Gambling is normally viewed as you versus the house edge. You need a combination of luck and skill to overcome this house advantage.
Many players are perfectly fine with facing a long-term disadvantage. Otherwise, gambling wouldn’t be as popular as it is.
But you may want a chance to win long-term profits. And there are only so many categories of games that can help you achieve this.
Keep reading as I discussed four categories where you can win long-term gaming profits.
1 – Player vs. Casino — When the Casino Unwillingly Provides an Edge
The reason why gambling is often perceived as you vs. the house is because this is how most games are set up.Baccarat, blackjack, craps, and three card poker are just a few examples where the casino holds an edge.
This isn’t to say that you can’t still win money in these games. However, the average player is bound to lose unless they experience a hot streak.
Some games, though, feature a technique that you can use to win profits. You just need to thoroughly master the given strategy.
Of course, casinos don’t willingly give you a chance to beat their games. They often kick out and even ban advantage gamblers they catch.
This is a strong deterrent from using advantage play to overcome the house edge. But the profits you can win while doing make it worth the effort.
Card counting and hole carding are two of the best examples of advantage play techniques that will help you win.
In 1962, Professor Edward Thorp released a book called Beat the Dealer, which chronicled his successful blackjack card counting efforts. Ever since Beat the Dealer came out, counting cards has been the most popular advantage play method.
Card counting revolves around tracking aces and 10-value cards (a.k.a. high cards), which improve your chances of being dealt a natural blackjack.
Fewer high cards being dealt (i.e. still in the shoe) is good, because it offers you more chances to get a blackjack. Considering that you normally receive a 3:2 or 6:5 payout for a natural, this boosts your odds of beating the dealer.
Counting cards can be difficult to learn in the beginning, especially given how many different systems are available. A good place to begin is by learning the OPP system.
The OPP is perfect when starting out, because it only calls on you to keep track of low cards (2 through 6). You add one to your count when a low card is dealt and subtract one when any other type of card (7 through A) is dealt.
The hope is that more low cards come out, because this means that the shoe features more high cards.
Here’s are the basics of using the OPP:
- You begin the shoe with a +6 count.
- Subtract one for every player dealt into the hand (including dealer).
- Add one for every low card that’s dealt.
- Increase your bet when the count reaches +12 or higher.
Check out the example below of putting this strategy to use:
- A new shoe is shuffled.
- Your count begins at +6.
- There are 3 players, plus the dealer (subtract 4 = count at +2).
- Five low cards come out during the hand (add 5 = count at +7.
- Your next round will begin at +7 (minus dealer and players in the hand).
This strategy differs from many other counting systems, which call on you to track multiple groups of cards. This simplicity means that you can quickly pick up OPP and start using it.
The downside, though, is that this system isn’t as accurate as others. After you learn OPP, I suggest that you move on to systems like the Hi-Lo and others.
Hole carding is more difficult to learn than card counting—especially the OPP system discussed above. But this technique is worth learning when considering that it can give you a really big edge.
As you may know, blackjack dealers in American casinos deal themselves one face-down card (hole card) and one face-up card (upcard). The hole card causes you to act on incomplete information and helps casinos retain their edge.
The dealer will peak at their hole card if their upcard is an ace, king, queen, jack, or 10. They’re looking to see if they have a natural blackjack, which would automatically end the round.
Normally the dealer is supposed to keep their hole card low so only they can see it. But the worst dealers tilt their cards up too much, allowing the player to the dealer’s left (first base) and/or to their right (third base) to see the card value.
These dealers are referred to as “flashers,” because they’re flashing their card value to one or more players. Spotting this value gives you a tremendous advantage when making decisions.
Moreover, it provides an edge over the casino since you already have the ability to double down, split, and receive larger natural blackjack payouts.
The size of your edge depends upon how bad the dealer is, if you’re sitting in the right seat (first or third base), and your overall command of blackjack strategy. The latter refers to how you still must know what to do with the information you obtain.
In a perfect situation, you can gain almost a 13% edge over casinos. This is huge when considering that the best card counters usually only have a 1.5% advantage.
The main difficulty with hole carding is finding a flasher. Given that only around one in 200 dealers is a flasher, you’ll need to live in Las Vegas where you have access to more casinos and shifts.
You must also have the skills to peek at the dealer’s hole card without making it obvious. The last thing you want to do is get caught by the pit boss or security and lose your ability to take advantage of a rare flasher.
Not many people make it as hole carders. But this is by far one of the most lucrative advantage play techniques if you’re able to pull it off.
2 – Player vs. Casino — When the House Willingly Provides an Edge
It’s rare when the house offers you a legitimate chance to beat them. But these chances do exist in some capacity.
