Become Bilingual: Learn the Language of Blackjack

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Image via Flickr by Aaron Jacobs

Ready to learn the exciting game of blackjack? Just like any game, before you can learn the rules, you have to understand the terminology. Here’s a quick primer to words you’ll hear when you sit down at the blackjack table.

Hit and Stand

These two words are used as you are building your blackjack hand. When you say, “hit,” you are asking the dealer for another card. On the other hand, “stand” means that you are satisfied with the cards you are holding. Players usually stand on a hand totaling 17 or more.

Double/Double Down

After you place your initial bet, the casino may let you double it after you’ve received your first two cards. Doubling down is a great way to increase your winnings if you’re holding a favorable hand. It’s a good idea to consider the dealer’s up card before doubling your bet, however. Most casinos have very clear rules about when and/or which two cards players may double down.

Split/Splitting

When you are dealt a pair in your original hand, you can split them, and play them as two separate hands. Splitting automatically doubles your bet, of course, but it also gives you an extra chance to beat the dealer. As a general rule, you should always split pairs of aces and eights.; these two cards have a higher probability of becoming winning hands.

Insurance

When the dealer’s face up card is an ace, most casinos let players place an even-money bet equal to half of the initial bet that the dealer will get blackjack. The insurance bet seems like a good idea, but in practice, it’s not really a good idea. You still have to play your hand and initial bet, and if the dealer doesn’t get blackjack, you risk losing twice. Experienced blackjack players rarely place insurance bets.

Hard Hand/Soft Hand

A hand is considered soft or hard based on whether or not it contains an ace. A hand with an ace is considered soft, because the ace can be counted as either 11 or one. A hard hand is not as flexible as a soft hand because the card total is fixed. A player with a soft hand has more options to get to 21.

Surrender and Bust

Both of these terms mean you’re out of the game. A player surrenders when he doesn’t like the cards in his hands. A player who surrenders loses only half of his bet. Surrendering is a good decision in certain cases, but many novice players surrender far too often. A player goes bust when a hit pushes his card total over 21. The entire bet is lost when you go bust.

Cashing In

This is one of the most important words to learn and remember when playing blackjack. When a player cashes in, he exchanges his chips for cash, and ends his play. Successful blackjack players set limits for themselves about the amount of money they will risk at any session, and when they will cash in their winnings.

Now that you know the language of blackjack, learning the rules are a snap. With a little practice, you’ll play like a pro.

4 Tips for Winning at Roulette

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Image via Flickr by Zdenko Zivkovic

Roulette is a game of chance, but you can still make educated choices that make winning more possible. Follow these four tips at roulette to make sure you understand how the game works and how you can use that knowledge to your advantage.

1. Know the Basic Rules

You can place several types of bets in roulette. To place a bet, you simply put your chip on the part of the playing board that corresponds to your bet. Some popular options include:

  • betting on red or black
  • betting on odd or even
  • betting on any one number
  • splitting your bet between two, three, four, five, or even six numbers.
  • betting on any number between 1 and 18
  • betting on any number between 19 and 36
  • betting on any number between 1 and 12, 13 and 24, or 25 and 36.

After players place their bets, the dealer spins the roulette wheel and drops a ball on it. Where the rests after the wheel has stopped spinning determines which bets win. Therefore, if you bet that the ball will rest on a red number, and it does, then you win. If it lands on black, you would lose.

2. Understand That Easy Odds Mean Lower Pay Outs

Many of the bets in roulette give players excellent odds of winning. Unfortunately, those bets do not pay out very much money. The better the odds are the less money players can expect to win. At the same time, players can expect to win more money by placing riskier bets.

The best odds are for bets placed on:

  • red or black
  • odd or even
  • any number from 1 to 18
  • any number from 19 to 36

All of these bets give you 47.37 percent chance of winning. Astute players might notice that this doesn’t make much sense. One should have a 50-50 chance of landing on an off or even number, right? That’s true, except that the house has a small edge that lowers the odds of winning. Many roulette boards also have a zero and double-zero space that complicates odds.

