The object of blackjack is to get a total value of cards
as close to 21 as possible without going over and beat the dealer's total.
Numbered cards are worth their face value. Face cards -- Kings, Queens and
Jacks -- are each worth 10. Aces are worth either 1 or 11, whichever is
better in the circumstances.
If the total value of your cards exceeds 21, you
"bust", which means you lose. If your total is less than or equal
to 21 and the dealer's total is over 21, then the dealer busts and you
win. If neither your total or the dealer's total exceeds 21, then the
higher total wins. In the event of a tie, no one wins and no one loses. A
tie is called a "push".
You start the game by placing your bet. Next the dealer
deals two cards to you and one to himself. Usually these cards are dealt
face-up. Then the dealer gives himself a second card face-down. This is
called the hole card. Now you have to make a decision: do you take another
card ("hit") or pass to the dealer ("stand" or
"stay"). If you hit, the dealer gives you another card and again
asks if you want to hit or stand. You keep hitting until you are satisfied
with your total or you bust. The dealer must keep taking cards until he
has 17 or more.
Slots is the easiest casino game to learn and play. It's
also one of the most fun and most popular.
First you place your bet. Typically you can bet one, two
or three coins. Some machines may let you bet up to five or more coins.
Depending on the machine, the coins may be $.25, $1, $5 or other values.
So if you bet three coins on a $1 machine, your bet is three dollars.
Next you click a button to start the wheels spinning. This
is the same as pulling the arm on a real slot machine. Now all you do is
wait and see if you win!
Where the wheels stop determines if you win and how much.
The goal is to get the symbols (cherries, numbers and so on) to line up on
the payline in one of the winning combinations listed on the pay table.
Each game will have its own pay table. For example, three bars in a row
may pay 20 to 1. Three cherries in a row may pay 3 to 1. Some machines
have three or five paylines, or pay on the diagonal. Check the casino
rules for details. To get this information, you usually just click a
Some online casinos offer what are called
"progressive jackpots". That means that a jackpot builds as more
and more players play the casino's progressive machines. The first person
to hit the winning combination (often 777) wins the total jackpot. To be
eligible for the jackpot you usually have to play the maximum number of
coins. Then the jackpot resets to a lower value and starts to increase
again as more people play.
Video Poker is what you get if you cross Stud Poker with a
slot machine and throw in a few wild cards. It's fast, almost like playing
Stud, and you've got a huge range of options. You can choose Jacks or
Better, Deuces Wild, All American, Joker Poker or a number of other
variations. Each game has its own personality and rewards a particular
kind of play.
Also, the machines let you play anything from 1 through 5
coins, with the payoffs improving at the high end of the scale. So if you
know your Poker hands and take the time to learn your game, Video Poker
can be fast, fun, and rewarding.
Old Poker salts should keep in mind that each game has its
own strategy. All American, for example, pays better than the others on
straights and flushes, so that will effect your approach to card
selection. When I first started playing Video Poker, I thought it would be
a lonely hearts version of the real thing. Not so. The games do indeed
have their own individual winning strategies, and taking the time to learn
your game means better payoffs.
As with all forms of Poker. the player aims to get the
best hand possible. The payoffs are marked right on the face of the Video
Poker machine so it's a fast lesson in what the hand ranks are. All Video
Poker variations rank hands the same, though a given variation may add an
extra rank or two.
As you would expect from a slots version of Poker, betting
is pretty straightforward in Video Poker. On any given machine you can
typically choose $0.25, $0.50, $1, or $5 games. And the bets are 1x, 2x,
3x, 4x, or 5x (Max Bet) whichever game you're playing. So if you're
playing a $1 game, you can place bets of $1, $2, $3, $4, or $5.
The first thing to note is that the game face shows you
the payoff for each betting level. Invariably playing Max Bet pays off
better, overall, than any of the lower multiples. Smart players pick the
betting level they are comfortable with and choose their game accordingly.
In other words, if you're comfortable with a $5 bet, then
pick a $1 machine and play at Max Bet for $5. If $25 bets are more your
speed, pick a $5 game because Max Bet (5x) puts you at the $25 level. In
either case, you're getting the best payoff odds you can for that game.
This is similar to Slots strategy.
Also of key importance is the fact that the payoff ratios
vary from game to game. Where Jacks or Better may pay 25:1 for Four Of A
Kind, All American typically pays 30:1 and Joker Poker only pays 20:1.
These ratios do not necessarily reflect the true odds, so again, knowing
your game helps you play smarter.
