Gambling

Gambling is risking something of value on the outcome of an event in order to win additional somethings of value. The valuable is usually money, but can also be property, gems, children, beer, or in the case of blues musicians, their souls.

Just The Facts

  1. Gambling has been a part of human social interaction since prehistoric times, as evidenced by various episodes of The Flintstones.
  2. The Catholic and Judaic faiths have a long tradition of tolerating and even supporting gambling, even though they like to pretend that they don't.
  3. This page will help you understand some of the games offered in casinos and make you a smarter gambler, so you'll know why you are pissed off at the drunk asshole sitting next to you who is making retarded decisions and still winning every hand.

Cracked on Gambling

Gambling (or gaming, as it is called by insecure idiots), is a fun and easy way to make lots of money in a short amount of time. Majestic, beautiful casinos have been quickly built in fast-growing cities thanks to donations made by millions of generous gamblers. Gambling exists in many variations, but this page will concentrate on casinos and the more popular games they offer. Why? First, there is a limited amount of space I can use. Second, I'm lazy. Third, pretty girls don't attend cock fights. Make up your own joke there. Like I said, I'm lazy.Don't be a rectangle, Daddy-O.

A NOTE ABOUT ODDS AND HOUSE EDGES: The house edge is the advantage the casino has in a particular game. For example, a slot machine that advertises "98% Payback" means that, on average over a long period of time, for every dollar you gamble, you will win 98 cents. Obviously, you are looking for higher numbers, including the very rare opportunities that actually break the 100% payback barrier. All of the extravagances offered at casinos were built on the whims of people who "play hunches" and "had a feeling". It may work in the short term, but over time you will lose. Your gambling experience will improve dramatically just by understanding which games are good and how to play them. You don't have to memorize anything or be like Rain Man. An old gambling caveat is that players are divided into two groups: squares and sharps. Guess which one you should be.


BACCARAT

This is the game that Mr. Bond is playing to the right, so you know it has to be cool. Chris Tucker also tried to play it in Rush Hour 3 and he completely failed, because Chris Tucker is the polar opposite of James Bond. Baccarat is played up by the casinos to be a highly technical game, and usually you find it in the high-limit room, which is full of the kind of people who stare holes through you when you wander straight in there after spending an hour sunning your buffet-fed gut by the hotel pool. In reality, in the variation offered in a huge majority of North American casinos (a game called Punto Banco), you don't have to do anything besides bet on yourself or the dealer (the tie bet is available, but only Chris Tuckers take the tie bet). Then you sit back and the dealer plays out a bunch of cards and figures out who won. The rules are somewhat contrived, and there's really no reason to even understand what is going on. It's just an extravagant coin flip, and at odds of about 98.6% (player bet) to 98.8% (banker bet), it's actually one of the better games in the casino.

There are other versions, called Chemin de Fer (technically the version Bond is playing in the picture) and Banque, but they are uncommon, and involve decisions on third cards, a multitude of house rules, and something that looks like a pizza paddle designed by BALCO. Also, these versions tend to attract people prone to having large henchmen and world domination ambitions, so it's probably best to avoid them.

BIG SIX WHEEL

The Big Six Wheel is also known as "Wheel of Fortune" in some casinos, but it doesn't change the fact that this game is one big clacking spin of terrible. The game features spaces on a table with various dollar denominations that correspond to spots on the wheel, that...

Actually, the hell with it. It's not even worth the effort. The game is almost always near the front entrance, and the smart houses usually man the game with an attracive girl with large frontal counterweights (to assist her with the wheel spinning). This is a strong indication that the casino is highly encouraging you to play the game. The "best" bet in the game is the dollar bet, which carries a 11.1% house edge. Yes, that means the best play in Big Six is a terrible odds play that nets you even money in winnings. Other bets in the game range from 18.5% to 22%. Your best play in regards to Big Six is to ignore the betting. Instead, you can try to pickup the bored chick working the game. You more than likely won't win at that either, but it won't cost you any money that would be better utilized on pretty much anything else in the casino.

BLACKJACK

Also known as "21", this is the most popular casino card game. As such, it tends to attract a wide variety of knuckle-dragging morons from every nationality and all three genders. Do not let the presence of those people deter you from playing this game. The litany of rules variations vary the odds tremendously, but playing by somewhat standard rules gives the house a small 3% to 4% edge, which makes it one of the best games in the whole casino. I have provided a link at the bottom to help explain the intricacies of blackjack strategy, but in the meantime, here are helpful do's and don't do's when you're doing Blackdo. Since this is Cracked, I'll arrange them in a helpful list form:

What you are looking for in a game of Blackjack:

Games that play with 1 or 2 decks that pay 3:2 (or, if you're really lucky, 2:1) for natural blackjacks

Games where the cards are shuffled by the dealer

Tables near the pool so you can awkwardly stare at people prettier than you while the dealer shuffles

Games that pay you back half your bet on a surrender.

