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Las Vegas Overview

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Four Day Walking Tour

Sensible Gambling

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Chapter 10:
Sensible gambling

10.1: Nevada gambling: What you need to now
10.2: Slot machines & Video poker
10.3: Casino games not to play!
10.4: Blackjack ...a fighting chance at winning
10.5: Other casino table games

10.5 Other casino table games

The main table games in a casino (other than Backjack) are Craps, Roulette, Baccarat and, of course, poker. Betting on ball games, fights or horse races is carried out in the casino’s sports book operation.

Almost all casinos will teach you how to play their table games. Here is a list of Las Vegas casinos and the games and times that they offer free gaming lessons.

CRAPS is an exciting dice game played on a complicated layout ...often accompanied by yelling and screaming! Unless you are familiar with the game, leave this one to those who know how to play.

          Standard layout: craps table The basic rules: The "shooter" throws a pair of dice against the back wall of a craps table. If he rolls a seven or eleven he (and others who bet with him) are immediate winners.
The shooter (and those who bet with him) lose if he rolls a two, three or twelve (called craps.)
When any other number comes up (four, five, six, eight, nine or ten), that number becomes the "point" and the shooter keeps rolling the dice until it comes up again (and wins.) He loses if a seven comes up before rolling the "point." Each player takes a turn (clockwise rotation) at being the "shooter."

There are dozens of different bets that can be made ...some with huge house advantages. An absolute beginner should stick to Pass and Don’t Pass line bets. They pay even money. (And Pass and Don’t Pass bets have a very small house advantage, only 1.4%.)

PASS LINE BET - A shooter wins if (1.) a seven or eleven is first rolled (the "come out" roll) ...or (2.) the shooter makes his point before rolling a seven. A Pass line bet wins if the shooter wins. To bet with the shooter, you must place your bet in an area marked "Pass Line", before the new shooter "comes out."

DON’T PASS LINE BET - is just the opposite of a Pass Line bet. It is a bet against the shooter. A Don’t Pass bet wins if (1.) the shooter "craps out" ..that is, initially rolls a two or three. (A dice roll of twelve - or sometimes a two -is considered a tie or "push" and neither wins nor loses) ...or (2.) fails to make his "point." (If the roll is a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10; a 7 must come out before that point is repeated to be a winner.) To bet against the shooter, you must place your bet in an area marked "Don’t Pass." This area is generally located just inside "Pass Line" on the table layout.

ROULETTE is an extremely easy game to play. You merely place a chip on a color, number or combination of numbers. A horizontally mounted wheel is spun and if a little white ball lands on an area or number you bet on, you win. But there is more to it than that. For one thing, it has a high house advantage ...over 5%. (Better to stick with Blackjack or pass line bets at Craps.)
The American wheel has 38 different pockets on the roulette wheel that the ball may fall into: 36 numbers (18 red, 18 black) plus a green zero and double zero.

There are 11 different types of bets that you can make. 
European roulette wheel has only one green zero
Some are inside wagers on single numbers (zero, double zero and numbers 1 to 36) ...or groups of 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 numbers played simultaneously. Others are called outside wagers: Numbers 1-18 (low), 19-36 (high), even/odd numbers, red/black numbers, first/second/third dozen (that is, 1-12,13-24 and 25-35) and first/second/third columns.

The casino advantage on a USA (double zero) roulette wheel is a hefty 5.26%. That means that on every $10 bet the house makes nearly 53 cents profit. Contrary to what some would have you believe, there are no roulette playing or betting systems that work to the player’s advantage. Winning at roulette (provided it is an evenly balanced wheel) is based totally on luck, nothing else. The five number bet (0, 00, 1, 2 & 3) is the worst bet you can make and carries a whopping house advantage of 7.89%.

The European wheel (with only a single zero) has better odds for the player: 2.7%. Some Las Vegas casinos offer single zero roulette ...most often in the "high roller" rooms where minimums are usually high. (Check the Monte Carlo, Stratosphere, and Mirage.)

 Payout Table - Roulette

  A bet on one number only pays 35 to 1 
  A two-number bet pays 17 to 1   
  A three-number bet pays 11 to 1   
  A four-number bet pays 8 to 1  
  A five-number bet (0, 00, 1, 2, 3) pays 6 to 1   
  A six-number bet pays 5 to 1   
  A 1st/2nd/3rd column bet pays 2 to 1  
  A 1st/2nd/3rd dozen bet pays 2 to 1  
  An even/odd bet pays 1 to 1   
  A red/black bet pays 1 to 1   
A (low) 1-18, (high) 19-36 bet  pays 1 to 1 

The newest wrinkle in roulette is called "RAPID ROULETTE." It is played the same way as traditional Roulette (and carries the same odds) except that you play at your own individual player terminal and place your bets on a touch screen.

It is called Rapid Roulette because a casino runs the game at about one a minute which includes about 30 seconds for betting. Traditional roulette takes about twice as long. The 12-position Rapid Roulette system at Harrah's Las Vegas has more than an 80% occupancy rate. Result: twice as much profit with twice as many people playing.

Essentially, Rapid Roulette combines the traditional roulette table with the latest in electronic technology. It is seen as a way to attract players away from the slots and back to the table. Two-zero roulette is a very profitable table game for casinos ...with more than 5% house advantage.

A real roulette wheel and dealer is used but the betting process is automated. Players place their bets through their own "touch screen" terminal. A timer on the screen counts down to let you know how long you have to finish placing your bets. Each terminal is automatically updated with winning and losing results. You can "cash out" just like on the slots.

