Seven deadly sins a casino player can commit

Seven deadly sins of casino gamblingSome say gambling itself is a sin. Others insist it is the finest thing a person can do – if they are any good at it.

Unfortunately, too many punters keep making the same mistakes at the casino and expecting a different outcome. This applies not only to the novice, but also to the seasoned veteran who labours under outdated strategy and gross misinformation.

Certain errors can be far more costly than others, and those are the ones we focus on in this article. These, in our opinion, are the seven deadly sins of casino gambling.

Casino side bets

Many of the most popular casino table games feature one or more optional side wagers that run separate to a standard bet. Baccarat, blackjack, casino hold’em, three card poker – they all have them.

Some punters love casino side bets because they promise bigger returns than a regular win. But that’s exactly why operators offer them.

No matter the game, no matter the proposition, side wagers are always sucker bets. Exact odds may differ from game to game and casino to casino, but all sidebet options invariably come with a higher house edge and lower likelihood of success than standard play.

Probably the most widespread side bet is the insurance option in blackjack, which is offered whenever the dealer’s upcard is an Ace. If the player opts in, they must put up an additional stake equal to half their original wager. If the dealer then reveals a natural 21, the insurance bet wins at 2 to 1 odds; if not, it loses.

The problem with taking insurance is that it defies one of the golden rules of optimal blackjack play: never assume the dealer has a 10 in the pocket. For while 30.77 per cent of the cards in a full deck are worth 10 points, the remaining 69.23 per cent are not.

Below are a few more common side bets in 21, the house advantages of which are calculated for a standard paytable with six or more decks in play. As a point of reference, a bog-standard casino blackjack game favours the house by well under one per cent.

  • 21+3 = 3.24 per cent
  • Bonanza Blackjack = 18.19 per cent
  • Lucky Lucky = 3.95 per cent
  • Perfect Pairs = 4.10 per cent
  • Super Sevens = 12.61 per cent

Roulette betting strategies

Mathematicians and punters alike have spent centuries searching for a magic formula that can overturn a casino’s edge and guarantee a long-term profit. None have succeeded, yet there are gamblers all over the globe who swear by systems that simply don’t work.

The most prominent class of casino betting strategy is known as a ‘negative progression’, whereby players raise the stakes after a loss and reduce them after a win. This style of play has been a favourite among roulette players for hundreds of years, dating back to the earliest days of the Monte Carlo Casino.

The best example of a negative progression betting system is the Martingale strategy. Betting on either red or black, a player will double the stakes after each loss and return to a single-unit bet after each victory. For example: if we bet $5 and lost, we would then bet $10; if we lost again, we would bet $20; and if we then had a win, we would start again at $5.

The idea of this style of play is that every single win results in a net profit. But what happens if you lose six, seven, eight spins on the bounce? How high are the bet limits? How deep are your pockets? How much do you enjoy a roof over your head and food in your belly?

With the exception perfect card counting in blackjack, there is no legitimate system, strategy, pattern, or ploy that can dent the house edge in a casino game. In fact, betting progressions like the Martingale transform relatively stable wagers – such as the outside bets in roulette – into extremely volatile propositions that can result in huge losses. Just don’t do it.

Gambling on hot and cold results

An alarming percentage of punters don’t have a clue about probability theory. You don’t need to be a maths graduate to be a sharp gambler, but you should at least have a rudimentary understanding of a casino game’s odds and what makes one outcome more or less likely than another.

Microgaming Gold Series BaccaratYet there will always be those who play certain bets on the assumption that a result is overdue. If the last five winners on a roulette table were red, they will bet black; if the 22 hasn’t hit for a while, they will bank that it’s bound to pop up sooner or later.

Some people go the other way, looking for trends, patterns and hot streaks. This is especially common at the punto banco baccarat tables, which come with a variety of score boards that detail past results.

It’s all nonsense, of course. A prior outcome has no effect on what happens next and a result is never due. Even if a roulette number hasn’t come up in a while, for instance, it always has the exact same chance of winning. By the same token, a number doesn’t become more or less likely to win just because it has hit recently.

Betting beyond the bankroll

A bankroll is the money a punter sets aside specially for gambling. It can be $50 or $50,000 or $50 million, but it should only ever consist of expendable funds that a player can afford to lose.

No matter how big or small your betting bankroll is, stick to it. Don’t reload when you run out of cash – it’s not your day, so stop playing. The people who don’t follow this simple yet pivotal code of conduct are the ones who become problem gamblers.

There are plenty of ways to make sure you don’t bet beyond your bankroll. Online casinos allow you to set deposit limits that restrict how often and how much you can add to your betting account on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. If you are playing at a land-based casino, cash up before you hit the gaming floor and avoid the ATMs (the $5 withdrawal fees should turn you off anyhow).

Splitting 10s and Fives in blackjack

Unless you are a master card counter and you’ve found a game that offers enough deck penetration to bring your particular set of skills into play, you should keep things simple and stick to basic strategy at the blackjack table. If you don’t know what that means, click here to read our blackjack strategy guide.

With optimal play, there is no situation in which you would split a pair of 10-point cards or a pair of Fives. The reason should be obvious: 20 is a very strong total, while 10 is a good platform from which to hit or double down. Splitting either of these hands greatly reduces one’s chances of winning, regardless of what the dealer is showing.

Besides that, ignoring this cornerstone of basic strategy blackjack will put you offside with pit bosses and fellow punters alike. Casino management might mistake you for a very bold card counter, while other players will rip you to shreds for upsetting the ‘sacred flow’ of the deck.

American roulette and other high-edge games

Canny punters have a nose for value – in particular, the absence of any. All casino games favour the house in some way, but there are certain offerings that verge on daylight robbery.

Multi-Wheel Roulette Gold by MicrogamingPerhaps the most obvious example is the American roulette layout, which features both a zero pocket and a double zero. That’s the only thing that separates US-style games from single-zero European roulette tables, but it upsets the odds enough to raise the house edge from 2.70 per cent to 5.25 per cent – or nearly double the expected loss rate.

That’s not the worst of it. Keno, jackpot slots, the money wheel – all are heavily tilted towards the casino, sometimes by margins of well over 10 per cent. If you want an easy bet that won’t chew up your bankroll in seconds flat, stick to baccarat or craps.

Cheating at casino games

This shouldn’t require too much explanation. Play the game properly or go home.

In any case, it’s hard work these days to cheat a casino with any degree of success. Surveillance and anti-fraud systems in gaming parlours are becoming more and more sophisticated every year. A bank heist might be a simpler proposition. We’ve provided an interesting article about how gambling cheats are detected.

Most of all, it isn’t very clever if you value your health. Look at how management and security treat blackjack players who practice card counting – a perfectly legitimate technique – and imagine how they would deal with actual fraudsters. Check out some of the world’s biggest gambling cheats.

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