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House Edge Casino Games Location
 

There are eight main house games (as opposed to Card Room games or machines) which can be called Casino Games in Britain and countless others around the world. However the five games on this page are the mainstay throught the casino world. In the U.K, Roulette accounts for about 50% of casino action. Blackjack 20%. Casino stud poker 16%. Punto Banco 3%. Craps 3% with the rest making up the difference. All casinos offer the top three but only London and a few big cities have Craps and Punto Banco.

With deregulation and technical improvements the casino world has moved online and now you can play online roulette easily at the click of a mouse from your own home.
 
Roulette Casino GamesBlackjack
 

There are three basic variations on the roulette theme in casinos around the world,Roulette Wheel and Chips although the differences are very small. They are British, American and French.

The game is all about predicting where a little white ball will come to rest after spinning around the rim of a roulette wheel. The ball circles for as many as 40 revolutions and as few as 4, the carousel (middle bit with the slots in, or hub) spins continuously in the opposite direction. When the ball and carousel collide, the ball bounces randomly and eventually runs out of steam to rest in a slot with a number attached to it. That number is the winning one.

Roulette LayoutThe wheel sits on a roulette table that has a cloth 'layout'. The layout design has numbers drawn on it that correspond to those in the wheel (0-36). Money placed on, or associated with, the winning number on the cloth layout is rewarded with a prize payout in casino chips. There are different odds payouts associated with different number selections. (Full details of how to play roulette)

Its a fast action game that brings out the best and the worst of tempers. A quiet mid-week night in a provincial casino can be as boring as hell but saturday night will see plenty of cheering and swearing. This ain't for the faint hearted or weak willed. It can destroy sane people!

What about the different games? Well now, here's the funny thing. If you walk into a British casino you will, more often than not, see the roulette table designated as 'American Roulette'. What makes it American is that it uses different coloured chips for each player at the table so that their bets can be told apart. It is in fact British (see below).

Types of Roulette Game
NAME NUMBERS ODDS¹ HOUSE EDGE CHARACTERISTICS
American 38 35-1 5.26% - Coloured playing chips
- Tipping of gaming staff
- Double zero present, "00"
British 37 35-1 2.7% - Coloured playing chips
- Tipping allowed
- Single zero present, "0"
French 37 35-1 2.7% - Cash playing chips
- Tipping staff essential
- Single zero present, "0"
(1) Odds of payout for a full bet on a single number
 

Stars'n'StripesAmerican like to play roulette with a "00" and a hefty edge against them. The wheel has the normal numbers from 1 to 36 in alternate red and black colours with a green zero and also their 'double zero', also green. Therefore the game has a total of 38 numbers to bet on. The edge against the player is large and consequently the game is not nearly so popular there. Tipping the croupier for a good win is also a tax on top of the house vig. Ouch!

Union JackBritish have the best of it. No tipping ( a lovely 1968 rule ) used to be the law but changes in the 2005 Gaming Act now allow it but it is not as common as in Europe or the US. European roulette wheels, and that includes the U.K, have the numbers in a different order to an American wheel. Both alternate red and black but the European wheel also alternates high and low where as the U.S wheel alternates two low, two high. Another curious difference is that the numbers on a European wheel face inwards and they face outwards on a U.S wheel. Roulette is more popular in Britain than anywhere else.

French TricolourFrench roulette is played in many places in France and some other fancy casinos around the world. It is a slow, etiquette style game where large cash chips are placed by the two croupiers for the punters. All chips look the same so it is essential that the croupier has great skill in remembering who owns each bet. Nowadays this form is receding into being a show-piece. It doesn't make the house a lot of money but the tips are expected to flow freely.

Visit House Edge to see more about the casino advantage in Roulette.

 
Strategy

Mathematically it is true that if you double up your stakes after a loss, you will eventually win all your money back. The trouble with applying that idea to anything in reality is that a losing streak can force some pretty large bets. You may not have the money to back it up but most certainly you will reach the house limit at some point in time. It is doomed to failure. Don't get caught by this because if you try it, it is likely to succeed for a time before the big crash hits you!

