The casino has an edge at every game we play. That house edge can be as high as 20% but as low as .05% for the casino. That’s a huge difference.
Generally, the more fun the game or certain bet is the bigger the house edge is. This is why I always tell people to keep their gaming simple when they want to play smart.
Casino games were created to keep a small advantage that would provide a nice stream of income as people played. The more people played the more money the casino would make. That’s fair. As corporations took over casinos they increased income with fluffy side bets and fun carnival-style games with a much greater advantage than the original casino games.
That’s their business and that’s fine with me. Sometimes it’s more fun to drop a few bucks at a table inside the casino and have a few drinks with friends than it is to just hang out the bar and do the same thing. There’s a chance someone will win and at least we’ll be entertained by the cards, dealers, TV’s, dancers and other people.
I’m kind of a nerd, so I look at the rules of the casino games online before visiting a casino. I don’t always use that information but I feel better knowing what I’m in for. It allows me to adjust my game play. It’s my choice as a customer whether or not to to spend my money when casinos don’t offer better odds for me.
Generally, if the rules are fair, I’ll make normal-size wagers. If the rules are tilted way too much toward the casino but I still want to play, I’ll simply reduce my wagers. There’s no reason to play $25 hands of 6:5 blackjack when the minimum is $10. The extra 3% may not be a lot on a $200 buy in for a $10 game but it’s twice as much out of my pocket with a $400 buy in.
Whatever the house edge, I know the correct moves to make so I’m not giving my money away. There is one game I won’t let the casino have the advantage on – video poker.
While table games, and even slot machines, are social games for me, video poker is a solo game. It’s difficult to hold a conversation while playing video poker properly. When employing proper strategy, or close to it, you have to pay attention to what’s happening in video poker more than any other game. Since I don’t play video poker with the restrictions of being social (ie. paying attention) I don’t like giving away any advantage.
At its most wild points, I don’t find video poker to be the most fun game in the casino. As you could guess, I keep it simple and look for the easiest game to play. Jacks or Better has the least variance of all video poker games, meaning it’s not very volatile. It also has the most simple strategy of all video poker games in part because the only great hand is a royal flush and that’s what you are playing to get.
There are no variable Four Of A Kind jackpots to distract like with some other video poker games. Knowing there’s one main prize in Jacks or Better makes it easier to focus on the correct strategy.
Casinos offer games that may be bad bets but fun, or more mundane but a smarter use of your dollar. We all want our money to last as long as it can but sometimes casino games are there for entertainment as much as the possibility to make money.
Marc Meltzer covers Las Vegas, gambling and men’s lifestyle for various outlets. Follow Marc on twitter @eastcoastgamblr. Check out his blog at www.AC2LV.com Contact Marc at [email protected].