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Everything You Need to Knowto Start. Taking a Quick Stroll Through the Casino. Probability, Odds, and a Bit of Luck: What You Needto Succeed.
Managing Your Money in a Casino. Minding Your Gambling Manners. Conquering the Table Games. Will Bluff for Food: The Easiest Game to Beat: Not Just For High Rollers: Scoring Big in Video Poker.
Striking the Mother Lode: From the Cubs to the Bears: More than Just the Derby: Betting on Horse Racing. In this chapter I explain and prepare you for what to expect when you step foot into a casino and give you not only a glimpse of the razzle-dazzle designed to distract you but also the blueprint of the typical casino.
I explain why this goes here, that goes there, and with whom you interact. From neon signs to valets to the smooth hum of the slidingglass doors, the modern casino entrance is designed to attract you.
Every possible consideration is given to design, color, and lighting. Like a siren call, the sounds of winning jackpots beckon you onward, as do the color schemes, floral arrangements, glittering lights, slot machines, and table games.
The master plan behind the traffic flow is to bring you and your wallet into close proximity with the slot machines or table games at every opportunity.
The pulsating pace of the gambling world is seductive and makes it hard for you to leave a winner. Feeling overwhelmed — and not a little manipulated?
It can be deflating to discover that the sounds, sights, and even smells are devised to lull you into a mesmerized state where you continue emptying your wallet into the casino coffers.
Embrace them, because knowledge is power. And by understanding the psychology of casino design and getting to know the employees who perform their duties within the casino, you put yourself in a better position not only to enjoy the casino as an entertaining leisure activity but also to maintain the level-headedness and critical thinking required to succeed at your gambling ventures.
Your mission — if you choose to accept it — is to educate yourself before you enter these temples of chance. Even at the smaller clubs, you recognize many of the same aesthetic and functional characteristics found at the megaresorts.
Taking a Quick Stroll Through the Casino and they design the interiors to make their guests comfortable with parting with their cash.
This section takes a stroll through a typical casino to prepare you for the sights and sounds you encounter when you walk through those neon-bathed doorways.
Preparation is the key for maintaining control. Remember that gambling is the ultimate impulse buy. Taking away the mystique is your first step toward improving your odds and coming out a winner.
I suggest that, in addition to the virtual walk-through you get by reading this chapter, you do the same in every brick-and-mortar establishment you visit before you drop your first dollar on the table or pump a coin in a slot.
Stand still, take a deep breath, and look around. Getting in is the easy part It may surprise you how fast you can find yourself in the middle of the sensory hurricane on the casino floor.
In less restrictive states, such as Nevada and New Jersey, you can walk in off the street or get dropped off by a taxi and find yourself a few feet away from the gaming areas.
After all, casinos want as little as possible to stand between you and your favorite game. But most casinos give you a chance to catch your breath and do some mental stretching prior to plunging into the action.
When you walk in, you often find yourself in a lobby or foyer. Remember that most casinos are also hotels, so you may see familiar sights, such as the concierge, bell desk, and check-in counter.
People bustle about and crowd together before they find the destinations suited for them. While some gamblers are anticipating the excitement just steps away, others are exiting with delirious grins on their faces — or expressions of shock and awe.
At the threshold of the gaming floor, the sounds, colorful lights, and crowd energy all go to work on your senses, even from a distance.
Just like an infant reaching for bright colorful objects, casino visitors gravitate to the sights and sounds of the casino floor.
Interior design is to a casino floor plan what aerodynamics is to automobile manufacturers; forward movement is a result of an ever-expanding array of enticements including colors that dazzle, lights that entice, and a temperature 27 28 Part I: Everything You Need to Know to Start scientifically controlled for maximum comfort.
You quickly find that every destination in a casino — the guest elevators, the bathrooms, or the buffet — requires that you walk through or dangerously near the gaming areas.
Slot machines and video poker stations are positioned just inside the casino entrance. The boys in marketing put them here so you can test the waters and feel the rush a quarter at a time — getting your feet wet right at the casino entrance.
Up ahead you see the casino proper, a virtual indoor carnival buzzing with excitement. You can almost feel the energy pulsing.
Place them and they will come As you enter the casino proper, you see hopeful gamblers, often two-deep, standing in line, patiently waiting their turn to reap the spitting, buzzing payoffs from the slot machines.
You operate the slot machines by pushing the buttons or yanking down on the lever to the side. Larger casinos hold aisle after aisle of slots, like rows of corn.
Casinos typically place the most profitable slot machines within easy access to the main traffic aisles, such as the foyer, restaurants, and bars, and are extremely careful to place high-hit frequency slots within earshot of the thronging masses.
If you venture farther onto the casino floor, you can see this philosophy in action. Clusters of people sit at the corner slots, sometimes two-deep as the individuals standing in line patiently await their turn to enjoy the spitting, buzzing payoffs.
As you venture down the aisles of slots, you may find a few open machines, but not many. As one row ends, another aisle begins. Some of the most popular machines are Double Diamond and Wheel of Fortune.
