keno a reasonable game for you to play.

I don't recommend that anyone support the lottery though.
I don't bet on sports. This puts me in the minority, I think. I've read that Americans wager over $100 billion a year on sporting events, and 98% of that betting is NOT done in a legal setting. (My proposed solution to this is to legalize sports betting and get it into the hands of professionals and out of the hands of organized crime.

Sports is exciting. Putting a little money into action on the game makes sports more exciting. I play in a weekly shuffleboard tournament, which I know probably doesn't really count as a sport, but when I put my $10 entry fee in there, it makes that shuffleboard game matter more than any other game I play all week.

The hypocrisy of the sports establishments' officials who claim that they don't believe in gambling is amazing to me. If there weren't so many people gambling on sports, there wouldn't be so many sports fans. And the officials in the various sports leagues are smart and understand this.

You can bet on just about any sport imaginable now--be it boxing, football, soccer, baseball, golf, name it. Sports betting is the other key area for folks who want to gamble professionally. If you understand and can analyze the dynamics behind the games, you can make as much money gambling on sports as any other type of gambling, and probably more. But to be that successful, you really do have to be a sports fanatic.
Poker is big right now. If the game of poker were a rock band, it would claim to be more popular than Jesus. I like poker because it's my best shot, and your best shot, at consistently winning money gambling.

Poker is my favorite game. It's full of complex strategy, drama, and mental duelling. It's a game where you don't play against the house; you play against the other players. And if you're smarter than they are, and you play better than they do, then you WILL win money over the long term playing poker.

There are all kinds of poker players too. There are kitchen table poker players like my father in law, who makes up countless variations of texas holdem poker every Christmas, whether we're playing at my house or his. And there are serious, "I've got to get good enough at this to earn a living" players like my friend T., which is one of the tightest and also best poker players I know. (Even the dealers at our local poker club have commented on what a tight player he is.)

Online poker is exploding. There are literally hundreds of virtual tables to choose from at Party Poker at any given time of the day. I know one guy who plays 4 tables at a time and makes $100,000 a year playing poker online.

Landbased poker is exploding too. For years, casinos have been closing down their poker rooms or making them smaller so they would have more room for slot machines. Their concern is for how much dollar revenue they're generating for each square foot of the casino. But poker's so popular now that having a poker room will draw enough players in that they're probably drop some money in the slots on their way to and from the poker tables. Especially if they've been drinking.

There are two ways to become a good poker player. The first is to play a lot. The second is to read about how to play. Sometimes it's tricky to decide which poker books are worth reading and which ones are not, but I'll eventually get around to posting a guide to some of the better poker books available. And there will be poker strategy and rules posted on this site very soon. For now, if you want more information on poker, please visit Play Winning Poker.
Roulette may have lousy odds, BUT it's not necessarily a bad value for your gambling dollar. It's a fairly slow-paced game, so even though the house advantage is higher than some other games, you're probably not going to be placing as many bets per hour. So you can get a lot of action for your gambling dollar at a roulette table. I've always liked roulette because I'm a mellow kind of guy and the slower pace of the roulette table is relaxing to me.

Roulette's a high roller game for big players in Europe, but it's never had quite the same attraction for an American crowd. (The odds are a little different between the two different versions of the game too.) As far as table games in the USA go, roulette's pretty much in last place after craps and blackjack.

On a European roulette wheel, there's only one "0". On an American wheel, there is a "0" AND a "00". The additional "00" gives the casino twice as much of an advantage on the American game. When you're playing in an online casino, you can usually choose between an American roulette table and a European roulette table. ALWAYS choose the European table, even though the layout might be a little different than you're used to if you've played the American version for long.

Like baccarat, roulette is a guessing game, all chance and no strategy. More "rock scissors paper" action here. It's easy to play, and almost impossible to make a mistake at when playing. (Although there is one roulette bet you should never make.)

