It’s not in the best interest of the casinos to let you in on all the gambling secrets they’re aware of. I, on the other hand, am a simple gambling blogger. You’ll read my stuff more often if I reveal the secrets to you.

These are the 20 best kept gambling secrets. If you’ve read other such posts on the web, you’ll probably notice that some of my points directly contradict some of these other writers’ posts. That’s because they’re wrong.

1- No System Will Help You Win at Roulette in the Long Run

Before starting this post, I Googled the phrase “gambling secrets” to see what others had written on the subject. The first result I found started off with the bold claim that you can win at roulette if you have a system.

This is exactly the kind of nonsense you need to avoid. There’s no way to win at roulette in the long run without cheating, which is a felony in Nevada. A betting system won’t do it. Anyone can win at roulette in the short term. That’s just random chance in action.  Anyone who promises you a winning system for roulette doesn’t have your best interest at heart like I do, Gentle Reader.

2- Counting Cards in Blackjack CAN Help You Win in the Long Run

Counting cards in blackjack can help you get an edge over the casino in the long run. It’s both harder to do and easier to do than most people think. Once you understand the principle behind it, you’ll realize that it’s easier than you thought. Then when you try to learn how to count cards in a casino, it’ll become harder than you just realized.

Card counting works by tracking the ratio of high cards to low cards in the deck. You don’t have to memorize the cards that have been dealt. You just give each of them a value of +1 or -1. Based on whether that total is positive or negative, you raise or lower your bets.

When the deck has lots of 10s an aces in it compared to other cards, you have a better chance of being dealt a blackjack. Since a blackjack pays off at 3 to 2, you stand to win more money in this situation, so raising the size of your bets gives you an edge over the casino.

Actually keeping up with this in such a way that the casino doesn’t catch on to what you’re doing is another trick entirely.

3- Slot Machines Are the Worst Games in the Casino, and the Newer Games Are Even Worse than That

Slot machines have a higher house edge than almost any other casino game. The house edge is the percentage that the casino expects to win from each bet on average over the long run.  But not only that, slot machines tend to result in more action on your part than any other casino game. Most people average 600 bets per hour on a slot machine. Fast players average more than that even—some even get up to 900 spins per hour.

When you estimate a loss rate, you take the total amount of action and multiply it by the house edge. Your action is just how much you’re betting multiplied by the number of bets you’ve made.

Important Note

If you’re playing a slot machine at a rate of 600 spins per hour and betting $3 per spin, you’re putting $1800 per hour into action. If I’m playing a slot machine at a rate of 900 spins per hour, betting the same $3 per spin, I’m putting $2700 per hour into action. If we’re both playing a slot machine with a 10% house edge, you’ll lose $180 per hour on average, and I’ll lose $270 per hour on average.

Compare that with betting $5 per spin at the roulette table and only getting in 30 bets per hour. The house edge for roulette is 5.26%. You’re putting $150 per hour into action, but you’re only losing $7.89 per hour on average. That’s a huge difference.

4- Superstitious Players Lose More Money in the Long Run

Superstitious players will make all kinds of bone-headed decisions in defiance of math and probability. They’ll ignore the correct play in blackjack based on a hunch, for example. All these small mistakes add up over time to result in long term losses. Ignore superstition. Learn the odds and correct strategies for the games you want to play.

5- Bankroll Management and Money Management Are NOT the Same Thing

Bankroll management just means keeping your gambling funds separate from the other funds in your budget. This is a good thing. Money management is a technique that’s supposed to improve your chances of winning at gambling by setting win goals and stop loss limits. Money management doesn’t change your odds of winning.

Bankroll management, on the other hand, can help you achieve your goals. For example, if your goal is to play for a certain period of time without going broke, you can manage your bankroll to make that happen. If you’re an advantage player, you can manage your bankroll in such a way to avoid going broke  in the short run while you’re waiting for your long-term edge to kick in.

6- If You Only Make Small Wagers, You’ll Only See Small Wins

I saw a writer claim that you’ll lose less money if you only make small wagers. That’s true, as far as it goes—assuming everything else is equal. But you can bet $10 per spin on a roulette wheel and lose less money than you would betting $3 per spin on a slot machine. That’s because you’ll make more bets per hour on the slot machine game.

Also, the smaller the bet, the smaller the prize. Even if you’re a committed slots player, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that a 1000-coin jackpot on a penny slot machine is a lot smaller than that same 1000-coin jackpot on a dollar slot machine.