One of these situations is when casinos feature a game that offers over 100% return to player (RTP). Video poker is the only such example I know of where you can beat the house without advantage play.
Another scenario is when the casino features a game with high payback and solid rewards. You can combine the high RTP and generous rewards to earn an overall profit.
Here’s a closer look at how video poker and collecting comps can help you win money.
One of the biggest reasons why people get into video poker in the first place is because some games offer positive expected value (+EV).
Deuces Wild (100.76% RTP), Double Bonus (100.17% RTP), and Double Double Bonus (100.07% RTP) are three such variations that deliver over 100% payback.
However, there are multiple catches to winning long-term profits off these games:
- You have to find them.
- You need the right pay tables.
- You need to use perfect or near-perfect strategy.
Regarding the first point, it’s extremely difficult to find +EV video poker variations in most gambling destinations. Nevada is the only reliable place to find a number of video poker games that offer over 100% RTP.
Use the website vpFREE2.com to find which Nevada casinos have +EV video poker machines.
The second point refers to how you can’t just play any Deuces Wild, Double Bonus, or Double Double Bonus machine. Instead, they need to be “full play.”
Full pay refers to the top pay table of a specific game. Finding any other version won’t yield the same profits with perfect strategy.
Speaking of which, you also need to learn the correct strategy for whatever game you’re playing. If you’re learning Double Bonus, for example, you need to study the specific strategy for the full-pay version of this game.
Video poker trainers offer the best way to learn strategy for any given variation. A trainer sees you play the game like normal, while the program points out strategic mistakes that you make.
The one drawback to trainers is that none of the free online versions cover +EV games. Instead, you’ll likely need to buy a software program like Video Poker for Winners ($50), which allows you to customize the pay table/game that you want to practice.
Combining Rewards with a Low House Edge
Both land-based and online casinos offer comps for your play. You can work towards rewards every time you make a bet.
The type of comps that you receive all depends upon the casino you’re playing at. Land-based establishments are famous for offering rewards like free drinks, meals, and hotel stays.
Online casinos can’t deliver the same physical rewards. But they do deliver cashback, deposit bonuses, and merchandise.
Most casinos don’t give you a chance to combine these comps with a high-paying game to win. This is especially the case in today’s gaming climate, where casinos are tighter with their rewards.
But there are isolated incidences where you can find comps/bonuses that are good enough to turn a theoretical profit. I’ve seen a few such cases at regulated New Jersey online casinos.
Here’s an example:
- A NJ online casino is offering a 100% match deposit bonus up to $200.
- You deposit $200.
- Wagering requirements are 30x the bonus.
- 200 x 30 = $6,000 must be wagered
- You play a slot with 97% RTP (3% house edge).
- 6,000 x 0.03 = $180 in theoretical losses
- 200 – 180 = $20 theoretical profit.
Again, you’re not going to find many deals like this. But it’s possible to spot them if you know the industry well and are willing to do some quick math on the games/rewards.
3 – Progressive Slots Jackpots That Offer Positive Expected Value
Progressive slot machines feature jackpots that grow with every bet. The longer a jackpot goes unclaimed, the bigger it can grow.
If a progressive prize becomes large enough, it can actually offer +EV. You’ll theoretically have an advantage when playing games at this point.
The reason why progressive slots differ from games where the casino willingly offers +EV (i.e. video poker) is because the house doesn’t build the jackpot. Instead, you and other players increase the jackpot with your wagers.
Here’s an example:
- A casino seeds a progressive jackpot at $5,000.
- The jackpot grows to $75,000.
- $70,000 of this money has been contributed by the players.
The only problem is knowing when exactly you should play progressive slot machines to realize +EV. And the answer depends upon what type of game you’re playing.
Slots with Big Progressive Jackpots
Slot machines with big progressive jackpots are among the most exciting casino games. One spin could change your life, or at least eliminate your debts.
An added bonus is that these games can offer +EV when their jackpots become big enough. You theoretically have a long-term advantage at this point.
Here’s an example:
- You’re playing a slot with a starting jackpot worth $100,000.
- Payback is normally 95%.
- The prize grows to $5 million.
- You assume that the game must now be offering +EV based on the 50x jackpot increase.
One downside to playing slots with big jackpots is that you have very low odds of winning. In the example above, your chances of winning the top prize on a single spin are in the millions.
Another downside is that you actually have to win the jackpot in order to realize the advantage. Seeing as how you have low chances of doing this, you’re basically playing a slot with base RTP.
This isn’t so bad when a game offers 95% payback and a six or seven-figure jackpot. But it becomes problematic when considering that some of the biggest progressive slot machines only have RTP ranging from 88% to 94%.
One more problem is that you’ll be in the dark on exactly when a jackpot game is offering +EV. Regular progressive slots don’t offer enough information to calculate the break-even point.
