How to Skyrocket Your Gambling Winnings Through Advantage Techniques

By Randy Ray
Published on December 28, 2017
Strategy Sign and Casino Dealer

Plenty of casino games give you a good chance to win, including baccarat, blackjack (basic strategy), craps, and roulette. These games have low house edges, which improves your odds of winning.

But you can’t guarantee wins on a consistent basis with baccarat or roulette. No matter how low the house edge may be, the casino still has an advantage.

The only way to truly skyrocket your gambling winnings is to play games where you can gain an edge.

Advantage play gives you an opportunity to earn long-term profits. I’m going to cover some different skill-based games and techniques that you can use to win big.

Card Counting

Card counting is by far one of the most popular advantage techniques. This practice has been featured in Hollywood movies like 21, Rain Man, and The Hangover.

Many gamblers are interested in card counting based on its Hollywood allure and promise of big winnings. But most of these same players stop short of trying because card counting is intimidating.

The reality, though, is that learning how to count cards isn’t as tough as it seems.

The process begins with assigning positive, neutral, and negative values to certain card groups. You can see how this works below:

  • Cards 2 to 6 = +1
  • Cards 7 to 9 = 0 (neutral)
  • Cards ace through 10 = – 1

The goal is to bet more money when the “running count” is in the positives, because this means the shoe has more aces and 10s, thus improving your chances of getting a natural blackjack payout.

Card counting was rampant in the 1960s and 70s, when many casinos offered single deck blackjack. However, most casinos switched to multi deck shoes in order to hinder counters.

This is why you need to base your counting efforts on a “true count,” which is the running count divided by the remaining decks. Here’s an example:

  • You estimate that there are 4 decks remaining in the shoe.
  • Your running count is +8
  • Your true count is +2 (8/4).

One more card counting step involves knowing how to spread your bets with a positive true count. You should bet the table minimum until the true count is in your favor, at which point you begin increasing your bet size.

Here’s an example on how to do this:

  • Bet spreading formula = [(true count – 1) x betting unit]
  • You’re playing at a $5 minimum bet table.
  • You create a betting unit of $25.
  • Count 0 or +1 = $5 bet.
  • Count +2 = $25 bet [(2 – 1) x 25].
  • Count +3 = $50 bet [(3 – 1) x 25].
  • Count +4 = $75 bet [(4 – 1) x 25].

The bet spread refers to how much your wager increases from the table minimum. In the example above, your bet spread is 1 to 10 when the true count is at +3, and 1 to 15 when the true count is at +4.

The unit size is merely a way to express how you’ll increase bets when the count is in your favor. The higher your unit size, the larger your bet spread will be.

Just keep in mind that you need a large bankroll in the neighborhood of $25,000 to $50,000 to safely count cards without fear.

After all, the short-term variance sometimes goes against you when your bets are higher.

The final aspect to card counting is making sure that the casino doesn’t catch you.

Contrary to popular belief, a Lawrence Fishburne type character isn’t going to break your knuckles if you get caught. But most casinos frown upon card counters and ask them to leave the property.

This makes blending in with average players part of the game. A good way to do this is by observing how players act in land-based blackjack games before you start counting.

You can even practice your persona in the mirror, like an actor would.

Another key point is to avoid having a crazy bet spread. The example I covered above should help you avoid detection in most situations.

Comp Hustling

Comp hustling involves hunting for a generous comp rate that will theoretically give you an advantage over the casino.

This advantage method also requires playing a casino game with a low house edge.

The idea is to combine the high comp rate and low house advantage so that the comps make you a long-term winner.

Jean Scott, who wrote The Frugal Gambler (1998) and More Frugal Gambling (2003), has covered some of the different ways that you can maximize your gambling comps.

The only problem is that fewer casinos offer generous rewards rates these days, because most casino resorts focus on all-around entertainment options before gambling.

This makes it harder than ever before to gain a long-term advantage through comp hustling.

Hole Carding

Hole carding involves trying to see the value of the dealer’s hole card
before it’s put face down.

This technique is popular in blackjack because you can gain a big advantage by knowing the dealer’s hole card.

Hole carding works in a hand-dealt game, as opposed to a shoe-dealt game.

You can find plenty of hand-dealt blackjack tables in Las Vegas. These normally entail a single hand-dealt deck along with 6:5 natural blackjack payouts.

The latter is normally looked down upon in the blackjack community because 3:2 payouts are better. But if you’re skilled at hole carding, you should relish single deck, 6:5 payout games because you can gain a long-term advantage.

The skill is being able to spot hole cards without being too obvious. You want to maintain a natural sitting position, rather than leaning over and making it obvious that you’re trying to see a hole card.

Daily Fantasy Sports

Daily fantasy sports (DFS) involves trying to create higher scoring lineups than your opponents.

