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Gambler's Survival Kit - Part 331 May 2005
The raw basics of putting together a casino survival kit requires tangible things --- cash, players club cards, coupons, books, magazines, software and strategy cards.
Those tangibles are things we've discussed in the last couple of weeks. But getting the most out of your time in the casinos without the price of admission being too high requires an important intangible, too: an instinct for survival.
Part of the instinct for survival is taking tangibles, studying the strategies and tips contained in the books and software, and applying it to your play. Part of it is having the discipline to stick with your survival plan, sticking to the games for which you're prepared and not overbetting your bankroll. Another part is knowing yourself well enough to know what you want out of your trip to the casino. Your goals and expectations make a difference in your game choice. For instance:
** The house edge at table games tends to be lower than the house edge on the slots. In the Midwest, we're seeing casinos keep about 5 to 7 percent of everything wagered on dollar slots, 7 to 10 percent on quarters, and 10 percent or more on nickels. A "loose" slot is still keeping $5 per $100 wagered. That puts the house edge on slots on a par with or higher than the table games with the highest fixed house edges --- the 5.26 percent house edge at roulette, for instance, where the casino keeps an average of $5.26 per $100 wagered.. There are table games wagers with even higher house edges, such as the one-roll propositions at craps and the tie bet at baccarat, but both craps and baccarat also offer wagers with very low house edges.
House edges at table games can be much lower --- a half percent or so, depending on house rules, against a basic strategy player at blackjack, or 2 to 2.5 percent against an average player; 1.41 percent on pass and come and 1.4 percent on don't pass and don't come at craps, and even lower if you take advantage of free odds; 1.17 percent on banker and 1.36 percent on player in baccarat.
The combination of high house edge and rapid speed of play on the slots means that the house can expect to win more money per hour from a quarter slot player wagering 75 cents a spin than from a $5-a-hand blackjack basic strategy player.
That doesn't mean you should never play the slots. If chasing the jackpots, watching the reels and playing the bonus rounds is your idea of casino entertainment, then let 'em spin. Just have your bankroll and your expectations in order.
** Different types of slot machines will give you a different experience. Video games with second-screen bonuses are designed to give players extended "time on device," with long bonus rounds and frequent "winning" spins with paybacks less than the amount wagered. Big winning sessions on these games are rare, with few jackpots large enough to insure walking away with a profit --- the paybacks are tied up in the bonuses and small wins rather than jackpots. Traditional three-reel slots, on the other hand, will pay out more big hits, but also will have more long cold streaks that'll eat into that cash in your survival kit a lot faster than the video games will. Deciding what you want --- a chance at a big jackpot with a high risk of rapid losses, or extended play with less chance of a big hit --- is one of the keys to a slot player's survival.
** Likewise, different table games will provide different experiences. Craps is the ultimate social casino games, with most players betting on the same side and winning or losing together. Blackjack is a quieter game, with a very low house edge if you play basic strategy. It's a even-keel game, with wins or losses mounting slowly. Newer table games such as Caribbean Stud, Let It Ride and Three Card Poker are decidedly not even-keel games. Winning hands are less frequent than in blackjack. The potential is there for bigger one-hand wins, but also for faster losses. Just as on the slots, you have to decide what you want out of the game.
** Understand that the majority of gambling sessions will result in losses for the players. The games are designed to make money for the house. Even blackjack card counters who have a mathematical edge on the game have losing sessions, and the majority of sessions are losers for video poker pros who can gain small edges in the long run.
With that in mind, the player with an instinct for survival manages his money wisely. He or she takes breaks and stays fresh, quits when concentration is lagging or bankroll is sagging --- far better to come back and try another day than to dig into funds not budgeted for that day's play.
Enjoy the wins when they come, but be prepared for the losses. With preparation and a little discipline, you can do more than survive in the casino. You can have a whole lot of fun, too.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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