See Chapter 12 for more slot info. Penetrating the inner circle Just as the sun is the center of the solar system, the table games rest in the middle of the casino system, attracting visitors ever inward and at the same time providing the main source of energy and vitality to the floor.
Table games are grouped together into areas known in casino lingo as pits. The pits are separated from slot machines, restaurants, and other casino functions by a wide aisle, allowing nonplayers to watch the action and vicariously enjoy the thrill of turning over the winning card or nailing the winning roll.
The classic card game is often played in a separate room to create a more civilized and secluded atmosphere; see Chapter Determine your own fate with smart decisions and timely double downs; see Chapter 7.
Roll the dice and hear the crowd roar in the most boisterous game on the floor; see Chapter 8. Pick a number, place your bet, and then watch the spinning wheel go round and round; see Chapter 9.
They feature fancy amenities, such as private cocktail servers or a bar. But most table games are designed for moderate bettors.
The intimate nature of the poker table beckons would-be strategists, while the smoky haze surrounding a blackjack game cries out to the novice with its lack of intimidation.
A large casino may offer numerous bars interspersed throughout the floor, each with a unique theme. Some feature live music, and some are simply service bars where you can take a quick pit stop away from the flow of traffic.
Casino bars are in the midst of the lively pits. Casinos profit from the fact that alcohol lubricates the ATM card.
But no casino wants drunk patrons, so the line they walk is a delicate one, and the policy on pushing alcohol consumption may vary from place to place.
In addition, every state has different laws governing alcohol consumption inside its casinos, so there is no single unifying rule about how alcohol is handled inside betting areas.
The drinking environment varies widely, so the smartest play is to find a scene that suits your tastes, and always strive to stay in complete control.
Where you can cheer for a horse or a home run In Nevada, most casinos have a sports book, an area devoted to betting on sporting events such as horse races or ball games.
In smaller casinos, the sports book may be nothing more than a counter with a tote board hung behind it.
But the larger casinos have super-sized rooms full of amenities designed for anyone willing to put his money where his mouth is. The newer places, such as the Wynn in Las Vegas, really roll out the red carpet for bettors.
Their sports book features leather sofas, couches, and chairs that are so comfortable, you could fall asleep there. Before you doze off, read Chapter 15, which tells you everything you need to know about sports betting, from deciphering the odds, to placing a bet, to hopefully!
Not ready to place a bet just yet? The sports books are open to everyone. You can pay and tip them with chips from the casino or cash.
You need to visit one of the many restaurants to chow down. Highly trained and supremely trusted casino employees handle more cash each shift than most people see in a lifetime.
This location also offers a beneficial side effect that casinos are happy to take advantage of. Casinos typically locate them along the sides of the rooms to allow the more valuable floor space for games.
Here, much like at a bank, one or more tellers deal with the public through a window. Depending on how big a player you are and the type of games you want to attack, you may want to ask for a line of credit.
These workers simultaneously cater to the needs of the guests and the casino owners. No matter who they are, the casino employees all have one goal in common: In this section, I introduce you to the pleasant cast of characters you may encounter, and I explain their unique roles.
Serving the table players As you explore the responsibilities of the various casino personnel, it helps to split the casino into two parts: The casino arranges the tables in clusters, similar to wagon trains encircled to protect against an attack.
These groups of tables are known as pits. Each pit is designed to be an autonomous, fully functioning business, equipped with a variety of table games and a small community of casino personnel that is always willing to usher your dollar bills into the casino coffers.
Pit bosses Pit bosses are smartly attired, experienced professionals who are responsible for all the gaming operations in their assigned pits. As the name implies, pit bosses are just that: Theirs is a very detail-oriented job, requiring not only intimate knowledge of all aspects of the games but also the ability to keep track of thousands of dollars flowing through their spheres of influence.
Winning or losing vast sums of money often ignites supercharged emotions. The pit boss is there to congratulate as well as to calm, to soothe as well as to strong-arm.
Floorpersons Reporting to each pit boss see the previous section are several other suits known as floorpersons. The main difference from pit bosses is that floorpersons Chapter 2: Taking a Quick Stroll Through the Casino are in charge of only a couple of tables in the pit and report directly to the pit boss.
Both of them make sure that proper casino procedure is followed. These procedures include refilling dealer chip racks, monitoring markers, and handing out comps, all while remaining cool and calm.
Dealers For most people, gambling is a social sport. Because the machine games are a more solitary venture, many players prefer the camaraderie of table gaming.
Dealers are at the center of this emotional wheel of fun. Excellent customerservice skills are a requirement; after all, dealers stand on the front line when it comes to irate, belligerent, or inebriated gamblers.
Even during high-pressure situations, dealers must promote a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere. Dealers have their fingers on the pulse of the casino — figuratively and literally.
Their hands, after all, deal the blackjacks and the full houses and take the money you lose or pay off your winners. Theirs is a high-pressure job with a demanding audience.
Overseeing several players at a table, dealers must be confident in their gambling knowledge. They must know who wins, who loses, and how much to pay out on each hand.
