Gambling is one of the oldest human pastimes. Evidence of games of chance has been found in architectural digs dating back over five thousand years. There is little doubt that just as happens today, there always were players some considered “lucky” due to the results they got at the tables. Then as now this designation is off base. Those with the best results are those that study the game and apply their knowledge of the rules and the odds to make the smartest bets.
Girolamo Cardano was one of the first well known serious gamblers. Cardano was a somewhat larger-than-life personality who claimed the publication of over 100 books, most of which would fall into the modern self-help genre, and to have written close to 300 unpublished works prior to his death in 1576. His skill at the tables was well-known, with much of it chronicled in his tedious autobiography. Modern day gamblers can thank Cardano for writing the first book on gaming probabilities, The Book on Games of Chance, which was published almost a century after his death.
Since that time, thousands of books on gaming have been traditionally published and even more have been published electronically. The internet has also made it possible for players to research the strategies and probabilities necessary to make the smartest bets.
The Best Games for Savvy Players
Blackjack is arguably the most popular table game found in the casino. While the game has been played since the 1800s, it is only in the past few decades that blackjack has been seriously studied. The most famous book on blackjack is Edward O. Thorp’s Beat the Dealer, which examined the mathematics behind the game and introduced the concept of “basic strategy.”
Learning basic strategy, in order to calculate the best mathematical decisions possible for any player hand based on the dealer’s up card, is a must for any serious player and amazingly easy to master.
Serious players should also look for tables with the following table rules:
Dealer stands on all 17s
Players can split and re-split pairs
Players can double down on any two cards
Although it is rare, if you can find a table which allows you to re-split Aces or receive additional cards after splitting Aces, it is definitely worth playing.
Sports betting has been around almost as long as sport competitions. The recent growth of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) has increased the popularity of sports betting immensely.
There are a number of traits common to all sports bettors, whether they are playing live games or DFS.
Discipline – Successful sports bettors make wagers based on careful study and analysis, they do not bet based on emotion.
Odds shopping – Sport books odds vary greatly. Smart bettors shop around to find the sports book that offers the best odds.
Risk vs. Reward – Savvy sports bettors have a firm grasp of the concept of risk vs. reward. For example, a wager on a 9-to-1 favorite may seem like a good bet, but the amount of risk is excessively high in terms of the potential return.
Bankroll Management – The need to manage one’s bankroll is important in all games, but especially for the sports bettor it is crucial. Smart bettors seldom invest more than 10% of their total bankroll in any one week’s games. Upsets can and do happen and can seriously damage the long-term potential returns.
Roulette has been one of the more popular casino games for centuries. Dostoyevsky, German poets and even the Prince of Wales were frequent roulette players in the European spa casinos and in Monte Carlo. Many students of the game claim that more systems have been developed for roulette than for any other casino game in history.
Two of the more popular systems are the Martingale system, which was a favorite of Casanova, and the Paroli (parlay) system. With the Martingale system, a player doubles his wager after each loss. In the Paroli system, a player doubles the wager after each win.
Roulette has two main variants, American and European. European roulette wheels have one zero, while American wheels have two, which is why smart players always pick the European wheels, as the presence of a double zero will increase the house edge. European roulette games often feature additional rules such as La Partage and En Prison, which are advantageous for the player.
There are lots of different roulette betting options, with the even money bets (red/black, odd/even, and 1-18/19-36) being the best wagers in terms of odds, followed by the column and dozens bets. Individual number wagers on those on combinations of numbers offer the largest payout potential.
For almost a century, poker was considered an American game. In 2003, an unknown online poker player named Chris Moneymaker changed all that by winning the World Series of Poker Main Event and igniting what is known as the “poker boom.” Moneymaker’s victory coupled with televised poker tournaments such as the European Poker Tour and others made poker one of the world’s most popular games.
Poker is a skill-based game which rewards those that study the game. Successful poker players combine a keen sense of the math behind the game with the ability to read their opponents.
Professional players spend almost as much time studying the game as they do playing. The key skills possessed by winning poker players are very similar to those employed by smart sports bettors.
Whether you are placing a bet on your favorite team or anteing up for a game of poker, there is almost always a strategic edge to be found in the world of gambling. Smart players understand where to uncover even the smallest of edges, and taking full advantage of these angles and making the smartest bets possible is what separates the amateurs from the professionals in the world of gambling.