So, while it seems like players have a 50-50 chance of winning, the odds are actually a little lower. All of the above bets pay out 1 to 1. If you bet $10, you get your bet back plus another $10.

3. Halve Your Odds to Double Your Winnings

Players who choose to bet on any number between 1 and 12 (or 14 to 24, or 25 to 36) have a 31.58 percent chance of winning. That’s because the players essentially have a 1 in 3 chance of winning. This bet pays out $2 for every dollar bet.

4. Lower Odds Mean Bigger Winnings (Potentially)

When you lower your odds, things start to get much more complicated. Players who bet on a single number have approximately a 1 in 36 chance of winning (2.63 percent), but winners get $35 for every $1 they bet.

Splitting a bet between two numbers doubles the odds of winning to 5.26 percent while cutting the potential earnings to $17 for every $1 bet. Splitting a bet between the corner, first five, six line, and street numbers increases one’s odds of winning while also cutting potential winnings.

What are your favorite strategies for winning at roulette?

4 of the Easiest Casino Games to Learn

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Image via Flickr by Jeff Kubina

Casinos are exciting and overwhelming all at the same time. The jingle of slot machines and the cheers of players all mix together to create a thrilling atmosphere. For many novices, however, casinos can seem overwhelming and intimidating. Many games have complex rules, and not understanding those rules can mean wasted money. But if you’re a newbie to the casino world, don’t fret! There are some games that are very easy for beginners or casual players to pick up.

Slot Machines

There’s a reason slot machines have surpassed table games as the most popular form of gaming at casinos. It’s just human versus machine, and there are no other players who will sit there and judge. In fact, there’s no skill necessary for playing slots. Slot machines are completely random. Simply insert your money, press a button, and cross your fingers. After all, that’s the thrill of the game.

Casino War

Just like the card game played by children, casino war is all about who can draw the higher card. The game is played with six decks of cards, and players will make a wager on how much they want to bet. If their card is higher than the dealer’s card, they win even money. If the dealer’s card is higher, they lose the bet. If the cards are the same, they can surrender and forfeit half of their bet, or they can declare war. In war, players must raise their bet by an amount equal to their first bet. The dealer will discard three cards, and then deal another one card to the player and themselves. Once again, if the player’s card is higher, they win, but if the dealer’s card is higher, the player loses.

Roulette

The object behind roulette is to bet on where the ball will land on the spinning wheel. The roulette wheel has numbers 1 through 36 that alternate in red and black, as well as 0 and 00 in green. The wheel never stops spinning, so players can bet until the dealer signals that betting has stopped. Players can bet on a specific number, a range of numbers, whether the number will be odd or even, or whether the ball will land on red or black.

Keno

Playing Keno is very similar to playing the lottery. The player can select up to ten numbers, or allow the computer to randomly select the numbers for them. The numbers are only valid for that drawing. A computer randomly selects the winning numbers, and players compare them to what they have on their tickets to see if there are any matches. The more matching numbers a player has, the more money they have won. There are different ways to place bets with Keno, and it is possible to play online and learn how the game works before going to a casino to play.

Beginners should not fear walking into a casino with little or no experience. With a bit of practice either in a casino or online, any player can learn the rules of these simple games and enjoy a fun time of playing the odds.

Top 3 Betting Social Networks

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Image via Flickr by PlantronicsGermany

Last year 1.73 billion people used social networks around the world, a figure that equates to roughly one in four people. By 2017, that global market is expected to swell to 2.55 billion. As social networking becomes more popular, it’s not surprising to see sites popping up to connect people with a range of interests. Forget about the general purpose sites like Facebook and Twitter. If you’re interested in betting, these three sites are the social networks you want to be a part of.

1. Favourit: Social Sports Betting Network from Down Under

After successfully launching in Australia, Melbourne-based social sports betting platform Favourit began welcoming international sports fans last year.

