There’s plenty of free time at home while being quarantined in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus. Why not put that time to good use and practice playing casino games? Practicing your gambling skills could help make you a better gambler with a better chance of walking away from a table as a winner.
Many casino games are just that – games of chance. There’s little to no skill involved with games like roulette, 3 card poker, and slot machines. However, there are a few games where skill matters. Returns from playing blackjack, video poker, live poker, and sports betting are partially determined by a player’s skill.
Introduction To Casino House Edge
There are plenty of resources that will tell you the house edge in for the casino in a certain game. Wizard of Odds is my favorite resource. What you may not realize is that the listed house edge or return to a player for a game is dependent on playing the game perfectly.
For example, the house edge on a blackjack game of 0.38% can only be achieved by playing perfect basic strategy on every hand. Every mistake increases the house edge for the casino. Multiple basic strategy errors by the player will increase the house edge for the casino. In turn, the higher house edge makes the game more difficult to beat.
This might not make much of a difference playing the low edge $5 blackjack game at the El Cortez but it adds up. Players will see a difference over time and when the stakes ($10 or $15) and the house edge (6:5 blackjack) are both higher.
Playing with a perfect basic strategy should allow your bankroll to last longer. The more time your money is in play, the better the chances of hitting a hot streak and walking away as a winner. The house edge for casino games is over a lifetime so playing better might not prove beneficial in the short term. However, over the long term playing better should bring better returns.
Now is as good a time to practice casino games while you’re home. There should certainly be some free time while watching TV or listening to music. I recently practiced playing new video poker games while watching Tiger King on Netflix. That show didn’t need 100% of my attention. While I’m almost a perfect Jacks or Better player, I’m pretty bad at Dueces Wild and would like to be better. I’m getting there.
Practicing Video Poker & Blackjack
I grew up hearing the term “practice makes perfect” pretty often. It wasn’t until I was a teenager coaching little league baseball when I heard a more accurate twist on this phrase. One of the more experienced coaches would always say “Perfect practice makes perfect.”
The logic behind this is that if someone practices how to do something incorrectly, they’ll always use the wrong technique. That’s been true for me in many parts of life. The same can be said in the casino too. Likewise, practicing the correct way should mean you’ll always use the correct technique.
Practicing Video Poker and Blackjack
Perfect practice in video poker and blackjack strategy is important in reducing the house edge for the casino. Every single error adds up. This is why playing these games online without indicators for errors isn’t enough.
There are a variety of websites and apps that offer video poker training and blackjack training. These apps will notify you when an incorrect play is made. I don’t practice blackjack very often because I don’t play it frequently. There’s always a new iPhone/iPad app available so I change a couple of times each year.
I play a lot of video poker in casinos and bars so this training has been more important to me. I’ve been using the WinPoker app for years. There are different free training games available but I don’t think I’ve spent a better $10 on an app. This app has paid for itself at least 1,000 times over.
Improving Poker and Preparing for Sports Betting
Mastering poker isn’t a new thing. There are plenty of books and websites on how to play poker. I won’t share any tips since I don’t play the game. I’d rather not pass on information for a topic I’m not familiar with.
A professional sports bettor I follow on twitter reminded me that much of the preparation for betting on sports is done before the season. While the downtime can be used for practicing video poker and blackjack, it can also be used to prepare notes for the upcoming football, golf, and international hockey seasons that should be getting underway before the year is over. We’ll all keep our fingers crossed for that.
There are lots of things we can do with the downtime spent in quarantine. These tips for practicing to make your return to Las Vegas casinos a better experience are just a few ways to make better use of the time while you have it.
Marc Meltzer covers Las Vegas, gaming and men’s lifestyle for various outlets. Check out his blog at Edge Vegas.