# How do I gamble away my money as slowly as possible?

I had a lay-over in the Las Vegas airport yesterday and killed some time playing the slots. (I won \$80.)

It got me thinking. If you ignore forbidden strategies like card counting, all casino games favor the house in the long run. No matter how much you start with, if you keep playing and playing, eventually you’ll lose it all. Of course some games have better odds than others. Some games will let you play for hours before your exhaust your stake, while others will break you on one roll of the dice.

So my question is: What game should I play to lose my money as slowly as possible? Clearly this is heavily dependent on the odds of the game, but it’s also affected by the TIME the game takes to play. A hand of blackjack might take a minute or two to finish, but a spin of the wheel on a slot machine only takes a few seconds. It seems like all the casino games could be boiled down to a simple average-dollars-lost-per-hour figure. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that the casinos already have this information and use it to maximize their return on floor space.

Might as well piggy-back onto your question:

Is what the OP wrote above true of poker? It’s not so much the house money as it is other players’ money, correct?

I’ve never played it, but I’m told that Pai Gow Poker is a game where it’s impossible to either lose or win a lot of money.

The house takes a rake on each pot in poker cash games. So if no one ever left the table and no one rebought, eventually the house would get everyone’s money.

Blackjack with a small minimum bet, a full table of clueless, argumentative or otherwise time-wasting players, and a really slow dealer should work pretty well. If you play with optimum strategy (which isn’t tough to learn) the house advantage is about as small as in any game.

If you simply play the minimum pass-line bet at the craps table, my guess is that this may be your lowest expected dollar loss per hour. It has the benefit that a craps table is like a party while a blackjack table is like a funeral viewing.

By the way, you’ll often hear that placing “odds bets” on a craps table lowers the house advantage as a percent, but it does this by increasing the amount you bet, not by decreasing how much you’re expected to lose. If you’re wanting the lowest loss, on average, it doesn’t matter whether you put odds bets behind your pass line bet, but the odds bets will increase the variance.

Roulette. The house only has a 5.26% edge (except the 0-00-1-2-3 bet, which gives the house a 7.89% edge). If you can find a single-zero wheel, the house edge is only 2.7%.

You can get in a large number of spins before you lose all your money, though the spins go much more quickly than other games.

There are certain bets in craps where there is no house edge at all. If you avoid throwing the dice, you can stay quite some time, with many bets having a house edge of less than 2%.

Bet the absolute minimum number of lines on a penny slot machine and slow-play it.

Depending on bet limits, it’s possible for one player to take everyone’s money in a small number of hands, which would mean only a small cut for the house. But much more often the situation is as you describe: poker involves pushing the same money back and forth across the table many times, so a seemingly small rake for the house eventually adds up to a huge percentage.

Surely you’re trying to enjoy yourself whilst gambling?

Based on my experience, **low stakes poker **is the answer.

You’re playing against other players (yes, the House takes a rake from each pot, but for that they supply a professional dealer, a stylish environment and cheap drinks), there’s some social interaction and people may even watch you.

You can either play a cash game or enter a tournament with a fixed entry fee. There’s some thinking to be done, rather than just playing mindlessly.

The formula for least-expensive game per hour played is simple: Multiply the house advantage by the number of plays per hour, and multiply that by the minimum bet size available.

Odds bets in craps have a low house advantage, but you play many times per hour. And usually the minimum bets are not that low.

Blackjack has relatively few plays, a low house advantage if you play basic strategy well, and you can find low-limit tables.

For example, let’s say you play 60 hands of blackjack per hour, without card counting but playing solid basic strategy. You’re playing a six-deck shoe game, so the house advantage is maybe .7%. You can still find \$2 minimum blackjack tables. So, you will be bet a total of \$120/hr, and the house will take .7% of that, so your cost per hour is 84 cents. That’s very cheap entertainment. Of course, there’s also risk involved, so expect to lose or win in an amount 10-20 times as great. Craps plays about twice as fast, and usually the minimums are \$5, so even with roughly the same odds the game will cost you more than 4 times as much per hour to play.

