There are some experiences in life that should only come once: your first date, choosing your first pet, chickenpox. None come close to that first walk into a casino. The soft, red carpet, flashing lights, loud sounds, and cocktail waitresses with big smiles just makes you want to… well… spend money.
While I would love to tell you about the time I caught chickenpox from my first date’s pet, I think I’ll leave that story for another time. Instead, I want to focus on my first visit to a casino. It was 2004 somewhere in Las Vegas. The internet was not yet the cornucopia of betting and casino-gaming knowledge it is now, so I walked in with no real smarts and about $300 in my pocket.
Below, I will reveal the five games you should absolutely avoid when playing at a casino. These games come with a high house edge and an appetite for more than just quarters and dimes.
5. American Roulette
Every casino enthusiast has a favorite game or two. If you asked everyone in a casino what their favorite game is, the majority would probably say roulette.
For over three hundred years, this fascinating game has gripped casino patrons. The hypnotic spinning of the wheel entrancing player after player to fall into its vortex. A little dramatic? Maybe, but there’s certainly some truth to it. After all, roulette is still thriving to this day. Enter any casino around the world, and you’ll find at least one wheel sitting there, with players’ eyes fixated on every spin.
What You Should Know About American Roulette
First off, there are two main versions of roulette. There’s American (or Double-Zero) roulette and European (or Single-Zero) roulette. You may be wondering what separates American roulette from its European forebearer. No, it is not an accent. Although, that would be pretty awesome…
The main two things that separate European and American roulette are:
- The number of pockets on the wheel – American roulette has both zero and double zero pockets. There are, therefore, 38 numbers to choose from rather than 37 on a standard European roulette wheel.
- The house edge – The payout remains the same despite American roulette having an extra pocket. This raises the house edge for American roulette to a significant 5.26% the 2.76% of its European counterpart.
As you can see, players are at a pretty big disadvantage when playing American roulette. That additional house edge can really eat into your bankroll, given roulette is such a fast-paced game.
Reasons to Avoid American Roulette?
As the old saying goes, “less is more.” Keep that in mind when playing American roulette, as there will often be less for you and more for the house. If you’re satisfied playing a game where the house holds a significant edge, knock yourself out. However, knowing that you can cut that house edge nearly in half by finding a European wheel might come in handy.
A 5.26% house edge is should certainly make any responsible player wince. However, there is also something else at play that’ll make your bankroll disappear faster than a burp in a tornado. The game is played at a very fast pace. It is incredibly addictive, which means you can blast through a lot of money in a very short time. Oh, and there is no skill involved. It’s purely a game of luck.
Even with good bankroll management, the odds are against you in American roulette. If you just can’t get enough of that wheel, however, it is probably a good idea to just play European. Definitely the lesser of two evils.
“Oh, come on, not slots,” said my good friend Anthony when I told him I was writing this piece. “Who doesn’t like slots? I mean, they are just so fun.”
And that’s…slightly unsettling. Think about it: in theory, you can set up a casino with a roulette wheel, a blackjack table, a few decks of cards and some dice. The equipment doesn’t cost much. If you want to stack a few slots in your imaginary casino, you are talking a lot of money for the machines, licenses, software, etc. Why are casinos keen to spend so much? Here’s a hint: they get more back for their investment.
What You Should Know About Slots
There are a ton of different types of slots out there. From 3-reel classic slots to 5-reel video slots, jackpots, progressives, and more, casinos are usually jam-packed with a wide assortment of these machines. There are varying levels of stakes you can choose when playing slots, with some starting at couple cents per spin up others at a couple hundred dollars.
Slots also vary according to volatility. This means that some machines pay out small and often, while others pay out infrequently but a lot higher. There is no real way of determining the house edge on slots, which means that you could effectively be playing a game where you are unsure what your chances of winning are.
Reasons to Avoid Slots?
While slots these days can have pretty cool themes and come with bells and whistles that make other games look like antiques, they’re unpredictable. You can blast through a decent bankroll in minutes. Slots are notoriously hungry for dollars, and you can spin a countless number of times in a short period.
If you’re winning, then it’s all good, but you’re almost guaranteed to have a nightmare session on slots every now and again. Given that the house edge can be as high as 20% means you should probably give them a miss.
3. Big Six Wheel
The Big Six wheel, also known as the Wheel of Fortune (or Wheel of Misfortune to others), is a staple of many casinos around the world. While it’s far less popular than other games such as roulette, blackjack, and slots, you can bet it has its fans. The majority of players who enjoy this game are not the type who worry about things like skill or house edge. It is a painfully simple game to play. At this point, it must be relying on its shiny appearance and association with a famous gameshow to pull in dollars. Or so you would think.
After all, what else does this game have going for it? It’s a wheel. That spins around. That’s it. You can draw parallels with roulette, but at least that game has more character, it looks cooler and feels better to play. With the Big Six, you just put money down on your symbols and hope that your choice stops at the top of the wheel.
What You Should Know About Big Six Wheel
There isn’t much, that’s for sure. The way the game works is that there is a large wheel -approximately six feet in diameter – which is spun. The wheel is split into nine sections with six subsections (hence the name, Big Six). There are 54 ways to win, with each section represented by a marking: these are either $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, a joker, star, or casino logo.
