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Going for casino gambling's gold26 November 2009
The Olympics of 2008 are long, long gone and largely forgotten.
Those athletes who ran; who swam; who dived; who launched various objects into the air; who jumped; who fired guns; who shot arrows; who fenced, biked, volleyballed, baseballed, basketballed, rowed, played polo, canoed and rode horses; those who tumbled, danced, swung on high bars, played table tennis, weightlifted, wrestled and those who punched each other in the face, have now all returned to their homelands; some of them ecstatic with gold, silver and bronze medals to show the rewards of their efforts to their awed countrymen; while most of the other competitors having little tangible to show for their efforts but the certain knowledge that they tried their best and have nothing to be ashamed of.
Except for Michael Phelps' extraordinary eight-gold-medal performance and the total lack of class by the world's fastest man Usain Bolt of Jamaica and the redemption of the NBA All-Star basketball team that won back its title as the best in the world, few people will linger over the results of that competition and its meaning.
And that's a pity. The Olympics can teach us a lot about life and, for our purposes, a lot about casino gambling. They are a model for dissecting our lives as casino players.
Make no mistake about it, casino gambling is a highly competitive activity pitting the player against the casino at various high intensity games with real stakes to win and real stakes to lose. Money is as important to a casino player as a gold, silver or bronze medal is to an Olympian.
All casino games are certainly tough to beat since the casino is the odds-on favorite to take home your gold because of their low to high house edges and thus only a few outstanding casino players can smile on the winner's stand at the end of it all and realize that they received the gold or silver or bronze medal of long-term wins over the house. Most casino players who have played against the casinos for any length of time will find themselves in the masses of also-rans, similar to the hordes of marathon runners bunched up far away from those few elite ones who lead the race.
Yet, there is one stunningly marked difference between Olympians and casino players. Unlike all the Olympic athletes, most casino players are not well trained in the games they play and they give themselves almost no chance of winning even in their short run contests much less their career contests against the house.
Untrained, unmotivated, often completely superstitious, and also lacking knowledge of what they are doing in terms of strategies and odds, they are swimmers running foot races; weightlifters entering synchronized swimming contests and shot putters diving off those incredibly high platforms going splat on their toned bellies into the water.
When these casino gamblers go home without medals (that is, without their money), they cannot really hold their heads up high and know they did their best because in fact they didn't do anything of the kind. Instead they fixed the match with the casinos against themselves even before they entered gambling's arena. They quite literally lost the game before they played.
What do the Olympics say to us about casino gambling? Most of us will not win the gold or silver or bronze; but those of us who play at our highest level, using the best strategies at the card games such as blackjack, Spanish 21, and some others; betting the lowest house edge bets at craps, practicing proper money management, and finding the loosest machines to play will have the best shot at success. That is a given.
So what does it take to give the casino games your best shot? OK, take Michael Phelps who swims eight to nine hours a day; take those gymnasts who do almost as much daily work on their grueling performances; in fact, take any excellent athlete and they all have two things in common — a desire to win and the discipline to train in order to go after those wins. They also have knowledge of the intricacies of their sport.
So the very first step in taking your best shot at the casinos is to know everything there is to know about the games you wish to play. The fact that almost all casino games are easily played even by ploppy simpletons does not mean that these games don't have depths to them.
For example, take slots, the casinos' golden goose, which make between 65 and 90% of the casinos' revenue — are they all the same? You put $100 in and get back "X" percent, no matter what machine just gobbled your buck? If you think that is true, you need a lot of training.
Various slots give back various percentages. Big interlinked progressive slots such as Megabucks, Wheel of Fortune, Quartermania and the like can be taking as much as 13 to 17% of the players' money, while standalone slots with no linkage to other slots or casinos will probably be taking half or more than half as much. So which machines give you the better chance to win? So why play the highest edge machines?
Are there slots where the players can actually get a real mathematically proven edge over the house, the way card counters do at blackjack and Golden Touch dice controllers do at craps? Yes! Jerry "Stickman," a slot expert, has just published a new book titled Specific Slot Machines That Give the Players the Edge! In it he explains that certain machines have thresholds that are easily discernible, which turn the game in favor of the player. If you should be in a casino that has such machines aren't these machines the ones you should play? Aren't these the ones that give you the best chance to come home with the gold, silver or bronze medal? Why would any slot player pour coins into other machines when these advantage play machines are available?
