List of the five best bets you can find in a casino. Besides his gaming column John also has written five books about casino gambling including the very popular slot machine answer book John has appeared on three Travel Channel specials about casino gambling and he also writes monthly articles for several gaming related magazines.
Before we start I need to explain that John will only be talking about free online pokies that can be found on the main casino floor. That means he’s not including sports betting or race betting or it’s possible for a good-enough handicapper to get an edge and he’s also not including live poker where you can have an edge if you’re the best at the table but your edge is dependent on the skill of the other players so with that in mind here’s John with his list of the five best bets you can find in a casino.
Number five on our list of best casino games is a game that I often call the best no brainer bet in the casino and that’s baccarat takes no skill to play whatsoever it is a simple guessing game you are betting on which hand you think we’ll wind up closer to a total of nine the player hand or the banker hand don’t be fooled by the names you don’t get your own hand there are just two hands that are dealt and one is designated player one is designated banker if you bet on banker and you win you pay the house a commission of 5% which is where the house gets its edge on the banker bet banker bet wins more often than the player bet if there was no can there was no Commission then you would have an edge and the casino is not going to do that however as it is the house edge is very small on that bed it’s only one point zero six percent for a bet with that that has no no strategy you don’t have to learn anything but the cards are dealt according to a formula that is a very very good bet and the flip side of that the player bet is also a very very good bet it is a one point two four percent house edge again a low house edge it takes no skill whatsoever to make it this is this guessing game is a good one for players it is why that this game is a very popular game with high rollers it’s you look in the high limit rooms at net many casinos you’ll find a big baccarat player and that is where a lot of the big money in casinos is actually wagering.
Number four on our list of good casino games. The best casino games on the main casino floor is video poker now there’s a lot of variability in video poker video poker has some great games that are some of the best games in the casino games on which it’s possible for an expert player to get an edge some good edge on it deuces wild in its full pay version but these days and you see in locals places in Nevada and not really not much of anywhere else full pay deuces wild with expert play returns to the player a hundred point eight percent the player has an 8/10 of a percent edge on the game it’s a great bet. We have a game called 1075 double bonus poker and the ten refers to a ten for one payoff on a full house the others refer to the payoffs on flushes and straights that is a 100 point one seven percent game with expert play if all video poker games were like that if they all had theoretical percentages of over a hundred percent video poker would rank a lot higher on the list however in many jurisdictions you don’t find 100 percent games at all and even Nevada they’re becoming increasingly rare especially on the Las Vegas Strip we just don’t see those games anymore like we once did it takes some study it takes some work training software’s essential if you’re going to learn to play video poker at that level but for an average player one thing you do want to watch out for are the payoffs on full houses and flushes every unit that a full house or flush is taken down because that’s where casinos change the pay tables in order to decrease the payback percentages each unit that those are taken down costs you about 1.1 percent so we have a game that’s called 9/6 jacks or better and it doesn’t say it out on machine until that says jacks are better on the machine you have to look at the pay table to see that full houses are paying nine four one flushes or four six four one that’s why players call it 9/6 jacks or better with expert play that pays players ninety nine and a half percent if as is fairly common that nine six is taken down to eight five eight four one full houses five four one on flushes we’re losing 2.2 percent of our pay back your one point one percent on each of those hands which takes the overall payback percentage with expert play to 97.3% so watch out for those games look around the casino and choose the best version of the game that’s available in that casino now I mentioned that some video poker games can pay over a hundred percent if you play at expert level there are some that pay ninety five percent 94 percent even lower even if you play it expert level you know with those games the expert play is not to play them but you do have to watch those pay tables making sure that you get the best version of the game that’s available to you
Third on our list of the five best casino bets are the good bets at craps. Now craps has good bets and bad bets and a lot in between you have to understand what you’re getting into when you make a crafts bet there are all kinds of different house edges on the different bets and craps two of the good ones are pass and come and their opposites don’t pass and don’t come which if you leave them alone and just make those bets the house edge is one point four one percent on pass or come one point three six percent and don’t pass or don’t come now one of the big advantages in craps at making those pass and come bets are the ability to back the bets with what are called free odds you can once a point is established once the shooter has established a point number you can back your original pass bet with a free odds wager and that wager is paid at true odds for example if you have five dollars on the pass line shooter rolls a six that becomes your point number now you can back that with free odds and let’s just use single odds as an example now you back it with an amount that’s equal to your wager and then if the shooter then rolls another six before rolling a seven you win both your pass bet and the free odds but your pass bet your five-dollar pass bet wins five dollars your five-dollar free odds bet wins six dollars because the odds of winning that wager are six to five against you so the combination then has a lower house edge than that one point four one percent we