If you want to know how to win at gambling, you should know first that there are easier ways to earn money. It’s possible to make six figures a year as a professional gambler, but there are a limited number of activities you can engage in to make that kind of money. Most gamblers, even those who only play with an edge, don’t make that much money.
But you CAN improve your chances of winning at almost any casino or gambling game. Sometimes this means choosing the bets with the lowest house edge. Other times it means making the correct playing decisions. Even if you can’t get an edge over the casino or the sportsbook, you can still reduce the edge enough that your chances of winning improve.
I’ve divided these tips for winning at gambling into 10 sections, each of which features 10 tips. All of these tips should improve the amount of entertainment and fun you get while gambling, even if they don’t actually increase your chances of winning. For most gamblers, recreation is the goal anyway—if you have more fun for your money, you win even when you’re losing.
How to Win at Bingo
Some people don’t even think of bingo as a gambling game. It’s so popular in churches and retirement homes that it’s considered innocuous, especially when compared with more serious gambling activities like sports betting or poker. Here are some tips about how to win at bingo:
- Try playing bingo on the Internet.Online bingo is more popular now than ever, and Internet bingo halls often offer better odds than brick and mortar bingo halls. It’s also more convenient—you don’t even have to leave the house to play.
- Choose a bingo site carefully.When you’re deciding where you want to play bingo online, be sure to spend some time investigating reputations and reading reviews. Not all bingo websites are created equal, and you should do your due diligence to make sure that the site you’re dealing with is going to treat you fairly.
- Take advantage of bingo signup bonuses.One aspect of playing bingo on the Internet that doesn’t compare with live brick and mortar games are the bonuses. Usually when you make your first deposit at a bingo hall, you’ll get a matching amount based on a certain percentage of your deposit. This is like getting free money to play with. You’re required to make a certain amount of wagers before cashing out, but still, any time you can place free bets, it’s going to improve your chance of winning—or of at least getting more gambling for your money.
- Manage your bankroll.This is a general gambling tip that many bingo players forget about. Some gambling writers dismiss money management as useless because it doesn’t change the odds in your favor. That’s true, but I think it has some practical applications. The idea is to set a stop loss limit and a win goal. Your stop loss limit is the amount you’re willing to lose before quitting—once you’ve lost that amount, you don’t play anymore. A win goal is the same thing, but it’s based on having won a certain amount. Once you’ve won that amount, you stop playing. The goal is to increase your chances of walking away a winner and decrease your chances of going home broke. It will do that if you stick with it, but the house will still win in the long run.
- Sit close to the bingo caller.This tip applies to live bingo at an actual bingo hall. The idea is that if you’re sitting closer to the caller, you’re more likely to get your bingo first. You’re also less likely to miss a number that’s been called. Your goal is to get your information faster than the other players. Every little bit helps.
- Improve your concentration.If you don’t hear a number or letter combination, and you don’t mark it, then you miss a chance at winning. The only way to make sure you get every combination is to do things which improve your ability to concentrate. My recommendation? Learn to meditate.
- Buy more bingo cards.The only real way to increase your chances of winning is to buy more bingo cards. The more cards you have, the more chances to win you’ll have. That’s a simple formula, but it works. In fact, it’s one of the only things that works.
- Look for discounts.Some bingo halls offer bingo cards in bulk at a discount. Any time you can buy a bingo card at a discount, you’re increasing your expected return. That amount is just a comparison of how much you’re risking, how much you’re likely to win, and what your chances of winning are. Reducing the amount you’re risking improves your expected return.
- Know the odds.It’s actually easy to understand the odds of winning at bingo. The odds of winning are 1 divided by the number of cards in play. Of course, if you have multiple cards, that increases your chances. Here’s an example: You’re playing bingo with 50 people, and each of you buys one card. Your odds of winning are 2%. But if you’re playing with 50 people, and you buy 10 cards, and everyone else buys 1 card, your odds of winning are 10/49, or almost 20%.
- Ignore so-called bingo systems.These are schemes which are meant to increase your chances of winning. They don’t work. Usually they involve choosing particular cards with particular combinations of numbers on them.
