Many people know that casinos use tricks to keep people gambling. Their methods to encourage more play include alcohol, free show tickets, and no clocks.
The fact that casinos want gamblers to stay longer and spend their money is no secret. But there are more subtle ways that they drain your bankroll.
These are even more dangerous than the well-publicized casino tricks. If you don’t see these ploys coming, then there’s a greater chance that you’ll continue losing money again and again.
The best way to prevent this from happening is knowing the slight ways that casinos try to win your money.
I’m going to identify 7 methods that casinos use to slowly win profits off you. I’ll also discuss what you can do to prevent yourself from being another gambling loser.
Making Small Rule Changes That Increase the House Edge
Anybody can quickly find out the house advantage of a casino game. All you need to do is google your favorite game and the term “house edge” to see the casino’s advantage.
For example, I can find within seconds that European roulette has a 2.70% house edge. But one thing players may not realize is the small rule changes that casinos make to certain games to increase their advantage.
Blackjack is the best example of this because there are several rules that vary. Check out the different blackjack rules that casinos can swing in their favor.
- 6:5 payouts – Increases house edge by 1.40% when compared to 3:2 payouts
- 8 decks – The house edge difference between single- and eight-deck blackjack is 0.59%
- Double-down restrictions – Restricting players to doubling down on 9 through 11 increases the house advantage by 0.25%
- Dealer hits a soft 17 – Increases house edge by 0.20% as opposed to standing
- No double after splitting – Raises the house advantage by 0.17% when compared to doubling down after splitting (DAS)
The end result is that the blackjack house edge can range anywhere from 0.5% to 2.0% in land-based casinos. But the average player may not realize this because websites commonly list the ideal 0.5% house edge.
Blackjack isn’t the only game with variable rules that favor the casino. Baccarat also has a commission-free version that sounds appealing.
As you may know, the banker hand is the best wager in baccarat. This bet has a 1.06% house edge, which is lower than most other propositions in the casino.
You’d actually have the advantage with the banker bet if the house didn’t take a 5% commission from wins. They do this because the banker hand wins 50.68% of the time when discounting ties.
Therefore, they need to charge a 5% commission on wins to keep their edge. Semi-experienced players may see commission-free baccarat and suddenly think that it’s their lucky day.
But the truth is that commission-free baccarat is actually a worse deal than the regular version. This game increases the house edge from 1.06% to 1.46%.
The reason why is because you’re only paid 50% on your bet when the banker hand wins with six. This doesn’t sound like a big change, but it’s enough to push the house edge higher.
Even if I told some gamblers about these rule changes and small house advantage increases, they might not think that it makes a major difference. But the example below shows that you stand to lose a noticeable amount when playing the lesser game.
- You bet $10,000 on regular baccarat
- 10,000 x 0.0106 = $106 in theoretical losses
- You bet $10,000 on commission-free baccarat
- 10,000 x 0.0146 = $146 in theoretical losses
- You stand to lose $40 more on the commission-free version
Ensuring That Games Move at a Fast Pace
Speed pays for casinos. The faster you play, the more you’re exposed to the house edge.
This is why casinos encourage their dealers to run games as quickly and efficiently as possible. Likewise, slot machines and video poker are set to produce quick results so that players move at a faster pace.
In contrast, casinos hate anything that disrupts the flow of play and makes gamblers reconsider if they should still be at the tables or machines.
This is a big reason why casinos train dealers well so that they’re speedy without making mistakes. Gambling venues also do everything in their power to ensure that slot machines are running properly without downtime.
To an outside observer, it merely seems like casinos want to ensure that their games work properly and that they have well-trained dealers. But this is by design because casinos want to increase their profit margins through speedier play.
Mini baccarat is a good example of how fast play produces larger casino profits. The 1.06% house advantage on banker bets seems harmless.
But the example below shows how much more you stand to lose by playing at a faster table.
- You play at two mini baccarat tables with a $10 minimum bet
- You wager on the banker hand every time
- The first table sees 200 hands dealt per hour
- 200 hands x 10 bet x 0.0106 house edge = $21.20
- The second table sees 150 hands dealt per hour
- 150 x 10 x 0.0106 = $15.90
- 20 – 15.90 = $5.30
- You’ll theoretically lose $5.30 more per hour on the first table
Holding Free Tournaments for VIPs and Other Customers
Gamblers love taking advantage of free things. Casinos know this, which is why they lure players back to their establishments with free tournaments.
Land-based casinos commonly offer free tourneys that are dedicated solely to VIPs. You may receive an email inviting you to participate in the tourney.
This may seem like a friendly offer to reward frequent players, but the main motivation is to get people back into the casino.
