One of the most exciting things about gambling is that there’s no limit to how much you can win in any given session.
Maybe you’ll win a big jackpot while playing slot machines or you’ll go on an incredible streak on the blackjack tables.
It’s this mystery that keeps many people gambling and hoping for big wins in their immediate future. But if you’re only considering how much money you can win in the short term, then I urge you to change your thought process.
Instead, you should think about how much long-term money you can win in gambling. I’m going to discuss why this is so important while covering short-term vs. long-term wins, selecting the right games, bankroll management, volatility, and considering skill-based games.
Short-term Wins Are Nice, but Long-term Wins Keep You Playing
Any casino game can offer you a quick profit, whether it is Texas hold’em or keno. This is why many players concentrate on how much money they win in a single session.
Here’s a common scenario among many gamblers.
- I’ve lost a combined $500 in my previous three baccarat sessions
- I visit the casino again to play baccarat with a $200 bankroll
- I go on a hot streak
- My night ends with a $300 profit
Obviously, I’ll go home a happy person after winning profits worth 150% of my original starting bankroll. And this will help me forget about the three losing sessions beforehand.
But if you add my wins and losses up, you’ll see I’ve lost $200 over the course of four sessions.
I’m not saying that you should dwell on your overall losses. But it’s important to keep in mind how much money you’ve won and lost in the long run.
After all, the overall total determines how successful you ultimately are. And you need to take specific steps to boost your long-term winnings, which I’ll cover throughout this post.
Certain Casino Games Give You the Best Chance to Win Long Term
One of the easiest ways to improve your odds of winning in gambling is by choosing the right games. Furthermore, you want to pick casino games with a low house edge.
The house edge determines how much money you’ll theoretically win. For example, a 3% house edge means that you’d win back $97 for every $100 wagered.
Given that a lower house edge boosts your chances of winning money, you definitely want to look for the right games. Here’s a list of the best casino games in terms of house advantage.
- Video poker = 0.46% house edge (9/6 Jacks or Better)
- Blackjack = 0.5% to 2.0% (varies by table rules)
- Baccarat = 1.06% (banker bet)
- French Roulette = 1.35%
- Craps = 1.36% (don’t pass line and don’t come)
- Pai Gow Poker = 1.46%
- European Roulette = 2.70%
- Let It Ride = 3.51%
- Online scratch cards = 5.0% (varies by provider)
- Caribbean Stud = 5.22%
- American Roulette = 5.26%
- Big Six = 11.11%
- Keno = 10% to 40%
Some of these choices have variable house edges based on the rules and specific variation.
Blackjack is one of the best examples because the casino advantage can change by over 1% based on the rules in place. Here are the most important blackjack rules can that can alter the long-term outcome.
- Natural blackjack payouts – 3:2 blackjack payout lowers the house edge by 1.40% when compared to a 6:5 payout
- Number of decks – A single deck lowers the house edge by 0.59% when compared to eight decks
- Double down – Doubling down on any total lowers the house edge by 0.25% when compared to being restricted to doubling 9 through 11
- Dealer stands on soft 17 – Lowers the house advantage by 0.20%
- Double down after splitting (DAS) – Lowers the house edge by 0.17%
Some casino games have multiple variations, each with their own house edge. Roulette is a good example because it features French roulette (1.35% house edge), European roulette (2.70%), and American roulette (5.26%).
This is why it’s important to fully understand each casino game you’re interested in so that you can pick the top rules and/or variations.
Of course, it’s hard to find the best games when you’re in an area with limited land-based casinos.
You need to live in or visit Las Vegas to find the lowest house edges for blackjack, craps, roulette, and slot machines.
But this is where online gambling becomes useful, because you can easily access the best games with a little research.
For example, Microgaming and RealTime Gaming (RTG) are great for online roulette since they both offer the French version. Microgaming is also the best place to play blackjack, given that the house edge on their single-deck game is just 0.31%.
You’d theoretically win back $99.69 for every $100 wagered, which is virtually unheard of in house-banked casino games. With some luck on your side, you can even win long-term profits.
The key is to do your research regardless of whether you’re playing at land-based or online casinos. Spending just 10-15 minutes studying which casinos offer the best odds will pay off in the long run.
Volatility Can Be Rough, but You Can Survive It with Proper Bankroll Management
The house edge alone helps you determine how much money you can win in the long run. But you should also consider volatility, or how likely your short-term results are to deviate from the house advantage.
High volatility means that you’re probably going to win less frequently in the short run. But you’re also more likely to get big wins in these cases.
Low volatility means that you can expect a steady stream of small wins, but you’ll have less opportunity for larger payouts.
The most volatile games include slot machines, video poker, keno, poker tournaments, daily fantasy sports tournaments, and the lottery. All of these offer large prizes for the top winners, but smaller and less-frequent payouts at the low end.