How to Win at Blackjack
Blackjack, along with video poker, is one of 2 games in the casino where you can get a demonstrable mathematical edge over the house. But it’s not enough to just play the hands correctly. You also need to learn a legitimate advantage technique like counting cards. Here are 10 tips for how to win at blackjack:
- Learn how the house edge works.The house edge in blackjack varies based on the conditions of the game and the rules in effect. Some rules, like having fewer decks in play, benefit the player. Being allowed to double after splitting or being allowed to re-split also reduce the house edge. Knowing the effects of these rules and conditions can help you decide which game to play.
- Memorize basic strategy.There are surprisingly few possible situations in blackjack. The dealer’s only going to have one of 10 possible upcards, for example. You’re going to have a 2 card total, too, but there are a pretty limited number of those, too. Some of the ways to play various hands are easy to memorize, too. For example, you always split aces or 8s. You never split 4s, 5s, or 10s. The house edge for a blackjack game is quoted assuming that you’re using perfect basic strategy.
- Learn to count cards.It’s easier than you think, and if you do it well, you can get an edge over the casino of between 0.5% and 2%. Counting cards doesn’t require you to memorize the entire deck, either. You just keep a running count of positive and negative values based on the high cards and the low cards that have been dealt. You can find all kinds of methods for counting cards, but the most basic one that most card counters start with is called the Hi Lo count.
- If you’re not counting cards, take frequent breaks.You’ll lose less money per hour if you take frequent breaks. That’s because your expected hourly loss is a factor of how many hands per hour you play. It’s also a function of the house edge and how much you bet per hand. If you want to minimize the amount you lose per hour, you’ll find ways to play fewer hands.
- Sit at a crowded table.Don’t believe the nonsense about how other players can screw up your hand by making the wrong decisions. It’s not true. But when you sit at a table alone, you get in a lot more hands per hour than if you’re sitting at a full table. In fact, if you’re by yourself at the table, you’ll see 200 hands per hour. If you’re there with 6 other players, you’ll see 50 hands per hour. That means you’ll lose 4 times as much if you’re playing by yourself.
- If you’re counting cards, reverse the last 2 tips.If you’re counting cards, you have the edge. So the more hands per hour you play, the more money you win. If you’re just a basic strategy player, your goal is to lose as little money per hour as possible. If you’re counting cards, your goal is to win as much money per hour as possible.
- Ask for comps.One of the #1 rules of getting comps is that the first step is to ask for them. When you’re playing at the blackjack table, always ask if you can get a free meal or something. You probably won’t get anything of such value that it will make up for your losses at the table, but it’s worth a try.
- Practice online.Many online casinos offer free blackjack games you can practice on. As a general rule, I don’t find that too helpful, but if you find one that has a basic strategy tutorial, you’re in luck. Many players can learn basic strategy faster with some kind of online training program than they could by memorizing a chart or reading a prose description of the right plays.
- NEVER play 6:5 blackjack.A natural (aka a blackjack, a 2 card hand totaling 21) pays off at 3 to 2 at a standard blackjack table. Some newer variations have exotic rules, and some of them only offer a 6 to 5 payoff for a natural. Those games should be avoided at all costs, as the house edge skyrockets because of that change.
- Avoid side bets.Every side bet at a blackjack table that I’ve ever looked at had an outrageous house edge. Some of these bets have a house edge of over 10%. This includes insurance, which is a sucker bet that the dealer has a blackjack. Just say no to all side bets to be sure, unless you’re counting cards. If you ARE counting cards, there are certain situations (when the deck is positive) that you will want to take insurance.
How to Win at Craps
Craps is actually one of the best games in the casino, but you have to stick with the best bets. Unfortunately, there are a bewildering number of wagers available. Some players are so intimidated by this game that they avoid it, which is a shame since the house edge is low, especially on the best bets at the table.
- Attend one of the free casino game classes hosted by the casino.They’ll slowly and carefully explain to you how the game works, and it’s not that complicated at all. You don’t have to spend any money to participate in these free classes, either. Most casinos offer these in the afternoons. Craps isn’t the only game you can learn to play in such a class, but it’s probably the one where a class is most need. That’s because there so many possible bets to make.
- If you’re new to the game, stick with the pass/don’t pass bets.These are bets on whether or not the shooter will succeed. The shooter is the person throwing the dice, and she succeeds when she rolls a 7 or an 11 on the come-out roll. She fails when she rolls a 2, 3, or 12 on the come-out roll. If she rolls any other number, her goal is to roll that total again before rolling a 7. The house edge on these bets is similar, but the don’t pass bet offers slightly better odds. But it can be a lot more fun to root for the shooter to succeed.
