Saturday, April 12, 2008

Top 10 Bets in the Casino

Well tax season is over. Not to mention we will all get a fat rebate of our prior taxes. Now the merits of this rebate may be debatable, but on a personal level, I'm glad to be getting some of my money back since the government seems to be throwing it away anyway. So what to do with that fat cash? Save it? Naaaaah, that won't help the economy. I'm gonna spend it. But why spend it when I can parlay that chicken feed into some real scratch. That's why I like going to Wendover. Wendover for those of you who read my blog but are not from Utah, is a town in eastern Nevada that is the closest to Salt Lake City that allows Gambling. It's Salt Lake's Vegas. There are 5 casino's owned by 3 companies. They have jets that fly retiree's from Texas in during the week and the Salt Lakers go there on the weekends.

No! of course I don't think I'm going to win, I am pleasantly surprised when I do, but I'm not surprised often. The reasons I go are many, but a couple are the people you see, and the numbers and math associated with the gambling. Here is the first most basic rule of every casino. I've said it before, I'll say it again. The Casino wins when you win. This idea is of course counter to what people think, but it's the truth. Lets take a look at one of the simplest bets in the casino. Red/Black on the Roulette Wheel. Plunk down your money on red or black, watch the little ball roll around and if it lands on a number colored the same way your bet is, you are the winner! 1/2 of the numbers are red, the other half are black. Well MOST of the numbers are red and black, there is at least one (most of the time two) zero that is green. so 36 numbers plus 1 '0'. Well that zero is what makes the house win. because the actual odds of you getting red or black are not 50/100, they are really 18/37 or 48.6 percent. Just a hair less than 50/100. So when you bet say 48.6 dollars, and you win, you will get 48.6 dollars but you SHOULD be getting 50 dollars because that is what the real odds of winning that bet are. Sim Sala bim, there you have it. The whole formula for the casino. Pretty simple eh? So why do people go? Because it's fun, and sometimes you win.

So I wanna go gamble, but I don't want to lose a bunch of money, what are the best bets/things to do? Well, I'm glad you came. Here are the top 10 best bets/things about going gambling in the Casino. I might go into a little bit of math, but I'll try to stay away from it. Suffice to say, I'm trying to give you the best bets in the casino.

10. Free Drinks - Hey! That's not a bet! No, but it is what casino's offer and it's widely known that they will give players drinks for nothing. Of course they hope that it's alcoholic because then you will not feel as bad about betting your hard earned cash. You don't have to get an alcoholic beverage, you can ask for virgin drinks and diet coke or bottled water. It's not much, but it is free.

9. Baccarat - Bet on the Bank. James Bond's Game of choice, and favored game of many a wealthy big fish. You can bet on the Player or you can bet on Tie too. Don't. Always bet on the bank. The bet is even money (50/50). but you have to pay the bank 5% of your winnings. Why is this a good bet? Because any bet that you have to pay to win with means there isn't much of an advantage for the house, so they have to charge you for winning. You don't have to pay to win on the player side, that's because there is enough edge for the house. We won't even talk about tie. Sucker bet on par with any bet in Roulette.

8. Players club cards. - That's not a bet! Oh yes it is, but it's one you have to make carefully. Here's the deal. Nearly every industry in the late 80's decided that the 'frequent flyer' idea was an incredible one. For giving you a little bit back, they can keep you buying from them even if they aren't the best deal in town...Genius. Well casinos didn't take long to buy into this. You get a players club card and you stick it in every slot (yuck) machine you pull. But also, you give it to the dealer when you cash in your money. They record how much you cash in and then they give you 'cash back' in the form of vouchers for rooms, buffets, restaurants etc. This is a calculated amount of money based on how much money you cash in. Here's the tip: Take in a boatload of money and cash it in and just play with the money you wanted to play with. 500 bucks still goes in the computer. so you get more faster.

7. Pai-Gow Poker - This game is a lot of fun. BUT you have to learn poker hands. you play against the house and it's another one of those games that makes you pay money every time you win. If you win and must pay, that means there isn't much of an edge. The coolest thing about this game is you can show the dealer your hand and ask them how they would set it up. Easy and fun. It's a slow moving game as well, so you won't go broke too quick. They started making a few other bets available in this game and they should pretty much be ignored. The bonus bet is nothing but a bonus for the House. Basically if you get a good hand, and you have the bonus bet, you will get you bet times whatever based on the hand you have. The problem is, the best pay out is 8000 to 1. so for a 5 dollar bet you could win 40000. Sounds like a good deal? Well the hand you have to get is a 7 card straight flush with no jokers. This is insanely difficult. So difficult that the odds are more like 5 million to one against you getting it. That's an approximation. So when the house pays you, they are keeping about 4.96 million for themselves. Talk about a sucker bet. Oh yeah, this game CAN be played with dominoes, never played it that way, and never learned so I can't say.

