Which casino strategies work in your favour, and which should be avoided?
- Casino strategies that work in your favour include finding the lowest house edges, and practicing bankroll management.
- Importantly, you should avoid employing any version of the Martingale strategy, or falling for the Gambler’s Fallacy.
- Our definitive guide is your one stop resource for casino strategies. You should understand these before placing any further casino bets.
Casino strategies that work
Unlike bingo, there are casino strategies for table games that will be favourable to the player.
1. Place bets with the lowest house edge
The casino house edge is the difference between the true odds and the payout the casino gives the successful player on any given bet.
In order to maximise the expected value of your bet (or have the lowest negative expected value possible), you will want the lowest house edge.
The house edge varies not only from game to game, but within the games themselves as different allowed bets have different edges.
If all allowed bets have a negative expected value within a game, there is no strategy a player can use to win money in the long run in that game.
Roulette: Reducing the house edge from 5.26% to 1.35%
The payout of any single number bet (known as a ‘straight up’ bet) is 35-1. However the true odds are 36-1 in European/French roulette. There are 37 single numbers each with an equal probability of the ball landing. That’s 8 reds, 18 blacks, and 1 zero. In American roulette the true odds are 37-1. There are 38 single numbers each with an equal probability of the ball landing. That’s 18 reds, 18 blacks, a zero, and a double zero.
- The payouts are the same in both versions. But, the true odds are worse in American roulette. Thus, you should favour the European/French version where you have the option.
- Your expected value is −2.7 pence on every £1 bet on a single number. Compare this to -5.26 pence on every £1 bet on a single number in American roulette.
- This is true of red/black bets, odd/even bets, low/high bets too.
- Even better play the UK version, if you play red/black bets, odd/even bets, or low/high bets.
- Only half the bet lost if it lands on the single zero present on the wheel.
- This means your expected value is −1.35 pence on every £1 bet.
- These bets are the best way to maximise your expected value in roulette.
- Only half the bet lost if it lands on the single zero present on the wheel.
Punto banco: Placing bets with only 1.06% edge (and avoiding a 14.4% edge)!
Let’s look at a form of Baccarat called Punto banco (meaning player banker), with 8 decks. This has an expected value of −1.06 pence on every £1 bet on the banco bet. This is after taking account of the ‘commission’ charged on winning banco bets. There’s an expected value of −1.24 pence on every £1 bet on the punto bet. The banco bet is better. This is despite the casino imposing a 5% ‘commission’ on banco wins, as opposed to no commission on punto wins. Avoid the tied bet. This produces an expected value of −4.85 pence on every £1 bet if ties are paid out at 9-1. They are a bigger disaster for the player if the casino pays out ties at 8-1. That produces an expected expected value of −14.4 pence on every £1 bet.
Blackjack: An edge of only 0.5%?
Blackjack, can have an extremely low house edge. However, unlike roulette or punto banco, you need to make decisions during your hand. Making the wrong decisions will increase the casino’s edge. You can memorise perfect blackjack strategy (that is making the best decisions without card counting information). The exact edge you have will vary according to the rules of the game. There are many possible variations of the rules.
If playing online, you don’t need to memorise the perfect strategy. This is because you could just have it on a piece of paper, or on your screen. Even in brick and mortar casinos, many will probably not mind if you have consult your notes on perfect strategy. Some many even have leaflets with it on. If this is too much work, you might be better off playing a game with higher house edge, but no decisions for you to make apart from selecting your bet (e.g. the banker bet in punto banco).
Blackjack: Is a PLAYER edge of upto 2% possible through card counting?
Card counting is a method used in blackjack by players aiming to give themselves an edge. Some players can achieve an edge over the casino of upto 2%. However, card counting requires effort, and casinos may take steps to stop you. Card counting won’t work where online casinos shuffle after every hand.
2. Manage your bankroll
We have a comprehensive explanation of effective bankroll management in our ‘3 Sports Betting Mistakes To Avoid’ definitive guide. All the principles apply to casino betting (or any form of gambling).
Casino strategies that won’t work
Casino betting strategies usually rely on changing the value of your bet after each win or loss.
Negative progression means increasing your bet after every loss. Positive progression means increasing your bet after every win.
Consider games where there is no bet possible with a positive expected value (i.e. every bet has an house edge). No strategy could ever be designed to allow the player to win in the long run. Common casino games such as roulette, punto banco, and craps are all designed like this. It is possible to have a winning strategy at blackjack. But, this involves card counting which requires effort. Many live casinos may try and stop you, and online the software can make this impossible.
1. Thinking you can place a 0% casino house edge in craps
You may have heard that in craps there are bets with an expected value of −0.00 pence per £1 bet. But, these bets cannot be placed independently of another bet which has a negative expected value. As such, importantly the overall expectation is negative.
2. Using the Martingale strategy
The Martingale strategy is perhaps the best example of the negative progression casino betting strategies. The Martingale strategy involves doubling the amount of the previous bet after every loss. The thought behind this strategy is that if you eventually win, you recover earlier losses and make a small profit. However, it is entirely possible for the you to lose several bets in a row. As you keep doubling you may hit your financial limit or the casino’s limit, before a winning bet.
The Reverse Martingale strategy involves doubling the amount of the previous bet after every win. This is an example of the positive progression casino betting strategies. You are guaranteed to lose all your money, if you keep playing. This is due the negative expected value of every bet.
3. Not understanding the Gambler;s Fallacy
The gamblers fallacy is the inaccurate idea that if an event has occurred more often in the past than one might expect, it will occur less often in the future. Alternatively, if an event has occurred less often in the past than one might expect, it will occur more often in the future.
Playing roulette (in a fair game), the ball lands on 9 black numbers in a row. Is the next spin more likely to be either black or red? Some players mistakenly think the answer is red. Infact, it is equally likely to be red or black. This fallacy may cause them to unnecessarily lose money. They illogically place bigger bets on red, the more often they see blacks.
Not understanding the gamblers fallacy will lead many a gambler to lose money unnecessarily.
The gamblers fallacy in action in Monte Carlo in 1913
In August 1913 26 blacks occurred in a row on a roulette wheel at Monte Carlo Casino. While this was happening, many players lost money. They were placing big bets on red, incorrectly thinking it was due. Thus, a common name of the Gamblers Fallacy is the Monte Carlo fallacy.
The past is not an indicator of the future
The flaw with this idea is that every spin in roulette is independent. The game does not remember what has happened before. That is to say you cannot look at past results, and use this to predict the future. Imagine the wheel lands on 5 black numbers in a row. The next spin is still equally likely to be either black or red. There are no patterns you can look out for, and base your betting system on.
Reverse gamblers fallacy
The Reverse Gamblers fallacy, is the wrong assumption that just because there has been 9 blacks in a row, the next spin is more likely to be black. Every spin is independent. If you decide to bet bigger than usual on the next spin being a black, this is a bad strategy.
This may surprise you!
- However, we would actually recommend betting on black, if you see a situation like this.
- Why? The next spin is 50-50 to be red or black if the equipment was fair. However, there is a extremely small chance there may be a problem with the equipment (or software).
- Betting on black for this reason IS a rational decision. Just don’t bet bigger than you would have done without this observation. Also, don’t bet if you weren’t planning on doing so anyway without this observation. Any of these would be falling for the fallacy!