When you walk into a casino, pretty much the only beatable game in the whole building is poker. Technically, you can get an edge at blackjack by counting cards, but casinos are pretty savvy to catching card counters. And yes, technically, you can get an advantage at sportsbetting, but it’s pretty tough and most casinos outside of Nevada don’t have sportsbetting.
If you really want to have an “edge” in the casino, for all intents and purposes, you’re only choice is poker. If you’re new to poker and don’t know much about the game, don’t be discouraged. Live, small-stakes poker games are usually so fishy that a new player who follows some basic guidelines could probably walk away a small winner more times than not.
Notice I said “new” player, not “brand-new” player. If you know nothing about poker, read some beginner poker strategy articles to learn the basics. But assuming you know the rules and hand hierarchy, but not much else, here’s a quick crash course on how to turn a profit playing poker in a casino:
Avoid Playing a Lot of Hands
Generally speaking, the biggest mistake new poker players make is playing too many hands. They see hands like Ace-Seven and think, “oooh… an Ace!” Poker is a complex game, so it’s best to avoid playing in a black-and-white fashion, but until you learn more about the game, only play pairs, Ace-Jack (or higher), King-Jack, King-Queen, and Queen-Jack. Quite honestly, you should be bored at the poker table since you’re only playing about 10-15% of hands you’re dealt. When you’re on the dealer button, it’s okay to play a few more hands than usual since you have the luxury of making decisions after you’ve seen what all other players do.
When you do have a good hand, it’s important that you make your opponents pay to stay in the hand with you. Now, just because you start with a good hand doesn’t mean it will be a good hand when it’s all said and done. For example, if you have pocket Jacks, which is a very good hand, and the flop comes Ace-Queen-Six… you really don’t have a good hand anymore. This leads to an important point: always be evaluating how good your hand is right now.
When you have a good hand, bet handsomely. Usually betting about the size of the pot, or slightly less, is optimal. When you have a very strong hand, don’t be afraid to bet all-in. You might miss out on some value of “nickel and diming” your opponents, but players in live games are so terrible that you’ll be surprised how often they’ll call your all-in simply because they can’t stand the thought of not knowing what hand you have.
To conclude, play tight and play aggressively. Don’t let people push you around and don’t get fall into the temptation of playing garbage hands because you’re bored. You stay in control at the table and don’t let others control you!