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Don't Waste Your Money: Best and worst casino game odds

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(Toledo News Now) -

It has been almost a year since the opening of Toledo's Hollywood Casino, and Ohio is still buzzing over casino games with additional new casinos in Cleveland and Columbus. Before you go, you may want to know which games give you the best chance of winning. 

Many of us are now planning our summer vacations. Whether you are heading to Las Vegas, taking a cruise, or simply staying home, there's a good chance you may visit a casino during your time off from work. We went behind the scenes to find out which games give you an edge.

Table Games Your Best Bet

Jay Bean, floor manager at Cincinnati's Horseshoe Casino, agreed to sit down with us and talk about games with the best odds.

He says many people don't realize that table games have much better odds than slots. They are intimidated by thoughts of card sharks taking their money, with images of an intense Texas Hold 'Em tournament in their minds, so they stick with safe games. But they are doing themselves a disservice, Bean says.

Bean's advice? After you've spent some time on the slot machines, move on to the blackjack table, and start by just observing.

1. Blackjack

Blackjack has the best odds of winning, with a house edge of just 1 percent in most casinos, Bean says. Plus, you are playing against only the dealer, not hooded poker champions.

"Blackjack is one of our easiest games to play," Bean said. "You're just looking for a number that beats the dealer's number without going over 21." 

If you're a novice, Bean says sit down during a less busy time, such as the afternoon, and the dealer will walk you through the game.

However, Bean says the same is not true with poker; you should practice the game with your friends at home until you are comfortable with it. According to Bean, novices are better off passing on the poker tables, where yes, the competition can be tough.

2. Craps

From the blackjack table, Bean suggests moving on to the dice game, craps, the game with the second-best odds, also nearly 50-50.

The craps table can be a bit intimidating for the beginner with all the boxes on the table, Bean admits. But it's really not tough, and it has one of your best chances of winning. In the end, all you are really doing is betting on a dice roll.

3. Roulette

Bean says your next stop should be the roulette wheel. It's simple and pays fairly well.

"So you bet on your favorite numbers," Bean said. "The dealer spins, and if your number comes in, you win."

If you stick to betting on just reds or blacks, you have nearly a 50-50 chance of walking away a winner. If it lands on red when you choose red, you will double your bet, Bean explains.

While it may seem you have an even chance of winning by simply choosing a color, there is one catch that gives the house its edge: the extra green 0 and 00 position on the wheel. It's on all American roulette wheels.

Or, if you feel lucky, play just one number. It's harder to win, but if you do, it pays out 36 to 1.

Worst Odds

Your worst odds? The casinos, understandably, did not want to discuss games with poor odds.

So we turned to Forbes Magazine, which in a report about Best Bets at the Casino, says two popular games - Wheel of Fortune and the ever-popular slot machines - have the lowest odds of winning, with a house edge of 10 percent or more.

With slots, the more money you put in per bet, the higher your chance of winning.  In addition, state records show that penny slots have the lowest odds, with $1 and $5 slots paying much better.

You can learn more about specific odds of slot machines in each state that has casino gambling by visiting the American Casino Guide.

The Experts Agree

University of Cincinnati professor of analytics, Michael Magazine, has crunched the numbers, and agrees that blackjack is the best way to go home with money in your pockets. He says if you take a little time to learn the game, you have the best odds of winning.

"You are somewhere between 44 percent to 48 percent in every single hand of winning," Magazine said, noting that no other casino game gives you odds that good.

Still, Magazine cautioned that he's not promoting gambling, because he said even games with the best odds still favor the house.

"Play it long enough and you will lose. In the long term, the house doesn't lose," Magazine said.

If you are nervous about playing anything other than the slots, casino operators say your best bet is to visit during the slower hours when dealers have more time to help you. That way you can take your time learning the games and you don't waste your money.

Copyright 2013 Toledo News Now. All rights reserved.

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