Most of the large casino wins you hear about are made with poker. This is typically with tournaments, where the winner takes all, netting the player millions. But does it mean poker is the best option to earn a living from casinos?
The House Edge in Poker
First let’s compare the house edge of poker versus roulette. The house edge in roulette is 2.7% for European roulette, and 5.26% for American 00 roulette. Video poker has a house edge of 0.46%. Pai Gow Poker as an edge of 1.46%. Three card poker is 7.28%. And Caribbean stud poker is 5.22%. At least this covers the most popular versions of poker.
So initially we can see that some games of poker have a significantly lower house edge than roulette. Of course some versions have an even higher house edge. Initially it makes sense to choose the games with the lowest house edge. But is a low house edge everything?
If you aim to only play for fun, without any advantage play strategies, then it’s best to choose the games with the lowest edge. This is because a lower house edge means you generally loose more slowly.
House Edge Vs Potential Player Edge
Advantage play is the term given by casinos to describe professional systems that work. They are completely legal because they do not influence the game at all.
The three most common types of advantage play for poker are explained below:
Edge Sorting: this is where a player uses the back of cards to identify what they are, while they are face-down. It is only possible on some types of cards. This is because the manufacturer of some cards cut them during the manufacturing process with a simplistic approach, which leaves tell-tale signs on the back with patterns. Phil Ivey once used this technique in Baccarat to make millions in a casino in the USA. The casino took Mr Ivey to court and argued that what he had done was illegal. The casino ended up winning the case, and Ivey was ordered to pay back his winnings. Although the judge ruled in the casinos favor, in almost every casino jurisdiction, edge sorting is completely legal because it does not change the game’s rules, or the game outcomes.
Card Counting: you would already know about card counting, although you may not know exactly how it is applied in modern casinos. There are a variety of different card counting techniques. The most successful achieve an edge when the remaining cards to be dealt contain card values that give the player twenty-one. But this is the game of blackjack. In poker, card counting techniques rely more on getting the right combination of cards. And in poker, you’re playing other players, not so much the casino. Although it depends on the type of poker you are playing.
Shuffle Analysis: shuffle analysis typically involves software that tracks which cards are most likely to be dealt. The technique and software can be applied in virtually any card game. Most modern casinos use continuous shuffle machines, so the decks are shuffled after each game. In such a case, shuffle analysis techniques can only be used against particular shuffle machine designs, which tend not to produce random shuffles. The best way for a player to study a shuffle machine model is to purchase one, allowing them to study any number of shuffles and exploit any weaknesses.
But the missing factor as it relates to poker, is who you are playing against. Of course if you are playing against very inexperienced players, and you play with an optimal strategy, you can expect to profit. If the inexperienced players are not particularly smart, they will continue to play against you, despite your obvious experience. The variable of who you play against makes it difficult to know the actual edge you have against your opponents.
Assuming you only played against inexperienced players, you can expect your edge to be around 10%. If you play against more experienced players, then your edge may drop to around 3%. Of course luck and the hands you get dealt is a factor.
To achieve 3% or even 10% edge with roulette is far easier. Even a simplistic visual ballistics technique and an average wheel can give you an edge of 15% or greater. It’s more a matter of how easily beaten the wheel is, the suitability of your technique, and your skill.
If you took it a step further and use a roulette computer, you can expect to achieve edges of 50% or greater. The only downside is the roulette computer devices are only legal in around half of casinos.
Considering all factors, including the realistic and possible edge achieved with roulette advantage play, your edge is much likely higher than any strategy for poker.
Tips For Poker
If poker is still your thing, these tips will help:
Learn on free poker sites. There are lots of suitable sites that list where you can play poker, like judi poker online. But if you ever intend to deposit real money, carefully check the reputations of all websites. When testing any strategy, it’s always best to play against real opponents. This is because automated bots that you may play against can deliberately be set to allow you to win. Naturally this won’t give you a realistic idea of how your skills fare against opponents.
Don’t play every hand. If you know your hand is bad, don’t play it. Also consider any visible cards of other players. Remember it’s all relative.
Don’t play drunk. Alcohol will impair your judgement, and bad decisions can lose you a lot in a short space of time.
Be careful when you bluff. Your opponents will learn your general behavior, including whether or not to take your bluffing seriously.
Don’t stay in a hand when things get worse. If you see your opponents have the upper hand, know when to fold. Conditions change with each new hand that is dealt. So assess the changing situation as it unfolds.
Look at all known cards. Don’t focus on just your hand. In most games, you can see a few cards.
Get to know your opponents. Remember you’re playing against other players, and many show visible signs that give clues about what they’re thinking. The best poker players are also aware of their behavior and mannerisms.
Choose the right opponents. It makes no sense to play against more skilled players. Usually you’ll find less experienced opponents on weekends in casinos.