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Last Updated: September 18, 2018
The Wizard discusses the 10 best bets
Hi guys, this is Mike, otherwise known as the Wizard of Odds, and this video is my list of the top 10 best bets in the casino. Now, before getting into the games, let me get some housekeeping stuff out of the way.
How do I measure how good the game is?
I go by what I define as the element of risk on my website. This is the ratio of how much the player can expect to lose to the total amount of money that he bets in that game including subsequent wagers like doubling in blackjack and racing in Ultimate Texas Hold’Em.
I think this is a better measurement on the house advantage which considers the expected loss to the initial bet only, which I think mixed games like Ultimate Texas Hold’Em look worse than they really are because the player is betting so much more additional money in those races.
Which games am I even considering for this list?
Now, I admit a bias for, right here in Las Vegas, to the games that you can easily find here. I know that the game availability is different from place to place, so I apologize for that. I do try to keep my eye in also what is available nationwide.
I've done the best I can...
...but I'm considering only games that are fairly easy to find. I'm not going to include some obscure game that can only be found at The Brass Ass in Cripple Creek, Colorado, for example.
When I quote any house advantage or element of risk figures, I'm assuming very good strategy by the player. Sometimes, optimal strategy, sometimes, a very good basic one that gets you close to optimal.
So with all of my gambling videos, I highly recommend that you do your homework and learn proper strategy on how to play before you play because if you don't, it will cost you a lot of money.
...some of the games on my list here require no strategy at all other than bet selection, which is also very important. But there you go, for games of skill, I expect the player to know how to play properly.
Finally, what did I want to say?
I wanted to say that for blackjack and video poker, it's difficult to say what the element of risk is or the house advantage because the rules vary so significantly from one table to the next, one casino to the next, one state to the next.
It can vary all over the place, so, I am trying to look at games that are very good games, very good sets of rules, yet are realistically findable. Not necessarily every casino will have these rules, but in competitive environments, you can go to various sources and find out who has the best set of rules and then play them.
So with those housekeeping things out of the way, think I'm ready to get right into the list.
Number 10 - Mississippi Stud
Now, this is one of the more popular new poker variants out there. It's not so new anymore, it's been around for a while. It's a very simple game where the player is paid based on the poker value of a five-card hand. He doesn't need to beat the dealer.
He starts out by getting two cards, and he has the opportunity to raise, and then he has two more opportunities after that to raise even more. There's a pay table and the player is paid according to how much he bet and his final poker hand.
The strategy to it is not too complicated. Like all strategies, they can be found on my website. I also have these nice, little, laminated cards, one-fourth the size of a piece of paper that indicates the proper strategy there.
If you follow that strategy on my website, Mississippi Stud has a house advantage of 1.37%. I consider anything under 1.5% to be pretty competitive. There you go, number 10, Mississippi Stud.
Number 9 - Roulette
Now, I hesitated to put roulette on this list because of the way most players play it on an American double-zero wheel, the house advantage is 5.26%, which is average at best.
...if you look around and you have a large bankroll and is comfortable with $100 minimum bet, which is usually the case, you can find a wheel that has only one zero. And if you can make an even money bet and the ball lands on zero, then you only lose half. That will cut the house advantage down to a nice low 1.35%.
There you go, roulette - but only if you can find those French rules with a single zero and a half back if the ball ends on zero on even money bets. Once you do find that wheel, then only make even money bets. Don't make anything else because if the ball ends in zero, you lose everything except if you bet on a zero.
There you have it, number 9, roulette.
Number 8 - Baccarat
Here is another game that is nice and easy to play. Baccarat like betting on the flip of the coin. If you bet on the banker only, which is how you should play, you'll enjoy a nice low 1.06% house advantage.
If you must bet on the player...
...it jumps up to 1.24%. Just don't bet on the tie, the player pair, the banker pair, or any other side bet in the game. Stick to the player and the banker, preferably, the banker only. I know no one plays that way, but if you want to play properly and get that house advantage as low as possible, then bet on the banker only.
There you have it, number 8, baccarat.
Number 7 - pai gow
No, I do not mean pai gow poker; I mean pai gow played with 32 tiles that look like this. I was a little hesitant to include pai gow in the list because it's getting a little bit difficult to find especially in smaller markets.
...it's a great game. It has a house advantage of 0.08% when you're banking, and when you're not banking, it's 1.98%. If you're playing by yourself, you can bank half the time which results in an average house advantage of 1.03%, which is really quite good.
