Why Some Casino Games Can Be Beat But Not Others

Advantage players do not target casino games at random. They target specific games that can be beat, and ignore those casino games that can’t. You see, not every game in the casino was created equal. Some games are inherently better for advantage players than others. That means advantage gamblers ONLY play casino games were the odds can be put in the player’s favor. That’s the biggest difference between an average gambler and an advantage gambler.

What casino games can be beat

Something I see all too often is new players being distracted by games that can never be beaten. The same thing also applies to certain “guaranteed” betting systems that you see for sale on the internet. Games such as roulette and craps are favorites for newbies and those who prey on newbies.

Any time I see a system for sale that targets roulette or craps, I know instantly that it is a scam. Some games are simply unbeatable. But why is that? Today’s post will explain why some games are better than others.

Casino games can be classified into three general categories:

  • Fixed-Odds Games
  • Limited-Strategy Games
  • Everything Else

Fixed-Odds Games

In fixed-odds games, the payouts and the odds of hitting a payout NEVER change. No matter what decisions you make at the table, you can never change the odds of winning or the amount of money that you win.

Let’s take roulette for example. Roulette is a fixed-odds game because the odds of winning any single bet are always the same. No matter what you do, no matter how you structure your wagers, you will always face the same exact odds and payouts.

Those cheesy betting systems that you see for sale online often target roulette. They promise “super-secret” methods for beating the casino. In almost every single case, these betting systems are based on some variant of the Martingale betting system. The details may change from one system to the next, but without fail, they are based on you altering the sizes of your wagers.

The problem with roulette is that no amount of strategy can change the outcome. No matter what you have done in past rounds of play, the next round always has the same odds. It doesn’t matter how much you change your bet sizes or how many times in a row it landed on red; the next spin of the wheel is subject to the same odds as the last spin.

That is why these are called “fixed odds” games. The odds are fixed in place by the basic rules of the game. There is no way to beat a fixed-odds game apart from grabbing a fistful of chips and running away.

Any game in which strategy has zero impact on the outcome is a fixed-odds game. A few examples include roulette, craps and keno. There is simply no room whatsoever for strategy in these games. All you can do is pick your bets and cross your fingers.

Limited-Strategy Games

There are some games in which your decisions do change the odds, but are still unbeatable over the long run. For example, a game like Caribbean Stud has room for some strategy. You can read basic strategy guides to get an idea of when you should raise and when you should fold.

But even in that game, perfect strategy only brings the house advantage down to about 5.2%. That’s about as low as it gets in Caribbean Stud.  There’s no point in targeting that game as an advantage player because you cannot change the outcome over the long run. The house advantage is built into the very fabric of the game.

Most table games fall into this category. Games such as Caribbean Stud, Casino Holdem, baccarat and Let It Ride allow for varying degrees of strategy. However, there is a limit to how much that strategy helps. There’s no point in targeting these games as an advantage player.

Other Games

And finally, we arrive at the games that fall into that “everything else” category. These are the games in which you can shift the advantage to your favor with the right strategy.

There are only a few games in the casino that fall into this category: blackjack, video poker, sports betting, poker and horse race betting. The difference between these five games and all the rest is that your decisions have enough impact to eradicate the house advantage altogether.


Blackjack is not a fixed-odds game because the odds of winning are dependent upon both your strategy and the composition of the deck. As the game is played and cards are revealed, you can get a basic idea of the makeup of the rest of the deck.

A running count in blackjack tells you if the deck is rich in Aces and faces, which you can then use to your advantage. When the deck is rich in desirable cards, you can increase the sizes of your wagers to take advantage of that situation. This has a direct impact on the house advantage.

You cannot use similar tactics in games like roulette because the odds never change. Every single bet in roulette is subject to the same house advantage. That is why roulette is a fixed-odds game while blackjack is not.

Video Poker

Video poker is kind of the odd-ball in this group because it appears to be a limited-strategy game at first look. In fact, many video poker machines are limited-strategy games. The key to success at video poker is to know how to identify profitable machines.

