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There are as many strategies for winning at gambling as there are losing gamblers in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and Mississippi combined. Everyone has a system, a book, or a "winning" strategy, and most are more than willing to share hints with you - for a price. But gambling cities continue to rake in astounding annual revenues; on average, Vegas alone rakes in more than $9 billion per year from its 400 casinos. With all these people losing, how can a strategy help you?
Depending on what type of game you will play, your stake, and how willing you are to study, a strategy book or other online casino references can be a good choice. Novice gamblers especially will benefit from the general information a strategy book provides.
Walking into a casino for the first time can be overwhelming. The neon, beeping slots (any casino's biggest draw), and numerous guests may send the faint of heart running for the cool confines of their room. Just knowing what to expect can improve your odds; if you are tense, you will lose money. A good strategy book devotes a chapter to the design, layout, and psychology of a casino. It should also provide an overview of available gambling spots in the US, including Vegas, Atlantic City, Indian Casinos, and now New Orleans and Mississippi.
Next, how much will you spend? If you are playing nickel slots, a strategy book will probably cost more than your stake. However, if you are playing table games, or even dollar slots, a strategy book can help you avoid losing money so quickly.
Find a strategy book that lays out the rules of each game. Never play a game you don't understand. Slots, for example, seem easy, but if you don't understand what constitutes a win, or which slots payout more often, you'll end up playing airport slots at 85% return: a very bad idea. Never sit down at a table game that is completely new to you; a good strategy book will prevent you from making costly mistakes by at least mentioning that most casinos give free lessons.
A really great strategy book, such as American Mensa Guide to Casino Gambling: Winning Ways, will be honest. Author Andrew Brisman, Mensa member and nationally recognized authority on games and puzzles, notes that you will lose money at most casino games; the difference lies in knowing which games you can win, and which games have better odds, increasing the entertainment value of your trip. Don't be intimidated by the Mensa slant; though Brisman does explain the intricate mathematics involved in figuring odds, reader's can skip these insets and still glean the valuable information with only a basic understanding of math.
Another good book for novices is The Complete Idiot's Guide to Gambling Like a Pro, a handy tome for novices and intermediate players. This book, like any good strategy book, acknowledges that gambling is entertainment, not an investment into which you should place your children's trust fund. Its straightforward, low-key approach will appeal to those seeking general information on available games.
To learn the finer points of a particular game, read a specialty book. Rules and insights for every game from Craps to Video Poker abound. Specializing in one game improves the gambling experience by increasing playing time - and expectation of return!
So don't be shy. Thumb through selections in the local bookstore and pick a strategy book that appeals to you. Start with an overview book that combines basic information with specific strategies on various games. After you find a game you like, practice on free software to perfect your basic strategy. Then you can specialize, reading the more detailed books on specific casino games.