Many gamers mistakenly believe that dealers simply shuffle and deal cards, but dealers must also handle dice, chips, and money — accurately and quickly.
Dealers have a wide range of personalities. Some are polite and ebullient, others efficient and brusque. You can spot a good dealer by his or her smile, humor, demeanor, and often the size of the crowd at the table.
When you find one you like, sit down, but remember the dealer has no control over the outcome. Most dealers prefer that you win because they make their money primarily from tips.
The reel dealers The average American casino makes nearly two-thirds of its profits from its various slot machines.
Much is at stake along the rows and rows of clingclanging slot machines and electronic games. Therefore, casinos are diligent when it comes to maintaining and stocking them for long-term play.
Just like the pit bosses and dealers who watch over the table games see the previous section , the staff members assigned to the slot machines — the slot attendants and the slot supervisors — keep a careful eye on their vast realm.
Slot machine attendants are on constant vigil, ever watchful for the next jackpot or flashing light requesting service.
However, if a machine needs repair, the slot attendant calls a slot technician. Slot supervisors The slot supervisor rules the realm of the slot machines, managing employees and overseeing the maintenance and upkeep of the machines.
The slot supervisor generally has several slot attendants as direct reports. Running the tables In addition to the employees who ensure the smooth-running operations on the floor, a host of other casino personnel contribute to the success of the house.
As a beginning casino player, you may not come into contact with any of these people. However, if you do, management employees, such as the casino host, may become familiar and friendly faces.
Casino hosts Modern casino hosts best resemble a successful hotel concierge: Whether dealing with new guests, loyal customers, or high rollers, the casino host focuses on service, service, and more service.
Hitting the jackpot, baby! For those rare but exciting payoffs when you defy the gods of gambling and win more than the machine can pay out, a slot attendant — and, in some cases, the supervisor — responds to your flashing machine.
The slot attendant arrives with a big wad of cash to ceremoniously peel off the bills, one Franklin at a time, to you, the happy winner.
Taking a Quick Stroll Through the Casino A typical casino host is an affable and professional employee whose mission is to serve your every need.
Hosts are hands-on people who greet VIP guests at the door and pamper them throughout their stay. But even low rollers can make a relationship with the casino host profitable.
Keep the following in mind: Find your favorite gambling locale and stick to it. The players who get comps are the ones who ask the casino host.
Player development is all about forming relationships. Casino hosts are eager to wine and dine you if they believe they can create player loyalty through these lavish perks.
Other managers As in other walks of life, every casino employee has to report to somebody, and those somebodies are the shift managers.
The shift managers then report to the casino manager. As the name implies, shift managers are responsible for their areas of casino expertise such as slots or table games during a particular shift day, swing, and graveyard.
When player disputes arise, money needs to be accounted for or items need to be authorized; the shift manager takes on these duties as well.
Shift managers are responsible for employee schedules, customer service, comps, credit, and a host of other duties that make for a mind-boggling job.
Everything You Need to Know to Start The only position above the shift manager is the casino manager. The only time you may ever interact with the manager is if you win enough money to buy the casino.
Security staffs have a two-pronged task: For instance, some guests are also out to separate a casino from its money, either through cheating or through faking an injury in crowded conditions.
The responsibilities of security employees range from viewing the rows of surveillance cameras in high-tech rooms to patrolling the casino floors, constantly on vigil for fights, thieves, drunks, and other disturbances.
Taking a Quick Stroll Through the Casino Surprisingly, security also keeps a close eye on the help — casino employees have initiated many cheating scams over the years.
Even though every casino is different, security staff typically wear a uniform that is quasi-military, with a shirt that says SECURITY or at least a nametag or badge that identifies them as such.
Other identifying features include a walkie-talkie, a badge, and possibly a gun. Bigger hotels can have several dozen security officers working at the busiest times of day and a supervisor in each major area of the casino who manages the team.
Security supervisors must wear many hats, including the hat of a diplomat. Their staff is on the front lines, both protecting and ejecting guests, and when the occasional temper flares or a misunderstanding arises, the security supervisor must wade in to render an on-the-spot verdict.
The eye in the sky On-site security personnel at a casino can only see so much when trying to protect the casino and its guests.
To assist them in their daily rounds, security personnel rely on electronic surveillance — the eye in the sky. One-way glass conceals thousands of digital cameras in any casino.
Some are hidden where you least expect them. Others are prominent, large, and noticeable so that they serve as warnings.
On-site security personnel can view banks of television screens to identify cheats and save casinos millions of dollars each year. The cameras capture his attempt, and the thief is quickly arrested.
In less obvious but equally common situations, security personnel carefully observe, identify, and apprehend cheats and cons.
Although most surveillance is for the detection and prevention of cheating and swindling, the eye in the sky also protects honest gamblers from slick crooks prowling the casino for easy prey.
The newer casinos have cameras outside the building, such as in the parking garages, to cast the safety net farther for you. Everything You Need to Know to Start Taking safety into your own hands The modern casino should be a carefree environment where you forget your troubles, spend money, and — with hope — win some money back.
