Whether they are exploring the strip in Vegas or touring the virtual world on a smartphone, when it comes to the games people play, they generally have two questions fairly close to the front of their mind. What are the chances of winning and what are the rewards from doing so.
Of course there are other considerations too. A game is so-called for a reason and needs to be one the player will enjoy, the rules need to be clearly understood and the platform for playing must be conveniently available. However, those first two questions are the biggest ones of all.
Casino games – something for everyone
If you found yourself entertaining visitors from outer space one evening and weren’t sure where to take them, you could head to the casino and have them playing a game like roulette like a master in no time. It is stunning in its simplicity, and despite never having seen a roulette wheel before, your friend from Mars would have the same chance of winning as someone who’s been playing the game for years.
Martian visitors notwithstanding, however, most of us have a certain familiarity with casino games. Review sites like casinoshark.com present us with a broad array of casinos, each offering their own choice of style, games and special offers, and give us a chance to explore their virtual corridors. For some casino games, that can put us as a distinct advantage. Casinos have always been seen as a place where anyone can be a winner, which is to say that outcomes should be down to chance more than skill. In roulette and slots, that is certainly the case, but what about card games like poker, baccarat or blackjack?
Clearly, there is more to the question of luck and skill than first meets the eye. While one of the factors that most people will present in favor of casinos over sportsbooks is that anyone can win, regardless of skill and experience, that is only true to a certain extent and is subject to caveats. In blackjack, for example, it can be mathematically expressed, as the dealer is bound to follow certain rules depending on the hand. Follow basic strategy, and the house edge is around two percent. Get into the detail a little more, with composition-dependent strategies and a rudimentary card-counting technique, and you can reduce that to less than one percent.
Sportsbooks – for the masters and the enthusiasts
There is a lot of mathematics behind casino games. We’ve discussed the house edge on blackjack, and it can be similarly calculated to two decimal places in roulette or on a slot machine. The point is that it is always there, meaning that in the long term, the house always wins. That’s as it should be – if casinos were paying out more than they take in, they would soon be closed down and deserted.
A sportsbook, however, is another matter. There is no mathematical formula that will provide the odds of Seattle beating the Raiders in the NFL or Tiger Woods surprising us all by winning another major. Sports betting has been around for as long a sport itself, and is a complex beast. The first thing to understand is that there are two types of sports bettors.
One is the enthusiast. Think about those thousands of Cleveland Browns fans around the world who followed their team through that record losing streak. These guys and girls were willing their team to turn things around, and many would put a dollar or two on the outcome. Was it because they thought it a great investment? That didn’t even come into it, it just meant that if their team finally hit winning ways, they would be able to join in as winners too, in a tangible way.
Sports betting from the heart, is fine if that’s what you want to do. It adds to the enjoyment of the game, but think of the stake as an additional cost, like the $10 you might spend on a better seat in the stadium.
Now compare that attitude with the people who gravitate to a horse race. Apart from a very small minority, the gamblers are not there to back a horse because they like it. They have spent hours studying the odds, the form, the conditions and the competition to make a call on what they think is going to happen.
Professional sports bettors will approach every event in the same light. They might be devoted Browns fans, but if the conditions and the odds on offer tell them to back Pittsburgh, that is what they will do.
Which is for you?
There are professionals who make money from gambling, both on sports or by playing casino games. But to do so successfully demands experience and skill, whether that means understanding the form on the race track or whether to fold or call at the poker table.
For amateurs, the question really comes down to what they want to achieve. For sheer fun, there is nothing like having a personal stake on the outcome of a game. For the best chance of winning, regardless of experience, though, games of chance like roulette and slots provide a level playing field.