Gambling – History and Strategies ToT#006

Written by on September 28, 2017

Today we will be talking about various casino games, some of their rules, and the history behind the games. Many people have heard of or played the games but they don’t know how they came to be.

Gambling has been known to the world since the beginning of time. Dice made of bone have even been found in the caves of early cavemen. Dice have been founds in the ruins of pompeii, some of them “loaded” to fall a certain way.

Zues, Hades, a Poseidon are said to have determined their rulership by the throw of dice.

  1. Blackjack
    1. Rules:
      1. Simply put, the rules of Blackjack are to get as close to 21 without going over (Busting). A dealer will deal two cards face up to all of the players, and two cards, one face up, one face down to him/herself. Your goal is to have a higher number than the dealer.
      2. Card values are as follows:
        1. 1-9 = the number on the card
        2. J-K = 10
        3. A = 1 or 11
      3. You will add the card totals together and if you would like another card, you will make a motion to “hit” and the dealer will deal another card to you.
      4. If you would not like any more cards, you will make a motion to “stay” and the dealer will move on to the next player at the table.
      5. Once all players have completed their turns, the dealer will reveal the face down card and continue to deal cards to him/herself until the total is at least 17.
      6. If your value is higher than the dealer, or the dealer “busts”, you win 1:1 on your bet.
      7. If your value is lower than the dealer, or you “bust”, you lose your bet.
      8. If you get “blackjack” on the original two card deal (Ace + any card equalling 10), you automatically win unless the dealer has it as well and you will be paid 3:2 on your bet.
      9. There are other plays that you can make, such as “splitting” and “doubling down” but for the sake of brevity, we will not cover those here.
    2. History
      1. Blackjack’s origin is unknown. The earliest recorded reference was found in a 1601 short story by Miguel de Cervantes (Most popularly known for his book Don Quixote).
      2. In this story he mentions a game called “veintiuna” (Twenty-one in spanish) where the rules are that you must get as close to 21 without going over and that Ace values 1 or 11. The game is played with a spanish Baraja deck. The Baraja deck does not include 8’s or 9’s.
      3. Casino’s in the US started offering bonus payouts of 10 to 1 for a “Blackjack”. That is, a hand consisting of an Ace of Spades and a black Jack (Spades or Clubs). This is where the name Blackjack originated.
    3. Basic strategy
      1. There is a mathematical strategy that you can follow to improve your odds of winning at Blackjack. This strategy takes into account your two cards, and the face up card the dealer has and determines what your best best play would be depending of what cards are showing.
      2. The original strategy was revealed in September 1956 when Roger Baldwin, Wilbert Cantey, Herbert Maisel and James McDermott published a paper titled The Optimum Strategy in Blackjack.
      3. Ed Thorp later used Baldwin’s calculations to verify the strategy and publish a widely famous book in 1963 called Beat the Dealer.
    4. Card counting
      1. Blackjack is the only casino game that CAN be beaten. Although it is very difficult, and will most likely get you banned from a casino if caught, the process is based on the fact that you are more likely to win more hands if the remaining cards in the deck have a higher population of Aces and cards valued at 10.
      2. This technique was made popular in the 1988 film Rain Man where he constantly memorizes all of the cards dealt and bets are raised when the deck gets “hot”.
      3. In reality, you do not have to memorize every card dealt. There is a numbering system that is assigned and you just have to keep track of the “count”.
      4. One example of a system is the Hi-Lo counting system.
      5. The Hi-Lo system is as follows:
        1. Cards 2-6 = +1
        2. Cards 7-9 = 0
        3. Face cards and Aces = -1
      6. The general idea is that the higher the number goes in the positive direction, the better advantage to the player and they can then modify their betting and play strategies to take this into account.
      7. There are many complicated versions of this strategy where different systems are used and different ways the count is determined, but this is the basic concept.
      8. Casinos also have strategies for combatting this issue such as cutting a deck prematurely, or restricting players from entering a game “mid-shoe” (the time between shuffles).
  2. Roulette
    1. Rules
      1. The basic rules of Roulette are simple. You may place bets on different areas of the board and then a wheel is spun and a ball is released. If the number or color the ball lands on corresponds to the bet you placed, you win.
    2. History
      1. Blaise Pascal introduced the first version of Roulette in the 17th century. It is suspected to derive from various English Wheel Games including Roly-Poly, Ace of Hearts, Reiner, and E.O. Pascal wasn’t trying to invent a casino game, however. He was trying to create a perpetual motion machine. This is thought to be impossible by most physicists. Pascal’s experiment failed but Roulette was born from the experiment.