It's the noisiest game in the house and only spectator
game in the casino that's worthy of the name. Next to Blackjack it's got
some of the best player odds in the house and only Roulette has more
betting options for the player. It's the one and only Craps.
Picture your average Poker game: stone faces, few words,
cagey players and cut-throat action. Craps, god bless it, is the complete
opposite. Players yelling bets, hangers-on pumped on the action, fellow
bettors your companions with the chips flying and the dice right behind
them. It's not just a game, it's the King of Dice.
And while it's true that a smart player can step in with
$100 and with a little luck walk away minutes later with $10,000, it's
also true that there are more sucker bets than you can shake a stick at.
Few games show you the line between a smart bet and a bad one, inked right
on the felt for all to see. Strategy, opponents, long odds and smart bets.
Craps has it all.
Unfortunately Craps can be pretty intimidating for the
newcomer. There are such a large number of betting options, special rules
and exceptions that you'll feel as if you'll never get a handle on it.
Personally, I avoided the Craps table for the longest time simply because
it was so noisy and confusing. But hang in there because the smarter you
play the easier it is. The trick is to take it one step at a time.
When you are rolling the dice you are the
"shooter". Your first toss in a round of Craps is called the
Come Out roll. If you roll a 7 or 11, you win and the round is over before
it started. If you roll a 2, 3, or 12 that's a Craps and you lose: again,
it's over before it started. Any other number becomes the Point. The
purpose of the Come Out roll is to set the Point, which can be any of 4,
5, 6, 8, 9 or 10. The Dealer places a puck marked "On" above the
Point number printed on the table.
The basic objective in Craps is for the shooter to win by
tossing the Point again before he tosses a 7. That 7 is called Out 7 to
differentiate it from the 7 on the Come Out roll. If the Point is tossed,
the shooter and his fellow bettors win and the round is over. If the
shooter tosses Out 7, they lose and the round is over. If the toss is
neither the Point nor Out 7, the round continues and the dice keep
Betting and payoff
Here's where life at the Craps table can get complicated.
There are an overwhelming number of betting options and it'll make you
dizzy trying to figure them all out at once. Like I promised though, it's
easy to play smart. Let's talk about those smart bets first.
The typical -- and simplest -- bet is called a Pass bet.
It is placed on the Pass Line before the Come Out roll. Assuming that the
round goes past the Come Out roll, you're betting on the chance that
you'll roll the Point again before you roll an Out 7. Pass bets win at
even odds, 1:1. Since any Pass bets are typically betting with the
shooter, Pass bettors are said to be betting "right", they're
supporting the shooter in his attempt to win.
To Win: win on the Come Out roll if the dice show 7 or 11.
Win on any subsequent roll if you roll the Point.
To Lose: lose on the Come Out roll if the dice are Craps
(2, 3, or 12). Lose on any subsequent roll if it's an Out 7.
Don't Pass bets
A bet placed on the Don't Pass line is basically the
opposite of a Pass bet. Assuming that the round goes past the Come Out
roll, you're betting that the shooter will roll Out 7 before making the
Point. In other words, you're betting against the shooter, which is why
it's called a "wrong" bet. Rest assured though, there is nothing
wrong with the odds on a Don't Pass bet.
To Win: win on the Come Out roll if the dice show Craps
(2, 3 or 12). Win on any subsequent roll if it's an Out 7.
To Lose: lose on the Come Out roll of 7 or 11. Lose on any
subsequent roll if it's the Point.
Come and Don't Come bets are basically the same as Pass
and Don't Pass except they are placed while a round is in progress. They
are designed for players who join the game late. The same rules apply: win
if the next roll is 7 or 11, lose if it's Craps. Otherwise the roll
becomes the Come Point.
An Odds bet is a backup bet on a Pass/Don't
Pass/Come/Don't Come bet already on the table. They're usually limited to
two or three times (2x or 3x) the original bet and pay off at true odds:
the payoff truly reflects the probability of the dice's roll and there's
no additional house edge involved. Unlike original Pass/Don't
Pass/Come/Don't Come bets, unresolved Odds bets can be removed from the
table during play.
Pass Odds and Come Odds pay 2:1 on a roll of 4 or 10, 3:2
on 5's and 9's, and 6:5 on 6's and 8's.
Don't Pass Odds and Don't Come Odds pay 1:2 on a roll of 4
or 10, 2:3 on 5's and 9's, 5:6 on 6's and 8's.
Now for the rest of the table, the Place Number bets and
Proposition bets. Unfortunately the odds against you here vary from
mediocre to terrible which is why savvy players ignore almost all of them.