The Google Roulette Guide is a fine place to find more information about roulette, but I recommend avoiding the roulette systems guide. Roulette systems are much like any other gambling system--it's all based on money management and varying your bets, and pretending that the odds don't really exist for you because of the way you're managing your bankroll.
Baccarat is traditionally a game for the wealthy. It's usually played in a separate roped-off area, and the players are often exceedingly well dressed. Baccarat is considered the game of choice for a lot of high rollers and big players. These high rollers, and the treatment they receive, are legendary. Their association with this games adds a certain mysterious and intimidating quality to this game.

Baccarat is really just a guessing game though. For all the style and trappings, it requires no more skill than "rock scissors paper". There are only two hands dealt during each game, no matter how many bettors there are: a Player hand and a Banker hand. Each player bets on which hand will total closer to 9 than the other one. There's no strategy involved in choosing whether to bet on the Player or on the Banker. It's as random a game as keno or slots.

Mini-baccarat has become popular recently, and it's played pretty much the same way as regular baccarat, but the table limits are much lower. So even if you're one of the lowest of the low rollers, you can now play baccarat too. Which is a good thing indeed, because baccarat offers better odds than most other casino games. The house has the edge, and they're going to win in the long run, but their advantage is smaller in baccarat than in most games.

Yahoo's Baccarat Directory is very good, as is Google's Baccarat Guide. I recommend checking them out too.
Craps is your game if you like speed. Craps is your game if you like thrills and excitement. If you're an adrenaline junkie, if you like roller coasters, if you're a daredevil, then this is definitely your kind of game.

Craps has lost some popularity through the years though, because new players don't want to learn the game. It's not a game that a newbie generally feels very comfortable getting started at. My friend Bob says this about the game: "They say that in general, the more rules in a casino game, the better chance the player has to even the odds with the house through insightful play. Craps must have fantastic f*cking odds!" (Bob is also a casino webmaster, and according to him, that's the only craps content he's ever written.)

The craps table layout is intricate, there's lots of jargon, and the game moves fast. This intimidates some people. I'm going to publish enough info on craps here that you won't be intimidated by the game at all. And I don't want you to miss out on the experience of this wonderful game, because no other game in the casino enjoys the kind of thrills and the kind of esprit de corps with the other players as craps does.

Here's tip #1 for craps gambling: stick with the simple bets. Interestingly enough, the simple bets in craps are the ones with the best odds. Tip #2 is to get ready, because the game is fast and the ups and downs are fast and steep. A lot of the bets are just plain terrible, but a few of the bets are really good.

I'll be writing more specific information on craps soon, but for now, the Google Craps Guide and the Yahoo Craps Directory are good sources of craps information.
I call video poker the hybrid casino game because it's a bastard child of poker and slot machines. It looks and sounds like a slot machine, true, but videopoker is definitely NOT a slot machine. Slot machines are random, and nothing you do can change the odds or the payout. Your only hope is to put your money in and pray. But video poker rewards smart splay and smart game selection. If you make good decisions, then you benefit. Many of the "locals" casinos in Las Vegas, Reno, and other casino cities offer more video poker games to choose from than slot machines.

Video poker, when played correctly, is one of the best bets in the casino. The house advantage on a good machine is only about 0.5%, which makes it as good a bet as the better craps bets and perfect strategy blackjack. If you add comps into the equation, video poker can actually be a profitable game for the long term player.

Videopoker is popular now and will continue to grow more profitable, because players like to play games where their decisions affect their outcomes. With video poker, you have some control over your destiny, and that's appealing to gamblers like me who want to use their smarts when they play.

I'll be posting a lot of video poker information here over the course of time, because there's a lot of video poker information to be had. I also want to recommend a couple of directories of video poker websites, Google Video Poker Guides and Yahoo's Video Poker Directory. And my friend's site Video Poker Rules is another good resource. Be sure to also read Video Poker Pay Tables - Jacks or Better.

Slots and Slot Machines - Casino Junk Food and Mindless Fun

Slots and slot machines make a lot of noise, but if they could talk, I'm sure they'd have no problem telling you how unbelievably popular they are. Going to a casino and not playing a slot machine is similar to going to a carnival and not eating cotton candy. The bulk of a casino's revenue comes from its slot players, making slot machines far and away the most popular casino game ever.

