Do you think Anyone can make a living gabling in casinos?

Every other show on the Travel Channel features Vegas, and some clown on each episode saying he makes a living there (“not too much, because they can lock you out when you become known” - yeah right).

Seems the only casino games that even have possibilities to win are those where you can beat the house, and that’ only multi-deck blackjack if you count cards, and poker (where the house doesn’t lose, just the other players).

The first will get you spotted right away, and as for poker, to win you have to be able to lie with a straight face, so why believe those guys.

So, I’d vote no. Am I missing something?

My bet would be no as well.I did win 7k last year on the slots but this year I’m in the hole.Lady luck was with me on a cuise last week,seems I couldn’t lose but however I did.According to books the best slot is the video slots.The best table game is Let it Ride .It’s all luck.either you have it or you don’t.The trick is to see the table or game gets cold LEAVE!!Pretty expensive lesson but I think I’ve learned

The odds will be against you so you obviously can’t unless you’re cheating. In that case you’d probably get caught. If you’re making a lot of money consistently you’re going to get probed. So no.

In order of game:

Slots: No

Roulette: Possible, but highly unlikely.

Baccarat: Not enough people play it, and you need a lot of money to start.

Poker: Yes, it is possible, but still difficult. Many professional poker players do tournement play instead.

Blackjack: Possible.

Sports betting: If you’re good enough at it to make money, save it instead and start making lines.

I don’t recall any casinos that really feature gables, so I doubt there’s much of a career in building more casino gables…

Professional card counters with large bankrolls can actually gain a small statistical advantage when playing blackjack, which is why casinos are so quick to bar anyone that they suspect of counting. Video poker also has over 100% return on certain games when they are played perfectly. Yes, people do make a living at gambling, but they are experts who have committed literally thousands of hours into learning the craft of their chosen game. From what I have read on the subject, most professional gamblers see it as a job, and a somewhat dull one at that, without the excitement that an occasional gambler feels when they hit a big score. The following link has much useful information for anyone thinking of learning how to properly play and bet the game of blackjack.

Yes, they can. Bringing Down the House is a great book about how. Basically, they played in teams. 3 or 4 people would sit at a 4 different fairly high stakes blackjack tables, betting the minimum, and counting cards. When the count was HIGHLY in the player’s favor, they’d use various non-verbal, non-obvious signals to “call in” the “big player” who would then bet the limit until the count turned away from the player.

Now, I don’t know how accurate the money totals were, but they claimed a 30% profit per year. They played for about 3 or 4 years before the casinos caught on and started to refuse to let them play. It certainly seems to me that their system could work, knowing what I do about the odds of blackjack and card counting.

Do a google search on “Ken Uston.” He was fascinating, interesting, and an extraordinarily skilled blackjack player. His books are well-written and fun to read. He, as a leader of several blackjack teams, made millions playing, before tuning up in a shallow grave in the desert, IIRC.

Even without counting, playing PERFECT basic strategy makes the player’s odds even with the house’s odds.


I was a dealer at a casino before going to graduate school. I dealt craps, roulette, and blackjack. I was a first-rate dealer. I’m not at all saying this to brag, but only to indicate that I know what I’m talking about. Quite frankly, I’m far more often embarrassed about my tenure as a dealer than I am proud of it.

You can win money playing poker, but that’s only because you’re playing other humans, and not the laws of mathematics.

On every table-game, however, there is a built-in mathematical advantage for the house. For example, in roulette, the odds of your number coming up are 1-in-38. However, the payout is only 1-in-36. In other words, the actual odds include the “0” and “00,” while the payout-odds do not. That’s a 5.26% advantage for the house on every spin. Another way of thinking about it is to think of what would happen if you covered every number with a chip: you would lose two chips on every spin, since you would win 35 chips but you would lose 37. You are playing the laws of mathematics, and you will not winÑnot in the long run, anyway. There is no way to beat the odds; there is no “method” for winning. The only winning move is not to play. Anybody who tells you anything different is a fool.

Concerning blackjack: Most casinos now employ six decks in blackjack. Not only are you not able to count cards if six decks are used, but you will be escorted from the casino even if they think you’re trying to count cards. Give it up.

The games with the biggest house-advantages are the money wheel and slot-machines. These games also tend to attract the least intelligent gamblers. That’s not surprising.

Casino-gambling is like the lottery: it’s a tax on greedy people who are bad at math. The only other human inventions I can think of that are as stupid as casinos are religion and astrology, and all three have quite a few things in common, most notably, suspension of reality.

However, casinos are completely trustworthy. They have no reason to be dishonest, and every reason to be honest: they have the laws of mathematics and human greed working for them, and dishonesty can only hurt them. That casinos exist in the first place should tell you everything you need to know about them.

