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Controlling Your Cash at the Casino

There are two things that keep gamblers from beating the casino. The first is the house edge. The second is human behavior. If the second element can be very carefully controlled for, the power of the first can be lowered substantially. Take this simple example. A slot machine usually has a payout rate of around 98%. Assuming that you’re playing on a machine without a progressive jackpot, if you took $100 and played it through in quarters, keeping the quarters that haven’t been through the machine in one pile and those that have been won in another, you would likely come out with over $90 in your second pile when you finished playing through your cash. You might even come out with $120. The problem is that no one really plays like this. You don’t keep your stakes separate from your winnings. With the new casino cards, you can’t even if you want to. Instead, you re-expose the same cash to the house edge over and over again. There are only two things that are likely to make a player stop playing at a slot machine. Sure, sometimes players run out of time or need to eat or something, but the more likely scenario is one of these two. One is winning a huge jackpot that requires leaving the machine to cash out. The second is losing every single cent. Since winning a huge jackpot is incredibly unlikely, human behavior is such that players are quite likely to leave only when they have lost every cent.

At table games, however, players can do something to control their cash. They can increase and decrease their wagers. Imagine, for example, a game of European roulette. If you bet one of the even-money bets, on average, you’ll win almost half of the time. In games like this, players have tried to design betting systems to guarantee wins. The reality is that mathematics is against them, and even if they can beat the odds, human behavior is likely to thwart them.

The most common betting system is the Martingale. It works very simply. You start out betting the table minimum. For argument’s sake, let’s say that’s $5. If you win, you bet $5 again. If you lose, you increase your bet to $10. If you lose, you double again. If you win, you stick with your $5 bet. If you had an infinite amount of money, you would eventually end up $5 ahead in every case. The problem is that if you hit 9 losing bets in a row, you’ve already lost over $1000. While it’s unlikely, it’s certainly possible.

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. Using Betting Systems at Casinos | Casino B Blog linked to this post on May 13, 2010

    […] the previous post, I discussed how controlling your cash is key in coming out ahead at a casino, whether online or land-based. I mentioned using a betting […]

  2. Harrah’s Debtor Case Dropped | Casino B Blog linked to this post on July 10, 2010

    […] Oriental Trading Co, and sold it in 2000. Despite this incredible windfall, he couldn’t control his cash at the casino and he had run up debts that he couldn’t pay. In 2007, Harrah’s pressed charges saying […]

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