Many people who gamble are not aware of the various differences between each game when it comes to skill and chance; especially if, for example, they go on a winning streak while playing roulette. They might all of a sudden think that they have developed a ‘second sight’ for being able to guess the outcome and believe this is in fact a divine skill!
The truth is unless you are that gifted (and there is very little evidence to suggest that this exists), then the truth is, you have absolutely no idea what the outcome will be, because roulette is fundamentally a game of chance.
Let’s explore in more detail some of the intricacies about games of chance and skill in gambling and how each of them differs from each other, especially from the perspective of the varying attitudes of the majority of gamblers.
Games Of Chance Defined
There is a well known saying in gambling; “the house always wins”. This is because the smartest people are aware that the odds are stacked in the casino or bookmaker’s favour based on the rules of the particular game.
A game of chance in gambling has one very obvious characteristic. Regardless of what strategy that you apply to it, there is no sure-fire way of winning. This is because the nature of the game is completely random.
In some cases, a lot of gamblers prefer this scenario because they know that anything can happen, due to the sheer amount of possibilities that there are. That is why some people prefer the adrenaline rush that games like roulette can offer, particularly if they make a bet that can give them one of two outcomes, such as ‘red or black’ and ‘odds or evens’, where they have a chance to double their wager in winnings.
Ultimately a game of chance in gambling refers to the fact that anything can happen and there are no factors that influence this either way.
Games Of Skill Defined
A game of skill is often related to those where a strategy can be applied, especially in non-gambling games such as chess for example (though people do still have private wagers on this). In terms of traditional gambling games though, there are very few that can be defined as skill and even then, the gambling element of it means that there is still some element of chance involved and that is often what causes debate.
For example, the most obvious game of skill that is related to gambling is poker because people are playing against each other and there is no involvement from from the casino in terms of being able to influence the outcome, apart from how the cards are distributed.
The same can almost be said about blackjack, however, in this case, there is a house edge that is in the game, because the dealer also participates and they play their hand last, having seen what every other player has got. It means that it makes it slightly harder for players to win, however, the skill factor comes into play with how they make their decisions in terms of whether to ask for another card and risk ‘going bust’ or ‘stick’ on the allowed total.
Using House Edge As An Advantage
The theory here implies that because a game has an ‘edge’ it means that the player can use this as a way of trying to get an upper hand on proceedings by applying certain strategies of their own.
In blackjack for example, as briefly touched upon, the dealer has a slight advantage, however, there are (skilled?) strategies that some players use to try and give themselves a better chance. Let’s take a look at some of these and investigate how effective that they might be for the player.
Blackjack – Never Split A Pair Of 10s
While it can be tempting to choose to split a pair of 10s in the hope of improving your chances and securing two strong hands against the dealer as an insurance move, keeping them together is arguably the most sensible play.
This leaves the dealer needing to match or better your hand and with multiple decks involved, it is definitely entirely possible, however, the fact that they have an edge means that you need as strong a hand as possible, regardless.
Blackjack – Definitely Split A Pair Of Eights
While getting a pair of eights might be leave being tempted to stick, the reality is, this is the lowest that you can stay at, and then it is a risk to ‘hit’ again because it leaves you needing a five or less. By splitting them, it then gives you a much better chance of getting a sequence of low cards to reach a good total or a strong high card such as a 10 or an Ace.
Furthermore, you also have two hands in play. In this scenario, it is always worth remembering that the dealer has the edge so splitting the cards definitely, on balance justifies the gamble.
Craps – Place Six and Eight
This is a popular strategy in the game of craps to try and beat the house edge because it means that you get to choose your own numbers as opposed to waiting for the shooter to get a point. An eight and six are two of the results that appear the most often apart from a seven in craps.
The house edge for choosing a six and eight is 1.52 percent, which is more than on pass, come, don’t pass and don’t come, however, it is still a lot less than some a lot of other wagers in a casino. Should you decide to pick a six or an eight, it is recommended that you bet in multiples of £/$6 because if you win, bets are paid at odds of 7/6 which means that this returns you £/$7. If you wager £/$5 on this scenario and it wins, you will be paid £/$5. This is as sensible a strategy as you can choose when playing craps in order to try and take advantage of the house edge.
