Exhortations from Vegas: Making sense of the world’s worst gambling
Having spent much of my adult entertainment in and out of casinos, both online and on land, I’ve met a lot of fellow gambling enthusiasts. Once you get them talking, you’ll find that every gambler has a story, and a piece of advice to go with it. As for the value of that advice, well… let’s just say there’s two sides to every coin.
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Most casino advice you’ll hear on the gaming floor is the
superstitious variety. I suggest ignoring this for the most part. If
you want to wear red, bring a lucky rabbit’s foot, or take chances
when the number 13 appears, so be it. Today’s erroneous exhortations
have more to do with information meant to slide the scale’s of
advantage in one direction or another.
The World’s Worst Gambling Tips
Have you ever heard that blackjack is only good for pros? Were you
told that slot machines only pay out to long-term players, high
rollers, and/or comp-earning club card members? Did you hear of a
guaranteed-winning betting system? Maybe you got the impression that
online casinos are all rigged? Find out how prominent these and other
tall tales are, and why they’re all phenomenally false.
Don’t Play Blackjack If You Can’t Count Cards
Some casino games tend to carry an aura of professionalism. It’s
created a stereotype in which some people believe – and falsely
spread that belief – that only the best players can win those
games. Blackjack is certainly among them. I’ve heard it said on
numerous occasions that anyone who can’t count cards shouldn’t play
Why, you ask? Because, they insist, if you’re not going to count
cards, you won’t get enough value; you’ll be throwing your money way.
This is absolutely ridiculous. No, you won’t achieve a positive
expectation without counting cards, but even with the most basic
strategy, blackjack is among the lowest house edge games in the
casino. You’d be far better off playing blackjack than any other
table game, and most machine-based games except for a few forms of
Only Avid Players Win Slot Machines
I’ve been told by more than a few so-called slot machine veterans
that those games are mighty picky. They only pay the big jackpots out
to avid players – those that spend the most time and money on
slots, or that have built up an extravagant amount of comp points.
This doesn’t sound too crazy until you consider that a slot machine
would have to have an opinion of people. It would have to be
selective, choosing who is and is not worthy of a win. This is a
ridiculous notion. Slot machines are computers that pay out prizes
entirely at random based on the protracted algorithms of a complex
random number generator. They do not have brains or preferential
opinions of the people who play them.
Don’t Play Online – The Games are Rigged
Another ludicrous myth is that online casinos are rigged to take
players’ money. Let’s think about that for a moment. Aren’t all
casinos rigged to take a player’s money? Every house-banked game
comes with a negative expectation. Luck is required to win more than
you lose (as is discipline to stop when you’re ahead). Why would
online casinos need to be rigged with a higher edge to ensure they
In truth, the majority of them are perfectly safe, secure, upright
businesses. It wasn’t always that way, but regulation and dogged
player responsibility have become the norm. Avoiding the online
gambling realm altogether is not necessary.
What is necessary is due diligence. Players should do their research
and only join website’s that are properly licensed and regulated in
respectable jurisdictions like the UK, Canada, and pretty much
anywhere in Europe. Beyond that, it’s a crap shoot. Simply put,
online casinos are as safe as the players who use them.
Realistically, a properly licensed and regulated online casino can be
more generous towards players than a land-based casino. Table games
have probability-based RTPs, but slot machines can be programmed to
whatever the manufacturer and operator mutually deem fit. And since
online casinos have far less overhead to pay, the typical 85-90% RTP
of land-based casino slot machines is increased to an average RTP of
This Betting System is Guaranteed to Win!
This has got to be some of the worst gambling advice ever uttered.
Not just because it’s incorrect, but because it’s so widespread.
There are some that will tell you using the right betting system will
guarantee you a win. But believe me, if that were possible, casinos
would have gone out of business long ago.
In its most basic form, the concept sounds simple. Double your bet
until you win. Eventually you have to win back one bet unit, then
repeat the process. But this is why casino’s enforce min/max table
limits. Once you lose 7 bets in a row, you’re done for. You won’t be
able to double your bet again, and you’ll have lost an exorbitant
amount of money for it!
All other betting systems, regardless of their bet-sizing schematics,
are equally flawed. Positive progression, negative progression, they
all lead to long-term losses.
Roulette – Red or Black is Due for a Win
This erroneous casino tip ranks right up there with betting systems.
Many players tend to believe that if Red hasn’t won in a stretch of
spins, it must be due to win next. Some will stake everything they
have on that belief. But it doesn’t work that way.
Much like a slot machine’s lack of an opinionated mentality, roulette
games have no conscious. They do not remember what happened last, and
do not exhibit a preference in what should happen next. Every spin of
the roulette wheel is a singular event, irrespective of history.
There’s no such thing as any game – roulette, baccarat, slot
machines, etc. – being “due” for any particular performance.
Those who believe otherwise are prime candidates for future problem
Hedge Your Bets to Eliminate Risk
Hedging your bets is a term born of the financial trading world,
wherein a person can sometimes make two investments that offset one
another. The idea is to reduce the risk so far that you either break
even or win, but will not lose. I hear this term used all the time in
casinos, but realistically, it doesn’t apply.
One could say that hedging your bets would be to wager on red and
black in roulette. If there were no zero(s), this would guarantee no
losses, but also no winnings. Because there is a zero (if not two of
them), you’re actually guaranteeing no win, while risking a double
A more appropriate (but equally inapplicable) way to explain it would
be wagering on First Dozens (1-12) and Second Dozens (13-24) in
European Roulette. You’re picking 24 of 37 numbers, which does have a
higher than 50% chance of winning. However, you’re risking 2 bet
units to win 1 bet unit, thereby failing to move the house edge from
its original 2.7% position. In no way shape or form does this reduce
or eliminate risk.
Gambling is All About Luck
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not contradicting myself here. I did state
above that a gambler must get lucky to walk away a winner, and I
stand by that statement. But to say that gambling is all about luck
is preposterous. If that were the case, there would be no such thing
as an effective gambling strategy. Those who play the right games
with the right strategy will win more often than those who do not.
That is not to say, however, that a strategic player will win more
than they lose. It would be more accurate to say that a strategic
player will lose less than a non-strategic player, providing
themselves more opportunities to get lucky.
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