Famous Systems: For the record, the simple doubling when you lose system is called the Martingale. You start with 1 unit on Red (or any Even Chance bet), then bet 2,4,8,16 and so on, as long as you lose. Whenever you win, you only make a profit of 1 unit. Conversely, the anti-Martingale system attempts to take advantage of those long runs by doubling up stakes as you win. This is done by placing your unit bet on an Even Chance choice and letting the winnings ride until you reach a number of consecutive wins that you thought of before you started. (1+1+2+4+8+16=32 or a return of 32 for 1 after five consecutive wins) This is as equally doomed as its older brother but it doesn't have the potential for catastrophic ruin in one outing.

The Labouchère is an appealing try for betting on Even Chance bets. Take, for instance, six numbers 1,2,3,4,5,6 (you could have 4 or 8 numbers) and bet the total of the first and the last, 1+6=7. If you win you add that number to the end of the sequence, i.e. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7. Now play 1+7=8. If you lose you cross out the first and the last to leave you with 2,3,4,5 and then bet 2+5=7.
Three straight wins from the off and you'll win 24 units whilst losing 3 straight will lose 21 and cross out all the numbers. Of course you are likely to lose more often than you win but its a close thing.
This is a system that limits losses and plays up a 'good run'. Have a solid figure in mind at which you'll stop when ahead and when behind! GGG thinks this is fun and treated with care it will provide some chance to win and have good fun at the same time.

The d'Alembert is simply another adding and subtracting system for Even Chances. For example, bet 10 units on red and if you win, bet 9 on the next spin. If you lose bet 11. Whenever you get to a zero bet you are in profit. The big problem is that you could go on losing all night. GGG doesn't like this much.

Professional Strategy

There are three serious ways to win at the game of roulette. The third way is to cheat and we will not be condoning any method that involves cheating! We recommend cheats to head for the door.

The two serious attempts to win involve understanding the game and what it is all about. As a customer you may never have thought what is going on but will almost certainly have thought of betting systems that could win for you. Ask yourself why did you do that. Then sit down and begin thinking what the game is. It is a mechanical system for producing random numbers. Which is impossible.

Prediction. A wheel turning in one direction with a gentle slowdown and a ball travelling in the other with a fast but predictable decay. People have used computers to track both and predict where they'll meet. Lots of time and money to develop and if you get spotted they will bar you from entering the casino. This is as tough as it gets. In Nevada its illegal. Over here there is no law. However if they suspect you or can trump up a rumour about you, they will not pay you your money!

Bias. In the late nineteenth century, English engineer Joseph Jagger took 1.5 million francs from the Grand Casino in Monte Carlo. He had hired six clerks to record numbers from the roulette wheels for one month to find that they weren't true random number generators. He played the biased numbers for a long stretch and cashed big-time! If he could do it, so can others. This is very very tough, needing a lot of casino experience. Casinos nowadays take measures against this.

Conclusion

Yes it is true that people have won money in a professional sense at this game. How? Because nobody believes that it is possible and when it does happen, the denial just grows and grows until it can't be admitted. Your aim should be to play this game for fun with limited risk. Just set aside an exact amount of money and play it up as slowly or aggressively as you like to suit your style. Give yourself goals to achieve and stick to them. If you happen to reach them quickly, stop and live it up in the bar or restaurant. If you are playing online be sure to choose one of the certified roulette sites and be careful about accepting a signup bonus where the terms will limit your ability to hit and run.

Books
The only decent practical book that has had a good print run and therefore available is Beating the Wheel by Russell T. Barnhart. There is also a good read novel, Thirteen Against the Bank, by Norman Leigh.

 
Blackjack RouletteCasino Stud Poker
 
Other sections How to play Blackjack - Basic Strategy - Side Bets - House Edge
 

Croupier Dealing BlackjackBlackjack is the major table game in the U.S but in the UK it is way behind roulette in terms of turnover. This game can actually be interesting to play and if you do your homework (read some books) then you can cut the house edge down to nothing (Warning: this is tough!).

To play you must first place a bet (say £10). Two cards are dealt face up to you and one to the dealer. Your aim is to make your cards total more than the dealers but not go over 21 (bust) which forfeits your bet.. You may ask for additional cards and once you've decided to stop taking them the dealer begins adding cards to their hand. They must draw a card if their total is less than 17 and stop once they reach 17 or more. Over 21 (bust or 'to many') and the players hand wins if it is still live.