      2. Roulette was played without the green zeroes up until 1842 when Francois and Lois Blanc introduced the single zero roulette for King Charles III. Monaco was facing financial ruin so they built a casino with the new roulette wheel to bring money into the kingdom. With the addition of the zero, the house had a much better advantage. This happened during a time where France had outlawed gambling so the new game was wildly successful.
      3. The double zero wasn’t added until the the game eventually made its way to the Americas.
      4. New rules have been added to the game to fight the constant need to cheat at the game. (magnetic ball, not touching bets, glass over wheel)
    3. Strategy
      1. This game is based on pure luck. There are various bets you can make such as red or black, Odd or Even, individual numbers, or groups of numbers or lines. Each with their own payouts. The casino has a slight edge because there are one or two extra spaces that don’t count in the regular bets…0 and 00. For example, if you place a bet on red or black, and it lands on 00, you lose. There are 18 red slots, 18 black slots, and (usually) 2 green slots. This equates to a 47.5% chance of hitting your color. The casino has a 52.5% chance. The casino pays 1:1 on this bet. All of the various bets are based off of this math. They pay out at even odds of the place you bet. 36:1 for individual numbers is another example. 36 regular numbers, with the 2 extra slots 0 and 00 always giving them the edge.
      2. There is one betting system that could beat these odds; the Martingale system. In this betting system, you bet a set amount of money every time you win, and double the amount every time you lose until you win again. Then you would go back to the set bet again. Casinos have taken this into account by setting a maximum bet limit on the game. Eventually your bet would get too high and you couldn’t double anymore. There is absolutely no strategy to this game. It is all pure chance no matter what people say.
  3. Poker
    1. Rules
      1. There are several different poker games such as 5 card draw, Texas Hold’em, and Omaha to name a few. For this article, We’ll focus on the most popular game; Texas Hold’em.
      2. In Texas Hold’em, the dealer will deal two cards face down to each player, and 5 face down community cards in the middle of the table that will be shared by everyone.
      3. The goal is to make the best 5 card hand out of the 7 cards.
      4. First, players will look at their two cards and will place bets based on those cards.
      5. Various actions they can take:
        1. They may call
          1. This means matching the highest bet during that round. They must at at least do this to remain in the hand.
        2. They may raise
          1. This means that they will place a bet higher than the highest bet during that round. Everyone else will then have to match this bet or raise it to remain in the hand.
        3. They may check
          1. This means that they already have the highest bet matched and do not wish to raise any more.
          2. They may check (if no bets have been placed) meaning they will pass their opportunity to bet and it goes to the next player.
        4. They may fold
          1. This means they do not wish to remain in the hand anymore, so they give up their cards and sit out until the next hand.
      6. After all bets have been placed, the dealer will then flip 3 of the community cards over. This is called the flop. Players will then have another round of betting based on the new information.
      7. After this second round of betting is complete, the dealer will then flip over another community card. This is called the turn. Once again, another round of betting ensues.
      8. After this third round of betting is complete, the dealer will reveal the final community card. This is called the river. A final round of betting now happens.
      9. Once all final bets have been placed, the players reveal their cards and the highest ranking hand takes the pot.
      10. Blinds:
        1. Every hand, one player will be the dealer.
        2. The person immediately to the left of the dealer will be the small blind.
        3. The person immediately to the left of the small blind will be the big blind.
        4. The dealer position rotates to the left by one person every hand, meaning the small blind will be the dealer next hand.
        5. The small blind has to place half the minimum bet before the hand begins.
        6. The big blind has to place the full minimum bet before the hand begins.
        7. These positions rotate to the left every hand along with the dealer. The purpose of the blinds is to ensure that there is a minimum amount of money in the pot every hand.
      11. The hand rankings are as follows:(Ranked from best to worst)
        1. Royal flush
          A, K, Q, J, 10, all the same suit.
        2. Straight flush
          Five cards in a sequence, all in the same suit.
        3. 3. Four of a kind
          All four cards of the same rank.
        4. Full house
          Three of a kind with a pair.
        5. Flush
          Any five cards of the same suit, but not in a sequence.
        6. Straight
          Five cards in a sequence, but not of the same suit.
        7. Three of a kind
          Three cards of the same rank.
        8. Two pair
          Two different pairs.
        9. Pair
          Two cards of the same rank.
        10. High Card
          When you haven’t made any of the hands above, the highest card plays.