7- Online Casino Bonus Money Isn’t Such as Great a Deal as You Think

At one time, you could almost guarantee yourself a profit by taking advantage of online casino bonuses. These are the offers of free money that casinos make you to encourage you to make your first deposit. Those days are long gone. Casinos now have wagering requirements that make it mathematically almost impossible to be left with any money. In other words, you have to make a certain number of bets before you can cash out your winnings and/or bonus.

Of course, the more bets you make, the closer to the long run you get. And the closer to the long run you get, the likelier it is that you’ll see the kinds of results probability would predict. This means that the house edge is going to kick in.

Your best bet with an online casino bonus is to try to keep your action going in the short run. Make fewer bets, but make larger bets. You’ll achieve your wagering requirements sooner, and you’ll be less likely to see results similar to the mathematically predicted results.

8- Betting Systems Don’t Work in the Long Run, but They Can Work in the Short Term

The Martingale System is a popular betting system where you make an even-money bet and double the size of your bet after a loss. If you have multiple losses, you keep doubling the size of your bet. Eventually you should see a win, and that win will be enough to cover your previous losses and leave you with a single-unit profit.

The Martingale has a flaw, though—you’ll eventually hit a bet size you can’t afford to cover. Or you’ll hit a bet size that’s higher than the maximum possible bet at the game in that casino. All betting systems have a similar flaw. You can’t change a negative expectation bet into a positive expectation bet by changing the size of the bet.

But in the short run, you can walk away a winner using a betting system like the Martingale. 8 losses in a row isn’t as unlikely as most people think, but it’s still unlikely. You won’t see it happen in most sessions. This means in most sessions you’ll walk away a small winner using the Martingale. But in some sessions, you’ll have large losses that wipe out those small wins and then some. Understanding the intricacies of betting systems isn’t necessary, but it can add enjoyment to your gambling experience.

9- The Payback Percentage and the House Edge Are Less Important than You Probably Think

The payback percentage is the amount of each bet, on average, that the casino expects to pay you back on a slot machine or video poker machine. The house edge, on the other hand, is the average amount that the casino expects to keep every time you place a bet. These are both expressed as percentages.

To hear most gambling writers tell it, the only way to measure how good a casino game is comes down to the payback percentage and/or the house edge. But the size of the bet you’re making and the number of bets you’re placing per hour have more to do with how much you’re predicted to lose than the house edge does.

Here’s an example:

My friend Hunter is playing dollar slots and betting 3 units per spin. He’s putting $3 into action on each spin, and he’s making 600 spins per hour. That’s $1800 per hour he’s putting into action. For the sake of argument, we’ll assume he’s found a relatively loose slot machine with a 5% house edge. His expected loss per hour is $90.

On the other hand, I’m playing roulette for $20 per spin. I’m at a relatively fast table, too, and I’m getting in 50 spins per hour. This makes my hourly action $1000. The house edge for roulette is 5.26%, so my expected loss per hour is $52.60. That’s almost half of the expected loss that Hunter is facing, and I’m betting $20 every time I place a bet—he’s only betting $3 every time. And the house edge was roughly the same in those 2 examples.

10- Blackjack Basic Strategy Is the Most Important Thing You Can Learn if You’re Going to Gamble in a Casino

The best game in the casino, by far, is blackjack. If you play every hand correctly, you’ll face a house edge of less than 1%. In some cases, you might even see a house edge as low as 0.2%.

But to achieve that low an edge, you’ll need to make the correct decision in every situation. And by “correct,” I mean mathematically optimal. Luckily, we know what the correct decision is for every possible situation. It’s called “basic strategy.” All you have to do is memorize it and use it to inform every decision you make at the table.

11- Craps Is the Best Game in the Casino if You Don’t Want to Make Repeated Decisions about What to Do

Some people don’t want to go to the trouble of learning and using basic strategy to inform every move they make at the blackjack table. For them, I recommend craps.

The house edge is higher. The basic bet has a house edge of 1.41%, but when you take odds on top of that, it drops considerably. The only decisions you need to make when playing craps is which bets to place. Most of the bets at the table are lousy, so if you just stick to the most basic bets, you’ll be fine.

12- Poker Is Almost Always a Better Choice than a Casino Game

I like poker because it’s a contest of skill between you and the other players. Unlike casino games, where the house banks the action, you’re competing directly with the other players at the table for their money. If you’re more skilled than they are, you’ll win in the long run.

