There is a group of gamblers known as “advantage gamblers” or “advantage players” (AP’s) that only gamble when the odds are in their favor. Most casino games are designed to have a “house advantage.” That means the mathematical odds are in the favor of the casino. This is why casinos are so profitable. Advantage gamblers find opportunities where they can turn the odds in their favor and beat certain casino games. This is not viable on all casino games and it certainly isn’t easy, but it is possible. Here are some of the more common ways that AP’s gain an advantage over the casinos.
Blackjack is probably the most notorious of the positive expectation games in the casino. There have been many books written, and movies made, about advantage card counters. These players use a system of counting cards, betting, and game selection, that enables them to gain an advantage. This system removes the house advantage and puts the odds in favor of the player. Card counting takes some time to master and can be difficult to implement in the casino environment. See: Learn more about blackjack card counting.
The casinos do have a built-in advantage in sports gambling. The edge comes from the vigorish or “vig.” This is a 10 percent bonus that is paid to the casino. It’s almost like a tax for being able to place a wager. A 10 percent disadvantage is difficult to beat, but there are sports gamblers that can find certain wagers that put the odds in their favor. The odds, or “line,” given by casinos in sporting events are not fixed mathematical odds. Although the “lines” are often statistically based, there is a certain element of subjectivity that advantage gamblers look to exploit. They find weaknesses in the “lines” and use those weaknesses to negate the “vig.”
Many people think of video poker as a game similar to slot machines. While it is played on a similar machine, video poker can be played with skill. In fact, if the correct game is played with mathematical certainty, the player can have the advantage over the casino. Advantage video poker players only play what are known as positive expectation games. These games can be played with a payback percentage over 100 percent. They will also use casino “comps” and rewards to further their advantage. See: Learn how to play perfect video poker.
The biggest difference between poker, and the rest of the games mentioned, is that poker is played against other players. The casinos are guaranteed a percentage of the pot known as “the rake.” Players are competing against one another, not against the casino. In order to have the advantage at the poker table, you only have to be better than those around you. Of all the games, poker probably has the most opportunities for those who aspire to be advantage gamblers.
Betting on horses can be done with an advantage. Similar to betting on sports, AP’s “handicap” horse races to quantify and predict the outcome. There is a fairly significant advantage built-in to the odds of each race. Horse racing is difficult to beat, but there have been a select few who have been successful over a long period of time.
There are other games and techniques that can be played with an advantage in specific situations. For instance, edge sorting in baccarat and other card games, hole-carding in various casino card games, card counting side bets, and shuffle tracking, can be played with an advantage. Most of these techniques are not common knowledge among the general public and are only used by a very small percentage of gamblers.
There are certain casino games that can be played with a statistical advantage. Advantage gambling often requires a great deal of skill and knowledge, but it is possible in certain situations. Most casino games are heavily weighted in favor of the house, but there are a few situations where advantage players can put the odds in their favor.