Rows and rows of slots and slot machines cover the floor of every casino. Slot play is hypnotic and mindless and provides an escape from day to day life that for many slot players is second to none. I have a relative who will play slot machines for no money on that Hoyle Casino software just because she finds the sights and the sounds of the games so compelling. To me, the ONLY thing interesting about a slot machine is the potential to hit a jackpot.

There is no skill or strategy involved in playing a slot machine. How to play is usually obvious. And the fantasy of hitting a jackpot is the same fantasy people have when they buy a weekly lottery ticket, but it's more immediate and urgent. (You can only hit a lottery jackpot once or twice a week, but you could theoretically pull the lever on a slot machine 500 times an hour.

The popularity of slots and slot machines are phenomenal. There are ways to get more slot entertainment for your dollar, but there's really no way to become a professional slot player or gain an advantage over the house.

The best site I know of about online slots is Slots Mania I also recommend Slot Charts, which offers a lot of great information and graphs of online progressive slot jackpots. And this is my third recommendation: Slot Machines. Be sure to check out our article on Slots Strategy too.
Blackjack is and always has been the most popular table game in any casino. Blackjack usually makes up 50% or more of a casino's table game revenue, and 15% or more of a casino's total revenue. (Slots are still and probably always will be the biggest moneymaker for a casino.) There are several reasons for blackjack's popularity.

Blackjack game play is very simple. Many people think the object of the game is to get as close to 21 as you can without going over. But really you just have to beat the dealer. And to beat the dealer, all you need is a higher hand total than the dealer without going over 21. And if the dealer goes bust (goes over 21), as long as you don't go bust, then you automatically win.

Blackjack embodies the "us vs. the casino" mentality. Everyone at the table is rooting for the dealer to bust, usually in a good-natured way, yes, but everyone undeniably wants the dealer to fail. As long as the dealer fails (busts), everyone at the table who hasn't already busted wins.

Blackjack is a game of suspense. Wondering whether or not the dealer is going to bust is a high drama. I certainly think that it's a lot more dramatic than wondering whether or not you're going to hit a jackpot on a slot machine, although I know a number of folks who would disagree with me on that one.

Blackjack is also popular because it's a game of skill. Almost no other casino game offers players the opportunity to improve their odds by playing skillfully than blackjack does. Video poker sometimes comes close, but slots, baccarat, and roulette are all just completely random and have no skill element involved. (In fact, there are few bets in the casino worse than the roulette table, but that's the subject of another article.)

Blackjack is well-known as one of the only casino games that is "beatable". The legend of the MIT Blackjack Team that took Vegas for millions is well known all over the world now. Counting cards can be done by anyone with the discipline and patience to learn how to do it, although it's harder to do than you might think. I'm good at math, but I can't cound cards to save my life. And the real trick is being able to count cards and actually not get caught counting by the casino.
Blackjack is usually the best bet in the house, in terms of house advantage. If you're counting cards, you can actually have a slight advantage over the house. And even if you're only playing perfect basic strategy, you've reduced the casino's edge to about 0.5%, which are excellent odds compared to almost every other bet in the house.

Blackjack is the most popular casino game for all of the above reasons, but all of those reasons combined give blackjack a je na sais quoi that other casino games lack. "Je na sais quoi" is French for "a certain something" or "I don't know what". My friends who play blackjack regularly know exactly what this means in this context.

If you're interested in learning blackjack basic strategy, I recommend Blackjack Info.

How to Calculate Probability?

Probability is a number (a fraction) that represents how likely it is for something to happen. Let's define something in this case as "X". And let's call the total number of possible events as "Y".

The probability is the total number of ways that X can happen divided by Y. The mathematical formula looks like this:

number of ways to get event X/number of all possible events (Y)

So the probability of getting heads when you flip a coin is 1/2. There is 1 way you can get heads, and there are two total possible events (heads or tails).

The probability of getting a heart dealt to you randomly from a deck of cards is 1/4. There are 13 hearts in a deck of cards, and there are 52 cards total in a deck. 13/52 is the actual probability, but like any fraction, it can be reduced to its simplest form.

There are different ways to describe a probability than using a fraction. You could also use a decimal. 1/4 is the same thing as 0.25. You could use a percentage. 1/4 is the same thing as 25%. Or you could say that it will happen 1 in 4 times, or you could state it as odds. 3 to 1 against.