Some video poker games are worthless for advantage players. The rules and payouts make the game unbeatable. Success at video poker is all about finding machines with the right pay tables and then playing those games with perfect strategy.

In some cases, video poker games can only be beaten when combined with house perks such as player rewards clubs and cash bonuses. Nevertheless, there are successful video poker professionals out there. It is not the easiest game to beat, but it can be done.

Sports Betting

Sports betting can be beaten because you are not playing a game with fixed rules. Instead, you are playing against the vig. The key to success at sports betting is to win often enough to overcome the house take.

The challenge in sports betting comes from two sources. First, bookmakers are very good at setting the lines. They know just how many points to spot the underdog and how to create efficient lines. It requires a sharp eye to spot +EV wagers.

Second, sportsbooks adjust the lines as wagers are made in order to book an equal amount of action on both sides of the bet. This creates a competitive marketplace in which you effectively compete against everyone else betting on the same event.


Poker can be beaten because the casino has no stake in who wins or loses. The casino takes a little rake out of every pot and lets the players battle it out. Over the long run, the skilled players always take money from the unskilled players.

Poker may be loosely associated with gambling, but I can assure you that it is strictly a game of skill. Poker was my only form of income for years and I wasn’t successful because I was lucky. I was successful because I played slightly better than my opponents. Bad beats and lucky draws do happen in poker, but that is nothing more than normal variance.

Some people view poker as gambling because it is a game of limited information. It’s not like chess where every last bit of information is available right in front of your eyes. However, there is still enough information available in poker that you can make reasonable, strategic decisions and outplay your opponents.

Horse Racing

Horse racing is beatable for the same reasons as sports betting. The racebook takes a little juice out of every wager and tries to book action on both sides of every wager. If you can out-study your fellow horse racing fans, you can win money.

Exceptions to the Rule

One thing serious players eventually learn about gambling is that there are exceptions to every rule. In some cases, unbeatable casino games become beatable under the right circumstances. Casinos operate in a competitive industry and frequently host special promotions in order to attract new customers.

Examples of these promotions include cash giveaways, expanded VIP programs and player-friendly rule changes. The key to profiting off these special circumstances is to know how they affect the house advantage. That is one reason I recommend all serious players develop a basic understanding of gambling math.

If you know how the underlying math works, you can spot advantageous situations. Skilled advantage players are experts at sniffing out these situations and using them to hammer away at the house advantage. Keep your eyes open and you just might find yourself making money off games that are normally considered unbeatable.

About the Author:

This was a guest post by Wes Burns, who runs the website CasinoFYI.com. He is a long time poker player and gambling author. The idea for today’s topic was inspired by Greg’s practical approach to gambling. There is a dearth of quality gambling-related websites on the internet, and it was an honor to write for one of the few exceptions.

About Greg Elder

I was 37 years old, a husband and father, a former teacher, college and high school basketball coach, and a business owner, I decided to give it all up (Not the husband and father part) to take a shot at pro gambling. I was coming off a job I hated selling insurance, and I vowed to do something I was passionate about. For the next year I would spend 12-15 hours a day researching, studying, and practicing advantage gambling techniques. The goal was to see if I could sustain our current lifestyle as a professional gambler. I wanted to find out if casinos really could be beat. At the time, I thought it may be the biggest mistake of my life, but my intentions were to have fun trying. It has been an interesting few years since that journey began. My feature book GAMBLERS FIGHT BACK has been released and can be purchased on my author site at www.GREGELDERAUTHOR.com I would consider my pro gambling career to be a success on all fronts. I didn't win millions of dollars, but I was able to enjoy every minute of it. It brought an excitement and passion back into my professional life. It has helped lead me to a writing career that I had no idea I even wanted before this challenge. I was able to write a book that shared with others exactly what I learned along the way.. Gambling professionally is not easy, but there are certain things the average gambler can do to increase their chances of success tremendously. That's the information I try to pass along to my readers.

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