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Strategy

A continuation of my Craps posts. As I have been saying: There is no way to beat math. There are some who will tell you that you can “call your shots” by throwing the dice a certain way. That is balderdash that the casinos actually encourage people to believe, because it makes the gullible actually gamble more.

Why isn’t it possible? The rules of the game include a proviso that the shooter must throw the dice far enough that they hit the back wall of the table. The wall is covered in a rubber bumper that has little pyramid shaped bumps on it. Those bumps are designed to deflect the dice in unpredictable directions. If you are good enough to nail those in the same exact spot every time, you need to be playing professional golf or basketball, you will make more money than at the casino.

No, the winning strategy doesn’t involve the way you play the game. It involves the way that you bet.

I enter the casino with a daily budget. Let’s say that I am spending a weekend at a casino. I have budgeted $500 to gamble with. Since I will be there for 2 evenings, I will lose no more than $250 a day. I walk into the casino with $250 each evening, and once that is gone, I am done for the evening.

So let’s say that I enter the casino and due to random variation, I enter the casino on Friday evening with $250. I leave the casino with $375. When I enter the casino on Saturday, I do it with $250. Win or lose, yesterday’s play is yesterday. By doing this, I limit my losses while making my wins unlimited. This works pretty well. There are days that I have lost the $250 in less than an hour, and that stings. There are also days that I have walked in with $250 and then left the casino with more than $4,000.

First, don’t take the sucker bets with YOUR money. Use the casino’s money. I only take sucker bets (low chance of winning, high payout, high house edge) when I am far ahead. What this means is that you don’t make the risky bets until you have doubled the money that you started with. If you walked into the casino with $250 for the day, don’t make risky bets until you have more than $500.

Second, the best bets on the table are the pass line bet, place bets on the 6 or 8, and taking odds on your pass line bet. (I don’t like to play the “dark side” bets like “Don’t Pass.” Yes, they are bets with a low house edge, I just can’t have fun winning while the table is losing.) Personally, a sound bet to me is any bet with a house edge of 2% or less. Here are the tables for calculating house edge on multi roll bets. Stay away from single roll bets until you are gambling with their money.

Third, if the table is cold- walk away and come back later. Tables tend to run cold and hot. I know that mathematically, this shouldn’t be true- but it seems to work that way.

Lastly, make sure that you frequent one chain of casinos and make sure that you are in their player’s club. The free comps you get may well be the best part about gambling and the only way to come out ahead. Free rooms, free drinks, free food, and more. I always stick with MGM casinos and have spent my way into Platinum status there. I get free hotel rooms, sometimes free airfare, and other perks. A four night stay in a room at the NYNY Hotel in Las Vegas normally costs $500, so getting a free, four night stay is a win.

My next trip out to Vegas is already booked. They are giving me a four night stay for free (we are paying for a 5th), plus $100 resort credit for meals, plus $200 in casino credit to gamble with. (I am not specifically endorsing MGM resorts- any of the big name casinos would work just as well.) My budget for gambling for the 5 days is $1,500, but I am getting $800 in perks.

Just remember, win or lose, I play because it is FUN. Also remember my rules for gambling:

  • 1 I know that I will lose money over the long term. It is mathematically certain. So budget your gambling and stick to it.
  • 2 I gamble because it is fun and entertaining. If I ever find myself gambling while desperate to win because I need the money, it is time to quit.
  • 3 Don’t ever gamble with money you can’t afford to lose. If you are gambling your rent or grocery money, that isn’t entertainment, it’s desperation.

4 replies on “Strategy”

Simply an observation, but the free rooms, airfare, and other perks aren’t free. They’re more like Gmail or Google search.

Perks are paid for by the money people lose at casinos. And the casinos wouldn’t give them out if they didn’t see a net positive return on investment from them. In specific cases, an individual may come out ahead, net, due to the perks for doing something they would have done anyway. But just as in the last post, in aggregate, they benefit the house no matter whether any given individual is ahead or not.

I’m not saying the perks or bad, or that you shouldn’t take advantage of them. But you are in fact at least partially paying for them through other channels.

“Included in the price” if you prefer, but that is purely semantics. To count your loss in monetary terms (i.e.: I lost $1500 at the tables) without taking into account that your play earned you airfare, food, 4 days in a luxury hotel, and alcohol is not a true accounting.

However, I am under no obligation to gamble. I can just as easily stay there for four days, availing myself of food and drink without gambling a dime. So yes, it is free TO ME. The fact that other gamblers paid for it is immaterial.

I was playing blackjack on a cruise ship on our honeymoon. I started with $20 and worked my way up to $300. Then dealers changed and I got wiped out.

The new wife said “you lost $300!”

I said no, I played over two hours of cards for $20.

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