Games that allow you to double down at any time.

What to avoid in a game of Blackjack:

Any game that pays less than 3:2 for a natural blackjack. Seriously, just run like hell away from these games.

Games that are continuously shuffled, so there is no break in the action.

Multiple-deck games. If there is no other option, try to find the one with the fewest decks in play.

Any goofy variation of Blackjack, like "Face-Up" or "No-Bust" or "Argentinean Cattle Prod". These games have crummy odds. Always.

An asshole dealer. Most casino game dealers are friendly and helpful, so don't play with the few who are unsmiling dicks.

Drunkenness. There's a really good reason why casinos give game players free booze.

CRAPS

I have to admit that I never play craps. It's not because it's complicated and daunting to play initially. No, I don't play craps because it used to be a proper English dice game called Hazard which was ruined after changes made by French gamblers. After some bad experiences with runny cheese and bounding lovestruck skunks, I don't trust anything that has been tampered with by the French.

For those of you who still inexplicably have an interest in craps, there are some really good odds to be had in the game (and in the case of the Pass/Don't Pass and the Come/Don't Come bets, some of the best odds in the entire casino, each around a 1.4% house edge). The danger of craps is that there are some completely terrible bets available as well. The "Any 7" bet has a wallet-crushing house advantage of 16.9%. Put another way, if you made a series of bets on the "Any 7" spot that equaled $1000 and walked away with $850 (down $150), you would be doing better than average. As a general rule, avoid the bets in the middle of the table, and if someone suggests you should put money on them, punch them square in the balls. Yes, especially if they look like a girl. You are in a casino, after all. For those of you looking for more specifics on how to play the game, look in the links below (or, even better, learn it for free live at a casino that offers the game). I would type them out here, but I am on a self-imposed word limit regarding craps. Stupid French.

KENO

You are walking through the casino, looking for a lucky slot machine, or the poker room, or maybe the buffet, when you spot a strange sight out of the corner of your eye: Dozens of old people, many of whom could possibly be dead, sitting in well-worn chairs while staring at a board of numbers lighting up. They are holding crayons and small pads of paper in their shriveled hands, cursing loudly at a ball hopper and the unfortunate casino employee who drew the short straw on this day. It looks like you have located the Keno room.

Keno is like playing the lottery, except the payoffs are lower and the odds are worse. In fact, in terms of house odds, Keno is the worst game in the entire building, normally offering up an insane house edge of 25% or worse. The only factor that helps to alleviate that horrible advantage is that the game moves rather slowly, which is why it attracts mostly older people. So, in summary, Keno is slow, not much fun to play, hard to win at, and generally played by crotchety ancients that overpower the game room with their various odors and foul language. If you don't mind all of that, by all means, go play some Keno.

LET IT RIDE

If you are looking for a game that combines colon-clenching excitement with long stretches of futility that can send you into a coma induced by the pain caused by you pulling your own hair out, then Let it Ride is the game for you. Let it Ride is a five card poker game where you receive three cards, and then two more are revealed one at a time. You initially have three identical bets on the table, two of which can be removed from the table if the cards don't go your way...and they won't go your way often. This game is the closest thing to a live-action slot machine in the casino, because you can conceivably lose ten, fifteen, twenty, or more hands in a row before hitting a single flush and realizing you have more money than you started with. Here is a demonstration of Let it Ride in action, starring me as the player and Scarlett Johansson as the dealer. She is wearing a low-cut red dress that clings to every curve, and a pair of high-heeled shoes that accentuate her...shit, what was I talking about?

Oh, right:

"Go ahead and look at your three cards, sir."

"Uh...what? Oh, yeah. Sorry, I was just looking at your pearl necklace."

"But I'm not wearing a necklace."

" I guess I was just imagining you in one. I'll take my first bet back, please."

"The next card is a three of clubs. Would you like to stay in our pull out?"

"Uh...can I pull out with the option to go back in?"

"No. The last card is a five of diamonds. You lose again."

"Well, I'm broke. Whaddya say that after your shift..."

"No."

ROULETTE

Roulette is the game where the outcome is determined by where a tiny ball falls on a numbered wheel (unless you are in California, which allows roulette but prohibits the outcome to be determined by the wheel and ball alone...it's as stupid as it sounds). Roulette games generally fall into two categories: Cool and Fun European Rules, and Greedy and Retarded American Rules. The main differences between the two is that American rules games include an extra number (the infernal "00", or double zero), and the European game offers some form of a rule called "en prison", which allows losing even-money bets to be regained on the next spin if the wheel hits the single zero. It is possible to find a European-rules game in the United States, but in almost every case it is in the high-roller room. Since you are on a comedy website looking for gambling advice, I will make the safe assumption that you don't belong in the high-roller area.