If your total is higher than the dealer's or the dealer has bust, then your bet is paid at even odds, that means you win an amount equal to your bet. A Blackjack is a two card hand consisting of a picture card (that includes 10s) and an Ace. That pays 3/2 (£15 for £10), for the player. If your total is lower then you lose your bet and if equal then you get your money back (a stand-off, a push).

Action   Union Jack Stars'n'Stripes
Splitting   Any
Any number of times (not Aces)
Any
Varies
Doubling   Any 2 cards Any two cards
Soft totals
Dealer Hole Card   No Yes
Hit soft 17   No Varies

The basic idea of getting close to 21, or reaching it, and beating the dealer, is the same worldwide. From there, the variations begin and are so numerous we won't describe them all. Here in the table are some of the important differences. To see the impact of these differences visit House Edge. If you want to get the details of what effects subtle variations in the rules have, then read down to the recommended book reading in this section, especially by Stanford Wong and Peter Griffin.

What can be said about having more choices is that it ultimately cannot make the players chances of winning any worse. But due to the inexperienced nature of most players playing online blackjack in uk, choice basically increases the number of ways to go wrong. The following examples are common; doubling 10 against a dealer's 10 (or even Ace!) and splitting 8s against 10s or Aces! Suffice to say that these are massive blunders.

One point of interest is that in the U.S the dealer gets a face down card (hole card) as well as his upcard. What this means is that the dealer checks for the possibility of having a 'Blackjack' before any doubling or splitting is done. If he has one, then all bets lose (save a players 'Blackjack') and no one can make a mistake by doubling or splitting when they shouldn't. They can and do in the U.K.

The other variation which you will no doubt come across is the numbers of decks of cards used to make up the pack. It all started by playing with just one deck but as players got better, the number of decks increased. Eight decks are used in some places, six is common and four can still be seen in the U.K in places. In the U.S, one and two deck games are often hand-held instead of drawing the cards from a shoe. Rules of play differ according to the number of decks in the U.S but they are the same where ever you go in the U.K.

Strategy

Betting systems like those described for Roulette can be applied to BJ although the doubling and splitting features complicate matters. GGG doesn't recommend trying them or any method of increasing your bets to get your loses back.

Your best chance is to stick to Basic Strategy, this will keep the house edge down to 1%. Normal play by the general public is riddled with errors and the house gets a 3% vig. from them on average and really bad players give them a lot more.

One More Thing :Play at the table can get bitchy, oh brother! One play by the last box player can obviously affect the outcome of the dealer's hand and therefore change everybodies fate. However, and take this in, the order of cards to come are not known and over the long haul there is no relevance to you, or anyone else, what happens at the last box.

Professional Strategy

You could spend your life reading what has been written on the subject of winning at BJ. Most of it is either rubbish or just pretentious. If you want to read then stick to the main men. They are Edward O. Thorp, Ken Uston, Stanford Wong and Peter Griffin. Understand that casinos around the world have benefited greatly from people who read a book on BJ and then launch confidently into playing with their new found knowledge. To win using real systems at BJ you must do a tremendous amount of work. The minimum is to make Basic Strategy part of your body.

There are three basic strategies:
  • Card Counting
  • Shuffle Tracking
  • Card Location

Card Counting, is the original way to beat BJ as described by Ed. Thorp in his book Beat The Dealer, which has sold a million copies. Nowadays this is only a way to get level with the house but the book sellers still do well out of it. Card Counting understands that some cards in the deck, notably 10s and Aces, help the player make good hands and others cause problems, like 4s, 5s and 6s. If you count the good and bad cards as they are dealt you are able to know when there is a favourable distribution of 'good' cards left to be dealt. Then you bet more money.

There is a lot of bull floating around in the gambling business about 'card counting' to the effect that the casino staff spend much time in trying to eliminate it without understanding why. GGG says that if you want to really work and you like doing maths in your head, then card counting can give a level playing field with the house. If its your cup of tea then go for it.

