Advantage Plays

First of all, this is NOT a "get rich quick" scheme. It's also not a "gambling system" like you see advertised for sale all over. I'm not selling this information, I'm giving it away.

Casino



I picked up this information over the years in books (I've read a lot of them), online, and through word-of-mouth. As you might expect, I'm giving you the short version, a summary.

There are times in many casinos where the player has an advantage, provided you know how to play them properly. I'll separate this into "Advantage Situations" and "Advantage Games".

Player Advantage Situations

 A time when the player has an advantage, sometimes only for one bet. The specific game being played is often of no consequence.

  1. Freerolls, Free Tournaments, etc. Any time a casino offers you a chance at winning something with no entry fee that's a good wager to take. It doesn't matter if it's slots, blackjack, or even Keno. If you pay zero entry fee, and there's a chance at a prize it may be worth checking it out.

    This is also sometimes true of tournaments with an entry fee, if the prize pool paid out is equal to the sum of all the entry fees, or when enough value is added from meals, drinks, room, etc.

    One exception may be if you really hate playing the game in question and would get no fun from it, even with an advantage.

    Another exception is if your advantage is so small, or your probability of winning so remote, that you would do better at an advantage game that you normally play.

  2. Crap table. If you don't play Craps, you might want to skip over this. Also, note that this may not be allowed in all casinos.

    So, you're playing craps, and someone is betting the dark side. You notice they are calling bets off when the roll is a 6 or an 8. They are giving up a 6 to 5 advantage! It's one of the dumbest things a person can do in a casino, but if they want to do it you can profit from it.

    Say that person is betting a green chip on the Don't. What you want to do is buy that bet from them when the roll is a 6 or 8. That way YOU now have a 6 to 5 (1.2 to 1) advantage over the casino! Here's how you do it...

    Say to them, "Hey buddy, I've noticed that you call off the 6 and 8. The horoscope for today said those were MY lucky numbers. Next time you have a 6 or 8, do you mind if I buy that bet from you?". They'll almost always agree, cause all they want is their green chip back. They don't care if it comes from you or the casino. And you've got yourself a great bet! When the 7 rolls you win!

  3. Bonus Chips. These are non-negotiable chips that you obtain from the casino as an incentive to play. Usually they are for first time players club members. One well known promotion of this type is at the Sahara on the Las Vegas Strip. As a new players club member you get a "Fun Book" that has a coupon inside for $50 in non-negotiable chips for $40. So have a 5/4 advantage over the casino on even money bets. I'd take them to the crap table, and put the whole $50 on the pass line! You might also visit the Roulette wheel and put it on Black. If you prefer, bet $10 at a time in stead of the whole $50.

  4. Free Play. Similar to #3, but in this case the casino has sent you a promotional mailing, offering you free slot play. Depending on your level of play you might receive $5 to $500+. Typically we get between $10 and $200 ourselves. While you're playing on their money you have an advantage.

  5. Match Play Coupons. Just like bonus chips and free play, match play coupons are free money from the casino. The catch is that you have to play it along with your own money before you can walk out with it. There are many sources for these coupons. Casino "fun books" given out at the slot club, the American Casino Guide, Las Vegas Advisor, and others. Most are $5 to $25 and may be used on even money bets only.

    Imagine that you place a $10 bet at Blackjack, then you put a Match Play coupon down with it. You now have a $20 bet! If you win that hand they're going to pay you $20. So in effect you're betting $10 to win $20, and I'd do that all day long if they'd let me!


How long does your advantage last? Regarding items 3 through 5, some people would argue that you have an advantage (mathematically) for a specific period of time, often many hours. This is based on the long term statistical payback for the machine (or table game) that you're playing. The topic requires a very long discussion, so I'll only mention it here and let you do your own research.

The proponents say that your advantage starts with the first play, and extends even after you lose the casino's money, until you have played long enough for your theoretical loss to equal the amount of the free play. Although the math seems to work, I believe that it's dangerous to think of things in this way, especially if it causes you to exceed your normal level of play (i.e. exceed your loss limit).

Player Advantage Games

The last section talked about specific times when you have the advantage over the casino, if only for one bet. In this section, we're talking about having a long term advantage over the casino. Often, this is a slight advantage, but a slight advantage is all that it takes over the long run.

  1. Video Poker. When you consider the amount of advantage possible, and the effort required to exploit it, the most logical choice for an advantage game is Video Poker.

    Video poker is a unique game, because you can tell exactly what the programmed payout is by simply reading and interpreting the machine's paytable. For example, a Full Pay Deuces Wild (FPDW) machine has a long term payout of 100.7% with basic strategy play. Perfect strategy gets you another .07% making it a 100.77% machine. Add comps, cashback, and freeplay to this, and you're looking at a substantial advantage play.

