Don’t go Prospecting for Gold in the Land of Gold. By Carl Sampson

Don’t go Prospecting for Gold in the Land of Gold. By Carl Sampson

There tends to be an oasis in many deserts and Las Vegas is certainly an “oasis” within the Nevada desert for sure. Millions of tourists go there every year but the overwhelming majority sure aren’t going for the scenery. The temperature in Las Vegas, depending on the time of year, can be oppressive and downright uncomfortable. Perfect then for getting people off the streets and into the casinos.

A few people might go and visit the nearby Grand Canyon but let’s face it, they go to Vegas to gamble….but why? There are numerous reasons. Some just go because it is something that they want to do in their lives at least once. Others go for the glitz and the glamour. Meanwhile a growing number of people go there for experiences that they simply cannot get anywhere else. Other resorts try to mimic Las Vegas but as yet nobody has pulled it off. There are other resorts around the world with a greater turnover than Las Vegas and Macau now rivals their US counterpart.

However, what Macau cannot offer is the history, the mystique and the famous “strip” that Vegas has to offer. The rich and the famous either go or reside there. 

Looking for Fortune

Las Vegas is also home to the World Series of Poker. In fact numerous professional poker players ply their trade there. This all gets down to the fact that gamblers ask questions and they want answers. The main ones being can you beat the wheel, can you beat the slot machines and can you win a fortune?

There is no law that states that you cannot make your fortune in Las Vegas. Just like there is no law that would prevent you from winning the National Lottery. The odds for winning large sums of money are just the same in Vegas as they are anywhere else. One thing that Vegas has to offer is its size and that is no different with slot machine jackpots.

If you get stupendously lucky in Las Vegas then you can change your life forever. The flip side is brutal though because Vegas leaves more people broke than any other casino resort. Yet people still flock there in their millions each year. So let’s ask the questions and give the answers that people want to hear.

Can you beat the Wheel?

The short answer is “no”. By “wheel” we are obviously referring to the roulette wheel. We could also be talking about any other game that you could wish to mention inside casinos. Roulette has an even bigger house edge in Las Vegas than in many other locations. This is due to the roulette wheel having a double zero and this significantly increases the normal house edge attained from single zero wheels.

Years ago, blackjack was the game that everyone wanted to play. When Edward Thorp produced his famous book Beat the Dealer, the game of blackjack literally transformed overnight and suddenly people knew about card counting. The problem was, so did the casinos, and card counters were bounced out of Las Vegas sometimes akin to a scene from a gangster movie.

The bottom line is that casinos take money, they do not give it. If you were lucky enough to win a million on some casino slot machine progressive jackpot then do not for one minute think that you have won money from the casino. In effect the casino acts in a similar way to a bookmaker. They simply pay out the winners from all of the money taken from the losers and they keep the difference.

The money taken from the losers is a significantly bigger sum but gamblers being gamblers and most of them give substantial chunks of it back anyway. So the casino wins, end of story. Perhaps the only way to make consistent money from Las Vegas is to be a poker player. Even that has its misconceptions. Poker seems a ridiculously easy game to play because hey…how hard can a card game be?

You may find that there is no “gold” at the poker tables either. The army of savvy local players many of which have been honed by years of experience both online and live could take your shirt faster than a dry cleaner. So people often go to try their luck at the conventional casino games like Craps for example.

Funnily enough Craps is a game rarely played in the UK which is quite odd but why? The main theory is to do with the American psyche and Craps is fast, brash and loud. Players in England prefer the more serene Baccarat tables and Electronic gaming machines. Craps has never caught on in the UK but if the casinos thought for one minute that punters would want it and love it and play it in large numbers, they would have Craps tables in every casino in the British Isles

They don’t because the game has never been popular and it has to be a culture thing. UK players don’t go to Vegas to play Craps! They play Craps while they are in Vegas which isn’t the same thing. Craps just like American Football will never take off in the UK, if it was going to then it already would have. 

Is it Fair and are the Games Straight? 

It amazes me just how many people fly out to Las Vegas with the notion that casinos are crooked. Yet they still go onto the gaming tables. The previous analogy with bookmakers is striking because this is how casinos make their money. Let us say that you knew in advance that you were going to take $1 from every punter that came through your door. If you only ever got one punter then you are going to go out of business pretty quick. 

However what if 100,000 people came through your door every day? Suddenly you are making $100,000 per day. Let’s change the numbers slightly. Let us say that the average punter contributed $100 to the casino from casino losses (keeping in mind that people let their hair down in Vegas), paid meals, bar bills, variety shows etc. Now that figure is $10m per day. 

Some of the big casinos are hitting these numbers. If any casino in the world that was legally making this sort of money tried to cheat, their owners would be the biggest fools on the planet. Not to mention that professional watchdogs constantly monitor casinos anyway, then the casinos are 100% legit. 

They sure don’t need to cheat when people flock to Las Vegas, some in the belief that the casinos are crooked but they still play anyway. The bottom line is that the average punter doesn’t understand gambling and loses money as a result of that. Couple that with a chronic lack of discipline and we don’t need silly conspiracy theories as to why casinos make so much money. Millions of people can’t wait to lose their money, maybe I ought to go and open a casino in Las Vegas!