Turning to machine games
For some folks, the intimidation factor of table games is too much to bear. Excuse me while I dab the tears from my eyes, but I’m touched when I realize that nearly all casino operators – through the goodness of their hearts – thoughtfully accommodate shy gamblers by supplying acres of go-solo gaming machines. Even the most timid gambler can enjoy a satisfying time at these machines – no bluffing by other players, no angry gamblers if you hit or stand at the wrong time, and no embarrassment about table rules. The lone gambler squares off against a machine Cor in the case of the loony gambler, against several machines at once). Just remember that the best and worst that the casino has to offer are often sitting side by side. This section looks more closely at slot machines and video poker, two entirely different beasts. They have very different rules and very different odds. This section also briefly discusses keno and bingo.
Slot machines: From one-armed bandit to high.tech roboticts
At one time, slot machines were simple devices. You put a coin in, you pulled a lever, and the reels spun. When they stopped, you heard the soothing sounds of clinking coins … or painful silence. Sure, you spent only a nickel or a quarter, but that silence was so painful that you couldn’t help but put in another coin. If you’ve been in a casino recently, you know how everything about gaming machines has changed. The humble one-armed bandit is now a sophisticated robotic master thief, with enough computing power to fly the space shuttle. This soulless adversary even plays you a little song while it gleefully sucks up all your coins. Sure, the games still have some reminders from the past (like fruit or bells on the paylines), but the level of sophistication grows every day. And today’s slots are the most popular game in the casino, hands down – despite the fact that they offer some of the worst odds in the house. Slot machines occupy all that space on the casino floor for a good reason – people love to pump money into them, and they’re available in practically any denomination – from pennies to dollars. If you’re a person who just can’t say no to their alluring call, you can pick a worthy game with a better-than-average payout table.
Like slots, video poker offers a solo gambling experience, yet the two games are very different. Slots are primarily about luck, but video poker requires a certain amount of skill and technique. And just because you’ve played some kitchen-table Five Card Draw with your Aunt Beatrice, don’t assume you can break the bank at video poker. Several variations confront the casino guest, and you want to master the strategies before you decide whether to hold ’em or fold ’em.
The strategies for video poker can be a little complicated, but the reward for that extra work is worth it. Video poker offers perhaps the best odds of any game in the house – at least for those who play correctly.
Keno and bingo: Two old standards
Keno and bingo have many similarities, and both have a long history and a loyal following. Keno is a casino staple and a great way to stay in action while sipping on your soup in the coffee shop. Bingo is less common in casinos, although some clubs still offer this venerable game.
There is not much strategy to playing either game other than hoping to get lucky.
Bettinq on ball qames and fast horses
Some people travel across the country to a casino in order to do exactly what they do at home: sit in an easy chair and watch sports on TV. The only differ- ence? In a casino, they’re viewing sporting events and horse races on the massive projection screens in today’s best race and sports books. These plush, high-tech rooms draw fans to cheer their favorite teams or horses. So what’s the major difference between these rooms and your living room? The casino is ready and willing to take your bet on just about any sporting event.
Currently, only Nevada has casino sports betting. (You can make some sports bets online as well). When you’re in a Nevada casino, you may notice that the employees in the sports book are strangely unemotional when the crowd cheers for one team or another. Why? Because the house takes a vigorish (a small commission) from every wager, virtually ensuring a profit on every bet.
Casino guests can find all kinds of betting opportunities in the wide world of sports, including football, basketball, baseball, hockey, tennis, boxing, golf, and special events. But being a great sports fan doesn’t make you a natural winner at the sports book. Why? Point spreads and money lines add complex challenges to the process. But understanding how to handicap and analyze sports statistics can simplify that process – and help you improve the odds of winning.
If you love a day at the track, the race book is going to feel like home sweet home. After all, through the modern miracle of simulcasting, you can enjoy a day at several tracks at once, without leaving your cozy chair. Casinos dedicate luxurious space and resources to keep fans happy: leather seats, private work desks, and stacks of publications full of data on the ponies. And just when you think the experience can’t get any better, the cocktail server hands you a double espresso to get your brain into high gear before the race day starts. Comfortable? Good, now you just need to pick some winners.
In both horse racing and sports betting, your understanding of handicapping and external factors can improve your chances of winning. And both kinds of betting favor gamblers who take a contrarian view. When you go against the grain – and you’re right – you win bigger than when you bet with the crowd.