5. BlackJack - Well we are not all from MIT and we don't all have a photographic memory and yet Blackjack is a game you can play that is a near 50/50 bet IF YOU PLAY PERFECTLY. Of course most people don't play perfect blackjack and so those odds are elevated in the houses favor. The coolest thing about blackjack is that every time you get a black jack, you get 1 1/2 times your bet back. I know this isn't news, but it's really cool that they do that AND you don't have to pay extra for it. Other bet? Yeah, a lot of casinos have this goofy bet that's called Royal Match. If you get 2 of the same suit, you win 3-1 on your money. Oh wait, there are 4 different suits so what's the house edge? about 10% (yes there's more to it, but it's not worth describing. It's another sucker bet, but fun to make once in a while if you are winning)

6. Craps - The field - Craps is by far the funnest game in the casino. It's the only game where you get to handle the instruments of your financial destruction...the dice. someone once told me that on any given roll there are 50 ways to win money and 75 ways to lose money. I don't know if that's true, BUT there is one bet that is easy to make and easy to make money from. THE FIELD. Here is the bet. d-2 3 4 9 10 11 t-12. What the heck are those numbers? those are the numbers that pay you from the field. the d in front of the 2 stands for double and the t in front of the 12 is triple. DO NOT BET THIS BET UNLESS THERE IS A TRIPLE ON IT. The triple makes the odds very managable. You don't have to do any of the other bets in craps, you can just let them go by and stay confused. Of course there are a few other bets there that are even better ;). Just remember to watch your bet and make sure they pay it (they will pay next to last) sometimes they forget.

5. Craps - Pass Line - This bet is what you have to make in order to roll the bones. You must make a pass line bet. This bet is an even money bet (50/50) that says you will 'pass' if you roll a 7 or 11 on the first roll of the dice (come out). if you roll a 2,3 or 12, you loser your bet. Every other number rolled creates what's known as a point. This point must then be rolled before you roll a seven on subsequent rolls. for example; Roll - 5. 5 is now the point. next roll 3 Nothing happens. you neither win nor lose. next roll 11 nothing still, next roll 8, nothing. next roll 5. You win your money! yay! OR next roll 7 you loose your money...booo...

3. Craps - Don't Pass Line - Wait, didn't I just tell you to bet the pass line? Yes I did, but this bet is just as much fun and even more fun if you like to piss off your gambling buddies. Ok, remember what I told you about the pass line? well reverse it and that's the don't Pass. Now you win on a 3 or 12 (why not 2? because this would make it free bet that the house doesn't make money on, and they house doesn't really like those kind of bets) or if the roller rolls a 7 before they roll the point. So you win when everyone else looses. In gambling parlance, this is known as the dark side. If you want to know how it feels to be be an undertaker, bet the don't side ;). Oh yeah, the Don't pass line has a little bit better chance of winning as well.

2. Don't go - I guess I really should put this down for number one. Here's the deal. There is an old casino saying (casino's are the biggest hotbed of superstition there is) that goes...Scared money never wins. So if you are afraid to make the wager, you'd best not be betting. Other people like the thrill of the possible loss and they don't mind the outcome when it's bad. I have a horrible track record gambling. I win about 1 out of 5 times more or less. Sometimes I wish i hadn't gone, not because of the money, but because of the losing. I hate losing consistently at anything, not so much that I stop going though, I never risk that much to begin with, and I don't mind the losses as long as I win sometimes. Every once in a while you'll find Mr. smart guy that says 'you know how I double my money?' and he pulls out his fat wad of ones and folds it in half and puts it in his pocket. If you meet that person, blow a raspberry directly in their face for me.

1. Craps - Odds - Odds? what kind of bet is this? The formal term for the bet is called free odds. It is an additional bet you place behind your pass line bet (see good bet number 5 or 6) It is the only known place in the casino where you are paid exactly what you should be paid based on the chances of the outcome. It's outlandish really. Whatever happened to not giving a sucker an even break? Anyway, you can usually bet as much as 10 times your pass line bet on the free odds bet. So if you are playing this way, always bet the smallest amount possible on the pass line, and the largest amount possible (up to 3 times, beyond that it's diminishing returns). If you ask the Stick men, they'll try to explain it to you.

Sorry that last one was a bit technical, but it really is the best bet in the casino. If you don't understand it, just invite me to go gambling with you. I'll explain it all till you want to hit me in the teeth (please don't).

Thanks for reading!


Swamp Things said...

Okay...good blog, but I couldn't tell if you were going to blow all of your money on Roulette or on some other game.

Scoops Mangum said...

I was wondering when you would be doing a Vegas piece. Nice work!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this.

Anonymous said...

Great post but you should get rid of that part about playing the field. That's a suckers bet.

Macotar said...

I would love to argue the point of the field being a suckers bet. I would say this, the field has a 2.7% house edge when played as I recommended (2 times pay on 2, 3 times pay on 12). 2.7% is a pretty darn low % for the house. The tables are outlined here: