Stay away from these

All casino games are slanted in the house's favor, but the best ones are within a few percentage points of being even. Blackjack, craps, slots and video poker are the ones that give the house the lowest edge. (Another game called baccarat belongs on this list too, but it's a game few Westerners play.)

If those few games offer players the best shot, why are all those other games on the floor? Because they're extremely efficient at parting suckers from their cash, that's why. They have giant house advantages.

A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if the game is a traditional one, or sounds like something a casino invented in order to break out something new. If the game seems like something you wouldn't expect to find in a casino, stay away from it. There are few things you can count on in life, but one of them is that anything a casino invents has NOT been created to give you a good chance at winning.

This means games like Caribbean Stud, Let It Ride and -- we're not kidding about this -- War should be avoided, or played only with small budgets for fun.

Sucker tables in disguise

Over the last few years more and more 21 tables have been cropping up that feature a 6:5 payoff on blackjacks instead of the traditional 3:2. Since it doesn't seem like much of a difference, and because the 6:5 tables are often low-limit, many people play them.

Don't do it. That one little change gives the house almost 1.5 percent more of an edge.

Walk away from 6:5 blackjack tables. Do the same thing for games with names like "SuperFun 21" and "Spanish 21" while you're at it. Playing these games is just one step away from Chevy Chase in "Vegas Vacation" gambling on "Guess What Number I'm Thinking Of."

6 responses to “Stay away from these”

  1. Steve the Texan said:

    Casinos do make drinks available to players for free, but, like most things in Las Vegas, big spenders get more attention than low-dollar players. Someone playing a $5 slot machine will be visited by a cocktail waitress more frequently than someone on a $1 machine. A player at the 25-cent slots is likely to be pretty lonely, and folks at the nickel slots will probably see waitresses only in the distance. Do remember that, while the drinks are free, you'll want to tip the waitresses if you want to keep the booze flowing.

    Here are links to a couple of articles on the topic of casino drinks and tipping:
    * Making the most of the "free" drinks
    * Spread the wealth: Tipping in Vegas

    Smoking is allowed in casinos (there may be certain areas where it's banned, but those are few and far between), but be considerate. As a non-smoker I can tell you there are few things more annoying than sitting at a crammed blackjack table next to someone puffing cigarette after cigarette. Though I don't like it, Vegas is one of the last strongholds of the smoker.

  2. paulus said:

    friends of mine that have visited vegas tell me that if you spend just a little time at the slots you are offered free drinks etc, is this right?also can you smoke in the casinos?

  3. Ted said:

    Actually, if you know how to play Spanish 21 properly it is not a bad game. It usually has about a half of a percent house edge depending on some rule variations.

    The reason it is a bad game for a beginner is that the proper strategy is incredibly counter-intuitive and convoluted. Most are inclined to play it like regular blackjack. If you do this you will loose every penny you have.

  4. Rosa said:

    You can tell if a table pays 3:2 or 6:5 by looking at the table layout. Normally single deck blackjacks have 6:5 blackjack payouts.

  5. Steve the Texan said:

    All table games have a little card on the corner that gives basic information: Which game is played at this table, the minimum and maximum bet sizes, etc. Blackjack payouts are listed on these cards.

    If in doubt, wait until a break between hands and ask the dealer.

  6. Juan said:

    How can you tell the difference between a 3:2 table and a 6:5 table? Thanks for your help

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