Top gambling strategies – that sometimes work

First came the games of chance. And then all the gambling strategies that claimed to give gamblers an edge over their opponents and the house.

Games of chance are just that – games where luck means more than logic. Experienced and professional gamblers understand that there is no way to predict or influence luck. They know that there are no strategies that guarantee how a dice will roll or where a ball will land or how a card will fall or where the reels will stop. If there were, every casino player would be wealthy,

There are still players who believe in strategy though. For most of these players the strategy is just a way of keeping an illusion of control over their gambling. For a very few, the very top players, strategies become not a way to win but a way to play smartly, a way to create a pattern for themselves that will show them when they are losing too much and when they are doing really well.

And to adapt what they are doing accordingly.

CasinoPlay had a look at various popular strategies to see if we could peer through the veils of mystery and give our fans a bit of clarity as to where and how to use these strategies.

Unfortunately, we can do nothing about luck!

The 2% rule

This top gambling strategy is particularly useful for sports betting and poker although it can be used for any gambling scenario.

When casual gamblers go to a casino, they generally tend to bet quite parge percentages of their bankroll per game. For example, they have a R2,000 bankroll and they place bets of R250.

The 2% rule states that you should only wager 2% (or less) of your bankroll per bet.


On a R2,000 bankroll, 2% is R40. You should only place bets worth R40 or less.


Betting using the 2% rule lets you play for a lot longer.


You need to start off with quite a large bankroll if you want to play at the tables or slots that offer significant returns.

top gambling strategies

Value betting

Poker players and professional blackjack players all know the value betting system – getting the most value out of a potential winning hand.

The basis is simple: seeing and taking advantage of situations. While simple in theory, it takes an intimate knowledge of the game to pull off successfully and a really could mind for maths.

Poker players are a good example. Good poker players are able to almost predict how their cards will stand up against an opponent. Their knowledge of the game, their ability to quickly calculate the odds of their hand being better than the opponent’s and their willingness to push for higher raises to maximise their winnings are all part of value betting.

For blackjack players with card counting skills the same applies. They are able to mentally work out what low value cards have already been played versus the probability of high value cards to come. And bet accordingly to maximise their win.


The pros are obvious: being able to take maximum winnings while only losing inconsequential amounts.


The biggest con is betting too low at the right moment and losing out on bigger wins.

For poker players, you may also find yourself pushing players out of the game.

For blackjack players, getting caught counting cards at a casino is an invitation for a little chat with casino management, a potential ban or (if the Las Vegas movies are to be believed) sometimes far more serious and physical consequences.


Baccarat Banker Hand

For all its air of sophistication and mystery baccarat is actually quite a simple game. There are three bet options: 1) bet on the player’s hand, 2) bet on the banker’s hand, 3) bet on a tie.

To win at baccarat you have to have to bet on which hand (player or banker) will have a higher points value. Or if they will be tied for points.

While there are various strategies for playing baccarat, the simplest and generally most effective way to play is to always bet on the banker’s hand. Statistically, the banker’s hand has a 98.94% RTP while the player’s hand has a 98.76% RTP and the tie bet has an 85.64% RTP. The numbers for the banker/player bet may seem too close to call but the Banker’s Hand strategy is a good one for casual players who want to have fun and play for longer.

The tie bet should just be avoided by everyone.


A great way for casual players to get experience in the baccarat game and to go on to learn more complex strategies.


Baccarat is a very fast game and, even though the RTP seems really high, the speed at which the game is played can see players losing their bankroll very quickly.


Play the odds

‘Playing the odds’ is a well know phrase but few people know that it comes from craps. Craps is a game that is becoming ever more popular and there are a number of different strategies out there.

The most rewarding one, especially for new craps players, is taking craps odds.

Craps odds is one of the only strategies that practically eliminates the house edge and gives the player an overwhelming advantage.

Placing an odds bet happens after you make a pass line or don’t pass line bet once a point has been established. The payouts if you hit the odds can range from 2 – 1 to 6 – 5 on pass line and 1 -2 to 5 -6 on don’t pass line.


Playing the odds reduces the house edge substantially. In theory, you can drop the house edge from 1.41% (pass line) or 1.36% (don’t pass line) to 0.021% (pass line) or 0.014% (don’t pass line).

That is pretty significant.


To get that house edge down into the 0.021% or 0.014% range you need to bet at 100x odds. Most casino know these odds and know the advantage to the player and so will not allow you to take odds higher than 5x.

Still, it does drop the house edge down to 0.0326% and 0.227% respectively.

The Martingale Strategy

The Martingale Strategy is one of the more famous strategies out there. What it boils down to is that you double your bet after every loss and then. Return to your original bet when you win.

For example:

You bet R20 and win (+ R20)

You bet R20 and lose (0)

You bet R40 and lose (– R40)

You bet R80 and lose (– R120)

You bet R160 and lose (– R280)

You bet R320 and win (+ R40)

Return to your original R20 bet


The Martingale Strategy is simple and, in theory, allows you to offset your losses when you do eventually win.


It is very risky. By doubling your bet each time, you lose you are going to wipe out your bankroll quickly if you don’t hit that win.

It’s one of the most basic rules of gambling: don’t chase your losses!

Casinos also frown on the Martingale Strategy being used and it’s one of the reasons there are table limits. If you have unlimited resources you can take the casino for s lot of money – think Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk and their billions being used with the Martingale Strategy.

A good analogy for the risk is the story of the grains of rice and the chessboard. The story goes that the inventor of chess presented the game to the king and when asked what his reward should be, he wanted a single grain of rice on the first square and then doubled for each square after (there are 64 squares on a chessboard). Square 1 = 1 grain of rice. Square 2 = 2 grains of rice. Square 3 = 4 grains of rice. Pretty low numbers.

Until you realise that by the time you hit square 15 you are already looking at 16,384 grains of rice – and still doubling.

By square 20 it’s 524,288 grains.

Square 25 = 16,777,216 grains.

Square 30 = 536,870,912 grains.

Square 40 = 549,755,813,888 grains.

Square 64 = 263 or 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 grains or a pile of rice higher than Mount Everest.

All from a seemingly simple theory of doubling down. This, incidentally, is known as the Exponential Curve or The Back of the Chessboard.

Other famous gambling strategies

There are a number of more complicated strategies for fans of statistics and mathematics but they really can’ be broken down in an easy to read and understand format.

If you want to know more about these strategies, do some research and see what you can find.

The Labouchère System

Similar to the Martingale Strategy (and sometime referred to as the Split Martingale) it is a cancellation system popular with roulette players.

Oscar’s Grind

A negative progression strategy that also chases losses but with a little less risk that Martingale’s or Labouchère’s.

CasinoPlay’s best gambling strategy

The CasinoPlay have tried out a number of different strategies over the years – TRIED being the operative word as some of them are quite overwhelming unless you have a REALLY good maths brain.

And we have a favourite that is simple enough for beginners but good enough to keep the pros playing:

  1. Set a budget.
  2. Stick to it.
  3. Don’t chase losses.
  4. If you are on a winning streak, play with your winnings and keep you bankroll for another day.
  5. Walk away when your budget is done. There is always another day and another budget to play.
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