If you want to pluck the golden feathers from the casinos' golden slot goose, play the advantage machines that Jerry "Stickman" has discovered and you have a chance to do just that.
In blackjack there are two ways to go: You can play perfect basic strategy, the computer derived best play of your hand against the dealer's up card. Using this strategy keep the house edge around one-half percent in most games. You don't even have to memorize this strategy, you can buy a card in most casino gift shops and use it at the table when you play.
You can also learn a card counting method that can actually give you the edge over the house. There are many such methods, the easiest being Speed Count created by blackjack expert Dan Pronovost and published by Casino Player columnist Henry Tamburin's Research Services Unlimited. Or you can try any one of a number of tougher traditional card counting systems as well.
Although the casinos are not in love with card counters, it is a legal activity and one that puts you in the race for a long term medal at the casinos' Olympics. Think marathon.
Craps is the most exciting game in the casino, with breathtaking winning streaks and feverish losing streaks. It is also a game with a myriad of bets, most of them bad, that can sap a bankroll and make such "crazy crappers" big losers. Smart craps players only make the lowest house edge bets, for example the pass and don't pass with odds; the come and don't come with odds; and the placing of low numbers such as the 6 and 8. You can keep the house edge between a few tenths of a percent to about 1.5%. Not bad.
Even better, some players through discipline and hard work can learn how to become Golden Touch craps dice controllers. Such a skill can change the nature of the game on some low house-edge bets to favor the player. Here again you are now the favorite to ultimately win your contest with the casinos.
Roulette is a tough game and except for Michael Phelps' types such as Laurence Scott who has developed a technique to predict where the ball will land, most players have to decrease the number of bets they make in order to decrease the number of decisions the house edge works against. The fewer decisions against you at roulette, the better your chances to be ahead.
There are also differences in the house edge among roulette games. The normal double-zero American wheel comes in with an edge of 5.26%, which is on the high side. However, the single-zero wheel has a much lower edge, 2.7%. In addition, some casinos allow surrender at their roulette games. This means if one of the even-money wagers is being made and one of the two green zeros hits, the player receives half his wager back. This reduces the house edge in half, 2.63%. Some American casinos will also allow surrender on their single zero wheels as well, bringing the house edge down to 1.35%.
Even a card game such as pai gow poker has a method to beat it — although the edge the skilled player can get is extremely small and the monetary risks extremely great. Think Olympic boxing. Still, if you can afford the pai gow advantage-play strategy, a small edge for you is better than the casino's edge against you.
The carnival games such as Let It Ride, Three Card Poker, Caribbean Stud, and Four-Card Poker, among many others, have optimal ways of keeping the house edge as low as possible. These games really can't be beaten in the long run but smart play can ultimately keep those losses lower than the big losses most players experience.
Now, learning the right strategies is the first step in taking a shot at a casino gold, silver or bronze medal. But that isn't the only skill you need. You need to have the right amount of money behind you in order to play without fear. Check out those Olympic gymnasts and high divers. If they cowered with fear about their sport they wouldn't be able to give their best during competition. In fact, they would probably hurt themselves.
Although playing against a house edge literally means the house will win in the long run, playing smart will reduce your losses and playing the proper amount of money in relation to your total gambling bankroll will allow you to lose your money without losing your mind. Serious casino players should therefore open a 401G money market checking account (the "G" stands for gambling). Put money in this account on a regular basis and think of this money as play money.
Advantage players at slots, blackjack, pai gow poker and craps will slowly see that 401G grow as these players begin the process of taking more money from the casinos than the casinos are taking from them.
Finally, if you play your absolute best, losing tonight, this week, or this month, while hurtful, will not be as devastating since you know you gave it your all. You might not have won a medal but you comported yourself properly.
A stupid player, in today's gambling parlance known as a "ploppy," might not know he has stupidly thrown away his chances to win but to paraphrase Forrest Gump, "Stupid play is as stupid player does." Those ploppies wandering the casinos are the unskilled, unschooled, underachievers whose casino gambling performances would never get them into Lady Luck's Olympics, much less take home the gold.
So be smart; be a savvy player, and give the casinos they mightiest fight that you can. Of course, losing stinks; but losing stupidly stinks even more.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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