7 Things You Never Knew About Casinos

Americans love gambling. We spend billions of dollars every year at land-based casinos, from the high desert of Las Vegas to the riverboat casinos of the Mississippi Delta. Forty US states are home to at least one casino. Even conservative Texas has a casino within its borders.

The casino business has been booming for nearly 100 years. From its early days as a frontier distraction to the multi-billion dollar mega-businesses of today, casino gambling has enthralled Americans as long as it’s been available. But I bet you didn’t know all these cool facts about the casino business.

Read on for a fascinating look at how the betting industry really works.

1. Casinos lose money all the time
Sure, most players end up losing money. But you have to figure high cost of the property, staff, and complimentary items keep casinos from beating everyone. Of course those patrons who play very little or are accompanying real players make up a large portion of this group, but there are many players that are actually able to win over a long period of time. This group includes blackjack card counters, but the largest percentage is comprised of players who gamble just enough to qualify for freebies and complimentary giveaways like free rooms and meals.

2. They love winners
You might assume that the casino isn’t happy when someone cashes in a big jackpot. But that’s far from the truth. Think about it – do you want to play at a casino that never pays out big winnings or a casino that regularly advertises big prizes? Big wins are good for business, so don’t be surprised to see a bunch of smiles and glad-handing when the supervisor hands you a big progressive prize.

3. Card-counters are welcome … in Atlantic City
If you’re an advantage gambler of any type, you run the risk of getting kicked out of a casino in Las Vegas or most other parts of the country. Most casinos reserve the right to kick out anyone they suspect is counting cards or using other advantage techniques. But if you’re a card-counter and you want to use your skill freely, there is one place you’re welcome. Atlantic City is explicitly open to blackjack card-counters and other advantage bettors. How do they do it? They’ve adapted. For example, the rules for blackjack are altered to account for the impact of card counting tactics.

4. Think you’ve been ripped off? There’s an agency for that
Every legal casino in America is run by a regulatory agency. If you think you’ve been cheated, you can contact Gaming Control (or whatever agency runs the show where you were playing) and lodge a formal complaint. Just don’t use this service to whine about cold food or a broken elevator. Those particular complaints should be made to the casino’s manager, not to a government body meant to curtail casino cheating.

5. If you win big, you can ask for a check instead of cash or chips
This one surprised me – I’ve never seen it done before, and I’ve been in casinos plenty of times. Apparently, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for a check if you have a decent-sized win. Basically, any hand-pay you get in Vegas or AC can be turned into a check, so long as you ask nicely and do it before you get your cash or chip pay-out. You can even get a combination pay-out, part in a check, part in cash, and part in chips. Remember – your casino is basically a service economy with you as its target. If you play a lot and talk sweetly to the employees, you can get pretty much whatever you want, within reason.

6. You need a current and valid photo ID on you pretty much at all times
Though some US casinos allow players in at age 18 (particularly in Alaska), the gambling age in pretty much every other US state is 21. To enforce that, the casino demands that all players have a valid photo ID on them at all time while on the floor. Don’t even try the old “Oops, I left my ID up in my room” trick. The casino can (and will) ask you to leave if you don’t have your ID on you.

7. Casinos have strict etiquette rules – including language restrictions
Contrary to the stereotype of the casino as a den of iniquity, gambling halls actually have pretty lengthy lists of rules and proper etiquette that you must follow. The quickest way to get a nasty look from your dealer or even a warning from the pit is to open your mouth and let one of those famous “four-letter words” slip out. My advice – act like you’re playing craps with your grandmother. You’ll be better off, and the other bettors around you will appreciate your kindness.

5 Things All Casino Gambling Fans Are Sick of Hearing

The life of a casino gambling fan is filled with peaks and valleys. On one hand there are the good days, when chips seem to rain from the heavens and all the cocktail servers are part-time models.

Then there are the bad days, when the old lady with the oxygen tank blows smoke in your face and every game seems out to get you. Of course, that just comes with the territory.

What doesn’t come with the territory, however, are some of the stupid comments you have to listen to while trying to win a few extra bucks. The ones heard in the background are irritating enough, but when the moronic chatter is directed right to your face it’s enough to make you choke someone.

This post details 5 things that all casino gambling fans are sick of hearing. If you’ve already been bombarded with these clichés over the years, then you have my sympathy.

