Good and Bad Advice about Being a Winning Casino Gambler

I have a book that is almost 40 years old about casino gambling, which I have been reading recently. It’s called The Winner’s Guide To Casino Gambling and was written by Edwin Silverstang. It’s fun to look through, even though it is a bit outdated. Since 1980, the casino industry has seen some changes.

It’s also on the right track in all other aspects. The only thing that is outdated about this book is its selection of game covers. Since then, casinos have introduced many new games. There is nothing in the book that talks about internet casinos.

The best thing about books like these is the advice on how to win at gambling. After studying the subject of casino gambling and probability over a number of decades, I have developed strong opinions about what works in a casino setting.

Below, I will be reviewing the advice contained in “A Winning Approach To Gambling”, with an eye towards what is accurate and useful, and what is inaccurate and useless. The Winner’s Guide to Casino Gambling has good, bad, and just plain awful advice. Below, I will be examining each piece of advice.

Casino Gambling is as easy to win as it is to lose

This is the first paragraph of the chapter.

When most people think about gamblers, they automatically think of losers. It’s easy to win and lose, especially in casino gaming. The casino games in this book give the house a small edge or, in the case with blackjack, give the player an advantage over their casino.

Italics in the quote above are mind. If you ask anyone who has ever played in a casino, they will tell you that it is not as easy to win and lose.

This is something that everyone knows, even novice players who don’t know the math behind the game. This statement is absurd for more sophisticated gamblers who understand the mathematics behind the games.

I am a writer. Although I am not a great writer, I value accuracy in language use. I find this kind of inefficiency offensive when it comes to writing about casino gambling. It’s amusing though.

Here’s a list of things you must do to win

The book also provides a list with the things you need to do in order to win at gambling at casinos.

  • Only place bets that have the lowest house edge
  • You can manage your money well.
  • Exercise self-control.
  • Do not play for the thrill of action, but to win.

The author states that “If you adhere to these sound principles, then you will be a winner.”

Let’s begin with the first thing: only place bets on the house with the lowest edge. You will lose all your money if you place bets with a house edge. This is how casino games work. It’s unavoidable.

It doesn’t really matter if the house edge is high or low. A game with a higher house advantage can cause you to lose more money. Even though the house edge is a good mathematical indicator, it’s only a partial picture. Volatility is also important.

Only play when you have an edge. Not the casino. This is how you “can’t help being a winner”. Even then, you may lose in the short-term. You can still win some games if you play with an edge for your house. This is how gambling works.

Although it is good to manage your money well, it will not make you a millionaire. Gambling with money that you cannot afford to lose is not a good idea. This is a simple fact. However, budgeting and staying within your budget won’t help you win. This only means that even if you do lose, it won’t ruin your life or cause financial disasters. These are important things to avoid but not the same as making sure you win.

To win at casino games, you must exercise self-control. To avoid placing negative expectations bets, you must have enough self-control. It is therefore a losing proposition to play baccarat or craps. The author recommends sticking to three games: blackjack, baccarat and craps. Only one of these games can give you an advantage.

Indifferent advice is to play for the win and not the thrill of the action. When the author suggests that you play games where there is an advantage, it’s difficult to not take it seriously. Let’s discuss how the house has an edge in casino games.

Also Read: How to Start a Charity Casino and Poker Party Business

How Casino Games Give the Casino an Advantage

Every casino game has a mathematical advantage that favors them. This advantage is achieved by the casino paying lower odds to win bets than their actual odds.

Probability refers to the likelihood of something happening. Probability is a number between zero and one that indicates the likelihood of an event happening. It can be expressed in many ways.

  • As a fraction
  • As a decimal
  • As a percentage
  • So are the odds

A 1 probability event will always occur, while a 0 probability event will never occur. The probability that an event will occur is the sum of the possible outcomes divided by the total number of events.

Let’s take an example:

You flip a coin. You want to find out the chance of it landing on heads. This is only one possible outcome. This situation could lead to two possible outcomes. You could either get heads or tails.

The probability of getting your head is 1 divided by 2. This can be expressed the following:

  • 1/2 (a fraction)
  • 0.5 (as a decimal)
  • 50% (as an amount)
  • 1 to 1 (as odds).

Probability is expressed in odds format. This means that you can compare the probability of an event happening with the likelihood of it happening. Even odds are 1 to 1. However, odds can also be used to describe the payoffs for betting. It is the ratio of how much money you will win to how much you lose.

A break-even proposition is one that pays out at 1 to 1. If the odds of winning are long enough, the person who bets on heads will win more often than the one who bets on tails. If you increase the payoff to 3 to 2, then one side has the advantage. The winning side will win 3 units for every win, while the losing side will only win 2 units. Casino games have uneven payouts.

