A casino is a business, not a charitable organization throwing free money away. Like any other business, it has a business model in place designed to ensure its profitability.
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- There are also six Indian casinos which are limited by law to the following maximum bet limits: blackjack-$100 (two tables in a casino may have limits up to $250), craps-$60, roulette-$50, slots/video poker-$25 and poker-$50 per bet, per round with a maximum of three rounds.
- The more people that lose money to the game, the higher the jackpot is. Class 3 slot machines are more common in large gambling cities such as Las Vegas. When using these machines players play against the House. This means that their winnings come out of the casino's pockets instead of from a jackpot.
Casino gambling is supposed to be entertainment. In my opinion, if I’m losing a bunch of money, I’m not entertained. Understanding your average hourly loss rate and knowing how to minimize that rate is a big part of playing as long as you can without going broke.
The less you lose per hour on average the longer you can play, which generally means the more fun you’ll have. This is especially important in games with large top jackpots. The longer you can play the better chance you have at hitting the large amount.
Think of the top jackpot on a video poker machine – probably in the thousands of coins, right? The reason the top prize is so much higher than even the second- or third- best prizes is that you won’t see a card combination that can lead to the top prize (generally a natural royal flush) very often. Theoretically, if you play long enough, you will eventually hit a natural.
How to Determine Your Average Hourly Loss Rate
I know of two good ways to determine your average hourly loss rate. The first way is the most accurate because it uses real outcomes.
This is a four-step process:
- Track all of your play.
- Add up your wins.
- Subtract your losses.
- Divide the result by the total amount of time you played.
This gives you a fairly accurate idea of your average hourly losses, but it does take some effort, from tracking to compiling to analyzing.
I know an easier, if less-accurate, method. You can calculate your expected average rate and use that as your own rate, for the sake of simplicity. To do this, you have to know the expected return percentage for the game you’ll be playing as well as how many hands or spins per hour you play.
Once you have these details you can figure out how much you should lose on average per hour. This is a good way to determine a vague budget for an upcoming casino trip.
Example – if you play blackjack for $10 a hand playing according to basic strategy with house rules that give the house an edge of 1%. If you play an average of 100 hands per hour, you will lose an average of $10 per hour.
Here, then, are five things you may not know that can affect your average hourly loss rate.
1. Luck Has Nothing to Do with Your Average Hourly Loss
Some people are obsessed with luck.
You can sit them down and explain that slot machines operate independently of outside influence and show them guts of the machine, and they’ll still talk about their good or bad luck.
Yes, short-term swings in success and failure occur. Calling these swings “luck” isn’t harming anyone, and it’s just as good a word to use as any.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking your average loss per hour at the casino has anything to do with luck in the traditional sense.
When you figure your average loss rate, your calculations include short term fluctuations because they’re based on the return percentage of the game and your play rate. If you don’t have enough data or the right figures, your estimate will be off, which may make you feel really unlucky. But in that instance, pilot error is the culprit, not luck.
2. The Speed of the Game Is Important
The fastest way to reduce your average loss rate per hour at a casino is to reduce the number of hands or spins per hour that you participate in.
The speed of some games is controlled by factors outside your influence – I’m thinking here of blackjack and baccarat, the stately table games that take longer to play. But gamblers can control the pace of a lot of different casino games. You can play video poker or slots and only play the number of hands per hour that you want.
You can also take breaks from the blackjack or baccarat table every hour to reduce the number of hands you play.
Roulette is a relatively slow game that’s gentle on the average hourly loss rate. But it has a higher house edge than many games. If you play, only play on wheels with a single zero. Playing on a wheel with a double zero in addition to the single zero doubles the house edge to over 5% per spin.
3. Every Casino Game Has an Ideal Strategy
Another way to improve your expected loss is play the best possible strategy for every game you play. With good house rules and perfect strategy you can play blackjack with around a half percent house edge. You can find video poker games that also reduce the house edge to a half percent or less with perfect strategy. Not So Ugly Ducks Deuces Wild and 9 / 6 Jacks or Better both offer a low house edge.
Even games with higher house edges have correct strategies you can use to reduce the edge as much as possible. You should only play games where you know and use the best strategy. The lower the house edge the longer your bankroll will last.