Unfortunately, where innocent, naive, and trusting people congregate in great numbers — surrounded by huge amounts of disposable income — the predators of society gather as well.
Thieves are on the prowl for ways to separate you or even the casinos from hard-earned cash. Although casinos implement the most stringent security measures and the latest in state-of-the-art surveillance technology, you, as a prudent casino guest, should assume responsibility for your own safety.
The following tips can help you avoid becoming a victim of a casino predator: Chapter 3 Probability, Odds, and a Bit of Luck: Sounds like the intro to a lecture in higher mathematics?
A Temporary Fluctuation Unfortunately, too many newbie gamblers rely on luck to guide their experiences. Casinos can be an easy place to burn through money, so your best chance for hanging on to that hard-earned cash is through a little dose of 40 Part I: The term luck can describe many situations, especially in gambling.
Someone may have a lucky run at the baccarat table, or maybe your Aunt Rosemary plays a lucky slot machine that never loses.
But in order to have a realistic perspective of your chances in the casino, you need to view luck in rational and mathematical terms: Luck is a temporary fluctuation or deviation from the norm.
In the short run, you may perceive that you got real lucky when the dealer busted eight hands in a row at blackjack. But in reality, such an event is just normal fluctuation — also known as a random walk — such as when the stock market drifts one direction or another.
Yet over the short run, anything can happen. In a purely mathematical sense, neither of these results has anything to do with luck.
They are simply the normal consequences of fluctuation. For example, try flipping a coin. Half the time it should be tails and half heads.
But over a short-term sampling, it can veer far away from 50 percent. Understanding the Role of Probability Millions of merry gamblers frequent casinos all over the world every day without a clear understanding of one important concept — probability.
But an elementary understanding of probability is certainly helpful in making sound gambling choices. Probability is the study of the laws of chance, the identification of how often certain events can be expected to occur.
So, 1-to-1 odds means the event is an even money event; it has an equal chance of occurring or not occurring. Identifying independent events Another important term to understand here is independent outcomes.
Being independent has nothing to do with successfully ditching your loser boyfriend in the keno lounge. Craps and roulette are great examples.
Slot machines are also independent. Recent jackpots do not change the likelihood of the same combination coming up again. If your chances of lining up three cherries are 5, to 1 and you just hit the jackpot, the three cherries have exactly the same chances of appearing on the very next spin.
Recognizing dependent events So you may be asking yourself, what constitutes a nonindependent or dependent event?
Dependent events are occurrences that are more or less likely based on the previous occurrences. Imagine a bag of five black balls and five red balls.
Before you pull a ball out, you know you have a 50 percent chance of pulling out a black ball and the same odds of pulling out a red ball.
Then you reach in and pull out one red ball and toss it aside. Now the odds have changed — you no longer have a 50 percent chance of pulling either ball.
Your chances of pulling out a black ball are now greater 56 percent. So in some situations, the past does affect the future.
Another classic example is the game of blackjack. For example, your chances for getting a blackjack drop dramatically when a disproportionate number of aces are used up.
Almost all casino games consist of cards, dice, spinning wheels, or reels. These games almost always yield independent events.
Blackjack is the rare exception, which is the main reason for its popularity. Everything You Need to Know To Start Factoring in the odds To be a successful gambler, you must understand the intersection of statistics, probability, and the odds.
The best example to start with is the coin flip. You probably know that heads and tails each have a shot at turning up.
As I say in the previous section, you can communicate the probability of the flip in terms of odds. In the case of a two-sided coin, your odds of flipping heads are 1 to 1.
In other words, with two possible events outcomes , you have one chance to fail and one chance to succeed. Consider the roll of a sixsided die.
The ratio is 1 in 6, so the odds are 5 to 1. For example, the amount of money a bet pays compared to the initial bet are sometimes called odds too.
True odds refer to the actual chance that a specific occurrence will happen, which is usually different from the casino payout odds.
House Edge The seasoned gambler can count on true odds to dictate the chances of winning a particular game, right? And like all successful enterprises, they follow reliable business models.
With their intimate understanding of probability and odds, casino owners guarantee themselves a healthy bottom line.
The house edge sometimes known as the casino advantage or house advantage by definition is the small percentage of all wagers that the casino expects to win.
Every game has a different house edge, and even certain bets within a single game have a better house edge than other bets. To put it a different way, casinos expect to pay out slightly less money to winning bettors than they take in from losing bettors.
The laws of probability tell casinos how often certain bets win relative to how often they lose. What You Need to Succeed then calculate the payout odds based on the winning probabilities, or true odds.
The payouts are typically smaller than the true odds, ensuring that, with enough betting action, the casino will take in a certain amount with every dollar wagered.
As you can see, the higher the house edge, the more you can expect to lose. For example, you cut your losses by 80 percent if you switch from roulette to baccarat!
Also, the edge for many games, such as video poker or blackjack, varies depending on the particular type and version you find and on how skillfully you play.
Check out the specific chapters later in this book for detailed strategies. This next section looks at the three methods that casinos utilize to assist themselves in performing profitably.