Favourit lets sports lovers wager real cash or play with virtual currency to test out betting strategies. It’s integrated with leading international betting agencies including Paddy Power, Luxbet, and Sportsbet.com.au, and members need an account with one of these to bet with real dollars. Users can place bets, enjoy insights from expert tipsters and Favourit users, and see live scores and news from a range of sports including the NFL, NBA, and Australian favorites like rugby league and Aussie Rules. They can also chart their progress on leader boards and even win prizes.

A free iOS app complements the Favourit web channel.

2. BuddyBet: Sports Betting Social Network On the Up

Prague-based online gambling network BuddyBet has been nothing but successful since launching in 2012. Last year it cemented its future when it secured $3 million in funding. Private investors are excited about the site’s novel approach, which encourages users to bet against one another, rather than a computer.

BuddyBet users can bet for cash, virtual BuddyBucks or make things interesting with an action or stake. Perhaps you’ll win a free beer from your buddies or be forced to run down the street wearing only your briefs. BuddyBet currently focuses on sports, including ice hockey, soccer, and basketball, but plans to expand into other markets in future.

3. BettingExpert: Win Prizes on Sports Betting Social Network

There may be other sports betting social networking sites around, but BettingExpert boldly claims it’s “the social network of sports betting.” It’s British, so it’s not surprising to see sports like soccer, cricket, and rugby well represented. But the site does welcome members from all over the world, and many of them are happy to offer advice on the NBA and other American competitions.

You can’t actually bet on BettingExpert, but you can show off your betting prowess. The site encourages you to share your best sporting tips and read the advice of the site’s self-proclaimed expert members. If you’re one of the 40 best tipsters you could even win a share of

3 Ways to Win at Video Slots

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Image via Flickr by Rob Boudon

Video slots are games of chance. No matter what skills you have, you can’t make a slot machine pay out — that is unless you plan on using a plasma cutter to open the machine. Even then, the plasma cutter wouldn’t help you online. There are, however, some techniques that people use to win more frequently at video slots. Try these 3 strategies to see if they work for you.

#1: The Cain Method

The Cain Method uses a simple strategy to help you win more at video slots: the more a slot machine pays you, the more you pay it. The less it pays, the less you pay.
You also need to choose a specific amount of money that you want to win. If you start playing with $20, you might choose to win $10. Setting this number tells you when to back away from a machine. If you spend $30 on one machine, then it’s time to start the method over. The method also says that once you make $10, you should take your money and head to a new machine.

People who use this method usually prefer video slots that accept low bets but let you play with up to 20 lines. This should give you a greater chance of winning without forcing you to spend a lot of money.

#2: Choose a Progressive Jackpot for More Money

Video slot machines typically come in two varieties. Progressive slots have jackpots that grow as people play them. The more people play, the larger the jackpot grows until someone wins it. Fixed slots only pay out specific amounts of money. For instance, you might win $5 for lining up five cherries. Every time you get that line, you get the same amount of money. It never changes.

People who want huge payouts should concentrate on progressive jackpot slots. Look for a slot machine with a big jackpot. Your chance of winning at that video slot is just as good as winning at one with a lower jackpot, so you might as well concentrate on the option that could pay you the most money.

#3: Pay More to Win More

If you just want to pass some time, then there’s nothing wrong with sitting down at the penny slots. If you want to make a lot of money, you should head to a slot machine that accepts bigger bets.
There are potentially two reasons to head to a machine that accepts more money:
Some people think that low-denomination video slots pay out less often. While it’s uncertain if that is true or not, it’s a common belief that’s worth mentioning.

Others choose high-denomination video slots because it gives them a chance to make more money in less time. Assuming that the odds are about the same, why wouldn’t you play a slot machine that pays more money? If you win, it’s more profitable and exciting!

Do you enjoy playing video slots online and at casinos? What strategies have you tried to win more often? Have any of them seemed to work?

4 Obscure Gambling Etiquette Rules

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If you’re a first time casino goer, there are a few rules of etiquette that you may not be aware of. These rules are important, not only to get you better service, but as a sign of respect to other players and the dealers. Here are four obscure gambling etiquette rules you need to know and why.