These bets are mostly designed for players who either have money burning a
hole in their pocket or feel they have to bet on every little toss of the
dice. The price of such impatience and risk-taking is higher house edges,
sometimes dramatically higher.
A Place Number bet is where you are betting that a
particular number will roll before a 7 does, or vice versa. These include
the Place, Buy, Lay and Lose bets, the Big 6 and Big 8, and finally the
Hard 4, Hard 6, Hard 8 and Hard 10.
The Proposition bets are where you bet that the next roll
will be a specific number. These include the 2, 3, 7, 11, and 12 bets, the
Any Craps bet, the Field, Hop and Horn bets.
Part of what makes Baccarat a great game is that it's so
simple. The Player's decision is limited to deciding what kind of bet to
make. From there on it's in the dealer's hands and you collect or pay when
In Mini Baccarat, which is the only version most of us
will ever see in play, you don't even get the option of handling the
cards. In the "whale" games of European Baccarat they get to
mangle the cards whenever they like just for personal entertainment. But
then they're dropping $1000 or more a hand and you can bet that that buys
a lot of replacement cards.
Bet on your own hand (Player) and you face a house edge of
1.24%. Bet on the Banker's hand and the edge is either 0.6% if there's a
4% House cut or 1.06% is their cut is 5%. Finally there's the Tie bet
which at best gives the house almost a 5% edge (Pay 8:1) and at worst 14+%
(Pay 9:1). Forget the Tie bet for obvious reasons. Unless you can find a
game with 4% vig on Banker bets, betting Player or Banker is six of one,
half a dozen of the other.
The first thing a casino player asks themselves when
stepping up to a game is "how do I improve my odds?" The answer
in Baccarat is easy: you don't. Other than avoiding the Tie bet there's
nothing you can do.
What about card counting you ask? After all, everyone
seems to do it on TV. Save yourself the trouble because it's a facade.
Statistical analysis has shown that card counting in Baccarat is totally
ineffective until the game hits the bottom of the shoe and even then it's
a miniscule advantage. It basically boils down to paying yourself $10 an
hour for risking $1,000,000. You're better off getting a squeegee and
washing people's windows for spare change.
As to playing the game, that's it. As to knowing what's
going on, it's a matter of strict and fixed rules, and here they are:
The objective of Baccarat is to
draw a two- or three-card hand that totals closer to 9 than the
10, J, K, Q count as 0, A is a 1
and all other cards are face value.
If your total is more than ten,
you drop the ten. So a 7-9 hand totals to 6 (16, drop ten).
There is no such thing as a
The banker and the player each
draw two cards.
If either the player or banker
total 8 or 9, both automatically stand, no exceptions.
If the player's total is 6 or 7,
the player stands.
If the player stands, the banker
hits on a total of 5 or less.
If the player's total is 5 or
less, the player automatically hits and the banker gives the player a
If the player receives a third
card then the banker draws a third card according to the following:
Banker's hand totals 0,1,2:
Banker always draws a third card.
Banker's hand totals 3:
Banker draws if Player's third card is 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-9-0 (not 8)
Banker totals 4: Banker
draws if Player thirds 2-3-4-5-6-7
Banker 5: Banker draws if
Player thirds 4-5-6-7
Banker 6: Banker draws if
Player thirds 6-7
Banker 7: Banker stands.
Once the final cards are dealt,
the one with the total closest to 9 wins.
Roulette is a glamorous, exciting game that's easy to
The typical "American" roulette wheel is divided
into 38 slots which are numbered 1 to 36 plus 0 and 00. Even numbers are
red and odd numbers black. 0 and 00 are green. Some casinos offer the
"European Wheel". This wheel has only 37 slots. There is no 00.
After you place your bets, the dealer spins a small white
ball in the opposite direction of the turning wheel. When the ball comes
to rest in one of the slots, the dealer will call out the winning number
and settle all bets.
These are the bets you can place and their
A bet on a single number pays 35:1
A bet on 2 adjacent numbers pays 17:1
A bet on 3 numbers on a horizontal line pays
A bet on a block of 4 numbers pays 8:1
A bet on 6 numbers in 2 adjacent rows pays 5:1
A bet on 1 of 3 vertical columns pays 2:1
A bet on 12 numbers, low (1-12), middle
(13-24) or high (25-36) pays 2:1
A bet on even or odd, red or
black, low (1-18) or high (19-36) pays 1:1
You can place as many bets as
you like on a single spin of the wheel up to the table maximum.