You also deal with a limited salary cap (usually $100k), which makes finding underpriced players a must.

What makes DFS difficult is that you’re competing against human opponents. This means that winning strategy is more complex than card counting or comp hustling.

DFS doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all strategy. This is part of what makes it fun, because you can win with different strategies.

My winnings started increasing when I focused the bulk of my time on finding cheaper, undervalued players first. By dedicating the majority of my time to finding undervalued players, I have a good idea on how much I can spend on the more expensive players later.

LeGarrette Blount is one example of a player whom I found to be consistently undervalued during the 2016-17 NFL season. DFS sites kept assigning Blount a low salary, and he went on to finish the season with 1,161 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns.

Another thing that I like to do is create multiple lineups for different contests, as opposed to entering my optimal lineup into every contest. This helps me diversify my risk in case one lineup goes south.

If you’re completely lost on how to execute good DFS strategy, look at what the winners do. You’ll often see that the higher finishers find obscure, cheap players who break out for big games.

Edge Sorting (Any Card Game)

Edge sorting involves looking at card backs to find
identifying marks that reveal their value.

These defects can be caused from natural wear and tear or because of a manufacturing flaw.

This sounds like a pie in the sky advantage technique. But the truth is that there are more flawed card backs than you’d think.

These flaws are most often found around the edges of the cards, hence the term edge sorting.

The most famous example of edge sorting involves poker pro Phil Ivey and his accomplice, “Kelly” Yin Sun. This duo took Crockfords casino for $12 million and Borgata casino for $9.6 million in 2012.

Sun became a master at spotting flawed card backs in a specific Gemaco deck. She then partnered with Ivey and used this knowledge to win a fortune.

Ivey and Sun didn’t get to keep their winnings, because Crockfords withheld them, and Borgata filed a lawsuit after paying out. Both casinos were successful in court, meaning the edge sorting team didn’t technically win any money.

One key point in the cases is that Ivey and Sun made special requests, including that the cards be rotated 180 degrees.

This request was made under the assumption that the Ivey is superstitious. But the truth is that rotating the cards helped Sun better spot the edge imperfections.

Unlike card counting or hole carding, edge sorting isn’t widely used in casinos.

Political Betting

Once considered a novelty like betting on the Oscars, political wagering has become very popular these days. Online sportsbooks now commonly offer lines on major Presidential races, high profile mayor races, and major national decisions like Brexit.

Political betting is just like sports betting in that sportsbooks create lines with odds.

Your job is to pick the side of the line that offers the most value.

I find political betting to be one of the most difficult forms of gambling due to its unpredictability. You need look no farther than Brexit or Donald Trump winning the US Presidency as examples.

Of course, within these shockers lie some valuable lessons.

One is that you can’t always trust polls when gambling on politics. The primary reason why is because people will give an opinion one way, then vote with their true feelings later on.

One of the best skills you can have with political betting is to identify the populace’s underlying feelings about a particular subject or candidate.

For example, Trump isn’t politically correct and even incites anger in some people. But he did a really good job of playing on the public’s general attitude during the 2016 US Presidential Election.

And he was also better at using social media platforms to gain attention than his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Poker

Poker is both one of the hardest, yet most rewarding skill-based casino games.

On one hand, poker pros will make a fortune if they’re good enough. But the large majority of players lose money due to a skill disadvantage and the rake.

This makes the top priorities to both improve at the game and find the lowest rake possible.

The rake is the amount that a poker room takes from cash game pots and tournament fees for running the games. Average cash game rake is 5% per pot, while tournament rake is 10% on top of the entry fee.

Your chances of winning go up whenever you find cash game or tournament rake lower than the average.

A much tougher matter involves making yourself good enough to win on a consistent basis. Strategy is readily available online, and many players take advantage of this to some degree.

If you’re a poker novice, the best place to begin is with basic concepts like hand selection, table position, pot odds, implied odds, bet sizing, and continuation betting.

Nailing down the basics is only the beginning to becoming a stronger poker player.

You also need to be good at analyzing opponents, identifying what hands they play in each situation, and recognizing situations that you see again and again. The latter is helpful because you can develop a sixth sense about what opponents will do in certain situations.

The only way to understand your opponent is by constantly observing the action. Doing this helps you put together a profile on your opponents.

Some online poker rooms also allow heads up display (HUD) software that tracks statistics on other players. These programs give you statistics, such as an opponent’s pre-flop raise (PFR) percentage and flop viewed percentage.

What I’ve covered here only scratches the surface of poker strategy. How good you become depends upon the amount of work that you put into the game.

Some of the different tools that you can use to improve include Twitch, YouTube videos, and Facebook study groups. All of these methods are available online and are completely free.