Baccarat – Avoid The ‘Tie Bet’
Arguably the casino game with a house edge that is filled with strategy and has been labelled a “thinker’s game” on may occasions. One of the recommended tactics for trying to gain an advantage over the house edge in baccarat is to never make a tie bet because the house edge in this game is particularly low for two of its three bets.
The bets that are available in baccarat are the ‘banker’, ‘player’ and ‘tie’. The banker bet has a house edge of 1.06 percent, while the player has bet has a house edge of 1,24 percent. In the scheme of things, these are very good for a house edge, however, it is highly recommended that you avoid at all costs, the tie bet, which has a 14.4 (approx) percent house edge.
Baccarat – Manage Your Bankroll
Now, this can be applied for any casino game, however, in baccarat, it is perhaps the most relevant. This is because the game can quickly turn when you least expect it, so depending on the bets you are making, always apply some caution and remember the implications of how you wager during the course of the game.
What About Poker?
Without a doubt, poker is a gambling game where the most skill is applied, because there is no control from the casino which liberates the players with more opportunities. Apart from having control of the cards and how they are shuffled and dealt (or distributed randomly if playing online), there is no real house edge (there is a ‘buy-in’ and the casino takes a cut up front and in ongoing games the operator takes a ‘rake’, which is a percentage proportion of the total pot).
In poker, it essentially comes down to nerve, because it does not matter how good or bad your cards are – quite often it depends on how good you are at reading people, determining their behaviour and knowing when they are what is called ‘bluffing’. This and having a head for figures goes a very long way in poker and two major skills that are worth honing before you site down around a poker table, or sign up online.
Perhaps a slight deviation, however, video poker has one of the most favourable house edge figures in online gambling for the player, which makes it easier to win. Many gamblers believe that playing video poker is a waste of time because they think that it is a game of chance, though the most experienced understand that it is a game of skill.
This is because they get to know the various combinations of how the hands are displayed and how to play them, so they are aware of the different possibilities to win. When you become familiar with all of the poker hands in video poker games; the most common being ‘Jacks or Better’, you can really start to apply skill to this and, as a result, considerably increase your chances of winning.
Furterhmore, because video poker uses a standard 52 deck of cards (sometimes the joker is used), it is easy for those who are good at maths to work out the odds and percentages of getting certain hands at any given point, s they can make a better informed decision about how to play their hands. With an RTP rate of 99.54 percent (which means on average for every £100 wagered you will get £99.54 back), this is by far the best of any game and considerably boosts your chances of winning.
Slot Games: Skill or Luck?
This is a question that does cause some debate among even the most ardent of gamblers. What has to be really taken into account with slot games is that first and foremost, they have what is called a ‘random number generator’ (RNG). The RNG is essentially a sophisticated mathematical algorithm that ensures complete randomness (well, not actually completely random but random enough) of the outcomes, based on how it is programmed. This means that it does not have a programmatic memory and as a result, it has no bearing on being able to influence when the slot will pay out.
However, despite this, there are some who do have their own strategies when it comes to playing online slots and by all accounts, there are things that you can look out for which may have a bearing on determining how well that you do. Let’s take a closer look at some of these.
Use Demo Mode
Most slot games that you will find at online casinos have a ‘demo’ mode that you can take advantage of which means that if you are a beginner, you can play without wagering real money.
This is a good idea because you can decide whether it is for you, while also getting to know how the slot works and whether it might pay out as frequently as you want it to.
Choose a Slot You Like
There are literally hundreds of different slots titles from a range of top software developers and the beauty of it is that many of them are developed and designed in order to appeal to a range of interests.
Ultimately, the more interested you are in a slot’s theme means that you are more likely to be able to try and find a way of playing that suits your style and appetite to risk.
