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The Good, the Bad & the In-Between


How do you rank among casino players?

By Frank Scoblete

In casino gambling there are good players, bad players and every type of player in between. Most players have no idea of the house edges on the games they play and most don’t care to know these edges; such knowledge might diminish their fun. How fast is a game? Will the number of decisions that a game has per hour have a serious impact on the house edge, or on their bankroll? Such questions aren’t of importance to the average, oblivious player.

Strange as it may seem, many casino players have bought a bill of goods that proclaims casino gambling to be an activity that is best engaged in with no knowledge whatsoever. Others have bought into the flawed concept that they’re going to lose anyway, so why bother trying to play perfectly? This is a very limiting (and expensive) way to look at the casino experience, since the better you play, the less you will lose over time. The less you lose, the more you can go to the casinos. The “you’re going to lose anyway” philosophy results in greater losses and fewer possible trips to the casino. Does that sound like fun to you?

Casino Player

Let’s look at someone who makes the worst bets at craps—the horn bet, for instance, one that is only made by the most foolish craps players. The house has a 12.5 percent house edge in this case. Let’s say you bet $12 every time the dice roll. In 36 rolls of the dice, our horn bettor loses $54.

Now let’s look at a player who places the 6 for $12. For every 36 rolls, he’ll win the bet five times on average, being paid $14 for each win (total $70), and lose it six times (total $72). In those 36 rolls our 6-place bettor loses just two dollars.

So the good player loses $2 per 36 rolls, and the foolish player loses $54. That’s a big difference. Which of these players will enjoy his casino pastime more? Obviously, the good player. And he’ll be able to the casinos many more times than the other guy, since his losses are relatively small.

Three criteria determine where a player ranks on the scale of good to awful players: the games they play, the strategies they use at these games, and their emotional control while playing. Even the very best players can do foolish things if they lose control. Just ask any card counter who over bets his bankroll and goes bust, despite his small edge over the house.

The best casino gamblers are the “advantage players,” those who have developed skills such as card counting at blackjack, dice control at craps, perfect strategies at video poker, and expert poker play. These players know how to beat the games they play by getting small edges, betting appropriately so losing streaks don’t cream them (yes, advantage players can have losing streaks, some of them quite long), and by always betting into their edge and not into their emotions. Of the 54 million American casino gamblers, maybe 4,000 are advantage players.

Ranking just below the advantage player are those casino gamblers who play strong strategies at the games. They use basic strategy in blackjack, keeping the house edge around one-half percent. They only make the best bets at craps—generally the Pass, Don’t Pass, Come and Don’t Come—while utilizing the odds bet to get their money on the table, and placing the 6 and 8. At roulette, a good player will bet strictly outside “even money” propositions, so that the 0 or 00 loses them only half their bet. In video poker they only play the strongest strategies at high return games such as 9/6 Jacks or Better. They never play slot machines. Based on my observations of gamblers for the past 20 years, I’d say the good players in this second category make up maybe two million casino players.

Thus, the two types of “best players” are a distinct minority because they’re overwhelmed by the legions of “worst” players. The worst players rely on their “instincts” at blackjack, granting the house an edge of one to four percent. The worst players make all the horrendous bets at craps, subscribing to idiotic notions such as “see a horn, bet a horn.”

The worst players bet the inside numbers at roulette and play the carnival games such as Let it Ride, Three Card Poker, Caribbean Stud, Four Card Poker— without even knowing the correct strategies for these games. They love the slot machines, especially the mega-jackpot machines that have house edges around 15 percent. Losing $15 for every $100 they wager doesn’t seem to have any impact on their gambling choices.

The poor players play with real money—that is to say, they don’t have a special gambling account and use household money to fuel their usually ill-fated adventures. They play for too much, for too long, and too poorly to ever have a chance of coming out ahead, except on rare occasions where Lady Luck pities them and gives them a winning session. But the occasional winning session can’t make up for the horrid fact that they’re way behind in their casino gambling careers—so far behind that short of a mega-jackpot, they have no chance to ever catch up.

I believe the majority of casino players fit into this last category, and they account for the overwhelming amount of money made by the casino industry. Advantage players will sometimes say that all the poor players make it possible for them to keep winning, because without them, the casinos wouldn’t exist. That is probably true.

But why should that be true for you? Let the others play foolishly. There’s plenty of room for you in the first two categories of players. The Captain of Craps once told me, “There’s always room at the top.” He was right. You should join that top tier. ´

Frank Scoblete is the #1 best-selling gaming author in America. He is executive director of the Golden Touch advantage-play seminars in craps and blackjack. His websites are www.goldentouchcraps.com, www.goldentouchblackjack.com and www.scoblete.com in association with CasinoCityTimes.com. His recent books are The Golden Touch Dice Control Revolution! and The Golden Touch Blackjack Revolution! His new DVD is Golden Touch: Beat Craps by Controlling the Dice! which shows over 200 controlled dice throws – many in slow motion. For a free brochure or to order Frank’s products, call 1-800-944-0406.

How do you rank among casino players.

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