As soon as you get off the plane in Las Vegas, you are hit with the sights and sounds of gambling with slot machines in the airport terminals. By the time your taxi pulls up to your hotel and you are in registration, your mind can already be wandering to what games you are going to play first and how much money you are going to win one of the nights.
However, they don’t build billion-dollar properties on Las Vegas Boulevard because people win tons of money playing table games and slots. The odds are that you are going to lose – that is why they call it the “House Edge.” While that may sound grim, rest assured that if you follow some guidelines and simple betting strategies, you will maximize your entertainment at the tables, and you may very well walk away from the game a winner. Our team has put together a few simple strategies to follow to get the most out of your betting time in Las Vegas.
Betting Strategy Tips
Now, if you are on this page hoping to read a bunch of pointers on how to bet to make money, you are in the wrong place. There are hundreds of books on the topic, going into the most detailed game theory – if that is what you are after, we salute you and suggest you move on from this page. We are focused on the casual gambler – the one who is going to Vegas for a few days of fun and hoping to walk away with more money than they came with, or at the very least not blowing it all early. Here are some general rules to follow:
Do your research to find deals
Deals on gambling? Yes, indeed, there are many casinos that offer match bets or coupons for free slot play, and you should be looking into that before you even step foot in Las Vegas. Many coupons can be found online, allowing you to map out where you are going to gamble first, hoping to take advantage of the free money the casino is offering. You may have to make a bet larger than you are used to in order to take advantage of some of these match plays, but it can be worth it if you win.
Don’t sit down anywhere without a players card
This is something you will hear a lot about, and that is because you are foolish not to register for a player’s card at the casino before you sit down to play. Even if the casino isn’t in the resort where you are staying, you should still create an account. First of all, a lot of these players’ clubs offer free spins to players just for registering, and who doesn’t love free stuff? Also, getting rated for your play can build up enough comps for discounts on food and entertainment, as well as potentially free accommodations. Finally, once you are on the mailing list, you will receive regular communication with discounts for future travel, and if you play your cards right, your whole trip aside from airfare could be free then next time you decide to come to the city.
Factor in the free stuff into your play
A lot of times, a player will sit at a table, lose money, and consider the total cash amount the loss. However, if you factor in the amount of time you are sitting at the table, the comps you earn, and the free drinks you consume (which are not cheap if you pay cash for them), you may realize that your net loss isn’t as bad. For example, if you are playing blackjack for two hours and lose $200, but you gain enough comps for a free lunch, and you have six drinks while at the table, your actual loss is more like $130-140 depending on the casino.
Play across the shift changes
If you walk around a casino during the day, you can see the tables are typically less busy, and to make them more attractive, the limits are lowered. Those limits tend to be raised at a certain point every night (you can ask the pit boss what time they raise them). If you are sitting at the table when the limits are raised, you are likely to be grandfathered into playing at the lower limits until you stand up. This means you can be playing in prime time hours but at a discounted rate.
Do not chase your losses
There are many different betting strategies designed to minimize your losses. One of the most common, the Martingale system, involves players doubling each losing bet until they win. This may seem easy enough, but it can get costly very quickly, and many tables have limits that won’t allow you to chase long losing streaks. Regardless, we think the best thing you can do is stay consistent with your bets…there will be positive and negative swings over time.
Pick your game and know your odds
This may also seem obvious, but each game has a specific house edge, and this tells you how hard you are going to have to work to be a winner. Want to know why casinos can promote slots payout percentages of 98%? Because while they do churn money back at those rates, the actual hold percentages on slots are near 30% – that’s why so much of the floor is covered by the one-armed bandits. Games like blackjack and Baccarat offer the best player odds, at almost 50/50. This is why in Baccarat (and in Pai Gow), you have to pay a commission when you win because there isn’t enough margin for the casino to make any money on the tables.
Stay away from side bets
Almost every table game in a casino today seems to offer a side bet or progressive jackpot of some sort. These are designed to give players a chance to win a major jackpot, but these are actually cash cows for the casino. The odds of you winning anything from these progressives or side bets is minimal, but the steady flow of bets drains your profitability. We think you should stick to the game itself and stay away from any of these bets.
Have a plan on either end
Finally, almost everyone who enters a casino goes in with a number in their head that they are willing to lose. This is a defeatist way of starting your gambling journey, but we applaud the fiscal responsibility. However, what if you walked into the casino also armed with a number that if you win, you are willing to walk away with? A lot of times in Vegas, a player will be up a good amount of money and then tries to put their foot on the gas, only to lose all those winnings and then some. We think you should walk in with a number that, no matter how quickly it happens, you stop playing and walk away with in your pocket. Yes, you risk not winning even more, but the odds are you are going to lose it all back, so why not take a break with a few hundred extra dollars in your pocket?
These are some straightforward tips and tricks you can use when you are gambling to amplify your overall experience, and still have a lot of fun at the tables and slots during your entire trip to Las Vegas! If you have any tips that you use that you don’t see here, we’d love to hear from you! Send us an email with your thoughts, and maybe we’ll add them to this page.