Bill Zender is the ultimate gambling insider. The former professional ticket counter, dealer and casino floor manager reveals his secrets – and explains why the best ATM is always the ATM.
Identify the clumsiest dealers.
Zender estimates that there are fewer than 100 professional blackjack card counters in the world. If you happen to be one of them, you could nab an advantage of 1.5 percent. So save energy, Zender advises; Instead, look for the sloppy blackjack dealer who accidentally flashes the face-down card. Zender once made his living with it and kept a notebook with 35 weak traders from 16 different online casinos. The strategy is called “cardholing” and it can give you a 6 to 9 percent lead over the house. (It’s like being in front of an ATM that spits out twenties!) The best? “That’s completely legal,” says Zender. “They may throw me out of the casino, but they will not arrest me.”
Lately, casinos have sexed their table games with bikini-clothed dealers and resident pole dancers. These places are called party pits, and on the surface it looks like Vegas is vegas – alcohol, sin, skin. But take a closer look. While all those swirling legs keep you distracted, you probably will not notice that the casino cut the payouts on these tables from 3/2 to 6/5. This means that a bet of $ 100 wins only $ 120, compared to the traditional $ 150. This essentially doubles the edge of the house.
The house always enjoys a 5 percent lead in roulette. You have a decent chance to win this first spin. And the second. And the third. If you were to forever play roulette, the house would take away all your chips. Each casino has calculated the point at which they have guaranteed victory, and this magic number is 30,000 hands. (That’s why they lure us back with lobsters and luxury suites.) So, if you win, you stop.
The roulette wheel is a mechanical instrument. Over time, the wheel may become unbalanced or the frets that separate the numbers may wear out. The more a wheel is used, the more worn it becomes – and the more it can privileges certain numbers. In 1873, Joseph Jagger found a miraculous wheel in Monte Carlo and bet on the biased numbers. He came away with $ 400,000 – that’s $ 7.8 million in today’s dough!
“The average slot machine is probably two to three times more expensive for players than the table games,” says Zender. Avoid them. If you insist on cranking a grip, focus on slots that cost $ 5 or more and play the maximum bet. With penny slots, the odds in favor of the house are increased by 15 to 20 percent. You can just as well toss these coins in a well. Do not forget to make a wish and bet like pros.
Really, just not. Your chances are terrible. In some casinos, the house has a lead of 35 percent. No player has ever reached all 20 numbers on a 20-spot ticket. The probability that it will ever happen is 1 in 3,535,316,142,212,174,336. (That’s 3.5 quintillion!)
If there is an exception to the saying that the house always wins, then in video poker. As a rule, the house only has an advantage of 0.46 percent (while some versions lean in favor of the player). The paycheck is posted directly on the machine and the payout is high. The catch? To spend money, you have to play at the expert level. Casinos make profits on video poker because most players are simply not qualified enough. So study upstairs.
“Ninety percent of people who go to a casino have no idea of the odds stacked against them,” Zender says. But if you know what you’re looking for, it’s easy to see where the odds are worst. Casinos make the games with the loudest odds the most attractive by amplifying them with flashing lights and bright colors. For example, in craps, the craziest bets – “the field,” “every 7” – are the most colorful. So, as a rule, to improve your chances, stick to the drab side of the room.
There is a reason why you probably will not see any clocks or windows on the house floor. Casinos want you to lose track of time so you play as long as possible. For this reason, some casinos prohibit dealers from wearing watches. Once you are a bit up, it might be a good time to get off the ground and treat yourself to a new timepiece.
The truth is, nothing is free – and that includes free alcohol. Every casino has something they call a “player reinvestment” fund. It says the amount of money you will lose, and then gives a cut of it in the form of comps, which, to the opportunity floor visitors, means watery fountain cocktails. The worse your chances, the better your chances to land a free drink. Cheers, bottom up!