How to Beat the House Edge at a Casino


Beneath the gloss of flashing lights and free cocktails, casinos are built on a bedrock of mathematics engineered to slowly drain patrons of their cash. That’s why some intrepid mathematicians have spent decades trying to beat the house, using probability and game theory to exploit weaknesses in a system designed to take advantage of human psychology.

Gambling is the primary source of income for casinos, which typically charge a commission on bets and games played in their establishments. Casinos also offer a variety of incentives and bonuses to encourage gamblers and reward their loyalty. Many have frequent-flyer programs that award players with points that can be exchanged for free meals, drinks, hotel rooms, shows, or free slot play.

Regardless of their size, all casinos have some sort of game selection, from traditional table games to modern electronic slots and video poker machines. A typical casino will have several different kinds of games, including roulette, blackjack, craps, and baccarat, with the latter two usually conducted by live croupiers. Slots and video poker are popular choices with the younger generation, largely because of their ease of use.

To attract gamblers, casinos use a combination of sight, sound, and touch to appeal to the human senses. Bright lights, for instance, are used to stimulate the eye, while electronic sounds — such as the “cling clang” noise of dropping coins during payouts — are designed to titillate the ear.