1. Understand the Rules

No one expects a beginner to know everything, but it’s a good idea to learn the rules of a game before you play. This gives you better odds at winning and a more enjoyable playing experience. Most casinos will offer a tour at certain times of the day to explain what each game is and its rules. Some will even let beginners play practice rounds with each other using fake chips. If you still aren’t comfortable, watch a few games until you are.
It’s okay to ask questions, but it’s disrespectful to the other players if the dealer has to stop every hand to explain something.

2. Chips

Buy or cash in chips only after a game is over, before the next round starts. If you are too low to bet any more, or meet the ante, fold the hand. Once the hand is completed you can purchase more chips. It is very distracting to both the players and confusing for the dealer to stop and give you chips or money. Everyone is trying to keep track of what is going on, so disruptive behavior will get you called out. Another thing to know about chips is their value, this will help you bet appropriately.

3. Hands and Cards

Dealers and employees are always on the lookout for cheats. While you know you would never cheat, there is a delicate hand etiquette that must be followed to avoid accusations. If the cards are dealt face down you can touch them, but only ever touch your cards with one hand. Be gentle with them, never bend cards or set your drinks on them. One way of cheating is for a player to bend a card, like an Ace, slightly and then watch for it in the next hand. Dealers are very aware of this.

If you can’t seem to follow the one hand rule, sit on your other hand for help.

4. Dealers

Tip the dealer a dollar every time you win a hand, if you don’t win, tip them five dollars for every hour you sit at their table. Never ask the dealer for advice, unless you aren’t clear on a rule. Dealers don’t want to be responsible for telling you wrong and you losing, or telling you right and you winning. It is often considered cheating if their advice helps you win.

Always remember that you should enjoy gambling, especially if it’s your first time. Don’t be afraid to take risks and have fun. Just follow a few simple rules of etiquette, and everyone you play with will respect you and your company.

From the Boardwalk and Beyond: The Ultimate Guide to Atlantic City

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Image via Flickr by Doug Kerr

Pack your bags, grab your sunglasses, and get ready for the time of your life because Atlantic City has plenty to offer for even the most hard-to-please fun seekers. Whether you’re in the mood for some casino action or you just want to stroll the boardwalk, Atlantic City is an all-in-one vacation hotspot. Here are just a handful of the many ways you can spend your time on the most famous boardwalk in the world.

Hit the Planks

Built in 1870, the Atlantic City Boardwalk is a destination in itself that delights millions of visitors each year. From the ocean views to the casinos, the Boardwalk is steeped in history and visitors interested in the history can stop by the Garden Pier section, which houses the Atlantic City Historical Museum.

Further down the planks are a number of other attractions including shops, a miniature golf course, the Atlantic City Art Center, a Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, and Boardwalk Hall, which hosts sporting events and entertainers of all varieties.

Stick Your Toes in the Sand

What’s a boardwalk without the beachfront? Atlantic City has some of the best beaches in the country, which offer endless sand and surf activities. If sunbathing is your thing, the beachfront offers plenty of space to unroll your towel and there are even public restrooms at many of the beach access points.
If outdoor activities are more your speed, the Atlantic City beachfront has sand volleyball courts and bike paths along the boardwalk. As for water activities, there is kayaking and windsurfing as well as surfboard rentals for when the waves are just right.

Find Your Lucky Streak

The Atlantic City Boardwalk is most famous for its casinos and if you love gambling, then the Boardwalk has it all. From the slots to Roulette to Blackjack to every roll of the dice in between, there’s plenty of casino action to choose from right on the Boardwalk.

For the ultimate in casino extravagance, Caesars Atlantic City is 124,720 square feet of gambling decadence. If you’re looking to try your luck at the slots, the Trump Taj Mahal has 5,000 slots as well as over 210 table games. The casino options don’t stop there because the Boardwalk is also home to the Golden Nugget, Harrah’s, and many more.