The latter symbols come with the highest odds, but, surprisingly enough, these are least represented on the wheel. The most likely outcome is the $1 symbol (which pays $1 per dollar wagered). This same principle applies with the other $ symbols; for example, you will get $10 for every dollar waged on that symbol, $20 for every dollar on the $20 symbol and so on.
Reasons to Avoid Big Six Wheel?
First off, there is absolutely no skill involved. Secondly, a house edge of between 11% and 24% doesn’t exactly scream fun, does it? If you develop a taste for this game, you’ll be spending a lot of money trying to win. You may get lucky every now and again, but in the long run, that wheel is going to suck your bankroll out of your pocket. Fast.
There are much better games in the casino than Big Six. That being said, if you enjoy it, who’s to tell you what to do with your money? Although, as my grandma used to say, “just don’t come crying to me afterward.”
2. Sic Bo
There’s a chance you’re not aware of sic bo. If this is the case, you should probably keep it that way. Sic bo translates roughly into English as “precious dice,” and is one of the most popular games in Macau, China. In fact, it just edges out baccarat as the most played game in the region. While it’s far from the realms of major popularity in the US and Europe, the game still has its admirers and enthusiasts in both areas. As a result, you can find a sic bo table in many casinos from Las Vegas to Atlantic City and beyond.
You may be wondering why I would stress avoiding this particular game. Given its relative popularity, it’s not as though players will be rushing to sample its charms any time soon, right? Well, kind of. I mean, you would be surprised at just how many people play this game.
What You Should Know About Sic Bo
The object of sic bo is to hit particular winning combinations with dice.
When playing at a casino, there are various bets for players to choose from. Depending on where you play, payouts can differ. This makes it unique to other games where the payouts are pretty much the same wherever you play. Another thing to remember is that the sic bo table and the bet layouts can also differ depending on where you play. This is always important to take into account.
In order to win, the three dice must match the combination of your bet. The most common bets are:
- Small: Any wins on a total of 4 to 17, which pays even money.
- Big: Any wins on a total of 11-17, which also pays even money.
- Total of 4 & 17: This bet can pay anything up to 62-1, depending on where you play
While the game is often compared to craps, given the presence of dice, there’s no strategy in sic bo (unlike craps). It’s simply a game of chance.
Reasons to Avoid Sic Bo?
So, what’s the hate with sic bo, you might ask? I don’t hate the game at all. I actually find it to be really interesting. It’s a very fun game with a pretty impressive history to boot. It’s just that, when played inside the confines of a casino, it’s a game with a ridiculous house edge. Certain bets – such as the total of 5 & 16 – come with a house edge of 47.22%.
Because there is no skill involved, there’s no chance of having even the slightest say in the proceedings. The dealer rolls the dice, and it’s truly a game of luck. Not really the combination for a successful night at the casino, I must say. However, luck is luck, and you might do well from time to time. Just don’t expect it to be consistent. If you need dice in your life, try craps.
Keno is pretty much on the same level as lotteries and bingo games.
Much like bingo and lotteries, keno is a numbers game where balls are drawn and matched by players hoping to win. As you can guess, there is no skill involved other than picking numbers. As such, it is far from a thinking man’s (or woman’s) game. That said, there’s no denying that bingo and lotteries are massively popular around the world, so a lot of people might be attracted to this game on that basis.
Keno that polarizes players. Some love it; some hate it. As with any game, experiences are subjective. If you had a few big wins playing keno, you’re more likely to have a positive attitude towards the game than if you lost your house, car, and record collection while chasing one big win.
What You Should Know About Keno
Keno, much like sic bo, is believed to have originated in China and also has an extensive history, according to some gambling historians.
The game is still very popular at many casinos around the world. It’s not difficult to understand why it’s favored by those who prefer to play games with limited rules and without the need to apply any skill to affect the outcome. It is as simple (in theory) as matching the balls you have chosen to those drawn by the machine.
Reasons to Avoid Keno?
There are better games to play in the casino than keno, surely. While keno fans may take offense to this, allow me to explain.
While house edge isn’t everything when it comes to casino games, it should be an important factor when choosing a game to play. The other main contributing factor should be fun, and simply waiting for a machine/random number generator to spit out balls is not what I would describe as riveting. Even slots or American roulette would be better value and a lot more fun.
With hindsight, I can see that being naive worked against me. I had no concept of the house edge. I was simply attracted to the loudest, shiniest, and seemingly most popular games. These days, I’m a lot smarter with my bankroll. I only play games with low house edges, such as baccarat and video poker. Do I have fun? You bet. I also minimize the chances of sustaining frequent losses by not playing games designed to take more than they give.
If you’re a responsible adult playing with money that you can afford to lose, no one should tell you what games you can and can’t enjoy. However, it always pays to listen and learn from those who have been there and worn the t-shirt. Especially those who lost that t-shirt and everything else in their pockets because they chose a game that wasn’t compatible with their temperament and goals.
At the risk of sounding like a grumpy grandfather who lost his false teeth before Thanksgiving turkey, be smart out there. Just don’t forget to have some fun while you’re at it.