Las Vegas is designed to separate you from your money. It does not have to be that way. There are plenty of ways to conserve cash on a trip to Las Vegas. There are also ways to squander it.
The worst invention on the Las Vegas Strip in the past decade was 6-5 blackjack. Casinos took a beatable house game and turned it into a carnival offering.
Paying 6-5 on a blackjack may not seem like a big deal, but it adds 1.39% to the house edge. A player can expect a blackjack about once every 20 hands. A $10 bet should get $15 on a natural blackjack. It only gets $12 in a 6-5 game. This is a difference of $15 per 100 hands.
An average blackjack game will spread about 70 hands per hour. This means that a 6-5 game pays about $10 less per hour than a 3-2 one.
Another ripoff on the Las Vegas Strip is Double Zero Roulette. For some reason, casinos decided that a 2.7% edge with one zero on the roulette wheel was not enough. A second zero was added to most Las Vegas roulette games. This makes the house edge 5.26%. As if that is not bad enough, a bet that is not available on single zero felts is spread on double zero ones. It involves both zeros and the 1, 2, and 3. This has an edge of over 8%.
Players with a large bankroll that insist on playing roulette will find single zero wheels at several MGM Resorts properties. These include Aria, Bellagio, and Mirage. These MGM single zero games use European rules. This means that a player betting an even money wager – odd/even, high/low, or red/black – receives half of his bet back of the ball lands on zero.
Craps is always a great casino game, right? Not always. There are some bad craps rules on the Las Vegas Strip. Most casinos offer 3-4-5 times odds. This means that a player can bet three times odds on the 4 and 10, four times on the 5 and 9, and five times on the six and eight. These odds have no house edge. It pays 100% back to the player.
The house edge on a 3-4-5 times craps game is just .37%. If you stick to that, you will do just fine. The problem is the other bets offered on the table.
The Field is the second best bet on the table. The exception is at casinos operated by Caesars Entertainment.
The house edge on the Field is normally 2.8%. This doubles at Caesars properties because the Field only pays double on 12.
All casinos spread terrible house edges on hard ways. The hard 6 and 8 have a 9% edge, while the hard 4 and 10 have an 11% edge. The single-roll bets in the middle on the 2, 3, 11, and 12 are all 11% or worse. If you play craps, only bet on the line and come bets.
All casinos offer bars where players receive free drinks with fast service while playing video poker. This seems like a great deal. Our advice: Not so fast.
There are some perfectly acceptable places to accept the house edge on bar video poker in exchange for great complimentary drink service. The Las Vegas Strip is not one of those places.
Most video poker at bars on the Las Vegas Strip has an edge of 3% or more. These bars require a player to wager at least $1 per hand for free drinks. Only betting $1, as opposed to $1.25, increases the house edge by an additional 1% or more, depending on the game. That is because the royal flush pays 800-1 when five coins are wagered and only 250-1 on fewer coins.
Regardless, giving up four cents per hand may not seem like much, but it is. Players will lose nearly $1 per minute on a theoretical basis on these games. In most cases, it is cheaper just to pay cash for the drinks.
This is not the case at some downtown casinos. The Plaza and Main Street Station offer 99.5% video poker at the bar. At these and other establishments like it, giving action at video poker may be the better decision over paying cash for alcohol.
Casinos make a bulk of their money from slot machines. These one-armed bandits have a traditional hold of 10% at the penny denomination. The edge progressively lessens at higher denominations. Even at $1 pulls, the house holds at least 5% of the wager on average.
One good policy for casino gambling is that games requiring zero skill have a higher house edge than those that require educated action by the player. Learn how to play video poker correctly and say goodbye to the slot machines. Even better, learn how to play blackjack or Ultimate Texas Hold’em using basic strategy. These table games will keep you in action far longer than slot machines.
Casinos issue players cards to customers. These programs create databases of players. Offers are mailed in response to the action given. Players are rated based on the amount wagered at slots, video poker, and table games.
Some players feel that this is an intrusive version of marketing. Failing to use these programs will cut into returns. The immediate cash back may be minimal. Most casinos pay .1-.3% of the total amount wagered. The serious rewards are issued in mailers that include free hotel, slot play, and meals. Failing to use a players card is a serious mistake if you ever intend on returning to the casino.