And here's one more probability rule that's REALLY important. The probability of a multiple events equals the probabilities of the individual events multiplied by each other. So if you flip two coins, the probability of them BOTH landing on heads is 1/2 times 1/2, or 1/4. Stated in odds terms, thats 3 to 1 against. If you roll two dice, the probability of getting "snake eyes", or two 1's, is 1/6 times 1/6, or 1/36. Stated in odds terms, that's 35 to 1 against.

One more thing to remember. If something happens before something else, it doesn't affect the probability of the next event. In other words, if you're playing roulette, and the ball has landed on 00 five times in a row, the odds of it landing on 00 the sixth time is still an independent event, and is still 1 chance in 38, or 37 to 1 against. No more, no less. If you flip a coin ten times in a row, and get heads every time, on the 11th flip, the odds of getting heads are still even odds, or 1/2. No more, no less.

See also: Probability, Odds, Expectations, and the House Edge
My dad swears that the casinos cheat. Lots of losers swear they cheat too. But here in reality, it's almost a certainty that casinos do not cheat. The casino industry (at least the land-based casino industry here in the USA) is highly regulated industry. A lot of casinos are public corporations too, and Martha Stewart demonstrated for us the danger of cheating when you're part of a public corporation.

But the main reason I'm so confident that the casinos aren't cheating is because I understand that because of their inherent, unbeatable mathematical advantage over the player, they don't have to cheat to win. They're going to win anyway.

And honestly--if someone dishonest were working at a casino, wouldn't he be more likely to rip off the casino than the player? Because who's got more money? The casino, or the player?

Now let me address online casino cheating separately. Do online casinos cheat? I still don't think so. Again, they don't have to. And if you're smart, you'll only be playing at an online casino who is licensed by a gaming commission in their country of operation.

But online casinos are no different than land-based casinos in this one fact: the house has the edge. They don't have to cheat.

The most common legitimate complaint you'll find on discussion board for players is that they're having trouble withdrawing their winnings. This happens often enough that it is a concern, and it should be a concern. Casinomeister keeps a pretty good list of rogue casinos on his site, and his forum generally contains pretty good info on who the troublesome casinos are. You can also do a search on the forum at Winner Online for the casino name. (It's also important to note that we don't promote casinos on this site who have a history of not paying their players. You can gamble at the casinos on this site with confidence.)

Just remember to take some of the player complaints with a grain of salt too. Not all players are honest either.

But for the most part, you don't have to be concerned about cheating casinos, be it online or land-based. And the casinos I advertise on this site are trustworthy. If they're not trustworthy, or if something comes up to make me believe otherwise, then I pull their ads down.
Tipping is essential to being a gracious player, but keeping your money out of the casino's hands is a constant battle. So a balancing act between being polite and being sensible is necessary. A tip in a casino is also called a "toke". I hope this guide to tipping and toking will help you the next time you're playing in a casino.

Low level service providers (waiters and waitresses, dealers and keno runners) in casinos rely on tips to make a living. It's rude not to tip. I don't think anyone, especially not gamblers, should be boors. And people who don't tip are boorish.

I always tip dealers who are friendly and helpful. If you get a surly dealer, it's not only appropriate to not tip that person, it's appropriate to advice casino management of their behavior. I've experienced this playing poker at the Excalibur in Las Vegas. One particular dealer there was just a jerk, to the point of being rude and insulting. I stopped tipping him.

The easiest way to tip a dealer is to push a chip forward toward the dealer and tell her that "This is for you." If you're playing blackjack, you can also place a bet for the dealer on your next hand. This is done by placing an extra bet on the table in front of your bet, nearer to the dealer. If you win, then the dealer does too.

How much to tip is the eternal dilemma, and determining how these tips affect your hourly earn or loss rate is crucial to being a smart gambler. When you understand your expectation and the number of bets you're placing per hour, you can determine what it's costing you to play. But you need to add in the amounts you'll be tipping and toking to get the real number. The cardrooms are full of poker players who might be profitable if it weren't for the rake, the dealer tokes, and the cocktail waitresses' tips.