Some casinos use a rule called en
prison. When a zero or double zero hits, the player loses half the
bet, or can let the bet remain in play, with the results to be
determined on the next spin. This rule only applies to even money
With the 38-number American
wheel, the house has a big 5.26 percent edge. (Whenever 0 or 00 are
hit, all bets lose.)
With the 37-number European
wheel, the house advantage is 2.7 percent. In other words, on every
$100 bet the house makes $2.70. With the en prison rule, this
edge drops to just 1.35 percent.
Obviously you want to look for
casinos that offer the European, single-zero wheel -- and many online
casinos do. If you can find one that also offers en prison, so
much the better.
The original version of Pai Gow used special dominos and
dice. It's said to be a rather complicated game, played slow enough to
serve as a social event and is rarely seen in gaming houses outside of
The modern, Westernized version is played with a deck of
53 cards -- regular deck plus a Joker -- and uses poker-like hands for
ranking. It's still a complex game but the changes make it more
approachable, as indicated by its success in casinos throughout the world.
And it's still a rather slow game with showdowns often resulting in ties.
This serves as a fine counterbalance to the faster playing casino fare,
and it allows a player with a modest stake to last longer at the table
than would be possible with other games.
Pai Gow is often a multi-player game where the deal
rotates around the table much like regular Poker. One of the traditional
rules is that the dealer also acts as banker for that hand. In online play
all of this is simplified to the player-vs-house model.
Bets are placed and the player receives seven cards. From
these seven cards the player forms two hands: a two-card hand called the
"low" or "front" hand; a five-card hand called the
"high" or "back" hand. The goal is to beat the dealer
on both hands. The back hand is ranked as in Poker with the exception that
A-2-3-4-5 is the second-highest straight beating K-Q-J-10-9. The front
hand is singles or a pair, with A-A being the highest.
There are a few additional rules. First, your front hand
should not beat your back. If it does, this is called a "foul"
and both hands lose. Second, the Joker can be used as a wild card to
complete a Straight, a Flush, a Straight Flush or a Royal Flush. Otherwise
it is treated as an Ace.
Betting in most online games is very simple in that you
make a single opening bet and that is the end of it. In some Pai Gow games
there are separate bets for the front and back hands, but this is unusual
in on-line play.
If both hands lose to the dealer, you lose your bet. If
both hands win, you win even money. If one hand wins and the other loses,
it's a push. If your hands are the same as the dealer's, called
"copies", the dealer wins. Obviously thatís an attraction of
playing dealer/banker in multi-player games. In such games, you minimize
your losses by betting low when you are a player and being dealer/banker
If the player wins, the house takes a 5% commission: you
get $4.75 of a $5 winning bet.
There are a number of issues related to the multi-player
games when it comes to the dealer/banker question. Keep in mind that none
of this applies to typical single-player on-line play.
Dealer/Banker: In multi-player Pai Gow games the bank
rotates from person to person, where a player may pass the deal if they
choose. If you want to deal you must have enough money on the table to
broker all other bets made. If you are uncomfortable with the full risk of
banking, another player may co-bank with you as dealer and the two of you
will split the wins and losses. The house will bank if no player is
willing to do it. If a player is banking, the dealer can be a player,
wagering as the banker asks. If a player is the banker then the dealer
will first compare their own hands to that of the banker and make the
appropriate payments. Then the dealer will take the banker's cards and
compare them to the other players, using the banker's money.
All wins in Pai Gow are at even money, less the
house's 5% commission.
Sports betting is the ultimate money game for the sports
fan. Through any of a number of online sportsbooks you can bet on the
outcome of baseball, basketball, football, hockey and soccer games, car
races, boxing matches and other popular sporting events. If you know your
favorite sport inside and out, you can overcome "the juice",
beat the oddsmakers and fatten your wallet. Also, placing a sports bet
makes the outcome of the game more meaningful and the game itself more
The sportsbook and the
To place a sports bet, simply go to a sportsbook -- a
place that accepts sports bets. Gamblers Palace Casino & Sportsbook
and Simplenetbet Casino & Sportsbook are examples of online
sportsbooks. Many sportsbooks also accept bets by telephone. You may
sometimes hear sportsbooks referred to as bookmakers or bookies.
Note that a sportsbook is not the same as an oddsmaker.
The sportsbook simply accepts sports bets. An oddsmaker is a person who
sets the betting odds. Most major sportsbooks use odds set by Las Vegas
oddsmakers. These oddsmakers typically work for major hotel sportsbooks.
Most online sportsbooks are located in the Caribbean and
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