Instead, you simply have to guess by looking at the gap between where the jackpot starts and where it currently lies.
As long as you’re willing to deal with all the drawbacks, playing progressive slots with over 100% theoretical payback is an exciting prospect.
Mystery Progressive Jackpots
Mystery progressive (a.k.a. “must win by”) slot machines have jackpots that are programmed to pay at a specific value.
Here’s an example on how these games work:
- A casino seeds the mystery jackpot at a starting value (i.e. $25).
- The top prize is automatically paid at a specific value (i.e. $500)
- A small percentage of each bet goes towards building the jackpot.
- The winner is whoever makes the contribution that pushes the jackpot to the triggering value.
A mystery jackpot can come in different sizes. But these payouts are usually small, ranging from $20 to $500.
Mystery jackpots are perfect for players who want to calculate the exact point when they should go for a progressive prize.
Having the exact value when the jackpot is paid gives you a big piece to completing the puzzle. From here, you simply need to estimate or find a couple other variables to calculate a must-win-by game’s break even point.
Here’s a formula to help you do this:
- Formula: t = m × (h + r) / (h + 2r)
- t = Target point
- m = Max jackpot
- r = Rise of meter (percentage of each wager that goes towards jackpot)
- h = House edge
You may not know the house edge of the game you’re playing. This is especially true with land-based casinos, which don’t release payback information for their games.
But you can always look at state gaming reports in these cases to see the average amount that each coin denomination pays back (e.g. nickel slots = 94%).
You probably won’t know the rise of meter either. A good estimation is that the average game contributes 2% of every bet towards a jackpot.
Now, here’s an example on putting the formula to use:
- A mystery jackpot is schedule to hit at $500.
- The rise of meter is 2%.
- Payback is 95%.
- Formula is: $500 jackpot x (0.05 + 0.02 rise in meter) / (0.05 + 0.02×2) = $388.89 target point.
You’d want to play this slot when the mystery jackpot is at $388.89or higher to maximize your +EV.
You can always wait until the jackpot gets even closer to $500. But the risk is that somebody else can sit down to machine and win the top prize before you do.
In any case, you can see that mystery progressive slot machines offer another good way to gain an edge.
4 – Player vs. Player
Competing against other players is the most-common way to make profits in brick-and-mortar casinos and at gaming sites.
This style of gambling is great because there’s no house edge involved. The site/casino offering these games merely takes a small cut (a.k.a. rake) from the action.
You’re welcome to make all the profits you want in these games without being booted from the casino. After all, your winnings come directly from other players – not the house.
The tricky part, though, is that you have to be more skilled than your opponents to win. You may find this more difficult and complex than simply counting cards or finding mystery jackpot opportunities.
Daily Fantasy Sports
Daily fantasy sports (DFS) is an online form of gaming that sees you create sports lineups. The goal is to choose players who’ll perform better than your opponents’chosen lineups.
DFS contests require you to stay under a given salary cap when selecting players. For example, you might have to fill out a 10-player football roster without going over $100,000.
One nice thing about DFS is that it gives you a chance to play in big tournaments or small competitions. The latter is perfect if you’re just getting started and/or want to keep your variance low.
The downside to DFS is that the top players are extremely skilled and often use complex computer programs to choose lineups. Therefore, you may have serious difficulties in winning long-term profits through DFS.
Poker features a wide variety of variations, including Texas hold’em, Omaha, Seven Card Stud, Razz, Badugi, Crazy Pineapple, and more.
While these games differ in terms of rules, they all have one thing in common: you competing against opponents.
Texas hold’em is by far the most-popular poker variation in the world. This game sees you try to make the best hand out of your two hole cards and five community cards.
The rules of hold’em and most other poker variations are fairly simple. But actually beating the game is far more difficult.
Poker strategy has rapidly accelerated within the last decade. That said, you must be an outstanding player in order to win at anything beyond the micros stakes.
But poker can also be extremely rewarding if you put enough hard work and dedication into the matter. Some players have become millionaires through this game.
Casinos love retaining their edge through games like slot machines, baccarat, craps, and roulette. But you don’t have to settle for this if you dream of winning long-term profits.
Instead, you can turn the tables on the casino by using advantage play methods like card counting or hole carding. You can also play +EV games that casinos willingly provide like full-pay Deuces Wild video poker (in Nevada).
Sometimes casinos don’t place any barriers in the way of you winning. For example, you can gain +EV through mystery progressive slots or bigger progressive games.
More routes for winning long term include DFS and poker. Both of these games see you try to win money off players, rather than the house.
You can see that there are multiple categories of advantage play. I suggest that you explore one or more of these options if you’re serious about gaining an edge.