For those who are just starting their gambling careers, get ready to hear these phrases until you’re blue in the face.

1. “This game is rigged.”
Let’s get something straight: casino games are not rigged. Sure, the rules may ultimately favor the house, but they’re also clearly printed for the customer to read.

The idea that the casino would cheat in the middle of play is ridiculous, and it’s one of the most common things that losing gamblers tell themselves. This allows them to take the blame off themselves for their perceived misfortunes.

If you do nothing else, don’t delude yourself into thinking that you’re being cheated. Just admit your role in the process and take your losses like a man (or woman).

2. “The drinks are free around here. Yes!”
Whenever I hear this, I try to get away as soon as possible. These words are usually spoken by someone who loves alcohol, and those free drinks will soon leave them sloppy drunk and wanting to strike up a conversation with their neighbor (in this case, you).

They don’t seem to realize that everything the casino does is for a purpose. When you have too much to drink, your brain ceases to work as effectively. When that happens, your ability to make decisions is adversely affected.

All of these factors add up to an advantage for the house. While you’re chugging down imported beer, the casino is lifting your wallet and quietly removing the contents.

3. “Hey, pal, can I borrow $5? I’ll pay you back after I win.”
No matter how bad your losing streak gets, you should never, ever ask a stranger to lend you money. Not only is it rude, it also puts the other person in an extremely uncomfortable position.

Still, I bet this has happened to me at least six times over the last decade, and I still remember every one of those cringe-worthy moments. At least you can turn down a homeless person while walking in a particular direction. In this kind of situation, you’re a sitting duck with nowhere to run to.

The only time I broke down and floated a loan was to an attractive thirtysomething female, and I still kick myself for that decision. As you might have guessed, I never got reimbursed.

It’s like feeding monkeys at the zoo. Give food to one, and the other will come running. The best policy is not to do it. After all, it’s a casino and not a soup kitchen.

4. “The smoke doesn’t bother you, does it?”
I always cringe when I’m playing slots and a blue-haired old lady sits down next to me. It’s not because I have some beef with seniors, it’s just that I’m fearful they’re a smoker. If they are, you can bet they’ll be fishing out a cancer stick within minutes of their arrival.

I’ve dealt with asthma ever since I was a child. I’ve got a minor case, but it can be aggravated by exposure to certain types of chemicals. Cigarette smoke is definitely on that list.

While I hate for someone to ask if smoke bothers me while I’m obviously turning blue, at least they have the courtesy to inquire. The people I really hate are the ones who sit down and intentionally blow it in my direction.

Here are just some of the chemicals found in cigarette smoke, as well as other places these same ingredients are located:

Butane – rubber cement
Tar – used to pave roads
Arsenic – rat poison
Ammonia – household cleaning products
Methanol – rocket fuel
Acetone – nail polish remover
5. “Time for another trip to the ATM.”
If I had a quarter for every time I’d heard this phrase uttered in casinos…well, I’d have a helluva lot of quarters.

Some players approach the casinos like maniacs, betting outrageous sums of money without even understanding the proper strategy for their game of choice. When they inevitably run out of money, their solution is simple: head back to the ATM machine.

Not only is this stupid, but it’s also a good way to end up with a drained bank account. This is exactly the reason why casinos place ATM machines around in the first place.

It’s also a total slap in the face to the concept of bankroll management. The objective is to play only with the money you can afford to lose, not dip into savings that are being held aside for food, rent, and your child’s college education.

Conclusion
Gambling at the casino can be tough, as a winning streak can quickly turn into a living nightmare. It’s all part of the game, though, and experienced gamblers learn to take the good with the bad.

While players can get used to the ups and downs of gaming, there are some phrases and clichés that are likely to set off even the most seasoned pro. Yell one of these at Doyle Brunson the next time he putters by on his scooter, and he’s likely to try and run you over.

Beating Baccarat – Winning Systems & Strategies

Baccarat is one of the oldest casino games, remaining virtually unchanged over the past four centuries. It’s a game that gives off an air of elegance. Baccarat’s cousin chemin-de-fer is the favorite game of James Bond.