- Learn about and place the odds bet.This is a bet that you can add to your pass or don’t pass bet. The maximum you can place on the odds bet is indicated at the table as a multiple of your initial wager. The thing about the odds bet is that it’s one of the only bets in the casino that pays off at its true odds. This reduces the overall house edge for the combined amount of money you have in action on pass/don’t pass and odds combined.
- Always take the most odds you can.The more money you put on the odds bet, the better off you are. Since it lowers the house edge dramatically, you should always maximize it. At some tables, the max might be 3 or 4 times your original bet. But you might find some casinos which allow you to place an odds bet of 100X your initial bet.
- Expand into the come/don’t come bets.These act just like pass/don’t pass bets, but they treat rolls trying to get a point as a new come-out roll for this purpose. These bets have similar odds (around 1%) to the come/don’t come bet.
- Don’t hedge your bets.This is one of the only drawbacks to attending these casino game classes—the instructors will sometimes recommend that you hedge your bets. This is mathematically a bad idea, all the time. So just don’t do it.
- Avoid complicated bets.All of the bets at the craps table are propositions, but the more complicated the proposition is, the higher the house edge is on that bet. For example, you win a “hard 8” bet when you roll a total of 8 with two 4s. The house edge on this bet is 9.09%.
- Investigate dice control techniques.The idea behind dice setting or dice control is that you’re able to affect the probability of getting a certain result. The house edge on most of the bets at the table is so low that even a slight change in probability will result in an edge for the player. I’ve seen no credible evidence that such techniques actually work, but I’ve seen credible gambling writers say that they’ve seen dice control in action.
- Manage your bankroll.Craps is one of the most adrenaline pumping games in the casino. It’s easy to bet too much and lose all your money fast. It’s also easy to get on a winning streak. In either case, having a loss limit in mind and a win goal in mind might help you walk away from the craps table a winner—at least some of the time.
- Find a crowded table.One of our goals is to get more entertainment for our money. There is no more entertaining way to play craps than to spend your time at a table full of people, all of whom are cheering on a player who’s on a hot streak.
How to Win at Fantasy Sports
Daily fantasy sports have become the new-ish version of online poker, but it’s becoming increasingly regulated. At one time, the owners of these daily fantasy companies thought they were going to be able to operate unimpeded in the United States market, but it turns out that most states are of the opinion that these games DO qualify as gambling and should be regulated as such. Here are some tips for how to win at fantasy sports.
- Understand why this is a game of skill, not chance.You’re choosing players based on how well you expect them to perform. If you do a better job of this than your opponents, you’ll win in the long run.
- Follow your favorite sports well enough to be an expert.In order to get an edge, you have to know more about the game than your opponent.
- Don’t bet on your favorite players or teams.This is the biggest mistake that most sports fans make when they’re betting sports. It’s an easy mistake to make in fantasy sports, too.
- Use a different strategy for cash games than you do tournaments.Cash games are ones where you’re competing against a single opponent or you’re trying to land in the top 50% of the field. These games offer an almost even money payout, and your goal with such games is to have a high score with low volatility. Tournaments, on the other hand, offer fewer but larger prizes depending on how you place. You want to embrace volatile players in order to win, because you’re going to need a bigger score in order to get in the money.
- Check the laws where you live before signing up.Not all states allow daily fantasy sports, although season long contests seem to be legal everywhere.
- Read, read, and then, read some more.An educated fantasy sports player is a winning fantasy sports player. There are hundreds, probably thousands, of sites which offer information that can help you win. Your goal should be to read almost all of it.
- Don’t play with money you can’t afford to lose.This is a fundamental rule of gambling, but for some reason, fantasy sports players seem to be more likely than most to risk money they can’t afford. Sports bettors often have the same problem.
- Have a sufficient bankroll.You need enough buy-ins to avoid going broke if you have a bad week. This means having a large enough bankroll to enter dozens of contests at once. Don’t put all your bankroll into a single contest unless you’re comfortable with going broke.
