How to Make Money at a Casino

Tired of losing your shirt at slots? See professional gamblers on TV and wish you could do it? Well, you can. The house does not always have the advantage, but you have to know what to play and how to play it...

Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You'll Need:
A beginning bankroll (cash)
A positive attitude!
The first thing you need to do is find a casino. Today's laws have allowed a lot of casinos to open in nearly every state. Make sure that the casino you visit has table games and not just racing and slots! Table games like Texas Hold 'Em and Blackjack are where you can make money. STAY AWAY FROM THE SLOTS! Once you pick your destination you'll want to find a hotel (unless you're lucky enough to live near a casino). I never get a room at the casino. There is always a cheaper hotel within ten minutes of any casino. The area in which I play has a hotel very close for $50 a night. The casino charges $130 on weekdays! If you're there to make money, you also need to save money on living expenses. Remember, you have to make up for everything you spend before you can start calling it a profit.
Once you're settled in, go to the casino and get a feel for the place. Some of them are very big and they're designed to draw your attention to their big money-makers (mostly slots). Find their poker room and find out what games they offer. I ALWAYS play Texas Hold 'Em. It has one of the lowest house advantages. The casino actually just takes a cut off the top and leaves the rest of the money to the players, so you're playing against people, NOT the house. The best way to make money is to play a game you know and like. Know the odds and play them. I strongly suggest Hold 'Em, but you can also play other forms of poker, blackjack, or even craps. Craps- believe it or not- has a very low house advantage. I don't know much craps strategy, though, so you'll need to learn how to play well.
Okay, you're set up with a place to stay and you know your way around the casino. Find out if you need to register for any kind of 'player's card' and do so. Now figure out your bankroll and start using it! A bankroll is the amount of money you have to start gambling. I suggest starting with a MINIMUM of $500. The more you have to start the easier it is to build it with conservative play. A key rule is control. Regardless of the odds or your skill level, you're still gambling. Nobody wins every hand or every tournament. Thus, the general rule is to never put more than 5% of your bankroll on any table or any tournament. This is the most important aspect to gambling. If you keep getting beat at a table, don't keep going back for more chips! I know losses can be frustrating, but if you're going to be a gambler you have to accept loss and move on. Once you find a good table, though, stick with it! Get to about 2 or 3 times what you invested on the table and cash out. Then you take a break and come back with the original investment amount to do it again.
A great way to make money playing Hold 'Em is to enter tournaments. Try to find one with a reasonable buy-in and a cap on the amount of entrants. It's not much fun trying to outlast 5,000 people, but a field of 100 will still have decent payouts. The great thing about tournaments is that you don't have to be the best. You just have to make it to 'the money'! Most tournaments pay out around 10% of the field. Thus, if there are 100 people enrolled, you need to get somewhere around tenth place to cash. You don't have to outrun the near, as they say...
The flip-side to Hold 'Em tournaments are cash tables. There is always a minimum and a maximum amount that you can set down with at any table. For instance, I often play a $1/$2 blind table. The minimum you must bring to the table is $50 and the max is $200. This will vary from casino to casino. If you're good you can turn $50 into $150, get up, came back, and do it again. If the table has a lot of big stacks, however, you don't want to sit down with the minimum. This makes it much easier for people to bully you around. The great thing about cash games is that the blinds never go up. In a tournament you're forced to play hands or be blinded out. On a cash table you can afford to sit around and wait for cards to hit. CONSERVATIVE: That's the main word at a cash table. You don't have to play every hand and there's no need to do a lot of bluffing. If you bluff you will often get called. There is a time to bluff, but make it seldom at a cash table!
Whether you play cash tables or tournaments, do not exceed 5% of your bankroll! You may make exceptions every now and again (especially if your bankroll is very small), but stick to this rule and you won't go broke! My personal favorite money-maker is Texas Hold 'Em tournaments. As long as you place, you've at least made your money back. I play fairly conservatively and I place in about 80% of the tournaments I enter. Just remember, you want to build your bankroll not lose it! Once you find what game works for you, stick to it! Do not let the bells and whistles draw you away and empty your wallet. The two games with the highest house advantage are Keno and Slots. Stay away from them unless you intend to lose! Roulette isn't a whole lot better. I suggest sticking to poker and blackjack. If you know how to count cards, do it! There's no law against it, but it is frowned upon, so don't count on your fingers. I don't count cards. I play Hold 'Em and I know what my odds are of winning any given hand.
The best way to get good is to practice! Many online gaming sites offer free poker. I play on Full Tilt, but some people prefer Poker Stars and the other ones. Keep in mind that the .net sites do not allow gambling. If you plan to play any real money games, visit the .com. Every site has a .net and a .com. If you just want to practice, use the .net. I suggest using real money if you can, though. This will give you a better feel for the game. If people don't have anything invested they will make stupid calls and play carelessly. The higher the stakes, the better poker players you are going to run into. It sounds backwards, but you have the best chance against the better players. Someone that doesn't know what they're doing might call your all-in with a 7-2 off suit. When this happens, the flop is usually 7-7-2 or some such ridiculousness.
If you keep to your 5% bankroll rule and don't keep putting money on a bad table, you should be able to make a profit. Remember: casinos are designed to TAKE YOUR MONEY. Play the games that pit you against other players, not the house. Texas Hold 'Em is the BEST game to play in a casino. Especially with the popularity of the game... lots of people want to play it just because they've seen it on TV. Every table has 'dead money'. This is someone who has no idea what they're doing. People like this bet just to bet and it's generally pretty easy to take their money. Lots of people are hyper-aggressive, for instance. These people bet almost every hand and raise just as much. Fold to them until you catch a good hand and then bust them hard! Call their raises until the river then raise! I will post some Hold 'Em strategies on here, too, so check back. As long as you know what to play (and what not to play) and you stick to your budget, there is a high probability that you're gonna walk out with more than you brought! Always be patient and always be confident. Know that you are a good player and don't let others get you down. If you lose, you lose. You'll win the next one as long as you're patient enough to keep yourself out of trouble... I hope this article helps you to keep your shirt the next time you go gambling! Feel free to contact me for any advice or questions you may have. I'm always willing to talk poker!

Tips & Warnings

Always tip the dealer when you rake a pot! It's good mojo!
Never use more than 5% of your bankroll on one table. (Chris Furgeson used this rule to make $10,000 with NO investment on Full Tilt).
Pick a game you're good at and stick to it!
STAY AWAY FROM THE SLOTS AND KENO! Stick to poker, blackjack, and craps!
If you think you have a gambling problem, get help. There are 3 types of gamblers: Professional gamblers, recreational gamblers, and gambling addicts. If you're just doing it for fun, you can lose money and not mind. If you're making money, that's great! If you're losing more than you can afford, you have a problem. There are help lines and programs to help those addicted to gambling, so don't spend your mortgage at the casino!