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How to Beat the Casino

Beneath the varnish of flashing lights and free cocktails, casinos stand on a bedrock of mathematics, engineered to slowly bleed their patrons of cash. For years mathematically inclined minds have tried to turn the tables by harnessing their knowledge of probability and game theory to exploit weaknesses in a rigged system. But unless you’re an expert card counter or a professional con man, the best way to beat the casino is the old-fashioned way: don’t play.

The most common casino game is baccarat (in the popular variant known as chemin de fer) in Europe and the United Kingdom, blackjack in America, and trente et quarante on the Riviera and in the French casinos. Other games include roulette and video poker. Almost all of these games are played on the casino floor, but some can be played in private rooms for high-stakes gamblers. These high rollers are a big source of profit for the casinos, and they often get comps (free stuff) worth thousands of dollars in hotel rooms, dinners, shows, and even airline tickets and limousine service.

In addition to the games themselves, casinos employ a variety of tactics to encourage gambling. For example, slot machines are designed to appeal to the senses of sight and touch and to produce a variety of sounds, from clangs to whistles to music, to create an enticing atmosphere. The walls and floors are often brightly colored, and the color red is chosen because it stimulates the eye and can make people lose track of time.