11. How the Casino Sees Players
The first reason most gamblers would give for why casinos win more than they lose is the house edge. While most persons have no idea how a house edge is calculated, they vaguely know that somehow the casino has an edge over them.
There is no question that the house edge is like an insurance policy the casinos carry, insuring them that if the mob of players play long enough the casino will grind out its inevitable win percentages.
However, the casinos rely on a lot more than percentages to beat most players. Casinos are experts at creating the psychological triggers than give them a much bigger edge than the house edge.
The Maximum Advantage Roulette Strategy is a winning strategy which will help you win consistently at roulette. But, using it or any other winning strategy is still no guarantee that you will win. The casino's power and charms are formidable, and when you face the casino in a battle for its money, it will employ every resource at its disposal to relieve you of your money, hopefully in the most pleasant manner possible.
The House Edge
The house edge is the mathematical edge the casino has over most bets. This edge is gained by paying players less than the correct payoff for winning bets. There is a precise probability for each bet in a casino. If you were paid the mathematically correct payoff, in theory, the house would have no edge over you.
Let's take a look at roulette to illustrate how the house edge works. The American version of the game has thirty-eight numbers on a wheel: 1 to 36, plus 0 and 00. If you placed a bet on one of these numbers, you would be paid 35 to 1 for your winning bet.
Does this sound right? Your probability or chance of winning is one in 38, which can also be expressed as 37 to 1. By only offering you 35 to 1 on a 37 to 1 risk, the casino is gaining an edge by reducing the amount it pays you for winnings.
On an American wheel, the casino's edge is 5.26%. This means that on the average, you will lose $5.26 to the casino out of every $100.00 wagered.
The house edge is the casino's ultimate weapon to insure that in the long run it will have a profit. However, it is just insurance for the casinos. The majority of most casinos' winnings are created because the players find ways to beat themselves.
The Casino Environment
Casinos go out of their way to create attractive, appealing and often unique environments. No expense is spared to create an environment filled with hospitality and enough other attractions to rapidly put you in a daze. In addition to the constant racket created by the slot machines, you will see dazzling lights, custom designed carpets, and scantily clad cocktail waitresses who will bring you free drinks just for playing a game. You will see players with piles of chips in front of them enjoying extraordinary runs of luck. On top of all this, you are presented the charming prospect of making huge amounts of money in just a few turns of the card, spins of the wheel or rolls of the dice.
When you walk through a LIVE Dealer casino, you will notice that there are usually no windows to the outside and no clocks visible. This is part of the illusion created for you. You have entered a land where time doesn't matter, within its own protected cocoon, well insulated from the realities of the outside world.
Casinos want you to be undistracted by outside influences when you are risking your money. Even more, they want you to become so beguiled by the games offered that you lose your sense of time and the money you are risking. Casino checks or chips help create part of this illusion, as they do not seem as real as currency.
Casino wins don't seen quite real when they only consist of piles of chips. Losses can be shrugged off until you run out of chips. All of this is designed to trigger your compulsive nature. You may feel that in this timeless wonderland, lady luck is just waiting to bestow great sums of money on you.
Many persons who travel to casinos find that they have trouble even sleeping while in a casino. They can't bear to think that they might miss out on all of the action happening on the casino floor. A few years ago, my aunt, who was nearing ninety at the time, visited Las Vegas with one of her grown children and his family.
My cousin, Jim, had made sure that his mother was nice and secure in her room about 10:00 p.m. He went downstairs to play a little longer. After a very successful blackjack session, he decided to have a midnight snack in the coffee shop and thought his mother might like to join him. He debated waking her, but finally decided to call her anyway - after all this was a vacation and normal rules did not have to apply.
