Coming to terms with the concept of luck

When I told a friend I was writing this article, he laughed and said that “only dummies would ever gamble.” I smiled to myself. Although it’s true that most people who gamble do lose, the real dummies are the ones who take on the casinos without first educating themselves especially on concepts about probability and odds, understanding the house edge, and identifying which games offer the best chance for success.

Unfortunately, too many newbie gamblers rely on luck to guide their experiences. Casinos can be an easy place to burn through money, so your best chance for hanging on to that hard-earned cash is through a little dose of knowledge. But, you wonder, when it comes to striking it rich in the casino, isn’t there such a thing as luck? Technically, the answer is yes – but don’t count on your rabbit’s foot to keep you on the path to riches over the long haul. The term luck can describe many situations, especially in gambling.

Someone may have a lucky run at the baccarat table, or maybe your Aunt Rosemary plays a lucky slot machine that never loses. But in order to have a realistic perspective of your chances in the casino, you need to view luck in rational and mathematical terms: Luck is a temporary fluctuation or deviation from the norm. In the short run, you may perceive that you got real lucky when the dealer busted eight hands in a row at blackjack. But in reality, such an event is just normal fluctuation – also known as a random walk – such as when the stock market drifts one direction or another. For example, in Caribbean Stud poker, for every $100 you wager, you can expect to lose about five bucks. Yet over the short run, anything can happen.

You may get lucky and finish the day ahead – or you may get unlucky and lose far more than $5. In a purely mathematical sense, neither of these results has anything to do with luck. They are simply the normal consequences of fluctuation. For example, try flipping a coin. Half the time it should be tails and half heads. But over a short-term sampling, it can veer far away from 50 percent.

Maintaining a Safe and Secure Environment

In today’s massive casinos, five-star hotels merge with gargantuan, themed buildings, encompassing entire city blocks and housing restaurants, bars, theaters, nightclubs, gaming tables, slot machines, ATMs,snack bars, gift shops, and even the occasional theme park. A casino’s security division, therefore, must function much like the police department of an entire town. This article explains who the security personnel are, lets you in on who’s watching you, and details how you can be proactive to protect yourself when betting your hard-earned money.

Security personnel: The human touch
In the old days, casinos simply had hired muscle watch after the owners’ millions. These days, casino security folks are considered important members of a casino’s floor team. Because it’s a dynamic and demanding job, casino security has become a true career; casinos offer competitive salaries and benefits so they can hire people who are mentally and physically fit. Security staffs have a two-pronged task:
– Protect the casino’s property
– Safeguard the casino’s guests
Unfortunately, a security employee’s job is made less agreeable by the fact that one task doesn’t always go hand in hand with the other. For instance, some guests are also out to separate a casino from its money, either through cheating or through faking an injury in crowded conditions. The responsibilities of security employees range from viewing the rows of surveillance cameras in high-tech rooms to patrolling the casino floors, constantly on vigil for fights, thieves, drunks, and other disturbances.

Surprisingly, security also keeps a close eye on the help – casino employees have initiated many cheating scams over the years. You can easily spot the security staff; they’re always available to help you
resolve a conflict or point you in the right direction. Even though every casino is different, security staff typically wear a uniform that is quasi-military, with a shirt that says SECURITY or at least a nametag or badge that identifies them as such. Other identifying features include a walkie-talkie, a badge, and possibly a gun. Keep the gun in mind the next time you feel the urge to help yourself to the dealer’s chips.
Bigger hotels can have several dozen security officers working at the busiest times of day and a supervisor in each major area of the casino who manages the team. Security supervisors must wear many hats, including the hat of a diplomat. Their staff is on the front lines, both protecting and ejecting guests, and when the occasional temper flares or a misunderstanding arises, the security supervisor must wade in to render an on-the-spot verdict.

