Most people that gamble in casinos are long term losers. They visit to pass the time playing slots or table games and hope to get lucky. The only goal for these guests is to have some fun.
A small percentage of casino patrons go there to make money. They are called advantage players. This may seem impossible, but it is easier than you think.
One of the biggest problems people looking to make a living gambling is a proper bankroll. The size of the bankroll needed depends on the game.
Risk of ruin is the term used for the chance a player has of going bust with proper play due to variance. For a 10% chance of risk of ruin, a blackjack player needs 500 units. This is also a good number for a poker player that chooses fixed limit games, although 300 bets should suffice. No limit and tournament poker players should take about 75 buy-ins.
Doubling the bankroll drops the risk of ruin from about 10 percent to one percent. Those with more inclined to take a risk and something to fall back on may be willing to take a chance on a smaller bankroll. This is ill-advised without an additional source of income.
Poker players have two niches they can choose. One is cash games. The other is tournaments. Online poker players have a third option in sit and gos, which are often single table tournaments. Each requires different skills.
A cash game player can set his own schedule. The best games are usually at night and on weekends. This can make for a lifestyle that is different from the mainstream. A cash game player has the option of leaving whenever he wants. This can be after winning a big pot, getting tired, having somewhere else to be or just needing a break from the action. A cash game player leaves the table with chips that are immediately redeemable for cash.
Cash game players experience far lower variance than tournament players. The skill set is also different. Cash game players need to look for the best quality games and combine them with good promotions. In Las Vegas, some walk down the Strip going in and out of poker rooms until they find a table with acceptable action. Others have a regular spot where they think the games are better. Some savvy players discover a favorite locals’ joint with great games.
Cash game promotions vary greatly from one poker room to another. All give cash game players at least $1 an hour in comps. Some go as high as $3 an hour. These are usually redeemable for food and hotel. Some casinos issue cash for poker points.
There are other promotions cash game player may enjoy. These are funded by a $1 cash game drop per hand. This can include a bad beat jackpot or high hand promotion. Those are purely random. The only advantage player goal with those is to find ones that are higher than the theoretical rate of return. On the other hand, massive bad beat jackpots will attract tighter players with the same thought.
Some smaller poker rooms incentivize loyal cash game action. Treasure Island gives players an hourly rate of up to $10 just to occupy a seat. This caps at $599 per week, which not coincidentally is $1 lower than the IRS requirement for reportable income.
This type of promotion has also been found at Binion’s and Luxor over the years, especially during daytime hours. It is up to the player to determine if this type of bonus is worth pursuing. The quality of these games can be atrocious if other advantage players populate the table.
Tournaments are structured in a way that forces participants to stay in action for hours on end. Players must sit in the game until they either bust or win the entire thing. Tournaments often start earlier in the day than good cash games. There are also no rewards for tournament players. The field of players in tournaments is often softer than cash games so that is a plus for advantage players. On the other hand, the variance is far more drastic as one bad move or unlucky hand can ruin a tournament. The best tournament players can run badly for weeks or months at a time.
Experienced poker players know the advantages to learning games other than Texas Hold’em. Mixed games and non-Hold’em tournaments will offer soft fields when compared to Texas Hold’em ones.
Video poker is the easiest form of advantage gambling. It only requires learning a handful of games that offer pay tables around 100%. Video poker advantage players must also seek out these machines. That can often be the most difficult part. This is not a problem for players in Nevada as many locals’ casinos spread great video poker. Players in other states may have to play higher limit games or travel to advantage play video poker.
Pay tables are just one way to advantage gamble at video poker. The players club at a casino can help close the gap on some games that are close to a 100% return. Some casinos only pay 0.05-0.1% in cash back based on the total amount wagered. Locals’ casinos often go as high as 0.3%. Station Casinos in Las Vegas is one example of this.
Some casinos offer better returns if the play is taken through the slots instead of cash. If that is the case, it is always better to take free slot play.
There are two other ways to maximize returns playing video poker through the players club. Video poker action will trigger mailers from casinos that include free play. Some mailers will include free hotel and food. Comps are another way to increase the video poker return. High volume players will get assigned a host that will be happy to write comps for high end dining and upgraded hotel rooms.
The first visit to a casino is the most important one. Always make sure to give a high level of action on the initial casino play. The first mailer from a casino is often the best that you will ever receive and these may be sent for months, even if your level of play declines on return visits.