A sample of the House Edge in Craps

Craps bets can be used to show how the house edge works. Let’s look at the 8-point bet in craps. This bet is that the dice will land on 4, 4 or 5, giving you an 8 total, before the shooter rolls 7. Only 1 of 36 ways you can get a hard 8 result is possible. There are 6 ways to get a total of 7, however. Your odds of winning the hard 8 bet are 10 to 1. However, the payout for this bet is only 9 to 1. You get $9 for every dollar that you wager. You can see the edge that the house has.

This advantage is a percentage of your wager that you lose on each spin. The casinos and savvy gamblers like yourself measure it. It’s also easy to calculate. Let’s say you wager $100 per roll. Then, you assume a statistically perfect sample. This means that you have 10 losses of $100 and one win of $900. This is a net loss for $100.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you will be a long-term winner. The Law of Large Numbers states that the more you play and the more you have sessions, the greater your chances of seeing long-term results. The best way to double your casino cash is to place a large bet on something close to even money, such as a roulette bet on black. If you win, you can walk away forever.

If you want to win over time, you must find a game that gives you an edge. You have the opportunity to do this with games like video poker and blackjack. You can also have fun with other poker players. Craps and Baccarat, however, don’t offer you a mathematical advantage over the casino.

There are three steps to make money at blackjack

Playing Blackjack in Vegas

He also explains how to make money at blackjack.

  • You should know the right play for every situation. This is known as “memorizing basic strategies.”
  • Cards for counting.
  • Alter bets are based on the favorability and strength of the deck.

These 3 facts are mostly true. This is how you win at blackjack. Although there are other advantages to the game, they were not known in 1980 when The winner’s Guide to casino gambling was published.

Blackjack is a game where you can only make one play. This is known as a “basic strategy.”

As it turns out there are less possible blackjack situations than you might imagine. One of these cards will always be visible to the dealer:

  • Ace
  • King
  • Queen
  • Jack
  • 10
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2

The king, queen and jack are worth 10 points each so you have only 10.

You can make more totals because you are playing two cards. Many hands can be played in the exact same way which reduces the number possible situations. You’ll hit any number between 8 and 17. Any hard total greater than 17 will result in you standing. Blackjack’s house edge is between 0.5% to 1% for a basic strategy player. This is a significant improvement on the 4% to 5% average player’s blackjack edge. The majority of blackjack decisions are poor.

Counting cards allows you to increase and decrease your bets as you are more likely to win a blackjack (or “natural”), which is a 2-card hand worth 21 point. Card counters do not memorize cards played, but they keep track of how many low cards were played versus high cards. You can increase the size of your wagers if there are a higher proportion of aces or 10s in the deck (the cards that you need to play a blackjack).

Card counters can gain an advantage against the house by achieving a margin of 0.5% to 2.2%. Based on the count, they can adjust their base strategy. Silberstang is correct in this regard. If you are willing to learn basic strategy, card counting, and how to win at blackjack, you can make a lot of money. He misleads us by claiming that it is easy to make money with baccarat or craps. Yes, there is a low house edge in those games. However, there is still a house edge which can make it difficult for you to win.

Money Management

This chapter’s money management section contains the majority of the advice. The first rule of money management sounds more like common sense than anything. Don’t gamble with money that you can’t afford. Well, yeah. That advice is ignored by thousands of gamblers. They end up joining Gamblers Anonymous meetings. This is a great idea for anyone who gambles even if he cannot afford it or doesn’t like his gambling anymore.

He suggests having enough money to play the game, then he refers back to his previous chapters on blackjack, baccarat and craps for these amounts. It doesn’t matter how much you have, if you are playing a game with negative expectations, it doesn’t really matter. You’ll eventually lose your money if you keep playing for too long. You are more likely to have a cold streak rather than a hot one. This is what having a house advantage means. You will need to have enough money to enjoy the table.

The chapter ends with his thoughts on how to play for fun and not for the thrill of action. I believe you shouldn’t gamble if you don’t get any thrill from the action. It’s a game with negative expectations. You can’t claim that you are playing to make money unless you’re a card-counter or an advantage gambler. You can still enjoy the excitement of being in action. You can have both winning and this.


The Winner’s Guide to Casino Gambling doesn’t disappoint. Some of the most detailed explanations I have seen of how casino games actually work are among the best. Good coverage by the author of the odds and bets is also provided.

When it gets into strategy, the work becomes difficult. It is absurd to claim you can manage your money and bankroll so as to overcome the house edge. Some legitimate sites offer better and more detailed coverage.

It’s not terrible, but it doesn’t contain terrible advice. Some of the advice is just wrongheaded or even absurd. This chapter is a poor one in a book that is otherwise very good.

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