Surveilance: The eye in the sky
On-site security personnel at a casino can only see so much when trying to protect the casino and its guests. To assist them in their daily rounds, security personnel rely on electronic surveillance – the eye in the sky. One-way glass conceals thousands of digital cameras in any casino. Some are hidden where you least expect them. Others are prominent, large, and noticeable so that they serve as warnings. Technology is such today that sophisticated cameras can see not only a player’s face but also the cards in his or her hands and even the serial numbers on dollar bills. On-site security personnel can view banks of television screens to identify cheats and save casinos millions of dollars each year.
In the most brazen scenarios, a nickel-and-dime thief reaches over from his machine to grab grandma’s slot tokens. The cameras capture his attempt, and the thief is quickly arrested. In less obvious but equally common situations, security personnel carefully observe, identify, and apprehend cheats and cons.
Although most surveillance is for the detection and prevention of cheating and swindling, the eye in the sky also protects honest gamblers from slick crooks prowling the casino for easy prey. The newer casinos have cameras outside the building, such as in the parking garages, to cast the safety net farther for you.

Meeting the Casino’s Cast of Characters

A vast and sometimes complicated hierarchy of employees with a variety of titles, responsibilities, and even different styles of dress populates a casino. These workers simultaneously cater to the needs of the guests and the casino owners. No matter who they are, the casino employees all have one goal in common: to provide you with ample opportunities to try your luck against the unevenly-stacked house odds.

Casino employees are usually pleasant, professional, and well-trained individuals (after all, if you’re treated with courtesy and respect, you’re more likely to stay – and spend -longer). In this section, I introduce you to the pleasant cast of characters you may encounter, and I explain their unique roles. With this knowledge, you’re better equipped to take advantage of their services to your advantage.

In the pits: Serving the table players
As you explore the responsibilities of the various casino personnel, it helps to split the casino into two parts:
– The area where slot machines appear in endless rows.
– The area where you play table games, such as blackjack, craps, or roulette.

The casino arranges the tables in clusters, similar to wagon trains encircled to protect against an attack. These groups of tables are known as pits. Each pit is designed to be an autonomous, fully functioning business, equipped with a variety of table games and a small community of casino personnel that is always willing to usher your dollar bills into the casino coffers.

Pit bosses
Pit bosses are smartly attired, experienced professionals who are responsible for all the gaming operations in their assigned pits. As the name implies, pit bosses are just that: bosses. They supervise floorpersons (see the next section), dealers (see the section “Dealers”), and the garners within their pit.
Theirs is a very detail-oriented job, requiring not only intimate knowledge of all aspects of the games but also the ability to keep track of thousands of dollars flowing through their spheres of influence. Even though the average gambler probably doesn’t have much contact with a pit boss, in the event of a serious dispute, the pit boss is the one who steps in to settle matters. Among other tasks, pit bosses monitor credit markers, or the amount of credit extended to you, and they dispense camps, such as free meals or shows, doled out according to an elaborate formula based on the number of hours you play
and the amount of money you wager.
Winning or losing vast sums of money often ignites supercharged emotions. Another responsibility of the pit boss is to make sure those emotions don’t explode into conflict. The pit boss is there to congratulate as well as to calm, to soothe as well as to strong-arm. The pit boss’s job is part security staff, part supervisor, part gambling expert, and part public relations manager.

Reporting to each pit boss (see the previous section) are several other suits known as floorpersons. The main difference from pit bosses is that floorpersons are in charge of only a couple of tables in the pit and report directly to the pit boss. They dress and act like the pit boss, and you typically can’t distinguish between the two without asking. Both of them make sure that proper casino procedure is followed. These procedures include refilling dealer chip racks, monitoring markers, and handing out comps, all while remaining cool and calm.

For most people, gambling is a social sport. Because the machine games are a more solitary venture, many players prefer the camaraderie of table gaming. Dealers are at the center of this emotional wheel of fun. Excellent customerservice skills are a requirement; after all, dealers stand on the front line when it comes to irate, belligerent, or inebriated gamblers. Even during high-pressure situations, dealers must promote a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere.
Dealers have their fingers on the pulse of the casino – figuratively and literally. Their hands, after all, deal the blackjacks and the full houses and take the money you lose or payoff your winners. Theirs is a high-pressure job with a demanding audience. Overseeing several players at a table, dealers must be confident in their gambling knowledge. They must know who wins, who loses, and how much to payout on each hand. Many gamers mistakenly believe that dealers simply shuffle and deal cards, but dealers must also handle dice, chips, and money – accurately and quickly.
Dealers have a wide range of personalities. Some are polite and ebullient, others efficient and brusque. Although finding a compatible dealer doesn’t change the cards or the size of your winnings, it can make your gaming experience more enjoyable and, sometimes, that’s as much as you can ask for. You can spot a good dealer by his or her smile, humor, demeanor, and often the size of the crowd at the table. When you find one you like, sit down, but remember the dealer has no control over the outcome. Most dealers prefer that you win because they make their money primarily from tips.