Ready, Set, Shop

Vacation and shopping go together better than Atlantic City and the Boardwalk, which is why The Pier Shops at Caesars are a shopper’s dream. From high-end clothing and accessories to great restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues, the Boardwalk shopping options are second to none. The best part is, you don’t even have to step foot off the Boardwalk

Amusement for All

When it comes to fun for all ages, the Atlantic City Boardwalk is also home to the iconic Steel Pier Amusement Park, which is widely considered the gem of the Boardwalk. The amusement park features classic rides like the Double Decker Carousel and Ferris Wheel, a variety of extreme rides, and all the great amusement park treats like funnel cakes and corn dogs.

If your sights are set on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, then keep the great activities and attractions above in mind.

The 4 Best Casinos in Las Vegas

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Image via Flickr by brittreints

Are you itching to hit the casino floor in the gambling capital of the world? You know you belong in the middle of the dazzling lights, listening to the pings from the slot machines. So what are you waiting for? Head to one of these top four casinos in Las Vegas.

1. Caesar’s Palace

Take yourself back in time to the age of the Romans when you step through the doors of Caesar’s Palace. Not only are the massive columns and stunning fountains an architectural beauty, but the casino floor will fascinate you. With 5 cent and 25 cent slot options, you could sit on the floor for hours engrossed in the game. Plus, Caesar’s Palace is home to some of the highest winning slot games, including a nearly $3 million win by one lucky player in 2012.
In addition to table games and slots, Caesar’s Palace also hosts music and comedy shows from top performers like Celine Dion, Shania Twain, and Jerry Seinfeld. When you’re not playing slots, head to one of Caesar’s Palace’s sumptuous restaurants or enjoy a spa treatment.

2. Bellagio

If you’re seeking a hotel-casino combination, then the Bellagio is your best bet. Here you can enjoy two five-diamond restaurants, Picasso and Le Cirque, and view the wonders of the hotel’s choreographed fountain show. If the lighted fountain show doesn’t mesmerize you, then the casino floor will. Hot with affordable game tables and slot machines, not to mention the Bellagio Slot Tournaments, this casino is one of the best places to enjoy the wonders of Las Vegas. Additional amenities include botanical gardens, an art museum, and spa services.

3. Circus Circus

Circus Circus is the best family friendly casino and resort around. It features the country’s biggest theme park and offers affordable rooms–starting at just $45 during the off-season–so that all family members can enjoy Las Vegas together. While your children enjoy world-class circus acts or the Adventuredome theme park, you can head to the casino floor where you’ll find 1,500 slot machines calling your name.
You can even play penny slots on the carousel while you watch the circus acts. Play $1 tokens in the Main Casino, slip quarters into machines at Slots-A-Fun, or test your luck with the Magnificent 7’s classic 97.4 percent payback slots, which feature frequent jackpots of $1,000.

4. The MGM Grand

Let the two spectacular lion statues welcome you to the city at the entrance of the MGM Grand. With 165 game tables and 3,500 slots, the massive game floor is a wonderful place to experience Las Vegas. The casino also features several custom machines, including the Majestic Lions and the Lion’s Share, which have $1,000,000 top awards. Stay the night in the hotel, dine at one of their exceptional restaurants, or head to one of their fantastic shows. The MGM Grand also features spa treatments, a large pool, and golf facilities.

Can’t wait to get started at the casinos? Head to an online casino like Silver Oak Casino to start playing slots today.

5 Qualities All Successful Gamblers Have

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Image via Flickr by Images_of_Money

What are all successful gamblers made of? One part luck, one part experience, and two parts strategy. If you’re wanting to learn the tricks of being a prosperous gambler there are some things you need to acquire. Here are 5 qualities of successful gamblers that you can emulate for success.

1. Discipline

All professional gamblers go through a process of learning to weigh the odds. Every game is a psychologically demanding experience. They must always consider risk vs. reward, in order to determine the best and the worst possible outcomes. They know when to bet more, and they learn when to walk away. It is all about discipline, they don’t just go all-in all the time. Every hand is a risk, but some are riskier than others. They keep a clear head, and they constantly analyze everything.

