Las Vegas. What happens there, stays there. At least according to the multimillion dollar ad campaign. So in other words, what happened when you walked into the casino and decided to try out that weird little game of keno where you get to plop down in a cushy and comfy chair-with armrests, mind you-and you walked out barely hanging onto your shirt…that secret stays there.
Not anymore. Here’s the real secret to winning at keno in Las Vegas or any other casino. Keno is a high payoff bet for the house. Those comfy keno chairs are there to keep you sitting for a long time. Las Vegas casinos do not want you playing a quick game of keno because the longer you sit and play, the more they win. And they never really did have to fix keno to make a killing. Though, of course, they did fix it all the time before the amateur gangsters were run out of town and replaced by the master criminals: Disney and Donald Trump. The longer you sit and play keno, the higher the profit for the casino. In fact, when it’s all averaged out at the end of the day-well, you know, if there were such a thing as the end of a day in Las Vegas-the casino would collect at the very least 75 cents out of every dollar spent on keno.
Of course, if you do get bored sitting in the comfortable splendor of those keno chairs, the casino will be only too happy to invite you over to a game of roulette. A tip-off to what a gambler’s actual chances of winning at roulette are should be the amount of time it takes to play. With the exception of card games, no other game of chance inside a casino takes longer to complete than roulette. While you sit there watching the little ball go round and round and round you will hear a constant and steady stream of the ka-ching of slot machines. Take a moment to mull that over. Why would a casino even bother still having roulette tables when they could replace it with a dozen slot machines and rake in the nickels and quarters hand over fist? Because roulette is a big time income producer for the casino. Especially when playing on a wheel with both the “0” and “00.” You might as well bypass the roulette table and walk straight to the casino bank and hand over your wallet. That’s how good a chance you’ve got at walking out with a fatter wallet.
Better yet to walk past the keno chairs and the roulette tables and make a beeline for the slots. If you aren’t a good card player, the only place you need to be at inside a casino is the slots. They don’t even give the illusion that any skill is required. (Don’t think for a minute that you can use skill to win at either keno or roulette. Many have tried and many have ended up working at a burger joint.) Yes, true, the casino typically carries a 10% edge when it comes to the slots, but compare that with the 25% edge they get at keno and you can see how it’s a no-brainer. What a lot of people still don’t get about modern electronic slot machines is that even before you pull the handle or push the button, the machine has already determined what’s going to happen because slot machines are operated with a computer chip that randomly generates where the wheels will stop spinning. Therefore, there is no such thing as a hot slot machine unless it has for some reason been pre-programmed to be hot. Which, let’s face it, it may very well have, but more than likely it hasn’t. One other bit of advice about playing slot machines: Always put in the maximum number of coins to activate the lines. If you only put in two or three coins and hit the jackpot on on a four coin line you won’t win as much as you think you should.
Now if you do have a little talent with the cards, you can keep walking past the slots until you find a blackjack table. Blackjack is preferable to poker because all you need to win is 21. You don’t have to worry about all those confusing hands as in poker. And there is the opportunity to employ some strategy, something that eludes you in keno, roulette and slots. Much like with keno, the longer you play the greater the chance of all your money winding up inside the bank’s vault. Blackjack only offers the house a 5% edge, though, so it’s still loads better than keno. There really is only one key to walking away a winner at blackjack and that is play until you start losing. Once you’ve lost a few hands, the laws of averages kick in and the longer you sit there trying to win back what you’ve lost, the better your chances of losing everything.
There is one game inside every casino that does offer a gambler a better than average chance of going home with money. There is only one problem. You have to know how to play the game and many people simply don’t. That game is craps. The edge of the casino in craps is a comfortable little 2% at most and for those who know how to play it even that can be undercut significantly. Here’s how to make money at craps. If the shooter-who you’d better know is the guy throwing the dice or else you really don’t even want to attempt this-is giving off a good vibe to you that he’s going to win on his throw, then you bet on the pass line. If you aren’t getting a good vibe and you think he’s going to lose on his next throw, then you simply bet on the don’t pass line. How does this help? Craps is amazingly more complex, and complicated, than it looks in the movies. There are any number of types of bets to be made. By going with a pass or don’t pass you are effectively boiling the whole thing down to an either-or bet for you.
Many casinos offer a game that most American gamblers walk right on by, but that may be changing with the release of the next James Bond snore fest, Casino Royale. (Okay, unfair, since I haven’t yet seen it. Prove me wrong, Daniel, prove me wrong.) Anyone who saw the original Casino Royale-that one that featured Peter Sellers and Woody Allen both as James Bond-became fascinated with the game of baccarat, which is a major part of the plot of not only the spoof, but Ian Fleming’s novel as well…I can only assume. I’m also assuming that baccarat will be featured in the new, serious version of Casino Royale. If that’s the case, I also expect a sudden rise in interest in the game of baccarat. But then again, I’m also expecting there will be huge advertising blitz to get the kids today with their video games interested in playing baccarat just like they managed to turn poker into a spectator sport. (That’s something I’ll NEVER understand.)
So, just how difficult is baccarat and what are your odds of making some lettuce? Although it looks kind of exotic and complicated and…dare I say it…European…baccarat is actually a pretty simple game, although for the newcomer the pace can often seem a little fast. The best advice is to simply watch the game progress for a while until you get used to the rhythm. Once you get that down, playing is almost as simple as slots. Although cards are used, they are almost meaningless as far as your bet is concerned. Basically baccarat comes down to a choice: betting on the bank or betting on the player. Choose a side and go to town because the casino’s edge is roughly the same as the craps when you make the bet suggested earlier.
So there. What the casinos wanted to say in Las Vegas has officially left Las Vegas. Now you know which games to take a chance on and which to stay away from.