Not only that, but pai gow is a low volatility game. It's only 30 to 40 hands an hour, there's a lot of pushes. So if you're looking for a way to play without a lot of risks, pai gow is a great choice. It's also a very challenging game.
The rules a little bit involved to learn, but if you like a good challenge in the casino, I highly recommend you try it.
By the way:
Those house advantage figures were based on my basic strategy, which I have on my website, it's also on this little strategy card here which is one-fourth the size of a piece of paper which goes to show you that the strategy is not that bad.
And it can be improved upon by the way beyond the basic strategy. But the basic strategy is what I play. I think it's a good balance between simplicity and power.
There you have it, number 7, pai gow.
Number 6 - Spanish 21
This is another one I thought hard to put on the list because it's getting pretty difficult to find here in Las Vegas anymore. Nevertheless, I know it's popular in California, Washington, and Atlantic City.
So I definitely think it's a worthy game to be included because if I didn't put it, then everyone would be writing to me and saying, "Wizz, how come he didn't put Spanish 21 on the list?"Spanish 21 is a variant of blackjack. They take the 10s out of the deck, but they add in lots of rules that favor the player.
I go through all the strategy and the rules on my website. By the way, do not play blackjack basic strategy in Spanish 21, which most people do. Spanish 21 calls for a much different kind of strategy.
So if you're playing Spanish 21:
under, shall we say, the normal rules where the dealer hits the soft 17 and you cannot double after doubling, then the house advantage is 0.76%, which not bad.
But it is not too difficult...
...to find a game where you can redouble, that is, say, you got a nine double, get a two and now you have 11, and then you can double again. If you couldn't find that redoubling rule, that lowers the house advantage to 0.42%. Also, if you can find a game where they stand on the soft 17, which can be easily found in Atlantic City, that also lowers the house advantage to 0.42%. It's just a coincidence that both rules are equally as good.
Blackjack or Spanish 21?
If casinos have both, lots of times, Spanish 21 would be the better bet. So remember to play it properly. But if you have the option to play Spanish 21, definitely consider that, it's a good game. Thanks, number six, Spanish 21.
Number 5 - Blackjack
Good old blackjack! It can be found everywhere, it's highly available. With blackjack, you've got to be careful of a couple of things, that you're playing with a competitive set of rules and you're playing properly. If you do both of those things, you can cut down the house advantage to roughly around half a percent or even less.
Right now here in Las Vegas, it's not difficult to find a set of rules in the [unintelligible 00:10:10]properties where the dealer hits a soft 17, eight decks, blackjack pays three the two, which you should always insist on, and they allow surrender.
You can find those rules, the house advantage is 0.56%. A lot of the MGM Mirage Resort brands, they have the same rules but they cut the number of decks to six and they allow re-splitting of aces.
That will cut the house advantage to 0.46%. By the way, the element of risk is going to be a little bit less because of the doubling and splitting. The rules for blackjack vary all over the place.
What to avoid
The one thing you want to avoid above all else is, never play six to five blackjack. That means where a winning blackjack will pay six to five as opposed to three to two. Always insist on that full three to two.
That advice supersedes everything else that I say about blackjack. If you do play a six to five game, that will increase the house advantage by 1.35%, which throws a great bet just out the window and suddenly you're playing a mediocre game. There you have it, number five, blackjack.
Number 4 - Ultimate Texas Hold’Em
Ok, this game doesn't get nearly the respect it deserves. This is a great bet is played properly. As many of you know, Ultimate Texas Hold’Em is a game where you play against the dealer in a Texas Hold’Em based game.
It offers an opportunity to raise at some point in the game. The earlier you do choose to raise, the larger you raise bet can be. The strategy to Ultimate Texas Hold’Em, the optimal strategy is super complicated!
...I have a very simple strategy on my website which also can be put on a strategy card one-fourth the size of a piece of paper like that one there. It can be found on my website as well. The element of risk in Utimate Texas Hold’Em is nice, low, 0.53%, so about half of a percent. That is a great bet but you got to play it properly, which few players do.
I have played a lot of Ultimate Texas Hold’Em and most players just butcher the strategy. Be sure to go to my website and learn the proper strategy before you play.
There you have it, number 4, Ultimate Texas Hold’Em.