Even with the extra capitalist spot, Roulette is not a bad game in terms of odds. Every bet on the table plays at a 5.26% house advantage except for the 5-way bet that includes the two zero spots and the 1,2,3 line. That bet jumps the house edge to almost 8%, so just ignore it. Roulette also runs a bit slower than the card games, so it's a good game for people looking for value based on the time invested in the game. Because the odds are the same across the board and the careful controls in place on the wheel to ensure its randomness, there is no real strategy to beating Roulette. Anyone who tells you they have a system to beat the game is an idiot, and you should treat them as such, with the pointing and laughing and tugging down of trousers. This is the game to play if you hate remembering numbers and odds, and prefer to bet on whims and hunches. I'm not saying it's a great game, but if you gamble that way, it's the best chance you have to actually win something.

SLOT MACHINES

A look into any casino will immediately indicate that the slot machine is the backbone of the gambling industry, and an overwhelming amount of floor space is dedicated to them. This should be a flashing high-pitched alarm to anyone indicating that you shouldn't play the slots, but we all do it. The casinos know that we are idiots, and noisy machines that promise huge payoffs with zero effort are an unavoidable siren's call to anyone who gambles. Still, there are strategies that will help you not lose your money quite as fast:

1. Always play the amount needed to win the machine jackpot, which is usually the maximum.

2. Avoid the "nickel slots". They have terrible odds, usually ranging in a house edge of around 10% down to a breathtaking 30%.

3. The fastest way to get a free drink in the casino is to find the "high-limit" slots area and sit down in front of one of the machines. You don't even have to put any money in, just sit down and talk on your cell phone, stare at the pretty colors, or whatever. Cocktail waitresses tend to watch this section closer than the rest of the floor, so you should have your booze in no time.

4. Slot machines depend upon people playing for long stretches of time, because every additional spin favors the house. If you want to win tangible amounts of money on a slot machine, you need to minimize the amount of times you spin. In other words, if you are willing to lose $100 playing slots, you are much better off finding a $1 or $5 machine and going for broke than you would be sitting down at a quarter machine getting slowly bled dry. As an added bonus, some golddigger may wander by and think you are something more than you really are after watching you play that way. Just be sure to hide that Motel 6 room key while you build your web of lies.

5. Above everything else, the key to winning at slots is to know when to cash out. Personally, my favorite system is to set "cash-out points". Let's say I put in $100, and I intend to cash out if I make it up to $150. If I barely slip by that goal, I will cash out immediately. However, if the machine hits for something big, I adjust the cash-out point. For example, I hit a nice win and now the machine is showing $360. I could set the point up to $300, and start playing with the extra $60 of "house money". Whatever you do, the important concept is to have a plan and stick to it.

POKER

Poker used to be game played by loners, social outcasts, and miscreants until an inexplicable boom in the game's popularity was ignited by cable television channels desperate to fill their programming hours with something other than Hogan's Heroes reruns and WNBA basketball. Poker is now popular with housewives and children and all sorts of people who probably have no concept of what a vicious and ruthless game it is. Countless numbers of people have beaten their equally inept buddies at home poker games, swelled with pride, then promptly had their asses handed to them at a casino-run poker tournament.

You may think I am trying to discourage you from playing poker (in any of its forms), but that could not be further from the truth. If you really have no idea what you are doing, I highly encourage you to play, and I would love it if you joined me at my table. Don't study the game. Don't read the many fine guides available to you, like Doyle Brunson's Super System or David Sklansky's The Theory of Poker. Don't understand the odds and nuances of the game. Just play. Please.

Gambling on Cracked

Bill O'Reilly Teaches You How to Play Poker (by Regicides Anonymous): Bill O'Reilly gives out questionable advice about Texas Hold 'Em, including why you should check-raise Jews and why you shouldn't bluff against retards.

7 Simple Steps To a Terifying Night in Vegas (by Anthony Layser): Former Cracked.com writer and current deputy managing editor of Asylum.com shares seven tips to help you avoid potential pitfalls while visiting the greatest gambling city on Earth: Tunica Resorts, Mississippi.

Do You Have Something You Would Like To Share?

There are thousands of sites on the Web dedicated to gambling, some of which are probably interesting and useful (unlike this topic page). If you have a link or anything gambling related that you feel is worthy of inclusion on this page, please click on my name under the "Staff" heading on this page. Once you are on my profile page, click on the "Send a Message" button and let me know what you have. If it's good, I'll add it in here.

Please do not send the links to David Wong or any other administrators or moderators. They get enough mail as it is from people whining about the various contests on Cracked or why their brilliant post got deleted out of the forum.