Once inside, players can’t help but enjoy their favorite games. After all, why visit the casino for a free tournament and not play other games on the side?
Online casinos use freeroll tournaments to both attract customers and keep low rollers interested. Freerolls can get players to try out the casino and possibly deposit.
Casinos usually put wagering requirements on anything that players win in open-entry freerolls. But when most players deposit and meet these requirements, they’ll have spent more money than the tournament prize is worth.
Making You Think That Comps Are Worth More Than They Actually Are
One of the most common blunders by gamblers is extending their play just to receive more comps. The same gamblers are often convinced that it’s worth the effort to continue playing for an upgraded meal or hotel stay.
But the reality is that these comps are never worth anywhere near the theoretical losses a player faces when chasing them.
The first point to understand is that casinos usually only comp table game and slots players at a 0.1% rate. This means that you’re gambling $1,000 for every $1 in comps.
The rate alone seems scary enough. But your bankroll only grinds down further when you factor in the theoretical losses.
Here’s an example using a slot machine.
- You bet $2,000 on a slot machine
- This qualifies you for $2 in rewards
- The house edge is 7%
- 2,000 x 0.07 = $140
- You’re losing an extra $140 just to get $2 in value
Offering Even-Money Bets That Make You Feel like a Winner
Casinos offer games that cater to different crowds. Some people like high-volatility games with big prizes like video poker, while others prefer the comfort of even-money payouts.
The latter is a perfect way for gambling establishments to drain your money because even-money bets are designed to make players feel like winners.
Take a look of the following even-money wagers and their house edges.
- Baccarat banker bet = 1.06% house edge
- Blackjack = 1.0% (subject to table rules)
- Craps pass line = 1.41%
- Any European roulette bet = 2.70%
Considering the small house advantages, these games give you a solid chance to win in any session.
I’ve personally had small-stakes baccarat or blackjack sessions where I’ve won thousands of dollars on a hot streak. But it’s these big victories that mask the small wins casinos earn from the average player every hour.
Online Deposit Bonuses Skewed in the Casino’s Favor
One of the most attractive things about signing up at online casinos is the welcome bonuses offered to players. You may receive anywhere from a 100% to 300% match on your initial deposit(s).
Internet casinos commonly give extra deposit bonuses to players after they meet wagering requirements on the welcome package.
Players see these deals as free money offered on the games they love. Some gamblers may even think that they’re winning profits off these bonuses.
But the average deposit bonus is skewed in the casino’s favor when considering wagering requirements. These requirements are set up so that the gaming site still profits even when the average player earns their bonus.
Here’s an example.
- You deposit $100 under a 100% match deal
- You’re eligible for a $100 bonus
- Wagering requirements are 40 times the bonus
- 100 x 40 = $4,000 must be wagered
- You play a slot machine with a 4% house edge
- 4,000 x 0.04 = $160 in theoretical losses
- 160 – 100 = $60 in total losses
7 – Higher Minimum Bets
Casinos are businesses that look to maximize their profits wherever possible. A good way for them to do this is by instituting higher minimum bets with table games and slot machines.
You used to be able to find more $5 blackjack and roulette tables in land-based casinos. But this has changed in recent years, with minimum bets commonly worth between $10 and $25.
The increased wagers may not seem like a big deal on games with low house edges like baccarat, blackjack, and craps. But these increased wagers help grind down your bankroll over time.
Here’s an example.
- You play for 3 hours at two different blackjack tables
- Each table is seeing 60 hands per hour
- Each table has a 1% house edge
- The first table has a $25 minimum bet
- 25 x 60 x 3 = $4,500 in total bets
- 4,500 x 0.01 = $45 in theoretical losses
- The second table has a $10 minimum bet
- 10 x 60 x 3 = $1,800 in total bets
- 1,800 x 0.01 = $18 in theoretical losses
- You’ll lose $27 less at the second table
How You Can Avoid Letting the Casino Grind down Your Bankroll
Now let’s look at how you can combat all the methods casinos use to get your money.
Find for the Best Rules and Opportunities
Your chances of winning increase when you play casino games with the lowest house edges and best rules.
Look at the different casino games below and their house advantages to get a picture of this.
- Video poker = 0.46% house edge (9/6 Jacks or Better)
- Blackjack = 0.5% to 2.0% (based on table rules)
- Baccarat = 1.06%
- French roulette = 1.35%
- Craps = 1.36% (don’t pass line)
- Pai Gow Poker = 1.46%
- European roulette = 2.70%
- Let It Ride = 3.51%
- Caribbean stud = 5.22%
- American roulette = 5.26%
- Keno = 10% to 40%
You may have a favorite slot machine with a high house edge. And you should play this game by all means if it entertains you the most.
