Many gamblers think that luck in casino games revolves around rituals and inanimate objects. Players often repeat patterns from previous winning sessions, such as wearing a lucky shirt, eating the same meal, and betting the same numbers.
Doing these things can have a positive impact on your confidence. But do charms and rituals really change your fortunes?
Find out as I go deeper into the subject of gambling and luck, improving your odds, and preparing for the times when your luck goes downhill.
Luck is often attributed to some mysterious force that we can't control. This is the big reason why people believe that a lucky shirt or charm will improve their fortunes in the casino.
After a winning session, we often recreate the same conditions like wearing the same shoes we did during a hot streak.
But the reality is that gambling luck isn't due to any magical clothing items or cosmic force. Instead, the odds are merely on your side when you're doing well.
Let's consider European roulette for an example of how luck can play out at the casino.
This game has a 2.70% house edge. And any even money bet that you make has a 48.64% chance of winning.
You have a good chance of winning in the short term with these odds. And the low house edge ensures that you won't lose too much money in the long term.
Given that you almost have a 50/50 chance of winning even money bets, you're going to experience a roughly equal number of winning and losing streaks.
We often chalk these streaks up to good or bad luck. But the reality is that prolonged streaks are mainly the odds playing out.
Some casino games lend themselves more to streaky play than others. This includes slot machines, video poker, scratch cards, and poker (for non skilled players).
These games have what we call high volatility. In other words, their short term results can be all over the place when compared to your long term chances of winning.
High volatility in casino games is associated with what we call luck more than the low volatility games.
Slot machines are a great example because the payout distribution is all over the place. Let's look at a generic example of a slot machine pay table:
As you can see, the prizes vary greatly from each other. This means that slot machines can offer frequent payouts because they need to make up for prizes at the top.
The end result is that you'll be facing more volatility with slots than you will with games like baccarat, blackjack, and roulette.
This is why so many players feel that they have bad luck after a slots or poker session because they're dealing with so much volatility.
I'm not saying that you should avoid high volatility games altogether. But note that you're going to suffer through more long losing streaks when you play these games.
The best way that you can feel lucky in the casino is simply by winning. And this is made much easier when you find the top opportunities.
Let's start by looking at the house edge for some of the most popular casino games:
Baccarat, blackjack, craps, French roulette, and video poker give you good chances to win in any given session. You're going to feel luckier in the long term when you play these games because they don't favor the house as much.
You can see in the list above that some games have exceptions noted in the parenthesis. This means these games have a variable house edge that can change based on rules or a specific variation.
Blackjack is a good example because the house edge changes based on the rules. A game that offers 3:2 blackjack payouts, doubling down on any total, and two decks is going to pay more than a game with 6:5 payouts, doubling down on 9 through 11, and eight decks.
Slot machines are another example because different games have different payback.
Obviously you want to choose machines with the higher return to player (RTP). But how do you go about doing this?
The answer is simply by doing online research and finding where the best opportunities are.
If you want to find the top blackjack games, you'll need to research which casinos offer the best rules. If you want to play online slot machines that offer the highest RTP, then you'll need to look up which providers offer the top paying games.
The end goal is to find casino games that offer you the best deals and subsequently improve your luck.
Some casino games allow skilled players to gain an edge over the house or opponents. These include blackjack card counting, daily fantasy sports (DFS), poker, sports betting, and video poker.
Those who can win long term profits in these games are called advantage players.
The common perception is that advantage players always win, rather than simply relying on luck. But this isn't exactly true.
The edge that skilled gamblers have guarantees them a long term profit. However, advantage players have such a small edge that they go through winning and losing streaks just like the rest of us.
A great example includes blackjack card counters, who normally have an edge between 0.5% and 1.5% over the house.
Successful card counters can make a good living through blackjack. This is also a stressful pursuit, though, because counters can easily lose thousands of dollars based on their razor thin advantage
These players are still going to win money over the long run, provided their skills are up to par. But advantage players are subject to almost the same amount of luck as casual gamblers are.
Having good luck in casino games isn't just about letting fate play out. Instead, you can take a proactive approach that involves doing anything you can to lower the house edge.
Besides looking for the highest paying games, another thing you can do is study strategy.
Each casino game features its own degree of strategy. For example, blackjack has far more extensive strategy than slot machines.
But the key is to learn what works for each game and use this info to boost your chances of winning. Let's look at different ways that you can improve in video poker as an example:
Let's compare these methods with slots, where the main strategy revolves around finding the best payback.
Sometimes you may find that a casino game has too much strategy to be enjoyable. Blackjack card counting, DFS, poker, and sports betting are good examples because only the best players will beat these games.
Maybe you enjoy playing the most challenging casinos games and trying to boost your chances of winning. But if not, then you can find plenty of other options that offer a combination of reasonable strategy and luck.
Blackjack and video poker are good examples because they both involve heavy strategy. But the difference between these and the aforementioned games is that you can eventually find the perfect strategy with enough work.
Sometimes it feels like your bankroll just vanishes into thin air during a losing streak. This is when we begin thinking that we're cursed and our luck is at its worst.
Enter bankroll management, which helps you gain a better understanding on how long you can expect to play casino games on average. Let's discuss a few topics that'll help you better manage your bankroll.
Nobody likes to think about losing at casino games. But unless you're an advantage player, you must face the reality that you're dealing with negative expectation games.
This is why it's important to only gamble with expendable income that's not needed for bills and other necessities.
The first priority of bankroll management is to figure out how much money you can safely to put towards gambling. You need to calculate how much money you make each month after taxes along with what you spend on bills and other expenses.
Subtracting expenses from your income gives you a reasonable idea of your expendable income. You can then draw your gambling bankroll from this amount.
An optional step in bankroll management involves breaking your funds down into units.
The reason why some gamblers do this is because they find it easier to deal with non monetary units, rather than cash amounts.
The choice is up to you because you may have no problem dealing with your bankroll in terms of money. Here's an example of breaking your bankroll down into units in case you're interested:
Another good thing to do regarding bankroll management involves calculating your theoretical losses for casino games.
This is a good idea because you want to know how long on average you'll last with a specific casino game. It also helps lift the veil on the idea that your bankroll runs out simply because you have bad luck.
Let's look an example of how to figure out your theoretical losses with baccarat:
Theoretical losses are great for games like baccarat because you almost have a 50/50 shot at winning. But keep in mind that this concept doesn't relate well to highly volatile games like slot machines and video poker.
The reason why is because you're dealing with such high volatility that it takes time before reaching your actual theoretical losses.
Some players believe that they can use betting systems to change their fortunes in the casino.
Betting systems revolve around the concept that you can beat the casino with specific wagering patterns. Let's look an example using the famed D'Alembert system:
The idea behind the D'Alembert is that you can win back all of your losses and book a short term profit. And if you had an infinite bankroll and there were no table limits, this would be true.
But the reality is that tables do have betting limits and nobody has an infinite bankroll. Moreover, a betting system alone can overcome the house edge.
Some gamblers experience excellent short term results with systems and believe they suddenly have great luck. However, betting systems will eventually turn on you because they don't have an effect on the house advantage.
If you want to use gambling systems for fun, then by all means do so. But don't fall into the line of thinking that systems are lucky and/or guaranteed to make you profits.
The main theme here is that gambling luck is more than just an outside force bringing you good or bad fortunes.
Instead, having luck in casino games is based on a combination of odds, choosing the right games, understanding volatility, using strategy, and properly managing your bankroll.
When you take the right approach to gambling it means that you have a better opportunity to win. In turn, you'll feel much luckier when you book more winning sessions.