Slot employees: The reel dealers
The average American casino makes nearly two-thirds of its profits from its various slot machines. Much is at stake along the rows and rows of clingclanging slot machines and electronic games. Therefore, casinos are diligent when it comes to maintaining and stocking them for long-term play. Just like the pit bosses and dealers who watch over the table games (see the previous section), the staff members assigned to the slot machines – the slot attendants and the slot supervisors – keep a careful eye on their vast realm.

Slot attendants
The person you’re most likely to deal with if you have a problem or question about your machine is a slot attendant. Slot machine attendants are on constant vigil, ever watchful for the next jackpot or flashing light requesting service. They’re usually wearing a uniform and sometimes push carts with oodles of money so they can give change to bettors in need. The attendants are the perfect people to ask if you’re not sure how to play a particular machine; they know every bell, cherry, and bar like the back of their hand.
Ifyou need change, assistance with a game, or simply a bill that’s just a tad crisper than the one you have, summon a slot attendant, who’s usually at your beck and call. However, if a machine needs repair, the slot attendant calls a slot technician.

Slot supervisors
The slot supervisor rules the realm of the slot machines, managing employees and overseeing the maintenance and upkeep of the machines. The slot supervisor generally has several slot attendants as direct reports. For casual gamblers, slot supervisors normally play a part in your life only if you hit a jackpot that can’t be paid out in coins.

Casino Sportsbooks

In Nevada, most casinos have a sports book, an area devoted to betting on sporting events such as horse races or ball games. In smaller casinos, the sports book may be nothing more than a counter with a tote board hung behind it. But the larger casinos have super-sized rooms full of amenities designed for anyone willing to put his money where his mouth is. Every inch of wall space is used inside a sports book; dozens of megasized, high-definition monitors show games as they’re played, and digital displays listing the current odds, scores, and available bets for the day cover the walls.

The newer places, such as the Wynn in Las Vegas, really roll out the red carpet for bettors. Their sports book features leather sofas, couches, and chairs that are so comfortable, you could fall asleep there.
Not ready to place a bet just yet? No problem. The sports books are open to everyone. And if big ball games don’t excite you, there’s always horse (and dog) racing because mostplaces simulcast horse (and sometimes dog) racing from tracks all around the country.

If you don’t feel like leaving your table to head to the bar, most casinos have servers who take drink orders. You can pay and tip them with chips from the casino or cash. However, if you want to eat, most casinos don’t allow eating at the table. You need to visit one of the many restaurants to chow down.

Table Games: Penetrating the inner circle

Just as the sun is the center of the solar system, the table games rest in the middle of the casino system, attracting visitors ever inward and at the same time providing the main source of energy and vitality to the floor. Table games
are grouped together into areas known in casino lingo as pits. The pits are separated from slot machines, restaurants, and other casino functions by a wide aisle, allowing nonplayers to watch the action and vicariously enjoy the thrill of
turning over the winning card or nailing the winning roll.

Table games you can play include
– Baccarat: The classic card game is often played in a separate room to create a more civilized and secluded atmosphere.
– Blackjack: Determine your own fate with smart decisions and timely double downs.
– Craps: Roll the dice and hear the crowd roar in the most boisterous game on the floor.
– Poker: It’s just like your neighborhood game, except you never have to shuffle.
– Roulette: Pick a number, place your bet, and then watch the spinning wheel go round and round.

If you’re a high roller, the most exclusive gaming tables with the highest betting limits are often in adjoining rooms, separated by glass from the other tables. They feature fancy amenities, such as private cocktail servers or a bar.
But most table games are designed for moderate bettors. The loud, boisterous call of a lively crowd gathered around the craps table can seem like a siren song to players tempted to leave the boredom and repetition of the slots, and that’s no accident. The intimate nature of the poker table beckons would-be strategists, while the smoky haze surrounding a blackjack game cries out to the novice with its lack of intimidation.