I find Twitch and YouTube to be especially helpful, because you can watch professionals play online poker. This allows you to get into their mindset and see how they handle different situations.

Sports Betting

Many casual sports fans have made the mistake of thinking that they can beat sports betting based on their knowledge of the game.

But sports wagering is different from merely watching games, because you’re going against the line. And sportsbooks are very good at setting lines to draw equal action on both sides.

This means that you have to find thin value on one side or the other to be consistent winner. If you win over 52.4% of your bets, then you’ll earn long-term profits when accounting for the 10% juice that sportsbooks take from the losing side.

A good way to boost your chances of beating
sports betting is by shopping for the best lines.

Most sportsbooks are fairly similar on the lines they offer. But you can still find better prices by hunting around different online sites.

Even finding a half point on a football point spread can be the difference in winning a wager.

Another tidbit is to focus on a handful of teams in a single league. Knowing more about a particular team’s coach and players allows you to make more informed wagers.

My favorite example of this includes famed sports bettor Haralabos Voulgaris.

He studied enough NBA games that he learned the game management tendencies of coaches Eddie Jordan, Jerry Sloan, and Byron Scott. Voulgaris used this information to make a fortune.

Along with focusing on specific teams, you should also be selective with what wagers you make each day/week.

Professional sports bettors sometimes go weeks without placing a wager if they don’t find good opportunities. You also need to be selective to avoid betting just for the sake of action.

One more piece of advice is to avoid exotic bets like parlays and teasers.

These are attractive because they give you a chance to make different types of bets. However, point spreads, moneylines, and over/under bets almost always offer you the best prices.

Video Poker

Video poker is the only casino game where the house willingly gives you a chance to beat them.

This sounds like a dream opportunity, because you can sit on a machine and make profits. But the problem is that few casinos offer machines with positive expected value (+EV).

You must be on a full pay Deuces Wild (100.76% payback), 10/6 Double Bonus (100.17%), or 10/7 Double Double Bonus (100.07%) machine to have a chance at +EV.

The best way to find these games is by looking at vpFREE2.com. This site offers a “Casinos” section, where you can look up what video poker games are offered at different casinos.

Based on my research, the only place to find +EV video poker is in Nevada casinos. Furthermore, the largest concentration of games that pay over 100% are found in Las Vegas.

This really limits your opportunities to become a semi pro or full time professional video poker player. But the bright side is that these games at least exist somewhere.

The next step to gaining an edge with video poker involves developing the perfect strategy. And the only way to do this with Deuces Wild, Double Bonus, and Double Double Bonus is by purchasing video poker training software.

A video poker trainer points out correct and incorrect strategy decisions as you play. The goal is to eventually use perfect strategy through repetition.

The reason why you need to purchase software is because free online video poker trainers don’t cover +EV machines. Here are three options that you can buy:

  • WinPoker – $34.74 (and up) at Amazon.com
  • Video Poker for Winners – $49.95 at VideoPokerForWinners.com
  • Optimum Video Poker – $54.95 at Amazon.com

You Need the Bankroll to Be an Advantage Player

Many advantage players become really skilled at a certain game, only to blow it with poor bankroll management (BRM).

The biggest key to BRM as an advantage player involves having a bankroll large enough to cover short-term downswings. But even great players suffer through bad luck, which is why they need a large enough bankroll to survive the rough times and eventually make profits again.

I’ll cover a couple of examples below along with standard bankroll requirements for professionals.

Poker Bankroll

Poker bankroll requirements vary based on if you’re playing cash games or tournaments.

A cash game player should have enough to cover 30 full buy in’s (100 big blinds per buy in) for the no limit stakes they’re playing. Here’s an example:

  • You’re playing $0.05/$0.10 no limit hold’em.
  • This makes the max buy in $10.
  • You’d need $300 (10 x 30) to be properly bankrolled for these stakes.

A tournament player should have at least 100 buy in’s for the stakes they’re playing. If you play in $10 + $1 tournaments, then you should have at least $1,100.

You might even consider raising this requirement if you play larger multi table tournaments because your variance will be even higher due to the larger field sizes.

Sports Betting Bankroll

The standard formula for sports betting is to only risk 1% to 2% of your bankroll on any single wager.

This means that if you have a bankroll worth $10,000, then you should never put more than $100 or $200 into one bet.

Conclusion

Along with all of the strategy we’ve discussed here, another big factor behind advantage gambling is being able to handle downswings.

No matter how good you are, there’ll be times where luck just isn’t on your side. It’s up to you to keep your cool and continue making the right decisions.

Of course, you need to develop the necessary skills in a specific game before you even need to worry about this.

I’ve covered enough to get you started with various advantage techniques.

And if you follow one or more of these paths and put the work in, then you have a strong shot at becoming a professional gambler.

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