talked about is a cuyahoga pass and comb it with single odds betting that equal amount it drops to zero point eight percent casinos that allow double lines it drops to zero point six percent and it keeps dropping we see some casinos today that offer hundred times odds if you have a five-dollar pass but you can back that with five hundred dollars and odds a hundred times the amount of your bet and that drops the house edge all the way down to two hundredths of a percent now some people will say well that’s a better bet than then blackjack for a basic strategy player and it is if you’re sufficiently bankrolled and you know how to use the odds and you can afford to bet five hundred and five dollars at once there is that however for an average player we’re talking more of a house edge that gets under 1% but not all the way down into the hundredths of a percent there’s another bet in craps that deserves to be on this list we’re kind of running a combination here this would be a little lower on the list if we took it by itself but this is a place bet on 6 or a place bet on 8 house edge on this is 1.5 2% because it’s a very good bet not quite as good as the best bet in craps but still one of the better bets in the casino one thing to watch out for with those place bets on 6 & 8 in craps is that you bet in multiples of 6 dollars because that wager pays you at 7 to 6 odds true odds are 6 to 5 this gives you 7 to 6 that’s the 1.5 2 percent house edge is a difference there if you don’t bet in a multiple 6 2 of $6 if you bet $5 instead the house is only going to give you $5 you don’t get that 7 to 6 payoff so you want to be sure to bet in multiples of $6 one last thing to mention before we leave craps is that for the select few who practice a method of dice control it is possible to get an edge on the game I know people who do it the people who do it are not trying to hit numbers specific numbers and every time the main thing is to depress the number of sevens it’s difficult it is a physical skill that has to be practiced and practiced and practiced we’re not going to dwell in this a great deal but if everybody could do this then with this would be our number one bet but it’s something that very few people actually do.
Number-two game on our list of good casino bets is blackjack. For a basic strategy player basic strategy has been with us since the 1950s when it was devised by an early computerized to having a team from the US Army mathematicians and blackjack is basic strategy has been refined over the years you can find charts anywhere nowadays that will tell you what your best play is it will specify every possible combination of your cards in the dealer’s face-up card and tell you for example that if you have a 16 and the dealer has a 7 face up your best play is to hit now if you take all that into account memorize the chart practice the game learn your basic strategy and play with that method you cut the house edge in a6 deck game with average rules down to about half a percent or so I means in the long run you expect to lose about 50 cents out of every $100 a wage or sometimes you’re going to win sometimes you’re going to lose but in the long run you’re going to lose about 50 cents per hundred dollars wagered a blackjack has a mix-and-match sets of set of rules and not all games are created equal even for a basic strategy player a single deck game if all other rules are equal is a better game for the player than a double deck game in fact in the might when I first started coming to Las Vegas in the 1980s we used to be able to get single deck games in which the dealer stood on all 17s and it was a game that was an even game if you learned your basic strategy it wasn’t a half percent house edge it was an even game we don’t really see that much anymore and certainly not on the Las Vegas Strip other games if it’s eight decks that increases the house edge a little bit there are things like does the dealer stand on all 17s does the dealer hit soft 17 an ace and a six for instance or h24 it is better for the player if the dealer stands on all 17s and that makes a difference of almost two tenths of a percent in the house edge so there’s all these mix-and-match sets of rules that an informed player learns along with basic strategy but we certainly can say that a player who learns basic strategy is much better off than an average player who doesn’t buy quite a bit and we talked a half percent or so edge in a six-deck game an average player who does not know basic strategy faces a house edge of more like two to two and a half percent so instead of that fifty cents per hundred dollars wagered they’re losing two to two and a half dollars per hundred dollars wagered and that makes a difference that’s why we have blackjack for a basic strategy here on our top-five list and we do not have blackjack for an average player and
Number one on our list of the best bets in the casino. Is blackjack for a card counter now blackjack we’re card counter is a game where it’s possible for the player to get an edge on the house it’s possible to make money at this game and the reason it works the reason card counting works is because you are raising and lowering your bets as the proportion of high cards low cards and the deck changes when there’s a greater proportion of high cards remaining to be played in the deck that means that there will be more black jacks more black Jack’s favor the player because the player is getting paid 3 to 2 on his black jacks unless he’s playing an awful six-to-five game that he shouldn’t be playing and the dealer does not get paid 3 to 2 on black Jack’s also when there’s a greater proportion of high cards you’re double down to play to true or if you have a six out of five for a total of eleven there’s a greater proportion of high cards remaining to be played you will get that 10 to complete your 21 more often so that’s why card counting works you raise your bets when the proportion of high cards remaining in the deck is high you lower your bets when the proportion of low cards remaining in the duck is high low cards favor the dealer if you want to know more about me you can look on my website which is casino Answer Man com I write a weekly column that goes out to newspapers and websites one place you can find that it’s called casino City Times I write for a number of magazines including casino player Midwest gaming and travel casino Journal slot manager strictly slots and I’ve written six books on gaming including the casino answer book the slot machine answer.