But if your primary focus is winning, then concentrate your play on the 5-6 games with the lowest house advantage.
Set a Stop-Loss Limit
Casinos are such experts at slowly draining your funds that you won’t even realize the money is going until it’s gone. But a good way to prevent this is by setting a stop-loss limit.
This is the point where you quit playing casino games after losing a certain percentage of your bankroll. Here’s an example.
- You have a $1,500 bankroll
- Your stop-loss limit is 20%
- 1,500 x 0.2 = $300
- You’d quit a session after losing $300
Where you set a stop-loss limit all depends upon your preferences. The size of your bankroll should play a major role.
If you only have $200 to gamble with, then you can set a fairly large stop-loss limit like 25%-50%. But players with thousands of dollars should have a conservative limit like 5%-15%.
Look for Favorable Bonuses
Not all online bonus opportunities favor internet casinos. You’ll find some offers where you actually have a theoretical advantage if you play the right games.
Here’s an example of when this can occur.
- You deposit $50 under a 100% match offer
- You’re eligible for a $50 bonus
- Wagering requirements are 40 times the bonus
- 40 x 50 = $2,000 must be wagered
- You play a slot machine with a 2.0% house edge
- 2,000 x 0.02 = $40 in theoretical losses
- 50 – 40 = $10 net game
Note that online casinos will exclude certain games from meeting wagering requirements. This is especially the case with high-paying slot machines or table games with low house edges.
Casinos might either exclude these games or reduce the amount that they contribute towards meeting requirements. In either case, you should check the terms and conditions to find out everything about a bonus.
Never Gamble for Comps
Earlier, I discussed how some people make the mistake of extending gambling sessions just to collect upgraded comps. But as I discussed with theoretical losses, your chances are far greater of losing more money than the rewards are worth.
Here’s an example using blackjack.
- You’re playing a blackjack game with a 1.5% house edge
- The table is seeing 60 hands per hour
- You make the minimum bet of $10
- 10 x 60 x 0.015 = $9 in theoretical losses
- The comp rate is 0.1%
- 600 x 0.001 = $0.60
- You’re losing an extra $9 just to get $0.60 in value
Some casinos offer a higher comp rate to certain VIP statuses. For example, the highest VIP level might earn a 0.2% or 0.3% rate.
But even doubling or tripling the comp rate doesn’t make these rewards more valuable than potential losses. The best way to approach comps is to let them come naturally and never continue playing just to chase these rewards.
Understand the Reality Behind Fixed-Odds Gambling
A great way to keep yourself from slowly losing to the casino is understanding your favorite games and the reality behind them.
Gambling establishments make a large amount of profits off uninformed players. These gamblers may choose roulette to see the spinning wheel or play craps to see what everybody is cheering about.
Again, picking games that entertain you aren’t gambling’s biggest sin. But choosing games that you know nothing about increases the chances that you’ll lose over time.
I started gambling in the early days of the internet when there wasn’t as much information available on the subject. But now, the internet is overloaded with info on casino games and strategy.
You can quickly learn more about your favorite games within minutes by watching a YouTube video or reading an online guide.
I recommend that you at least learn something about each game you play to avoid being taken advantage of by casinos.
Become an Advantage Gambler
The ultimate way to ensure that gambling establishments don’t slowly win your bankroll is to become an advantage player.
Many people consider advantage gamblers to be those who win consistent profits directly from the casino. For example, a blackjack card counter can overcome the house edge and earn profits.
But I also consider advantage players to be anybody who wins long-term profits in games without fixed odds. These include successful players in daily fantasy sports, poker, and sports betting.
Just be sure that you’re willing to put the work into studying strategy for any advantage-play method that you’re interested in.
As the old saying goes, if it were easy, then everybody would be doing it. But serious gamblers may find it very fulfilling to develop a skill and earn profits.
Casinos make big profits off uninformed gamblers. These are the types who play games and make prop bets with ridiculous house edges.
For example, a skilled gambler would never play Big Six (11.11% house edge) or make the Any 7 craps bet (16.67%).
But other players who are semi-conscious gamblers don’t fall for these traps. Therefore, casinos use many of the methods I described above to slowly drain gamblers’ bankrolls.
If you continue to play fixed-odds games, then it’s inevitable that you’ll eventually lose. After all, the house edge is designed to earn the casino long-term winnings.
But you can at least extend your entertainment by understanding how casinos grind away your bankroll. And in the case of becoming an advantage player, you can flip the tables and win profits from either the casino or other gamblers.
I’ve personally developed an advantage in different casino games over time. But I still enjoy playing fixed-odds games like slot machines and craps on occasion.
That said, do whatever makes you happy in the casino. But also be conscious of the different ways that you can improve your chances of winning.