    But wait a minute you say, a 100.7% payback sounds too good to be true. How can the casino stay in business and pay out like that? Good thinking on your part, but consider this; the vast majority of gamblers don't play anywhere close to correct strategy. Played incorrectly, a FPDW machine is probably worse than playing Wheel of Fortune!

    What does it take to do well at Video Poker? Three things, knowledge, practice, and patience. You have to know the pay back schedules, you have to practice basic strategy play, and you have to be patient to see the results in the long run. You don't need special aptitude, you don't have to do math, and you don't have to cheat. It's just a matter of memorizing strategy and doing it.

    Many books have been written on this subject. There's also lots of information on the web, and several good training programs for your computer. You can also buy, or print out, strategy cards that tell you exactly how to play any hand. You can carry these strategy cards with you to the casino, and refer to them when playing.

  2. Live Poker. This is not actually gambling, poker is a game of skill. Playing live poker, you're not competing against the casino, but against the other players. Texas Hold'em has exploded in popularity and there are a lot of weak players in every poker room in the country. If you're a good player, you can really clean up. However, becoming a good player isn't as easy as you may think, and some people just don't have the aptitude for it. So even though this IS a potential money maker, it doesn't qualify as an "advantage play" for the average person.

  3. Blackjack. Most everyone has heard about card counting. Many casinos have blackjack games with conditions that create an advantage for a good card counter. Counting accurately can give you an advantage up to 1.5% (equivalent to 101.5% payback). Some expert counters, against a single deck game with the right conditions, can get a 2% advantage. On the other hand, the typical advantage that normal, accurate counters enjoy on a multi-deck game is less than 1%.

    Learning to count blackjack is difficult. It requires aptitude, dedication, and concentration. Then, after you learn to count, you need to be able to do it in front of the casino staff without them knowing that you're doing it. This itself is a stumbling block to otherwise excellent counters. Team play can greatly improve the odds, and help overcome some of these problems, but that's a whole different story. Also remember, the casino can kick you out if they think you're counting, and that's no fun at all!

  4. Sports Betting. As with live poker this is a game of skill. There are professional sports betters who make a good living. They live, sleep, eat, and breath sports betting. They don't just know sports, they know the sports book system. Becoming a great sport bettor is like becoming a great stock trader, and few achieve greatness.

  5. Craps. Bring this subject up in a group of serious gamblers and you'll get several different opinions and maybe a lively argument. Craps is one game where the casino has only a small advantage, in some cases under 1%. Some people claim that by arranging the dice in a particular way, and throwing them so they will land and roll without turning sideways, they can have a small influence on the outcome of the roll and therefore influence the success of their bets. They say, correctly, that the casino's advantage is so small they would only need to successfully influence the dice once in many rolls for their strategy to work. This is known by several names, "controlled rolling", "precision shooting", "dice setting", etc.

    Is this "real" or folly? I can only give you my opinion, and my personal experience. Short story, I've seen it done and it's real. The longer story is to ask; what does it take to achieve this level of dice control? And, can the average person do it? I've read the books, joined the web forums, and attended the classes where I received instruction. I personally don't have the skill required. However, as I said, I've seen it done.My bottom line assessment. Have you ever seen Tiger Woods do tricks with the golf ball? He'll bounce the ball in the air 20 times off a wedge, then hit it in the air, and put it on the green. He can also drive the ball about 350 yards with accuracy. Can you do either of these feats? How much practice would it take? How much skill? I rest my case. For further research visit http://www.dicesetter.com/

In Conclusion

For the typical gambler, your logical choice of advantage games is Video Poker. It's the one game where any average person can, with study and practice, become good enough to have a small edge over the house.

If you enjoy slots or video poker already then it's a natural for you. If you really don't enjoy it you'll need to find games that you do enjoy, with only a slight casino advantage. Gambling 101 addresses this. And don't forget comps! they enter the picture as well.

So you want to learn Video Poker? Here's a recommended study list:

  • http://wizardofodds.com/videopoker This is a good starting place on the web for VP and most other games
  • Frugal Video Poker - book and software by Jean Scott. HIGHLY recommended. If you buy only one VP resource this is the one to get. http://queenofcomps.com/
  • Bob Dancer Presents WinPoker version 6.0 (training software for your computer
  • vpFREE is a Yahoo group, and one of the best sources of free video poker information on the web. I link to their database for all my state by state casino reviews in this web site. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/vpFREE/
  • http://www.advantageplayer.com/videopoker/index.html Advantage Player web site, a great general resource for advantage play of all kinds
  • http://www.vpinsider.com/ This is a pay site, but has some good free stuff too. I was a paying member for several years. If you get serious about VP it's probably a good investment for at least one year.
  • I mentioned comps above. They help offset your losses, and can turn a slight disadvantage into a break even situation. If you want to all about comps, and other ways to get the most out of a casino, then read two books by Jean Scott. The Frugal Gambler, and More Frugal Gambling.