He got no answer when he called her room. He called his own room next and spoke to his wife, Ann, asking if she had seen his mother. But Aunt Angie was no where to be found. His anxious wife met him in the casino. They checked the coffee shop, thinking his mother might have decided to eat a snack. She wasn't there. They walked up and down numerous aisles between hundreds of slot machines looking for Aunt Angie. She seemed to have pulled off a very successful disappearing act. They were getting ready to go back to their room and decide on their next course of action when Jim heard a familiar voice coming from the craps pit.
"Gimme a big seven, come on baby. Great, now how about a yoleven." They saw that Aunt Angie was rolling the bones at a crowded craps table. The players were two deep surrounding the table with bets stacked on almost every square inch of layout. Angie was on a hot roll and there was no holding her back. She almost seemed to be in a daze, calling for her favorite numbers. When the dice were passed back to her, she would swoop them up, shaking them vigorously in her right hand then releasing them in a graceful arc usually followed by screams of delight from the crowd as more bets were won.
When Angie finally sevened-out, there was spontaneous applause from the entire table, and numerous green and black chips were tossed to her from the grateful winners.
Jim walked up and asked if she would like to take a little break and celebrate. She responded with, "I'll take a break, but you're not getting me back in that room. I want to stay where the action is!"
Unfortunately, not all players are as lucky as Aunt Angie. For most, the siren call of the games proves to be no more than one of the many tools the casinos expertly use to relieve the uninitiated of their money.
Length of Games
While many players can't wait to play against the casino, often extending their playing sessions way beyond what they might have intended, casinos have all the time in the world. Casino games move fast. Decision follows hurried decision. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, the games continue. This is another tool in the casino's arsenal of weapons. The casino has all the time in the world to play, but you don't. If you play long enough, sooner or later you are likely to engage in one of many player self destruction acts, like betting too large.
A friend of mine is an inveterate craps player. He loves craps, anywhere, anytime it is played. He is fairly good at beating the casinos for short stretches, but he nearly always loses and goes home a loser. How can that be?
What happens to him is what happens to many players. They are able to get ahead at some point, but they will not stop playing. The siren call of the game is too strong. The casino bosses can afford to be patient. If they can just keep the player playing, the combination of player errors, player fatigue, foolish betting and other aspects of loss of control will cause the player to lose.
Casinos know a lot about human frailty. Gambling can be a pressure cooker environment for most players with great highs followed by even greater lows. Meanwhile, the casino games continue 24/7, but, of course, they let their dealers take a twenty minute break every hour. They know how taxing the game can be. Do you?
The casino atmosphere and the adrenaline rush of gambling are tough opponents for any player to overcome. Players constantly have to fight the twin compulsions of greed and despair.
If you have ever flown to Las Vegas on a plane loaded with passengers all heading to the gambling Mecca of the world, you will notice that the passengers' behavior is much different on the flight arriving than it is on the one returning home.
On the flight coming into Vegas, passengers are revving up for a party. Nearly everyone is boisterous, drinking, talking too loudly or even pulling out cards and playing a few blackjack hands to warm up. As the plane nears its destination, you can almost feel the crowd enthusiasm rising until it has almost reached a fever pitch by the time the plane lands. The would-be players eagerly depart the plane, almost dashing to be the first to hear the sound of the slot machines residing in the lobby of McCarran International Airport.
The return trips are always much different. What talking there is, is subdued, almost like a whisper. Some passengers just close their eyes and press their heads back into the seat cushions, while others quietly pull out the airline magazines and pretend to read. Many of the passengers are almost in a state of shell shock. They are recalling events of the past several days in crystal clarity and wondering how they could have acted the way they did.
One man, who was up almost $5,000, is returning home with a loss of $3,000. He is still not quite sure what happened. Across the aisle is a lady sitting quietly thinking how she lost her Christmas money. She didn't mean to. Her original plan was to take the $800, win at least $500 and then quit. Her second day she was up almost $400, but decided to keep on playing. After all, she was on a lucky winning streak. A couple of hours later, she was down to her last $100 hoping to at least break even.
There may be a winner or two on the plane, but not many more. Sadly, many of the passengers could have returned home winners or small losers, even playing against games with ferocious house edges. But they didn't.