It's appropriate to tip the change person if you hit a jackpot on a slot machine. Ten dollars should be fine for a decent sized jackpot, and if you hit a huge progressive jackpot, you might even tip $100. But keep in mind the tax man is going to be getting his hand into your winnings too.

The appropriate time to tip a poker dealer is when you win a pot. At the stakes I play for, a dollar is usually an appropriate tip, although if you win a really big pot, you might tip an extra buck or two.

You should tip keno runners a dollar for each run, and more if you win. And the drinks might be free, but it's appropriate to tip the cocktail waitresses a dollar or two when they bring your drinks. Tipping them with casino chips is certainly appropriate too.

I hope this guide to tipping in the casinos helps you out next time you're in a casino and aren't sure whether or not to tip or how much to tip.
Gambling is fun. Like sex and alcohol, people aren't going to stop doing it because of that simple fact. Folks like to do stuff that's fun. Society should focus on making sure that when people are having fun, be it gambling, drinking, having sex, or anything else, that these people have their fun responsibly, and that they don't ruin their lives or the lives of others with their fun.

You can make a living gambling. It's called being a professional gambler. You can't make a living drinking, and most people can't make a living having sex (although some can, but those that do generally stop having fun while they're doing it), but you can definitely make a living as a professional gambler. And when I say making a living, I mean significant amounts of money. There aren't a lot of people doing it, because it's not something that's taught in most schools, and it doesn't come with a very good benefits package, but there are a few people making over $100k a year gambling. (According to gambling author Mason Malmuth, there are probably fewer than 200 people in the USA making this much money gambling.)

It seems incredible that someone could make a living gambling. I mean, let's face it, the casinos wouldn't exist if they could be beaten. And in fact, most casino games and most gambling games CANNOT be beaten. Not in the long run, which is what a professional gambler has to look at if he's going to be good at it. One of the goals I have with this site is to explain the differences between professional gamblers and other gamblers, and help you determine how much professionalism you want to add to your own gambling career.

One of the reasons that people can make a living gambling is that poker has become more popular now than ever, and poker rooms, both legal and underground, both landbased and online, are becoming increasingly accessible. Poker is the #1 game for professional gamblers who want to make a good living. If you can play poker well, you can earn a good living, especially if you play online and are able to play multiple tables.

People can become professional gamblers playing the following games: poker, blackjack, horse racing, sports betting, video poker, progressive slot machines, casino promotions, and casino tournaments. The only way to make a living gambling is by getting the best of it, or having the odds in your favor. The gambling activities we're talking about are all games and bets where you can put the odds in your favor. Some of them, like casino promotions where blackjack pays 3 to 1, are rare and getting rarer, but if you can find them, you can make a lot of money at them. But you have to understand probability,odds and percentages and paybacks in order to be able to determine whether or not the odds are really in your favor.

People cannot become professional gamblers playing other games like craps, roulette, baccarat, keno, or most of the newer casino games like Let it Ride. With the rare exceptions of when the casino is running some kind of promotion where the payouts on the bets are in the players' favor, it is impossible to make a consistent living playing a game with a negative expectation. It's also important to note that most the gambling games and bets we talked about in the previous paragraph have a negative expectation for the player most of the time anyway; it's only in the case of professionals who are willing to master their craft that the player gains the edge on those bets too. (Let's face it--even if you're extremely smart about betting on sports, you still have to overcome the 10% vig from the bookmaker.)

I think that the best reason to gamble is still to have fun. But I'm also firmly of the belief that you'll have more fun when you're winning. You won't learn to become a professional gambler on this site, but you will definitely learn how to win more often and lose less often.

Historic Gambling in the USA

Gambling's been going on in the USA for a LONG time. In colonial America, Virginia was financed by a lottery in England. This was in 1612! That's only 120 years after Columbus sailed the ocean blue, and it's 150 years before the American Revolution. Speaking of which, many people aren't aware of it, but most of the American Revolution was paid for with lotteries too. States all across the country still finance education, roads, and other public services by offering state-sponsored gambling in the form of lotteries.

