Most people gamble at a math disadvantage when playing. The odds are against them in the long run. Where this disadvantage comes from depends on your preferred gambling activity.
And when you play casino games, the downside is the difference between the payout percentages and the odds of winning. In roulette, for example, a bet on black pays off for the same money, but you have a slightly less than 50% chance of winning.
However, experienced players only bet if they have a mathematical advantage. The techniques that they use to achieve this math advantage are known as advantage play techniques.
Some of them are more difficult than others, but most of these beneficial playing techniques are within the realm of possibilities for those of average intelligence who are willing to take the effort to learn them.
Here are my favorite expert playing techniques that are worth trying out.
Play expert poker
Perhaps the easiest way to get an edge while gambling is to play poker at an expert level. Everyone knows that poker is a game of skill.
Here's how experienced players get an advantage:
They only put money into the pot when they have a math advantage.
So think about it. If you played eight other players in a no-rake poker game such as a home game, you would break even in the long run if all the players were as skilled as you.
However, if you've played in a game where you're twice as good as all of the other eight players, you are making long-term profit.
Card counting in blackjack
In general, blackjack has a house edge of around 2.5% – at least the way most people play. However, if you learn and master the basic strategy, you can reduce this edge to 0.5% to 1%.
Basic strategy is just the mathematically correct game in every possible blackjack situation.
But if the house still has an edge, even if it is much lower than usual, then you have no edge. Gambling is only beneficial when you have an advantage over the other party, whether it be the casino or the other player or whatever.
The most common way to gain an edge over the casino is by counting cards in blackjack. Blackjack's unique features make it a game you can play like an expert.
Here are 2 reasons why it is worth paying attention:
- You pay 3 to 2 every time you get a two-card hand totaling 21
- The composition of the deck changes when the cards are dealt
Think about it:
The only way to get blackjack, a two-card hand with a total of 21, is to get an ace and a 10. If you took all other cards out of the deck except the aces and tens you would end up in a situation where you would get more of a natural one.
When playing blackjack hands, these lower cards sometimes outweigh the higher cards and vice versa.
Another way to gain an advantage in blackjack is to find out the dealer's hole card. The dealer's hole card is the face down card.
If you use a mirror or device to detect this card you are cheating and there is a difference between cheating and advantage play.
However, if the dealer accidentally reveals their hole card and you are smart enough to recognize and use that card, use only the best information available to gain an edge over the casino.
Hole carding is commonly used in blackjack, but it can also be used to gain an advantage in some other casino card games. Three Card Poker and Caribbean Stud Poker are also games where you can get an edge through hole carding.
Shuffle tracking in blackjack
Shuffle tracking is a technique in which you track certain cards or card courses during the shuffling process. It is primarily used in blackjack, although shuffle tracking is used in other casino card games as well.
It's easier to use shuffle tracking in games with simple shuffling techniques. This makes shuffle tracking more effective in a game with 6 or 8 decks dumped from one shoe. Ironically, when it comes to card counting, you prefer fewer decks.
But shuffle tracking is also a way to improve your existing card counting strategy. It is also often used as a team technique. A player counts a section of the deck or a "zone".
If you can find a zone that is beneficial to the player – rich in aces and tens – you can change the size of your bets when cards are dealt from that zone.
Expert video poker play
One of the cool things about video poker is that you can use the paytable to calculate the expected return on a game.
This is what sets video poker apart from slot machines. You know the odds of getting a particular card in video poker, which you don't know when looking at symbols in a slot machine.
But the average person cannot do this with pencil and paper. Fortunately, you don't have to. Computer programmers and video poker experts have already done the math for you.
And while there are dozens, maybe hundreds, of variations of video poker, the number of paytables is limited. The best payout tables together with the mathematically best decisions result in a game with an expected return of over 100%.
By identifying these games, finding them, and playing them with the perfect video poker strategy, you will gain an edge over the house.
Another technique for gaining an edge over the casino is to find a game with a payback percentage close to 100% and only play if the rewards program offers higher than normal payouts. These additional discounts of around 0.4% can turn a game with a 99.7% payback percentage into a game with an effective payback percentage of 100.4%.
The edges you get when playing video poker as an expert are generally too small to make a living on.
Casino and slot machine manufacturers can also count on video poker paytables, making them less likely to make and install games that they do not have an advantage on.
Some video poker games offer a progressive jackpot. Because the payback percentage for a video poker game (or slot machine game) is a function of the payouts combined with the probability of hitting those payouts, you can calculate the size of the progressive jackpot that is required to make a video poker game positive Result to make anticipation game.
For example, if you play 9/6 jacks or better, you are playing a game with a payback percentage of 99.54%. But as the jackpot for a royal flush grows over time, that number increases.
The payout for a royal flush is usually 800 for 1.
Once it grows to 976 for 1, the game becomes an even money offer.
The higher the payout, the better the game will be for the player.
The breakeven point changes when the rest of the paytable changes too.
Most Jacks or Better progressive games have 8/5 paytables instead of 9/6 paytables. You need a much higher payout for that top jackpot to hit that break-even point – 1733 for 1 instead of 976 for 1.
You probably already know that the house edge in craps is really small. When you combine the odds bet, the house edge becomes even smaller. You wouldn't have to be too specific to affect the results of the dice rolls to change the odds of winning from in favor of the casino in your favor.
The problem is, I haven't seen any credible evidence that people can really use dice control in a casino setting. The casinos don't seem too concerned that their craps countermeasures will be overcome by dice experts.
Compare their reaction (no reaction at all) to the dice control with their reaction to card counting.
If you still want to try this, you might be able to make some cash from it. You need to watch some videos and spend hours practicing in your basement or garage.
Remember, it will take a lot of tries before you can be sure that you will be successful. You also need to run ice water through your veins.
Shooting dice in your basement with perfect control is not like shooting dice with perfect control in a casino. In the casino, you have a lot of distractions.
If you've been paying attention, you have probably noticed that while these playing techniques can give you a math advantage, none of them are easy.
Most of them are pretty tough, in fact.
But if you have the desire and willingness to put the work into it, you can certainly become an expert on gambling. I think your best option is to become a professional poker player, but you may have a different attitude and temperament than me.
Which beneficial playing techniques looked easier for you and which were the most difficult for you? Are you planning to try any of these for yourself?