    2. History
      1. Depends who you ask. There are many different potential origins. (10 century domino card game played by a Chinese emperor, a Persian game called As Nas, and Europe’s Poque) 17th century Poque caught on in France and had a German counterpart called Pochen. 3 cards were dealt out from a 28 card deck and players bet on the strongest hand. Bluffing was also a major part of the game. French colonists brought Pogue over to North America and the game caught on in New Orleans, where it evolved into more modern Poker. It was very popular among river boat crews which caused it to make its way up through America.
  4. Craps
    1. Rules
      1. Craps can be a very overwhelming game at first glance. Bets are constantly being made, even in the middle of turns. Someone keep throwing dice and suddenly, the turn is over…what does it all mean?
      2. In craps, players take turns throwing dice. Turns rotate to the left.
      3. First, the “shooter”, that is, the person that is throwing the dice is required to make a “pass line” bet (Pass, or Do Not Pass). This is the most basic bet in craps. It is essentially wagering that the shooter will roll certain numbers depending on which option is chosen.
      4. Once the bet is made, the “stick man” (Dealer) will present the shooter with several dice to choose from (Usually five). The shooter will choose two of those dice and those will become the dice that the shooter will use throughout their turn.
      5. Any other player may make bets on what the shooter will roll.
      6. The shooter will then make their first roll of the dice. This is called the “come out roll”.
      7. If the shooter rolls 7 or 11 on their first roll, known as a “natural”, the pass line bet wins and the shooter will continue to roll.
      8. If the shooter rolls a 2, 3, or 12. This is known as crapping out and the pass line bets will lose.
      9. Alternatively, if the player were to bet “Do Not Pass” the opposite will be true.
      10. If the player rolls any other number, that number will become the “Point”. The dealer will place a button that says “ON” on the board over the number that was rolled. The goal is for the shooter to roll the point again before the roll a 7. If they succeed, the pass line bet will win and there will be a new come out roll for the same shooter.  If they roll a 7 before rolling the point, the pass line bet will lose and the shooters turn is over. Just as on the come out roll, if they bet “Do Not Pass”, the opposite will be true.
      11. There a many other bets that may be placed during these rounds such as betting on specific numbers to be rolled, combinations of numbers, and specific bonus bets that various casinos offer, but these can be very complicated and we will not cover these here.
    2. History
      1. During the Crusades, Sir William of Tyre and his knights were waiting to lay siege on the castle Hazareth. While waiting the created the game called Hazards which laid the foundations for the game of Craps.
      2. It could also date back to the Roman Empire when soldiers would shave down pig knuckles into the shapes of cubes and throw them into shields for fun.
      3. The game of Hazards gained roaring popularity throughout the middle ages, and eventually a version of the game caught on in France. This game was called crabs. (the lowest possible roll was called crabs)
      4. The French brought the game to Louisiana after they were forced out of their colonies by the English. Same say the game came over with the English on the Mayflower. It very likely came over from both countries.
      5. Modern day craps is attributed to African Americans from the southern parts of America. The game traveled on river boats up the Mississippi river and gained popularity.
      6. John H Winn revolutionized the game with his changes to the betting system and addition of the “Don’t Pass Line”.
  5. Baccarat
    1. Rules
      1. Baccarat is a card game played from a 6-8 deck shoe. Bets are placed before the deal. You have three options: “Banker”, “Player”, or “Tie”.
      2. Once bets have been placed, two two-card hands are dealt. One for the “banker” (Dealer) and one for the player. Tens, and face cards are equal to Zero. The values of the rest of the cards are represented by the amount of pips on the card.
      3. The totals of the two cards are added together and if the value of the total is a two digit number, the tens column is dropped and only the ones place value is used. The hand with the higher value wins.
      4. -Player hand rules:
        1. If the player’s first two cards total 6 or more, then the player must stand without drawing a card. If the player’s first two cards total 5 or less, the player must draw one additional card.
      5. -Dealer hand rules:
        1. If the value is 7 or more the dealer must stand.
        2. If the value is 2 or less, The dealer must draw.
        3. Any other result depends on whether the player drew and what card was drawn.
    2. History
      1. Like most games the origin is disputed. It is thought to have been introduced into France in the 15th century when Soldiers returned from Italy after the Franco-Italian War under the reign of King Charles VIII. The game was possibly invented by an Italian Gambler named Felix Falguerein. He originally used a Tarot Card deck. Baccarat didn’t initially catch on in America because of the popularity of Blackjack. The game made its way down to Cuba where it grew in popularity. A player named Tommy Renzoni brought the game from Cuba to Las Vegas where it finally found its footing. Ian Flemming’s James Bond novels also helped make the game popular in America. It was a major plot point in his 1953 novel Casino Royale.