- Understand how the rake works and be good enough to beat it.Contest fees at this site are divided into a rake and the amount that goes toward paying your prize money. For example, if you pay $11 to get into a contest, a dollar goes to the house as rake. The other $10 becomes part of the prize pool. You have to win a correspondingly higher percentage of contests in order to make a profit.
- Stick with the sports you understand.Fantasy sports isn’t too different from regular sports betting, so if you want to win consistently, you need to stick with the sports you know something about. It’s a game of skill, remember?
How to Win the Lottery
The lottery is a longshot, but it’s also possible to win a life-changing jackpot. There’s not much you can do to actually increase your chances of winning, but here are a few tips for how to win the lottery—meaning what to do if you do win, just as much as trying to win.
- Understand just how long the odds really are.The average state lottery offers odds of 100,000,000 to 1. The Powerball, which is a multistate lottery, has odds of 185,000,000 to 1. So don’t get your hopes up. Those are long odds.
- Stay away from the scratch and win tickets.I think buying a single lottery ticket each week is probably okay. You might get a dollar’s worth of entertainment from thinking about how you’ll spend your millions. But scratch and win tickets will just bleed you dry and fast. The payback percentage on such games is about 50%.
- Avoid picking lottery numbers that other people commonly pick.If you’re using common birthdays, you’re increasing your chances of having to split your winnings with someone else when you win.
- Go with the cash option, not the annuity.The annuity is where you get paid a certain amount each year over the next 25 years. The cash option is better, even though you don’t get as much money. You can invest it and earn more in interest than your annuity would be worth.
- Don’t tell anyone when you win until you’ve met with a financial planner or an accountant.When you win the lottery, it’s a sure thing that friends and relatives are going to crawl out of the woodwork looking for a handout. Be sure you have your own needs met before you start “helping” others. Lots of lottery winners wind up broke for this very reason.
- Think about trying some progressive jackpot slot machines instead.The odds of winning the Megabucks slots games in Las Vegas are twice as good as the lottery, but you do have to visit Las Vegas in order to play.
- Don’t play.Seriously, the odds on the lottery are lousy. You’re better off visiting a casino and facing the much lower house edge there.
- Don’t buy multiple tickets if you do play.I touched on this earlier. A weekly ticket is a nice indulgence, but multiple tickets don’t really improve your odds much.
- Don’t spend money you don’t have on lottery tickets.Lottery players are the worst at wasting money they need for something else on gambling. Save the rent money for the rent.
- Form a lottery pool.A fun way to win the lottery is to form a team and play together. You’ll have a shot at winning, and you’ll enjoy some camaraderie while you’re at it.
How to Win at Poker
Poker is one of your best shots at consistently making money when you’re gambling. But you have to be skilled enough to not only beat the other players at the table, but also to be able to beat them by enough to cover the rake—the commission that the casino takes for hosting the game. Usually this is 5% of the total pot. Here are 10 tips for how to win at poker:
- Learn to play Texas hold’em.This is the most popular poker game in the world. And if you want to fish, you have to fish where the big fish are.
- Start folding more often.Most players make the mistake of playing too many hands to begin with. Then the chase those hands too far. If you start folding more often, you’ll have taken the first step toward becoming a winner.
- Start raising more often.Aggressive players are those who bet and raise more often. They win pots more often because of their opponents’ folds. They also get more money into the pot when they do have an edge.
- Learn to read other players’ tells.This will give you an edge in live poker that a lot of players don’t have. Read Mike Caro’s book on tells, or look for books by Joe Navarro. Both are experts on using body language to figure out what the other players are up to at the table.
- Stay sober.Drunk players lose money, and fast. So avoid alcohol while you’re playing, and you’ll have a better chance of walking away a winner.
- Learn the math behind the game.It’s impossible to win at poker if you don’t understand anything about pot odds and the odds of winning a pot.
- You’ll find a lot of different books about how to win at poker. The Theory of Poker by David Sklansky is a good place to start. Reading is only part of the deal, though—you also have to practice and pay attention to what you’re doing.
- Keep a journal.Paying attention to what you’re doing is one way to improve. And one of the easiest ways to do this is by keeping a journal of your winnings.
- Practice online.You can learn a lot about how to play from the free games online, but you should move up to real games as soon as possible.