4. Player’s Club Benefits Can Erase or Reduce Negative Expectation
Always join the player’s or reward’s club before playing at any casino.
Most casinos don’t tell you exactly how much your play earns in comps. But remember that each free meal, free room, or other benefit reduces the amount you have to spend overall. If it costs $10 to eat at the buffet, and you get it comp’d, it’s the same as losing $10 less at the table.
By reducing the house edge as much as possible and taking advantage of the players club, you give yourself the best chance to reduce or eliminate your negative expectation.
Do you only play occasionally? You can also use casino coupons and promotions to reduce the house edge. You should use them every chance you get – even if you’re a regular player. You’ll notice the change to your average loss rate more if you aren’t a big player.
5. Some Casino Games are Beatable
If you’re willing to do the work, you can reduce the house edge on some casino games to 0 or less. This is true of 3 classic games: blackjack, poker, and sports betting.
Let’s take a closer look at blackjack, since it’s both popular and easy to describe in the context of average hourly loss.
To get an edge at blackjack, you need to learn how to count cards and find the best games. If you find the best games, you can play perfect basic strategy and reduce the house edge to around a half percent. When you become an efficient card counter, you can work with an edge against the house of a half percent or more.
Counting cards isn’t illegal. But the casinos hate it. They can ask you not to play or make the rules so poor that you can’t count.
You don’t need to be able to remember all of the cards that have been played to count cards. You only need to be able to add or subtract 1s and/or 2s from a running count. You also have to estimate easy division problems while you play.
Anyone can learn to count cards if they dedicate the right amount of time and effort. I’ve heard it said that blackjack players can learn to effectively count cards in about ten hours of study.
The first step in reducing your average hourly loss rate is determining what your rate is. Once you know that, you can find ways to reduce your losses and extend your playing time. Once you have reduced your loss rate as far as possible you can look at ways to eliminate the edge completely and even have a chance to play with an edge against the casino.
Yes, in a negative expectation game (as most are) the longer you play the more likely you are to lose. If you want to maximize your chances of a net win, at the cost of a possible very large loss, then the best strategy is to bet more after losing, thus trying to recoup past losses. The Martingale is an example of a very aggressive form of this strategy.
This is a close variation of the Martingale betting system, in which the player doubles after every loss. Usually, the Martingale player will win but occasionally he will have more consecutive losses than he can handle and suffer a major loss. Assuming your friend is betting on the player, the probability that any given bet will begin a streak of nine losses in a row is (2153464/(2153464+2212744))9 =~ .001727, or 1 in 579, assuming ties are ignored. There is more information available about the folly of the Martingale in my section on betting systems. However, the more ridiculous a belief is the more tenaciously it tends to be held. It usually takes a big loss to possibly convince a believer in any particular betting systems to stop.
Every betting system based on a negative-expectation game like craps is doomed to eventual failure. By tripling your bets, you will have bigger single wins, but you will reach your bankroll limit faster and have more losses. It all averages out to the house edge in the long run.
My Java games are based on the random number generator that comes with Visual J++. For personal play, it should be quite fair. I speculate that any bias would only show up over millions of hands. Your results are not the result of a biased random number generator but of both luck and a progressive betting system.
The probability of getting any number three times out of 4 is 38*4*(1/38)3*(37/38) = 1/5932. However, if you play long enough you almost can't help but notice unusual events like this. This does not nearly rise to the level of being suspicious. Cheating does occur in real casinos. It is usually a rogue dealer who is caught by casino security. There have been some strong cases of cheating made against online casinos but no governmental authority has ever convicted anyone to the best of my knowledge.
If the maximum loss is 255 units then you can bet up to 8 times. The probability of losing eight bets in a row is (19/37)8=.004835. So, you have 99.52% of winning one unit, and 0.48% of losing 255 units.
In the long run it doesn’t matter what you do. As I have said numerous times measured by long term results all betting systems are equally worthless. Systems in which you chase loses with bigger bets increase the probability of a modest short term win but at the cost of even bigger losses when your luck is at it’s worst.