Soldiers during the American Revolution would take their musket ammmo, flatten it into cubes, and would use their bayonets to put spots on the cubes. All so they could have dice to gamble with.

George Washington gambled on horse races and even owned horses for that very purpose.

Things got really exciting in the gambling world in 1827 when the first American casino opened in New Orleans. And in 1850 there were over 6000 casinos (tiny gambling houses mostly) in New York. (New York City, not New York state.)

And of course, gambling was big in the Old West too. Riverboat gambling was commonplace, poker stories are still being told, and most of the furniture brought out to the new towns springing up throughout the old west was in the form of card tables and roulette tables.
"Gamble" comes from an Anglo-Saxon word "gamenian" which means "to play". Gambling is common to almost all cultures AND historical time periods. All the great civilizations gambled--Egypt, China, India, Rome and American Indians all had some form of gambling common to their lifestyles. People then (and now) gamble for fun and for money. Gambling games were often even used to settle disputes. (Rock, scissors, paper anyone?) Witch doctors and cavemen used to "roll bones" and use the way they landed to foretell the future. It was a short trip from there to betting on the outcome of the way the bones landed.

Today you can gamble on literally ANYTHING. People bet on political elections, sports games, horse and dog races, which celebrities will die this year--you name it, and someone's wagering on it. Anyone who listens to talk radio, especially to Howard Stern or Russ Martin, is familiar with people betting on anything. Howard's crew wager on whether or not homeless people and topless dancers will know the answers to simple questions. The Russ Martin show runs a dead pool each year where you get a number of points for each person whose death you correctly pick equal to 100 - the celebrity's age.

Most people think of gambling in terms of casino gambling. Sports gambling is big too, but it goes on all the time at casinos, so I'll lump it into the same category. Casinos offer a vast array of table games and video games to play. And you're not limited to just Vegas and Atlantic City anymore; Indian casinos are springing up all over the place. And there are a multitude of offshore online casinos to choose from now too.

If you like to play poker, there are underground cardrooms in every major city in America. I read somewhere that Dallas (where I live) has over 35 illicit cardrooms. I've only been to two of these cardrooms, but I hope to visit more.

You can play any casino game online that you can play in a land-based casino, and you can usually get a better payout percentage from the online casino. Online casinos can afford the higher payout percentage because they don't have the overheard of a landbased casino. It's much less expensive to lease some casino game software and some servers than it is to cater to high rollers demanding 15,000 square foot suites at the Las Vegas Hilton. (To say nothing about the limo costs, the airfare costs, and the room service, event tickets, and women.)

If you want to do even more to support our government than just pay your taxes, you can buy lottery or lotto tickets. The payback percentage is awful, but the money is supposed to fund our kids' educations.

There are all kinds of gamblers too. There are fools who bet on anything and lose constantly. There are geniuses who can count cards at blackjack and win a good percentage of the time. There are professional gamblers, but Mason Malmuth, a noted gambling expert and poker player, estimates that there are fewer than 200 professional gamblers in the USA making over $100k per year.

You can decide what kind of gambler you want to be--whether you want to understand the rules, the odds, and the costs of being a gambler. Or you can be like the other rubes and just pour your money into the pockets of the folks running the gambling operations. Not everyone can be a card counting genius making a bundle at the casinos' expense, but everyone can be well educated and get the best odds and make the most of their bankrolls.

Education is the key. Education, logic, and a firm understanding that luck only exists as short-term deviation from the statistical averages you'll see over time.

Probability, Odds, Expectation, and the House Edge

I'll elaborate on these concepts in a fuller article on odds and probability tomorrow, because tonight I'm getting a little bit sleepy. But this will get you started.

Probability - The measure of how likely or how often something is going to happen. Probability is always a number between 1 and 0. A 1 would indicate something is always going to happen and a 0 would mean something is never going to happen. Most gambling situations have a probability somewhere in between the two. (And if you add the probability of something not happening with the probability of something happening, your total will always be 1.) A probability is a fraction unless it's a certainty.