Blackjack is the only table game that is beatable without some form of angle shooting. Expert card counters can make a living playing blackjack by itself without having to worry about comos. There are many points that are important for blackjack advantage players.
Serious blackjack players may not want to use a players card while sitting at the table. The less information a casino has about a winning blackjack player, the better it is for the gambler. Casinos have been known to kick winning blackjack players out. This is known as getting backed off.
Playing without a rewards card is one way to lower the chances of getting backed off. Another way is to limit the bet spread. Moving above one to five units will start to draw unwanted attention from the pit boss and surveillance team. The goal is to find the point where the house is comfortable with the bet spread.
Keeping blackjack knowledge off the table is another way to prevent getting booted. The smarter the house thinks a player is, the more likely he is to get asked to leave. Tipping the dealers is another way to stay in action. Giving too much play to one casino can be another problem. Spread it out to different casinos to lower exposure.
Blackjack rules vary from one casino to another. There can be different rules within the same casino that often change based on the minimum bet. Always try to play the highest limit games that your bankroll can afford. In Las Vegas, most $100 tables will stand on all 17’s. It often takes at least $25 on the Strip to get a 3-2 payout on a blackjack.
The best blackjack game in Las Vegas is in the high limit salon at Treasure Island. There is a six-deck shoe that stands on all 17’s that offers surrender, re-split aces and double down after splitting. A double deck game stands on all 17’s and offers double down after splitting. Both games have a $25 minimum bet.
Sports betting is another way that sharp gamblers can make a living. Some choose to play daily fantasy sports through sites like FanDuel and DraftKings. Those same skills may be used to handicap games, find alternate betting odds, including point spreads, money lines and totals.
Savvy sports bettors can identify soft lines when they are published. This gets them in the action early and gives an opportunity to have a better number than the general public. It also provides an opportunity to arbitrage sports books through line shopping. This means that one sports book may have a bigger number on the underdog of a game than a competitor has on the favorite. Arbitrage can also happen when a line moves.
One popular move by professional sports bettors is fading the public. This means taking the opposite side of a popular team. This often involves taking action on terrible teams that are big underdogs. It is not the most exciting way to bet on a game, but it is often the most profitable. Another angle is betting unders in totals on football and basketball games.
The opposite philosophy should be taken with massive favorites. A UFC or boxing champion will often have punters placing small wagers on the big underdog against him. The play there is to lay the big money on the favorite. The same rule applies to prop bets where the suckers are betting the jackpot side. Examples of this include betting the no side of a safety, two point conversion and overtime in the Super Bowl. All of these are big favorites and rarely lose. It is important to remain within bankroll limits when taking big favorites against the public.
Futures bets are another place that smart gamblers can use their skills. Some prices for teams winning a division or championship can be off the actual probability. Fading public teams in championship futures can be a winning proposition.
Football teasers are another angle advantage sports bettors can gain an edge. Using Jerry’s Nugget’s full pay teaser lines, players that can move a number across three and seven on the same card becomes a positive expectation situation. Half-point parlay cards are another angle serious bettors use. Players that pick games moved off of three or seven, and take the side that got the extra half-point, also gain an edge.
Advantage gamblers can receive 0.1% or 0.2% cash back when betting on sports through certain Las Vegas sports books. These include Station Casinos, William Hill and Cantor Gaming. Big winners may want to avoid this type of tracking as it may give sportsbook managers an easier opportunity to ban unwanted sharps.
Live casinos are not the only way to advantage gamble. Online poker, casino and sports betting sites offer a unique opportunity.
All online poker rooms offer first deposit bonuses. These are cleared based on the amount of rake paid to the site. That amount is usually 20% of the fee charged by the house at cash games and tournaments. Some sites also offer rakeback and VIP programs that can equal or exceed the percentage of the first deposit bonus. Reload bonuses are also common. These can help a breakeven player become a winner and add to the money won by pro players.
Online casinos also offer first deposit bonuses and reloads. These are usually based on the amount wagered. That number depends on the game. Advantage players that are good at math should be able to reverse engineer any casino bonus to see if it is positive expectation.
Sports books also offer first deposit and reload bonuses. These are usually offered as free bets based on the deposit amount. Note that sports book bonuses are only worth about half the advertised amount because the free bet is the only portion that is won if the bet comes in.
All three of these types of sites often offer a no deposit bonus. This can range from $10 to $50. Players start out with a free bankroll when taking advantage of these types of offers. Those with good money management skills can turn that free play into cash that can be withdrawn or parlayed into bigger wins.