I asked my friend the craps player why he wouldn't quit while he was ahead. "Hell, I can't quit them, I've got the casinos just where I want them."
I then asked him why he wouldn't pull off and take a break when he was losing.
"I can't stand to quit when the casino is ahead. If I lose all of my money I have to quit, but I don't like to give up and I won't."
Compulsion. It may be the casino's greatest weapon against the players.
Compared to your bankroll, the casino has all of the money in the world. And you don't. The casino limits the maximum size of wagers it will accept from players so that it never risks too much of its bankroll on a single hand or a single roll of the dice.
However, most players don't do this. When you are losing, it is easy to slip into a state of panic. You can't possibly absorb the losses you just took. You're hurt and a little bitter over what the casino has done to you. The main thought racing through your mind is how you are going to get your money back.
Maybe now is the time to place a few large bets. After all, since the casino has beaten you by winning many smaller wagers, it makes sense that if you can just win a few larger bets, you can win back all of your losses and maybe even get ahead.
You muster your resources and put together another five hundred dollars. But this time it will be different. Your plan is to wager $50.00 on a hard 6 or 8 for five consecutive tries. Since the payoff for a win is 9 to 1, if you can just win a couple of times, you will recoup most of your losses. You further reason that since a 6 or 8 is almost as easy to hit as a 7, this bet really isn't that risky, forgetting that the house edge is over nine percent.
You lay your cash on the table and ask the dealer for chips. You toss two green $25 chips, saying, "Give me a hard 8." The shooter rolls a 5, and then an 8, 5-3, the easy way. The stickman removes your bet and asks you, "Would you like your hard 8 back up?". The game continues. You may win, which will encourage more of the same type betting. Or you may lose quickly. But one thing is for certain. You are now out of control. Your original plan has been thrown out the window. You are now playing the game the casino wants you to play. You are over betting on a long-shot proposition heavily favoring the house and your emotions are shot.
The odds are very great the casino will wear you down in short order and keep your last heroic buy-in. Many players come inadequately bankrolled to play against the casino. If you bring $500 and expect to make $1,000, you have great odds against you. If you bring $1,000 and will settle for making $200, then you have a much greater probability of success.
I will have quite a bit more to add on bankroll in a few more chapters, but just remember that the casino has the bankroll to wait until you stumble, but you don't have that kind of money on your side. Generally, instead of trying to grind a win out of a casino, you will be much better off to use "hit and run" tactics, where you can put a comparatively small bankroll to good use by hitting the casino over and over for small wins. This is much like the strategy used by a mongoose fighting a cobra. The cobra will strike again and again at the mongoose. The mongoose knows that one successful strike will cause its demise and it jumps and weaves out of the cobra's strike path until finally the weary cobra leaves an opening and the mongoose grabs the cobra with lightening speed, overcoming a lethal adversary by using stealth and speed. The mongoose's approach is not a bad lesson for casino payers.
Compulsion, the casino environment and the house edge are the big guns in the casino's arsenal and should be feared in that order.
I believe that most casinos would still be profitable even without the house edge as player compulsion is the greatest single contributor to casino profits.
Compulsion entails keeping tabs on yourself at all times. Having a plan will help you greatly. Most players just grab whatever amount of money that can find and play games that are most familiar to them, with no plan other than "winning." When you use the Maximum Advantage Roulette approach, you will know exactly how much to risk in each game, how much you expect to win, your maximum acceptable loss, when to leave a table. The value of having and following a plan is almost immeasurable. It will help you more than any other thing you might conceive of to beat the casinos.
Although the house edge is the least harmful of the casino's weapons, I am assuming that you will have the good sense to avoid the bets with the highest house edge against you. At LIVE roulette if you consistently wager large amounts on the inside bets using your favorite numbers, the odds are very good that you will lose much more often than if you stick to betting on even-money bets and columns or dozens.