How to Avoid Losing Money at the Casino

Beneath the varnish of flashing lights and free cocktails, casinos stand on a bedrock of mathematics, engineered to slowly bleed patrons of their cash. The average house edge, which applies to every game in the casino, is less than two percent, but over time it adds up. That tiny advantage provides the revenue to build huge hotels, extravagant fountains, towering pyramids and replicas of famous landmarks.

The games themselves may vary, but their basic rules are similar across the board: A player places chips or paper tickets with a designated value on the table, which a dealer then exchanges for currency. Some games, like poker, are played with a live dealer; others are dealt from an automated machine.

A few of the more popular casino games include blackjack, roulette and craps. Each has its own set of rules, but they all share one thing in common: the odds are lousy. The worst bets are accentuated with bright colors and flashing lights, while the best bets are obscured by drab color schemes. Those who know the rules of the games can take steps to improve their chances of winning, including learning basic strategy (which is available online) or more advanced techniques like counting cards. (Be aware that the casino doesn’t appreciate players who try to beat their system, and they may kick you out if you are caught.)

One simple way to avoid a big casino loss is to play on a budget and limit the amount of money you spend at any given time. Many casinos have no clocks or windows on their gaming floors, and some even ban the use of watches by dealers, because they want patrons to lose track of time.