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Whether you are a casual gambler or someone with dreams of making a living from the cards, there are basic things you should know if you want to leave the casino with money in your pocket.

For many, an evening at the casino is a fun way to pass the time with friends or loved-ones. Playing a few card games or dropping coins into the slot machine is fun, who cares if you lose $50 dollars? For others, gambling is a business venture. Even if they don’t make a living at the blackjack table, leaving with a hole in their pocket means the night was a failure.

Whether you play for fun or to pad your bank account, I’m guessing you wouldn’t have a problem with winning a few dollars during your next visit. Here are a few tips from those who know how to get a little skin off the house, instead of the other way around:

Stick to games of skill

Games of chance are always rigged so that the house takes in a lot more money than it pays out. Any casino strategy expert knows this, so they avoid taking chances on these games. The list of no-nos includes slots and roulette.

Slot payouts are determined by a computer program built into the machine, and even the most player-friendly machines have a house edge of 5 percent, lower than most table games. That means that the casino keeps $5 of every $100 put into the machines.

In the US, each state has laws on the house edge of slot machines. In New Jersey a casino can keep up to 17 percent of what is wagered, and in Nevada up to 25 percent. In either case, slots are one of the worst bets in the casino.

Roulette is another game of chance with a high house edge, around 17 percent in the American “double zero” version. While you can potentially land a high payout, your chances of winning are only 1/38 in American and 1/37 in French roulette.

Learn blackjack advantage play

Blackjack is the quintessential casino game for good reason. It’s fun, involves a lot of strategy and has a house edge of only .5 percent for basic strategy players. But what that really means is, even if you make the right decision every time, the casino is going to keep some of your money in the long term.

So if you want a blackjack strategy that will help you gain an edge over the house, learn advantage play. This includes things like card counting systems, shuffle tracking and learning to read dealer tells. All of these techniques are legal but banned from many casinos, so be careful not to get caught. But if you really want to win at the casino, learn them.

Go with higher stakes option in each game

Every casino game is more favorable to players who make larger wagers. For example, a $5 slot machine pays out more than a penny slot, and a $50 minimum bet blackjack table has a lower house edge than a $15 minimum table.

Why do low stakes games have higher house edges? Very simple. It takes the casino a long time to take money off you, so they tweak the rules the increase the margin that they win each hand.

At Caesar’s Palace on the Vegas Strip, the house edge at the $15 minimum table is .78 percent, one of the worst you’ll find in Vegas. By contrast, the $100 minimum table has an edge of .28 percent, one of the lowest.

How do they do it? The $100 game allows players to make a variety a moves not allowed in the $15 game, and the dealer stands on a soft 17, one of the most player-friendly rules in blackjack.

Take a pass on betting systems, learn strategy instead

The internet and bookstores are full of “betting system proven to win” and “simple system guaranteed to minimize losses.” Some popular examples include the Martingale (which is predicated on the idea the wins and losses equalize over time), the Reverse Martingale, the Labouchere and the Dalembert (similar to the Martingale).

One thing to note is that the people who write the stuff make their living selling books, not gambling in casinos. These systems don’t work because unless you are counting cards at a blackjack table you can’t reasonably predict the outcome of the next hand. In effect, they provide something fun to keep your mind occupied while you stick to a losing blackjack strategy.

It may sound old fashioned, but the best way to win at a game is to play it properly. This means putting in painstaking hours of work at home learning rules and basic strategy, then moving on to the more advance stuff before taking your chances at a casino. It requires time and effort, but you won’t meet a successful casino gambler who didn’t pay their dues in the beginning.


The short story to leaving the casino with more than you came in with: do your homework. Know which games are player friendly and which aren’t, sticking to those with lower house edges.

Once you have settled on a game (psst: blackjack is the best!) take the time to learn the ins and outs, starting with basic strategy before moving on to advantage play. When it comes to the world of casino gambling, knowledge truly is power.