The Best Bets At The Casino | Your first stop is the blackjack table

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The Best Bets At The Casino

Americans are suckers for betting. Of the 56 million people that visited a U.S. casino last year, almost all placed some form of wager--from the nickel slots to blackjack. Non-Indian casinos clocked $32 billion in gambling revenues (and billions more if you add in lodging and entertainment). People just can't get enough.

The funny thing about all of this, of course, is that the house has the edge. Still, people throw good money after bad--some for the thrill of it, others because they actually believe they can win a few bucks.

If your goal is to nab the best risk-adjusted return (as opposed to playing for hours on end), place fewer, smarter and larger bets. It's a difficult strategy to stomach, and your night could be over in a hurry. Still, if you lose, at least you know you gave it your best mathematical shot.

In Pictures: The Best Bets At The Casino Here's the logic. Say you flip a coin 10 times and bet $10 per flip. In a fair game--one in which you are appropriately compensated for your risk--you would either double your money or lose it all. But the casino isn't fair. The "house edge" lies in the misalignment between the promised payout and the inherent odds of the game. The house doesn't take the extra risk--you do. When you flip that theoretical coin at the casino, you only win, say, $9.75; if you lose, the entire $10 goes to the house. Sure, you might win some of your early losses back if you keep flipping, but in the long run, the edge eats you alive. Placing a big one-time bet "cuts the house edge to its bare minimum because it works on your stake only once," says Anthony Curtis, a one-time professional gambler and president of "The more you bet, the more you will lose." Next time you're in Vegas, consider this trip around the casino floor. Your first stop is the blackjack table. Here the object is to beat the dealer in getting as close to 21 without going over. Unless you employ what is known as "basic strategy" (meaning that you make the best move in every situation), the house will get the better of you the longer you play.


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