Charging a fee With some games, casinos charge a fee, or commission. Baccarat is a perfect example. This fee tilts the odds slightly in favor of the house and ensures that the casino makes a profit at this popular table game.
Another example of fees is in sports betting. The house adds what is called vigorish or vig a commission to every wager check out Chapter 15 for more on the vig.
With 38 numbers on the wheel, your odds of guessing the winning number are 37 to 1. But, wait a minute. What happened to the true odds of 37 to 1?
The fact is, even though you win, your payoff is less than the true odds. Muddying the odds Casinos offer three types of games — games with fixed odds, games with variable odds, and games where skill can affect the odds.
They all have different styles of play and appeal to different kinds of gamblers. Although you should naturally gravitate toward the games that are the most fun for you, you need to be clear on the three classes of games.
Games with variable odds In this classification, the odds change, depending on how well gamblers play their cards or place their bets.
Several of these games may yield better odds Chapter 3: What You Need to Succeed for smarter players. But the gain in these games can only go so far because over the long run, the odds still strongly favor the house.
Gamblers actually have a chance to win money in the long run. Winning requires study, discipline, patience, and practice. Here are the games where skill can get you over the hump: With dice, for example, you have 36 different combinations, and the odds are to-1 for each combination.
But with other games, the odds can be impossible to calculate. Take slots, for example: The thousands of possible reel combinations and ever-changing progressive jackpots make it difficult for anyone to calculate the odds of winning.
One of the most confusing aspects of odds is the difference between for and to. For example, in video poker a flush pays 6 for 1, which means your win of six coins includes your original wager.
So your actual profit is only five coins. However, if the bet pays 6 to 1, your odds are better. Your profit is six and your total return is seven your win plus your original wager.
This small detail may seem like a silly case of semantics, but it can make a big difference in your payout. Everything You Need to Know To Start This section ties together the joint concepts of payout odds and true odds that will get you on the road to understanding the house edge or advantage.
Identifying payoff odds In almost all cases, the payoffs favor the house, and you lose in the long run. However, some unusual situations arise that give astute gamblers an edge.
Zero expectation A zero expectation bet has no edge — for the house or the player. This balance means that both sides can break even in the long run.
For example, if you remove the two extra green numbers 0 and 00 from the roulette wheel, the game now becomes a zero expectation game because it has 36 numbers, 18 red and 18 black.
Any bet on red or black would be a zero expectation bet. In other words, when you bet on one color, your chances for winning and losing are equal, just like flipping a coin.
In order to make a profit, they need to add in those two extra green numbers to change the odds in roulette.
So your even money bet moves from a zero expectation to a negative expectation. It may not happen right then. You may defy the bad odds for a while and win, but over time you will lose.
Craps provides another good example. Say you bet that the dice will total seven on the next throw. If you win, you are paid 4 to 1.
That difference may not sound like a major change, but the house edge on that bet is a whopping And a negative expectation bet for you is a positive for the casino.
Positive expectation In a positive expectation bet, the tables are turned on the house so that the players have the advantage. What You Need to Succeed a positive expectation for the gambler, but surprisingly, some are out there.
One example is in tournaments, where, in many situations, more money is paid out by the casino than is taken in.
I detail a few of these opportunities in Chapters In most casino games, the house has the edge. But you can get an edge over the casino in two ways: You can often find match play coupons in the free fun books distributed by many casinos.
Rip these coupons out and tuck them underneath your bet. In most cases, they essentially double your wager without having to risk any more money.
Promotions can be the best way to secure a positive expectation. Here are a couple of examples: I have played at several casinos where they changed the rules for a short period of time and paid out 2 to 1 on all blackjacks.
This change tipped the odds enough so that even basic-strategy players had nearly a 2 percent edge over the house. Twice an hour, for a short period of time approximately 30 seconds , they generously doubled the payout on certain jackpots.
Most people shrugged off this opportunity as just another marketing gimmick, but it was very lucrative.
A friend of mine made six figures a year there playing only a few minutes every hour. However, one helpful resource for casino promotions and coupons is the Las Vegas Advisor see Appendix B.
Another tactic is signing up for casino mailing lists to keep abreast of upcoming special events. Avoiding Myths, Magic, and Other Superstitions Perhaps the biggest mistake for novice gamblers is making a betting decision based on superstitions or instincts rather than facts.
I can assure you that poker superstars such as Howard Lederer and Phil Hellmuth do not win because they wear their lucky sweater or rely on horoscope readings.
Everything You Need to Know To Start Winners like Lederer and Hellmuth are brilliant in analyzing the complex choices each hand offers in a high-stakes tournament.
This section debunks some common hocus-pocus that gamblers mistakenly turn to. Going with your hunches Using your intuition, going by your gut, and playing a hunch are all paths to ruin.
Sure, you may get lucky and win in the short run, but casinos are geared to outlast you. They have a huge bankroll, and when they have the edge, not even the luckiest person on the planet or even Olga, the All-Knowing Psychic can turn the tables and beat the odds.