You need to be skilled enough to compensate for the rake, though. The casino takes 5% of every pot to pay for the dealer and the table. If you’re exactly as good as the other players at the table, in the long run, you’ll lose all your money to the rake.  You need to be good enough to beat the other players by enough to compensate for the rake.

13- Don’t Play Keno

Keno has such a high house edge (over 20%) that it’s just not worth playing. Sure, your predicted hourly loss is low because it’s a slow-playing game, but it doesn’t matter. Most of the big jackpots are so close to impossible to hit that you’ll never see one in a lifetime of keno playing. Just say no to keno.

14- Avoid Progressive Jackpot Games Unless You Can Estimate the Break-Even Point

A progressive jackpot is a huge jackpot that grows as people play the game. Usually the slot machine takes a percentage of each bet made on that machine and adds it to the jackpot. You have no way of estimating the probability of winning on a slot machine, so it’s impossible to tell when the jackpot is high enough to turn the game from a negative expectation bet to a positive expectation bet.

But on games like video poker, where you can calculate the probability of winning certain hands, you can calculate the break-even point for the game. That’s the jackpot size that makes the game a break-even proposition. When the jackpot gets bigger than that, the game becomes a positive expectation bet.

15- Casino Gambling Costs You Money

Most people don’t understand that in the long run, your play at casino games is just a way for the casino to make guaranteed money. Sure, in the short run, you might sometimes come home a winner. But if you play long enough, the house edge will eat away at your winnings. You’ll wind up a net loser over time. That’s okay as long as you understand that going into it. When you understand that, you can look at casino gambling like any other entertainment expense.

16- The Casinos Have Sneaky Techniques to Get You to Gamble More

The casinos aren’t on your side. They want your money. That’s why they do things like making you walk through the casino to get to the elevators taking you up to your room. That’s why they don’t put clocks in the casino. That’s why they offer you free alcohol.

The amount of information the casino collects about you is staggering. The way they use it is scary. It’s all part of an effort to manipulate you psychologically into gambling more. The more you gamble, the more the casino earns.

17- The Busiest Las Vegas Casinos Have the Loosest Slots

Most casinos in most destinations have lousy payback percentages. But in Las Vegas, casinos on the Strip are so competitive that they have to offer slot machine games with a better chance of winning. Otherwise, they won’t have players.

18- Slot Machines Are the Worst Game in the Casino

If you haven’t figured this out based on the other points I’ve made so far, you haven’t been paying attention. Slots have a high number of bets per hour and a high house edge. You’ll lose more money playing slots than you will playing any other casino game.

19- Tipping the Dealer Is More Fun if You Place a Bet on the Dealer’s Behalf

It’s easy to just tip a dealer a buck or 2 here or there. Most people just push a chip toward them. But it’s so much more fun for both you and the dealer if you place a bet on her behalf.

You can find plenty of blog posts that describe how to do this in the various casino games you might play, but the easiest thing to do is just ask the dealer, “How do I place a bet for you?” It’s slightly different at the blackjack table than it is at the craps table, but it’s still an easy thing to do.

20- You Really Can Get Addicted to Gambling

People think that because it doesn’t involve a substance, you can’t get addicted to gambling. That’s not the case, though. Gambling stimulates certain endorphins in your brain. Those chemicals are powerful, regardless of whether they’re triggered by an activity like gambling or by a substances like alcohol or cocaine. Most people don’t become addicted to gambling. But some people do.

Here’s what you should look for if you’re worried that your gambling might be a problem:

People who are addicted to gambling aren’t having fun anymore. They start to gamble without regard for their own well-being. They gamble with money they need for other purposes. If any of that sounds like it might describe you, then you might be facing a problem with gambling addiction.


Gambling in a casino is fun. It’s profitable for the casino, too. In fact, it’s so profitable that the casino would probably prefer that you not know all the secrets of how casino gambling works.

Much of what you need to know boils down to common sense, but not all of it. Your job is to become the best-educated gambler in the casino. Don’t play games you don’t understand. Avoid games where you’re putting lots of money into action per hour. Try to find games with a low house edge to play.

The best kept casino gambling secret of all is this:

Casino gambling is entertainment and should be treated as such. When you’re calculating how much you’re going to lose when you’re gambling, consider it an entertainment expense, like a movie ticket or your cable TV bill.

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