- Ignore most of what you see on television.Poker on TV is heavily edited for interest. Most hands are much more boring, and the way they play out in real life isn’t usually featured on TV.
How to Win at Roulette
Roulette doesn’t offer the best odds in the casino—far from it, in fact. But I still like the game, because it’s slow paced, and the volatility is relatively low on the even money bets. There’s not much you can to improve your chances, but here are 10 tips about how to win at roulette anyway:
- Stick with the even money bets.You won’t win more often, but you’ll lose more slowly. You’ll have less than a 50% chance of winning even money, but that’s a lot better than the less than 3% chance you’ll have of winning a single number bet. You have lots of betting options to choose from, though.
- Find a European roulette table.This is a table with one 0 instead of two. The house edge on an American wheel is 5.26%. On a European table, it’s only 2.70%.
- Try a betting system.Most gambling writers advise you to avoid betting systems. I agree with them for the most part, but I’ve also had a lot of fun playing with the Martingale System. You might give it a try to see what you think, but be sure you understand that it’s not going to improve your odds of winning.
- Practice smart money management.It’s easy to get caught up in raising your bets at the roulette table based on previous results. Be careful of that, because the game has no memory.
- Find a crowded table.You’ll place fewer bets per hour at a crowded table. This will reduce the amount of money you’re expected to lose per hour.
- Don’t forget to ask for comps.Freebies from the casino offset some of your losses. Many table players forget to ask if they can get a free meal or something.
- Try clocking a roulette wheel.Roulette wheels are machines, and sometimes they’re defective. If you can find one that isn’t perfectly balanced, you might be able to get an edge if you can detect the wheel’s bias.
- Practice online.You’ll learn how the bets and general action work, so you won’t be as likely to make a mistake and embarrass yourself at the table.
- Tip the croupier.Being a class act pays off in all kinds of ways. The croupier is working hard and deserves your tips. But don’t think this is going to help you win more often. It won’t.
- Find a table with the en prison option.When you lose an even money bet at a table with this option, your bet is put “in prison” to see if it might win on the next bet. If it loses again, it’s really lost—otherwise you get it back.
How to Win at Slots
Slot machines, like the lottery, are a long shot. But they’re less of a long shot than the lottery, and modern slots—with all their animated features and bonus games—can be some of the most exciting gambling you’ll find in a casino. Here are 10 tips about how to win at slots:
- Avoid progressive slots.The huge jackpot is paid for by contributions (albeit tiny ones) from every spin you make. That reduces the payout percentage for the game.
- Avoid games with lots of bonus features.These bonus features are paid for in the same that progressive jackpots are. The game has to be able to afford these bonuses, and it does so by paying off less on regular wins.
- Avoid games with lots of reels and/or paylines.Notice a theme yet? The more complicated the game is, the lower the payback percentage.
- Avoid airport slots and bar slots.The slot machines in these locations have notoriously low payback percentages. Save your money and play at the casino instead.
- Always play with your players club card inserted.There is no good reason to not use a slot machine club card when you play. It earns you cash back on every spin of the reels.
- Watch your bankroll.It’s easy to get distracted and lose your money at slots faster than you ever thought possible. Keep an eye on how many credits you have left.
- Play higher denomination games when you can.The higher denomination games almost always offer higher payback percentages.
- Take your time.It’s easy to get 600 spins per hour on a slot machine. But if you play slower, you’ll lose less money per hour.
- Enjoy the free drinks.Flag down the cocktail waitress and enjoy. Since you’re not having to make any decisions while you play slots, there’s no reason to not get a little bit tipsy.
- Try video poker.The payback percentages for these games are better and they offer an element of skill. Every slots player should at least try video poker.
How to Win at Sports Betting
Sports betting is one kind of gambling where you can demonstrably get an edge and win money in the long run. In fact, this is probably the one activity where you can make the most money gambling if you’re smart. Here are 10 tips about how to win at sports betting:
- Shop the lines.The line is how much a team is expected to win by. If you find one sportsbook where the line is significantly different from the others, then you might have found an opportunity to profit.
- Shop the vigs.The vig is the commission that the sportsbook makes. For example, if you’re required to wager $120 to win $100 at a sports book, and another book offers $110, then you almost always go with the one with the lower vig.