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Odds - Odds is a way of stating a probability as a relationship between something happening and something not happening. For example, the probability of rolling a 6 when rolling a die is 1/6. The odds would be considered 5 to 1. (The first number is the number of times it won't happen, and the second number is the number of times it will happen.) To calculate the odds, take the number on top of the fraction, subtract the number on top, and put the difference first and the number on top of the fraction second. So for 1/6, 6-1=5, or 5 to 1.

The thing to remember about odds in a casino game situation is that the casino doesn't pay you according to the true odds, and this is what gives them the advantage, and this is what makes them profitable. Roulette's a perfect example. The odds of the ball landing on any individual number are 37 to 1. But betting on any individual number only pays 35 to 1. The difference in the true odds and the odds that the casino pays out to the player is the house edge.

House edge - The house edge is the mathematical advantage on any given bet that the casino has over the player. It's normally in percentage format. (For example, the house edge in roulette is 5.46%)

Expectation - The amount of money you'll win or lose by making a certain decision in a gambling game. It's calculated using the house edge and the amount of the wager. For example, if you bet $100 at roulette, the house edge is 5.46%, or $5.46. So long term, you can expect to lose $5.46 on every $100 wager.

Understanding these concepts in detail will do a few things for you. They'll give you a better understanding and enjoyment of the games you're playing. They'll improve your chances of winning. And they'll give you an understanding of why the casinos are so profitable. (A better understanding of this than about 90% of the people playing in the casino have, in fact.)

See also: How to Calculate Probability?

You don't have to be smart to win at gambling games. As a matter of fact, part of becoming a smart player means understanding that you're going to lose more often than you win when you gamble. That's just reality. If casinos designed games where the odds were in your favor, the casinos wouldn't be there. But you can be smart, and you can use those smarts to win more often than if you didn't play smart.

If you want to be zen about it, intelligence is the lack of stupidity. This is especially true when gambling. The sensations the casinos send your way--the sounds, the lights, the scantily clad cocktail waitresses, are all designed to get you excited and to make you reckless. Excitement's okay; recklessness is not.

I'm going to start this online gambling guide and blog by writing several articles designed to teach you how to stay in control. I want you to be deliberate and make conscious decisions when you gamble. That's the best way to maximize your enjoyment in the casino, whether you're playing online or in Vegas.

First thing you need to know, and don't ever forget this, is that the casino has a mathematical advantage that, in the long run, cannot be overcome. Anyone on the internet who's trying to sell you a surefire system on how to become a professional gambler playing roulette is a charlatan. There are some games where you can gain a small mathematical advantage over the house (blackjack if you're counting cards, video poker if you play perfectly on the right machine, poker if you're playing with players who aren't as good as you, and sports betting if you're a lot smarter than I am.)

But in the short run, you CAN win. Many people walk away from the casinos winners. In fact, if they didn't, the casinos wouldn't be there. (Hey--that's almost a paradox, ain't it?) If you play smart, you'll win more often than people who play stupid, and that's a fact too. The information on this site is going to help you maximize the entertainment you get for your gambling dollars, and it's going to do that by helping you make wise decisions about which games to play and how to play them.

There will be individual posts on almost every kind of casino gambling game imagineable here: blackjack, slots, video poker, craps, baccarat, roulette, caribbean stud, let it ride, pai gow poker, poker, sports betting, keno, bingo, sic bo, and even casino war. I'll be writing posts with basic how to information for each game, and I'll also be writing posts with strategy information for each game. Other topics covered on this site will include money management, odds and probabilities, comps, freebies, and casino bonuses, and even recommended books.

I want this blog and guide to be truly comprehensive and useful. I want you to make good decisions based on the information found here, and I want you to win more often than the average gambler.
I'd like to mention a few of the online gambling sites I admire and aspire to be emulate:

(These are in no particular order...)

The Wizard of Odds
Michael Shackleford is a consultant and an expert on odds, probability, and how they relate to casino gaming. He's done consulting for an amazing array of gambling companies, including Shufflemaster, Playtech, and Realtime Gaming. His site offers advice on gambling in general, and specific advice for specific gambling games. He also reviews casino software.