BACCARAT (pronounced Bac-cah-rah) is popular in European casinos. It is played with six or eight decks of cards shuffled together and placed in a "shoe" (similar to Blackjack.) The table has several player spots and in front of each are three betting areas, "Bank," "Player" and "Tied."
  The object of the game is to come as close to the number nine as possible. Face cards and tens, or any combination of cards totaling ten, count as nothing. The Ace is counted as one, the deuce is two, and so forth. (Suit is irrelevant in baccarat.) The bettor with the "shoe" is considered the banker. He may place his bet either with the bank or with the players. 
There are only two hands in Baccarat, Bank and Player, both are community hands. The "Bank" hand applies to all those betting on the "Bank." The "Player" hand applies to all betting on the player hand.

A person holds the "shoe" and continues to be the banker as long as the banker's hand wins. When the player's hand wins, the "shoe" is then passed on to the next player who then becomes the banker. A player does not have to become a banker and may pass the "shoe" if desired. Only two hands are dealt by the house dealer, a "banker" and a "player" hand.

Before the hands are dealt, bets are placed on whether the "banker" hand or the "player" hand will win ...or if a tie will result. Winning bets on the "banker" or "player" are paid 1:1, but a 5% commission of 5% is charged on bank bets making odds on such bets 0.95 to 1. (The commission is charged because betting on the "banker" yields a 1.06 percent advantage.)

Tie bets are paid are paid at 8:1 (sometimes 9:1 depending on the casino.) A "push" results in the event of a tie and bets on the banker or player are returned.

Both the "banker" and "player" hand are dealt according to fixed rules, resulting in final hands of either two or three cards for each. Unlike Blackjack, neither "player" nor "bank" have an option to draw a card. Drawing is all determined by rule.

The value of a hand is determined by adding the values of its individual cards. Tens and face cards are counted as zero. All other cards are counted at card value. Only the last digit of the total is used, so all baccarat hands have a value between zero and nine. (For example, an eight and nine has a value of seven.) The hand with the higher value wins. A tie results if the value is the same.

Two cards are dealt to the "player" hand and the "bank" hand. If the value is 8 or 9 (a "natural") the cards are shown and the game ends, otherwise play continues.

Rules for the "player" hand: The "player" must stand if the first two cards total 6 or more ... and draw one card if the total is 5 or less.

Rules for the "banker" hand: The "banker" must draw one card if the first two cards total 0, 1, 2 - and stand if 7 or more. Here is the confusing part: If the "banker's" two dealt cards total 3, 4, 5, or 6, then the banker draw is determined by whether the player drew, and if so, the value of the player's draw card, as shown by the table below.


 Bank  N  0  1  2  3  4  5  7  9
 6                D  D    
 5  D          D  D  D  D    
 4  D      D  D  D  D  D  D    
 3  D  D  D  D  D  D  D  D  D    D
 2  D  D  D  D  D  D  D  D  D  D  D
 1  D  D  D  D  D  D  D  D  D  D  D
 0  D  D  D  D  D  D  D  D  D  D  D

D = draw, N = no card drawn by player

Confusing? Yes. But it really is an easy game to learn and play. Why not practice at this website. The only difference between Baccarat and Mini-Baccarat is that the dealer is always the banker in the "mini" version. (The house advantage is the same with both.)

RACE & SPORTS BOOKS - Nevada is the only state in the nation that allows legal betting on all major individual sporting events. Under state law, wagers must involve the outcome of "athletic contests."  Included in this definition is automobile, dog and horse racing.
The most popular sportsbook betting is on professional baseball or hockey, ...professional and college basketball and football ...and thoroughbred or harness horse and greyhound racing. Sometimes sportsbooks will, also offer bets on professional select boxing, golf and race car events.

You can bet in a number of ways on sports events such as football. These include point spreads, total number of points scored (over or under a specified number) or the so-called "money line."
 Sportsbook at Harrahs
 There are also other types of weird betting situations called "proposition bets" where almost anything goes. 

Here is an example of how a professional football game might be listed in a Las Vegas sportsbook. (The home team is listed last.)

 Bet No. Team  Line Money
 101 Dallas  -6  -180  1:00 p.m.
 102  New York  +6  +150  40

The "spread" is a point advantage given to a weaker team in order to make even bets possible. But they are not really "even money" bets. You make a 11-10 bet when you bet against the spread. That is, you win $10 if you bet $11 (for a total of $21) if your team covers the spread. Wagers are refunded in case of a tie. The favorite team is indicated by a minus number, the underdog by a plus number.

In the example shown above, Dallas is a 6 point favorite. Betting $11 to win $10 is how the casino makes a profit. You would win if Dallas wins by 7 or more points. If the total game score exceeds 40 points, you also would win if the total is over that amount ...providing you bet the "over."

You bet on a team without a point spread when you place a "money line" bet. There are two totals given for either side on a money line bet. A negative and a plus side. In the example above, for every $18 you bet on Dallas, you win $10 if they win. For every $10 you bet on New York, you win $15 if they win. By juggling the "money line" amounts casinos can make money from games without a point spread. If there is no favorite, each team is listed at -$110. For either side you must risk $110 to win $100.

Sportsbook betting is a little more complicated than the above, but this will get you started. Best sports book in Vegas?  We think it is at Caesars Palace.  A good website to learn more about sportsbook betting is located here This website lists information about each Las Vegas hotel-casino’s sportsbook.

Factoid:  In Nevada, you can drive at 16, vote and smoke cigarettes at 18, but you must be 21 to drink alcohol or gamble.

Factoid:  On an average day in Las Vegas, gamblers spend over $65 million on games of chance and $275 million on slots.
Copyright 2005 Las Vegas 4 Newbies All Rights Reserved