Slot machines: Place them and they will come

As you enter the casino proper, you see hopeful gamblers, often two-deep, standing in line, patiently waiting their turn to reap the spitting, buzzing payoffs from the slot machines. You operate the slot machines by pushing the buttons or yanking down on the lever to the side. Larger casinos hold aisle after aisle of slots, like rows of corn.

Casinos typically place the most profitable slot machines within easy access to the main traffic aisles, such as the foyer, restaurants, and bars, and are extremely careful to place high-hit frequency slots within earshot of the thronging masses.

If you venture farther onto the casino floor, you can see this philosophy in action. Clusters of people sit at the corner slots, sometimes two-deep as the individuals standing in line patiently await their turn to enjoy the spitting, buzzing payoffs. As you venture down the aisles of slots, you may find a few open machines, but not many. As one row ends, another aisle begins. Some of the most popular machines are Double Diamond and Wheel of Fortune. 

Glitzy Casinos

When you step into a modern megacasino, prepare to be dazzled. Blinking lights and ringing bells signal jackpots. Glittering chandeliers and rich furnishings and fabrics often mimic the sequined gowns and dapper dress of the folks at the high-roller tables. Clinking ice chills your drinks, and courteous staff appear to serve your every whim. When you see and hear these characteristics, you know you’ve walked into a fantasy world where every hand you play can be a winner, and every pull on the slot machine may make all your dreams come true.

Lucky gamblers make fortunes every day, but the reality is that most money ends up on the other side of the table. And the casino, or the house, is willing to pour millions of its profits into making sure you walk inside, stay inside, and – most importantly – gamble inside.

Always remember that, in addition to wanting your business, casinos provide a service to you, so you have every right to shop around for the establishment that best serves your needs. To assist you in your shopping, some casinos have Web sites where you can take a 360-degree virtual tour without ever leaving your house. I hope this article accomplishes a similar goal.

When you step foot into a casino and give you not only a glimpse of the razzle-dazzle designed to distract you but also the blueprint of the typical casino. I explain why this goes here, that goes there, and with whom you interact.

The shrewdly packaged allure of the casino starts the minute you pull up to the glittering facade. From neon signs to valets to the smooth hum of the slidingglass doors, the modern casino entrance is designed to attract you. Every possible consideration is given to design, color, and lighting.

The scheme doesn’t end at the front steps, however. As you proceed through the casino’s front door, every square inch of floor space entices you into moving forward. Like a siren call, the sounds of winning jackpots beckon you onward, as do the color schemes, floral arrangements, glittering lights, slot machines, and table games. Ifyou aren’t prepared, you may become disoriented inside a casino. The master plan behind the traffic flow is to bring you (and your wallet) into close proximity with the slot machines or table games at every opportunity. The pulsating pace of the gambling world is seductiveand makes it hard for you to leave a winner.

Feeling overwhelmed – and not a little manipulated? It can be deflating to discover that the sounds, sights, and even smells are devised to lull you into a mesmerized state where you continue emptying your wallet into the casino coffers. But a casino visit doesn’t have to be a Svengali-like experience.

Don’t let the harsh realities of the casino world turn you off. Embrace them, because knowledge is power. And by understanding the psychology of casino design and getting to know the employees who perform their duties within the casino, you put yourself in a better position not only to enjoy the casino as an entertaining leisure activity but also to maintain the level-headedness and critical thinking required to succeed at your gambling ventures. Your mission – if you choose to accept it – is to educate yourself before you enter these temples of chance. Ifyou build your understanding of the components of a casino and the people who make it run, you’re more likely to make rational decisions when it comes to the games you choose to play and less likely to part with the contents of your pocketbook because of some subliminal pull.

Casino machine games

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 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.

Sports betting:
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.

Casino Gambling 101

I was a big golf fan during the game’s golden age, when Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer ruled the links. Yet, despite the presence of those two titans, I idolized Gary Player, a South African whose diminutive size made for a less-than-intimidating physical presence in the tee box. But Player’s welter-weight appearance belied a heavy-weight swing. I was always amazed that someone so small could hit the ball so far.

