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So you or someone you know has just turned 21 and you want to get out there and have some fun gambling in Vegas. Every year, thousands of people come to Vegas for their 21st birthday to drink, party and, of course, gamble
legally for the first time. But, a good question is where do you take a first-time player to ensure they get the most bang for their buck?
I have been a casino dealer for about five years and, when I gamble, I look for the best odds with the best limits. When friends and family hit the big 21, they always ask me to take them out for a night of lucky chance. I love to gamble! Some might think, “wow, this guy has a problem!” Not at all, actually; I play smart and never put myself in financial harm. So, with that in mind, here's my personal guide to how to go all in for the big 2-1:
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Good gambling is getting harder to find every day. Thankfully, it’s not gone altogether. While some casino operators are looking at new ways to generate revenue (i.e., bottle service) there are still some operators who still look to the casino to earn their revenue. These casinos often offer better odds in blackjack, craps and, in this case, video poker.
Better odds aren’t all we’re searching for when it comes to video poker. We’re looking for the best odds. Specifically, we're looking at games that return at least 100%. Playing video poker games with 100%+ returns and perfect strategy will allow for a rare positive when gambling, expected value. That represents the average amount you can expect to win per bet if the bets each have identical odds (like these games) and are repeated many times. When you have a game with positive expected value, you’re repeating a wager that will return more than you play over time.
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The first pitch of the new Major League Baseball season was thrown last night in Chicago (the Cubs lost to the St. Louis Cardinals). The season is now in full swing with games stretching into tonight.
Wagering on baseball is different than betting on football or basketball since baseball games don't use a point spread. When you wager on a baseball game, you're mostly going to bet the money line. Money line wagers mean all you have to do is to pick a winner. If you pick the winning team, you get paid, but not the traditional -110 ($11 to win 10) you would with point spread sports. Since money line betting is different from what most people are used to, it's always nice to have a refresher.
Walk into any of the dozens of poker rooms in Las Vegas and the game you are most likely to see running is Texas hold 'em. While there are plenty of places around town to hit up if you're looking to mix things up with some different games, hold 'em is currently king in the world of poker and shows no sign up giving up that crown.
It's important to note that hold 'em comes in two distinct flavors: limit and no-limit. While the general rules of the game are the same regardless of which style you are playing, the difference in the betting structures can make the games massively different when it comes to how the action plays out.
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Most casino visitors know the odds are stacked against them. Still, it’s fun to try and take on the house. Some players go for broke and play games like Megabucks, where the chances of winning are minute but the potential payout colossal. Others pick games like blackjack, where big wins are rare but the chances of leaving ahead aren’t so bad. Whatever you choose, it’s important to understand game selection alone doesn’t determine your odds.
Gamblers thinking they’ll play things safe by sticking to conservative games like video poker and craps often overlook the fact that those games are only safer if played under the correct circumstances. Played incorrectly, either by using imperfect strategy or by making the wrong types of bets, these games can have a house edge as bad as the worst of slot machines. Additionally, even if playing optimally, casinos can change the rules such that the odds aren’t as you would expect. Here’s a look at just how widely the house edge can swing on some of the most popular games:
Nobody goes to one of the world’s premier fun destinations planning to have a terrible time. Anyone who goes to Vegas with any frequency, though, can attest to seeing the poor bastard who lost all of his money, or that girl yelling at her boyfriend in the cab line about taking “one more goddamn step in these heels.” Las Vegas is a strange place with more quirks than your weird uncle. When you bring five, six or 10 of your best buds, things can get dicey. Pun intended. Here are 10 fails that will certainly throw a wrench in the gears:
1. Packing your bag in five minutes: If you pack in a rush, you’ll forget everything. Some things you DO NOT want to forget: phone charger, dress clothes, belt, sunglasses, swimsuit, dress shoes, casual shoes, flip flops, your unexpired ID and money.
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Call us (me) simple, but there’s almost always something interesting when looking behind the numbers in gambling. Today’s example of being easily intrigued comes from looking at how often certain hands show up when playing Jacks or Better video poker.
What’s fascinating today is the following:
This will seem like a no brainer for all you pros, but will be much appreciated advice by those still learning their way around Vegas: just because your room is booked, doesn't mean you should cross it off your Vegas list. Sometimes, a call back can add quite a few dollars to your Vegas budget, as VC reader Greg D. reminded our Facebook fans:
Each game has a different pay table and that affects odds and returns. Reader @rickwozniak asked a fair question in the comments section of the post that others have probably wondered as well, “if video poker is random, 52 card deck, why would one game have a higher variance then another?”
First, here’s a definition of what variance is, as it relates to video poker from vpFREE2:
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There are many factors you should consider when deciding where to play poker during your time in Vegas, such as what games and stakes are offered, how much you receive per hour in comp dollars, tournament offerings, the level of competition, and so on.
Another factor that should not be overlooked is what promotions a given room offers and how much value you are likely to get out of those promotions. Most poker rooms in town offer some sort of incentive for players in the form of high hand bonuses, bad beat jackpots, "aces cracked" bonuses, or hours-based free rolls. What many people don't realize is that the house isn't giving away free money with these promotions, they are simply taking money that players have contributed to a fund and giving it back out in the form of a bonus.
Imagine this scenario. A visitor to Las Vegas finds a game in a casino that he knows has a small house advantage. Therefore, he thinks, he shouldn't lose a lot of money playing that game. He plays for a short while, and he loses all of his money, and he walks away confused and pretty unhappy. What happened? Was it just bad luck? More likely, he just experienced the concepts of volatility and of risk of ruin!
A recent VegasChatter article about how much money is needed for a trip to Las Vegas got me thinking about the closely related concepts of risk of ruin, volatility, bet size, and total gambling bankroll size. Risk of ruin explains why you can play a game with a slim house advantage, and still lose your entire bankroll more quickly than you might expect.
Keno isn’t one of the more popular games in the casino, but you’ll see it in different varieties here and there. Keno is a simple lottery-like game where players pick numbers a la bingo. Correctly pick a certain amount of numbers drawn at random by a machine or person to win varying amounts of money. Pay tables differ and may vary by how many numbers you match up correctly.
All the variations involved with keno mean there's not just one exact way to win. There may be a game where you win if you match a minimum of three numbers correctly and there may be a game where you don’t win unless you match five. The more numbers you match, the more money you’ll win.