How to Gamble With a Chance of Winning
Casinos are filled with games of chance, and in all of these you have some chance of winning. However in nearly every instance the odds are in the house's favour. While you might get lucky occasionally, it's statistically impossible to win in the long run. However there are a couple of notable exceptions to this rule, and by playing smart you can maximize your chance of walking out ahead.
Method 1/3: Find Your Game
A. Consider your goals. Do you want the thrill of winning one big chunk, or would you rather win several smaller pots? Do you need to make a particular amount of money, or is simply playing for a while and coming out ahead enough? How high do the stakes need to be? Are you just looking to have fun in an exciting, social setting? Don't just gamble for no reason - decide what you want to get out of it before start the game.
B. Know which games to avoid. If you want to have a chance of coming out ahead, you need to pick a game that offers you decent odds.
- Avoid roulette, keno and slots. These games involve very little skill, and the house always has an enormous advantage.
- Steer clear of newfangled table games. Virtually all of these are constructed to give the house a significant advantage, and learning the skill elements is more difficult.
- Lottery. Lottery tickets might temp you with the potential of enormous jackpots, but your chances of winning are astronomically low.
- Consider craps. In craps player bet on the outcome of dice roles, either against each other or against the house. By betting on the most likely rolls, you can take out an advantage. By taking odds on a number, you can lower the house edge. There is also a relatively new controversial method for increasing your chance of winning called dice control. Controlled shooters old the belief that they can control the outcome of their rolls by tossing the dice a certain way.
- Try blackjack. Blackjack is one of most basic casino games. You and the house each start with two cards, and then flip over random cards hoping their added value will get closest to 21 without going over. The key is knowing the odds that you will hit the desired sum and betting on those statistics conservatively. Some variations of blackjack can actually give the player the advantage.
- Polish your poker skills. Poker is unique amongst casino games in that you play against the other players, not the house. There are many variations, but usually players bet on the strength of their cards as their hands develop over one or more iterations. More than just chance, it's a game of deception, as the best players learn to use the size of bets to bluff when they have a bad hand, draw others into the pot when they have a good hand and read their opponents to know when to fold.
- Be careful about betting on events that are out of your control. It can be fun to put money on boxing matches, horse races or other sports, but the odds offered are designed to tempt you into betting on long shots. Long shots are bad beds by definition.
Method 2/3: Play Smart
A. Learn the games. If you don't know the rules, you might as well throw your money away. Learning all the rules and nuances of a game helps you understand the odds and bet wisely, not just randomly. Don't trust the casino or other players to explain the rules in a clear and complete way - it may be to their advantage if you miss something.
- Horse Racing
B. Practice. Even if you memorize the rules, playing is the best way to really learn how a game works. So before you put any money on the table, get together with friends and play practice hands until you know the rhythm and flow the game.
- This is especially important in poker, where the game is about more than just understanding the rules.
C. Know the odds. Most games of chance aren't just random - they are statistical. At any given point, some basic match can tell you the probability that you will roll a specific number in craps or flip over one of your "outs" in poker. Learning to make there calculations and playing based on your real odds, not your gut, is the best way to take out an advantage in the long run.
D. Don't bet the farm. Set rules for how much you can put on the table before you go out gambling and yourself stick to these rules. You can lose a lot of money very quickly if you don't give yourself limits and cut your losses when you hit them.
E. Know when to walk away. This can be the hardest part of gambling, especially with games like slots and roulette. Many gamblers will win a few rounds and feel like they are "hot" and can't lose. Don't fall into this trap!! Just because you are on a winning streak, doesn't means the odds are in your favour.
Method 3/3: Beat the Odds
A. Outplay your opponents in poker. Unlike most games of chance, the winner is determined not just by who gets dealt the best cards, but by who can best outplay the others with bluffs reads and careful betting. If you develop good poker skills, and get seated at a table with poor players, you could have a significant advantage.
- Learn the habits of your opponents. Poker involves as much personality as strategy. Some people will always call a bluff, while others can be easily pushed out of a pot by aggressive betting. It takes time to learn these habits, however, so don't get carried away psychoanalysing players you just sat down with.
- Play to your outs. As in all these games, learning to calculate the odds that you will turn over the card you need is the best way to win consistently and avoid long-shot bets.
- Draw in suckers. While bluffing is definitely flashier, a more consistent way to increase your winnings is to wait until you get a good hand and then use strategic betting to draw the others players into betting more than they should.
B. Play the maths in blackjack. Blackjack has enough strategy that you can get ahead if you know what you are doing.
- Know when to split. If you get two different suits of the same card, you can split them into two hands, but this only favour you with certain numbers.
- Never split five - together they add up to 10, which gives you good odds
- Don't split face cards or 10s - they already add up to 20, a great score.
- Always split 7s and 8s.
- Splitting aces is usually good, but casinos often have house rules limiting this.
- Double down when advantageous. Doubling down allows you to double your bet after receiving your first two cards, but requires you to stand after receiving exactly one more card. This lets you make more money when you have a favourable hand compared to dealer. Computer simulations have been run to determine the best situations to double down, so find a chart you trust and memorize it.
- Count cards. Blackjack is famously a game in which it is sometimes possible to count cards. It requires very difficult mental gymnastics, but can confer an advantage when done right. Card counters don't just play each hand as separate and random. Instead they keep track of each card turned over by the dealer, and then calculate by implication which cards are left in the deck. Thus you can know to place a large bet when the remaining cards offer you a mathematical advantage.
- Card counting is technically legal, but casinos often do not allow it. If they suspect you are counting cards, you will be asked to stop playing or leave the casino.
Here's an Example Table of Basic Strategy for Blackjack.