Are you a lucky person?
Is luck a matter of reality or perception? Is it woven into your character from birth or a product of your attitude about life? Does being optimistic make you more lucky? Or is it some kind of jinx?
Even if you’re sure you are a lucky person, what kind of luck do you have?
Are you lucky like my mother-in-law, who is addicted to slot machines and always hits several jackpots when she goes to the casino? Please don’t ask her how much money she loses in order to get those jackpots. She only keeps track of her winnings (in amounts of hundreds and thousands of dollars) and never subtracts the amount of money gambled away (a few dollars at a time, over and over, for hours on end).
Whether luck is real or imagined, a product of karma or of one’s attitude, or merely an illusion that we all buy into from time to time, the simple fact of the matter is that every casino on the face of the planet has figured out how to do its own Dirty Harry impersonation. The buildings themselves ask us, “Do you feel lucky, punk?” And each time we walk inside, we are answering in the affirmative, “Yes, Mr. Casino, I do in fact feel lucky today!”
Without the notion of luck, there would be no reason to go inside. No matter how limited our math skills may be, we all know that the casinos are playing with an advantage–that all the games are rigged. We know to think of every betting table as slanted so that money slowly rolls down into the casino pit.
We know that for the casino to stay in business, the players who step inside must collectively lose.
And yet it is possible for each of us individually to win!
If people never won, then no one would go to the casino.
So even though we know that the house always wins in the end and that players (in the aggregate) always eventually lose, we play because we also know it’s possible for a few players to get lucky, beat the odds, and leave the casino with a profit. Even when we don’t manage to become one of those lucky “oddsbeaters,” we can still be seduced by the thrill of just testing our luck. If you want to try to learn more, then have a look at positive expectation gambling for information about where to play and get the best odds and bonuses.
It can certainly be fun to walk into (or log on to) a casino and wander from table to table in the hope of getting lucky. The nature of statistics is such that if enough people go into a casino with precisely that attitude, a few will come out feeling as if luck simply happened to them. They had no plan, no understanding of what was going on around them, but they put their chips down and simply watched those chips multiply before their eyes.
Such folks are entitled to think of themselves as lucky–until they return to the casino to test their luck again.
They won’t have to make many trips before their luck runs out, for a casino is arguably the ideal location for anyone who wants to measure luck with mathematical precision. Bad bets will pay off from time to time, just as sound bets will often lose. The only sure winner is the casino, and thoughtful players eventually come to realize that there is a kind of “luck” on the casino’s side–the luck of large numbers and of playing the odds on every single spin of the roulette wheel, every single roll of the dice at the craps table, every single pull of a slot machine lever, and every single card dealt in a game of blackjack.
Lucky gamblers are the ones who have learned to imitate the house–to make the smart play every time because even if the smart play isn’t always the right play in a particular instance, it is the right play for the long term. The house relies on certain basic statistical principles to ensure that most players will eventually lose, but players can use those same basic principles to stretch their gambling dollars further, take a more sophisticated pleasure in gambling, and maximize their chances of walking out of the casino as one of the lucky winners.
This website does not purport to give readers a foolproof system for beating a casino. If we knew of any such system, we would be too busy flying back and forth between Las Vegas and Monte Carlo to maintain a website on gambling. Furthermore, we cannot help suspecting that if the many “systems” being peddled by so-called experts actually worked, the experts in question would spend less time shilling their books and more time spending the oodles and oodles of cash that they must have stockpiled by now!
The question at the beginning of this introduction (“Are you a lucky person?”) was partly an oversimplification and partly a red herring. The real question is, “Are you ready to invest a few minutes in learning the principles that will help you to make your own luck the next time you visit a casino?”
If so, read on. We’ll begin by focusing on the five most popular offerings of casinos throughout the world: blackjack, slot machines, video poker, craps, and roulette.