Find Out The RTP
This is the ‘Return To Player’ percentage, that every slot has and this relates to how often the slot will pay out over a certain number of spins. The simplest way of understanding this is, if the slot game has an RTP rate of 97 percent, this means that in theory, for every £100 you wager, you will get £97 back. However, it is not quite as simple as this because it might be spread over many more spins and as a result, for the first 150, you might lose on all of them before you start getting a pay out. T
he RTP can, though, have an influence on whether a player might decide to choose a slot, with higher RTP percentages usually preferred. These tend to range from between 93 percent to 98 percent depending on the software provider.
Every online slot has its own volatility level, which is either high, medium, or low. Many experienced gamblers know usually look for this and it plays a key role in determining how they play. Slots with high volatility levels assigned to them means that winning pay outs will be larger, however, they tend to occur less frequently.
Slots with low volatility levels have lower top pay outs though more often, while medium volatility is a balance between the two. This all comes down to the player’s appetite for risk and choosing their preferred slot and having a strategy for playing it could be defined as a skill in itself.
Make The Most Of Free Spins
Some casino sites incorporate free spins into their welcome offers for certain slots, which is a great strategy to try and take advantage of the house edge.
While no one knows exactly what can happen with free spins, these are a good way to try and build up your bankroll before you have really even started playing.
Slots With Wilds To Unlock Bonus Rounds
Wilds create further possibilities to win more money in the form of free spins while opening up bonus rounds where you can potentially collect multipliers which means that you could win over ‘x’ times your original stake.
This multiplier number often varies depending on the slot’s software provider though it is usually at least eight. Wilds start you on a journey to winning more and the goal is usually to line up three, four, or five in a row depending on how many reels that the slot has.
Finding a slot with a good amount of wilds is easy and also can be a very effective strategy when it comes to applying skill – all slots have a description of them on most casino sites, which explains exactly what you need to do.
Know When Luck isn’t On Your Side
Even in some of your favourite skill games, understanding when proceedings are against you and then knowing when to stop is a good instinct to have. This is the case with slot games especially as the random number generator makes them so unpredictable, though for many, this is part of the appeal.
Knowing that they could win big at any time. It is unwise though, and not recommended to chase all of your losses in one session. This could be the start along the road to a gambling addiction.
Are Traditional Fruit Machines An Exception?
While gambling preferences have largely moved online over the last decade or so, there are still those who prefer the iconic fruit machine that you will find in most pubs. This is because those people know how they work and how they can play them to their advantage.
It refers to the fact physical fruit machines only have the capacity to hold so much money, which means that at some point they have to pay out. Many who play on fruit machines will spend a considerable amount of time observing them closely, how long others have been playing on them and as a result be able to time their approach just right.
These slot machines (known as ‘fruit machines’ because they typically have symbols depicting various fruits) are compensated, which essentially means that they only have a capacity to hold a certain amount of cash before they pay out. Basically the more money the machine has in it the more chance it has of paying out.
In which case, those who do pay attention could well be classed as skilled gamblers, because they know that, even if they wager a substantial amount then it could unlock a significant windfall. When this happens, they may also perhaps try their luck one more time to see if there is any more left to pay out, though in some cases, if the return is over 10x the amount that they wagered they may well be satisfied with this and decide to move on.
When it comes to gambling, it is on the face of it, more obvious to be able to identify why the skill games are classified more as these, than chance, because of how you can influence the events throughout the game.
This is especially true to an extent with blackjack, in terms of being able to split your hand; the decision making process in this is a skill itself because you are using your judgement to read how events might unfold with the banker’s hand.
Obviously, poker is the ultimate game of skill where there is absolutely no influence from the house, apart from how the cards are dealt. After that, it is up to how the players apply their hand as a way of trying to gain maximum advantage and ultimately win.
Also, as illustrated, video poker is another very advantageous game of skill for gamblers and this combined with how easy it is to win perhaps makes it the most attractive gambling game. By the same token, if you have the patience, traditional fruit machines could also be classed as another skill game for gamblers who really are aware of how they work, due to the fact that they realise that these must pay out at some point, due to them being compensated.
Perhaps the riskiest games to play are slots; particularly if you think that they are about skill. To some extent, there might be some skill in the strategy that you apply to how you approach and play them, however, the RNG makes sure that they are more about chance. This though does not stop them from being arguably the most popular form of casino gambling in the world today.