The Best Way to Beat a Casino

Beneath the flashing lights and free drinks, casinos are built on a bedrock of mathematics, engineered to slowly bleed patrons for their own profit. For years, mathematically inclined minds have tried to turn the tables, using game theory and probability to exploit weaknesses in a rigged system. But ultimately, the best way to beat a casino is simple: don’t play.

Most casino games have a house edge, which is the casino’s statistical advantage over the players. The house edge can be as low as 1.06% for baccarat and blackjack, but is higher in other games like roulette and video poker. The house edge is often a result of the rules of each game, and can also be due to other factors such as how many decks are used in the shoe. The house edge can also be influenced by skill and knowledge, as in the case of card counting.

In games where the house does not compete against the players, such as poker and other card games, it earns money by taking a commission from each player, which is called rake. In addition, casinos may offer patrons complimentary items or “comps” such as meals, rooms and entertainment.

The Martin Scorsese movie Casino is a riveting, three-hour thriller that exposes the corrupt and illegal activities of the Mob in Las Vegas. The film is based on the book Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas by Nicholas Pileggi, who co-wrote the screenplay for the movie with Scorsese. The film traces the web of corruption that centered in the city and touched on politicians, Teamsters unions and the Midwest mafia based out of Kansas City.