He took my machine! I was in Laughlin, Nevada for a few days and decided to join my friend for some easy money during the Double Jackpot Time promotion at the Pioneer Casino.
I found a machine to play, sat down, and then waited for Double Jackpot Time to begin. Only certain machines were included in this promotion, and because I was running late, I was happy I had snagged one.
Unfortunately, an older lady had been playing that same machine all day long and had just walked away for a few minutes to go to the restroom.
She was furious that I had taken her machine. When I tried to appease her by saying I would only be on the machine for a minute, she calmed down slightly but still hovered over my shoulder like an impatient vulture.
Though I was happy, the lady was infuriated. She loudly complained that the jackpot should have been hers.
I finally quit trying to reason with her and waited for the slot attendant to show up. After I was paid, the casino requested all slot customers to play at least one more spin to clear any jackpots from the screen to prevent someone from trying to get paid twice for the same winner.
After I put the coins in and pulled the handle, you can probably guess what happened. The lady, who already believed I had taken her machine, was now livid.
Playing a lucky machine Many people have a favorite slot machine they like to play. After all, gambling at a familiar game is better than taking a chance with one you know nothing about.
However, many players return to the same game because they believe they have found a lucky machine. Write down how much money you start with before you sit down, and then count up what you have when you walk away from the machine.
Breaking the law of probability Many players erroneously believe certain events are due. For example, if the roulette ball lands on a red number five times in a row, some gamblers feel black is due to hit.
But the most likely outcome for the short-term is anything but average. The occurrence of heads and tails will be close to 50 percent, but there still may be thousands more heads than tails.
How does this example relate to gambling? This fact is just the principle of random walk at work; short-term fluctuation is normal in any game.
But can you predict that fluctuation or make money off it? Forecasting the trends Some gamblers mistakenly believe that trends develop in some games — and that smart players can spot these trends and use them to predict the future.
Everything You Need to Know To Start To encourage this strategy, casinos even display previous numbers hit on the roulette wheel and give players paper and pencils to track results at the baccarat table.
The previous results are only meaningful if there were a bias in the machine or wheel. Succumbing to selective memory All gambling superstitions and misconceptions share one common denominator — they all lose in the long run.
Perhaps you have a friend who always wins at slots or crushes the craps tables every trip. The truth is that people do win sometimes — otherwise no one would ever return to the casinos.
But I would speculate that an average gambler finishes ahead about one out of every three trips. Relying on betting systems Gamblers instinctively understand that by wagering the same amount every time, they ultimately fall prey to the law of averages and will lose.
All I need to do is win my big bets and lose my smaller ones. Any betting system that has you change the size of your bet depending on whether you win or lose is considered a progressive system.
Because most gamblers understand that the house has the edge, they vainly search for creative ways to gain the upper hand over the casino.
Betting systems generally come in two flavors: With positive systems, the bettor increases his bet after a win by some predetermined amount.
The idea behind a positive system is to ride winning streaks by parlaying profits from one winning bet to the next. Negative systems are more common; they involve betting more after a loss.
The idea behind a negative system is to raise your bet amount to make up for a loss or losses in one single bet. This section looks at two of the more common systems.
What You Need to Succeed My advice: Avoid all progressive betting systems. They may look appealing, but ultimately they all fail. The Martingale System By far, the best known and most popular progressive gambling system is the Martingale system, which has been around for centuries.
The appeal of the Martingale lies in its simplicity. To many gamblers, the Martingale seems perfect. However, it has a couple of fatal flaws. The first problem is that by doubling up after every loss, eventually you bump up against the maximum allowable bets in many casinos.
Your losing trips, however, are bone rattling. However, you never go below your starting unit, no matter how many hands you win in a row.
Again, you encounter a lot of small wins punctuated by big losses. Quitting early Another myth is that knowing when to quit saves you money.
But quitting just postpones the inevitable results until your next trip. Your gambling bankroll continues on the next trip, because your money, the dice, and the cards have no memory of what previously happened.
Everything You Need to Know To Start Playing less time overall in a negative expectation game can save you money, so in that sense, quitting has value.
Chasing rainbows More than half the U. For most players, gambling is a fun diversion from the normal routine. However, you can easily cross the dangerously thin line from pleasurable pastime to deadly addiction.
One of the best ways to avoid the pitfall of addiction is through education. Your chances of winning increase dramatically if you understand the odds and psychology of the games you play.
You can easily get caught up in the chase. Everyone enjoys winning more than losing, and no one likes to come home defeated.
But you need to remember that no one wins every trip or every day or every session. Gambling is all about educating yourself about the long odds you are facing and selecting the best bets in the casino.
So keep this advice in mind: Losing a small amount and walking away is far better than dumping a bundle trying desperately to get even.
When blinded by the possibility of winning more, you can easily end up blowing your gambling bankroll money set aside just for gambling in one evening — or faster.
The prospect of striking it rich in the casino may make you forget that you have other financial obligations — paying the mortgage and feeding your children, to name a couple.