Shuffle Tracking, is an update to card counting. It is more efficient and thus more effective. As cards are placed into the discard pile, the player will notice when a group of good cards (10s & Aces) clump together. Later, another similar group may be placed there as well. Now the player has to watch the shuffle and if the two groups are shuffled together then that is the area in the pack that the shuffle-tracking player will aim for. When its time for those cards to be dealt in the next shoe, the player bets much bigger for several hands in a row. GGG says this is good but practice for a month.

Card Location, is the real McCoy and no one really writes about it because they are too busy coining money from old rope. (Also they don't really know) GGG will be doing a special on this at a later date!

Conclusion

BJ is a game that has been beaten and still is. It is a lot of real work. An equal amount of work spent in the real world will deliver gauranteed results in a real business. This wont gaurantee you anything. You really have to love it and its getting tougher all the time. Your best bet is to keep tight limits on your money and just aim to learn the basic strategy slowly. You will not be favourite to win but you'll make it close enough for a shot at winning.

Books Necessary texts for the serious player are Basic Blackjack by Stanford Wong,The Theory of Blackjack by Peter Griffin and possibly Blackbelt in Blackjack by Arnold Snyder. Also read Blackjack legends – the MIT blackjack team
 
Casino Stud Poker (Jackpot) BlackjackPunto Banco
 

Dealer at Casino Stud PokerThis is a casino-dealer dealt table game. Its you against the house with real poker hands. Each player gets dealt five cards face down along with the dealer who gets four down cards and one up card. There is an ante bet before the player gets his cards and if they wish to continue and play againstFour Aces Poker Hand the dealers hand then they must make another bet (or raise) of exactly twice the ante. If they don't then they forfeit their ante. (See How To Play Casino Stud Poker)

For the dealer to play against the player, they must have a qualifying hand of Ace,King,x,x,x (x is any card) or better (this happens 56% of the time). If the player has decided on playing and making the necessary raise and the dealer qualifies, then its a straight show-down of who has got the best poker hand. If the dealer wins they take all three units bet. If the player wins he will win either 3 units or a bonus payout if he has a strong hand (better than one pair).

Now this should be all rather simple but players of this uninteresting game make a hell of a botch out of it. Some smart bods have worked on this one, like the late, great, Peter Griffin, and the basic edge against the player is 2.5%. See House Edge This is really quite good and comparable to Roulette.

The Jackpot
This is a cumulative prize that builds from players across the country placing a side bet that will be paid should the player be dealt a top hand. 30% of each pound placed goes into the pockets of the casino and the other 70% feeds the jackpot fund. The payouts are £50 for a Flush, £75 for a Full house , £100 for a Four of a kind, 10% of the total for a Straight flush and 100% of the the fund for Royal flush.

Strategy

Don't bluff. Motto: If you have a pile of junk then throw it away.
This is an extremely simple game and thus tedious. The only enjoyment to be had is involved with being able to slowly reveal your hand to yourself. Stick to the plan of raising the extra two units when you have a strong AKxxx hand or better. (i.e. A K J 9 4). Drop and lose that ante bet when you have worse. Always!

Professional Strategy

Sorry folks but there is little to do here. There are some theoretical ways to improve on the 2.5% edge for the house but the difference is at best 0.1%, so you could get down to 2.4%. If you really want to know what they are then read the excellent book by author John Haigh, Taking Chances.

As an aside, people often think (and this includes casino staff) that if you collude with the other players at the table and discover what cards they have, then you will be able to find out what hand the dealer is holding. Well I can tell you that even if all seven boxes at the table were being played, the dealer still has 16 remaining cards from which his four down cards are selected. Using a computer to analyze all 1820 possible 4-card sets out of 16 the player would have an advantage of 2.3%. In a six player game the house would still have an edge of 0.4%. Unfortunatley the Internet casinos usually only have 3 player spots. Basically its a non-starter.

Conclusion

For you to have a break even equity at the jackpot side bet in an UK Casino, the meter would have to be at least £263,205. If you are playing a £5 initial poker bet, your average bet will be about £10 and your vig. against you about 25 pence. So to have an even equity across both bets the Jackpot prize will have to be 25% above £263,205 which is £329,006. Look for games that allow a £2.50 front bet and play the Jackpot bet only when the prize is £296,105 and above.

