"Gambling: The sure way of getting nothing for something." - Wilson Mizner
This and many other adages and sayings about the gambling hobby are somewhat true. The majority of the time, casino gambling is a losing proposition.
If you're heading out for your first casino trip – or if you've been gambling for years but want to squeeze a little more out of the experience – follow the simple casino hacks discussed below. Armed with this information, you give yourself a better chance of holding on to some of your bankroll.
To my mind, the phrase "best slot machines" refers to games that give the casino the smallest advantage. If you're going to play slots, it's best to stick to games with a low house edge.
Details about slot machine payback percentages are available online, but the data is scattered and incomplete. Because so many different slot games exist, it would be impossible to research them one-by-one before you hit the casino floor.
So how are you supposed to identify these low-risk slot games?
It's easy. The larger a slot's base denomination, the lower the house's advantage against you. Before you put money into a game, all you have to do is glance at the game's display case to see how much a single credit is worth.
The size of a single credit can be as low as $0.01 – the so-called "penny slots" you've heard so much about. There is no real ceiling for the size of a single credit, since high-roller slots in VIP rooms can be played for hundreds of dollars per spin.
Slot games that accept minimum bets of $1 are going to pay out a little more than games with $0.25 or $0.05 minimum.
It's a well-known fact that casinos are designed to distract bettors from reality. It's rare to find windows anywhere near a casino floor. The same goes for clocks. In fact, everything from the casino's ugly carpets to its seamless ambient music was chosen to manipulate you into focusing on the games and playing them more.
I refer to this as "casino fog," a combination of symptoms that puts me into a kind of gambling-obsessed stupor. I've often wondered just how legal all these manipulations are.
When legislation was passed in the UK intended to combat these tactics, I knew I was onto something. The new law would require that casino gamblers "be aware" of the time while in the casino. Under the law, casino employees would encourage customers to take breaks and remind them of the time, which would be available on prominent clocks.
But we don't have these laws yet where I do my gambling. There is a better way to combat casino fog. Plus, you already own the device you need to stay sharp on the gambling floor.
Your smartphone is the ultimate anti-fog device. It contains a single piece of vital information – the current time – and a mechanism for alerting you – the alarm clock feature.
The biggest danger of casino fog is that you'll bet more than you can afford. The casino's only interest is in forcing you to spend more money. Your only interest should be spending as little as possible.
My suggestion - set the alarm on your phone to go off every thirty minutes while you're playing. My iPhone has an easy-to-use setting that will repeat an alarm at any interval I want. I set it, and every half-hour I take a break from playing. I get a soft drink, smoke a cigarette (outside, so I can see the sun), and play around on my phone for a minute.
This works. I've found that I'm better able to stay on budget if I take these phone-enforced breaks.
One of the casino's most manipulative tactics involve the world's favorite intoxicant – alcohol. Ever wondered why alcohol flows so freely while you're gambling?
Even though watered-down drinks are typical in casinos, watery booze is still a powerful mood-enhancer and mind-fogger. I've noticed that casinos in Atlantic City are particularly good at getting a drink in my hand, even when I'm sitting in front of a penny slot machine, barely contributing to their profits at all.
Sure, it's an obvious trick on the part of the casino. But it works.
Let's say I get a little buzz on and head over to a blackjack table. Generally, I apply basic strategy while I play blackjack, but with a couple ounces of whiskey in me, there's no way I'm making my sharpest decisions.
Staying sober, just for the duration of your time gambling, is an easy way to keep your composure and prevent over-spending, over-tipping, or poor play.
Casinos manipulate customers a few different ways. One of the more theatrical tricks used on the floor? Lighting.
The next time you visit a casino, check out the games with bright and colorful lighting displays. They tend to be the games that the casino makes a ton of money on thanks to a high house edge.
The Wheel of Fortune game is a perfect example. It's often lit up like a Broadway stage and run by an attractive female employee with a low-cut top. Obviously, you want to avoid this type of game.
But you can also use this tactic against the house. Just like how the house highlights their worst games, they also tend to hide their best ones. The best games in the casino are usually found in a practically- unlit area of the floor.
This is mostly true for machine games, though I've also seen European Roulette games tucked away in a dark and musky corner. You can also sometimes identify bad bets on table games using this same principle. Check out a craps betting layout – the field bets and "any seven" spaces are the most colorfully-designed.
Stick to the boring, dark, and maybe even a little musky parts of the room to improve your odds.