Wednesday, October 21, 2009

5 reasons people lose money at casinos (Part 2 of 5): Playing the wrong games

The typical recreational gambler will find that the casino has better odds in all the games (except Texas Hold'em, but it's not really a casino game anyway). Duh. This is not news.

However, some games are worse than others. From best to worst, the list goes something like this:

1) Blackjack - under 1% disadvantage IF you play using basic strategy. The house edge can even creep into your favour if you count cards and conditions are favourable.

2) Baccarat - about 1.1% to 1.4% disadvantage. More advantageous to bet on the banker.

3) Roulette - assuming every single spin really is random, the odds are pretty lousy. The house edge is 2.7% for roulette wheels with a single zero, but it rises to 5.26% for roulette wheels with double zeroes (0 and 00). However, as we discussed before, roulette games may not be random and your odds can improve if you know how to take advantage of this, or worsen if you yourself are exploited by the croupier. 

4) Sic Bo/Da Xiao (大小) - house edge varies depending on the casino and which bets you're placing. Betting on big or small places you at a 2.78% disadvantage. Totals of 4 and 17 have a 6.94% house edge if the payoff is 12 to 1 (apparently you have better odds in Macau and Australia), while totals of 9 and 12 give the house a whopping 11.57% advantage. There's an odds table here. I personally hate sic bo and heartily recommend that you avoid the game given the crappy odds. There is no strategy you can use to improve your chances of winning, and the fact that the dice are covered makes it dodgier.

5) Slots - worst game in the casino, can give the house an advantage of up to 15%. However, I admit I sometimes play this when I have spare change because you don't have to spend much--but I don't expect to get much/anything back.


If everybody adhered religiously to the odds tables everyone would be playing blackjack and nobody would be playing roulette, sic bo or slots. Obviously, just because a game offers lousy odds doesn't mean all players will be losing at those games all the time. Sometimes your luck sucks at the blackjack table but improves when you place random bets at the sic bo table. That's life. But when your luck is very average and conditions at all tables seem average too, choosing the right games can help you to win a little.

Combine your knowledge of which games are good with some skill and you'll be much better off.

Good luck!

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