2. Acceptance

Every gambler, no matter how successful, will have losing streaks. Some are devastating, while some are simply an inconvenience. Professional players have to learn to accept the fact that luck isn’t always in their favor. If a losing streak goes on and on, they have to take a step back and analyze what they could be doing wrong. Do they have a positive outlook? Were they pressing too hard too fast? Is there something in their personal lives that could be affecting them at the table?

3. Independent Thinking

Strategies are like good drinks, to each his own. Not everyone enjoys a vodka tonic, and that’s okay. Just like drinks, gamblers have to be able to come up with their own strategies instead of listening to everyone else. What works for Jimmy at table two, may not work for Bob at table six. There is no sure combination to winning, it all depends on the player and, more importantly, the game.

4. Confidence

A gambler can’t make rational decisions if they don’t have the confidence to play the game. When a player sits down at a table, he sits down to win. There is a fine line however, between confidence and a big head. Gamblers need confidence to play successfully, but a big head can be one of the quickest ways to lose. It all goes back to discipline. Have the confidence to call bluffs, but not the egotism to call the wrong bluffs.

5. Financial Management

Successful gamblers know how to manage their finances. Pros are investing in the future, while amateurs are only looking into the present. Gambling in some ways is very similar to owning a business. They need to make a profit in order to stay in business. While losses will happen, pros know when they are losing too much, and they walk away for a little while. They don’t gamble all of their money away, they carefully budget and allot money to lose in order to stay successful.

Gambling is a career for the pros, and like every career, they need to be successful. Build up these qualities within yourself and you’ll be a high roller in no time.

Living the Dream: A Retrospective of the MIT Blackjack Team

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Image via Flickr by acaben

If you saw the movie “21,” you know it’s based on the true story of MIT’s legendary group of card-counting blackjack players. Like all “true story” films, many of the events in the movie version were added as plot devices, but several of the scenes actually happened. Here’s the real story of the MIT players.

Counting Cards

The MIT blackjack team was made up of a group of math whizzes who realized that they could beat the house at blackjack if they could find a way to accurately count cards. Card counting, which refers to keeping track of which cards have been played and which cards remain in the shoe, is not technically illegal. It is, however, considered cheating, an activity that gets players banned from the casinos. So the challenge for the MIT team was to find a way to accurately count cards and discreetly signal the actual players when to bet big.

How They Did It

Bill Kaplan, the Harvard Business School graduate and legendary blackjack champion, recruited players from MIT for his intensive blackjack training program. Training consisted of learning how to count eight-deck shoes with near-perfect play. Members could be spotters (card counters) or big bettors at the blackjack tables, so the team also had to learn a constantly changing set of code words that signaled when high cards were coming up, how “hot” the cards were so the player could bet appropriately, and when the shoe was played out and the bettor should move to another table.
A three-member team played at a table: a spotter, a controller, and a big bettor. The spotter counted cards, and the controller consistently placed small bets, wasting money and verifying the spotter’s card count. When the controller verified a positive card, he signaled the big bettor, who would place a huge bet and win big. This team approach gave the MIT players a two to four percent edge over the house.

How Successful Were They?

Kaplan ran the team like a business, and his first investor offering yielded an $89,000 stake. In his “prospectus” to investors, he expected players to win $170 per hour of play, which would be split equally between the player and investor. After his first 10 week run, players averaged about $165 per hour of play, which worked out to $80 per hour for the players and a return on investment of over 250 percent.

Throughout the 80s and 90s, the team, which at some points numbered 80 players, won millions and millions of dollars for its members and investors, with earnings often exceeding $400,000 on a single Vegas trip.

Where Are They Now?

Of the team members portrayed in the film, Jeff Ma went on to start a number of successful tech startups. Jane Willis studied law, and is a partner at the prestigious Boston firm Ropes & Gray. Mike Aponte won the 2004 Blackjack World Series, and then founded the Blackjack Institute. John Chang is still playing blackjack, although he has to remain heavily disguised in Vegas. Bill Kaplan, the man who started it all, retired from blackjack and founded a successful email marketing company.

Although these players won big with card counting, there are plenty of other ways to increase your earnings at the casino. Do you have a favorite game to win big on? Leave a comment below.