You can play a game like Roulette, which has a house advantage of 5.26% - almost 10 times as large as blackjack. But in roulette you might be able to bet as little as 50 cents per spin at some tables, and you only get about 45-50 spins per hour, so even that game is relatively cheap. You’d be betting \$25/hr, and the house would keep a little over 5% of that, or \$1.25.

The difference is that playing roulette in such a way makes it very hard to win, because the house bias is so strong. In blackjack, the house edge is so small that over a short session of an hour or two you’re close to 50/50 in terms of your chance of coming out ahead.

What you really, really want to avoid are the sucker bets. Don’t bet the hardways in craps. If you’re going to play blackjack, learn basic strategy. Stay away from the proposition games like the big six wheel or the various money wheels. Never sit down at a game where you only have a vague understanding of the strategy.

If you want to play for enjoyment, just remember to bet small, bet slowly, and bet smart. You can play a little craps (pass line bets, take the odds), play a little blackjack (if you don’t know basic strategy, ask for a lookup card - a lot of casinos will let you have one). Hell, you can even put a few small bets on roulette. The objective is to have a good time and not lose your shirt - not necessarily to find the absolute best odds in the house.

Get up and walk around, try out a handful of spins at roulette. Wander over to the craps table and watch them play for a bit, then play for 10 minutes using minimum bets. Then leave, wander around some more, watch a little of the action at the high limit tables, then go play a little low-limit blackjack. Etc. The object is to play very few actual hands or spins or passes, while still enjoying yourself.

AS someone noted above, play the minimum on the penny slots will let you hold out for a long, long time. Many persons in small casinos in small towns in Nevada do this to get free Coors occasionally. Now and then someone may occasionally come by and give a free coupon for a meal or something too. Recently while waiting for my \$1.99 breakfast a cocktail waitress gave me a \$2 “comp”. I wasn’t even gambling, just hanging around. Up until about the mid 80s this sort of thing was quite common then it fell from favor for awhile. The depression has reinvigorated the “freebies”, \$2 comps etc.

There’s cheap craps in Vegas-- on Fremont Street you can find five dollar tables even at night. As CurtC above mentioned, you can last a lonnnng time playing the pass line only. And craps is the most social of casino games (and thus my favorite-- the house always wins, you might as well enjoy losing your money!).

Alas, you’ll probably also be bored out of your skull, and get ticked off every time you watch someone hit a number that you didn’t play. It’s like watching numbers you didn’t play come up in Roulette, only a lot worse because there are fewer numbers :-).

Plus, unlike poker or blackjack, you’ll have to stand the whole time (although some casinos will be nice to give you a stool to sit on at the craps table-- probably not a nice casino, however).

How about just sit and watch?

Another vote for craps as those above have described. You could obviously lose more slowly playing penny slots and just taking many minutes between each pull of the handle/push of the button, but at the craps table TIME goes by faster because it’s a social party, and the drinks come regularly.

(and I say this only because the factual part of the question seems already well handled by Sam Stone)

Pai Gow Poker is my vote. Slow play and often it is a push. Great game for getting free drinks.

SAM Good advice. I agree completely.

You can bet both the PASS and DON’T PASS lines in craps. The only house advantage is a push on a come-out roll of 12, once every 36 rolls. I’ve seen people do this to hold their spot at the table until the table gets hot. I’m not endorsing this strategy.

Of course, most people will think you’re an idiot.

I obviously have never practiced or thought about this strategy. But now that I think of it, I wonder if you’d lengthen your time at the table by putting max odds on both once the point has been established.

This. IIRC when I was in Vegas, I sat at a roulette table for a long time placing small bets on red or black, and since they are the only two colors on the wheel, your odds are 50%, but it only pays 2-1.