In this chapter, I address nothing more than practical, pragmatic approaches to your money — the cash you come with and hopefully the money you win as you go along.
I arm you with the same sort of no-nonsense advice your accountant or a financial counselor may offer to help you manage your budget and keep track of your wins and losses for Uncle Sam.
Everything You Need to Know to Start Setting a Budget and Sticking to It To enjoy your gambling experience, you must control your gambling experience, which means setting — and sticking to — a budget.
The same goes for a gambling getaway. First you budget for the transportation to your destination, your hotel and food expenses, entertainment tickets, and sightseeing excursions — and how much you plan to spend on gambling.
If your main priority is to retain all of your money, the best advice I can offer you is not to gamble at all. Casinos are fantastic places where you can check reality at the door.
Gambling should be a fun experience, a chance to get away from your daily stress and enjoy the escape that risk and winning can bring.
But when the lines between reality and fantasy blur, when you buy into the dream and forget the budget, you can run into problems, and your money can quickly head south.
You also discover how to stick to your budget and avoid the kind of fun the casino wants to have — at your expense. A good starting point to determine your gambling bankroll is figuring out how much you spend on different types of entertainments and vacations, such as theme parks, ski resorts, or other sightseeing destinations.
Your gambling bankroll needs to reflect fiscal reality. Like all trips, hobbies, or flights of fancy, gambling is a form of entertainment.
And, just like that Caribbean cruise, your gambling Chapter 4: As you calculate the cost of your gambling trip, consider its value to you in terms of fun and entertainment.
If you perceive your casino gambling adventure as a form of entertainment similar to, say, dinner at a fine restaurant and an evening at the theater, you can begin to put a price on its value.
Possibly again, although sticker shock may be setting in. Okay, I may sound like a credit counselor, but the money for your gambling vacation should come from your entertainment budget.
Determining your daily limits After you figure out your budget for your gambling adventure whether a fiveday trip to Vegas or just a quick jaunt to a riverboat casino , you need to break down that budget into how much you can spend each day.
But how does your success affect your game plan? The free activities in and around casino towns can be pretty entertaining. Discover the mountain trails of Lake Tahoe, stroll the boardwalk in Atlantic City, or just hang out at the hotel and enjoy the swimming pool or workout room.
A big mistake many people make is getting so engrossed in gambling that they miss out on the attractions of a beautiful resort.
Everything You Need to Know to Start Sizing up your bets After splitting your bankroll into daily increments, the next step to budget your gambling is bet sizing, or breaking down your budgeted bankroll into the amount you allocate for each bet.
A general rule for most table games is to have a bankroll with at least 40 times the maximum bet you plan to make. Proper proportional betting reduces your risk of tapping out going home flat broke.
The simplest and safest strategy in most casino games is to bet the same amount each time. For slots and video poker, that may mean playing the max number of coins or credits each time, if you are playing a progressive machine see Chapters 12 and Most players change the amount they bet on each play — typically increasing the bet size — because of two circumstances: Consequently, they steam, or increase the size of their bets.
Limiting your losses In addition to establishing a budget and portioning it out on a daily — and bet-size — basis, you can employ some simple strategies that help you stay within the framework of your budget.
This section contains a few time-honored methods of limiting your losses. Covering your own butt You may be familiar with stop-loss limits from the stock market.
Stop-loss limits protect your shares from a severe downturn by instructing your broker to sell if a stock falls to a certain price.
Managing Your Money in a Casino You can apply the same rationale to gambling. When you lose your preset amount, stop, head for the door, and spend the rest of the day golfing or sightseeing.
Big comebacks — erasing your gambling debt by winning big — are the stuff of legends. Treat gambling like a vacation, and leave the dreams of making a fortune in the casino for Hollywood movies.
Marathon sessions at the tables usually spell disaster. The longer you play, the more likely you are to lose your focus and perspective. Figure out how to take breaks because they can help you clear your head and protect your bankroll.
Reasons to take breaks abound. Here are just a few: Drink plenty of water so you have to take frequent trips to the powder room. Those short walks stretch both your legs and your bankroll.
Place a few minimum-bet sports wagers over in the sports book see Chapter 15 for more about this intriguing part of the casino.
Even better is a real workout at the hotel gym. Your significant other and family appreciate a check-in call every once in a while.
A check-in call can also provide additional restraints for sticking to your budget. Winning something is better than losing Everyone wants to walk away a winner.
So quitting when you win a predetermined amount ensures that you have some winning days during your visit. Some people set up target goals, such as quitting when they get ahead of their daily bankroll by 50 percent or percent.
If you wisely add your profits back into your bankroll rather than spending them , you have a larger buffer to withstand future negative swings.
Keep in mind that quitting early never helps you in the long term because you have absolutely no way of knowing when the cards are going to turn for the day.
But you reap a tremendous psychological benefit if you stop playing when you win a certain amount. Looking at Casino Credit and Its Risks Most people feel safer using credit cards rather than cash on vacation because, if stolen, credit is easier to replace than cash.
But you have to turn that strategy on its head on gambling vacations. If you want to play it safe when gambling, always use cash instead of credit.