Those who enjoy chasing jackpots like playing volatile games because they can hit one or more huge payouts in a short time period. Players who enjoy winning consistently like less-volatile casino games.
Here are some different gambling wagers and their odds of winning so that you can see what bets are high vs. low volatility.
- Craps pass line bet = 49.29% chances of winning
- European roulette = 48.64% (even-money bets)
- Winning a blackjack hand = 46.36% (not accounting for ties)
- Banker hand winning in baccarat = 45.85% (not accounting for ties)
- Winning a slots spin = 10% to 20% on average per payline
- Winning a video poker jackpot = 0.000025%
A craps pass line bet offers you nearly a 50/50 chance of beating the casino. European roulette also gives you a strong chance to win on any wager.
Slot machines are less generous in the short run because they must account for the large payouts at the top. This means you’ll win less often as a result.
Video poker is a little less volatile than slot machines. But it’s still a risky short-term venture, given that you can win a royal flush hand worth 4,000 coins.
Bankroll Management for Low-Volatility Gambling
Managing your bankroll is far easier with games like baccarat, blackjack, craps, Pai Gow Poker, and roulette. These games pay out enough that you won’t suffer through lengthy losing streaks very often.
However, you should still have a bankroll management (BRM) plan so that you can absorb losses with little trouble.
One of the best ways to start with any BRM plan is by breaking your bankroll down into units. The purpose of this is to create concise increments that are easier to deal with than dollars, euros, or pounds.
Here’s an example.
- You have $3,000 to gamble with
- Your average bet size is $10
- 3,000/10 = 300 units
The next step involves determining how long you can expect your units to last. Let’s plug in the unit number from above and work out the math.
All you need to do is plug your personal numbers into the math above to figure out how long your bankroll will last.
Another good BRM method involves figuring out your risk of ruin, or the chances that you’ll lose everything when pursuing a specific profit amount.
You can find plenty of risk of ruin calculators that’ll help you calculate this figure. Here’s an example using the same baccarat game above.
- Units to risk = 300 units
- Desired profit = 100 units
- Win rate = 49.47% (1.06% house edge)
- 88.02% risk of ruin before reaching 100 units
If you want to lower your risk of ruin, you can either add more units to your bankroll or lower the desired profit goal. Be careful when adding more units, though, because this puts you at even greater risk if you lose everything.
Bankroll Management for High-Volatility Gambling
BRM is tougher for volatile games because you can win or lose lots of units in a quick time frame. The reason why is twofold in that the results are volatile and these games move at a fast pace.
This is why it’s good to work off estimates when trying to figure out how long your money will stretch. Slot machines see players lose an average of between 250 and 350 units per hour, based on the individual game’s volatility.
Here’s a BRM example based on this stat.
- Your unit size is $0.25, which you bet on each spin
- You have 1,200 units ($300 total)
- You’re betting 600 units per hour
- The slot machine’s house edge is 5%
- 600 x 0.05 = 12 units lost per hour
- 1,200/12 = 100
- Your bankroll will theoretically last for 100 hours
These estimates can fluctuate, given how volatile slot machines are. But this should give you a decent idea of how long your money will last.
Gambling Systems Are Only Good for Short-Term Wins
Betting systems are sometimes used under the misunderstanding that they’ll bring long-term profits. But the reality is that they’re only good for producing short-term winning streaks.
A gambling system does nothing to change the long-term house edge. Instead, it only manipulates betting patterns to create the illusion that you’re winning more.
These strategies fall into one of two categories.
- Positive progression system
- Negative progression system
A positive progression betting system sees you increase bets during a winning streak. One popular example of a positive progression system is the Paroli.
This strategy sees you make three consecutive wagers and double your bet after each win. You then reset to the original starting bet after three turns.
Here’s an example.
- You bet 1 unit and lose
- You bet 1 unit and win
- You bet 2 units and win (third bet)
- You bet 1 units and win
- You bet 2 units and win
- You bet 4 units and win (third bet)
- Start over again at 1 unit
The Paroli allows you to capitalize on winning streaks by doubling bets. But you also avoid risking too much, because you always return to the original bet after three straight wagers.
A simple example of a negative progression betting system is the Martingale. This involves doubling bets following every loss until you win again.
Here’s how the Martingale works.
- You bet 1 unit and lose (bankroll at -1)
- You bet 2 units and lose (bankroll at -3)
- You bet 4 units and lose (bankroll at -7)
- You bet 8 units and lose (bankroll at -15)
- You bet 16 units and lose (bankroll at -31)
- You bet 32 units and win (bankroll at +1)
This system isn’t designed to propel your winning streaks to new heights, but the Martingale does help you win back losses, plus a small profit.
Both positive and negative progression systems can produce good short-term results. However, you should never rely on these strategies, because they don’t work over time.
You Can Actually Make Long-Term Profits with Certain Casino Games
The ultimate way to make money through gambling is by playing skill-based games that offer a long-term advantage. Here are a few ways that you can do this.