 
Punto Banco Casino Stud PokerCraps
 

Punto Banco is a version of Baccarat. Baccarat also has a very close sister game, Chemin de fer. In both there are choices for the players, in this game there are none.

Punto Banco can be dealt from Blackjack style tablePunto Banco is a simple game of comparing Punto ('Player') hands with Banco ('Bank') hands. Two cards are dealt to each from a shoe containing some 312 cards (6 decks). Their value for this game is the last digit only, i.e. 9+6=5 and 3+2=5. This would be trivial and not much of a game but some complex rules are added to see whether either hand gets a third card and thus a different total.

Players at the table have the choice of betting either Punto or Banco or a third bet, Egalité ('Ties'), which means betting that the hands will finish equal.
See How to Play Punto Banco for the complete rules.

Banco is favourite to win! However there is a 5% tax on your winnings if you bet Banco and so the house edge is 1.17%. Punto gives them 1.36%, close, but not the same. Around one in ten hands are tied but the payout is 9 for 1, which in english is 8-1. Its massive house edge of 14%!

Strategy

If ever you wanted a chance to play your weired staking systems then this is the game for you. Betting Banco gives you the least house vig. possible inside a casino and the big casinos have large limits. (Though much reduced from years gone by after many high profile losses due to collusion between customers and staff)

Professional Strategy

Trust me, there is nothing to do. There have been professionals who have made out of this game but they relied on the casino in question not knowing how to operate the game correctly. The game itself is not beatable.

Conclusion

If you like second guessing which hand will win or you have a staking system to try out, this is the game. Once again, stick closely to your money limits, walk away if you lose the amount you allowed yourself.

 
Craps Punto BancoProgressive Poker
 
(This game's full name is Bank Craps. Normal Craps is explained in the Dice Games section)
 

This is the game that sorts the wheat from the chaff. Consequently this game is Crap shooterdying out to the detriment of the casino enviroment. To the unintiated, the fast flow of a lively craps game is totally unintelligable, as though the players had suddenly started talking an alien language. Added to that, there are more variation bets in Craps than all the other games put together.

Now there are two basic types of Craps games, one Private and one Bank. Private Craps is what you see in American movies and is the focus of the film, Movie The Big Town. Casinos offer Bank Craps in the American form.

Craps in the U.S and the U.K differ in that some of the odds payouts are different plus the U.S version has more sucker bets. See How to Play Craps for playing guidelines and House Edge for more on the percentages of the game.

The whole idea of the game is to bet on the outcome of a pair of dice ('dice' is plural of 'die' folks). Tradionally they are chunky red see-through dice with white spots that get rolled, or more likely thrown, down the Craps table. Bets themselves split into three groups, those that are immediate decisions, Red Dice as used in a Casino gameor One Roll Bets, and those that last for many rolls, or Place Bets and the basic Front Line Bets.

One Roll Bets For the most part you can consider all of these to be sucker bets which is unfortunate because they are the exciting bets that get paid high odds. The exception to this rule is the field bet (UK) which has a vig. of 2.56%. Everything else is over 5%.

Place Bets These range from 1.5% vig. to 5.5%. Placing 6 or 8 gets you the 1.5%.

Front Line Bets These are the basic bets of Craps and can be played at any time. With full odds played on these bets (recommended) you can reach 0.83% vig against you. This is the best casino bet availabe.

Strategy

Because Come bets can be made continuously and they are just another Front Line (Pass Line or Win Line) bet, then you can just play with these. You start with a Front Line and as soon as the Point is made take Odds and make a Come bet. Play up to three Come Bets and take Odds on all of them. At your maximun vulnerability you will have effectively four Front Line bets with four different Point numbers. Your aim is to take at least 2 down by hitting their Point numbers. You are finished and in good profit if you take them all down when you could start again or walk. Across all of these bets you are giving away a little over 0.8%. Its your best shot at a game with no edge and no lengthy work that you'll find inside a casino!

Professional Strategy

There is no way to beat this game, other than cheat (and we are against that). Professionals can be found playing this game for reasons of fun, in search of excitement, or the little known technique of washing their chips that they have won from playing something else.

 
 
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