My advice: get a real job.

erm, what’s that? :confused:

Of course you can count six decks. In fact, it IMPROVES the player’s chance, as the count can go even more in favor of the player. However, when 6 decks are combined with an early reshuffle (say, 2 decks in, or less), THEN the counting isn’t worth it. But if they deal a decent distance into the shoe, then 6 decks isn’t a problem for anyone who knows how to count. Getting caught is, of course, but that’s a different issue.

Around Vegas a “professional gambler” is defined as a person who’s wife has a steady job.

All the “experts”,bar none, write books about their theoretical dream world which provides income.A good tournament player can make some nice scores,but his ace in the hole is backers that can replenish the bankroll when it’s on the short side,which is bound to happen now and again.Nick Dandalos the legendary "Nick the Greek"known for his big scores at various games,died broke plus unpaid markers.

As was mentioned previously,card counters have a short shelf life in their future,due to running out of places to play.Like most,they remember the good times,disremember the bad.

Every tout I’ve ever known couldn’t make it with their bankroll in horses or sports,but run ads selling their “SURE thing” this week.From these (the ads) some of them actually make enough to live after a fashion.

Not to say there aren’t some people making money but their profit very small.They make it on volume and discipline.The Kenny Rogers line is a truism-that takes years to develop,and a certain detachment from the game-and the players around you.

If a steady stream of income and lifestyle is your goal there are lots of better ways to accomplish it.If you like living on rollercoasters-go for it.

All throughout high school I played cards with a group of friends, usually at lunch, but sometimes we’d sneak in games during class when we thought we could get away with it (I think I had a total of eight decks confiscated). Within this group, there were a few people that always won, and a few that always lost.

For grad, my entire class went on a mini-cruise (about five hours long). Everyone was given $2000 in fake money for the gambling area they had set up. I played blackjack the entire time, and two of my friends and I walked away with over $50 000 each (we were in the group that “always won”). Then we were informed that the money wouldn’t be redeemable for any prizes after all, contrary to what was announced earlier, so it was a big waste of time. I really wanted the DVD player :frowning:

Anyway, my point is there’s more to cards and gambling in general than numbers, stastics and odds. If people were computers, then yeah, it would be incredibly stupid to gamble, but computers don’t have gut feelings.

Ken Uston died peacefully in bed in a rented apartment in Paris, not in a shallow grave in the desert, but I’m sure he would have appreciated your romanticized version! :slight_smile:

Oh, and not to pick on your post, but playing perfect basic strategy will not put you even with the house, but pretty close. The exact amount depends on the house rules, but it’s usually around .50% for the house. Still the best odds you’re gonna find in the casino!

As Flymaster pointed out, this simply isn’t true. Counting cards is, at its basics, keeping a running count which is a ratio of high cards to low cards. It has nothing to do with memorizing cards, so the amount of decks doesn’t matter. For a 1-level count, the running count will either go up by 1, down by 1, or remain the same, for each card revealed. There being more than one deck doesn’t effect this; you just keep the count going. For multiple decks, you DO need to convert the running count to a true count, which can be confusing. You do this by dividing the running count by the approximate number of decks (or sometimes, half-decks) remaining to be played. The reason for this is that a high running count with six decks left to play doesn’t mean as much as the same high count with two decks left to play; the ratio of high cards to low cards is just spread over too many cards, so you need to take that into account.

Casinos have poker rooms. Poker rooms have poker players. The house gets paid no matter who wins.

I regularly don’t lose money when I play poker. There are people who regularly go home with some of my money. There are people who would regularly go home with some of their money, and so forth.

If you cut the question finely enough, it’s possible.

Of course, it’s possible to make a living as a professional boxer too, but it’s not anything you or I could do.

This: was an interesting read about how some guys from MIT beat the system.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that that was then, and these days you just wouldn’t be able to pulloff half of those tricks without getting escorted out. Still, a fun read.

And if I read this thread more carefully, I would have seen that Flymaster already posted the link to the book that this article is based on.

I’m surprised no-ones mentioned the doubling fallacy for roulette. The idea is you bet $1 on red (or black). If you lose, you bet $2. If you lose, you bet $4. Repeat until you win. At this point you will have won, say, $8 and lost $1+$2+$4=$7, so you’re $1 ahead. Repeat. The big flaw is that fairly soon you get a run of black, bet the house limit or your shirt, lose and are wiped out. If you have infinite credit, it works fine.

I also recall some guys who had a microprocessor in one of their shoes, and tracked the roullette ball’s movement round the wheel. It apparently was working for a while. Does anyone know if this is true? Or how it ended?

In summary:

anyone who brags about it almost certainly isn’t making money,

You can make something at poker if you’re good enough, not from the casino, but from other players

Counting the cards at blackjack should work, but they tend to spot you, which is very bad.

Casinos have made mistakes (IIRC when card-counting first appeared people made quite a lot of money before casinos caught on), and might again. But they’re pretty canny - it’s unlikely to be anything exploitable in a large way, and if it was, you’d have to exploit it quickly and quietly.