Number 3 - Sports Betting
I'm not saying all sports bets are great bets. If you stick to just betting against the spread or the total, the average house advantage is 4.5% but you can do much better than that by two simple words: home, underdogs. If you stick to only betting those, then you can cut the house advantage way, way down.
I am reluctant to put a specific number on it, but I'm going to conservatively say 0.5%. When I look at my NFL data, if you bet on home underdogs only against the spread, you would have only a 0.3% house advantage. In Major League Baseball, you would actually have a player advantage of 0.55%.
I'm not saying...
...you can against the ten cent line by the way. I'm not saying that you can enjoy a half a percent player advantage in baseball by only betting home underdogs because there is a little bit of small sample size error there.
Nevertheless, the data bears this out in every single sport, home underdogs. Not only that, but sports betting is obviously also a really slow way to lose your money. You can make one bet and enjoy the game for three hours.
That's much better than slot machines where you get to enjoy the bet for three seconds. There you have it, number three, an easy number three, sports betting at conservatively a half a percent house advantage.
Number 2 - Video Poker
This was a really difficult game to put a house advantage figure on because games vary so much from machine to machine and casino to casino. For this list, I'm considering what is the best, shall we say findable games? I'm not saying that every casino has the very best games, and if they do, they may be at higher minimums. Nevertheless, skilled video poker players will be able to hunt down and find these games.
A gamer skill
If you sit down at video poker and have no idea what you are doing, you are going to get killed over the long-run. This is definitely a game where strategy is important. The strategy can be a little bit complicated, but I have a ton of stuff on my website about video poker strategy. Don't hesitate to learn up about it. A nice, simple strategy can also fit on something the size of one-quarter of a sheet of paper too.
What are the best games in video poker?
Here's what they are. 9/6 jacks are better and that means that a full house pays nine and a flush pays six. That has a house advantage of 0.46%. 16/10 Deuces Wild, also sometimes called Not so Ugly Ducks, that has a house advantage of 0.27%. 8/5 Bonus Poker, that comes in at 0.83% and 9/6 Double Double Bonus, that comes in at 1.02%.
Good old 9/6 jacks are better
The game is definitely findable here in Las Vegas. Some casinos even have it at a reasonable bet amount. By the way, all those games can be found at the South Point. These are definitely findable games. They might be a little bit difficult to find depending upon the casino that you are in. If you want a great bet, video poker.
You can't beat it
For so many players, that is the only thing that they play. Especially if you're a slot machine player. That is one of the worst bets, and if you play real slots, I highly recommend that you convert to video poker. It requires work but that work will definitely pay off in the end. There you have it, number two, video poker.
It's time for number one...
...here it comes! For those of you under the age of 50, that's how they announce the number one song on The Dr. Demento Show, and somehow I still can't get that out of my head.
Anyway, number one, the best game in the casino, most of the time is going to be craps. That means that in most casinos, the best odds that you are going to find are on the game of craps. The number am going to put on that is a house edge of 0.37%.
...is going to realize those great odds. In fact, very few players are because most players are suckers who make all the sucker bets in the middle of the table that you should absolutely stay away from.
The way you get to 0.3% is by betting on only the pass and the come bets and back them with the full odds, and I'm assuming 3, 4, 5-time odds. You can actually get even better with that if you bet the don't pass or don't come and then lay the maximum odds, laying at 3, 4, 5.
You can cut that house advantage down to 0.28%. Those are fantastic odds, and if you're not familiar with craps, you are not going to know what I'm talking about with those bets, but it's all explained on my website.
The odds bet has zero house advantage. Exactly zero, it pays statistically fair odds, but you can't bet that by itself. You have to bet it after you make a pass, don't pass, come or don't come bet. When you mix everything together, you get those great odds.
No matter what you do
Stay away from everything in the middle of the table. The hard ways, the yo, or the hot bets, the any 7, all that stuff, sucker bets.
I'm not saying that in every casino, craps is the best bet. Sometimes it's blackjack, sometimes it's video poker, might be Spanish 21, might be even Ultimate Texas Hold’Em, might even be something else. Most of the time, it's craps.
The great thing about craps is that it's really easy to get those great odds. It's all about bet selection. After that, there's no strategy to it. Craps offers a tremendous value if played properly.
There you have it
My ten best bets in the casino. I hope you liked it. If you did, thumb me or better yet, subscribe to my channel, and I will see you in the next video. Until then, may the odds be with you.
Until next time.