- Understand what kind of win ratio you need.The size of the vig determines how often you need to win just to break even. Most books make you bet $110 to win $100. At those, you have to win a little bit less than 53% in order to break even. Every bit of a percentage you can get over that amount is going to result in a long term profitable ROI (return on investment).
- Don’t have favorite teams.The sports bettors who do well don’t have favorite teams. Fans make irrational decisions based on the teams they love, and this costs them money. If you’re serious about winning at sports betting, you can’t afford to play favorites.
- Bet against the public when you can.The public is known for making bad decisions. If you see a line move between when it goes live and before the start of the game, it might be because the public is betting one side of the game heavily. If that’s the case, betting the other side is profitable.
- Become an expert on a sport.It’s easier to become an expert on one sport than on many. Start with something you already like and know about.
- Bet online if you can.Being able to bet on the Internet makes it easier to shop for better lines and vig. But it’s tricky legally, especially if you live in the United States. One thing’s for sure, don’t try to set up your own bookmaking operation online.
- Manage your bankroll appropriately.Don’t put too much of your bankroll into action on any single game. Doing so increases your risk of going broke. Spreading your funds around will improve your chances of staying in action long enough for your expertise to get you a win.
- Read Sharp Sports Betting.This is the best book on getting an edge at sports betting that you’ll find. It was written by Stanford Wong, a well-known advantage gambler and blackjack expert.
- Look for arbitrage opportunities.Sometimes you’ll find an opportunity to place a bet on a team at one line, and then place another bet with a different point spread. And in some cases, you can guarantee yourself a win by doing so.
How to Win at Video Poker
Besides blackjack, video poker is the only game in the casino where you can get an edge over the house. But not all video poker games offer this opportunity—in fact, most don’t. But if you can master the strategy for the ones that do, you can consistently show profits over time. Here are 10 tips about how to win at video poker:
- Understand the difference between video poker and slots.Slots and video poker are similar, but the big difference is that you can tell what the payback percentage is on a video poker game. There’s one other big difference—you get to make decisions which affect your outcomes in video poker. That’s not a possibility when you’re playing slots.
- Start with Jacks or Better.This is the most basic of all video poker games, and it’s the one you should start with. Once you’ve mastered it, you’ll know how to play a game where the house edge is less than 0.5%.
- Learn how to read a pay table.The pay tables are what determine the payback percentages for the games. In order to get the best odds, you have to play the games with the best pay tables. The optimal pay tables vary from game to game.
- Get some training software.Training software will tell you when you’re making the right decisions and when you’re making the wrong decisions. There’s probably no better way to prepare for your next casino visit if you’re a video poker player.
- Study Bob Dancer’s books.Bob Dancer has written several excellent tutorials in the form of strategy guides called “Winners Guides”. These are the best way to learn the correct strategy for each game that I’ve found.
- Practice online for free.It’s a good idea to know how to play and how the controls work. You can learn both by playing free video poker games online. Internet casinos offer free games, but other sites have them, too.
- Always play with your players’ club card inserted.This just enables the casino to provide you with rebates of 0.2% to 0.3% on your expected hourly loss. It does NOT affect your chances of winning. There is no downside to using your players’ club card other than getting advertising from the casinos.
- Be careful of multi-hand games.A lot of times, especially at online casinos, the pay tables for the multi-hand games aren’t as generous as the pay tables for the single hand games. If you’re playing a 9/6 Jacks or Better game at an online casino and decide to move up to multi-hand, double check the pay table before playing.
- Try Pick’em Poker.It’s a simplified version of video poker with minimal decision making compared to all the other games. Also, the payback percentage, if you find the right pay table and play with the correct strategy, is 99.95%.
- Read Jean Scott’s books, too.Jean Scott is also known as “The Frugal Gambler”. She’s a writer whose books focus on getting an edge at video poker and combining that with casino promotions to get a profit.
Winning at gambling might be one of the hardest ways to make an easy living in the world. If you paid attention to all of the 100 ways to win at gambling listed in this post, you could probably be earning six figures a year or more. But you can only make that kind of money playing certain games or betting on sports.
The real goal of this post was to provide you with tips about getting the most entertainment for your gambling dollar. If you play any casino game in the world, you’re going to face a house edge. That is mathematically impossible to beat unless you can somehow eliminate it. That’s only achievable in 2 casino games—blackjack and video poker.