Believe it or not, casino gambling and in some ways no deposit bingo is a lot like golf. And, no, not because both games are about going for the green. Golf is all about technique, skill, and knowledge. And masters of the game are inspiring to watch. With swings as graceful and elegant as a ballet dancer’s leap, they make each challenging stroke look effortless. The pros seem to play as smoothly as those on the PGA tour. But, as in golf, the successful player has gathered important knowledge and studied effective strategies to finesse the outcome in his or her favor.

In other words, casino pros aren’t winners just because they’re lucky, any more than Tiger Woods is a golf god because the angels of the green have smiled upon him. Trust me, the greats of the poker tournament circuit may look like they could take the table in their sleep – but they’re skilled, savvy, and have studied the game diligently.

I’m guessing, though, that you’re not planning to become the Tiger Woods of blackjack … or keno … or the slots. Your gambling aspirations are probably similar to my golf ambitions: to play better, win more often, and increase
enjoyment of the experience. And you have every reason to believe that you can attain your goal. But success requires knowledge, strategy, and some skill. You’ve come to the right place. This article can provide the preparation you need to help you find your swing in the casino.

Entering the Casino: What You’re Up Against

The first secret to gambling success is to understand the inner workings of the casino world before you’re seduced by the flash and dazzle. Casinos are sophisticated and highly successful enterprises – and they don’t get that way by giving away money. Your best bet, then, is to be aware of basic casino operations so you can manipulate the experience to your advantage.

Marketing their way to your wallet
They see you coming from miles away. They know exactly who you are, how much money you make, what you like and dislike, and whether you’re married, single, or divorced. Who are these omniscient watchers who track your
secrets? The IRS? CIA? Al-Qaeda?

None of the above. I’m talking about the marketing gurus at modern casinos. They’re constantly studying reams of data on millions of gamblers to develop profiles of guests who most willingly spend their discretionary income on a
couple hours of distraction.

Nothing is left to chance in a modern casino. Every possible element, from the design of the wallpaper to the thickness of the carpet, is there to draw you in and keep you gambling as long as possible. All the colors, sights,
sounds, and sensations serve one purpose: to make you happy – even when you lose.

Accepting the odds: The house rules
The casino’s first commandment is “The house shall always win.” A couple of games permit sharp players to break even or eke out a small edge occasionally. But casinos are in business to make money, so for most players, winning is a losing proposition.

Why? Three good reasons:
– The house charges a vigorish (commission) in some games, such as sports betting.
– In many games, the casino doesn’t payout true odds.
In roulette, for example, there are 37-to-l odds of guessing the right number. But if you win, the payout is only 35 to 1. This difference may seem small, but that discrepancy actually gives the house one of the biggest edges in the casino.
– The casino has a house edge – a mathematical advantage over the player in any game. Throughout the casino, players must overcome odds that aren’t favorable to winning.

Your goal is to find games where the casino has the lowest edge. Craps is a great example. This fun, exciting game offers great odds – if you stay away from the bad bets.

Protecting Your money with a plan
For most people, developing a strategy for doling out their gambling bankroll can keep them out of serious trouble. Set a budget and stick to it. Consider contingencies (such as losing your bankroll in the first few minutes of your
visit) and know how to respond when your wallet gets whacked.

Your strategy, however, is only as good as your willpower. Nothing jacks up casino profits faster than indisciplined gamblers. If you’re an impulsive type, then gambling may leave your bank account looking like it just went 15 rounds with a heavyweight boxing champion.

Now, it’s certainly true that most people can save their money by avoiding casinos altogether. So, the best advice I can give to folks who don’t want to lose money is simple: Don’t gamble! But the conservative and prudent path in life isn’t the only choice (and that would make for a very short book). Gambling can be a great way to spice up a vacation and break out of a boring routine. Gambling is all about taking a risk – exposing yourself to a chance of loss.

However, don’t overdo it. Government studies show that as many as 1 in every 25 adults has a problem with compulsive gambling. Think about that the next time you sit down at a blackjack table. Several people in the pit probably shouldn’t be there. Could you be one of them? Gambling addiction is a serious matter.

Identifing the colors of the rainbow

Knowledge is power and is your only ally against the formidable forces that threaten to separate you from your hard-earned cash. One piece of knowledge you definitely need, particularly if you’re going to wade into the shark-
infested waters of table games, is the varying colors and matching denominations of standard casino chips.