  6. Slots
    1. Rules
      1. There aren’t many rules for slots. Essentially, you press a button and either a physical wheel, or a digital wheel will spin. There is sometimes a little confusion with how it works though.
      2. With slot machines, the payouts are based on lines. Take for example a common slot machine with three wheels and three visible symbols per wheel for each spin. There are many ways that a line could be made. A few examples include:
        1. Straight across the middle row.
        2. Straight across the top row.
        3. Straight across the bottom row.
        4. Diagonally from top to bottom.
        5. Diagonally from bottom to top.
      3. Many machines, especially video slot machines, may have more wheels or rows and may include several more ways a line could be made. Every machine is different and you would need to check that specific machines line list to see all of the possible combinations.
      4. All of the different symbols/images are assigned a different payout value ranging from a few cents to a massive jackpot. Once again, every machine will vary.
      5. The betting system is what will typically confuse new players. With most slot machines, you are betting PER LINE. When you sit down at most machines, you will see a row of buttons indicating how many lines you would like to play, and a row of buttons indicating how much you would like to bet per line.
      6. For example, in the three wheel example above, there are 5 possible lines that you can play. If you were to select 1 line @ $0.25 per line. Your total bet will be $0.25, but you will only be paid for combinations that are made straight across the middle row.
      7. Alternatively, if you were to play 5 lines @ $0.25 per line. Your total bet would be $1.25 but you will be paid for every line that you made a winning combination on.
      8. Many people see the words “penny” or “nickel” slots and think that means they are cheap to play. As you can see, that isn’t necessarily the case. Sure, you could play one line for a penny, but most likely, you will have terrible odds of hitting anything worthwhile. It is in your best interest to AT LEAST play all of the possible line combinations at the minimum bet.
      9. Furthermore, most slot machines will only pay out the jackpots and progressive prizes only if you are playing all lines with the highest bet per line. This max bet could potentially cost you $3 to $100 or more PER SPIN depending on what machine you’re playing.
    2. History
      1. Short for “Nickel-in-the-slot machine”,the slot machine technology was originally also used for automatic vending machines. By the mid 20th century, it was almost exclusively used as a gambling device. The earliest slot machines can be traced back to the 1880’s where they were used more as a novelty where they depicted various scenes such as two horses chasing a coin that was inserted. In some establishments, the patrons started betting on the results ending in the loser buying a round of drinks or some other social prize.
      2. By 1888, the first coin payout machines came into existence where people would insert a coin to fall on a scale and eventually the weight would tip the scale and dump the coins.
      3. The first “modern” style machines were invented by Charles August Fey; a mechanic from San Francisco. He tested his first machines in local saloons, and they became so successful that he quit his full time job to open a factory. Seeing the success of Fey, competitors started appearing.
      4. Local law stepped in and in 1909, San Francisco passed a law making the machines illlegal. In order to circumvent the law, Fey started making machines that didn’t accept coins and spins were purchased by buying “drinks” and “cigars” from the bartender.
      5. Shortly after, many machine factories relocated, namely to Chicago. Factories started marketing slot machines as chewing gum dispensers to circumvent legal issues. Replacing the playing card images with images of fruit. Some of them even actually dispensed chewing gum. Some companies used images of chewing gum packs as the images. This is where the “BAR” symbol would originate from.
      6. In 1916, jackpots were added requiring a specific combination of symbols to pay out.
      7. During the 1920’s and 1930’s private distributors often controlled by organized crime groups forced stronger legislation to banning the machines from certain places.
      8. After World War II, the machines became popular once again as governments saw the prospect of generating tax revenue.
      9. In the 1950’s electromechanical engineering enabled the use of new payout schemes where the machines would pay different amounts depending on the number of coins inserted.
      10. In 1975, the first video slot machines came into production, but they weren’t extremely successful as people preferred the mechanical machines over them.
      11. In 1986, some machines were linked via a network where several machines could add a portion of the income to a progressive jackpot. (In 2003 a machine paid out $40m progressive jackpot in Las Vegas.)
      12. Gambling laws started to become more relaxed in the 20th century and laws were passed legalizing gambling on Native American reservations to increase tax revenue to the US.
    3. Strategy
      1. There isn’t a lot of strategy to slot machines. The either pay out, or they don’t. Some speculate that you may have better odds by spinning as quickly as possible so that you may hit as many combinations as possible from the randomly generated combinations that the modern slot machine computer generates.
      2. The best realistic strategy that you can have is to play the maximum lines and bet so that you may get lucky and have the opportunity to win the large jackpots that can only be won by playing the maximum bet on most machines.



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