Certain parts of the gambling world are more in thrall with baccarat (or punto banco, or chemin-de-fer) than others. Macau is the modern baccarat hotspot – what Las Vegas is to poker, Macau is to baccarat. By the same token, you won’t find a huge baccarat audience in Atlantic City or anywhere else in America, really. The game is still really popular in parts of Europe, but it’s catching on in Asia (with Macau as the flashpoint) faster than anywhere else in the world.

Baccarat is a card game, but don’t confuse it too much with blackjack. Blackjack offers a lot of opportunities for strategy – it’s a mathematician’s game that can be managed through the use of basic strategy. Baccarat depends more heavily on luck – in some cases entirely on luck – to produce winnings. If you find yourself reading a baccarat betting strategy that advertises altering your bets to get an edge, you’re being lied to.

Below are a few real tips and tricks for winning at baccarat. If you follow the advice below, you’ll be a better baccarat player, regardless of where in the world you choose to try your hand at “the royal game.”

Place the Right Wagers
Honestly, there’s only one wager in baccarat that I consider worth your time. I can give you all the baccarat wagering tips you need in just two statements:

Never bet on “tie.”
Always bet on “banker.”
The house edge on banker wagers in baccarat is just 1.06%. That’s better odds than even the best craps bet. That’s the kind of odds you can only get in blackjack with perfect strategy and a little bit of luck in terms of liberal rules. If you stick ONLY to the banker bet, the casino has a slim advantage. Sure, they’ll eventually win all your cash, but at least with this wager it’ll take them a bit longer.

The tie bet is a classic sucker bet – it pays out at 8 to 1, but actually gives the house an edge of more than 14%. If the tie bet paid out at 14 to 1, we might be having a totally different conversation. Unfortunately, the gap between true odds and payout odds is too great. If you ever place a “tie” bet and I’m nearby, you’ll probably get offered a free beverage and then have to listen to a mini-lecture on your wicked ways.

What about side bets? I’m never a fan of side wagers, and the ones available on some baccarat games are no exception. The most popular is called the “Dragon Bonus,” which pays off if your bet wins by four points or more or if you win with a natural 9. It pays out as a 1:1 bonus but must be triggered with a $1 side wager. The house edge for the Dragon Bonus is about 6%, which makes it a definite no-go in my opinion. All other baccarat side wagers offer either equivalent or worse odds. They’re sucker bets to be avoided.

Look for Small-Shoe Games
Most baccarat games use an eight-deck shoe – that means the game is played with eight decks of cards. Small-shoe games, popular everywhere you find a real game of baccarat, use a shoe of just six decks. Rumors abound about an Atlantic City game that occasionally uses a half-shoe (four decks), but I can’t confirm that.

Here’s a tip – if you find a baccarat game with a reduced shoe, play it. I don’t care how many decks are in it, if it’s fewer than eight. Every deck removed from the game affects your likelihood of winning by a tiny percentage. Though short-shoe games aren’t all that much better odds-wise than full games, every little bit helps.

Manage Your Money (and Quit While You’re Ahead)
Managing your money means establishing a unit bet size, sticking to win and loss limits, and (above all) gambling for entertainment rather than income. When you establish your budget, your bet size, and other facets of your bankroll management program, you should be fully prepared to lose the cash you’ve set aside for your baccarat play. If you think of that money as the casino’s, which you exchange for entertainment a little bit at a time, you’ll be surprised with how differently you feel about your losses at the table.

Another major aspect of bankroll management is quitting while ahead – if you manage to get ahead, that is. Bets on player and banker give the house a 1.06% and a 1.24% edge respectively, which is small, but significant enough that it will eventually drain your bankroll. If you’re foolish and bet on tie, you’re staring down a 14.36% casino advantage, which will make your money the casino’s money at an even faster rate than usual. If you find yourself up $100, and you’re happy with that, walk away and finish the day a winner.

Conclusion
Though baccarat doesn’t enjoy the same level of popularity the world over as it does in parts of Asia and Europe, it’s still a classic casino game, popular enough to be available in online versions at any worthwhile Web-based casino site. Baccarat has a rich history, a flavor of nobility, and a couple of decent wagers in the form of “banker” and “player” wagers.

Provided you don’t fall for any outlandish wagering systems, or place the “tie” bet pretty much ever, you should have a good long session of baccarat for your investment. Just make sure to manage your finances appropriately. Nothing ruins a good time like an empty wallet.