The casinos make this bit easy for you because the chips also have a denomination printed on them so that you know the red chip, for instance, is worth $5 and the green chip is worth $25. The following is a comprehensive list of
common casino-chip colors, as well as their corresponding values:

– White: $1
– Red: $5
– Green: $25
– Black: $100
– Purple: $500
– Burgundy: $1,000
– Brown: $5,000

Measuring Your Gambling

Individuals who find the greatest pleasure in gambling do so with

– Realistic intentions
– An understanding of the odds
– An informed strategy
– Some skill, depending on the game

To paraphrase the character Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, it’s no great shame to lose at gambling – but it’s no great honour, either. I emphasize that gambling can be a fun experience whether you win or lose … but it’s a lot more fun when you win.

In that spirit, I hope to arm you with the understanding and knowledge you need to maximize your enjoyment and success at casino gambling. Before you take a step into a casino, I suggest you answer the following ten questions to measure your grasp of gambling and the world of casinos. If you answer them all correctly, congratulations! And if not? Not to worry; you’ll soon pick it up by reading hte articles on this site.

The questions

1.    To come out ahead overall at sports betting, you need to win approximately

A.    50 percent of the time.
B.    53 percent of the time.
C.    20 percent of the time.

2.    You’re playing Annie Duke at the final table of the World Series of Poker. She makes a big bet         and then starts blinking her eyes rapidly. Is she
A.    Flirting with you?
B.    Having contact problems?
C.    Bluffing?
3.    At which game would you lose more per hour (on average)?
A.    Playing a 25c: Double Diamond slot machine
B.    Playing $1 video poker
C.    Playing single-deck blackjack for $100 a hand
4.    You’re at the roulette table and a black number has come up five times in a row. What are the     odds that the next number will be red?
A.    47.3 percent
B.    75 percent
C.    50 percent

5.    How many US states have legalized gambling?
A.    48
B.    52
C.    2
6.    Players who bet on the pass line in craps are hoping the first roll is a
A.     12
B.     Yahtzee
C.     7
7.    Video poker is adapted from what poker game?
A.    Texas Hold’em
B.    Strip poker
C.    Five-Card Draw

8.    Which of these games can you play while in the bathroom?
A.    Keno
B.    Bingo
C.    Slots

9.    Where is the biggest casino in the world currently located?
A.    Monte Carlo
B.    Connecticut
C.    Las Vegas

The Answers

1.    B. In sports betting, a gambler needs to win approximately 52.4 percent of his bets to break even because the house charges a commission (or vigorish) on every bet.

2.    C. This could be a trick question because Annie Duke has bluffed and flirted on the same hand. However, rapid eye blinking is often an indicator of bluffing.

3.    C. Surprisingly, playing high-stakes blackjack can be easier on your wallet than low-limit slot machines. Assuming you know basic strategy, your loss in a good single-deck game should be less than $14 an hour. Likewise, video poker (Jacks or Better 9/6) is a good bet and also will only set you back about $14 an hour. Neither one of those is very bad, considering that three quarters going into the slot machine every spin adds up to over $15 an hour.

4.    A. No matter how many times one color or number comes up, the odds for the next spin aren’t related to past spins. And the answer isn’t 50 percent because there are also two green numbers (0 and 00) on the roulette wheel (in addition to the 18 red and 18 black numbers).

5.    A. Currently 48 states offer some form of legal gambling, but just 20 years ago, there were casinos in only two states, so C was a reasonable answer. However, if you picked B, you may want to retake that high school geography class.

6.    C. Seven is an automatic winner for pass line bettors on the come-out roll (first roll). B is incorrect because prowess at Yahtzee rarely translates into winning at the craps table – the pit boss is never happy when you try to throw all five dice.

7.    C. Video poker has many versions, but all are based on Five-Card Draw. So you never need to worry about losing your shirt (or your socks) at this game.

8.    A. Keno is one of the few games in which you don’t have to be present to win. It’s even possible to play from your room or the buffet line.

10.    B. The Foxwoods Casino just outside Hartford, Connecticut, is the biggest casino on the planet.