Bryan Bailey owns and operates Casinomeister. The site is a self-proclaimed online casino watchdog site, but unlike a lot of online casino watchdogs, Bryan is really sincere. (Most of them just want you to play at their casinos.) Bryan has a weekly webcast he records in his private studio, and one of the most active gambling forums on the web. His point of view is unique, intelligent, and occasionally even a little bit controversial.

(I did not get to meet Bryan at the Casino Affiliate Convention, which I attended last week, but he's a very tall, very handsome man. Reminded me of George Clooney, only better looking.)

Ted Loh owns and operates Got2Bet. He's one of the nicest, smartest, and most enthusiastic gentlemen I've ever met. His site features real online casino reviews. (Most sites claim to offer reviews, but instead just list a bunch of features that the casino itself offers on its own site.) He also publishes online gaming news and articles.

Play Winning Poker
Steve Badger's site is THE poker site online, as far as I'm concerned. It's loaded with poker strategy articles that were written by Steve himself. (Steve Badger is one of the best Omaha players alive, and the information on that game alone make his website one of the best poker sites around.) His site also includes a large portion of his posts to He's also an old movie buff and an accomplished webmaster.

Two plus Two
Another poker site, this one features the largest and most active poker forum online. It's the home of David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth, who are both professional poker players and who have both written multiple brilliant books on gambling, especially poker. Greg "Fossilman" Raymer attributes much of his success in the WSOP this year to his involvement on their forum.

Blackjack Info
This site contains the most accurate information on blackjack available online. Its unique offering is an interactive engine which will create a basic strategy chart tailored to the rules of whatever game you're playing. I've also met the author of this website, and he's a true gentleman. (As well as being brilliant.) I'm a big fan of his slots website too.
Most Other Online Gambling Portals

Most online gambling sites have one purpose and one purpose only--to get you to sign up for online casinos, poker rooms, or sportsbooks through their affiliate links. They don't generally care about what kind of user experience you have. Banner farms dominate the search engines. And a web gambler like you or me, who are actually looking for real gambling information, have to wade through mountains of online casino ads to get the information they're after.

Some Other Online Gambling Portals

Some gambling sites publish well thought out, factual information that's useful to their visitors. They research their articles carefully, and they publish gambling content that is original and available no where else. Many of them also want you to sign up for the online casinos, poker rooms, and sportsbooks they advertise on their site. But they want you to sign up for them because they've worked hard to earn your respect and your loyalty. We aspire to be like these sites.

My Goals

My goals with this site are simple: to be the #1 source of gambling information online. I want to run a gambling portal which is useful to every user who comes across it. I want to address any and every topic related to gambling under the sun. When I review an online casino, it's going to be an honest review relating my experiences playing at that online casino. When I outline a strategy for an online casino game, it's going to be the best, most logical, and most advantageous strategy I've been able to find.

My personal goal is to have no less than 100 #1 listings in Google and Yahoo for various popular online gambling keywords by this time next year. I plan to do that the old-fashioned "white hat SEO" way--I'm going to write the most comprehensive and best quality content I can on relevant topics, and my content will be so good that people will want to link to the information here because it will be useful to their readers too. And I'll link only to websites who I think will be useful to my readers. (Anyone who wants to support me by adding a link to your site, please feel free.)

What I'm Going to Do

I'm going to include articles about the laws of probability and how they affect (or should affect) which casino games you decide to play. I'll include links to news articles about the online gambling industry and the offline gambling industry too. And I'll include my honest comments. and opinions on these matters. I'll tell you where I'm playing and how much I'm winning or losing. I'll review casinos and poker rooms. I'll give the best info on gambling strategies that I know how to.

And I will run advertising. Like anyone else, I want to earn a living. I hope to earn my readers' loyalty and respect with the content I publish here, and as a result, they'll naturally support me by supporting my advertisers.

Why a Blog on Blogspot?

Mostly because I still have a full time job during the day and haven't learned Frontpage well enough to build a portal. And all the time spent coding and designing a site could be put to better use providing useful information and content to my readers.

Also--this is my grand experiment. Google claims that the keys to getting lots of search engine traffic lie in creating a great user experience, and discourage people from "manipulating" the search engine results. So I'm going to give it my best shot, be the best and most authoritative site on gambling that I possibly can be, and with any luck we'll all be better for it.