The expected loss is 5.26% of total money bet. This is true of ANY betting system based on American roulette rules.
The name for this system is the Martingale. Ignoring ties the probability of a new loss for a hand of blackjack is 52.51%. So the probability of losing 8 in a row is .52518 = 1 in 173.
The Martingale is dangerous on every game and in the long run will never win. However it is better to use in baccarat than roulette, just because of the lower house edge. The probability of the player winning 8 times in a row is 0.493163^8 = 1 in 286. Also keep in mind you could win a hand late in the series and still come out behind because of the commission. For example if you started with a bet of $1 and you won on the 7th hand you would win $60.80 ($64*95%), which would not cover the $63 in previous loses.
I maintain that even with an infinite bankroll, betting limits, and time the Martingale still would not beat a negative expectation game like roulette. My reason is that as these elements approach infinity the expected value of the Martingale on roulette is still -5.26%.
Still, mathematicians I respect have disagreed with me. The debate tends to get very abstract and absurd, hinging on the nature of infinity, which is a man-made construct to begin with. There is nothing known in our universe that is infinite. If forced, I think it is a ridiculous question.
No. Some might argue that it would take an infinite number of losses to lose in this situation, which would be impossible. The truth is that 0.5infinity approaches 0 but does not equal zero. If this did happen you would lose $2infinity. The expected return of this strategy is thus 1- $2infinity * 0.5infinity = $1 - 1 = 0. Another more graceful way to look at is that as your bankroll increases the expected value still remains unchanged at zero. So the limit of the expected value as the bankroll approaches infinity is zero. In other words an increasing bankroll doesn’t help your odds, even if it goes to infinity.
I had a feeling one of my fellow actuaries might disagree with me on this one but I stand by my answer. I see this as a question of expected value rather than probability. The writer used the word 'ensure', which is related to the word insurance. An insurance policy would have a fair cost of 1, which is simply the product of the probability (1/2infinity) and amount covered (2infinity). As I said in my original reply, 2infinity/2infinity = 1. So the player would give up his one unit win to pay for the insurance policy. You might argue that the insurance company would never have to pay because they could claim an infinite number of flips have not occurred yet, but I’m assuming a timeless quality in the question. If we did consider time I would be even more right because the player would never live long enough to play an infinite number of flips, and any finite number of losses is definitely possible.
I would bet $200 on the player bet in baccarat. If it wins, walk, if it loses then bet $400 (or whatever you lost). Then just go into a Martingale until you win your $200 or lose your entire $5,000.
If you had a game with no house edge the probability of winning $200 with $5000 to risk, using any system, would be 5000/(5000+200) = 96.15%. The general formula for winning w with a bankroll of b is b/(b+w). So the larger the bankroll the better your chances. The house edge will lower the probability of success by an amount that is hard to quantify. For a low house edge game like blackjack, the reduction in the probability of success will be small. It would take a random simulation to know for sure. Forgive me if I don't bother with that. VegasClick did a small simulation about the probability of success with the Martingale.
Casino Money Loss Chart TemplateFirst off let me say unequivocally I understand and agree with your stance on betting systems. It’s quite simple: If you are at a disadvantage for an individual hand, the same holds for multiple hands, regardless of bet amount. End of story. I know the longer I play games in a casino, the higher my chances of leaving without money.
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My question isn’t about winning long term with systems, as we know that’s impossible. But might systems have a usefulness in ’tailoring’ the losing experience? For example, player A prefers that each trip to the casino he will either win or lose a moderate amount of money (of course he’ll lose slightly more often than win). Player B prefers a chance to make a little money 4 out of 5 trips, and lose lots of money 1 in 5 trips.
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Both will lose money in the long run, but is there a betting system that might help each accomplish his goal?
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Yes. While betting systems can not change the house edge, they can be used to improve the probability of achieving trip objectives. Player A wants as little risk as possible. To minimize risk he should flat bet. Player B wants a high probability of a trip win. He should press his bets after a loss. Such a strategy carries the risk of a substantial loss. Although you didn’t ask, a player who wants to either lose a little or win big should press his bets after a win. This kind of strategy will usually lose, but sometimes will have a big win.