Professional gamblers use the term expected value when analysing bets and wagers. A bet with positive expected value makes you money in the long run. Conversely, negative expected value means you lose money in the long term.
Tossing a coin is a simple yet effective way to highlight expected value. A coin toss is 50-50 to land on heads or tails. Imagine if someone offered you 2-to1 odds if you correctly predict if the coin lands heads or tail. This bet has massive positive expected value. You’re getting 2-to-1 odds on something that is 1-to-1 to happen. Take this bet all day long then twice on a Sunday!
All casinos are in the business of making money so they don’t offer odds like our simple example. The odds are always stacked against you regardless of what pokies or table games you play. This stacking of odds againt the player is what’s called the house edge.
Gamblers using a casino’s facilities hopes to run well against this house edge. It’s possible to do this, otherwise nobody would ever gamble, but the house wins in the long run. All you can do is maximise your expected value each time you play. We’re here to give you the tools to do exactly that.
How Can You Maximise Your Expected Value?
Start by playing pokies and table games with the lowest house edge. This is the simplest way to improve your expected value. These games tend to have lower payouts by their very nature, but you’ll win more frequently.
Games such as blackjack, baccarat and some bets on the roulette table have a low house edge.
Learning a basic strategy for the games you play is another sure fire way to maximise expected value. You lose value each time you make a mistake and the house wins more. Not all games have a strategy to learn, but many of them do; learn it.
Knowing what to do in every possible scenario in blackjack reduces the house edge and increases your expected value. Basic blackjack strategy isn’t too difficult to learn and you can even print it out for when you play! Some brick and mortar casinos in Australia even have these “cheat sheets” printed out ready for players! Use them and improve your chances of winning.
Always play with the maximum number of win lines if you play pokies. Do this even if it means reducing the size of your bets. More win lines means more chances to land a winning combination, meaning more expected value.
Stay Away From The Sucker Bets
Casinos call them side bets, we call them sucker bets and you should do too. Almost every casino game now has the option to place a sucker, sorry, side bet. Blackjack has pair plus, you’ve seen dozens of others.
These side bets give you an extra chance to win, but nothing is for free in a casino. Side bets almost always dramatically increase the house edge. They’re not offered to you out of the goodness of the casino’s heart! Avoid them like the plague. Progressive jackpots are the only exception to this rule and only when the jackpot hits a specifc amount. We’ll look at that in some detail in a future article.
Collecting comp points is another way to increase your expected value. Online casinos have loyalty schemes that reward the most frequent players. VIPs in the online casino world enjoys a raft of benefits. These include lower wagering requirements, larger deposit and withdrawal amounts, and exclusive bonuses.
Live casinos, like Crown Resorts, have their own versions of loyalty schemes. Play enough and you can enjoy free hotel stays, tickets to shows, plus meals and drinks. Every little helps.