The more credit you use or perhaps abuse , the more you have to replace when you get home. This section explains the downside of relying on casino credit.
But there are also some advantages to casino credit, so I explain how to set it up and when to use that credit in a positive way. Grasping casino credit To understand the lure — as well as the danger — of casino credit, you first need to understand it.
Casino credit is no different from store credit, something Chapter 4: Managing Your Money in a Casino most people take advantage of every day.
To make shopping easier, many department stores offer customers a little plastic card with a line of credit. Similarly, the casino offers you a line of credit based on your credit report and the size of your bank account.
This line of credit allows you to borrow money from the casino in order to gamble — either because your funds have run out or because you just prefer not to carry cash.
And taking the next step — playing against your line of credit — can move you one step further from the harsh reality that eventually you have to pay the piper.
Credit is convenient, yes. First, access to credit tends to make some people spend more money than they otherwise would — both in gambling and in the real world.
But with casino credit, the problem is compounded. Definitely steer clear of casino credit if you have an impulsive nature. Crediting yourself with an account Recognizing that borrowing from the casino can lead to gambling debt is a critical step as you consider managing your bankroll.
Yet credit can benefit people who are extremely disciplined inside the surrealistic confines of the casino. And casino credit does offer the following clear advantages: Moving up to the champagne and caviar crowd High rollers may want to ignore my warning about the dangers of casino credit.
The main advantage of credit is safety. Traveling to and from casinos with pockets full of C-notes can be a risky proposition.
Also, when you gamble with markers, the casino can track your action more easily. As a result, you qualify for higher levels of comps and make the A-list for special casino events and functions.
Other perks may include taking a free limo from the airport and skipping those long, tedious lines at check-in or at restaurants and showrooms.
And frequently casinos comp airfare for their biggest bettors. For exceptionally high rollers, comps can be truly over the top. These perks are certainly appealing and just may entice you to step up to the big leagues.
But remember, for most players, the more they gamble, the more they lose. Bill Gates is, without question, one of the richest men on the planet.
You can set up a casino line of credit in one of two ways: That way your line of credit is available to you as soon as you arrive. Instead, you use markers at the tables to Chapter 4: Managing Your Money in a Casino tap into your line of credit.
A marker is basically a check or I. Keep this fact in mind as you sign a marker for that next baccarat game: At the end of your visit, the casino expects you to write a check to cover the cost of any losses you incurred during your visit.
If you refuse to pay, the casino has the right to post the outstanding markers with your bank for collection from your account. And a line of credit is good only at the casino where you applied.
In your work life, you eliminate uncertainty by accepting a job with a fixed salary. In your daily life, you protect against disaster through a spectrum of safety precautions, from smoke detectors to seat belts.
When you walk into the casino, the house is betting that your unfamiliarity with risk will work in its favor. Look at how easy establishing a line of credit is and how quickly the little extras, such as comps, make you amenable to spending and risking more money.
Try using one at a casino! Not only are the odds at a casino stacked against you, but so are the ATM fees. In addition to the standard bank charges for using the ATM, the casino hits you with a stiff fee at the terminal.
How can you avoid both fees? Bring a set amount of cash and spend only what you bring. These problems can take many forms beyond simple financial issues; they can affect your relationships as well as your health.
Knowing the odds of failure The best protection you can offer yourself in a casino is knowledge. Having a full understanding of the odds involved with every game allows you to set realistic limits in your play.
Chapter 3 looks more closely at odds, and each chapter on the specific games examines the odds and explains whether the game is worth playing or not.
Knowing thyself You may have packed light for your long-weekend gambling getaway. So be realistic about your own personality and temperament.
If you have the tendency to get a little out of control when things go wrong, then bring along some safeguards in the event you start to lose.
Have a friend hold your wallet, or simply leave access to money beyond your bankroll behind and carry nothing but cash.
Are you a disciplined type? Is adopting positive behaviors, such as daily exercise and saving money, easy for you?
Managing Your Money in a Casino tables. Or are you impulsive and undisciplined? Does a trip to the mall for a package of batteries turn into a shopping spree that sets you back a couple of paychecks?
Do you struggle to stick to a diet? If you lack control in everyday activities, such as shopping and eating, then casinos can become a dangerous diversion.
If you choose to partake in the pleasures and excitement of a casino visit, then, in addition to strictly following the money-management advice in this chapter, you may want to take extra steps to curtail your impulsive side.
One typical lure that pulls gamblers off the cliff of control is chasing your losses. But, you think, if you could just win one big bet, your problem would be erased.
So chasing your losses is tempting, especially in a casino where people seem to be winning all around you. The sad fact is that most people lose when gambling.
And when people lose, they tend to want to get their money back. When you seek to retrieve that lost money, you start throwing good money after bad, hoping to win it all back.
To avoid losing even more of your gambling bankroll, treat a loss as just that: Say no to the next hand or play, and say yes to some other activity.
Her philosophy is not to fixate on individual sessions or daily results. She feels that — over time — all players get dealt the same cards.
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