- Blackjack (card counting) – Keep an accurate count and spread your bets during positive counts. Also make sure to avoid casino detection.
- Comp hunting (multiple games) – Make money through a combo of playing games with low houses and scooping the best comp deals.
- Daily fantasy sports (DFS) – Craft the best sports lineups you can with a limited salary cap.
- Edge sorting – Spot imperfections in certain decks and correlate these to specific card values. For example, the jack of hearts may have a design flaw on the back, which allows you to spot this card before it’s flipped over.
- Poker – Out-play your opponents in cash games and/or tournaments to make profits.
- Roulette (dealer signatures) – Find dealers that spin the ball around the wheel with the same velocity. Bet on the section/numbers where you predict the ball will land.
- Sports betting – Win over 52.4% of your sports bets to overcome the house “juice” and win long-term profits.
- Video poker – Perfect your strategy on positive-expectation games, including Deuces Wild (100.76% payback), Double Bonus (100.17%), and Double Double Bonus (100.07%).
Some of these advantage-play methods are very popular, including card counting, DFS, poker, sports betting, and video poker. You can gain a long-term edge in all of these games by studying strategy and developing your skills.
Other advantage-play methods like comp hunting, edge sorting, and dealer signatures are less popular. But you can still earn profits over the long run with the right opportunities.
What Are the Most Viable Advantage-Play Games and Methods?
The most reasonable games in terms of making long-term profits include card counting, DFS, poker, and sports betting.
Card counting has been a popular way to make gambling profits ever since the 1960s. Casinos have gotten better at catching counters, but people are still making a living through this practice.
DFS first came onto the gambling scene in the mid-2010s. Anybody with an eye for spotting undervalued players can gain an edge in daily fantasy.
Poker has created more professional gamblers than any other game. This was especially the case after poker took off in the mid-2000s.
Unfortunately, it’s also one of the toughest advantage-play games because you’re competing against skilled human opponents. But you can still excel in poker by putting enough work into the matter.
Sports betting requires sorting through stats and finding betting lines that are offering value. You also need strong bankroll management skills and the ability to put heart-breaking losses behind you.
What Are the Least Viable Advantage-Play Games and Methods?
The average gambler has little chance of making serious money through comp hunting, edge sorting, roulette, and video poker.
Comp hunting was once more lucrative when casinos gave out more freebies to players. Unfortunately, gambling establishments give out fewer rewards these days, making comp hunting next to impossible.
Edge sorting requires studying card-backs on specific decks. You not only need to have knowledge of a flawed deck to do this, but also have a keen eye to spot flaws before cards are flipped over.
Whether roulette dealer signatures truly work is debatable. I personally believe that you can make money by spotting signatures.
But one roadblock is that even if you do get a strong read on a dealer’s signature, casinos can swap dealers when you’re winning lots of money.
The actual process of learning video poker strategy and applying it is realistic for any skilled gambler. The main catch, though, is that you can only find machines offering over 100% payback in Las Vegas.
If you don’t live in Vegas or plan on visiting soon, then you have no chance of making guaranteed profits through video poker.
Is Making a Living Through Gambling Realistic?
The answer to this question all depends upon how badly you want to be a professional gambler.
Yes, it’s realistic to make a living through casino games. However, it also requires a high degree of skill, a large bankroll, and the willingness to work harder than many other aspiring gamblers.
Take poker, for example, which has produced thousands of pros around the world. Strategy is now more prevalent than ever before, meaning you have to dedicate countless hours towards developing pro-level skills.
Many sports fans think that they have a chance to make money with DFS or sports betting. But they quickly learn that there’s a big difference between knowing the game and using in-depth stats to find value.
One more crucial part of becoming a professional gambler involves having a large bankroll.
The general public has this perception that pro gamblers win most of the time. But the truth is that many professionals have a slim edge and lose almost as much as they win.
This means that you’ll need a big bankroll to survive these ups and downs. Card counters, for example, usually start with anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000.
If you can put together the bankroll, skills, work ethic, and right attitude, then you have a chance to make serious profits with gambling. Keep in mind, though, that it’s normally a long road to get to this point.
The point of this post isn’t to rip anybody who takes pride in a single winning gambling session. But you should broaden your horizons and think about how you can boost your winnings even more.
By focusing on your long-term winnings, you’ll extend your bankroll and get more entertainment. You may even win profits when combining luck with a slim house edge.
Of course, the only true way to guarantee yourself long-term profits is by playing certain advantage-play games. My personal favorites include card counting, DFS, poker, and sports betting.
But if you’re not prepared to pour hours into becoming an advantage player, note that you still have a decent chance to win in house-based games like baccarat, blackjack, craps, roulette, and video poker.
And the more you learn about these games, the longer you’ll be playing and enjoying the thrills of gambling.