A casino is actually quite expensive to run. There is machinery, staff, maintenance, insurance, and never to forget, the occasional high-flying lucky winner. Overall, it is easy to see that it needs a sustainable business model to even stay in the game. Cleverly, though, all the casino games favour the casino. By how much? The answer varies depending on the game, and we know that by the house edge. Some games, of course, have a very low house edge – close to or even less than 1% depending on how skillful you are. The prime examples of this are also popular – blackjack and poker, for example. Anyhow, even if the house edge is low, it is never quite fifty-fifty between the house and the player. If you were to (theoretically) play ad infinitum with endless bankroll to keep wagering, the casino actually wins more than you in every game out there. The innate advantage is the reason many people can gamble away their life savings, if they are not careful. Some people, however, try to make the game more fair by their own means. A few of them also succeed, and even fewer get away with it.
But the games are mathematically supposed to give the house an upper hand, so wouldn’t that mean you are basically cheating? Not necessarily. In truth, many people do try to bend and violate the house rules. That is why the casino needs the bouncers and the lookouts. Hollywood interpretations (like in Scorcese flicks) tend to exaggerate this. But there is some truth to the potential dangers of cheating in the casino that they show. Instead, some players try to mitigate the house edge by taking advantage of some rule, or the inner math of the game, or some other loophole which gives them some leeway. These are called advantage players, and what they do is called ‘advantage gambling’. Here are some facts about advantage gambling to give you some more insight.
Fact 1: Advantage Gambling is Not Possible In Every Game
Like we mentioned earlier, house edge of casino games vary. House edge, in a way, is somewhat of a guesstimate at how well people would do at the game. But it also has a lot to do with the very design of the game. Let’s take a look at slots, for example. All you do in a round of video slot gaming is tell the algorithm of the game to run its course. It might roll in your favour, but mathematically, it is more likely to not give you back your betting money, let alone profit. In a game of roulette, the best you can do in terms of strategy is to find how you can lose the least amount of money, so to speak. That may come with a slight chance of winning better, but again, the math is important. Some games, by their very nature, are not ‘winnable’. One would argue that applies to all casino games. It does, but not equally. The idea here is that in some games you simply do not have enough agency to become an advantage player.
Fact 2: It Only Works Under Specific Conditions
Advantage gambling does not work on roulette, craps or baccarat. Like we discussed before, a low house edge is not enough. A game has to give you the scope to become an advantage player. But even those scopes can come with additional caveats. A game of blackjack, for example, is the best way to ply your trade if you are a beginner in the advantage gambling ballpark. But the casino might actually retaliate and rule you out if you lose too much. In this example, the specific skill for advantage is card counting. It is not viable, however, if the shoe is too large. Sometimes, the casino actually intervenes and rules the player out if the player wins unnaturally often. Say what they will, but the casino does not like smart players. So they impose extra rules and bylaws wherever possible, if it would mean they lose too much money otherwise.
Fact 3: It Takes Commitment To Be An Advantage Player
Gambling can be an expensive habit. Learning how to actually make advantage plays takes time. And in a casino, trial runs cost you money. Most players drop out very early, long before they can put in enough practice to spot the flaw. Advantage players do not ‘cheat’. Rather, they find their ways with being both crafty and skillful. Some people can read people too well, and some people can be a math whiz when it comes to playing cards. But most casual gamblers either lack these skills, or are too impatient, to ever be a successful advantage of gamblers.
In conclusion, another fact that we would like to point out is that advantage gambling also works outside the casino. Advantage gambling is just understanding the system better than your competitors have. In a casino, that competitor is usually the house. But you can also apply this principle to other types of gambling. In a horse race betting course, for example, you bet against other handicappers. If you handicap better, you gain an upper hand, and you become the advantage player.
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