Many households have a percentage of their income set aside as the “entertainment” budget. If you don’t have a set amount for entertainment, you should get one. However, it’s pretty hard to stretch the entertainment budget as the weekend rolls around. A night out at the movies can roll over $60 easily and a football game with decent seats will hit your wallet for over $300 per ticket. Some people can’t live without movies or football, while others enjoy slot machines and blackjack. After all, casinos are in the entertainment business.
The key with casinos is knowledge. You should know what you’re getting yourself into and realize that a night out at the casino is entertainment. A casino is not your personal ATM. A casino is a for-profit business.
Here’s the breakdown of what to expect from a casino.
Understanding House Edge
The games involving the least amount of skill have the biggest house advantage. Blackjack’s house advantage depends on the rules (stand/hit on soft 17, surrender, etc.) but hovers around 1%. You should at least learn blackjack basic strategy before you head off to gamble at a casino.
Keno’s house advantage can get as high as 30%. This means if you walk into the casino with $100 for keno, you’ve already “lost” $30. Please understand that while you can win (and lose) much more in the short run, the variance gets smaller and smaller the longer you play. The games with the lowest house advantage are blackjack, baccarat and craps. In any game, your loss will eventually match the house advantage.
Slots vary their payout by machine. As a rule of thumb, the higher the denomination played (playing $10 slots vs. $1 slots) the higher the payout. As an example, Atlantic City regulations require slot machines to pay back at least 83%, so payout on a penny slot can be as low as 83% while a $5 slot machine can offer 98% payback. The idea is that you’ll play through a lot more money on the $5 machine and 2% will still equal a lot of money.
Roulette’s house advantage is 2.70% with a single zero game and 5.26% with a double zero game. ALWAYS play the single zero game if you’re playing roulette.
Casinos Offer Much More Than Gambling
All things considered, casinos offer a pretty sweet deal for date night or a night with friends. Here’s an example from one of my favorite casinos, Tropicana in Atlantic City. Let’s say you and your better half plan a date night. At the Trop, you can have dinner, go to an IMAX theater, go to one of its many bars, gamble if you want and go to their in-house nightclub. To top it all off, you can hop right in the elevator and head back to your hotel room. Not a bad night, huh?
It’s not just at the Tropicana, either. Almost every casino in the world has a built-in buffet and bar. The Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos have awesome nightclubs too. If anything, your travel time (assuming a dinner and a movie) will be drastically reduced.
Use a Player’s Card
Always use a casino player’s card. This is the only way that casinos can accurately track your play and reward you for your patronage. You will not get complimentary meals, rooms or free play if you are not part of the casino rewards program.
Here’s how it works: casinos will comp you based on your average theoretical loss. If you are mathematically “supposed” to lose $1,000 based on your play, the casinos will give a certain percentage of that back in offers. I know of a lady who won a huge progressive jackpot on her first day at the casino. She hasn’t lost a penny and she still gets about $500 in offers every month. The key is that you have to be willing to risk your money, which brings me to my last point…
Proper Bankroll Management
Read and repeat after me: “I will not gamble more than I can afford to lose.”
The biggest sucker bet in the casino is the bet that’s made with money you can’t afford to lose.