Between 1992 and 1995, Greek American gambler, Anargyros Nicholas Karabourniotis (better known as Archie Karas) made history by going on the longest and largest casino winning streak ever. Karas arrived in Las Vegas in December 1992 with just $50 in his pocket. He then secured a $10 000 loan, which he turned into more than $40 million by the start of 1995. By the end of that year, however, what is now remembered as “The Run” was over. Karas had lost all of his winnings.
As epic a story as it may be, “The Run” is really a cautionary tale about the fact that all winning streaks come to an end. There is no magic potion for success as a gambler. The casino industry would be in serious trouble if it were. If you play for long enough, you will lose. Karas simply got lucky. And then his luck ran out.
However, there is a great deal of benefit to be derived from adopting a smart, informed approach to playing games of chance. You might think this means employing some complex numbers-based strategy that is far above the ability of the average player. But that’s really not the case. Playing casino games the smart way shouldn’t be complicated at all. Yes, there are numerous betting strategies out there for maximising your wins and nobody can quite agree on whether they work or not. But all of these mean nothing if you forget the basics.
So we’ve summed up these basics for you to get to know before your next casino visit:
Watch Your Bankroll
No matter how good you are or how lucky you may be feeling, there is always a risk that you will hit a losing streak. The most important thing a smart casino player must do is create a budget (their bankroll) and stick to it. Your bankroll should be realistic – don’t set aside more money than you can afford to lose, no matter how much you may think you’re going to win.
Keep that number in mind as you play and keep a tally of how much money you win or lose on each hand or spin. When you have played out your bankroll, it’s time to quit – even if you think your luck is about to turn around. If quitting when your bankroll has run out is your hard and fast rule, you will never lose more money than you can afford to.
It’s also important to remember that it’s okay to stop before you’ve played out your bankroll. If you’ve done really well and have a tidy sum to take home, consider quitting while you’re ahead.
Aim for Short-Term Wins
The basic principle that keeps casinos profitable is this: the house always wins in the long run. This is the second most important thing to remember every time you play. It means that, although you may win initially, if you play for long enough, you will lose your money.
That is why chasing losses or relying on winning streaks are really bad ideas. There is no way for you to predict when your winning or losing streak will end. Statistically, playing for longer will actually decrease your profits as the casino’s house edge sets in.
Choose a Low House Edge
Every casino game has a house edge. This is the percentage by which the casino has an advantage over the player by virtue of the rules of the game and how it is played. The lower the house edge, the greater your likelihood of winning.
So seeking out games with low house edges is a really good idea – especially for inexperienced players. Slots will generally display the house edge somewhere on the screen and you can find out which table games have the lowest house edges by doing some online research before your next game. Remember that not all casinos offer the same house edge and that different variations of the same game (for example, Roulette) will have different house edges.
Bear in mind that winnings are often inversely proportional to house edges. In other words, a game with a low house edge might not offer very large amounts to win but you are likely to win your wagers more often.
Negative and Positive Progression
As we’ve already said, there is no system that guarantees continued wins but you may want to try your luck with a strategy that can influence how much you win if you win. These strategies involve a progression system of betting, whereby bets are either decreased or increased depending on the last result.
Negative progression systems involve increasing (generally doubling) your wager when you lose whilst keeping your bet the same if you win. The logic behind this is that it gives you the chance to recoup your losses if (but only if) you win. The trouble with this is that you stand to lose a lot more if your wagers don’t pan out. Positive progression strategies take the inverse approach, requiring you to increase your wager when you win but keep it the same if you lose. This second option is safer because it doesn’t risk compounded losses although it won’t yield such big wins.
When it comes down to it, the thrill of winning and the risk of losing is why we love casino games, but if you play smart you’ll enjoy bigger thrills and smaller risks!